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Police Standoff Over At Torrance, California Connected To A Mass Shooting In Monterey Park, California; Authorities Released Picture Of The Armed Suspect; Suspect Inside The White Van Killed Himself. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 22, 2023 - 17:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. We want to have an update now on some breaking news coming into CNN. Dramatic new developments in a standoff that is believed to be connected to last night's mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park, California.

Police say the S.W.A.T. operation, part of this story is now over and the neighborhood is safe. This is the moment that police approached a van matching the suspect's vehicle description, and then breaking the window. You can see there, and searching inside. Then just a short time later, police approached and entered a second white van a few blocks away from the original standoff in Torrance, California, about 30 miles away from the mass shooting scene in Monterey Park.

The sheriff's department says they are working to determine at this moment if the driver of that white van is this man, their suspect. Police have not released his name. They have not named him, but they have at least this photo describing him as an Asian man who is armed and dangerous. They believe he is responsible for opening fire on a Lunar New Year celebration, killing 10 people and injuring 10 others at a dance studio in this predominantly Asian-American community, about seven miles outside of Los Angeles.

CNN's Natasha Chen is in Monterey Park for us. But let's begin with Camila Bernal in Torrance, California where we saw these dramatic developments in this standoff take place in just the last hour, hour and a half. Camila, police are now saying the neighborhood is safe. That is good news for that community. But this was -- this was quite an operation that unfolded right here live on "CNN Newsroom" just over the last 90 minutes. What more are you hearing?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, a massive law enforcement operation. That's what we witnessed over the last couple of hours. Many, many agencies working together, doing everything they could to get inside that white van. We watched as S.W.A.T. teams surrounded that white van and went inside of the van.

But I want to start from the beginning. According to law enforcement sources that spoke to John Miller, we know that the white van was stopped by police at some point. And the officers tried to tell the driver of this white van to get out of the car.

As this was happening, authorities say they likely heard what was a gunshot and believed that the suspect killed himself. That is what sources are telling CNN. And so, what happened next is authorities were trying to figure out how to get inside of that van. We saw the S.W.A.T. teams at the back of the white van, in the front of it. And then we saw a third S.W.A.T. team vehicle surrounding the cars, were going around and around that white van.

We saw the drones up in the air and the officers looking at that footage from the drones, trying to figure out exactly what they were going to do. Eventually, they were able to get inside of that van and look around. It is unclear if they were able to remove the body from the van, but it doesn't appear that that was the case because what we saw was investigators later coming, taking pictures, walking around, trying to document everything that was in the van and around the van.

That's what we're seeing right now. The S.W.A.T. teams, they are gone. What we are seeing now is the investigation part of it, the documenting part of all of this. There is still crime scene tape all over this area. The businesses are still closed. A lot of them were told to stay in place, to not come out. So, of course, many of the employees, people that were here in the surrounding malls, were terrified because they were watching all of this unfold and they were hearing police officers telling them to get out of the way.

There were helicopters in the air. We just saw one of the choppers from the sheriff's department taking off. So, we are sort of seeing the scene essentially spreading and calming down, but there is still a lot to do here as they process the scene and figure out the next steps in terms of confirmation.


We are waiting for the sheriff department to tell us who exactly was inside of that van and whether or not they are connected in that case in Monterey Park. We are expecting an update from authorities in about 30 minutes. That's what we heard from authorities. So, we will be waiting to see if we finally get that confirmation from the sheriff's department about who was in the van and whether or not he was killed, although we do believe that is the case, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Camila Bernal, thank you very much. Let me go to Natasha Chen. She is in Monterey Park, California, the scene of this awful, awful tragedy. Natasha, officials held a news conference as this standoff was ongoing. What are we learning about the shooting and the victims?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, as much as they were careful not to immediately confirm that that standoff was connected to this incident, they've also been very careful about releasing any information about victims. What we know from the earlier morning press conference is that the 10 people who were pronounced dead on the scene were five women and five men. I asked about age range. I asked about ethnicity, and they wouldn't give more of that information because they said they were still in the process of identifying these people. They have also been cautious about sharing exactly which hospitals the

injured people have gone to citing an experience from the past where people who were trying to create trouble end up, you know, calling the hospitals. They found it to be more safer to not let the public know exactly where those injured people are.

So, one thing I was able to clarify with them, I asked if there were any children among the victims and they said no. So, right now, then at the scene, what we are seeing is a lot of local residents coming up close to try and get more information. There is a memorial that set up at city hall, just a few blocks away from us. So, it's likely that people may be gathering there for more information as well.

But because there has been this prolonged search for answers, we find that a lot of local residents were really hesitant and scared about continuing to go on with their Lunar New Year plans. As we've mentioned in the previous lump (ph) shots, these streets were supposed to be closed, but for a festival that was supposed to have 100,000 people here today.

And in fact, yesterday, there were that many people filling these streets. And some of the vendors told our colleagues that they were told to break down and get out of the area very quickly. Of course, the city canceling those celebrations. And some of the people who were at these press conferences today, local officials, congressman (inaudible), the mayor, Henry Lo, all of them were at this festival, on these streets, just a couple of hours before this happened.

And so, when you put things in geographical context, the area where the shooting happened is inside of this. Now, it's inside a dance studio where we've been told that -- some people who have gone in there before in the past for dance lessons, this is a place where couples go for ballroom dance lessons. And this is supposed to be a very happy moment. And a lot of people very upset now, wondering what in the world the motive could have been, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Natasha Chen, Camila Bernal, lots of questions still outstanding in all of this. We don't have all the answers. We hope to get more of those as the hours go on this evening, but thanks to both of you. We'll get back to -- if anything comes up, please don't hesitate to come back to us with any late breaking information.

I want to bring in now Jonathan Wackrow our CNN law enforcement analyst and former Secret Service agent and CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Chief Charles Ramsey. Chief, police have put out the suspect's picture, they are not naming him. They have been very cautious through all of this in what they have been releasing to the public in terms of information. As cautious as they were, and that methodical ending to that standoff in Torrance, California, what stands out to you at this hour?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, it appears as if they're pretty confident that they have the individual they were looking for. I mean, they put out a tweet that really was an indication that, you know, there was no longer a manhunt that was taking place. But they still have to go through the formality. They have to identify the individual. The coroner will be coming out to the scene or be finger printing the individual. They've got to still go through the van and search it.

I think the next press conference that Sheriff Luna has, a lot more information will be provided at that point in time. Again, you know, he played it close to the vest, which you have to when you have an ongoing investigation. Bad guys watch TV, too. So, you can't, you know, put out too much publicly. But I think that if this is, in fact, the individual they were looking for, then you'll get a lot more information at the next press conference that should be coming up very soon.


ACOSTA: Right. Suspects watch TV and as we all know; you can watch TV now on your phone now. So, I mean, you could be anywhere in that kind of a situation. So of course, law enforcement officials have to be careful. Jonathan, we watched that tactical team move in on that white van in pretty dramatic fashion earlier on this afternoon, about 90 minutes ago. Police believe that van was connected to the shooting.

We saw at one point what appeared to be an individual slumped over the steering wheel of that vehicle after they neutralized any kind of threat that might have existed with that van. What was your sense of it as you watched it unfold? Was that pretty much a textbook, step by step operation that we just all saw took place on live television?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yeah, Jim. I mean, when you really look at what law enforcement did to first, you know -- the first contact with that vehicle and then surround that vehicle, it was textbook. You know, they took a very methodical process. Once they pinned that van in from the front and the back with the up-armored BearCat vehicles, they, you know, cleared out the area of public.

Again, in moments like that, public safety is paramount, as well as officer safety. Their tactics were deployed correctly, not to have a blue-on-blue situation, should the incident escalate. Law enforcement did an excellent job at, you know, containing this threat, to this specific area.

And then they took position, you know, the position of advantage in the situation where, you know, time was on their side to dictate what the next moves were and they tried to bring this to a peaceful resolution. You know, whenever you have a barricaded subjected like that, it's really going to be three things.

The suspect is going to either surrender on their own. There's going be, you know, some sort of, you know, tactical interaction or, unfortunately, you know, as in this case, you see that, you know, the suspect died via a self-inflicted wound. Really, those things are the three outcomes here. But regardless of what those outcomes are, the tactics that were applied were, you your point, Jim, textbook.

ACOSTA: And Chief Ramsey, last hour, Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu joined us. She represents the district where the shooting took place and she told me witnesses gave police a description of the vehicle. How important is that? How reliable is that? Witnesses providing that kind of information. Because it sounds as though the information was highly accurate and led them to potentially, we don't know 100 percent if that's the case, but potentially to some kind of resolution to this situation.

RAMSEY: Well, listen, it's incredibly important. I mean, you have witnesses at the scene that can provide a description of the individual, any kind of vehicle that that person maybe using at the time. I mean, you know, that's what you have to go on in the initial stages of an investigation. So that information is absolutely critical.

I mean, you know the guy is in a van. You know, what direction did he leave? What kind of surveillance video? Not just there, but the potential route that that individual took. Can you pick up a license tag along the way? I mean, those kinds of things are critical.

And I think it ought to be mentioned, that second location where patrons apparently disarmed him. I mean, those folks saved a lot of lives. I mean, we don't know for sure, but it could certainly could be assumed that this individual had planned on doing more than one mass shooting, and had those people not intervened, we would be talking about a larger tragedy.

ACOSTA: And Jonathan, we're showing these images not only of the -- of what may be the suspect's van where there is a deceased individual in the driver's seat. But there was another white van. I don't know if you were following our coverage, but they also quickly neutralized that van.

It looked as though they were just trying to make sure that this other van was not at all connected to the overall situation, and it underlines that they still were dotting their I's and crossing their T's and just making sure that maybe there isn't another suspect, there isn't another van involved, that sort of thing, again, going back to the methodical process that they were going through this afternoon to try to bring this to a conclusion.

WACKROW: Well, Jim, you know what, there's probably a lot more actions that we're not seeing as opposed to what we just saw. You know, what law enforcement has to do is when they -- whenever they put out to the public, you know, asking for the public's assistance, they're going to get a wave of tips, right? And they have to follow up on those tips, and they prioritize which ones they need to adjudicate quickly.

And you know, we were able to capture one of those actions where they tried to clear that second white van that was in relative close proximity to the first target vehicle. We saw them clear that, you know, very quickly, again, you know, following up on, you know, every possible lead. They have to do that just out of an abundance of caution.

ACOSTA: All right. Jonathan Wackrow, Chief Ramsey, thank you both for your expertise in all of this. We appreciate it.

[17:14:59] Stand by. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to have more on our breaking coverage from Torrance, California. You're looking at live pictures right now.

And this goes to what John Miller was saying earlier this afternoon. And that is that as the scene is neutralized, as the threat is neutralized, now you're going to see forensic investigators, perhaps the coroner's office moving in to try to get to the bottom of whether or not the person slumped over the steering wheel in the van is indeed the suspect from the Monterey Park mass shooting. We hope to have all of those details for you on the other side of this break. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


ACOSTA: If you're just joining us, we are following breaking news out of California. A dramatic standoff now over after police moved in on a white van, they believe to be connected to a mass shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park overnight. I want to bring in our Jonathan Wackrow, CNN law enforcement analysts and former Secret Service agent and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Chief Charles Ramsey.


Chief, let me ask you this. Police have put out the suspect's picture, but they aren't naming him. Why do you think that is?

RAMSEY: Well, they didn't put a name out, I'm not quite sure why they didn't, but it could be because someone who may know this individual, if there's -- the person has a house or something like that, maybe they just didn't want to attract attention. I don't know why they didn't put the name out if they had the picture.

But any way, the fact is that they did put out some information which obviously was enough to lead to police getting to that white van. And again, you know, the primary, you know, thing that you want to get done is you want to, you know, catch up with the person who is responsible. But why they didn't put a name on it, I really can't tell you. I don't know.

ACOSTA: And Jonathan, we can put the picture back up of the suspect that was released by law enforcement in all of this. Jonathan, I was just going to ask you, if I'm not mistaken, I think John Miller was talking about this a little bit earlier. This individual appears to be fairly old and doesn't necessarily -- doesn't really match what we typically see in a lot of these mass shootings. In recent years, we have seen shooting suspects be a lot younger. What do you make of that?

WACKROW: Well, it just shows how dynamic and unpredictable this threat is, right? You know, we shouldn't, you know, be focused on one profile. There are many people who engage in violent acts every single day, and this individual, again, not somebody that I think that we've been, you know, focused on in the past.

But, you know, the outcome is the exact same. You know, we have 10 deceased individuals, you know, from a very violent attack. And not only at one site, the potential that it was going to occur at a secondary site. So, I think we have to, you know, maintain the situational awareness at, you know, at all times and not, you know, fall into a sense of complacency that, you know, there is a certain type of profile that is always going to be present for these types of mass attackers.

ACOSTA: Indeed. And Chief Ramsey, we were showing these pictures again from earlier this afternoon when L.A. County sheriff's tactical officers neutralized this white cargo van and what appears to be, if you look through the passenger side of the van, to what appears to be somebody who is deceased in that driver's side of the vehicle, and that driver's seat there.

What is your sense as to what happens next? We were talking to John Miller about this earlier this evening. And, again, these are images from about an hour and a half ago. The latest images that we just saw shortly before we went to the break show what appear to be perhaps homicide detectives or coroner's office officials, that sort of thing. And that is the next stage in all of this, is that right?

RAMSEY: Yeah, that is the next stage. Now they have to actually verify the identity of the individual. They have to conduct a search of the van to see whether or not there is anything there that would help them better understand why this took place.

You know, you asked me earlier about not putting the name out. Think of it at the time, but perhaps they were concerned about social media foot print that this person had, and once they put a name on out, of course, then everybody, media and everybody starts to, you know, go on to social media site. I don't know if that's the case or not, but that's a possibility as to why.

But, you know, this isn't over yet. They've got a lot more to do. They got a lot of evidence that they have to collect. They've got to match ballistics from a gun that was taken at that other scene, shell casings from the shooting that took place, the gun that he used on himself, all those things still have to be done. They need to tie this up so that they have everything, all questions answered that they can possibly have answered.

It doesn't change the fact that this is a tragedy. You got 10 people that have lost their lives. You got other people that are recovering from injuries. Hopefully they all recover from their injurie. But, you know, the police work now just simply moves into a different phase.

ACOSTA: You're absolutely right, Chief Ramsey. We're looking at some live pictures right now of that white cargo van that tactical officers entered, smashed the passenger's side just about two hours ago, a little bit less than two hours ago there in Torrance, California.

And Jonathan, one of the things I wanted to pick up on with you is, you know, Torrance, Josh Campbell was pointing this out a little while ago, it's a good 30 miles away from Monterey Park, California. That is, I mean, is everybody there is about Los Angeles County.


That is a densely populated, urban sprawl kind of area. And, you know, law enforcement was, I guess, very close to really just losing complete track of this individual. The potential was there for this shooter, the suspect, if this is indeed the suspect's vehicle, the suspect on the driver side of that van, I mean, they were really looking at the potential maybe for this person just disappearing off of the radar screen for a significant amount of time. Thirty miles away is a long way for a mass shooter to travel if this is indeed the suspect.

WACKROW: Yeah. Yok know, Jim, your concerns are extremely valid. But I do want to, you know, just highlight, you know, from the infancy of this -- of this investigation, law enforcement wasn't revealing a lot of information to us, right? That first press conference that we saw earlier today, you know, the notion of the white van didn't even come up from the sheriff. It actually came and was raised by a question.

And, you know, to me that's signaling that there was a lot more going on behind the scenes by investigators and that they didn't want to telegraph to the public. Investigators have a lot of resources at their disposal these days, especially a lot of technological resources.

So, to Chief Ramsey's point earlier, you know, if they had identified that this white van and they had either a whole or partial license plate, there is technology called license plate readers that are, you know, throughout both public and private locations that actually create this massive network of identification where you can actually track the direction of a vehicle.

Now, they might not have the specific vehicle. They may have been tracking numerous vehicles at the same time, but that's an investigative resource that they did have. But your concern is correct, right? There was a long time, you know, afterwards, you get 30 miles away from this attacker.

But, again, I look at, you know, and I think this is an interesting case here where we saw a lot of technology being deployed tactically. We saw the use of drones. We saw the use of up-armored vehicles, all to, you know, bring mitigation to this threat. And again, all for the public good. You know, you don't want this individual out there, you know, causing harm.

ACOSTA: No, absolutely. And you're right on when it comes to all of the resources that were brought to bear to bring some kind of resolution to this area. And it underlines, I mean, we saw occur earlier this afternoon where these officers methodically went up to this vehicle to neutralize the situation. It just underlines the dangers that the men and women of law enforcement here in this field, I mean, across law enforcement, of course, but in this particular field that they undertake on a daily basis.

Jonathan Wackrow, Chief Ramsey, stand by. We're going to have more on all of this after a quick break. Stay with us, the breaking news. Our coverage continues of the situation in California. The suspect may be inside this vehicle from the Monterey Park mass shooting that occurred overnight. Officers neutralized that vehicle earlier this afternoon. More on all of this after a quick break. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: All right. If you're just joining us, we are following the breaking news out of California in Torrance near Los Angeles. A dramatic standoff is now over after police moved in on two white vans that were near each other. The vans fit the description of a vehicle of interest in connection with last night's deadly mass shooting a shooting at a dance studio in Monterey Park.

It is still unclear what, if anything, police found inside the two vans. But you can see the officers making their way to the vehicle. One of the vehicles -- the one vehicle of interest where there appears to be a suspect or maybe a suspect dead inside on the driver's side of that vehicle.

In the meantime, the L.A. County sheriff's department Special Enforcement Bureau tweeted that their "S.W.A.T. operation for an armed suspect in Torrance has concluded. Neighborhood safe," the tweet goes on to say. And this is the suspect that police are looking for. They believe he was responsible for shooting and killing 10 people and injuring at least 10 others in Monterey Park.

The victims were gathered at a dance studio located at a predominantly Asian-American community to celebrate the Lunar New Year. And I want to bring in Jonathan Wackrow, CNN law enforcement analyst and CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey. Back -- both gentlemen back with us. Thanks so much. John, what's the next phase of this investigation? I assume that's finding a motive.

And does it stand to reason that the other situation that unfolded last night after the mass shooting, the one in Alhambra where people apparently wrestled a firearm away from somebody described as an Asian man? It does seem as though all of this is connected at this moment.

WACKROW: Yea, absolutely, Jim. So, right now what we're really seeing in terms of the arc of this investigation is we're entering into a new phase. The tactical element, the imminent threat seems to, you know, have been resolved. We don't have final confirmation on that, but are starting to see the communication come out from law enforcement that, you know, the armed suspect has been mitigated, that threat has been mitigated and that the community is safe.

You know, I would like to see a lot more of that. I'd like to see a lot more through different channels and actually different languages really to reassure the public. But, you know, we're starting to see that. And the phase that we're moving into is, you know, the investigative phase. And it's tying in together, you know, trying to understand the motive of this attacker? Why was this location chosen?

[17:34:59] You know, was this, you know, this targeted act of violence, was it in response to some sort of grievance with an individual? What were the factors that led this individual to commit this crime at that location, and the secondary site, right? So, is this something that they went into that first location, didn't see the target that they were looking for and moved on to the next location. Again, all of that is going to be part of the investigative process.

And what they are going to do in that investigative process is, you know, once they identify positively who this individual is, they're going to start looking at friends, family, interviewing them, trying to understand, you know, was there something, you know, what was the motivation behind this act.

They'll look at, you know, all of the digital trace evidence that they possibly can. Did this person, you know, belong to some sort of group? Did he telegraph any type of grievance or a concern that would have led to, you know, this act? Again, this is that next phase of the investigations where things are going to slow down a little bit. They're going to be more methodical. We saw the tactical elements, you know, occurring.

Again, we're not more than 24 hours, you know, from the incident. So, this is where investigators are going to start taking the items of evidentiary value from the crime scene, piecing it together with other elements, again, to try to answer the question why.

ACOSTA: Exactly. And Chief Ramsey, let me turn to you next because one of the questions that a lot of folks are going to have in the hours and days to come is, you know, what led to this mass shooting that occurred last night? We just don't have very much clarity in terms of that information.

You were saying earlier this afternoon it's perfectly understandable why the L.A. County sheriff was keeping his cards close to the vest, but don't you think as the hours go on this evening, that this community is going to need some more information about what is going on, in particular, whether or not this person is going to be positively identified as the suspect in the Monterey Park shooting, the person who is slumped over the wheel, we would believe be -- believe to be slumped over the wheel of that white cargo van there in Torrance.

RAMSEY: Yeah, I think the next press conference you could get a lot more information that you had that we got before. In fact, if this is, in fact, the person who is the suspect, then there's no question that there'll be a lot more information. But that doesn't mean it will have a motive yet.

I mean, that's part of what they're doing now in this phase of the investigation. They searched that van. Did he have any writings in there? When they interviewed family, friends, you know, was there some kind of beef or issue that he had moving forward for whatever reason that would lead him to do something like this?

Does he have -- does he have a social media footprint? He's an older guy, maybe he doesn't really, you know, use social media, I don't know. But that's part of the investigation now, is to try to find out why. You know, why would someone do something like this? Is there a connection to the Lunar New Year? Or is this something totally separate from that, that caused him to take that particular action?

So, I think we'll find out more in the next press conference. Don't be disappointed if they have not yet zeroed in on a motive. Again, you know, the police cannot speculate. I mean, we can do it, media can do it, we can speculate and so forth. But when you are running an investigation, it's based on fact. And until you have those facts, when you shouldn't be putting out any information that is not 100 percent accurate. So, you know, I'm optimistic that we'll find out more, but how much more, I don't know.

ACOSTA: Right. And Jonathan, I mean, even when the sheriff was asked, you know, is this the suspect or I think He may have volunteered, you know, is this the suspect? Possibly I think is the way he described it earlier this afternoon. So, he has been -- Sheriff Luna has been keeping things very close to vest.

WACKROW: Yes. Well, I say, you know, if he said yes, guess what? There are 500 follow-up questions to that. And so, you know, I understand that, you know, that law enforcement is trying to, you know, keep this very compartmentalized and only release the facts. As Chief Ramsey said, they have to, right, because then also, this is an ongoing investigation.

We still don't know some big questions around how were these weapons obtained? How many weapons are there? Are there anybody -- is there anybody else involved in this? So, those things are still not answered. And again, if we -- if law enforcement speculates in any way, it could really jeopardize the totality of the investigation. So, we'll wait to hear what they say in the next briefing, but again, it's going to be all fact driven.

ACOSTA: And Chief Ramsey, I mean, for the sheriff's department to put out a tweet that says the standoff is over, the neighborhood is safe, I mean, that is a very clear indication that, you know, there -- and there's the tweet right there. We have it up on the screen right there.


"The operation for an armed suspect in Torrance has concluded. Neighborhood safe." I guess that doesn't tell us everything. But they're not going to willy-nilly put out a tweet like that in a cavalier fashion unless they are absolutely certain that they have the situation at least in hand there in Torrance.

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, that's what I would think. But I mean, you're talking about Torrance. Again, that's 30 miles away from where the actual mass shooting took place. Obviously, the community in Torrance, once they see S.W.A.T. vehicles zeroing in on the van and so forth, you know, there's a lot of concern.

So, they want to let those folks know that, you know, that particular situation has been resolved. Now, it doesn't go far enough to say that it also, you know, resolved the Monterey Park mass shooting, but I think one could assume that since they put that out, that they're pretty comfortable at this point in time, even though they're not 100 percent verified yet, that this is an individual that they were looking for initially.

But again, that's me speculate, but that's it. We'll find out more when Sheriff Luna has his next press conference and hopefully, he can answer that particular question.

ACOSTA: All right. Very good. Jonathan Wackrow, Chief Ramsey, thank you very much.

Stay with us. We've got more on this breaking news coverage coming up next. Of course, we've been telling you all afternoon, the L.A. County sheriff's department has announced that the standoff in Torrance is over. This white cargo van that is believed to be connected to the Monterey Park mass shooting, that van was entered by officers earlier this afternoon.

It appeared to us that there was somebody slumped over the driver's side steering wheel when they made that entry into the vehicle. And since then, we've seen other investigators from the sheriff's department on the scene going through the van and that sort of thing. We're going to try to get you the very latest on all of this, on the other side of this break. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: All right. If you're just joining us, we are following breaking news out of California. We're standing by for an update minute from now at the scene of the S.W.A.T. standoff in Torrance after a mass shooting in nearby Monterey Park, California. CNN's Camila Bernal is in Torrance for us. Camila, it sounds as though we may get some kind of update from officials there. What more can you tell us?

BERNAL: Hey, Jim. Yeah, we're being told that in about 10 minutes we are expecting a press conference. Now, these press conferences don't always start on time, so we'll keep you posted on when authorities come up to the mic. But there are a lot of things that need to be confirmed here. We do not know from authorities whether or not the person inside of that van is connected to the shooting that happened last night.

Now, we know that authorities believe that is the case, and we have heard from sources that that is the case. But we have not gotten that official confirmation from the sheriff's department. We're also waiting to hear what happened inside of that van.

According to sources that have spoken to CNN, we believe that this person that was inside of the car shot and killed himself. We have not gotten that confirmed from authorities. So that is another thing that we're waiting to hear from police, whether or not the body is still in the car, whether or not that person is, in fact, dead, shot himself, all of those details we're waiting to hear from police. It's unclear if they will confirm all of this. But we will definitely ask the questions, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Camila Bernal, thank you very much. We go back to Jonathan Wackrow, our CNN law enforcement analyst and Charles Ramsey, our senior CNN law enforcement analyst. Gentleman. I guess, Jonathan, as we are waiting for this press conference to get started again, what questions do you have?

WACKROW: Well, you know, the first thing that I actually want to hear is actually that the community is safe, right? So, since last night, you know, we had this tragic incident. And then we had a suspect, an armed suspect that was on the loose, right? So, that has kept a large community on edge for a long time.

I want to hear the reassurances that this is the suspect, that the community is safe, and that this -- that the investigation is moving into the next phase. I also want to hear, you know, to the extent that they can share, you know, how did they determine that it was this van? Again, was the technology that we had described in the previous segment? Was it a tip or other type of investigative technique? That is something that I would like to hear.

And then where are they going, right? Like, what's the next phase in the investigation? Are there others that they are potentially looking at? Is this a solo actor, a lone actor in perpetrating this crime? Again, those are the things I want to hear. And again, you know, as Chief Ramsey said earlier, you know, there's a lot that they can't divulge, right. It has to be fact based, but I would like to hear some of those factual elements start coming through.

The last two, you know, press conferences that we had, we haven't had a lot of like new facts being, you know, brought forth to the public. So, now this is a time where I think that since the tactical elements are over, we do have one potential suspect who is deceased because of a self-inflicted wound. I think now we're transitioning in; you know, more information should be available to the public.

ACOSTA: All right. Chief Ramsey, over to you. What questions do you have, and we should note to our viewers, we are waiting a news conference there in Torrance, California. Chief, I'm sure you've never had reporters waiting too long for one of your press conferences, but sometimes as we know, these things can get a little delayed. But as we're waiting for that press conference to get going, what's on your mind?


RAMSEY: Well, first of all, I agree with everything that Jonathan just said. But in addition, and we spoke about it earlier, and that is motive. Do they have something at this point in time that they can actually say was a motive behind this? Is it connected to the Lunar New Year celebration?

Now, that's important because that celebration doesn't just take place at that location. I mean, these are celebrations that take place around the country. And so, you know, as a police chief, even though, you know, I'm not in that particular jurisdiction and somewhere else, I need to know how this is going to impact my security at these large- scale events. And so that's something that I think is pretty important and something that hopefully we're able to kind of zero in on a bit.

ACOSTA: All right. Jonathan Wackrow, Chief Ramsey, thanks very much. As always, stand by. More on our breaking news. It has happened once again in America, a mass shooting. The case may have come to its conclusion here in Torrance, California, about 30 miles away from the scene of that has shooting in Monterey Park, California. We're waiting a press conference from law enforcement officials there in L.A. County. We'll have the latest on the other side of this break. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: All right. Just a few moments ago, some officials there in Torrance, California came up to the microphone to update reporters there on the situation that was resolved there when S.W.A.T. team tactical officers neutralized a white cargo van that is connected -- believed to be connected to the Monterey Park mass shooting. Let's go to that now.

RON SALARY, TORRANCE POLICE DEPARTMENT: At this time, I would like to introduce Janice Hahn who had some words that she would like to say.

JANICE HAHN, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Thank you. As he said, the press conference is at 4:30 and it's going to be in Monterey Park. It's going to actually talk about the particulars of the case, but as the county supervisor that represents Torrance, my message today is just a huge thank you to the Torrance police department and the incredible cooperation between our sheriff's department and all law enforcement agencies in L.A. County.

So, the sharing of information is what led Torrance police department to be able to do just good police work, by actually spotting this van on their streets. So, my message today is that it's so important going forward that everyone talk to each other and share information and this is how I believe this incident came to an ending here in Torrance.

I don't think anybody that woke up today, myself included, thought it would end up here in Torrance right across the street from a very familiar shopping center. But I, again, can't thank enough chief of Torrance police department, Chief Hart, and all the officers on patrol, who do their job every day, but because of the information they got from the L.A. County sheriff, they were able to be on alert and were able to spot this van and bring this to an ending. Thank you.

UNKNOWN: Supervisor Hahn, did they talk to the guy? Did they talk to the --

HAHN: So, that's a part of this that we're not going to talk about. Let me bring up the mayor of Torrance, George Chen, who also wants to say a few words.

GEORGE CHAN, MAYOR OF TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Supervisor Hahn. And as we celebrate the Lunar New Year today, it's intended to be a joyous occasion. And so, I want to first of all give my condolences to the family who lost loved ones today -- last night at Monterey Park and the victims in Alhambra.

Words cannot say how much we are grieving with the family members that suffer through this tragic event. Now, moving on to the city of Torrance, you know, the response by the integrated law enforcement community is an example of what happened today. From Monterey Park, Alhambra, ending up in Torrance, it speaks of the technology we have, with surveillance, with cameras, with radios, with training to have the instinct to know that there's something that is not right with the particular white van.

Something not right with license plates. And this shows the training that we need. And we need to continue to provide that type of support to our integrated law enforcement community so that we can prevent further damage and incidences like this. So, at this point, I just want to send it back to the Torrance P.D. I want to give a shout-out to the entire police department, the fire department, they're all here.

This is a teamwork and as example of what we need continuously. We need to remain vigilant. We are asking all of our community that, you know, if you see something that doesn't look right, please help us so that to inform our law enforcement that if something doesn't look right, please come and take a look. And this is a result of what happened today. It was a very quick reaction and I'm very appreciative to our police department.

UNKNOWN: Was there a traffic stop first? Was there a traffic stop first?

UNKNOWN: -- can you just tell us about how your officers saw the van, how he got to here?