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Witness: Heroic Patrons Took Down Shooter In LGBTQ Club; Video Shows Suspect Surrender Last Year After Bomb Threat; Maricopa CO Supervisor Moved To Undisclosed Location Around Election Day Due To Threats. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 15:00   ET


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the big difference that I should point out between Apollo 11, the entire Apollo program, and this, the Artemis program is that you know, when those astronauts landed on Tranquility Base back in the 1960s and '70s, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, they were literally just leaving flags and footprints and they took some moon rocks and dust back to Earth. Now, they want to build a base, establish a permanent human presence and then someday go on to Mars.

So this is a very different program. Today we're getting our first taste of it. The next time this spacecraft flies, guys, there should be astronauts on it.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Wow. Quite a tease. I mean, these images are just incredible. Kristin Fisher, thank you.

It is the top of the hour on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianna Golodryga.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

The suspect in the mass shooting inside an LGBTQ nightclub will be charged with murder and hate crimes. Right now, the 22-year-old man is in the hospital. Police say he's not speaking with investigators about his rampage inside Club Q happened on Saturday night in Colorado Springs.

He allegedly shot and killed five people, wounded nearly 30 others. The police chief said the suspect had an AR-15-style rifle, handgun on him, weapons he purchased himself sources say. Reportedly he was also wearing a military-style flak jacket.

Two of those killed were bartenders. Daniel Aston had just moved to Colorado to be closer to his parents, his parents told The Denver Post. The other bartender, Derrick Rump thrived in a community of people that he loved and he felt that he could shine there, this according to his sister.

BLACKWELL: Police say the death toll would likely have been much higher had it not been for two people who took down the gunman, one of whom is among the injured. A bartender who survived the mass shooting says that he owes those two people his life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL ANDERSON, CLUB Q SHOOTING SURVIVOR: 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.


BLACKWELL: CNN's Nick Watt is in Colorado Springs.

Nick, I know you're going to get us up to date on what you're learning about the shooting, but your conversation with a survivor who was shot seven times and his progress in just the past couple of days is nothing short of miraculous. Get us up to speed.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, Barrett Hudson sent me a video of him back on his feet, walking with a little help within two days of being shot as you say, seven times.

He told me seven rounds hit him, one grazed him. Now, this was the first time he had ever visited this club, Club Q. And he told me that he doubts he will ever be able to visit any club ever again because of the emotional scars of what happened to him.

He was sitting at a table near the door. He turned. He saw the gunman. He saw the gunman shoot another man dead and then Barrett said he took off running, never looked back. But he was hit, hit, he was down on the ground. He said he thinks that he was shot again while he was on the ground. He never turned around. He ran out of the club. Here is just part of what he had to tell me.


BARRETT HUDSON, CLUB Q SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I shot seven times in the back with an AR-15. I tumbled go down, my (inaudible) my back to the bottom. I got very lucky it missed all my organs: my colon, my spine, my lungs. There's no way I should have walked out of there and I'm very, very appreciative for life. And for you guys to interview me and get to hear my side of the story, maybe I can help somebody else to be strong for me and as well other people.


WATT: Now, he also told me when he was outside the club, paramedics had to strip him naked to find where all the bleeding was coming from and he reached for his phone to call his best friend, his dad. Because he wanted to hear his dad's voice, he wanted his dad to hear him in what Barrett thought were going to be his final moments.

As you mentioned, five dead, more than 25 injured, among them, those two bartenders killed. And the suspect - well, two sources have told CNN that records show that he bought those two weapons himself which has led many people to ask why, how was he allowed to because he had one other very significant run-in with law enforcement last summer, summer of '21. [15:05:05]

He was captured on security camera video turning himself in a long negotiation with the police, turning himself in because his mother had called 911 to say that her son was threatening her with a bomb and other weapons. That video shows him turning himself in.

Now, charges were not pursued and perhaps that is why there was no issue on the back - any background checks. There was no red flag warning when he went to buy those weapons. The charges we are told will be formally levied against him once he has been released to the - from the hospital. He was, of course, injured when those one or two patrons of the club just rushed at him, subdued him used his own handgun to hit him and stop him killing any more people. Guys, back to you.

GOLODRYGA: Such heroism by those patrons, taking him down. Nick Watt, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Joining us now is Michael Allen, the District Attorney of El Paso County, Colorado. He's prosecuting the Club Q case.

Michael, thank you for being with me. I hope you can fill in some missing pieces here. The hate crimes charges beyond Club Q being an obvious gathering place for the LGBTQ community there, is there evidence that the suspect had animosity toward the community that supports that - the hate crimes charges?

MICHAEL ALLEN, EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, you've obviously hit on the predominant issue in this case, and that is are there going to be bias motivated crimes, that's what they're called here in Colorado as opposed to hate crimes, but it means the same thing.

We will review all of the evidence and make appropriate filing decisions in this case as it relates to any bias motivated crimes. But it's important to note that five people lost their lives, so those murder charges are going to be by and large the top end charges in this case.

Bias motivated crimes at the top end are class four felonies. First degree murder charges are class one felonies. So there's a big difference in potential sentences there. But we're going to look at all that. If the evidence supports bias motivated crimes, we will charge that as well.

BLACKWELL: Okay. So I just want to be clear here that your office says you have not yet decided whether there is evidence to support charges for bias motivated crimes, is that correct?

ALLEN: There's obviously some evidence, right? The location is some evidence. The fact that these victims were in a specific location that is predominantly frequented by members of the LGBTQ community, that is evidence that we can use towards that - towards the decision of filing bias motivated crimes. But we're looking for other evidence as well as that. We don't know whether we're going to uncover anything that will help support it beyond just the location in the patrons that would go to that establishment, but that is certainly a factor.

BLACKWELL: Have you found social media accounts that you - or posting that - to look through?

ALLEN: Yes. So one thing that we need to be really careful of is that we don't try this case in the media. We want to make sure that we protect the investigation as much as we possibly can. I'm not going to speculate as to other avenues or other things that we may or may not be able to find. That will all come to light in due time.

So I would - I'm going to refrain from making any comments on that at this point just to protect investigation and make sure that we have a fair - or a fair prosecution effort going forward.

BLACKWELL: Understood. Do you have a precise number of victims who survived, who - the injured if there are going to be attempted murder charges, you need to know the number of people shot, do you know that precise number?

ALLEN: I don't know that number precisely at this exact moment. The best we can tell is the latest release that we put out with the investigation was obviously the five people that were killed and then 17 others who were shot, and then two others that received - one that received a non-gunshot injury, I'm assuming probably fell down and hurt themselves that way and then a another person that was found on the location that didn't receive any injury, but would also qualify to what you just described, attempted murder.

I do believe that there were probably more people than just those 22, I guess, people in the club at that time. So there's numerous more attempted murder charges that could apply here, but we have to identify those people. So if people are watching and they realize, hey, I didn't talk to the police, but I was actually in the club when that happened. They should be calling and reporting that information so that we can count them as a victim and make sure that this person if, in fact, it leads where we think it's going to lead to formal charges that they are included in that victim count there, yes.

BLACKWELL: Do you know when this suspect allegedly bought these two weapons?

ALLEN: And I'm not going to answer any specific questions like that just because I want to protect the investigation.



ALLEN: And protect the prosecution effort going forward.

BLACKWELL: We know the suspect is in the hospital not speaking with law enforcement. We don't know much about his condition, is he capable of speaking with law enforcement if he chooses?

ALLEN: My understanding is that he is capable of speaking, but - and I'm going to leave it at that. I don't want to infringe upon his right to remain silent. That's a constitutional right, that is protected and is afforded to all of us and I want to make sure that we understand that. So I'm not going to comment on whether he has or hasn't spoken.

BLACKWELL: Okay. So let me ask you about this June 2021 case where there was the bomb threat involving his mother. There was a standoff with El Paso County Sheriff's Office. He eventually walked out. We have the video there from the ring camera. There were no weapons found or explosives, but charges were dropped. What - how was that resolved? Why weren't charges pursued there?

ALLEN: So this is going to be a very unsatisfying answer and I'm going to tell you why it's unsatisfying. Colorado has very restrictive ceiling statutes, so if a case - and I'm talking in a general sense, not about what you're specifically asking, but I think you'll understand what I'm saying.


ALLEN: Colorado statute requires that if a case is filed and then dismissed, either by the prosecution or the court, that the case is automatically sealed, essentially. And what that means is if it's automatically sealed, the people that are associated with the case, whether it'd be the prosecution or the court has to answer that no such record exists.

I have seen reports of a press release that was found in the media from El Paso County Sheriff's Office from last year. I've reviewed those media reports and that's as far as I can comment at this time.


ALLEN: If there's more information that I can share going forward about that potential incidents, I'll be happy to do it when it's appropriate.

BLACKWELL: One last quick one, because I got to run. Does he have an attorney? Do you know of an attorney that represents the suspect?

ALLEN: I believe he does have an attorney at this point.

BLACKWELL: Okay. I'll ask my producers to stay on and get that name from you if they can.

Michael Allen, El Paso County District Attorney, thank you so much.

ALLEN: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, until recently, Club Q was considered the only safe place in Colorado Springs for the LGBTQ community and now it is closed indefinitely. Several community advocates believe a wave of hateful rhetoric and bias towards the group are driving attacks like these. Joining me is Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO and President of GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. Sarah Ellis, thank you so much for joining us.

So what happens when safe spaces like Club Q are closed? Where can people in the LGBTQ community go to feel safe and congregate?

SARAH KATE ELLIS, CEO & PRESIDENT, GLAAD: Yes, that's a tough one. We've seen over the past several years too more and more LGBTQ safe spaces closed down just after COVID and whatnot. So they are getting smaller and smaller.

But as a community, we always have pride month, and we always do find places and spaces. But I really think that it shouldn't be on us to figure that out. When I feel as though that space was taken over by hate, discrimination and that is a direct response from the rhetoric, from these politicians that we've been seeing rhetoric does lead to violence.

And we have been - we're seeing a 12-year high in hate crimes, 41 percent increase in hate crimes against the transgender community. And we see a direct line between that and what our politicians are saying on the airwaves and how they're pushing for over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills this year, so far, bills that don't need to exist, bills that are taking away our rights, that are policing our body.

And then on top of that, I want to say, when we look at these social media companies that go unchecked, and take that hate, take that disinformation and spread it like wildfire, because they make money off of it. Those are the people that need to be answering what do we do next. They need to figure out how to stop doing this, so we don't need to live in fear so that our safe spaces continue to be safe spaces.

GOLODRYGA: And Sarah Kate, this isn't unfortunately a case that's just isolated to one city or one state, just here in New York City, for example, in the area - neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen. There have been more police activity and police have been - and resources have been sent to that area following a number of attacks on LGBTQ area bar in New York City - New York State, Colorado are typically LGBTQ friendly states.


What do people in the community feel in states that aren't so friendly?

ELLIS: I think we're all feeling it. We all - we live in a dangerous society if you're LGBTQ, unfortunately. But with that said, we are survivors and we're thrivers. So as a community, we always come together and we lift each other up.

I will say to that - we've been counting at GLAAD and we're about to release a report that in the past year we've seen 125 either violent attacks or threats of violent attacks against drug events, joyous drag events. And this is part of this rhetoric machine that the right wing has started and that social media is fueling. And so it's really important for us as a community to gather and to have safe spaces to do that in.

GOLODRYGA: And you talk about some of the hateful rhetoric that can be found and promoted on social media sites. But you also note that the media can be used in a useful way as well for the general public to perhaps meet, to get to know people in the LGBTQ community, and perhaps, that can dissipate some of this hateful rhetoric and language.

ELLIS: Well, I think there's two pieces to that. One is I think that the mainstream media's coverage, your coverage of this her horrific incident has been really fair and equitable. And you're addressing the club as an LGBTQ safe space, you're addressing the hate crime that has been driving it and so I think that that's been really useful.

But also social media has been a place for our community to gather, to meet each other when it hasn't been safe out on the streets or out in venues.

And so - but over the past several years what we've seen is that's been weaponized against us. If you go on - if you're LGBTQ and you go online, and you're expressing who you are, you anticipate and expect to be attacked online. That's no way to live.

GOLODRYGA: Sarah Kate Ellis, thank you for taking the time. It hasn't gone unnoticed that this shooting took place on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance. We appreciate the time and we appreciate the message that you are sending. Thank you so much.

ELLIS: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Election officials in Arizona are taking some unusual precautions to protect the Republican who runs the vote in the state's largest county. We'll explain next.

GOLODRYGA: And later they're still no weapon and no suspect in the brutal killing of four Idaho college students. Where police will take the investigation from here, we'll discuss it next.



GOLODRYGA: CNN has learned that the Maricopa County supervisor was moved to an undisclosed location around Election Day due to threats to his safety. Spokesperson added that Bill Gates continues to receive the extra security protection.

BLACKWELL: The Republican official pushed back repeatedly in recent weeks against baseless conspiracy spread by some in his own party over how his county, Arizona's largest, administer the Midterm Election.

Ronald Brownstein is a CNN Senior Political Analyst and a Senior Editor for The Atlantic, Scott Jennings is a CNN political commentator and former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush. Welcome to you both.

Scott, let me start with you. Some in his own party, let's start with the Republican nominee for governor there, Kari Lake. She lost. She's been promoting these conspiracies about the vote in Maricopa County. Of course, she could find it on the court. She has not started that process. But her social media is focusing a lot on Bill Gates here. Is there a direct link between what we're seeing him forced to do and what she's doing or is that oversimplifying?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, I don't know. I mean, certainly, you would think some people are believing what she has to say. I mean, my view is, if you have something go to court, and if you don't shut up.

I mean, I - most people in the country, we had an election, the winners won, the losers conceded, most places this worked out. Arizona, obviously, we've got a different result, so I don't think it's good. I think it's unfortunate for the people who were out there trying to do their duty and count the votes and I hope they're safe, but broadly this went okay. Arizona, we have an issue and I think people should respect the results of elections.

GOLODRYGA: Well, on that note, Ron Brownstein, we heard from a number of members of the Republican Party over the weekend, Chris Christie and Gov. Sununu, even Paul Ryan spoke out all saying that the party needs to move on from Trump encapsulating it by just suggesting he - not even suggesting - by saying that he's a loser for the party and that he won't be able to win again if they want a Republican in the White House.

What's notable, though, is that they focus on this notion that he keeps losing elections for Republicans and not the morality side of this, not that he incited and help to incite an insurrection. What do you make of that message from Republicans? Is it something that you think is a valid one and one that can get more Republicans on board to move on from Trump or are they missing a key component here?

RONALD BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as you mean, Scott discussed on the Friday after the election, it is striking that extorting Ukraine, inciting a riot, trying to overturn the 2020 election, using racist language on a regular basis for this seven years and hoarding classified documents in Mar-A-Lago not enough to cause a breach but pushing through the nomination of candidates who prove weak in key states was.


I mean, that says something about the strategy Republicans have had about dealing with Trump and why it may be more difficult than they now think to separate themselves from him.

They have been so deferential through all of those other events, because they fear that any alienation of him would depress turnout among his base voters, which they are more dependent on now than they were even in 2016. And we one of the things we saw in this election was that even with 9 percent inflation, deep discontent over the economy, 401(k) is getting pummeled, Democrats matched or exceeded Biden's margins in the key suburban counties in all of the states that decided the 2020 election. And that means Republicans are even more dependent than they were six years ago on that Trump base to win places like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and I think that leaves them treading a very narrow path as they tried to separate the party from him in 2024.

BLACKWELL: Scott, as you know, there was that mass shooting Saturday night in Colorado Springs in an LGBTQ nightclub, five people killed. Herschel Walker in Georgia has released a new ad today, let's play a portion of it.


RILEY GAINES: I'm Riley Gaines, a 12 time NCAA All-American.


GAINES: For more than a decade, I worked so hard, 4 am practices to be the best. But my senior year I was forced to compete against a biological male.

WALKER: That's unfair and wrong.

GAINES: A man won the swimming title that belonged to a woman and Sen. Warnock voted to let it happen.

WALKER: Warnock is afraid to stand up for female athletes.

GAINES: Herschel Walker stands up for what's right.


BLACKWELL: Why is that the message for this moment?

JENNINGS: Well, it's a huge issue for Republican base, I assume what the walker campaign is thinking is that they need to keep Republicans engaged in this election. Obviously, they got to get him to come out to the polls one more time and there were a number of Republicans who voted for camp in the general election who didn't vote for Herschel Walker.

So this is a base engagement strategy and just having - I've been around Republican politics for a few years, I can tell you, this issue right here does engage Republicans. So I see why they're doing it. I understand the strategy behind it. But to me, it is all about keeping Republicans on the hook to come out one more time in an election where Walker is actually fighting from behind. He got fewer votes, so he's got to get a few more Republicans to the polls on the runoff.

GOLODRYGA: Just question the timing of it all though. He's got a few more weeks in this election and to do it after a mass shooting just a few days. Listen, Republicans - and you Ron would agree in your assessment - Republicans got hurt by some of their leaders' response to the attack against Nancy Pelosi's husband not really reading the temperature in the country and now to release this ad has a lot of people raising questions.

Thank you so much, Ron Brownstein and Scott Jennings.

Well, new details about the mysterious killing of four college students in Idaho. What police are now saying about who called 911 up next.