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At This Hour

Rail Yard Official Says, San Jose Shooting Suspect Dead, Multiple Casualties; Police Holds News Conference on San Jose Shooting. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 26, 2021 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: All right. Welcome back, everybody. We are continuing to follow the breaking news, a shooting near downtown San Jose, California. We are waiting right now and standing by for police and the sheriff likely to be holding a news conference. This will be the first official update for the press and for the country to hear exactly what we know, exactly what has happened.

The very latest, let me read to you, as it was just handed to me, According to a transportation spokesperson, because this happened at a rail yard in San Jose, the suspect in the shooting is deceased, according to this spokesperson. And here is what they also said. Multiple casualties, extent of injuries is still being determined. This came in an email -- she said in an email, employees are evacuated. The sheriff's office at Younger, which I assume is a street, is the reunification location for employees and their families, which is very important. Because right now I'm sure there are a lot of families out there in San Jose who are also searching for answers at this moment while we wait for the sheriff.

All right, let me bring in Josh Campbell. We're waiting and watching for this press conference to begin. Josh, can you bring everyone up to speed, what we've learned how this transpired of what we know so far this morning?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kate, authorities got calls this morning of shots fired near this Valley Transportation Authority rail yard this near downtown San Jose --

BOLDUAN: Josh, I'm going to interrupt because I was just told the press conference is starting right now.

DEP. RUSSELL DAVIS, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA SHERRIFF'S DEPARTMENT: -- multiple 911 calls, a shots fired call, multiple shots fired calls in the area of 101 West Younger Avenue in the city of San Jose. This building is a VTA control center, a Valley Transportation Authority Control Center. It is a hub that stores multiple VTA trains at Minas Yard (ph) as well.

Multiple deputies, including surrounding law enforcement agencies, arrived to the scene for an active shooter investigation. The information I can tell you right now is very preliminary. I can confirm with you right now that we do have multiple victims and we have multiple casualties at this point. I can't confirm the exact number of injuries and fatalities but I will tell you that there are multiple injuries and multiple fatalities in this case.

This still is an ongoing investigation. We do have multiple agencies here helping us out with the law enforcement side as well as the county fireside, city fire department and multiple agencies.


I will tell you about the suspect right now. The suspect is confirmed deceased. I will not go into details as to what the cause of death is at this point but the suspect is deceased at this point. So the public safety is safe at this point.

This is still an ongoing investigation, like I was saying earlier. We will do have another press briefing in probably about one hour and I'll be able to give you an update from there.

REPORTER: Is the victim tied to the VTA of a employees or families of employees?

DAVIS: The victim with the -- victim as of right now, there are VTA employees that are victims. With regards to the suspect, I don't have that information at this point.

REPORTER: What were they doing at this (INAUDIBLE)? Do they have any meeting?

DAVIS: So, I don't know at this point as what transpired with this incident but it's still ongoing. So probably give me about a couple hours and then we can give you an update from there if we have that information.

REPORTER: Indoors or outdoors, the shootings?

DAVIS: I don't know if this was indoors and/or outdoors at this point.

REPORTER: How many rounds were fired --

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) the gun? Was it semiautomatic?

DAVIS: I don't know. I do not have the information on that point.

REPORTER: Can you tell us were there at least five fatalities?

DAVIS: So, there's a lot of speculation on injuries and one on fatalities. I don't have a number for you. Give me about an hour and I'll give you an update. Everything is still preliminary. It just occurred. We have investigators on the scene trying to figure out exactly what happened.

So, right now we're trying to set up a reunification, get victims out to where they need to go and get medical treatment at this point. That's the most important thing.

REPORTER: Where are the victims going?

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) get information?

DAVIS: One second, one at a time, please.

REPORTER: You know what kind of weapon was used?

DAVIS: I don't know what kind of weapon at this time.

REPORTER: Where can family members get information about their loved ones?

DAVIS: Good question. Family information right now, we are staging our reunification at our sherriff's office headquarters, which is next door, which is at 55 West Younger Avenue in San Jose. If anyone has any type of information regarding this incident, please give us a call. It can be anonymous in that case or just hard information of the case. But we can get as much information we can get in regards to what transpired in this case, that would help us out as well.

But we do have investigators on scene gathering as much information we can at this point to figure out what exactly happened.

REPORTER: Do you know how many employees work here?

DAVIS: I don't know how many employees work at this facility. And once we do an update in a couple of hours, I'll have a VTA spokesperson come out and we'll be able to have further information from there.

REPORTER: Can you tell me what kind of work --

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) when this was all happening (INAUDIBLE) or --

DAVIS: Again, I don't have that information. So, give me about one hour. We'll do another press conference and then give you an update from there, okay? Thank you all.

REPORTER: What kind of security is on site?

BOLDUAN: All right, so that is the first update, and, unfortunately, it is exactly what we would fear. As that deputy said, there are multiple victims, multiple casualties, multiple injured and multiple fatalities, though he does not have a number. There's going to be another update in an hour.

But let me bring in Josh Campbell, Anthony Barksdale and Andy McCabe on this.

Anthony, it's exactly what we would fear, multiple fatalities and it probably happened in moments.

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. These incidents unravel so fast. And it is critical that police, law enforcement get to these scenes as soon as possible to end the threat. What's disturbing to me is I'm hearing that the sheriff's office is right next to this location. So this person is saying they're going to do what they're going to do. Could it be suicide by cop after they've shot numerous victims? So, it's very disturbing. I definitely want to know more about this suspect.

And I'm sorry for the victims and their families. This is horrible.

BOLDUAN: Horrible. And, Andy, I think what Anthony is hitting on is also -- is going to probably be what adds to the tragedy here. The reunification center for families is at the sheriff's office, which is, as that deputy just said, is right next door to this facility. And still they have multiple fatalities that we're talking about here.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. I mean, the horror that must be going through family members, friends and loved ones of people who work at that facility, it's just unspeakable. There are so many people in the San Jose area right now that are wondering if their friends, if their fathers, mothers, brothers, what have you, have been injured or killed in yet another mass shooting.

This is the piece of responding to these events that I think folks don't normally think about. We see the tactical teams on television and the police response, and we, of course, are concerned for the officers' safety. But it's those absolutely horrific moments where you are having to tell that loved one who comes to the family reunification center that they're not going to see their family member again, or people have to wait while casualties and injuries and fatalities are taken out of these crime scenes to find out what's happened to their loved ones.


It's just -- it's heartbreaking. It never gets any easier, any better. And it's the reason why we as a society have to do something about this. It's been over time. Here we are again.

BOLDUAN: And, I mean, how many more examples do we need? More details are going to come, but I'm a little bit of a loss for words, Anthony, because how much more do we need to know, is kind of where I feel like I'm stuck at at this moment. I mean, they're going to have another update in an hour.

The deputy seemed confident he'll have more information to share. I'm sure it will be just as tragic when he comes to report more news. But he did say -- I believe he did say employees at the facility were victims. They did not say yet -- he said he did not have the information to know kind of anything about the suspect in terms of was this person an employee, how did the person get there, or did the shooting happen outside, was it inside.

But while I will say I think as a society we don't need to know many of those details anymore because it is so tragic. For an investigation in such a large crime scene, they do need to suss this out. They must know did the shooting begin outside, was it all inside, what happened, what did the suspect communicate, if anything, before shooting, and what the security situation is at that facility, right?

BARSKDALE: Absolutely. And you're spot on with that, but we also need to look at the weapons used. How did this suspect, this killer, get these weapons? And then you're going to need to run that out. And when I say run it out, law enforcement needs to figure out the chain that led to this individual being in possession, should he or she have had a weapon, should they be banned from having a weapon.

And we really -- like you're saying, we're seeing this over and over again, and it's just become too commonplace. So what are we going to do about it? I don't know exactly, but we've got to do better than what we're doing right now.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's for sure.

Jonathan Wackrow is joining us as well. Jonathan, again, another sad day that you and I are on together and joining this conversation. This facility is a really big one. It's a maintenance service facility for the light rail yard that runs throughout San Jose and I think throughout Northern California. So, it's a very -- this is now a very big crime scene, especially when you talk about multiple fatalities.

You focus a lot on -- your expertise is in security and assessment of security. This seems a tough one to secure a facility like this from a threat that they've now -- a threat that obviously just happened.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, listen, I think one of the complicating factors here in trying to analyze the situation is we just don't know a lot of information. We know that the victims were employees of this facility, but we don't know if the hostile actor was also an employee. If they were, they would have knowledge of what type security systems were in place, that they could circumvent those security situations to enact this tragic incident.

And I think what we're all searching for right now, right, in the moments of the immediate aftermath of any type of incident like that, we want to know why, why did this happen. And I think that what we've really come to really think about time and time again is that motivations for these types of actors vary greatly, but, tragically, the outcomes are always the same. And there's always a lot of human life.

And my colleagues on air right now are describing it. We've described this for years. You and I have sat at the same desk talking about these tragic incidents. And there's a couple of other complicating factors right now is absent of a clear motive from the shooter who now we know is deceased, we can't interview that person, we have to understand what we know from a threat perspective.

And that's something from a security design point of view. We have to understand how targeted acts of violence typically occur. And in a lot of times, we're seeing that the response -- or the act in and of itself is in response to some sort of grievance, right?


So it's either a workplace violence grievance or grievance between relationships or, tragically, we've seen it in schools.

So, how do we start addressing and understanding what is the model for these hostile actors to engage in these violent act. Also, the common denominator is the gun. We know that. So we have to bring that into the conversation as well and really start thinking about how do we defend workplaces, schools, places where public -- where the public gathers to start preventing these violent acts.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And the common thread in all of these shootings, especially mass shootings, is generally the weapon. It is generally the gun, Jonathan. When you look at how close this facility is to a sheriff's department, how they had multiple, multiple calls coming in of shots fired, and this many people dead in an instant, this leads you down the path that we have been led down so many times before about the weapon.

WACKROW: Correct. And, listen, weapons, whether they're a semi- automatic handgun or a rifle, in the hands of a trained individual, can cause mass devastation. We know that. We've seen that time and time again. And I think the question is, why are people who we know should not have weapons, why do they have access to these weapons, how are they getting them and how are they then taking possession of that weapon to enact these violent acts? I mean, these are the things we have to get ahead of. This is the challenge for law enforcement. There's a lot of guns out there.

Now, with that being said --

BOLDUAN: And that's the thing. It is a challenge -- this is a threat to law enforcement. Police officers say all the time, you all have said to me, you don't want people to have these kind of guns, whatever we learn the gun is, in the hands of bad people, in the hands of people who shouldn't have guns.

The buffet of options of how to begin tackling this is out there and has been. And the problem is people apparently don't see enough tragedy to do anything about it.

WACKROW: Yes. And there's a fine balance here, protecting constitutional right to have weapons by some, but then we know that there are bad actors, there are hostile actors that could care less about the Constitution who are engaging these acts. That's what the challenge is for law enforcement, is how do you protect constitutional rights on one side while enforcing the law on the other and preventing these acts of violence by those who really could care less about the laws that we have, they're focused on the violent act.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Let me bring in Josh Campbell. Josh, there are more questions than answers, of course. One thing that law enforcement is clearly wanting to get at is motive. We heard the deputy during the press conference say, if you have any information, it can be anonymous, please contact the Santa Clara Sheriff's Department to provide that information. They don't have a suspect that they can interview now because the suspect is dead. So what are they doing right now to get at this question? CAMPBELL: No, that's the key point. We've seen incidents where a suspect is taken alive. They can be interviewed. Sometimes we've seen people that are actually proud of what they've done, and they'll admit to officers. Here in this situation, obviously, with him or her being deceased, they can't glean that information.

And so they're going to be looking at witnesses. We know they're going to be investigating any writings, any social media and the like that this person may have had. But even in the immediate incident, any utterances that this person made, was this person known to some of the witnesses that can be interviewed? That is what authorities will be doing now to try to get to that motivation, again, because this person obviously is now deceased.

And then the question comes up, once they identify this person, law enforcement will be looking to see was this person known to them, were there any past encounters with law enforcement, any criminal history, anything that may have indicated that something like this would transpire.

And then the final piece, which this is almost less frequent but nevertheless law enforcement will be doing their due diligence, they'll want to ensure that this person was acting alone and this wasn't part of a possible conspiracy which, again, is almost always not the case.

But those are all the boxes that law enforcement officers are trying to check. They call it circling the target. You're going to try to learn everything you can about this individual and try to get to that motive about why they went to this particular location today and engaged in this loss of life.

BOLDUAN: And I'm just so -- and I know we all are, you've said it as well. We're just so sorry for the families of -- we don't know how many employees work in this facility or how many people were working on the job when this all started playing out. But you know there are so many people who are trying to look for answers now and there are multiple families that are going to get the worst news possible.

The reunification location is the sheriff's office, 55 West Younger Avenue.

Tragedy again, shooting violence in America in another workplace. Much more to come, another press conference is coming up.


So much tragedy, so much sadness, we're going to continue to follow this breaking news. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: We are continuing to follow the tragic breaking news of a shooting in near downtown San Jose, California. Officials held a news conference, multiple fatalities, multiple injuries. We do not yet know the exact number. We are expecting to get another update from deputies from law enforcement there in just about -- just over 30 minutes from now. We do know they did say the shooter is dead. A deadly shooting again in America at another workplace.

Let me bring in Andy McCabe, Anthony Barksdale, Jonathan Wackrow still with me.

Andy, I have got a couple questions that I was wondering. We know employees were involved, meaning, we know that employees were victims, were injured. We know this happened at a workplace, at this rail yard maintenance facility. What does it change in an investigation if they find that the shooter was also an employee?

MCCABE: Well, if the shooter was an employee, Kate, that obviously opens up the possibly that the motivation for the shooting was somehow work related, the grievance that Jonathan was talking about in the last block. Maybe there was some sort of a prior dispute between employees or between a supervisor and the shooter. Those are all possibilities.

Those are important to law enforcement and investigators because as soon as we can identify a credible motive, we can begin to rule out other possible motives, so the very rare possibility that there are others involved or that the crime was ideologically motivated.

Now, of course, to be clear we don't know that about this shooting. But as we get more circumstances, as we get more facts, we begin to build that picture. If that picture shows us that this was related to some sort of a workplace dispute or workplace grievance, then we can rule out some of those other possibly more troubling answers.

BOLDUAN: We always want to know why, but, of course, it doesn't matter the motive. There are still multiple lives lost, multiple families who are now shattered because of what happened when they got up and went to work, like any other day.

MCCABE: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Anthony, I'm just looking at the mayor. They mayor just putting out a tweet just moments ago saying, our hearts are pained for the families of those we have lost in this horrific shooting. The shooter is deceased. More information will be provided at 9:30 local, 12:30 Eastern.

This just gets at the conversation that we have and are forced to bring to our viewers far too often of another deadly shooting in America at another workplace. What questions do you have, because we will be hearing from police again in just about 30 minutes?

BARKSDALE: I would really want to know about victimology. We saw with the spa shootings recently that there were Asian victims. We need to know victimology. We absolutely, as has been said, we need to know motive. We need to trace the weapon, figure out how this individual came into possession of it, legally or illegally. And there's just a lot to run out now for law enforcement. They have got the work cut out for them. So it's not over once the shooter is deceased.

BOLDUAN: Not in the least. Not in the least. Jonathan, you know -- sorry, Anthony. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

BARKSDALE: No, I'm just saying I'm just tired of it. You're tired of it. We're all getting tired of this. But I will say this. So far, the -- this agency has been pushing the communication out, and that's very important during this time. So, yes, I'm sorry, it is just a bit much now.

BOLDUAN: I share it. It does feel overwhelming.

Jonathan, give may final thought. I'm looking at the pictures and it looks like, to me, what I see from just the aerials is that this must have all happened inside the facility because you don't see a lot going on outside. These are obviously from a little while ago. Talk to me about, in general, the security at a transportation facility like this.

WACKROW: Well, listen, transportation is part of critical infrastructure here in the United States and there is an increased level of security that's held around transportation hubs as well as maintenance facilities. And, again, it would be tragic had this individual, if they were an employee, leveraged the information they had to engage in an ability to get into that facility with their weapon and cause this harm.

Again, we'll learn more.


We are just at the beginning of this investigation and we'll see how it plays out. Again, another tragic day, another mass shooting that probably we'll find out could have been avoided.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Yes Jonathan, thank you, Anthony, thank you. I appreciate your time. Thanks so much for joining us. I am Kate Bolduan. John King is going to pick up our breaking news coverage right now.