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Parents Confirm Son Daniel Aston Was Killed in Club Q Shooting; Idaho Police Say, No Suspect or Weapon in Killings of Four Students; Democrats Worry Republican Other Than Trump Could Beat Biden in 2024. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm Jim Sciutto.

And we do begin with new details about the victims in the mass shooting in an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs. The parents of 28- year-old Daniel Aston tell the Denver Post their son pictured there was among five people killed at Club Q. Aston was bartending on Saturday night when a gunman opened fire. His parents and co-workers say he touched so many lives in a short period of time. Here is what one of them shared with CNN this morning.


MICHAEL ANDERSON, BARTENDER WHO WITNESSED SHOOTING: He was the bar supervisor and he was best supervisor anybody could have asked for. He made me want to come into work and he made me want to, you know, just be a part of the positive culture we were trying to create there. And he was an amazing person. He was a light in my life, and it is still surreal that we're even talking about him in the past tense like this.


SCIUTTO: It happens so quickly.

Well, the co-owners of Club Q told The New York Times that they've revealed surveillance video from the shooting. They say, it appears to shows a heavily armed gunman wearing a military-style flak jacket and that the suspect used, quote, tremendous firepower when he entered the club.

We begin this morning with CNN Correspondent Rosa Flores. She is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Rosa, tell us what more we're learning from the club owners about the circumstances around the shooting.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, process this with me for just a moment, because this is what the club owners told The New York Times, and it shouldn't be taken lightly because these club owners, of course, know a lot of the patrons that were inside the club and they say that they reviewed the surveillance video. That is how they know some of these details. So, you can only imagine how difficult was for these club owners to witness by reviewing this video what happened. They say that the shooter entered the club with what they describe as tremendous firepower, with a rifle, with multiple magazines, and then that he opened fire. And that, of course, they say, that at that point, and shortly thereafter, some patrons actually subdued the man. So, while this suspect is firing shots, there is a patron there who is running towards the shots, to stop him. And that is what authorities say saved lives in this case.

Now, we're also hearing from witnesses that were there, that were inside that can speak to those intense moments, those milliseconds between life and death. Take a listen.


JOSHUA THURMAN, WITNESS: I was on the dance floor dancing when I heard four to five shots. I thought if it was the music, so I kept dancing. Then I heard another set of shots and then I -- me and a customer ran to the dressing room and got on the ground and locked the doors and called police immediately.

It was so scary. I heard shots, broken glass, bodies.


It was -- how? Why?


FLORES: And, you know, so many people asking that very question, why?

And, Jim, of course, investigators are going to try to get at that. They're trying to figure out motive. Investigators not releasing much, not saying much, but the district attorney has said that they are investigating this through the lens of a hate crime. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes, and the firepower, a long rifle, multiple magazines, familiar circumstances in events like this. Rosa Flores there, thanks so much.

Joining me now is Tiara Kelley. She performed at Club Q the very night before the mass shooting, a regular performer there. Tiara, thanks so much for joining us this morning in just devastating circumstances.


SCIUTTO: You performed there the night before. You knew two of the victims. I wonder what you're feeling this morning in the wake of this.

KELLEY: Still very numb. I'm still very numb, Jim, just numb. And that is the only thing that I can really think of would be the appropriate word.

SCIUTTO: I get it.

KELLEY: It is numbing.

SCIUTTO: It has been so quick. You've had so little time to process, I wonder. And there is a lot more we need to know about this, but one thing we have learned is that two patrons there, they took the very courageous decision to challenge this gunman and seemed to have saved lives. You must feel some gratitude to those people.

KELLEY: Absolutely. I'm extremely proud. It doesn't surprise me, though, because the aura of Club Q, from what I always experienced, has been a very family-oriented place. So, if someone was jumping on one of my family members, or attacking one of my family members, and I had the opportunity, I would like to think that I would have done the same thing. So, I absolutely commend those heroes.

SCIUTTO: You were living in Orlando at the time of the Pulse shooting. I covered that shooting, a horrible event. I wonder, in this community, had you felt threats before? Had you felt something that made you uncomfortable, that a club like this might be a target of something like this?

KELLEY: Until Friday night, No. I would say, no. I -- ever since pulse, I would have to say that I've always had my head on a swivel when it comes to being a producer or working in bars and clubs. I always have my head on a swivel. So, I've never really noticed anything that made me feel uncomfortable.

Friday night, I felt uncomfortable. We all felt like something was off. There was just -- there was something very off about the vibes of Friday night. And then to get that call on Saturday, it was deja vu all over again. It was like living the Pulse all over again.

SCIUTTO: What was off about the vibe? What did you see Friday night that concerned you?

KELLEY: So, there was a gentleman that had walked through during -- while I was performing, while I was hosting my show. There was a gentleman that had come through the bar and he just had a look on his face like he did not belong there. Like, you know, when you go to Club Q, you get to know the faces. And people are always genuinely happy and smiling and just really glad to be there. This guy, the look on his face was full of hate. It was complete hatred. It was -- he didn't belong there.

And it was obvious to me, so obvious that I noticed it while I was hosting my show, when he walked by. He walked by and went to the patio and then came back through again.

SCIUTTO: Is that something that you shared with police? Is that something that you shared with investigators?

KELLEY: I have shared it with my management at the bar and a couple of other people, but I've not had a chance to share it with police yet.

SCIUTTO: I understand you knew two of the victims, as I mentioned earlier. Can you describe them? Tell us what you remember about them.

KELLEY: Absolutely, Daniel and Derek. They were -- so, Daniel was -- I recently started producing a show at Club Q.


I have only been contracted with them for about four weeks. And so when I came for my very first show, Daniel was the very first person that we encountered in the parking lot. And his infectious smile just -- he was just one of the most kind, caring, sweetest people I've ever met.

The last experience I had really communicating with them was I had done -- the Friday before, I had done a song, End The Road, and it was one of his favorite songs, and it was his favorite song. And he came up to me afterward and gave me a huge tip and told me how great it was and how much it really meant to him that I performed that. So, that is the memory of Daniel that I'm trying to hold on to, was that I was able to, in that moment, to give him that joy.

Derek, the same. You know, they were in so many ways polar opposites but worked so well together. They were just amazing. And every bar should have a Daniel and a Derek, definitely.

SCIUTTO: Well, Tiara, I'm so sorry for the loss you've experienced from this. I'm glad you're safe and thanks for sharing with us this morning.

KELLEY: Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Well, police in Idaho, another story we're following, have revealed new details about the brutal slayings there of four college students. Detectives say the surviving roommates from that home called friends to the house because they said one of the victims was not waking up. Someone then called 911 from one of those roommates' phones. Multiple people then spoke to a dispatcher before an officer arrived at the scene.

CNN's Camila Bernal, she is live this morning from Moscow, Idaho. Camila, it's been eight days since the stabbings. Police still say no suspect, no murder weapon. I wonder what the reaction is from the community there. There has to be still a tremendous amount of fear.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim, good morning. Fear and frustration, because there are more questions than there are answers. And we continue to ask them but authorities have given us very limited information.

Now, one thing they are doing is ruling out people because there has been so much speculation. They say the two roommates that were at the house, at the time of the attack, but survived, they are not suspects in this case.

Now, remember, these four students, they were out on Saturday night. Xana and Ethan, they went to a party, came back home at around 2:00 in the morning. But a lot of talk around what Kaylee and Maddie were doing that night and the people they interacted with. They went to a sports bar and then they went to a food truck. There was video of that food truck. And they were hanging out with a man. Police now saying that man is not a suspect. Then they got a ride home and a lot of questions about the driver. Now, they're saying this driver is also not a suspect. They then came home and made multiple phone calls to a man. Now, police saying that man is also not a suspect.

So, really still a lot of questions to be answered here in terms of who did it. Because, yes, they're ruling people out, but everybody wants to know what happened here eight days ago. And police saying this is very difficult for them as well.

Here is the captain overseeing this investigation.


CAPT. ROGER LANIER, MOSCOW, IDAHO POLICE: It has been very hard for members of community and it is been equally difficult for our officers and for the investigators.

We will continue to put all of our resources towards investigating and bringing this to a resolution.


BERNAL: And we have seen those resources, those investigators coming in and out of the house all weekend long. They searched all of the four cars that are still parked outside of the house. They went behind the house. So, really, a lot of movement.

They continue to say that they believe that this is a targeted attack, yet they still don't see why they think this was targeted. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Goodness. I can only imagine the frustration there. Camila Bernal, thanks so much.


SCIUTTO: Well, coming up next, two dozen top Democrats speak to CNN about the future of that man, President Biden. They say they are more confident now in his ability to win in 2024, but it depends on who he's up against. Details on who their worried about on the Republican side.

Plus, she says she was sacked because she spoke out against Elon Musk, and now she and seven other employees have filed a formal complaint. A woman who has fired from SpaceX, one of the companies, joins me live.

Also ahead, a record-breaking birth, twins born from an embryo frozen 30 years ago.



SCIUTTO: New CNN reporting this morning that Democrats are privately worried about President Biden's chances if he were to run against any Republican other than Donald Trump in 2024. Two dozen Democratic insiders tell CNN they are becoming more confident that Biden is their best bet against Trump but they are concerned that a younger, fresher, newer Republican could be a tough fight for him.

Joining me now to talk, Molly Ball, National Political Correspondent for TIME, and Natasha Alford, V.P. of digital content and a senior correspondent at theGrio. Good to have you both on.

Molly, beginning you with, how severe are the worries, do you believe, in your work (ph)? First of all, it was only a few weeks ago before the midterms, folks were saying, well, Biden shouldn't run at all, now, like, yes, he could definitely run against Trump but not against someone else, or we'd be a little bit worried.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: I think this is a drumbeat really throughout Biden's tenure.


Obviously from the day he took office, there has been a lot of wonder among Democratic insiders about whether he should just serve one term. And he has yet to, you know, fully jump into the 2024 race, although, of course, we've heard him say that he intends to run, intends to make some kind of announcement after the New Year.

But with Trump already in the race, that sort of reorders everything and makes everybody have to make their decision in relation to him. And think what you're hearing now is just a continuation of what we've known for a long time, which is there is say lot of the heartburn along Democrats with the president's advancing age and about his capacity to mount another campaign.

SCIUTTO: I wonder, Natasha, though, Biden has overperformed. I mean, overperformed, you could say the Democrats under Biden overperformed in the midterms. There are lot folks in 2020 did not think that Biden had the right stuff to be -- well, to win the nomination or to beat Trump. Is there a possibility of underestimating his chances? And, by the way, we don't know for sure that Biden will run, right? I mean, there are open questions about his own decision-making on that.

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. It is a great question. I think it is important to separate the way that people feel about Joe Biden running against Trump and meeting that particular moment, right, versus how people feel about Joe Biden being the face of the Democratic Party.

If you look at -- it is understandable that Joe Biden felt validated after the midterms, right? The big red wave didn't happen. He made history in terms of not losing as many seats as was predicted. But a lot of those voters were concerned about democracy, in general. They were concerned about attacks on abortion, and so it wasn't, again, necessarily because they were supportive of the Biden administration or could articulate what the Biden administration actually accomplished. So, it is just important to separate those things. People appreciate a lot of things about Joe Biden, the stability, the experience, the calm when you compare him against Trump, but there is a sort of energy that comes from having a different phase. And I think the Republican Party is showing signs that they're ready to move on. So, that energy could come if they actually do move on, and can Biden face that challenge, not really clear.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, you mentioned concerns about democracy. It was Biden who gave those two big speeches before the midterms. A lot of Democrats were like, hey, too much focus on that, but perhaps that struck its target.

Okay. Let's dial back closer to the present and the new GOP control of Congress. The Democratic frontrunner for Democratic House leader to replace Nancy Pelosi, Hakeem Jeffries, told my colleague, Jake Tapper, that he says he is a Democratic leader who would be willing to work with Republicans on some things. He mentioned in particular criminal justice reform, trade agreement reforms. I wonder, Molly, given the makeup of this Republican majority, and particularly the power of the House Freedom Caucus, is that a realistic proposition?

BALL: There is so much that we don't know how this new Republican majority is going to operate, right? I mean, it is going to be a very narrow majority. And at this point, Kevin McCarthy does not yet have the votes to be speaker, right? He got 188 votes in that caucus election the other day. He's going to need 218 votes on the floor.

So, it all starts there and it starts with what kind of promises he is going to have to make to members in different wings of the caucus. We know that the hard right members, Freedom Caucus and others are trying to extract concessions and want to do these investigations primarily, which they see as basically just being honest, because they're not going to get any big legislation passed, so why pretend, right?

But at same time, there is also going to be pressure from moderates and other wings of the party. They're going to want concessions too. So, it is going to be a real balancing act for Kevin McCarthy. And so before we can even talk about what this majority is going to do, I think we need to find out who is going to be in charge of it, because that is still very much an unsettled question.

SCIUTTO: First things first, maybe we should talk about that before we get to 2024, although we have a tendency to do that. Molly Ball, Natasha Alford, thanks so much to both of you.

And coming up next, Elon Musk is facing allegations from eight former SpaceX employees who say they were fired simply for speaking against some of his offensive comments on social media. One of the women who filed that complaint, she is going to join me live in minutes.



SCIUTTO: In a move that has caused ripples in the business world and in Hollywood, Disney has ousted Chief Executive Bob Chapek after only two years on the job, replaced him with a familiar name, his predecessor, Bob Iger, that change effective immediately.

The shakeup comes following a 41 percent drop in the company's stock price just this year, a backlash as well over several of Chapek's decisions. Disney said that Iger has agreed to serve as CEO for two years.

As Elon Musk is under the microscope for his unpredictable behavior as the new CEO of Twitter, he is also facing a complaint from eight former employees of another of his companies, that being SpaceX. Last week, they filed with the National Labor Relations Board alleging they were fired simply for criticizing some of Musk's comments. The former employees say they put together an open letter to SpaceX management calling on the company to publicly condemn Musk's behavior on social media, where he has made at times sexist comments, also made light of sexual harassment claims against him.

That letter was signed by at least 400 of the company's 10,000 employees, many of them did so anonymously.