VA under fire after Legionnaires' cases

Twenty-nine patients at the V.A. hospital in Pittsburgh have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease since January 2011.
Twenty-nine patients at the V.A. hospital in Pittsburgh have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease since January 2011.
  • 29 cases of Legionnaires' disease have been diagnosed at Pittsburgh VA since January 2011
  • At least 5 of the cases were acquired from the hospital
  • Relatives of two veterans who died after contracting the disease blame the VA
  • Records indicate the hospital's water systems were not properly maintained

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Twenty-nine patients at the Veterans Administration hospital in Pittsburgh have been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease since January 2011, raising questions about the institution's safety practices.

Five of the cases "are known to have acquired the disease from the hospital," the VA said. Another eight were infected elsewhere, and the source of the infection in 16 cases cannot been determined.

The spate of illnesses has led relatives of two veterans who died after contracting the disease, a type of pneumonia, to blame the hospital.

CNN has learned that hospital officials knew they had a problem with the water system as far back as last December, but chose not to reveal that until a month ago.

That's when the hospital began turning off the water in parts of the hospital, staff and patients told CNN.

"They should have the best and utmost care than anybody else, even better than a normal civilian," said Dave Nicklas, whose father, Bill, died last month at age 87. According to his death certificate, he died of heart failure and Legionnaires' disease.

Nicklas entered the hospital last month for treatment of dehydration; the World War II Navy veteran initially appeared to be improving, but his condition reversed, his son said.

The man's doctors told the family shortly before he died that he had contracted Legionnaires'.

"I mean, they fought for their country, you know," Dave Nicklas said.

"They go to battle, they love their country and where do they go? They go to a hospital and they basically die in there."

Another Navy veteran -- John Ciarolla, 83, -- died July 18, 2011, after being diagnosed with Legionnaires' at the hospital, his daughter Maureen Ciarolla said.

Though the Korean War veteran had been living in the hospital for several months after he became unable to live on his own, the hospital said he could not have contracted the bacteria in the hospital.

When she questioned how that conclusion had been reached, she said she was told, "If he had gotten it here there would have been other cases."

"I felt guilty, very guilty, thinking he got it when I took him out the Sunday before Father's Day 2011," Maureen Ciarolla said.

The VA's problem extends beyond Pittsburgh. This week, it turned off the water in a building at its campus in Butler, Pennsylvania, 30 miles from the facility in Pittsburgh, said Amanda Kurtz, a spokeswoman for the facility.

The action was taken after Legionella bacteria were identified in a preliminary sample on Tuesday, she said in a statement. No cases of Legionnaires' have been identified in the Butler facility "as a result of this preliminary finding," she added.

The Veterans Administration would not say if any of the patients known to have been sick with Legionnaires' disease at the hospital in Pittsburgh had died, but it told the Allegheny County Health Department that one of them did, a health department spokesman said.

Legionnaires' disease, which is spread through water, is preventable and treatable.

"Being a veteran myself, I'm shocked and appalled that the VA would put their veterans in that type of situation," said Dave Nicklas.

According to data collected by the hospital and obtained by CNN, hospital water over the past year did not contain enough disinfectant to prevent Legionnella bacteria from reaching dangerous levels.

Records from the company that installed the hospital's water system show that, in December 2011, an inspection noted, "They have legionella" and "Systems are not being properly maintained."

Five months later, the same company -- LiquiTech -- concluded that the problems were continuing: "Obvious evidence that the systems had not been properly regularly maintained," the records say.

"They were not doing the monitoring; they were not doing the things critical to the efficacy of the system," said LiquiTech Chief Operating Officer Tory Schira.

He said his staff alerted hospital officials twice to the deficiency in their maintenance practices.

But he said there is no evidence that hospital officials fixed the problem and that the deaths "absolutely" could have been prevented had the system been maintained.

Schira's view was shared by Janet Stout, an authority on Legionnaires' disease who worked as a microbiologist at the hospital for 23 years.

"This outbreak was absolutely preventable," she said. Stout and her colleague, Dr. Victor Yu, pioneered the research on the ionization filtration system now used in hospitals nationwide.

But six years ago, the scientists' laboratory was closed by the hospital, which described it as "not productive" and "a drain on clinical resources."

The researchers, who left the hospital after their lab was shut, dispute that characterization. They said that, during the decade before their departure, hospital water had not been linked to a single case of Legionnaires'.

Had the laboratory remained at the hospital, the deaths of Bill Nicklas and others could have been prevented with the turn of a knob, Stout said.

"This is not, as they say, rocket science," she said. "This is straightforward."

A source told CNN that, about six months ago, the hospital did bring in a consultant who made recommendations about how to fix the water, but the VA apparently did not tell that consultant that the hospital had had any Legionnaires' cases. Had the consultant been told, the source said, the consultant's recommendations to the hospital would have been different. The source said it was not clear whether the hospital had followed any of the consultant's recommendations.

Last month, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a team to the Pittsburgh VA to investigate and make recommendations. Their findings are to be issued to the VA in the coming weeks.

VA spokesman David Cowgill would not agree to an interview. Instead, he released media advisories, one of which concluded: "VA is committed to providing safe facilities and quality care for veterans."

It added that an investigation was under way and tests had shown that remediation efforts had proven successful.

Outside his suburban Pittsburgh home, Bill Nicklas' flag still flies over his front lawn. He would have turned 88 last weekend, but instead of celebrating his birthday, his family held a memorial service. He leaves three sons, five grandchildren and a wife of 59 years.

The family has retained a lawyer and begun the process of filing a claim against the VA.

In the meantime, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, and other members of Congress are calling for a full accounting of the outbreak.

The disease has long existed, but got its name in 1976, when an outbreak occurred among people attending an American Legion convention.

Some 8,000 to 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' each year in the United States, according to the CDC.

Though it proves fatal in 5% to 30% of cases, most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics, the disease agency says.

People contract the disease when they breathe in droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria, it says.

Hospitals are vulnerable because of their complex water systems, and because many of their patients already have illnesses that could put them at increased risk of infection.

Older people, smokers, people with impaired immune systems or chronic lung disease also tend to be at higher risk,the CDC said.


Robber in apparent Mitt Romney mask targets bank

View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

By Pat Collins, NBCWashington.com

STERLING, Va. -- Someone wearing what appears to be a Mitt Romney mask robbed a northern Virginia bank Thursday, but that's not the only reason the FBI is calling the holdup unusual.

The robbery at a Wells Fargo in Sterling was not a grab-and-go robbery. The suspect, who was wearing the mask and a Florida State sweatshirt and holding what appeared to be a gun, went from teller to teller until he took money from all five who were working.

More news from NBCWashington.com

It wasn't the first time the bank was robbed by a person disguised as a politician. In December 2010, someone in a Hillary Clinton mask robbed the location.

Police went to the Party City store behind the bank on Thursday to see if anyone had  bought a similar mask there.

US hits Iran with new sanctions

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at an October press conference that Iran will not back down on its nuclear program.
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at an October press conference that Iran will not back down on its nuclear program.
  • Seven Iranian companies and five individuals are being targeted, the State Department says
  • The sanctions target companies and people the U.S. says is aiding Iran's nuclear program
  • Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani is among those being slapped with sanctions
  • Abbasi Davani, the head of Iran atomic agency, survived a bomb that Iran blamed on Israel

(CNN) -- The United States slapped new sanctions on Iran on Thursday, targeting a handful of companies and individuals it says are providing materials and technology to Tehran's nuclear program.

The sanctions announced Thursday by the U.S. State and Treasury departments came the same day U.N. nuclear watchdog inspectors wrapped up one-day talks in Iran over its nuclear program, widely suspected by the United States and other Western nations as a front for the country's development of nuclear weapons -- a charge Iran has repeatedly denied.

The talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency were aimed at jump-starting negotiations, while allowing agency inspectors to gain access to a military complex where Tehran is suspected of testing nuclear materials.

The IAEA did not immediately detail the talks or whether its inspectors would be granted access to the Parchin military complex, outside of Tehran.

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The sanctions -- the latest in a series to target Iran's economy as well as its ability to develop nuclear material -- were essential "given Iran's continued intransigence on its nuclear program," said Victoria Nuland, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman.

There was no immediate reaction from Iran's government over the latest sanctions.

Among the targets of the latest sanctions is Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, the head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization.

Abbasi Davani and his wife survived a car bomb two years ago that Tehran has blamed on Israel. At least four scientists associated with Iran's nuclear program have been killed since 2010.

The companies being targeted with sanctions: FaraTech, the Neda Industrial Group, Aria Nikan Marine Industry, Towled Abzar Boreshi, Iran Pouya, Terjerat Gostar and Tarh O Palayesh.

The sanctions freeze the companies' assets and prohibit business dealings in or with the United States. Companies and banks that defy the U.S. sanctions could be cut off from the U.S. financial system, the State and Treasury departments said.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes only. But the IAEA has said it cannot verify whether the intent of the program is for peaceful means.

A number of Western nations have placed economic and arms-related sanctions on Iran since November 2010 when the IAEA said Tehran was pursuing technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Since then, Iran has been hit by the United States and the European Union with an oil embargo as well as sanctions targeting its banks and number of its businesses.

22 school kids wounded in knife attack

  • The attack takes place at a primary school in Henan province, state media report
  • Police say they have detained a 36-year-old local resident
  • China was hit by a spate of knife and cleaver attacks on school children in 2010

(CNN) -- Twenty-two primary school children have been wounded in a knife attack in central China, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported Friday.

The attack took place Friday morning at the entrance to the Chenpeng Village Primary School in Henan province, Xinhua said, citing local authorities.

A local resident was also wounded in the attack, it said.

Police say they have detained a suspect, a 36-year-old village resident, the agency reported.

China was hit by a spate of knife and cleaver attacks on school children in 2010, some of them fatal.

A number of measures were introduced at the time, including increased security at schools across the country and a regulation requiring people to register with their national ID cards when buying large knives.

Throngs celebrate North Korea launch

'I don't need a lawyer,' says McAfee in Florida

John McAfee, the anti-virus software founder who has evaded Belizean authorities in a homicide investigation, said Thursday that he is glad to be in South Florida.

"It's good to be back in America," the 67-year-old British native told reporters Thursday outside the Beacon Hotel, the hotel on Ocean Drive where he is staying.

McAfee had been deported to the United States from Guatemala Wednesday after sneaking in illegally from Belize, where police have wanted to question him in connection with the death of a U.S. expatriate who lived near him on an island off Belize's coast.

Thursday, McAfee said that U.S. authorities haven't questioned him since his arrival in Miami. He added that there was no need for them to do so. 

"I don't need a lawyer," he said. "I'm not charged with anything."

After arriving from Guatemala, he said his worry now is getting two women, both of whom he says are his girlfriends, to the United States.

He said he would stay in Miami until the women arrived to meet him there. He said they are in Guatemala legally after they, too, recently fled from Belize.

"I'm waiting here until I get visas for Amy and Samantha," he said. "Their lives are in danger. I'm appealing to the State Department for help."

More on John McAfee at NBCMiami.com

Police in Belize have wanted to question McAfee about the November killing of Gregory Viant Faull, who lived a couple of houses down from McAfee's compound on Ambergris Caye, off Belize's Caribbean coast.

McAfee on Thursday said he didn't kill Faull.

"Did I kill Mr. Faull?" he said. "No, let me be clear, I have absolutely nothing to do with the murder in Belize."

McAfee said he would be in danger if he turned himself in to Belizean authorities. He accused them of trying to extort money from him.

"When someone storms your property, threatens your life, shoots your dog and then says, 'Are you going to pay us the $2 million?' Wouldn't you think your life might be in danger if you don't pay the money?" he said. "I did not pay the money. I am here."

McAfee in Miami: 'I'm here. I'm hungry. I plan to eat'

He said Belizean authorities over time made up several allegations against him, including accusing him of running a drug lab.

"If I were to get back on drugs, I have the resources to buy good drugs," said the creator of McAfee security software. "I mean, the margin in selling meth can't be as good as the margin in selling software."

Faking a heart attack in Guatemala bought him some time, allowing his lawyer to arrange for him to be sent to the United States instead of being sent back to Belize, he said.

He said all his funds still were in Belize. "I don't have a home here [in the United States] anymore," he said. "I don't have any money."

It remains unclear whether U.S. authorities have any interest in talking to McAfee. An FBI spokesman in Miami said the agency wasn't involved with McAfee's return to the U.S.

Other U.S. agencies haven't said whether McAfee would be questioned or detained in the country. Officials said there was no active arrest warrant for McAfee that would justify taking him into custody.

Several tourists in South Beach took pictures with the newsmaker of the day, including Suzanne Swanson.

"We're staying in Miami," she said. "We just came down to South Beach to look for movie stars."

Opinion: An unfair portrait of Rice

  • Susan Rice withdraws her name from consideration for State
  • Articles have claimed Rice is undiplomatic and difficult to work for
  • Amar Bakshi says those descriptions clashed with the reality of working for Rice
  • He says Rice demonstrated openness, honesty and passion as a boss

Editor's note: Amar C. Bakshi, a first year student at Yale Law School, is a former special assistant to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and a former producer for CNN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @amarcbakshi

(CNN) -- U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration Thursday for secretary of state. Over the past few months, a slew of articles have criticized Rice's personality. The Daily Beast recently ran a piece titled "Susan Rice's Personality Disorder." These articles allege that America's U.N. ambassador is "brusque," "dismissive," "undiplomatic," "shrill" and awful to work for. I felt compelled to write something because these caricatures of Rice bear no resemblance to my former boss.

I worked for Susan Rice in 2009 and 2010 as her special assistant in the Washington office of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Over the past few weeks, I have talked to other junior staffers for Rice—current and former—who all share my surprise at the way she has been described.

Amar Bakshi

Junior staffers see a side of their "principal"—Washington-speak for boss—that others do not. Being a special assistant involves a wide swath of activities: couriering papers, sitting in on meetings and delving into some policy issues. In this multifaceted role, my colleagues and I saw Rice as a boss, as a diplomat and as a person. In each arena, Rice demonstrated a rare combination of openness, honesty and passion.

Read more: Susan Rice withdraws from consideration as secretary of state

Early on in the job, I delivered a 50-page paper on Afghanistan to Rice. Before I could set it down on her desk, she asked, "What do you think of it?" I hadn't read a word and froze.

I soon found out that this was typical of Rice. She always asks people at all levels what they think; she's not concerned with hierarchy or status, just ideas. You see this in her strategy meetings, which always involve staff at all levels. You also see this when Rice tours foreign countries. She is just as interested in the stories of people on the streets as the proclamations of ministers—and often more so.

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As a diplomat, Rice can be extraordinarily charming. She can put new acquaintances instantly at ease. But she can just as easily snap them to attention.

Rice has little patience for dissembling and her insistence on thorough preparation means that she invariably knows the subject matter as well as—and usually better than—her interlocutor. This enables Rice to move from charm to hard substance in an instant, getting to the heart of an issue quickly. Some people have criticized this aspect of Rice's personality as "undiplomatic." If diplomacy is the art of talking and doing nothing, then perhaps they're right. But that has never been Susan Rice.

Rice is in government because she believes in strengthening America and improving this world. Rice believes that advancing core principles serves U.S. interests in the long run. You can see this belief guiding her approach to issue after issue, in meeting after meeting.

Read more: Rice's letter to the President

Rice is down to earth, too, which won the loyalty of her slightly younger staffers in particular. She has an inexplicably vast collection of go-go music—a D.C. invention. She has mastered social media and new technology, but only after overcoming a healthy dose of skepticism. And she has a general demeanor, some combination of athlete and wonk, that conveys cool.

Rogers: Rice was facing uphill battle

I don't mean to minimize the serious policy issues she has handled as U.N. ambassador, a member of President Obama's Cabinet and a lifelong public servant. One op-ed is not enough space to engage her many accomplishments in government and the various policy disputes that inevitably arise over 20 years in high office.

All I can say in this short piece—and say with total confidence—is that Susan Rice is a wonderful person and an inspiring boss. Washington is filled with people seeking power for its own sake; people embroiled in partisan politics; petty people; imperious, dismissive people; people who put themselves before others. But that is not Susan Rice.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of Amar C. Bakshi.

Child-killer's release draws outrage

  • Canadian doctor who stabbed his children freed from mental hospital
  • Cardiologist Guy Turcotte confessed, served 46 months
  • Children's mother, also a doctor, says she wants answers
  • Jury found Turcotte not responsible because of mental illness

Montreal, Canada (CNN) -- Canadians expressed outrage Thursday after the release of Guy Turcotte, a cardiologist who in 2009 confessed to killing his children as they slept in their beds.

What many wanted to know was how a father who stabbed his children dozens of times could be free after 46 months of confinement. Those voices echo the grief of Turcotte's ex-wife, Dr. Isabelle Gaston, the mother of 5-year-old Olivier and 3-year-old Anne-Sophie.

As Gaston pored over her children's autopsy reports, she wished she had no idea what they meant. But as a physician and a coroner, she knows it's true: Her children suffered a long, gruesome death.

"I knew it was not a short death. You know, my little boy received 20 stabs of a knife, he had seven marks of defense," she told CNN in an interview at her home before Turcotte's full release. "He had no wound that was the one that gave him death," she added, trying to hold back tears.

"My little girl, she had 19 wounds, maybe she was luckier? Because she had one that was more mortal than the other. But she felt 19 shots, that's for sure," Gaston said.

Turcotte confessed to killing his children in February 2009 but a year later a Canadian jury failed to convict him of the murders, finding him not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

At trial, Turcotte testified that he was distraught over his crumbling marriage and snapped, insisting he blacked out and doesn't remember killing his children.

The jury believed the testimony of two psychiatrists paid for by his defense. They testified that Turcotte could not have known what he was doing when he repeatedly stabbed his children.

"Why don't I accept that he is mentally ill is when I look at the facts," Gaston said. "We have a person that is a cardiologist that never had a psychiatric incident, not at all. I have trouble to understand how someone in five hours or six hours will do an interview of someone and have a conclusion that he is not a danger to society or is mentally insane."

Even the Canadian government has weighed in, calling Turcotte's release "unacceptable."

"We believe that Isabelle Gaston does not deserve to live in fear of her children's killer and neither do victims of similar crimes across Canada," said James Moore, a federal cabinet minister.

The Conservative government of Prime Minster Stephen Harper is drafting legislation to make it more difficult for mentally ill offenders to be released from psychiatric facilities, but the pending legislation is not expected to influence Turcotte's case.

In fact, Turcotte told the psychiatric review board that released him that he is looking forward to leading a normal life in the future and hopes to practice medicine and have children again.

"To know that my children faced the person that they should have trusted the most and they were left by themselves to die. No one holding their hand," Gaston said. "I struggle, OK, I struggle all the days, every day of my life and I think till I die I will struggle."

NATO: Syrian regime near collapse

  • Rights group urges rebels to abide by international accords amid report of "horrible abuses"
  • Collapse of Syrian regime appears inevitable, NATO chief says
  • Syria's apparent use of Scud missiles is "reckless," Anders Fogh Rasmussen says
  • Opposition group calls for rebels to protect religious, cultural sites

(CNN) -- Defeat could be near for Syria's embattled regime, NATO and Syrian ally Russia said Thursday.

"I think now it's only a question of time," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels, Belgium, where he and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the deployment of two Patriot air-defense batteries to Turkey's border with Syria.

The al-Assad government is "approaching collapse," Rasmussen said. "I urge the regime to stop violence, to realize what is the actual situation and initiate a process that leads to the accommodation of the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov offered a similar view from Moscow, noting what he said were rebel reports that victory was imminent.

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"We need to look the facts in the eye," the state-run RIA Novosti news service quoted Bogdanov as saying. "Unfortunately, we can't exclude a victory by the opposition."

His comments came as opposition groups said they had seized a military base near Damascus and amid calls by the Local Coordination Committees for rebels to push for the fall of the capital.

"We all know that the battle is not going to be easy and that the regime will defend its existence by the most brutal means, as we have become accustomed to seeing," the opposition group said. "We know that the regime will spare no resources in destroying any hold it may have before its collapse, as we have witnessed in all other Syrian cities."

Diplomatic efforts to help end the 21-month conflict, which opposition activists say has claimed more than 42,000 lives, have so far failed.

A rebel victory would unleash a host of complications for the shattered country, including the need to quickly assemble a functioning government; to provide humanitarian assistance as winter approaches; and to address the status of the chemical weapons currently held by regime forces.

U.S. official: Syria uses Scud missiles against rebels

The regime has shown no signs of backing down. On Thursday, the LCC reported that 138 people had been killed by government forces, including seven children and four women. Sixty-nine of the deaths occurred in Damascus and its suburbs, it said.

Syrian state TV, citing a foreign ministry official, denied Thursday Western accusations that the government has used Scud missiles against rebels inside the country, a move analysts and world leaders have described as a dangerous escalation in President Bashar al-Assad's campaign against the rebellion.

A U.S. official said Syrian forces in Damascus loyal to al-Assad had fired at least four short-range Scud missiles from the capital into northern Syria, presumably at rebel groups.

Rasmussen said NATO also had detected launches this week.

"We can't confirm details of the missiles, but some of the information indicates they were Scud-type missiles," Rasmussen said. "The use of such indiscriminate weapons shows utter disregard for the lives of the Syrian people. It is reckless, and I strongly condemn it."

Aleppo Today TV becomes vital news source amid Syria's chaos

The predictions of defeat for al-Assad and his forces come amid rising international recognition of the Syrian opposition.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama extended U.S. recognition to the rebel coalition. The more than 100 nations in the Friends of Syria group followed suit on Wednesday and pledged at least $110 million in humanitarian aid.

Coalition Vice President George Sabra said rebels were pleased with the gestures, but had hoped the United States would go further by naming the group not just as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people but as their sole legitimate representative.

Syrian officials belittled the declarations. Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi said the recognition was comparable to Syria recognizing "Liverpool Football Club as the sole representative of the British people while in fact it represented very little," Britain's Independent newspaper said.

As fighting subsides, Aleppo residents find little left

Also Thursday, Amnesty International urged rebel leaders to free a Ukrainian journalist accused of working with Syrian government officials and to respect international accords on human rights.

"There are increasing reports of opposition forces carrying out horrific abuses of captured government soldiers, journalists and some other civilians," Amnesty said Thursday. "The coalition must condemn these grave abuses in the strongest possible terms and do its utmost to prevent them."

The LCC called on rebels to deliver a knockout punch to the regime while protecting civilians, religious sites and the nation's cultural heritage.

It also urged rebels to preserve any documents found in offices of state security services seized by rebels in preparation for possible war crimes trials.

"These documents contain massive amounts of incriminating evidence against the regime and its symbols and will be required to hold the regime accountable, compensate victims and retain a historical record of decades of state behavior," the group said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said U.S. government-trained medical workers have reached an estimated 410,000 patients in Syria, performed 22,370 surgeries and had partnered with a group -- which she would not identify for security reasons -- that has set up 20 field hospitals in the country.

"I don't think any of us has a crystal ball as to exactly how this is going to go, but we do believe that the Assad regime's days are numbered," Nuland said. "The opposition in recent days and weeks has made a number of significant captures, in particular major military facility outside of Aleppo with the last Sheik Suleiman base and other important military installations."

She urged Russian officials to withdraw support for the al-Assad regime.

An afternoon with a Syrian bombmaker

CNN's Barbara Starr, Tom Watkins, Jill Dougherty, Mike Mount, Ben Brumfield and David Ariosto contributed to this report.

Oregon mall to reopen after shooting

Flowers and candles sit outside the Clackamas Town Center mall in Clackamas, Oregon, on Thursday, December 13. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office identified Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, as the gunman who entered the mall with a AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, killing two and wounding another before taking his own life. Flowers and candles sit outside the Clackamas Town Center mall in Clackamas, Oregon, on Thursday, December 13. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office identified Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, as the gunman who entered the mall with a AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle, killing two and wounding another before taking his own life.
A makeshift memorial graces the Clackamas mall sign on December 13.A makeshift memorial graces the Clackamas mall sign on December 13.
A mall security officer stands at the entrance to the Clackamas Town Center mall on Thursday.A mall security officer stands at the entrance to the Clackamas Town Center mall on Thursday.
Emergency vehicles gather outside the mall after a gunman opened fire, killing two people on Tuesday, December 11.Emergency vehicles gather outside the mall after a gunman opened fire, killing two people on Tuesday, December 11.
Two people walk in front of the lit windows of the mall on Tuesday night.Two people walk in front of the lit windows of the mall on Tuesday night.
The Clackamas Town Center mall is filled with emergency vehicles and law enforcement.The Clackamas Town Center mall is filled with emergency vehicles and law enforcement.
Memebers of a SWAT team take position outside the mall.Memebers of a SWAT team take position outside the mall.
Lt. James Rhodes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office works with other responders in the parking lot of the mall.Lt. James Rhodes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office works with other responders in the parking lot of the mall.
Panicked customers rushed to the exits when the gunman opened fire. Some people huddled behind store counters and hid behind racks of clothing. Panicked customers rushed to the exits when the gunman opened fire. Some people huddled behind store counters and hid behind racks of clothing.
Authorities closed entrances and exits in the mall parking lot, said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police.Authorities closed entrances and exits in the mall parking lot, said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police.
A law enforcement officer talks to people waiting outside the mall.A law enforcement officer talks to people waiting outside the mall.
  • NEW: A vigil will be held Friday night at the soon-to-be reopened mall
  • On Tuesday, a man killed two people and then himself, authorities say
  • Wounded teenager is still in serious condition
  • Shooting was "out of character" for Roberts, the woman who raised him says

Happy Valley, Oregon (CNN) -- For three days, Clackamas Town Center has been a crime scene.

On Friday, it will be a shopping mall, once again.

Yet the Oregon shopping center's scheduled 9 a.m. reopening -- announced on its Facebook page -- does not close the books on the many questions tied to Tuesday's fatal shooting.

Hear police audio during mall shooting

Investigators have identified Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, as the man responsible for the bloodshed and panic at the mall, located in the community of Happy Valley, about 10 miles southeast of Portland.

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Wearing a load-bearing vest and hockey mask, Roberts used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot three people on the mall's second floor, killing two of them, according to authorities. He then ran down a corridor and back hallway that led downstairs.

It was there, police say, that Roberts took his own life.

The one shooting victim who didn't die of her injuries, Kristina Shevchenko, remained in Oregon Health & Science University Hospital on Thursday. The 15-year-old suffered a collapsed right lung and injuries to her liver after being shot in the chest, Dr. Laszlo Kiraly told reporters Wednesday.

She was in serious condition Thursday, as she had been the day before, said Todd Murphy, a spokesman for the Portland hospital.

Authorities haven't offered more insights publicly, meanwhile, into the man they say shot Shevchenko, 54-year-old Cindy Ann Yuille and 45-year-old Steven Mathew Forsyth.

No motive has been given to explain why Roberts did what he did.

On his Facebook page, Roberts describes himself as a "pretty funny person that takes sarcasm to the max." The central image is a "Follow Your Dreams" slogan painted on a wall and stamped "Cancelled" in red -- a work by famed street artist Banksy.

The woman who raised Roberts after his mother died of cancer when he was 2 described him as "fun and caring" and a "totally cool dude." Choking back tears, she called Tuesday's shooting "completely out of character" and apologized for the pain and panic Roberts had caused.

"Never could I imagine him being part of something like this," Tami Roberts, his biological aunt -- though she referred to herself as his mother -- told CNN affiliate KPTV. "What Jake did was wrong but, as his mother, he will always be in my heart. I love him very much."

The woman described the suspected gunman as fun-loving and adventurous while growing up. Roberts planned to "be a hero" and join the Marines, Tami Roberts said. But that dream was dashed when he broke his foot at age 17, and "he lost purpose."

The two hadn't spoken in about four years, after they had a "falling out ... because he didn't want to get up and look for a job ... and he got really depressed and he got really angry." After that, Tami Roberts said she thought of him daily and still loved him deeply -- even though she can't explain his actions.

"Every day of my whole life, I was proud of him," she said. "I'm just not proud of him right now."

Staffers at Oregon City High School, where Roberts helped out in the school's counseling department before his graduation, are trying to come to grips with what happened.

"I found him to be a very polite young man, soft-spoken, nice smile," said Arnold Bunting, a counseling department staffer. "And I'm just really surprised that somebody with his personality would end up doing something like this."

The Oregon Department of Justice is offering "to help pay for at least 10 counseling sessions" for those rattled by Tuesday's shooting.

In its post announcing stores will reopen Friday, Clackamas Town Center stressed it won't forget all those affected by the violence -- from Yuille, Forsyth and Shevchenko to the scores of others who saw their holiday shopping devolve into chaos. A candlelight vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Friday at a mall entrance.

"Please continue to keep the victims, their families and the entire community in your prayers during this difficult time," the mall said.

CNN's Dan Simon reported on this story from Oregon, and Greg Botelho reported and wrote from Atlanta.