Coming up Wednesday

Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
March 20th, 2013
09:23 AM ET

Officials investigating shooting death of Colorado prison chief in his home


(CNN) - The executive director of Colorado's prison system has been found dead in his home, and authorities believe someone killed him, a spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper said early Wednesday.

Tom Clements, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was found dead at his home in Black Forest, Colorado, spokesman Eric Brown said.

Authorities believe Clements, 58, was killed there Tuesday night, according to Brown. The governor has ordered flags in the state lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset until after Clements' funeral. Arrangements are still being made.

On "Starting Point" this morning, El Paso County Sheriff's Office PIO Lt. Jeff Kramer discusses the investigation.

READ MORE: Colorado prison chief found dead

Filed under: Shooting
February 13th, 2013
12:33 PM ET

Fmr. FBI officer on Dorner manhunt: Police would have been ready to move in quickly

The manhunt for ex-cop Christopher Dorner ended dramatically Tuesday evening, with Dorner allegedly holing up in a cabin that was later set on fire. This morning, Terry Turchie, the former FBI Deputy Asst. Director of the Counterterrorism Division, joins “Starting Point” to discuss the latest developments in the Dorner case and the rush to identify human remains at the scene.

Turchie says because police were already aware that Dorner was extremely violent and armed, they were going to be prepared.

“When they had the right mix of resources, if there were no hostages in there they were going to be ready to go in pretty quickly,” he says.

Turchie says the Sheriff office’s decision to pull out some resources during the hunt for Dorner was ok because “while it looked as though they were scaling down… they still had the presence there.” He adds, “they still knew how to operate there and they still knew how to get resources back there pretty quickly.”

Filed under: Crime • Dorner • Police • Shooting
February 13th, 2013
11:48 AM ET

Fmr. FBI negotiator: Dorner likely completely enamored with himself

This morning "Starting Point, Chris Voss, a former FBI Lead international kidnapping negotiator, weighs in on the final hours of a desperate manhunt for Chris Dorner.

“A negotiator will continue to try to communicate with the person inside – if nothing else to provide a distraction so the tactical to people can get in. It’s just one thing to try to confuse the subject in the middle of an assault,” Voss says.

In his manifesto, Dorner said at one point, "Self preservation is no longer important to me," which lead many to believe he might commit suicide. But Voss says the manifesto lead him to believe Dorner “was completely enamored with himself...and as a negotiator you hope at some point and time that his desire to continue that overrides the desire to die.”

READ MORE: Police work to confirm if Dorner's remains were found in burned cabin

Filed under: Crime • Dorner • Police • Shooting
February 13th, 2013
11:31 AM ET

Montgomery Co. Police Chief Manger: Dorner case similar to Beltway sniper search

This morning on "Starting Point," Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger weighs in on the latest developments regarding ex-cop Chris Dorner’s deadly spree.

Manger says in terms of public fear there is a great deal of similarities between his hunt for Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad and the search for former Los Angeles Police officer Christopher Dorner.

“Folks that were around here 10 years ago remember the knot in their stomach for a period of three weeks, and folks were changing their daily routines,” Chief Dorner says.

The former Fairfax County police chief says differences between the searches revolve around the fact that police in California knew who they were looking for so they had an advantage. He adds that the information center set up in Los Angeles for tips and the various searches were definitely a great help.

While investigators anxiously await the DNA results of the charred remains Manger says, “they'll make some preliminary decisions and know 99.999% that this is the individual. I’m sure they’re pretty certain right now that it’s Dorner.”

“A lot of folks got their first good night's sleep last night...there’s going to be a huge sense of relief throughout the public as well,” he says.

Filed under: Crime • Dorner • Police • Shooting
February 1st, 2013
10:41 AM ET

Friend describes slain Texas prosecutor as 'hard-nosed'


Mark Hasse "had an absolute passion for putting away bad guys, and he enjoyed nothing better," his boss said.

Now investigators are looking into whether that passion led to Hasse being gunned down outside his office in Kaufman, Texas, where he was an assistant district attorney. Hasse was killed in the parking lot of the Kaufman County courthouse Thursday morning, shot several times after "a very small, very short confrontation," Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said.

This morning on "Starting Point," attorney Eric Smenner talks with Soledad O'Brien about the passing of his friend, and describes Hasse's work ethic.

READ MORE: Prosecutor gunned down outside Texas courthouse

Filed under: Shooting
December 27th, 2012
10:26 AM ET

Blogger publishes journalists’ home addresses after N.Y. paper posts map of gun permit owners' addresses

A New York based newspaper has sparked outrage this morning after its decision to publish a map pinpointing the addresses of people with gun permits. Published in The Journal News, which is based in White Plains, New York, the map shows homes where public records indicate someone living there holds a gun permit. It was part of an article called "The Gun Owner Next Door," and the newspaper says the information shown came from public records. It has readers online furious. Blogger Christopher Fountain is one of those readers, and he decided to strike back by posting the home address of most of the leadership and staff of The Journal News.

Fountain, who is a gun owner, says that The Journal News defended publishing the gun permit owners' addresses for safety purposes, but Fountain disagrees with the correlation between gun ownership and gun violence. He tells "Starting Point" that he decided to post the journalists' information because he felt that the newspaper "was bullying gun owners by conflating ... West Chester County gun owners with a horrible incident in Newtown, Connecticut ... one has nothing to do with the other." He adds, "I felt that they were using this to harass gun owners ... so I harassed them back."

Fountain's blog, "For What It's Worth", can be found at

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Filed under: Article • blog • Connecticut shooting • Gun control • Gun violence • Guns • harassment • Newtown • Sandy Hook • Shooting
December 17th, 2012
10:11 AM ET

Remembering hero Principal Dawn Hochsprung; her family speaks with CNN's Gary Tuchman

“Early Start” is remembering the victims of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School today. Principal Dawn Hochsprung will be remembered as a wonderful administrator but even more as a wonderful wife and mother. CNN’s Gary Tuchman talks with Principal Hochsprung’s family about the woman who sacrificed her life to save others.

Her husband George, who is much older than Dawn, proposed to her five times before she finally accepted. Both marrying for a second time, they joined together Dawn’s two daughters from her first marriage and George’s three daughters from his previous one. “They are a blended, but very close family with 11 grandchildren,” Tuchman says.

George says they built their dream house in the Adirondacks together. "It was going to be her house because I was gonna die, I was gonna be gone. I’m much older than Dawn," George says. “It was gonna be Dawn’s house ultimately, with all the children. All the children. And now it’s me. I can't, I don’t think I can do that.”

When George, who was teaching at the middle school at the time, found out his wife had been killed, “George raced out of school and into a nightmare,” Tuchman says. Since then, George has learned from two teachers who survived that they were having a meeting with Dawn when the shots started ringing out. “Dawn put herself in jeopardy and I have been angry about that," George says. "Until just now, today, when I met two women that she told to go into shelter while she actually confronted the gunman. And she could’ve avoided that that. And she didn’t, I knew she wouldn't. So I’m not angry anymore. I’m not angry…I’m just very sad.”

“Everyone here is so proud” of Dawn, Tuchman says. “No one more so than Erica, who said her mom was always there for her daughters.” “All of my sisters’ cheerleading stuff she was there, every dance competition. She was doing homework on the bleachers, but she was there,” Erica says. “And she was my rock. My rock.”

“And now she is a hero too,” Tuchman says.

December 12th, 2012
11:41 AM ET

Macy's employee Austin Patty on seeing the suspect during the Portland, Oregon shooting: 'It’s unbelievable. It’s just crazy'

On Tuesday, a masked gunman opened fire in a suburban Portland, Oregon mall that police say was full of nearly ten-thousand people. According to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, three people were killed, including the shooter who died of a self-inflicted gunshot. One young woman suffered a traumatic injury. This morning Austin Patty, a employee at the Macy’s inside the Clackamas Town center joins “Starting Point” to talk about his experience inside the store at the time of the shooting.

Patty says he was alerted that a shooter was in the mall by a man from the Salvation Army that he had met earlier in the week. Patty describes the shooter who was in his store as a “tall slender guy about average height” who was wearing “a Jason hockey mask.” He adds that the shooter had on a bulletproof vest and what appeared to be a large assault rifle, “you would see on a video game.”

Patty says as he watched the gunman time slowed down and then he heard the shooter proclaim, “I am the shooter” and then fire “five or six shots.”

After fleeing outside the store, Patty says he started warning people about the shooter and to leave the mall.

On the gunman’s possible motive Patty says, “I honestly think it was just a open fire massacre, just like a mall massacre…I don’t know what he was going through or what happened. I know he came in on a mission though. He ran in fast.”

Patty says after the shooting he sat with his family at home and thought about it being “two weeks before Christmas” and “someone coming to do this at one of our biggest malls. He adds, “It’s unbelievable. It’s just crazy”

Filed under: Crime • Holiday shopping • Mall • Shooting
December 12th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Oregon mall shooting witness on fleeing from the hair salon after hearing the first shots of gunfire

Police say there were ten-thousand people inside the Clackamas Town Center in suburban Portland Tuesday when a man wearing a mask suddenly opened fire. According to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, three people were killed, including the shooter who died of a self-inflicted gunshot. One young woman suffered a traumatic injury. Alexsis Winterhalter was in the mall when the shooting happened and managed to flee to safety in the parking lot. She joins “Stating Point” to share her frightening experience.

Winterhalter says after yesterday’s shooting she is still recovering, shaken up and in disbelief that the shooting occurred in “the community [she has] grown up in [her] whole life and the mall that [she has] been into hundreds of times with [her] friends and family.”

Winterhalter who was getting her hair done in the basement of the mall says as the beautician was blow-drying her hair she “heard a very loud noise that sounded like the ceiling was falling through… and the gunfire was going on long enough that we had time to stop and say ‘what is this noise’ and we realized …that’s a gun.” Winterhalter adds the hair salon receptionist noticed people “scattering and running everywhere.” She goes on to say that after fleeing she and others ended up hiding behind a dumpster for a few minutes and later in the parking lot where they hid behind cars.

When it comes to time, Winterhalter says, “when you’re in the situation everything seems like slot motion. So for me it felt like it took a while but looking back at tit I heard sirens almost instantly.” In addition to the sirens she describes seeing multiple police cars and unmarked cars surrounding the area. She adds that she was “very impressed by how fast and how many of them there were.”

After reaching home, Winterhalter says she was able to use social media to verify that all her loved ones were safe and unharmed; including her best friend who says the shooter brushed passed her while she was shopping in Macy’s.

Filed under: Crime • Holiday shopping • Mall • Shooting