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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Plans Underway for Biden to Announce for Second Term Next Week; Suspect In Custody After Reportedly Shooting 6-Year-Old And Her Parents Over A Basketball Rolling Into His Yard; Sources: Notes Left By Louisville Shooter Say Part Of His Goal Was To Show How Easy For Mentally Ill To Get Gun; Source: Charges Against Alec Baldwin Being Dropped Due To New Evidence In Case; SpaceX Starship Rocket Lifts Off For Inaugural Test Flight But Explodes Midair. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 20, 2023 - 20:00   ET


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AC 360 starts now.



CNN has learned that President Biden's announcement to run for a second term now may be days away. He will run, a source telling CNN, it is no longer helpful or necessary to not just say the obvious. The exact day, however, is still being debated.

Already, the oldest person who served, the President would be weeks away from his 82nd birthday, should he win a second term? Advisers tell CNN the decision to announce comes at a time when the campaign feels it needs to energize voters about the President, his policies, and a second term.

Phil Mattingly, our chief White House correspondent joins me.

So, no date has been set.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not finalized. I think it's probably the best way to frame things, but advisers have made clear and have been privately meeting and planning to announce on Tuesday of next week, and the reason that that's important, and it would be through a campaign video, it is not going to be a major rally, but an official start to things, a launch that we have long expected, long been told was coming, but never really had a firm timeline on. That seems to be shifting pretty clearly. That date, on Tuesday is four years to the day from when the President launched his 2020 campaign, the campaign where he defeated Donald Trump, the campaign, which he framed as a battle for the soul of the nation, a battle that the President and his team very clearly believe is still ongoing, and that is a big driver of why the President has long been pushing towards seeking re-election.

And one thing when you talk to officials, they make clear behind the scenes, Anderson, there has been an intensive effort underway for several months to build the infrastructure of the likely campaign, there have been significant number of interviews with staffers, there have been regular meetings between the President's senior team, the President and the First Lady planning for this moment, and they have very much been moving in this direction.

The question has always been when, and there have been a lot of questions as to why the President who said late last year that he expected to make a decision early this year, waited this long. Aides have been very clear, they feel very comfortable about where they are, no clear challenges that they're worried about on the Democratic side of things, very happy to let the Republican primary in its nascent kind of place right now continue to play out.

But especially with calling donors to Washington late next week, making very clear that the moment is now to start moving to build towards what they know will be a hard fought campaign.

COOPER: And Phil, the last campaign that he had was in the middle of COVID, which lessened the events that then candidate Biden held. Any idea how sort of the tone and tenor of this campaign?

MATTINGLY: You know, it is interesting, because when you talk to officials, while they don't want to focus on the fact that he is currently the oldest President in US history, that if he wins re- election, by the time he's done, he would be 86 years old. They recognize that it is an issue.

Their view of it, though, is that it is not the prevailing issue for voters. It is not something that is a deciding issue for voters, and that what the President has proven up to this point is that experience matters and experience gets results.

Now, they have made clear, they are going to model at least kind of the first year of this campaign, 2023, off of to some degree what President Obama did back in 2011. It is not going to be a full-on blitz every single day to swing States, traveling and the like. It is going to be a build into 2024.

There will be a lot of testing on messages, testing on data operations, and on campaign operations. But what you've seen, Anderson, over these first three or four months of this year, it's a pretty good model of what you're going to see in the months ahead.

The President has a legislative agenda that's been enacted, an agenda that is currently being implemented right now. You've seen him out in the country, including to a number of swing States talking about specific elements of that agenda that they feel like are underscoring what they've accomplished up to this point and can continue to accomplish. That is going to be a key component of the months ahead, but they're very cognizant of the fact this is going to be a very intense, very tough campaign in 2024 and they will certainly be building toward that.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now from Stuart Stevens, former Republican political consultant; CNN senior political correspondent and anchor, Abby Phillip; CNN contributor and Biden biographer, Evan Osnos, and on the phone of CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama.

Evan, what do you know about how this decision process has been unfolding?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they've been working on it quietly behind the scenes for a long time, some of the people that the President trusts most. This has been a pretty major sideline for them.

You know, this doesn't come obviously, as a shock. He has been signaling in every possible way that he intended to run, and what you saw was him taking his time with it. Partly, that's his nature. You know, he doesn't rush into decisions, but there was also an element going on here that this advisers said, there is no reason for us to race out of the gates here, because after all, he was sort of in the office of the presidency, you get a pretty big dividend, you're getting as much attention as you want.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, he is watching the beginning of a pretty tough primary fight for the GOP. He is sort of letting that play out, letting that occupy a bit of the headlines.


OSNOS: Meanwhile, Donald Trump, of course, is in legal trouble of a whole range of types. Ron DeSantis is having some political challenges that people wouldn't have anticipated a few weeks ago. So, you know, if you're Joe Biden, you're traveling the world, you're in Washington working on legislative issues. There was no reason to rush this from his perspective.

COOPER: Abby, you obviously can't separate the President's age from the campaign. He's older than Ronald Reagan when he left office.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY": Yes. absolutely. I mean, look, this is going to be an unmistakable part of just who Joe Biden is today, but it also was when he ran for President the first time in 2020, when he was running in a field of all candidates who were younger than him on the Democratic side, some of whom explicitly made his age an issue.

So there's clearly a desire in the American public and even in the Democratic electorate to see a changing of the guard, a generational change. But that has been something that Biden and his aides are cognizant of. But they also see evidence based on the results of the 2020 election and the 2022 Midterms that voters are willing to put that aside, even in the short term, if they feel like the alternative is a much bigger problem for them.

If they are looking at an alternative to Biden and to the Democratic Party writ large, that they think is too extreme, that they don't think is heading in the direction that they want the country to go in, when you look at the polls in 2022, Biden was facing a worsening economy, people who felt like the country was on the wrong track and approval rating in the low 40s, and still, there was no Republican wave.

And I think that's not to say that this is going to be in any way shape or form a walk in the park, but his advisers, I think believe that what that means is that there is a path that does not rely on Biden suddenly convincing Americans that he is a sprite 50-year-old. He is never going to be that. He is always going to be as old as he is, but it is about who and what he's running against.

COOPER: David, if you were running the Biden campaign, what would be your biggest concern right now?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (via phone): Well, the things that I can't control, you know, the economy, and whether we see the recession that some have predicted but hasn't arrived would be one, obviously, any kind of health issue for the President or something that is problematical because Abby said, you know, he is going to be the same age, he is not. He is going to be older as time goes on.

And so those things, you know, you have to be cognizant of that and trying to guard against those things. But Anderson, I have to say, you know, all the -- running a campaign is a billion dollar enterprise as Stuart Stevens knows, and it's very complex, it takes a lot of organization, it takes a lot of money, and it takes time to raise that money.

So on the one hand, there wasn't any pressure for him to announce because he doesn't have a primary challenger, and the Republicans are kind of hurting themselves right now.

But on the other hand, he needs to get going here in terms of doing the organizational things that are necessary to run a very tough and competitive campaign in 2024, and if that, as much as anything has provoked him to make the announcement now.

COOPER: Stuart, I'm wondering, what do you think of the timing and also what impacts if any, it has on the Republican field so far for the nomination?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Yes, well, look, Anderson, let me just say, I like being on a panel with David and a lot more than being a campaign against him, because the last time, you know, he ran a great campaign, and they won.

You know, I've never said on election night and said, well, I thought that we started too early. You usually want more time in the campaign, and the one thing that every campaign has exactly the same amount of is time. So it's how you use that time.

So I think this is smart. I've been very impressed with the whole operation that Biden ran. They reinvented campaigning, really and reinvented the convention. They did a good job.

You know, I think Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. I think Ron DeSantis has proven to be smaller than life. You know, the model for big State Republican Governors if you think about it, they get elected President -- Reagan, Bush. They're positive. They're optimistic. They're expansive.

And Ron DeSantis is clearly not having fun at this and say what you will about Donald Trump, the guy enjoys the fight. People go to his rallies because it's a spectacle. And there was a question whether or not if he was indicted, it would hurt him or help him. I was always under the impression that it would almost force people to be for Donald Trump in the Republican Party to prove that he was being victimized here, otherwise, they were validating the Big State.

So I think this has the potential to shape up to be an unusually long matchup between an incumbent President and Donald Trump.

COOPER: Abby, the President has shown some weakness with left- leaning voters, especially younger voters in recent polls. I don't know how big of a concern that is for them at this stage. Does he need to make up ground there? Does that matter?


PHILLIP: Yes, I mean look, I think young voters absolutely matter. If you look at the Wisconsin State Supreme Court referendum, just a few weeks back, even if you look at the 2022 Midterms, younger voters are voting on issues that really matter to them. That's on reproductive rights, on abortion, on guns, on the environment, and when they come out, they can make the difference in close races.

But at the same time, what you see from the Biden White House is the window into how they view this. They spent really the first two years trying to make good on as many promises as they could, whether it's on student loans, whether it's on funding for, you know, HBCUs, whether it's on a whole host of issues, the legislative agenda, and in the last several months, three or four months, they've been moving to the center.

So I think that what they see here is that they have tried to offer to the base promises kept to a certain degree, whether that will hold until next year, we will see. But they know that they now have to reinforce the middle.

And for Joe Biden, that's going to be trying to stop the bleeding for Democrats among White working class voters and keep the suburban strongholds for Democrats in the last several cycles as strong as they possibly can.

COOPER: Evan, how much do you think the First Lady had on this decision?

OSNOS: She is at the core of this. There is no way that he was going to go forward without a sense that not only that she was willing to go into another election, but that she thought he could do it.

You know, Anderson, I'm reminded of the fact that the most important thing in effect for him to do now is to, in order to address the age issue, is to show vigor. You know, that's the thing that people saw when they looked at him on that State of the Union Address night. That's what the conversation was about for the day's effort, frankly, people were a little surprised that they saw as much sort of cut and thrust from him in that moment. He is going to have to do this a lot on the campaign trail, and that's a lot of opportunity.

People are going to be looking for any opportunity to dig in, but this is a chance for him to pull that vigor.

COOPER: David, I mean, can candidate Biden can get away with the campaign that he had before? Or does he need to do more big events? Or now that he's President, can he just be presidential and do it at his own pace?

AXELROD: Well, look, I don't think there is ever going to be a campaign like the campaign before where one could basically -- I mean, we have to go back to the last century where people basically ran their campaign from their front porch, or in this case, the basement.

He is going to have to be out there, but he will probably be out there more as President of the United States pushing his agenda than as a barnstorming candidate.

And, you know, the one thing -- and I think he can be effective doing that. That's what President Obama did in 2011 and 2012, largely pushing an economic agenda that spoke to the kind of voters who Abby was referring to. So I think Biden can do that as well.

One point on young voters and progressives, I think that one of their goals was to lock those voters down to the point where you avoid a serious primary challenge. He has been able to do that. I don't anticipate that he's going to have a serious challenge.

And in terms of rallying those voters, I think the Republicans are doing a pretty good job of that, by pushing an extreme agenda on abortion, on the gun issue. These are the kinds of things that are going to galvanize younger voters, and they're unlikely to be galvanized in favor of the Republicans at this course and speed.

COOPER: Stuart --

PHILLIP: Anderson --

COOPER: Oh, sorry, go ahead.

PHILLIP: Anderson, just to add real quickly to what he is saying. I mean, I think Biden is going to benefit from the fact that obviously, he is not running a primary, but the Republicans are. And for every action, there is a reaction. As the Republican Party moves further and further to the right in order for each candidate to try to get through that primary, that is doing Biden's work for him and allowing him to lock down Democratic base voters without him having to do a whole lot.

COOPER: And Stuart, you don't see any scenario where it's not -- where his opponent is not Donald Trump?

STEVENS: Well, sure, I mean, Donald Trump could lose this, but think about that, if he loses, what is he going to do the next day if Ron DeSantis wins or somebody else wins? Donald Trump is going to wake up and do everything he can to make sure whoever did win doesn't get elected President of the United States.

Donald Trump isn't suddenly going to start acting like a normal politician. So, I think it's just a box that the Republicans are in. And if I was Ron DeSantis, and I was advising him, I'd say, man, wait. You'll be 48 years old in four years. Run then, not against Donald Trump.

COOPER: Everyone, thank you. Appreciate it. Good discussion.

More presidential politics ahead. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, likely to into the race as well, but can he get past his own stumbles after a bad week for a candidacy that officially hasn't even begun?

Also tonight, new information about notes left behind by the mass shooter who murdered five people at a Louisville bank last week and left a young police officer in critical, but stable condition.



COOPER: Again, the breaking news tonight. Sources tell CNN that President Biden is perhaps days away from announcing that he will run for a second term. The decision would come ahead of an expected entry on the Republican side of course, something that Stuart Stevens mentioned earlier, who many Republicans had hoped could defeat the former President for the nomination, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Even some of his supporters though, have been alarmed by setbacks he has had recently. CNN's Jessica Dean has more than that.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When it comes to political battles, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis usually finds himself on the attack.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I said I'm not going to sit back and try to skirt issues, I'm going on offense. I'm going to take the bull by the horns. I'm going to go in there and we're not going to leave anything left to chance.

DEAN (voice over): But as DeSantis nears an official entrance to the 2024 race, he's had a rough stretch with potential allies expressing concern about his policy stances and others questioning his approach to wooing GOP lawmakers to back has not yet announced candidacy.


DEAN (voice over): DeSantis' recent move to sign a six-week abortion ban during a late night private ceremony after returning from out-of-State travel, prompting concern from top GOP donors, including billionaire, Ken Langone who told "The Washington Post," he wants the Florida Governor to moderate his stance on the issue and to "be a little more conciliatory."

Some of DeSantis' political rivals also criticizing his action on abortion.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Of course, that's a horrible position to be, and it is upsetting a lot of folks because a lot of Republicans are realizing it's going to hurt our message and hurt our ability to win.

DEAN (voice over): DeSantis also visited Washington this week where he met with Republican lawmakers seeking to build support for an expected campaign.

REP. DAN MEUSER (R-PA): He's got a lot of factors to consider, and one of them is his constituent, the former President, Donald J. Trump.

DEAN (voice over): But former President Donald Trump and his team are one step ahead, planning a separate dinner at Mar-a-Lago with lawmakers and locking down support from several members of the Florida GOP delegation.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Did anybody hear of DeSantis, DeSanctimonious?

DEAN (voice over): The push by Trump, part of an effort to target the Florida Governor on a number of fronts, including going after DeSantis on the airwaves with ads from a Trump aligned Super PAC.

VOICEOVER: DeSantis has his dirty fingers all over senior entitlements.

DEAN (voice over): Other rivals are calling out DeSantis for threatening additional action in his year-long feud with Disney.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I don't think Ron DeSantis is a conservative based on his actions towards Disney. I mean, you know, where are we headed here now? That if you express disagreement in this country, the government is allowed to punish you?

To me, that's what I always thought liberals did.

DESANTIS: Greetings from the Free State of Florida.

DEAN (voice over): But DeSantis remains on message drawing big crowds in South Carolina on Wednesday.

DESANTIS: Florida shows that leadership really matters, results matter, and I think if you look at our results, they are second to none.

DEAN (voice over): In New Hampshire, the Governor headlined a dinner for the state Republican Party that broke fundraising records.

DESANTIS: We cannot get distracted and we cannot afford to lose because freedom is hanging in the balance.

DEAN (voice over): And while he eyes a likely June announcement, DeSantis boasts a massive war chest of cash and the Super PAC backing him is raising big money as it builds out a ground game and launched a new ad this week.

VOICEOVER: Trump should fight Democrats, not lie about Governor DeSantis. What happened to Donald Trump?


COOPER: And Jessica Dean joins us now.

What kind of financial support does DeSantis expect to have if and when he announces?

DEAN: Well, it is growing, Anderson. He has got this Super PAC that is aligned with him, it is called Never Back Down and they have several goals. One of them is for him to break all fundraising records the day that he announces. So they are trying to have events in early States. They're really trying to build that support and raise a lot of money in the lead up to whenever he may potentially get in that race.

But not just that, it is not just the money, it is also expanding their ground operations. We're talking about people that would do things like knocking on doors, phone banking, really the strategy to get delegates in these key States, really trying to build this apparatus that is waiting for him as soon as he gets in.

And one more thing, Anderson, I did reach out to Governor DeSantis' political team. A spokesperson told me. I asked them about just the events of the last week what they made of them, and here is what they said, they said it's unsurprising that establishment Republicans, Democrats in the media have teamed up to smear Governor DeSantis. He's been fighting back against their woke nonsense for years, and is just getting started, and that's what they told me this evening -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, that's their statement. Jessica Dean, appreciate it. Thanks.

Joining us with her perspective, CNN political commentator, Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican strategist and pollster.

Good to have you on. It seems -- I mean, DeSantis seems to have gotten all-in obviously with this fight with Walt Disney. Is that a wise move politically?

I mean, what does a win look like for him on that issue? And what's the cost of that?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, last weekend, Donald Trump made a statement that he said, the old Republican Party is dead, and he called out a number of issues, things like Social Security reform, immigration and said the old Republican Party doesn't exist anymore. And on those issues, he's right.

But I do think that there is an interesting gamble going on here about whether Republicans actually want to see government go after business.

In my polling, I've seen that when you give Republican voters a choice about would you rather see government punish businesses that are trying to be too "woke"? Or would you rather see businesses as long as they're not breaking the law, they kind of should be able to do what they want. And by a sizable margin, Republicans still do say, I think the free market kind of should just be allowed to do what it wants. And so it's a little bit of a dangerous gamble.

Now within a Republican primary, if you can harness those most hardcore supporters, the ones who might be the most upset at say, at Disney, that can benefit you. But that assumes that those voters are not already in Donald Trump's camp and that is a tough math that Ron DeSantis has to figure out.

COOPER: And what about on abortion? We saw Governor DeSantis signing, you know late at night, the six weeks ban, which has raised concerns among some GOP donors. You saw Governor Sununu there commenting. Obviously, he has ambitions of his own.

What is the Republican strategy when it comes to abortion right now?


ANDERSON: Well, it's always been the case that, you know, sort of Republican donors have tended to be a little more socially moderate than sort of your rank-and-file Republican voters. So it doesn't surprise me that a lot of Republican donors are getting quite nervous, and a lot of the data that I've seen suggests that a six-week ban is a little bit past or where even some Republicans feel comfortable that something like a 15-week line in the sand, which is what Florida had, prior to the events of the last couple of weeks is one that builds a much broader consensus that gets more folks from the middle to come along.

And so again, this is an opportunity where Ron DeSantis could have said, look, in Florida, we were a state that was a big winner. Instead, he's tried to push himself to the right of Donald Trump and it remains to be seen, can you actually peel voters off from Donald Trump's right flank? That's certainly what someone like DeSantis is going to try, but it's not yet clear to me whether that will succeed.

COOPER: Kristen Soltis Anderson, appreciate it. Thank you.

Tonight on "CNN Primetime," 9:00 PM Eastern, hear from Senator John Fetterman in a brand new emotional interview about his battle with depression, while he says he wasn't the Senator Pennsylvania deserved in the moment he knew he needed to check in to a hospital.

Again, that's "CNN Primetime," Pamela Brown at the top of the hour.

There is more breaking news tonight. A suspect has just been apprehended for the North Carolina shooting that left a six-year-old girl and her parents wounded, all reportedly because a basketball rolled into a yard. The latest on the arrest and the family's condition, next.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: More breaking news now. A suspect is in custody after reportedly shooting a six-year-old and her parents after a basketball rolled into his yard. This comes obviously following three other incidents where young people were shot for seemingly innocent mistakes.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins us now from Gaston County, North Carolina. What's the latest on this story?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that alleged shooter Robert Singletary was arrested in Florida this evening, according to Gaston County officials. Anderson, they say that he turned himself in in Hillsborough County, Florida. He did not have any identification on him at the time and it took them about an hour to figure out exactly who he was. Right now, he is in custody.

I just spoke with the mother of that little girl who was shot. She says that she is glad and relieved that he's been caught.


KINSLEY WHITE, 6-YEAR-OLD WHO WAS SHOT: Why did you shoot my daddy and me?

GALLAGHER (voice-over): An incomprehensible question from a six-year- old, Kinsley White. Stitches in her cheek from where doctors had to remove bullet fragments was just riding her bike while other kids played basketball when gunshots rang out in her North Carolina neighborhood.

JONATHAN ROBERTSON, NEIGHBOR, WITNESSED SHOOTING: It was rapid as he was running across his yard. He had his arm outstretched and he was like pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Witnesses say when a basketball rolled into Robert Singletary's yard, he began yelling and cursing at the kids, which neighbors say wasn't unusual. But what happened next when the father of one of the kids playing basketball came to talk to Singletary was --

ROBERTSON: The guy was standing on his porch and the dad that had words with him about, you know, saying stuff to the kids, he had started walking back down the street and he started -- the shooter, he started running across the yard, shooting, just shooting.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): That man surprisingly got away unharmed. But then neighbors say that Singletary started walking in the direction of the other kids and parents on the street and began shooting.

ASHLEY HILDERBRAND, MOTHER OF KINSLEY WHITE: He started shooting with my daughter standing right there beside of him and several other kids around them.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Kinsley's father ran to protect his daughter.

HILDERBRAND: He looked at my husband dead in the face and he said, I'm going to kill you.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Kinsley and her father were both shot while trying to run away. A bullet grazed Kinsley's mother's arm.

HILDERBRAND: She had a big fragment of a bullet in her cheek.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): According to a man who lived at the same house, Singletary's girlfriend rented a room there and the 24-year-old suspect began staying with her a few weeks ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have too much interaction with him. I had no idea anything like this was going to go on.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Neighbor said Singletary was often yelling at kids about playing in the yard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He acted like he just hated children.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): According to police, Singletary was arrested on assault and kidnapping charges in December, accused of hitting a girlfriend in the head with a mini sledgehammer. He has not entered a plea. CNN has contacted his attorney.

Gaston County's Police Chief put out a statement letting the people of Gaston County know, "This sort of violence will not stand."

HILDERBRAND: They let all the kids sign it.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): This incident on the heels of a week already plagued by several gun violence tragedies, leaving a community in utter fear.

HILDERBRAND: It's very scary. Very scary.


COOPER: That's just nuts. How is the family doing tonight? GALLAGHER: You know, Anderson, they're dealing with a lot, obviously. There's a trauma of the situation itself. But Jamie White, the father, he's still in the hospital. And according to his mother and his wife, he's dealing with extensive injuries. He has injuries to his liver, his lung, his ribs, and his abdomen. They say that he has a long road to recovery.

Again, still in the hospital tonight. As far as that six-year-old little girl, Kinsley, they say that she's traumatized, but she also wants to go back to school. She wants to see her friends. And mostly, at the moment, she and her three siblings are worried about their father's health.

They did tell me earlier today, before Singletary was caught, that she was afraid to come home. That was something that other neighbors in the neighborhood also told me, Anderson, that they'd been afraid to sleep because he was out there. Again, relief in that community tonight, knowing --


GALLAGHER: -- that at least down in Florida, he's been caught.

COOPER: Yes. Dianne Gallagher, appreciate it. Thank you.

Just ahead, new information on the mass shooter who murdered five people at a Louisville bank last week.



COOPER: New information tonight about the 25-year-old mass shooter who murdered five people at a Louisville bank last week where he was employed. Police say he bought the AR-15 style rifle he used a week earlier at a local gun shop. A 26-year-old police officer who'd only graduated from the police academy 10 days earlier, Officer Nicholas Wilt, was one of two officers first on the scene. He was shot in the head.

According to a report today by the Louisville Metro Police Foundation, he remains in critical but stable condition. He's also now fighting pneumonia. He was partnered that day with a training officer whose body camera footage was released by police. We're going to show you some of that footage revealing the moments both officers arrived at the scene and how quickly they came under fire from the shooter.

You won't see any bloodshed, but you will hear shots. And that's disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go, go, go, go, go. Stop. Stop right there.

Back up. Back up. Back up. Back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave me up here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop right there. Stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the junk (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) from the east side.


COOPER: New reporting now from CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez. What have you learned about the shooter's alleged motive?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for starters, two law enforcement sources, they're telling CNN that the shooter left extensive notes, one of which was found on the shooter's body after he was killed in a shootout with police. And the notes show that at least part of the motivation here was to show how easy it is in the United States for someone going through a mental health crisis or something serious of that nature, to get an assault weapon.

And we know that this shooter purchased the AR-15 used here legally about a week before this shooting actually unfolded. Now, we've reached out to the family's attorney. We haven't heard back on that front, but we have heard previously that the family is trying to test the body for CTE.

We know some symptoms associated include problems with impulse control, also some suicidal thoughts. Well, it's not just limited to CT, but those are some of those.


COOPER: Wait, so he's -- the shooter had said that part of the reason he did the shooting was to show people how easy it is for somebody with a mental health issue to get a weapon?

JIMENEZ: Yes. And he -- and the family had known.

COOPER: That's his justification for part of --

JIMENEZ: At least that's what these sources are telling us, that these notes are giving an indication that that's what he was trying to do, to essentially try and make a point. And we know, Kentucky in particular has one of the least restrictive gun laws in the entire country. You don't have to show much to actually go in and get an AR- 15.

And even in some parts of the country they have red flag laws where, you know, if you're showing signs of potentially hurting yourself or others, someone could step in, take your weapon, or stop you from purchasing it. It's not even clear that that would have helped here because his family knew he had mental health problems. But even they have admitted, they never thought he would take it to a level like this.

COOPER: Yes. And in the 911 call, his mother said, well, I know he doesn't have a gun. Obviously, he did at that point.

JIMENEZ: Yes, yes.

COOPER: Omar Jimenez, appreciate it.

Joining us now are Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, founders of Survivors Empowered, works to support survivors of violence and reduce violence. They started the organization after Sandy's daughter Jessica and 11 others were murdered in the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012.

Sandy, Lonnie, it's good to have you on. Sandy, I'm wondering what your reaction was to this note allegedly left by the shooter.

SANDY PHILLIPS, FOUNDER, SURVIVORS EMPOWERED: Well, Anderson, it reminds us very much about what the killer in our case had admitted. He knew that he -- I mean, he had told his psychologist, his psychiatrist that he wanted to kill people. And he also admitted during the trial that he wanted to be able to test the waters when he went out to buy his first weapon.

So he went out to buy his first weapon, and it was so easy. It emboldened him to go ahead and get everything else that he wanted to get to commit the crime. He saw it as a sign that he was supposed to move forward with his plan. So this kind of thing in America is happening all too often, and it is so much easier to get a weapon in this country than it is to get mental health services.

COOPER: Lonnie, I mean, do you think the shooter admitting that this was a goal of his, to prove how easy it was for him to purchase a gun? I mean, I don't know if that's -- I mean, it makes no sense that he would kill people in order to make that point. Clearly, he, according to his family, has mental health issues. Do you think it makes -- does it change? I mean, what do you -- have you ever heard of anything like this?

LONNIE PHILLIPS, FOUNDER, SURVIVORS EMPOWERED: No, this is the first. But it was his attempt to make something count of his suicide by cop. He chose to go out this way to make a point. I guess he thought, well, maybe this will make a difference. So it's a shame that these people had to die because his brain couldn't figure out how to do it any other way.

So, you know, this just shows that we always hear, well, it's the mental health. It's the mental health. You know, yes, he was troubled, but if just like our guy was troubled that went through the trial, but we found out that he could have been stopped in so many ways that our lives was laws is some lax that he just went forward. And this person that did this awful thing had just proven a point.

It's easy for anybody that's even adjudicated to get a gun. Even if he hadn't bought it legally, there's so many ways for him to get it illegally.

COOPER: Yes. S. PHILLIPS: And sadly, we've made it so easy to do in America that it will continue until we have national federal laws to protect us from this happening again in our own neighborhoods.

COOPER: Sandy, also, you know, we've seen now the number of shootings just this past week involving, you know, people, teenagers making innocent mistakes, ringing the wrong doorbell by accident, opening up the wrong car door by accident, driving down, you know, a driveway and backing out, realizing you've made a mistake.

And, you know, you hear the stuff about, well, a good person with a gun, you know, can stop a bad person. I mean, I'm sure some people would have looked at the people who own the guns who shot these kids and said, oh, they look like a good person with a gun? And that person has every right to have a gun. But, I mean, it's stunning to see how quick people are to use their weapon that -- when they have it.

S. PHILLIPS: Well -- yes, we've done a really good job in America of bringing up the fear factor that the other is going to get you, or the other will come to your door and rape and pillage your family.


We've done a really, really good job of that, and we've allowed the extremists on the far right to do that. So people are, at the point, where if they own a weapon, they're almost anxious to be able to use it and not to defend themselves, but to literally use lethal means for somebody knocking on the wrong door or pulling into the wrong driveway.

That could have been stopped so easily. He only said to that kid, you know, what address are you looking for and why are you here? And it could have been cleared up in a moment. And the kid could have said, I'm here to get my brother. Well, your brothers aren't here. What address are you looking for? He could have told him the address, and the man could have simply said, well, you're on the wrong street.


S. PHILLIPS: And it would have been over. And yet we're so anxious in this country to pull a gun, intimidate others, fire that gun, and take another life.

COOPER: Yes. Sandy --

L. PHILLIPS: Anderson, this company has become an arsenal for guns for the rest of the world.


L. PHILLIPS: I mean, there's 400 million guns here, 393 million people. So, you know, the truth is, and it's supported by all the data --


L. PHILLIPS: -- the more guns, the more deaths.

COOPER: Sandy and Lonnie, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.

Up next, we are just getting new details as to why prosecutors have decided to drop criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin. The fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set. Details ahead.



COOPER: A busy night. There is more breaking news tonight. A court hearing is scheduled for tomorrow in New Mexico where criminal charges will be dropped against actor Alec Baldwin in the 2021 fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the western film "Rust." Sources say it has to do with new evidence.

More now from CNN Entertainment Reporter Chloe Melas.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR AND PRODUCER, "RUST": So my only question is, am I being charged with something?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voice-over): Alec Baldwin soon will no longer be accused after New Mexico prosecutors plan to file a motion dismissing involuntary manslaughter charges against the actor. A move they call, quote, "Temporary, pending further investigation."

Baldwin reacted on Instagram, posting a photo of his wife saying, quote, "I owe everything I have to this woman and to you, Luke," his attorney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were in the room when that lady (INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: I was holding the gun, yes.

MELAS (voice-over): Baldwin admitted to holding the gun that fired a bullet, killing Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on Baldwin's film "Rust." But told police he did not know he was handed a loaded gun. Baldwin resumes filming on "Rust" this week with production moved to Montana.

This was Baldwin last year.

BALDWIN: Someone is responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me.

MELAS (voice-over): The dismissal is a win for Baldwin's legal team, which challenged the motives and politics of one of the original prosecutors.

ANDREA REEB, FORMER NEW MEXICO SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It doesn't matter if he's a liberal Democrat and I'm a conservative Republican. My job has always been to prosecute crime.

MELAS (voice-over): In February, Baldwin's lawyers filed a motion to remove special prosecutor Andrea Reeb, who at the time of the investigation, was running for state representative in New Mexico.

In an email later revealed in the New York Times, Reeb suggested being involved in the case, quote, "Might help in my campaign." Both Reeb and the district attorney who hired her ultimately recused themselves. Their replacements dropped the charges against Baldwin. His attorneys saying they, quote, "Encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there live bullets (ph) that's kept on set?


MELAS (voice-over): The film's weapons handler, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is now the sole defendant in the case, facing 18 months for involuntary manslaughter. Her attorney says she will plead not guilty and that Gutierrez-Reed quote, "has been emotional about the tragedy, but has committed no crime."

MATTHEW HUTCHINS, HALYNA HUTCHINS' HUSBAND: Are we really supposed to feel bad about you, Mr. Baldwin?

MELAS (voice-over): Halyna Hutchins's husband has been a vocal critic of Baldwin, saying he should face charges.

HUTCHINS: The idea that the person holding the gun, causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me.

MELAS (voice-over): But now, justice for Halyna Hutchins moves forward without a star defendant.

BALDWIN: And she was great at her job and she died, and she died. And that's -- that hurts me every day.


MELAS: Chloe Melas joins me now, along with CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson, a Criminal Defense Attorney. What more are you learning about the new evidence?

MELAS: Well, so the district attorney, obviously, for many this comes as a shock, but for Alec Baldwin's legal team, they have been aggressively trying to poke holes in these charges, you know, because a criminal trial is still set to take place with Hannah Gutierrez-Reed early this summer with --

COOPER: She's the armorer.

MELAS: Yes, the armorer. And her charges still stand. So what we know from a source is that the gun was modified and they have new evidence now, the D.A., that they need to look into. And in their statement that they just released, they said that they have more interviews to do, but that Baldwin isn't totally out of the woods just yet. That although they are dismissing the charges, it's for now before they wrap up a few more interviews.

COOPER: Joey, does that make sense to you?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Makes no sense whatsoever. A lot of things don't make sense first --

COOPER: But you mean for the prosecutors to say that.

JACKSON: For the prosecutors to say that a case is dismissed or it's not dismissed. If you're refiling, you contemplate that and you amend the charges, you refile, you move forward. And what's troubling to me is that now they're learning new evidence about the modification of a gun. You had several months to investigate.

When you prosecute people, you change and affect their lives. And this is not about, oh, fan of Alec Baldwin. This is about a fan of justice and doing what's right and what's not right.

MELAS: So to your point, Joey, let's back up and look at the special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb. She stepped down.

COOPER: Right.

MELAS: And this was after Alec Baldwin's legal team filed a motion saying that she actually was holding two jobs at the same time that technically, under New Mexico law, she couldn't. And the New York Times producing in a story this email that she sent saying that she thought that the case against Alec Baldwin would actually help her campaign.

COOPER: Right.


MELAS: So if you're wondering maybe why this evidence about the gun is just coming out now, well, maybe the motives potentially were not sound.

COOPER: These prosecutors just seem like they're in over their heads.

JACKSON: I think cases have to be not about politics and will it and win me an election. They have to be about whether someone did something wrong. And when you have a gun that's modified and it would affect the operability of it, that becomes a problem.

MELAS: And I also want to say that Alec Baldwin, when I sat down with him in August, he has maintained with me, with George Stephanopoulos that he did not pull the trigger, right? So if a gun was modified, were they going to, in trial, show how the gun could have potentially gone off? But that does not answer the question about how live bullets got to the set.

JACKSON: That goes to the issue of recklessness, by the way.


JACKSON: And if you can't establish that, you can't establish your case, it needs to be dismissed. That's what happened.

COOPER: Joey Jackson, appreciate it. Chloe Melas, as well. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.


COOPER: Just minutes after the most powerful rocket ever built took off in South Texas, it exploded midair and Elon Musk's attempt to eventually develop a rocket vessel that can take humans to Mars base excess starship inaugural test flight ended just two and a half minutes after takeoff. The rocket had no crew members on board. It tumbled out of control in what SpaceX called a rapid unplanned disassembly.

SpaceX also said it learned a tremendous amount from the test and called it quite a show. The effort comes after years of explosive tests, regulatory hurdles, and public hyping from Musk.

News continues. Let's hand it over to Pamela Brown and CNN Primetime. Pamela?