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Fifth Service Member Dies from Wounds from Chattanooga Shooting; Wildfires Break out in California; GOP Candidates Gather in Iowa; Donald Trump Invited to Speak at Social Conservative Meeting; Investigation into Background of Chattanooga Shooter Continues; New York City Issues Financial Settlement with Eric Garner's Family; CNN Hero Provides Education and Housing for Troubled Youths. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired July 18, 2015 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:07] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So grateful to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.


This morning, we are beginning with the breaking news out of Chattanooga. Sadly, a fifth service member who was shot in Thursday's attack has now died.

PAUL: The Navy is now confirming a Navy petty officer has died of his wounds. That man was identified by his family as Randall Smith. This brings the total now to five service members who have been killed. Sara Ganim is live in Chattanooga. Sara, what else have we learned?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Christi and Victor. You can see behind me that this memorial has become very active this morning as people in the community are coming to pay their tributes, especially after we have learned this morning that that fifth service member has died.

His family earlier in the week while he was still fighting for his life talking to CNN about what happened. I want to read a little bit of what his grandmother said. She told us that he saw the shooter and tried to warn everyone around him but couldn't get away fast enough. He was shot three times, once in the stomach, once in the colon, and once in the liver. He had undergone surgery earlier in the week to try and repair those wounds. And the family was praying hard. He was fighting hard, but unfortunately around 4:00 a.m. this morning, he passed away. Some of that detail coming from his step-grandmother who talked to our CNN affiliate about what happened. Take a listen.


DARLENE PROXMIRE, STEP-GRANDMOTHER TO RANDALL SMITH: You can think this will never happen to your family, but, by gum, it can. It can happen anywhere.


GANIM: Now as the memorial grows behind us, there is also an active investigation behind that at the Navy recruitment center where other shots were fired before the five service members were killed. We have seen FBI and other officials combing through the parking lot all week -- all day, all morning. They have been looking, even walking in through the bullet-ridden doors, presumably collecting evidence and examining the scene. Christi and Victor?

PAUL: Sara Ganim, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: So how do you stop this from happening again? How do you protect America's military here at home? Let's go and talk now with CNN military analyst Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona. Good to have you, Lieutenant Colonel, with us this morning.


BLACKWELL: So let's talk about what happened yesterday in Oklahoma and in Louisiana where the governors there signed these executive orders to allow service members to carry weapons at recruitment centers and other facilities. Is that the right way to go? I mean, we have tried this gun-free zone stance for some time now. Should that be reconsidered?

FRANCONA: I think we have to look at each facility individually and determine what the best way to secure these are. I don't think a blanket approach of just saying let's arm everybody is the right thing.

The recruitment centers are a real problem because they are in malls. They are in public areas. They want to be accessible because we want people to come in and talk to the recruiters. So they have to be accessible, they have to be open. So I don't think arming everybody in these offices is a good idea. Maybe contract security guards or some other way.

But the Pentagon is going to look at this. They have a week to get some recommendations for the secretary of defense. The support center where most of the action took place in this incident, those could be secured a little better. The defense department raised its alert level in May. So I was little surprised that there wasn't more security around these facilities. So I think the Pentagon is going to have to take a hard look at all these facilities.

But going to the bigger problem is how do you stop these things from happening? That's the real issue. Identifying these lone wolf attackers, people that are operating below the radar, very, very difficult to detect, and as we're seeing, almost impossible to stop.

BLACKWELL: As it relates to arms at some of these facilities, let me push back to some of the people who came up to me over the past couple of days in Chattanooga. In that shopping center where the recruitment center is, on the left you've got a cellphone store, on the right you've got a pizza joint. They all have about the same level of security, which is virtually none. These are the men and women that we trust and train to use weapons and when to use them. Why not arm them, or have weapons with them? FRANCONA: That's a good point. No one is questioning their ability

to use the weapons. But remember, they are not trained in law enforcement or the escalation of the situations. They are trained how to shoot things, kill them, because when the soldiers, marines, airmen use weapons, they are generally trying to destroy what's out there, not really diffuse the situation.

[10:05:06] So, listen, I'm all for providing some better protection for our recruiters. These are the men that, all of the ones that were killed were combat veterans. It is just a sad thing when we can send young men and women overseas and they survive the combat zone, they come back and they are killed in their own communities because they don't have weapons. I'm not saying we shouldn't have weapons, but we have to look at each individual case and do this smartly.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about a moment that I witnessed earlier this week in which a man who was once in the Air Force came to that site and knelt and cried there. He said that the doors that he saw that were filled with bullets, those weren't just bullet holes in a door. That was a gateway to a better life to the man he is today. What does this mean to the military community?

FRANCONA: All of us grieve when this happens. This hits home, because those are our brothers and sisters in arms. It is a feeling of the brotherhood and sisterhood that we all share. And it angers us when this happens on our own territory.

We all signed up to go and fight, but we fight overseas. And now that the battle is being brought home, it really has an impact, a psychological impact. And I think many of us are angry that we are not doing more to stop the root cause of this. And we are not going to stop this in the streets of Chattanooga or Atlanta or Detroit. But we are going to stop this in the streets of Fallujah and Ramadi and Baghdad. So we need to concentrate on the groups that inspire these lone wolf gunmen.

BLACKWELL: All right, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, thank you so much.

Coming up just a little later, we are going to dig into the travels of Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, the shooter in this case. We are live in Jordan where federal agents right now are searching for potentially the motive, if it is there. Could these mysterious trips explain his change over the last several years?

PAUL: We want to turn to the breaking news out of California. We want to make a distinction to several wildfires that are burning in that state right now. First of all, take a look at the pine fire. This is happening right now in Wrightwood, an area that's home to several camp grounds. Hundreds of campers evacuating late last night, including 90 Girl Scouts. As to the second fire nearby, crews are battling some really intense flames in San Bernardino County, dubbed the north fire. That scene is still very active this morning. As the sun is rising crews are battling more than 3,500 acres of earth that is now smoldering, and only five percent of this fire is contained. But take a look at what was happening last night. What an astonishing

picture, people running from their cars and up the side of a mountain to get away from those flames.


SANDRA DUARTE, DRIVER: At first, he would take care of it, put out. But then as it started to get closer we just panicked.

VICKI BEGLARI, DRIVER: We couldn't get out. It started over at that end I believe and then it slowly started to move forward. And then it jumped a lane.


PAUL: Paul Vercammen is in San Bernardino County this morning. I understand you have some new information for us, first of all, about those drones and a warning from officials regarding how those drones might have made this more difficult, this fight last night. What are you learning, Paul?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christie, after sort of backing off on whether or not drones had an impact on fighting the fire that was on the freeway with those cars burning, San Bernardino County officials coming out right now and telling me that five drones were up in the air over these burning vehicles. And they have a derogatory term for these drones. They call them hobby drones, as in they are people just sort of toying around.

They said this prevented them from getting choppers up and dropping water on the fire for 15-20 minutes. They went on to say that this is so risky because if these drones somehow made contact with a chopper blade, you can have loss of life in both the helicopter crews and on the ground. And they are urging people to stop flying these drones over fires.

Over the last three days, this is about the fourth or fifth time I have heard from a fire official, including three captains, who say these drones are becoming a problem here in California. Now they are saying to us, 15-20 minutes, they couldn't drop water on those cars because of these drones, Christi.

PAUL: And those people, we saw them scrambling. As I understand, Paul, just to clarify me for me, I read that they -- I was wondering where they were running? There is nothing there. You said that they ran up a hill. Did they stay there for about three hours, as I had read?

[10:10:11] VERCAMMEN: They ran down the freeway and I honestly cannot tell you where every single one of these people went. It is hilly over here. And I am sure that they probably just sought some sort of refuge, including the place behind me right here. What had happened is if they had gone in that direction, the focus change of the fire itself had jumped over these hills and that's when it threatened the town of Feland (ph). And firefighters made a dramatic stand right there, and homeowners got involved too. We talked to one of them who was grabbing a hose and trying to keep his house from burning down and basically getting everything wet in the area.

PAUL: Well, it is just outstanding, really, that there were no major injuries in this. Paul Vercammen, we so appreciate all your hard work this morning. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: On the bath to the White House the first step is Iowa. Friday night it belonged to the Democrats. Today, it belongs to the GOP. How can they separate themselves, someone in this huge field kind of jump out ahead?

Plus, marching for justice, today the family of Eric Garner is rallying on the streets of New York. And you see there will be lots of supporters with them. Can justice be found? Their definition of justice one year after Garner's death.


BLACKWELL: Donald Trump, the new Republican frontrunner, is about to try to sell himself to a crowd of social conservatives. The billionaire businessman is joining nine other Republican candidates at the annual Family Leadership Summit meeting in Ames, Iowa. It kicks off in the next hour.

[10:15:03] And it comes on the heels of Friday night's battle for the Democrats. For the first time all five candidates attended the same event together. Bernie Sanders, who has been surging in the polls, really, kicked off his speech by calling for, quote, "a political revolution."


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Given the reality of economics and politics in America today, no president, not the best, can bring about the changes we need in this country unless there is a political revolution.



BLACKWELL: All right, you heard it there. We have got CNN politics executive editor Mark Preston live in Iowa for us. He attended last night's big event. Chris Moody is in Phoenix where another big DNC event is kicking off.

And Mark, I want to start with you. With the Democrats rallying around health care and same-sex marriage, if it were a pendulum of rhetoric, today it is going to swing hard in the opposite direction.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No question. And 100 miles to the west of where we were last night in Cedar Rapids, you saw there from Bernie Sanders talking for a political revolution. You will hear the same today except it will be for entirely different policy proposals. Today they are going to talk about making sure that same-sex marriage is outlawed. People here that will be attending this summit very frustrated by the Supreme Court's ruling. They will talk a lot about abortion and they will talk a lot about morals and their family values. Expect about 2,000 conservatives to come to listen to 10 Republican presidential candidates talk on those issues, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Chris, I understand that last night at that event in Iowa, about 1,300 people there mostly in favor of Clinton, Clinton supporters there. But in Phoenix, maybe not the case. Why?

CHRIS MOODY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not the case at all. Here in Phoenix is the annual Net Roots Nation conference. It's about 3,000 of the most liberal Democrats in the movement. These are the group of progressives, the true believers. And I talked to a number of them this week. And I have been hard-pressed to find a truly passionate Clinton supporter this early on in the race. The name of the game right now among the liberal Democrats is Bernie Sanders. He is sucking all the energy out of the room. He's speaking here today and then doing a rally where thousands more are coming. Hillary Clinton is somebody that they may end up supporting if she wins the nomination next year, but right now they are all in for Bernie.

BLACKWELL: Let's check in with the Republican frontrunner to hear what Donald Trump said in Arkansas last night.

OK, well, he criticized Jeb Bush. He does it every week, probably every day now. Is this type of rhetoric, Mark, going to work with social conservatives, with religious conservatives there in Iowa?

PRESTON: You know, Victor, it is working right now. We are in 2015, the summer of 2015, he is playing to a very specific part of the Republican base that are very frustrated with two terms of a Democratic president. Today he will have to talk to a different audience in the sense that he is going to have to talk about values and issues that are important to these voters here in Iowa. These are the voters that help you win the Iowa caucuses. Donald Trump has started doing that on the stump. He is against same-sex marriage right now. He is prolife. These are issues we expect for him to talk about today, but expect him also to consider his criticism of Jeb Bush and others in the field.

BLACKWELL: Mark, I just don't know if Donald Trump is the best spokesperson, maybe he would even admit this, for traditional values.

PRESTON: Well, he has been married three times, no question about that. But it is interesting. He seems to keep on getting invitations to events like this. There are social conservative events that are held across the country. Several of them are in Washington, D.C. Donald Trump always comes. He is always a draw. Let's not forget, he is a reality TV star. He is larger than life in many ways. People want to hear what he has to say.

BLACKWELL: And Chris, how does Clinton win over the wing of the party that we see is just clamoring for Bernie Sanders?

MOODY: For starters, she could show up and talk to them. And that's something she is not doing here. She declined an invitation to come speak to the group. Remember, this is about 3,000 of the most hardcore liberal activists. These are people that are going to be knocking on doors, going out and preaching your name and your word, and she is not coming to speak with them this year. So that is step number one.

Also, what they want to hear is somebody they feel comfortable is going to go to Washington and not get into necessarily compromising debates. They want someone to stand for the principles that they believe in. And they think that is Bernie Sanders. And they are a little nervous about Hillary Clinton, the possibility of here going on and doing that.

But also the Bernie support has another impact, and that is bringing Hillary Clinton to the left as much as they possibly can get her so that if she wins the nomination, she will be further to the left side, to the liberal side, than she would have been without Bernie Sanders' pressure.

[10:20:12] BLACKWELL: All right, a lot going on this weekend, Chris Moody there in Phoenix, Mark Preston in Ames, Iowa, thank you, both.

PAUL: British tabloids are known for publishing what some say questionable pictures and videos. Did they go too far, however, with a 72-year-old clip of the queen? The royal's think so. We are going to show you the video that a lot of people are talking about today.

Plus, it has been a week since a drug kingpin slipped out of his prison cell in Mexico. Now new information that might have motivated El Chapo to get out quick.


BLACKWELL: New numbers on that attack this morning in eastern Iraq. We are now learning that the terror attack killed at least 120 people, and now 140 others are wounded. Officials say a car bomb exploded at a busy market where hundreds of people were shopping. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. This is a predominantly Shiite town. It is about 21 miles north of Baghdad, we understand. The attack comes as people were getting ready to celebrate the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.

[10:25:07] PAUL: We are getting word for the first time in almost a month, Greeks will finally be able to access their money. The country's finance ministry says the banks are set to reopen Monday. They will have daily withdrawal limits, however. Banks there were closed three weeks ago to avoid running out of cash.

BLACKWELL: A once popular mall in Kenya is reopening after it was brutally ravaged by Islamist militants. This was about two years ago. In all 67 people were killed during this 2013 massacre. This is Westgate Mall we're speaking of. Many of those who survived the attacks say they will not go back in this morning. But one store employee is vowing to stay back to work saying, if people stay away, Shabaab will win.

PAUL: Buckingham Palace is condemning the use of it video. Take a look at it here. It was recently published by the U.K. tabloid "The Sun." The short black and white clip shows the young Queen Elizabeth and her sister playing. Elizabeth then gives a Nazi salute. The video was taken around 1933. Elizabeth was six years old and Hitler was rising into power. In a statement the palace called the film disappointing, later chastising the tabloid, saying they used it for exploitation.

It has been a year and there are still questions. The family of Eric Garner remembering the man they loved who died in police custody. They received a multimillion-dollar settlement. But the family, they say, are still waiting for justice.

BLACKWELL: Plus five servicemen now dead in the shooting in Chattanooga. And the big question most people are asking is why? A look at whether the trip to the Middle East changed Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez in the last couple of years.




CROWD: Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?



CROWD: Justice!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When do we want it?



[10:30:00] BLACKWELL: Shouts for justice at a rally in New York. Now one year after Eric Garner's death there is another rally planned for this afternoon. You might remember Garner died after being placed in a choke hold by New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo. New York City has reached a settlement with Garner's family for nearly $6 million. But the family says what they want is justice, their definition of justice here. CNN's Boris Sanchez has details.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The now infamous video taken outside a Staten Island strip mall captures a confrontation between Eric Garner and New York City police officers.

ERIC GARNER: I'm minding my business, officer. I'm minding my business. Please, just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please leave me alone.

SANCHEZ: They approach the 43-year-old for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

GARNER: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

SANCHEZ: Moments later, the father of six was dead, killed at the hands of police. The New York City medical examiner's office ruled Garner's death a homicide by way of a chokehold, a move banned by the NYPD.

EMERALD GARNER, ERIC GARNER'S DAUGHTER: What happened plays back in my head. It's just overwhelming.

SANCHEZ: Emerald Garner says she has only watched the video once. She refuses to watch it again. Just a few days before the one year anniversary of her father's death, New York City officials announced a $5.9 million settlement with the Garner family.

GWEN CARR, ERIC GARNER'S MOTHER: This is not a victory. The victory will come when we get justice.

SANCHEZ: Garner's widow Esaw says the money is not enough.

ESAW GARNER, ERIC GARNER'S WIDOW: What would bring me real comfort is to see them officers gets arrested, lose their jobs, suffer the same type of loss. I am not saying that he should die, but you feel dead when you are in jail, because time stands still.

SANCHEZ: Esaw is pushing for Sergeant Daniel Pantaleo who restrained Garner in the alleged chokehold to be prosecuted. In December of last year, a grand jury declined to indict him.

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am here to announce that the Justice Department will proceed with a federal civil rights investigation into Mr. Garner's death.

SANCHEZ: The results of that investigation still pending.

EMERALD GARNER: You know what that right thing is. You know that my father's death was ruled a homicide. And these officers deserve to be prosecuted.

SANCHEZ: In the meantime, Sergeant Pantaleo remains stripped of his badge and gun, off the streets, relegated to desk duty. CNN reached out to his attorney, Stuart London, at least half a dozen times, but we've not heard back.

What happened to Eric Garner here in Staten Island resonated much further away. His last words sparking a movement across the country to change the way police interact with the community.

EMERALD GARNER: My father's situation sparked a whole movement.

CROWD: I can't breathe! I can't breathe!

SANCHEZ: Those three words became the rallying cry in Ferguson, Baltimore, and several other cities nationwide, where alleged cases of police brutality emerged after Garner's death. EMERALD GARNER: My ultimate hope and my ultimate goal is that people

just don't forget who he was.

SANCHEZ: Now Emerald Garner has made the cause into her career. She works with the National Action Network, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing civil rights. And she created the Eric Garner Foundation, hoping her work creates a brighter future for the two grandchildren her father left behind.

EMERALD GARNER: His spirit is with us. He is in our hearts. I have memories to last a lifetime. I can tell millions of stories between my siblings, my father, and my parents. So that's what the main thing is, keeping the memories alive, making sure that the stories we have I can pass to my daughter.

SANCHEZ: Boris Sanchez, CNN, New York.


PAUL: Let's bring in Walter Madison. He's the attorney for Tamir Rice's father. Remember, Tamir, was 12 years old and he was killed in a Cleveland police shooting last year. Walter, we just heard Eric Garner's family saying that their justice will come when these police officers face charges. What is the possibility you think at all that that would happen at this point?

WALTER MADISON, ATTORNEY FOR TAMIR RICE'S FATHER: It's very difficult. Quite honestly I think there is a slim chance that that would occur. It would largely depend on the federal prosecution or federal violation of civil rights. And I just don't know if that role happened for the Garner family.

PAUL: The grand jury declined to indict the police officer as we know it. If the family, does the family have any other option of pursuing a criminal case at this point?

MADISON: In New York, you have that situation. Here in Cleveland, you had the Tamir Rice situation. And Mr. Garner's life was not in vain. I'll say it has really advanced the issue and awareness. Citizens in Ohio counseled them and they got together and filed affidavits with the judge. The people demanded the charges. New York, I'm not sure if they have a similar provision in their law to do that.

[10:35:08] But you eat an elephant one piece at a time, and you must continue to bring this issue to the forefront. America is not at ease socially. There is dis-ease there, disease. And we must look at this situation head-on and do our very best to force change.

PAUL: So other than charges, what kind of reform within police departments do you think will bring that change, not just to the departments themselves, the change that this family is looking for, but collectively within the communities?

MADISON: Well, community, I mean the entire nation. Culture eats policy for lunch. It doesn't matter how or what policies change. Until we get to this cultural issue of police officers, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, all these people died from minor interactions with the police. And it is just really unfair. It is over the top. It stems all from a culture. And until that is changed and there is more of a focus of humanity, that's where our efforts should be and that's where the focus ought to be.

Each of those situations, the officers have been reprimanded administratively, but that's nowhere near just for the families who have lost their loved once. And I think the social and public outcry represents that. So it's a very reflective moment for the country one year later.

PAUL: That's true. Walter Madison, we appreciate getting your perspective on this. Thanks for taking the time to be with us.

MADISON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Friends say when the Tennessee shooter returned home from a trip to Jordan last year, he was different. He had changed. He took several trips to the Middle East in recent years. Question -- who was he visiting? CNN is using its worldwide resources to track down Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez's trips overseas. We have a live report coming up from Jordan.

Plus, it's been a week since the drug kingpin slipped out of the prison cell in Mexico. Now new information that might have motivated El Chapo to get out quick.


[10:40:54] BLACKWELL: Two days after the deadly attack in Chattanooga another officer has now died. A family member confirms that Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith passed away this morning after being shot several times. The U.S. Navy earlier confirmed the sailor had died. This as the investigation into his killer intensifies. Clues in the case are leading the FBI all the way to Jordan. And federal agents are focusing on a number of mysterious trips made by Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, trips his friends say turned him into a different person. CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is in Jordan. Nick, these trips really could hold the key to this investigation.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Possibly. Although, sadly, in an often deranged world of a lone wolf, they may not. What we do know is he used his American passport to come here a number of times in the past years, most recently in 2014. There have been media reports that could have been as long as seven months.

We know from Jordanian officials he met his uncle while he was here. They will be looking along with U.S. investigators to look at who else he met and where specifically he went, because while Jordan itself is not really a hot bed of radicalism, there are individuals here, there are pockets of even ISIS sympathizers at times. This is a very heavily policed society where ISIS has little popular support.

So they may also be looking to see whether he left this country to the north perhaps, an uncommon route used by jihadists heading to Syria from Jordan. Don't see that that often. Potentially he could have headed east towards Iraq where there are plenty of ISIS extremists and sympathizers, or maybe he used Oman as a transit route to another country. The suggestions are maybe he ended up in Yemen which has been a hot bed of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, even ISIS recently.

Many questions still to be answered. The mystery being, do these trips hold the key to some pivotal moment of radicalization, or did that occur somewhere else? Investigators are going to be struggling with a complex narrative there, because whatever happened when he was abroad, that did radicalize him. He still came back and drank droves. He was caught drinking alcohol and being drunk behind the wheel. That's not the behavior of a devout Muslim. So a complex narrative we are trying to create. But behind it may lead to the motivation or perhaps the inspiration for that attack in Tennessee, Victor.

Nick, we know those are the questions investigators will be trying to ask. But who or what did Abdulazeez say he was going to Jordan to see or do?

WALSH: He never made it entirely clear the purpose of his goal. He had extended family in this region. He said to friends that he was headed to see his relatives. We don't know if there was a wider purpose. Tourism is entirely viable here. People like him with Palestinian heritage who find family in Jordan or the West Bank as well, maybe, they would naturally come to try and explore where the family came from. That is itself suspicious, even for those naturalized Americans to do.

The question is, did he go elsewhere? I think they will be looking very cleanly, investigators, at this Jordanian travel document that he appears to have had, effectively a Jordanian passport that may have been used for further travel or not at all. But all these different parts, they are wrestling with complex names. He had an original family name that later became Mohammad Youssuf Saeed Hajj Ali, which became Abdulazeez, the family name on their American passport. That's going to complicate matters too in terms of delving into records. But I think at the end of the day they have to work out if something key happened that put him on that path toward those Tennessee attacks.

BLACKWELL: Nick Paton Walsh in Ammon for us, Nick, thank you.

PAUL: New developments in the escape of Mexican drug lord, El Chapo. Workers from the prison he ran from now facing charges. Was it negligence or did they help him escape?

Also, what are the chances that he just walked out of prison, not through the homemade tunnel? We are talking to one man who thinks that tunnel is all a ruse.


[10:48:45] PAUL: New details in the prison escape of one of the world's most notorious drug travelers. Mexican officials have confirmed that the U.S. filed an extradition request for Joaquin El Chapo Guzman two weeks before his jailbreak. El Chapo faces U.S. charges of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine.

In the meantime, seven people who worked in that prison that Guzman was being kept in have been charged now in connection with that escape. CNN's Polo Sandoval is on the ground in Mexico City with the latest. Are the arrests of these people because they think there was neglect or they think they may have aided the escape itself?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, that is a key question that Mexican federal prosecutors are yet to answer. They released that information saying these southern individuals are truly the first to be charged in connection with this case. We do know that they were employees at the prison just outside of Toluca, Mexico, about an hour's drive from where we are here in Mexico City. And we do know that this could potentially answer the question of who may or may not have actually helped Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escape. Now, this is all coming as investigators continue to push forward and try to track down this very dangerous individual.

[10:50:00] At the same time we heard from the Mexican president yesterday addressing this escape for the first time here in Mexico City, saying Mexican forces and security forces as well, promising to move forward, to push forward in this investigation and to track him down. But I have to say, Christi, there is some serious doubt among the people of Mexico this morning. Many people that I spoke to really seem to think that this level of corruption that is in their words part of the fabric of Mexico is likely going to get in the way in order to track this man down. So, again, some major key questions right now still at this hour.

PAUL: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: We have with us bestselling author Don Winslow to talk about this. One of the main characters in his latest novel "The Cartel" is based on Joaquin Guzman. And he has researched El Chapo for several years. Good to have you with us this morning.

DON WINSLOW, AUTHOR, "THE CARTELS": Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: So according to a recent NPR interview, and I find this fascinating, you have serious questions about El Chapo escaping through this really advanced, sophisticated tunnel. You say this is about saving face. Why?

WINSLOW: Well, I do have serious doubts he went through that tunnel. He might have. He might not have. Let's remember this is not Mr. Guzman's first escape. It is his second escape. He escaped from a maximum security prison in 2001. At that time the story was, he went out hidden in a laundry cart. Now we know, we found out years later, he didn't go out in a laundry cart. He went out the front gate into either a vehicle or a helicopter. So if the past is prologue, this tunnel could very, very well be a diversion or face-saving device, to say he made this daring escape. We didn't let him out. This wasn't an escape. This was a departure.

BLACKWELL: Is that worth all that work and time and money for just saving face? WINSLOW: Well, it sure could be, absolutely. Listen, the first time

Mr. Guzman got out of prison, it cost him a $2.5 million bribe. Prices have probably risen since then and this one probably cost more.

Whether he went out the tunnel or not, though, let's not lose sight of the larger picture. He didn't do it alone. And so he had help from both inside the prison and outside the prison. If he went out this tunnel, that's a mile long tunnel. He is not sitting in this cell digging out with a rusty spoon. He was let out. I have had harder trouble checking out of a hotel than he had getting out of this prison.


BLACKWELL: So you said that the cartels, and this is a quote, "It is not like the cartels are like ISIS. ISIS is like the cartels." Explain that.

WINSLOW: Well, we have been very focused, and quite understandably, on these ISIS videos recently of these atrocities. They are horrible. But the Mexican cartels were doing this 10 years ago to intimidate, to terrorize people, and, sadly, to recruit people. So similarly when I saw Chapo's most recent escape, it felt like a rerun to me, something we've been looking at for 10 years. Similarly the ISIS videos feel like a rerun in their full horror because, again, the cartels started doing this a long time ago.

BLACKWELL: Don Winslow, thank you so much for being with us. The book is "The Cartels," a character based on Joaquin Guzman. Good to have you this morning.

WINSLOW: Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: And we want you at home to join the conversation as well on social media. Do you think El Chapo will be caught again? Go to or use the hash-tag NewDayCNN on Twitter.

PAUL: Also we are watching very closely the developments out of southern California this morning. An out of control wild fire is still growing this hour. Dozens of cars abandoned on the freeway and charged. We are live in San Bernardino County at the top of the hour. Stay close.


BLACKWELL: Baltimore recently has seen an alarming spike in violence. The city's young men often are caught up both as victims and offenders.

PAUL: This weekend CNN hero is Richard Bienvenue, who is embracing troubled kids and trying to give them the tools to rebuild their lives.


RICHARD BIENVENUE, CNN HERO: When I was a Special Ed teacher I teacher, I taught carpentry to high-rent kids. During the day, you would see that spark. They would go home at nighttime and it would get erased. The tears I would see, the anguish they would go through, I saw a real need. That's when the idea hit me. Don't let them go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The morning meal is now being served.

BIENVENUE: We provide residential setting for young men. During the day, they learn trades. At nighttime, they are getting high school education. We take on a lot of tough case from foster care to the court system. The emotional support that we give is critical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I worked hard on it.

BIENVENUE: Good job.

The grounds are wide open, fields, trees, animals. It is not a lockup. This is so it becomes a home to many of them. When they leave, we try to help them find a job and a place to live. Anything they need, we make sure they have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The program changed my life in every way. I am currently in Wharton College. I feel like I went from the bottom to the top. They gave me the tools to build my future. I decided to come back and work with youth just like other people worked with me.

BIENVENUE: I don't want to see any more kids fall through the cracks. If I can give them an opportunity to turn their lives around, to step forward, that's my life's work.


PAUL: That is just awesome. If you know someone who should be a CNN hero, let us know. We would love to know that at And we always appreciate you spending some time with us in the morning. Make some good memories here.

BLACKWELL: Much more ahead in the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM. We turn it over to Fredricka Whitfield now.

PAUL: Hey, Fred.

[11:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, hello. Good to see you guys.

PAUL: You too.

WHITFIELD: Have a great day.

PAUL: You too.

WHITFIELD: Maybe it will be a relaxing one for you, too.