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CNN Tonight

Police Say, Michigan Gunman Kills Three, No Known Ties To University; Biden Marks Five Years Since Parkland School Shooting With Call For Stronger Gun Laws; Fmr. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) Announces 2024 White House Bid; Residents Of East Palestine, Ohio Safety Concern On Returning Home After Train Derailment; NTSB To Investigate United Airlines' Near-Crash In Hawaii; Brian Laundrie's Mother Wrote A Letter Offering To "Bury The Body." Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 14, 2023 - 22:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I am Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

338,000 children, that is how many American kids have been exposed to gun violence at school since the Columbine tragedy. Now, imagine this. You survived a school shooting in high school only to arrive at college and be the victim of another one. That is what happened to at least three students at Michigan State University last night. I'll talk to the father of one girl enduring that nightmare tonight.

Also, Parkland Survivor David Hogg will be here with his thoughts on the five-year anniversary of that school shooting.

Plus, Nikki Haley throwing her hat in the ring for 2024 against Donald Trump. How will she now deal with her head-spinning contradictions and positions on Trump?

And Ohio's governor says he would not drink the water in one part of the state. So, what are the people of East Palestine supposed to do 11 days after that toxic train derailment started spewing hazardous chemicals? Erin Brockovich is here tonight with us.

But I want to get right to the aftermath of the mass shooting last night Michigan State University. Joining me now is Matt Riddle, whose daughter, Emma, is a freshman at MSU and was a senior at Oxford High School during the school shooting there just 14 months ago. Matt, thanks so much for taking the time to talk tonight.

It is almost unbelievable that you all endured this nightmare 14 months ago when she was a senior in high school and then you have this recurring nightmare last night. How do you and she even process what has happening to her in the past 14 days?

MATT RIDDLE, DAUGHTER SURVIVED MSU AND OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTINGS: I appreciate you having me on. It's been unexpected and pretty incredible that we've had to go through this again with Emma. And she is a fantastic, strong young woman and she's doing what she can. And I think one of the things that has been heartbreaking for me is for her to acknowledge that this time may be easier because she has tools that she developed last time she went through this.

And I can remember thinking after the Oxford shooting that, okay, you survived, and it is tragic, and you lost friends but this will never happen again, right? It just can't. So, we've been through it, this trauma is something that we've experienced and, you know, you are done, right? That's kind of what your brain tells you. There's no way it can happen to somebody twice.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, Matt, how crazy that while she's getting better at it, she's getting better at surviving school shootings, I mean, that this is the world that we live in, well, we see that as a victory somehow. And so, Matt, just tell us what was happening last night when this all broke out on her campus. I know that she was in touch with you. What was she doing? How was she coping through all that?

RIDDLE: Yes. So, she was in her dorm room and she was with the roommate, and they're good friends and they're able to support each other. And they had gotten the notice around 8:30 to shelter in place and to go into lockdown. So, she sent us a screen cap of the notification they received for Michigan State telling them to head on a lockdown immediately. And she lives on a high floor in one of the dorms and they were luckily in their home, so to speak, in their dorms. So, they locked the doors, they barricaded, they shelved dressers in front of the bathroom door, which is a shared space, and another entry door. They closed the window and they hid under the desk for the next three hours.

And in the first few minutes was a lot of confusion and unknown. And then when there was confirmation that there was indeed a mass shooter on campus or a shooter in campus, that is when she did call. As a parent, it is heartbreaking to hear that fear in her voice again. It is something that I will never forget the first time and now there's a second time. And you're just -- you're heartbroken because all you want, as a parent, is to protect their children and to keep them safe, and you know you can't. You're handing them off to college and you want them to have experiences and live but it takes a piece of you that they are going to go through something like this and then to have it happen again and have to relive some of the things that happen the first time is just tragic that we've allowed that to continue occurring.

CAMEROTA: You must have felt so helpless, Matt, while she was gone.

RIDDLE: 100 percent. You want to be -- I'm about an hour and ten minutes away. And your first thought is, okay, I'm going to get in the car, I'm going to drive. We're going to get there and then you realize you can't because you can't interfere with the first responders and the police do their jobs the campus is on lockdown, of course.

And I would say this time, because it took so long to kind of process from the initial incident to the kind of the conclusion, it was almost three hours, so that was an incredibly difficult long three hours. You are just -- we're talking over text, calling occasionally, whispering to kind of maintaining quiet and then obviously trying to keep track of what was happening anyway that we can, social media, scanners, whatever it might be, and kind of just continuing to help support her and just say, listen, you are in a safer places that you can possibly be in a situation like this.


So, just keep your head down and we're thinking of you and we're talking to you and supporting you and we're going to get through this.

CAMEROTA: And so, Matt, now that there is trauma upon trauma, so she had trauma at Oxford High School, she sounds like recovered from that as best that she could, and now the second trauma, how is she today and what are the next steps here?

RIDDLE: Yes. It is tough. I mean, she is definitely doing the best that she can. And, again, like you referenced earlier, she has tools from last time that she's putting into place. She understands what is coming over the next few days, over the next couple of weeks and her sister, Lily, and she's here supporting her as well. And we're just able to kind of help her, just give her some space to breathe and to be calm and not have things to do and just be present. I was able to stay off this week and be with her.

So, there's not a lot you can do. It is going to take time and it's going to take -- you have got to go through some things. And to your point, that trauma is going to stack up on top of each other, you are going to have things that occurred that reminded you both of those events at the same time. So, for me, just kind of making sure that I'm available as I can and can provide any resources that I can to her to be able to work through this again.

CAMEROTA: And, Matt, I mean, as you just said that living through something like this as a parent takes a piece of you. What piece is lost now?

RIDDLE: I think, at some point, there may have been a little bit of -- again, like I said, you kind of rationalize the first time. This can't possibly happen again. There's no way. It's mathematically unlikely, right? I'm engineer and I think there's no way. And then you say, well, it did. So, what does that mean? Well, what it means is that we are failing people like my daughter. We're failing students. We're failing children because we refused to acknowledge that there is a problem, let alone take the steps that will resolve that issue.

And I say that as a country and I say that as somebody that lives in an area that may be I'm part of the minority in. But until we take some sort of action -- and I start getting angry when I think about it because I feel like I can't imagine the parents of Columbine when I was in college or Sandy Hook, et cetera. They've been feeling this anger and frustration for years, that nothing has changed and nothing is happening. And why can't we make progress and keep our children safe?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Is she going to go back to school next week? RIDDLE: She is. They do go back to class on Monday. I mean, we've talked about that a lot today. She's got some time to process. She understands that high school, they were off for almost six weeks. They have a lot of time, a lot of community events, a lot of things they could do together. College is different. It moves a little faster. There's more kids involved. So, I know they have to kind of keep things moving.

So, at this point, she's going to be home with us. That drive back on Sunday is going to be tough, kind of re-dropping off and putting her back and they're trying to just expect, hey, you're going to be safe this time, we hope. And that's going to be a difficult moment but she understands.

And she loves MSU. She loves the campus. She loves her program there, history program. She wants to participate. She wants to be there but it's going to be hard.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, Matt Riddle, we're thinking of you and Emma. Thanks so much for taking the time and we hope that she continues to be strong through all of this.

RIDDLE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. The shooting at Michigan State University coming just hours before the Parkland, Florida community marked five years since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Here's what President Biden had to say earlier.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Today marks five years, five years to the day that 14 students and 3 educators lost their lives in Parkland, Florida. I met every one of those families, spent time with them all. And a lot of you here had to confront violence in your communities every single day. We took a big step towards passing the most significant bipartisan gun legislation in 30 years, ghost guns and other things, background checks. But there is a lot more work to do. And I'm committing to getting it done with all of you.


CAMEROTA: Joining me now, the first students I met five years ago when I landed in Parkland, Florida, to cover that school shooting. David Hogg is the survivor of that school shooting and the co-founder of March for Our Lives. David, it is always great to see you even though it is always in these horrible, horrible situations. What did you think just listening to that father of that daughter who is now, in the past 14 months, has survived two school shootings?

DAVID HOGG, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: It is frustrating. And, unfortunately, it is not surprising, to say the least. Look, Alisyn, I think the reality is here. Most of the time -- this is the first time, really, ever on the anniversary of the shooting that I have spoken out and it's because I felt after what happened last night and we've seen happened in the past five years. [22:10:00]

I think that we need to change the conversation and break the cycle that we have inaction and debate. And we need to realize that there is common ground for us to work on here even if it is small in the first place.

Most of us have agreed that we need to fund mental health to prevent gun suicides, for example. We need to get more information and research to figure out how to stop these shootings in the first place. And I would say to anybody that is out there, especially Republican lawmakers, that if you're interested in working beyond with me on that, D.M. me on Twitter. I've had conversations with Republicans privately and I know that there is room for progress here.

But until we break the cycle of inaction and debate, and turn into one of dialogue and conversation and action, I'm going to keep having this conversation ten years from now with you.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And I know you've been working on that, David. I mean, I followed you around Capitol Hill one day. You've been working on this. You've been trying to get any lawmakers who will listen and who are open, to try to come to the table and have common sense solutions.

Speaking of research, here is another staggering bit of research. The Washington Post quantified how many kids have lived through a school shooting since Columbine, so a school shooting at their high school. I mean, we tend to think in terms of the victims who were killed but these are the kids who survived. You are one of these figures.

So, since this is the children exposed to gun violence since Columbine, in 2018, when the Parkland massacre happened, there were 187,000 children who had lived through a school shooting. Today, it is almost double. In 2023, there are 338,000. That is just such a staggering number. I mean, that is the ripple effect, David, that you and I've talked about. It is not just the victims and their families, it is all of you who carried this memory with you.

HOGG: Right. It is a horrifying ripple effect. And forgive me for this if I sound angry. I don't mean to. I am just so frustrated at the fact that we're still in the same place. Look, it is time for us to end the debate that has brought us here and it's time to spread the dialogue that will get us out of here.

I just have a special message from the Republicans and conservative gun owners who don't agree with me in the first place. Look, I can respect people who don't agree with me but I can't accept that there is nothing we can do as Americans to keep the number one thing we all care about, which is our loved ones, and especially our children safe. But if we can continue this debate over and over again we are just going to remain here.

We need to turn this debate into a dialogue and a conversation to make progress on this. We've acted in a bipartisan way after Parkland. Our GOP state legislature passed a red flag law that has now been used over 6,000 times in Parkland. And one time, Alisyn, it was used for somebody who sent a death to my own mother. That law that we passed after Parkland may have prevented me from having to bury my own mother.

Is any law perfect? No, obviously. But we can make meaningful progress in a bipartisan way on this. We did this summer with the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. But until we put our politics aside and start pushing for what we can agree on together, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans united to protect our kids, we're going to remain here. And the reality is we have to put those politics aside because your town could be the next Parkland. And I do want anybody else to have that reality.

So, if you're a GOP lawmaker that is interested in figuring out where we can have common ground and have a good faith conversation about what we can do as Americans to address this issue, let's do it. Because I don't believe that is anything that we can't do in this country. And if we can land a man on the moon, I think it stop our kids from getting shot too.

CAMEROTA: David, you are allowed to be angry, and I didn't know that story about your own mother, and her having received those threats, and how close it came, and that is terrifying. I mean, obviously, on every level, you have been dealing with.

Is there one thing, one action, David, after these five years that you think nationally we could start with?

HOGG: I think, nationally, it starts with just getting more resource funding in the first place. Look, the reality is there are similar issues like census in terms of the number of people that have unfortunately died from that every year. I get nearly $1 million in funding from U.S. federal government and other government agencies to research.

Last year, in the previous five years, on average, we've gotten about $25 to $50 million to study the number one leading cause of death for people under the age of 19 in this country, which is gun violence. We need to start by getting the right answers and funding research more. And I would love to work with conservative members in the House on that, so we can get it through appropriations and avoid the filibuster. And I want to have that conversation. So, if you are one of those people, please contact me and D.M. me on Twitter.

CAMEROTA: I hope that they take you up on that, David. Last five years later, today's the anniversary, how are you and your classmates doing tonight?

HOGG: I can only speak for myself.


I know that everybody experiences this day differently. But what I will say is, personally, despite unfortunately the lack of progress but also progress that we've made, personally, I'm doing better. It was the first day that I got a Valentine from the person I'm going out with and it wasn't triggering. It made me happy. And I'm starting to see that as part of my personal healing journey. And I'm really happy that I have been able to do that and I hope others are as well on this day.

CAMEROTA: Happy Valentine's Day, David. It is a really sweet story. And we pray for all of your continued healing and progress. And we always appreciate talking to you. Thanks so much for being here.

HOGG: I appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Well, she is running for president. Nikki Haley is also jumping headfirst into the culture wars. Is that a winning strategy? We're going to discuss it next.


CAMEROTA: South Carolina's former governor, Nikki Haley, announcing today that she is running for president in 2024. She's the first candidate to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. Here is part of her video announcement.


FMR. GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R-SC): Some people look at America and see vulnerability. The socialist left sees an opportunity to rewrite history. China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullied, kicked around. You should know this about me. I don't put up with bullies. And when you kickback, it hurts them more if you're wearing heels.


I am Nikki Haley and I'm running for president.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Let's discuss what this means with Carrie Sheffield, senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum, also, Molly Jong-Fast, host of the Fast Politics Podcast. She's also a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, and CNN Political Analyst Astead Herndon, National Political Reporter for The New York Times. Great to have all of you.

Okay. Carrie let me start with you. Are you excited about her jumping into the race?

CARRIE SHEFFIELD, SENIOR FELLOW, INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S FORUM: Well, I love Nikki. I do. I have been a big fan of her for a long time. I used to work in Israel for a while back when the consulate wasn't Jerusalem. Now, it's an embassy she stood up. She was very courageous about that. She stood up for human rights in China when she was at the U.N. She brought the country together when she was the governor of South Carolina. So, I love her, I really do. I just don't think the timing is on her side. I think that timing-wise, she's only at 4 percent in the polls. I think that --

CAMEROTA: Well, she just got in today. I mean, there's nowhere to go but up. SHEFFIELD: This is true. However, I think that the base is going to have a hard time getting behind her if you look at the reaction just so far.


SHEFFIELD: They perceive her as being disingenuous in the sense that she promised that she wouldn't run if Trump was running. She broke that promise.

CAMEROTA: Got it. Molly?

MOLLY JONG-FAST, HOST, FAST POLITICS PODCAST: That is not why the base doesn't like her. The base doesn't like her because they've gone autocrat and they can't go back. I mean, she'd be a great candidate in 2004. But right now, this Republican Party wants red meats and they want someone who doesn't believe in a lot of the tenets of democracy.

CAMEROTA: The whole Republican Party or the Trump wing of the Republican Party?

JONG-FAST: I think what you're going to need to win a primary is not where Nikki Haley is, and I think it is too bad. I mean, I think that she has a lot to recommend her, especially as a Republican, and I think she would govern in a more normal way, but I don't think the base is there.

CAMEROTA: Astead, what about her sort of flip-flops on Donald Trump? So, we'll just play a couple. Here is her on Trump's truthfulness.


HALEY: Donald Trump is everything I taught my children not to do in kindergarten.

I thought my two little ones you don't lie and make things up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about his truthfulness? Did you think he was a truthful person?

HALEY: Yes. In every instance that I dealt with him, me was truthful, he listened, and he was great to work with.


CAMEROTA: That's not all. I mean, just hold your comments on that, there is more. Here she is in 2016 on whether he should disavow the KKK and then how she felt five months later.


HALEY: I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK. That is not a part of our party. That is not we want as president.

REPORTER: Are you going to vote for Donald Trump? Are you going to vote for him?

HALEY: Of course.


CAMEROTA: Is this going to be a problem?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it is going to be a problem, it already is a problem. That is part the reason why she's polling down there. I mean, it is the challenge with being a consensus candidate in this Republican Party. Nikki Haley's task here is not just to convince Republican voters to vote for her and that she's a good candidate and all the rest, it's to give them to completely change what has been the motivating factors for the Republican Party in the last decade. She needs to make this go from being a grievance- driven party to a forward-looking party, which is what she's trying to pitch here in that video.

That is a huge task. Because I think, as they're both pointing out, it is not just Donald Trump who made the Republican base remote be really motivated by the kind of culture war issues, that's what they are motivated by independently, and that's what Nikki Haley is going to would have to contend with.

SHEFFIELD: Sorry. I would just disagree as far as who is the grievance base. Grievance base is the hard left. The grievance base believes that America was founded at its very core to preserve slavery. And that is a lie. That's a flat out lie.

CAMEROTA: What I mean an insurrection does show grievances, the fact that the right wanted an insurrection. That's pretty aggrieved.

SHEFFIELD: I mean, that was universally condemned by the vast majority of voters who are part of the American First movement. And I think the grievance idea is certainly on both extreme wings. That is for certain. I just think that when you're talking about, for example, the Senate Budget Committee for the left has been run by Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialists, who, for so long, in the Senate, was on the fringe. And now he's welcomed, he was the second runner-up in the Democratic Party. That is grievance. He despises capitalism. He despises the foundations of it.

HERNDON: Yes, I hear you. If Bernie Sanders was running for president, I feel like that would be all of reasons why he wouldn't be a favorite among the Democratic base.

SHEFFIELD: He came in second.

CAMEROTA: My questions about Nikki Haley. Do you have a problem with those flip-flops that we just heard?

SHEFFIELD: Well, that is what I'm saying, is that I am not picking a favorite in this fight. I will be Switzerland in the end as a conservative. I want the most conservative candidate. So, I'm not going to endorsed Nikki or an endorser.


But I --

CAMEROTA: Are you comfortable with that? Because that does not that show a level of disingenuousness?

SHEFFIELD: Well, no. And that's what I'm saying, I think, for the base, that that is a big problem. So, some people wrote an essay saying, the base doesn't like her because she's a women and she's women of color. That is simply not true. Kari Lake has shots of the top of the charts, she's a woman. Candace Owens is adored by the base. She's an African-American woman. So, it is not about your gender. It is about your behavior and whether or not you are consistent as a leader.

CAMEROTA: Okay, go ahead, Molly.

JONG-FAST: I mean, Marjorie Taylor Greene is like practically leading the Congress. She was a Jewish space lasers woman. I mean, I don't think that the Republican far-right is the same as the left. And, by the way, the Democratic president is a man called Joe Biden, and no one would say he's far-left by any stretch of the imagination. He's a very center as candidate. So, I don't --

SHEFFIELD: Well, Joe Biden -- Senator Biden. President Biden is a different person.

CAMEROTA: It's hard for me to see Joe Biden as a socialist. I mean, that's what she was saying there.

HERNDON: Maybe how you put it. Nikki Haley is among the Republican Party, right?

CAMEROTA: So, you don't think she's going to gain traction in the primary?

HERNDON: I mean, that is her biggest issue here. It is not just that she has a base amongst donors. She has a base among a kind of D.C. conservative class and among a vision of Republicans that is more analogous to what they have used to call themselves. But Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party. And that does not mean that he is automatically the next nominee. But that does mean that the way the party has transformed is something Nikki Haley has to contend with. And that is why we see this waffling left and right, is because she has been trying to find a lane to contend with this version of the Republican Party.

CAMEROTA: Okay, folks, just standby. We have so many more topics to cover. Please standby because we also have major resources about toxic contamination in an Ohio town. This is after the derailment of that train that was carrying dangerous chemicals. Now, thousands of fish are dying there. Some residents are complaining about illness. So, we are going to discuss what is being done, next.



CAMEROTA: Big concerns, tonight, about air and water quality in East Palestine, Ohio where a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed 11 days ago. Residents complaining of headaches and sore throats. Thousands of fish dying in the waterways after the spill.

Tonight, Ohio's governor, Mike DeWine, says it's absurd that he was told that the train was not carrying highly hazardous material. Talking to me about what's going on, we have consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brockovich. Erin, thanks so much for taking the time. Really been looking forward to talking to you. Can you just tell us what is life like tonight in EAST PALESTINE?

ERIN BROCKOVICH, CONSUMER ADVOCATE: They are very concerned. They're very scared. They're very confused. They haven't been getting information. They've been getting misinformation. This situation occurred February 3rd. As soon as early morning February 4th I started hearing from the community. They were being evacuated. They were being told to shelter in place. It was a one-mile radius.

They weren't getting the information they needed. They were concerned at that time because there were reports of children who are having difficulty breathing. There was a bad smell in the air. Children throwing up. Parents were just panicking to get out. And so, as they were out, we were still weren't getting much information about what had happened. How severe the contamination was?

They were worried it would explode so they set their own fire to (inaudible), just to release the chemicals. So, the situation started to really escalate. They are still very uncomfortable. They're now reporting that their chickens have died. There are reports that people raising foxes have died. There were reports that their chickens have died.

There are many reports of thousands of fish that have died in the creeks and the rivers and the streams. And they are scared to death. And they're still not getting answer, only to return home. And now 11 days later, being told don't drink the water.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I don't understand, to be honest, exactly what the message from Governor DeWine is. Let me play for you what he said in his press conference today.


MARK DEWINE, GOVERNOR OF OHIO: I think that I would be drinking the bottled water and I would be continuing to find out what this has we're showing as far as the air. I would be alert and concerned, but I think I would probably be back in my house.


CAMEROTA: Is that the best guidance? I mean, what -- he would be finding out what the tests are showing? What is the test showing? He's now telling them to be drinking bottled water. I just -- I'm a little bit confused about why this message is muddled. BROCKOVICH: I'm very concerned. And this has kind of been going on

during this entire disaster. Talking out of both sides of the mouth if you will. And that's even been happening with the agencies. Testing isn't even near complete. The testing that they are relying on is coming from Norfolk.

So, this is a situation where the people don't trust at all. And I would have never advised the community who had been evacuated to come back home until you had an all clear. They were told to come back home too soon. They now don't believe that it's safe to live there. Many won't come home. And now, a big disaster. Don't drink your water, don't drink the well water.

I mean, this has been mishandled, it's out of control in the state. And I really believe at the federal level, this administration has to get involved. This is a huge train derailment, a huge disaster. You're transporting hazardous chemical like vinyl chloride and nobody seems to know about it. This doesn't smell right. It's very fishy. This community has every right to be up in arms and not trust what they are being told.


CAMEROTA: Yeah. Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. It's been linked to lung cancers, I believe, liver cancer. Meanwhile, another thing that Governor DeWine said at the press conference today was just what you we're talking about. That he wasn't told that it was carrying hazardous material. So, let's just listen to that moment.


DEWINE: This train, apparently, was not considered a high hazardous material train. Therefore, the railroad was not required to notify anyone here in Ohio about what was in the rail cars coming through our state. Even though some rail cars did have hazardous material on board, and while most of them did not, that is why it was not categorized as a high hazardous material train. Frankly, if this is true, and I'm told it's true, this is absurd.


CAMEROTA: He says if this is true -- it's demonstrably true that it had hazardous chemicals onboard. We can see the toxic plume.

BROCKOVICH: Absolutely. He has known from day one the minute the derailment happened, that it was vinyl chloride. And that there were 10 cars full of it. A million pounds have been released into the air. So, there is such a breakdown in communication. The fact that he wouldn't know that, I'm not sure I do believe that.

But this is, again, 11 days on and you're just now coming out with this information. So, again, to every concern that this community has had, it's been mishandled, miscommunication, they don't trust it, they don't believe it. This has spiraled out of control. And absolutely, the current administration needs to step in here and address this, show up and find out what is going on with these people. And the word is now, that it is breached and it's in the Ohio River.

You're looking at an impact on 25 million plus people. This, I have (inaudible) so many things like this in our history of something so disastrous and so mishandled. And my concern is for these people and getting them accurate information, getting them to safety, keeping them out of harm's way, and letting them know the truth about what you do know, or the truth about what you don't know before you ever let them come home.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. We'll see if federal officials do get involved now. We'll see what the governor's plan is for East Palestine. Erin Brockovich, thank you so much for bringing this so acutely to our attention. And of course, we'll stay on it now.

BROCKOVICH: Thank you for having me on.

CAMEROTA: A terrifying 21 second nose dive towards the ocean. This plane almost plunged into the Pacific. We're going to hear from a passenger on that plane and exactly what went wrong and what the pilots did.



CAMEROTA: Tonight, the NTSB says it will investigate the scary plunge of a United Airlines flight towards the Pacific Ocean shortly after takeoff. The plane took off out of Hawaii in December and then it suddenly plunged into a nosedive and came within a thousand feet of crashing into the Pacific. It plummeted 1,400 feet in 21 seconds. A passenger describes that moment of sheer terror.


ROD WILLIAMS, PASSENGER: We felt like a rollercoaster. I mean, you get to a peak and except, you know, most -- everyone didn't know what was about to happen next. She didn't know we're about to go down. So, you know, feeling that pressure, feeling, you know, just again, the tenseness of the situation, you know. It's one of those things we start counting your blessings. You start, you know, asking yourself, is this the last time you're going to see your family?


CAMEROTA: Okay. I want to bring CNN safety analyst, David Soucie, a former FAA safety inspector. David, what is that? What caused that plane to plummet like that towards the ocean? Was that turbulence?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, there's a part of turbulence. It's actually a wind shear, which is a little bit different than turbulence. It's a part of it. But a wind shear is actually like a front is coming in or there's a direct change in the temperatures. And that friction between those two fronts, between those two pieces of air are what caused this.

The airplane starts to climb because it thinks that it's got all this air in front of it, it starts to climb, and so the engines are being pulled back and slowing down because it's rising. And then suddenly, it goes into the downward air system, which then, the airplane doesn't have enough movement now to keep the airplane above. So, it starts to just plummet. And I can only imagine how frightening that must have been.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, me too. I can't stop imagining it. And I thought that planes now had technology to avoid wind shear.

SOUCIE: They do. They have on board sensing that tells them what's going on in the airplane. But they also have ground sensing as well that tells them a lot about what they are going to approach. So, both of those things should've kicked in. They should've known about it. Whether they didn't, I mean, this is a very unpredictable event. Even when you have all this technology behind you. It can be very, very unpredictable and hard to tell when that is going to happen or when it's not.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, I don't like to hear that, David. So, the pilot -- the plane came within 1,000 feet as you can see from this animation, of going into the Pacific. How did the pilots recover it?

SOUCIE: Well, it was very hard. But there's a lot of G's coming back on and a lot of weight. And as you can hear them describe it, it was like a rollercoaster. When you're going down that rollercoaster, you could take that 200-foot fall in a rollercoaster and multiply it times 10. They were falling for 20 seconds.

And then at the bottom of that they had to (inaudible) the aircraft. Now, as a pilot, when you're trying to regain that air speed, you have to get air speed over the wings.


So, you can't just pull it back again because it will just stall again and keep stalling and stalling and do what we call a stepstone just continue to go down. So, what they had to do is get as close as they could to the ground, get this much air flow as they could over the top of the wings. And that point, at which they have that airflow that they need, then they can pull back.

If they pull back too soon, then it's going to be catastrophic loss. But I think they did a magnificent job of waiting until the last second that they could to pull that aircraft off because if they had done it much sooner, it could've ended much differently.

CAMEROTA: Thank, God, for those experienced pilots. David Soucie, thank you for your expertise. I'm not sure this has made me feel any better, but it's great to talk to you as always. Thank you very much.

Now, I want to bring in Emma Goldberg, business reporter from "The New York Times." Back with me also is Molly Jong-Fast, a famously frightened flyer and Astead Herndon. Molly, you have been -- for 10 years you didn't fly because you were so scared.

MOLLY JONG-FAST, HOST, FAST POLITICS PODCAST: Yes. CAMEROTA: And I'm a scared flyer, too, but I can't take 10 years off.

So how did you get back on a plane?

JONG-FAST: Because my husband was like, you seem nuts. Like, he was like we can't live like this. He was like --

CAMEROTA: But like therapeutically, how did you -- how did you find the strength and courage to fly?

JONG-FAST: So, I went to a bunch of different shrinks and the thing that worked for me was exposure therapy. And I went to this guy in Connecticut and he made me fly. And he flew with me a bunch of times.

CAMEROTA: How far did you fly?

JONG-FAST: We flew -- he would have groups that he would take to Boston, or Washington, and we'd fly together and he'd explain what was going on. But more importantly, he would say it like, your anxiety is not real. Like, the way you feel is not what's really happening, right? Like, you may feel a bump and think you are going to die, but the reality is, your much safer than driving to the airport.

CAMEROTA: I know and everybody always says that, Emma, but I don't -- it doesn't comfort me because then there's wind shear that comes out of nowhere.

EMMA GOLDBERG, BUSINESS REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I might need Molly's guy because I was having some secondhand panic. I was on a flight last week when we had some turbulence. And then the person near me started praying and I had that moment of like, should I be praying?

I think it is also part of a mounting concern that airlines are prioritizing profits over safety and comfort and, you know, all the basic checks that people want to feel comfortable in order to get on an airplane.

And, you know, there's just been a spate out of these near crashes, the meltdown in Southwest around the holidays. And I think people want to know when they're getting on the airplane that it's really safe and really comfortable.

CAMEROTA: You're right. We're not neurotic. It really is happening. It is happening more and more, right?

JONG-FAST: We need the DOT to do more and to talk about it more and to address this instead.

CAMEROTA: So, has been Secretary Buttigieg been doing that?

JONG-FAST: I think he could do more, especially right now with this train derailment. Like, there have been a number of transportation related disasters for lack of a better word. And I think that it's time for him to come out.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And you saw President Biden in the state of union try to talk about airport fee, you know, talk about like kind of things that were tangible to bring up. This is something that is tangible to folks. And to Emma's point, you know, there has been a number of these that have really caused anxiety to shoot up.

CAMEROTA: We have -- hold that -- hold that thought for one minute because the FAA just today announced that they will be looking at these things. Everything from the January 11th outage that halted domestic air travel. There was the stuff over Christmas, obviously. There was the near-collision as Emma was saying at JFK Airport and near-collision at Austin Airport.

HERNDON: Yeah. And I think that that comes after what is them trying to react to what is anxiety among the public. And that is something that has shifted really quickly. I think coming out of the midterms, heading into the year, the White House was kind of banking on this being kind of like a hopeful year of being able to communicate policy differences.

But things that are very much out of their control. Things like airplanes. Things like unidentified flying objects. Things like Chinese spy balloons can change all of those feelings in a second. And so, I am not surprised that they are taking those actions because I do think that anxiety is really setting in for people, even on something like airplanes, which might be unavoidable as a means of travel, but it's still sitting with us all. The graphic still has me shook.

CAMEROTA: Shook? I haven't even been including the UFOs, but thank you for adding that in as well. Thank you all.

Okay, a startling new revelation in the death of Gabby Petito. An attorney for Petito's parents says that Brian Laundrie's mother wrote a letter to her son with references to a shovel and burying a body. It also, allegedly said, quote, "burn after reading."



CAMEROTA: New developments tonight in the case of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. An attorney for Gabby Petito's parents, who are suing the Laundries for emotional distress in connection with Gabby's death, is demanding that the Laundrie's turn over a letter that Laundrie's mother wrote to her son.

In it, she allegedly referenced offering to help bury a body. The envelope also allegedly contained the words, quote, "burn after reading." Gabby's remains were found in Wyoming after the couple's trip there, and her a death was ruled a homicide by strangulation.

Brian Laundrie returned to his parent's home in Florida but eventually disappeared and took his own life. In a journal, he admitted to killing Gabby Petito. His mother's letter was allegedly found in that backpack. An attorney for the Laundrie's confirms that the letter exists. He says it's irrelevant to the Petito's lawsuit.

Well, the U.S. is already outpacing records for mass shootings this year, and we're only 45 days in. How do we get to solutions? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CAMEROTA: The Michigan State University community is in mourning tonight after the school shooting that killed three students there and critically injured five others. Tonight, a source familiar with the investigation tells CNN the shooter had a two-page note in his backpack referencing a desire for other shootings. Officials still trying to determine a motive. They say the shooter did not have any affiliation to the university.

Now I want to bring in the former head of the FBI's active shooter program, Katherine Schweit. She is also a graduate of Michigan State University and the author of "Stop the Killing: How to End the Mass Shooting Crisis."


Katherine, thank you so much for being here. We're so sorry for what the Michigan State community is going through today.