Return to Transcripts main page


Police: Gunman Killed Himself; Gunman's Father Talks to CNN; Dangerous Floods May Hit South Carolina. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 3, 2015 - 16:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's starting to remember things. It's going to be a very long road. Obviously, physically, but mentally. She was shot through the back and it hit her lung and got lodged in her kidney.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: So she's having lung problems with this also.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: she's jumpy, as you can imagine, when she hears a loud noise. She's starting to really remember the events and what happened. She was asked what her religion was and didn't say anything.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: How did you hear about this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard there was a shooting at the college. I grabbed my purse, my keys, and flew out of my job. I texted my daughter, I'm on my way to school, but I never went there. I came here. And that is how I found my daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had that mother's intuition.




UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Very grateful. Very, very grateful. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've been amazing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that we know of, no, she did not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) talked to a friend, Ana Boylan.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) were beside each other and they were talking to each other, just telling each other I guess what I've heard, they told each other just don't move. Yes, yes.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family credits your daughter for saving Ana's life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my daughter. That's Cheyenne. This might sound a little harsh. What Ana's text message I seen on Facebook that was sent somehow, because she was able to keep her phone, is the "f"- er shot me in the back. That is a statement from my daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She texted that to someone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She texted that on facebook, yes.


I was calling her, she wasn't calling me back. I knew something was wrong, so I just - I came here.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: When you got here, when was the first time you got to see Cheyenne? When did you know the extent of her injuries?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I got here, pretty much immediately there was a lady, I was calling my daughter's name out. I don't remember the lady's name. They were trying to get me calmed down, but my insides weren't doing that so well. And then they finally took me into the emergency room where my daughter asked me if I would step out because she didn't want me to be upset.

She was at that time very strong. And I can't believe this is where it's at. But I'm very thankful and sorry for everybody in the community that do not have their children with them. Or lost their life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We also like to thank the first responders.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, you know, the staff here at the hospital, all the emergency room workers, everyone is going through their own internal emotions right now for having to deal with everything they saw, the things they've seen. We're just so thankful. They've been incredible.


UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Cheyenne wants to sleep. She's not up and going at all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why and how did it happen. Why.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, probably since this was just her fourth day of college, she's probably just trying to figure it out, you know? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She completed a (INAUDIBLE) Program and she

passed everything. She was accepted into UCC in the nursing program.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did she tell you anything about the shooter (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An envelope and was told you're going to be the lucky one and to go to the corner. And he told everybody else to go to the middle of the room and lay down is what I heard from my daughter. Chose somebody, that he was the lucky one to be picked, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cheyenne told you that he said that, he picked somebody?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She, obviously - she was right there, you know, so he called the one guy, gave him the envelope and told him to go to the corner of the classroom, because, obviously, he was going to be the one that was going to be telling the story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'll get that in a minute, yes.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Was Cheyenne on the ground when the shooter shot?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From what we know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, and she had her phone in her hand and it smashed, so I don't know if she was already laying on the ground or if, you know, or how yet it happened. I have not questioned my daughter about any of this.

I can't bring myself to do it, because I know when she's ready, she will talk to me and tell me and little bits she's starting to, you know, let out. But I'm - I don't want my daughter to be scared of a noise. This is very upsetting to me in this form.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All we know is the way the bullet went in, it looks like it went downward, how it was hit, from clipping her lung to hitting her kidneys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then to her other organs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she was shot once, it went in through her --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right below her shoulder blade, then it clipped the lung and lodged in her kidney, which is why they had to remove her kidney.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't heard a release date. Her recovery is going to be long, but we'll get there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's still in ICU and in a lot of pain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'd really like to get her Go Fund me page out there and into the media and anything that you guys can do to help us spread the word. You know medical bills are going to be steep, and her family's having to take time off, obviously, to be with her, and we just think that everybody should be able to get the same out of this. She does have insurance, thankfully.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, she does have insurance, double coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still difficult, of course, yes. Still a 20 percent copay, yes.


Cheyenne was the youngest victim.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anastasia and her are friends. They're related to Steve and Savannah Fitzgerald and they all hang and car pool together, and for some reason Steven and Savannah weren't in that class that day. Just minutes, they must have passed the gunman.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: How excited was Cheyenne to start?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very. On her phone she messaged to me, but also, up and ready, she was getting her cup of coffee and off she was going. She's really excited, very excited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mentioned earlier you heard the news, you came straight over here. Was that mother's intuition?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totally. There's no other word. Mother's intuition and by the grace of god.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you thinking as you're driving here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I was texting my phone, calling my daughter, and I didn't care if a police was going to pull me over. I didn't stop. I just came. Through. Pardon me?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know the full story of how he got to the classroom. He was in the classroom or her ran from another location.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: or in the doorway.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're hearing different stories, but we haven't really spoken to him, so I don't know if we should speak on his behalf.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was writing 115. Yes, yes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what we have heard, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've heard different stories from every person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, and I've never seen him. I've never seen him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're letting her come forward with her story of what happened that day as she wants to. We're not pressuring her to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're letting her recover.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) talk about her mentally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what we're starting to worry about, because one chair being moved set her off. And she's starting to talk, talked to her dad a little bit about it. She's mentioned to me about all the blood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Luckily, there are so many people here as resources for the families. She was just recently speaking to some people that are here for her, for everyone that's going through this, and so we're really feeling supported. Very, very supported.

Thank you so much, everyone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, Kathleen Nichols has that and she's going to get it for everyone, OK? Thank you so much.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You have been listening to something very difficult for anyone to listen to, the mother of the youngest victim in this tragic Oregon shooting speaking out about her daughter's condition. Thank goodness her daughter's life was spared, but her daughter, Cheyenne, was shot in the back.

She is still in intensive care. Luckily, she survived. Her mother speaking there surrounded by friends and family members. Her mother saying that her daughter, Cheyenne, was asked what her religion was by the shooter, that she did not respond, that she was shot in the back and that it punctured one of her lungs. She's still in intensive care. Her mother following her gut instinct when she heard about the shooting, went straight to the hospital, not even to the college, she just knew that's where her daughter was. And her daughter is credited, her mother said, with saving another person's life in that room. She went on to thank the hospital staff and all of the first responders.

Let's go straight to CNN's Ashleigh Banfield who is in Oregon to talk about this. You're a mother, Ashleigh, can you imagine?

ASHLEIGHT BANFIELD, CNN HOST "THE LEGAL VIEW": No, I can't. I was listening in and just sort of in disbelief hearing not only the story, but the kids who were involved with this could tell their mothers, fathers, brothers, what happened inside that room of horrors. And I did take special note of that one detail, Poppy, that referred to the writings of the killer.

There's been much discrepancy over whether the killer delivered a box to a victim or a survivor and asked that person to deliver a box to authorities and this mother said that the account that has come from her child was that it was an envelope and that I think I heard correctly, it's very windy out here, but that survivor was segregated to a corner of the room, so that's a new detail I hadn't heard before.

And also this notion, this is the secondary report from inside the room that the killer was asking people's religions, but I think at this point Cheyenne had said no answer. So we are very, very curious about the answers of other students, because up until now it's only been a report he was singling out Christians. I'm not so sure that's the case.

I think this was a killer that was just hell bent on wreaking havoc no matter what. I do want to just take note again of the idea that there may be nine victims who lost their lives and nine of them who are injured and trying to heal from this, but there are also all of those people who ran for their lives and hid from this shooter's bullets and could hear those shooter's bullets and ultimately escaped after S.W.A.T. members came in to rescue them.

With me right now is Theresa Auor, one of those people, Theresa, step in with me if you could. I know it's a little windy, but you have this distinction of not only being a survivor of this, of having run for your life and sought refuge in the book store's stock room, but you also know one of those who lost his life and you know one of the people who was hurt, Chris Mintz, the man who took seven bullets. He's connected to your family, as well. This is just got to be so much for you to process.


THERESA AOUR, WITNESSED SHOOTING: Yes, it's totally unbelievable. Like I told you earlier, I don't really know Chris, but he's affiliated with a business that we own here in town and my husband said he was always very respectful and kind of quiet spoken and just a really nice young man. And then Jason, I have talked to him several times, and again, he was always just a real respectful young man, always willing to help out if anybody needed any help. I know he was working on getting his life together and he had just joined the college. It's a beautiful campus and he's going to be missed. BANFIELD: This is Jason Johnson, you're referring to, who was one of the nine who lost his life, and you had connected with him prior to this. I know that your husband had talked about, he's a musician, your husband, and he's talked about maybe trying to get other musicians in town to gather together for a benefit, because this was just mentioned how it's going to be expensive for a lot of people who perhaps don't have the insurance they need and just the needs of so many who are reeling in the aftermath of this.

AUOR: Yes, this community is a very musical community. And I know a lot of the musicians are working to get together and do some kind of public benefit for not just an individual, but for the community as a whole. I know there's some accounts set up for some people and a friend of mine was just telling me some of the accounts really don't have anything in them, so I think they are going to start with the bottom tier people and just kind of work up.

BANFIELD: You know, we were just listening to a news conference with the family members of those over at the hospital, and their harrowing accounts of what happened in the classroom. You actually could hear the bullets from your hiding spot in that storage room, and like I just mentioned, not only are you a survivor of this and evacuee from this scene, but you have this connection to one who was killed and one who was recovering.

Are you OK? Have you processed this, and are you going to be OK going forward?

AUOR: You know, I don't know if I've fully processed it yet. I think I'm still in a bit of shock. It's so surreal and just unbelievable that I kind of find myself feeling like I'm watching myself from above, kind of an out of body experience type of thing. But yes, one minute I'm fine and the next minute, I'm shaking uncontrollably and it's just horrific.

To say I'm OK is - I'm not OK, but I will be OK. I'm not going to let this define who I am or derail who I am or what my mission in life is. I plan on going back to school as soon as it's opened and I'm going to continue my education and I want to work with the community and that's what I'm going to do.

AUOR: Theresa Auor, thank you for telling your story and I do appreciate it and wish you the best in trying to get through these next difficult few days, weeks, months, and I dare say years, as well. Thank you for talking to us.

Just to reiterate some of the other breaking news that we've just had in the last hour, Poppy, the sheriff's deputy confirming the medical examiner through the autopsy has determined that the shooter killed himself, died by suicide. So that's another big development in this story, and also this development we're still trying to work out about how this series of materials, those writings, ended up in the hands of investigators, that they are poring through and looking for additional information.

Then just one last thing, Poppy, they need tips. Authorities are saying they have a great need of video, audio, anything that anybody might have to continue their investigative work to pass on to other authorities around the country to prevent this kid of thing from happening again.

HARLOW: A lot of people including one person in that press conference asking why do you need that, you know it was suicide, isn't it all about the victims, and it is, it is all about them. Some of these family members really want every single answer they can get as they try to wrap their head around how and why this could happen to those that they loved so much.

Ashleigh, thank you very much. Stay with us. Let me also bring in former ATF executive, Matthew Horace. Matthew, every time after there is one of these mass shootings, far, far, far too often there's an ensuing discussion about gun control and whether background checks need to be expanded. This morning on "Smerconish," psychologist Gail Saltz, said this.


GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: I would add to background checks and I think, of course --


SALTZ: That we should be screening for people who have any history of arrest, of any violence, of substance abuse, because those are the things that from a mental health perspective specifically correlate.

SMERCONISH: The libertarians would go crazy.

SALTZ: I know they will. I know they will but if they are going to look at the data, that's the only way to do the screening.


HARLOW: Is she right?

MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF EXECUTIVE: She is on one extent but let's face it. This wouldn't be the first time that the Gun Control Act of 1968 has been amended. We have the (INAUDIBLE) amendment, we have the (INAUDIBLE) amendment. And these were all the result to the climate of the country at the time, so it's very clear that we need to do something because right now this isn't working.


HARLOW: Dramatically expand, not just background checks, but who you agree to sell a gun to or not. Limiting that further.

HORACE: I don't see that happening.


HORACE: Because there's too much consternation against having broad legislative change. We have to do things incrementally and address what the problem really is, that way we can get bipartisan support.

HARLOW: What is the problem? We said what the problem really is, what's the core of the problem to you?

HORACE: It's very complex, it's very complex. We have the problem of mental illness in the country and how do we address mental illness. We already have a question on the 4473, have you been adjudicated mentally defective which most people aren't going to say yes if they know they want to get a gun, then you have the challenge of the NRA and everyone who supports gun rights and then you have the challenge of law enforcement, who clearly wants to see less people who shouldn't have guns happen.

HARLOW: Coming up this hour, I'm going to have Andy Parker on as my guest, who lost his daughter, Alison Parker, that journalist in that horrific shooting just one month ago. He said "I'm a supporter of the 2nd amendment, still, we need change." We'll talk to him live. Matthew Horace, Ashleigh Banfield, thank you, as well. Now we want to remember the victims.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's going to be ten funerals in Roseburg, and for a little town, that's awful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So far we've recovered 13 weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I had taken the other direction, I probably would have been in the middle of all the gunfire.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: As a country, we cannot just shrug our shoulders and move on.

BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: The politics has to change. The politics has to change. This is happening every single day in forgotten neighborhoods around the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are young people that had all this promise, they were going to college, they were doing good things in their life, they were innocents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It brings such a greater appreciation for life. And I couldn't be more thankful.




HARLOW: Authorities now say four people have been killed in the stormy weather that's hit the Carolinas since Thursday. In North Carolina, one person was killed when a tree fell on to i-95. In South Carolina, three people killed in weather related traffic incidents, and in Charleston, South Carolina, people are struggling to walk in knee and at some points thigh-deep water. Joining me on the phone, Charleston mayor Joe Riley.

Mayor, authorities shut down traffic in downtown Charleston. What else is being done to keep people out of this? Clearly, it's deadly.

MAYOR JOE RILEY, CHARLSTON, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, communicated well through the media and citizens are, you know, listening and all want to be good citizens and take care of themselves, so people are staying off of the roads. We closed the downtown area to incoming traffic because we've got a number of streets that are flooded, and you can come in and feel optimistic, you know, just where to go when you take the turn, on a street that's flooded, then you drown out, so, you know, I think things are going very well. It's a period of inconvenience.

Our first goal with anything like this is that everyone is safe. And so far it's going very well. We've got, you know, a record amount of rain, accompanying high tides, caused by the hurricane offshore and a couple other factors, so we're working through it and the city will be back to normal by Monday, and we just want to get through it and nobody's injured.

HARLOW: Looking at this water here, I'm just wondering if some of it could threaten some of - I've been to your beautiful city, some of your historic architectural wonders.

RILEY: Unfortunately, you're cutting out for some reason.

HARLOW: I'm sorry, if you can hear me, I just said I'm wondering if this flooding might hurt some of the historical, you know, buildings and the architecture around there.

RILEY: No, no, none of that is at risk. This isn't a storm surge hurricane event. It's water on the streets, and, you know, compounded by the high tides and our streets drain into the harbor, but no historical buildings are at risk at all. And we are just wanting to keep citizens, you know, convenient in their daily living. We need to get them off the streets. But our structures are not at risk.

In a couple of days, sun will be back out and Charleston will be just as glowingly beautiful as always and you'll want to come and see us.

HARLOW: Yes, I do. It's a beautiful city, sir, I'm very glad to hear things are looking like they are going to be all right by Monday. Mayor Joe Riley, appreciate your time.

RILEY: Thank you.

HARLOW: Parts of South Carolina's coast are bracing though for more than 15 inches of rain. That's where we find our Boris Sanchez. Here's in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where there's people on the beach, my friend.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are people out here, Poppy. Looks are deceiving. Everything is calm right now, the sky is blue, the sun is out. Families are here enjoying themselves, kids are making sand castles, but all of that is going to change very soon. This doesn't look like a place that's been declared a state of emergency, but between tonight and tomorrow we're expecting record breaking torrential rainfall, similar to what we saw last night and early this morning. Yesterday several people had to be rescued from their homes because of the flooding, and as we drove in here today we saw evidence of the flooding, roads that had been washed out and water had subsided. We'd also seen several roads that have been closed and we saw several apartment buildings here on the coastline where their parking lots were flooded. Nothing to be concerned about immediately, but definitely something to watch out for overnight and into tomorrow as that record breaking system we're expecting moves in.

Another important note you mentioned earlier, three separate traffic fatalities here related to the weather last night in South Carolina. Officials are asking anyone who doesn't have to be out tonight to simply hunker down and stay home. Better to be safe than sorry as we monitor the conditions here in Myrtle Beach. Poppy?

HARLOW: Boris, thank you very much. I hope they enjoy the last few minutes before the torrential rain comes down.

All right, coming up next, you're going to hear for the first time from the father of the Oregon campus gunman. Stay with us.


[16:33:34] HARLOW: Welcome back.

We've just learned several new developments about this week's deadly shooting at that college in Western Oregon. We learned today what happened when police officers responded to the scene. The sheriff of Douglas County speaking to reporters at a press conference just a short time ago confirm for the first time that the man who killed nine people and wounded nine others then committed suicide. He took his own life.

I want to go straight to CNN's Ryan Young, he spoke just a short time ago to the gunman's father in Torrance, California.

And, Ryan, how did he respond when you knocked on his door today?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, they were really apprehensive about opening the door. They said they've been under siege for the last few days. Obviously, a lot of people have come to the door looking for requests in terms of trying to interview him. And we talked through his metal gate for quite some time before I could get him to come out.

The first thing out of his mouth, though, Poppy, he wanted to talk to the victims and he kept expressing over and over again, he had no words for the victims' family. That's all he wanted to talk about. You could feel the pain he was going through.

He has another family inside the house and trying to keep them protected, as well, from all the people focusing on this family right now. But he says he really had no idea that this was inside his son. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Obviously, this has been a very tough time and we've talked just a little bit, but you said you're hurting not only for what's going on in your family, but obviously for the other families that have been impacted.

[16:35:02] IAN MERCER, SON IDENTIFIED AS THURSDAY'S CAMPUS SHOOTER: Absolutely. I've been, as I said before, devastating on me and my family. But we're not alone in this. My heart goes out to all the other families that were affected by this, and I know words will not bring your families back, and I know nothing I can say can change what happened. But please believe me, my thoughts are with all of those families. And I hope they can get through this.

YOUNG: And you talked before, you said you just really are at a loss for words when it comes to something like this. I mean, there's so many questions someone can ask you, but you really said you don't have answers for them.

MERCER: Sometimes you try to find the right words and there really isn't. There's nothing I can really say and find the right words. Sometimes it's overwhelming, and, you know, trying to understand how it can happen. It's just incredible. I mean, I'm at a loss for words right now even.

YOUNG: You told me before you didn't want to talk too much about your son, obviously, because you're going through so much pain, but you also realize that people are going to remember him differently now forever.

MERCER: Always be remembered for what he did on Thursday, I know that. I can't change that. At the moment, I'm just leaving it to the police to do their investigations as to, you know, his history and everything in his background.

I'm sure they will announce what they find all in good cause. Right now, I'm just going to leave it up to them. The only thing I would like to say, question I would like to ask is, how on earth could he compile 13 guns? How can that happen? You know?

They talk about gun laws, they talk about gun control, every time something like this happens they talk about it and nothing is done. I'm not trying to say that that's to blame for what happened, but Chris has not been able to get ahold of 13 guns, it wouldn't have happened.

YOUNG: That's a very powerful statement coming from you, so now I have to ask you, the idea, how did he get the 13 guns? You know, that's what everyone's going to want to ask now, even when you're asking that question.

MERCER: Look all over the world, you don't see these kind of mass shootings all over the world on a consistent basis like you do in the United States, so somebody has to ask the question, how is it so easy to get all these guns? How is it so easy? Thirteen guns, I've never held a gun in my life, I never want to. But I know there are people that do.

But you have to ask that question, how was he able to compile that kind of arsenal?

YOUNG: Did you know he had 13 guns?

MERCER: I had no idea he had any guns. I had no idea that he had any gun whatsoever. And I'm a great believer that you don't buy guns, don't buy guns, you don't buy guns.

YOUNG: So, even you want to change this, you want the gun laws to change.

MERCER: It has to change. It has to change. How can it not?

Even people that believe in the right to bear arms, you know, what right do you have to take people's lives? That's what guns are, killers, simple as that. It's simple as that. It's black and white. What do you want the gun for?

YOUNG: And my very last question, mentally, you said how did he have 13 guns, but a lot of people talking about his mental makeup. You say police are going to dig into that. What do you understand about his mental makeup?

MERCER: I'm going to let the police follow through with their investigations. Whatever they determine is something that they are going to find through the investigations, you know. I don't have any comment to make on his mental state. Obviously, obviously, somebody who killed nine people has to have some kind of issue, whatever it is, and let the police determine what they find.

PRODUCER: Could we add one more thing, too, when was the last time you saw your son?

MERCER: Last time I actually saw him was before he went to Oregon. Last few days before he went to Oregon, we spent a little time together. I haven't seen him since he went to Oregon.

PRODUCER: Would you mind, sir, explain your relationship with your son, how was it?

MERCER: He was my son. He was my son, you know?

[16:40:01] There isn't any kind of disharmony or any bitterness or anything like that between him and I.

When he was down here, we saw each other, went for dinner, did things that sons and dads do, you know, just talk and he lived with his mother the whole time, he didn't come to live with me at all. And we had a harmonious relationship.

YOUNG: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YOUNG: Poppy, you know how this works. We spent a great deal of time talking to him before we did the interview and, in fact, were only going to ask two or three questions, then once we got him outside, he started talking to us and he was really quite revealing about some of the conversations we were having about his son.

After doing the first four or five questions he seemed at ease, you heard my producer ask questions we had asked off camera before. Quite honestly, one of the things that stood out was he did not want to talk about his son's mental history. He also said his son never lived with him, always lived with his mother.

The thing that really kind of caught us all off guard was the fact he was even questioning the fact how could his son have those 13 guns? So this has been a part of a process. Of course, we spent about 25 minutes there just trying to get this all done, but, Poppy, as you understand, he says his heart is going out to those families because he, obviously, understands what his son has done.

HARLOW: As are all of our hearts. Ryan Young, thank you very much for bringing that to us.

Coming up next, he lost his daughter Alison one month ago, a father who calls gun violence a cancer on the country and the shooting in Oregon domestic terrorism. Andy Parker will join me. Stay with us.


[16:45:00] HARLOW: Andy Parker knows the pain of loss to gun violence all too well. His daughter, journalist Alison Parker was murdered on live television just over a month ago. He wrote an op-ed in "USA Today" yesterday nothing, "It is not sufficient to say there's nothing you can do to prevent someone, even someone mentally ill, from getting a gun if they want."

Andy Parker joins me now.

Andy, I can't imagine sitting in your shoes, especially this week following the Oregon mass shooting. We just heard from the father of the gunman, and he said, and I will paraphrase here, not an exact quote, but being asked about gun violence in this country and what has to happen, he said it has to change, it has to change. How can it not, and he talked about, you know, the guns being the killers and killing people.

What did you make of that interview?

ANDY PARKER, ALISON PARKER'S FATHER: Well, Poppy, he gets it. He's got it right. My question would be, where was this kid's mother in all of this, because the guy said he was, you know, that he didn't live with them, and, you know, it's -- this is a reason why we have to do sensible gun legislation, to make changes, because part of it is it's obviously mental health, but we have to make up for bad parenting. That's one reason why we have to do this, because there are a lot of bad parents out there. HARLOW: I want to play you some sound from earlier this week,

chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Mike McCaul, let's listen.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY: You're talking about the Second Amendment right of the Constitution, as well, so to deny that right raises legal questions, as well. I think part of the problem is addressing mental illness, having people identify, family or friends, who seem to be off, little off base.

Just like in terrorism, we talk about radicalization, the warning signs of radicalization, spotting those early, getting them in the off-ramp so we can treat them, so we can stop this kind of violence from happening.


HARLOW: So he's saying mental health is a problem, treat them, that will be the solution. Is he right?

PARKER: And that's -- these guys on the Republican side of the aisle, unfortunately, it is a Republican issue. That is always their fallback position, and yet here's the same guy that's supposed to be protecting, helping protect us from terrorists and there are a thousand people on the FBI's no fly list and McCaul and his colleagues successfully blocked attempts to keep these people from obtaining weapons. And the NRA, they were right there, the NRA fought attempts to block these people from obtaining firearms.

So this guy, you know, he can say all he wants to about, you know, it's a mental health issue and that's it, but this is -- it's not enough. We have to do -- it's like this kid's father said, we have to do more. I was also struck last night, I saw a quote from Jeb Bush, who's the front-runner for president, said in his cavalier response to this whole thing was, well, stuff happens.

HARLOW: He did --

PARKER: Sure, he cleaned it up for his audience, because you know how the other way to phrase that would be, but that's unacceptable. And that's what these guys do. They are cowards, they are in the pockets of the NRA, and this has got to change.

HARLOW: To be clear here, I do want to say that Jeb Bush did proceed that in the same statement by saying this is, and I'm paraphrasing, this is a horrific tragedy.

But moving on to someone on the other side of the aisle, Andy, earlier today, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said he believes that maybe this is the tipping point. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This tragic, horrific, unspeakable tragedy, much like Sandy Hook, could be the tipping point, and that's why we're introducing a very common sense, sensible measure to close the loophole in the existing law so that no gun will be sold without a background check.


HARLOW: He said, look, even if Sandy Hook wasn't the tipping point, these things take time and he's hopeful. Are you hopeful?

PARKER: I am hopeful. Poppy, I've got to be. This is got to change, and I do think people have had enough. You know, when you are afraid to drop your kids off at school, when you have to wonder if you're going to make it out of a movie theater alive, if you're, as a journalist, just trying to do your job on a simple assignment and wonder, you know, not in Iraq, but here in the United States, you wonder if you're going to survive, you know, it's got to stop.

The NRA has done a great job, they've had a 30-year jump, but we're closing the gap on them.

[16:50:00] And I want to tell your audience that if they want to join me, and they want to join Every Town, which is the organization that I am now associated with, to text "NOW" to 877877, and again, "NOW" in capital letters, 877877, and there are thousands of people that are ready to join this fight, because we do have to change it and we will.

And you contrast, you know, Senator Blumenthal's comments with McCaul's comments and they are like night and day. One person gets it, the other one doesn't have a clue, or just is a coward.

HARLOW: Andy, in August the state of Oregon, where this mass shooting took place this week, became the eighth state, the eighth state to require screening on nearly all gun sales.

PARKER: Right.

HARLOW: And this still happened. We heard how frustrated, saddened the president is, President Obama, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, right, we've heard that this week. But what single law do you want to see that you think would have the most immediate effect?

PARKER: Well, closing the loopholes on -- doing universal background checks and closing loopholes, these are the ones with the immediate effect. Is it going to stop it completely? Of course not.

Mental health, certainly, that's a component there, too, but it's like, poppy, it's like treating cancer. There's no one therapy that's generally going to make, you know, the complete recovery, but you do the simple stuff and the most effective stuff first and that's one of them.

The other one is to loosen these HIPAA laws and FERPA laws that will allow patients that have -- that are walking time bombs that a professional can alert law enforcement. Or in the case of Alison's killer, who was fired on multiple jobs, their employers could only say he worked from this day to this day, and they can't say anything for fear of litigation. So, it's a combination of that.

But again, the easy path to start is universal background checks, and why anybody would be opposed to that is just beyond me. But it's the fringe and the extremists in the gun lobby that are preventing this from happening.

HARLOW: Andy Parker, thank you very much. Your family, your daughter Alison, very much in our thoughts still.

PARKER: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.



[16:56:08] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Sixteen-year-old James Langevin was volunteering at a local police station when an officer's gun accidentally discharged.

REP. JAMES LANGEVIN (D), RHODE ISLAND: The bullet ricocheted off a locker is what I'm told, and the bullet went through my neck and severed my spinal cord.

GUPTA: Langevin was paralyzed from the waist down and has limited mobility in his arms.

LANGEVIN: The question I had right from the get-go, how am I going to live any kind of a meaningful life going forward?

GUPTA: But Langevin did just that. He attended college, went on to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and was elected a Democratic congressman for the state of Rhode Island. Motivated, he says, by his own desire to prove the naysayers wrong.

LANGEVIN: I would hear the, well, you are a nice guy, but this is a rough business, maybe you're better off doing something else. You know, it's always when you tell me I can't do something that, you know, I'll find a way.

GUPTA: He did find a way. On the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Langevin made history.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: For first time in our country's history, a gentleman with the challenges that Mr. Langevin faces is presiding as speaker of the House of Representatives.


LANGEVIN: I hope that the people can look at me and say, you know, here's a guy with a tremendous challenge and difficulties, but somehow he's made it.