Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

At Least 9 Dead Including Gunman in Texas Mall Shooting; Biden Calls for Congress to Take Action After Mall Shooting; Churches and Homes Attacked and Set Ablaze in India's Ethnic Violence. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired May 08, 2023 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning, everyone, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Christine Romans. We begin this morning with the mass shooting over the weekend at an Outlets Mall in Allen, Texas.




ROMANS: A source telling CNN, investigators now believe the attack that killed eight and wounded at least, seven others was connected to right-wing extremism. In addition to this audio, disturbing video of the initial moments of the Saturday attack captured on this rear-view cam. You can see the gunman get out of the vehicle -- we have frozen the image at the moment the shooting begins.


BILL MCLEAN, SHOOTING WITNESS: We basically turned to watch, and as we were watching, the shooter goes right across -- he's not running, but he's kind of in a deliberate assault-type move. And he either had an M16 or an M4 carbine, and he was firing, he shot about four or five shots as he proceeded towards the hamburger place.

So I don't know who he shot. And a few moments later, we saw a police officer come across in front of us, like he was in pursuit of the individual.


ROMANS: Officials identified the gunman Sunday afternoon as 33-year- old Mauricio Garcia, he was shot dead by an Allen police officer who happened to be at the mall on another call. More now from CNN's Ed Lavandera in Allen, Texas.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The parking lot of the Outlets Mall here in Allen, Texas, where a gunman killed eight people Saturday afternoon is still cordoned off. Hundreds of cars still in the parking lot as investigators continue to work through the scene.

We have learned from various witnesses who were there at the time of the shooting that the gunman from the moment he started firing, from the -- to the moment where he was shot and killed by an Allen police officer, that the gunman had moved several hundred yards around a building inside that parking lot area.

Several witnesses described the gunman moving deliberately and shooting at victims as he was continuing to move through the parking lot. But we have now identified according to a senior law enforcement source, the suspect as 33-year-old Mauricio Garcia, he lives in Dallas. We were in the neighborhood where his parents lived.

And we're told that up until several months ago, he was living there. We tried to speak with Garcia's family, but they refused to answer the door when we knocked on it. But we did speak to about half dozen neighbors who described Garcia as someone who kept to himself.

MOISES CARREON, NEIGHBOR: No, I never really saw anything that seemed a little suspicious or out of, you know, out of whack with the guy. I mean, he would get in, maybe park his car and then just walk in like anybody else. Saw nothing -- you know -- nothing like a red flag. Yes, I think he was a real loner.

A lot of times he would walk up and down the block, you know, and always wear those Converse. You know, he'd liked those, I guess, those were his favorite brands(ph), those Converse. So, I think, you know, he will just -- he just liked to walk up and down the block with his little hoodie on and just -- you know, just didn't really say anything.

LAVANDERA: A senior law enforcement official also says that they have discovered that Mauricio Garcia has connections to right-wing extremism. On his body, they found an insignia with the letters that say R-W-D-S, which stands for Right-Wing Death Squad. That senior law enforcement official also says that there has been a long list of social media posts with white supremacist and right-wing extremism themes as well.

Exactly how all of that plays into the motivation for carrying out this attack here at this Outlets Mall in Allen, that part is not exactly clear. But that is some of the initial details that we're hearing from investigators. This, as we have now gone more than 24 hours since the shooting happened that officials and law enforcement officers have not briefed reporters on the latest on this investigation. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Allen, Texas.


ROMANS: The family of Christian LaCour identified the 20-year-old as one of the eight victims killed, he worked as a mall security guard. All right, President Biden speaking out in the wake of the Texas Outlets Mall attack, once again putting the burden on Congress to curb mass shootings. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more from the White House.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The flag above the White House is once again flying at half-staff as we watch this all too familiar ritual in the wake of yet another deadly mass shooting play out.


President Biden putting out a statement, offering his prayers to the victims and their families, and also thanking first responders for acting quickly and courageously. He says that federal law enforcement officials are offering assistance to state and local authorities. But what we're also hearing from President Biden is once again a call to action.

A call to enact the kind of common sense gun reforms that President Biden believes are necessary. And he's also making clear who he believes is responsible for the inaction on those efforts in Washington. Saying in a statement, quote, "too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables. Republican members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough.

Once again, I ask Congress to send me a bill banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, enacting universal background checks, requiring safe storage, ending immunity for gun manufacturers, I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe."

And President Biden in a statement also says that he believes the country has made some progress in addressing this issue, pointing to his signing of that bipartisan Safer Communities Act that sought to incentivize more red flag laws in the country and address mental health resources.

But he also makes clear that he believes that despite the nearly two dozen executive actions he has signed on this issue, he believes he's now reached the limit of his executive authorities. And he says that the burden now rests with Congress. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, the White House.


ROMANS: All right, the border patrol and the FBI working this morning to determine the identities of the eight people killed when a driver plowed into a crowd outside a migrant shelter in Brownsville, Texas. CNN has obtained surveillance video of the incident. We have frozen the video just before the moment the car slams into the people waiting at this bus stop.

It is unclear right now whether this was an accident or deliberate. More on that from CNN's Rosa Flores reporting from El Paso.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Now, this happened in

Brownsville, Texas, which is across the border from Matamoros, Mexico. According to the director of the shelter where all of this unfolded, he said that this happened across the street from a shelter on Sunday morning at about 8:30 in the morning.

He says that between 20 and 25 migrants from Venezuela were sitting on the curb, waiting for a bus, and then the rest was captured on surveillance video according to this director. He says that he watched this video, and what he saw unfold was the following. He said that there was a 2007 Range Rover vehicle that was driving at a very high speed.

The driver ran a red light, then hit the curb about 30 feet from where the migrants were. And then that vehicle went out of control. Now, according to this director, he said that he talked to some of the witnesses, and according to some of the witnesses, that this act was intentional. But I asked the director, if based on his witnessing of this video, watching this video, if to him it actually looked like an intentional act, and he said no.

He reiterated that what this video showed was that, there was a vehicle that was driving at a very high rate of speed that ran a red light, hit a curb, and then drove out of control. About the driver of this vehicle, according to Brownsville police, they have not identified this individual. This individual is not cooperating with authorities.

This individual is under arrest and they're being held on charges of reckless driving. Now, I'm here in El Paso, Texas, because we're covering the migrant surge that's happening, leading up to the lifting of Title 42. And if you can see, there are barricades here in front of me on the street, because what you see behind me is a church shelter.

And so, there's a lot of concern by city officials here in the city of El Paso and in other border cities for their own public safety and the public safety of their residents. That's why the city of El Paso issued a statement on Sunday, saying that the incident in Brownsville reinforces their decision to close out the street here at the shelter in El Paso. Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso.


ROMANS: All right, Ukrainian officials say they've intercepted at least 35 drones over Kyiv after Russia launched an aerial attack overnight. At least, five people have been injured in the capital.




ROMANS: On the eastern front, Moscow's assault on Bakhmut has intensified as Ukrainian troops battle to retain their hold on that city. [05:10:00]

CNN's Nic Robertson is live in eastern Ukraine for us. And Nic, good morning. You know, the Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin is now saying his troops have advanced in Bakhmut. That seems to reverse that threat that he made to withdraw from the city. What's happening? What can you tell us?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think Ukrainian officials are trying to examine what Prigozhin is saying, figure out if it's just a spat with him with other Kremlin officials, and particularly Defense Ministry officials, is that Prigozhin trying to take the side of Putin and give Putin full guise, if the offensive, if the war in Ukraine doesn't go well in terms of the defense minister and the army chiefs of staff.

From the Ukrainian perspective, May day, May the 9th tomorrow, big victory day parade in Red Square in Moscow. They're concerned that the Russians will launch a final offensive around Bakhmut, perhaps to try to take it today, tonight in time for that victory day parade tomorrow. And we're in another area, close to the eastern front, and you can hear the heavy shelling along the front.

And I think the perception is that the Russians have upped the amount of shelling. So whatever Prigozhin is saying, I think Ukrainian military officials are taking it with a pinch of salt, they're looking at the reality of what's happening on the ground, and they'll examine it in the next couple of days to see what the next moves can be.

But of course, everyone here, the population people we speak to on the streets here, wondering like so many other people about Ukraine's counteroffensive. And of course, for Ukrainian officials, the longer the Russians on the other side of the frontlines are waiting, wondering, watching, expending energy, being concerned about that counteroffensive, resupplying troops at the front, all of that, that plays to Ukraine's advantage.

But I think at the moment, those strikes on Kyiv certainly show that Russia at this moment at the victory day parade tomorrow in Red Square, Moscow. It all seem to be upping the amount of strikes, but in the case of Kyiv, all those -- all those drones launched were intercepted.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that, in eastern Ukraine for us this morning. And just ahead, a campaign bus pelted with rocks. What made protesters so angry. Plus, the rocket just launched on a mission to chase hurricanes. And next, the debt limit standoff coming to ahead tomorrow at the White House.



ROMANS: So congressional Democrats and Republicans have spent weeks drawing lines in the sand over raising the debt ceiling so the government can keep paying its bills. Now, at last, the sides will be talking to each other instead of at each other. At least, that's the idea behind tomorrow's high-stakes meeting between President Biden and top congressional leaders. CNN's Alayna Treene has more.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER (on camera): This is a hugely consequential week for both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. As of now, both sides are dug in on their positions. Democrats want a clean debt- ceiling bill with no strings attached, and Republicans want spending cuts and other concessions to be part of a deal.

But given the balance of power in Congress, neither party will be able to get exactly what they want. And increasingly, Democrats and Republicans alike tell me that they're beginning to recognize a compromise must be reached in order for the United States to avoid defaulting on its debt.

And that's really why this Tuesday meeting is so important. There's a lot at stake here. The last time President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy sat down was on February 1st. And they're no closer to reaching a deal now than they were then. The lawmakers that I've spoken to see this first meeting as just that.

It's an initial opportunity for McCarthy and Biden to be in the same room and begin laying the groundwork for a potential deal. Now, this meeting will likely be just one of a series of meetings between the White House and Congress. And really, the bigger picture here is that they're running out of time.

This meeting is being held just weeks before the Treasury Department says that they will run out of money to pay the nation's debts. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen rang the alarm about just how dire of a situation this is on Sunday morning. Let's listen to what she had to say.

JANET YELLEN, SECRETARY OF TREASURY, UNITED STATES: We have been using extraordinary measures for several months now. And our ability to do that is running out. And we will start to run down our cash and our current projection is that in early June, a day will come when we're unable to pay our bills, unless Congress raises the debt- ceiling.

TREENE: So Yellen is essentially pleading with Congress to make a deal. And from my conversations with lawmakers, neither side wants to see a repeat of what happened in 2011 when the U.S. came very close to a default and the markets were extremely rattled as a result. Alayna Treene, CNN, Washington.


ROMANS: All right, let's bring in the senior congressional reporter for "CQ Roll Call", Lindsey McPherson. Nice to see you again, Lindsey. You know --

LINDSEY MCPHERSON, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, CQ ROLL CALL: Yes -- ROMANS: Forty three Republican senators are now vowing to oppose

raising the debt-ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms. Biden and the Democrats are saying they want a clean increase, you know, what do you expect to happen at this meeting tomorrow, if they both give, where do we end up here?

MCPHERSON: Yes, unfortunately, so far, what they're broadcasting is -- from both sides of the meeting is that their positions aren't going to change in the meetings. So, honestly, it's not clear at this point what that's going to accomplish. Biden says he's going to push the Speaker Kevin McCarthy to agree to a clean debt limit increase.

McCarthy has made clear that house Republicans will not vote for a clean debt-limit increase. I don't know how they go into that meeting and give any ground. I guess one way, potentially is to negotiate on spending separately from the debt limit, which is what Biden has said he wants to do.

But for Republicans, that would have to be agreed to before they vote on the debt limit increase. So they could try to -- keep -- two try negotiation happening, but for Republicans ultimately to vote for debt-limit increase, they would need the spending controls to come before that. So they have little time to work out a deal on spending.


But that is my best guess, as maybe --

ROMANS: Yes --

MCPHERSON: They could agree to kind of keep them on separate tracks.

ROMANS: I mean, the Treasury Secretary, you heard her in that piece there, she did say yesterday, "it is appropriate to have negotiations about the budget, about spending priorities." As she pointed out that the president had presented a detailed budget, the debt cut deficits by $3 trillion over 10 years.

So, I mean, they're talking about -- talking about, you know, spending priorities, but these two sides are very far apart?

MCPHERSON: Very far apart. The Biden budget that you just referenced relies heavily on tax increases, which is another thing that house Republicans have ruled out raising taxes. They want to actually cut from the spending side. So even if they do sit down and agree to negotiate deficit reduction, it's going to be a long haul to get to the middle ground where they can both agree on what those deficit reductions measures look like.

ROMANS: Ironically, the Republican proposal, they do have tax increases, the kind of tax increases that they like, apparently, are rolling back some of those green energy tax credits and the like. I mean, really, what their priority seems to be here is undoing legislative achievements of the Biden administration.

MCPHERSON: To some degree, yes, but that isn't kind of the biggest thing they're pushing for in this fight. I would say the main thing they really want in these negotiations is to cut discretionary spending --

ROMANS: Yes --

MCPHERSON: Levels, put a cap on that, so, I think they realize like at the end of the day they're not going to get Biden to agree to roll back his law -- his signature law that was trespassed last year. So, although, that was in the bill, yes, and it is technically a tax increase depending how you look at it. Obviously, I view it as a tax increase there. It's not -- it's more like a spending expenditure they argue --

ROMANS: Right --

MCPHERSON: But it's -- yes, it's still, yes, they're far apart. It's --

ROMANS: Yes, symbolic of how far apart they actually are. All right, Lindsey McPherson of "CQ Roll Call", big meeting tomorrow, we know you'll be covering it. Thank you.


ROMANS: All right, quick hits across America now. A suspect is arrested in Mississippi after a mass shooting at an Ocean Springs Restaurant left one dead, six injured during Cinco de Mayo celebrations on Friday. The mayor says the shooting was not random. An outpouring of grief for Wisconsin sheriff's deputy who was shot and killed during a traffic stop this weekend.

Police say the suspect fled the scene, but was later found with a fatal gunshot wound. A California reparations panel has approved recommendations for restitution and a public apology to black residents for discrimination stemming from slavery. It could cost the state billions of dollars.

Coming up, new rules for airline delays and cancellations, and deadly ethnic violence erupts in India's northeast.



ROMANS: Violence between two ethnic groups in India's northeast has killed at least 55 people. The Indian army says the clashes in the state of Manipur have also injured hundreds and displaced more than 23,000 residents. Troops have been deployed to keep the peace. CNN's Vedika Sud joins me live from New Delhi. What's so -- explain to us, what's causing this rift between these two groups?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Christine, the clashes last week -- the ethnic clashes between two communities meet in Manipur and parts of it look like a war zone. Quite literally, there was arson, loot, deaths, as well as homes being burned down and cars. Now, what essentially led to it, is the fact that there is tension between two communities in Manipur.

Essentially a tribal group and non-tribal group. Now, the non-tribal group known as the Meitei Group accounts for more than 50 percent of Manipur's 3 million population. What they want is tribal status. And that's what the tribal group, which is the minority group in Manipur doesn't want for them.

They say they already enjoy so many benefits, they had the majority population in the state, they're Hindus and we are the tribal groups. Once you get a tribal status, Christine, what happens is, you enjoy some benefits, there are posts that are reserved in government offices, in educational institutes for the community.

So those are protests that was carried out last week, and that sparked clashes between these two communities. And like I said, parts of Manipur started looking like a war zone. People were rushing out of their homes that were being burned down by mobs, of course, both the communities are blaming each other.

For now, the situation according to the chief minister of Manipur is somewhat under control. But that essentially happened after central forces, the Indian army was sent in to monitor the situation. According to the Indian army, there are aerial surveillances on, they're making sure that they flag matches across the most sensitive areas where tensions could flare up.

The internet is down, that's essentially to make sure that there is no conversation on social media that could lead to another clash between these communities. A lot of people are fleeing Manipur. We know they're going to neighboring states, they're also moving out to Delhi, where I am. So that's the situation for now. We have to wait and watch and see if the chief minister, the head of state of Manipur comes out with a press conference, which he hasn't done so far, Christine.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right, Vedika Sud, thank you. Keep us posted there. In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy comparing Vladimir Putin's Russia to Hitler's Nazi, Germany. He says he's introducing a bill to change Ukraine's official victory day holiday to May 8th, so that it does not coincide with Russia's May 9th Victory Day celebration on Tuesday, marking the defeat of course, of Germany in 1945.

Rehearsals for Moscow's annual parade currently underway as you can see here. CNN's Clare Sebastian live in London. Clare, opportunity for Russia to show off its military might. Can we expect the same this year, and does it reflect, I guess, the reality on the ground in Ukraine?