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At Least Seven Dead In Half Moon Bay; Death Toll Rises To 11 In Monterey Park Massacre; Man Describes How He Confronted, Disarmed Gunman; Russian Forces Gaining Ground In City Of Bakhmut; At Least 7 Dead In Half Moon Bay, California Shootings; California Governor Critical Of Inaction On Gun Reform; California Lawmaker Discusses Gun Violence In America. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired January 24, 2023 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. The U.S. state of California rocked by more mass shootings just days after a massacre in the city of Monterey Park. A pair of new shootings claimed the lives of at least seven people on Monday in the coastal city of Half Moon Bay.

Authorities say the shooter opened fire in two different locations, one of which is a mushroom farm. The farm's owners say the event has left them shaken and they don't know the suspected shooter. Police took 67-year-old Chunli Zhao into custody and they say they found a handgun in his vehicle close by. The local sheriff addressed the impact of the violence on the small farming community.


SHERIFF CHRISTINA CORPUS, SAN MATEO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This kind of shooting is horrific. It's a tragedy that we hear about far too often. But today is hit home here in San Mateo County.


CHURCH: Speaking with CNN, the mayor of Monterey Park mentioned the feeling of disbelief and watching the tragedies unfold so soon after one another.


HENRY LO, MONTEREY PARK, CALIFORNIA MAYOR: My heart goes out to the community of Half Moon Bay because I know exactly what they're going through. As I was watching the press conference, it was an uncomfortable an eerie deja vu. And I can imagine that in their community like in Monterey Park, the feelings are of disbelief. Why is this happening in our community and a shock and just sadness over a tragedy of loss of life and more violence.


CHURCH: And for more on this, I'm joined now by Salvador Hernandez, a writer at the Los Angeles Times. Thank you so much for talking with us. So --


CHURCH: Thirty-nine mass shootings in this country since the start of the year. Three of those in the state of California and just the past three days. You've been covering Monday's mass shooting in Half Moon Bay with the suspect has been cooled after killing at least seven people. What more are you learning about this?

HERNANDEZ: What we're -- what we're learning is that the suspected shooter is 67-year-old Chunli Zhao. Authorities believe that he's a worker from either one of the farms or one of the nurseries nearby in the area where he -- where the shooting took place. And they also believe that some of the victims in there were also farmworkers, laborers from the area as well.

CHURCH: So, what are officials saying about a possible motive here?

HERNANDEZ: We don't have any information about the motive at this moment. But what we do know is that with the official suspecting that he might be a worker from the nearby area and that farm workers laborers from that area were also targeted. I mean, this is looking like a -- possible workplace shooting at this moment.

CHURCH: Yes. And what is so chilling, of course, is that it comes just a couple of days after the Monterey Park shooting. So, what more are you learning about this 67-year-old suspect who is now in custody?

HERNANDEZ: We don't know much at this moment. We know that he was possibly a worker from that area. He -- the authorities are still trying to figure out even what which one of the two locations he targeted first. What we do know is that he apparently drove to one of the locations, open fire in front of children and then got back in his car and drove into the second location where he again opened fire on some of the workers out there.

And right now, what we're having is seven fatalities and one person that's still with life-threatening injuries at the hospital.

CHURCH: And what impact has this mass shooting head on the people of Half Moon Bay? And of course, all three shootings in the whole of the state.

HERNANDEZ: Well, it's definitely a very shattering and very traumatizing time I think for the people of California.


On Saturday, we had the Monterey Park shooting that was a targeting Asian-American community here. It's a suburb of -- filled with Asian- Americans. In Half Moon Bay, one of the supervisors did tell us that, it seems that some of the workers out there were at -- were Chinese workers out there in the community. So, this is something that's not just hitting hard with California, but it's hitting very hard with the Asian-American community here in the state.

CHURCH: And Salvador, not only have we got our viewers in the United States watching, but also our global viewers. And for a lot of them, it's very difficult for them to grasp what this country goes through on a daily basis, their shootings. And then as I mentioned at the start, you know, 39 mass shootings since the start of the new year. It's only been three weeks in. How do we explain that as people that live in this country and you're an American? How do you explain that to viewers watching what this country is grappling with?

HERNANDEZ: It's extremely difficult. And I think if you see what some of the public officials have even stated during some of these incidents, they're having a very hard time grasping it. I mean, the shooting from Saturday, people were still reeling from that. We're still learning some of the names from the 11 victims out there. And then this shooting took place. Governor Gavin Newsom, he mentioned that he was at the hospital seeing some of the victims from that shooting when he was alerted about the Half Moon Bay shooting today.

And then just a couple of hours ago, we learned that there's another shooting in Oakland where there's seven -- I believe it was seven victims, one who has died. It's just -- there's no -- like there's no way to kind of come to grips with that.

CHURCH: No, I mean, it is just unbelievably tragic. And it's hard to know when Americans will say enough is enough. Salvador Hernandez, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

HERNANDEZ: Thank you.

CHURCH: Well, meantime, in Southern California, the death toll has risen to 11 in the mass shooting that rocked the city of Monterey Park over the weekend. We're also hearing from a man who's being hailed a hero for confronting and disarming the gunman after he showed up at a second dance studio on Saturday night. And CNN has obtained this exclusive footage showing Brandon Tsay approaching the suspect after he entered the studio in Alhambra with a weapon.

It also captures a struggle between the two that begins in the doorway and then continues just outside of that room. Tsay says he sprang into action after realizing there was an imminent threat. Take a listen.


BRANDON TSAY, CONFRONTED AND DISARMED GUNMAN: I'm not going to lie. I did freeze up when I saw him with the gun. I had many thoughts where I would think I'm going to die. This is it. This is the end for me. But then something happened, you know, something came over me. I just had this rush of thought and adrenaline, you know, in this sort of situation. And I was able to come to the conclusion that I needed to do something. I need to grab the gun. I need to save myself and the people inside.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Extraordinary actions there on the 11 victims of the dancehall shooting at Monterey Park were remembered and honored during a vigil Monday night. The California lawmaker who represents the district spoke about Brandon Tsay and his heroic actions to stop the gunman.


REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): He's only 26 years old. And yet when he saw the shooter come in with a gun, he, a very humble and modest young man actually took them on, actually fought with them to wrestle control of the gun. If he hadn't done that, the number of victims I think would have been twice as many.


CHURCH: Police are revealing new details of the investigation into the Monterey Park shooting but still don't know what motivated the gunman to open fire. The Los Angeles County Sheriff says the gunman fired 42 rounds during the massacre at the dance studio Saturday night. And at the gunman's home investigators found a rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. They also discovered items that are leading them to believe he was building homemade firearms suppressors.

A handgun was also found in the gunman's white van. Investigators are working to confirm where he got all the firearms that have been recovered.

And CNN's Natasha Chen has been following developments for us and has the latest now from Monterey Park.



NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the eve of the Lunar New Year in the predominantly Asian-American community of Monterey Park, California, there was dancing and joyful celebration, then gunfire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got three immediates in here and I got approximately 10 deceased.

CHEN: Police say a 72-year-old man armed with a semi-automatic pistol opened fire on people inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio Saturday night.

SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Investigators recovered a total of 42 shell casings and a large capacity magazine. Investigators also recovered a Norinco 7.62 by 25 handgun from inside the suspect's cargo van.

CHEN: Not long after local streets were filled with people celebrating the new year. At least 11 people were killed in the shooting at the dance studio. Several more are still hospitalized.

UNIDENTIFIED FEFMALE: Additional units requested, multiple victims, gunshot wounds. I got one more immediate inside of the business.

CHEN: After the massacre, the gunman left Monterey Park and police say went to a second dance studio in the nearby community of Alhambra. There he encountered Brandon Tsay working at the ticket booth, who in an interview with ABC said the gunman pointed a semi-automatic weapon at him.

TSAY: My first thoughts was I was going to die here. This is it.

CHEN: Tsay said he lunged at the gunman.

TSAY: 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.

CHEN: The guns still in his hand, Tsay said he called police. He's now being hailed as a hero for potentially preventing further violence.

After a nearly 12-hour manhunt, law enforcement located the gunman's vehicle, and 72-year-old Huu Can Tran was found dead from a self- inflicted gunshot wound.

Police say they still don't have a motive for the attacks but evidence inside the van tied trunk to the shootings and suggests he may have targeted specific victims.

Several people who new trunk tells CNN he had taught in formal dance lessons at the studio, where he unloaded a barrage of gunfire. And his ex-wife says that's where they met. My My Nhan, Lilan Li, Xiujuan Yu and Valentino Alvero are among the dead, most of whom were in their 60s and 70s.

The community of Monterey Park and the tight knit dance community in the area are now coming to terms with the devastating violence during what was supposed to be a celebration of hope and peace.

ARLENE ALEJANDRO, LOCAL RESIDENT: So, there's no words to really describe how I'm feeling very sad. There's (INAUDIBLE)


CHEN: Police in Hemet, California about 80 miles southeast of where we are in Monterey Park said that the suspect actually came into the police department lobby on January 7th and January 9th, alleging previous fraud, theft and poisoning involving his family in the L.A. area in the past 10, 20 years. They said that he promised to come back with documentation but never did.

Natasha Chen CNN, Monterey Park, California.

CHURCH: More now on that shooting in Oakland, California. The state's third deadly mass shooting in as many days. Police say one person was killed and seven were wounded Monday night when gunfire broke out between several people. The victims were taken to nearby hospitals before authorities arrived at the scene.


KIM ARMSTEAD, POLICE OFFICER, OAKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: Upon arrival, they located shooting scene they located casings, but no victims. Shortly thereafter, our communications division received notification of multiple gunshot wound victims who have self-transported to local hospitals in the area.


CHURCH: Police say those who were wounded are in stable condition. They have not yet released details on the person who was killed.

And yet another deadly shooting. This one in the Midwestern us. Police in Iowa say an 18-year-old has been arrested and charged for an apparent gang-related shooting at an educational nonprofit organization on Monday. Two students were killed and the program's founder, a hip-hop artist known as Will Keeps was seriously injured. Police believe this stemmed from an ongoing gang dispute. Two other people are also in custody as the investigation continues.

And still to come, the family of a black man who died after a police stop say their son was beaten nonstop by officers. We'll have details next.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. More on our top story this hour. Another mass shooting has rocked the United States. At least seven people are dead in Half Moon Bay, California after a gunman opened fire in two different locations Monday. Police took a 67-year-old man into custody and say a semi-automatic handgun was found in his vehicle. They believe he acted alone. And do stay with CNN throughout the morning for all the latest on this developing story.

Attorneys for the family have a black man who died during a traffic stop say the video of his arrest shows the police beating him nonstop for three minutes. 29-year-old Tyre Nichols was hospitalized in a critical condition earlier this month in Memphis, Tennessee, where he died a few days later. His family have seen the arrest video but it has not been made public yet. CNN's Nick Valencia has more.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Attorneys for the family of Tyre Nichols did not hold back and their characterization of the video of his arrest seeing it for the first time on Monday alongside his family. One family attorney Benjamin Crump said that the video reminded him of the 1991 beating of Rodney King. He said that the video was so hard to watch that Tyre Nichols' mother couldn't make it through the first minute.

The family also said that during what they called about three minutes that police officers were beating on nickels. He asked them reportedly. What did I do?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RODNEY WELLS, FATHER OF TYRE NICHOLS: Our son ran because he was scared for his life. He did not run because he was trying to get rid of no drugs, no guns, no any of that. He ran because he was scared for his life.


And when you see the video, you will see why he was scared for his life.

VALENCIA: The family and the attorney said that they were careful to offer too many details of what they saw in those videos because there's an ongoing investigation. Not only is the Shelby County District Attorney's office investigating, so as the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Civil Rights Division for the Department of Justice. Meanwhile, those five officers that were involved in Tyre Nichols' arrest have all since been fired.

I did reach out earlier and speak to the spokesperson at the District Attorney's Office in Shelby County who said it's not a matter of if but when the video gets released, saying that it is likely to be released sometime later this week. If not next week. They are bracing for the public's reaction. This as the parents of Tyre Nichols are asking protesters to keep any future demonstrations peaceful. Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.

CHURCH: A winter storm has left thousands of customers in the Northeastern U.S. without power. This as the region braces for a second storm. You're looking at snow plows being deployed to clear the roads of snow and Holden, Massachusetts. The base state's been getting hammered along with New Hampshire and Maine. Since Sunday, more than a foot of snow has fallen across a stretch of land from Central New York to the main Canada border.

And still to come. The battle for Bakhmut in Ukraine grinds on as Kyiv ramps up its plea for German Leopard tanks to help fight off the Russian invasion. We're back with that and more in just a moment.



CHURCH: Returning to our top story. A pair of deadly shootings in Half Moon Bay, California. At least seven people were killed and one person critically injured in shootings took place at separate locations in the coastal community. One at a mushroom farm, the other taking place near a tracking facility. Police say the suspect was taken into custody just a few hours after the shootings. He's been identified a 67-year-old Chunli Zhao.

Authorities believe he acted alone and so far the motive is not known. Officials in Half Moon Bay are expressing their shock and sadness.


JOAQUIN JIMINEZ, HALF MOON BAY VICE MAYOR: This is something we get to watch on the news. Never think there's going to come and hit home. Today we're on the news.


CHURCH: The violence comes just days after the state was shaken by a mass shooting to the south in Monterey Park that killed at least 11 people.

The deputy chief of staff to Ukraine's president has tendered his resignation. Kyrylo Tymoshenko posted a statement on his official telegram account, saying it was his decision to step down. He thanked the president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the country's maayos and military administrators, but he did not say why he was resigning.

A senior U.S. military official says Russia has sent tens of thousands of reinforcements to the frontlines in Ukraine over the past few months ahead of a planned spring offensive. But the source says the troops are ill equipped, Ill trained and have made little difference in the fight.

Meanwhile, Ukraine could be getting some help on the battlefield, as Poland's Foreign Minister says Warsaw will send German-made Leopard tanks whether or not other countries join them. Protesters gathered outside the European Council in Brussels on Monday demanding ally send the tanks. Ukraine's Foreign Minister says a deal is in the final stage although he did not specify what countries are involved.

President Volodymyr Zelensky says the need is dire.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): This is no time for bargaining. This is the time for survival. We need to survive.


CHURCH: Ukraine's military leaders insists the leopards would make a huge difference in the battle for cities like Bakhmut where Russian forces are advancing. CNN's Ben Wedeman is there.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Eli Worth-Jones is a long way from his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada. A medic he's delivering supplies to residents just a few 100 yards from Russian lines in Bakhmut. He does it because he can.

ELI WORTH-JONES, MEMBER, FRONT LINE MEDICS: I'm young, I'm trained for this, you know, this is what I do for living. And a lot of people in need in here. And I'm like (INAUDIBLE) so happy to be here. I'm stay with the people (INAUDIBLE)

WEDEMAN: Eli is with a group called Frontline Medics and you can't get much more frontline than this.

Fellow medic Kurt Erickson from Norway explains how they work. KURT ERIKSEN, MEMBER, FRONT LINE MEDICS: You got to listen to patients. But we don't really know what's wrong with them. So, we don't have any ID before we see them. And we do the --

WEDEMAN: Our interview cut short by an incoming Russian round.

At a slightly safer distance from the fighting, they park their mobile clinic and treat who they can.

Oleksandr (ph) says his feet is in pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you ask him which foot it is?



WEDEMAN: He lives in an unheated apartment and he's suffering from frostbite.

They'll take him to a hospital outside Bakhmut. And he couldn't leave a moment sooner. The Russian noose is tightening.


WEDEMAN (on camera): Slowly Russian 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.

(voiceover) Worse is yet to come says British volunteer soldier Daniel Burke.

DANIEL BURKE, BRITISH VOLUNTEER: -- to take Soledar to the North, kind of trying to do a big pincer movement of our Bakhmut. I don't think I'll try and circle it per se but I'm going to go and try go past it through the fields, and just close off bit by bit.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): Yet, residents stay on, and volunteers of all stripes do what they can. Victoria Linnik is doing the rounds handing out food and water.

Are you a little nervous with this situation here?

VICTORIA LINNIK, CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION: Oh, look at me. You see nervous? No.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): Nerves of steel as the shelling goes on. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Bakhmut.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I want to go live to London now and CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. Good morning to you, Salma. So, Ukraine is getting mixed signals, isn't it from Western allies on Leopard 2 battle tanks being sent to the war-torn nation? What is the latest on this? SALMA ABDELAZIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Rosemary. Pressure really piling up on Germany to make this decision about these all- important Leopard 2 tanks. What's important to remember here is authorizing the deployment of these tanks on the frontline, in the battlefield, it's not just impact. Germany it also impacts some 13 European countries where there's around 2,000 of these tanks. Poland in particular has been very vocal about this. They have said that they are really --

CHURCH: All right. We're going to try and fix the audio there. Salma Abdelaziz joining us live from London. We'll take a break for now. But still to come, California's Governor was meeting with the victims of one mass shooting when he was pulled away to deal with yet another. Hear what he's saying about the gun laws. That's next.



CHURCH: California Governor Gavin Newsom says he will no longer attend events with the National Governors Association scheduled for Tuesday as he deals with yet another mass killing. Earlier, he tweeted "at the hospital meeting with victims of a mass shooting when I get pulled away to be briefed about another shooting. This time in Half Moon Bay. Tragedy upon tragedy." Well, during that hospital visit, Newsom said the community gives him hope and its resilience. He was also critical of the lack of action taken on gun reform. Take a listen.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It's a disgrace, what they say, what these people say every single night. Their xenophobia, their racial priming, what they have done to perpetuate crime and violence in this country by scapegoating. And by doing not a damn thing about gun safety, not a damn thing for decades. It's not the right time, not the right time, not the right time. Rinse, repeat. Not the right time. Rinse, repeat. Sandy Hook, not the right time. Rinse, repeat, Uvalde. Remember Uvalde? Remember? Rinse, repeat. You don't remember the borderline here, 13 people that was a few years ago. You have to look that one up. Rinse, repeat. Not a damn thing they do. And we know it. And we allow them to get away with that.


CHURCH: And Governor Newsom also met with Brandon Tsay the man who wrestled a gun from the shooting suspect at Monterey Park over the weekend. Newsom tweeted, "This is what a hero looks like. Brandon did what no one should ever have to do, stop the gunman at his place of work from killing countless others. Forever grateful for your courage, Brandon."

Well, meantime, CNN has obtained footage of Brandon Tsay approaching the suspect after he entered the studio in Alhambra with a weapon. Tsay says he sprang into action after realizing there was an imminent threat. Earlier he spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper about his experience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRANDON TSAY, DISARMED MONTEREY PARK SUSPECT: People have been calling me hero all day. I know the responsibility of that word, you know? People have been trying to look towards me to, you know, for a message, to find hope, some strength, some courage. And I'm glad that people are -- people can look towards me and see, oh, this person, he was able to survive this situation. Maybe there's hope for others.



CHURCH: And here is a disturbing look at where the U.S. stands right now with mass shootings. The country averaging more than 600 per year this decade, and 39 already in 2023. We are already hearing thoughts and prayers for the victims of these California shootings. But gun control advocates say the country needs action. Here's former federal prosecutor Shan Wu.


SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: In terms of the big picture, prevention, I think one thing we can do as a country is to be less reactive. I mean, you have to be reactive here. But in terms of how can you prevent things in the future? Using all the laws that are on the books, thinking of new ones. But also, particularly the new ones, passing some basic common sense gun laws would be one thing you could be doing right now. And that's something that has to be done now. It's not going to solve everything. It's not going to prevent every gun shooting, but it's something that can be done.


And rather than always being so reactive saying, oh, this one was doing this, this one doing that, it's a mental health issue. Sure, there are lots of mental health issues they need to be addressed. But you can't sort of just be doing one thing at a time. You have to press forward because it's not just a reactive situation.


CHURCH: And California Lawmaker Marc Berman spoke with CNN about the ramp in gun violence in America, and the emotional impact it's having on children. Here's what he said.


REP. MARC BERMAN (D-CA): I had a couple of school classes up in the capital last year. And when I asked them, what's the one thing that you'd like to change in your community? There were two different groups. And the first group, these were fourth-grade students, 10- year-olds, and the first group, the first thing they said was no more shootings in schools. The second group, the third thing they said was no more shootings in schools. I wasn't fit dreaming of that nightmare when I was a 10-year-old. And so, it unfortunately has a really permeated every aspect of society, and we need to do more to protect our communities.


CHURCH: And for our international viewers, "WORLD SPORTS" is coming up next, and for everyone else. Do stay with us. I'll be back with more news in just a moment.