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LGBTQ Club Shooting Suspect Faces Murder, Hate Crime Charges; Bob Iger Returns As Disney CEO In Shocking Shakeup; Biden Pardons Thanksgiving Turkeys "Chocolate" & "Chip." Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 14:00   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Victor Blackwell. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM.


The suspect behind the shooting rampage at an LGBTQ club in Colorado will face multiple charges of murder and hate crime. Police say the 22-year-old gunman fatally gunned down five people at Club Q Saturday night in Colorado Springs. Nearly 30 others were wounded most of them by gunfire. The city's police chief said the shooter used an AR-style rifle and also carried a handgun before opening fire.

BLACKWELL: Now, the club owners told The New York Times that surveillance videos showed the attacker had tremendous firepower. They said he had six magazines of ammunition when he entered the club. Witnesses describe a hail of bullets shattering glass and police say the death toll would have likely been much higher had it not been for two clubgoers there who took down the shooter. The mayor said one of them struck him with a gun he had just been firing. A bartender described what he saw as he tried to escape.


MICHAEL ANDERSON, BARTENDER: I decided I needed to get out of there, so I got up. And when I went inside I saw what I believe was probably the gunman lying on the ground, getting beat up and kicked and yelled at by two very brave people who I still don't know the identity of those two people. But I hope I can find out one day because I truly believe those two people saved my life.


GOLODRYGA: Some incredible act of heroism by those two patrons. CNN's Nick Watt is in Colorado Springs. Nick, the suspect is now in the hospital and we're learning several new details about him. Give us the latest in this investigation.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is key, these charges that he's facing because so far, investigators have been a little bit coy about whether they were treating this as a hate crime. They said they were looking at it through the lens of a hate crime but now we see five counts -- five charges of first-degree murder and five counts of a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury. Now, amongst the LGBTQ community here in Colorado Springs, they have been saying since early Sunday morning this was a hate crime directed at their community.

Now, two law enforcement sources have also told CNN that records show that this 22-year-old suspect purchased these firearms himself. And that is raising questions. Why did it not trigger any red flags because he has had previous run-ins with law enforcement most notably, last summer? He -- his mother called the police to say that this young man was threatening her with a bomb and other weapons. And he was arrested by police here. However, he was never formally charged. Charges were not pursued, so that wouldn't necessarily show up on a background check or a red flag. But you know, officials here in Colorado are saying we need to use this as a learning moment in terms of how we actually use the red flag laws here.

Now, as you just heard from that bartender, he was subdued by two people in that club, and he was kicked and punched. So, the suspect is still in the hospital. Charges we're told will be filed once he has been released. And by the way, one of those people who subdued the gunman, he is also in the hospital right now says the police chief and we're waiting for an update on his condition, guys.

BLACKWELL: I know you're also learning more about the people who were killed, others who were injured as well. What do you know?

WATT: Yes. Well, you know, Victor, five people dead, more than 25 injured. And I spoke to some people who left the club just a couple of minutes before the shooter went in. And they said it was not busy, maybe 30 to 50 people, so a lot of those people inside weren't physically injured. We've also heard that one of the dead among the dead, Daniel Aston, who was a bartender at the club. Now, his parents told the Denver Post that he had recently moved to Colorado Springs to be near them.

And also, within the last hour or two, I spoke via FaceTime with a man who was in the club who was sitting quite near the door with his back facing the door, saw the gunman come in, looked at the gunman, saw the gunman standing there with another man in front of him.


He says he saw the man put up his arms and slightly retreat and the gunman killed him. Aston himself was hit seven times. I'm going to repeat that. Seven times. Here is what he had to tell me from his hospital bed.


BARRETT HUDSON, CLUB Q SHOOTING SURVIVOR: They started counting the bullet holes. I called my dad. He's like one of my best friends. We have a great relationship, and I called him and that's because I want him -- I wanted him -- to hear him up. I wanted him to hear my voice. And I wanted -- it sounds like I almost shot but I bleed out. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WATT: That is Barrett Hudson. He said he thought he was bleeding out he did not think he was going to make it. That was his first time ever going to Club Q. He recently moved here to Colorado Springs. But just in the past half hour or so, he has sent me a video of him walking not unaided. He's got people helping him but he is up on his feet after being hit seven times within two days of what happened in this club, guys.

BLACKWELL: That's miraculous that just after a few hours -- 48 hours or so, he's up on his feet walking with assistance. Nick Watt with the latest reporting for us there. Thank you, Nick.

Joining us now, our Colorado State Representative Brianna Titone, and she's the first openly transgender person elected to the state legislature and Colorado Springs city council member Nancy Henjum. Thank you for being with us. First, Councilwoman, let me start with you and just how is your community doing so soon after this shooting.

NANCY HENJUM, CITY COUNCIL, COLORADO SPRINGS: Well, as you can imagine, we are both grieving, angry, concerned, worried, and also a tremendous outpouring of love and support. And I would say the love and the support is outweighing everything at this point.

GOLODRYGA: But that says a lot given all the carnage and all those who are suffering in the shooting's aftermath. Congresswoman Titone, nearly one in five hate crimes in the United States we know are motivated by LGBTQ bias. And you attribute some of that to anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and laws that are in the process of perhaps being enacted into law after they were introduced. You tweeted. When politicians and pundits keep perpetuating tropes, insults, and misinformation about the trans and LGBTQ community, this is a result. Are you holding fellow lawmakers accountable for this shooting?

BRIANNA TITONE, DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE, COLORADO: Well, it's not just lawmakers, but pundits as well. I mean, you know, we keep hearing people on Fox News, in particular, and many of these podcasts just repeating over and over and over again the lies, the tropes, and all of the misinformation to paint and villainize people who are LGBT and in particular, trans people. And what have we gotten from that?

We've gotten hundreds of laws to try to be -- go against the LGBT community and the trans community. And, you know, this is even in lieu of the fact that we had the Pulse nightclub shooting just a few years ago, and they're still going on this attack, they're still villainizing us, and that, you know, goes to bullying, it goes to give people permission to feel like they have a license to have violence against someone else. And that's dangerous. We need to stop that.

BLACKWELL: Councilman, let me ask you about the red flag laws. Of course, there was this June 2021 bomb threat incident in which the charges were dropped. The suspect we know was arrested. As Nick reported, some of the community is suggesting that this is an opportunity to readdress how aggressive to be when imposing those red flag restrictions on people. What do you think the lesson is out of this for law enforcement and for community members?

HENJUM: Well, I think we must look and understand why the red flag laws that we have were not effective in this case and learn more about this case and we need to continue to examine how is it that we keep our community safe from gun violence. That's a very important conversation for us to have. And if I might, I would like to actually speak to what Brianna just spoke to regarding the tropes and the unsafe environment that folks who are trans or LGBTQ experienced.

Yesterday, I spoke with a couple who were just in our city just actually kind of bullied off of a bus because they were out and loving that they're -- each other publicly. And that is really unacceptable. And yet, I would also say we are doing quite a bit in Colorado Springs, and we have many, many organizations working on this, and we will need to continue to work on that.


GOLODRYGA: Brianna Titone, we are looking at an increase in the number of mass shootings in that state. If you go back to even 2012 and the aftermath of the Aurora movie theater shooting, you have had 61 shootings in the state, when that counts for when four more people are shot and not including the perpetrator. Most of these mass shootings take place in the largest cities, including Colorado Springs. My question to you is, what are you doing to reassure those in your community -- in the state that that they should -- they're safe, they -- that they can go to a restaurant, they can go to a bar, and not worry about somebody coming in and shooting them?

TITONE: Yes. I mean, this is a great question. And, you know, this is something that we've been pondering for a long time. And it even goes even further back to the Columbine shooting at the high school. And, you know, we don't know what the answer really is. There's not a perfect answer. But, you know, we, as elected officials started the office of gun violence prevention. And it's a new office. We're starting to get some information from them about what we can do.

But we have a lot of guns in the state. And we have a broken mental health system in general. We have a shortage of people to help people out. And we have all this vitriolic language that keeps going on. And there's people here in Colorado that are spewing these kinds of things.

And we need to -- we need to put the brakes on these things and get that to stop because we're not hearing the good things. We're hearing all these bad things about the LGBT community, but we're not really doing a very good job of lifting up the people who weren't doing the good work. You know, as Nancy was saying, the work of these organizations in those communities that are doing good work to help the LGBT community. And we need to lift up the positive things. And then we can negate a lot of these negative things and give the general public a sense that the LGBT community is welcome and they should be in our communities as productive members.

BLACKWELL: Councilwoman. HENJUM: And if I might, I'd love to share something very positive in that regard, so -- if I might. First of all, the national organization GLAAD came to Colorado Springs last night and is going to be working with the community in advocacy and support. Also, the Pulse nightclub has offered Section 93 of the CDC rainbow flag that has been flying in Orlando. And they have offered it for -- I don't know, an undetermined period of time to the city of Colorado Springs. And that will be coming here this week.

And that flag will be hanging in our city hall. And my hope is that we will be having some kind of acknowledgment and ceremony here in City Hall, welcoming the owners of the nightclub in the community and showing our support as a city of love. Love is out-winning hate and we need to continue. We have made so much ground in the last 30 years in this city since amendment two, and we are continuing to gain that ground and we are continuing -- and we must continue that process. So, there is positive news in and amongst the fear that people are feeling.

GOLODRYGA: So, extraordinary that the twice now in this interview have highlighted the positive given all the tragedy that has come in its wake. Thank you so much. I know that that visit and the outreach is very welcoming there for the community. Nancy Henjum and Brian Titone -- Briana Titone, thank you.

Well, joining us now is CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary in the Homeland Security Department, and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, both lead the Philadelphia -- and who led the Philadelphia and Washington DC police forces. Chief, let me begin with you because the suspect has been charged with five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime. This was a crime that was -- the law that was just enacted last year, essentially hate crime law. Talk about the significance of that specific charge.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think it's very significant and it sends a very strong message. And these are state charges. He still faces possible federal charges as well.

You know, they're still in the information and evidence-gathering phase of this. I would imagine going through social media, going through the evidence they may have seized during a search warrant, or what have you. So, they're really building a solid case against this individual that will support all those charges that have been placed. But I think it's very significant that they went and move forward, especially with the bias and hate crime charges.

BLACKWELL: Juliette, I want to turn to this June 2021 bomb threat and during which this -- afterward I should say the suspect was arrested. I believe we have video from that summer from the incident showing as he came out of the house. There were no weapons found, no explosives found in the home. There are so many questions around this because charges were dropped, the records were sealed, should this have been enough for law enforcement to impose those restrictions allowed under the state's red flag laws?


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's hard to see that this was a violation of -- or there was a mistake made just given Colorado's red flag laws with a mother -- I'm assuming that the mother refused to press charges. She seems to be the only witness in that original case. So, that, all they have is he said she said essentially, they didn't see a bomb. There was no -- there was no evidence that he was -- he had bombs.

So, the question now is, why didn't a family member come forward if they had knowledge of the purchase of these guns, which we now are reporting he did himself? But family members may have known about it, especially if his -- if his radicalization, his hate towards the LGBTQ community was known to them, and they knew that he had gone.

So, look, this is another instance in which red flag laws are often not self-executing that that police either needs specific charges, family members coming forward, a community coming forward, they cannot solve the problem of our common responsibility, which is a hate is spewing as we heard the previous speakers and people from Colorado say, hate is spewing, guns are not hard to come by, especially in Colorado. And you just simply cannot have -- you could not possibly have enough public safety resources to stop this. This requires a lot more.

GOLODRYGA: So, Chief Ramsey, the shooter's mom did not press charges last year. We are now reporting that she's not cooperating with authorities in this investigation. Does that expose a weakness or vulnerability in the Red Flag Law?

RAMSEY: Well, nothing's going to be perfect, but that's not unusual to have a family member not cooperate in a criminal investigation. I'm sure that she was afraid at the time she called police. And the police got there and then later she thought about it and that's her child, she didn't want to press charges. That is not unusual, believe me. And so I'm not surprised in the least bit that she's not cooperating in this particular case, as far as red flag laws can only do so much.

Laws can only do so much. People have to step up. Somebody knew this guy harbored this kind of hatred and should not be in possession of an assault weapon firearm, what have you and nobody said anything. And so, until we get people to step up and really say, listen, this person is a problem, so then you can really take a serious look at him. You're going to have these kinds of cases come up periodically, unfortunately.


BLACKWELL: Chief Ramsey, Juliette Kayyem, thank you both.

GOLODRYGA: And this just in. We have learned the name of another victim killed inside Club Q. Derrick Rump is the second bartender known to have lost his life Saturday. His sister confirmed his death to CNN.

BLACKWELL: He worked at the club along with Daniel Astin who, as we mentioned earlier, was also killed during Saturday night's shooting. His sister told our affiliate WFMZ that her brother found a community of people that he loved so much, and he felt that he could shine there, and he did. We'll be right back.



GOLODRYGA: Big news this morning. Disney is bringing back Bob Iger, one of its most successful CEOs in a stunning shake-up at the media empire. Chief Executive Bob Chapek is stepping down immediately after two years on the job.

BLACKWELL: The company has seen its stock drop about 36 percent this year alone. CNN Business reporter Matt Egan is with us now. So, what are you learning about this switch?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, what a remarkable turn of events here, Disney bringing back legendary CEO Bob Iger. He's really one of the most well-respected and successful CEOs of his time. And this caught almost everyone off guard coming out late on a Sunday night no less. The Wall Street Journal reported that when Bob Iger actually announced this internally to staff, some employees, they weren't sure if this was a hoax, if this was a hacked e-mail account or if it was real.

Wall Street also caught off guard Disney share prices was up about 10 percent this morning, and around six or 7 percent this afternoon. Markets are very happy with the fact that Bob Iger is back. No -- but Iger himself, he had dismissed this possibility earlier this year. Listen to what he told Kara Swisher in January.


KARA SWISHER, JOURNALIST: But one of the things -- CNBC polled 10 media executives anonymously about their 2022 predictions, and one was that you'll return to Disney.


SWISHER: I don't know. A Mickey Mouse character.

IGER: I would love that, yes.

SWISHER: There are rumors that you become Disney CEO again.

IGER: Well, that's ridiculous.

SWISHER: Ridiculous.

IGER: I was CEO for a long time.

SWISHER: OK, all right,

IGER: You can't go home again. I'm gone.

SWISHER: Really? It's happened before. Starbucks? IGER: I gave my ID up, my name tag up --


IGER: My office, my e-mail address. It's all gone. I think if I wanted to run a company, I'd still be running Disney. No, no, I did that.


EGAN: And now he's doing it again. So, what changed? Well, Disney was having its worst year since 1974 in the stock market. And turning point may have come two weeks ago, Disney reported disappointing results and growing losses at Disney Plus, the streaming service, losses that nearly -- actually more than doubled to $1.5 billion in a single quarter. One analyst told me that there was growing concern on Wall Street about the strategic path that Bob Chapek had Disney on. Specifically this laser focus on subscriber growth at all costs.


That might have worked when interest rates were at zero and the economy was booming, but rates are high right now, money is not sloshing around the economy like it was before and there's all these recession fears. So, Disney decided they want to ride out the storm with a trusted hand. It doesn't get any more trusted than Bob Iger. But, you know, just because it worked in the past doesn't mean it's going to work again. He's got to figure out how to get the streaming business on a sustainable path.

And critically, he's got to find someone to lead this company in the long run. Bob Iger is 71 years old, signed a two-year contract. Chapek was his handpicked successor, so he's got to find someone to actually be able to lead this company going forward.

GOLODRYGA: He's got to find a new ID as well.


EGAN: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: That end before, right? Interesting just -- I mean --

BLACKWELL: Or he has to make that e-mail address.

GOLODRYGA: Chapek just signed on a new deal this summer, so.

EGAN: In June the board unanimously agreed to keep Chapek on and now he's out.

GOLODRYGA: Really surprising. Matt Egan, thank you.

EGAN: Thank you, guys.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Matt.

BLACKWELL: President Biden pardoned a pair of Turkeys today, chocolate and chip ahead of Thanksgiving, Thursday.

GOLODRYGA: I like those names, chocolate, and chip. The North Carolina natives are given a presidential reprieve on the White House lawn as part of a timeless tradition and will now live out their retirement lives at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House. So, Jeremy, this pardon comes as the lame-duck session is underway Democrats -- and you see their, Turkey ducks.

BLACKWELL: Turkey ducks. It was good.

GOLODRYGA: I'm getting hungry. The Democrats are hoping to bring a bunch of bills to the floor for votes before the new Congress begins. What can you tell us aside from these pardons?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there was that lighthearted tradition happening at the White House this morning. The turkeys gobbled along and a lot of the president's jokes. So, they certainly landed with that audience. But the president is expected to turn his attention to more serious matters over the next month. And that's because there's a lot to get done in this lame-duck session of Congress following the midterms before Republicans take over the House in January.

At the top of that list, of course, is government funding. The current government funding deal expires on December 16, so the president and Congress have only a few weeks to get done everything in there from more funding for Ukraine, the White House has asked for $37 billion. They've also asked for $10 billion in COVID funding. There's also expected to be some action on this Respect for Marriage Act to protect same-sex and interracial marriage. Electoral Count Act reform, that's also a possibility. And the National Defense Authorization Act is also coming up for its annual review, so, a lot to get done over the next few weeks.

And the president, he is expected to meet with congressional leaders from both parties from both houses of Congress in the coming weeks. He said he would do so following his foreign trip that he got back from last week. We don't yet have a scheduled date for that but clearly, that will be a top priority as the president tries to get some bills done here before Republicans take over the House, and the president's life and his legislative agenda expect it to get a lot more difficult going forward, Bianna, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Dramatic change. Jeremy Diamond, thank you. Ukraine is now responding to accusations from Russia of war crimes. We are live in Kyiv next.

GOLODRYGA: And New York City's Jewish community is on edge yet again after police arrested two men in connection with a threat to an attack in a synagogue. The latest on that investigation is straight ahead.