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Search Underway For Suspect In Mass Shooting That Left 18 Dead; U.S. Carries Out Airstrikes In Eastern Syria; Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips Announces Run For President. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 27, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you for being up early with us. It is just before 5:30 on the East Coast. I'm Kasie Hunt.

The big story we have been following -- a massive manhunt expanding this morning for the suspect in a mass shooting that killed 18 people and injured 13 others at the bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston, Maine. Police say 40-year-old Robert Card should be considered armed and dangerous.

With the suspect still at large for a second day, parts of two counties remain under shelter-in-place orders. Schools and offices also closed.

An Army Reservist who serves with Card -- served with Card says he's a skilled marksman -- one of the best shooters in his unit. And law enforcement say -- sources say Card recently started showing psychiatric symptoms, speaking of hearing voices and threatening to shoot up a National Guard facility.

We are now going to bring in Chris Rucker to talk -- Chris Swecker, excuse me -- the former FBI assistant director for the Criminal Investigative Division. Chris, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

I want to talk a little bit about the search for this man and what happened overnight because we saw, last night, law enforcement assets basically surrounded the gunman's home, the fields. There were people shouting. It seemed to be that he was possibly in the house. That did not turn out to be the case. They are also now tracking a boat that was registered to him, searching in the river.

What does this day -- full day two of this manhunt look like?

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Yeah, I think we're going to see a search warrant actually executed at the compound -- the house or houses at the compound. That's what they went there for -- law enforcement did -- yesterday. And, of course, that place has been under surveillance since they learned the identity of the shooter.

So, they -- I think they have been watching the house all day and hoping that he would show up. And at some point, they decided to just go in or -- and that's when they threw the flashbangs. Those are anti- personnel mini grenades designed to stun people in the house and give the entry team time to take them out of if they have to.

So they intended to either arrest him or serve the search warrant. Something happened that spooked them. They backed out. They even left and came back, based on a report by a neighbor. And I think when darkness -- when they -- when they realized that they -- you know, that he wasn't coming out if he was in there or they had -- you know, he just wasn't in there, they decided to back off the night. There's no point in trying to execute the search warrant and do an entry in the middle of the night.

So that's where we are. They've been holding their positions all night.

Meanwhile, I think there's a large group -- or people who think that he is in the woods somewhere. He was at the boat landing for a reason. He got into his boat and found a remote location -- probably a prepositioned location and probably pre-supplied like the Olympic bomber did up in the North Carolina mountains -- and he's hiding out.

So those are two possibilities here. Actually, the second possibility is he had a switch car and he's hours and hours and hours away, and that would be I think the worst-case scenario.

HUNT: What is your sense of how long this could go on? Because, I mean, this man obviously has extensive skills from his military training not just around firearms, which we've talked about extensively, but also around living in tough environments for potentially long periods of time.

SWECKER: Yeah. I think, like the Olympic bomber, he's fairly provincial. He's lived there all of his life. He hunts in those -- in that area. He fishes in that area. He boats. He -- you know, he is a, as many people are in that part of Maine, an outdoorsman. And military -- he has training -- military training, of course, as well.

So the educated guess here is that he is somewhere in that -- in those woods. Police and law enforcement will have to set up and have set up a perimeter around that general area. And that's the tough part right there. Where do you set up your perimeter? How large -- how widespread should it be?

And then it's going to be just a laborious task of trying to tighten down that perimeter until you find him or he gets so cold and miserable and starving that he gives himself up. I don't take this guy as someone who is going to give himself up. I think it's going to -- it's not going to end well.

So that's -- you know, that's probably one of the most difficult law enforcement manhunts there is. It took us five years to find Eric Rudolph. He never moved eight miles -- more than eight miles from the original place where he was last seen.

So he knows the area better than law enforcement. The only people that -- you know, the people that are really the most effective resource right now are fish and wildlife -- game warden-type law enforcement officers. They know the area.

HUNT: Right. So, five years, you mention, to try to find --



HUNT: -- another person here.

What does law enforcement do and think about this in the context of lifting these lockdowns? I mean, at what point -- if they continue to not --


HUNT: -- find him, at what point do they say to people hey, you can go back to school?

SWECKER: Yeah. You know, as the leads and intelligence come in they may decide well, he's not -- he's not in this area anymore or we've got him contained in the woods. But until then I don't see them lifting that. I think they'll advise people go for essential supplies and that sort of thing. You know, if you're out of water. Only for essential things -- and they'll keep it going for a while.

I mean, they don't know -- right now, I don't think they have a clue where he is. I think there's -- you know, the educated guess is he's in the woods. However, if he got into a car -- a switch car, he could be hundreds of miles away. So this is -- they're in -- they're in for the long haul.

And as long as he's at large, he's a killer. He's heavily armed. I think they're going to keep that -- unless they have some information to the contrary that he's somewhere else I think they're going to keep that lockdown going.

HUNT: All right. In for potentially a long haul in Maine.


HUNT: Chris Swecker, former FBI assistant director, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate you joining us.

SWECKER: Thank you -- sure.

HUNT: And we are going to go now to CNN's Mark Morales. He is live on the ground in Lewiston, Maine with the latest. Mark, people are still waking up under lockdown. Can you bring us up to speed with what we saw at the suspect's house late last night and into the morning? And also just tell us how are residents there feeling today.

MARK MORALES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT REPORTER: Right. And as far as residents go, you have two things going on at once. You have them dealing with the heartbreak and this tragedy that really tore apart this community and at the same time, fear. As you mentioned, they're waking up today still under lockdown. This is something that's affecting approximately 100,000 residents.

And that fear is palpable. You can -- you can feel that from just talking to people in the community as they see armored trucks go through the neighborhoods. As they see police go door-to-door on their checks. That fear -- it continues to rise.

Now, just a few hours ago, we saw law enforcement descend on the -- on the -- what's believed to be the most recent home of the -- of the shooter. This is what they're calling due diligence and part of their latest strategy. They're executing search warrants. They're looking for any evidence that they can collect in these homes.

Yesterday, we saw dozens of police officers, they had bullhorns, they had drones. They had their armored vehicles. After a few hours, they gave it the all-clear. They're expected to do this again today and look at another property and execute a search warrant there.

And that kind of leads us to how they're actually doing these searches. We've seen them yesterday as they were going through. It's very localized. They close -- they get a tip and they close down a street and they do their searches. And once that's done they open it up and then traffic can flow through -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right, CNN's Mark Morales in Lewiston, Maine for us. Thank you very much. We really appreciate your reporting.

And coming up here, for the second night in a row, the IDF conducted targeted raids inside Gaza before withdrawing.

And here at home, President Biden just got a Democratic challenger in a race -- in the race for the White House. That's ahead.



HUNT: Welcome back.

New overnight, the Israeli Defense Forces conducted targeted raids inside Gaza before withdrawing. This is the second time in two days that that's happened. Video published by the IDF shows moving tanks and armored vehicles, as well as strikes on buildings and in open areas.

All this happening as tensions in the region escalate. The Pentagon says that the U.S. carried out airstrikes in Syria targeting two facilities linked to Iranian-backed militias. Defense officials say this was in retaliation for attacks against U.S. forces in the region over the last 10 days.

Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin said the strikes were, quote, "narrowly targeted in self-defense" emphasizing that they were separate from the war in Israel and Gaza. Austin also promised further strikes if the attacks by Iran on U.S. forces continue.

Jim Sciutto is in the Golan Heights for us. And Kim Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst also joins us.

But Jim, of course, we want to go first to you on the scene there. Bring us up to speed on what happened with these strikes overnight and why the U.S. made this move.


I'm standing here in the Golan and you can see Syria behind me here. It's just a reminder that in the northern part of Israel and when you get into the Golan you have, in effect, two international borders that Israel is directing its tension at. Certainly, Lebanon where Hezbollah is based; but also Syria, where you have Iranian-backed militias as well.

And the significance of these U.S. strikes overnight is that it appears to be retaliation for strikes on U.S. forces by Iran-back forces in both Syria and Iraq. But notably, this is a base that doesn't just have, at times, Iranian-backed militias. It has actual Iranian forces from the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps -- the IRGC.

And it's not clear that the U.S., prior to these strikes, was certain that there were no Iranian personnel there. In other words, a risk there that these U.S. strikes could have impacted Iranian forces on the ground. That shows the seriousness with which the U.S. is responding to strikes on its own forces in the region.

I'll tell you, where we are this morning, the border area looks calm. But there is certainly, like in the northern part of Israel near Lebanon, a large Israeli military presence. They are on alert. They are watching very closely.

HUNT: Yeah -- no, of course, they are.

Kim Dozier, let me bring you into this conversation. What message does this send to Iran?


KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE DAILY BEAST (via Webex by Cisco): To keep its proxies in check. That it could risk U.S. retaliation for any strikes that it makes again on U.S. forces. And this is important as Iranian proxies and Iranian- backed politicians inside Iraq have called for violence against the U.S., against U.S. facilities. Iran has these proxies and supporters in a number of locations where it can sort of, like a lever, turn up the aggravation, the violence against U.S. and other facilities.

And Lloyd Austin is sending a message that the U.S. is moving forces in the region to take care of that and that if it happens again the U.S. will consider striking again.

HUNT: Yeah. Jim, what do we know about the nature of the injuries that were sustained by U.S. troops?

SCIUTTO: At this point, it does not appear to be life-threatening. But let's be clear. When you attack bases in this way you could very easily kill U.S. forces and, of course, that could conceivably level up the U.S. response. We've seen deadly attacks by Iranian-backed forces, militias in the past on U.S. forces in the region.

And that just shows what a tinderbox this region is right now. The chances of escalation, right, is that a small thing that perhaps whether it's Iran or the U.S. intends to be limited to some degree, it's not clear that they can enforce those limits, right?

If you drop enough rockets on a base you might kill U.S. forces or contractors. If the U.S. drops enough bombs and strikes on an Iranian base inside Syria you might very well kill Iranian forces. And that presents the danger then, of course, of further escalation.

It's just another reminder that you have many fronts in this conflict right now and many players with real dangers of things moving beyond where any of the parties want it to move, right? And that's the -- that's the nature of the alert right now.

HUNT: Yeah, for sure.

Kim, I'm wondering how tied together what's going on here with these strikes and what's playing out politically with the president -- we heard him say on Wednesday that he had doubts about the death count in Gaza and that has really caused public anger throughout the Middle East. Do you see any risk in the way the president addressed that that could connect to U.S. forces in the region, or am I making a bridge too far?

DOZIER: Look, the Pentagon said that these strikes against Iranian sites don't have anything to do with the Gaza conflict, but it's hard to see that. The U.S. is moving in a couple of carrier strike groups because of what's happening in Gaza -- because of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

And the U.S. is increasingly siding with Israel's point of view on things in that prior to this, the U.S. and other international bodies have considered Palestinian health figures out of Gaza pretty reliable. But, of course, the White House had an answer to this. They said until this conflict, perhaps.

But when the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital was attacked, the Palestinian Health Authority said within an hour of the attack that something like 500 people were killed. And the U.S. intelligence assessment was that it was more like 100 to 300.

So that is part of their argument of saying that the Palestinian Health Authority has become a mouthpiece for Hamas which, of course, the Palestinian Health Authority inside Gaza refuted by putting out a 200-plus page list with the names of those that they say they tabulated as dead, not including bodies that haven't already been counted, as a previous correspondent was saying.

So it's a he said-she said and basically, at this point, President Biden is taking Israel's side.

HUNT: All right, Kim Dozier, Jim Sciutto. Thank you both very much for being here with us. I really appreciate having you in this hour. Jim, stay safe out there.

And here in the United States, Minnesota Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips has announced a run for the White House, launching a primary challenge against President Biden. He spoke to CBS News about why he's getting into the race.



REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): I am. I have to. I think President Biden has done a spectacular job for our country but it's not about the past. This is an election about the future. I will not sit still and I will not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying that we're going to be facing an emergency next November.



HUNT: Wow.

His campaign launch comes as Democrats are trying to unify around Biden and lay out the administration's accomplishments to voters.

Phillips is expected to formally announce his campaign in New Hampshire at 11:30 a.m. this morning. Suffice to say, this is causing a lot of headaches in the White House right now.

All right. Up next, we are continuing to follow the urgent manhunt for the armed and dangerous gunman suspected of killing 18 people in Lewiston, Maine. We're going to be joined by a local radio host who is currently under lockdown. What his community is feeling as they're waking up this morning.



HUNT: Welcome back.

We're learning more about some of the 18 lives lost in the Lewiston mass shooting.

Arthur "Arty" Strout was at Schemengees Bar & Grille when he was killed. He leaves behind five children.

Peyton Brewer-Ross was also at Schemengees playing in a cornhole tournament. He leaves behind a 2-year-old daughter, Elle (PH). His brother says he loved being a dad more than anything. He was 39.

Bryan MacFarlane, who was a member of the deaf community, was also participating in that cornhole tournament. His sister says he was one of the first deaf people in the state of Vermont to get a commercial trucking license. MacFarlane loved riding his motorcycle and hanging out with his dog, M&M.

Fifty-three-year-old Tricia Asselin worked part-time at the bowling alley. She was bowling that night with her sister who was able to escape the shooting. She spoke with CNN's Jake Tapper.


BOBBI NICHOLS, LOST SISTER IN MAINE SHOOTING: Somebody came out and said that she called 911. And when she called 911 to save everybody she lost her life because of it. And she was a great person.


HUNT: Thirty-four-year-old Tommy Conrad worked as a manager at the Just-In-Time bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. He leaves behind a 9- year-old daughter.

And Joseph Walker was the manager of Schemengees Bar & Grille. His father says State Police told him his son tried to stop the gunman with a knife.


LEROY WALKER, SR., SON JOEY KILLED IN MAINE SHOOTING RAMPAGE: My son actually -- because he's manager of the bar and everything else -- picked up a butcher knife and went after the gunman to try to stop him from killing other people. And that's when he shot my son to death. Trying to save some more lives he ended up losing his life.

I'm a Christian. I go to church. I believe in the law and I believe in Jesus Christ. But why do we have to go through these kind of miserable, miserable times? This has never happened in our two cities -- never. It's the worst thing that's ever happened in these two cities.


HUNT: So tough.

Joining us now is Ken Altshuler, former morning radio talk show host and an attorney in Maine. Ken, thank you very much for being here as we remember these victims.

You have lived in Maine for 40 years. You live 50 miles from where the shooting took place. Tell us about this community.

KEN ALTSHULER, FORMER MORNING RADIO TALK SHOW HOST IN MAINE, ATTORNEY: Lewiston is a (INAUDIBLE) American community. It's a -- it's an industrial city. It's not rural. But it's very close-knit. It's where everybody knows everybody. The sister city, Alburn, across from the river, is a smaller town but

it's combined. We call it L.A. It's a very close-knit community -- a family-oriented community.

These two sites were family night, both at the bar and at the bowling alley. So the shock, which is now wearing off, has now become fear because we have someone running loose very close to us. He has hundreds of acres where he lives. This man's an Army Reservist. He's an expert at firearms. And everybody is on edge in the town today.

HUNT: So, Ken, can you help us understand how common violent crime is or isn't in the state of Maine, and how that contributes to just how shocked people are?

ALTSHULER: Exactly. We had, last year in the state of Maine, a total -- 1.4 million people -- we had 29 murders, and that was high. It's usually never more than 20. One year we had an entire year -- a calendar year without one murder.

You have 18 people dead and 13 injured in one shooting incident. It's unheard of.

We were called -- Lewiston, actually, was ranked as one of the best places to retire by Forbes magazine because of its safety. The FBI, last year, ranked Maine as the safest non-violent state in the country.

This simply doesn't happen here. That's what puts us -- not only are we in shock but in fear because we don't deal with this kind of violence. We leave our houses unlocked. We leave our cars unlocked. We're not used to being on edge or on guard, so it's a very fearful situation. We're not used to being locked in.

One example is, of course, I live in Freeport, which is known for L.L. Bean -- the big mail-order company. L.L. Bean never closes. They have no locks on their doors. They closed one time for the funeral of the founder. It closed yesterday. That is unheard of.

Businesses, banks, shopping centers, schools, colleges -- they're all closed. The highways are absolutely -- it's like a ghost town on the highways.

Nobody is coming out. Everybody's fearful. It's really a shock to our system. This is not the way Maine is.


HUNT: All right, Ken Altshuler. Thank you very much for that perspective. I actually hadn't thought about the Bean store. I've been there many times in my life. And that is a remarkable point that underscores just how devastating this has been for everyone. I really appreciate your time, sir.

ALTSHULER: Thanks for having me.

HUNT: And thanks to all of you as well for joining. I am Kasie Hunt. We're going to have much more on the manhunt coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" which starts right now.