Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Ten Killed In Racist Massacre At Buffalo Grocery Store; Police: Churchgoers Hog-Tie Suspect In Deadly California Shooting; Remembering Buffalo Massacre Victim Pearl Young. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 16, 2022 - 11:00   ET



DARREN HARRISON, LANDED PLANE WITH NO FLYING EXPERIENCE: We were probably going way too fast, and it would rip the wings off the airplane.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Goodness. The plane was diving. Harrison said the pilot is thankfully expected to be released from the hospital today. In the end, Harrison landed the plane beautifully, and the passenger there and pilot was able to go home to his wife who is seven months pregnant. That is a great escape.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto. At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. America is mourning today as communities across the country had been rocked by more deadly gun violence, the numbers they say so much. The Gun Violence Archive reports that 128 people were killed, 297 others wounded in more than 300 shootings across the United States just this weekend. But the full scope of this tragedy can really only be conveyed in of course the stories, the names, the faces of the people taken too soon.

The deadliest shooting happened in Buffalo, New York. Police say now that a gunman, driven by hate towards the black community killed 10 people injured three others at a supermarket there. And among those who died in that shooting, an 86-year-old mother of a retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner as well as a former police, a Buffalo Police officer who died exchanging gunfire with the shooter.

This morning, police say the 18-year-old suspect was planning to continue his carnage if he had not been -- if he was not stopped. President Biden and the First Lady, they're going to be heading to Buffalo tomorrow to meet with families of the victims. Let's begin in Buffalo. CNN's Victor Blackwell is there for us at this hour. Victor, what more are you learning about these victims?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, really represents a cross section of this community, 10 people killed all the stories here tragic. But imagine this, Andre Mackneil was here purchasing cupcakes for his three-year-old son's birthday celebration on Saturday. That little boy lost his father on the day that they were celebrating his birthday.

You mentioned 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield, the mother of the former Fire Commissioner who was on her way to visit her husband at a nursing home, she did not make it, was killed here. Lieutenant Aaron Salter, a former member of the Buffalo Police Department. He fired shots at the suspect. Those shots returned, killed that security guard.

We've learned also above Geraldine Talley, 62 years old, a mother, a friend, a relative described her as the life of the party. She never met a stranger always had a friend. Roberta Drury, the youngest victim killed, 32 years old. She was someone who's remembered as caring for her brother who suffered from leukemia, also working at the family's restaurant.

There was also we've learned about one of the survivors, 20-year-olds Zaire Goodman was shot in the neck, has recovered though from that, still recovering now at home out of the hospital. We know from Governor Kathy Hochul, $2.8 million has been allocated to help the victims, the victims' families to support with funeral services as well and other assistance that we know they certainly will need. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Victor, thank you so much for being there.

This morning, Buffalo Police say the 18-year-old suspect accused of carrying out this attack had planned to do more and continue killing more people in other locations. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is also live in Buffalo with more on the investigation and what more is turning up now. Shimon, what more are you learning?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so this morning, the police commissioner saying that they now believe that the alleged shooter had other targets in mind. This, of course, is all based off of documents that were posted online. Writings that investigators believe came from the alleged shooter. Take a listen to the Police Commissioner here describing that this morning.


COMMISSIONER JOSEPH GRAMAGLIA, BUFFALO POLICE DEPARTMENT: So there was evidence that was uncovered that he had plans had he gotten out of here to continue his rampage and continue shooting people. He'd even spoken about possibly going to another store. There's some documentation that said that he had -- if he got out of here, he was going to get in his car and continue to drive down Jefferson Avenue and continue doing the same thing.


PROKUPECZ: They also have information that the alleged shooter was here the day before, there's video and there's also other information that indicates that he was here on Friday, doing what they call a reconnaissance kind of staking out the location familiarizing himself with this area.

What we are now waiting for is for the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney, they say, the U.S. Attorney here says that they're expected to file charges federal hate crime charges here, which could come in the coming days, which would certainly increase the penalty that the alleged shooter would face and we would also learn more information from those charges. And they continue this investigation. They're continuing to read through the documents that the alleged shooter posted. He remains here in jail. He's expected to have his next court appearance here on Thursday. Kate?


BOLDUAN: Some federal hate crimes charges, they are expected to becoming more charges. Shimon, thank you very much for that.

More charges will be coming including federal hate crime charges. And this new information today that this alleged gunman had plans to do more that he was not done. It's shocking. Joining me right now for more on this is the mayor of Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown. Mayor, thank you for being here this morning. It's been a unbelievably horrific past two days for you and for your community.

But hearing from the Police Commissioner that the shooter planned to continue on after targeting this grocery store, he wanted to drive down Jefferson Avenue is how the Commissioners say, set it and shoot more black people. What more are you hearing about what he was planning?

MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Absolutely incredible. Someone with so much hate in their heart, so much hate in their head, traveled from more than three hours to get to this community. A community densely populated with African American residents with the express purpose of trying to take as many black lives as possible.

It is fortunate for our community that retired Police Lieutenant Aaron Salter was in the Tops Supermarket as a security officer, was able to encounter the gunman and exchanged fire, slowing him down, reducing the loss of life, I believe, inside the Tops Supermarket. Aaron Salter is a hero. And the response from Buffalo Police getting to the active shooter scene in a minute also save lives, many more people would probably have been killed and injured if the Buffalo Police did not get to the scene as quickly.

They were able to subdue the gunman. They were able to take him into custody without incident and protect the surrounding neighborhood.

BOLDUAN: And not only as you mentioned, he drove from three hours to come here to target African American, your African American -- African Americans in your community. Investigators also say that the shooter that he was in Buffalo the day before, to scope out the grocery store, to scope out the area. There's a lot of questions, of course around that and what he was doing and what people saw and what videos maybe are showing of what he was doing the day before. Do you know more about what he was doing on Friday, the day before the shooting?

BROWN: That's all being put together by law enforcement, law enforcement at the federal state, Buffalo Police and Erie County Sheriff's Department, all working together in a coordinated fashion. The law enforcement response has been absolutely incredible. Yesterday, I received a call from the National Director of the FBI

Director Wray telling me that every resource available to the FBI would be brought to bear on this situation, this horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York to get to the bottom of what this person did, why they did it, where they came from, how they got the weapons that they got, every element is being looked at by law enforcement.

Obviously, these motives of this individual were based on hate, based on a hatred of many types of people. It is believed that he had a hatred for black people, Jewish people, people of color. So that kind of indoctrination is a frightening thing to know that there are people like that in our country whose hearts are so fill of -- full of hate, so cold that they would do this to fellow human beings, fellow Americans. It's just absolutely incredible.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Mayor, what are you telling your community today and what are you also hearing from members of your community today?

BROWN: Well, I am reminding our community of who we are. We are the city of good neighbors. We're known nationally and internationally as a warm and welcoming community, as a loving community, as a community that embraces people. We are a strong and resilient community. I'm reminding people that it is OK to grieve because we are all hurting. We are all in pain. We have to wrap our arms around the loved ones of those who lost their precious lives in this incident.


And after we bury our loved ones and bury our community members, then we have to continue to stand together, to stand strong, and continue to build our community. Buffalo is a great city. It is a city prior to the pandemic that was experiencing a real Renaissance. We cannot let the actions of a lone, hateful gunman stop the progress, stop the development and growth that we're seeing in this community. So we have to show more love for each other. We have to wrap around each other with love and support and continue to move forward as a community.

BOLDUAN: And this grocery store, I know that you know this, it's an important part of this community because you celebrated its arrival when they began to build this grocery store in your community. There wasn't any place like it in the neighborhood before it came. It's now a crime scene and closed off for who knows how long at this point. What are people going to do in the meantime?

BROWN: The Tops Supermarket on Jefferson Avenue is the center for this community. Years ago, when I was the district council member, I worked hard to bring this store to this community. This was a food desert. And people were complaining about a lack of places to shop, to get fresh fruits and vegetables and meats and grocery items. And we worked hard together as a community to get the corporate community to look at this area of the city and invest in Tops step forward said that they would make the investment.

The community is very loyal to this market. It is a center of community. People come here to shop. But people come here for information. They come here to connect with each other. There are oftentimes special events that take place outside of this market. And I've spoken to the President and CEO John Persons who has indicated that they will be providing other services to residents in the community to transport them to other types markets in their network to help them get their prescriptions filled which is so critically important to these residents.

And Governor Hochul and I have asked that Tops reopen this store as quickly as possible, and they have committed to doing that.

BOLDUAN: Mayor, thank you very much for coming on this morning. I appreciate it.

All right, we were also following, if you can imagine it, another deadly shooting at a church in Orange County, California. A gunman stormed the church yesterday killing one person and injuring five others. But police say that church goers actually jumped in and prevented the shooting from being potentially much worse. CNN's Camila Bernal is live in Laguna Woods, California with more on this for us this hour. Camila, what are you learning?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that authorities are still processing the scene. That's the latest that we got from the Sheriff's Department. And look, it's so important to point out that these were brave churchgoers who stopped this shooter who were able to prevent even more bloodshed.

In terms of the timeline here, we know this happened at around 1:30 p.m. The shooting was reported at Geneva Presbyterian Church. But authorities say it actually happened at a lunch. And that lunch was being held by the sister church, Irvine Presbyterian, a Taiwanese church made up of mostly Taiwanese members.

And authorities say that they were able to respond quickly. But a lot of these churchgoers, they were faster. Here's what the Undersheriff had to say.


UNDERSHERIFF JEFF HALLOCK, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We believe a group of churchgoers detain him and hogtied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated at least two weapons from him. It's safe to say that had people not intervened, it could have been much worse.


BERNAL: And unfortunately, despite all of this, one person was killed here at the church, five others were injured. We know that those injured are ranging from ages 66 to 92. In terms of the shooter, he's in his 60s, an Asian man. Authorities say he is not from this area. They do not have a motive at the moment. But we are expecting a press conference at noon and we're hoping to get more information. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes. There are a lot of questions around what -- around that situation. I really appreciate it. Camila, thank you very much. So as we were laying out very clearly, it was an incredibly violent weekend across the country with shootings reported in multiple states. We're going to lay out for you just some others, just some of them.


I want to show you this chaotic scene in Milwaukee over the weekend, people running for their lives after at least 17 people were shot Friday night. It was near an NBA playoff game. The victims, they range in age from 15 to 47. All are expected to survive, thankfully, 10 people, 10 people were taken into custody. Several others were injured in nearby shootings that night.

Now, let's go to Harris County, Texas, where a gunman opened fire at a packed flea market just outside of Houston on Sunday. At least two people were killed, several others were injured. And then in Winston Salem, North Carolina, seven people were injured in what police call a large exchange of gunfire at three separate crime scenes. And officers, they're saying that they believe that this was not a random act of violence. All of the victims there are expected to survive a very violent weekend of gun violence.

Coming up for us, there are so many heartbreaking stories about the victims and the lives lost, the victims killed in the Buffalo massacre. Coming up next, I'm going to talk to a friend of Pearl Young, a 77-year-old grandmother who was killed. We're going to bring you her story, next.



BOLDUAN: Ten people were murdered on Saturday in a racist massacre at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Among the victims, a retired police lieutenant, a substitute teacher, a loving mother and aunt. The victims killed ranged in age from 32 to 86 years old. Seventy-seven-year-old Pearl Young was among them. She lost her life on Saturday. Friends and family describe her as a godly woman who volunteered for years at her church and her church's food pantry.

Joining me now is Jimmie Smith, who's known Pearl for most of his life. Jimmie, you've said that you've known Pearl, essentially, your whole life. How is this all settling in on you right now?

JIMMIE SMITH, FRIEND OF BUFFALO SHOOTING VICTIM PEARL YOUNG: Yes, Kate. Yes, thank you so much for allowing me to be on to speak about this incredible woman that I've known most of my life, growing up in church. She was a faithful member of the Good Samaritan Church of God and Christ. We're her brother and brother-in-law. Her pastor, Bishop Linwood Young is our pastor. And I -- every time I came to church, I will always see her smiling and happy and praising the Lord.

And she was a beautiful person. She was -- she had a lot of energy, and she was a woman of God. And this is just really tragic to see this happen to her when she gets to the point where she's 77 years old. You know, this is really tragic for us.

BOLDUAN: It is. I mean, she sounds like an exceptional human being. I mean, a grandmother of eight. And I was reading her son Damien (ph) saying, he told "The Washington Post" that she was full of joy that she loved life, and she loved her church. I mean, what more can you say about someone, there's no higher compliment than that.

SMITH: I mean, that's just the way we grew up in Buffalo, New York. And particularly in the Church of God and Christ, where were all from. And Kate, I don't know if you knew this or not, but she was at a prayer breakfast. And I grew up knowing the saints to go to a prayer breakfast on a Saturday morning. And they've kept that tradition going.

And then she decided to go to the grocery store. And this is just as crazy to me how you can leave a prayer breakfast, and then go into something like that. That's a lot for the city, and her family, and people who love her and know her to really comprehend and deal with it. I'm just telling you right now, we're -- we've had enough of things like this.

And I know so much more has happened. Every person in that store that lost their life, because of this young man who did an evil, wicked act to drive all the way from outside of Binghamton, three hours, four hours to come into Buffalo. You came to the wrong city. You did the wrong thing. And we are a people of prayer. We are a people of God. But I'm telling you right now, even though we are godly people, we are upset, we are angry, and we are hurt.

BOLDUAN: It's every detail about this that's gut wrenching from the fact that you think of just you see pictures of Pearl's beautiful smile, and the pictures that I continue to see if all of the other victims. And in their lives cut short. I mean, it is hard to wrap your mind around the fact that someone who live their life so well, like Pearl Young, who it's 77 years old. This is how her life ends. It's beyond unfair. It's beyond cruel. It just shouldn't happen.

SMITH: It shouldn't happen because she was a beautiful person. And I really want this opportunity to highlight how beautiful she was as a person. She's the type of person where she would walk in the room, we were happy to see her. But she was always given, for over 25 years, she was in the Central Park Plaza in Buffalo, New York, running a food pantry, giving and helping and being faithful to her church.

She was a saint. But I want to say this, Kate, and I want to put this out there, right, the Bible says touch not my anointed and do my profit no harm. That young man did not know that those people including mother Pearl Young, Aunt Pearl Young was God's anointed. And we've been praying and I'm a pastor and I'm a man of God and a man of faith. But some of us are tired of this.


And this, you know, we pray. But here's the thing. A lot of people are tired of praying, they're tired of marching, they're tired of begging, when is America going to answer and say, OK, God, enough is enough. Because for you to do that kind of damage to a Pearl Young, and to all of those people who lost their lives, the 10 that lost their lives, for you to do that and then try to pivot to say, it's a mental situation with that young man, no, this was evil. This was wicked. BOLDUAN: Well, and when you add the details, and as you mentioned, he drove some, drove from hours away. And as the police are saying, it's the suspected gunman to specifically target black people, that is what the police are saying. And also that he had plans to not just be at that supermarket but to continue on and target more of the African American community there. I mean, what's your reaction just to learning these details?

SMITH: Yes, well, it's upsetting because my understanding he was not only going to the Tops on Jefferson, but he was also going to the Broadway market. But I heard, you know, that he didn't really deal with the Broadway market because there was a number of white people in the Broadway market. I mean, he had an agenda.

And let me say it is all white people are not evil. All white people are not the same. All Black people are not the same. But for the ones who have this mindset, this evil mentality in America, we've had enough of it. We've had enough where you think you can treat our people any kind of way. And I'm telling you Buffalo, New York is not a weak city. It's not a city of -- we may be a small city, but we are not a weak people. We are people of faith. We are people of prayer, just like mother Pearl Young.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for ending on her name. Let's put a picture up of Pearl Young once again. Jimmie, thank you very much for coming on. I'm sorry we meet under these circumstances. Pearl Young, 77 years old, a beautiful soul in life and a death she will be honored. May her memory be a blessing. We'll be right back.