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New York Governor Announces New Requirement Under Red Flag Law; Former White Supremacist Speaks on How to Combat Racist Extremism; WSJ: Flight Data Suggests China Eastern Plane Deliberately Crashed; White House Making Contingencies for Possible North Korean Missile Tests During President Biden's Visit to South Korea. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Today New York's governor announced that she is launching the first of its kind state domestic terrorism unit in response to the racist massacre in Buffalo.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D) NEW YORK: They'll develop the best practices for law enforcement, for mental health professionals, for school officials to address the rise in homegrown extremism. And we'll make sure that they're trained to know how it occurs, where it occurs, and how to stop it.


BLACKWELL: Governor Hochul also said that New York state police must file an extreme risk order of protection when they believe an individual is a threat to him or herself or others. Now currently police have the option to do so. And the suspected gunman had a mental health evaluation last year -- you remember that detail -- but state police opted not to add him to that red flag list.

Also happening today, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a domestic terrorism law that sets up a specific unit inside the Justice and Homeland Security Departments to combat white supremacy and extremist violence. It's in the clear if the bill will pass the Senate.

Let's turn now to Shannon Martinez. Used to be a white supremacist and is now a fellow for the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University. She's also a program manager of the Free Radical Project, a nonprofit that helps people disengage from extremism. Your perspective is one we do not here often, and I thank you for spending a few minutes with me.


I want to you listen here to a former classmate of the man charged with the Buffalo shooting and hear how she describes her interactions with him.


LUCY RAMIREZ-PATTERSON, HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATE OF ALLEGED SHOOTER: He -- he gave me a weird feeling in my stomach for some reason. I don't know why. I mean, he was nice, but he was just really shy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you sense that he might have been racist or did you sense that he was just maybe odd, strange or creepy?

RAMIREZ-PATTERSON: Odd. Odd, mostly weird sometimes. I mean, I don't like to judge people, but that's the impression I got of him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it his manner of speaking or the things that he said that gave you that impression?

RAMIREZ-PATTERSON: He didn't make eye contact with me when I talked. He, like, looked around.


BLACKWELL: So, Shannon, the day after a mass shooting all the pieces fit into the right place. Right? Hindsight being 20/20. But maybe he just was shy or maybe he's a racist and future mass shooter. What are we supposed to look for? What are parents specifically supposed to prioritize in their kids when they see characteristics.

SHANNON MARTINEZ, REFORMED WHITE SUPREMACIST: Sure. Looking at things like -- I mean, and he may have also -- you know, if your child is not making eye contact, they may be on, you know, the autistic spectrum or have some other sensory issue or whatever. Like please do not take not making eye contact as a warning sign.

But things like, they have an intense desire to want to know why things are the way that they are, they are a rule challenger. But not just that they don't want to listen to the rules, but they want to know why the rules are what they are. That they talk about craving significance, that they feel like they were put on earth to do big things. If they are feeling alienated and alone. If they express like deep fear about the future, about their personal future, about the future of the world. A sense of like hopelessness about the future of the world.

If they start talking about the legitimate use of violence to solve problems, and whether that's just, like, in their personal life, in their school life, or in, like, the world at large. If they express feeling like unseen and unheard. If they express feelings of feeling unlovable or that they have all this love to give and nobody wants it. And if they are disconnected from their greater community.

Like, one of the things, like we know is helpful to help people even who have like multiple layer of trauma, or things like making sure there, you know, like protectively, making sure they have at least a couple adults outside of your family that they have, you know, positive connected relationships with. Being involved in community service. Making sure that they as a parent, that there's something in your home, you or our spouse are standing up for that child, that you are like -- that you know that they know that you will, like, fight for them and keep them safe. They have friends and feel supported by friends.

BLACKWELL: One of the details, of course, we know from this 180-page statement was that he was bored, he was alone. It was during the pandemic. And this is when he was radicalized online. I guess that's where he found community. But there were red flags in June of 2021, where we wrote this statement about murder/suicide. There was a response from state police. There was a medical evaluation. If you're a parent and you say, well, the police have investigated, there's been a medical evaluation. They say there's nothing wrong here. Should they have demanded more? I mean, should parent goes beyond what is required now?

MARTINEZ: You know, I'm not going to speak on what the family did or didn't do. I think we should also take caution using the shooter's own word as necessarily being something that we use as, like, trustworthy at this point.

BLACKWELL: That's fair.

MARTINEZ: But I think one of the things that -- one of the places where things fall down is that predominantly with mental health-care workers and psycho/social support, people in the communities. But they are not specifically looking for and asking about someone radicalizing into hate, violence, and dehumanization. That we're not asking specific questions about, you know, like racist beliefs or about, you know, what's their view of the future is and whether or not they feel like the use of violence is legitimate, for the purpose of trying to discover, if they are in fact, you know, about to commit a terror.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Well, Shannon Martinez, I thank you. I know that has certainly been helpful for parents, even if they don't have a child who, as this classmate said, doesn't make eye contact or spends a lot of time alone. What to look out for, and maybe that raises a flag that prevents the next one of these shootings. Thank you so much.


MARTINEZ: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, remember this video? It showed a passenger plane nosedive in China. Well, there's new information that suggests this was no accident. Details are next.


BLACKWELL: "The Wall Street Journal" says that newly obtained flight data suggests China's deadliest plane crash in decades may have been intentional.


132 people were killed in March 2021 where the plane nosedived from 29,000 feet and crash into the a mountain.

CNN's Pete Muntean is here. So, Pete, I know U.S. teams have been part of this crash investigation. What are you learning? PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, what's so

interesting here is that this is coming from U.S. officials who are interested and also following the flight data recorder data that was sent here to the U.S. for analysis by the Chinese. What's so interesting in all this is this essentially just confirms the suspicions that aviation experts had, especially after seeing this very telling video of flight 5735 in this vertical dive from 29,000 feet -- its cruising altitude. In less than two minutes' time, the plane plunged into a Chinese mountainside. All 132 people on board were killed.

One source tells "The Wall Street Journal" the plane did what it was supposed to do by somebody in the cockpit. Now the big question here, is whether or not that person was a passenger or whether or not the person was a pilot. China Eastern Airlines says its crew was in good health before the crash, also with no family drama or no financial drama.

Now the investigation in all of this is really just beginning and the Chinese are leading it. They say their process here is not only rigorous, but very scientific, so we will have to see what comes out of this. Also, what still key is the cockpit voice recorder. It could tell us not only about the communications between the pilots and air traffic controllers but also between the pilots themselves. It also provides the ambient noise to let us know if there was a struggle in the cockpit. Still a lot to unfold here -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, still some investigation ahead. Pete Muntean for us there, thank you so much.

Days ahead of President Biden's visit to Asia, a U.S. intelligence source tells CNN that North Korea is preparing to test a long range missile. How the U.S. is preparing, next.

Also, we're in the final minutes of trading on Wall Street. The Dow is down more than 1,200 points amid over fears a recession is coming.



BLACKWELL: Just in, the White House says it is preparing for all contingencies should North Korea conduct a nuclear or long range missile test during President Biden's visit to South Korea this week. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is with us now. So, what's the administration staying?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, they have been watching the intelligence indicators now for weeks, and officials are telling CNN that they do see some final preparations being made that could potentially lead to North Korea testing another long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. The kind of missing that theoretically would be capable of reaching the United States. And the timeframe they're looking at is this kind of test could take place possibly -- if the North Koreans proceed with it -- in the next four days or so. And that puts it square in the middle of President Biden's trip to the region.

So earlier today, the White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, talked about how they are ready for all contingencies from a long-range missile test to an underground nuclear test. They are ready, they say, for whatever may come while the president is either traveling or in the region. Here's a bit more of what Jake Sullivan had to say.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that such a provocation would occur while we are in Korea or in Japan. We are coordinating closely with our allies in both Korea and Japan on this. We have spoken with counterparts in China. I spoke with my Chinese counterpart this morning and covered this issue of the DPRK. And we are prepared, obviously, to make both short and longer term adjustments to our military posture as necessary to insure that we are providing both defense and deterrent to our allies in the region. And that we're responding to any North Korean provocation.


STARR: Adjustment of U.S. military posture in the region, will look, since earlier this year, when North Korea conducted previous tests, including an attempted ICBM launch, the Pentagon increased intelligence collection and readiness of U.S. ballistic defense forces in the region to be ready for just this kind of thing, to collect as much intelligence as they could, so they've had plenty of warning time. Right now, of course, nobody knows what Kim Jong-un might decide to do. The Biden administration has made overtures for diplomacy, North Korea has not answered back -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.

Let's look at the big board. Dow is down now more than 1,200 points. Jake Tapper is covering the sell-off after this short break.