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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Deadly Oregon Mall Shooting; North Korea Tests Missile; Interview with Senator Coburn
Aired December 11, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight with Breaking news, terrible news, another mass shooting, this time at a shopping mall, the Clackamas Town Center just outside Portland, Oregon.
This is new video from inside the mall, terrified shoppers, some with their hands up as law enforcement officers swept the mall.
Listen. The sweep went long into the evening until officers could know for sure that the gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle did not have an accomplice. He was acting alone. The carnage ended with two victims dead, one critically wounded and several more with lighter injuries and the gunman killed, dead apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police say he did all of the shooting himself. Again, the shooter is dead, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Local authorities gave more details just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. JAMES RHODES, CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Just an update. We are almost finished searching the mall and locating everybody and releasing them from the mall. The numbers are still the same. We know there to be the shooter's deceased, two dead and one transported to trauma.
Additionally, I can confirm the shooter is dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. By all accounts, there's no rounds fired by law enforcement in the mall today.
QUESTION: No rounds?
RHODES: No rounds fired by law enforcement today in the mall.
We're wrapping up our search of the mall and releasing everybody at the scene. We have a lot of work to do as far as gathering witness statements and stuff before everybody is released from the scene. I'm asking for family and friends to please still be a little patient before we get everyone released from the mall and still if you have questions contact the sheriff's office.
I would like to introduce Sergeant Adam Phillips, the PIO for the sheriff's office. ADAM PHILLIPS, CLACKAMAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I have been in contact with the mall management. They have said they will be posting information for businesses, employees and customers who were affected by this incident on their Web page.
You can find it on the Internet. The mall is going to be remained closed for the rest of the evening, and as long as the police investigation goes on it will remain closed as well. Do not have a timeline for that. People who have stuff left inside the mall, check the Clackamas Town Center Web page for information on how to get it back. Your property is secure tonight. The process will be developed on how to get that back to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We saw a bit of the video a moment ago. A lot of people watched this all unfold. In a moment you will hear from a woman who was there with a 6-month-old baby who says a last-minute decision to stop briefly to smell some perfume may have saved her life.
First, though, I am joined on the phone by another eyewitness, Antonio Charro, who was there along with his two daughters and a grandson.
Antonio, thanks very much for being us. What did you hear and what did you see?
ANTONIO CHARRO, EYEWITNESS: Well, I heard the gunshots, what I thought was something falling or crashing like a ladder or maybe I thought the escalators were collapsing or something.
And we were in Papaya clothing store. When I walked to the front to see what was going on, I seen a couple laying in the floor. I went over to them to see if they were all right. That's when I heard somebody say, there's somebody shooting.
So I walked over to those people and they were all right. And he got up and he said, he ran that way. He was in black. And when he said that way it was toward J.C. Penney toward the food court area of the Clackamas Town Center.
As I looked over, I seen a lady that was laying in front of a Best Buy store that sells cell phones and stuff, little small things. She had apparently been shot, and I believe was shot in the chest. I couldn't get her turned over to try to help her. There was no one around.
COOPER: You attempted to -- you went over to her?
CHARRO: Yes, I did, yes, to see if she was breathing and stuff, and she was not breathing.
COOPER: Were there still shots going off at this point? CHARRO: No. No. There were people saying he's coming back. He's coming back and stuff, but no. I didn't hear any gunshots. I was out maybe two seconds after I heard the last one go off, but by then he was clear at the other end of the mall.
COOPER: He was no longer shooting at this point?
CHARRO: I didn't hear anymore gunshots while I was out there seeing if these people were OK, no.
COOPER: Do you have any idea shots in total you may have heard?
CHARRO: I'm going to say like 12, maybe 12 to 16.
COOPER: And the woman you saw with the apparent gunshot wound to her chest, was she the only injured person you saw?
COOPER: And then at what point did police show up, or how did you get out of the mall?
CHARRO: I stayed there until a nurse showed up. A lady showed up saying she was a nurse and she knew what to do. Her and another lady helped to get her turned over. We had to clean the glass out of the way, of course, and they started the chest compressions immediately.
And the nurse was cutting away her clothes, and she seemed to have it from there. But, like I said, the lady was in grave danger (INAUDIBLE) at all.
COOPER: Well, it is an incredibly nice thing for you to do to have gone over to try to aid somebody, rather than just try to run away. Mr. Charro, I appreciate you being with us. Thanks for taking the time to be with us. I'm glad you and your family are safe.
CHARRO: You are welcome.
I'm joined by Lou Palumbo, former police officer. He's also director of Elite Intelligence and Protection Group.
At this point, it seems clearly one shooter, multiple gunshots. Two people were killed. The shooter also killed apparently of a self- inflicted gunshot wound, and only really traumatic serious injury at this point, a number of light injuries. It sounds like the person he saw was obviously one of the people who died. What do you make of all of what you heard?
LOU PALUMBO, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE OFFICER: Well, you know, an incident similar to the one in Aurora and similar to the one in Virginia Tech, similar to one in Texas A&M, and, you know, just mentally defective people who have the ability to obtain firearms they shouldn't be able to obtain and using them as a vehicle to express I guess their disdain or upsetment. COOPER: We don't know at this point the motive of the person. We don't know if there was a particular target this person had, if they were a disgruntled employee or what the motive may have been. Again we will have to wait and see on that.
Lou, just stand by because we are also joined now by Jenna Chism and Megan Rocha. Both saw the killer just before he opened fire.
Thank you very much for joining us.
Megan, what did you see?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jenna and I walked to the restroom after we had walked into Nordstrom's when we had first gotten there.
And Jenna pointed out that there was a guy in a Halloween mask and she was like that's kind of weird, but living in Portland, you kind of just see weird stuff like that all the time, so I didn't really think much of it.
COOPER: You say a Halloween mask. What did it look like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like a "Freddy vs. Jason" type hockey mask. Hockey mask, yes.
And he was scaring kids as we walked into the bathroom.
COOPER: What do you mean, he was scaring kids?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like he had his mask on and was lurking toward them going, ah, like a group of about seven. They looked like they could be middle schoolers.
COOPER: And this was in the Nordstrom's department store?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is after we walked into Nordstrom's and we walked to the food court to use the restroom. So it was in the food court restroom area. Yes.
COOPER: And what was he wearing, do you know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was dark clothing, all black.
COOPER: And then what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then we went to the skate shop called Tilly's, which is like -- and it is like a Zumiez-style store. And we had been in there maybe 45 seconds and then we heard a very loud noise that sounded metallic, almost like something metal had hit the ground in the main area of the mall.
And then we saw one of the shots fly by that maybe was 25, 30 feet away from where we were.
COOPER: And did you hear shots?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The shots, they kind of -- they echoed. And Tilly's is diagonal from the food court at Clackamas Mall. It didn't take us very long into walk into Tilly's and then all of a sudden the shots started just firing.
And we heard probably 10 shots before we got to the back of the store, because once we realized what was going on, the people from the store quickly grabbed every customer and were rushing them to the back into their stockroom and having everybody sit there silent and just making sure everyone was out of their store and safe.
COOPER: This may be a dumb question, but when you saw him, you said scaring kids. Did he -- was there a weapon visible?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was just like kind of spooking them. Like, you know you go to a haunted house and they kind of jump out at you and they make silly noises or just kind of like, I don't know, like get adrenaline going. I don't know. We thought it might have just been one of their weird friends who liked to wear costumes or something.
COOPER: You said he was wearing dark clothing. Some people, some early reports indicated he may have been wearing body armor. Did you witness anything of that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No I really didn't. There were couches in front of him with people sitting on the couches. I didn't really -- I didn't get enough to identify who he was, because I really didn't think twice of it because I just never thought I would have to think about him again.
COOPER: There had been another eyewitness who talked to a local affiliate, KOIN, who said she had witnessed the alleged shooter jogging through the Macy's with an assault rifle. Are we talking about the same store here?
OK. This is where it gets kind of crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Megan, by the way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when we were in the back stockroom, there was somebody that was on their phone. And they had said that one of their friends was in the mall, and there were supposedly a second shooter.
So, we asked her to describe him. And she said that he was just in a hockey kind of -- or not a hockey mask -- a ski mask. And then we were like, well, that is weird. We saw somebody in a hockey mask.
So, we don't even know if there was one or two shooters or exactly what happens. They kind of stopped filling us in once we were evacuated about two hours later. So I don't know if another story you got was about a second shooter or not.
COOPER: Because the police are saying that at this point they believe there was one shooter. Are you sure that the person you saw scaring kids is the alleged shooter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it was the only person we saw in a hockey mask in all black clothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is kind of fishy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And they said he began in the food court. So it would just seem rather strange if it was somebody else in the same outfit and mask.
COOPER: Right. Is the Macy's, is that the same as Nordstrom's?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, sir.
COOPER: It is a different department store. That's what I assumed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nordstrom's is actually -- I believe it was down...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nordstrom's is down...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like down -- Macy's is on one end and then clear on the other end is Nordstrom's.
COOPER: OK. Do you know approximately what time you saw this person who was scaring the kids?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like 3:05.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: OK. And then do you know approximately what time the shooting began?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say around 3:15, 3:20.
COOPER: OK. So there was a significant amount of time between this person allegedly scaring kids and shooting that began?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I mean, 10, 15 minutes between.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when -- I guess when you are in the situation it kind of feels like time is not really like -- I don't know. Time just doesn't really feel normal, I guess. And it seemed like after we had seen him at one end at Tilly's, it was just a few seconds afterwards, but there was a little bit of time.
COOPER: Right. Have you both talked to police yet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: OK, because, clearly, police have put out saying anyone who witnessed anything to please talk to police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: So, listen, Jenna and Megan, I really appreciate you talking to you. We are trying to kind of piece this together as best we can at this hour. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course.
COOPER: With me now on the phone is Rick Bella, who is a staff writer with Portland's "Oregonian" newspaper.
Rick, I don't know if you could hear what those two young women were saying. I found it interesting. They said that around 3:05 they saw someone in sort of a "Friday the 13th" Jason kind of mask scaring kids in the Nordstrom's. And my understanding is the shooting began at 3:29 or so. That's the earlier report I had had. What are you hearing?
RICK BELLA, "OREGONIAN": Well, it is possible, although those that's not what I heard.
A witness told me that a man wearing one of those Jason masks shoved right past them just before the shots rang out. That would have put it somewhere around 3:20.
COOPER: Was that person in the food court, was that person in the Macy's?
BELLA: Outside the Macy's just entering from the parking lot, pushing by a Salvation Army bell ringer with a gun in his hand. And he was wearing a mask and then the shots were virtually right afterwards.
So it's possible he was inside before and pulled those other shenanigans, but it doesn't really make sense.
COOPER: Yes. There had been another eyewitness who talked to KOIN that we aired earlier who said she also witnessed a man in this kind of a white mask running or jogging, I believe she described it, through the Macy's. She said she clearly saw the weapon and it was out once he got outside of the Macy's that he began to open fire. I'm not sure how what we just heard from these other two, how it fits in.
But, again, I guess there must be security cameras all over this mall. And so the police will be able to figure out how this person got in, how long he was on the scene for and if, in fact, he was in the Nordstrom's earlier at 3:05, as these two are saying they witnessed somebody and then somehow went and got a rifled and up going through Macy's.
Rick, have you heard any eyewitnesses who saw him take his own life at this point?
BELLA: No. We haven't heard that. In fact, police at first told us that he had been neutralized. When we asked if what that meant, they later said that he had died of an apparent self inflicted gunshot.
COOPER: In terms of the level of injuries, what are you hearing? The early report we had had was that obviously we know two people are dead and the third person is the shooter who is dead or the alleged shooter, and then also one traumatic injury and a number of lighter injuries.
BELLA: Yes. That was it. One person is listed in serious condition at OHSU Hospital, which is a trauma center. And we heard that there may be as many as a half dozen others with lesser injuries.
COOPER: Well, Rick Bella, I appreciate your reporting. I have been following it all evening long. Thank you very much for talking to us, as we continue who to bring you the breaking developments.
We will talk to a man who was close enough to the gunman to hear actually what he was saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was on an elevator going downstairs. And people start saying, go up, go up. We just didn't know what is going on. We just tried to climb on the elevator and tried to escape. It was scary. It was a shocking experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Probably an understatement.
But as the horrible as the scene was tonight at the Clackamas Town Center outside Portland, Oregon, things easily could have been even worse. There are reports, as you heard earlier, that the killer's weapon may have jammed, that a full clip was found at the scene.
Austin Patty is joining us on the phone. He works at Macy's and says he saw the killer up close and heard him speak and heard him say almost as if he was introducing himself, "I am the shooter."
Austin, thanks very much for being with us.
When did you first see this person?
AUSTIN PATTY, EYEWITNESS: Say that one more time, Anderson.
COOPER: When did you first see the alleged shooter?
Well, after the Salvation Army man. He actually came in after. So the reports were correct earlier about that. And he came in. The Salvation Army goes, he has a gun.
So, as soon as he said that, I turn around and look and I see him, and like the white mask, like you said, the hockey mask and a big assault rifle. I'm like, oh, my gosh.
COOPER: This was in the Macy's store?
PATTY: Yes. It was at the south entrance. There's a Chipotle right outside and the Salvation Army ringing the bell. It was a normal day.
COOPER: So someone from the Salvation Army -- one of the Salvation Army guys came in and said there is a guy with a gun?
PATTY: Yes. It was actually an older man I have rode the bus with and the (AUDIO GAP) with. I had just met him earlier last week. We had kind of made a connection. That's why when he came in, he is like the man has a gun.
And I turned around and there you see it. It's a man running with a ski mask and bulletproof vest and a gun.
COOPER: You are saying you felt he had a bulletproof vest on? Did he have a coat on at all or just -- what kind of a bulletproof vest?
PATTY: It looked like just like black. When I looked over, it was like a Teflon, like almost -- you know like the sheriff would wear, you know?
And was he wearing -- what kind of pants? What color pants, do you remember?
PATTY: Like black. Like kind of the black Levis. He blended in besides pretty well besides of course the hockey mask and gun.
COOPER: I have heard people describe the mock in different ways. Was it an actual hockey mask or...
PATTY: Like Jason, the old-school hockey mask, the two eyes and the mouthpiece. Almost like the -- kind of like it shows the lips, it forms the lips, but it doesn't really.
COOPER: OK. At what point did -- had the shooting already begun when you first saw him?
PATTY: No. He was running. I was close to the door. I was right by the exit, near the exit. So, as he was running, he was sprinting in as if he was doing a 100-meter dash or something.
COOPER: At what point did you actually hear him say something?
PATTY: When we ran down the hall, because it felt like in the moment a lot was going on. But in those moments, time slowed down for me because I had to process the fact that there is a guy running in Clackamas Macy's with a gun.
I felt like all my senses were aware. I heard, "I am the shooter" and then all of a sudden just five, six rounds just echoing. I could tell it was outside in the actual mall, because the loud -- with the sound of the gun, it probably would have broke some glass with echoing going out, because it was a big rifle. It was a rifle like "Call Of Duty." I'm talking "Call Of Duty" gun.
COOPER: You actually believe he said "I am the shooter"?
PATTY: I believe so, yes. It's not even -- another person also heard it around me. Like, did you hear it? He's like, "I am the shooter."
COOPER: Have you talked to authorities yet? Have you talked to the police?
PATTY: I have not talked to the police. When I tried to go back to go back to see if I could get my stuff inside of the mall or downstairs, they said I couldn't go back. They are busy trying to lock down the fort. It was overwhelming.
COOPER: Yes, of course.
PATTY: Now that I think about it, I'm home, I'm like I can't believe this happened. I moved to Portland to be safer.
COOPER: Yes. Just so you know, you should -- after we talk, you should talk to the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department. They very much would want to talk to you because they put out an appeal for anyone who saw or heard anything to call them.
It may be hard to get through to them, but I would urge you to do that because clearly you would have some information that they would want to know. And also just for your own information, they said all the personal belongings are secure for this evening and again by calling the Clackamas County's Sheriff, you will be able to figure out to get your personal items back.
You heard him say this and then how quickly did the shooting begin?
PATTY: Seconds after he said that. After he said the words come out of his mouth, it was kind of -- like I said, it was the slow motion. "I am the shooter." And all you heard was boom, boom, boom, like there were -- like bombs, like little M-80 sounds, like he was -- he was shooting slugs.
COOPER: Did you actually see him shooting?
PATTY: No, I didn't. By that time, I could tell by the noise and the (AUDIO GAP) he was far away.
COOPER: And then what happened?
PATTY: At that point, I ran. I ran down to Target. I was out of (AUDIO GAP) my co-workers, told the Salvation Army. There was a UPS guy coming in. I'm like, there's just been a shooting. Let's run. I kind of jumped up and down, like let's run in a frantic state, like we got to go, because I didn't know if he was going to turn around and (AUDIO GAP) at us, you know.
I didn't know what he was going to do. He came into Clackamas Mall with a big rifle. He could have did anything.
COOPER: Do you have any sense of how many shots you actually heard?
PATTY: Oh, yes, I sat there and waited. I sat there. As I was running, I stopped. I heard shots. I heard at least five, at least five at that moment of time before I made it out the door.
COOPER: And were you able to get out quickly?
PATTY: Oh, yes. I was gone. Are you kidding? I was running like Adrian Peterson from the Vikings.
COOPER: Well, Austin, I appreciate you talking to us. And I really -- I urge you please to call the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department because they would very much want to talk to you. I appreciate you taking the time and I'm so glad you were able to get out of there OK. Thank you, Austin.
PATTY: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Well, joining us is again is former police officer and security consultant Lou Palumbo. He's the director of Elite Intelligence and Protection Group.
Again, in a case like this, oftentimes eyewitness testimony can be wrong, it can be mistaken. We are just trying to talk to as many people and piece this together.
But it is interesting the number of people that we have heard who saw this man going through the Macy's clearly with a rifle and this mask.
PALUMBO: Yes, not uncommon.
One of the unfortunate things with investigations, you line up 10 people sometimes and you get 10 different stories. In this instance, there is a common denominator, this mask and the fact he was armed and his demeanor as he was running through the store. It is just another pattern of what we have in a society today.
I hate to say this because I'm a proponent of the Second Amendment, but not the indiscreet manner in which we are able to obtain weapons of this type and know little or nothing about the people that acquire them. Right now, part of this investigation is about him, where that weapon came from, how he acquired that weapon.
Oregon is a fairly liberal state with firearms. I'm not sure it is a class three state, where you are allowed to have full automatic rifles, but I don't believe there is an assault rifle ban in that state, number one.
Number two, this configuration of rifle doesn't have to necessarily comply with an assault rifle. For example, if you remove a muzzle breaker, a bayonet lug, some of these weapons are still obtainable in certain states. They just refer to them differently. They are reclassified. They still have the same capability of firing 30 shots, for example, like this gun.
In fact, to tell you something interesting there are magazines made for these weapons that will fire 100 shots. They are called beta mags.
COOPER: We have one report that the -- and again it is unconfirmed -- that the gun may have jammed. A deputy had told "The Oregonian" earlier that they found a full magazine on the ground.
And we have heard varying reports about how many shots were actually fired. There was an earlier report from an eyewitness who said as many as 60 shots. But most of the witnesses we have heard from seem to put the number closer in the 10 to 20 range.
PALUMBO: That poses an interesting question, Anderson, because if the weapon did malfunction, if it fired, failed to feed, for example, or extract, how did he self-inflict the gunshot wound? We are going to find out if he had other weapons secreted on his body, handguns.
COOPER: Right. That's the other question because the police are saying he did kill himself and that's how he ended up dying.
What is also not known, of course, and people will want to know is motive, whether or not this was, you know, whether there was some sort of statement he was trying to make, whether this was a deranged person, whether this was somebody who was targeting somebody at the mall, a disgruntled worker. We simply don't know at this hour.
PALUMBO: One of the things they will key on in is, was there any relationship between the shooter and the victims? My instincts -- and this is just conjecture -- is that this was just another random depraved act of someone making some form of a statement in a rather altered mental and emotional state.
COOPER: Lou Palumbo, I appreciate your expertise tonight. It's a difficult night.
More on the shooting later in the program. There is other breaking news to talk about. North Korea says it has launched a long- range missile just hours ago. They say the launch was successful. We know they launched it. They are saying it was successful. We can't confirm that. The rocket flew over Japan, being wildly condemned. The question is, how will the international community respond? The latest fallout just ahead.
COOPER: Out other breaking news tonight, North Korea says its launch of a three-stage rocket just hours ago was successful. Its state-run news agencies reporting the rocket entered orbit, as planned.
A U.S. official told CNN the U.S. military intelligence picked up the launch immediately and are now analyzing all of the related data.
North Korea insists its goal was simply to put a scientific satellite into orbit. The United States and South Korea say it's a cover for testing ballistic missile technology.
Now on Monday, North Korea said that a technical glitch would delay the launch until late this month. The international community got an unwelcome surprise.
CNN's Paula Hancocks and Barbara Starr join me now with the latest.
So Paula, North Korea says the launch was to put a satellite in orbit. They say it was successful. The international community believes that's a cover story for ballistic missile tests. What's the latest you're hearing in Seoul?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a half hour ago, North Korean television held a special broadcast. It's unusual for them to do this. And we had a news reader from North Korea, who was incredibly jubilant and excited in announcing that this rocket launch was a success. And also announcing that the satellite had entered pre-set orbit.
But of course, North Korea has claimed success in the face of failure before. So we need to wait for official confirmation. We understand the United States and South Korean officials are working very closely to try and figure out whether it is a success.
But as far as the North Koreans are concerned, they say it was. Now obviously, often they do announce things for domestic audience, as well as just an international audience. We have had confirmation here from the South Korean side, the Blue House, which is the equivalent of the White House, presidential compound saying that they condemn this launch, saying it's a clear violation of U.N. sanctions. And it's a challenge and a threat to the peace and stability not only of northeast Asia but of the whole world. The Blue House also pointing out the money spent on this rocket launch would be far better spent looking after the people of North Korea.
Just a few days ago we had a figure given to us from -- from with one of the ministries here in Seoul that this rocket launch, the previous rocket launch, building the space station, could have cost about $1.3 billion. And apparently, according to the unification ministry, that could affect the people of North Korea for four to five years. So what the Blue House is pushing North Korea to do is to spend the money on the people not on the rocket launch -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wow. That's amazing it cost that much.
Barbara, I saw one report from our State Department producer that U.S. was surprised the launch came tonight. What are you hearing from the Pentagon?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, they had eyes on this the whole time, Anderson. U.S. satellites, U.S. ship radars were in the area.
But, in fact, this is becoming, in the last couple of hours, a little more complex than first anticipated. A U.S. intelligence official tells CNN now that it does appear that North Korea completed all the launch stages. So this official is not elaborating yet on whether that meant the rocket went into orbit.
We have talked to other officials who have confirmed to us at this hour they are still scouring U.S. military, U.S. intelligence through all the data, all the U.S. satellites data, trying to get confirmation, if you will. In other words, U.S. satellites, U.S. intelligence to be able to confirm whether North Korea did launch a satellite, a third stage of the rocket into orbit. That's the key right now. That's what they're trying to figure out.
And I am told this is becoming a tougher problem than they originally anticipated, because part of the trajectory that was flown by the North Koreans didn't exactly go where the U.S. anticipated it would. And they had to go back and look at some other data.
So it just tells you how complex it is before they can actually come out and confirm it. We expect to hear more throughout the night. But right now I think it's fair to say the U.S. is still trying to figure out exactly what has transpired here.
COOPER: Obviously, this is a hugely important region for the United States, not just with Japan and South Korea, close allies, with thousands of U.S. troops on duty in the Demilitarized Zone along the border of North and South Korea. With that in mind, explain the significance of this launch. I mean, why should people care about this?
STARR: Why should we care about this? I mean, you know, it's a long ways away from home for so many Americans, but the North Koreans are very determined to spend money, as Paula said, to develop a long- range missile program.
And they want that program, those missiles someday to be able to carry a nuclear warhead. They want to demonstrate they have the capability to reach out thousands of miles, potentially Japan, Philippines, Hawaii, Alaska. They have the stated goal of wanting that intercontinental ballistic missile range.
And when you marry that up with a nuclear weapon, even the threat of this destabilizes the region, which of course, is a real economic power House nowadays, isn't it? You know, China, the rise of Asia in the world economy. This is not a place that anybody really -- that anybody wants to see this kind of security destabilization, if you will.
And the U.S. has spent many years trying to work through the Chinese to get to the North Koreans and try to convince them to back off of this effort.
STARR: But it looks like they have no intention of doing so.
COOPER: Barbara Starr, appreciate your reporting late tonight and Paul Hancocks, as well.
Also tonight, late developments on the tax and budget standoff between the White House and congressional Republicans. Two new offers on the table. We'll tell you about that, and we'll have the "Raw Politics," next.
COOPER: Well, we've been talking about the terrifying scene in an Oregon mall tonight, a gunman opening fire among crowds of holiday shoppers. Three are dead, including the shooter. Ahead, more eyewitness accounts on the breaking story.
COOPER: We'll have more on the shooting outside of Portland coming up. But first, "Raw Politics." Late new developments tonight. Two potential ways down from the fiscal cliff. Two new offers on the table, one from the White House, a counter offer from House Republicans, and the details are sketchy.
The White House offer includes $1.4 trillion in new tax revenues. That's about $200 billion fewer dollars than the White House offer. A Democratic source saying the tax hikes are paired with a, quote, "serious spending cut number with real entitlement reform."
However, we're already hearing negative reaction from one House GOP aide, the aide telling CNN that, quote, "1.4 isn't really progress this late in the game."
Less is known about the GOP counter offer at this hour. We do know that President Obama and House Speaker Boehner did speak by phone this evening and sat down for a no-cameras-allowed meeting over the weekend.
Now, today's competing offers come after both sides aired sharp differences on the House floor. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MAJORITY LEADER: Where are the president's spending cuts? The longer the White House slow walks this process the closer our economy gets to the fiscal cliff.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Where are the revenues? Where are the revenues? Regardless of the tax cuts or changes of entitlements more is demanded in terms of what seniors would have to pay in to a Medicare and what age that would happen, while the Republicans refuse to touch one hair on the head of a the wealthiest people in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, when it comes to taxes, another leading Republican, the top Senate Republican, said it was time for his party to give in and move on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: What the president is trying to the achieve on the top two tax rates, you know, he can get by doing nothing. The law is certainly stacked in his favor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sharing that view that a tax increase is all but inevitable, a growing number of House and Senate Republicans, including Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn.
COOPER: Senator Coburn joins us now.
Senator, you've said the tax rates are going up on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, no matter what it sounds. And it sounds like more and more Republicans are coming around to your way of thinking. I understand you've been talking to Republican colleagues about supporting this, while insisting also on spending cuts, particularly in the area of entitlement spending. What level of support right now is there among your colleagues for a deal like that?
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: Actually, what you heard isn't accurate. I haven't been pushing this at all with my colleagues. My colleagues will make a decision based on what they want. So I -- you know, I'm not trying to lead on this effort.
Mine is just a realistic assessment. The law is such that it is that tax rates are going to go up. The question is will we keep them from going up on everybody? Or will we keep them from going up on everybody except those above $250,000? That's the law. COOPER: So just for accuracy -- accuracy's sake, you're not going around trying to rally supporters to that?
COBURN: Not at all, not at all.
COOPER: You're not having conversations with your colleagues about that?
COOPER: OK. You say you prefer rate hikes to capping deductions. Why is that?
COBURN: Well, just simply because you can lower them again in the future. There isn't an economist in this country that thinks raising taxes is actually going to help our economy grow. And, you know, you have a quote that we're going to get somewhere around $70 billion a year out of this. But we're never going to get 70 billion out of it, because people are going to change their behaviors.
And so we're going to get much less than that. And that change in behavior will be less capital flow into job creation. So it's a negative thing to do. I understand the politics of it, but it's a negative thing to do.
COOPER: For you, does any deal include -- have to include cuts or reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security?
COBURN: Well, why wouldn't we want to fix the real problems in front of our country? I mean, there is no deal.
Look, the fiscal cliff is kind of a misnomer. I know that's what we talk -- we went off the fiscal cliff a long time ago when we started spending -- when we doubled the size of the government in the last 11 years and when we gave increased benefits in Medicare without creating the tax revenue source to pay for it.
So the question is, is not Medicare, Social Security. Why would you not just address the real issues that are facing our country and the very things that are going to cripple us if we don't address them?
And saving Medicare, guaranteeing that benefit to people in the future ought to be important. We have three million people. They're going to go into Medicare. And three million the next, and three million the next.
COOPER: At this point, what kind of leverage do you think Republicans really have to -- to force a deal, get a deal?
COBURN: I don't know. I think, again, that's Washington speak for politics, rather than policy. Again, I think we ought to raise it another notch up. Shouldn't we be having the president of the United States with the leaders of both houses of Congress come together and say what are the real problems, both in the short and long term facing our country? Should we not be about addressing those? Should we not be about decreasing the massive growth of the federal government in areas that aren't making any difference and the GAO has $200 billion a year of that?
COOPER: So why isn't that happening? That sounds rational and that sounds reasonable.
COBURN: There's no leadership in Washington either at the presidential level or the leadership level in Congress.
COOPER: Simple as that?
COBURN: I don't know of another explanation, other than people to stand up and say, "I think our country is worth saving." And playing politics for the short-term political gain may help you in the short run, but in the long run it does tremendous damage to our country. It does tremendous damage to the confidence of government in our country, and it does tremendous damage to those that we want to have confidence in, who are going to loan us the next trillion dollars this next year.
COOPER: Then -- I guess my question then is, why aren't you trying to convince your colleagues to come around to see it the way you do? Because you said there's no leadership on Capitol Hill.
COBURN: It doesn't matter what I think about the details. What does matter is about the process and the policy. What I would tell you is people are playing to the media rather than playing to the future of the country.
The thing that's unique about our country is we've cheated history several times. You know, we've been at very low points. I'm not sure we're going to cheat history this time. Because I think the short-term political gain seems to be more important for the politicians than the long-term future of our country. And to me that's very disturbing, and to me I smell a hint or an odor of us ultimately failing because we don't have quality leadership.
COOPER: Senator Coburn, appreciate you being on. Thank you.
COBURN: You bet, Anderson.
COOPER: Much more ahead tonight on the breaking story in the Oregon small shooting. The latest developments ahead. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I work in a kiosk in the mall. And people scattered like crazy. We waited for a second and people at the stores were opening doors for us to get in. They were ushering everyone in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Shaken eyewitness describing the scene hours ago at an Oregon shopping. Now, as we've been reporting, the gunman killed two people before shooting himself. There's a lot we do not know tonight. But Kira Rowland is certain of one thing. She says she's very lucky to be alive. She was at the mall with her 6-month-old son when the rampage began. I spoke to her a short time ago.
COOPER: So when did you realize something wrong was going on?
KIRA ROWLAND, WITNESS: After two shots were fired and after everybody started to hit the ground is when I knew something was very wrong.
COOPER: Did you see the shooter at any point?
ROWLAND: No, I did not see the shooter. After the shots were fired, I have a baby, I have a baby -- I have a 6-month-old baby, and he was in my arms when I was looking at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And two shots were fired, and everybody kind of just looked around and was confused. And then more shots were fired, about five to seven, and everybody started to hit the ground. And I started to get on the ground just then everybody -- but there were more shots then.
And so I threw my baby into the stroller and just started running, because everybody was screaming and everybody just started to run. And then I finally got out of the mall and I'd forgotten where I'd parked. So I was just standing there, kind of just oblivious and somebody said I need to run because the guy is still, you know, at large and he could be any of us.
And so some lady picked me up and drove me across the street. I came home and I turned on the news, and I find out that the gunman was right outside of Macy's and headed toward me and my baby basically. After his rifle had jammed, he came right into Macy's. And I just think if I hadn't stopped to sit and, if I hadn't stopped to smell that perfume that maybe me and my baby wouldn't be here today.
COOPER: Kira, I understand, obviously, you are incredibly upset. You said that his gun jammed. Where did you get that information?
ROWLAND: That was on the news.
ROWLAND: After he had shot his rounds, he had pointed at a woman and then his gun had jammed.
COOPER: OK. We just should point out that that's an unconfirmed report at this point. There had been some reports about that. How are you holding up, Kira?
ROWLAND: I'm OK. Every time I talk about it, I just kind of relive it again. And it is -- it's very terrifying. And I just am just thinking, you know, in hindsight how lucky I am. And I know we have an angel with us today because I was so close. We were so close.
COOPER: Do you have any idea how many shots you heard, Kira, total? You talked about two shots and then five to seven.
ROWLAND: About 20 to 25.
COOPER: About 20 to 25. Listen, Kira, I can't imagine what this has been like for you and I wish you the best and I'm so glad you got out safe with your baby. Thank you so much.
ROWLAND: Thank you so much.
COOPER: We will continue to learn more information throughout the evening no doubt, about this shooting. We're also following other important stories right now. Isha is here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, HLN ANCHOR: Anderson, President Obama says the United States now officially recognizes the Syrian opposition coalition. He was asked point blank in an interview with ABC News's Barbara Walters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Do you plan to recognize the opposition and give them some legitimacy?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've made a decision that the Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, the Obama administration also said today it's formally designated the al Nusra Front a foreign terrorist organization. The State Department accuses the radical Islamist rebel group of using the Syrian conflict to advance its own ideology and ends.
A major gas line has exploded in Sissonville, West Virginia. There are reports of multiple fires. A portion of Interstate 77 had to be shut down. No word on any injuries or the cause of the blast.
And Anderson, it's a good week if meteors are your thing. This one fell over Edmonton, Alberta in 2008.
SESAY: The comet Wirtanen could produce a major meteor shower anytime between now and Friday. This is the first year the Earth's orbit will pass the comet's debris field. You can also get a glimpse of the annual Geminids meteor shower expected to peak Thursday night. That's my gift to you.
COOPER: Isha, thanks very much. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then I heard about first a couple of shots, then I didn't -- I wasn't too concerned and I heard about another 15, 16 shots. So Santa hit the deck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Mall Santa talking about the shooting outside Portland earlier today. A reminder that we're following the breaking news throughout the night and into the morning about the shooting outside Portland, Oregon.
A reminder, too, this is, indeed, the holiday season, and as bad as this was. the killer could have made his appearance not on a Tuesday but on a Friday or Saturday with more kids around and more people around.
That said, it was bad enough as it was. Two dead; others wounded. And as always, a whole lot of sad -- sadly familiar questions.
That's our report tonight. Thanks for watching. We'll see you again tomorrow.