Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Airport Death of Carol Gotbaum; Police in Plymouth, Pennsylvania Recover Arsenal of Weapons From 14-Year-Old Boy
Aired October 11, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to show you the guns and grenades they found in a 14-year-old boy's bedroom as well as the plot they believe they uncovered. Also ahead in this hour, a view of the pandemonium taken by a student inside the school in Cleveland after Asa Coon got in and started shooting.
And later a 360 exclusive in the airport death of Carol Gotbaum. Tonight, recordings of her husband, Noah Gotbaum, anguish call to authorities in Phoenix, telling them about his wife's fragile mental state, not yet knowing what they did and not yet being told that Carol had already died in police custody.
We begin with what police say was a plan for Columbine-type massacre. Today, police in Plymouth, Pennsylvania display the arsenal of weapons they recovered from a 14-year-old boy. All of these weapons, now, most of the weapons are bb guns; they just look like real guns. One of them is real, however, along with a number of home- built grenades. CNN's David Mattingly is on the scene working a story for us. He joins us now. David, what are we learning about the kind of weapons this teenager had assembled?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: When the D.A. laid those weapons out on the table for everyone to see, it looked like quite an arsenal for an individual, and particularly for a 14-year-old. But on closer examination, we could see that most of those were bb guns, there were knives, there were swords on the table, but a particular note was a 0.9-millimeter semi-automatic rifle. Also, that was something police found in his bedroom. Police also found seven hand grenades.
Four of them, they tell me, were operational. These were homemade hand grenades. Not the type you would find in the army in combat. These were hard plastic shells with gunpowder and BBs inside them and they needed a fuse inserted inside them in order for them to be set off. That fuse had to be lit before they could explode. Four of those, they say were operational and they found all of those in the bedroom and they say the student was assembling those right there in his bedroom. Anderson.
COOPER: And what do we know about this alleged plot?
MATTINGLY: What we know if there was a serious plot for him to attack this high school, it did not get very far. He approached one other teen to help him carry out an attack on this high school and that teen immediately went to his father and the two went to the police and whatever plans he had quickly unraveled. They do not believe that an attack was imminent because one thing they look back at what they found in that house, they did not find any ammunition for that rifle that they found, suggesting he was not prepared to use it yet.
COOPER: And what do we know about this 14-year-old boy?
MATTINGLY: We're finding out that he was someone who had problems for quite a long time. One family friend, his karate instructor, in fact, described him as overweight, had an odd personality. Went for the Goth style of clothing and appearance. He got picked on a lot and seemed to be preoccupied with that idea that people were constantly picking on him. He was being home schooled at the time. He was taken out of public school his parents and the reason for that was because of bullying.
We're also hearing tonight from two television stations in Philadelphia. They are reporting that the teen had a web site, that web site dedicated to the imperial cobra army of which the teen claimed he was the commander and he said the purpose of this army was to right the wrongs I had for too long ignored. The family friend told us that he had an obsession with weapon and with war and on this web site there is a lot of pictures of military equipment, a lot of weaponry and there's an appeal to others to join the army. He was looking for anyone over the age of 10 to join that army and to go into combat. Did he mean go into combat and attack this school? We'll never know but if those were his plans, they were quickly unraveled. Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Appreciate the reporting. Will continue to follow this. Just want to show you the arsenal of weapons again. Let's put the video back up of what we saw today. Now, all the weapons as David said were in this 14-year-old boy's bedroom. His mom seemed to think it was a good idea to buy him a real assault rifle, as well. It is hard to believe that. Bruce Castor, district attorney for local county, he is now considering charges against the boy's mother, as well. We spoke to him earlier and I started by asking him his impressions of this young suspect.
BRUCE CASTOR, MONTGOMERY COUNTY D.A.: I think he is mentally disturbed. He has very serious self-esteem problems. I think that the motive for this planned attack was that society had not been good to him. He was sort of an outcast in society. He has untreated mental health issues. His parent had taken him out of school about a year and a half before. So, he has no school interaction and no socialization and no opportunity for the school to deal with his issues, if there were any that were observable. I think what you have are parents that did not know how to deal with the situation and allowed it to escalate out of control.
COOPER: There are reports that he had been bullied in school, is that accurate?
CASTOR: Well, I don't have any confirmation of that. What we know is that he felt that he was being bullied, but remember, we're talking about a 14-year-old's reasoning ability clouded by mental illness. So, whether he actually was or perceived that he was, in his own mind, that was clearly the motivating factor for getting this whole thing started.
COOPER: I don't know if you know or I don't know if you can say, what was the mom thinking buying this kid an assault rifle at a gun show?
CASTOR: She is, now, herself, the subject of an investigation by our office at Plymouth Police Department.
COOPER: Have you made a decision whether or not to charge her?
CASTOR: I think charges are likely, and it's a matter of finishing up the investigation as it relates to that particular weapon and anything else that she may have bought for him. I don't see any evidence that leads me to conclude that she knew that this attack was planned or anything of that nature. I think you have a parent who's fallen down on the job and supervising a child, perhaps indulgent on the child because she knows he has issues. Clearly, this is inappropriate conduct. Buying a weapon for somebody who is otherwise by law not allowed to own a weapon is a violation of what we call our straw purchase law here and that is a serious crime.
COOPER: In all that you know and all you can say, what has surprised you most about this case?
CASTOR: Well, the failure on the part of at least the mother to recognize the signs that there's a problem here and seek the proper treatment. That is really a surprise to me. I mean, we've all seen the reports from the Columbine with the kids with the black coats and the, obviously, behavior that is clearly ought to stand out as a problem. And we would all like to think that if one of our children started acting like that we would do something about it. We didn't have it in this case. That's the most surprising thing from the defense point of view.
COOPER: District attorney Castor, appreciate your time. Thank you.
CASTOR: Thank you.
COOPER: Of course, you only have to go back 24 hours to see that not every story ends this way without anyone getting hurt. Up next, our first look inside the Cleveland school where Asa Coon went on a rampage as well as a better look inside his troubled mind. Will be back in just 60 seconds.
COOPER: Images from inside (inaudible) Academy yesterday. The terror, confusion as gunshots began to ring out. Asa Coon has gotten inside with a pair of handguns, shot and wounded two students and a pair of teachers before fatally shooting himself. Police have surveillance tapes that looking at as well. This is the photo that we've gotten of him. Federal agents are looking to how he got the revolvers, a 22 as well as a 38. As you might imagine, everyone wants to know who this troubled kid was. His brother, Steven, has a long history with the law. Police arrested him again today. CNN's Joe Johns is following all the latest development. He joins us now from Cleveland. Joe, what do we know?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's been a day of fast- breaking developments and questions about whether or not authorities did enough to zero in on Asa Coon before he went over the edge.
JOHNS: Panic in the classroom. It seemed to come out of nowhere. But look back over the troubled life of Asa coon and the signs are everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say sadness and anger and depression all of them.
JOHNS: As recently as Monday, a security camera caught the 14- year-old in a fight outside school, a history of violence that led him to juvenile court and a night in the lock up early last year. It was a domestic violence charge, a disagreement with his twin sister when they were 12.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The incident started off as a fight between Asa and his sister. It escalated, the mother got involved to try to break it up. Asa turned on her and eventually struck her in the face.
JOHNS: But court records tell a disturbing story. A home detention officer wrote that the relationship between the mother and Asa is extremely poor. That Asa said children pick on him, that he had been suspended from school for ten days last April for fighting. Other records say Asa at times was out of control. Attempted suicide, made a suicidal statement that authorities were looking into whether he had bipolar tendencies. He was ordered by the court to take psychotropic drugs, but one report said he's refusing to take his meds and is in a critical state. The county social services department had contact with Asa three times including a bb gun incident, mysterious burns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple that we could never figure out. They appeared to be like cigarettes. There was a belief that he would never say how he got them. There was belief that it might have been through his older brother. You know, wrestling, fighting, rough housing with his older brother.
JOHNS: That brother, Steven, five years older than Asa has a history of arrests and was picked up by police just today on alleged parole violations. Keeping them honest with all this trouble on the record, should authorities have red flagged Asa Coon before he went on a rampage? One problem is technically he had only been in real trouble with the law once. Not enough to set him apart from other troubled kids. Police chief Michael McGrath. CHIEF MICHAEL MCGRATH, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPT.: The information we have is very limited at this time. We know that he was 14 years old. We know that he did have some disciplinary problems at the school and outside the school and other than that, not a whole lot. I mean, he wasn't one of these kids that were high on the list as far as the troublemaker goes.
JOHNS: His Science teacher told us she knew Asa was angry but that he was also very intelligent, well-behaved in class.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things were going down hill, not completing assignments, not doing homework and not doing class work.
JOHNS: It's not that any one person did anything wrong, it's just that no one person saw the whole picture. Kenneth Trump used to work in school security here in Cleveland.
KENNETH TRUMP, SCHOOL SAFETY CONSULTANT: The issue, though, is that you have a kid here like you have in many of the other school shootings that's been active with children and family services, with juvenile court, with the police department, with the school system and the difficulty of getting all of those agencies to pull the pieces of the puzzle together before somebody lights the fuse and it goes off.
JOHNS: Authorities here say things are getting better in Cleveland. That the different agencies are now talking to each other, working together on puzzles like a Asa Coon. Too late for Asa, maybe not for others like him.
COOPER: How much of this is speculation? How much do we really know about what happened here?
JOHNS: Well, we do know a lot more, Anderson, based on the court records and interviews. However, it's still very early in the investigation. The authorities are urging people not to jump to any snap judgments, as it were. Frankly, there's going to be a lot more soul searching here in Cleveland, Ohio, over this.
COOPER: But any missed warning signs. Joe, appreciate the reporting. Asa Coon now joins a very ugly bunch.
Dr. Steven Pitt is a forensic psychiatrist who headed a team looking to the Columbine shooting. He and others performed what they call psychiatric autopsies with (inaudible) and Eric Harris. He joins me now in Phoenix. Thanks for being with us. You know, in retrospect everybody says well I saw this sign and there was this. It's obviously easy in retrospect to see it, are there red flags these people should look for, you know, when these things are actually happening?
DR. STEVEN PITT, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: To be sure, Anderson, there are red flags to look like things like depression and anger and familiarity with weapons and fascination with the military. Those are all red flags. But there's an art to this, as much as there is a science. I mean, we can go to schools all around the country and lots of people have those very same characteristics.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, every young men, most of young men in America are interested in the military and weapons and stuff like that.
PITT: Exactly, so the danger becomes, we don't want to overemphasize what red flags are. We don't want to overemphasize check lists. We don't want to necessarily emphasize, put too much emphasis again on certain characteristics. What it takes is communication and what it takes is teachers, parents, counselors and other students and everyone to be in sync, for everyone to be in sync and communicate about what a troubled youth is engaging in.
COOPER: We have this clearly troubled youth today, 14-year-old boy, accused of planning, police say described as a Columbine-style attack on a school that he no longer went to. I mean, the thing that sticks out in this story, you have this arsenal of weapons, which the police showed, many of them bb guns, but still very threatening looking. Grenades that were made, one actual assault rifle that this kid's mother bought for him. I mean, if your child has this assembled in their bedroom, you got to at least raise some questions.
PITT: Absolutely. You hit the nail right on the head. Schools are a place where we send our children to be safe, not to be shot at. That said, it starts in the home and it starts with parents.
COOPER: I want to talk to Dr. Pitt a lot more. Let's just stick around, we're going to take a short breath and we're going to ask more about the weapons, how he got them and why his mother was involved in the purchase. Back in 60 seconds.
COOPER: Back now with Dr. Steven Pitt, former director of the Columbine psychiatric autopsy project. Dr. Pitt, we normally hear about kids being bullied or ostracized and it builds up and builds up over a period of time. Do schools take bullying seriously enough?
PITT: They do now. They take it, since Columbine, there has been a real emphasis and a real looking at schools where bullying is taking place. Make no mistake about it. Bullying was underreported at Columbine. I think schools have taken a much more aggressive look at the effect that bullying has on youths and as it relates to their acting out behavior.
COOPER: And when does it move from bullying to, why does it affect some kids who end up going on a rampage? Is there a difference?
PITT: That would be the $64,000 question. And that gets into the art, as much of it is a science. That gets back to what we were talking about earlier as it relates to the whole notion of checklists and warning signs. Individuals and programs that use, again, checklists or have these programs that say, look, we check off this, check off this, there is bullying. It's not that easy. You have to look at the other behaviors, as well, that an individual is manifesting and more importantly and most importantly there has to be that interplay, that communication between, again, students and teachers, counselors and, most of all, parents.
COOPER: The other side of this story is this young man who did come forward and in this incident near Philadelphia and went to police, told his dad, I guess, and then all went to the police together; and basically, you know, reported what this 14-year-old boy was planning and that deserves, you know a lot of praise and attention because, I mean, kids today are getting messages -- Don't be a snitch, don't talk to police. That's a huge step.
PITT: Exactly. You, again, are right on the money with this. It's chillingly similar to what happened in Columbine and if, in fact, what they're saying at Philadelphia is true, it's important that children feel safe and comfortable and reporting that another youth is having difficulties. But by the same token, that information has to be taken seriously. And it's, you know, we're a society that likes to put the finger and blame on one individual or one entity or one person, but at the end of the day, I promise you on both of these cases what you will see is that there was a multi-system break down.
COOPER: Well, clearly, something in that house in the incident in Philadelphia. I mean, obviously with the brother in and out of jail, the mother buying this kid weapons. There's clearly a lot to be discovered there. Dr. Pitt, I appreciate you being on the program. Steven Pitt, thank you.
PITT: My pleasure. Thank you.
COOPER: Exclusive insight to another tragedy, next. Carol Ann Gotbaum's death in police custody. Only on "360," you're going to hear what the husband told authorities, the actual phone conversations, as he tried in vain to warn them that his wife was in a fragile, mental state. What he didn't know, what they knew that it was already too late and they didn't tell him that. Back after a short break.
COOPER: The video we all know well now. Carol Anne Gotbaum at the airport in Phoenix as police took her into custody and shortly before she died, handcuffed and shackled in a holding cell. She had a drinking problem and was on her way to rehab. An airline gate agent had just denied her boarding. She got agitated and police were called, she was arrested. She got word to her husband, Noah, who then called the airport emergency services not knowing what they already did and would not tell him that Carol Anne Gotbaum had died in custody. CNN's Alina Cho and her producers had obtained copies of the audiotapes of those phone calls. Alina joins us now with the "360" exclusive.
ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, really stunning to listen to. We literally got these audiotapes within the past hour or so. And what you're about to hear are the frantic calls that Noah Gotbaum made to airport emergency services. He wanted to make sure the arresting officers knew what they were dealing with. And he pleaded with them that his wife needed to be treated with "kid gloves." Keep in mind though, by the time the first call came in from Noah Gotbaum, his wife had already been dead for more than an hour.
MR. GOTBAUM: They're waiting for her down in Cottonwood at
MR. GOTBAUM: ... at the rehab center down there...
MR. GOTBAUM: She is suicidal. Obviously, she has been... alcohol abusive...
MR. GOTBAUM: But she is also in deep depression and the police have to understand that they're not dealing with someone who's been just drinking on flight and acting rowdy. That's not what's going on here.
COMMUNICATIONS: OK. Yeah, I think somebody talked tot the other dispatcher on that earlier and we passed along that information.
MR. GOTBAUM: Well, but, again, I have not heard anything back.
COMMUNICATIONS: Yeah. I don't know. You know, unfortunately.
MR. GOTBAUM: It concerns me, Mike, that they have not called me. That they're just dealing with her, that she is all alone.
MR. GOTBAUM: OK. Because she should not be.
CHO: Noah Gotbaum made several calls to the airport dispatcher and to the airline but he was never connected to police and he was never told that his wife was dead. The airport knew, police knew, but Noah was never told.
SGT. STEINMETZ: Terminal 4, Sergeant Steinmetz.
COMMUNICATIONS: Hey Sarge, it's Mark in the Com Center.
SGT. STEINMETZ: Yeah,
COMMUNICATIONS: Hey, I talked to Gehlback while ago. I had this, woman's husband on the line at the time, Noah Gotbaum?
SGT. STEINMETZ: Right.
COMMUNICATIONS: OK. He's back on the line. He's been talking to Winston Salem, reservation center with U.S. Airways. They've called us a couple of times, and he's back with us again.
SGT. STEINMETZ: OK. I need to call. I need to get a phone number because we need to make, uh, we can't tell him what's going on right now. Well, what is he asking about though?
COMMUNICATIONS: He wants to know what's going on with her.
SGT. STEINMETZ: Oh.
COMMUNICATIONS: It sounds like in talking to the Winston Salem, people with U.S. Airways. It sounds like at this point he's under the impression that she's probably in jail. That she was... she caused a disturbance based on some emotional problems she has.
SGT. STEINMETZ: Yeah.
COMMUNICATIONS: And she was handcuffed and removed from the concourse.
SGT. STEINMETZ: Yeah. That's all he needs to know right at this point... And we're going go ahead and have our investigative team talk to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Now, to be clear, Phoenix police told us just a moment ago that it's just proper procedure to finish investigating what happened first before notifying next of kin. Stay tuned, we're going to have much more tomorrow on "American Morning" and tomorrow night, Anderson, we have new information, new interviews and some new information about the timeline and the latest on the investigation. We talked to somebody very close to Carol Gotbaum and we'll have that on "360" tomorrow night.
COOPER: I just feel for the husband whose sitting on the other side of the country trying to figure out what's happening with his wife, trying to help and reach out in some ways. Just putting yourself in his shoes, has got to have been a terrible, terrible --
CHO: Interestingly enough, Anderson, all the while that he was making those calls he was at a picnic with his children and trying to frantically find out what was going on with his wife.
COOPER: Do we know how long he before he was actually contacted? Do we know that?
CHO: He was never contacted by the police. He made several calls to the airport dispatcher. He called the airline but never heard from police and ultimately he heard about his wife's death through friends who he sent to the Phoenix airport.
COOPER: Alina, appreciate the reporting. We'll look for more.
Up next, U.S. forces target suspected terrorists in Iraq. The civilians were also killed. We'll get the latest on that.
Plus, children's cough medicine pulled off store shelves. What you need to know in "360."
COOPER: A special 360 report on the up take of violent crimes in the nation's cities and suburbs but first Erica Hill from "Headline News" with a 360 bulletin. Erica.
ERICA HILL: Anderson, a coalition attack on senior leaders of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, has killed 15 Iraqi civilians, all women and children. That strike happened in the lake Thar Thar region. The U.S. military says 19 terrorists were killed. It said those terrorists had put civilian victims in harm's way.
The contracting company, involved in a shooting in Baghdad last month, is now being sued by families of those victims. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. district court claims that Blackwater violated U.S. law and fostered a culture of lawlessness among its workers. 17 Iraqis were killed in the shooting. Blackwater says it won't comment on the matter because it's under investigation but did add that the company will defend itself vigorously.
A major recall today of over-the-counter cough and cold medicine for infants. Several leading brands including Tylenol, Dimetapp and Robitussin are included in the recall. It's voluntary by the way. The Consumer Products Association says the drugs are safe when used properly but some people have misused them and that could be a danger for kids under the age of 2. You can find the full story as well as the complete list of those medicines at cnn.com/health.
Pop star Britney Spears will get to spend more time with her children. A judge today granting her one monitored, overnight visitation per week. Spears have lost custody of her two sons last week, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, she did.
HILL: Yes. Let's move on to "what were they thinking." What do you think?
COOPER: I say yes.
HALL: Yes, OK. Let's go it. This one really unbelievable. Talk about stupid. All caught on tape. A local TV station in Des Moines, Iowa, caught these kids throwing concrete and steel rods over the bridge
HILL: ... On to an interstate. Oh, yeah, let's do it during rush hour. I'll just pick this one up and hurl it over the side. Luckily, motorists or the station rather who caught this called 911. Kids started to run when a police car came by. Officers managed to get two of the kids and arrested them on criminal mischief charges. As you can imagine, that falling debris, talk about dangerous. Incredibly police say no one was hurt. Two cars were damaged however but amazing that's all there was to it.
COOPER: That is just unbelievable. I don't know. I kind of feel like the cameraman should have tried to stop it or something.
HILL: You know, I look at that and I kind of thought the same thing. Like, why are you letting these kids keep doing this.
Anyway, Erica, thanks.
Up next 360 investigates the violent truth about Philadelphia averaging a murder every day. What it means to everyone everywhere trying to stay safe from violent crime. Back after a short break.
COOPER: Some breaking news out of Louisiana on Mychal Bell, one of the so-called Jena 6. He is back in custody tonight.
Now you remember he was freed on bail recently after a bitter fight that drew national attention. Well, today a juvenile court judge sentenced him to a year and a half in a youth facility for two prior offenses. The same alleged Jena 6 related offenses violated the terms of Bell's probation. We'll continue to follow that story.
There was a murder last night in Philadelphia, 315 so far this year. Person for person, Philadelphia is now the deadliest big city in America. But Philly isn't the only city grappling with violent crime, or small town or suburb for that matter. Which is why we sent a team of reporters there to dig for answers that could make all of us safer, eventually.
But as you'll see, not yet and not in Philadelphia. Here again is CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chances are someone on these streets tonight will die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just shooting at anything and everybody without even looking.
MATTINGLY: Philadelphians are killing each other at a rate of more than a homicide a day. Already at the top of the FBI list for big-city homicides since 2006, the city of brotherly love threatens to beat that mark with more than 300 dead and counting.
(on camera): What's wrong with this city?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's just out of control. I hate to say it. But it just seems like to me, nobody cares what's happening to our kids. MATTINGLY (voice-over): Born and raised in South Philly. Shanta McDuffie (ph) is among parents afraid to let their children outside.
SHANTA MCDUFFIE, SON MURDER: You can get killed over anything now. You can get killed over a parking spot.
MATTINGLY: It's a warning she gave often to her oldest son Tykeem (ph) who loved to explore the neighborhood on his bike but making the 14-year-old wary of the danger wasn't easy even when it hit close to home.
MCDUFFIE: I've been going to funerals since I was young, I've been going to funerals related to the same kind of violence.
MATTINGLY: And it was on her mind every time Tykeem walked out the door, including one afternoon in July.
(on camera): Tykeem was riding his bike with several friends on the city street when witnesses say they were moving too slowly for the local traffic. That's when the driver in the car behind him blew his horn. It's the kind of chance encounter that happens hundreds of times a day in this city. Only this time it ended when the driver shot and killed Tykeem.
Was he still alive when you got to the hospital?
MCDUFFIE: I'm not even sure. They said when they got him, he had -- they said ...
MATTINGLY (voice-over): A scrap of police tape marks the spot where Tykeem was gunned down. In some neighborhoods, fallen friends are remembered with spray painted markers.
MARK LAMONT HILL, URBAN VIOLENCE EXPERT: You see the people ending disputes with bullets instead of fists that's a huge different from 20 years ago or even 10 years ago.
MATTINGLY: The numbers are staggering. In a single summer weekend gunfire left seven dead and a dozens wounded. Some call the city "Killadelphia."
GAIL IBDERWIES, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: They're fearful and they don't have hope. They don't have hope that it's ever going to change.
MATTINGLY: In September, protesters marched to city hall urging action. They called out the names of 300 murdered men, women and children, including a handsome young man who once talked of going to college and playing basketball.
(on camera): What was taken away from you?
MCDUFFIE: I just know my life will never be the same.
MATTINGLY (voice-over: And for the sake of her youngest child, Shanta McDuffie says she may leave the city for good.
COOPER (on camera): David, we've seen spikes in the murder rate before even worse than this one. What makes this different?
MATTINGLY: What's different this time Anderson is that the threshold for deadly violence seems to be lower than it ever has been. Particularly among young men who are settling simple disputes with firearms instead of with fists or with words. We're seeing that more and more often. Also you're seeing younger men, teenagers and even younger than that, carrying weapons on the streets these days. And when they use them, they're more indiscriminate where they are shooting and who they are shooting at. So you see more innocent by standers falling as well.
Consequently you add both of those factors together and experts are saying this is a lot tougher to address than the previous spikes we saw before that were more attributable to gang activity and drug trafficking.
COOPER: Just terrible. David Mattingly, appreciate the reporting.
Philadelphia has the worst murder rate in the nation's 10 biggest city. Here's the raw data. The FBI recorded 28 murders per 100,000 residents in Philadelphia last year. Houston was second with 18 murders last year per 100,000. At number nine New York City had just 7 murders for 100,000 and ranked 10th is San Diego had just five murders for every 100,000 people that live there and live pretty safely.
And one of the reasons for the high crime rate in Philly is the high number of guns on the street as David said. Tens of thousands of people have them and they aren't hard to get. So why aren't local law makers able to stop the sales? Keeping them honest, next.
COOPER: Well, on average, in Philadelphia a murder a day. And there's no getting around the fact that firearms are very easy to come by. Now you can go by issued permits alone. Tens of thousands of Philadelphians are packing heat. One reason has to do with politics. State lawmakers are reluctant or unwilling to give locals the authorities to keep guns out of the hands of killers. It's hard to believe, but local officials really do not have that power now.
Randi Kaye tonight is keeping the honest.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Philadelphia, getting a gun is about as easy as ordering a pizza.
(on camera): Are guns flooding the streets here in Philadelphia?
RAY JONES JR., MEN UNITED FOR A BETTER PHILADELPHIA: Yes, they are. KAYE (voice-over): Each week Ray Jones along with other community volunteers works to convince those most at risk of being shot or shooting someone to make smarter choices.
JONES: It's about survival. People are dying in the streets and we need to help.
KAYE: That help, Jones says, is not coming from the s state. More than 85 percent of the hundreds of murders in Philadelphia this year have been committed with a firearm. Jones blames state lawmakers for failing to pass tougher gun laws and preventing cities like Philadelphia from setting their own gun laws even though they desperately want to.
JONES: It would be appropriate for the city to determine it's own sort of destiny. Now our hands are sort of handcuffed.
KAYE: Back in 1994 a power struggle started, when they overturned an assault weapons ban making AK-47s easy to get as hunting rifles. The next year rules were eased on concealed weapons. And Vincent Fumo, state senator and gun owner, pushed through the Uniform Firearms Act, making all gun laws uniform for the state of Pennsylvania.
(on camera): A lot of people say it's this act that took away the power from cities.
VINCENT FUMO, (D) PA STATE SENATE: No, they're misinformed. They're misinformed on that.
KAYE: In 1995. There were fewer than 800 applications for concealed weapons here. Keeping them honest we checked. And today there are 29,000 permits to carry. And it's against the law to ask police why they want one. One law enforcement source told me permits to carry are being passed out like candy.
DAVID KAIRYS, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: It's like the Wild West.
KAYE: Constitutional law professor David Kairys believes if Philadelphia had home rule, a lot would change. Guns would have to be registered and licensed and there would be a limit on purchases. The way the law stands now ...
KAIRYS: You with buy 50, 100 whatever your credit card takes. Then you can resell them.
KAYE: Kairys thinks there would be stiffer penalties for so called straw purchasers, too, who legally buy guns to sell them for those who can't.
(on camera): There's no way of telling just how many legal or illegal guns are on the street. Police have no way of knowing since state law doesn't require gun owners to register their weapons. Each year Philadelphia police recover about 7,000 guns. So many guns they are running out of room.
(voice-over): And so many shootings, police have a back log of weapons to examine. Test fire and trace back to the triggerman.
FUMO: People want to think that this is the Wild West we don't have any laws. Well, we don't have is enforcement of those laws.
KAYE: Senator Fumo argues tougher gun laws alone won't stop shootings.
FUMO: Last I checked we had a law against murder. It doesn't prevent people from killing people.
KAYE: The governor, the mayor, the D.A., they all want stricter gun laws here. They say that's the only way ...
FUMO: Sure. It's a great way of getting away from enforcement. It's a great way of avoiding the issue of hiring more police.
KAYE: So the tug of war over lawmaking continues.
JONES: It's going to be a shooting gallery.
KAYE: And so does the killing. Randi Kaye, CNN, Philadelphia.
COOPER: Up next many violent crimes in Philadelphia and they're not being reported. The answer may be as simple as two words. "Stop Snitchin." We'll explain after a short break.
COOPER: A rule on the street, you just don't snitch. Some say it's the only way to survive a big violent city like Philly or New York or around the country. A city where so this year in Philadelphia 315 people have been murdered. And where guns are as easy to come by as a cheese steak hoagie, but where convictions are illusive as witnesses able to step up.
COOPER (voice-over): This summer four people were gunned down in a crowded neighborhood bar in southwest Philadelphia.
BILL SHUTE, SPECIAL AGENT, FBI: You have 30 people in a bar that see what happens but when police go to interview them, there's no information. Nobody has seen anything.
COOPER: No one sees anything because of a culture of fear. Police say residents in some communities don't want to come forward. Afraid to be labeled a snitch.
SHUTE: People did see what happened. They just were afraid to talk about it.
COOPER: FBI agent Bill Shute and his partner, Philadelphia police detective Pat Smith work together as part of the FBI's Violent Crime Joint Task Force. Their job to convince a skeptical community to work with police and provide information that could solve crimes.
DET. PAT SMITH, PHILALPHIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: People don't respond to help law enforcement to help figure out crimes. Especially when it comes to crime against family or friends.
COOPER: "Stop Stitching" is a tag line that's become code on the streets and it is putting law enforcement at a disadvantage. Homicides are on the rise but number of cases closed has been decreasing. As of last month, just 58 percent of this year's homicides have been solved according to local news reports. Here at a southwest Philly barber shop, most of the men we asked said they would not cooperate with police if they had information.
KEVIN HARDEN, PHILADELPHIA RESIDENT: The cops can't take care of me, I talk to them, then soon everybody want me dead. You see what I'm saying? So it ain't even no point. The streets can handle themselves. Survival of the fittest. That's the philosophy of the streets that I grew up on.
COOPER: Kevin Harden said it's a problem that's been woven into the social fabric of his neighborhood.
HARDEN: This is the problem people don't understand about Philly. Everybody is mixed in this. Everybody got a son or a daughter or a sister or a cousin that is the murderer, was the murderer, was the drug dealer, is the drug dealer. I understand the problem. I understand what the epidemic is. There's a whole other social structure going on with our people. This thing developed over years and years and years.
COOPER: Even when you're the victim.
HARDEN: It's a realistic thing. I didn't go to court when I got shot.
COOPER: Law enforcement here has started using a mapping program to help their investigations. It's called a pinpoint.
SHUTE: A larger red dot would be a violent crime arrest warrant. The unhappy faces are the shootings and homicide.
COOPER: Whenever there is a homicide, a shooting, a violent crime, Shute can quickly see who in the area may have outstanding warrants and a reason to cooperate with police. Shute says the project has helped them make more than 300 arrests in the past two years.
SHUTE: We target an area until we come up with the information that we want. On most of the cases we used this on we've been successful.
COOPER: In fact it was this software, Shute says, that led to the arrest a week later of a man in that bar shooting. His name given up when a witness finally talked to police. Yet even with this technology. Police must still rely on people to talk. SHUTE: This city needs two things. We need information, confidentially. But we need witnesses. We need people to step up, speak up and talk up exactly about what happened.
COOPER: And without that. Police say violent crime in Philadelphia will only get worse.
COOPER (on camera): Up next, in "Raw Politics." Some raw language from a New York City councilman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Chris. What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) do you have with these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) people. Get these people the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of my office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Find out what happened after this short break.
COOPER: So New Yorkers have a representation of being tough talkers, even the politicians. One city lawmaker recently upheld that fine reputation in a televised interview. Wait until you hear what he has said. The story is in "Raw Politics," but first CNN's Tom Foreman talks turkey.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Relations with a key U.S. ally, Turkey, are collapsing over a pending vote in Congress. No kidding. This is "Raw Politics" with real consequences.
(voice-over): The House is considering a resolution that says in World War I, 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered. Called it genocide. Turkish government hates that word and has yanked its ambassador but backers aren't blinking.
REP. TOM LANTOS, (D) CA: When the Turkish government said there was no genocide of Armenians. We have to set them straight.
FOREMAN: The White House is asking Congress to drop the matter because a huge portion of supplies from our troops in Iraq flies through Turkish air space and that could be shut down.
On the trail. Republican John McCain trots out his plan for health care reform. More free market competition. Tax credits if you buy health insurance.
(on camera): He says government-funded reform supported by the Democrats just won't work. He says, hey, who is going to pay for it?
(voice-over): Senator Hillary Clinton is paying. Five years ago this week, she voted for the war in Iraq. Barack Obama has always opposed it. Happy anniversary.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think her judgment was flawed on this issue.
FOREMAN: And New York councilman James Otto, a Republican, lured into an interview with a Norwegian comedy show. But when he is hit with tasteless questions about Obama and Clinton it's a Brooklyn bon voyage.
JAMES OTTO, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: Get out of my office before I throw the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of my office. And take these cameras and throw them out the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) window. All right?. I don't know what (EXPLETIVE DELETED) game you're playing but that's a game I don't (EXPLETIVE DELETED) play.
FOREMAN: Raw politics.
OTTO: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
FOREMAN: As they say in Oslo. Yeah, you bet you. Anderson?
COOPER: Yeah, I think he took off his jacket there ready to fight. Ready to do some fisticuffs.
Well, up next, a deadly attack on a U.S. base in Iraq plus suffering in Burma videos smuggled out and stories shared with the world when 360 continues.
COOPER: Coming up, the shot of the day. Just in time for trick or treating, the great pumpkin drop. Oh. Yikes. We'll explain that in a minute but first Erica Hill joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin.
HILL: Anderson, we begin with a deadly attack on a U.S. military base in Iraq. Two soldiers killed and 38 others wounded. It happened yesterday at Camp Victory, that's near Baghdad International Airport. More than 3,800 U.S. military personnel have been killed since the Iraq War began.
The violent crackdown in Burma. Also known as Myanmar. The Security Council says it quote, "strongly deplores" the military government's violence against demonstrators. Meantime at least a dozen free prisoners described brutal treatment at detention centers. One of those told a group of journalists dozens of detainees had been killed.
On Wall Street today a bit of a down day. Tech stocks leading a sell off just before the closing bell. The Dow dropped 63 points to close at 14,015. The NASDAQ which lead the retreat dipped 39 points ending the session at 2772 while the S&P lost eight. And in London, the start of what could be the most expensive divorce battle in British legal history. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in a London courtroom to work out a settlement expected to cost the former Beatle more than $100 million. And they are saying the breakup is amicable, the London tabloids, of course, don't seem to think so.
COOPER: Wow, $100 million.
HILL: Can you imagine that? Yeah.
COOPER: There you go.
HILL: Must be nice.
COOPER: It must be nice indeed. Let's take a look at "The Shot." Shall we?
HILL: Let's do that.
COOPER: Let's do that. It's the old pumpkin festival. There's a pumpkin shortage in some parts of America. Didn't stop an Oregon town from joining the annual great pumpkin drop.
HILL: My goodness.
COOPER: Weighed nearly 1,000 pounds.
HILL: Whoa. That bus didn't stand a chance.
COOPER: I look to watch this over and over again. It was dropped 100 feet in the air onto an empty bus. The kids come running to gather up the pieces of the ...
HILL: Get your piece of the pumpkin, go home and make your mom a pie. Good stuff.
COOPER: Yes, very good stuff. We want you to send us shot ideas. If you see smashing pumpkins or other videos, tell us about it. Cnn.com/360.
Up next, more on the Cleveland school shooting, the missed warning signs. Could it have been avoided? It's what's "On the Radar" when 360 continues.
COOPER: "On the Radar" tonight a Cleveland high school shooting. A student opening fire, wounding four and then killing himself.
Here is what he had to say.
Jess in Paris, Kentucky wrote us on our blog saying, "I'm afraid this is a problem all over the country. Parents with firearms in the house need to follow basic rules. Lock up their guns. Keeping a lock on their gun, which most guns come with these days, would solve a lot of problems. It's common sense," she said.
Sharon in Indianapolis, says "America in the 21st century has become the Wild West again. America has come a place like where buying a gun is like purchasing a household appliance, nooses are being hung from trees, school shootouts are as common as bank robberies, and Americans are in love with their cars like cowboys used to be in love with their horses. We're going backwards as a civilized nation."
I do think Americans have always been in love with their cars, though.
Anyway, many of you talking about REM's new song, "Until the Day is Done." It debuted last night on 360. Part of our featured upcoming documentary, "Planet in Peril."
Tammy in Berwick, Louisiana writes, "REM, how sweet is that? Honestly, associating with the "Planet in Peril" project is such a no brainer. You guys at 360 rock, no pun intended." I think you did intend the pun.
Tammy, appreciate the pun. If you want to hear the song. You go to our Web site, cnn.com/360 and click on the link.
That's it for tonight, for our international viewers, CNN coming up next. Here in America, Larry King is coming up. I'll see you tomorrow night. Have a great evening.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com