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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Deadly Violence Erupts Between Biker Gangs In Waco, Texas; New Details on Delta Force Raid; Family Found Dead in Washington, D.C.; Remembering Extreme Sports Legend Dean Potter. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 18, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Texas tonight. I'm in El Paso on assignment, the story is further east, in Waco, where one outbreak of deadly violence just happened and officials are warning another could be possible.
The bulletin from Texas authorities obtained just moments ago, warning that additional members of two biker gangs could be making their way into the state, they are considered armed, dangerous, and after what happened yesterday, there's no reason to doubt that.
Already in Waco, law enforcement is busy because of those two gangs and others. They have been processing inmates all day upwards of 170 people have been arrested. Sadly more in Dallas to the north is busy as well. Nine fatalities after the worst single outbreak of violence in Waco since the raid and fire at a (INAUDIBLE) more than 20 years ago. This late inferno erupted yesterday at lunch time. The ingredients, five motorcycle gangs in all, dozens of knives, firearms, one crowded restaurant, alcohol, a rivalry and a spark.
Late details now for our Nick Valencia - Nick.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the aftermath of a deadly battle involving at least five rival biker gangs and Texas law enforcement.
SGT. PATRICK SWANTON, WACO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Shortly after 12:15, a fight broke out in this building into the parking lot of Twin Peaks. As that fight progressed it progressed rapidly from hands and feet to weapons, chains, a club was involved, and knives were involved. Gunfire broke out on the part of the criminal biker gangs.
VALENCIA: As the bloodshed spilled into the park lot, police including SWAT officers who had been monitoring bar for fighter gang activity moved in.
SWANTON: As we pulled up on scene, the shooting at individual bikers from bikers turned toward us. Our officers took fire and responded appropriately, returning fire.
VALENCIA: When the shooting finally stopped, nine bikers were dead, four of which according to a law enforcement source may have been killed by police. What's still unclear is exactly what led to the fight between these
rival biker gangs. What is clear is that the bloodshed could have been worse. Twin Peaks is in the middle of a busy shopping district. Just imagine this. On Sunday this area teaming with innocent bystanders, unaware that a fight was about to erupt.
And police say that the restaurant itself is at least partly to blame that any violence broke out.
SWANTON: Management knew there were biker gangs that they continued to let those groups of people into their business. We feel like there may have been more that could have been done by a business to prevent this. Now we have nine individuals that are dead, and it wasn't necessary.
VALENCIA: And beyond the nine bikers killed, around 170 were rounded up and arrested. So many suspects that they initially had to be bussed here to the Waco convention center before being processed into the county jail.
SWANTON: Those individuals are being charged with engaging in organized crime in reference to the shooting at Twin Peaks, which is a capitol murder. It's a capital murder because of the number of victims that were killed in one episode here.
VALENCIA: And tonight, authorities fear reprisal attacks against the biker gangs or revenge attacks aimed at law enforcement themselves could continue the bloodshed in Waco.
COOPER: And Nick Valencia joins us now live from Waco.
So more violence obviously to be concerned as you mentioned, what is the latest on that?
VALENCIA: Anderson, law enforcement officials here on heightened alert saying there may be a chance they will be targeted by these biker gangs, saying the so-called green light hit has been put on all officers in uniform.
Meanwhile, in the last several minutes, CNN obtaining a statement from the local owner here of the Twin Peaks in Waco, Texas telling a much different version of events than what police have been saying. Part of that statement reading in part, to the best of our knowledge, law enforcement officials did not ask either the Waco restaurant operator with whom they spoke several times or the Twin Peaks franchiser to cancel the patio reservation that was made on Sunday. Based on the information to date, we also believe the violence began outside in the area of the parking lot, and not inside our restaurant or our patio as has been widely reported.
You see, Anderson, there, a much different version of events from the owner here of Twin Peaks in Waco, Texas - Anderson.
COOPER: Nick, I appreciate the reporting. Just to underscore how volatile this mixture was at this place, the
Twin Peaks restaurants, all this went down despite as we mentioned a heavy police presence nearby with a very visible police presence. Again, here's police spokesman Patrick Swanton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SWANTON: They could care less whether we were here or not, that's the violence that we were dealing with yesterday. They knew we were seconds away, and we're going to respond. It mattered not to them. They were still killing individuals, and then turned their gunfire at us when we got here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[20:05:14] COOPER: And Sergeant Patrick Swanton joins us now live.
Sergeant, thank you very much for being with us. First of all, I want to ask you about this report, about others coming to the Waco area, what are your concerns, what do you believe may happen?
SWANTON: Yes, sir. We think that's a possibility. We saw very early on last night, that we had a contingent of bikers come into the area, a larger amount than we would normally see here. When the threat was put out towards law enforcement officers, caused us to really step up our game. Obviously, it's something we're concerned about. We would encourage biker groups to stand down, there's been enough bloodshed. There had been enough death here. We don't need additional death in the Waco area. Obviously, we were still sorting through the scene behind us. We'll process that evidence and continue the investigation through the coming days and weeks.
COOPER: Do you know what it was that actually began the fight? Because now the restaurant is saying, well, it didn't -- the franchise is just saying, well, it didn't happen inside the restaurant or in the bathroom. They believe it happened down in the parking lot. Do you know what actually caused this?
SWANTON: Yes. We know it started in the bathroom area initially. There was also a skirmish in the parking lot. I don't know how close those two were together. There was shooting inside the club. You know, I won't sit here and argue with an individual. But I can tell you that we believe the shooting occurred inside, moved into the open bar area and then came out into the parking lot as well.
Nine individuals were killed in that parking lot, and we're in the process now of trying to determine exactly who all was involved and specifically what this started over. We believe it's gang related activity, whether it's to determine some turf for one group or in the process of recruiting for another group. All of that goes hand in hand, it may have been one gang trying to say, we're here in your area, and we're going to be here because we want to.
COOPER: So I mean, because these are gangs that do have a longstanding rivalry. So the fact that they were all in the same area, is that unusual? SWANTON: That they're all in the same area at one time? It's a
little bit unusual. Obviously, when you get groups together that can't get along. We know there's a history between these two groups. We know there's a recent history of violence between these two groups, that may have played a part in what occurred here Sunday as well.
COOPER: I also want to ask you about something the local Twin Peaks franchise said today. They said that law enforcement officials didn't ask either the Waco restaurant operator or the franchise to cancel what they call the patio reservation. I know you had been critical of this particular franchise, is that in fact true, what they say?
SWANTON: No, what they're saying is not true, and we dispute that fact.
COOPER: And in terms -- are they being cooperative now, thus local franchise, in terms of cooperating with the investigation at this point? Because I know you had said before they had not been cooperating.
SWANTON: I can tell you national is being cooperative at this point. We appreciate their efforts. We appreciate their news release that they have done indicating their willingness to work with us, and we think that will go a long way in healing some issues here. We are very appreciative of their support that they have shown us, and we're talking about the national. They have revoked the individual's permit here today. We're pleased they did that and they appear to be cooperating. We want to thank them for doing that.
COOPER: I know you've recovered a huge number of different kinds of weapons, guns and other kinds of weapons, do you have a lot of video evidence that can help you make this case? Because some of these charges may be hard in terms of assigning individual blame for activities.
SWANTON: We have a lot of evidence. Whether video evidence is part of that or not, I can't tell you, I don't know.
COOPER: OK. And just in terms of the sheer number of people have you in custody at this point. How difficult is that even to process?
SWANTON: Extremely difficult. The sheriff's department is doing quite a job in trying to get them all through there. You're talking about 170 individuals that need to be fingerprinted, booked in through paperwork, have mugshots taken. Last I checked about an hour ago, they were halfway through that. That will be a process as well for them to continue into the night.
[20:10:03] COOPER: And your message to any gang members that may be thinking about coming to Waco is what?
SWANTON: Obviously, there's a heavy law enforcement presence here. We've seen enough violence in our town over the past day, we would encourage them to just kind of stand down a little bit. There's no point in them coming here to try to get pay back, whether it's on rival bike gangs or against us. So we would ask them to take a cooling off period and let the healing process begin.
COOPER: Well, Sergeant Swanton, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
I want to talk more about the scale of this from a criminal justice point of view. It's kind of breathtaking, the prospect to making dozens and dozens cases, murder cases, what they are talking about, when all is said and done.
Joining us now with some perspective on what is going to take, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeff, how tough is this? I mean, you have more than I think 170 some numbers, put it up closer to 200, all in custody charged with capital murder. Is there any way they're going to be able to successfully prosecute that many people?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there is a way, but I have certainly never heard of a case on this scale anywhere. Big city, medium sized city like Waco, small town, I've just simply never heard of it. What they will have to do is figure out a way to isolate the evidence against each individual. Whether they can do that, I don't know. You asked certainly a very good question, is there any video, because certainly that is going to be the most valuable kind of evidence.
Remember most of the witnesses are going to be other gang members who to put it mildly may not be the most reliable witnesses. So to say this is going to be a difficult prosecution is an understatement.
COOPER: I mean, you assume they must have some sort of undercover personnel inside with some of these gangs, because of some of the information, it seemed like the advanced information they have, could prosecutors charge a conspiracy? And if so, how would that play into these murder charges? How would they actually prove that individuals acted in a way to further conspiracy?
TOOBIN: Certainly that is a possibility. But even in the conspiracy case, you have to isolate evidence against individuals. To prove a conspiracy, have you to prove that an individual agreed with the other conspirators to participate in an illegal conspiracy. And you also have to prove that they took an overt act, they did something. Now, it doesn't have to be an illegal act. But they have to have done something. They have to have given someone a weapon. They have to have made a phone call. They have to have done something in furtherance in support of the conspiracy.
So again, it folds back on to the original problem, which is isolating the evidence against each person who may be prosecuted. And with a melee like this, it's just going to be very difficult.
COOPER: Is it possible the owner of the franchise, whether the national owner or the local franchise, could end up facing some kind of charges here as well? Because police have been very vocal and critical, not only disputing what they're saying about where this began, and the level of cooperation or lack of cooperation they have got, but they've been critical all along of saying they kept reaching out to this local franchise, asking them not to host these events and they got rebuffed.
TOOBIN: Certainly, the owner could be liable for some sort of civil liability, under a theory of negligence, of carelessness. I'm not sure I see a criminal case against the owner based on the evidence I've seen. There doesn't seem to be any evidence of criminal intent. There's just simply an intent to bring a lot of people into his or her restaurant and that created a disaster. But I think criminal charges against the owner, at least based on what I know now seem pretty unlikely.
COOPER: All right, Jeff, I appreciate the update. Jeff Toobin, thank you.
Quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR. You can watch 360 any time you like.
Coming up, the violent rules these outlaw bikers live and sometimes die by. You're going to hear from two men who know firsthand who infiltrated some of the country's most violent gangs.
And later, the murder mystery in a D.C. neighborhood that these flames may have been meant to cover up, police now have a person they are looking for. We have late details on that.
[20:15:43] COOPER: The breaking news tonight, Texas officials warning now that more outlaw bikers possibly armed and dangerous could come to the state. The fear, obviously, reprisals against other gang members or law enforcement. (INAUDIBLE) does not come to path, there's no exaggerating what has already happened in Waco. For a short time, it amounted to close combat between what in a military context would be several platoons or even a small company. Motorcycle gangs, of course, are not military units. And we should mention many are not violent. Even the groups involved in the may hem yesterday also take part in other activities like toy drive and charity rides. That said, the justice department says the group that's tangled in Waco have been very much on the radar at the justice department and with law enforcement around the country.
More on their world now from Sara Sidner.
CHARLES FALCO, INFILTRATED BIKER GANGS: It is definitely armed now.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This man is in a position to know just how dangerous biker gangs can be. Cloaked in darkness, he agreed to speak with us. He said he spent five years infiltrating five different biker gangs in the DEA, (INAUDIBLE), and outlaws.
How would you describe how they operate? Are they different in the way they operate? FALCO: They're very similar. Very sophisticated, structured like the
military, a lot of members are ex-military. They're much different than your average street gang I can talk to you more.
SIDNER: When you talk about war, who are they warring with? It's just other gangs or is it society at large?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd say it is society at large and mostly other motorcycle gangs. And lot of these guys -- when I get my goggles infiltration, half my chapter was ex-marines, so they -- they're highly skilled, highly trained killers.
SIDNER: Charles Falco is an author, and now consults for law enforcement on biker gangs, and says he was asked to go to Waco because of growing tensions between two gangs, the banditos and the Cosats.
FALCO: The banditos are the biggest motorcycle gang in Texas and they don't allow other motorcycle gangs to enter that state.
SIDNER: While this is the worst violence the country has seen in years affiliated with biker gangs, this is surveillance video chowing the chaos in a Nevada casino as three people are killed in 2002.
[20:20:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots are being fired inside the hotel. People are being stabbed.
SIDNER: Rival gang members shoot it out, leaving the casino crowd dodging bullets, police forcing everyone to the ground as they try to sort suspects from victims. Then in 2011, shots fired at another casino, this time in Sparks, Nevada. When it's all over, a member of the hells angels is shot dead, police say, by a rival gang.
And the violence between gangs hasn't stayed just in the U.S. Violence exploded between the mid-1990s between the bandidos and the hell's angles. At one point the bandidos accused of using a car bomb and a rocket propelled grenade against their rivals.
In America, Falco says there is a way to quell the violence, keep known gang members from getting concealed weapons.
FALCO: The problem we're seeing now is in states where you're allowed to conceal a weapons permit. These biker gangs have been ordered by their leadership to get a concealed weapons permit if they're not felons. Because right now, in most of these states where they have concealed weapons permits, gang members can get concealed weapons. There is nothing to stop them.
SIDNER: But he says the blood bath in Waco could have been avoided if only the restaurant could have listened to law enforcement and mandated bikers could not wear their gang paraphernalia.
FALCO: And if they would have done that, these biker gangs won't show up, because they always have to wear their colors.
SIDNER: Sarah Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela Brown here in Washington D.C. taking over for Anderson, as you see, we lost his signal there in El Paso, Texas. As we heard Sarah Sidner's story, one restaurant, five outlaw biker gangs including one of the biggest of its kind on the planet.
Five societies with their own rules and codes of secrecy, honor and violence. ATF agent Billy Queen knows that world firsthand having spent more than two years under cover, posing as a member of the Mongels (ph) outlaw gain. His account of it is entitled "Under and alone, the true story of the undercover agent who infiltrated America's most violent outlaw motorcycle gang." Because he still has enemies out there, we're not disclosing his location, but he spoke to Anderson earlier.
COOPER: Billy, in your two years undercover when you were with the ATF, with these biker gangs, I mean, have you ever seen anything like this, this scale?
BILL QUEEN, FORMER ATF AGENT: During my two years undercover, I never saw anything like this. We had run-ins with the hells angels, but nowhere near this scale. Not at all. These biker gangs are confronting each other, and the violence occurs with them all the time, just not to this magnitude.
COOPER: Why would they be all together? I mean, if there is this tension between them?
QUEEN: There was a coalition meeting that was going on. And that's the reason they were all there. And it wasn't just because that is in the banditos there, there were a number of other clubs that were there in this coalition, and they got together to try to iron some things out. One of the things that they were going to try to iron out, from what I understand was this turf battle, the right to where the Texas rocker out there and things went from bad to worse, Anderson, and where I understanding, it all started over a parking space. But the Cosats and the bandidos had been at each other for the past six months, over the right to wear that Texas rocker out there.
COOPER: So they're fighting, and beyond just the parking space, it's about a patch on a jacket?
QUEEN: Yes. Patch on the colors, yes. The right to wear that Texas rocker.
COOPER: When you say Texas rocker, this is probably a stupid question, what does that mean? You mean a Texas flag or --?
QUEEN: Well, no. They'll have the colors on the back of the jackets. They'll have a set of colors. On the bottom side of those colors will be a territorial patch. And it will say Texas, or California, or it might say a specific area like Dallas. That rocker on the bottom stands for that state that they're operating in. The banditos were the big kid on the block. And they were proven who could run hat Texas rocker on the body, other patch.
COOPER: It certainly seems like the police, I mean, they had tactical units on scene nearby. It certainly seems like they were able to respond very quickly, and probably at least authorities believe helped save lives ultimately of any civilians who may have been injured. Do you think this is going to continue? Is this going to escalate, or given the public nature of this, are they going to try to cool things down?
[20:24:50] QUEEN: I think given the public nature, they are going to try to cool things down. They do a lot of stupid things, but overall, they're not that stupid, especially when it comes to law enforcement. They're going to let it cool down, but not necessarily let it go. And anything might happen.
The unfortunate thing for the Cosats is they're a small club, compared to the bandidos. The bandidos are one of the biggest if not the biggest outlaw gang in the world right now, outlaw motorcycle gang in the world. So Cosats would be really less than smart to really try to take them on in a full-scale war.
COOPER: Well, Billy, it is an incredible glimpse into this world, a lot of people don't know a lot about it. I appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
QUEEN: Absolutely. Thank you, Anderson.
BROWN: And Anderson will be back in a second from El Paso Texas.
And in the meantime, more breaking news ahead. New details about the ISIS commander killed over the weekend in that U.S. raid in Syria and reporting about the role he might have had in dealing with an American hostage who was killed.
COOPER: News tonight about the Isis commander who was killed in that U.S. raid in Syria over the weekend. His wife as you know was captured. The army's delta force carried out the operation. And Pentagon correspondent
[20:30:00] Barbara Starr joins me now with more information. What do we know about what led up to the raid and how it all unfolded?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's really fascinating. We're now learning the U.S. had this man, Abu Sayyaf, not his real name, we don't know his real name yet. They had him under surveillance since March inside eastern Syria, so this mission had been planned for some time, we were told, they had been watching him, developed a so-called pattern of life, knew his movements, where he was going, so those Delta Force commandos took off in their helicopters and made their way to that area, that compound in eastern Syria, where he was. They knew at that time he would be there when they got there.
They had to blast a hole in one of the walls of the building, in the middle of a firefight, go in. There was hand to hand combat. A lot of drama here, they killed him in that firefight when he resisted. His wife now undergoing interrogation, but you know, think about this little piece of information right in front of all of us, the U.S. able to monitor someone inside Syria, where presumably, we have no intelligence assets since March. Anderson?
COOPER: And in terms of American hostages who either were being held or who have been held in Syria, is there any sense of whether this ISIS target was in any way connected to them? All the reports are that he was some sort of a financier.
STARR: He was the so-called oil and gas guy of ISIS, but in recent months, we are told by our U.S. government sources, he had taken on an increasing role in military operations planning, communications with top ISIS officials, and the U.S. believes at this point both he and his wife had been involved in hostage taking operations.
So one of the things they wanted to do is get his laptop, his computers, cell phones, everything they could out of that house, and analyze it for any information about some of the hostages, who have been killed. We now know that the White House after the raid called some of the American families of the deceased hostages, to tell them the news, to tell them that they hoped they could find some information on those laptops and cell phones. No word yet on what, if anything, they found. Anderson?
COOPER: Barbara, I appreciate the update. I want to bring in Jennifer Bryson, former interrogator at Guantanamo Bay and director of the Zepher Institute. Also Colonel James Reese, CNN global affairs analyst and a former Delta Force member.
Colonel Reese, what kind of tactical planning goes into a raid like this? A target inside Syria, it's obviously incredibly dangerous even for Delta Force.
REESE: It is. It's a high risk mission, but we've been running these high risk missions since 2001, and it really turns out to be like mowing the lawn for these guys. What it really takes is every part of this task force is looking at this intelligence, every single day, looking for the indicators to go. And once the joint special operations command feels that this interagency task force with their intelligence feels they have actual intelligence, they have the charter, especially with the high value targets, to launch.
And the tough thing is, we talked about this before, the three elements of these types of raids, surprise, speed, bounds of action. You go on a (inaudible) assault, you lose that surprise of action, and it becomes a fist fight as soon as you get on the ground.
COOPER: Colonel, in reality, is the mission to kill this person, or is it to try to capture? Obviously his wife has been captured, I guess she will be interrogated. We'll talk about that in just a minute, but I think publicly the U.S. says the objective is ideally to capture someone. Is that really the objective?
REESE: It is, Anderson. The JSOC mission statement for both tier one forces, which is the Delta Force and SEAL Team 6, their charter is to capture. When we get a mission statement, it will say capture or kill. Because we want the intelligence, we want to sit down, we want to interview these people. Once we kill them, we lose it, and we really hope they don't, but unfortunately, if they pick up a weapon and become a threat, they get killed, just like Uday and Qusay did when Delta got them in the early days of Iraq.
COOPER: Jennifer, you think it's very important that the U.S. has the wife of this ISIS leader in custody. Why is that significant? Do we know if she had an operational role or how much intelligence she may actually have had access to?
JENNIFER BRYSON, FORMER INTERROGATOR AT GUANTANAMO: I agree with Colonel Reese's point, that capturing is vitally important, because then you have access to the human information. Even if I at a far distance now don't know exactly the nature of it, human beings are an amazing source of information. And in addition to the wife, we apparently also have a Yazidi woman who has been kept perhaps as a slave. And as an interrogator, she's the first person I would want to talk to.
COOPER: Why is that? Just because she had eyes on everything and listened to things?
BRYSON: Because she's most likely to be easy. She is likely to view the Americans as heroes and her rescuers, and she is likely to view ISIS as the enemy and be most willing to help. Certainly the wife is more likely to have valuable information.
COOPER: Colonel, obviously the U.S. has been putting a lot of focus on this raid, given that, you know, they have some intelligence, they killed this operative, and they captured the wife, not good news, obviously inside Iraq, where Ramadi is now said to be in the hands of ISIS. Obviously ISIS has held positions even closer to Baghdad than this. But the fact that the Iraqi military, the -- and the militias that are aligned with them, were not able to hold a city so close to Baghdad, what do you make of that?
REESE: Anderson, the pictures that are coming out of Ramadi right now, one, there is no question, it's a tactical setback for the Iraqi government and the Iraqi military security forces at all. The pictures coming out of Ramadi right now are from western and northern Ramadi.
I believe what we're going to see here over the next week, I think the Iraqis decided they were having difficulty getting logistics pushed up to their front line troops, they decided to pull back some, and I think what you believe -- I believe we'll see here over the next week is a very stringent bombardment and air assault from the coalition air forces to come in there and start pinging off ISIS. The other thing is, ISIS has Al Rakka, their headquarters, they have
the entire Euphrates River valley that they're put in. So if it was me, I'm making that entire row out there a targeted area of interest. Anything moving in there is ISIS, and I'm killing that to allow the Iraqis to get back into the fight and seize the terrain back again.
COOPER: Colonel Reese, I appreciate you being on. Jennifer Bryson as well.
Coming up at the top of the hour, CNN's Fareed Zakaria digs deeper into the rise of ISIS in his special report, "Blindsided: How ISIS Shook the World." It's just ahead at 9:00 Eastern.
We'll have a lot more, though, in this hour. Coming up on 360, after a short break, a murder mystery in our nation's capitol, a couple in an upscale neighborhood found dead along with their son and one of their housekeepers. The home set on fire. Was it to hide evidence? The latest, next.
COOPER: The investigation into a murder mystery in a rich section of Washington, D.C., now includes a peculiar text message. A burned out Porsche and a grainy video of a person of interest, say authorities. There are still many questions about the circumstances that left a couple, their son, and one of their housekeepers dead, in a home that was set on fire. Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the middle of the day. Fire breaks out in a home in one of Washington, D.C.,'s most posh neighborhoods. Blocks away from the vice president's residence and embassy row. Four people are found dead inside -- tragic, and as it turns out, very sinister.
Washington, D.C.'s police chief.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fire appears to be intentionally set.
TUCHMAN: Before it was set, police also say three of the four victims had suffered blunt force trauma. It's been declared a quadruple homicide. The victims, 46-year-old Sava Savopolis (ph), a CEO of a company called American IronWorks, his 47-year-old wife Amy, a Washington philanthropist and socialite. Their 10-year-old son Phillip, and a woman named Veralicia Figueroa, their 57-year-old housekeeper.
Veralicia Figueroa was one of two family housekeepers. The other housekeeper said she too was supposed to be at the house when this all happened, but she wasn't because of a strange text message.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I almost have heart attack. It's very hard to believe. TUCHMAN: That other housekeeper is Melitza Gutierrez (ph).
About three hours before the fire broke out, she received this text from Amy Savapolis. It reads in part, "I am making sure you do not come today." And the day before she received a voice mail from Sava Savopolis, telling her not to come the next day, because his wife was sick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometime you never understand all the thing happen. But I'm lucky I'm still here.
TUCHMAN: Police say no evidence was found of forced entry into this home. Was anything taken? Was it ransacked? Because of the fire damage, authorities say they don't know.
So what is going on here? Were the voice mail and the text sent out under duress? And why are police not saying which three of the people killed suffered blunt force trauma, and which one did not? And what that all means. Police are staying relatively quiet.
Gentlemen, are there any updates you can give us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't give any updates.
TUCHMAN: But the D.C. police have released this video of what they call a person of interest. It is literally and figuratively a shadowy image of someone walking behind the building, after possibly taking the Savapolis' Porsche 911 from the crime scene. The car was found ditched in a Maryland church parking lot, where it was torched. Authorities have released pictures of the car.
As we speak, police are going through evidence, literally going through the garbage. They're also looking at the other cars the family has here. A Range Rover, an Audi, and a vehicle in the garage known as a Mowsler (ph), which is a very rare and expensive sports car.
The sifting through the trash is meticulous. The odor of the smoke still sifting through the neighborhood obvious. As police continue working to solve what is a deadly mystery.
COOPER: Gary Tuchman, reporting for us tonight.
Just ahead, the death of a man who had cheated death so many times before, and the remarkable life he led.
COOPER: The bodies of two base jumpers were found in Yosemite national park yesterday after an illegal jump that went horribly wrong. One of them is a big name in extreme sports. Dean Potter is his name, he's very well known in the world for his climbing, tightrope walking and wing suit jumps. Stephanie Elam has more.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From jumping off clips in wing suits to highlining, Dean Potter was an extreme sports legend and pioneer. Leaping from fixed points, base jumpers fly dangerously close to the surface as they drop thousands of feet. It's illegal, but that doesn't stop people from doing it.
KEN YAGER, YOSEMITE CLIMBING ASSISTANT: They're doing it because they love it, they don't brag about it or talk about it much.
ELAM: On Saturday shortly before sunset, Potter and 29-year-old Graham Hunt attempted a jump in a wing suit from Taft Point in Yosemite. A cliff with about a 3500-foot drop to the valley floor. Friends reported the two missing that night. Then on Sunday, a helicopter spotted the bodies of the two men. They reportedly jumped together, but were found at different locations. Neither man had deployed his parachute.
Photographer Shawn Roeder knew both men and says Hunt was like a brother to him.
SHAWN ROEDER, FRIEND OF BOTH MEN: Graham and Dean both were two of the best wing suit jumpers in the world. And while I think both of them never had a death wish, I think they both were truly, honestly choosing to live life to the fullest. They were also both aware that what they were doing, brought the chance of death.
ELAM: 43-year-old Potter pushed those limits, traveling around the world in search of the next thrill, like rock climbing without a rope or tether, just a small emergency parachute on his back. Potter recently posted this picture on Instagram, with the tag first ever free base solo.
He was known to take along a companion, his dog Whisper. In 2014, Potter talked to CNN about their adventures together.
DEAN POTTER: I like to bring my dog and my best friend with me. The idea came from not wanting to leave my dog in the house or car. I want to bring my best friend with me everywhere.
ELAM: But Potter took his final jump without Whisper. She's now left missing her best friend. Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.
COOPER: It's a very big loss in the world of extreme sports. Alex Honnold is one of the best known adventure rock climbers in the world. Watching him in action is not for anyone with a fear of heights. Certainly he climbs tall cliffs without a rope to protect him if he falls. Alex joins me tonight.
I know you were friends with Dean. Alex, can you start by just talking about what Dean was like? What drew him to these sports?
ALEX HONNOLD, PROFESSIONAL ROCK CLIMBER: You start with the hard questions? I mean, I don't know. Dean was just super passionate about what he called his arts, you know. Being outside and climbing and rock climbing, base jumping. He loved the magical places he got to go climbing in. I don't know exactly what motivated him.
COOPER: He viewed it as an art?
HONNOLD: Yes, he always did. It was like a spiritual practice for him to be in these beautiful places, and to be pushing himself that way.
COOPER: I understand you said he shaped the direction of climbing for this generation, how so?
HONNOLD: Well, he certainly shaped the cutting edge, you know, he pushed the directions of the sport was going in, and I mean he was very much responsible for bringing base jumping into climbing. And then bringing so many climbers into base jumping. He pushed speed climbing and solo and many of the different aspects of the climbing. He just sort of broadened the sport.
COOPER: How conscious -- I know you don't do wing suits, how conscious do you think Dean was of the risks? I mean, you know, there's some people who say they don't feel fear. Was he someone who felt fear and was able to do it anyway?
HONNOLD: Dean definitely felt fear, and I think that's what made his climbing and his base jumping so impressive. Was that he cared so much about his arts that he was able to overcome that fear. There are a lot of quotes from Dean about how he would gravitate toward his fear. Something's terrified him. And falling was one of those things, and he sort of overcame that by learning how to fly, by learning how to base jump. And I don't know, I mean I think that's what's so amazing about Dean. A lot of the things he did were terrifying for him. But he was also drawn to them in an explicable way. And he was able to overcome that fear.
COOPER: Does something like this -- again, you don't base jump, but does something like what happened, does it make you rethink anything? As someone who climbs and climbs intensely, does it give you pause at all?
HONNOLD: Yes, it certainly gives you pause. I mean, I spent most of the day yesterday just reflecting on this, I was just biking around by myself, like pondering, you know, it's heavy questions for sure. But I think anyone who's doing these kinds of sports thinks about it quite a bit to begin with. You can't be willing to risk your life without constantly evaluating, is it worth to you, why are you motivated, what's the appeal, all those kinds of things, and I'm sure Dean thought about it quite a bit, you know, I certainly do as well. But any time somebody near you dies, I mean, it definitely causes you to reflect on life a little bit, you know.
COOPER: The spot where this happened, do you know it, and if so, what's it like?
HONNOLD: I mean, it's one of the most beautiful points on earth. Taft Point, it's a beautiful overlook looking down on El Capitan and the Cathedrals. I was there just last week. It's just a beautiful place. But, you know. Yeah.
COOPER: Alex, I appreciate you talking to us. Thank you.
HONNOLD: Of course, thanks.
COOPER: Coming up tonight, could a hacker get into a plane's in- flight's entertainment system and somehow change the course of the flight? One cyber security consultant says he actually did that, and now the FBI's involved. Details next.
COOPER: The cyber security consultant says he's only trying to improve aircraft security. The way he's been going about it has drawn the attention of the FBI. Chris Roberts says he's hacked into computer systems on planes up to 20 times, and once was able to actually overwrite code to issue a command for the plane to climb. Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me now with the latest. This guy, who claims he was actually able to control the plane's movements, is that what he's saying?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is according to an FBI affidavit, Anderson. His name is Chris Roberts. He's a cyber security consultant, and he told investigators that he caused a passenger plane to move sideways after manipulating the plane's engines while he was on board. As you point out, that's just one of up to 20 times since 2011, Roberts claims he took control of a commercial flight system.
According to the FBI, Roberts told investigators that all he does is reach under one of the passenger seats to what's called the seat electronics box, he plugs his laptop in through an ethernet jack, and then hacks into the plane's flight entertainment system. That he says allows him to connect to the flight and navigation systems on the plane. The FBI ceased his electronics in April after he tweeted about possibly activating the oxygen masks on a United flight from Denver to Chicago. But before that, Anderson, Roberts actually went to the FBI himself to tell them about the vulnerabilities he found on these planes.
COOPER: That's amazing. I don't think anyone really realized, certainly passengers, that's possible. Does the FBI believe he was able to do this?
BROWN: I'll tell you, Anderson, there's certainly some skepticism, but the FBI is concerned enough about Roberts' claims that it issued this affidavit for a search warrant of his electronics. And so that tells you right there that there was some concern, and in fact, in the affidavit, it says that it -- they believe it is possible for him to do something like this, and that's why they want to search his electronics. Anderson?
COOPER: Pamela, thanks very much. Pamela Brown. The special report, "Blinsided: How ISIS Shook the World," hosted by our Fareed Zakaria, starts now.