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Could California Spree Have Been Stopped?; Pope Offers to Host Peace Summit; #YesAllWomen Sparks Conversations Online

Aired May 26, 2014 - 06:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA: Good to have you with us here on NEW DAY: The 22- year-old who went on a deadly rampage in California, he blamed women for his rage. In a detailed manifesto, Elliot Rodger said he was bitter with envy and tried desperately to win the lottery.

The manifesto sent to his parents, on a desperate search to find him but Rodger had already started his assault. He killed six, wounded 13 more before he took his own life. The question so many are asking this morning -- could this have been avoided?

Joining us is Dr. Jodie Gould, the director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, with associated with Weill Cornell Medical College.

Good to have you. Good morning. I'm sorry this is the topic we're discussing.

You know, it's interesting. Somebody made the point we really want to focus on the victims, but so many of us are struggling to make sense of this. But we're looking for answers, aren't we?


PEREIRA: So, let's talk to you about this first of all. We know that there were signs. There were signs -- videos on YouTube, we know there was this 137-page manifesto. We know that the parents were concerned, there was therapy. Officers showed up and did a wellness check.

Something broke down, though. Something was missing. In your estimation as a professional, what was missing?

GOLD: There were clearly red flags and clearly a supportive family and a psychiatric team that tried to intervene, but it wasn't enough. To me there was some kind of breakdown of communication. When the family and therapist reached out for help and called 911, which was the right thing to do.


GOLD: The police came, which was also the right thing to do.

PEREIRA: Yes. GOLD: But the next step should have been to trigger some kind of broader psychiatric evaluation that could have brought everything together. What happens a lot is care gets fragmented and it's not clear to me that an urgent psychiatric evaluation was done that could have brought all the pieces together.

PEREIRA: When would that have happened? Because, obviously, this young man was under the care of therapists from a very young age. Again, check, that was good, that was the right thing. When would that kind of evaluation been made and what would have triggered?

GOLD: When the therapist and family called 911 and saw the videos at the end of April, and the police came. So, there was a degree of evaluation came because the police came to his home.


GOLD: The next step would have been gone beyond the police interviewing him. It needed trained professionals who are interviewing him.

PEREIRA: So, let's talk about the wellness check. Are they the right team to go into a wellness check or is this something that needs to be reevaluated, do you think?

GOLD: I don't think they are the right team. They are a right team, of course, to do a risk assessment.

PEREIRA: If somebody is in danger of hurting themselves or others, obviously.

GOLD: And I think it's reasonable for them to be first in line. It's reasonable to send the police out to make sure that it's safe. But what should have happened next is either there should have been a mobile crisis team, which is when a psychiatric team comes to the home or he was brought into a psychiatric emergency room where he could have had a full evaluation.

PEREIRA: I want to pick that up in a second, but let's talk about the fact that when the police went in, they said he presented as polite and reasonable and no red flags to them. If there's no red flags, should there still be a follow-up?

GOLD: There should be a psychiatric follow-up. I'm not sure there should be a legal follow-up, but there should be a psychiatric follow- up. Probably should have been a case manager assigned. With younger people, we would have been assigned a case manager to try to see if we could have intervened.

PEREIRA: OK, the other aspect is the parents. You're in a desperate situation. This is your blood, this is your child, someone you love, but they realize this child of theirs was a concern and potentially a danger. What else can a parent do?

GOLD: This is a really hard one. I think when you're a minor, there's a lot more you can do. PEREIRA: Sure.

GOLD: I think had this person been 17 years old, they could have done a great deal.

PEREIRA: This is a 22-year-old college student, living on his own.

GOLD: I know. And he left home and it sounds like he started to plan this when he left home and became an adult. And right now, there's not so much.

They did everything they could. I'm sure they are wishing they could have done more, but honestly, he had treatment. They expressed concern. The mom was in communication with the therapist.

You know, it's hard to say what more they should have done.

PEREIRA: We don't know what went on in the therapy sessions. It sounds like he has multiple therapists, which is concerning to you or not?

GOLD: Well, it's hard to say. I think we don't know. It's not uncommon for psychiatrists who prescribe medication and maybe another therapist that's doing therapy.


GOLD: And sometimes, there can even be a family therapist, or something like that involved. But we don't know how coordinated the treatment team was.

PEREIRA: What do you do if you have a patient that's sitting there with you as their medical professional who says, I don't have a problem, I'm managing it? How do you see that they are a problem or in danger or going to psychiatric control and step in?

GOLD: Well, there's a whole bunch of things you do. First of all, if you actually think that someone is homicidal or suicidal in any way --

PEREIRA: You have to report it.

GOLD: You report it. But once you assist it, the next step that you do is you also assess for firearms. If someone is in my office or in the emergency room and I'm concerned for any reason about suicidality or homicidality, my next question is do you have access to -- are there guns in your home?

PEREIRA: He had.

GOLD: The next piece is the digital footprint. And what I tell parents and loved ones is that if you have concerns about a family member or a friend and they're projecting they don't want help, the digital footprint these days can be a real window into their psyche.

PEREIRA: Which it was, but it was too late, unfortunately, for this situation. GOLD: It was too late. Right.

PEREIRA: Jodi Gold, thank you so much. Very early for you to get up. Thank you so much for helping us try and see what went wrong here.

GOLD: Thank you so much for having me.

PEREIRA: Our pleasure.

GOLD: Thank you.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's get to Christine Romans. She's here now. She's got a look at more of our headlines today.

Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTIEN ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you.

Breaking overnight, three people are missing, possibly swept away by an enormous mudslide in western Colorado. It's two miles wide, four miles long, 250 feet deep in many places. The area is considered so unstable that it's been blocked off and people including the media are not being allowed in. Emergency crews say they believe the whole ridge had been sliding for most of Sunday after heavy rains.

President Obama returning this morning from a surprise trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The unexpected visit comes as the U.S. prepares to withdraw ground troops at the end of the year. Now, the president did not directly address the V.A. scandal but he mentioned a, quote, "sacred obligation" we have to take care of wounded warriors. Today, the president will mark Memorial Day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

Crews in Arizona say they are slowly gaining ground on a wildfire devouring the northern parking lot of that state. The fire, which authorities believe was set on purpose is now 25 percent contained. Authorities in Alaska say the wildfire that's been raging for a week there is 20 percent contained. Officials are urging people in the line of fire to evacuate as a precaution. It's early in the fire season. They are fighting it in Arizona, fighting also parts of Texas.

PEREIRA: And Alaska.

ROMANS: And Alaska.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Stunning pictures out of Alaska right there.

PEREIRA: Yes, really.

BERMAN: All right. Next up on NEW DAY: the pope in the Middle East making waves. Man, oh, man. Meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He's hoping prayer will bring both sides to the table. We'll have a live report in moments.

PEREIRA: And, of course, today is Memorial Day and this is the reason we want you to take note of today. Live pictures from Arlington National Cemetery. The president will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown today. We'll have more of that ahead.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

Right now, Pope Francis in Israel on his last day of his trip to the Holy Land. He's meeting today with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The pope really has thrown himself in the middle of Middle East politics during this trip, inviting both the Israeli president and the Palestinian president to attend a prayer summit -- it's what he's really calling it -- at the Vatican.

We want to break this down with CNN religion commentator, Father Edward Beck, and CNN political commentator and columnist for the Israeli newspaper, "Haaretz", Peter Beinart.

Peter, let me start with you, because the peace process, the political peace process in the Middle East is kaput, is really nowhere right now.

So, can this gesture from the pope, while highly symbolic, can it do anything? Does this represent a significant move or does this present perhaps naivety on the part of this pope?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's a powerful, symbolic move. It reminds the world that this is an issue that's of tremendous concern especially because of the Holy Land's importance to three faiths. But he did not invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He invited Israeli President Simon Peres, so that's a ceremonial role.

So, Shimon Perez does not have the capacity to do any serious negotiating at the Vatican.

PEREIRA: It's interesting, Father Beck, we saw the Pope visited West Bank, met with Palestinian leaders before he crossed into Israel. The first pope to visit Palestine before Israel.

Powerful, what does it say to you? What are your thoughts it's this pope doing this?

FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: Well, we know this pope is really concerned about justice and oppression of people who don't have a voice. And I think why he did that, and that powerful image of him going to that wall, that separation wall, which some have called a wall of apartheid, a wall of oppression, he just stood there and put his head against it. What he was thinking and praying about was clear.

I think what he's saying is we need to focus on this as a human rights justice issue. There has to be a two-state solution. The Vatican has said this for a long time. This pope wants to be part of the people who can broker that. BERMAN: Peter, you've been spent a lot of time in Israel. I'm wondering how you think this is being received there. So many times when people visit that region, there's a sense of a equivalence. Going to that wall, that separating wall and kissing it, there almost can be no equivalence inside Israel itself.

So, how is this being viewed?

BEINART: Well, there will be some in Israel who will be unhappy about it, especially because it seems like there were some graffiti at that particular part of the (INAUDIBLE) Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, which is incendiary for many Jews.

But I think the pope balanced that quite effectively today, not only going to Israel's Holocaust Museum but also going to lay a wreath at the founder of Zionism, and in a kind impromptu laying a wreath at a memorial for Jewish victims of terrorism.

So, I think quite differently, the pope actually managed to affirm the dignity and suffering of both sides.

ROMANS: It's interesting. Father Beck, you know, the gestures of this pope are so scrutinized as something very simple, not even a word spoken can -- maybe raise questions about could possibly make progress in the Middle East peace process. That's what's so remarkable about this pope.

BECK: We didn't expect him to enter into the Syria conflict like he did. Remember, he penned a letter to Putin when the G-20 was meeting in Russia. He said no military intervention. Dial this down.

Then he not only did that, but he said to the people, you cannot have military intervention and continue to kill people in the name of any kind of justice.

And so, then he had a day of prayer and fast fasting for an end to the conflict in Syria. That's when everything began to be dialed down.

So, some said the prayer helped. The pope was instrumental in Syria laying down those arms for awhile.

PEREIRA: And, I think what sticks to me is both these leaders, Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres, have agreed to come to this prayer summit. They have agreed to as well.

To me that seems a positive step that all three men, even though it may be seen to some as widely symbolic, that's significant.

BEINART: Well, I think look, I mean, this is the conflict, of course, between a kind of Jewish nationalism and a mostly Muslim Palestinian movement. And so, the opinion of Christians worldwide, there's obviously no more powerful Christian around the world than the pope, is very, very significant. Ands I think the future of this conflict will be defined to some degree, especially United States, by how Christians perceive the balance of claims here. So it is in both sides' interest, very much, to be seen to be making the maximum effort.

BERMAN: Seventy-seven years old, this pope, seems to be no barrier he's not willing to, if not cross, at least address or stand right up against. It will be very interesting to see what happens here and elsewhere as this pope travels the world. Father Edward Beck, Peter Beinart, great to have you here with us.

PEREIRA: Ahead on NEW DAY, he lost his only son in the Santa Barbara killing spree. Now he is calling on lawmakers to make sure no other parent goes through such agony. We have the emotional, very powerful, very angry interview with victim Christopher Martinez's father coming up.

BERMAN: And a quick programming note, but a very important one. Next Thursday CNN is preparing a new series. From executive producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman it is The Sixties, it explores a decade that changed the world, from the space race, to the Cold War, to free love- Sorry father. Civil rights and so much more. Be sure to watch, set your DVR for the premier of The Sixties next Thursday night at 9:00 eastern and pacific right here on CNN.


PEREIERA: Good to have you back with us on NEW DAY. We're learning more about the man behind the deadly rampage in California including his aggressive attitude towards women. In his last Youtube video he says quote, you girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It is an injustice, a crime, because I don't know what you don't see in me. The killings have sparked quite an online conversation, generating the #yesallwomen. Hundreds of thousands of tweets criticizing society for letting men feel entitled to women and citing examples of women being objectified, harassed or even worse.

Joining us now Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist, and Laura Bassett, she is a political reporter at the "Huffington Post" who focuses on woman's issues. Thank you so much ladies for joining us to have this conversation. It seems to be one that is really generating a lot of energy online. I want to read a couple tweets for both of you and get your reaction. Lets look at the first one. Because every single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body, every single one #yesallwomen. Another, because we tell girls to always keep an eye on their drinks at a party instead of telling guys to not put drugs in them #yesallwomen. This hash tag has gotten a lot of energy online. Robi, your reaction, what do you make of the conversation it's sparking?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: There's a lot of blaming going on. And all women is what concerns me, it's never all women. And it seems like he is constantly saying why don't you trust me, why don't you like me, why don't you love me and you're bad because you don't. Instead of having any insight to his own behavior. There's a social disconnect. Even though he's intelligent enough to make some interesting enough observations, the problem with him is an inner personal one, his inability to really understand interactions with others that really produces this gross failure. PEREIRA: Talking about the mentality of the shooter. Laura lets bring you into the conversation, do you think the conversation that is being sparked from this tragedy is a productive one? Is it a step in the right direction?

LAURA BASSETT, POLITICAL REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST: I think some of it is. Of course the not all women hashtag. You know everybody has been a part of a conversation in which you're talking about an instance of misogyny or you are talking about sexism and a man steps in and says, well not all men are like this. And I think this is women's response to say, that's right, not all men are sexist, not all men are domestic abusers, but all women have experienced sexism at some point this their lives. All women have been objectified at some point in their lives and there is a problem with our culture where men feel entitled to women's bodies and we definitely need to have a conversation about that. I think that is what's starting to happen right now.

PEREIRA: Do you see this as a misogyny is to blame or do you think, do you see this, Robi, as a psychosis that has nothing to do with that? It's just sort of another side of what's happened here?

LUDWIG: It is a side story, one of the reasons why Elliot hates women is because he can't figure out how to be with one. Or he's hating them because he feels rejected by them. Or maybe it creates some other kind of conflict. But he's not talking about misogyny. I don't know that he really cares about that topic, he cared about himself, and yet didn't have the insight to figure out how to make his life work because he was severely ill man.

PEREIRA: It is interesting, he may not have known that. Laura, I think that often times, as you were saying, women have felt that whether it's mistreatment, ill treatment, being not considered, sometimes the person that's victimizing them might not be aware of the experience that the woman is having.

BASSETT: Exactly, and I don't think he came in believing he was a misogynist. In fact quite the opposite, he believes he is quite the gentleman, based on some of the video's he put on YouTube. But you can examine his language and see the language of misogyny. He went to college feeling like he was entitled to sex. He said this is what happens in college, you have sex and you have fun and women are denying me this. Therefore, I will punish them. And he called what he was doing a war on women. He said going into the sorority house and slaughtering all the women in there will be the - I will be the ultimate alpha male. And he is using this language of , I want to be dominant over women and if I can't have their bodies, this is how I'm going to show them that I'm dominant over them. I think that is the ultimate misogyny, even if he is not self aware about it.

LUDWIG: Well the interesting thing about misogynists is that they feel powerless in relation to women. And that is why they hate them and they have to put them down because they do understand a woman's power. It's very disruptive to them to feel that they are not in control and powerful. So that's what we saw with Elliot. PEREIRA: This #YesAllWomen has just - I read through it there's a bunch of them. You can got to twitter and take a look, there is a bunch of them. Very powerful. Here's another one. Somebody quoting the Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood. Men are afraid that women will laugh at them, women are afraid that men will kill them. This is from May 25th, the novelists quoted that. But that's widely being quoted online. I have to say it's a frustrating notion to think women are feeling this, that this still exists. How do we get men involved in the conversation in a substantive way? My boyfriend is probably the biggest feminist I have ever met. How do we have constructive conversations so that in 2014 women are not feeling this way?

LUDWIG: I don' think all women feel this way, but if a woman does feel this way, then to put those feelings into words and let's start the conversation and figure out how women who do feel this way can feel more equal in terms of their power or confront a man who does make them feel like they are inferior, or just frighten them in some way. Find a way to protect themselves. Just talking about it is very helpful.

PEREIRA: Laura, last thought?

BASSETT: But just talking about it is very helpful. I just think we need to change the culture. Women are always talking to their daughters about how to avoid getting raped and not so often talking to their sons about how not to rape. We need to start talking to men at a young age about respecting women instead of objectifying them.

PEREIRA: Laura, Robi, Thanks so much for having this conversation with us here on NEW DAY.

We certainly have a lot going on on this story. Plus a lot of other news on this Memorial Day so let's get to it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looked directly at me and talked to me and shot at me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Light colored BMW, white occupant, a male wearing a white shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She immediately got on the phone with her mother and was telling her mother about how much she loved her and she wasn't sure she was going to make it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tomorrow is the day of retribution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired, shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very, very apparent that he was severely mentally disturbed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't tell you how angry I am. No parent should have to go through this. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Monday May 26, it is Memorial Day. 7:00 in the East. Chris and Kate are off today. Another search for answers after another killing spree here in the U.S. Friday night, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger stabbed three roommates before getting in his car and firing at targets around Santa Barbara leaving six college students dead before apparently turning the gun on himself. Now a 137-page manifesto has emerged, written by Rodger, and sent out moments before the rampage. In it he blames women for his troubles.

CNN's Pamela Brown is in Los Angeles with the details. Good morning, Pamela.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Apparently Elliot Rodger sent that chilling manifesto to a couple dozen people Friday night, including his parents and his therapist, right before he went on his rampage. This is according to a family friend of the Rodger family, named Simon Ester (ph). Apparently the mother first saw the manifesto and knew something was wrong immediately. She went on his YouTube page and saw the retribution video where he talked about slaughtering women at the local sorority house and there was a mad scramble underway at that point. A desperate search for Elliot Rodger by his parents and therapist.

Their worst nightmare came true when they learned there was a shooting in Isla Vista and their son, their 22-year-old son was behind it. Of course, Elliot Rodger had a long history of mental health issues according to this family friend and had been seeing a therapist on and off since he was 8 years old, but his parents never ever expected that he could be capable of doing something like this. They talk about a pivotal moment back in April when police checked on him. The mother was concerned because she had found some YouTube videos where he talked about being lonely and so forth. And police checked on him but didn't find anything to alarming.

They said he didn't seem like he was a dangerous to himself or to others. So the case was closed. His parents tell the family friend who spoke to us that they believe that was a missed opportunity it, but at the same time they to are asking themselves, what more they could have done to prevent this. John?

PEREIRA: I'll take it here, Pamela. Thank you so much for that. One of the six people killed Friday, 20-year-old Christopher Martinez. He was in the deli when bullets came flying in. Since then his father Richard has been outspoken and, he has been very emotional about the gun laws and politicians he says are responsible for repeated the violence.

CNN's Kyung Lah had an opportunity to sit down with Mr. Martinez who was incredibly emotional.


RICHARD MARTINEZ, FATHER OF A VICTIM: He's our only child. He died on Friday. I'm 61 years old now. I'll never have another child. He's gone. So the reason I'm doing this right now is to try to see if we can do anything to make my son's death mean something. Because that's all we've got.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's not going to grow up to be a man to work in the world. What did we lose?