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Virginia Walmart Shooting; Colorado Shooting Suspect's Background; Tom Sullivan is Interviewed about Colorado's Red Flag Laws; Explosions in Jerusalem; Holiday Travel Near Pre-Pandemic Volume; Supreme Court Clears Way for Trump's Taxes. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 23, 2022 - 09:00   ET



KYRA HARRIS BOLDEN (D), MICHIGAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: This is the reason why I set myself on the path to public service, my commitment to the pursuit of justice is inherent (ph) in me, in my family, because we know injustice.

In just a few generations, our family has gone from lynching to law school, from injustice to a capital "j" justice. This is the greatness and possibility of our country.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Look at that. We're going to leave you with that. Thank you for being with us. Happy Thanksgiving.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Safe travels.

HARLOW: See you tomorrow.

CNN "NEWSROOM" is now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good Wednesday morning. I'm Jim Sciutto. A very busy morning and, in many ways, a sad one.

Breaking overnight, at least six people have died, several others injured, after a gunman opened fire inside a break room at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. Police say the gunman was a current employee who they believe also took his own life. We're going to take you to the scene there in just a moment.

Plus, hours from now, the suspect in the Colorado night club shooting will appear in court for the first time. Anderson Lee Aldrich is facing possible murder and hate crime charges. We'll have more on the suspect's tumultuous upbringing just ahead.

Also this, two explosions rocked Jerusalem overnight. At least one teenager is dead. More than a dozen others are injured. Officials now investigating this as a terror attack. We will be live in Jerusalem.

First, I do want to go to CNN correspondent Brian Todd, who is on the scene in Chesapeake, Virginia. Brian, a shooting in America. What more do we know this morning?


A short time ago we heard from the police chief of Chesapeake, Mark Solesky, who filled in a couple of gaps in this case. But we still have some information that we're chasing at this hour. But what we can tell you is a bit of a timeline for when this attack unfolded, where it unfolded.

According to the chief, the first 911 calls came in at 10:12 p.m. Eastern Time last night. Officers arrived within two minutes. They got there at 10:14 p.m. They entered the building at 10:16 p.m. And then they rendered the building safe at 11:20 p.m. So, between the first 911 calls and the time the officers entered the building, it was a total of four minutes.

The shooter, according to the police chief, was an employee. We have sourced information that says that this occurred in a break room where the employee walked in, there were people gathered, and he opened fire. He later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. We don't know exactly where, in the store or maybe outside it, that employee might have taken his own life.

What we also were told by the police chief was, there is no clear motive for the attack at this time. And, again, they're just trying to piece together some information. They are not giving the identity of the suspect because his next of kin have not been notified yet. And they don't know -- they were asked pointedly they -- how long he was active in the store, you know, shooting at people. They don't have that information.

We asked about weapons several times. They did say he used a pistol. We don't -- they say they do not know of any other weapons that he might have used.

I can tell you that for several hours in this building behind me, you can see some of the law enforcement vehicles there, the evidence processing vans and other things behind me for several hours after the shooting occurred police and FBI agents were combing through the building, looking for whether anyone was hiding, whether there were any other people injured who needed attention. But they were able to render the building safe at 11:20 p.m. Eastern Time.

Again, you know, this is a massive Walmart store. It was just before closing time that this attack occurred. Closing time was 11:00 p.m. according to Walmart's website. So, this was, you know, late in the shift last night when this occurred.

Jim, this is just some of the - some of the gaps we're trying to fill at this hour, though, is possible motive. Of course, the suspect's name and whether there were any conflicts at the store leading up to this.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. So familiar.

Brian Todd, thanks so much.

SCIUTTO: Well, today, the suspect in the Colorado Springs mass shooting, and we would understand if you have trouble keeping track of all these mass shootings in the last several days, but this is in Colorado. That suspect, pictured there, set to appear in court for the first time. Anderson Lee Aldrich facing possible charges of first- degree murder and bias motivated or hate crimes. Police say Aldrich was moved from the hospital to a jail yesterday. This morning we are learning new details about the suspect's upbringing.

CNN correspondent Rosa Flores is in Colorado Springs with the details.

Rosa, what more are we learning about his childhood here?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, our CNN investigates team, our producers there have been spending countless hours digging into the suspect's past. And what they've uncovered is a chaotic upbringing.

Let me start with the mother and father. According to court records, the mother was arrested multiple times and some of the charges including falsely reporting a crime, DUI.


The father was a porn actor and an MMA fighter and had some drug charges. And he wasn't around the family. So it was the grandmother who actually raised the suspect. Now, by the time the suspect was 15, according to online records, there's some vicious, vicious online bullying going on. The suspect then changed their name from Nicholas F. Brink to Anderson Lee Aldrich. And that was before the age of 16.

Now, we've also learned from records that in 2021 the mother of the suspect called police about a homemade bomb and ammunition and weapons that her son had. Now, the charges on that were dropped.

And then, Jim, just last night we had new court records appear in the court record because, again, we're finally getting some court records because he is now in the building that you see behind me. That's when we learned that the suspect has asked the court to be referenced and addressed by the pronounces "they" and "them" because the suspect identifies as nonbinary.

So, a lot there, Jim, but, again, this is thanks to our producer and our investigative team that have been digging to just get a clearer picture.


SCIUTTO: Rosa Flores, in Colorado Springs, thanks so much.

Joining me now is Colorado State Representative Tom Sullivan. He ran for office after his own son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting massacre, that back in 2012. He actually helped craft Colorado's red flag law.

Mr. Sullivan, it's good to have you on this morning. Thank you so much.


SCIUTTO: Your son was killed in the Aurora theater massacre ten years ago. And it seems like not too long ago, but it seems so many dozens and dozens of mass shootings ago, because it is, and that's the nature of the way this kind of violence plays out in this country. As a father, my heart goes out to you, I have to say. The way you've channeled this into the mission that you've taken on, I truly respect.

I just wonder, how has his memory been a driving force for you?

SULLIVAN: Well, I mean, the first thing is - is we realized that, you know, our son was murdered. And that's -- that's how we refer to it is he was murdered celebrating his 27th birthday in the Aurora theater massacre. It's a hard thing to say. It's something that we grapple with every single day. But we have to let people know that that is - is what happened to us.

Then we - you know, we move on and you find out that others, you know, aren't speaking up for you. They aren't at the forefront of this issue and that you have to get involved yourself, I mean, because it's actually the ones who have been directly impacted that have the strongest, clearest voices.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, to your credit, you have stood up and been counted in this for ten years.

Your signature legislation was - what's known as extreme risk protection, or red flag laws. I wonder, has the country made progress on such laws, positive progress, since that shooting in Aurora ten years ago?

SULLIVAN: I mean, we have. I mean it's hard to say that after, you know, five people were murdered in Colorado Springs.


SULLIVAN: But red flag laws have been across the country for, you know, going on 20 years. We know from the data collected from all of that, for that - for every 11 petitions that are filed, we save one life.


SULLIVAN: So, here in Colorado, in the -- just short of two years that our law has been in effect, we've petitioned over 300 people. So, what that means to me is that, you know, this holiday weekend at least 25 people are going to be sitting at, you know, dinner tables that - that wouldn't have been there before.

SCIUTTO: It's a great way to look at it.

Now, there are also frustrations because, as you know, Colorado, of course, has a red flag law and yet, in this case, it didn't seem to work. I mean multiple problems here. He threatened his mother with an explosive device. That apparently wasn't enough to generate this process here. But you also have a county sheriff there who - in El Paso County, around Colorado Springs, who's refused to enforce these unless he has a court order. Does that show that there's -- there are holes in Colorado's red flag laws?

SULLIVAN: Well, what it - what it shows us is that the public needs to get involved. I appreciate all of the first responders and the heroes who saved lives that day in Colorado Springs and certainly saved lives, you know, in the theater massacre. But we need heroes before these incidents.


SULLIVAN: We need people who see something, need to say something and need to get active in something.


They need to petition their local legislators. Get involved.

That sheriff, that's an elected position. So the people of that community voted for that man knowing exactly what he had planned. And after, you know, we saw that incident on tape about what he did with the explosives and all of that, that sheriff and his department gave him back his firearms, leaving that, you know, community to defend themselves by veterans and high heeled drag queens.

SCIUTTO: You know, every shooting is different, right? Of course, of the victims are different. Your son, I mean Aurora will be the worst for you because you lost a child in it. We've had one in Walmart just in the last 12, 24 hours. We've had this one in Colorado Springs at a gay club. It seems to be that possibly hate was involved in that. But the one commonality in all these things, Uvalde, you name it, are weapons, right? I mean, I wonder, given the work that you've done on this for 10 years, can this country address the issue without more stringent weapon laws? Or do you think there are other ways to do it, like, for instance, with red flag laws and other measures?

SULLIVAN: Well, we've got to - we've got to continue to do the work. I mean, but we're a generation or two away from this. We see that our young people are not buying into the, you know, the - to the gun culture that has permeated our country, you know, for the last 50 or 60 years. They're not having any part of it. They came out and voted in full force this last election. We see that young people are getting elected and they're talking on this subject.

But, in the meantime, what we have to do is to get these law-abiding gun owners to now become responsible and law abiding because their irresponsibility is killing us.

SCIUTTO: Well, Tom Sullivan, like I said, my heart goes out to you. I'm sure you still carry that pain with you. But hats off to you for turning it into something good. We appreciate it.

SULLIVAN: Great. Thank you for having me. And everybody take care of yourselves today.

SCIUTTO: It's good advice. Tom Sullivan.

Another story we're following this morning, two explosions in different parts of Jerusalem today, suspected of being a combined, a complex terror attack. That according to Israeli police. Initial investigations indicate explosive devices were placed at two separate bus stations. At least one person, a 16-year-old student, is dead, several others injured.

CNN's Hadas Gold joins me now live from the scene of one of those blasts in Jerusalem.

Hadas, I've covered blasts like that there myself before. Tell us what you're seeing and what's the response been.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, I'm at the scene of the first of those two explosions. The explosion here took place just after 7:00 a.m. This is a bus stop along a very busy artery, one of the main ways in and out of Jerusalem. And you can see behind me some of the damage. Police have cleared most of the debris. But you can see the damage in the fence. And people are coming by to take a look at the scene. Somebody has posted an Israeli flag along the scene of what police believe is where the bag was placed.

Now, 30 minutes after the explosion at this bus stop, there was another explosion at another bus stop not far away from here, just a few minutes down the road. Now, one person was killed in this attack. A 16-year-old identified as a duel Canadian Israeli citizen, and at least 14 others were injured. And Israeli police are calling this a coordinated, complex terrorist attack. They say that in both instances a bag of some sort was placed at the bus stops and likely detonated remotely. The likes of which these attacks we have not seen in this region for several years.

For many people here, this is bringing back memories of the second intifada when there were seemingly regularly suicide attacks, bombing at bus stations, at restaurants and the like. Well, this has been a very deadly and violent year for both Israelis and Palestinians. So far the attacks targeting Israelis have been seeming to be random lone wolf attacks. Things like stabbing attacks, shootings, rammings. This, Israeli police show - say shows coordinated organization and planning ahead of time.

Now, Israeli Prime Minister Yari Lapid saying that this event is different from what they've seen in the past, vowing that an extensive intelligence effort is now in -- underway. Now, no militant group has claimed responsibility, but, Jim, Hamas has celebrated this operation, they say.


SCIUTTO: Goodness. Hadas Gold, thanks so much.

Still ahead, House Democrats say they hope to get a look at former President Trump's tax returns by next week now that the Supreme Court has cleared the way for access to them. Details on the tight timeline for them to finish their investigation.

Plus, alarming new details about a Michigan man charged with threatening to kill the FBI director and a congressman. What we're learning from newly unsealed documents.

And in just a few minutes we're live at Chicago O'Hare Airport as the number of Thanksgiving travels nears pre-pandemic levels.


It's busy.


SCIUTTO: Millions of Americans will head out today by planes, trains and automobiles for Thanksgiving destinations across the country. AAA estimated nearly 55 million Americans are traveling over the holiday, the highest number in three years. The FAA estimates yesterday was the busiest day at airports with more than 48,000 flights. But you can expect airports to be packed, security lines to be long today as well. That's no fun.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins me now from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Omar, how's it look there? I was - I was flying this past weekend and already this past weekend the lines were a little nuts.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think people are feeling those pre-pandemic levels a lot more so even - even than last year, which, of course, was a different environment at the time. O'Hare, of course, one of the world's busiest. Things have calmed down a little bit right now, but this morning things were incredibly packed, shoulder to shoulder here as that first wave of flights on this busy travel day took off.


And when you look at it country wide, of course you mentioned some of those numbers coming to me. Nearly 55 million people expected to travel over this holiday period, up from last year and comparable to 2019 levels. When it comes to flying, flying expected to be up 8 percent compared to last year with 99 percent of that pre-pandemic 2019 volume. But the vast majority of people will be driving, of course. That number around 49 million people hitting the roads. It's a little bit down from last year, but at the very least comparable to pre-pandemic times. And that's just because, I mean, look, even over the pandemic, much more people were willing to drive versus fly.

Now, we spoke to one person here at O'Hare who is headed back to Texas. And she felt some of those pre-pandemic 2019 levels firsthand and she was even more surprised than what she thought she was going to see.

Take a listen.


AMBER FERGUSON, THANKSGIVING TRAVELER: We were totally thinking about getting here early, which I'm so glad we did because it's even a little more crowded than we expected. So, just hoping we make our flight. We gave ourselves two hours. So, I hope that's enough.


JIMENEZ: And she did make her flight as it looks like because the security line moved up pretty quickly after that.

And I also want to say, I mixed up the numbers. That the vast majority of people driving, 2.5 percent below 2019 levels, but slightly above last year is what we're looking at right now.

But, all in all, between cars, boats, trains, whatever it might be, we are looking at what is shaping up to be the third busiest Thanksgiving travel period we've had since AAA began tracking those numbers back in 2000, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Wow. Third busiest. Incredible. Omar Jimenez, in Chicago, thanks so much.

Cooking a Thanksgiving meal is costing families a lot more this year. Rising inflation combined with higher demand, even bird flu, have led to big price hikes at grocery stores across the country. That means some families may have to get creative with their menus this year.

CNN's Gabe Cohen joins me now with more detail.

So, Gabe, break down the numbers for us. How much more expensive are all the things we like to have on our table tomorrow?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, if you look around the Thanksgiving table this year, just about everything is more expensive. Take a look. This is just a few of the products. Right at the center of the table, of course, turkey, up 24 percent this year. And that's partly because of that avian flu outbreak you mentioned.

But, look, we're talking about price hikes on potatoes, and cranberry sauce, and pie crusts. The list goes on and on.

And there's a real impact of families. We just heard from a retired couple that was coming out of the grocery store that was feeling that sticker shock because they realized how much heavier Thanksgiving is going to weigh on their budget this year. This is just one more inflation strain that so many families, they've been dealing with higher prices for months and months now, dealing with grocery costs in general, heating costs now heading into the winter, electricity and gasoline.

And, look, I've spoken with hundreds of people here in recent months, I should say, Jim, talking about how they're adjusting their budget. And one of the major thing people are doing is changing their diet. That may mean eating less meat or going to restaurants less often. And now it's changing the way they're shopping for Thanksgiving. We heard from a couple that was coming out of the grocery stores

saying that, you know, after seeing the prices this year, the change they're making, they're going to be buying less food, they're going to be buying fewer side dishes. And so for a lot of families, Jim, you may see a less full table tomorrow. As long as it's surrounded by family members, it will still mean a lot. But, of course, food just so much pricier for people.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Happening with so many things these days.

Gabe Cohen, in Virginia, thanks so much.

Well, former President Trump's tax returns will soon be in the hands of Congress, the House Ways and Means Committee, six years after he ran for president. That was not the only legal setback he was hit with in the last 24 hours. A look at Trump's rough day in court. That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: The House Ways and Means Committee says it hopes to get former President Donald Trump's tax returns by next week. It comes after the Supreme Court cleared the way for their release and the Treasury Department said it will comply and turn over those documents. The court's move ends a long legal fight and is a major loss for the former president.

With me now, CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid.

I mean, a bunch of stuff happened in the various investigations that Trump is involved in here. But the tax one, I mean this is a long-time coming.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It is. And it's the biggest loss for the former president in recent memory. This is something he has fought for years to prevent. And in just two sentences, the Supreme Court ended this battle. And now we expect that the House Ways and Means Committee will receive six years of tax records from the Treasury sometime very soon.

SCIUTTO: And he has a few other things going on, including that there were developments yesterday.

REID: It was a very bad day for the former president and his lawyers. I was personally down in Georgia where his lawyers were arguing before a court of appeals trying to keep in place the so-called special master, this third party that is reviewing all of the documents that were seized at this home in Mar-a-Lago back in August.


But the newly appointed special council, Jack Smith, he was not there in person, but his prosecutors were there. He had approved all the arguments. And they were trying to argue that they don't need this special counsel. And this bench, look.