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6-year-old Boy Taken Hostage; Senate Opens Debate on Gun Control; Ray Lewis' Road to Redemption; U.S. Economy Shrinks in Last Quarter

Aired January 30, 2013 - 09:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Here, here on the bipartisan support. Just to hear people talking together, that's a good thing.

We are out of time. "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.

Hey, Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Soledad. Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM, a young boy taken hostage in an underground bunker. Now the FBI desperately working to free the little boy and end the 17-hour standoff.

Killer violent storms on the move. At least one person is reported dead in Nashville. Tornado warnings popping up across the southeast. The entire east coast could soon be in the danger zone.

Ray Lewis, Reverend Ray?


COSTELLO: People call him Reverend Ray?


COSTELLO: Does he deserve that title? Reverend Ray?

BRYANT: He does. He's a jack-legged preacher but without a license, no bible college but it's just in him. He can't help it.


COSTELLO: We talked to the pastor who put Lewis on the road to redemption.

And Toyota hits the breaks. The automaker announcing a massive recall for two popular models. Find out if your car is at risk.

NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. I'm Carol Costello.

On the same day a Senate committee looks at the problem of gun violence in the United States, police work around the clock to save a 6-year-old boy held hostage by a man with a gun. For the past 17 hours that little boy has been held in an underground bunker in Midland City, Alabama, not far from the Georgia border.

Police say the boy was taken after an armed man got aboard a school bus, demanded children, shot and killed the bus driver, and then fled to that underground bunker with the boy. Neighbors described what they've been told.


MICHAEL CREEL, SUBJECT'S NEIGHBOR: I talked to the girl that was on the school bus and she told me that he came on the bus with a gun, shot into the ceiling or the floorboard once then shot the bus driver three times after asking for a child, two children between 6 and 8. The school bus driver apparently he did everything he could, he said, you can't do that, threw the bus into reverse, floored the gas and that's when the bus alarm came on and tried to get out of the way but by that time, it was too late, he already shot the bus driver three times.


COSTELLO: Our affiliate WDHN says the gunman is a 65-year-old man. WDHN reporter Josh Rultenberg is on the phone with us from Alabama.

Hi, Josh.

JOSH RULTENBERG, REPORTER, WDHN: Hey, Carol, how are you?

COSTELLO: I'm good. Thanks for filling us in on this. This is a terrible story. Are police in contact with this kidnaper or the little boy?

RULTENBERG: I do know that they were in contact with the kidnaper last night. There was a point in time just after midnight Central Time when they did cut off communication with the kidnaper because he reportedly was going to go to sleep. Right now, more police are back on the scene, and we have not been told yet if they are back in contact with the kidnaper this morning, but we do know that they were talking with him last night.

COSTELLO: Was this school bus targeted by this gunman?

RULTENBERG: As far as we can tell, that is not the case. We do know that the 65-year-old man, Jimmy Lee Dykes, had mental issues and he apparently just stormed the bus. We do not know the reason why as of yet but we do not know also if he targeted this bus. It doesn't seem like that's the case.

COSTELLO: What about this child? Why did he take this particular little boy?

RULTENBERG: Well, it's been reported that this little boy could be a special needs child and perhaps even autistic. Once the gunshots were fired at the bus driver, the other kids were able to get off the bus but this was the one boy that was not able to do so, and that's why he was taken.

COSTELLO: And just a final question for you, this is -- the 65-year- old suspect, he's been building this bunker for, what, the last two years or four months? Why does he have a bunker?

RULTENBERG: To be honest, we do not know the answer to that question. We just know that he has been building this bunker for several -- for quite some time and we do know this, because he's been doing it for such a long time, he reportedly has enough food and supplies to last him inside that bunker for four months.

COSTELLO: Unbelievable. WDHN reporter Josh Rultenberg, thank you so much for filling us in this morning.

This latest act of gun violence could add new urgency on Capitol Hill where lawmakers are about to wade into the bitterly divisive fight over gun control. The long dormant debate has been revived in recent months by such horrific shooting sprees at Sandy Hook Elementary and the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

Sources tell us one of the people testifying today will be former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, herself a victim of gun violence and deeply moved by the massacre in Connecticut.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: When it can happen to children in a classroom, it's time to say --



COSTELLO: Giffords will be joined by her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. Together, as you know, they've launched a campaign against gun violence.

Also testifying the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, who says the tragedies are being exploited by the anti-guy movement. The NRA reached out to its members urging them to attend this Senate committee hearing. In an e- mail and -- in an e-mail and online in a posting the gun lobby group says, quote, "You can bet the anti-gunners will be trying to mobilize their supporters to pack the hearing room and we need to make sure the room is filled with Second Amendment supporters," end quote.

Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill this morning and finding out all sorts of stuff this morning. For example, there was a move to bring guns into the Senate committee hearing, is that going to happen?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not and it was a move by two of the Republican senators on the committee, two of the chief supports of gun rights, Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz. I'm told by a spokesman for Graham that they are not going to be able to do this because it simply couldn't get through the red tape, lots of red tape, and bureaucracy in order to allow them to do this. First and foremost assault weapons are not legal in the District of Columbia so they sort of gave up and I'm told that, instead, Lindsey Graham in particular is going to have pictures and posters of these weapons as his show and tell, not the actual weapons themselves.

COSTELLO: Gotcha. You also talked to Mark Kelly about his testimony. What did he -- what did he tell you especially about the NRA?

BASH: Very, very interesting. Look, Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords, his wife, who will both be here, they are both gun owners. And in fact Kelly told me that he considered joining the NRA but he never got around to it. He also told me that when it comes to his testimony here, he's going to be sitting at one side of the witness table, Wayne LaPierre of the NRA with be at the other. He hopes that they can have a conversation that can really start to do something.


BASH (voice-over): Two staunch supporters of the Second Amendment, two very different views on guns.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE V.P./CEO/NRA: They're God-given freedoms. They belong to us. In the United States of America, as our birthright. No government gave them to us and no government can ever take them away.

MARK KELLY, GABBY GIFFORDS' HUSBAND: I defended the Second Amendment flying in combat over Iraq and Kuwait, you know, defending our country. Gabby owns a gun, I own a gun, this really isn't about the Second Amendment.

BASH: These will be the star witnesses at Congress' first hearing on guns since Newtown. Mark Kelly, husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who survived a gunshot through the head, six people died in the attack. The couple are gun owners themselves. Kelly tells CNN they even used to practice at an NRA range. Now they're taking on the powerful gun lobby.

Kelly also tells CNN they support extensive gun control, including restricting high capacity weapons like the one used by Giffords' shooter.

KELLY: He was -- taken down after unloading 10 rounds in a magazine, then there would certainly be other people that didn't -- that died that day that would be alive today.

BASH: As the NRA's executive director, Wayne LaPierre is the premiere defender of gun rights. His prepared testimony released by the NRA sounds familiar warnings, "Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals, nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families."

LaPierre certainly will have plenty of avid defenders on the committee holding the hearing like Orrin Hatch. SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, after years of being pushed around it's tough for them not to be a little bit combative. Wayne LaPierre is one of the nicest, kindest people you'll ever meet but he really does believe in the Second Amendment, as do I.

BASH: LaPierre will go head to head with one of his toughest opponent, Dianne Feinstein.

SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: He makes his claim that everybody is entitled to these weapons. My view is everybody is entitled to be safe.

BASH: She called the NRA venal but insists it's not personal with LaPierre.

FEINSTEIN: He wants one thing. I want an entirely different thing. He's there for gun people to allow them to have these guns regardless. They have fought virtually every kind of regulation. The time has come to change course.


BASH: Now Feinstein will not only have to convince Republicans of that at this hearing today, she's also going to have some work to do with some of her Democratic colleagues, Carol, for example, the chairman of this Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy. He's a gun owner, he is a supporter of gun rights, so there's a little bit of tension, I think it's fair to say, between Feinstein and Leahy because she felt that the witnesses were a little bit skewed towards those who are in favor of gun rights and not where she stands in favor of gun control.

COSTELLO: Yes. Well, that's Senate committee hearing will get under way at 10:01 Eastern Time, just about an hour from now.

Dana Bash, thank you so much. Of course when that hearing gets underway, we'll carry it live for you. We'll have full live coverage. You'll hear every single word.

One person reported dead in Nashville this morning, as a line of severe thunderstorms pushes east. The system covers a lot of ground from Texas to Illinois and Virginia. Tornadoes have been reported, wind gusts as strong as 80 miles per hour are knocking out power to thousands of people.

Let's bring in Indra Petersons in the CNN Weather Center.

Tell us more, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, here's the good news. Currently we do not have any tornado warnings in effect but notice all the instability that still remains with us this morning, especially as you take a look down towards Mississippi and even Alabama.

Tornado watches are in effect until about 4:00 p.m., even in Atlanta area as a couple of these cells have developed ahead of the squall lines.

We're going to watch the severe weather threat as we go through the evening tonight. Notice the jet stream is slowly starting to lift off to the northeast but nonetheless this severe weather threat is going to stay with us straight through the evening hours. We're going to be looking at severe weather really from the mid-Atlantic regions all the way down through the southeast.

Now keep in mind this is not just going to be an event with isolated tornadoes. We have a lot of straight line winds out there, very strong gusts, you know, 105-mile-per-hour wind reported just east of Nashville this morning and of course the flooding threat as we continue to see these heavy rains.

COSTELLO: Indra Petersons, thanks so much.

Deer, antler spray, a banned substance? Who knew? According to "Sports Illustrated" Baltimore Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis not only knew but used the substance to heal faster. Apparently there is a banned substance made from deer antlers that stimulates muscle growth.

Lewis tore his triceps back in October, an injury so serious it could have ended his season. "Sports Illustrated" says Lewis used antler spray to heal. Lewis has dismissed the report.


RAY LEWIS, RAVENS LINEBACKER: Every test I've ever took in the NFL is -- there's never been a question if I ever even thought about using anything. So to even entertain stupidity like that, tell them to go try to get a story off somebody else.


COSTELLO: Most likely -- most likely Lewis' fans are dismissing those reports, too, because you see Lewis is much more than a football player in Baltimore. They call him Reverend Ray. As his pastor told me, Lewis is the mayor, the governor and President Obama in a jersey. He's a man who can talk honestly about redemption and who has the power to change lives.


COSTELLO (voice-over): The Empowerment Temple AME Church is awash in purple from the stage to the choir to the parishioners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need you to lift up your voice. I will not be defeated.

COSTELLO: In Pastor Jamal Bryant's church God is on the Ravens' side. And why not? Bryant is Ray Lewis' pastor, the man who helped lead Lewis to redemption, to God.

(On camera): People call him Reverend Ray?

BRYANT: Yes. COSTELLO: Does he deserve that title? Reverend Ray?

BRYANT: He does. He's a jack-legged preacher without a license, no bible college, but it's just in him, he can't help it. He has spoken here a couple of times, I've put him up to do our bible study and he's like Billy Graham and Bishop Jakes wrapped into one.

LEWIS: Please, please --

COSTELLO (voice-over): This is Lewis preaching at Empowerment Temple last year after a rash of shootings in Baltimore over Labor Day weekend.

LEWIS: We've got to change the way our children think. We've got to change the way these gangs are dictating and running our streets. We have the ability to do that, but it's called tough love.

COSTELLO: Fans call Lewis' "in your face" faith and extensive community service beautifully sincere but his critics find it phony, a redemption tour with no true redemption.

GREG WILSON, JACINTH BAKER'S UNCLE: You got all of this attention glorifying him and then he was involved in what happened down in Atlanta, but yet and still people don't seem to care. They're more interested in football.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What role did Ray Lewis play the night two men were murdered?

COSTELLO: Thirteen years ago Wilson's nephew, Jacinth Baker, and his buddy Richard Lollar, were stabbed to death outside of an Atlanta nightclub. Lewis and two others were charged in their murders. Four months later Lewis pleaded guilty to a much lesser charge, obstruction of justice, and a jury decided the other two killed Baker and Lollar in self-defense.

WILSON: We're talking about a family member here. This isn't just somebody that was on the street. We're talking about a family member here that loved them.

COSTELLO: But today, Lewis insists whatever happened in Atlanta changed him.

LEWIS: With everything that I've been through in my whole life, you know, the thing that for me to be here today and my only purpose in life is to find different ways to help people and encourage people and make our world a better place.

COSTELLO (on camera): Did you ever sit down and talk to him about what happened in Atlanta?


COSTELLO: Could you share?

BRYANT: I'm just glad he's on this side of it. It was anybody who talks about Ray Lewis can't possibly quote the "Book of Psalms" to know that David was a man after God's own heart, after committing adultery, after committing murder, after being negligent on the job, after being taken out of position, is still somebody who God honored. And I think that many times history can't really appreciate it while you're in it. It's only after you walk away.

COSTELLO (voice-over): And that, says Dr. Bryant, defines redemption. It's not what you've done, it's what you've become.


COSTELLO: And what will become of Ray Lewis after his last ride on Super Bowl Sunday? He's expected to take a job at ESPN and watch his son play football at the University of Miami. And you can bet Ray Lewis will continue to preach in churches around the country.

On the eve of the Super Bowl, CNN is live in New Orleans with our take on the biggest sporting event in the country, what it means to the city, how it became a cultural phenomenon and so much more. Join us for "Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN Bleacher Report Special," Saturday afternoon, 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Believe it or not, this is the mayor of Denver busting a move because he lost a bet.






COSTELLO: With the Super Bowl just days away, Denver's mayor is owning up to a bet he lost with the mayor of Baltimore.



HANCOCK: Good luck, Ray Ray.

COSTELLO: He's pretty good, don't you think? That's the mayor, Michael Hancock, doing an impressions of Ray Lewis' dance moves. Back in the playoffs (INAUDIBLE) Baltimore's Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake that the Broncos would beat the Ravens, but, of course, Hancocks lost, he also had to send a box of steaks.

OK. We've got to get serious now.

Toyota says it's recalling more than 1 million cars in the United States from issues ranging from faulty windshield wipers to problem air bags. It affects some of the most popular models. You can them here. Toyota says the air bags go off randomly in some Corollas and windshield wipers in some Lexus models may not work under the weight of heavy snow.

You can find out more information about this Toyota recall on my Facebook page,

Also topping business news morning, the U.S. economy shrank in the last quarter, something that was completely unexpected.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange with what this means.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Carol, you know, we expected lousy, we certainly didn't expect this lousy. And there are three big reasons, the economy contracted or took a step back during October, November and December of last year. For one, government spending plunged and that's mostly because of a pullback in defense spending.

Also, there were fewer exports. Europe is a huge factor in that. Just this week, we learned that growth in Spain and the U.K, is also contracting and that means Europe is buying less stuff from us.

Third, business inventories dropped and that means companies bought less stuff from manufacturers to put on their shelves, the fiscal cliff is likely a big factor in this. The possibility of cuts, of spending cuts -- that caused a lot of businesses and the government to pull back.

This is a big deal, Carol, because it's the first time since 2009 that we've seen the economy contract.

COSTELLO: All right. Alison Kosik, reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange.

We're hearing a lot from this year's Super Bowl contenders about faith and God. Does God play a role in who wins the Super Bowl? It's our talk back question today,, or tweet me @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the stories of the day. The question for you this morning: will God decide who wins the Super Bowl?

No disrespect, but the Super Bowl has become the God bowl. Its star player so religious there's no mistaking they feel God is on the field playing alongside them.


COLIN KAEPERNICK, 49ERS QUARTERBACK: I think God watches over everybody. I mean, I don't think he's cheering for one team or another. I think he's helping everybody just trying to keep everybody safe. He has a plan for everyone. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: For the 49ers' quarterback God's message are in tattoos, testimonies to faith, self-confidence and overcoming adversity. One sample from Kaepernick's tattooed Psalm, quote, "Through a mighty army -- though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid, even if I am attacked, I will remain confident."

And the mighty arm soon to surround Kaepernick, Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis, who thanks God before interviews, often quotes Scripture and makes no secret of his devotion to God. His pastor, Dr. Jamal Bryant of the Enlightenment Temple, believes God will be looking out for the Ravens and Ray Lewis come Sunday.


BRYANT: There's absolutely no human way that we should be in New Orleans, but it's evidence --

COSTELLO: You really think you are in New Orleans because God --

BRYANT: Absolutely.


BRYANT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: God cares that much about football?

BRYANT: He cares that much about redemption. He says a very critical line in the Bible says, I prepare a table before new the presence of your enemies.


COSTELLO: That Pastor Bryant's Sunday service many parishioners agreed, so it may come as no surprise in a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute, nearly three in ten Americans say God plays a role in the outcome of sporting events.

So talk back question for you today: will God decide who wins the Super Bowl?,, or tweet me @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm Carol Costello.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM at 30 minutes past the hour:

Opening bell on Wall Street, stock futures are down after the government said the U.S. economy shrank in the fourth quarter. Ringing the bell today, Jack Lipinski, president of the energy company CVR Refining.