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SWAT Standoff Underway Believed to Related to Mass Shooting in Monterey Park; California Manhunt Underway; Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) Interview. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired January 22, 2023 - 16:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Taking these almost live images, I think we'll have to say thank goodness to that. We don't want to see all of that in all of its detail.


ACOSTA: Camila Bernal is on the scene. We've sent her to Torrance, California. She's on the scene for us.

We tried to go to you just a few moments ago. You know, forgive us, I know sometimes getting ready and set in these kinds of situations can get a little hairy.

Are you with us now? And what can you tell us from what you're seeing in your vantage point?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I am, Jim. So I am on the left side of that van on the driver's side of the van. And as you guys were talking there, they did block our view a little bit. That SWAT vehicle just covering sort of that part of the van that we were looking straight at, at the moment. So I'm seeing that the law enforcement agents at the back of that BearCat. And then we also saw the drone coming closer to the ground. So I'm not sure if it landed or not but I was seeing the drone, and it appears that many of these law enforcement officers here are watching what was going on through video of the drone.

As you guys have been mentioning, it has not looked urgent in any way over the last couple of minutes that we've been here. It has been a slow process and a lot of the things that my colleague Josh Campbell mentioned, just so many law enforcement agencies working together, expanding the crime scene. We got here a while ago and they have moved us multiple times because they have tried to expand the crime scene telling us to be extremely careful because they were just not sure what was inside of that van.

So, again, we saw the last vehicle that got here sort of circling around the van multiple times. We were watching all of this happening and, again, they essentially parked right in front of me. So they blocked my view. But it could be because, of course, they're in there and they don't want us to see what is going on behind the van. So you may have aerial views that are maybe a little bit better than what I'm seeing here. But, again, not a lot of urgency. Just seeing these law enforcement officers working and trying to get inside of that van -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Camila Bernal, thank you very much. Come back to us as quickly as you could if you have new information.

I want to turn now to Josh Campbell. And, Josh, we are looking at almost live images right now of that white cargo van. Police have entered the vehicle. It appears as though there is somebody slumped over the steering wheel of this white cargo van that we're looking at right now. We've just moved away from that image.

But, Josh, let me ask you for just a brief moment about the training that goes into and the professionalism that goes into, the step by step process of what we just witnessed over the last 30 or so minutes in the way that they have not only pinned this vehicle, but positioned this other vehicle after presumably scanning it, making sure that the person inside is no longer a threat to the community. And then entering the vehicle that we just saw in the last 10 or so minutes.

It appears that they've just gone step by step, almost in a textbook fashion in neutralizing the situation.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's right, Jim. I mean, law enforcement officers are trained to respond to the actions of a perpetrator. And that is what we're seeing here. You didn't see an aggressive posture throughout. We initially saw whenever this first kicked off that BearCat come nose to nose with that van, and we were told that this was precipitated by an attempted traffic stop initially. Again the law enforcement source told me that this was believed told to be associated with that Monterey Park mass shooting.

We know that Sheriff Luna here in Los Angeles had previously indicated that there was a white van out there that was a vehicle of interest. So, you know, fast forward, you have officers there in the Torrance area which is about 30 miles southwest of the mass shooting crime scene attempt to make a traffic stop. And then you see tactical assets come up toward that area and go nose to nose with that vehicle. You then see additional vehicles show up on scene.

And the reason why this is so textbook is because, again, you didn't see officers rushing into the van because those officers likely didn't deem that van to be a threat to them. There was reporting that perhaps there was a shot that was fired. That could have been the person inside that van taking their own life. We know we've seen no movement from inside that van since the standoff began. And then it was just time was on the side of police to try to gather as much information as they can.

They waited for a third BearCat tactical vehicle to arrive that then began circumnavigating that area to try gather information. We know that police had a drone that was flying up over that white van as well. And at some point, the on-scene commander made the decision that we're now going to gather a stack of officers behind that shield, go in and make actual firsthand visual contact with SWAT officers.


We saw them breaking the window on the passenger side of that van and then it was deemed all clear. You saw officers go in. You do a cursory search. You do a cursory search. You have to actually search the vehicle to make sure there aren't, you know, threatening devices that could put those officers in danger. But once we saw that police drone actually land, that was essentially our signal that, OK, this situation is now, you know, what they call code four. This is under control.

And then now we have to wait and see whether the suspect is actually identified as the person who was associated with that Monterey Park shooting. All indications according to sourcing is that this is related. But the sheriff who -- you know, Sheriff Luna here in Los Angeles, where I am, is very conservative when it comes to information. He didn't want to get out too far ahead of the investigation. And pretty remarkable fashion, we saw the sheriff conducting a press conference as this tactical incident was being mitigated.

And the sheriff saying that, look, this could be associated, perhaps not, they're going to have to wait and see. So he was certainly being conservative in sharing information. But again, according to our sourcing, this appears to be connected to that mass shooting. And if this, in fact, suspect then took his life, and that was the person that they were able to locate in the vehicle, it is only a matter of time before they're able to make visual confirmation, looking at person's facial features, comparing with the photograph that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department had put out to the public.

And then, you know, then you move to the next phase, the registration of the vehicle and the like, and then they'll quickly have the identification done. But certainly a dramatic development there. This police standoff. Some 30 miles away from the actual crime scene. But in looking at these images now it appears at least the scene in Torrance is now over -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Josh Campbell. Thanks very much. If you have any more information, don't hesitate to come back to us.

I believe we also have CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey with us.

Chief Ramsey, thanks so much for being with us. Josh Campbell was talking about this just a few moments ago, how Sheriff Luna there in Los Angeles County was being a bit cautious in telling us to definitively that this is the suspect from the Monterey Park mass shooting. And of course we understand that. They have to make certain that what they're telling us is accurate.

But it does appear at this point, Chief Ramsey, that there has been some resolution brought to the situation. Officers have certainly neutralized this vehicle and if our viewers are just tuning in right now, just in the last 10 or 15 minutes we saw these tactical officers with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department surround this vehicle, smash the passenger side window, open up the side doors of that vehicle, and then go inside and make sure the scene and the situation there is neutralized.

Your thoughts, Chief Ramsey, on what we just saw unfold.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, I hope that the public really gains an appreciation for how dangerous police work can be. When you watch those SWAT officers approach that van, I mean there is no margin for error. If there have been a living suspect in there, armed, you know, it would have been a problem them, and that's why they were cautious and took so much time beforehand going around the van to see whether or not that individual was moving, showed signs of life, or whatever, if there in fact a person in the van.

I mean, I'm not 100 percent sure seeing the image. But I'm not 100 percent sure. But anyway, they wanted to make sure.

ACOSTA: Right.

RAMSEY: But it's very dangerous work. When you look at the items they're pulling out of the van, it looks like someone who is actually living in the van. When you look at blankets and all that sort of thing. Now whether or not that really means anything, I really don't know. Hopefully this is the suspect. But it is too soon to tell. They're right now in the process of trying to I.D. that person. Once they do that, of course then there are other things that have to take place, warrants to be executed, all those kinds of things to try to wrap this thing up. But right now they've got that situation under control, no question about it.

ACOSTA: Yes, Chief Ramsey, and we should note there was one moment when all this was unfolding, we could see from one aerial vantage point what appeared to be somebody slumped over the driver's side steering wheel there.


ACOSTA: And -- but we can't say for certain whether or not, you know, shadows and that sort of thing. I guess we might not have seen somebody there inside the vehicle. That's what it looked like for a moment. But you're absolutely right when you say when the officers were on the other side of that white cargo van and they were opening up those side doors in the back of the vehicle and started to pull things out. It looked as though perhaps we were seeing a bed in the back of that car or some kind of mattress in the back of that car, and then just all kinds of contents being pulled out on to that parking lot.


And then, Chief Ramsey, I was wondering what you thought of why Sheriff Luna was being so cautious about this. I'm sorry, control room is trying to tell me something. Chief Ramsey, hold your thought right there. We're going to take a

quick break. We're going to recap the situation when we come back in just a few moments. Live images, almost live images coming right now from Torrance, California, as the L.A. County Sheriff's officers neutralize the situation with this white cargo van. Believed to be connected to the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. We'll have more developments on the other side of this break. Stay with us.


ACOSTA: Welcome back. We are bringing you the latest from the situation in Torrance, California, where armed tactical officers with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department have just neutralized the situation with a white cargo van there in a parking lot about 30 miles southwest, I believe, of Monterey Park, California, where the mass shooting took place last night.


Now you're seeing these officers behind one of these armored vehicles and they're approaching yet another what appears to be another white van, perhaps in the same parking lot or in a nearby parking lot.

This is brand new. This is happening just now. We are not 100 percent certain why these officers are approaching this van. It may be that they are just trying to neutralize every white cargo van in this vicinity right now. But this is all unfolding as we speak as law enforcement officials there in the L.A. County area are trying to get to the bottom of and neutralize the situation regarding last night's mass shooting and trying to make sure that they have any and all suspects apprehended who are connected to that mass shooting that took place last night.

CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller is with us. Juliette Kayyem is back with us as well. CNN's Camila Bernal is live on the scene and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey is also with us. We're not showing you all they're faces and so on because we want to focus on what we're looking at right now at this parking lot in Torrance.

And, John Miller, let me go you to you first because, and perhaps maybe you have a monitor in front of you and you could see what I'm looking at right now, but it appears to us, and please help us expand on this as much as you can, that they are trying to check out this other white van right now, John.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST (via phone): So I think what you're seeing now is probably something that involves somebody who reported a white van as a suspicious vehicle after the sheriff's press conference where they said it was a vehicle of interest. Obviously their primary interest was in the white van that was involved in the attempted car stop, where they said they heard a single gunshot and believed a suspect was inside.

In this case, I think if they had a call, they want to go about the steps of clearing any of these additional things and since they have all the resources on the scene, it's a matter of, well, why not just use them. So, you know, what you're look at now is another tactical approach to this vehicle. You know, being led with shields and cover teams and the stack. In the last vehicle we saw, a number of different approaches and the use of drones to look inside and so on. Involving the last vehicle --

ACOSTA: They're opening up the book doors of that van right now, John.

MILLER: So obviously they're proceeding much more quickly on this one than they did on the last one.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. Absolutely. No question about it.

And Juliette Kayyem, perhaps you can weigh in here as well. It looks as though, and I think John is spot on here that perhaps they're just responding to a call about another white van. And just to make absolutely certain, 100 percent, that if any and all suspects connected to this mass shooting in Monterey are accounted for and ruled out and neutralized, whatever they need to do to bring a resolution to this situation.

KAYYEM: That's right. I mean, this is both the wonder and the frustration of having, you know, sort of crowd sourcing law enforcement investigations. There used to be a day when the population was left wondering what was going on. I think it's a terrific move for law enforcement to get engaged communities as we saw earlier today in the identification of a white van and an Asian-American male. There are going to be false positives. That happens.

And then, of course, you know, people wonder why are they doing this. This is just the nature of a false positive. When you ask communities for more information, you will get some of this. And it is an important given what's happened in the community that it's taken seriously. We are obviously much more focused on what we saw a couple of minutes ago. And at least the sheriff's statements about an individual in that van, and then of course returning back to Monterey Park and what that community is facing today.

Look at this. I'm from this area. You don't get no traffic like that. This whole area is completely cleared out. We have now the aerial view. Anyone who is from the Los Angeles area knows even on Sundays you don't get streets like this. This is a community in lockdown because something horrible has happened to them.

ACOSTA: Yes. Well, and Julia, not to --

KAYYEM: And you want this to end as soon as possible.

ACOSTA: And just to jump in because our friends at KABC in Los Angeles they have this aerial view of what's taking place right now.


ACOSTA: And helped us all a little bit of what we're looking at right now. The shot is tight on this white cargo van that John Miller and I were just talking about a few moments ago where they went into the back of it, it looks like there's no there, there.


But this helicopter shot just zoomed out and then panned over to what looked to be the other parking lot where the other white cargo van was parked.


ACOSTA: That they did go to --

KAYYEM: That's exactly right.

ACOSTA: Just a few moments ago. KABC's helicopter pilot camera person is doing this once again. And you could see there are law enforcement officials surrounding that van where the window was smashed.


ACOSTA: They went into it a few moments ago. We were just talking about this before this last break. And as we were just discussing, when we were talking about this cargo van that you're looking at right now, there did appear to be somebody deceased inside that vehicle. We don't have 100 percent certainty of that. We're waiting for law enforcement officials to update us. But we're going to take a quick break. We ask everybody to be patient with us and stay right where they are.

We're going to come back to them on the other side of this break as we try to cover the latest developments of this unfolding situation in Torrance, California, where law enforcement appears to be perhaps bringing a resolution to at least the search for the suspect in that mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. We'll have more information on the other side. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: Welcome back. We want to update our viewers on latest of this breaking news situation in California. Police have made entry into a white cargo van, actually two white cargo vans now in Torrance, California, where there may have been a standoff between the suspect in the Monterey Park mass shooting and law enforcement.

You're looking at aerial images right now coming in from KABC. The reason why the helicopter shot here is zooming out and then zooming over to this white van, that is the van where at the top of the hour police smashed the passenger side window and entered the van and may have encountered somebody who is deceased in the driver's side of that vehicle. We did briefly catch a glimpse of that.

But then in just the last several minutes, armed tactical police officers with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department entered a second white van. And that is what you're looking at right now. They've made their way to the back of this van, to the backdoors of the van, the shield. You could see the other officers armed there, aiming their rifles at the back of the van. That appeared to be just a check of another similar vehicle in that area.

We haven't received any definitive updates from the sheriff's department as to what they were doing with this other white van. But our John Miller was positing just a few moments ago that obviously if other reports are coming in of suspicious white vans that may or may not be connected, police are going to go check those out. And these vans appear to be maybe a half mile to a mile apart from one another.

But police, as you can see in this video, went into the back of this second white van and appeared to have determined there was no problem, nothing inside and then went about their business. But CNN's Camila Bernal is with us now. She's with us. Very close to that first white cargo van that we were just telling you about a few moments ago where there appears to be a very real situation going on there and that this may be the suspect connected to the mass shooting in Monterey Park.

The L.A. County sheriff was telling reporters about half an hour, 45 minutes ago, yes, quote, "possibly, this may be the suspect," but, Camila, what you could see from your vantage point now? This white van is kind of by itself with the contents spilled out on to the parking lot.

BERNAL: That's right, Jim. I'm standing right in front of that van. Obviously a little bit further back because police have us in a special area for the media. But I was here when they surrounded that white van, tried to get inside. As I mentioned before, one of those BearCats kind of blocked my view for a moment there, but we were able to see the members of the SWAT team going in and surrounding that white van.

It's unclear if they were able to take the body out. But I would say it doesn't appear to be the case because investigators are still going up to the van and looking through the windows, going around, taking pictures, we saw the members of the SWAT team leaving and essentially taking off their guns and some of their equipment. But then we saw the investigators in suit and ties coming to the van, taking pictures, taking notes, going around the car.

As you mentioned, I am looking at the belongings that are short of all on the ground at the moment. And I will say that this is not over because there is still a large police presence in the area. Everything is still taped off, the sheriff's helicopter is still flying overhead. And as you could see, they're just sort of taking those pictures, trying to finish up here. But it will likely take a long time from what we're seeing now.

We saw the drone landing. We're seeing all of the businesses in this area still closed. CNN speaking to some of the employees in these businesses who have said that they have been on lockdown since around 11:00, 11:45 local time, so everybody is still waiting to get the all clear from authorities. The roads are still closed. But again we have eyes on that white van and the SWAT teams have now left. It is just the van in that parking lot at moment -- Jim.


ACOSTA: All right, Camila, thank you so much. Let's get to Chief Charles Ramsey, who's also with us. Chief, what will police need to definitively say that this is the suspect? They've been very methodical, over the last 90 minutes or so, neutralizing this white van. And trying to make sure that this person who was inside doesn't pose a threat to the community anymore.

But we still don't have any conclusion as to whether or not this is indeed the suspect from the Monterey Park shooting. And I suppose that's what comes next. They I.D. the person. They look at person in the driver's seat and take it from there.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, they do have to verify it. They'll run the tags. They'll run the VIN number. Certainly, the individual -- if there is an individual in the car, I don't know if that's been confirmed or not. They'll certainly I.D. that individual.

The reason they went after the second van is because they had not yet verified that this is, in fact, the van that they're looking for. It almost reminds me of 2002, when I was the chief in D.C. and he had the beltway sniper. And we were looking, initially, for a white box truck. I mean, we stopped hundreds of box trucks. And the most common color for a cargo van or a box truck is white.

And so, you know, hopefully this is the right one. It is the only one. But as you start to see more and more people come to that van, you see detectives there now, if you see mobile crimes show up, all of those kinds of things, that is a strong indication that this is, in fact, the van that they were looking for.

ACOSTA: All right, Chief. And John Miller is also still with us, I hope. John, great, thanks for your patience. What stands out to you right now?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, I think what we're watching is shift from the tactical operation, which we spent a good deal of time with. With them considering this van, trying to figure out, is it rigged with explosives? Is the individual inside perhaps not dead but still armed and waiting them to make entry to ambush them.

They had to go through all of those possibilities. They had to examine different modes of entry. And they made their decision which was to do the entry they did.

And then, what you saw after that is they pulled the things out that are blocking their view of what's in the van. They've got a body in the van. And now, they've established there is nothing else that is a threat inside of the van.

So, the shift now is from the tactical scene to the crime scene. And that's why you're seeing the tactical teams finish up, put their stuff away, and move out. Because, now, you've got steps. First, sheriff's homicide has to show up at the scene, and we're starting to see them now. Then, the L.A. County coroner is going to have to arrive and establish the identification of the deceased individual who is in that van. That's a critical moment. Because then they'll determine, is this the individual that they're looking for?

They do have a named suspect. He's a male in his 70s. He lives about two hours east on the 710 Freeway. And he has been the focus of the investigation since earlier this morning. If they determine that the individual, who's deceased in the van. That they tried to do the car stop on. They heard a single gunshot. And then, it turned into this standoff until they could render that van safe and make entry.

If they determine that that is their suspect, then they're in a much better position to say, OK, we have the person we're looking for. Now, we've got to fan this out and determine, is it just one person? As the sheriff said earlier, are there others involved? And this is the process.

But what you're watching is a very controlled tactical scene slow down into the homicide investigation that this is at the center of.

ACOSTA: All right. John Miller, thanks for that. And, as Chief Ramsey was saying a few moments ago, when you watched all of this unfold and the methodical steps that law enforcement is taking to neutralize this situation, it really underlines the dangerous work that people in the law enforcement community do. And, of course, our hats off to them. We're grateful to them for the work that they do.

We're going to take a quick break. Everybody stay with us. When we come back on the other side, we hope to bring you some new developments in all of this. And, hopefully, get some certainty from officials here in the coming minutes, and maybe hours, as to whether or not this is, indeed, the suspect from the Monterey Park mass shooting. Stay with us. More in just a few moments. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: We want to update you, once again, on the breaking news in Torrance, California, right now where, in just the last several minutes, police neutralized a white cargo van sitting in a parking lot about 30 miles away from the mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, overnight, that left 10 people dead and 10 wounded.

I want to get the latest from Monterey Park near the scene of that carnage. Let's go to CNN's Natasha Chen who is on the scene for us. Natasha, I mean, we've done this so many times over the years, these mass shootings. Just rip a hole in a community when they occur. Natasha, I'm sure you're just picking up on so much pain and heartache in that community. What more could you tell us?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, it is that very unfortunately familiar feeling of ripping apart a community. And it's also about when this is happening. This is the lunar new year weekend. Not only was the city of Monterey Park hosting a two-day festival that was supposed to have more than 100,000 people here each day in these streets behind me, over throughout the region, there are private family parties, businesses hosting celebrations.

This is a time when people are supposed to be very joyous and celebratory. And, instead, there is hesitation and fear in this community.

I do want to highlight something that was said in the most recent press conference. I noticed a difference in language that the sheriff used, between this press conference and the one that I was at in the morning.


CHEN: When asked about the two incidents, here at Monterey Park and in Alhambra, this time, he said that he believes the suspect is the same in both. Though he didn't want to 100 percent confirm that to the public. But he used the term that he believes that they are the same. That is quite something, when you consider the fact that here, at 10:22 p.m. is when the police were called, seeing a bunch of people coming out of this business.

And just down the block, where you see the white building there next to the FBI mobile unit, around the corner is where we're talking about. These people pouring out, seeing gunshot victims. They went into this dance hall, saw gunshot victims there. Ten pronounced dead on the scene. Five women, five men.

And then, the sheriff says 20, 30 minutes later, a dance hall in Alhambra, a city to the north of us, a description of an Asian male suspect there as well. With people actually wrestling and tackling him. This time, taking control over his weapon.

And So, the police have recovered the weapon from that scene. And when asked for more details about the weapon that they have from Alhambra and what they believe from what they're seeing here in Monterey Park, the sheriff would only say that he does not believe it was an assault weapon.

And so, little details coming out here and there. And, as you can imagine, because it is only until just in the last few minutes that you and the rest of our colleagues have been walking us through these live slightly delayed pictures from Torrance, California, there have been locals coming up to the tape here, coming up to where the barriers are, just trying to understand how this possibly happened. Trying to understand why this person would have done this and how safe they are going to other lunar new year festivities for rest of day. Perhaps the other things happening this week.

This is supposed to be the time for the largest parties in Asia. This is the biggest holiday of the year. So, a lot of people having a long, long break, like my dad. You know, fly to the United States to be with their families in the U.S. And are here this weekend to celebrate with each other.

And you can imagine, as the sheriff said in the press conference there, some families who woke up this morning, hearing what happened, and do not have their loved ones next to them in the house. And they are trying to just figure out what in the world happened here -- Jim.

ACOSTA: And what in the world happened there has happened in way too many communities here in the United States. Natasha Chen, thank you very much for the latest there. We'll come back to you. If you have any new developments, please don't hesitate to let us now.

I want to go now to Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu. She joins me now. She represents the district where the shooting took place.

Congresswoman, our deepest condolences to you and your community. I just can't imagine the heartache that people are experiencing right now in Monterey Park, especially during what is supposed to be a joyous weekend. A weekend of celebration for people in that community. How is everybody handling this? It can't be easy.

REP. JUDY CHU (D), CALIFORNIA: People are still stunned and shocked by hearing about the deaths of 10 people and the injuries to 10 more. As you said, this was supposed to be the most joyous time. People were really looking forward to these lunar new year festivals, after being cooped up for three years due to COVID.

And this was the return of this festival, only hours earlier. And one block away, we actually have the grand opening of the lunar new year festival. I was there, along with many other elected officials. And there were thousands that were surrounding us and walking this street. So, to have this happen at this time is just so horrific and heartbreaking.

ACOSTA: And what is your reaction to the scene, that we've been witnessing over the last hour or so, hour and a half, where L.A. County sheriff's officers appear to have neutralized this white van or they have neutralized this white cargo van in Torrance, California, which I guess is about -- we're told about 30 miles away from where you are. And, perhaps, we don't know 100 percent for sure just yet, may have, I guess, come upon the suspect and that person may not be dead. We don't know that for sure.

But they appear to be moving in the direction of resolving this situation, at least from getting to a suspect at this point. What's your reaction to all of this and what do you know? If you have more information, please share it with us.

CHU: Well, I certainly hope that this is, indeed, the shooter. It appears that the person inside of the white cargo van is dead. And, certainly, we heard from the people at the last dance studio that he drove away in this white cargo van.


CHU: So, all of the points about what we've seen seem to add this being the shooter. That would provide so much relief to our community. I'll tell you that. Because there was so much fear and anxiety about an active shooter being out in our community, especially during this time when people usually are out and about for lunar new year.

So, people were very fearful about such fundamental things as sending their kids to school or just going to a business. And if, indeed, this is that person, the suspect, then I think at least those fears will be allayed.

ACOSTA: And, Congresswoman, this is happened so many times. We cover them often on the weekends here at CNN, because they happen so often on the weekends. Another mass shooting in this country. Another community shattered by this kind of mass gun violence in the United States.

What is your response to that? What are your thoughts, in terms of what needs to be done so we don't keep having this happen over and over again? It just -- it's an epidemic that appears to have no end in sight.

CHU: Well, I have been concerned about this since these mass shootings started with Sandy Hook and the Pulse Nightclub. I joined the gun safety caucus in Congress. And we have been pushing legislation that I know will make this country safer. We do have universal background checks.

But there are loopholes. And those loopholes are that you don't have to have the background check if you buy your gun at a gun show or through a personal sale or online. So, those loopholes have to be closed because we do know that universal background checks, indeed, has saved lives. That is a very, very common-sense way to decrease the access to guns to those who should not have it.

ACOSTA: All right. Congresswoman Judy Chu, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it. Our hearts go out to your community right now. We know people are hurting there. And let's hope that we get some answers here in the coming hours. Thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

CHU: Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right, we'll be right back.



ACOSTA: And we're back with breaking news on the unfolding situation in Torrance, California, where law enforcement -- they just neutralized what appear to be two white cargo vans in that area. One of them believe to be connected to the Monterey Park mass shooting that occurred overnight.

Let me go to CNN Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller. He's on the phone with us now. What is your sense of where things stand, John? It does appear that there is somebody who is dead behind the wheel of that white cargo van. The first one that police neutralized earlier in the afternoon. Where do you think we stand right now?

MILLER: Well, where we stand right now is they're dealing with that as a crime scene. When they stopped that vehicle and they heard the single shot. They saw a male behind the wheel. One hand on the wheel. One hand down where they couldn't see it. They were worried about booby traps or possible explosives, which is why they took a good, long time to make their entry, and, with the bomb squad, clear it to make sure there was nothing set up to go badly.

Now, you see sheriffs homicide and others on the scene awaiting the coroner, where they're going to establish that it's a self-inflicted wound. The identity of the person inside who is deceased. And go through the evidence in there.

Now, the SWAT team doesn't do that. Their job is to handle the tactical part. These are the people who are going to end up testifying about what they found. And we're looking at that entry when it was made, again when they first got into the vehicle to make sure that there was nothing in there that was going to blow up.

In the meantime, they're looking at what is in there. Because you have an individual who, apparently, is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. So, you've got a body. And you've got a firearm in that van.

But you also have a major shooting incident last night, where they collected numerous shell casings inside a dance club. And then, a second location where he showed up approximately 20 minutes later, and a gun was wrestled away from him, which is now in the hands of authorities.

So, the first thing it tells us, if this person, who is deceased in this van is the suspect from both shootings, and they believe it is, then he had multiple weapons. One which he lost in a fight at the second location and one which he used on himself during this car stop. And it's possible that there are more.

The detectives and the crime scene people haven't fully processed that van. They've just gotten inside and established what the situation is. So, with the shell casings from the first crime scene, they will attempt to match those to the gun that was wrestled away from him. That'll be done with the ATF NIBIN system and whatever ballistics they can use with their lab.


MILLER: And with the gun that is in the vehicle that was used in this apparent suicide, they'll have to match that and determine if that was involved in that scene. And if there's another. From the beginning, we had witnesses at the first dance club describing an AK-47.

But people don't necessarily know the difference between an AK-47 and AR-15, and a -- and something else. The gun that they recovered from him is something that I would describe as -- it looks -- it's actually a pistol. But it looks like a small machine gun. It can take a 30- round magazine. The sheriff says it was not an assault weapon. And he's correct. It doesn't fit into that category, from a legal sense. But it's an intimidating-looking weapon, and that's what was taken off him in the second location.

So, there are a lot of steps to go in this investigation, and we are literally watching them in progress.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, John. And we can note, just in the last couple of minutes, the L.A. County Sheriff's Special Enforcement Bureau tweeted that the operation for an armed suspect in Torrance has concluded.

Neighborhoods say that doesn't answer all of the questions that you raised a few moments ago, John. But it does give us some sense that if the L.A. County Sheriff's Department is tweeting something like that, they at least want to get the word out to the community there in Torrance. That the area is safe and they are getting into the process of getting that area back to normal.

John miller, thanks for being with us. We'll be back in just a few moments. We'll be right back.