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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Man Shares How He Confronted And Disarmed Gunman; Interview With Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA); Santos' Lies Put Spotlight On Powerful Republicans Who Backed Him; CNN Joins Aid Workers On Dangerous Mission In Bakhmut, Ukraine; Jury Selection Begins In Double Murder Trial Of Alex Murdaugh. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 23, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: He has been found guilty of all eight charges against him including theft of government property. Barnett will be sentenced in early May, and today's verdict comes as former members of the far right group Oath Keepers were also convicted of seditious conspiracy for plotting to stop the certification of Biden's 2020 presidential victory.
Thanks so much to all of you for joining us.
AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight, we have video you haven't seen before, pictures of a hero taking a mass murderer's gone away, confronting, grappling with him and disarming someone who had just moments before shot and fatally wounded 11 people at another location and was about to do the same again, Saturday night, at a ballroom and dance studio in Alhambra, California just outside Los Angeles that Brandon Tsay and his family run.
The video is slowed down somewhat. The man in the frame is the 72- year-old mass killer who had already carried out a mass shooting at another ballroom in nearby Monterey Park.
Now the weapon he is carrying, according to authorities is a nine millimeter Ingram Mac 10 semiautomatic with what appears to be a suppressor or silencer, which authorities say he'd been making at home.
Brandon Tsay tells us he heard sounds, metal-on-metal noises and you can see the shooter pulling back on the weapon, and then for a few seconds he withdraws into the doorway, as if to look around at which point, seconds later, you see Brandon there entering and confronting the man. His arms outstretched, reaching for the man and then the weapon.
The struggle then moves into the doorway and just outside that room. We're just seeing this for the first time. We have never seen this video before.
Brandon will describe in a moment just what was happening, what he was doing and thinking in the seconds that we see and what we don't see.
Again, the killer has a Mac 10, apparently, a suppressor and stock. He had already killed 10 people, an 11th victim died today and he might have taken many more lives had the scene we're watching played out otherwise, had Brandon not gotten the gun and driven the gunman who later took his own life away.
We're going to be joined shortly by the Congresswoman who represents Monterey Park and Alhambra, but first my conversation with Brandon Tsay. I spoke to him just before airtime.
COOPER: Brandon, first of all, you've been through so much. How are you holding up?
BRANDON TSAY, CONFRONTED AND DISARMED GUNMAN: Well, I'm doing way better than I was at the night of the incident.
COOPER: So can you just take me through what happened on Saturday night?
TSAY: Okay, so Saturday night, it was Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year. It was -- it felt like a casual night, very typical.
We had our customers coming in and out for our social dance party. I was in the office lobby most of the time. It was late into the evening when the incident occurred.
COOPER: When did you know something was happening?
TSAY: I heard sound. I knew something was happening, I heard a sound of the door -- front entrance shutting and then there was a sound, a distinct sound of metal coming together as if it was being rubbed together like someone was moving metal-on-metal.
COOPER: And how far away was that sound from you?
TSAY: It was no more than two meters away.
COOPER: So did you see the person then?
TSAY: No. What alerted me was the sound. I only turned after I heard that sound.
COOPER: What happened then?
TSAY: After that, when I saw what I saw, I froze up. The man had a gun. The man branding a gun. He had a gun pointed at me. It seemed like he was trying to scout out the room for other people.
COOPER: Was he saying anything? I mean, you're saying he was two meters away. So, that's what about six feet away from you. He was pointing the gun at you the whole time or was he moving it around?
TSAY: It was in my general direction. But when I saw him, he was pointing straight at me and he was trying to look for other people, scouting the room and he didn't say anything at all. He was silent, even stoic, very scary that he wasn't even saying anything or giving me any instructions.
COOPER: And so what happened?
TSAY: What happened was it seemed like he was preparing his weapon to fire, changing some sort of setting on the gun or fixing his gun to prepare to fire.
That's when I sprang into action. I realized in the moment that I needed to do something at this moment. I needed to grab the gun, try to disarm him, so he couldn't do any harm to me or others.
COOPER: So, and that thought, I mean, a lot of people in this moment would have maybe thought to run away or to dive for cover. Your thought was to get the gun.
TSAY: Oh, yes, I'm not going to lie, I did freeze up when I saw him with the gun. I had many thoughts where I would think I'm going to die. This is it. This is the end for me.
But then something happened, you know, something came over me. I just had this rush of thought and adrenaline, you know, in this sort of situation and I was able to come to the conclusion that I needed to do something. I needed to grab the gun. I need to save myself and the people inside.
COOPER: And you're talking about the all of these thoughts you had. I assume this is all happening within split seconds in your head. How long were you standing there looking at him, seeing the gun before you acted?
TSAY: No more than two seconds. No more than two seconds. I saw a window of opportunity that he was distracted with his gun and took it. I took into action once I saw the opportunity.
COOPER: So what exactly did you do?
TSAY: I made sure that nothing was in my way to attack him and lunged at him with both my arms and grabbed his weapon with both my arms.
COOPER: And were you immediately able to take it out of his grasp?
TSAY: No, there was a big struggle, actually. The struggle went on into the lobby, he hit me several times in the face, behind my head.
COOPER: With what? With his hand?
TSAY: And my back. He was -- with his hands, he was trying to free me away from his gun while trying to gain control of his weapon, but at the same time, I was trying to divert the weapon away from me, away from the ballroom and down onto ground, in case he did fire. And I was also trying to free from his grasp and using my elbows, using my shoulders, trying to use my body weight to free the weapon or free from him.
COOPER: And how long was this struggle for?
TSAY: I would say the struggle lasted 40 seconds, but it felt like way longer. It felt like an eternity with the adrenaline and my thoughts. I was always thinking about, if I let go this gun, what would happen to me? The people around me? My friends? My family? How would they be affected if I let this dangerous individual run around?
COOPER: And were you saying anything to him during the struggle? Was he saying anything to you?
TSAY: No. We had no verbal conversation. But he seemed like he didn't want to talk from the start. It seemed like he was trying to take action instead of have any type of conversation or commands.
COOPER: So you said it went on for 40 or so seconds, and then what happened? How did you finally get it away?
TSAY: Well, as he was trying to attack me with his arm and his hands, I used the opportunity to yank the gun away on his opposite side, so he wasn't able to fully use his strength to keep the gun in position. And that's when I was able to pull the gun away from him and create some distance between him and the gun.
COOPER: And have you ever held --
TSAY: After that --
COOPER: Go ahead.
TSAY: No, I've never held a gun before. It's scary to even -- the weight of the gun, it dawned on me how this object was something that could end a person's life.
COOPER: So you have the gun and you create some distance. Did he -- did you run away then?
TSAY: No. At this point, he looked like he was still trying to fight, but I pointed the gun at him and told him, "Go. Go away. You've got to leave. Go. Get out here." And I also threatened him that I would shoot, and I had many thoughts. I thought I would actually have to kill him. I was actually going to shoot this person.
COOPER: Were you prepared to do that?
TSAY: Yes. I was prepared to fire but I didn't want to shoot him anywhere that would be fatal. I wanted to see if I could aim at the legs or the arms, you know, something that would stop him from trying to recover the gun.
COOPER: So you yelled at him. Then what?
TSAY: Then he was trying to contemplate whether to attack, like, there was a brief standoff where he was just thinking about coming after me with his body and I was thinking, oh, I would have to shoot him.
But he actually came to a conclusion to turn around and leave, and that's when he exited the door and jogged back to his van.
TSAY: After that, I immediately called the police, still with the gun in my hand, hoping that he wouldn't come back.
COOPER: You said something this morning, and I just want to read it out, because I think it's important. You said: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to have adversity to fear when fearful events happen such as this," meaning, I assume you felt fear, and yet you were still able to act.
It's not as if you didn't have fear, but you were able to overcome that fear in that split second, in order to do what you know had to be done -- what you knew had to be done?
TSAY: Well, yes, I feel like that without fear, there cannot be courage. If there was a level headed person who is logical, and actually thought about the situation, I'm not sure he would have taken the same actions I have. He will probably try to talk the gunman down, or try to hide and try to run away and see if there is a safe place to just hide for the moment.
When I was a fearful and I gained this courage, I knew that I needed to do something at that moment and I was thinking about my friends and families, how fearful I was for them, and that just gave me some strength to do what I did.
COOPER: So that's interesting. So it's actually, having fear, you feel actually helped you in this situation, because it made you act in a way that if you had intellectually thought about it, or you might not have actually done?
TSAY: That is correct.
COOPER: It's so -- I think, not only is it extraordinary what you did, because I've talked to many people who have been in situations like this, and nobody knows how they're going to respond in a situation like that.
People think, oh, I would rush the gunman, but very often people who think they would do that end up when actually in this situation, for very understandable reasons, you know, running away or trying to find a place to hide or doing something else other than what they thought intellectually they might do.
Did you ever think you are capable of doing something like this?
TSAY: Oh, well, you know, we always have that conversations of what if, like, especially with a situation where there's a gunman, you probably had this conversation in your life before, you know.
I would think that I would rush the gunman, prior to this, but if I was to like view my past experiences, it seems like I would have more of a flight response, you know, to run away.
But now that I see that, in this situation, my character and -- my character and my mentality is totally different.
COOPER: Yes. It's heroic.
TSAY: You have been calling me hero all day. I know the responsibility of that word. You know, people have been trying to look towards me to you know, for a message to find hope, some strength, some courage and I'm glad that people are -- people can look towards me and see, oh, this person, he was able to survive this situation, maybe there's hope for others.
COOPER: What gives me hope about it is that it's not that you were fearless, it is that you had fear and yet you were able to do what had to be done and that, I think is a very hopeful thing because it means all of us who feel fear can still act, and can still overcome that in that moment when it's really needed.
So I think, that is, at least for me, what I find so hopeful and I'm so impressed by what you've done.
When you found out Brandon that he had been caught and caught because not only you stopped him from another attack, but also you helped police get him faster than they probably would have otherwise, what did you think when they found him?
TSAY: It was a -- it was an emotion of relief, and I had this catharsis that, oh, this guy was finally caught and our -- this guy is finally caught and the harm that he could had done to us in the city was finally over and the threat at hand was finally coming to an end.
I was very glad that they were able to catch this guy and within the day that he was on the run. It's amazing what our police was able to do.
COOPER: Yes. And obviously there are so many people in the community who are grieving tonight or in pain, others who are, you know, wounded and trying to recover, you know, people who died.
TSAY: Yes, we are a close-knit community. The people that were there that night, most of them come to our studio, so I know them in person, and some of them, I'm actually very friendly with. I know a couple of them by name.
And, it is very tragic what happened. I want to say that to all those that are injured or in medical care right now, I hope you recover safely. And those who are less fortunate and weren't able to survive, I give you my deepest condolences, especially to their friends and family. I'm sorry for your loss, truly. COOPER: And Brandon, thank you and you prevented further loss from happening and I know there are a lot of families who would thank you tonight as well.
Thank you so much for talking with us.
TSAY: You're welcome. Thank you for having me on the show.
COOPER: More on the story throughout the program tonight.
Coming up next, we'll talk to Congresswoman Judy Chu who represents the district, the families of the victims of the latest mass killing, what people are telling her and what she is hoping to do to meet their needs in the wake of this.
And later the reckoning that some powerful Republicans are facing for helping George Santos lie his way into Congress and fund his campaign. There is new reporting on what the fourth most powerful House Republican did for Santos and is now facing.
COOPER: Were talking tonight about this exclusive video of a mass shooting prevented. Brandon Tsay, 26 years old, in a few seconds of the security camera footage, you will see him confronting the gunman, who you see there in the corner, the image, the 72-year-old mass killer who had already fatally wounded 11 men and women at a ballroom Saturday night in Monterey Park outside Los Angeles.
The weapon he is carrying into the ballroom that Brandon and his family run in nearby Alhambra is a nine millimeter Ingram Mac 10 semiautomatic, appears to have the suppressor or a silencer.
Brandon told us as you heard sounds, what sounded like metal on metal noises, he turned around, he saw the killer and there you see Brandon now going to confront him. He withdraws the doorway, Brandon confronts him, his arms are outstretched and they tussle now outside of the camera's view.
The struggle moved outside the room. The killer had, as I said, the Mac 10. Before the break, Brandon told us what it was like to confront him, to set aside the fear, to act despite having fear in that moment, in those split seconds and do what he needed to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TSAY: I'm not going to lie, I did freeze up when I saw him with the gun. I had many thoughts where I would think I'm going to die. This is it. This is the end for me.
But then something happened, you know, something came over me. I just had this rush of thought and adrenaline, you know, in this sort of situation and I was able to come to the conclusion that I needed to do something, I need to grab the gun. I needed to save myself and the people inside.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Brandon Tsay is his name.
Tonight, saving lives of might have been a mass killer's second massacre of the night. Now, Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents California's 28th District, which includes Monterey Park and Alhambra.
Congresswoman Chu, I appreciate you joining us, as I said to you before the break, I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances.
It is remarkable when you hear Brandon Tsay recounting what happened in the second dance studio on Saturday night, how much worse it could have been, and how brave this young man was.
REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): Your interview was very inspirational. You know, these have been a tough 24 hours for us in this community, but hearing this story of this modest and humble young man confronting this terrible gunman and being able to take his weapon away from him after struggling with him, that is very important for our community to hear because our community has been terrified, horrified during these past hours, and we need these messages of hope.
COOPER: How does a community respond? Or how does your community respond -- this community respond in this time? I mean, constituents, neighbors -- it is -- I mean, it's devastating, obviously.
CHU: Yes. Well, like I said, it has been a difficult 24 hours. When I woke up we heard about the 10, and now 11 people being killed and 10 more in the hospital.
The community was absolutely terrified by the thought of this active shooter going to their celebrations, and so they didn't want to go, but we were encouraging them to go unless there was some alert from law enforcement because we didn't want this shooter to take over this community and to stop this community from living its life.
Well, finally, at 5:00 PM, it was announced that the suspect had been caught and that he killed himself. So we did breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Nonetheless, people are still reluctant to get out there, they feel this fear, and there are people around that community that heard the gunshots that are traumatized by all of this.
So we still have to come together. We have to make sure that people know that they are safe, that they know that this gunman is no longer a threat, and that we move together as a community. Together, we are stronger.
COOPER: I understand, you spoke with President Biden earlier today. CHU: Yes, I did, and he has been watching this very closely. He expressed his condolences for our community and for the victims and their families.
He has been able to provide so many national resources for us, Federal resources. I learned about this at 6:00 AM, immediately went to Monterey Park City Hall, and already not only were there the LA County Sheriffs and the Monterey Park Police, but the FBI, ATF, and many other Federal agencies there. So they were on this right from the beginning, and their cooperation is what led to the capture of this shooter.
COOPER; Congresswoman Chu, I appreciate your time tonight. I wish you the best. Thank you.
CHU: Thank you.
COOPER: Coming up next, George Santos, the lying Congressman and the unforgivable or uncomfortable, I should say, truth he now presents for Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, the leadership member who vouched for him.
COOPER: So, when we left you Friday night, New York Republican congressman and serial liar George Santos was denying allegations that he was either a drag queen or had performed as one when he lived in Brazil. Quoting from his tweet to refresh your memory, quote, the most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag queen or performed as a drag queen is categorically false. That was in response to this photo purportedly of him with a longtime drag performer at a parade in 2008.
Over the weekend, he changed his story, telling reporters, quote no, I was not a drag queen in Brazil, guys. I was young and I had fun at a festival. Sue me for having a life. Unclear how or even if this moves the needle, considering everything else he's facing, including federal local investigations, complaints to the ethics committee, and calls from fellow New York House Republicans to step down.
Now, some of it could be blowing back on the most influential member of the New York Republican delegation, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. She's the fourth ranking Republican in the House. She vouched for Santos in the campaign, and CNN chief investigative correspondent Pamela Brown joins us now.
So, what more can you tell us about this?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, to really sum it up, a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns told me, quote, Stefanik's team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress more than just about any other race in the country. Now, Stefanik insists she didn't know about Santos's pattern of deception until the New York Times revealed he made up stories in his past after the election, including lies about his job, school, family history, the list goes on. Throughout Santos's campaign, Stefanik was a significant supporter, though we talked to several people who donated to Santos' campaign, including one man who gave tens of thousands of dollars who said Stefanik support influenced them to donate. Stefanik endorsed Santos more than a year before the election. Her tweet included a link to a fundraising page that would benefit both her and Santos. And then she later tweeted that a lunch event raised over $100,000 to help George flip New York District three and also Santos centers of the power of Stefanik's endorsement as well. He used a photo of the two, as you see right here on the screen as the banner image for his Twitter page up until last week.
I'm told, concerns grew about Santos. Those concerns grew louder and louder among Republicans in Washington last summer. Even so, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy did an event to help Santos just before the election and now says he always knew there were issues with his resume. So, it wasn't just Stefanik.
COOPER: So, I mean obviously, look, Elise Stefanik is a powerful New York Republican. She endorses a lot of candidates. What makes this different?
BROWN: She didn't just endorse and help fundraise for Santos. According to multiple sources, one of her top aides, political aides, was advising Santos' campaign, though there's no record it was in any official capacity. We're told he even helped hire people for Santos' campaign. Now, Stefanik's spokesperson denied anyone from her, quote, staff worked for or advised Santos and said, Congresswoman Stefanik supported all GOP nominees and targeted New York seats, just like every other New York Republican elected official and the entire House Republican leadership team. So that's what they're saying.
COOPER: So, there's certainly been calls for Santos to resign. It's not been coming from Republican leadership. What are you hearing from your sources?
BROWN: Yes, not at all, Anderson. Neither Stefanik nor Kevin McCarthy or other prominent Republican backers of his in Congress have publicly asked Santos to resign. He's even been given committee assignments. He's been co-sponsoring bills with Stefanik. A donor we talked to said Santos is an embarrassment to the party and should resign. But Republican consultants tell me there is very little chance of that happening. As you know Anderson, the Republican margin in the House is so thin that they do not want to risk losing his precious seat.
COOPER: All right, Pamela Brown, appreciate it.
Joining us now is New York Democratic Congressman Daniel Goldman. He's a former federal prosecutor, he served as Democratic counsel to the House Intelligence Committee during the former President's first impeachment proceedings.
You've called on Congressman Stefanik to cooperate with any current or future investigations. I mean have you heard anything about an Ethics Committee investigation or what is the status of that?
REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (R-NY): Well, Congressman Ritchie Torres and I filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee a couple of weeks ago. But the Ethics Committee has not yet been constituted itself. So, we expect that will be one of the first things that they dig into once they are constituted.
COOPER: And who decides? I mean does the committee get to decide? Is that something McCarthy has say over whether the House Ethics Committee actually chooses to take this up?
GOLDMAN: The Ethics Committee is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans with a nonpartisan staff. As the majority leader, as the speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy would have significant sway. That's where some of these issues related to his own knowledge of George Santos' lies come in. He has a conflict of interest. If in fact, as has been reported, he knew about some of Santos's lies, still sponsored a fundraiser with him, still concealed those lies from the voters in order to win that seat in the win at any cost view that he has.
COOPER: So, what does that mean? I mean if powerful Republicans knew there were lies, knew that. You know, the veracity of things he had said didn't play out? Was it they just wanted the seat? I mean, they just wanted the flip and they needed as many seats as they could get?
GOLDMAN: Well, these are good questions that Elise Stefanik should be asked. It's one thing for a fabulous like George Santos to lie and cheat his way into a congressional seat, but it's altogether something else when he's doing it in complicity, so to speak, with Elise Stefanik, Kevin McCarthy in leadership. And this, you know, Elise Stefanik is using political double speak that people just are sick of, to say that there's no staff member of mine who worked on Santos' campaign is too cute by half. There as a now politician, I know there's a difference between staff and consultants and advisors who are not technically on staff but are very involved, especially in campaigns.
So, that specific use of the word staff jumped out to me as very misleading because what we do know now from both Pamela and from the New York Times is that a top political aide to Stefanik not only helped Santos hire staff members and advisers, but helped him do so after a bunch of people resigned because of his lies. That's how we know that Stefanik was aware of his lies.
COOPER: What makes it all the more kind of egregious about the lack of action in Congress so far by Republicans is that local Republicans, not Elise Stefanik, but local Republicans on Long Island have been calling for Santos to step down.
GOLDMAN: Look, if the Republican Party wants to embrace George Santos as one of their own, good on them, but that, as a Democrat, would not be someone I would want to have as part of my party, someone who has defrauded his voters in order to get a seat in Congress. And by not acting, especially if they had knowledge and tried to conceal it, they're embracing George Santos and they're potentially complicit in his fraud on his seat.
COOPER: Do you think the -- if he resigned the Ethics Committee investigation, if there is one, that would go away, right?
GOLDMAN: Probably. But the federal criminal investigation would not go away.
COOPER: Because I mean but an ethics investigation can cost a member of Congress millions of dollars to defend themselves. Charlie Rangel famously, you know, I was talking to another congressman who said he thought he -- Rangel had spent a lot of money defending himself when he was brought up in ethics. I mean it can cost a politician a lot if they have to defend themselves.
GOLDMAN: Yes. Look, there are ways that politicians can raise money to defend themselves, but the sirens are blaring with George Santos' finances. Where did this guy get this financial windfall? And the bigger issue that I'm trying to draw attention to is it doesn't seem like it was just George Santos. It seems like that this was a scheme that others were in on. And that's why we need to have transparency and accountability from Elise Stefanik. Those are two words that she uses all the time. Let's see it from her.
COOPER: Congressman Goldman, I appreciate your time.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you so much, Dan Goldman.
A CNN interview in Ukraine cut short by an incoming Russian round. Ben Wedeman joins us shortly, showing just how dangerous it is and how dangerous it remains in the front lines of the fight for Bakhmut races on -- rages on. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tomorrow will mark eleven months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Today shelling and attacks are occurring round the clock on the front lines, according to President Zelenskyy, especially in the Donbass city of Bakhmut, where CNN's Ben Wedeman joined aid workers on a very dangerous mission.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eli Worth-Jones is a long way from his hometown, Las Vegas, Nevada. A medic, he's delivering supplies to residents just a few hundred yards from Russian lines in Bakhmut. He does it because he can.
ELI WORTH-JONES, FRON TLINE MEDICS: I'm young, I'm trained for this. This is, this what I do for a living and there's a lot of people in need in here and I like (INAUDIBLE) have to be here. Staying with the people who (INAUDIBLE) on.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Eli is with a group called Front Line Medics and you can't get much more front line than this. Fellow medic Kurt Eriksen from Norway explains how they work.
KURT ERIKSEN, FRONT LINE MEDICS: We got a list of patients, but we don't really know what's wrong with them, so we don't have any ideas before we see them and we do assess (INAUDIBLE).
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Our interview cut short by an incoming Russian round. At a slightly safer distance from the fighting, they park their mobile clinic and treat who they can. Alexander says his feet are pain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you ask him which foot it is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both OK.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): He lives in an unheated apartment, he's suffering from frostbite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As long as he is --
WEDEMAN (voice-over): They'll take him to a hospital outside Bakhmut, and he couldn't leave a moment sooner. The Russian noose is tightening.
(on-camera): Slowly, Russian forces are gaining ground. They're on the high ground behind me. They're advancing from the north and they're advancing from the south.
(voice-over): Worst is yet to come, says British volunteer soldier Daniel Burke.
DANIEL BURKE, BRITISH VOLUNTEER SOLDIER: (INAUDIBLE) to the north. And they're going to try and do a big pincer movement around Bakhmut. I don't think they're going to try and circle it, per se, but they're going to go and try and go past it through the fields and just cut us off a bit more.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Yet residents stay on and volunteers of all stripes do what they can. Victoria Linnik is doing the round, handing out food and water.
(on-camera): Are you a little nervous with the situation here?
VICTORIA LINNIK, FOUNDER, GOD WITH US CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION: Oh, look at me. You see nervous. No.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Nerves of steel as the shelling goes on.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Ben, you've been in Bakhmut for a while now. What are the changes that you've noticed?
WEDEMAN: Well, certainly in the last few days, what we've noticed is that the shelling has intensified dramatically. Whether you're inside the city or outside, just there is a constant rumble of incoming and outgoing artillery and rockets. What we've also noticed is that the Russians seem to be using their airpower more, which we hadn't seen before. And sadly, what we've seen is that the people in Bakhmut, who we've been watching now for almost a month, seen a lot of the same people, but they really seem to be suffering.
You notice the morale is dropping. The health of people there is dropping. There just seems to be a general deterioration of the way people live. It's bitterly cold. There's no running water, there's no electricity, there's no heat. Food comes through volunteers, but it's not always dependable because the volunteers can't always get to the people who need it. So, in general, the situation is just getting worse and worse.
COOPER: Incredibly grim. Ben Wedeman, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up, jury selection in the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh is now underway. Once a respected member of one of South Carolina's most influential families, he's now on trial for the murders of his wife and younger son, that's just the beginning of his alleged crimes. Our Randi Kaye who has been reporting this story since the start, joins us next.
Plus, my conversation with the remarkable man Brandon Tsay, who confronted and disarmed the California gunman, described himself tonight as fearful, but that he used that fear to find the courage to prevent the tragedy from becoming even worse. More from him ahead.
COOPER: Jury selection began today in the double murder trial of a member of one of South Carolina's most storied families, Alex Murdaugh, who was in the courtroom today, is charged with killing his wife and younger son, part of a scheme prosecutors say to cover up massive financial fraud that was beginning to unravel. Last week, a gruesome forensic report revealed how his wife and son died soon.
CNN's Randi Kaye has been following the story from the beginning, she joins us with the latest.
So, the evidentiary phase, Randi, obviously hasn't started, but you've learned about what could be a crucial piece of evidence at the trial.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONALCORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, this is a piece of evidence that prosecutors are calling critical to their case. It is a Snapchat video that Paul Murdaugh sent to a group of friends shortly before he was killed. According to a court filing, this Snapchat video was sent at 7:56 p.m. On June 7th of 2021. Now remember, the state says that he and his mom were both gunned down sometime between 8:30 and 10:06 p.m. That would fall just before those murders would have happened.
Now, we don't know what's on this Snapchat video, but it is so important that the state has actually subpoenaed representatives from Snapchat and Google to come into court and testify to the authenticity of it. So, we don't know exactly when that will happen, but we do expect to see that. And hopefully Anderson learned what is on that Snapchat video.
COOPER: You were in court today for jury selection. How did that go?
KAYE: It's going pretty quickly, actually. They're making great progress. We potentially could have a jury seated here by the end of day tomorrow. But it was really interesting, Anderson, because as these jurors are all questioned, Alex Murdaugh is sitting there in court. In fact, the judge asked him to stand up. He turned around, he was just sitting a few feet from me all day. He stood up, he turned around, he introduced himself to the jury so the potential jurors, so they could identify him.
And then at one point, the judge asked a jury pool of about 100 people if they were familiar with this case, if they had heard of this double murder of his wife and son. And sure enough, he asked whoever was familiar with it to stand up, the entire jury pool Anderson stood up. Nearly 100 people, and even the judge was surprised by it. He remarked, wow, that's everyone.
So, certainly, that speaks to just the interest in this case and of course, how well known the Murdaugh family is. And the lawyers are OK with people's knowing about the case, potential jurors, they just want to make sure that they're impartial, Anderson.
COOPER: And what about potential witnesses at the trial? Do we have any idea who may testify?
KAYE: We hadn't heard. Of course, there's been rumors about who might show up as a witness. But today, the judge actually read for the potential jury pool a list of witnesses, 205 names. We don't know if all of them will be there, but for those of us who've been following this case so closely, I certainly recognize some of them. One is Buster Murdaugh who is Alex Murdaugh's now only surviving son. Also, Alex Murdaugh's brother was on that list. Some of his financial crime victims were on that list, including the family of Gloria Satterfield, the housekeeper that had fallen down the steps at the Murdaugh home, whose body is now going to be exhumed. He settled with their family for more than $4 million.
And there's also Anderson the name of Curtis Eddie Smith on that list. That's the man who Alex Murdaugh allegedly hired in this fake suicide attempt. He hired him to come and shoot him on a roadside to make it look like somebody shot him and his son, his surviving son, would get the life insurance money, Anderson. COOPER: Yes, and the financial crimes he's accused of even before these murders, which the prosecution is saying the murders were designed to kind of cover up the financial crimes and improprieties he's doing. i mean it's incredible how long the history goes back with this guy. It's fascinating to see what comes out of court. Randi Kaye, I appreciate it.
Just ahead, my conversation with Brandon Tsay, the man described as a hero for confronting and disarming the gunman in California who killed at least eleven people. You'll hear from him about how fear didn't stop him. In fact, he says it may have motivated him to lunge for the killer.
Plus, CNN's Harry Enten joins us to talk about the dozens of mass shootings that have taken place in America in a year. That's only 23 days old.