Return to Transcripts main page


At Least 12 Dead And Four Injured In Virginia Beach Shooting; Transcript Released Of Flynn Voicemail From Trump Lawyer Showing Possible Attempt To Obstruct; Mexico's President Open To Negotiating With Us Over Trump's Tariff Threat; Washpo: Trump Defied Warnings From Close Advisers, Pressed Ahead With Threatening Mexico With Tariffs; Trump Calls Meghan Markle "Nasty" Ahead Of U.K. Trip; Police Find Human Remains During Search For Maleah Davis. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired June 1, 2019 - 07:00   ET



[07:00:03] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We're always so grateful to have you with us here as we head into the 7:00 hour right now. I'm Christi Paul in Atlanta. My partner Victor Blackwell is live in Virginia Beach because that is where 12 families are trying to reconcile the death of somebody that they love this morning. Victor?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And four more are hoping that someone who has been injured in this shooting will get a full recovery. They are in hospitals. Good morning to you. We're talking about this breaking news here in Virginia Beach. It has happened again in America. Another mass shooting. This time at least a dozen people are dead, four others injured after a man just started shooting at his coworkers at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

Now, we are expecting a press conference. That's scheduled for the top of the next hour. 8:00 a.m. Eastern. We will, of course, bring that to you live when it happens. But let's tell you now what we know at this moment. Sources say the suspect was a disgruntled employee. He was killed in a shootout with police. They say 45-caliber pistol was found with the shooter along with the suppressor and several empty high capacity magazines.

Now, this all began late Friday afternoon. The police say the suspect started shooting on all three floors of that building. And officials say they found victims on all three floors. I want you to listen to this. I want you to hear from some witnesses who were inside the building when this man started shooting. But first, listen here to the police chief who spoke last night about the attack.


JAMES CERVERA, VIRGINIA BEACH POLICE CHIEF: I can tell you that it was a long gun battle between those four officers and that suspect. We've recovered a 45-caliber handgun with multiple extended magazines that were empty at the time. The suspect was reloading extended magazines in that handgun firing at victims throughout the building and at our officers.

MEGAN BANTON, WITNESS: When my boss basically was like, this is not a drill, get down. Call 911. And that's when we just -- I called 911 and we all just ran in our office and closed the door. We had the desk barricaded against the door. That's all we were trying to do is just make sure everybody was safe. I'll probably have a lot of trouble sleeping at night, but yes, just going home hugging my family. I have an 11-month-old baby at home. And all I could think about was him.

EDWARD WEEDEN, WITNESS: We heard the shot right down the stairs, we go to the --we go the corridor and there was a lady on the stair unconscious. Blood on her face, blood on the stairway. We didn't know what happened. When the old coworkers went upstairs to find out something else, she came back down saying get out of the building (INAUDIBLE) she was shot.


BLACKWELL: Let's go down to CNN's Brian Todd joins us now. Brian, I understand that it was through reaching out to one of your sources that we learned that this was a disgruntled worker. What more have you learned?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Victor. Getting some new information today about the crime scene about this alleged gunman and what his possible motive might be. That still to be determined. Still a very heavy police presence here. This is a very large crime scene this morning as police, FBI agents, and others trying to piece together evidence talked to witnesses. And trying to piece together a possible motive for this shooting.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those who left home this morning and will not return tonight.

TODD: tragedy in Virginia Beach Friday evening. A mass shooting at the Virginia Municipal Building. The deadliest mass shooting in America since November of 2018 when 12 people were killed at the Borderline Country Music Bar in California.

UNIDENTIFEIED MALE: Today is Virginia Beach's darkest hour.

CERVERA: I have a number of officers right now who are processing through what best could be described as a war zone.

TODD: A Virginia government source tells CNN it was a disgruntled employee. 40-year-old DeWayne Craddock who worked as a certified professional engineer for the City of Virginia Beach. They say he walked in the municipal building with a 45-caliber handgun and opened fire leaving a behind a trail of carnage.

CERVERA: The suspect was reloading extended magazines in that handgun firing at victims throughout the building and at our officers.

TODD: Police say they want people to remember the victims and not their killer.

CERVERA: We will release his name once. We're going to mention his name once. And then he will be forever referred to as the suspect.

TODD: Craddock was killed during a long gun battle during police.

CERVERA: We have numerous victims. And we have numerous families. Let's make sure that we keep their dignity and their respect as the number one piece of news that we're going to give out.

[07:05:02] TODD: And we have some new information to report this morning. My colleague David Shortell last night was able to speak briefly to the allege gunman's parents on the phone. And David learned from them that they did not know at the time their son was involved in the shooting. And they told David that they did not have any indication that he had any trouble at work. So police still trying to put together possible motives.

Was there a specific target in mind? Was there some kind of an event that prompted him to go into that building and start opening fire? Victor?

BLACKWELL: And we, of course, from covering these over the years, Brian, understand that that is an expansive search. An investigation that is happening right now until they get the details on that motive. Brian Todd, Thank you so much. I want to bring in Councilman Aaron Rouse, he's councilman here in Virginia Beach. Good morning to you. And unfortunately in these circumstances.

We were speaking a little bit before you came back here to Virginia Beach, little more than 12 hours on since the shooting. What are you feeling this morning?

AARON ROUSE, VIRGINIA BEACH COUNCILMAN: Well, you know, it rained quite a bit last night. It thunderstormed and poured. But, you know, it can never wash away the pain our community is feeling at this moment. But it won't wash away our resiliency, our resolve. So this quiet morning in Virginia Beach, people are waking up. Our hearts and prayers must be with those whose family members didn't return home last night.

BLACKWELL: And you knew some of the people who were killed in this building yesterday.

ROUSE: Yes. We're a tight knit community. You know, Virginia Beach a unique community. We're very diverse in what we do here. And our municipal centers here. We all cross paths each and every day and we work together. And it's heart breaking. It's heartbreaking. But again, we will stand beside those who need us the most and we'll become stronger after this.

BLACKWELL: You know, the question often is what has to change so that this doesn't happen again. Or that at least it's less frequent, right? And some people point to legislation first. You think that there's something that should happen before legislation I understand. ROUSE: Before we get the legislation, you know, we have to start

investing in each other, our neighbors. You know, investing in that moral vision that made America, you know, what it is today. You know, I truly believe that, you know, that the wealthiest nation that the world has ever seen can do more in investment morally, principally, how do we treat each other. You know, a smile, a simple hello in the morning crossing paths.

That goes a long way. And that will lead people away from a path of despair and destruction, I hope, because they feel we are - we are together, we're in this together. And there's one thing I know about Virginia Beach and the community that I'm proud to be from, I grew up. We're going to be together on this. We're going to grow stronger from this. We're going to stand up and pull each other in tighter.

BLACKWELL: You know, this is now happening so frequently. And in so many communities that you now have a connection to two mass shootings. April 16th, 2007, you were a senior at Virginia Tech.

ROUSE: Indeed.

BLACKWELL: To now have lived through and have a personal connection to two of these, what does that feel like? I cannot imagine.

ROUSE: You know, it's a feeling of -- when I was a young kid in college, I felt helpless. You know? Never did I foresee losing 32 of my teammates and classmates' lives at Virginia Tech. You know, I felt helpless. But today as a councilman, no longer. You know, I want to be fearless and bold in our approach to not have this happen again. And as sociologist, you know, you study the way society is structured, we have to do better with each other, our tolerance.

How we accept our differences. Humility. We have to all out to be brought to the forefront. No longer we need to justify what we do by the economy, by numbers. By numbers, it don't matter. Our humanity comes first. That needs to be placed above all structures that we place on society. Because if I can't respect you as a man or as a woman, then who are we really? What are we doing?

BLACKWELL: There are some communities as of late who have been unsatisfied or dissatisfied by the thoughts and prayers that are sent after tragedies like that. To you, those thoughts and prayers mean what?

ROUSE: They mean a lot. They mean the world. Because, you know, I understand the frustrations, you know, we see it so much now, we say well, we don't want to - don't send your thoughts and prayers. It's not enough to send your thoughts and prayers. No. We must never forget to pray. We must always pray. We must always yield to god, and turn to god in these challenging times. And through Christ we'll find our strength.

[07:10:06] Today we're going to find our strength through Christ. He's going to bring us together. So, I truly believe our thoughts and prayers from the - they make a difference. We need that. We need those here. And through those thoughts and prayers we will have action. And put action into place.

BLACKWELL: All right. Councilman Rouse right here.

ROUSE: Thank you so much for being with me.

BLACKWELL: And our best to your colleagues and your friends because you grew up here. And you know these families personally. Thank you for spending some time with us. Let's go now to a Jonathan Wackrow, he's CNN Law Enforcement Analyst. Jonathan, good morning to you. I first want to talk about one of the elements here about the shooter's parents. As of last night, we learned from our colleague had not been contacted by police.

Would you expect that to have happened by now?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I would have. But I mean, I think you have to look at the cadence of this investigation. I mean, they're working from the incident scene, working their way out to, you know, gather enough information as possible. I mean, they're executing possible search warrants on the individual's vehicle, his residence, along with, you know, possible other multiple locations.

So it is a little bit anomalous. But, you know, I'm sure that they are going to have lengthy conversations with law enforcement to try to, again, ascertain what was the motivation. Was it any leading indicators or behavioral issues that would have, you know, telegraphed this violent act.

BLACKWELL: The suppresser that was found and, you know, for people who don't know the terminology of suppresser. Some people call it a silencer. Which a gunshot will never be silent. But what do you take away from that discovery? How would this have impacted people's ability to hide, to get away? What do you take from that reporting?

WACKROW: Listen. You know, time and time again going back to Department of Homeland Security's protocols around active shooter, you know, we signal off the sound of gunfire. And from that it is, you know, the protocols of run away from the threat, hide from the threat or fight the threat. You know, the introduction of a silencer in the - in the attack of mythology is a real game changer.

I think law enforcement and others are really going to have to, you know, spend some time and understand how do we now, you know, change our teaching. Because what we - what we lose --when we lose the sound of gunfire, we lose that situational awareness that a threat is present. So now how do we, you know, rebuild and retrain how to address these mass shooting and active shooter situations.

BLACKWELL: You know, one of the conversations that we often have when there are these shootings in public places is the hardening of targets. But is it possible, is it -- does some logical way to harden a target when a person is supposed to be there if he is an employee?

WACKROW: Yes. I mean, you're -- I mean, it -- he was basically an insider threat. This individual had, you know, key card access. He knew the environment. He was supposed to be there. So how do you defend against that? The way to do that is through a comprehensive policy and procedures and workplace violent development. Again, it is anomalous for somebody to wake up, walk into a building, and start shooting coworkers.

There were behavioral issues that were red flags beforehand. What was said - what has been reported thus far is that this individual was disgruntled. He was a disgruntled employee. That's a major red flag, that's a behavioral issue. And we need to come together collectively between public and private partnerships to understand how to address these red flags, how to address these behavioral anomalies that are along the behavioral continuum before we've reached the point of violent behavior in the act of killing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Municipal building two is right here behind me. It's a big brick building and we're told that victims were found on three floors. Is that common for a shooter to have -- in a building this size to be able to impact violence on such a large area?

WACKROW: Well, listen, he knew the area. But I think you have to understand, your targeted acts of violence are typically, you know, rooted in some sort of grievance. We don't know the individual's motivation right now, what he was trying to accomplish. Was he trying to go after one individual? Was he trying to g after multiple? I mean, I think I think that the -- as the investigative process continues, this information will come out.

But again, tragic situation where this individual knew the terrain. He knew the building. And he probably knew where, you know, all these victims would be to create the greatest amount of harm.

BLACKWELL: All right. CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Jonathan Wackrow. Thank you so much for being with us. And you stay with us because we're expecting an update at the top of the hour from police who are investigating this mass shooting.

[07:15:08] A dozen people killed. Four still in hospitals. We're back in a moment.


BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell live outside building two here at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. Covering the breaking news. We know that the White House says that President Trump has been briefed on the shooting, but the President has not released any condolences for the families, any prayer for those in hospitals, no gratitude for law enforcement. Nothing from the President thus far on this mass shooting.

But we have heard from some of the 2020 Democratic candidates. Let's go down to CNN's Kristen Holmes. She's at the White House. Kristen, what are we hearing from those candidates?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, victor, we're hearing quite a bit. Many of them taking to Twitter basically offering their condolences as you just mentioned, condemning gun violence and calling for action. Now it's no surprise that this response from these 2020 Democrats has been swift and has been strong because the issue of gun control has really become a central component of the campaign trail.

Now, I want to read you some of these responses. But before I do, I just want to note that two of the tweets refer to 11 lives lost. We now of course know that there are 12 lives lost. Let's start here with Joe Biden. He took to Twitter saying, 11 innocent lives cut down, 11 more futures denied. When will he finally say enough is enough? It's long past time to hold our leaders accountable.

Jill and I are heartbroken that more American families are suffering tonight in Virginia Beach. And let's take a look Senator Elizabeth Warren. She says, I'm heartsick and praying for the victims and their loved ones. 11 people should not have been murdered today. How many lives will it take before Congress acts to end this crisis? And Mayor Pete Buttigieg, he says, another horrific shooting shocks the nation this time in Virginia Beach.

[07:20:04] We grieve with those impacted even as we await more information. Already this much is clear. It is unacceptable for America to remain the only developed country where this a routine. We must act. Again, so this is just a few of the candidates. We have heard from several more. But the one person you said we have not heard from is President Trump. In fact, the last time we saw him on Twitter was about 14 hours ago when he said that he would be announcing his candidacy for 2020 in Orlando later this month.

The White House said last night again that President Trump had been briefed and was monitoring this situation. But since then, absolutely numb is the word, nothing from either of them.

BLACKWELL: All right. We'll see if the President has anything to say to this community this morning. Kristen Holmes, at the White House, thank you. Of course we are expecting a news conference at the top of the hour. We'll bring that to you live when it happens. Christi, back to you at the studio in Atlanta.

PAUL: All right. Victor, thank you so much. Yes, that press conference expected in about 40 minutes. And let's stay in the political arena here because we need to talk about the Russia investigation. The Justice Department released a transcript of a voice mail from one of the President's attorneys to the lawyer for the President's former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, this was part of the investigation into potential obstruction covered with Robert Mueller Russia's report.

In this call, the President's attorney is seeking information about Flynn's discussions with the Special Counsel. Several prosecutors also refused to turn over transcripts of Flynn's calls with the Russian ambassador. President Trump meanwhile making new tariff threats. This time he's threatening to slap tariffs on Mexico over immigration issues. We're going to tell you what this could mean for you, the consumer.

And President Trump also making headlines for calling the duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle nasty. What's behind that? Also police in Arkansas have found the remains of a child they believe to be those of missing four-year-old Maleah Davis. We have the latest in that investigation. Stay close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened to Maleah was an accident. He says it was an accident. And he confessed to me where he dumped her body.


[07:26:05] BLACKWELL: I'm victor Blackwell live in Virginia Beach. And a little more than 30 minutes from now we are expecting an update from investigators on the mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Building. 12 people were killed. Four others injured are in hospitals right now. Sources say the shooting suspect was a disgruntled employee. Now, according to police, he worked as a certified professional engineer in the Virginia Beach public utilities department.

He was shot and killed after what police described as a long gun battle with officers. Overnight, one of - one of his neighbors reacted to the news about the shooting. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you hear what he's accused of doing, what do you think?

CASSETTY HOWERIN, SUSPECT'S NEIGHBOR: I am petrified because I live right under him. So that could have been easily me or my girlfriend or my roommate and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's emotional to you.

HOWERIN: He seemed like a nice guy. He introduced himself when we got - when we first moved in. That's just crazy.


BLACKWELL: Now of course we're hoping to learn a lot more about this shooting and the suspect. Of course the big question here, why? The motive. Why did he go on this shooting rampage here yesterday? This will be a long and expansive investigation. So there's a possibility they won't have that answer. We're hoping for as much as we can get in just minutes. Of course we'll bring that to you live. Christi, back to you.

PAUL: All right, Victor, thank you so much. Boy, I just have so much respect for these people who get on camera and talk after something like this because I know it's hard to process it. It's hard to watch them process it as well. So thank you, Victor, very much. I know it's a very delicate issue there. But looking forward to that press conference as Victor said in just about 30 minutes. We'll bring that to you live when it happens.

U.S. and Mexican officials are going to be meeting in Washington next week after President Trump threatened to hit Mexico with tariffs unless the country does something to help slow the flow of migrants. Now the United States imported $346 billion of goods from Mexico last year. So you, you and me, we're going to likely pay for the tariffs through higher prices on several items. Everything from auto parts and T.V.'s to avocados, to beer and clothing.

So Daniel Lippman, reporter and coauthor of Politico's Playbook is with us now. Daniel, so good to see you. Thank you very much.


PAUL: The Washington Post reporting this morning that President Trump's own advisers weren't even on board with this plan. Jared Kushner, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, he pushed back on the President. President didn't move. What do you make of the President announcing something like this without at least giving a heads up to his people?

LIPPMAN: Yes. It's a clear sign that he is pretty alone in the White House on this issue. His own staff were against him on it. They saw that it would jeopardize his passage of USMCA. That new NAFTA 2.0 that Democrats are aggressively kind of maneuvering through congress that there's big question over whether that's actually going to get pass. And so you had Jared Kushner calling in from the Middle East.

Larry Kudlow was not working at the White House this week so he couldn't push back. And Mnuchin and Lighthizer weren't effective in persuading Trump that this was not a good idea that this could tank the economy. And you have all of this reaction coming in from Republicans who say that this could hurt the Trump re-elect as well if the economy becomes less stable because of these tariffs.

[07:30:00] PAUL: I want to get back to the USMCA that you just mentioned there because he just signed this deal with Mexico. Is there a sense that he has lost or could lose negotiating leverage in this?

LIPPMAN: Well, it's seen as a sharp attack on Mexico by the U.S. And without proper provocation, because apparently, Trump was very mad that you had 1,000 Central Americans turn themselves over to U.S. officials at the border on Wednesday.

Plus, that was the same day that Robert Mueller came out publicly to talk about his investigation. And so, that was a twofer that Trump did not like seeing the visuals on. So, it really angered him. And he's trying to tell Mexico, deal with your issues at the border and then, we will not impose tariffs on you.

But most -- he doesn't realize or he at least doesn't care that these tariffs are not a tax on Mexico. This is a tax on American consumers. And U.S. companies are so well integrated with Mexico.

I go down to Mexico all -- you know, every year and you see U.S. companies making auto parts and cars.

PAUL: Yes.

LIPPMAN: And I don't think Trump has actually -- you know, understands how well integrated the U.S. is with Mexico. And if you talk to economists, they say maybe the tariffs are not going to hurt the U.S. terribly, but if U.S. companies have to move their operations, then, that's more of a long-term economic hit.

PAUL: Right. So, let me pose this to you. What if the Mexican economy, what if it spirals?


PAUL: Would that push more people from Mexico to try to get into the U.S.?

LIPPMAN: That is just how things work. If you're a middle-income country, and then you suffer terribly, and if there's tons of Mexicans out of jobs, where else are they going to go? They're not going to go down to Central America. They're not going to leap over to U.S. to go to Canada to look for work. And so, you could see more people at the border. And Trump would be further angered by that.

And so, I don't see this as a strategy to encourage Mexican -- Mexico to deal with their legitimate immigration issues. And they have done important work on that. But to Trump's mind, if there is no -- if no one is coming across the border, that's what he wants. But that's just not realistic when you have thousands of miles of border. And a government that can't prevent everyone from coming.

PAUL: All righty. Daniel Lippman, we appreciate your insight. Thank you for being with us this morning.

LIPPMAN: Thanks, Christi.

PAUL: Absolutely. Listen, just days ahead of his trip to the U.K., the president is slamming Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Brexit, and also had something to say about Prince Harry's wife, Duchess Meghan Markle that has a lot of people upset. We'll be right back.


[07:36:47] PAUL: 36 minutes past the hour right now. And during an interview with the British newspaper, The Sun, President Trump criticized U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Brexit, and he weighed in on Meghan Markle's politics. All of this, of course, just a few days before he heads to the U.K. for a state visit and that includes dinner with the Queen and a meeting about climate change with Prince Charles. Yes, with some of the royals there.

So, from London right now, CNN field producer Salma Abdelaziz. Salma, so good to have you here. What did he say?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL FIELD PRODUCER: Well, President Trump had this wide-ranging interview with The Sun. He spoke on all matters, meeting the royal family, climate change, his position on Brexit. He spoke, of course, about Meghan Markle after The Sun confronted him with some comments she had made in 2016 against President Trump. Take a listen to what she said at the time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGHAN MARKLE, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: Yes, of course, Trump is divisive. Think about just female voters alone, right? I mean like he was in 2012 like the Republican Party lost the female vote by 12 points. That's a huge number. And with this misogynistic, as Trump is and so vocal about it.


MARKLE: That's a huge chunk of it. You're not just voting for a woman if it's Hillary just because she's a woman. But certainly, because Trump has made it easy to see that you don't really want that kind of world that he's painting.




ABDELAZIZ: You can hear there, kind of the tone of her voice calling him misogynistic. President Trump said he did not know about these comments, called her nasty. But then, sort of seems to bury the hatchet and said, I'm sure she'll do great, I'm sure she'll do well and moved on.

Now, Meghan Markle now is a member of the royal family. She cannot be seen to be political. She's on maternity leave. So, she will not be attending these events, but her husband Prince Harry will be. And one of the first events is a private lunch hosted by him and the Queen with President Trump.

You can expect the Royals to behave in the way that they're always expected to behave, which is not to weigh in on political manners, to behave in a way of high decorum, high status, and not to be seen as taking any sides.

So, the burden will really be on President Trump to reciprocate that behavior and make sure he doesn't weigh in on issues that might offend the royal family or the British public.

PAUL: All right. Salma Abdelaziz, we appreciate it. Thank you.

Police in Arkansas may have found the remains of Maleah Davis that little girl who disappeared in Texas a month ago. We have the latest for you, coming up


[07:43:27] PAUL: Well, police in Arkansas have found the remains of a child that they believe is missing 4-year-old Maleah Davis. That little girl disappeared from Houston. The focus of the search moved, though, after the suspect in her disappearance allegedly confessed to dumping her body hundreds of miles away. Listen to this.


PAUL: A shocking discovery along a highway in rural Arkansas that could bring the disappearance of little Maleah Davis to a close. Police say human remains were found inside a bag.

JAMES SINGLETON, SHERIFF, HEMPSTEAD COUNTY, ARKANSAS: Bag disintegrating and there's what we believed to be remains, bones, things like that down there.

PAUL: The remains were taken to Houston on a flight early this morning. City officials will conduct an autopsy in hopes of identifying that 4-year-old girl.

SYLVESTER TURNER, MAYOR OF HOUSTON, TEXAS: We don't yet can confirm whether the remains found today are the remains of Maleah Davis. But certainly, we are trying to draw those conclusions.

PAUL: The focus of the search moved to Arkansas after the suspect in her disappearance allegedly confessed to dumping her body there nearly a month after Maleah was reported missing in Texas.

Earlier Friday, suspect Derion Vence, talked to an activist who visited him in jail.

QUANELL X, LEADER, THE NEW BLACK PANTHER NATION, HOUSTON, TEXAS: What happened to Maleah was an accident. He says it was an accident. And he confessed to me where he dumped her body.

[07:44:57] PAUL: Vence was caring for Maleah while her mother was out of town. Now, he initially told police, three men knocked him unconscious and abducted Maleah on May 4th. But surveillance footage shows she never left the apartment and he was arrested as a suspect.

TURNER: Many of us prayed for a different ending in the search for 4- year-old Maleah Davis. For more than a month, her smiling face has stayed on our hearts and minds as we waited for information about her whereabouts. Maleah was everyone's child, and I underscore that everyone's child in this city.


PAUL: For this week's "LEGAL BRIEF", criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Yodit Tewolde, with us now. Yodit, what do you make of this community activist defending Maleah Davis? Because I know that he was speaking -- his name is Quanell X.


PAUL: He was speaking with the mother, who I understand he is no longer representing.

TEWOLDE: Right. This whole word of representing is a little off, because when I was first reading about this story, I was thinking is he an attorney, so now, it seems he's a community activist who was making media rounds with mom begging the community -- you know, to come forward with any information about baby Maleah. And so, it's odd that this person now is at odds with Maleah's mother and no longer helping her in the -- in the cause. And then, Derion Vence, who's a suspect confesses to him about the whereabouts of baby Maleah.

The whole thing is just -- is really, really odd. But, right now what's important is getting those remains -- that those remains that are now allegedly a child to get those tested, to make sure that it is, in fact, baby Maleah, and then, the cause of death is very important. Considering the fact that Vence told Quanell in his confession that this whole thing was an accident. So, we need to know the cause of death.

PAUL: Right, right, right. I do want to play some sound from Quanell. Because this is what he said two days ago about some concerning comments that involved a mom. Let's listen here.


QUANELL X: I said to her, there is no need for you to get a lawyer, a criminal lawyer if you don't have anything to hide if you have done no wrong. I said, your daughter's missing, you want to exhaust every avenue to try to find her, why would you need a criminal lawyer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what'd she say.

QUANELL X: She really didn't respond to that. She just said, "Well, I think I may need to get a lawyer." And that's pretty much exactly what she went to me to do.


PAUL: So, he's talking about how the mom, in this case, said, I think I need to get a criminal lawyer. And he was talking about his reaction to that.


PAUL: He claims that she knows what happened. Is she vulnerable in any of this?

TEWOLDE: Oh, absolutely. I mean, when you have a child that's missing, I mean, you're going to look at those who are closest to her. Now, him saying -- I don't agree with him saying that it's suspicious that she's having to get a lawyer.

Getting a lawyer does not mean that your intent -- you're intending to hide things. What it means is that you're being smart about your options, and a lot of the accusations are being thrown her way.

A lot of people feel as though she knows more than she's leading on. So, of course, to consult with the lawyer to make sure that your fine is smart on her -- on her part. But as this unfolds, we're going to know more about one, Derion's story, I mean his story doesn't add up at all. Being abducted by a group of men on the side of the road.

PAUL: Right.

TEWOLDE: Being unconscious for 24 hours. What were you doing for 24 hours is key, because he might have had time to drive to Arkansas, come back, and do it -- you know, dump the body. But at the same time, there's surveillance also that shows Derion going into the apartment that he shared with mom and Maleah, going into the apartment with Maleah, but she never is shown coming back out, but he comes out with a basket -- a laundry basket that large enough to keep a child in, and a black bag. It's not a coincidence that we see a black bag in Arkansas as well, right?

PAUL: Yes.

TEWOLDE: So, then he says that after he was knocked out by a group of men, he walks to a hospital. Well, he's shown on surveillance that someone dropped him off in the car he claimed was stolen in the attack by these men. So, none of this adds up who was driving a car. Maybe mom knows something, maybe she doesn't. But it's not unusual for now the focus to also be on mom. I mean, these are the two closest people to her -- to baby Maleah.


TEWOLDE: So, all of this is going to have to unfold right now. He's charged with a felony tampering with evidence, specifically a corpse.

PAUL: Yes.

TEWOLDE: And that's a second-degree felony because it is a corpse. So, we're just going to see how this unfolds. But key? What caused her death.

PAUL: What cost her death. I need to ask you real quickly about Jussie Smollett. The case the Cook County state's attorney, of course, Kim Foxx released thousands of pages of Jussie Smollett's records.

They were turned over under an open records request by several news organizations. What did you think about what was in them? And based on what was in them, was it the correct thing to do to dismiss the charges?

[07:50:02] TEWOLDE: You know, I think more so for me, and I think a lot of other people are concerned with the transparency of how all of it unfolded. Why did things happen in the D.A.'s office? There was some confusion as to -- you know, what led to the investigation. Then, well, you know, the D.A.'s office not communicating with the police department and investigating. Apparently, in these records, it was indicated by the D.A.'s office early on before -- you know, Smollett was even indicted to stop investigating.

And so, those are questions that people have. They just are not OK with the fact that we don't know what happened in this case. And a judge said. "You know what, Jussie Smollett's actions indicated that he did not care about his privacy. He made this all public for people. When the charges got dismissed, he went out in front of the cameras.

So, we're going to unseal this -- these records, because his actions basically read to the public and to the judge that you don't care about your privacy. So, it's for the media to understand what happened in this case. And going through hundreds of pages, I mean, you just see a lot of details, there are still evidence that's out there that hasn't been released.

PAUL: Right.

TEWOLDE: Hours of video footage. As a D.A. -- former D.A., when I made decisions to dismiss cases, sometimes the public did not understand why. But they don't know what the evidence is in full depth.

PAUL: Right.

TEWOLDE: So, it's to the discretion of the -- of the attorney in the office. But at the same time, I think that people are just concerned with the transparency and honesty of how all of them unfolded.

PAUL: How it all unfolded. All right. Yodit Tewolde, thank you so much.

TEWOLDE: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: Appreciate your insight as always. I want to go back to Virginia Beach with Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we're just minutes out from potential new information after the mass shooting that happened here at the city's municipal building yesterday. Of course, the question that everyone wants an answer to, why? We'll see if police have an answer to that thus far. We're back at a moment.


[07:55:51] BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, live here in Virginia Beach. We're just a few minutes out -- fewer than five minutes out from the scheduled news conference. Where we're expecting to get new information about the mass shooting that happened here. At least, a dozen people killed. Last check, four people still in hospitals.

A live look here into the courthouse where this will happen. We're expected to hear from Mayor Bobby Dyer, the police chief, also we know in attendants will be Councilman Aaron Rouse, who was here with us just a few moments ago. We'll, of course, bring that to you live. Let's go back to Christi.

PAUL: All right, Victor. Thank you so much. Do stay close as we are going to take you live to that press conference. Hopefully, learn more about motive that is the big question this morning as we have 12 families who are trying to reconcile what happened. And four other families just hoping that their loved ones pulls through -- that are in the hospital right now. We're back in a moment.