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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Manhunt Underway After Two Mass Shootings In Maine; Shelter In Place Ordered In Maine Cities as Manhunt Continues; Biden Speaks With Maine Governor And Lawmakers About Lewiston Shootings. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 26, 2023 - 05:30   ET



ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via Webex by Cisco): So this is a very, very tough manhunt for all of the law enforcement resources -- everything from Lewiston police, all across your local police agencies that are no doubt engaged in this as well -- to, of course Maine State Police, and then federal assistance from the FBI, the ATF, and others.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Andrew, you mention the extensive training he has as an Army Reservist and not just someone who is in the military, but somebody who is actually teaching other people how to use weapons and tactics around those weapons. That's significantly more training than most of these officers that are going to be trying to hunt him down has, no? I mean, what does that mean for them?

MCCABE: Yeah, that's right.

And, you know, you could see it Kasie in the way that he is kind of holding the weapon and the way he's moving into that space from the photographs that we've all seen so many times since earlier last evening. Just simply the way he holds the weapon up to his shoulder, the placement of his hands on the -- on the foregrip of the weapon -- so that's like underneath the barrel of the weapon. Then, of course, on the pistol grip on the back. He has the weapon slightly tilted down and is looking out over the top of the -- of the front sites -- the optical devices that aid in making the -- making the weapon -- firing of the weapon more accurate.

I mean, those are all the hallmarks of someone who has been trained in the tactical use of this military weapon. So, trained to enter buildings. Trained to look for threats. Trained to prioritize targets and individuals that he decides to eliminate. This is a very, very serious -- a person with serious skills.

All those same skills that he used last night to wreak havoc on this town -- he still has those abilities and he can now train them on the law enforcement officers that he undoubtedly knows are looking for him. So even when they come to a point where they believe they have him kind of pinned down to a certain area, the stakes on that confrontation that will inevitably result are enormously high. And you can bet that every law enforcement officer that's engaged in this search knows that if they come across this guy it will be life and death for him or them any second.

HUNT: A very, very stark way to put it but extraordinarily clear. Thank you for helping us understand it that way.

Can we talk briefly about the people in this area, in Lewiston -- what they are going through and what they should be doing? Because obviously, this is a lot of people under shelter-in-place orders. They've extended it as well to Lisbon, another town where he was from. Waking up to this is absolutely terrifying. I mean, what should people be doing to keep their families safe?

MCCABE: Yeah, it really is and it's the kind of thing that will really weigh on people progressively as the situation continues.

Obviously, the best thing for most folks to do, particularly in Lewiston, Lisbon, Bowdoin -- all of these nearby towns -- is to stay indoors. Stay inside. Keep your doors locked. Keep your cell phones around. Keep everything charged. Make sure you have enough food to eat and things like that.

But if at all possible, stay in the house. Don't even go outside. And if you see anything it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and aware of what's going on -- noises and things like that, suspicious vehicles in your -- in or around your residence and your neighborhood -- call those things in to law enforcement right away.

But I think it's also important for folks to remember that this may not be resolved in the next few hours or even today, or even in the next few days. It's not strange at all for a manhunt situation like this to stretch on for a week or more. Certainly, we've had examples of a few in the last few years that have gone on several weeks. Hopefully, that doesn't happen here. But we have to kind of steel ourselves for the worst possible event.

HUNT: Yeah. No, that's -- it's very good warnings.

I also want to update our viewers and you. We have a new count, according to sources -- multiple law enforcement sources. Sixteen people were killed in these mass shootings in Maine overnight. Dozens, of course, wounded. We did have a Lewiston City Councilor who had previously told CNN that 22 people had been killed. So that is, of course, something that we are going to continue to update throughout the day ahead of this 10:30 news conference.

And, Andy McCabe, before I let you go, can you also help us understand -- I mean, this guy was known to law enforcement. He had -- he was previously hospitalized, reportedly around mental health issues. There were threats to shoot up this National Guard base in Saco, Maine.


Is there anything -- what could law enforcement have done differently in this case?

MCCABE: It's a great question and it's one that we'll continue asking as we learn more information about him and how this whole thing -- you know, the days -- the weeks and days leading up to this event.

But, Maine is not the best place to be if you are hoping for really proactive law enforcement intervention in someone who seems to present a threat, but nobody is sure about that. Maine does not have a red flag law or an extreme risk law.

Those laws are on the books in several states and they enable law enforcement or even family members or people around someone who perceive that someone seems to be kind of on the edge and presenting a danger to themselves and others, you can intervene and have their weapons taken away for a limited period of time to give that person the opportunity to get some mental health treatment and kind of restabilize themselves. Maine does not have that.

Also, people are wondering is it -- how is it possible to obtain a firearm if you're someone who is actively receiving medical treatment. That is also not an impediment to purchasing a firearm in Maine or anyplace, really, else in this country.

You can be excluded from purchasing a firearm if you've been adjudicated a mental defective -- that's how the statute reads -- but that requires a court to basically --

HUNT: Yeah.

MCCABE: -- involuntarily commit you to mental health treatment. And that -- we don't have any indication that happened in this case.

So, simply struggling with emotional issues and mental health issues, and seeking help voluntarily -- none of those things interfere with your possession or purchase of firearms -- not in Maine and really, not in many other places either.

So it's very relevant facts to us to understand, like, what might have driven this person to take this horrible, horrible act. But in all likelihood, he possessed that firearm lawfully. We don't know when he purchased it. That's going to be something we'll find out as we go on. But the overwhelming likelihood is there's not really much of an issue there.

HUNT: All right, Andrew McCabe. Thank you very much for all of those insights you were able to offer us this morning. I really appreciate you being here with us.

MCCABE: Thanks.

HUNT: And we are continuing to follow this manhunt in Maine. Police searching for a person of interest after a devastating mass shooting leaves at least 16 people dead. We're going to have a live report from the scene ahead.



HUNT: Good morning. Thank you for being here with us. I'm Kasie Hunt. We are going to get to the latest now on this morning's breaking news -- a mass shooting last night in Lewiston, Maine that multiple law enforcement sources say killed at least 16 people. Dozens of other victims were injured in two shootings -- one at a restaurant and another at a bowling alley.

A multistate manhunt is underway for what police are calling a person of interest, 40-year-old Robert Card. In these surveillance photos, a gunman is holding a high-powered assault-style rifle. Officials tell CNN Card is a firearms instructor in the U.S. Army Reserves. They say he's armed and dangerous. Anyone who spots him should not approach them. They should call 911.

A shelter-in-place order covers the Lewiston and Lisbon, Maine areas this morning.

Last night, witnesses to the attack were taken to a reunification center to find their families.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just one night of bowling and out of nowhere he just came in and there was a loud pop. I thought it was a balloon. I had my back turned to the door and as soon as I turned and saw that it was not a balloon -- he was holding a weapon -- I just booked it down the lane and I slid basically into where the pins are and climbed up into the machine and was on top of the machines for about 10 minutes until the cops got there.


HUNT: All right, let's go now to WHDH reporter Rob Way who is on the scene. Rob, thank you for being with us this morning. What's the latest there?

ROB WAY, REPORTER, WHDH: Well, as you can imagine, this is a community that is now in mourning but also remaining on high alert as they now shelter in place as the search and the manhunt continue for the accused shooter in this case.

I want to walk you around the scene here. So this is down by the bowling alley. This is as close as police are allowing us to get at this point. But since we've been here -- and we've been here all night -- we have seen a number of police cars and evidence response teams heading down this street to the scene. It's about a quarter-mile down the road is where that bowling alley is.

And, of course, this is all where the search for the 40-year-old Robert Card is on. That search mainly being focused in a neighboring town of Lisbon. But a shelter-in-place in place, no matter what, here in Lewiston and neighboring Lisbon. That's where, overnight, police say they found his car but not him.

Of course, all of this started to unfold around 7:00 last night when the gunman opened fire inside two businesses. Eyewitnesses describing seeing people running away from the bowling alley. I talked with one woman this morning who lives nearby. She said she is sick to her stomach with what's happened. She said this is a tight- knit community and everyone here really knows everyone else. So that is what makes this even more difficult. A tight-knit community that has just been hit with such a massive, tragic event.

And to give you a little more perspective of kind of the response we've seen, it looks a little quiet behind me here but it most certainly is not. As we were driving from Boston up here to Lewiston, Maine -- it's about a 2 1/2-hour ride -- and during that time dozens of police cars were flying past us from communities all across New England -- of course, coming to help in that search which is still very much underway this morning with the community now hoping that this suspect is caught.


Live here in Lewiston, Maine, I'm Rob Way.

HUNT: Rob Way, WHDH. Thank you very much for being with us this morning. We really appreciate it.

For more now, joining us is CNN senior law enforcement analyst Ken Gray. Ken, thank you very much for being back with us.

You heard Rob there with those details. He was driving up from Boston overnight seeing cop cars -- law enforcement coming from all over the region. Can you help us understand what they are all doing and what they are looking for right now?


So in a situation like this what happens is you set up what's called a unified command. Unified command means there's representatives in there from law enforcement agencies from the Lewiston police, from the sheriff's office, from the state police, from the FBI, from the ATF. All of these different law enforcement agencies and also first responders are in there providing -- investigators -- providing personnel to conduct the manhunt. And so, there's a lot of coordination going on here to try to find Mr. Card and to try to arrest Mr. Card.

Here's the thing, though. Card is what is considered to be a pseudo commando. That's the terminology for mass shooters. They often use military-style weapons. They were military-style clothing like the cargo pants he was wearing. And pseudo commandos often end up in a suicide by police-type situation where they want to encounter law enforcement. They want to end their life with a shootout with police.

So this is a very dangerous situation not only for the people of Lewiston there but also for law enforcement in their search for him. He's still very dangerous. He's still armed and should be considered very dangerous.

HUNT: Yeah, Ken. Can you talk a little bit about the differences in the training that this man would have had? I mean, we should underscore here he's a U.S. Army Reservist. He's a firearms instructor in the use of firearms and the tactical use of firearms. That kind of training and knowledge is not something that's typically given to local law enforcement that may now find themselves in encounters with him, no?

GRAY: No, you're absolutely right.

I was a firearms instructor and a tactical instructor for the FBI and I can tell you that a person that goes through that training is going to be very proficient with their weapon. They are going to be able to be able to deal with the tactical situation. And that makes it doubly dangerous for law enforcement because not only are they trying to track him down but then they have to also deal with a person that may have equal or better training and better firepower than the officers that will be encountering Mr. Card when they find him.

HUNT: So, can -- we're set to hear at 10:30 this morning from the Maine State Police. That's obviously just about five hours from now. This community is going to be kind of waiting in the meantime for that kind of information.

What would you expect that they are going to be talking about -- trying to communicate when they do go before the public later today?

GRAY: So, they're going to be providing up-to-date information as to the search for Mr. Card. They're going to providing information concerning the victims -- both the number of people who have died in this encounter and also for the number of people who have been injured. So -- and also information about victims' families -- about where they can go for assistance.

So there's a lot of different moving parts in this and again, this is a very fluid situation. But I expect for an update to be limited with the amount of information they put out. They've already put out a lot of information for an early-on part of an investigation like this, but that's to keep the public safe and to provide them information that will help them keep away from Mr. Card in the event that he should be in their area.

HUNT: Right. And our Omar Jimenez, who went up overnight, relayed a pretty chilling anecdote of trying to get into his hotel, being told to show his I.D. card through the glass to a terrified clerk who obviously didn't know who Omar and his team were -- worried that they could be in the midst of a dangerous situation. Just very, very difficult right now for all of these residents.

Ken Gray, thank you very much for staying with us this morning. I really appreciate your time.

GRAY: Certainly. Thank you.

HUNT: And just ahead here we're going to have the latest on our breaking news this morning. At least 16 people killed in two mass shootings in Maine. Residents under a shelter-in-place order and a massive manhunt underway for a person of interest. We'll be right back.



HUNT: All right.

Last night, after the news of shootings in some of -- excuse me, the mass shooting in Maine -- some of the state's representatives spoke out in support of their community. One of those, Congressman Jared Golden. He started off his statement by saying, quote, "Like all Mainers, I'm horrified by the events in Lewiston tonight." The difference, of course, for Golden, he writes, "This is my hometown."

CNN's Alayna Treene joins me now. Alayna, good morning.

We also heard from Maine Sen. Angus King. We heard from Sen. Susan Collins, as well as Chellie Pingree, the other congresswoman from Maine. They're obviously in mourning today. Both King and Collins also said they got calls from President Biden.

What else do we expect to hear as reaction pours in today?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): Well, Kasie, I think like the rest of the country right now, these lawmakers are still trying to figure out what exactly the situation is. They're waiting to hear from that press conference and law enforcement later this morning, and they're still gathering information. But all of them, really, have weighed in, saying that they're horrified by what happened.


Angus King, the senator, said that he is on the next flight home. He spoke with President Biden as did Susan Collins -- the Maine governor, Golden. All of them speaking directly with Joe Biden. He offered them his -- their assistance -- federal assistance, he said.

And I think that they're just really, right now, trying to figure out what happened.

But I think the bigger picture and what we're going to see from Capitol Hill today is what we often see after these tragedies -- these tragedies and these mass shootings, which is how can we prevent this moving forward.

HUNT: Right.

TREENE: And unfortunately, I think what we've seen from earlier this year with the mass shootings in Tennessee and in Texas --

HUNT: Right.

TREENE: -- gun legislation is a tough thing for them to handle given the divisions in Congress. HUNT: Right. It's going to be a difficult conversation unfolding. But, of course, first, we have a very intense manhunt right now for the suspect underway.

Alayna Treene, I want to thank you for being here this morning. I really appreciate it.

The manhunt does continue for a person of interest in this country's latest mass shooting.

I'm Kasie Hunt. We're going to have much more of this breaking news on "CNN THIS MORNING" after this short break.