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Ten Killed in Racist Mass Shooting at Buffalo Grocery Store; One Dead, Four Critically Injured in California Church Shooting; Ukrainian Forces Claim to Reach Russian Border North of Kharkiv. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 16, 2022 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Monday, May 16th, I'm Laura Jarrett, Christine has the morning off. We begin this morning in Buffalo, New York, the scene of what officials are calling an unquestionably racist shooting massacre. One that left 10 people dead at a grocery store. And we start off the top here with what we know about the victims.

Police say they range in age from 32 to 86. Among them, Aaron Salter; a former Buffalo police officer killed exchanging gunfire with that shooter. And Ruth Whitfield, the 86-year-old mother of a retired Buffalo fire commissioner. Survivors of the attack describe a terrifying rush to escape.


FRAGRANCE HARRIS STANDFIELD, MASS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: My daughter was crouched down in the front and for the entire shooting. We kept running until I got all the way to the back door, the back door was stuck. But Morris, my co-worker, who told us to run to the back, he's also the one who was able to get the door open for us to get out of the building.

We were afraid, we didn't know if someone was on the other side of the door. She was in panic mode, but she did not move because she did not want to be noticed that she was -- that she was there.


JARRETT: Buffalo's mayor called for the city to pull together to overcome the trauma of the attack.


MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: We're heartbroken. Many people with tears in their eyes, families that have lost loved ones. I'm telling the community to grieve, but let's stay strong, let's stay together and let's get through this as a community.


JARRETT: Police have identified the suspect meantime, as 18-year-old Payton Gendron, he was taken into custody and has pleaded not guilty to first degree murder. Investigators are combing through a 180-page manifesto reportedly written by the shooter in which he describes himself as a fascist, white supremacist and anti-Semite.


JOSEPH GRAMAGLIA, COMMISSIONER, BUFFALO POLICE: The evidence that we have uncovered so far, makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime. He was very heavily-armed, he had tactical gear, he had our tactical helmet on, he had a camera that was live-streaming what he was doing.


JARRETT: Police believe the gunman was acting on his own. President Biden and the first lady will travel to Buffalo tomorrow to meet with the families of the victims. As the President said on Sunday, the country must, quote, "address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America. CNN's Jasmine Wright leads us off this morning with the latest from Washington. Jasmine, good morning. What do we know about the president's agenda on Tuesday.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, we know that the president will go to that community to grieve with that community. But outside of those details, not much is known, and that makes sense, considering just how quickly that this was all put together. Remember, it was just yesterday morning as he was leaving Wilmington, heading to D.C., that the president told reporters that he didn't know if he would be able to make it to Buffalo ahead of his trip on Thursday to Asia.

Over the course of the day, yesterday, he spoke with New York's governor, he reached out to the Buffalo governor though, White House officials said that they weren't able to connect, and obviously, those scheduling details worked out because he and the first lady are now going on Tuesday. Now, we learned of this news that he was going after the president addressed and really mourned with the victims at the National Peace Officers' Memorial on Sunday in D.C. where he really called for unity to counter some of these racial hate. Take a listen here.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're still gathering the facts, while already the Justice Department has stated publicly that it's investigating the matter as a hate crime, racially-motivated act of white supremacy and violent extremism. As they do, we must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America. Our hearts are heavy once again, but our resolve must never, ever waver.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WRIGHT: So there we heard from the president giving some details

about the hate crime. Investigation ongoing with the FBI. Though, what he did not say is, he did not address calls from the governor of New York and other leaders really trying to get some type of federal law on the books that would deal with domestic terrorism, something that the president called this attack in a statement on Saturday.

Now, what we did hear just, though, then from the president, Laura, is him tapping into this role of consoler-in-chief, a man who has done that regularly as he knows really what grief looks like up close and personal.


And I expect that we can see that side of the president again in the upcoming days here. Laura?

JARRETT: All right, Jasmine Wright, thank you so much. Let's bring in CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem; a former assistant secretary at DHS. Juliette, so nice to have you this morning. Here we go again. You know, you have a --


JARRETT: Terrific new piece up on the Atlantic website and it's called a "Lone Wolf Shooter As An Online Pack", and you write this, and it really stood out to me. Quote, "his mission was effective because he was supported by an apparatus that provided the ideology and the means for the hunt. He had his people, they were there for him." I think it's such an --

KAYYEM: Yes --

JARRETT: Important distinction and context that you're putting this in front of us, because I think too often, people look at a case like this and dismiss it as of course someone who is mentally unbalanced has done something --

KAYYEM: Right --

JARRETT: Terrible. But you're trying to say, no, this is -- this is happening within a really specific context. Explain more.

KAYYEM: Right, so, I mean, we have this tendency I think because we're both lawyers, to think that did the person act alone or was there a conspiracy? Was this an ISIS-type attack or was it what we call a lone wolf? And in fact, I open this article, saying, you know, there's really no such thing as a scary lone wolf. Wolves only are destructive forces so-to-speak, to carry the analogy when they're in a pack and it's packed.

And this seemed to me to be true in this case, that we can -- we can take the differences between each of these individuals that we see in these hate crimes and these terror incidents. And say, well, this one had a bad family and that one had mental derangement. But really, what we're now seeing over the course of the last couple of years, certainly, is an apparatus of support for these solo characters, right.

And this apparatus of course, is coming through social media, but it's also coming through a comfort, the lack of shaming, the sort of pushing to the edge that we're seeing in both the political and media space. Leaders in the Republican Party in particular, and the media -- conservative media leaders, they'll be coy about what they're doing when they talk about things like the displacement theory --

JARRETT: Right --

KAYYEM: Or replacement of theory, right? They'll say, oh, well, I'm just saying what's going on out there, that the country is becoming too diverse. But their listeners are hearing it in particular in a way that would justify violence. And I think unless we see these as pack attacks, right? These are group attacks, we will not get to the bottom of what I think President Biden has -- now understands, which is, these are group efforts to harm, in this case, you know, Black- Americans.

JARRETT: Well, and you mentioned social media. And just, you think about how much --

KAYYEM: Yes --

JARRETT: It has changed, even in just -- you know, the last five to ten years. And the number of platforms, the diversity --

KAYYEM: Right --

JARRETT: Of platforms, has the job of law enforcement, something that you know --

KAYYEM: Yes --

JARRETT: A lot about. Has it actually gotten easier or has it gotten harder now that people are putting, you know, a 180-page manifestos online?

KAYYEM: Yes. It gets -- it's funny, it's harder only because there's just so much noise now. So, if you spend five minutes on these sites, you know, any of them or even just the sites that we think are not sort of, you know, for the right wing or for the crazy so-to-speak. You will find this kind of -- sort of coyness, right? This sort of -- talking about other groups of people as if they're not human beings, as if honestly, as if they're prey, is basically what we saw on Saturday, we saw a hunt.

But -- and so, it makes it harder because there's just so much more noise, there's more needles so-to-speak in the haystack where it's easier, I will say, is on the other end unfortunately. If someone is captured before or after, they're leaving trails of evidence of what it is that radicalized them, and what it is that they intend to do, as we surely see in the Buffalo case.

So, it's actually a movement now within law enforcement the certainly the media about not calling these manifestos because it gives too much credit for what they're doing as if it's some great moment that we're supposed to unearth about their motivation. So, this will get harder, it's going to take not just the platforms bringing this stuff down, it's going to take leadership that we're not seeing as 48 hours after Saturday from members of both parties, about condemning this.

And I think it's going to take a lot more naming and shaming from people in the community, people in media and others about what in fact is going on. I'm sort of -- I'm done with the coyness about what it is that we're seeing. Which is we're seeing the sort of -- the nurturing --


KAYYEM: Of a violent extremism. I'm not just talking about extremism, of a violent extremism coming from the top.


JARRETT: I heard you point that out over the weekend. Where we are beyond the days of racially-charged or racially-sensitive --

KAYYEM: Yes --

JARRETT: Or anything. It's just racist and we should call it for what it is --

KAYYEM: Yes --

JARRETT: And it's important --

KAYYEM: Yes --

JARRETT: To name it as you say, and I encourage everyone to look at this piece, it's really excellent. Juliette Kayyem, thank you --

KAYYEM: Thank you --

JARRETT: For your analysis and expertise --

KAYYEM: Thank you so much.

JARRETT: Just ahead, new information on the victims of a different weekend shooting. A gunman in California opening fire at a Church, plus, Ukrainian troops claiming a milestone in the war against Russian invaders. And the U.S. Senate candidate who says he's recovering from a stroke just days from the primary there.


JARRETT: Now to another deadly shooting over the weekend, this one at a church in southern California that left one person dead and four others critically hurt on Sunday.


Police say the suspect opened fire during a luncheon held by a Taiwanese congregation that uses that Church in Laguna Woods, said they said, it could have been much worse if parishioners hadn't stepped in.


JEFF HALLOCK, UNDERSHERIFF, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We believe a group of church-goers detained him, and hog-tied his legs with an extension cord and confiscated at least two weapons from him. He was detained when the deputies arrived. That group of church-goers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism and bravery in intervening to stop the suspect. They undoubtedly prevented additional injuries and fatalities. .


JARRETT: The suspect is believed to be an Asian man in his 60s, the motive is not yet known. Police are investigating any possible connections to the Church or its congregants. And just a short time ago, Taiwan's foreign ministry confirming some details on the victims in that shooting. CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei right now for us. Will, what is Taiwan saying about the shooting?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have one person dead, you have five people injured, four of them serious, one of them with minor injuries, all of Taiwanese dissent. Because this Church, the Geneva Presbyterian Church hosts the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church on Sundays. And Laguna Woods is area that we just showed you, this is a retirement destination, apparently very popular for people from Taiwan.

Most of the people who live there are seniors over 65 years old, around the same age as the shooter, who, you know, walked into this luncheon for a former pastor, you know, pulls out two handguns, opens fire, and how did the people respond? Did they run and hide? Did this Taiwanese senior citizens, you know, bolt for the exits? No, they surrounded him, they tackled him, they tied him up and they had him ready and detained when the police arrived.

It is just truly as the Orange County undersheriff said, being praised for heroism and bravery. But there's still of course a lot of concern for the families of those who were injured and the family of the person who was killed. Thailand's foreign ministry has expressed their deepest condolences, they are working right now to help the families in any way that they're needed. And Taiwan's de facto ambassador to the U.S. said that she is also sending out wreath and prayers for a quick and speedy recovery.

So, you know, this is an island that does not have gun violence to say of, because like many countries, a lot of advanced countries around the world, there are much stricter laws against gun possession here on the island of Taiwan than in the United States obviously.

And so, for Taiwanese to hear about some of their fellow citizens, injured and killed in yet another mass shooting in the United States. A lot of people ask me, you know, why so many guns there? Why is this problem continuing? And it's a question that, frankly, as an American, I often have a really hard time answering.

JARRETT: I was going to say, I'm sure you're stumped when you try to answer that one. Will Ripley, thank you for your reporting on that, appreciate it. And to Will's point, more gun violence over the weekend. Two men were killed and three critically injured in a shoot- out at a busy Houston area flea market. The Harris County Sheriff's Office says a fight among five men escalated, pistols were drawn, no bystanders were hurt in that case.

And just ahead, two Nordic nations now ditching decades of neutrality to join NATO. And Russia's staggering battlefield losses uncovered by Britain's top spies.



JARRETT: Welcome back. Finland's leaders are making it official, announcing they intend to join NATO. The move since decades of neutrality and ignores threats of Russia by possible -- of possible retaliation. Sweden's ruling party leader announced it will also support joining the alliance. International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins me live from Helsinki. Nic, what's the timetable for when all of this is going to go down and what's the Kremlin saying about it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the next couple of steps play out here in Helsinki and over in Sweden as well in the next couple of days in parliament. They are discussing right now what their governments have put to them, and here in Finland, the vote is expected to be tomorrow, it's expected to be pretty close to unanimous, more than 180 out of 200 lawmakers are going to request to join NATO.

The same sort of margin is expected in Sweden as well. The next steps after that really goes to NATO, and then NATO has to make a decision. It goes to all the members of NATO. And we just heard today from the U.S. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell meeting with the Finnish president. McConnell saying that he hopes that the United States can be one of the first nations to green-light Finland's path to joining NATO.

And he said he hopes that the Senate will be able to vote on it towards the end of August. So, that's a relatively short timeline compared to what countries can normally expect when joining NATO. Russia of course not happy about any of this because it means a massive NATO enlargement right on their border, a doubling of the length of NATO's border, with Russia, an additional 830 miles of it here in Finland.

And the Russian deputy Foreign Minister today saying that, don't -- Finland and Sweden should not expect for this to go without consequences. They're not precisely saying what those consequences could be. Military, technical is what we've heard from other Russian government officials. But Moscow clearly not happy, that hasn't quite figured out how to respond fully. [05:25:00]

JARRETT: All right, Nic, thank you for that. Appreciate it. And at least, one NATO member, Turkey is expressing reservations about Finland and Sweden joining the alliance. Turkey has tried to mediate between Russia and Ukraine. Let's bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh from Istanbul on this angle. Jomana, what is the Turkish president saying about these two countries joining NATO now?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Laura, he surprised a lot of Turkish allies coming out on Friday, and basically saying that he does not view the membership of Sweden and Finland and NATO positively, because he says that they support what he described as terrorist organizations.

Now, over the weekend, we've heard from senior Turkish officials really clarifying Turkey's position, saying that this is not a firm, no, that they're not closing the door, but this is about addressing Turkey's concerns, they want security guarantees.

Now, they're accusing Sweden and Finland of allowing members of the Kurdish militant separatist group, the PKK, that is considered a terrorist group by the EU and by the United States, to operate in their countries.

And they're also taking issue with the fact that countries like Sweden are arming the YPG, the Syrian-Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria, that has always been a contentious issue at the heart of disagreements between Turkey and NATO allies that have chosen to arm the YPG and to ally themselves with that fighting group in the fight against ISIS.

And then there's the issue of military exports to Turkey, a ban that was put in place by some of these countries including Sweden. They want these bans lifted and restrictions on its defense industry removed. Now, in a positive sign, Laura, perhaps, we've seen the Turkish foreign minister over the weekend meeting with his Finnish and his Swedish counterparts in Berlin. They're talking to other NATO countries as well, Turkey says it's provided evidence to Sweden and Finland about these accusations.

And that there are proposals to try and resolve this. And we've heard from the NATO secretary-general, from the U.S. Secretary of State and others really not -- they don't seem to be that concerned about Turkey's reservations right now. And they feel pretty confident that they can work through this in the coming days and weeks.

JARRETT: All right, Jomana, thank you for your reporting as usual. Mr. President, we made it. That message sent by Ukrainian forces to their President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after claiming to reach the Russian border north of Kharkiv. Ukrainian troops have been advancing towards the border in several locations, north and east of Kharkiv as Russian forces retreat. Let's go live to Lviv, Ukraine, and bring in CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, good morning.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Laura. Well, Ukrainian officials are reporting that there's a missile strike in the coastal region of Odessa, this morning, hitting a tourist infrastructure, creating a fire and injuring several people. But as you had mentioned, there's also good news for the Ukrainians, that military unit just north of Kharkiv saying that they had reached the border with Russia, that, yes, Mr. President, we made it.

That is the message. It is real, it is symbolic, victory for the Ukrainians as this intense fight continues.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): It almost looks like fireworks, but these explosions aren't for show. They are incendiary ammunitions. It's yet another day of thrashing Russian fire power aimed at the besieged city of Mariupol. Over the weekend, a large convoy of cars and vans carrying fleeing residents managed to leave the city. An aide to Mariupol's mayor says up to 1,000 vehicles arrived in Zaporizhzhia, which would be the largest single evacuation from Mariupol since the fighting began. One man says it was a harrowing journey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We barely made it. There were lots of elderly people among us. It was tough. People went through hard things before, they were nervous, the trip was devastating, but it was worth it.

MALVEAUX: Meanwhile, farther east, Russian troops are zeroing in on the town of Severodonetsk where 15,000 people still live. But the Ukrainian military says Russian forces have suffered significant losses as they tried to push through the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Areas of the north, near the Sea of Kharkiv are back under Ukrainian control after Russian soldiers retreated from there.

NATO's Secretary-General says these are major setbacks for the Russians.

JENS STOLTENBERG, SECRETARY-GENERAL, NATO: They failed to take Kyiv, they're pulling back from around Kharkiv. Their major offensive in Donbas has stalled. Russia is not achieving its strategic objectives.

MALVEAUX: But some Russian forces are getting additional help. About 600 Chechen fighters and others described as volunteers are on their way to the war zone.