Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Manhunt Underway After Gunman Kills 18 In Maine; IDF Tanks Raid Gaza As Israel Preps For Next Stages Of Combat; IDF Tanks Raid Gaza As Israel Preps For "Next Stages Of Combat"; Volunteer Ems Organization Mobilizes To Provide Aid; One-On-One With The Sister Of A Maine Shooting Victim. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 26, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our team heard someone shout FBI through a bullhorn, and unmarked cars pulled up before the media was pushed back away from the scene. A manhunt has been ongoing all day for the individual, for the suspect accused of taking the lives of at least 18 people and wounding at least 13 others in the mass shooting at two different locations in Lewiston, Maine, a bar and grill and a nearby bowling alley where one man says he only survived by sliding down the bowling aisle into the pens and climbing up into the bowling machine. The suspect's car was later found in the town of Lisbon, Maine.

Without him in it, communities in Maine are on lockdown. As multiple agencies law enforcement agencies search for the suspect, the individual is considered armed and dangerous. He's a firearms instructor. He's a member of the US Army Reserve. Sources tell CNN that he was at the Camp Smith Training Facility in Upstate New York this summer when he reportedly started making statements about hearing voices in his head and having thoughts about wanting to hurt his fellow soldiers. He then spent time in an army hospital for medical evaluation.

Now, people in communities near the shooting are in lockdown and on edge, of course. They're calling police. They're reporting suspicious people. They're hearing noises in the woods. They're hearing far off gunshots. So far there aren't any tips that have led to the suspect. CNN is learning more about some of the people who were killed in this senseless act of gun violence, yet another senseless act of mass violence in the United States.

Family members told a local TV station that Joseph Walker was killed during the restaurant shooting. They say police believe Joseph grabbed a knife and went after the gunman, tried to stop him, and that's when he was shot. 40-year-old Brian McFarlane was also killed at the restaurant. His sister says Brian usually went there on Wednesday nights to play Cornhole with other members of Lewiston's deaf community. 53-year-old Trisha Asselin was killed at the nearby bowling alley where she worked.

I want to bring in CNN's John Berman in Lewiston, Maine. John, we've got the breaking news of loud bangs or explosions heard near the suspect's last known address. Maine State Police just announced parts of the state are going to stay under a shelter-in-place order. Give us the latest on the manhunt and what you're hearing.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the very latest is the situation occurring at the last known address of Robert Card, this 40-year-old suspect in Bowdoin, Maine. Now, Bowdoin is about 10 minutes, 10 miles or so from where I am in Lewiston. Behind me is Schemengees Bar, which is the site of the second series of shootings last night where eight people were killed.

You can see on the map there, Bowdoin about 10 miles east of here. That was the suspect's last known home. Our producer there heard bangs, heard loud bangs, heard someone shouting FBI. That's what we know about what's going on there. It's interesting that that's taking place in Bowdoin because most of the activity that we've seen so far today has been just south of that in Lisbon.

Lisbon, Maine, again about 10 minutes from here, a few miles south of Bowdoin, Lisbon is where the suspect, Robert Card, where his car was found. Card's car, a Subaru hatchback was found at a boat launch on the Androscoggin River. And so far, it seemed that most of the searches today have been in Lisbon on your map there.

Our Shimon Prokupecz saw SWAT teams going into different neighborhoods, clearing out areas looking, going into different areas clearing them out. So the search is obviously very active in these surrounding towns, and they have extended the shelter-in-place order for Lewiston, for Auburn, which is right next door, Bowdoin, Lisbon, those areas you're seeing on your screen moments ago.

The shelter-in-place specifically tells people to safeguard their homes and safeguard their cars, their vehicles. The concern is obviously that this suspect, Robert Card, who was considered armed and dangerous with military firearms training, could try to get in to a private residence and hide, could try to take someone's car perhaps while you're in it. So that is why authorities want people to be very careful.

We're trying to get more information about what exactly is taking place in Bowdoin. It is interesting that it is the suspect's last known address. It's certainly been known to authorities for the last day why there would be such intense activity there now some 20 to 22 hours later, Jake. We're waiting to find out. We'll make some calls. We'll get back to you as soon as we can with that.

TAPPER: John, can you tell us any more about the three victims who have been publicly identified?

BERMAN: Yes. Three victims that we know of so far among the 18th. Brian McFarlane was 40 years old. He was killed in the bar behind me. Involved in a Cornhole tournament with the deaf community Wednesday nights at Schemengees Bar, is known for Cornhole games and the deaf community would show up there on Wednesdays.


He was there. He was playing he had a dog named Eminem. His sister was mourning his loss. Just call him a sweet, sweet guy. Joseph Walker is the son of a city councilor from Auburn which is next door here. Joseph Walker was killed we are told.

There are reports that he tried to go after the suspect as he was shooting with a knife. Walker was killed. His father was reporting that it's been excruciating since last night waiting for word on what happened to his son. He did not find out confirmation of his son's death until this afternoon.

And then, Trisha Asselin was 53 years old. She was a part time employee at just in time at the bowling alley, the recreation center where the shootings began. She was not at work per se last night. She was actually bowling. She was bowling recreationally for herself. And the reports are that she was trying to get to the phone to call 911 to save others as the shooting was taking place when she was gunned down.

These are just three of the names that we've confirmed so far, 18 dead in total. As of this morning, they only identified eight people so the identification process and notification process of these families, Jake, is taking some time.

TAPPER: All right. John, thank you so much. I want to bring you some new pictures that we have from Bowdoin, Maine of activity near the suspect's address. These are courtesy of WVZ. And you can see some emergency crews there near the suspects address.

What this exactly means as of right now, we do not know. But as John suggested when we get more reporting on what exactly is going on, if anything, we will bring that to you at that very moment.

Let's take a step back now and look at what officials have said about the suspect and we will bring that to you right now. He is a member of the US Army Reserve. He's a certified firearms instructor. He recently made threats about shooting up a National Guard facility. He was in a mental health facility over the summer. CNN's Pamela Brown has much more on this, on him, and the warning signs that officials knew long before this senseless violence happened.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Swarms of federal and local officers converge as the manhunt for Robert Card intensifies.

WILLIAM ROSS, MAINE STATE POLICE: He should be considered armed and dangerous.

BROWN (voice-over): His background given a few potential clues about the shooting that left at least 18 dead and more than a dozen injured. His army record show the 40-year-old was a petroleum supply specialist in the Reserves, but never served in combat. A former Army Reservist who served with Card telling CNN that he is a skilled marksman and outdoorsman who was among the best shooters in his unit.

While he was training in Upstate New York over the summer, Card reported hearing voices and having thoughts about hurting fellow soldiers according to law enforcement sources. The National Guard saying he was "behaving erratically," and he was transported to a hospital at the US Military Academy for a medical evaluation.

His family telling CNN he did not have a long history of mental health issues. "This is something that was an acute episode. This is not who he is." His sister in law said, "This is a good family."

On his Twitter page, Card like right wing posts including by Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump Jr., Republican members of Congress and multiple posts criticizing President Biden on the economy. His social media also shows photos of him fishing.

The Coast Guard is also part of the search. Card's vehicle was found at a boat ramp less than 20 miles from the shooting scene and public records show he owned a boat. According to another former soldier who served with Card, he had extensive training including land navigation, "so he would be very comfortable in the woods."

The shooting was in Lewiston, Card's most recent address is in a rural area of a nearby town called Bowdoin according to public records, which also show that his family owns a series of properties nearby. Law enforcement sources say Card recently split up with a longtime girlfriend and they're pursuing a theory that he allegedly targeted the bowling alley and bar because he used to go there with her, and was supposed to be at the bar that night.

ROSS: Based on our investigation, we believe this is someone that should not be approached.

BROWN (voice-over): Card's brother telling CNN they are trying to reach him, urging him to surrender. "We have helped law enforcement in any way possible, and the police have been given anything that we can offer to facilitate their efforts."


BROWN: And the brother of the suspect also told me, "This is many people's worst nightmare." Indeed it is, Jake.


And one of the big important questions outstanding tonight is how he was able to get access to his weapons and carry this out, after showing those signs over the summer, going to that mental health clinic, being evaluated. We know he was released from that clinic after a few weeks, and then was able to gain access again to his legally possessed multiple weapons. Maine, as we know, Jake, does not have a Red Flag Law, which would allow family members to get a court order to prevent him or family member from having access to weapons in times of crisis.

So there's a lot of questions. I've reached out to that clinic, still waiting to hear back, Jake.

TAPPER: Pamela Brown, thank you so much. Let's bring in CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell. Josh, you worked at the FBI. What do you make of this reporting from the scene of the suspects last known address the loud bangs, someone shouting FBI into a megaphone? What might be happening?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there's obviously a logic we don't know at this hour. But oftentimes, we look at images like we're seeing right now and try to glean information based on the posture of law enforcement.

Here, you don't -- it doesn't look like an emergent type situation. You have officers that are standing out there. They're not seeking cover. There doesn't appear to be a flurry of activity. And so, we just don't know at this time.

It would not be unusual in a situation like this, where you have someone who is very proficient with firearms, who we know he was a firearms instructor. If authorities are going to search his residence as a precautionary measure, you can imagine, in order to perhaps defeat any booby traps in the like, they might launch flash -- what are called flash bangs. And that's, you know, obviously, we've seen those before and incidents, that would help try to set off any type of booby trap, if that was the case.

And then on the bullhorn, if you're calling this person out, that could just be precautionary, just to see if there's anyone there before they actually do go in to do a search. I would imagine that knowing what we do, we've known the address of this individual for some time, so certainly law enforcement would know the same. And so, you know, we've seen in instances where they will set up surveillance on particular addresses that are associated with this individual when there's a manhunt going on.

And so, I'd be surprised if this was the first time that law enforcement was there. But at this hour, we just don't know. But based on these images, you know, you don't see officers rushing in. But obviously, we'll be watching that to see what that activity is all about.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, I have to say it looks like a fairly mellow scene outside, not the kind of scene that you would think if there were something intense going on inside. What kinds of techniques do you think the FBI is using right now to try and figure out the suspect 's location? Obviously, they're trying to track his cellphone, assuming he still has it and assuming he still has it on.

CAMPBELL: You know, I spoke with law enforcement official earlier today. And the FBI has launched this massive deployment of resources into Maine. I mean, we're talking about numerous resources. As you mentioned, the cellular phone tracking technology, the FBI has a team. It's called the CAST Team. Their job is to exploit cellular telephone networks.

Twofold, they would be looking at cellular phone towers in and around the region, in case the suspect has his cellphone on him. If that cellphone registers with a nearby tower, that can give them data on where he might be. They also have this device called a cell site simulator. That is a contraption that the FBI uses with a court order that mimics a cellphone tower. And so, if they have an area that they believe he might be in, that device will connect to that phone that will help them home in. That's just one of a multitude of resources that they brought in, Jake.

TAPPER: Josh Campbell, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Again, the breaking news this hour, loud bangs heard in suspect's last known home in Maine as this manhunt continues. Next we're going to talk about the gun laws in the state of Maine and whether anything could have been done to deny the suspect access to firearms given his previous hospitalization for hearing voices and wanting to kill people.



TAPPER: I said it before, only in the United States with an anchor standing in a warzone, have to go back to the United States for the breaking news because there's something more violent happening there.

Breaking news internationally, at least 18 are dead, 13 injured after two mass shootings in Maine. The suspect, still on the loose, is a guy named Robert Card is suspected killer. We know he was committed to a mental health facility over the summer for two weeks and he had made threats to attack a National Guard facility in the state of Maine.

Now, Maine's gun laws do require courts to report any court ordered involuntary commitment to the Department of Public Safety. Maine does not have what's called a Red Flag Law. It has what's called a so called Yellow Flag Law which indicates that a firearm can, can be temporarily removed from someone if they're deemed by both a judge and a medical professional to be a threat to themselves or others.

Margaret Groban is a retired federal prosecutor and she is an expert in firearms regulation. She's now a law professor at the University of Maine School of Law. Professor, thanks so much for joining us.

So, knowing Maine's existing gun laws and the suspect's history, what went wrong here? Because it does seem as though the Yellow Flag Law should have been enacted and he shouldn't have had firearms.

MARGARET GROBAN, EXPERT IN FIREARM REGULATIONS: Well, thanks for having me on there. There are a couple of things here. The first is, there's a federal firearm ban and we don't really have enough information yet. But if Card had been involuntarily committed to the mental hospital in New York, then he would be subjected to a federal permanent ban on possession of firearms, and that would have been entered into the Brady Background Check System so that if he tried to buy a gun from a federal licensee in Maine, he would have been prohibited from doing so.


But because Maine does not have universal background checks, if he were prohibited he could have gone to any slot guide or a private sale, and he could have gotten a firearm.

As far as the Yellow Flag Law, you were right. We don't have a Red Flag Law, we have a inadequate substitute which is Yellow Flag. And that has to be initiated by someone calling the police.

So you mentioned to people who have to find he's a danger. In fact, it's three steps. First, law enforcement has to be called and you cannot initiate it without contacting law enforcement. Law enforcement has to determine if someone who's a danger to themselves or others, then they take the person to protective custody, then a mental health professional has to make that same determination. And then, a judge would have to make that same determination before firearms could be taken away.

TAPPER: So he was a firearms instructor, right? So, if he was adjudicated mentally ill, you know, involuntarily over the summer, and that would have enacted the -- what you're talking about the federal law that would have made it so he cannot purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer.

First of all, that says nothing about, you know, buying at a gun show or buying from just an individual. But let's put that aside. He's a firearms instructor. He already had, presumably, tons of firearms. Being involuntarily committed, nobody comes in takes the guns he already has, right?

GROBAN: That's correct. That's correct. So we would take either him admitting that he had firearms or a family member or someone notifying law enforcement, that he's a prohibited person and that he has firearms. And then they could get a search warrant, on the basis of him being a prohibited person to get the guns out of his possession.

TAPPER: See, because it seems to me, you know, I cover these a lot, unfortunately. This is anybody in news today. We cover mass shootings all the time. And it seems to me like if you do a Venn diagram of the problem in the United States. You have a tremendous mental health crisis and then you have a lot of access to guns.

And it seems like where they meet in that Venn diagram is like where there might be the most a willingness to fix it, maybe. And --


TAPPER: So that only -- that only -- yes, go ahead.

GROBAN: I mean, that's unfortunately the problem is that, in Maine, we have, you know, we're a (inaudible) and guns. It's a there's a very strong gun culture in the state. And I think people were naive to think that something like this in the state of (inaudible) and guns that something like this would not happen.

It's heartbreaking. It's tragic but it's entirely predictable if we don't have gun laws that try and keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.

TAPPER: Right, but that's my point. Like, if we're not at least trying to say, OK, we're not going to -- we're not, you know, we respect the second amendment, the Supreme Court has made this interpretation to the second amendment. This is how we have to live et cetera, et cetera. Whether or not you accept that or the people at home accepted that's right, or how Congress should behave. If we're not going to like make an effort to try to keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally -- who are involuntarily committed because they're hearing voices and having homicidal thoughts, then where are we as a society?

GROBAN: That's exactly right. I mean, it clearly -- I mean, it sounds like there was a clear mental health crisis here. You would hope that if he was voluntarily committed, which would not have prohibited from having guns, I mean, we can't legislate our way out of this problem. But as a community, if we know that someone is hearing voices that are telling him to shoot up places or do thing, I think we all kind of have a responsibility as a community to start the Yellow Flag process. So that guns as burdensome as it is made, that process could have been started to take these guns away from them.

TAPPER: Margaret Groban, professor, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

GROBAN: Thank you.

TAPPER: Anyway, then there's this region at war, of course. Today, the Israeli military rolled its tanks into the northern Gaza, but they didn't stay long. Is this the beginning of a larger operation? More here from Israel, that's next.



TAPPER: We're back with live coverage from Tel Aviv. You're looking right now at some new video released by Israel's Defense Forces showing Israeli tanks in northern Gaza during what the IDF is calling a "targeted raid" on Wednesday.

Let's get right to CNN's Nic Robertson who's just outside the Gaza border in Sderot. Nic, does this video and what you're hearing, what you're reporting, reveal anything about the timing of a potential ground incursion?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDICTOR: It does seem to be getting nearer. We've heard today from both -- one of the senior spokesman of the IDF and we've heard from the defense minister today both saying that they are preparing for the next phase of the war, that there are more stages like the one we saw last night, that are going to happen, that we can expect more incursions.

That incursion last night, we saw it play out quite literally down here behind us. John, can probably show you here right now, a fire burning because there have been flares, fired up in this area landing in the fields on the Israeli side of the Gaza fence, by the way, and setting fire to the fields here. But what we saw last night was tank fire from those tanks on that incursion, a large scale but limited in scope, incursion going after Hamas targets who were planning operations against Israel, that's what the IDF said. We saw it play out, but we didn't know what it was until the IDF announced it this morning. Tonight, it seems flares going off. We're hearing small arms fire around here. You get the sense down here that the troops are in action along the front. That, you know, developments can happen at any moment. And this is what the IDF is indicating that this is just the run up, more limited incursions on THE LEAD up to something much bigger, Jake.

TAPPER: And Nic, Hamas delegation reportedly met in Moscow to discuss I mean, basically claimed they were discussing releasing hostages, that's according to Russian media and Hamas controlled media. How does Israel, what are they saying about that meeting?

ROBERTSON: Yes, they're saying that these delegates, Hamas delegates should be expelled from Russia that they -- that really what the Russians here are doing and remembering as well that Hamas on the 7th of October, there's barbaric killings, they killed Russians then as well. The IDF government officials are saying, look, right now the Moscow government is just legitimizing Hamas to commit more atrocities. They don't want that dialogue to continue.

TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, in Sderot, thank you so much. Joining us now retired, U.S. Army General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark. General Clark, thanks so much for joining us. An IDF spokesperson says the Gaza raid was a quote, clear and sweep operation. What does that mean? And does that mean do you think that a ground incursion is imminent?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, it's one of the preliminary steps toward ground incursion. First of all, we don't know if that was the only raid, maybe there have been more. We don't know whether they left behind any forces in there. So they may have gone in, probed, look for enemy contact, return fire, withdrawn. They could have gone in and left forces in there. It could be a preparation for a larger incursion at the same spot. It could be a feint, or a deception.

It could be just a probe to sort of test the reactions and see if you can get the enemy to light up his communications and respond with artillery or mortars, and then hammer that. So you get a lot of different play when you do something like this.

TAPPER: Is there any historic military comparison that you can think of to what the IDF might be facing when it comes to Hamas's miles long network, the spider webs of tunnels, which we now know, house not only weapons, but also hostages.

CLARK: The toughest battle probably the U.S. ever fought was a battle of Okinawa, Jake. And the Japanese were really dug in and they fought from tunnels, and they popped up and they shot Marines and Army soldiers and disappeared again. And it went on for a long time. They use kamikazes against the fleet out there. We took some very heavy Navy losses in that battle.

And the fight on the ground was just horrific. And it's probably the toughest underground and urban and tough terrain fight the U.S. military has ever had. And that was 1945. Tougher than Mosul, tougher than Fallujah. But in both those other two battles, we did do the same tactics. You're seeing the Israeli strike here. We fainted. We probed. We wanted to throw the enemy off balance. They didn't know where we were coming in. And that's part of what all this is about.

TAPPER: All right, retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

CLARK: Well, thanks Jake.


TAPPER: The October 7th, Hamas attack from the perspective of an Israeli volunteer rescue squad. My heartbreaking visit to their command center, next.


TAPPER: United Hatzalah's, Israel's Volunteer Rescue Service with 7,000 trained emergency workers, Jews, Christians, Muslims throughout the country ready to spring into action when alerted helping those in need until an ambulance can arrive. On October 7th, many of them heeded the call and some paid the ultimate price. We want to warn you some of what you're about to hear, you might find disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

TAPPER (voice-over): Frantic callers knew what was going on immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

TAPPER (voice-over): Caller after caller understood and pleaded for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

TAPPER (voice-over): It was a deliberate terrorist attack. Calls rang out in this busy Jerusalem call center at the headquarters of United Hatzalah or United Rescue. The all-volunteer first responders group is nearly 7,000 strong across Israel. Using high tech tracking and communications tools to reach emergencies as fast as possible, treating patients free of charge and getting to them quicker than say the national ambulance service here.


ELI BEER, FOUNDER OF UNITED HATZALAH: I was here at 7:15 in the morning, we sent out everyone, just go out, wear any protection gear you have. Take your medical equipment with you. Take your gun if you have one.

TAPPER (voice-over): Founder Eli Beer says the morning of October 7th, more than 1,000 team members did just that.

BEER: Everyone was out no matter if they're Jews or Arabs or Christian, they were all out saving lives.

TAPPER (voice-over): Videos taken by the group that day show Hatzalah volunteers who rushed into regions under attack. In the first 14 days of war, United Hatzalah says it dispatched at least 300 response vehicles, including helicopters, ambulances, and the specially equipped ambucycles that can weave between traffic with supplies. More than 3,000 people have been treated according to United Hatzalah.

But not all of them could be saved. Two of their own were murdered that day. One a medic with an elite unit of the Israeli army was killed in action. The other 23-year-old Awad Darusha was working at the Nova Music Festival as a medic.

BEER: Everyone was running away. He stayed with this young girl who was bleeding, trying to stop her bleeding because she had three or four bullets in her. And he was trying to save her and then the terrorists came and caught him and they realized there's an Arab. And he was wearing this vest with Israeli flag on it because a couple of days find out where he is because they threw him in a ditch, it was unrecognizable. He was such a beautiful young boy.

TAPPER (voice-over): The terrorists tortured Dr. Tarek Abu-Arar, a Bedouin, who was driving into danger to try to help anyone who needed it. He was ambushed by terrorists when he stopped to help what he thought was a patient in need.

BEER: And when he came, he started treating people. He took out his equipment. And they captured him. And then they hung him. They tied him to a pole, light pole. And he was there for nine hours tied into the back. They shot his legs. He was injured. We actually found him hours later. And he was, thank god, he's OK.

TAPPER (voice-over): Fear started United Hatzalah as a teenager, 35 years ago, he has responded to countless scenes of horror and gore, and grotesque scenes of terrorism. But he says nothing, nothing could have prepared him for what he saw in the aftermath of October 7th.

BEER: I'm doing this for so many years, and I've been through the worst bomb attacks and terror attacks, and car accidents in my life. If you put all these attacks together for 35 years and all the gruesome stuff I saw, it comes nothing compared to one day, October 7th. The day I saw the south of Israel, I never imagined in my life I'll ever see. I never imagined I could see a Holocaust. I used to see the Holocaust in the museum in black and white. I saw it in color.

I saw people that were torn apart the pieces. They killed. They literally wanted to torture them and humiliate their bodies. Things that I saw that I will never ever forget, I still smelling the smell of the flesh or the burnt flesh, a lot of the victims were burned. And I don't know why they did this. But they started burning people, maybe they shouldn't be recognized. They were just going around shooting and killing people after that, just torturing their bodies, and they came back home that pictures of Jews murdered.

That's why they came, they want them to humiliate the Jews in the world, say look what we did to the Jews. They want to cause another holocaust here in Israel.


TAPPER: The mutilations, the burnings, the beheaded corpses that Eli saw, the moms and dads, the children, the pets that Hamas terrorists killed, as someone who prides himself on having founded a multi-faith, multicultural organization dedicated to saving lives. Eli Beer seems shaken to his core.


We're going to go back to that manhunt in Maine, a woman who was in the bowling alley when that gunman stormed in, will join me next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD live in Tel Aviv. Turning to our other big breaking news story in the U.S., the intense manhunt underway right now after 18 people were killed in two mass shootings in Maine. One scene at a bowling alley, the other at a restaurant, a bar and grill. I'm joined now by Bobbi Nichols who was at the bowling alley last night with her sister, Tricia Asselin. When the suspect started shooting, Tricia was tragically killed. And Bobbi, we're so, so sorry for your loss. It's a stupid question. But how are you doing?

BOBBI NICHOLS, MAINE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Not good. Not good. It was very traumatic.

TAPPER: Can you walk us through, yes, can you walk us through what happened last night, what you know about, you were there, right?

NICHOLS: Yes. We were bowling. My sister Tricia, she works at the bowling alley. And she had the night off. So we had bowling leagues. And we were bowling. And we heard a big bang. And my sister was on it bowling in another lane than I was. So we were a little bit apart there. And then we heard a loud noise. And I wasn't sure what it was until I heard another shot. And I knew and I seen that I couldn't see her and everybody was running.

And I got caught and people trampling and running out and we just kept running and there was shots fired outside the building after. And we just kept running and running and running. And it was dark out. There's very little lighting there. I just ran to the, as far as I could go until there was a fence. And there was some trees and a bunch of us were just hiding behind the trees, wondering what was going on.


And when the cops showed up, there was all kinds of cops, tons and tons of cops and guns and rescue and we were coming out of the woods. And we were telling the cops, don't shot. And they were telling us to keep walking and walking and walking. And I kept asking, where is my sister, my sister, she's in there. And I just wanted to be remised, my sister, she was in there.

And I didn't know she was her until like two hours later. Somebody came out and said that she called 911. And when she called 911 to save everybody, she lost her life because of it. And she was a great person.

TAPPER: What else do you want us to know about her? I mean, that sounds brave. And that sounds kind of --

NICHOLS: My sister is a hero.

TAPPER: Yes, yes. She is.

NICHOLS: She was a hero. She loved everybody. She was a good person. She did stuff for everybody. She raised money for other people that she didn't even know. She played golf. She worked at a golf course to in another company. She worked three jobs. She has a son, his name is Brandon. And he just turned 25 two days ago, so lost. He also has another sister, and she has two other brothers, actually three, Mark, Jason and Dale. And --

TAPPER: It's not fair.

NICHOLS: No, not her. Not her. Why her?

TAPPER: Not fair, Bobbi, I know.

NICHOLS: It's very --

TAPPER: It's not fair.

NICHOLS: No, it's not. And --

TAPPER: It's not fair, Bobbi. I'm so sorry.


TAPPER: I'm so sorry. Thank you so much for telling us a little bit about your sweet sister. She sounds like an amazing woman. She sounds like an amazing woman. May her memory be a blessing. Thank you for talking to us tonight.



TAPPER: We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Stark damages show the devastation from Israeli airstrikes across Gaza in response to the October 7th Hamas attacks. CNN Salma Abdelaziz is taking a closer look at a warning some of the images you're about to see are graphic and disturbing.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A journalists, some called the voice of Gaza, mourns over the body of his teenage son. They're taking their revenge by killing our children, he cries. Al Jazeera says it's bureau chief in Gaza, Wael Al-Dahdouh, lost his wife, 15-year-old son, seven-year-old daughter, and baby grandson. All killed in an Israeli airstrike, the network says.

The reporter had moved his family south of Gaza City after an evacuation order by the IDF, believing it would keep them safe. This conflict is taking a severe toll on journalist with at least 24 killed so far, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reporters are also facing threats, arrest and censorship.

No one and nowhere in this enclave is spared Palestinian say, death and funerals are constant. Anguish and agony are on every corner. Every 10 minutes, a child is killed, Save the Children estimates.

Anywhere else in the world, it is sons who bury their father, this man says, why is it different in Gaza? Why do we have to bury our children before they're even grown? Families desperate to keep their little one safe were taking refuge anywhere they can find packed human shelters are turning people away.

We can't live like this, we're 17 people living in a school classroom, this woman says. How long are we supposed to live like this? Tell us world, how long.

Eking out a living here is difficult and grim, food, fuel, water, everything is running out. I don't even know what the point is of being here, she says, we're still terrified and we have nothing no help. We can bear it. We're grownups. But how are these children supposed to handle this.

There is no childhood left here for the more than 1 million kids now trapped in this hellscape and no way, Gazan say, to keep the youngest safe.


Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Salma Abdelaziz for that report.

Our coverage now continues with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". I will see you tomorrow.