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Three Mass Shooting in California in Three Days; At Least 7 Dead in Half Moon Bay, California Shootings; More Oath Keepers Found Guilty of Seditious Conspiracy; Republicans Seek Answers After More Biden Documents Found; Medics From Around the World Help Ukraine in Bakhmut. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 24, 2023 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Max Foster joining you live from London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One shooter going to two different locations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something we get to watch on the news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Zhao was taken into custody without incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I needed to do something. I needed to grab the gun. I needed to save myself and the people inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No refuge from gun violence. That's just the fact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will move from this period of darkness be to a period of light even though it hurts so much.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: It is Tuesday, January 24th, 9 a.m. here in London. 1 a.m. in California where three mass shootings within just three days have rocked the state with some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S. At least one person is dead, seven wounded in Oakland. We'll work to get more information on that one.

NOBILO: Meanwhile, the FBI is assisting police in the coastal city of Half Moon Bay after a pair of shootings there. And here is what we know so far. Police say that the shooter opened fire in two different locations killing at least seven people and critically injuring another. FOSTER: One of the sites is a trucking facility. The other a mushroom

farm roughly two miles away. Police say the suspect may have been employed at either place but the farm's owner say they have no knowledge of him. Here's what the local sheriff had to say about where the shootings took place.


SHERIFF CHRISTINA CORPUS, SAN MATEO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Well, 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 was in the afternoon when kids were out of school and for children to witness this is unspeakable.


NOBILO: The suspect is 67-year-old Chunli Zhao. Who police found inside his vehicle in the sheriff's office parking lot. Here's the moment that officers took him into custody.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come here. Hands up.

CORPUS: At 4:40 p.m. Zhao was located in his vehicle in the parking lot of the sheriff's substation here in Half Moon Bay by a sheriff's deputy. Zhao was taken into custody without incident and a semi- automatic handgun was located in his vehicle. Zhao is believed to have acted alone and there is no further threat to this community.


FOSTER: CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe says investigators will now pour over the suspect's life to figure out his motivations.


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They're going to go back with help from people like the FBI and others and they're going to try to look through this person's life and piece together what led to this awful moment. They're going to look at his writings. They're going to look at his social media if he has anything. They're going to look at his electronics devices to see if he's communicated with friends. Anything that go would indicate a grievance or world view, whatever it might be that led to this. The and then they'll be able to offer that up to the community as some sort of tragic explanation as to what happened. But at the end of that process, we'll probably have to move on to another one.


NOBILO: And California Governor Gavin Newsom says that he'll no longer attend events with the National Governor's Association scheduled for Tuesday as he deals with the aftermath of these mass killings. 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.

The mayor of Monterey Park, California has sent his condolences to half Moon Bay just days after his own community was shaken by a mass shooting that killed at least 11 people.


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 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 shock and just sadness over a tragedy of loss of life and more violence.


FOSTER: In Monterey Park the 11 victims of the dance hall shooting were remembered and honored during a visual on Monday night. The California lawmaker who represents the district spoke about the need to come together in the face of tragedy.


REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): Now we must go forward as a community, and what needs to be upper most in the things that we do is to help these victims. These victims who have suffered such terrible loss.

MIKE ENG, FORMER MONTEREY PARK CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: We will not let this murderer defeat us. We will move forward with more enthusiasm and more love because the only thing that defeats hate is love.


NOBILO: CNN has obtained this exclusive footage of the moment the gunman showed up at the second dance studio Saturday night before he was confronted and disarmed by a man now being hailed as a hero. CNN's Natasha Chen has the latest on the investigation.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN U.S. 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 (voice-over): Police say a 72-year-old man armed with a semiautomatic 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 suspects cargo van.

CHEN (voice-over): 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 FEMALE: Additional units are requested. Multiple victims, gunshot wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got one more critical, one more immediate inside the business.

CHEN (voice-over): 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 said he lunged at the gunman and they struggled for the gun.

BRANDON TSAY, DISARMED THE MONTEREY PARK SHOOTER: My first thought was I was going to die here. This is it.

CHEN (voice-over): Tsay said he lunged at the gunman.

TSAY: I was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, create some distance. Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside, create some distance.

CHEN (voice-over): The gun still in his hand, Tsay said he called police. He's now being hailed as a hero for potentially preventing further violence. About a nearly 12 hours 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 Tran to the shootings and suggest he may have targeted specific victims. Several people who knew Tran tell CNN he had taught informal dance lessons at the studio where he unloaded a barrage of gunfire and his ex-wife says that's where they met.

Mymy 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, RESIDENT: There's no words to really describe how I'm feeling. I'm just very sad. There's too much hate. 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.


FOSTER: And yet another deadly shooting, this one in the U.S. state of Iowa. Police say an 18-year-old suspect Preston Walls cut off a court ordered GPS ankle monitor prior to Monday's shooting. He's been arrested and charged in what police believe was a gang-related shooting at an educational nonprofit organization.


NOBILO: Two students killed and the program's founder, a hip-hop artist known as Will Keeps was seriously injured. Police believe that this stemmed from an ongoing dispute. Two other people are also in custody as this investigation continues.

The mass shootings in California and Iowa bring the number to 39 in the U.S. in just the first three months of this year. That puts the country on pace for more than 600 incidents by the end of 2023. And that's close to what we've been seeing over the past three years. According to the Gun Violence Archives, the U.S. had 647 mass shootings last year, 690 and 2021 and you have to go all the way back to 2014 to see a total that's less than 300.

FOSTER: A cross-country snowstorm expected to bring snowfall from New Mexico to Maine. The city of St. Louis, Missouri is urging residents to delay all travel if possible. The National Weather Service is projecting 5 to 10 inches of snow for the area.

NOBILO: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has directed emergency management officials to prepare resources for this winter storm.

An earlier storm has left thousands of customers in the northeastern U.S. without power and a new storm is coming. Since Sunday more than a foot of snow has fallen across a stretch of land from central New York to the Maine/Canada border.

Fulton County, Georgia judge will also hold a hearing in the coming hours to decide whether to release the grand jury report on Donald Trump election interference. Attorneys for Trump say that he was never subpoenaed or asked to come in voluntarily by the District Attorney's Office.

FOSTER: The DA is expected to decide soon on possible criminal charges for Trump. The grand jury was looking into efforts by the former president and his allies to overturn Georgia's election.

In Washington, D.C., a jury has found more members of the far right militia group, Oath Keepers, guilty of crimes related to the January 6th insurrection. The convictions are a big win for federal prosecutors who push for the rare charge of seditious conspiracy. CNN's Whitney Wild reports.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: All four men convicted of seditious conspiracy. This is so notable because in the first trial, the first 10-week trial of the Oath Keepers that occurred in the fall, only 2 members out of 5 were convicted on seditious conspiracy. This charge is very hard to prove. It is very rare that it's even charged at all and rare that it results in convictions. So, this case represents a huge win for the Justice Department.

More specifically about this case, this involved three members of the Oath Keepers. One person who's associated with this far right militia. Those four men are Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo. They are accused of plotting to stop the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory. The DOJ said that conspiracy culminated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021.

Again, this char is rare. It is severe and it represents basically, a slam dunk for the Justice Department knowing they were able to secure this conviction against all four defendants in this case.

In the previous case they were able to secure seditious conspiracy convictions against Stewart Rhodes who was the -- basically a leader of the Oath Keepers, the head of the entire organization and another man named Kelly Meggs. In both cases key evidence came from the defendant's own words that were sometimes caught on video. Other times they had put these words in text messages to groups, in emails, to open letters.

In this latest case a prosecutor cited one defendant saying millions will die. Get your f'ing soul ready. That was the language and actually a piece of video that prosecutors used in the closing arguments in this case. Minuta, Hackett and Moerschel and Vallejo all face additional charges and were convicted on some of those charges including obstruction of an official proceeding. All four men now face the possibility of decades in prison.

Whitney Wild, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: Still ahead, the U.S. Justice Department is being accused of double standards over the way that it's handling Donald Trump and Joe Biden's classified documents probe. How the Attorney General is responding to that criticism.

Plus, a former FBI official is accused of working with a sanctioned oligarch from Russia. Details on the serious charges filed against the counterintelligence veteran, just ahead.

NOBILO: Plus, CNN gets close to the front lines in the battle for Bakhmut in Ukraine. We'll see how volunteers from around the globe are helping out.


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





MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We do not have different for Democrats and Republicans, different rules for the powerless, different rules for the rich or for the poor. We apply the facts and the law in each case in a neutral and nonpartisan manner. The role of the Justice Department is to apply the facts and the laws in each case and to reach appropriate decisions in a nonpartisan and neutral way without regard to who the subjects are.


NOBILO: The U.S. Attorney General there insisting that the Justice Department is being impartial with two classified documents probes. One, you might know, involving President Joe Biden. The other Donald Trump.

FOSTER: Republicans claim the DOJ has easier on Mr. Biden and now they're requesting more information after new documents were found at his Delaware home. CNN's Manu Raju reports.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now House Republicans are pressing ahead demanding answers after the latest revelation that more documents were found in the FBI search of Joe Biden's home in Wilmington. They found some documents even from his time as a United States Senator. James Comer, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, sending a letter to the Secret Service asking for visitor logs, people who came to Joe Biden's house and may have had access to those documents and those other communications involving that as well.


This comes on the heels of Comer himself asking for records from the National Archives, from the White House about some of the communications that occurred here and separately the House Judiciary Committee trying to understand the efforts that went behind naming the special counsel in this case.

The question is, will they get the information they are asking for? At the moment it seems they will be unsuccessful in at least some of those efforts, including the Justice Department indicating last week that it would not provide information that could undercut an ongoing law enforcement investigation. But it's still uncertain whether the White House will provided information James Comer wants. And one in particular, getting those Secret Service logs seems unlikely though.

The Secret Service says they do not -- they don't keep that kind of information. Also, the Secret Service did not actively monitor Joe Biden's house from 2017 -- middle of 2017 until about 2020 when he became the presumptive Democratic nominee. So, there will not be information that the Republicans want. But there are other communications they are seeking including from the White House which is indicating that it will talk in good faith with Comer about trying to get some of the information that he is seeking on these matters.

The question though is if it does not ultimately -- if the Republicans don't ultimately get what they want, what do they do next? Some are threatening subpoenas. Will the White House comply with those subpoena request? Or will we see what we saw in the Trump years? Democrats battling with the Trump administration went to court, trying to get information, sometimes successful, sometimes leading to a lengthy, protracted court fights. That is still a possibility here as the new house Republican majority takes power and presses ahead with its oversight request.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: Ukraine's deputy defense minister has resigned amid accusations of corruption. The defense ministry says the claims are unfounded and baseless but says it accepted the resignation in the interest of transparency.

NOBILO: And in a separate move the Deputy Chief of Staff to Ukraine's president has also stepped down. He posted a statement on his official Telegram account saying it was his decision although he didn't say why he was resigning.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. military official says that Russia has sent tens of thousands of reinforcement to the front lines in Ukraine over the past few months ahead of a planned spring offensive. But the source said that the troops are ill equipped, ill-trained and have made little difference in the fight.

FOSTER: Let's bring in Salma keeping across all of these rapid developments. There are tanks on their way from Europe at least.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now we're still very much in this deadlock with Germany. We just heard a short time ago from Germany's defense minister, newly appointed defense minister. He was standing alongside NATO's chief Jan Stoltenberg. And what he said is Germany's still in the process, but they're going to make a decision soon on These Leopard 2 tanks.

What's important to remember here, is that Germany giving the green light is not just about Germany. There's 2,000 of these tanks spread across 13 different European countries. And the rule is you cannot deploy these to Ukraine unless you get that preauthorization from Germany. In this press conference, again a short time ago, the NATO chief saying he is confident that decision will come soon, that consultations are ongoing with allies.

But absolutely over the course of the last couple of days we've seen pressure piling on Berlin. And I'm going to point to Poland here in particular. It is Poland's foreign minister that said, well, if that's the case, we might go ahead and send those tanks to Ukraine without that authorization if there's a coalition willing to do so. And Germany had to respond to that I think, listen, we're not blocking the deployment of these tanks. Foreign Minister just saying right now, training can begin. So, for Ukraine this is a bit of bureaucracy that they want be to see resolved right now.

NOBILO: And now let's talk about what's happening on the front lines. So, we understand or are hearing reports that Gerasimov is trying to crack down on the discipline of Russian troops. He, of course, is now in charge of the invasion. What do we know about their numbers and their level of training?

ABDELAZIZ: Listen, a lot of what we understand about what's happening on the ground comes from Western intelligence officials. Who say, yes, we've seen thousands more troops deployed but these are troops that have very little training, very little experience.

You'll remember that partial mobilization effort last year, a few months ago that brought in 300,000 reservists. Some of them were deployed from home to the front lines in a matter of days and weeks according to Western intelligence officials. We have Wagner, of course, this private military group, this mercenary group that has been commended for successes on the ground if you will. But that group is made up of 50,000 personnel and the U.S. says 40,000 of them could be convicts.

So real questions about not only the makeup of the men on the ground now fighting for Russia, but also their ability. Their experience as they head into the spring months in this possible counteroffensive.

NOBILO: Salma Abdelaziz thank you so much.

And it's an important point to bear in mind with what Salma saying about the tanks is course the wider context of this. Zelenskyy once again saying, he has a zero tolerance approach to corruption.


Investigations into officials, potentially more profiteering. And that's exactly what Ukraine doesn't want the international community to be seeing. Because they can't have anything that would jeopardize the use of support of them fighting the Russians off.

FOSTER: Fascinating, Salma, thank you.

NOBILO: Now Ukraine says it needs more modern, versatile a tanks -- as Salma was mentioning -- ahead of the spring offensive time by Russia. Military leaders insist that German-made Leopards would make a huge difference in the battles of cities like Bakhmut where Russian forces are advancing. But 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, FRONT LINE MEDICS: I'm young, I'm trained for this. This is what I do for a living and a lot of people need it here. And I'm like, I'm so happy to be here and stay with people they have stepped on.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Eli is with a group called Front Line Medics and you can't get much more frontline than this. Fellow medic Kurt Eriksen from Norway explains how they work.

KURT ERIKSEN, FRONT LINE MEDICS: They got a list of patients, but we don't really know what's wrong with them. So, we don't have any idea before we see them and we do assessment.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): 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 are in pain.

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

WEDEMAN (voice-over): He lives in an unheated apartment. 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: 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.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): But worst is yet to come says British volunteer soldier Daniel Burke.

DANIEL BURKE, BRITISH VOLUNTEER SOLDIER: We need to take Soledar to the north, they've got to try and do a big pincer movement around Bakhmut. And then we're going to try to circle it per se but I'm going to call them try or pass that through the fields and just close it a little bit.

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

WEDEMAN: Are you a little nervous with the situation here?


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Nerves of steel as the shelling goes on.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Bakhmut.


FOSTER: Amazing spirit amongst them, isn't it?

NOBILO: Absolutely incredible. These volunteers come from around the world putting themselves at risk.

FOSTER: Still to come, we'll hear from a man who disarmed the gunman after he carried out a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. His story just ahead.

NOBILO: Plus, the family of a black man who died after a police stop in Memphis, Tennessee, say that their son was beaten nonstop by officers. We'll have those details next.