Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

NYPD: Frank James Now Suspect In Brooklyn Subway Shooting; NYPD: Subway Shooter Fired 33 Times, Hitting 10 Victims; MTA CEO: Cameras Caught Suspect Entering Subway System; At Least 29 People Injured In Brooklyn Subway Attack; Official: Investigators Link Gun At NYC Subway Scene To Suspect; Mariupol Mayor: 180,000 People Waiting To Be Evacuated; Russian Troops, Armored Vehicles Pour Into East Ukraine; Russia Escalates Offensive In East & South Ukraine. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 13, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, everybody, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. The big development today, Frank James is now a suspect in that New York City subway shooting. A massive manhunt that now includes U.S. marshals underway this hour. As New Yorkers are back, riding the subway.

New York police say, James, a 62-year-old black man is the shooter who turned 36th Street Station in Brooklyn into a tunnel ward. And he is still at large this hour. Police are now analyzing a huge volume of evidence from the scene. 33 shots fired, two smoke grenades, a hatchet, fireworks and more. And we just learned officials found no explosives or additional weapons in that U-Haul rented by the suspect.

New York's mayor this morning on CNN, says he wants James apprehended asap. The New York subway chief now says, police have three angles of Mr. James entering the subway system. Part of what raised alarms among police officials. James posted videos on social media in which he talks about mass shootings, race and violence. The shock of the shooting still very, very fresh today.

You see it here video captured the chaos, people spilling out of a train car, dodging bullets, blood splattered on the subway car on the platform. 10 people were shot and all incredibly, all are expected to survive. Let's get straight to the scene. CNN's Jason Carroll joins us live from Brooklyn. Jason, what is the latest?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the investigation at this hour, John, is still very much focused on following up on leads that may in some way hopefully lead to the whereabouts of Frank James. So, what investigators are going to be doing is following up on anyone who may have known him, may have known places where he'd like to hang out.

And in addition to that, they're going to be looking at his previous addresses. We know he has a previous address in Philadelphia, the same city where he rented that U-Haul van, also following up on an address in Wisconsin as well.

In addition to that, they're taking a very close look, John, at his social media presence, his profile. There are a lot of disturbing videos, things that he had posted on social media, including talking about mass shootings. He uploaded a video just on Monday on YouTube, just a day before the shooting, where he talked about killing people.

In addition to that, about something about his background, he posted a video where he showed a former New York City Id card from a past educational program. And in addition to that, John, when talking about his state of mind, he posted some sort of a video in the past about having post-traumatic stress.

So, at the end of the day, once they look through all of that, that might provide investigators with some sort of leads as to a motive for the shooting. But right now, once again, the focus is very much focused on trying to find out something about where this man might be at this point. We do know at this point that the U.S. marshals have joined the search along with the FBI, the NYPD, as well as a number of other agencies. John?

KING: Jason Carroll, live on the scene for us with important new reporting. Jason, thank you very much. Let's get some expertise and insights now. Our guests include the former FBI special supervisory agent, Peter Licata, and the former CIA counterterrorism official, Phil Mudd. Peter to you first.

You hear Jason Carroll. Their priority number one is where, what tools do you try to use? They found the U-Haul at the scene, no additional weapons in that. So, what are you using? Credit cards, past addresses. One would have to assume still in the New York area, or how far can you be by now?

PETER LICATA, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Great question, John. So, what we're using? His credit cards? Right now, his associates, his family, his friends, anyone that knows him is being interviewed. That can shed light on his potential whereabouts as we speak. They're asking for their phone, so they could potentially track and trace him via a third-party phone.

They're drafting if they already haven't even executed them search warrants for those residents that he allegedly lived out in the past. They're executing those search warrants to see what they could find that try to idea.

Moreover, from a physical or electronic surveillance, they're looking at what we call plate readers, E-Z pass. So, if you came in from Philadelphia, which is alleged, with that U-Haul van, they're tracking potentially the Verrazzano Bridge, which brings you from New Jersey to Staten Island right into downtown Brooklyn where he boarded that train that end train.

So, looking at E-Z pass, we're looking at plate readers. We're trying to see maybe if he had another vehicle that was state - that was pre planned. He might be in wind going the other way again. We can't rule that out, that he's looking to conduct yet another attack somewhere else, not to induce panic, but yet we can't eliminate any of those possibilities right now.


KING: And so, Phil, there was a key shift overnight. It was a person of interest yesterday. They found the U-Haul keys on the scene. They found the van outside. He was a person of interest. Someone they want to talk to. Then they cross a very important investigative line, using the definition suspect. Take us through the checklist. How do you get from point A to point B there?

PHIL MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: I don't think that's an investigative line. That's a line partly for public consumption. You don't want to be seen as rushing to judgment. If you're not entirely certain, you don't want trial by media. There are high profile cases when they named someone as a suspect, turns out to be wrong.

But if you look at the resources to hunt somebody like this, when you're in an investigation, think of a spider web around a human being. You want money, that's an ATM card, that's a debit card, that's a credit card, that's a no. You can't rent a car, you can't go to a hotel, you can't go to friends and family, you can't email, you can't text, you can't place a phone call because anytime you get on a device that's identified with you, they're going to go up on you.

So, as time goes on, this individual's ability to fill a tank of gas and go into a hotel, and say I want a room, is very limited. You can't move. The web gets tighter and tighter, John?

KING: And that assumes, Peter, that you don't want to get caught or that you're thinking rationally in the sense. Do you think about what was said found at the scene, a Glock nine-millimeter, three extended magazines, two detonated smoke grenades, two non-detonated smoke grenades, a hatchet, the U-Haul key, and then you're looking at those YouTube videos? As an investigator, what stands out to you? What were you most interested in and trying to figure out who is this guy and what comes next?

LICATA: His mantra. So, all those items that he posted on social media. Let's go back to Faisal Shahzad, the plead guilty convicted bomber of the attempted 2010 bombing of Times Square. He left a manifesto. You go - then go to 2012, Mohammad Nafis, the attempted bomber of the Federal Reserve in New York City. It's going to plan a car bomb outside of the Federal Reserve in New York City, left a video tape manifesto.

Go to Ahmad Rahimi, the bomber of the 2016 Chelsea bomber, Chelsea, New York that being. He left a written manifesto on his pocket that was found on him. The only difference between them and right now Frank James, is the fact that he used electronic methods in order to post his manifesto. So, these are people that wanted to espouse and let the world know what they were up to, what in fact their motivation was.

And in some cases, and this might be Mr. James's attempt in knowing that he's going to get caught. That's why he may have left all those items there. His weapon, his box of pyrotechnics, his key, a credit card, there's reason behind that. And there's motivation behind doing that. And it's also to establish a platform for himself in order for the world to understand what he was politically potentially trying to gain as a result of this attack.

KING: And so, Phil, now you're in a very complicated investigation, suspects at large, trying to pull off a very mass violent event. So, you're worried about there could be another one. Number one, you have somebody, who has some ties to New York City. Clearly, Jason Carroll talked about the card he had from a program - education program quite some number of years ago, addresses in Philly, addresses in Wisconsin. So, you have New York City, New York State, federal and now Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, Milwaukee and Wisconsin, authorities all involved in this, plus probably more, right?

MUDD: Yes. You think about the number of things you got to look at and the number of people you have to have look at. I'm think of every credit card transaction, every debit card, every person who's spoken to friends, family, neighbors, he's traveled to different locations as you mentioned. So that's an investigative team for every location.

You got to do even the minor details. You got to go through his apartments, and say, are there fingerprints we can't identify here that don't belong to him. So, if you look at the years of data in this data rich society, phone calls, emails, etc. The investigative volume right now is huge.

KING: And so, and one of the pieces of the investigation, one of the reasons they were able to identify him as a person of interest, and now, of course it's been changed to suspect in the first place, his video. Peter, you mentioned the potential of having video when he's passing through toll booth areas. Listen here to the New York City subway chief, say we got some video several angles of him coming into the system.


JANNO LIEBER, CEO METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: We actually have as a result, overnight identified three perspectives on the wanted - the fellow who's wanted for this crime at coming into the station. So again, our video has been a source of investigation for the NYPD. And they're continue to come through other video because they're trying to track him through the system through New York.


KING: So, Peter, incredibly valuable to have video of a person of interest, now suspect entering the system. Number one, you can confirm this individual did in fact enter the subway system. And number two, you can use that to post as we see, you know, this is a person we're looking for. What now? How the camera assets that are everywhere, in our society now. How do they come into play in an investigation, at once you're talking about exiting the station?

LICATA: Huge. So, first of all, that can't - all those videos are very important in order to piece the timeline together in reverse order. We know what time the incident occurred. We know what time he entered the subway system via Kings Highway and Brooklyn. And then they're going to piece that together with other CCTV at ATM cards, wireless doorbells or monitor doorbells, then tie that in with license plate readers and E-Z pass readers over the Verrazzano Bridge.


Why that's all important, is it establishes a good timeline. But it also gives you a good identification on who this individual is. To go back to 2014, 2015 of the Boston bombing, Boston Marathon bombing in 2014. the Tsarnaev brothers really caught based on specific CCTV video. Initially, we didn't know who they were.

They were referred to as black hat and white hat because that's what they were wearing. And investigators knew that those people were in fact not only person of interest anymore, but our suspects. And that's going to give the American public a good idea of what this individual will look like. And that's going to start those tip lines and those phone calls coming in.

KING: Peter Licata, Phil Mudd, grateful for your important insights. As we continue to follow the track phone investigation and we're going to stay on top of this breaking news story. Ahead, CNN now live on the ground, outside of the hospital where the victims of the Brooklyn subway shooting are being treated. Plus, that subway attack in New York City, raising understandable concerns about mass transit across the country, and how vulnerable it might be.




KING: Passengers on that New York subway train yesterday morning describe moments of shock and fear. But the survivor accounts also include this, shared this morning on CNN.


CLAIRE TUNKEL, BROOKLYN SUBWAY SHOOTING WITNESS: I locked eyes with this individual and did not get a sense that there was anything wrong with them. You know, there was urine - he said there was urine in the seat, don't sit there. And so, I took that as, you know, as almost a courtesy.


KING: CNN's Alexandra Field, joins us now. She's outside NYU Langone hospital. Alexandra, help us understand what more do we know about the victims and the survivors here?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, John, look, there were 29 people who were hurt, extraordinarily all are expected to recover. And that is so extraordinary, given the fact that this shooting lasted for two minutes. And you had a group of about 40 or 50 people according to eyewitnesses who are on the train, who had literally nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide, once the shots started to ring out. Many of the shots obscured by the thick cloud of smoke that was billowing through this train car.

A lot of the passengers saying, they weren't disoriented, couldn't figure out what was happening. Hearing loud pops, initially they thought it was fireworks, they quickly realized this was something far more serious. A 27-year-old man had boarded the train. He said, he was sitting next to the shooter. Here's how he describes what happened.


HOURARI BENKADA, SUBWAY SHOOTING VICTIM: I just walk in, I sit down. And the guy next to me by, that get a glimpse of his face, and all you see is like a smoke - black smoke bomb going off, and then people been rushing to the back. This pregnant woman was in front of me. I was trying to help her. I didn't know there were shots at first. I just thought it was a black smoke bomb. She said I'm pregnant with a baby. I hugged her. And then the bombers continued, I got pushed and that's when I got shot in the back of my knee. This makes me not want to ride a train ever in my life.


FIELD: We can certainly all understand not wanting to ride a train after this. Another woman who was on the train, talks about seeing the bloodstains on the ground. That's when some of the passengers started to really understand the extent of what was happening. Many of those who were injured were actually injured in the rush to safety. But, John, 10 people were shot, seven of them males, three of them females, and five of the injured were children, as young as 12 years old, just riding the train to school on what should have been a regular morning. John?

KING: Alexandra Field, grateful for that live reporting outside of the hospital. It is remarkable. It is remarkable. Nobody has life threatening injuries. From this, we're going to go back now for some breaking news. Right back live to the scene of this shooting, our Jason Carroll, has a very important development as in police, put the investigation together. Jason, what are we learning?

CARROLL: Right. A real key part of this investigation. Investigators now tell us that they have linked the gun found here at the scene of the shooting to Frank James, indeed, saying that that gun was in fact purchase by Frank James. And this gives us some background and some insight into how that - how Frank James moved from a person of interest to a suspect.

Because apparently once investigators, once police had decided that they could definitively link the gun that that was found to James, and then they could elevate how they categorized him from a person of interest to indeed being a suspect in the shooting.

Investigators are also telling us that they're learning more about his purchases, including the gas masks. Who remember, John, that many of those who are out here during that horrific shooting, saying that the suspect was wearing some sort of a gas mask.

Well investigators now, say that Frank James did in fact purchase a gas mask from eBay or something linked to his eBay account. So, that's a second part of the puzzle here. The NYPD continues to talk to witnesses, to talk to known family members of James. They have executed search warrants. Again, all in an effort to try and find him. John?

KING: Jason Carroll, appreciate the hustle on the breaking news. That's a major development. Again, police now linking that gun, saying it was registered to the suspect Frank James. Jason, thank you so much. We'll stay on top of the investigation. But next, we also go live to Ukraine. New satellite images show a major Russian armor build up in the east.




KING: There are several important developments today in the Ukraine war. The leaders of Poland and three Baltic nations; Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are in Kyiv today. They're there to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people and with its president, President Zelenskyy, who you see there.

In Washington, the Biden administration poised to announce another round of new security assistance for Ukraine. This new edition we are told in the ballpark of $700 million. And new images from the battlefield include this, social media video showing what appeared to be explosions from cluster munitions in a civilian area of Kharkiv.


More than one hundred nations have signed on to a ban against using cluster bombs. CNN's Matt Rivers is live for us right now in Lviv. I'm sorry. Matt, what's the latest on the ground?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what we're seeing especially out of the city like Mariupol, for example. The refugee crisis internally displaced people, continues to dominate the headlines. What we're seeing in Mariupol, for example, is only a few hundred people being able to make it out of the city. This is there's like base, basically dueling propaganda campaigns between Russia and Ukraine.

Of course, Ukrainian officials would not call what they're saying propaganda. They're saying, look at the destruction. Look at the damage in this city, you know, more than 90 percent of the city's infrastructure being damaged or destroyed at this point. Only a few hundred people this week so far being able to make it out.

Despite the fact, that Ukrainian officials say 180,000 people, both in the city itself and in its surrounding suburbs, need to be evacuated according to Ukrainian officials. Meanwhile, the Russian state media basically claiming at this point that some 1000 Ukrainian marines have surrendered.

Of course, that is not something that can be verified by CNN at this point, with Ukrainian officials, John, saying that there continues to be fighting in that city. The U.S. assessment and all this is that there continues to be a contest for that city that the people the Ukrainians fighting for Mariupol have not yet given up.

KING: Matt Rivers, live for us on the ground in Lviv. Matt, thanks for that live reporting. Let's get a closer look at the shifting battlefield. Now with me to share his insights is retired brigadier General Steve Anderson. General grateful for your time. So, the battle shifting, we've been talking about this for days, this way. I just want to show you some of these new satellite images of Russian forces.

This is across the border, just across the border in Russia. You see these - you see the armor build up. And you see as we play through these new satellite images are pretty large tanks, armored personnel carriers and other transportation vehicles coming in there.

Then you can come across the border into Ukraine, and you see these convoys coming down. We're all expecting every military analyst says, there will be a major armor battle in the east. If you come back out to the map soon. What does it tell you when you see a armor buildup of that scope?

BRIG. GEN. STEVE ANDERSON, U.S. ARMY (RET.): What we're seeing, John, is a buildup of the logistics space in the vicinity of Belgorod. They're trying to position 40 battalion tactical groups to push down from the north into this key town. The key town that needs to be on everybody's mind right now is Kramatorsk, right in the middle. And the control of that town provides access to Luhansk and provides access to Dnipro out in the west, and it controls the entire central region.

Now as we know, there's going to be some kind of an open pitch battle on much more tank friendly terrain in this area. But that town is going to be absolutely key. And the Russians are going to do everything they can to push as much of that those 40 battalion tactical groups down the road from the north into this town.

KING: I'll bring it in closer here, to just to get to highlight your point. From a logistical standpoint, when we saw the onslaught on Kyiv, which failed for the Russians, the Ukrainians controlled that. The Russians already are in control here, the separatist regions, and Crimea, which is off the map. But you see the highways here. This is the point you're talking about. If the Russians can control this, Ukrainians are trying to come from other parts of the country. That's one factor.

There're also the railways, there are railways in there, as well as the highways. But you also have, if you look here, you talk about Russians already in position. This is in Kherson in the south. These are Russian forces in the south already deployed and what looks like a staging area, base area there. That's in Kherson.

Then in Crimea, which the Russians took eight years ago, you have another large presence here. So, unlike the fight for Kyiv, when you're talking about the fight for the east, the Russians already have a significant military buildup. So, what did the Ukrainians need to essentially to push them out as opposed to keep them out?

GEN. ANDERSON: Well, this is going to be a race of logistics between the ability the Russians to provide and to push forward support from the logistic bases in the north and the south that you just highlighted from the satellite imagery. But the push of the rush of the Ukrainians to be able to use their road network, their extensive rail network that we talked about before, and also the river, the Dnipro river, 300 miles from Kyiv.

And then Dnipro provides a key axis, a logistics asset that Ukrainians can use. There is a race to push as much equipment down there to that key town of Kramatorsk. That's where this action is going to take place. It's a race between the largest stations right now.

KING: When you talk about a race, there's a meeting at the Pentagon today, Biden administration, essentially asking weapons suppliers. How quickly can you produce more missiles, more of the equipment going in? New $750 million package coming out of the Biden White House. When you look, I'll just bring up the NATO map.

Now, that stuff mostly comes in this way. It comes in from NATO countries into Ukraine, the fight is over here. What else? What else can the United States and the NATO allies do and where else? Is there a different way to maybe you talked about the logistics challenge to get things over here to the east more quickly?

GEN. ANDERSON: Well, we can solve that problem. Once we get the authorizations from Congress to push more equipment in there. I want to remind them Americans were spending $300 million a day on the war in Iraq now. Thus far, we spent 2.4 billion.