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Police: Shooter Legally Bought 7 Guns Despite ' Emotional Disorder'; Pence Ordered to Testify to January 6th Grand Jury; Maryland Court Reinstates Murder Conviction of Adnan Syed. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 06:00   ET



KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crimes that happened here, the blood that was shed here.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The vice president also said the horror of what happened there must always be remembered.

All right. Thanks for joining me this morning. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Poppy is off today. We want to get started with our five things to know for this Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

New body camera footage shows what two hero Nashville police officers confronted when they took down the school shooter who killed six people. The White House says President Biden has called to thank them.

Of course, the big question that remains this morning is how did the shooter get so many guns?

Also former vice president, Mike Pence, has now been ordered to testify in the Justice Department's January 6th investigation. The Pence team says that they are evaluating the judge's ruling and whether they will appeal.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We'll have all of that, plus this. Adnan Syed's freedom in jeopardy this morning. An appeals court has reinstated his murder conviction and ordered a new hearing. Syed was the subject of the serial podcast, "The Serial" podcast.

Also today, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz set to testify on Capitol Hill. Senator Bernie Sanders and others will question Schultz about Starbucks alleged efforts to block unions.

COLLINS: And meet the NBA's 2023 Hall of Fame class. ESPN reports that Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and WNBA legend Becky Hammond are among the inductees. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

LEMON: You saw the video. That is what police officers should do.


LEMON: And this is just -- I mean, the kind of jobs, the dangerous nature of the job.

COLLINS: Well, it shows you the intense pressure of it, and, you know, also in comparison with what happened in Uvalde, the response is so much of the story and what happens there.

LEMON: Yes, the difference? This is, again, how police officers should react.

They shouldn't be in these situations, but they did the right thing.

COLLINS: Yes. We're talking about what happened in Nashville. Of course, we've seen new body cam footage that has now been released by police officers showing what happened when two officers entered the school that day as the shooter was there, killing ultimately, three 9- year olds three adults this morning.

This morning, there are major questions that we are learning about the school shooting, though, including how a person who is being treated for an emotional disorder was able to legally buy seven guns before entering the school of murdering those three children and the three staff members at this private Christian school in Nashville.

This is the new, harrowing police video that Don and I were just talking about. This body cam video shows officers rushing in and confronting the shooter. A warning now, though, you may find this video disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go, second floor. Go. Go stairs, go stairs. Go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go, go, go! Pushing LPBO, pushing LPBO, go right.





COLLINS: We're going to show you more of that video. We'll talk more about the police response.

We're also learning more about the students, the 9-year-olds, and the educators who were murdered, including the school's custodian, Mike Hill. We're told that students called him Big Mike. He had 14 grandkids, seven children. His family says that he loved spending time with them, that he had a passion for cooking.

Hallie Scruggs was one of the three 9-year-olds who was gunned down. Her dad is the pastor of the church that runs the school.

Evelyn Dieckhaus, whose family says that their hearts are, quote, "completely broken.: They say Evelyn was a shining light, and they cannot believe that this has happened to their daughter.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is live in Nashville.

Carlos, obviously, we are going to definitely focus on the victims and learning more about them, but we're also learning more about the shooter themself. The weapons that were purchased, the writings that were left behind, which the mayor told us yesterday they were going to be releasing.

What did we learn?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. Kaitlan, good morning. We're learning a lot more about the 28-year-old shooter.

The chief of police out here said that the shooter was being treated for an emotional disorder.

And this morning "The New York Times" is reporting that an instructor at Nossi College -- that's an art and design school here in Nashville -- reported that about six years ago, when the shooter was a student in her class, the shooter had some sort of emotional breakdown, having trouble setting up some sort of online account.

That development is coming as the city of Nashville here gets ready to remember the victims.



SUAREZ (voice-over): New details about the firearms used by the shooter who opened fire inside the Covenant School in Nashville. Authorities say the shooter legally purchased seven firearms from October 2020 through June of 2022.

The shooter carried three of those firearms when entering the school, an AR-15, a nine-millimeter pistol caliber carbine and a nine millimeter handgun.

One of the seven guns is unaccounted for, as of Tuesday, according to police.

CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE POLICE: She was under care, a doctor's care for an emotional disorder. Law enforcement knew nothing about the treatment she was receiving. But her parents felt that she should not own weapons. They were under the impression that was when she sold the one weapon that she did not own any more.

As it turned out, she had been hiding several weapons within the house.

The Nashville police releasing body camera video from two officers who entered the school and eventually killed the shooter.


Metro Police!

SUAREZ (voice-over): Officers are seen searching through the school going room to room looking for the shooter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's upstairs. It sounds like it's upstairs.

SUAREZ (voice-over): The officers then run to the second floor, were gunshots can be heard in the distance, and shoot at and kill the shooter less than four minutes after entering the school.

The body camera video was released as a community mourns the loss of the six victims.

MAYOR JAMES MANESS, MT. JULIET, TENNESSEE: Seeing the family, the pastor of the church and how he lost his -- his daughter, and it's midnight at night, and I'm wondering how? How do they cope? I mean, how do you go to -- how do you go to bed? How do you sleep?

SUAREZ (voice-over): Tennessee's governor, Bill Lee, released a video statement saying his wife, Maria, was close friends with Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher who lost her life on Monday.

GOV. BILL LEE (R-TN): Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night. Everyone is hurting, everyone.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Friends of victim Katherine Koonce, who was the head of the school, are remembering her as an amazing friend and a compassionate educator.

JIM LEE, FRIEND AND FORMER CO-WORKER OF KATHERINE KOONCE: She was witty. She was sassy. She had this amazing confidence. But she was -- she was a person of grace.

MARIANNE SPERRY, CO-WORKER OF KATHERINE KOONCE: But I'll tell you, I know it, as sure as I'm sitting here, that Katherine went down protecting those kids.


SUAREZ: And Kaitlan, the chief of police said that Tennessee does not have a red-flag law, meaning no one could have petitioned the court to try to restrict or take away the shooter's guns.

COLLINS: Yes and obviously major questions about that this morning. Carlos Suarez, thank you so much for that report. LEMON: All right. Carlos. And one witness to the chaos in Nashville,

describing what she saw. That witness is actress Melissa Joan Hart from "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch." Many of you recognize her from that.

She says that she was driving to her own children's school when she saw kids running from the Covenant School. Listen to what she says happened.


MELISSA JOAN HART, WITNESS: We did. My husband and I were on our way to school for conferences, and luckily, our kids weren't in today. And we helped a class of kindergartners across a busy highway. They were climbing out of the woods. They were trying to escape the shooter situation at their school.

So we helped all these tiny little, little kids across the road and get their teachers over there, and we helped a Mom reunite with her children.

And -- I just -- I don't know what to say anymore.


LEMON A lot of people dealing with this emotion close up and from afar. Joining us now, Rebecca Berry, Dr. Rebecca Berry. She's a clinical psychologist and child adolescent psychiatry professor, NYU school of medicine.

Good morning.


LEMON: It's hard to say good morning, right?

BERRY: It is.

LEMON: We are saying during -- when the piece was running, Carlos' piece, tired of discussing this; we're tired of talking about this. It's emotionally draining.

You saw Melissa Joan Hart, how she described it. We had one of the counselors who went to the reunification center yesterday, and I asked her very similar question is people dealing with this close up and from afar, the country is dealing with it.

How do you measure? How do you deal with it? What do you tell people who have the same feelings as we do and who are dealing with it, really, much more personally than we are?

BERRY: Right. I think that there's a lot of heaviness around this topic, in addition to a lot of frustration, and some warranted anger, and really some confusion about what happens next. What are we going to do? We've all been seeing this happen more often. And I think that you

know, what stood out about Melissa Joan Hart's message is the impact on youth, right?

Youth are continuing to have to really continue to hear about this, see this and for some, unfortunately, experience it. So what -- what is the impact that that -- that these events are having on our youth?

COLLINS: I mean, it turns your stomach to see the little kids being -- holding hands and, you know, streaming out of school.

LEMON: That picture from the bus yesterday. Remember that?

COLLINS: The picture? It's like this, you know, evocative image that is now associated with this.


But what we're learning about the shooter themselves and this mental disorder that we are told, emotional disorder, excuse me, that the shooter was being treated for. Still able to access these guns.

But I think people have questions about that, because the shooter's parents have said they did not believe that they should be owning -- that they should own guns.

BERRY: Right.

COLLINS: And I think that has raised questions of the connection there. And also saying, you know, just because someone has an emotional disorder does not mean they're going to commit a mass shooting at a school.

BERRY: Absolutely. I think you're right on in that. And I think the narrative that we have coming out of this and the relationship that some may be making between having a mental health condition or a mental health disorder and the ability to carry out an act like this, I think that that's a really sort of, you know -- hat's not an immediate connection that we want to make.

Certainly, I think a person that we've seen that individuals can have mental health conditions under, you know, underscoring some of these actions. But that doesn't necessarily prompt anybody to commit something like this. This is a very heinous and calculated act.

LEMON: Listen, you know, always in in Washington, D.C., Everything is political, right? And everyone wants to do everything they can, except what -- many people, I should say, want to do everything they can except talk about guns.

They want to talk about mental health issues, which is a legitimate part of it. But it's not the only thing.

Tennessee does not have a so-called red-flag law that allows courts to seize firearms from people who are in danger. There is a law that bans possession if someone has reported mental health issues. Doctors in this situation, right, healthcare workers, do they have any

means of reporting and in stopping people from being able to do this?

BERRY: From my understanding of the red flag laws in the state of Tennessee, it is mental health practitioner or a physician would be warranted to report if there was an indication where a person has expressed stated means to commit harm against themselves or against others, or if they have been hospitalized in some way for said reportings, right?

And I'm not quite clear on the background, but I'm -- do believe that that was not the case here.

COLLINS: The mental health part is also -- is a really big part of it. That's a good point.

And so if that is something that you know someone is struggling with what is a sign that you look for something like this, because I think that is often one thing. We talked about his ways to prevent this not just how to react. It's how to stop it from even happening in the first place, right?

BERRY: Well, I think that collectively, there can be some telltale signs. What we would most really look for, apparently, would be expressed or some leakage of intent to commit harm; some planning around such an incident like this.

Behaviorally speaking, you would look for, you know, heavy isolation and any significant changes in a person's behavior; possible substance use. But again, that would really possibly requires somebody who is close to the person who knows them, to be monitoring those behaviors which are really kind of say, hey, that doesn't seem to be characteristic.

Or I have privy to this information about what may be happening for them.

LEMON: I just want to -- just 30 more seconds with you, because I think this is really important.


LEMON: Yesterday I was walking the dogs. I don't have kids yet, but I saw this kid coming home from school, right, and getting off of the bus. And just like, you know, the parents embracing.

Right now it's 6:12 in the morning. Parents are getting their kids together, ready to go to school, right? They're fighting. I don't want to go. I mean, this little -- beautiful kids.

And I'm wondering, what do you say to those parents. And some of them are taking pictures so they can remember what the kids were wearing.

BERRY: Right.

LEMON: In case something like this happens. What advice do you have, Doctor?

BERRY: Right. I think that every parent every day, you know, deals with their own anxieties about how that young kid is going to be. And then in the wake of news like this, in the wake of tragedy, I think it gets a little bit harder to kind of have any certainty about how -- how things are going to go for my child.

And I think that, you know, as parents of young kids and to themselves, I think we have to provide ourselves a sense of reassurance that hey, we're -- you know, we can do something, hopefully about this. And I'm going to read my -- reassure myself and my child that there are people that care about them and that are looking out for their wellbeing and that we trust that, even though sometimes I think, in the midst of feeling these emotions right now, it can be really hard to say that and to really feel that.

LEMON: Yes. Yes. When I saw that yesterday, I said that at least three parents, right, you know, nine of them, really? And many, many more loved ones around them that won't be able to have that moment of -- with their kids ever again.

COLLINS: It's devastating.


BERRY: And you hope that, in some ways, people can put these emotions into action.

COLLINS: Thanks, Doctor.

LEMON: Thank you, Doctor. Really appreciate the advice. Thanks for coming on.

Now we're going to get to Manhattan's D.A., the investigation of the former President Trump, the role in hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The grand jury is not expected to hear the case again this week. It is expected to return tomorrow to hear a separate matter, but the schedule could change.

The jurors last heard witness testimony in the Trump probe on Monday and didn't vote on a potential indictment.


COLLINS: Also this morning, a judge has now ordered former Vice President Mike Pence to testify about conversations that he had with former President Trump leading up to January 6th and the insurrection. That's what sources are telling CNN.

Of course, the former vice president has said Trump endangered his family and everyone at the Capitol that day. He has so far declined to testify, though, in the special counsel's probe.

Even now, he says he does need time to decide what is he going to do? Will his legal team appeal the judge's ruling here?


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The requirements of my testimony going forward are subject of our review right now, and I'll have more to say about that in the days ahead.

Let me be clear: I -- I have nothing to hide. I have a Constitution to uphold.

We're currently speaking to our attorneys about the proper way forward, and as I said, we'll have a decision in the coming days.


COLLINS: Pence now joins the list of former Trump White House officials who have been ordered to testify, significantly, including chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Our CNN senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz is here with us.

Katelyn, obviously, this is another setback for the Trump legal team, to have this ruling come down. But what these investigators want to know is they want to be able to hear from Pence directly on the pressure that he felt from Trump.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's what we believe. And it is a pretty notable and a quick decision out of the federal court in D.C., coming on Monday, for Mike Pence, saying he does have to testify. He got subpoenaed. He's going to have to go to the grand jury.

The judge's ruling, as far as we can tell, what we've learned through our sources. We haven't actually read it yet. But our sources are telling us that Pence is going to have to describe those conversations he had directly with Donald Trump, the sort of thing that nobody has testified to before, because the only two people on those calls are Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

Mike Pence, of course, wouldn't even speak to the House Select Committee investigation, but -- but now is being subpoenaed in this criminal investigation around January 6th.

Of note here, this isn't a complete win for the special counsel's investigation, though, because Pence is walking away with a bit of a victory, being able to say that he did defend some of the protections of the vice presidency. And apparently, the judge did get to say that when he was on January 6th, Mike Pence was acting as a congressional officer, so gets a little extra protection there.

There may be some questions he can decline to answer in the grand jury, but there's a lot of gray area. And so we're going to have to see how that's going to play out.

But it really is notable that this is another loss for the Trump team. They're not going to be able to block testimony. And Mike Pence, his vice president, will have to testify.

COLLINS: Yes. And Pence's team seemed to have an indication that he would have to testify. They just want him to have to have to testify about everything.

How significant do you think it is when it comes to what you're talking about, the speech or debate aspect of this; where it will be able to limit parts of his testimony? But it doesn't seem like a significant amount of his testimony will be limited.

POLANTZ: Yes, I mean, in the long arc of history, there is the possibility that this is the type of ruling that people will remember, right, what it means for the vice presidency of the United States.

But in this investigation, we know that investigators want to ask about the conversations between Trump and Pence, the sort of thing that Pence has written about in his book. He wrote that Donald Trump called him a wimp the morning of January 6th.

And so being able to hear that in the grand jury in a court setting, that is pretty notable.

And it's also just notable how many times Trump is just being rejected in court every time he tries to block testimony: with Pence, with his top aides, and also in a separate investigation, Mar-a-Lago, with his defense layer, even. Everybody has to speak.

COLLINS: Yes, we'll see what Pence's legal team decides to do. Katelyn Polantz, thank you.

LEMON: Just months after a judge vacated Adnan Syed's murder conviction, a Maryland appellate court has reinstated that conviction. How the subject of "The Serial" podcast is reacting, next.



LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. A Maryland appeals court has reinstated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed just months after all charges were dropped against him.

Syed was the subject of the popular "Serial" podcast. He spent more than 20 years in prison for killing his girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and was released when a judge ruled that the state failed to properly turn material over to defense attorneys and noted the two suspects may have been improperly cleared.

CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now with more. Good morning to you.


LEMON: What is the appeals court's reasoning for reinstating this conviction?

GINGRAS: Yes, so that hearing that happened last year, where his sentence was vacated, essentially, the appellate court is saying there needs to be a redo of that hearing, siding with the family of Hae Min Lee, who -- who basically said they didn't even get time to prepare for that hearing last year. They only got a few days' notice. They didn't even get to actually travel, her brother, from California here to Baltimore to attend in person for that hearing the appellate courts they agreed with him, and they said that he deserves that right.

So essentially, what the appellate court is saying is that this hearing needs to be redone and gave the -- both sides about 60 days to kind of set a date to figure out how they're going to move forward with that.

And if you're wondering, how is that not double jeopardy for Adnan Syed? Well, essentially, the appellate court is saying it's not infringing on his rights or violating double jeopardy, essentially saying, because he's not being re-prosecuted in this case. He could go back to this hearing and again get his conviction vacated. Or he might be put back behind bars, depending how the judges rule.

LEMON: Yes, it's not new. They're just reinstating --

GINGRAS: Exactly.

LEMON: -- the former, the prior conviction.

So what does this mean for him moving forward?

GINGRAS: Yes, so he's going to stay out of jail for right now. Again, they're going to give 60 days for both sides to figure this out. His lawyers are already saying that they are going to go to the higher court, the supreme court, and argue this.

But I do want to read a quick thing about what his -- his attorneys did say. They said that "Ensuring justice for Hae Min Lee does not require injustice for Adnan. The appeal was not about Adnan's innocence but about notice and mootness."

So that really gets to the core of what they're saying: Why do we have to do this all again? '

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Brynn.

GINGRAS: Stay tuned.

LEMON: Appreciate it. Yes, you're right. Stay tuned.

COLLINS: Yes. Also this morning, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he's not going to support Trump again, even if he is the Republican nominee for president in 2024. What he thinks will keep that from happening, though.

LEMON: And this. So GOP lawmakers focusing on mental health after Nashville, the Nashville school shooting. We're going to look at what actions have and have not been taken.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, ABC'S "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE!": You know, Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, is thinking about running against him for president. He said he plans to take the next two months to decide whether or not will run, which is interesting. Because Chris Christie and Donald Trump used to be friends. He was even Trump's debate coach.

Maybe they're still friends. Maybe the reason Chris Christie is running against him is to make Trump look thin.


LEMON: Oof. That is how Chris Christie said he believes he got COVID, remember? When he was the debate coach? Kaitlan knows about that. She was covering it at the time.

Jimmy Kimmel poking fun at Chris Christie there. The former New Jersey governor makes a case to take on Donald Trump.

Christie predicts the former president's third bid for the White House could falter if an opponent can challenge him on the debate stage.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: You have to be fearless. Because he will come back. And right at you. You need to think about who's got the skills to do that and who's got the guts to do it. Because it's not going to end nicely.