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FDNY: 10 Shot, 5 In Critical Condition After Subway Shooting; Governor: Suspect Still At Large After NYC Subway Shooting; Interview with Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY). Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 12, 2022 - 12:30   ET



ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: And once you know who he is and then you got to find him.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And Andy McCabe, I want to ask you the same question you were asking Chief Ramsey, who says he believes it's to reassure the public and keep them calm. The police commissioner in New York, Keechant Sewell, did come out pretty quickly and said, this at the moment -- she said subject to change but at the moment, not being investigated as an act of terrorism. Explain to viewers who might not understand the distinction.

MCCABE: Sure, so I agree with Chief Ramsey, that that was likely an effort by the police commissioner to kind of calm people down. And it probably reflects the fact that at this point, they probably don't have any specific information that ties this event to a terrorist group or a terrorist organization.

So in other words, they don't have a claim of responsibility from a group like ISIS or Al-Qaeda or they don't know who the subject is and so therefore they're not sure if the subject has any historical connections to terrorism.

However, the most important thing is that your terrorism resources are involved in the investigation from the very first step. We know that's the case, because the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force is on scene, working this investigation with their partners. And that's really all we need to know right now. Any chance this is ritual-related will be fully vetted by those investigators. And we'll see over the next few days if any information along those line comes back.

KING: Let's bring back Juliette Kayyem, Homeland Security expert and analyst, into the conversation, as well. So Juliette, it's the what next piece that plays out. The initial -- the initial response is to get there and assess the situation and help those who have been hurt or -- and injured. Now, the question of, how much of this is shoe leather police work and how much of it is technology?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ASSISTANT SECRETARY: It will be a combination of all of them. I want to try to put some of the pieces together, because I was -- I thought one of the statements at the end of the press conference confused a lot of the narrative. The police department comes out and says, neither -- they're not investigating it as terrorism. And as importantly, they say, there's no continuing threat.

What that would say to me is that they have a sense of who it is and they know who that person is for reasons unrelated to terrorism. Because I -- because they came out super early saying that, about 20 minutes later, at the very end, they say, they're not ruling out terrorism. I think that's right. You wouldn't want to rule it out.

But it does tell me that from the beginning, they are positioning this as -- and I'm not saying this is good news -- a mass shooting event and not a politically motivated one. These are not -- these are important distinctions, I think as Chief Ramsey was saying for -- you know in terms of what is New York actually facing again. It doesn't make any any better or less terrifying for the city and the people on the subway.

So the investigation will go -- will be ongoing. It looks like they have a limited number of injured. This is not going to stretch New York's hospital systems in the way that obviously 9/11 did or the Boston marathon did here. And they will continue to help those who are hopefully continue to be in good condition. And now the investigation will be both foreign, are there any ties? Do they know who the suspect is? And what is that footprint in terms of physical and Internet?

I want to say one thing. All of the training I've ever done or led on mass transit attacks would have had the system shut down, immediately. And I -- I -- what is going to be very interesting to review is what happened at that moment in terms of where the suspect was able to go and how he was able to escape. That's -- I don't blame anyone in the moment of something bad happening, but it is going to be a lesson learned, because that is what you do when a system is attacked. You shut it down and -- and -- and how the perpetrator got out is unclear.

KING: Well, let's bring in Chief Ramsey on that point. Chief, you've been the police chief, the police commissioner in two cities with subway systems, mass transit systems, also with very densely populated urban areas. So walk us through, in terms of the uniqueness or the specials -- specialties of the search -- now, the challenges of the search, when you have A, a subway system, and B, a densely populated area.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, video is going to be incredibly important. You know trains run on schedule. And so they know the route that the train takes. They know what train that time was at what station. They'll be able to check video from all of those stations to find -- to try to find when this person got on on.

And they'll be looking at all the video from the subway station where the train pulled in after the shooting and look at all of that footage again and then try to backtrack, where is this person then going to?

I mean he could take off that sweatshirt, get rid of that green vest. Obviously, not going to be walking down the street wearing a gas mask of some kind. And so, you know, what -- what video evidence do they have? That's going to be incredibly important now.


There's also video that people take, because people videotape everything. And so you've got a lot of people that videotape the incident. They may or may not think there's something important on that video.

Anyone who was part of that who witnessed anything needs to contact the police, NYPD. They may not think they have good information. Let the investigators decide what information is relevant and what information isn't. But that's the challenge right now. They may very well have somebody in mind as to what they're looking for and they're playing it close to the vest, because, obviously, you know bad guys watch TV, too.

So they don't want to let too much out at this point in time. But I got a sense and a feeling that they'll be able to narrow this down pretty -- pretty quickly. At least I hope so.

KING: And to that point, Andrew McCabe, as you come back in, the Chief makes a very important point in the sense that you do have all this video, and you have the suspect described as in the train car, wearing the construction vest, wearing a gray hoodie, reaching into a bag and pulling out a canister.

That does not mean that person looked anything like that, when he got on the train. Especially if he's carrying a bag. The clothing, the -- the -- the hoodie, and the vest could have been inside a bag. So when you're analyzing video, what is most important when an investigator knows, obviously, this person has obviously gotten rid of the hoodie, gotten rid of the gas mask. What are you looking for? The bag, shoes, pants? What is the most important thing to try to cross-identify between different pieces of video?

MCCABE: You're looking for all of that, John.

And I thought it was really interesting that the police commissioner noted that a witness observed the person don the mask in the train. So we know that he got on to the train and was not wearing the mask until the train was in motion, just prior to getting the smoke device and he reached into his device, pulled out a canister, opened and it deployed the smoke.

So obviously a high level of planning and execution there. That tells you something about your subject, but also may give you -- you would look for those cues of the gray sweatshirt and green vest on the way into the train, but as you noted, you may not have those on the way out.

So if you can spot that person on video let's say wearing that vest, you would then look to other things that they're wearing; shoes, pants, the backpack that can't be changed quite so easily. And those are the indicators that you would look for on potential exit videos or, you know, videos in which they were fleeing the scene.

So you -- we will identify the make and manufacture and model of the backpack, of the shoes that he's wearing or the pants he may have. It's like you can't imagine the level of detail that the analysts and investigators go to in really tying that stuff down.

KING: And Juliette Kayyem, their -- the expertise is critically important just in the sense that it is so crowded. There are so many people. The New York City subway system, the most crowded subway system of all. .

KAYYEM: Yes. That's exactly right. I thought what was interesting and important is that the -- about a quarter of the press conference was already talking about getting the lines running again. That's important for a city in particular, New York, but it -- but it also says something about the transit police and the NYPD's ability to isolate a crime scene, to investigate, and sort of do one thing that's important, but also keep the city running.

So the transit police will probably recede now in terms of the investigation, as Andrew and the chief were saying. That this will be led by a JTT effort now. But as I was saying earlier, it is surprising to have the NYPD come out so quickly and say it's not terrorism, they sort of refined that at the end, which is -- which is a way of saying, or I think one way to interrupt it is they are far along in determining who the assailant is.

And now this is just -- this is just a search now. This may not be an identification. And that's -- that's how they seem to be treating it by saying to the city, we are not under attack. This is not another 9/11, or worse a July 7, which we saw in London a few years ago after 2001.

So that's sort of where this is going. None of it is good. But in terms of no fatalities, people seem to -- to be stabilized and a very focused investigation, while the city unbelievably gets back to moving in just a few hours. That's pretty remarkable and shows the sophistication of the New York system.

KING: It is remarkable, indeed. Juliette Kayyem and all of our analysts are going to stand by. We're going to sneak in a quick break but we have reporters on the scene continuing to develop information on this breaking news story.

Again, 8:30 a.m. this morning, just before 8:30 a.m., in the middle of rush hour, a harrowing scene on a New York City subway car in Brooklyn, man dons a gas mask, opens a smoke canister, and opens fire. More on our breaking news, just ahead.



KING: More now on the breaking news out of Brooklyn in New York City this hour, chaos on a subway platform. Ten people shot, five in critical but stable condition. Officials say they do not believe those injuries are life threatening.

Just moments ago, New York officials wrapping up a press briefing. They say the brazen attack started just before 8:30 a.m., about 8:24 a.m. this morning, in the middle, of course, of the morning rush hour. A train pulling into the station. The suspect pulling a smoke canister from his bag, puts on a gas mask, then opens the smoke canister, starts firing inside that train car.

This hour, that suspect is still at large. He's described by police as a black male, 5'5", heavyset. On the train, he was wearing a green vest and a gray sweatshirt. Eyewitness accounts paint a harrowing scene. This is Yav Montano who was on that train as the shot rang out.



YAV MONTANO, ON TRAIN CAR DURING SHOOTING: As soon as the smoke like flared up, it started to engulf everything. People started migrating to the front of the car. And at the front of the car, I don't know if people know this, but it was one of those old trains where they locked the doors to travel in between cars.

So there was one gentleman on the train, using all his strength to try to open that door and he ended up opening it, but the other door to get into the other car was locked. And there were people in that other car that saw what was happening and they tried to open the door, but they couldn't.

So we were stuck in the car. And I mean, I don't know if this is too vulgar for TV, but there was -- there was blood on the floor. There was a lot of blood trailing on the floor and I -- at the time and the moment, I did not think that it was a shooting, because it sounded like fireworks. All I saw was people trampling each other, trampling over each other, trying to get through to the door, which was locked. And it was just a lot of panic.


KING: Let's get straight back to the scene of this crime; CNN's Brynn Gingras is there. Brynn, we're waiting now, obviously, the most important thing, the search for the suspect and investigators still on the crime scene.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And I mean now actually we're seeing -- Frank, can you actually turn around little bit. If it's possible, can you turn? I want to show our viewers this scene to you. (Technical Difficulty). We're seeing people -- police department authorities really circulating this area, leaving the area, as they look to investigate who this person is, not only that, but where they actually are.

So yes, so much information is coming out. I'm actually learning now we won't get an update from law enforcement for another couple of hours, because it is so early in this investigation.

One of the things, John, that we're seeing is that there -- I'm learning that, you know, there are names circulating within the law enforcement people (ph) now trying to figure out who the person is. And of course that's going to be a big help to actually finding who they are. But those accounts that you are hearing inside these -- this subway, I

want to paint a picture for viewers really quickly, if I could, John, is that this has happened during the rush hour, at a time when -- on a subway line that is a commuter train. People were just probably just going to work this morning. This isn't sort of a tourist area of Brooklyn, where it would be incredibly packed, but even still, just horrific, horrific incident on this train.

Actually, we're getting moved right now. So I'm going to actually go back to you, John, if I can.

KING: Brynn Gingras, having a little bit of problem with your audio right there. Joining me now is the New York congressman, Nydia Velazquez. This is her district. All right, Congresswoman, I just want to confirm, can you hear me?

REP. NYDIA VELAZQUEZ (D-NY): Yes, I can hear you.

KING: Just give me the latest. Obviously, this is a horrific scene in your hometown. You heard the police briefing earlier. I'm wondering if you have any additional information, most importantly about the ongoing search for the suspect?

VELAZQUEZ: Well, the most important thing for me is to be able to say that most of the victims and the people injured are stable. And that is so important. But the second aspect of all of this is that the assailant is still at large. And he is a dangerous person.

Clearly, he wants to harm as many people as he can. And this is why we need to stop -- to put a stop to (ph) this madness. You know, we need to act. There has been legislation introduced, including mine, that will stop the pipeline, the iron pipeline to put a stop to guns and especially assault weapons that have no business to be on the streets -- stop them coming to New York and other parts of the nation.

KING: Congresswoman, tell us a bit about this Sunset Park neighborhood. It's one of the most diverse neighborhoods in a very diverse city.

You're talking about 8:24 in the morning, at a time when, as the governor noted, people are trying to get back to normal, after two- plus years of the COVID pandemic. A very important subway line to take people from Brooklyn across to Manhattan, perhaps to go to work, or the other way, if they're coming back from an earlier or overnight shift. What is that -- what is it like in that neighborhood in an early morning like that?

VELAZQUEZ: Well, it's -- you know it's a working-class neighborhood. People go to work. They use the subway to make it to work. This is a community that has suffered tremendously. And in all these discussions, we cannot forget the Sunset Park community. COVID-19 devastated this community.


Previously, the rhetoric on immigration devastated that community, and now this. It's really -- my heart is broken because this is -- it has no sense for this community to be targeted this way.

KING: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez representing this community. Appreciate your time today and we certainly wish the community the best. And right now, most importantly, we wish the police and other law enforcement authorities the best as they hunt for the suspect. Thank you, Congresswoman, very much.

Let's go back live to the scene and our Brynn Gingras is still there. Brynn, you hear -- you hear the congresswoman weighing in here. We saw the briefing this morning. What might be notable for viewers outside of New York City who don't follow the news every day is that the first person to speak was the deputy mayor of New York City, not the relatively new three, four months on the job Eric Adams, the mayor now, himself a former police officer. Mr. Adams could not be there because he's at home in confinement because he has COVID but did release this video a short time ago. Listen.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): The suspect of today's attack detonated smoke bombs to cause havoc. We will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized, even by a single individual.


KING: It's just a remarkable moment, if you will, of just coincidental timing. The mayor, not sidelined, he's working, but not able to be out in public because of COVID.

GINGRAS: I mean, it is quite remarkable, John. Especially for this mayor, right. You just said it's pretty much a freshman mayor at this point. And because he was former law enforcement, he certainly is a mayor that would be right here on the scene getting these updates and really leading the press conferences like the one that we just had.

So this is certainly a rare incident for him to be on the sidelines, but as you said, his spokesperson saying that he is very much aware of what's going on, staying in tune with law enforcement, getting all the updates. But certainly not allowed to appear here in person because of those COVID restrictions needing to isolate a few more days and not put anybody in harm's way.

One thing I really do want to mention, John, is that as we were talking before, there's still so much we have to learn that was not answered in this news conference. We're expecting to get more information probably a little bit later this afternoon, details of that will, of course, we'll let you know.

But so many questions were asked including the one that I asked which was, where did the suspect flee to after this incident on the train? Was it through the subway tracks? Did they get out at the next stop? And again, they would not answer that.

So there's so many details. Certainly it's very likely these law enforcement officials from the local to the state to the federal level know the answer to and are working to put everything together to find this suspect. But as of right now, they're not giving those details nor motive until they actually apprehend him.

KING: And so Brynn, obviously you're focusing on what right now is priority one, priority two and priority three, which is this investigation and finding the suspect. But if you know it, you hear the tone from the -- again, just in office three months, Eric Adams. We will not allow New Yorkers to be terrorized even by a single individual.

Tough talk from the mayor. Also at the press conference, the New York governor, Kathy Hochul. She came into office when Andrew Cuomo left. It is election -- it's an election year in New York. Listen to the governor.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL, (D-NY): That sense of tranquility and normalness was disrupted -- brutally disrupted by an individual so cold hearted and depraved of heart that they had no caring about the individuals that they assaulted as they simply went about their daily lives. This individual is still on the loose. This person is dangerous. They are asking individuals to be very vigilant and alert. You'll get more reports on specificity as the day goes on. This is an active shooter situation right now in the city of New York.


KING: She also used the word depraved. It's just -- it's unavoidable to note that we're in a moment not only this horrific incident this morning but when rising crime in New York City and nationally is a big issue in this election year.

GRINGAS: Absolutely. I mean it's something that the mayor has been focusing on, trying to kind of get the negative press away from the subway system and other touristy areas of New York City. Come back to this city. We're open. Please visit after all of the COVID sort of shutdowns. And this was a commuter train where it happened. People were trying likely to just get to work.

So that was much of their intent I'm sure getting this video out here. Also like I said, having this news conference right away where they really couldn't give too much information just yet. Haven't apprehended the suspect, where they just want to put people at ease and just say, listen, we don't think this is a terrorist incident but it's still being investigated. So the idea of really getting that message out in front and quickly, you can tell that's, obviously, on the minds of the mayor and of the governor.

But this is really a major test for both of them as it's the favorite major crime incident to happen in New York City, certainly post-COVID.


I could tell you international news all the way down to local news is here covering this. So it'll be interesting to see how they continue to handle this and the spread of information really in the next coming hours and days. KING: Brynn Gingras, grateful for your live reporting on the scene.

We'll continue throughout the day, as will our special live coverage of, again, 16 people treated for injuries, 10 gunshots. Five in critical but stable condition. None of those injuries expected to be life-threatening.

Thanks for joining us at "Inside Politics." Stay with us, Dana Bash picks up our coverage, including an interview with the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, after a quick break.