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Alleged Hate Crime; New Search Phase; Scouring the Bottom of the Sea

Aired April 14, 2014 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The man accused of shooting and killing three people at two Jewish centers will be charged under hate crime laws. Why would he not also be considered a domestic terrorist?

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The national lead. He says his family was knocked to its knees when a suspect described as a raging anti-Semite opened fire outside Kansas City. In just moments, we will be joined by a man who lost both his father and his nephew in an instant.

The world lead, many new questions as the focus for Flight 370 finally, finally moves deep underwater. Does the team have enough to go on? The oil slick they found, is it connected to the plane? And was the co-pilot on his cell phone right around the time the plane vanished?

Also in world news, eat my exhaust, say the Russians, Russian jet nearly buzzing over a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea at a time when tensions over Ukraine are dividing Moscow and Washington. And what was the director of the CIA doing in Ukraine's capital this weekend?

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We will begin with the national lead. A Missouri man will face hate crime charges, among others, for allegedly killing three people at two separate Jewish facilities. And moments ago, police released their chilling dispatch recordings, revealing the terror just outside Kansas City as it happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four or five shots have been fired into the front door. There's a male with a shotgun. And they're now advising 12 shots have been fired into the door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just now got another call, 123rd and Nall. Subject shot a female in the parking lot, one, two, three and Nall, white small sedan, male with a shotgun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got two down. That's all we're aware of at this time.

(END AUDIO CLIP) TAPPER: Seventy-three-year-old Frazier Glenn Cross is accused of opening fire outside a Jewish community center and at a nearby Jewish retirement home.

Cross has a long history of spewing anti-Semitic venom, including at the moment of his arrest.




TAPPER: "Heil Hitler," he yelled. I'm no lawyer, but that's probably not helpful for the defense, especially now that the feds say he will not only face murder charges, but hate crime charges as well.


MICHAEL KASTE, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We have now determined that the motivation behind this was a hate crime. We have learned that the acts that this person committed were the result of beliefs and his actions -- were a result of beliefs that he had and that he was trying to hurt somebody based on their ethnicity, race, religion.


TAPPER: The timing of the shootings is also suspect. As you know ,yesterday was the day before Passover, which begins this evening.

Cross was caught with at least three firearms. Investigators say that he bought his guns through a separate straw buyer, which means he never went through background checks. Investigators have also now released the names of all of Cross' alleged victims.

None is actually Jewish; 53-year-old Terri LaManno was a Catholic who was visiting her mother at the Village Shalom Retirement Community. Tomorrow would have been hers and her husband's 25th wedding anniversary.

Fourteen-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood and his 69-year-old grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, were leader at the Jewish community center. Reat and his grandfather are both Methodist. They had driven to the center so Reat could take part in a singing contest.

We have a family member of Reat and William joining us right now, William Corporon, who lost his father and the nephew in the shootings. He's kind enough to join us now and talk to us.

Will, first of all, on behalf of me and all of my viewers, I'm so sorry for your loss.

How are you and your family dealing with this unspeakable tragedy?

WILLIAM CORPORON, RELATIVE OF VICTIMS: Minute by minute, just coming together, trying to cope and deal with it as best we can. This is one of those things you never think is going to happen, and now we're planning for two funerals. It's horrific.

TAPPER: What went through your mind when you first learned what happened?

CORPORON: My brother-in-law called me and just had a few words on the phone, kind of frantic, and said something about my father being shot and he would call me back.

Just disbelief and panic. And it was a few more minutes before I immediately tried to call my dad. And, obviously, he didn't answer. After a few minutes, I don't even know how long, I got another call and talked to my mother. It was probably 20 minutes later and found out he was officially dead.


CORPORON: And started making plans to head up here to Kansas City with my wife and my young daughter, and we came up last night.

TAPPER: It's clear that your Methodist faith is very important to your family. Is it helping you make sense of any of this? Is it providing comfort at this horrible time?

CORPORON: No. It makes -- it's making no sense of it at all.

But it absolutely provides comfort. Evil is evil. And no one in my family believes that God is doing this to punish us or cause us harm. You know, evil people do evil things. And what we will rely on is our faith to get us through this, knowing full well that it's only by the grace of God that we're going to be able to pull together and come to grips with what has happened and then rely on each to get through.

We have got huge holes now in our family that will never be filled, so we're just going to have to do our best to continue my father's legacy, to continue the legacy that Reat was certainly destined to live, and just do our beset to carry on.

TAPPER: Will tell us about Reat and tell us about your father.

CORPORON: Well, Reat was just so wonderful, 14-year-old, very bright, straight-A student, loved to sing, loved to perform from a very young age, loved to be in plays, very musical, very musically gifted, many, many friends. So many friends have come together, his friends.

You know, he and my father were only here because he was trying out, auditioning for this scholarship competition of some sort. I'm not really sure exactly what it was. He had already earned a couple of spots this summer for some local theaters. So he really was doing well with that and just a freshman in high school.

My father, I don't even know where to start. I'm not sure I will ever be able to measure up to the man he was. I'm certainly going to try. He absolutely was a faith and family first, and that's not putting words to that. He absolutely was. He and my mother moved up here into Kansas City to be closer to my sister and her husband and my brother and his wife and their children a few years ago, so they could be closer to grandchildren, to be involved in their day-to-day activities, because that's what they loved to do.

My father was still a practicing physician. As a matter of fact, he should have been seeing patients today. And, so, you know, he was robbed of that and people he was helping in his line of work were robbed of his healing hands. And there are thousands of people all across, you know, Oklahoma and the Midwest and people whose lives that he's touched that I have heard from, that have been in touch with my mom and friends and family and the outpouring has just been absolutely tremendous.

My father leaves a huge legacy of community and of healing, and it's just unbelievable that a senseless, stupid act can cause so much hurt and grief and pain. And while we mourn his loss and Reat's loss and certainly the other woman, we by no means want to discount in any way that, while we certainly mourn their loss, we are this week, as it is Easter week, Holy Week, we're going to do our best to celebrate their life as best we can.

TAPPER: Will Corporon, God bless you, God bless your family. Good luck in these trying times.

CORPORON: Thank you very much, Jake.

TAPPER: Not only was the suspect a member of the Nazi Party of America in the 1970s. He was also the leader and founder of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Later, he founded a white supremacist group called the White Patriot Party and he spent three years in prison on weapons charges.

In 2010, he claimed to be running for senator and appeared on "The Howard Stern Show," where Howard and Robin Quivers did not have to work hard to get him riled up.


ROBIN QUIVERS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What is the biggest problem with the Jews?

CROSS: They control the federal government. They control the mass media. They control the Federal Reserve Bank. And with those powers, they will commit genocide against the white race.


TAPPER: I think we have heard quite enough from him.

Let's bring in Heidi Beirich. She's the Intelligence Project director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

Frazier Glenn Cross has been on your group's radar for a very long time. Tell us about that.

HEIDI BEIRICH, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Yes, we have been tracking him since the sort of late '70s, early '80s.

He's been involved with a series of neo-Nazi and Klan-type organizations over that time. I mean, he's a hard-core anti-Semite and white supremacist. Basically, his life's work has been hating Jews.

We also sued one of his groups, the Carolina Knights of the KKK, for paramilitary activity and for harassing African-Americans back in the '80s. And, in revenge for that, he actually targeted our founder, Morris Dees, for assassination.

TAPPER: He's being charged with a hate crime? Do you think it should go further? I just wonder, if he had shouted "Allahu akbar" instead of "Heil Hitler," would be now facing terrorism charges instead of just hate crime charges?

BEIRICH: I think that's a really good question, Jake, because the fact of the matter is that, when we looked at domestic terrorism in the United States over the last several years, most of the threat here is coming from white supremacists like Cross or from people who really hate the government.

And I have a feeling that the charges would probably be more hefty or at least this incident would be described as domestic terrorism if it had been Islamic extremism. And we need to take these kinds of threats much more seriously, because this really is terrorism.

Frazier Glenn Cross spent his entire life trying to destroy minorities and Jews. And this was a political act, just like an al Qaeda attack would be.

TAPPER: You sounded the alarm about this man for decades. Do you feel like law enforcement heeded your warning sufficiently?

BEIRICH: Well, I think that there has not been enough emphasis really in the last decade on this particular threat coming from white supremacists and anti-government types. We have been very critical of the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence efforts, for example, on this front.

And I think more needs to be done, because the fact of the matter is that these domestic terrorists are basically hiding in plain sight on these hate forums. This guy has been producing anti-Semitic and racist rants almost nonstop for a decade on a site called Vanguard News Network, 12,000 posts.

And we probably should be paying closer attention to people on these forums for the potential for violence, like what happened yesterday.

TAPPER: Heidi Beirich, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

Coming up, the next phase in the search for Flight 370. After days without any sign of more pings, the investigation moves underwater. Is the search small enough to find the black boxes?

Plus, new details about the cell phone of the co-pilot. We're now learning it was still turned on roughly half-an-hour after the plane's last communication. Where investigators picked up the signal, that's coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. And the world lead.

Some promising new clues in the search for Flight 370. A U.S. official tells CNN that a cell phone tower may have actually detected the co-pilot's cell phone around the time of disappearance. The official says there is no indication that the co-pilot was making a call but this could mean -- could mean that the plane was flying low enough to obtain a signal from a cell tower. We'll explore that possibility later in the show with our own justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

At the same time, investigators on Australian's Ocean Shield ship are waiting to find out if a sample taken from an oil slick spotted downwind of the search area is a match for Flight 370. All of this while sonar technology on loan from the U.S. Navy has finally been deployed to scour the sea floor, to look for any sign of the missing jet.

Our Rene Marsh has the latest.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A strategy shift in the search for Flight 370's black boxes.

ANGUS HOUSTON, SEARCH COORDINATOR: It's time to go under water.

MARSH: And possible new evidence.

HOUSTON: An oil slick in the same vicinity. So, we will investigate those to their conclusion.

MARSH: It's been six days since the last pings were detected in the South Indian Ocean. Searchers believe the pinger batteries are probably dead. So, they've retired the pinger locator and launched Bluefin-21. The underwater vehicle will scan the sea floor for wreckage.

HOUSTON: I would caution you against raising hopes that the deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle will result in the detection of the aircraft wreckage. It may not.

MARSH: Bluefin is concentrating on a roughly 500-square mile where the pings were detected. But the process is slow. On its first mission, Bluefin will cover only 15 square miles. It takes two hours to reach the ocean floor, 16 to scan the area, two hours to return, and about four hours to download data, which includes high-resolution 3D maps like this. The other development, an oil slick discovered nearly 3 1/2 miles away. A sample was collected for testing.

But if it's believed the jet ran out of fuel, could the slick really be from Flight 370? It will be days before results are in.

The surface search for debris continues more than 1,300 miles northwest of Perth. With 11 military aircraft, one civil aircraft and 15 ships.

But this part of the search could wind down this week.

HOUSTON: The chances of any floating material being recovered have greatly diminished and it will be appropriate to consult with Australia's partner to decide the way ahead later this week.

MARSH: Day 38, the first attempt at looking at the floor of the South Indian Ocean, what Houston calls an area new to man.


MARSH: The ocean floor in this area is not sharply mountainous. It's more flat with rolling hills. There's also a lot of silt on the bottom that can be layered and deep. Of course, that could complicate the search for wreckage -- Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Rene.

A lot of new developments in the search for Flight 370.

Let's bring in our panel now. Rob McCallum is an ocean search specialist and a professional expedition leader. And, of course, you know David Soucie. He's a CNN safety analyst and author of "Why Planes Crash."

Rob, let's start with the Bluefin-21, this underwater drone of sorts. Even with a narrow search area, this is not going to be quick. Explain exactly how the Bluefin mission will work and if it captures something that could be the wreckage, how that data gets to those above the water.

Actually, let's ask that to Soucie -- if you would, David.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer that with Rob sitting here next to me. He seems more qualified to answer that question but as far as how it goes, it's supposed to get down and get a swath, but I understand that Rob might have some questions about it. He knows something about the depth ability of that Bluefin-21 and we've been talking about some concerns we have about this ability to reach that depth.

TAPPER: All right. Let me ask you this, then, David. Do you think they waited too long to switch to the Bluefin?

SOUCIE: You know, I was thinking that at first because I was real certain that that battery wasn't going to last more than 35 days and they kept going on day after day and I felt so empathetic for the families, trying to get some information.

But after thinking about it some more, I can understand why Angus Houston did not want to -- he wanted to exhaust every possibility. So it didn't ever come back to him and say, you just didn't give it enough time. We could have gotten more pings. He's doing this slowly and methodically and it's frustrating. It's frustrating for us and those families but I think he's doing it the right way.

TAPPER: David, there have also been discussions about whether they are going to continue the aerial search after the next few days, the planes looking for debris. At this point, I don't even know how many days we're into it, 38 or something like that, do you think the aerial search is useful at all? Is it possible that there could be debris that would be helpful so far after the incident?

SOUCIE: Well, it probably would be helpful but the primary clues in an accident like this are not from the floating debris. The floating debris is primarily used as to get you to the accident site. So at this point, you know, I would find it justified to abandon the aerial search. What we do find is going to be so far spread, I'm just not sure it's going to give us much good and I'm very confident that they are going to find something below that with the Bluefin and we're going to be looking at some wreckage and get some clues there. I think there's going to be plenty of clues down there at the ocean floor.

TAPPER: Now, David, the Australians say that this is all they have in terms of leads -- the four pings and narrowed search area. I guess it's possible that nothing is going to come of this search with the bluefin, even if it searches for months and months and months. Then what?

SOUCIE: Well, that's possible. But man, I don't know where you start then at that point. If there's nothing down there, you know, they've exhausted so many different options, so many different capabilities, they've extended the search to areas far beyond what we ever would have expected it to be. So if there's nothing down there, I think it's time to go back and relook at the Inmarsat data, possibly fly that route with another aircraft exactly and see if it really is that Inmarsat data is accurate.

You know, we're pretty much starting again. But there is some data to go back to but I think this is the best shot and I'm still pretty confident that we're in the right place.

TAPPER: David Soucie, thanks so much.

Unfortunately, we've lost our signal with Rob McCallum. Our apologies to him.

When we come back, making a statement in the black sea. A Russian fighter jet is getting really close to a U.S. Navy ship. What the Pentagon is saying about this provocative maneuver next.

Plus, piecing together every shred of evidence, investigators are looking at new information. Could anything tell what happened on board Flight 370 after it went radio silent?