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California Massacre; Deadly Apartment Strike in Ukraine; Failed Republican Candidate Arrested in Targeted Shootings; Toddler With a Gun. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired January 17, 2023 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: President Biden traveling to California this Thursday, that after declaring a major disaster there over the weekend. You have all been watching nine successive storms slamming the West Coast, racking up damage estimates already north of $1 billion.

Appreciate your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. We will see you tomorrow.

Erica Hill picks up our coverage right now.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. I'm Erica Hill in New York.

And we begin with, frankly, chilling video of a toddler with a gun. An Indiana man who is believed to be his father is now in police custody, as a result. So you will see the little boy in this video here. You see him waving that gun around, even pulling the trigger at one point. It happened on Saturday and was actually shown live as part of the ride-along series "On Patrol Live."




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the child with the loaded weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pulling the trigger right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pulling the trigger.



HILL: Police in Beech Grove, Indiana, were responding to a neighbor's call. The neighbor saw the young boy playing with the weapon outside wearing what appears to be a pull-up, as you can see there.

Jean Casarez joining us now with more.

So, Jean, what happened here on Saturday?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the neighbors called the police because they saw this happening with their own eyes, even went to one neighbor's door, knocked on it, saying, look what I have.

And so the police arrived. And the neighbors were talking amongst themselves. We want you to take a listen, first of all, to these neighbors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when I opened the door, he went to flip it up. And I shut the door, told everyone to get away from the door. I'm like, he -- I was like, he has a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, if a toddler in a diaper is walking around with a handgun...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took you all that long to get him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it takes that long for...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no. I'm talking about the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) parents upstairs.


CASAREZ: So, the police go to the apartment. The little boy, the toddler answers the door. They walk in. They don't see anyone else. They do a cursory search to see if anything is in plain view.

They can't find a gun. So they leave. And they go back down. And then a neighbor says: I have got the surveillance video. You have got to watch it. And so the officers look at the surveillance video and they see what was just on our screen, the little toddler waving around and pulling the trigger on the gun.

So they go back up to the apartment. And Shane Osborne is there. And he says: I have been really sick. I was asleep. I had no idea he went outside. I have never brought a gun into this apartment. My cousin has kept his gun here when he's not feeling mentally stable. But I don't know there's a gun here.

And so he authorizes and consent to a search. They look everywhere. There it is. They find the gun in a roll top desk. The officer immediately takes out the bullets; 15 bullets were in that gun. But it did not go off because there was not one bullet in the chamber. He has now been charged, Osborne, with neglect of a dependent.

His first court hearing is on Thursday. Arresting charges at this point. We will have to see, Erica, what prosecutors do.

HILL: I mean, there's so much of that, Jean. I know you're going to stick around with us. Because, as we look at this, and this story, there's a lot here when it comes to the discussion about access to guns in this country, and children. So let's take a look first at the numbers; 4.6 million kids live in a home with at least one unlocked loaded gun.

Nationwide, more than half of gun owners say they don't lock their firearm securely. And, frankly, in many states, they don't have to. Just 23 states and Washington, D.C., have gun storage laws. Only eight mandate that they be secured.

And we know there are a lot of guns in this country. The numbers bear that out, more than one for every person in the U.S. And we also know that most gun owners in the United States, they favor sensible regulations because they know what keeps them and it keeps others safe.

But the recent headlines tell us there's a lot of work to do. In Texas, a 14-year-old girl is now facing murder charges after allegedly shooting an 11-year-old boy over the weekend. Now, she was reportedly aiming at another teen, but that young bystander was killed.

Two teens in Atlanta also facing murder charges after a November shooting that killed a 12- and 15-year-old. And a first grade teacher in Virginia still recovering after a 6-year-old brought a gun to school and shot her.

CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey is joining Jean and me now.

So, Commissioner, when we look at this, I think it's important to note these are all very different scenarios. But at the end of the day, each one in each scenario, a child was able to get their hands on a gun.

In your experience, what we're seeing now, is it easy for a kid to get a gun?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, obviously it is. I mean, it's not that difficult.

The two that are most concerning -- all of them are concerning, but the toddler that you just showed the video of walking around with a gun and also the 6-year-old that shot the teacher. I mean, some of these teenagers intentionally get their hands on guns and have the intent of using it.


But those two young children, young children, there's no way they knew what they were doing. That's on the parents. And the fact that there aren't any gun safety laws in a majority of our states says a lot. I mean, you have a right to bear arms. You don't have a right to be careless with a gun. And that's what we're looking at in those first two cases.

As far as the other teenagers go, that's pretty typical. Believe me, you see that quite often on the streets of our city, where you have teenagers with guns that use those guns to commit aggravated assault, even murder.

HILL: And so I want to come back to the teenagers in a moment, but when we look at the younger children, Jean -- you're also an attorney. So if a child uses a gun, what is the liability for a gun owner?

CASAREZ: Well, all of our states have different laws, right?

And there have been civil liability issues with parents. This case right here is criminal. He's being charged with neglect, which is a felony. But there is a precedent-setting case right now that we are following. I have been out to Michigan on it. It's Ethan Crumbley.

He committed a mass shooting at his high school. And he pleaded guilty to everything. Precedent-setting, his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, are charged with involuntary manslaughter, which has a number of years in prison, saying, you caused the death, because you purchased this gun for him when he was not mentally stable, and you should have known that. You violated a duty.

But it's with the appellate court now, because the defense said, this should not go to trial. You don't have the evidence to show that the parents caused the death.

HILL: Wow.

CASAREZ: So, it's before the appellate court. There will be oral argument. It's going to be huge, because if the case goes forward, if there would be a conviction, this is precedent-setting.

HILL: Yes, absolutely.

So, as we follow that closely, you noted, Commissioner, talking about teenagers, unfortunately, can get their hands on a gun in most cases. And this may be the way that they are choosing to deal with a situation, which I think raises an important question as to whether or not we, as a country, as a society, are ready to deal with that, to deal with the fact that kids see guns all over the place, right, whether you're a toddler, a 6-year-old, a teenager.

But the message that we are sending as a country, as a society, in many cases is that the way to deal with your issue is to do it through violence, and, in some cases, a gun. The chances that we actually have that real conversation, Commissioner, what do you think?

RAMSEY: I don't think it's going to happen.

I mean, listen, and, I mean, history has shown us that it doesn't. I mean we're talking about it now. But it's going to happen over and over and over again. But our elected officials lack the courage to sit down, have a conversation and come up with something reasonable that will keep the guns out of the hands of individuals, not just toddlers and young children, but teenagers and others that should not have guns. It is not going to happen because we don't have the guts as a country to really have that kind of conversation and then take action. And so I don't see anything changing, personally. But, again, hold people accountable. Parents, they need to be prosecuted if they're allowing their children to have access to those guns because they're not safely maintaining them.

I was a police officer. I raised the son. I kept my gun in a locked box. I mean, I did not just let my gun just lay around, even though I'm a law enforcement officer. I mean, I obviously had a right to have a gun and it was part of my equipment. But I was careful with that gun. Now I have a grandchild. Same thing. I keep it locked up. There's no excuse for it, none, zero.

HILL: Charles Ramsey, Jean Casarez, I appreciate it, as always. Thank you both.

Looking now at the dangerous intersection of politics and violence, a failed GOP candidate in New Mexico is in custody, accused in a string of shootings at the homes of Democratic political leaders. Authorities in Albuquerque say Solomon Pena claimed election fraud after he lost a state House race. And they say he conspired with four men to shoot at the homes of two state legislators and two county commissioners.

And then, just moments ago, CNN actually got access to the Ring doorbell camera footage of Pena looking for one of the officials. Take a look.



SOLOMON PENA, DEFENDANT: Hi. My name is Solomon Pena. Can I speak with Debbie O'Malley?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't live here anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, well, the public record says she owns it. Do you know where she lives?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thank you. I'm sorry for bothering you.



HILL: No one was injured in the shootings. The incidents, though, do I add to concerns about the simmering anger stoked by election deniers.


CNN security correspondent Josh Campbell is with us now. So, Josh, look, it's so disturbing when we think, again, not just with

children, but across the board, the ways in which people are choosing to carry out their grievances. What more do we know about the investigation at this point?


And this is exactly what federal law enforcement has been warning about for the past few years. And that is, there is a segment of society out there, when they hear these election lies, some of them start to believe it, internalize it. And for those who may be predisposed to violence, that could lead to actual attacks.

So, it appears early on in this investigation that that could be what is to play here. This official, Solomon Pena, this is a -- as you mentioned, someone who ran for the state House in New Mexico as a Republican. He lost in a landslide. But we're hearing from witnesses and from police that he apparently made visits to some of these officials that were ultimately allegedly targeted with gunfire, telling about his grievances, saying that he believed that he actually won the election.

Now, he was arrested yesterday by the Albuquerque SWAT team. Police say that he conspired with four other men to shoot at the homes of four Democratic officials. It's worth pointing out we have attempted to reach Pena for comment. These shootings occurred between December 4 and January 3.

And, in the latest shooting, police say that Pena himself actually pulled the trigger. Now, we have been going through the arrest warrant affidavit that was just released. It is chock full of very chilling detail. In one example, there's actually a cooperating witness who agreed to help police who said that the co-conspirators originally targeted above the windows in residences, but Pena allegedly told them that, no, he wanted them to get more aggressive, to shoot lower, to shoot at a time of day when these people wouldn't be asleep and laying horizontally, so just chilling details.

And we're going back and looking at his social media presence as well, getting some insight into his mind-set. I will show you a couple of his tweets. And one of them, this was in response to Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who's now the House minority leader, who was slamming election deniers.

Pena responds that: "New Mexico elections are absolutely rigged." He says: "We will pursue justice." In another tweet, he says that his own election was rigged, saying: "I will fight it until the day I die."

Now, we're still waiting to hear what is going to happen to those other four individuals. Police continue to investigate. They don't yet know if those men even knew who they were actually shooting at or if they were just hired to fire at random at these targets. A lot more investigating yet to be done, but certainly a chilling story there in New Mexico, someone who was seeking public office and it appears, because he didn't like the way the election went, decided to pick up guns and actually go after those Democratic targets. Again, that's something that we have been hearing from our law

enforcement sources for some time now that they continue to be worried about. It's not hypothetical. It's not academic. These attacks, these threats are real.

HILL: Right, there are real-world -- real-world -- if I get the words out -- Josh, examples of this added concern related to political violence. Appreciate it, as always.

Thank you, Josh.

CAMPBELL: You bet.

HILL: Well, the White House is in crisis mode at this hour.

We're told more searches could be on the way to see if any more classified documents may be at locations connected to President Biden. And as for the president himself, well, we're also learning he's becoming frustrated with how this is being handled, how the story is being handled by his administration.

CNN chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly joining us now.

So, the president is frustrated. I mean, look, we have all been asking questions, you more than any of us, for the last several days about what the strategy is here and how they're communicating. What is this level of frustration with the president?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think, look, you can kind of track back the timeline here, Erica, and get a good sense of where things stand, in the sense that the president himself said he was very surprised when he was first briefed when these first batch of documents were first discovered in early November that these documents existed at all.

And I think the rollout over time, kind of a drip by drip by drip, has served to frustrate not just the president, but a lot of his senior team, in part because of what they actually wanted to be working on, what they actually wanted to be focused on over the course of the first couple of weeks of this year, whether it was related to the deceleration of inflation or the implementation of his legislative agenda.

They felt like they had a very good story to tell. They felt like they were really kind of hitting a high point for the administration. And, instead, they have been focused or trying to answer or not answer questions related to this ongoing investigation.

I think another piece of this too is the fact that over the course of -- including the nearly-month-long process period where we had no idea this was actually happening behind the scenes, it was the president's personal attorneys who were involved in this, and they were the ones that were kind of driving things.

This is now out of their control. This is in the control the special counsel right now. White House officials have acknowledged that, to some degree, there is a very real tension between what they can say publicly, how they can message things publicly, and ensuring that that investigation continues without any type of kind of interference or anything that would kind of throw things off or potentially reflect poorly on where the president and his team stand.

That's something that exists now. We just heard about it from a White House spokesperson in a conference call trying to address this. Erica, the kind of core of that conference call made very clear there's two things happening right now, one, an acknowledgement that, for all of the unanswered questions that remain, White House officials are very steadfast that they do not believe they can or will answer them in the weeks ahead so long as this investigation is ongoing.


And the second is the idea that they're trying to kind of get their footing after a very uneven week, and really start to shift things over to focus on House Republicans.

We have seen House Republicans have already launched two investigations into this issue. White House officials saying they aren't saying one way or another whether or not they're going to comply, but making very clear that they will comply or at least consider good-faith efforts, and then going on to attack them for being -- basically showing outrage that they didn't show with the -- President Biden's predecessor, making clear they believe there's a lot of hypocrisy at play right now.

So it's turning into a political messaging war as opposed to what we saw over the course of the prior seven days, which was basically just a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of new details slowly coming out piece by piece by piece.

HILL: We will see what went what comes of that over that plan.

Phil, appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

Outrage growing at this hour after Russia's deadly missile strike on an apartment building in Ukraine, dozens of civilian killed -- civilians killed, children among them. So, what happens now with that outrage?

Plus, another twist in the story of that missing Massachusetts mom. Turns out her husband was not the first person to report her missing.

And a new study reveals just how dangerous COVID can be for pregnant women.



HILL: The death toll from the Russian missile attack on an apartment building in Dnipro, Ukraine, has now risen to 45.

Six of those victims are children. Five others lost their parents, and they're now orphaned,Ukraine's first lady condemning the attack earlier when she spoke at the World Economic Forum.


OLENA ZELENSKA, FIRST LADY OF UKRAINE (through translator): There is nothing off-limits for Russia. As we speak in our city of Dnipro, people are still working and sorting through the debris of a residential area, of a house that was destroyed by an anti-ship missile.

These ordinary people at home on a Saturday, and that's enough reason for Russia to kill.


HILL: We have also learned that 90 percent of the wreckage has now been removed from the site. Officials don't think search crews at this point will find any more survivors.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen filed this report.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Sirens and flashing lights mark the end of the search-and- rescue operation.

The responders worked around the clock since the missile struck, honored and themselves paying respect to the victims, a gaping hole where dozens of families once lived.

(on camera): As you can see here, this building was completely annihilated all the way down to the ground floor. And the Ukrainians say the reason why the damage is so extensive is that the Russians used a cruise missile called the Kh-22. That is designed to destroy whole aircraft carrier strike groups. And when it hit the building, the building just completely collapsed and buried dozens of people underneath.

(voice-over): A miracle that anyone survived at all, Ukrainian authorities say.

Kateryna Zelenska was pulled from the rubble by rescuers hours after the strike, but her husband and 1-year-old son remain unaccounted for. And this video shows happier times for the Korenovsky family. Father Mykhailo Korenovsky was killed in their apartment, their distinctive yellow kitchen, like their family, torn apart by the massive explosion.

Fifteen-year-old Maria was also killed in the blast. Dozens of relatives, classmates and teachers coming to pay their final respects.

"She was an incredible child," her class teacher says. "God is taking the best of hours. This is what happened."

The Kremlin denies its forces were behind the strike and instead claims a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile hit the building. The Ukrainians say that simply isn't true. And Dnipro's mayor tells me his city and the country need more Western air defense systems.

"Western countries give us air defense systems," he tells me, "but, unfortunately, it's not enough, and it comes with delays. More air defense systems are the only thing that can save our civilians in our cities."

The Ukrainians say they had no chance of stopping this missile that crashed into the building. Almost 72 hours after the strike, the crews acknowledge there is no more hope of finding survivors.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Dnipro, Ukraine.


HILL: Another important update just into CNN.

The Pentagon confirming up to 100 Ukrainians have now arrived in the United States. They're here, of course, to begin that training on the Patriot missile defense system.

That training happening in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. That's where the U.S. conducts its own Patriot missile training, as well as for other countries. The U.S. says the training for the Ukrainians will take several months.

Six people are dead, including a baby, in a California massacre. Officials say it may be related to a cartel. An update is expected just minutes from now.

Plus, new details in the case of a missing Massachusetts woman. We're now learning that Ana Walshe's husband wasn't the first person to report her missing, even though it had been days.



HILL: It is yet another horrific detail in this country that's really tough to wrap your head around, a 6-month-old baby shot and killed execution-style.

A child and mother were among six people killed in what police call an early morning massacre Monday in Goshen, California. It's near Fresno.

Authorities says the level of brutality here suggests a drug cartel may have been involved.

CNN's Stephanie Elam joining us now.

So, Stephanie, they think a drug cartel may have been involved. Is it just because of the brutality or something more?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have several reasons for believing this. And we're hoping to learn more about this, Erica, in a few hours. But what we do know is that these six people were members of one

family. We know that there were so many gunshots that, when the call came into 9/11, the person thought it was an active shooter when this was happening.

They said that, when law enforcement got there, they found two people in the street who were dead. They also found one person in the doorway. And besides that 6-month-old baby, there was also the baby's 17-year-old mother. Both were shot in the head.

However, officials are saying that they were familiar with this house. Take a listen.