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Monterey Park Shooting; Jeff Zients Expected To Replace Ron Klain As Chief Of Staff; Source: SWAT Standoff Believed To Be Related To Mass Shooting Manhunt. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 22, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday.
I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
And we begin this hour with the latest on a deadly attack in California. At least 10 people were killed and another ten hospitalized after a mass shooting Saturday night in Monterey Park.
The Los Angeles County sheriff describing the assailant as an Asian male who fled the scene and remains at large. The shooting happened inside a dance studio seen in these images here shortly after 10:00 p.m. local time during a Lunar New Year holiday celebration.
President Biden and Vice President Harris have both been briefs on the attack and earlier today law enforcement officials shared some details on the investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF ROBERT G. LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Everything is on the table. We don't know if this is specifically a hate crime defined by law. but who walks into a dance hall and guns down 20 people? There were multiple rounds fired at the first location where we have all the victims and survivors.
We don't know how many rounds were fired. Different weapons have been described. In regards to the specific weapon, we don't believe it was an assault rifle at this time, but again that is part of the investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: California Governor Gavin Newsom is sharing his condolences in a tweet that says in part, "Monterey Park should have had a night of joyful celebration of the Lunar New Year. Instead they were the victims of a horrific and heartless act of gun violence.
CNN's Natasha Chen joining me now live from Monterey Park. And Natasha, the sheriff also revealing that they're looking into whether an incident at a nearby Alhambra dance studio is at all related. So tell us what you're hearing.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right Fred. This is a very fluid situation. And they're telling us that they're looking into this second incident as possibly connected.
Now this shooting happened at 10:22 p.m. local time. That is when police were called.
The second incident we're talking about is in Alhambra, which is north of where we are standing here. And that was also at a dance hall that was about 20 to 30 minutes after this shooting.
And they said that at that second location, a person came in with a gun, also described as an Asian man suspect. And people wrestled with him, tackled him and took the weapon away from him. Police confirmed that they do have the weapon recovered from that scene.
And while it is possible that that may be the weapon used here, they are still working and investigating on whether these two things are related.
Now, let's show you a little bit of what is behind me here. We're on a street that as of yesterday was filled with more than 100,000 people celebrating a Lunar New Year festival. Now there is an FBI mobile unit there. The shooting took place at a business just around the corner there.
We also spoke with Congress member Judy Chu. She was at the festival during the day yesterday. And she reflected on just the senseless tragedy that then followed at this private business at night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): It was a horrific crime regardless. And the availability of guns that can do this kind of mass damage is so horrific. It just shows that there is just too great of an availability of these kind of weapons that can do so much damage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: A local resident came to the scene overnight and spoke to some reporters. Also saying that America's gun problem is out of control. He said that perhaps it is best not to go to too many public places right now. So that is just one person in this community reacting to this shocking tragedy.
And yet at the same time, you have L.A. County Sheriff Luna telling people during the press conference, there will still be many Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the region, throughout the country to and he encourages people to still go out and feel safe doing so.
Though in the conversations we've had with residents, of course, they do -- there is some hesitation in their voice, Fred. There is just a lot of uncertainty and fear especially as the suspect is still at large.
WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right. Natasha Chen, thank you so much.
All right. With me now is Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu. She lives in Monterey Park. She was once the mayor of that town and now represents the district where this tragedy happened as a member of congress.
Congresswoman, so good to see you and my condolences to you and your community there.
CHU: Thank you for that. We are shocked and stunned by these series of events.
WHITFIELD: And I heard you during the press conference, that you were at the Lunar New Year festival near where this shooting happened before it actually happened. And your words, you said, you know, this tore a hole through all of our hearts.
How are people feeling in terms of whether they feel safe, whether they feel this is an isolated incident, and then how this has rattled you?
CHU: We are all shocked and stunned and indeed the damage could have been much worse just hours before we had our opening ceremony for the Lunar New Year festival. And there were many, many elected officials and thousands of people who were there just one block away from where the shooting took place.
So, to think of the damage that could have happened is just overwhelming. But to think that this shooter is still out there is also very anxiety-provoking.
And our community is on alert. I've lived here for 37 years and I could never have imagined such a terrible thing happening with ten people killed and ten people in the hospital due to this one shooter.
WHITFIELD: It was quite stunning also to hear from law enforcement there talking about another incident in which someone came into a dance studio in Alhambra. They're looking into whether there is a correlation at all.
But you know, some real coincidences there, with a man with a weapon and that people at that dance studio wrestled the weapon away and now investigators are looking at all of the cameras on buildings and streetlights.
And they have also identified a white van which is something eyewitnesses say might be of interest.
Are you satisfied with what you're hearing in terms of the investigation, how they are looking for this person? Do you feel like they're close?
CHU: Well, one thing I can tell you is that there are enormous amount of resources being brought from the L.A. County sheriffs to investigate this as well as resources from the Monterey Park Police Department to ensure that everybody is safe. I also was able to talk to the FBI who came immediately to determine whether this is a hate crime.
So I believe that we will hear the details as they are able to sort things out. It does appear that this person went from one Monterey Park dance studio to an Alhambra dance studio and shot at them. And in Alhambra they tried to shoot at them but thankfully they were able to wrestle the weapon away.
But we will know more details about who the shooter is and have a description of the shooter. All we know right now is that this is an Asian male between the ages of 30 to 50.
WHITFIELD: And those are very important details. But tell me, too, about Monterey Park. Tell me what kind of community this is, you know. What the way of life is there and how closely knit this community is.
CHU: Well, Monterey Park is a beautiful community. And it is one that appreciates its diversity, supports its students in the schools, makes sure that businesses can thrive. In fact, we're well-known across the world as having the best Chinese food.
And also it is a community that ensures that people are safe and that there's a high quality of life. In fact "Money Magazine" actually called it one of the best places to live in.
So this is a tight-knit community. And it has been very peaceful all these years. So that is why it is even more shattering to have this happen.
WHITFIELD: There are other Lunar New Year events. Even the sheriff said he would be attending one later on today. How confident are you that it is safe for people to attend these festivities?
CHU: Well, I know everybody is very anxious, but I also want to encourage people to continue sending their kids to school, going to the different businesses, and attending the Lunar New Year events that are going on.
Our police departments in the local area are very much on alert. They're ensuring that people are kept safe. And I would say to only stay back if there is some alert that is issued by law enforcement.
WHITFIELD: All right. Congresswoman Judy Chu, thanks so much for your time. All the best.
CHU: Thank you so much.
All right. I want to bring in now CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow for his perspective on all of this. He was a former Secret Service agent under President Obama and a corporate security consultant. Jonathan, so good to see you. So that press conference earlier was interesting. There was a vague
description of the suspect, who is at large, an Asian man, between the age of 30 and 50. There was a description -- a vague description of a white van.
And then we heard investigators say that there was another event that they want to see if there is a correlation. A man went to a nearby dance studio. People there wrestled the weapon away, that person got away.
What is the approach of this investigation in your view, based on what we heard from that press conference?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Let me take the other incident that was referenced and again, I believe that was referenced by a question not the sheriff coming out and saying it definitively.
But, you know, the commonality between the two incidents is a little bit too close for comfort. What law enforcement is probably doing right now is either they do not have enough information to make affirmative attribution between those two incidents.
Or and this is what I believe that they're leading to, is that they have a lot more information, items of evidentiary value from that second site that is actually leading them into, you know, knowing who the suspect potentially is and trying to focus their attention that way. Again, if it is the latter, law enforcement may not want to be telegraphing the information that they have so that they don't tip their hand to this potential suspect.
What are the tools that are likely being used to zero in on the suspect?
WACKROW: Well, listen, you know, it first starts with crime scene processing. You know, we have ten people that unfortunately are deceased. We have, you know, more than ten others at the primary site that had been wounded. So the crime scene processing is going to take a lot of time.
They have to set the boundaries of exactly what defines the crime scene and they have to start and do multiple searches for items of evidentiary value and that includes ballistic evident, you know, the rounds that were used, the casings that were used.
All of that are tools that are at the disposal of investigators to try to make attribution to who this individual is.
They also want to get witness statements, you know, from witnesses and as well as victims. Now, the challenge with that is what we heard from Sheriff Luna is that there is a discrepancy with, you know, some of the statements that they've been receiving thus far.
I want to just stress that that is not uncommon. It is actually very common when you have individuals that were put through such traumatic stressors is that they may not remember all of the details.
And that is why law enforcement doesn't rely on those witness statements, you know, solely. They have all of these other tools.
Let's look at the mention of the white van, right. We've seen in very notable criminal investigations lately, that video analytics and, you know, reviewing all available video can lead to the identification of a suspect vehicle. In this case, law enforcement is really focusing in on a white van.
There are thousands of public and private camera systems throughout Los Angeles that will aid investigators in tracing down, you know, that van and again will that lead us to a suspect and I think that is why law enforcement may be hesitant to, you know, divulge some of this information as they are trying to quickly progress through this investigation so that they can get the suspect as quickly as possible without incident.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much. Stick around. Because we have some new information we want to pass on to our viewers.
CNN is now learning who will replace Ron Klain at White House chief of staff. Klain is expected to step down in the coming weeks.
CNN's Arlette Saenz is in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware where the president is spending the weekend. Arlette, what can you tell us?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, CNN has learned that Jeff Zients, the man who led the white House's coronavirus response effort in the first two years of the Biden administration is expected to replace White House chief of staff Ron Klain once he leaves his post.
SAENZ: Now, no exact date has been set for that transition but it is expected to take place after the State of the Union address which is currently slated for February 7th.
Now Zients stepping into this role as chief of staff comes at a critical juncture for President Biden. They are facing the special counsel investigation over the handling of classified documents after Biden's time in the Obama White House.
They are also facing expected battles with Republicans up on Capitol Hill as they're facing this divided congress for the very first time. And also as Republicans in the House have been promising investigations into the Biden administration, as well as are expected to put up road blocks to much of the president's domestic agenda.
Of course, also happening at the same time, is President Biden is inching closer to the possibility of launching a bid for re-election in 2024. Those are all challenges and circumstances that this incoming chief of staff will be facing.
Now while Ron Klain, the departing White House chief of staff, has been deeply entrenched in government and Democratic politics in Biden world for decades now, Zients comes to the job with a bit of a different background. He has more experience in the private sector though he did first begin working in government back during the Obama administration.
And then he really became close to the Biden team during the 2020 campaign. You know, he hasn't been part of that long-time decades-long inner circle of advisers for the president. But he has grown quite close to the team as he worked with them during the transition period and also on that coronavirus response in the White House.
Now, the White House still has not formally commented on this announcement but it is expected that Jeff Zients will be replacing Ron Klain when he departs as chief of staff. And I would note, there has been very little turnover among senior staff for President Biden since he's taken office. This is quite a big development.
WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz, thanks so much.
All right. I want to go back to our top story and back to Natasha Chen in Monterey park with this new development, Natasha.
CHEN: Well Fred, if we can show you some of these aerials from our affiliate local station what you're seeing is in Torrance, California what appears to be an ongoing police standoff.
Now Torrance is about 30 miles southwest of where we are in Monterey Park. And we have this information from our colleague Josh Campbell where this standoff that you're looking at is believed to be associated with the investigation into this shooting that happened just a couple of blocks behind me. And that is from a law enforcement source telling our Josh Campbell.
So this may be related and what you're seeing there are a lot of law enforcement vehicles surrounding what looks to be a white cargo van. Now, why that is important, we did hear earlier, a couple of hours ago from law enforcement here in Monterey Park, that they were looking for a vehicle fitting that description.
And to remind folks of the suspect information that we were given -- very little. All the police have told us so far is that the suspect is an Asian male between the ages of 30 and 50.
And as we were mentioning a little bit earlier in the show, they were looking at the possibility of two connecting incidents.
They're investigating both the shooting that happened here in Monterey Park, as well as an incident in Alhambra to the north of us where an Asian man was described as coming into a dance hall there, where people wrestled him and took a weapon from him and that weapon was recovered by law enforcement.
So now you're looking at hours later we're talking about, just checking our time here, it is more than 12 hours after this initial shooting, you have this ongoing police activity in Torrance.
Now Torrance is, as I mentioned, about 30 miles southwest of us. It is closer to the coast. And so this is definitely an ongoing situation that we're watching very carefully and waiting for more police developments, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Ok, Natasha.
I want to bring in Jonathan Wackrow as well. And Jonathan you were talking about police perhaps having a lot more information than they're publicly revealing and at least from what we're learning right now, as vehicles surround a white van. That was the vague description that was shared during that press conference. That eyewitness accounts shared with them, seeing a white van.
What are your thoughts, about, again, we have a picture here but we don't have detail. We do know there are 30 miles between Monterey Park, and the descriptions that we were given about the incident happening, the fatal shooting happening last night and the live picture where we are seeing in Torrance, California.
WHITFIELD: All right. Perhaps we don't have Jonathan Wackrow with us still. If you're just now joining us, you're looking at live pictures right now of law enforcement --
WACKROW: I'm here.
WHITFIELD: Ok. You're here. Ok. We're looking at live pictures --
WACKROW: Yes. Sorry.
WHITFIELD: Yes. No problem.
We're looking at live pictures right now of this white -- a white van. We were just discussing moments ago, you and I, about the thin information that law enforcement was revealing at that press conference. And you said that is usually intentional. They may know a lot more than they're willing to publicly reveal. What are your thoughts right now?
WACKROW: Well, you know, just looking at these images that we're watching, you know, this is in reading the posture of law enforcement -- this is a very high-risk situation for law enforcement.
If you see the posture that the officers are taking, they're all taking a defensive position. They have the vehicle, the white van is locked in with two armored vehicles. So this isn't just a regular vehicle stop.
This is something that they believe that the driver of this vehicle poses a high threat to the public. You see that the area has been essentially cordoned off by law enforcement. You don't see members of the public.
And again, the defensive position that the police are taking behind their vehicles, combined with the armored vehicles that are locking that white van in place, you know, again, we don't know if they're trying to communicate with the driver, what type of contact they have made. Right now public safety is paramount. In trying to get this suspect
WHITFIELD: All right. Jonathan -- hold tight for a second. I want to bring in our correspondent Josh Campbell. It was through your sources, Josh, that alerted us all that this was taking place that this white van has been surrounded.
Do you know the circumstances leading up to these two armored vehicles that are, you know, nose to back of the van? What was the probable cause, why did they either pull over or noticed this vehicle?
All right. Josh, are you there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This type of enforcement and or the outpouring of the resources if they didn't think somebody --
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka, can you hear me?
WHITFIELD: I can hear you. ok. Great. So we're looking at live pictures. Information that you received from your sources, helped us zero in on this picture.
So now we're looking at an image that we were looking at live just moments ago we see this white van. And our Jonathan Wackrow was describing that you've got armored vehicles that are nose to tail of the van.
What are you learning, precipitated either this stop or seeing, spotting this vehicle?
CAMPBELL: Yes, so we don't know specifically why this particular vehicle was stopped. Obviously we heard earlier Fred, from the press conference of the -- with the sheriff, the type of vehicle that may have been associated.
But here where we are, where I'm coming to you from in Los Angeles, this is an area that is full of multiple jurisdictions. Different cities, different municipalities. What you're seeing on these aerial images, this is in the city of Torrance which is about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park.
But I could tell you, having been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles, these agencies are fused together. They share information regularly. And any time you have some type of event particularly a mass shooting like this, that information, any type of leads about a suspect or a vehicle will get blasted out and broadcast out to all of these multiple agencies.
A law enforcement source tells me that this standoff that we're seeing on our screen, this is believed to be associated with that Monterey Park mass shooting. Now when these aerial images began, what we saw was this police bear cat vehicle, this is an up armored vehicle used by the S.W.A.T. Team for high-risk situations.
There was a bear cat that was nose to nose with this white van. We eventually saw the bear cat that is in the rear of the vehicle come in and essentially hem this vehicle in.
And this is a tactic obviously that would immobilize that van so that it could not depart. One thing that we haven't seen as we've been watching these images is any type of movement in the vehicle, the first thing that once police are able to stabilize the scene and get that vehicle immobilized, would be to open up some kind of dialogue, communication with the person who might be inside.
But as we've been watching these images. We have not seen any type of movement inside that vehicle. Now obviously there is a lot we don't know about how it came to rest in this position. But if you look at just look at the parking lines, obviously this vehicle does not look like it would be in the normal place where a vehicle was parked. So it could be that this came to an end while the vehicle was still in motion. We do not yet know.
But we do know that there have been -- there was a flood of law enforcement officers, you see the sheriff's helicopter also there nearby, and they've set up a wide perimeter and now their just waiting.
CAMPBELL: Now that they have this vehicle hemmed in, absent any type of danger posed by a person who might be inside, police will try to open up a dialogue, a line of communication to again to try to get whoever is inside to come out.
At some point, as this moves on, you might see law enforcement take a more aggressive posture if they believe someone is in inside. Particularly if they believe this could be the suspect associated with the Monterey Park shooting.
But time is on the side of police right now. You know that that vehicle certainly is not going anywhere. And we'll have to wait and see how this goes from here.
But this is a significant development. We're being told again from a law enforcement source that this standoff that you're seeing on your screen is believed to be associated with that just tragic, tragic situation that occurred last night in Monterey Park, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then Jonathan, in your experience as well, while we are looking at these images we do see other squad cars' doors opened, some officers were standing behind those open doors.
And Josh was talking about lines of communication, you know. The goal is to establish some sort of line of communication, possibly with the people inside or person inside that van.
How might that be happening, Jonathan, in this kind of case? Are we talking about a loudspeaker or what?
WACKROW: Yes, that is exactly it, Fred. I mean if you look at it, what we're not seeing -- what we're not hearing is any type of audio from this environment. But yes, law enforcement, they're going to try to de-escalate this situation. They don't want to get into an armed conflict with this potential suspect. They want them to come out and basically address this without incident.
Now, if you look at that -- the defensive posture that law enforcement is in right now, I mean, I'm not sure how much of a contact that they have actually made with this suspect. Because we are not seeing any movement within that white van. We're not even seeing the van shake around.
So is that just somebody that just is waiting inside and waiting for, you know, some sort of police action. Again, this is unfolding extremely quickly. But I do want to highlight the fact that, you know, this was quick action by law enforcement.
As Josh Campbell had indicated, these bear cat vehicles are up-armored vehicles utilized by S.W.A.T. teams throughout the country. But they're not patrol vehicles so they're not readily driving around, you know, Los Angeles or Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County
So there is a high potential that this vehicle was being surveilled by law enforcement until it got to this location and then they were able to bring these right assets in to make this vehicle stop, hit it from the front and from the back with the armored vehicle. Again, this is a tactic by police to ensure the safety of the public. Again, trying to contain this threat into a smaller area while they clear the area of the general public. So that more damage could not be done by this potential suspect.
WHITFIELD: And Jonathan, you alluded to that earlier in that -- interpreting the press conference. There was some detail that was revealed but there was no connecting of the dots, likely authorities have a lot more information about where they wanted to go with this investigation that was publicly being revealed and when you just now described the use of these -- what kind of vehicle -- you called it a bear cat.
WACKROW: A bear cat.
WHITFIELD: It doesn't just travel around commuting like everybody else. But it had a planned destination. And this was the plan. To intersect with this van potentially.
So, we're looking at taped pictures right now, while this is unfolding, erring on the side of caution, we are using this taped images right now instead of live images. Of news choppers as well as police choppers that are surveilling this as well.
And so, Josh, through your sourcing, do you know whether or not, since Torrance is roughly 30 minutes away, what kind of coordination may have been taking place between these various jurisdictions of police?
CAMPBELL: Yes. I mean, I could tell you from firsthand experience, you know, being a former FBI agent here in Los Angeles, that this information is typically shared in real time.
There are particular law enforcement portals, law enforcement networks where whenever they push information out, that goes to a host of agencies that are receiving that information in real time. And it goes both ways.
If you have law enforcement officers that get some type of description of a vehicle that they may be looking for, they can feed that back to the agency who is actually running the investigation. Here that would be the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department there alongside with police there in Monterey Park.
And so it is definitely a two-way street. You're sharing information and you're trying to run leads to ground. Obviously the license plate on the vehicle would help, you know, try to drill down where that vehicle may have been registered to. And so you know, that is just about gathering information and then sharing it in real time.
CAMPBELL: And as Jonathan mentioned, these types of vehicles, what you see used in high risk situations, aren't out there conducting investigations, gathering leads on their own.
They have to be actually be vectored to a particular location. And so it is -- you know, we'll learn more but the idea that you had this type of -- these type of vehicles there on that scene, to immobilize this vehicle, this van if it does turn out to be associated with this shooting, it is really good police work. That scene, to immobilize this vehicle, this that scene, to immobilize this vehicle, this van if it does turn out to be associated with this shooting, it is really good police work.
I mean, to get that type -- those type of assets there to try to at least conduct a further investigation. The fact that we're not seeing movement, you're not seeing the driver come out, if this wasn't someone who was associated with this, or had some other type of nefarious reason, for not coming out, they would come out. They would obviously follow the commands of law enforcement.
And so, we'll wait and see how this unfolds. As you mentioned, we're not showing this in real time. That is obviously for officer safety reasons in this day and age. Anyone with a cell phone could be watching a live media feed.
But one thing I suspect that we'll see here, knowing some of the assets that these agencies have, particularly with advanced technology, one key asset are robots. Robots used by explosive detection officers. Often times we've seen them bring a robot in to try to gather some type additional information about what's happening. These robots are equipped with cameras and they could pry in and go into places where you wouldn't want to risk a human being. You wouldn't want to risk an officer trying to make entry.
And so, we're now in the phase where they are holding this scene. You don't see officers escalating. You don't see them rushing obviously toward this vehicle. So I suspect that means they're either trying to open up that line of communication or bring in some other type of advanced technology that will get them real time information about what is actually happening inside of that vehicle.
That van is not going anywhere. I mean, those -- that Van, you look at the gross weight compared to these BearCat. They have this vehicle immobilized, the question is, will this person come out. And second, we don't know a lot about what is happening in the vehicle but we've seen situations where a suspect, if this ends up being the actual shooter from Monterey Park, I could tell you having covered so many of these mass shootings and gun violence, sometimes suspects in their own lives, right, which has happened, what we hope is that the person is taken into custody and if -- taken into custody and if this is associated then they go through the judicial process.
But that is something that law enforcement officers are certainly cognizant of. The more time that goes by where they're not getting any type of feedback or communication from the person in the vehicle, that certainly is something that is going to be in the back of their mind but we'll have to wait and see. There is no time line of these type of situations. Time is on the side of law enforcement right now and I suspect that we'll eventually see them bringing in those additional as additional assets to gain more intelligence as police plot their next move.
WHITFIELD: And, Josh, a white van is a common sight on any highway in America. But clearly, there was some level of confidence about this particular vehicle. Perhaps, Josh, you can, you know, share with us some of the tools that law enforcement would use, you know, obviously that the cameras are on traffic lights and around buildings. But what might be some of the tools in which to really discern whether this -- this distinction of this van versus any other white van on the highway?
CAMPBELL: No, it's a great question. And anywhere here you drive the highways of Los Angeles, you're going to see numerous white cargo vans. We don't know if this is a police officer who saw this van and decided to check -- to check into it. Perhaps the driver tried to move away. I mean, the idea that Jonathan was saying that you had this SWAT resources already in place tells us they were probably looking at this particular vehicle for a particular purpose.
One thing that we noticed from that press conference earlier is how circumspect law enforcement was about various bits of information. For example, we know they talked about the Monterey Park incident and then a second incident a couple of miles away in the neighborhood of Alhambra.
I mean, at that point, when police have this press conference, they would have known at that point whether the spent shell casings, that is the brass that is rejected from a gun when it is fired, they would have known if that was similar in type to the gun that was discovered at the second scene in Alhambra.
But they didn't release that information. They're keeping a lot of information close to the vest right now which is understandable. There is always a discussion that goes on, a calculus law enforcement has to make. How much do you share, how much do you keep close to the vest. Obviously, Sheriff Luna here in L.A. said that he knows bad guys watch
the news too. So they try to keep information close to the vest. So we don't know if they started honing in on a particular vehicle. Around the city of Los Angeles, a lot of squad cars as well are equipped with license plate detectors.
So if they were near the scene, more information about the subject vehicle that they were looking for and that included a license plate, all it would take to trip law enforcement, they're interest is for a squad car or a license plate reader around the city to -- that van to drive by that and now to gather real time information.
So those are some of the possibilities. We don't know specific, but again going back to the key point. I could tell you as an example when I was here with the FBI in Los Angeles.
At FBI L.A. headquarters, they had BearCat vehicles and you launch them for specific operations if you're doing a high risk arrest or if you have some type of emergency situation. But they have to know where to go and for that matter, they're very slow. They're very heavy vehicles.
So the idea that we see two of them right now in this location --
WHITFIELD: So, Josh, I want to interrupt you right now, because this is an image that the L.A. County sheriff's office has just released on Twitter, including three pictures, three images of the person they are calling a homicide suspect as it relates to this Monterey Park shooting last night. And it has the three images there with a hat on, and a description, wild they're attempting to identify, they're describing this person as 5'10", roughly 180 pounds or so.
And so, Jonathan, it is -- is there anything to the timing of the release of this image while it is believed police have surrounded a vehicle that fits the description of a -- of the white van that the suspect may have been driving. And releasing this on Twitter while they also are either trying to communicate with the individual or individuals that may be in the van, at the very least, keep that van from going anywhere.
WACKROW: Yeah. And I mean, there could be. But I think that the pace of the investigation is faster than what is coming out from the public information officers, right? Right now, we know that we have a potential suspect in a white van. That is contained by police in that -- in that parking lot. Not going anywhere. As Josh said, the position of advantage now shifts to law enforcement.
So, the release of this photograph, again, could, you know, really be reaching out to the public to see, does somebody know who this individual is. Family members, friends. To garner any type of additional information that could potentially be used to, again, bring this situation and resolve it without incident, right?
They don't want -- they're out in the public in a parking lot with police and what they don't want is to have a gun fight. They're prepared for it with the armor and their positioning. But they don't want that. They want this to come to a -- a final peaceful resolution and get that suspect into custody without incident.
So, releasing these pictures, could be very beneficial. Again, it is another investigative tool. People would say that that is a relative or a friend, and give more information about who they are. Do they have behavioral issues or suffering from a physical ailment. That's going to lead into the motive. Like why did this tragic event happen by this individual.
So this is all critically important for investigators. All of these pieces are coming in very quickly, though. We're watching this investigation occur real time.
WHITFIELD: And tell me how beneficial it is for law enforcement to, when they release a video like that pictures, they might hear from relatives, friends, just as you mentioned and it will assist them, the information they glean, just might assist them in the way in which they interact with the person.
WACKROW: Well, listen, linguistics has a component here. Does the -- does the suspect -- do they speak English in do they comprehend English correctly? Is it coming -- this could be someone who just came to the United States. It could be somebody who is new to the community. So linguistics in any type of incident is a critical factor that law enforcement has to try to assess, because you want to be able to communicate with somebody clearly.
So they fully understand the intent of your message, and law enforcement receives the information back in a clear, concise manner, really to try to bring resolution to the situation. If you're trying to piecemeal communication together, something may be missed and a critical error may be made by either the suspect or law enforcement and that is absolutely not what they want. So, again, making outreach to family members or having family members call in and give additional information about really -- this suspect in really what law enforcement is facing, it is, you know, again, an advantage to them in this situation.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jonathan Wackrow, thank you and Josh Campbell stick with us.
We're going to take a short break as we continue to watch what appears to be law enforcement vehicles surrounding a white van which fits the description of what eyewitnesses told police as a vehicle that was at the scene of a shooting that left ten people dead last night in Monterey Park.
We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: We're back now to our top story where police in Torrance, California, roughly 30 miles away from Monterey Park where a deadly shooting took place have now surrounded a white van earlier today police described the suspect maybe in a white van. We understand that police have surrounded that vehicle as you see right there with those BearCat vehicles, kind of nose to tail of the vehicle, as well as squad cars that are nearby with doors open and officers out of their vehicles.
And also Los Angeles county sheriff's have released an image, three images of what they believe the suspect looks like. And they're also calling this person a homicide suspect. And they described earlier in the press conference, it is an Asian man and now a little bit more detail on this special bulletin image, 5'10", 150 pounds.
The shooting took place at a lunar New Year festival celebration last night and across the country in fact there are many celebrations taking place, celebrating the lunar New Year. And we understand in New York and in many major cities, there is a beefing up of security at expected holiday events.
CNN's Gloria Pazmino is joining me now from New York.
So, Gloria, what are you learning about the measures that are underway there?
GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, here in New York City, NYPD is deploying additional resources and it is not just here in New York which is the second largest population for Asian- Americans after California. But also in Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., there are major lunar New Year celebrations happening here in the city today as we speak.
This is supposed to be one of the happiest times for this community. It's supposed to be a celebration, a time of love, a time to be spent with family. This community instead today is mourning. I want to put up the statement from the NYPD who told us today that they are deploying those additional resources.
I do want to stress there is no credible threat to this city at this Time that the NYPD has identified. But because this is of this incident in California and out an abundance of caution, the NYPD told us they are deploying additional counter-terrorism and patrol resources and will have adequate security presence at these lunar New Year events, many of them, as I said, happening right now in the Chinatown area of Lower Manhattan, as well as in other parts of the city.
The mayor of New York, Eric Adams, taking to social media just a short while ago to express his condolences and support for the community saying that his prayers are with the families of loved ones of everyone involved. And over in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia police department also saying that they are deploying additional resources to effected communities in the area, increasing patrols as well.
And we also just did hear from metropolitan police out in D.C., that is also doing the same.
So, Fred, these communities across the entire country right now are celebrating what is a major holiday, it is a 15-day festival that extends for several days and what is, as I said, supposed to be a time of joy now stained by this horrible violent act.
WHITFIELD: All right. Gloria Pazmino, thank you so much for that.
We're going to continue to keep a close watch on what is taking place there, in Torrance, California, as law enforcement has surrounded a white van which fits a description of what eyewitnesses say the suspect may have been in. We'll continue to watch. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
Live pictures right now of these police BearCat vehicles that have surrounded a white van. Live pictures now. Seeing a much more relaxed posture of police that were standing behind the open doors in the squad cars.
Our Josh Campbell is with us now.
So, Josh, this vehicle fit it is description of what police say witnesses saw the suspect from last night's shooting in Monterey Park may have been in a white van. Describe now what we are seeing and appears to be a much more relaxed posture of police that are there.
CAMPBELL: That's right. Law enforcement source told me that this van, the standoff on the screen, is believed to be associated with the manhunt in Monterey Park. You know, the police said, described the white van now in this city of Torrance, which is about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park. We see police now hemmed this vehicle in with these BearCats, up-armored SWAT vehicles.
And it's important to note that this is being shown on a delay as it is still a dynamic situation, just for the purposes of officer safety, just because we know sometimes, you know, bad guys watch the news. We are not showing real time images for officer safety reasons. But they don't believe that there is any reason to rush that vehicle. Now, obviously, that vehicle has been immobilized by the tactical unites. Before the break we saw situations end in different ways.
And, you know, as I was mentioning earlier before the break, we've seen situations end in different ways. Sometimes whenever a suspect is confronted by law enforcement, we've seen them actually take their own life. There's no indication that happened here but that is a possibility. Of course, authorities are still trying to gather additional information.
But because we seem backed away still, particularly as the images as the helicopter was showing the officers still behind their squad car doors, they weren't -- they didn't have their guns pointed at the vehicle. They were in a ready position, but shows -- tells us that at least based on the posture they don't believe that there's an imminent threat right now being posed by that vehicle.
But there's still very much in the information gathering stage. And I think one thing we're going to see one of two things there. At some point, if authorities aren't able to open up a line of communication with whoever is inside that vehicle, we'll likely see either a robot come in. We have seen that where they make entry to gather information equipped with cameras to gather real time information about what might be happening inside that van, or you could see officers stack up with shields to actually go and then at least gather information, a visual, a light of sight about what's happening.
But no rush by police right now, but obviously a dynamic situation waiting to see what happens with this van.
WHITFIELD: Dynamic, indeed.
Josh Campbell, thank you so much. Jonathan Wackrow also, thank you. Earlier, and Natasha Chen, they're on the scene in Monterey Park, California, again, live pictures right now of Torrance, California, just about 30 miles away from Monterey Park which is where a deadly shooting took place last night. Ten people killed. Ten injured. Police are now looking at a vehicle that may be related to the suspect.
Much more straight ahead. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The NEWSROOM continues with Jim Acosta right after this.