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CNN This Morning
Mass Shooting Kills 10 in Monterey Park, California, and Leaves Predominantly Asian American Community Devastated; Young Man Who Wrestled Gun Away from Monterey Park Mass Shooter Describes His Experience. TV Weatherman Attacked by Teens on Subway; Suspects Freed; Today: Jury Selection Begins in Case of Man Accused of Killing Wife and Son; 10 Killed in America's Deadliest Mass Shooting Since Uvalde. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired January 23, 2023 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning from Monterey Park, California, the site of America's deadliest mass shooting since Uvalde. Ten people killed inside a dance studio, more than a half dozen others in the hospital at this hour.
And new details this morning on the investigation into the gunman and the heroic actions that may have stopped a second attack by the shooter.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, this morning in Washington, the FBI conducting a historic search of President Biden's home in coordination with his attorneys and finding more classified documents. Now as the White House deals with the legal implications, the political fallout is also getting worse.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A warning from Russia this morning. If Germany sends its Leopard 2 tanks to the warzone, Ukraine will pay. This comes as two major western allies are locked in a standoff.
COLLINS: And a TV weatherman jumped on the subway by a group of teenagers after he tried to help an elderly man. Now these teens are free.
CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.
LEMON: We're going to start here in California. After a massive manhunt, the gunman who massacred 10 people in a dancehall here in southern California is dead. The sheriff says that he shot and killed himself in his own van when police tracked him down hours after the mass shooting. We're told that he also went to a second dance studio to kill even more people, but the people inside were able to wrestle his gun away.
CNN has learned the gunman was a frequent patron of the same dancehall he attacked, and it is where he met his ex-wife. The shooting struck fear into the local Asian community here as it celebrated the lunar new year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF LIOU, PASTOR IN SAN GABRIEL VALLEY: We see elders walking around all the time. This has been a safe neighborhood for them to walk around and have a community, historic Taiwanese, Chinese community. So to see this happen in this place is shattering.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The sheriff telling everyone that the rampage could have been much worse if the gunman hadn't been disarmed at the second dancehall. He says that the gun was a semiautomatic assault pistol with an extended magazine which is now illegal to purchase in California.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Gun violence needs to stop. There's too much of it. And I hope that this tragedy doesn't just go on a long list of many others that we don't even talk about until the next one comes up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And new this morning, we are hearing from the young man who says that he wrestled the gun away from the shooter and saved countless lives. I want you to listen to this interview that he just did with ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON TSAY, SAYS HE DISARMED GUNMAN WHO KILLED 10: 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, bashing the back of my head. 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, point the gun at him, intimidate him and say, get the hell out of here! I'll shoot! Get away! Go!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to bring in now Kyung Lah and Josh Campbell. Good morning to both of you. Kyung, I want to speak with you first, because you are actually a member of this community. Your family is members of this community as well -- your mother, I should say. And then listening to that young man who helped to wrestle that gun away, it speaks to the trauma that's in this community, how someone was brave enough to stand up to what was happening, but also the fear. He said he was afraid at the time and didn't even realize -- he was acting on adrenaline. Didn't even realize the bruises that he had and the danger he was in at the moment. KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's working at
his family's business. He's a coder. He's not trained to do this. And if you notice, he's quite young. So to have all of this background of nothing and to suddenly step up and save a community, it's truly extraordinary. And you're talking about the community here, the trauma.
My mother called me 20 times, just completely astonished and afraid, because this is a community where you have so many Asian Americans walking about freely. It feels extraordinarily safe. I've been to the grocery stores here, the Costco. I bought my car in this community. It is a place where Asian Americans come together, work together, and live together peacefully. And so it is astonishing that this happened within the community, but also to have a hero, a young hero just step up and stop it.
LEMON: And they still don't know why, Josh. There's still no motive.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, they're still working to determine that. And quite frankly, they may never know. The suspect is obviously deceased, but we know that they're going back trying to interview people who knew him, obviously look to see if there was any type of precursor to this.
You look at this case, and Kyung and I were just talking about this. There's so many other cases when we see young men that are conducting these kinds of attacks. We see the mass shotting. There is a typical profile. This is the outlier. You have a 72-year-old man here. And so there will be a lot of questions. Was this one of these so-called injustice collectors, people who build grievances, they gather them, and then they finally act on them? We'll have to wait and see. But you and I were talking earlier as well, that that also gets to this firearm that was used. And although that gun is now illegal in California, the suspect, who was 72 years old, did he buy it decades ago when it was still legal? A lot of question that we still have about this story.
LEMON: Yes, but at 72 years old, it seems so odd for someone to be a grievance collector this way.
LAH: And one thing I want to point out, adding on to that. OK, he's 72. There was a mass shooting just about a year ago in Laguna Woods, California, in Orange County. That shooter drove from Las Vegas, from Nevada, and shot at a church, killing one person, wounding several others. He was 68. I think there are some questions that the Asian American community needs to ask itself about signs and how to talk to the police. And if they don't have the language to speak to police, to call upon their younger kids to do that.
LEMON: A lot more that we have to figure out here. And we would imagine a briefing will be happening sometime this morning. The last briefing last night was at 4:30 pacific time, 7:30 eastern time last night. And they said it was going to be the last briefing of the night, but I would imagine they'd be giving one this morning to try to figure out, again, what is the motive, what exactly is the situation with this gun. Was it illegal to purchase or what? So there's much more to go here in California, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Yes, questions about the motive there, but also just overall in the United States, because that shooting on Saturday, Monterey Park was the deadliest in the U.S. so far this year. But it was far from the first mass shooting this January -- 36 mass shootings in 2023 have left at least 59 people dead across America according to the Gun Violence Archive. We're only three weeks into the new year. Last year there were 647 mass shootings, according to the Archive, which as you can see here is up significantly from just five or six years ago. In the past year alone, America has experienced mass shootings in cities from Uvalde, Texas, to Buffalo, New York, Highland Park, Illinois, Corsicana, Texas, just to name a few, Don.
LEMON: I want to bring in now California State Assemblymember Mike Fong. Monterey Park is part of the district that he represents. Thank you so much. Good morning to you. I'm sorry that we're having to meet on such a horrific occasion. How is the community holding up? What are people saying here?
MIKE FONG, (D) CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY, REPRESENT MONTEREY PARK: Good morning, Don. Thank you so much for having me this morning. It's been a tremendous sadness in our community. Our community is grieving and mourning the loss of 10 lives, 10 innocent lives here in the San Gabriel valley here in the city of Monterey Park, and praying for the recovery of the 10 additional folks in the hospitals right now.
But it's been a very challenging time here in the San Gabriel Valley, and we're mourning and grieving this massacre.
LEMON: Until this happened just hours after you were onstage with the local leaders to celebrate this lunar new year celebration here, and this is a predominately Asian community here. I believe it's like 65 percent Asian community here.
LEMON: This is one of the biggest celebrations of your community.
FONG: On a day when we're supposed to be celebrating and celebrating family, celebrating community, it's the largest celebration in our community. Over 100,000 people were here during the daytime for the lunar new year celebration here in the city of Monterey Park. The mayor and city officials and dignitaries across to celebrate the opening of the year of the rabbit, a year of hope and peace. And to have this peace shattered a few hours later was just very, very devastating and shocking.
LEMON: I realize, like most of us, you probably watched the briefing last night. And as I mentioned just moments ago, they said it was the last briefing of the night. And I would imagine one will be announced soon this morning. Are you getting any updates from local officials, local law enforcement, about the possible motive here?
FONG: In terms of a motive, I haven't heard any information in terms of a motive. But I'm in contact with local city officials including the mayor of Monterey Park Henry Lo and city officials and also coordinating with state and federal officials to monitor the situation very closely.
LEMON: The law enforcement, they're calling the young man, or the two people who helped to wrestle the gun away in Alhambra, they're calling them heroes. Do you agree with them? Do you believe that they are heroes, that they saved this from becoming much worse than it could have been?
FONG: I'm very proud of those two heroes that stepped up to really wrestle the gun away from the perpetrator. This could have been much worse in Alhambra and added to the grief in our community. I'm very grateful to those two heroes for stepping up and making that happen.
LEMON: What's your response to people? You mentioned moments ago you were out speaking to them, the sense of loss and grief that they have. What do you say to them?
FONG: It's very hard to provide any -- we're at a loss for words when we're talking to folks, and really trying to make sure that we're here for them and that we can provide the resources from the state and local government. But really, if anybody is dealing with trauma, with any issues that they need any assistance with, please visit the Langley Center here in the city of Monterey Park on Emerson Avenue to receive the assistance of crisis respond. And we're here to serve. Our district office is open here to serve as well. Anything we can be helpful with, please reach out.
LEMON: Assemblymember Fong, thank you so much. We really appreciate your time, and we're sorry you're having to deal with us in the community.
FONG: Thank you so much, and prayers to all the family.
FONG: Thank you.
LEMON: We're reporting on this, but we have to remember, Poppy, over the past couple years we have been reporting on all the anti-Asian hate crime that has been going on throughout the country. So they have been dealing with this, and now this mass shooting on top of that.
HARLOW: And as you said, Don, a community that is 65 percent represented by the AAPI community. Thank you very much, Don. We'll get back to you very, very soon.
Also today, we should note, jury selection begins in the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, the man accused of killing his wife and his son. We'll take you live to South Carolina.
COLLINS: Also, a group of teenagers assaulting a FOX News weatherman who was trying to stop them from harassing an elderly man on the subway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was like, yo, guys, cut that out. And they decided, all right, if he's not going to get it, then you're going to get it. And boy, did they give it to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, a FOX News meteorologist is recovering this morning after four teenagers attacked him yesterday while riding the Subway in New York City. Adam Klotz says the teens were hassling an older man when he intervened and tried to help the older man, and that's in those teens turned on him.
Let's bring in our colleague, Brynn Gingras. She is following all of this.
This is so scary.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So scary and pretty brutal beating to this FOX News weather man, as you guys mentioned, his name is Adam Klotz, 37 years old.
He was on the subway system here in New York City. He said he was coming home from watching the Giants game. It was early Sunday morning, and I want you to hear what he says happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM KLOTZ, FOX NEWS CHANNEL METEOROLOGIST: Hear me out though, you should see the other guy.
Oh, my side, don't laugh. My side is worse, so much worse in my face.
This older gentleman was being hassled by this group of like seven or eight teens. And I was like, "Yo, guys cut that out. And" they decided, all right, if he's not going to get it, then you're going to get it," and boy did they give it to me.
They had me on the ground. Like my ribs are all kind of bruised up, too. They got their hits in. But that guy, he got out of there. He's fine.
I got x-rays. I'm okay. This is all going to heal. So it's all good. You know what I mean? New York City, New York City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRAS: And you could see, he is making somewhat light of it. He said there's more of a bruised ego than his actual bruised bones. But you guys can see, he got pretty beaten up pretty badly. We're told by authorities that the teens got away, but they were able
to actually arrest three of them. One is a 17-year-old and two are 15- year-olds.
And that's what's scary, right? And he even said that in part of his Instagram is, you know, where are the parents? Why are these kids on the Subway at one o'clock in the morning and --
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And they were arrested but they're not -- they've been released.
GINGRAS: Right. So they're juveniles. So technically all police can do is read a report, a juvenile report for assault and then they get released back to their parents. So now it's going to be up to Klotz to decide does he want to press charges against these teens? What happens next in that whole system, but yes, they were they were released to their parents.
COLLINS: Wow. Brynn Gingras, thank you for that.
HARLOW: All right, this morning, the jury selection will begin in the highly anticipated murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, whose attorneys say they are fully prepared.
Murdaugh is a former South Carolina lawyer. He is accused of murdering his wife and their son, Paul in June of 2021. He has pleaded not guilty.
Our Randi Kaye has been following this case for months. She joins us live in Walterboro, South Carolina with more.
Randi, what can we expect in this trial?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy.
Well, jury selection should be getting underway here shortly, but we are already getting a look at some new evidence. A source with knowledge of this investigation has confirmed to me that there is a Snapchat video that Paul Murdaugh said, that's the son who was killed, at 7:56 PM, the night of June 7, 2021. That would have been just moments before he was gunned down.
The prosecutors are saying that is critical evidence to the case. They've asked the Judge to subpoena the Snapchat representative to come here and testify. The Judge has signed off on that.
But that is just one piece of evidence, Poppy, that we are expecting to see in a mountain of evidence as this trial gets underway.
ALEX MURDAUGH, SUSPECTED OF KILLING WIFE AND SON: I need the police and ambulance immediately. My wife and child have been shot badly.
KAYE (voice over): Alex Murdaugh says he called 9-1-1 after finding his wife and son bleeding at their hunting property in Islington, South Carolina.
DISPATCHER: What is your name?
MURDAUGH: My name is Alex Murdaugh.
KAYE (voice over): That was June 7, 2021.
Now for the first time, we are learning more about how many times 52- year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh were shot and where.
This latest Court filing by Murdaugh's defense attorneys includes an affidavit from a forensic expert hired by State law enforcement. The expert offers a disturbing picture of the murder scene.
He determined two gunshot blast hit Paul Murdaugh. The first was to the chest, but the fatal shot to his shoulder and head was so violent that his brain was completely detached from his head according to the expert.
The affidavit also includes pictures from the crime scene, which show the property's dog kennels where Paul Murdaugh was shot.
DISPATCHER: Are they breathing?
MURDAUGH: No, ma'am.
KAYE (voice over): The affidavit also details how Maggie Murdaugh was shot five times with a rifle including one gunshot to the back of her head and scalp.
KAYE (voice over): While the sequence of the gunshots was not clear, the expert concluded that at least one of the shots was fired while she was on the ground, holding herself up on her knees and her right hand with her shoulders and head down.
Also, Court documents show blood spatter found on the t-shirt Alex Murdaugh was wearing the night of the murders could prove he was in close proximity to at least one of the victims when they were shot.
And in a Court affidavit filed this week, the State's forensic experts stated there appears to be transfer and spatter stains on the front of Murdaugh's t-shirt.
Murdaugh's lawyers have argued the blood got on his shirt when he touched the victims after finding them and deny he was at the house when the murders occurred.
Still, prosecutors say he had a motive for allegedly killing them, to hide his alleged financial crimes. Prosecutors claim Alex Murdaugh defrauded clients, co-workers and family members of nearly $9 million.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the day of reckoning was upon him and he was out of cards to play. KAYE (voice over): That alleged motive dates back to a February 2019
boat crash during which Paul Murdaugh was allegedly driving drunk. Nineteen-year-old Mallory Beach was killed in that crash.
Because Alex Murdaugh owned the boat, he family filed a civil suit against him. His financial records likely would have been revealed at a scheduled hearing in June 2021, but Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed a few days before, so the hearing was cancelled, which is why prosecutors say he killed his wife and son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is still trying to prevent who he really is from being outed.
KAYE (voice over): Murdaugh's defense team has pushed back on the alleged motive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Murdaugh had hand written a financial statement for the purposes of that hearing.
There is no doomsday reckoning in that regard.
KAYE (on camera): And there is more evidence that could put Alex Murdaugh at the scene of the crime at the time of the murders. There is cellphone video from Paul Murdaugh's cell phone which contains audio of Alex Murdaugh talking to his wife and son. That timestamp on that audio video is 8:44 PM and prosecutors say the murders took place sometime between 8:30 PM and 10:06 PM.
So of course, Poppy, that timeline is very key.
HARLOW: Yes. It is a crucial question.
Randi, thank you very much right outside of the courtroom there in South Carolina.
COLLINS: Back to our top story this morning on the gunman who killed 10 people at a ballroom dance studio just as the city's largest Asian- American community was celebrating the Lunar New Year. We're going to talk to the founder of an anti-Asian hate organization next about this.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So welcome back everyone to CNN THIS MORNING coming to you live from Monterey Park, California, the scene of America's latest mass shooting. Here is what we know right now.
The gunman who ultimately took his own life has been identified as 72- year-old Huu Can Tran.
Now, Tran opened fire Saturday night at a ballroom dance studio killing 10 people, wounding 10 others. We've also learned that he used to be a regular patron at the dance hall and met his ex-wife there, and that he then went to another dance hall in a nearby city, but bystanders disarmed him and he escaped in his van.
The Sheriff says the gunman used -- the gun that he used was an automatic -- a semiautomatic pistol which is now illegal to purchase in California.
More details about that will be coming out in the days ahead.
The tragedy is hitting hard among Asian-Americans, many of whom have been dealing with an increase in overall violence against the community over the past few years, especially anti-Asian hate crimes since the pandemic.
So joining us now to talk about this as the executive director of the AAPI Equity Alliance and cofounder of Stop AAPI Hate and that's Manju Kulkarni.
I'm so happy to have you on this morning. Thank you.
You know, I was wondering about something that you said that I heard you say that this may not be the sort of traditional -- a traditional hate crime against the AAPI community, but it is still targeted and it's still terror. He terrorized the community.
MANJU KULKARNI, COFOUNDER, STOP AAPI HATE: Absolutely. And let me just say, first off, how devastated we are by this and that our -- you know, our hearts are with the community right now in as well as our thoughts and prayers.
It's not the who or the why, but it's what has happened to our community after, you know, three years of anti-Asian hate, we're once again being targeted and the perpetrator knew that this was Lunar New Year. He knew that, you know, thousands of us would be out this weekend.
And so he came to this place, and he terrorized the community with the shooting here and then trying to do the same thing in Alhambra.
LEMON: So Manju, as you look around, look, there were dozens of people here, right, at the place that were standing in front of, and in many other areas celebrating the Lunar New Year.
You had been speaking to some of those people. What are you hearing from the community?
KULKARNI: There is so much fear, Don, and trepidation because folks thought, you know, this would be the year that we could go out and celebrate, right?
The State of California made it a State Holiday for the first time ever, Lunar New Year, and so we thought we could put so much of what has happened behind us.
But in fact, with this incident, people are anxious, they're nervous. They continue to be depressed, and especially our elderly community. We did a report at Stop AAPI Hate with AARP, 98 percent in 2022 said that the United States was a more physically dangerous place for them and they are not wrong, even after what happened on Saturday night we see. But we are mobilized.