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Shooting at two Sites in San Mateo County; Noelia Corzo is Interviewed about the Latest Shooting in California; Henry Lo is Interviewed about the Monterey Park Massacre; Grand Jury Report Hearing. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired January 24, 2023 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A good morning to you. A sad morning in the news. I'm Jim Sciutto.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: A sad morning. One that's become all too familiar. I'm Erica Hill.


HILL: For the third time now in as many days, California rocked by mass shootings. In Oakland, at least one person is dead, seven injured. Seven people also dead after a gunman opened fire in Half Moon Bay. And 11, of course, were killed over the weekend in Monterey Park. Police say a 67-year-old man attacked two separate locations in Half Moon Bay. This morning, one person remains in critical condition.


SHERIFF CHRISTINA CORPUS, SAN MATEO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: It's a big, rural location, so people are working. It's spread out. There's people that live at the location as well. So, you know, it's -- it was in the afternoon when kids were out of school. And for children to witness this, it is unspeakable.


SCIUTTO: We can say the regularity of this kind of gun violence is not normal. Perhaps more accurately, it's not normal anywhere but this country.

In that shooting, right now, the suspect is in custody. His arrest captured on camera, as you can see. This in the parking lot of a sheriff's office. Officials say they found a handgun in his vehicle.

All of this as friends and family mourn the loss of the 11 people shot and killed in the first of these three shootings, that in Monterey Park on Saturday. Investigators are now learning more about the suspect in that shooting, including the stockpiles of ammunition inside his home. Ahead, we're going to speak to the mayor of Monterey Park.

HILL: We begin this hour, though, with the very latest on this most recent mass shooting in Half Moon Bay, California.

CNN correspondent Veronica Miracle joining us now from the scene.

So, what more have we learned overnight, Veronica?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Erica, certainly disturbing similarities between that recent mass shooting in Monterey Park and the one here in Half Moon Bay. This one that happened yesterday happened over two different scenes, about a quick five- minute drive from each other.

That first scene happened around 2:22. And that first 911 call came in just before 2:30. Deputies were responding to reports of a shooting with multiple victims. And when they arrived, they found four bodies, including a fifth person that was critically injured.

Then, a short distance away at another scene, they found an additional three bodies. And about two hours -- just over two hours after that first 911 call came in, a deputy discovered 67-year-old Chunli Zhao in the parking lot of a police substation inside of his car. We showed that video where he was taken into custody relatively without any issues.

But it is very unclear right now what exactly the motive is. Authorities say that he likely acted alone and possibly worked at one of those locations. But, of course, this community is reeling.

Here's what the mayor had to say.


MAYOR DEBORAH PENROSE, HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA: Our hearts are torn out of our chests for all these individuals and families. Our neighbors, our friends.

The only thing we do know is that some of the victims were Chinese. That the -- the perpetrator was Chinese. And that this was an agricultural community. They were agricultural workers.


MIRACLE: And, Jim and Erica, something very specific to this community that's happened in recent weeks. There have been storms that have battered California, as we know. It's caused flooding and devastation across the state. But here, in this agricultural community, it was hit especially hard. So, there's an additional layer of trauma already being felt on the ground here. And now these farm workers impacted yet again by another tragedy.

Jim. Erica.

SCIUTTO: Those farm workers, their family members, their friends.

Veronica Miracle, thanks so much.

With us now is Noelia Corzo. She is the San Mateo County -- on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning.


SCIUTTO: You know, we find ourselves asking this very same question, sadly almost every day, certainly the last couple of days, but I do want to ask because we care, how is your community doing?


How are you doing this morning in the wake of this?

CORZO: I'm doing OK. I think, you know, especially for elected leaders, we have a - we feel a big sense of responsibility to provide support to our communities, and most definitely proactive support so that we can do everything within our power to not allow this to happen again.

In terms of the community of Half Moon Bay, you know, this is a -- primarily a farmworker community. And, you know, I can't imagine what the families are going through. But there will definitely be support offered. And, you know, the impacts of something like this are long lasting. These families will be impacted for the rest of their lives.


CORZO: And, you know, my understanding is that there were children present and it's really difficult.

HILL: Yes, as we just heard from the sheriff, the San Matteo County sheriff who said, for children to witness this is unspeakable.

You talk about the support that you feel. It is - it is your duty as an elected official to provide that support.

What about looking at things as well from a safety perspective? As Jim pointed out, you know, we feel like we keep asking the same questions because this is happening on an almost daily basis. And it is a uniquely American problem. There's no way around it. Why is it so difficult to effect change?


HILL: Why is it so difficult, do you find, as an elected official, to have those important substantive conversations that can lead to better safety?

CORZO: You know, I think it's similar to what we see on a - on a nation -- on a national level, right? There's lots of opinions about what gun safety is. There is a rhetoric around, you know, control and taking people's guns. And really the message is about, you know, doing things safely. So, one thing that I've done in the past is I have made sure that - I was a school board member previously and we made sure that we sent out information to all of our families about how to safely store guns and how to be responsible gun owners. And I think that is definitely one of those pieces of prevention that we need to continue.

SCIUTTO: You're aware of the national politics on this, as you reference. I just wonder where you are, as a local elected official. Are they different where you are? Do people speak more openly and say, we want change. We don't want to see this happen again. We must do something. We want you, as their elected representative, to do something.

CORZO: Yes. I would say for the most part we are in an area, in a county, where we really do prioritize this. The board of supervisors, just in the past couple of months, you know, dedicated $1 million to a gun buy-back program. And so there's - there's definitely different layers. But there also is, you know, difference of opinion on the issue of gun safety, most definitely.


HILL: Noelia Corzo, really appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you.

CORZO: Thank you.

Well, in Monterey Park, California, an 11th person died overnight. That person, of course, had been shot over the weekend at the dance studio during that lunar new year celebration.

SCIUTTO: So, the death toll there climbs. We now know the names of four of those killed in this attack. They are 65-year-old My Nhan, 63- year-old Lilan Li, 68-year-old Valentino Alvero and Xiujuan Yu, she appears to be the youngest victim, she was 57 years old. The remaining seven victims are all in their 60s and 70s.

Authorities credit Brandon Tsay with preventing a second deadly tragedy at a different dance studio that night. CNN obtained this surveillance video of the moment the gunman entered that business. Tsay charged the man, you may remember, wrestling away the gun, forcing him then to leave.

Listen to what Tsay told our Anderson Cooper.


BRANDON TSAY, DISARMED GUNMAN WHO KILLED 11: I would say the struggle lasted 40 seconds, but it felt like way longer. It felt like an eternity with the adrenaline and my thoughts. I was always thinking about, if I let go of this gun, what would happen to me, the people around me, my friends, my family. How would they be affected if I let this dangerous individual run around.


SCIUTTO: Well, it was left to him to try to stop it. Police are still processing evidence recovered at the scene where the gunman later died of a self-inflected gunshot wound. Officials say a search of his home revealed hundreds of rounds of ammunition and items that led them to believe he was building homemade firearm suppressors, those that mute the sound of a gunshot.

HILL: They are chilling details as we are learning that new information overnight.


Joining us now is the mayor of Monterey Park, Henry Lo.

Mr. Mayor, we appreciate you taking the time to join us this morning.

I'd like to, if we could, just to check in on your community this morning. I wonder if, as we learn more, as we learn the identities of some of these victims, if you've been able to connect with any of the victims' families or any of the survivors?

MAYOR HENRY LO, MONTEREY PARK, CALIFORNIA: Thank you, and good morning, for having us on your show.

I have not had a chance, an opportunity to reach out to the victims' families. However, I know that the city, since the incident had occurred on Sunday, has established a crisis resource center for victims to identify, next of kin to be contacted, and for (INAUDIBLE) services. And so our city has certainly been engaged in this process to identify the unfortunate victims and to locate their families.

HILL: Yes. We also learned overnight, in addition to some of the disturbing details that Jim just shared, that the alleged gunman had -- was very familiar with this particular dance hall. The why here looms so large, I know, both in Monterey Park and, frankly, across the country.

Have you had any further information from investigators about a motive?

LO: No. No. We still don't have a clear picture of the motive. I mean certainly my understanding is that the gunman had a history, some history with the dance hall. In the past he frequented it. And that I understand that he also met his ex-wife there. However, again, we may never know what was the motivation that prompted him to commit such a violent and heinous act. And then, you know, to proceed to repeat it again in our neighbors in Alhambra to the north.

HILL: YOU know, as we're - as we're learning about this story, for so many people this may be their first introduction to Monterey Park. So many people in this country who may have never been there, don't live in southern California. I have really been struck by how important this dance hall is to the community and the role that it plays specifically for so many older residents. In fact, there was an AARP study, a survey last spring, which I'm sure you're familiar with, in partnership with Stop AAPI hate, and it found older Americans were really feeling so much less safe. And a lot of that had come out of the isolation of Covid-19, the spike in anti-Asian hate. But one of the recommendations in that report to help deal with that isolation and the fear and the anxiety that specifically older Asian Americans were feeling was community and was to have a place where they could be with others, places like the Star Room Ballroom. Are you concerned at all, based on what we saw over the weekend, that

that shooting could keep people away from the dance hall at a time when it is likely more important than ever to come together?

LO: No, absolutely, that is a legitimate concern because this particular dance hall has existed in Monterey Park for a long time. It was a place for people to socialize, to learn how to dance. Yes, many seniors frequented the dance hall but also many younger people. I mean it was a place to hold events, to celebrate community, and certainly, you know, we want to make sure that this dance hall continues to thrive and we know that people feel safe that they can socialize.

You know, the early hours, you know, once the news broke about the incident, I think there was a lot of concern of whether this was a - you know, an anti-Asian hate crime. And regardless of the motive of the gunman, the ethnicity, I mean, we have to acknowledge and appreciate that for the past three years communities like mine have been reeling with this spike in anti-Asian hate crimes because of xenophobia (INAUDIBLE) pandemic.

HILL: Look, it's so important and it's important that we not stop talking about that because it is - it is very real and, sadly, it continues as we know.

Mayor Henry Lo, we know your city is hurting. Really appreciate you taking the time to join us. I should point out there's also going to be a vigil tonight in Monterey Park. Thank you again.

LO: Yes. At 5:30 p.m., yes, in front of our city hall.

HILL: If you are wondering how you can help the California shooting victims, we have resources, they have been vetted. Just log on to

SCIUTTO: So sad to report there was another deadly shooting, this one in Des Moines, Iowa. Eighteen-year-old Preston Walls charged now with murder and attempted murder after a shooting at a non-profit organization for at-risk youths.


HILL: Investigators say he cut off a GPS ankle monitor just minutes before that shooting. Two students were killed, and the program's founder, who's hip hop art is known as Will Keeps, he was seriously injured. Police believe this stems from an ongoing dispute. Two other people are also in custody as that investigation continues.

Just a few hours from now a Fulton County judge in Georgia will hear arguments about whether the public should see that special grand jury report about former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 elections. Could that impact any criminal proceedings?

Plus, CNN is on the front lines in Bakhmut, Ukraine, where a months' long fight has led to massive casualties. And now the U.S. and western allies are suggesting a shift in strategy. SCIUTTO: Also ahead, five Memphis police officers have now been fired after beating a man during a traffic stop. He later died from his injuries, pictured there. Tyre Nichols family saw the disturbing video for the first time just yesterday, now they are calling for justice.


BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY: And he calls for his mom three times. Mom. He called for his mom, yes, sir.

Where is the humanity?




SCIUTTO: And new today, a judge in Georgia will hear arguments on whether to release to the public the final report of the special grand jury there. It investigated former President Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia.

HILL: CNN political correspondent Sara Murray joining us now from outside court there in Atlanta.

So, of course, the big parlor game this morning is, will the judge or won't the judge make the report public.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that's the big question. And, you know, I would not expect the judge to make a decision on, you know, releasing the report today. I think even if he decided to make the report public, that there could be a push to get some redactions.

The big question, you know, is, what did this grand jury recommend? They have been doing their work for seven months. They have the ability to recommend people for indictment, people that could include former President Donald Trump, a number of his associates. And they've done some pretty expansive work over these seven months. You know, they've hauled in people like Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former attorney, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

And, you know, this is an investigation that really started when Donald Trump made that call to Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in 2021 asking Raffensperger to just find the votes needed for Trump to win the state of Georgia. But it has expanded so much to include the fake electors scheme, to include false statements before Georgia state lawmakers, to include, you know, threats and harassment to election workers. And so we don't know how much of that really made its way into the grand jury's final report. We don't know if they decided any of these activities amounted to criminal offenses. We are going to be watching in court today for any kind of hint of what the grand jury put in their report and, of course, any hint of whether they recommended indictments.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Sara Murray, outside the courthouse, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Molly Ball, national political correspondent for "Time" magazine.

Molly, good to have you on.


SCIUTTO: So, the judge has a decision to make. But setting aside his legal questions here, of course the question becomes the political impact. I suppose from the perspective of prosecutors, the advantage of releasing the report would show their evidence, what they've gathered. On the flip side it would allow the potential defense in this case, right, to begin poking holes, or publicly attacking the decision and those findings. Who benefits most from a public release?

BALL: Well, I think the public benefits. And that's part of why media organizations are involved in the case. But certainly, I mean, depending on what's in the report, we don't know. For all we know it could be that the grand jury found, you know, that there was no wrongdoing at all.


BALL: I think that seems unlikely. But, you know, so the contents will partly determine that. But I think also, you know, Trump is facing so many different legal proceedings. This is only one of them. But every time they crop up in the news I think it reminds voters of this sort of chaos and exhaustion that many people felt throughout his presidency and reminds them that he is, again, an active candidate. That could be good for him. He's sort of disappeared from the headlines in some ways. But it's not - it's always, I tend to think, not a good thing when the reason you're in the headlines is that you are facing a legal proceeding.

HILL: There is that. There is the reality, though, that these would be recommendations,, right, in the report. So they're only recommendations. Even if they're not acted on, it seems to me, because I think we've seen this playbook a number of times before, that could actually, in some ways, be a win for Donald Trump and even for his campaign because this just plays in once again to his witch-hunt grievance narrative. I mean do you see that becoming even more a part potentially of what we could hear as he tries to drum up support for 2024?

BALL: That will certainly be the way that he tries to take it. I've always been a little bit skeptical of that narrative. Certainly, that is what Trump and his campaign would like people to believe, that trying to kill him only makes him stronger. But, again, I think for most normal people, if you are a candidate for political office and you're in the crosshairs of the legal system, that tends to cause some indigestion.

So, sure, maybe there's a short-term sort of juicing of his fundraising. Maybe, you know, the hard-core MAGA base gets really excited that once again he's being persecuted and victimized as they see it. But over the long term, you know, I think these things add up and add to that picture of, you know, a presidency that as people look back on it and it gets further and further in the rearview mirror from 2020 people increasingly just kind of feel tired.


SCIUTTO: But the former president has thrown his hat in the ring already. CNN has learned he will, Trump, make a stop in Salem, New Hampshire, ahead of a campaign event in South Carolina, two early states in a primary process going forward. Is his campaign fully underway, partially underway? He's done some events but a lot of them remote events, staying at home. Where does it stand?

BALL: Well, look, he's the only candidate in the field right now, only major candidate, so he has the stage to himself. He hasn't necessarily maximized that position, but he sort of doesn't have to, right? He can sort of keep a low profile until he has some competition.

The New Hampshire event is the one that I find the most interesting because that is not a Trump event, that is a Republican Party event. So, it will be very interesting to see how Republicans react to him in that state. You know, a state where he has historically done extremely well, but where also, you know, you have an anti-Trump Republican governor and a lot of skeptics. So, I think it will be very interesting to see what kind of reaction he gets at that event.

And then to see the South Carolina event as well, how much support he is able to rally around him in another state that should be a place that he's strong, but where we're already seeing some signs of, you know, power players in the state not necessarily rushing to get on board.

HILL: Taking a look at what's happening or not happening at this moment in Washington, Molly. Look, there's a lot of talk about the intel committee, as we know, specifically as it involves Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. Dems crying foul here. But the reality is, McCarthy has a lot of power. And as speaker, that power really trumps whatever the tradition may be. He can name members unilaterally. Is there any way that you see Democrats winning this battle and being able to keep Schiff and Swalwell there?

BALL: I would be very surprised. As you say, it is the speaker's prerogative. And this is something that is important to significant elements of the Republican caucus. This is a promise that McCarthy made to them a long time ago and he has been very clear that he intends to stand by that promise.

But this is sort of indicative of the larger struggles he's going to have throughout the next couple of years of his speakership, right? He's not making a lot of friends on the other side of the aisle. Maybe he doesn't need them. He's going to need friends on, you know, the far right side of his caucus as well. And the - an I think in the first place he's look to shore up that support after the very chaotic process of gaining the speakership. But, eventually, he's going to need to at least have a working relationship with the Democrats, and so this doesn't help that.

HILL: Molly Ball, always good to see you. Appreciate it. Thanks.

BALL: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: All right, overseas now as Russia spends tens of thousands of untrained troops to fight in its continuing invasion of Ukraine. We'll bring you an update from the front lines. That's next.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russia forces are gaining ground. They're on the high ground behind me. They're advancing from the north and they're advancing from the south.