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3 Dead, 11 Hurt At California Food Festival Shooting; Trump Uses Racist Attacks On Baltimore & Rep. Cummings; Trump Stokes Racial Division Ahead Of CNN Debates. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 29, 2019 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Witnesses say he fired randomly into the crowd.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And we've learned that one of the victims killed is a six year old boy named Steven Romero. He was at the festival with his mother and grandmother, who were also shot. Police say they ended the carnage after confronting and fatally shooting the gunman. At this hour, we do not know who the shooter was or what may have been his motive, so let's get right to CNN Dan Simon. He's live in Gilroy, California with all of the breaking details. What do we know at this hour, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi Alisyn. Investigators are still processing the scene. Of course, it's still the middle of the night here but we know that they're going to be here for the next several hours.

Now, authorities say it appears that the shooter got in through a back way. He bypass security all together. This happened just before 6:00 pm. They say he hopped over a creek and then broke through a fence.

Now, amazingly, police engaged the shooter about one minute after the shots began. Take a look.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on? What's going on? Was that fire?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get right here. Get right here.


SIMON(voice-over): Chaos and confusion erupting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California. With gunfire sending people into a panic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was like a firework at first. I got - but then I saw him like point the weapon up like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just heard pop, pop, pop, pop. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I saw everybody running getting shot and so

I was terrified. I was terrified.


SIMON(voice-over): The rampage leaving three people dead and at least 11 others injured. One woman telling CNN affiliate KRON, her six- year-old grandson, Steven Romero, was one of those killed.


MARIBEL ROMERO, GRANDMOTHER OF VICTIM: This is really hard. There's no words to describe because he was such a happy kid. I don't think that this is fair.


SIMON(voice-over): Bystanders stepping in to help some of those hurt on sidewalks and on the back of pickup trucks. Just after 5:40 pm, police received the call.


DISPATCH: Getting reports of a shooter at the Garlic Festival.

OFFICER: I'm in the area and it sounds like there is an active shooter in the park. People are running.


SIMON(voice-over): Quickly racing to the scene on the north side of the festival.


SCOT MITHEE, CHIEF, GILROY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Officers were in that area and engage the suspect in less than a minute. The suspect was shot and killed.


SIMON(voice-over): Authorities describing how they believe the shooter was able to avoid security.


MITHEE: It appears as though they had come into the festival via the creek which borders a parking area and used some sort of a tool that cut through the fence to be able to gain access.


SIMON(voice-over): The gunshots rang out while the band TinMan was doing an encore on stage.


the stage. Got down to the - underneath it and we waited till the police arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told us, "You got to run. There's somebody in the bushes or in the field. So you got to run. Get out of here. Just keep going."


SIMON(voice-over): Police are still investigating whether someone assisted the gunman.


SMITHEE: We have some witnesses reporting that there may have been a second suspect, but we don't if that suspect was engaged in any shooting or whether they may have been in some sort of a support role.


SIMON(voice-over): Survivors of the attack say they are grateful they made it out alive.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're lucky we didn't scream or anything, because we were that close. He would have shot us.


SIMON: Now, witnesses described the shooter some somebody being in his mid to late 20s, maybe even in his early 30s. They say he was wearing shorts and a protective vest. Now, as you heard there, authorities believe that there may be a second suspect or accomplice involved.

That's based on some of the descriptions that they've heard from witnesses, but they're not entirely confident of that. But at this point, they are treating it like there is a second suspect involved. Alisyn, we'll send it back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK. That's obviously good to know. Dan, thank you very much for joining us. On the phone now is Vivian Zhang. She witnessed the shooting. She was at the festival. Vivian, thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us where you were when you heard the gunshots?

VIVIAN ZHANG, GILROY SHOOTING WITNESS: Yes. Hi, Alisyn. Thank you for having me. I was kind of about five minutes before the gunshots went off. I was in that exact area, the food court. Like where the tent was and the stage was. And about five minutes before, me and my friends had decided that we were ready to leave and we were kind of making our way towards the exit and more away from the food vendors and more towards like the olive oil vendors and things like that.

CAMEROTA: And then what happened when you heard the shots?

ZHANG: So we heard the shots. He heard like fireworks, the sounds of fireworks and I was standing behind this truck with my friend. And I look to my right and I see like flashes kind of like really bright flashes and then like small ricochets of bullets on the ground.

[06:04:57] I was thinking it was fireworks put then in that exactly moment, there was like three bullets that hit the truck that were standing right behind. And that's when my friend looked at me and he said that those are not fireworks. We have to run. Let's go. And then that's when we started running.

CAMEROTA: And describe the scene that you saw happening all around you.

ZHANG: I saw the bullets very closely. I think I was probably around like 100 to 200 feet away from the shooter at the time that he opened fire by I had a pretty obstructed view because of the two vendors in the tents and the truck that I was behind. But immediately as people - the first like 10 seconds, everyone collectively had thought it was like fireworks, have looking around like, "What's going on? It's the end of the festival, maybe they're doing something."

But it was kind of like around the same exact moment, everyone had just like one big gasp and shriek and everyone just like grab their kids or started looking for their kids or looking for their parents and stuff like that and just started running. And it's just like all out there.

CAMEROTA: And Vivian, did you - we can only imagine the all out terror. And did you see someone shot?

ZHANG: I did not. I got out of there incredibly quickly.

CAMEROTA: Vivian, I mean, I read your notes that you had always wanted to go to the Garlic Festival. Why would someone do this at this food festival?

ZHANG: Yes. That's like the most confusing part to me. Not that this deserves to happen to anyone ever, but it was such a community type of event. It just basically like families there. Mostly families, older people, younger people, very small children. Right near where the gunman open fired, there was a bounce house where all of the kids are playing. So it's just senseless to me.

CAMEROTA: Yes, to everyone. Vivian, we're sorry that you had to endure all of this and thank you very much for bringing us your eyewitness account of what happened at this Garlic Festival. Thank you very much. Take care of yourself.

ZHANG: Thank you.


BERMAN: All right. Joining us now is Phil Mudd, CNN Counterterrorism Analyst and James Gagliano is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and retired FBI Supervisory Special


Phil, I want to start with you. The very early stages of the investigation, but we do have some data points here, number one, the killer cut a fence to get in. Number two, he murdered a six-year-old boy. Number three, he was wearing a protective vest. And number four, where this happened, at a festival and a joyous event. What does that tell you about this person?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It tells me, obviously, you got some premeditation here. Somebody didn't decide that morning to go out to the festival. If they've gone through the effort to find a way into the facility and to buy a vest, you've got some premeditation here in terms of a six-year-old, I mean, in the business I'm from, that is the counterterrorism business.

One of the questions you have is motive, whether there's political motive, you look at this here and you've got to wonder whether this is just some local issue, random act of sort of tragic violence. We're going to go to motive very quickly. I'm sure the police already have some ideas. But boy, a six-year-old tells you that we're dealing with somebody who had some severe mental issues.

BERMAN: It's horrifying and we just heard a witness described the fact that the shooting took place outside of bouncy house, so even more children could have ended up as victims. James, we know that they are searching for a second possible suspect with ties. This is something we often hear and a confusion after a mass shooting, but what will investigators be looking for? What are they doing this morning?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, number on, John, their sole intent and purpose right now is to determine was there a second shooter. And if there wasn't a second shooter, did anybody provide any type of material support or act as a lookout for the actual shooter who police were able to neutralize last night. And kind of speaking again to Phil's point here, the criticality in trying to determine motive here is to prevent or try to get out in front of the next one.

The FBI is hyper focused right now on the domestic terrorism threat. I'm not suggesting this is terrorism per se yet, but they look at it from four components. Could this possibly have been racially motivated? Was this an anti-government or anti-authority sect of violent extremism? Was this an anti-abortion portion of that?

Any of those four things and obviously everyone does not exactly fit neatly into those, but trying to determine what possibly could have caused this person to do this. Look, last year 2018, 27 mass shootings, 85 people killed across 16 states. The year before that even worse, obviously, we had the Las Vegas shooting and just to make my point, we still have not determine the motive for the Las Vegas shooter. So a lot of police work ahead of us, John.

[06:10:00] BERMAN: Look, we're nearly at the two year anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, but when someone said that to me this morning it made me think every week is the anniversary of some kind of mass shooting in this country it seems at this point. Phil, with security there, this killer had to cut a fence to get in and the law enforcement response, they shot this guy dead within a minute, so there were measures in place here.

MUDD: There were but I think we're going to have to step back and the questions through the day about the security at the festival, as you said, the response was rapid. But there are going to be questions across this country about how you secure festivals like this. It's not doable in a perfect way.

I will go to my local town festival. I live on a farm on the weekends, John. It's about the size of this. There is no way across America and 50 states that if you want perfect security to keep somebody from cutting a fence that you can have it. I'm surprised they had the security and the response they did for something that was this small, remarkable and clearly saved the bigger tragedy.

BERMAN: And James, we don't know much about the weapon. We're told it's an assault style rifle. We heard the shots in rapid fire but that could be any kind of semi automatic weapon at this point, correct?

GAGLIANO: Absolutely, John. And just to unpack this for the viewer, let's define what an assault weapon is. An assault weapon is typically a rifle that has a collapsible stock, pistol grip, shrouded barrel, a flash suppressor on it and most importantly detachable magazines which you can load with anywhere between 20 or 30 rounds. That's what witnesses have said.

We often know, John, because we've discussed these in the wake of so many of these tragedies as you pointed out that early reports are often inaccurate. But right now witnesses that have spoken to this has suggested that that was it. Look, California has some extremely strict gun laws, but it doesn't prevent somebody from purchasing a weapon whether they got it illegally or purchased it legally and bring it across state lines and then perpetrating something like this mass shooting.

BERMAN: All right. James Gagliano and Phil Mudd, please stand by as we get more information this morning and this investigation develops. We do appreciate your expertise here. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right, John. President Trump is at it again. He's making more racially divisive comments. This time the targets are Baltimore and its black congressman. So we discussed how the Congressman's colleagues and others are responding.


[06:17:01] CAMEROTA: All right. We are all in Detroit for the next round of the Democratic primary debates. They begin tomorrow and the stakes are incredibly high. But this morning, President Trump's attacks on the city of Baltimore and its black Congressman, Elijah Cummings, have many democrats and others saying that they are racist.

The President again use the word infested to describe a majority African-American city. So joining us now to talk about all of these as well as the responses, Bakari Sellers, CNN Commentator. He has endorsed Senator Kamala Harris for President. We also have Kirsten Powers, CNN Political Analyst and a columnist for USA Today. Andrew Gillum, CNN Political Commentator and the 2018 Democratic candidate for the Florida governor's race and Maria Cardona, CNN Political Commentator and democratic strategist. Great to have all of you here with us in Detroit.

So Bakari, your thoughts on the President doing - everything that he said about Elijah Cummings, about Baltimore, about it being disgusting and, again, rat infested. He used the word infested. What do you make of all of that?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I actually think the words of our colleague Victor Blackwell, this past weekend spoke loudly to not only me, but the rest of the country about individuals who are from Baltimore, who grew up in Baltimore, who are hard working American citizens. And just because they live in Elijah Cummings' district does not mean they're any less American.

The President of the United States is racist and I know for a very long period of time. We were simply using phrases. Like he uses racism as political currency or he's just using racism to divide people. But I think it's fair to say now that the President of the United States is racist, period.

Now, what we have to ask ourselves is when is the rest of the Republican Party, when are individuals going to stand up and call this for what it is? Baltimore has these challenges like many major cities in the United States of America. But to only look at Black and Brown communities, what if Barack Obama found a majority white former cold town and said this is a opioid field, white this that or the third, I mean, it would be complete outrage.

And so I am - this is not for me and Andrew to call out, this is for white evangelical men. This is for the white Republicans who are there to stand up and say that enough is enough.

BERMAN: Where are they, Kirsten? Where are those people this morning?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they're afraid of Trump, so they're not going to say anything. I mean, that's the bottom line. And honestly, I think, this is the view of a lot of people who don't live in big cities. They don't understand. Like I lived in Baltimore for a year. It's an it's an amazing city.

It's also a city in need of a lot of help and it's not that far from Washington, D.C. And guess what, Donald Trump, you're the president of that city too.

BERMAN: That's right.

POWERS: It's like you're putting it all on Elijah Cummings. What is one congressman supposed to do about what's going on in this extremely neglected city? And so I think that's what the President's showing is like he's acting like the city doesn't belong to him or that he's not somehow responsible for it when he lives about 45 minutes away from it.

BERMAN: I'm sorry. But Bakari asked a really important question here and I think it's even broader than that. You said, it's not just for African-Americans for you and for Mayor Gillum here to comment on. It's for Republicans. It's for all Americans.

[06:20:04] What are Americans supposed to do with this on a Monday morning when it's no longer an unusual Monday morning?


BERMAN: Where the President says things about African-Americans or says things about these cities? What does one do with it, Mayor?

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I'll tell you, first of all, I think the point that this is his city as well, he is the president of all of these United States, during my campaign for governor in Florida, the President tweeted out that I was the mayor of the most dangerous city in America. In spite of the fact that I was mayor of a city that's almost 70% white, that I just happened to be a black mayor of that city, but I also was experiencing a 20-year-low in violent crime in my city.

But it had nothing to do with the facts. It had to do with what I look like and the fact that he wanted to pair it to the rest of the country, that people who look like me can't clearly preside over a city that is actually running well and doing well. And we do need to hear the voices of regular everyday Americans, including Republicans that say, "Mr. President, you're the president of all of us and guess what, if Baltimore is suffering, then that means that's a community inside of your country that's suffering and you have a responsibility to do something about it."

CAMEROTA: On that note, whereas Congressman Mark Meadows? Remember when Elijah Cummings stuck up for Mark Meadows, after a - there was a suggestion that Mark Meadows was racist. Well, this weekend President Trump called Elijah Cummings racist. Let me just remind people of how Elijah Cummings went to bat for Congressman Mark Meadows when the shoe was on the other foot, watch this.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): I think she said that she was not calling you a racist and I thought that we could clarify that. Because Mr. Meadows, as you know and of all of the people on this committee, I've said it and got in trouble for it, that you're one of my best friends. I know that shocks a lot of people.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): And likewise, Mr. Chairman.

CUMMINGS: Yes, you are. And I could see and feel your pain. I feel it and so - and I don't think Ms. Tlaib intended to cause you that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: That was unnecessary. He didn't have to go to bat for Mark

Meadows and now tick tock, where is the defense of Elijah Cummings?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, there you have it. Well, the silence is deafening and I think what's more troubling about this, we're talking about this one instance. But this is a pattern by this president. This is on the heels of the horrible racist attacks that he shot out at the four congresswomen of color. And look, this is nothing new.

Communities of color have been feeling this from the moment the President came down that escalator and called Mexicans rapists and criminals. As a Latina, ever since the President became president, I have been asked to go back to where I come from. And this is something that I think the majority of Americans do need to stand up for it.

We know as people from communities of color, that our communities live in fear. They live in a state of marginalization. They don't believe this president represents them or wants to represent them in any way. That is a dangerous feeling to have today in the United States of America.

GILLUM: But to the political side of this just for a moment, the President has decided that his path to victory is by basically dividing Americans. I mean if he thought for a moment that he could increase his chances of reelection by bringing us together, he'd do it.

I think if he felt like that was the way to go, but he's made the decision and I think it's important amongst people who voted for him who reject racism, who reject xenophobia and sexism to stand up and say, "You know what? There are things that are more important than how the stock market did yesterday." And that is who we are as American citizens, all of the higher aspirational goals that we aspire to that Donald Trump does not represent that.

CAMEROTA: We saw that in 2018.

BERMAN: Let me tell you, they're going to be 20 Democratic candidates for president standing behind us on two separate nights, tomorrow night and Wednesday night. I'm curious, Bakari and Kirsten if you can weigh in on this, what you think they should do? Because there's a discussion, do we spend our time on the campaign trail calling the President a racist and being the referee for every time he says things that are offensive to the American people or do we lay out our health care plan?

SELLERS: Well, I don't think it's the and/or thing. I think you have to do both. It's an and thing. You don't have to do one or the other, because you have to call it for what it is. And if you think that just love and being passive is going to beat Donald Trump when you have a general election, then you just got a whole another thing coming.

I think that you have to be willing to fight with Donald Trump and it's not just fighting another human being, it's not fighting a man. It's actually fighting for something. You're fighting for what you believe in.

[06:25:01] And this is when I (inaudible) for Joe Biden, because this is actually correct. We're fighting for the soul of our country. And my Republican colleagues always want to talk about identity politics. Well, this race is about identity. This race is about what we want our country to be and it's been a referendum. It will be a referendum on the last four years.

And so I think that most people are looking for a fighter first and someone who can fight, but still yet articulate their vision for successful and prosperous future.

CAMEROTA: And you predict that you'll hear that in very strong terms from 10 people tonight, Kirsten.

SELLERS: Oh, tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: Yes, tomorrow.


SELLERS: Wait a minute, are we debating tonight.


SELLERS: But tune in tonight.

POWERS: I think one of the problems though with calling him a racist is I think it just sort of feeds into actually what he wants. I think he wants this fight and basically telling people who support him, "You voted for a racist." I think it would be better to appeal to their higher angels is to basically say like, you're better than this.

And we're not the ones that are saying you're racist, Donald Trump is.

GILLUM: That's right.

POWERS: Because Donald Trump has created a strategy that assumes that you're racist.

GILLUM: That's right.

POWERS: And we don't think that America is racist. We think that you're actually better than this.

BERMAN: All right. Friends, stick around. We got days to talk about this. Thank you very much for being here. Be sure to tune into the CNN DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES, two big nights, 10 candidates each night despite what Camerota says, tomorrow ...

CAMEROTA: All right, if you say so.

BERMAN: ... and Wednesday night at 8:00 pm Eastern.

CAMEROTA: I'll wait.

BERMAN: Live from Detroit only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump's Director of National Intelligence is leaving the post. The President's pick for this important position is now raising eyebrows for many reasons. We discuss next.