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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Texas Shooting Suspect Caught After 4-Day Manhunt; Biden Orders 1,500 Troops to Border as Migrant Rules Run Out; Israeli Military Strikes Gaza Strip as Militants Fire Rockets; GOP, Dems No Closer to Debt Deal as June 1 Deadline Grows Closer. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 03, 2023 - 05:00   ET




SHERIFF GREG CAPERS, SAN JACINTO COUNTY, TEXAS: The bottom line is, we now have this man in custody.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, a gunman on the run caught hiding in a closet.

Plus, explosions on the skyline. Israel strikes the Gaza strip right after an incoming rocket barrage.

And the Biden White House now sending it troops to the southern border with the deadline for new migrant rules fast approaching.

All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Christine Romans.

Today, the man accused of killing five neighbors in the Texas town of Cleveland will go before a magistrate. Thirty-eight-year-old Francisco Oporesa was captured without incident last night just miles from the house where authorities say he shot five people, including a nine- year-old and his mother.


JIMMY PAUL, ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI: The tip for the suspect's location came through the FBI's tip line. We just want to thank the person who had the courage and bravery to call in the suspect's location.

CAPERS: The bottom line is we now have this man in custody. He was caught hiding in a closet, underneath some laundry.


ROMANS: Officials say Oporesa will be charged with five counts of murder and held on a $5 million bond. Investigators are looking into whether he had any help in hiding. The Biden administration bracing for a surge of migrants at the U.S.- Mexico border starting next week. The Pentagon now ordering an additional 1,500 active duty troops to the border as Title 42 expires.

The end of that COVID era law will make it harder to immediately turn away migrants or cresting asylum.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand has more from the Pentagon.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday approved a request by the Department of Homeland Security to send an additional 1,500 active duty U.S. troops to the U.S. border in anticipation of the expiration of a pandemic era law that allowed the administration to expel migrants more quickly.

Now, the administration is expecting that when that law expires on May 11th, a surge of migrants are going to try to cross the border into the United States. So, the Department of Homeland Security asked the Pentagon if they would be willing to send an additional 1,500 troops to support the Department of Homeland Security's efforts there to help manage that expected surge.

Now, importantly, these troops are not expected to perform a law enforcement function at the border, meaning they will not be out on the field day to day, engaging with migrants. But they are expected to help CBP, the Customs and Border Patrol officials, as well as DHS, kind of free up resources so that that department can then perform its law enforcement function.

So, what does that mean? That means that essentially these troops will be doing administrative tasks. They will be doing things like data entry, warehouse support, logistics -- things that will essentially keep them behind a desk. But still, the fact that the Department of Homeland Security requested this support really underscores just how concerned the administration is about a potential major migrant surge on May 11th, the day that that Title 42 pandemic law is set to expire.

We should also note that these troops are only expected to be there for 90 days. And the administration, the Pentagon, I should say, is trying to figure out a way to kind of rotate to some of those troops out and replace them with national guard troops that those active duty service members don't have to be on the border for the full 90 days.

Natasha Bertrand, CNN, at the Pentagon.


ROMANS: All right. A former FBI supervisory special agent has been arrested on charges related to the January 6th Capitol attack. Prosecutors say Jared Weiss confronted police officers, calling them disgusting, Nazi's, and Gestapo. He urged other rioters and to kill 'em. He's been charged with four federal crimes including entering the capital. Weiss has not yet entered a formal plea. CNN reached out to his attorney for comment.

A fierce exchange of fire overnight. The Israeli military conducting a series of strikes on Palestinian militant targets on the Gaza Strip, including Hamas training weapons facilities, as militants fired over 100 rockets towards Israel.

CNN's Hadas Gold live in Jerusalem for us this morning.

Hadas, what set off this exchange of fire?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, this was all set off actually yesterday with the death of a prominent Palestinian prisoner. He was once a spokesperson for the Islamic jihad, a militant group that is based out of Gaza.


He had been on a hunger strike for more than 86 days. He was found dead in his cell, the Israeli prison authorities said, on Tuesday morning after he had repeatedly refused medical intervention. He had to be come the face of Palestinian prisoners, of Palestinian resistance, and when he died, that is when this latest conflict began.

It started with just a few rockets being fired from Gaza, but then throughout the course of the day, the rocket fire increased and in the end more than 100 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Israeli military responding with at least two rounds of airstrikes, using both fighter jets and helicopters. The Israeli military saying it targeted 16 targeted locations that include things like weapons manufacturing sites, as well as underground tunnels.

The idea of telling that they believe they targeted all the targets they wanted to hit. In terms of casualties, though, we are learning this morning that at least one Palestinian man in his 50s was killed as a result of these airstrikes and five others were injured. That is according to the health ministry in Gaza.

In Israel, yesterday, at least three people were injured as a result of rocket shrapnel. One man in his twenties was seriously injured. This was a rather intense round of fire, it goes to show you what an important figure this man was, Khader Adnan, was the Islamic jihad promoting him, they said, to commander after he died.

We are already seeing some political fallout out of this though, in Israel this morning, one of the right wing parties led by national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, boycotting votes today because they believe that the Israeli military response to this market fire was not strong enough -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Hadas Gold, thank you so much of that.

House Democrats say they have taken a key procedural step to bypass Speaker Kevin McCarthy and force a vote to raise the debt ceiling. The Democrats move keeps open the option to use what is known as a discharge position, taking a debt ceiling vote directly to the House floor. But that would require at least five Republicans to join all Democrats

and right now, there is no sign that will happen, as the clock ticks to a potential federal default as soon as June 1st.

More from CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even as Janet Yellen, the treasury secretary, has warned Congress that the debt ceiling must be raised as soon as June 1st to avoid the first ever debt default in the United States, there is no sign that the two sides are anywhere closer to reaching a deal to avert what could be an economic calamity if, in fact, no deal is reached.

The Democrats are making very clear, they believe the debt ceiling should be increased, no conditions, no spending cuts. Wait until after the borrowing authority is increased for the federal government. Republicans say that the House passed a bill, the GOP house did to last week. That included a slew of spending, cuts other Republican priorities, and they say that there is going to be some negotiation at least to include spending cuts in the final deal.

Now, the White House plans to have a meeting, Joe Biden does next week with the four top leaders in both chambers from both parties, but it is unclear whether any deal could be, or come of that.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, I asked Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell whether he would intervene in this debate between the House GOP and the White House, and he made clear that the Senate would take a backseat to the House.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It should be clear to the administration that the Senate is not a relevant player this round. They have got to have a measure that can pass the House, how does it pass the House? It has to have the support of the speaker and I am behind the speaker.

RAJU: That comment is significant by Senator McConnell, because in past ceiling standoff, he has intervened. In the final moments come up with inventive ways to avoid a debt default. This time he is making clear that it will be up to McCarthy and Biden to ultimately come to a resolution, if they cannot, it is anyone's guess what will happen next, if the country will in fact go to a debt default because what the White House is proposing, a clean debt ceiling increase is something that McCarthy says will not pass the House, and does not even have the support right now in the Democratic led Senate because it would need at least nine Republican votes to overcome a filibuster attempt.

So a major scare here on Capitol Hill and the White House for what exactly will happen here, because as we saw, a dozen years ago, the U.S. credit rating was downgraded over fears of a debt default. That debt default did not happen, then but will it happen now? No one knows for sure.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Yeah, the entire financial system, global financial system is based around the creditworthiness of the U.S. and we are playing without right now.

So, what happens if the two sides are not able to strike a deal to raise the debt limit? We hear words like calamity and catastrophe. What does that mean exactly? CNN's Tom Foreman has some answers.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Air travel, transportation, customs, mail delivery, and many more services closely linked to federal funding might face severe interruptions. Social Security checks could be cut off, thousands of federal workers furloughed.


And as all that money is drained away from consumer spending, it might send the U.S. and global economies into a tailspin, and perhaps even a major depression.

LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: We know that it would be a catastrophe for our country to default.

FOREMAN: Yet Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy warns it could all happen, potentially as early as June 1st. And it would cause severe hardship to American families.

Financial analysts broadly agree the stock market would plummet, tanking 401(k)s and other investment savings for millions of families. Unemployment would leap up. State programs which rely on federal backing could also be sent reeling, and the banking system already rattled by recent problems --

JIM BIANCO, PRESIDENT, BIANCO RESEARCH: It's not a position of strength that you can throw out another issue like the debt ceiling and say, well, the markets are just, you know, this will be water off a duck's back. No, it won't. This could be something that could metastasize into a bigger problem, when you already start with markets that are in the position that they're in right now.

FOREMAN: It's all a guessing game since the federal government has never defaulted before. But in 2011, the Obama administration and congressional Republicans fought to the wire over spending and debt with then Vice President Joe Biden in the negotiating chair.

JOE BIDEN, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT: We have to get this out of the way to get to the issue of growing the economy.

FOREMAN: And based on just coming back close to default --

GREG MCBRIDE, CHIEF FINANCIAL ANALYST, BANKRATE.COM: The stock market fell 17 percent in the seven-week span. The credit rating in the U.S. got downgraded, and we had a noticeable tightening of credit.


FOREMAN (on camera): All of these dire warnings are based on just a few days of default, if it goes longer, it could get much, much worse, according to analysts, making it harder for you to make more money, to borrow more money, or to even keep the money you have.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

ROMANS: American living standards are on the line because of a political bickering in Washington.

All right. New reports of heavy clashes in Sudan, witnesses say that there were explosions near the presidential palace in Khartoum. Airstrikes and anti-aircraft fire were also reported in nearby city. This despite the two warring factions disagreeing to a seven-day ceasefire.

CNN's Stephanie Busari is following the story and joins us live from Nigeria.

Stephanie, what's the status of this cease-fire now? I mean, we have been hearing complaints from citizens that it has not felt like much of a cease-fire all along here.

Christine, the cease-fire has not been a cease-fire at all in this conflict so far. Both sides have promised, they said that they will stop fighting, but the fighting continues. And this latest cease-fire, which was broken by south Sudan who calmly said that both sides had said to sit and meet, and agreed to seven days where they would stop fighting.

But heavy fighting still heard around the presidential palace in Khartoum this morning in the capital.

So it's just more of the same, Christine. And Saudi Arabia reporting that one of its offices where its cultural attaches were staying, and they have been evacuated, was attacked. No reports of casualties in that, but we also had reports of six people being killed today in the capital.

So the violence continues, there is no ceasefire, and there is just a really desolate situation where people need to have humanitarian assistance come in. But these heavy fighting really hampers the efforts, and the U.N. this morning tweeted that he arrived in the port of Sudan to see how they could start operations in the safer parts of the country, to make sure that these desperately needed aid does get in -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Stephanie, just a tragedy there, evolving conflict in Sudan. Thank you so much for that. Keep us posted.

Just ahead, fear in a college town with a stabber on the loose.

Plus, a sabotage behind the lines. Another Russian train thrown off track in explosive fashion.

And, a close call on the highway. The car crash that almost took out a police officer.



ROMANS: The Trump era border restrictions known as Title 42 is set to expire next Thursday, and migrant crossings are surging now in El Paso, Texas. Officials say the flood of refugees fleeing extreme poverty and violence in their own countries and seeking asylum in the U.S. has already stretched border control stations beyond capacity. Now, thousands more are expected to come.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more from El Paso.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The city of El Paso under a state of emergency as hundreds of migrants camped outside shelters on the streets, in alleys and parking lot ahead of the lifting of the pandemic-era rule known as Title 42, which allows immigration agents to swiftly expel some migrants to Mexico.

How would you characterize what you are seeing right now?


FLORES: John Martin runs the Opportunity Center for the Homeless and says the surge started last Tuesday when 70 migrants started camping outside. Now, nearly 700 total.

MARTIN: We haven't had the opportunity to come out here and actually talk to each of these folks one by one.

FLORES: Because so many have arrived so quickly?

MARTIN: Exactly.

FLORES: And the flow of migrants arriving by train to Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso is growing, too, say officials. CNN was there in April.

You've been on that train. Were you coming on the train?


FLORES: As migrants like Emerson Duarte (ph) from Nicaragua jumped off the train with his four children and his wife.


She says her children haven't eaten in four days.

The Duartes are part of a large group of migrants who were arriving in northern Mexico and staying on the streets, in hotels, or migrant shelters.

Like this one, the pain of the migrant struggle is palpable during church services.

Hilario Garcia (ph) embraces his two boys and says that he and his wife couldn't live in their native Nicaragua anymore.

HILARIO GARCIA, MIGRANT SEEKING ASYLUM: It is difficult and dangerous to me.

FLORES: Especially after he protested against his government in 2018. Garcia shows us.

GARCIA: A small shot.

FLORES: He still has a pellet in his arm, which he says it came from Nicaraguan security forces.

Nearly 40,000 migrants are in northern Mexico, according to officials and community leaders. In Tijuana, about 9,000 are waiting.

In Reynosa and Matamoros, more than 17, 000, and in Ciudad Juarez, up to 12,000. Their desire to seek asylum in the U.S. varies.

For this woman from Guatemala, it was gang threats and her son's death.

For the family getting off of the train --

They said they left Nicaragua because of political oppression. Back in El Paso, this time lapse of a walk around one city block is a preamble.

About how long can you go based on the resources that you have?

MARTIN: Best guess right now is estimating Friday.

FLORES: Community leaders say that the end of Title 42 could be one for the history books.


FLORES (on camera): Now, take a look around me, you can see that there are hundreds of migrants here in the streets of El Paso, which the obvious question is, if Title 42 is still in effect, which means that immigration agents are able to swiftly returned migrants back to Mexico, then why are there so many migrants in the United States?

Well, here's the answer, from talking to both migrants and officials on both sides of the border, they tell me that because there are tens of thousands of migrants who are waiting in northern Mexican cities, a lot of them have lost patience. Some of them have turned themselves into immigration authorities, others have simply crossed illegally.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

ROMASNS: One for the history books.

Let's bring in "Wall Street Journal" White House reporter Catherine Lucey.

I think Rosa just set that up so beautifully. So, the Biden administration initially extended that Trump era policy, now it is set to expire next week. Now, the White House says it is sending troops in support roles. This is all incredibly sensitive for the Biden administration that is on the verge of a reelection campaign.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Absolutely, Christine. And, yeah, those scenes, that chaos in those towns at the border is exactly what the administration has been concerned about in the run-ups, the expiration of this policy, and that is a very sensitive issue for the president. He is just announced he is planning to run again for reelection. Republicans have made really clear that immigration, the handling at the border is going to be a major focus for them.

And we know that a lot of voters are not happy with how things are going at the border. Our latest poll showed that 89 percent of voters disapprove of the handling of that situation.

So this is a problem, and it is going to unfold next week. There is a lot of concern about more people there, how this is going to work.

ROMANS: The criticism coming from both sides here. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez released this statement saying the Biden administration's militarization of the borders unacceptable, trying to score political points or intimidate migrants by sending the military to the border caters to the Republican Party's xenophobic attacks on our asylum system.

How will he defend, I guess, the move and distance himself from Republicans? Because remember, there is a lot of criticism from Democrats when, you know, President Trump talked about sending troops to the border.

LUCEY: Absolutely, the president really is between a rock and a hard place here. He is facing criticism from both sides. He is trying to show that he is taking border security, border crossings very seriously, but Republicans are saying that he is not doing enough. And meanwhile, as you say, this moved to send troops down in an administrative role is prompting comparison to President Trump and his efforts to centrist the border.

The White House is pushing back on comparisons to Trump and one of the things that they keep saying is that they would like Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation.

But, I mean, you know , Christine, that has long eluded Congress at this point. That is not exactly something that is going to happen in the next couple of days.

ROMANS: Yeah, comprehensive immigration reform, that has been some holy grail for, I don't know, 20 years and has been unachievable. LUCEY: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right. Catherine Lucey, thank you so much, nice to see this morning.

LUCEY: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Quick hits across America now.

Police in Davis, California, looking for any possible connection between three stabbings in the past five days. A UC-Davis college senior was knifed death on Saturday. A 50-year-old last Thursday.


No suspects have yet been named.

Vermont's governor just signed a bill to let terminally ill people from out of state use his state's assisted suicide law. Vermont was already one of ten states, plus the District of Columbia, allowing physicians assisted suicide. Now the residency requirement is gone.

Unbelievable, a Virginia patrol officer came this close to getting hit after a speeding car lost control and crashed during a traffic stop Monday. Just minor injuries, the teenager in that voter control car was charged with reckless driving.

Coming up, a scare at Buckingham Palace just days before the coronation of King Charles, and what late night TV now looks like without writers.