Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Memphis Braces For Release of Arrest Video; Biden Document Investigation Continues; California Mass Shooting. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired January 23, 2023 - 13:00   ET




AUBREY PLAZA, ACTRESS: I was actually voted the most famous person from Delaware.


PLAZA: I beat Joe Biden.


PLAZA: That's a fact. And he was pissed. He was livid.


PLAZA: Look at this video he sent me.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Aubrey, you're the most famous person out of Delaware, and there's no question about that. We're just grateful you made it out of "White Lotus" alive.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We will see you tomorrow.

Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington.

Two victims have been named, eight more yet to be identified, as police work to determine a motive, after a gunman killed at least 10 people at a dance hall Saturday night in Monterey Park, California, the shooter a 72-year-old man who had been a fixture at that dance hall. Police say he was armed with a semiautomatic weapon and extended magazines and died Sunday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It could have been so much worse. Shortly after the attack, he went to a second location, where a man there disarmed him. And this morning, he described their frightening confrontation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRANDON TSAY, CONFRONTED GUNMAN: I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died.

When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon. And we had a struggle. We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, especially in the back of my head.

I was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, creating some distance. Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside, create some distance, point the gun at him, intimidate him, shout at him and say: "Get the hell out of here. I will shoot. Get away. Go."


KEILAR: In the past three weeks, dozens of attacks like this have played out across the country.

So far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, we have had at least 36 mass shootings in the U.S.

CNN's Natasha Chen and Josh Campbell are following the latest out of Monterey Park.

Natasha, two victims have been identified now. What can you tell us?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, they are 65- year-old My Nhan and 63-year-old Lilan Li.

And these are the first two names that we're hearing out of the 10 people who died here at this dance studio behind us. You can see flowers now being laid out in front by people just coming to grieve. There are three more women and five more men who have yet to be named.

And, as of last night, we know that seven more people were injured and still remain in the hospital. You can tell from these first couple of victims named, as well as the descriptions of the remaining victims that we have gotten from law enforcement, that they range in age in their 60s and 70s, one woman in her 50s.

This was a place where folks liked to come and have fun and take dance lessons. And we're learning that the suspect himself was a regular at this dance studio and offered informal dance lessons. And that's where he met his ex-wife, the way that she described their meeting to CNN.

And so this was definitely a jarring, upsetting, violent end to a happy occasion. Just a couple of hours after the lunar new year festival hosted by the city had ended, there were private events, of course, throughout the region in people's homes and private businesses like this.

And that's where this occurred. So some of the people who've been coming up to us and laying flowers, they have -- one person even brought her small child here, saying that this is just too close to home, and that, unfortunately, they are experiencing what so many have across America, feeling like this violence is just shocking to them and yet occurring so often.

And they just wonder what can be done about the gun violence in this country, Brianna.

KEILAR: Of course they do.

And, Natasha, what more do we know about this man who it appears stopped a second attack not far from where you are?

CHEN: Really amazing work and quick thinking by him.

You played a clip Brandon Tsay, his interview that he gave to ABC this morning. Now, Alhambra, where that happened, is a city to the north of where we're standing. Police say that the suspect moved from this location to that other dance studio in Alhambra about 20, 30 minutes later.

And according to the interview Tsay gave to ABC, he said most customers had left their lunar new year private party there, and he was not quite paying attention to the front door, but then heard the door close, saw this man with a gun, and thought that he might die in that moment.


He heard the sound of metal rubbing together and looked over and really had that moment of recognizing that he needed to do something. And he said he got up the courage to stop him, to try and get some distance between the man and his weapon, ultimately taking over that weapon, a really incredible story.

And when -- he was asked -- you have been called the hero, you have been applauded for your courage, and he said, the real courage now has to be shared with these family and friends of the victims and the injured. That is going to be where the real courage lies in the coming days and weeks ahead, Brianna.

KEILAR: And they're trying to make sense of this.

Josh, what do we know about a motive here, potentially? What are police saying?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the motive remains very much a mystery at this hour.

We know that police continue to look into what in the criminal justice field is called victimology. What is the relationship between an offender and his victims? We know that he targeted two of these dance studios. Obviously, the one behind me here in Monterey Park is where 10 people lost their lives.

Thankfully, because of that brave young man over at the Alhambra location, the suspect was disarmed before he was able to open fire, but that's what police are looking at. Was there someone inside here that he was particularly targeting, as well as that other location?

Or was he simply trying to cause an indiscriminate loss of life? That remains under investigation. We do know that the weapon was key in this identifying him once he was disarmed at that other location. He fled, but authorities were able to get a description of the vehicle. They broadcast that out to law enforcement around the Los Angeles area here.

It was a police officer down in Torrance, California, which is about 30 miles from where Natasha and I are standing, that saw this white van. And we saw that long standoff yesterday, as police officers tried to stop that car. The suspect fled. Officers there heard one shot. They backed out and called in the SWAT team, the SWAT team eventually going in, clearing that van.

They found the suspect deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The sheriff did say that they found additional evidence inside that van that links that suspect to these two locations. That's all they're saying right now. We do know, however, that authorities are conducting a search warrant at the suspect's residence trying to gather as much information as they can.

Obviously, he is deceased. They can't interview him. They can glean the motive from him directly. So they are having to look in other avenues, to include his residence, to include talking to people who may have known him, to try to get to some indication of why he came here, caused mass loss of life here Saturday night.

KEILAR: Josh, thank you for that report. Natasha, thank you as well.

I do want to bring in retired LAPD Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey to maybe shed some light on what investigators are doing right now.

How are they proceeding at this moment, Cheryl?

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Well, I think everyone is focused on answering that oh-so-important question, which is the why.

Any information that they can glean from search warrants that are being served on his residence, anything that's contained in there that might give them a little insight into his thought process leading up to this shooting. Obviously, investigators are going to want to talk to family members and friends of this gentleman.

I think he was very target-specific for a reason. I think my own personal belief is that maybe he had some beef or angst with those locations. Was he looking for his ex-wife? Is this a domestic violence kind of situation? And so there's a lot of questions that need to be asked and answered. And, also, how did he get this purported illegal gun to have in California in California?

KEILAR: Yes, all good questions.

I think, anyone looking at this too, Cheryl, will note that his age is unusual for a mass shooting, 72. And then he's also a regular at that first dance studio in Monterey Park, as you mentioned. What questions do those two things raise for you as far as motive? And you did touch upon the one, that perhaps this could be a domestic.

But what about that age thing?

DORSEY: Well we can't pigeonhole these kinds of incidents into what we think is a normal suspect, if you will, if there is even such a thing.

People are motivated for different reasons, and act on that in ways that we can't fathom. Obviously, him being Asian as well understands the importance of the lunar new year and the celebrations that go on around that and what it means.

I heard someone say that they celebrate the lunar new year with the mind-set of everything that happens good on that evening will go forward for the rest of the year. And so was it his intent to create havoc and cause chaos, death and destruction for the rest of the year? Is that what he was hoping for his community?

And so these are some of these questions we will never get the answer to, because he's not here. But I think he targeted those ballrooms very specifically and with some specificity.

KEILAR: And those ballrooms are two of the crime scenes here, right? You have the site of the shooting. You also have this site where the suspect was disarmed.


What are the investigators doing with all of these crime scenes, including his home?

DORSEY: Making a link, trying to find the connection.

And, obviously he's an elderly gentleman. His victims were his contemporaries. They were also elderly, 50-, 60- and 70-year-old victims. And so perhaps, in his mind, he thought these were easy targets. These were people who would be vulnerable and maybe just cow to his aggression.

And thankfully, there was a young man at that second location in Alhambra who had the strength and the stamina to take him on, challenge him, and wrestle that gun out of his hand. He could have created this situation during the day, when there were thousands of people, young people, children on scene, but he specifically waited until later in the evening.

KEILAR: You mentioned the weapon, this extended large-capacity magazine that he had on his handgun, banned in California right now.

How could he have acquired that? Would he have acquired that before it was banned? And what is the remedy here when you're looking at a shooter who has something like that is banned and yet is still able to access it? DORSEY: Well, that's something that we will have to find out in the

weeks and months to come, once this investigation concludes. It's quite possible that he purchased that weapon somewhere else.

I mean, we see he gets around, right? He lives in Hemet. He's in Alhambra, found in Torrance. And so perhaps he purchased that weapon legally in another state and then transported it back to California and that's why he has it. So I don't know.

Is he even able to legally possess a handgun here in California? Law enforcement can only do so much. Even with all of the background checks and loopholes that have been covered, still more needs to be done. You can only do so much. And that's why it's so important that community pay attention.

If you see something, say something and do something, as this young man did.

KEILAR: Retired LAPD Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, we thank you so much for your expertise.

DORSEY: Thank you.

KEILAR: President Biden's classified documents problem just got worse. Top Democrats are now speaking out after an FBI search uncovered even more documents. What the White House is saying today.

And bracing for backlash, the city of Memphis on edge, as prosecutors prepare to release video of an arrest days before a man's death that led to the firing of five police officers involved.

Plus, the IRS started accepting our tax returns today. Why Uncle Sam likely won't be giving back as much this year.



KEILAR: The White House strategy today is downplay, but the playbook might need a refresh after FBI agents discovered even more classified documents in President Biden's Delaware home this weekend.

If you're losing track of where the story stands, here's how we got here. On November 2, the first batch of documents was found inside of Biden's private office in Washington, D.C. Two days later, the National Archives notified the Justice Department. And then, on November 9, the DOJ launched its probe.

Fast-forward to December on the 20th. Biden's lawyers searched his garage in Wilmington, Delaware, and found more documents. On January 5, Attorney General Garland was briefed, and the public learned of the story four days later. Biden's Wilmington home was searched again on the 11th, and more documents were found.

A special counsel was named the next day and five more documents were found in yet another search in Delaware. And that brings us to this past Friday, an unprecedented 13-hour FBI search of a sitting president's home that, yes, has already been searched at least three times, and six more documents found in that search.

This drip, drip, drip is getting harder for Democrats to defend.

CNN's Paula Reid and Phil Mattingly joins us now.

Paula, first, tell us more about this latest search.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is a historic event, the FBI searching the private residence of a sitting president of the United States.

Now, the Biden team is quick to emphasize the fact that this was a planned search that was done with their consent. This theme of cooperation is one they have really been trying to amplify throughout this series of events, because they're trying to draw a distinction between this case and the investigation into former President Trump, which not only looks at his retention of classified documents, but also his alleged efforts to obstruct that investigation.

Now, on Friday, investigators took what the Biden team describes as -- quote -- "six items" consisting of documents with classification markings and surrounding materials appear. But, Brianna, it's not clear what they mean by six items. Is that a box? Is that a document? Is that a device?

We know from our reporting that investigators are still going over the materials that they collected. But it's important to note that the special counsel, Robert Hur, who's going to oversee this investigation, he hasn't even gotten to the job yet. He's not even in his office and set up. They hope to have him onboarded in the next week or so.

So it's important to note that once he begins work, he will have the opportunity to impanel a grand jury. There could potentially be more searches, additional witness interviews. So as the Biden team says in their statement, they want this to move along as expeditiously as possible, this is really just getting started and about to move into a full-blown criminal investigation.

KEILAR: And, Phil, the White House is now contending with growing criticism from key figures in the president's own party.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's a potential even greater complication than they have been facing over the course of the last several weeks as this information has come out.


Look, as Democrats have kind of figured out what's been going on here over the course of the last several weeks, they have been clear, as Paula noted, to draw the contrast between the former president, to really highlight the full cooperation that the Biden team and his personal lawyers have been giving. But as more information has come out, you get a sense of some of the

frustration that exists and also the very real stakes here. Take a listen to what Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck -- or Richard Durbin said this weekend.


SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): Let's be honest about it.

When that information is found, it diminishes the stature of any person who is in possession of it, because it's not supposed to happen.

The elected official bears ultimate responsibility.


MATTINGLY: And, Brianna, as you know, the president said he was shocked to find out that these documents were there. He also was not aware they were there in the first place.

So how this plays out, obviously, going forward is very much about the investigation. But I think White House officials are very cognizant of what their allies on Capitol Hill are saying. And you're hearing a little bit more frustration, as more and more revelations seem to come out.

KEILAR: And adding to all of this, Phil, is that you have a big West Wing shakeup in the middle of this.


And I think that's as much a part -- it's actually primarily a part of the fact that two years particularly as the White House chief of staff, as Ron Klain has been, is just a really long time to be in a very exhausting job. This is something that Ron Klain had telegraphed was coming for several months, long before this investigation became public.

But it does underscore that this is a White House, like most White Houses at the end of two years, that is now in the midst of a transition, less so to some degree than past White Houses. But Jeffrey Zients will come in and become the next chief of staff, according to sources familiar with the matter.

And this is important, because Ron Klain has been instrumental in really every element of the White House over the course of the last two years, but it also underscores, when you look at Zients' background, from his efforts to run President Biden's COVID-19 response operation, held several senior roles in the Obama administration as well, but is really known as an operations and management individual.

And that's important, given the moment that this White House finds itself in. When you look at the president's agenda, it's all about implementation at this point in time. They have passed a lot of those bills. They're now laws. They want to get them into place. That's where Zients comes into play, keeping the trains running on time.

This is not about the investigation so much as it is making sure the West Wing, the operations of the day-to-day White House are separate from what the president's lawyers, what the White House Counsel's Office is working on here. That's why Zients was selected, in part, obviously with House Republicans and their majority very much on the attack too.

That's something that they're cognizant of as well, but that's going to be the driving force of this in a very kind of critical moment for the president as he waits reelection as well -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Certainly.

Phil and Paula, thank you both.

A man dies after a traffic stop and five Memphis police officers lose their jobs. Now the community is bracing for video of that stop to be released. The family of Tyre Nichols is speaking next hour after they watched the footage themselves. We're on that story.

And it's day one of Alex Murdaugh's murder trial, the former prominent South Carolina attorney accused of killing his wife and son. And now we're learning that a Snapchat video the son sent minutes before he was killed could be critical to the case.



KEILAR: Right now, the city of Memphis is on edge as the family of the late Tyre Nichols prepares to speak just moments after they saw what happened during an arrest days before his death.

It led to the firing of five police officers. And I do want to warn you that this next image is graphic, but it's important that we show it. Nichols died in the hospital. And this is what the 29-year-old look like after his arrest. And his family just saw the bodycam footage that led to this moment.

CNN's Nick Valencia is with us now.

Nick, what more can you tell us about this arrest and what his family has just seen?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the details, official details, are murky surrounding the arrest of Tyre Nichols.

But what we do know is that he was pulled over for suspected reckless driving on the evening of January 7. There was some sort of confrontation that happened when he was first pulled over. And then he fled on foot, according to police. They did end up catching up to him, where a second confrontation occurred.

And then after he was taken into custody, he complained of shortness of breath, an ambulance was called to the scene, and he was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He died three days later. Now, we have reached out to the coroner to ask about the extent of his injuries or cause of death. Those details have not been released.

But we should mention that the five officers involved in his arrest, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith, who you see there on your screen, have all since been fired by the Memphis Police Department -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And why hasn't the video been released to the public yet?

VALENCIA: You know, I was on the phone all morning with officials there locally in Memphis, and you do get the sense that they are pretty nervous about what the public's reaction will be once this video is released.

But the district attorney's office did tell me that it's not a matter of if, but when the video is released. And they suspect that it'll be sometime later this week or next week. I asked them, what's the holdup here?

They said they wanted to wait until the family first saw this video. As of about an hour and 30 minutes ago, we understand that they were meeting with the district attorney's office to see the video for the first time. And there are a lot of agencies now involved in this investigation.

We should mention, also, Brianna that the family and their attorney, Benjamin Crump, are planning a press conference for about an hour from now -- Brianna.