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2 Injured, Suspect Dead In Osteen Church Shooting; Biden Allies: Special Counsel Report Is "Shabby Work"; Nor'easter Threatens 35M With Heavy Snow, Strong Winds. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 06:30   ET





JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: Of course, were devastated. I mean, we've been here 65 years and has somebody shooting in your church, but you know, we don't want understand while these things happen, but we know God's in control.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that was Pastor Joel Osteen after two people were injured, including a child in a shocking and terrifying shooting at his Houston megachurch. Police say a woman entered the building with a child that her side and a rifle and started shooting.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Now authorities say two off-duty law enforcement officers in the church fired back. The woman was killed, but the child and another person were struck and wounded.

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us now live from the scene.

And what more do we know about this stunning story?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the feeling here is that this could have been infinitely worse. You know, thousands of people flock to this. Once a basketball arena turned prominent, megachurch, every Sunday, and the timing, all of this really led investigators and people who were here to think that this could have been much, much worse.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): A terrifying scene at one of America's biggest churches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started screaming, there's a shooter, there's a shooter, there's a shooter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hid about ten of us, ten adults in a closet and there was one child in there and no vent but we were all praying. [06:35:02]

LAVANDERA: An armed woman entered Pastor Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston on Sunday afternoon and opened fire.

CHIEF TROY FINNER, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: See was armed with a long rifle in a trench coat, with a backpack, accompanied by a smile child approximately four to five years old.

LAVANDERA: Houston's police chief, Troy Finner says two off-duty law enforcement agents working security at the church, confronted the woman getting the situation under control.

FINNER: She's deceased here on the scene. I want to commend those offices. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse. But they stepped up and they did a job, and I want to thank him for that.

LAVANDERA: However, the child who came to the church with the woman was also shot.

FINNER: Unfortunately, a five-year-old kid was hit. And is a critical condition at a local hospital.

LAVANDERA: The chief says, it is unclear who fired the shot that struck the child and the child's relationship to the suspect is still unknown according to police. The officers involved in the shooting told investigators, the woman claimed to have a bomb, but an immediate search found nothing.

FINNER: We searched her vehicle. Our bomb squad and also the backpack, no explosives were found but she was also spraying (ph) some type of substance on the ground.

LAVANDERA: Witnesses described a chaotic scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom was screaming and then my mom said, come, come, and we ducked because the while I called my mom, the bullets were still repetitive and they were still going and that attacks were in the sanctuary.

LAVANDERA: One bystander was injured.

FINNER: That was a 57-year-old man who didn't have anything to do with it. I don't think, was shot in the leg. He's seeking treatment in the hospital -- Pastor.

LAVANDERA: Pastor Osteen says he's thankful the shooting did not happen earlier in the day.

OSTEEN: I can only imagine if it would have been during the 11:00 service. If there's anything good of it, you know what, they're -- they did -- she didn't get in there and do a whole lot worse damage.

LAVANDERA: And he's left hoping that decades-old church will continue holding services without another scare like this. OSTEEN: We're going to stay strong. We're going to continue to move

forward and there are forces of evil, but the forces that are for us, the forces of God are stronger than that.


LAVANDERA (on camera): So right now, investigators really trying to figure out what the motive behind all of this might have been, but the police chief also acknowledges that given that the suspect was killed at the scene here yesterday, nailing, down what this was all about might be very difficult, if not impossible -- Phil and Poppy.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, still so many unanswered questions. Ed Lave -- Ed Lavandera, thank you.

Well, the White House, President Biden and his campaign, they're all pushing back on a special counsel report calling out his age and memory issues. Next, what Americans think. A new poll is out this morning



MATTINGLY: That's a beautiful view of New York City and the sunrise.

The senate, they actually worked this weekend, sort of.

Now one step closer to passing a critical foreign aid package on Super Bowl Sunday. The chamber voted 67-27 in a critical procedural step to move it forward, even gained one more Republican yes vote, despite Donald Trump's lobbying against any legislation that could be considered a win for President Biden.

The $95.3 billion bill would support Ukraine's fight against Russia, include security assistance for Israel and humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza. It includes $60 billion for Ukraine, more than $14 billion for Israel, and $9.2 billion for humanitarian assistance.

If the bill eventually is passed by the Senate and it will be at this point, it would go over to the House. Right now, it's unclear if or when Speaker Mike Johnson would put it on the floor for a vote.

HARLOW: The White House and President Biden's allies pushing back on parts of the special counsels report into his handling of classified documents. The report does not suggest criminal charges should be filed, but it did delve several times into Biden's memory loss.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): This is a man who is sharp, who is on top of his game, who knows what's going on in the Middle East and around the world, small gaps are a part of what all of us in public life do. Speaker Johnson of the House just confused Iran and Israel. He said, we are beginning to send aid to Iran. Donald Trump confused Nancy Pelosi and Nikki Haley. ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The special counsel did this in the case, made a conclusion that there is no case, case closed. Then made gratuitous, unnecessary and inaccurate personal remarks and those are improper.


HARLOW: Our team back with us at the table.

Jamal, let me just go to you because you worked, you know, on team Biden.



HARLOW: Those are, you know, allies of the president from Senator Coons to the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has a little bit of zone stuff going on right now.

But they are mad and I was just talking to Phil in the break about I was struck by Jill Biden, the first lady's email to fundraisers, really going after the fact that the special counsel said he couldn't remember when his son Beau died. She said, I hope you can imagine how it felt to read that attack, not just as Joe's wife, but his Beau's mother.


HARLOW: What is happening that we're not hearing behind the scenes?

SIMMONS: Oh, I think the White House is angry, right? They're angry at this special prosecutor. They're angry at the fact that this document came out with these was all editorializing.

I mean, you saw kind of a press of people come out, right? Former Attorney General Eric Holder put a tweet out talking about how it was inappropriate. We saw my old boss, the vice president come out and talk about what she thought that it was political. She doesn't usually take those kind of strong stances on things like that. Trust me.



SIMMONS: But she did.

So, you know, we've seen this kind of as a full-court press. Also, some people are taking a look at this former Justice Department officials are saying, you know, here's a special prosecutors kind of a mid-career. He was going to let the president off the hook because he didn't find anything they could bring a case on, but he needed to do something to preserve his own viability for a future Republican Party.

So people think perhaps this was political in the sense that the special prosecutor may want to look at something else down the line and he needed to take for Joe Biden and put something on the record that Republicans can use.

MATTINGLY: S.E., there is the personal here where I've been told how furious the president is, specifically about the Beau mention, which you also heard from the first lady. There's the political that this feeds directly into what you can pull up -- there's the latest ABC poll found that 86 percent of Americans think the president is too old to be president. And that is a political issue that they have to address.


MATTINGLY: How did they do so?

CUPP: Yeah. Listen, that report was gratuitous. They're right to be pissed, but what do you do now because it's out there? Well, it's out there, and its not the first time, right? It's cementing a narrative that's already out there.

Getting mad, sure. I mean, you have a couple of options here. You ignore it. I don't think the country's ignoring it. That poll proves it's on peoples minds.

You get angry, you get passionate, you defend yourself, maybe you send your wife out to defend yourself. I'm not actually sure that that was a great thing to do optically. But if politics is perception, this is the perception.

It's really hard to combat it. You could tell him, focus on policy. Just talk about the things you've done in the things you're going to do. But this is the big albatross over the Biden campaign at this point.

LEE CARTER, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS EXPERT: And I think you, look, he -- he can't hide from it. We were talking about this like an you're saying, its a television problem more than you see him in-person. He does much better in small groups and he does in these -- in these televised events. And the language of it was so piercing, right, it is what is on 86 percent of voters' minds think that he's a well- intentioned elderly man like this is what everybody's say like, oh bless her heart.

CUPP: And you're quoting. That's a quote.

CARTER: Yeah, that is a quote. It is -- it is absolutely so damaging. The only thing that he can do is to counteract it in some way and he can't do it by addresses because when he gets out there and addresses the nation, he has more gaffes, he does more big events. It doesn't work.

We need to see him in small settings doing what he does best. And brokering conversations because otherwise, this is what were going to see and it's a symbol. Now, we have him on tape saying, I'm a well- intentioned, elderly man.

SIMMONS: Yeah, but --

CARTER: We have him on tape saying that, 86 --

HARLOW: But if you finish the sentence of what he said. He said like who remembers things just fine.

CARTER: But remember things just fine so much so that I called on you, Peter Doocy, but it's -- it's -- but the thing is it's there and it's not going to go away.

And as you said, at the word cemented, I think its the exact right word to say it cemented now in the minds of voters and he did it, he repeated the language.

SIMMONS: And here's --

CARTER: Media training 101, don't repeat the attack.

SIMMONS: Here's the thing -- every time he walks out on television, people look at him and say, wow, that guy is like a little bit older, right? He's moving a little slower. I will remember him that that is a thing that people will look and see..

On the other hand, they will also look and see Donald Trump saying we're inviting Russia to take after our NATO allies, right? They will also see Donald Trump coming out and saying taking after American soldier, who is Nikki Haley's husband while, you know, he's serving overseas.

Like, so there is a contrast that's going to exist here between a well-intentioned senior, right? And a man who actually wants to do the wrong thing, and he's doing the wrong thing. Very competitive

CARTER: And that's why we're seeing so many people say either I'm not going to vote or look at, look at the alternatives. You've got JF -- JFK. You've got RFK out there saying, we would look 20 percent of the vote in some polls.

MATTINGLY: A little bit on that though, because I think this is an important point if you watch all our of any Donald Trumps speech or event, there was at least ten to 12 minutes of complete and coherent rambling, flooding the who leads, which country, Turkey being the latest one. The Biden campaign has always said, we're going to go traditional media. It's why they didn't do the Super Bowl, right? They think that there are better ways to your point. He connects better in different venues.

TikTok last night, putting out a TikTok video last night, I think it was the campaigns first our resident us advisors on our show tunes said it did pretty well overnight as well. Is that enough? Or does he need to do traditional stuff as well?

CARTER: He has to do traditional stuff. People need to see him. The only way to counterbalance and a narrative that exists. Its actually do something in about it to have a symbol that is bigger than what -- what you've got out there. What he's got out there is a number of gaffes, and we can compare him to Donald Trump, but Donald Trump has a different kind of gaffe when he's talking -- he's forgiven for different reasons and he just keeps going and I think Biden has to do the same.

He's got to get out there and keep going and keep do it like you and show us that he's capable.

SIMMONS: Donald Trump is the counter narrative for the Democrats.

MATTINGLY: That's the hope for the campaign, at least.

Jamal Simmons, S.E. Cupp, Lee Carter, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Big storm making its way to the Northeast. How much snow is it going to bring? We'll tell you next



MATTINGLY: Well, welcome back.

More than 35 million people are under winter storm alerts as a nor'easter is set to hit the region this week. Officials say the storm will bring powerful winds and heavy snow that could damage trees, power lines, and disrupt travel. Some of the areas could see up to a foot of snow.

Lets get straight to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam.

Derek, it was like 60 degrees please, to 48 hours ago. Where are we expecting this storm hit the hardest?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. That's the big question everybody is wondering in New York City, hey, look, temperatures today, 50 degrees, how the heck is going to snow tomorrow will trust me, the cold air is coming and the snow is coming as well. Last time we actually had enough snow in Central Park where it covered the grass was January 29th, 2020, 743 days ago.

And it looks like we will break that streak of less or more than two inches of snow because the current forecast, as long as it holds is six to eight inches in and around the New York metropolitan region, including Long Island. Higher amounts as you travel inland, just south of the Massachusetts turnpike, that's where we anticipate the heavier snowfall bands upwards of a foot possible within that region. This is part of a broader winter storm that's impacting the Ohio River Valley all the way to the Ozarks where some isolated totals there with the snow occurring now, could top six inches.

But the immediate threat across the southeast is flooding and severe weather. In fact, we have a tornado watch across portions of Alabama and into the Florida Peninsula -- Panhandle, I should say through about 09:00 a.m. Central Standard Time. A few tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail, but its this moisture that's creating this flood threat just south of the Atlanta region that will ride along the east coast through the course of today, strength then in deepen as it does, I think well have a rain snow mix to start off your morning Tuesday morning in and around New York City alone that I-95 corridor quickly changes over to heavy wet snow, wind picks up, and then well see the system exit just as quickly as it entered the equation.


In terms of rainfall totals, on top of what's already fallen, the potential here there exists for another two to four inches. That's why the flash flood threat is in place. But across the Northeast, this is where we anticipate, again, anywhere from six to 12 inches depending on where you're located. We think Connecticut, Rhode Island, Central Massachusetts. That's where well see our heaviest snow. New York City, the potential exists for a half a foot of snow in your forecasts.

People asking, how was that possible? Today's temperature too warm. Well, tomorrow morning, it'll be a different story -- Poppy, Phil.

HARLOW: Happy kids coming up, I can tell you that.

Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: Yeah, if those sleds ready.

HARLOW: All right. Appreciate it.

All right. This now, two Israeli military -- the Israeli military, I should say, has freed two hostages that were held by Hamas for 128 days. We have details of this overnight operation, ahead



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Israeli's military says two hostages have been rescued from the city of Rafah.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: By distraction, they targeted a Hamas battalion in that are.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: An Israeli military operation in that city should not proceed without clear plans for how to evacuate the civilian population.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Those who say that but under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war.