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Gunman Kills Six, Wounds Dozens At July 4th Parade; Suspect In Custody After Deadly Parade Shooting; Mayor: Gunman Legally Obtained Weapon Used In Parade Attack; Shooting suspect posted violent images, lyrics and cartoons; Witnesses describe violent, chaotic scenes at parade shooting; Highland Park officials give update on parade shooting. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 05, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. We begin the hour waiting, waiting on an update from law enforcement in the suburb of Highland Park, Illinois. They are today in that community pain. From a familiar source and a familiar truth about American life, a deranged person with a gun means absolutely nowhere. No day is safe.

That right there the fourth of July in Highland Park, one of the wealthiest suburbs of Chicago. Those pops bullet after bullet turning a July 4 parade into a mad dash for survival. Police say the gunman fired into the crowd from a sniper's perch on a rooftop. Witnesses describe the confusion and chaos.


PAUL TOBACK, WITNESSED HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING: I thought for a second, maybe it's firecracker. You've heard this scenario before. People aren't sure what it is. And but it was too fast and too quick. And my son said, no, that's gunfire and we turned and ran, and I pushed my son's wheelchair, and the wheelchair collapsed on the pavements. And he toppled over, and I fell and then happened again. And then my young son picks up my older son, and we ran just like, we ran for our lives.


KING: Six were killed, dozens more wounded. New video shows police apprehending a man, described as a suspect and a person of interest, Robert Crimo III. We're also getting some new details this hour including about the weapon, what authorities call a high-powered rifle.

The Highland Park mayor says the shooter bought that gun legally. That is despite a growing body of online evidence of disturbing posts from this man, fantasizing about carnage, fantasizing about carrying out attacks and even suicide by cop. I just need to do it. It is my destiny. The suspect says in one of those posts.

As we await this news conference, let's bring in to share their expertise and their insights. The former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, Peter Licata. Commissioner Davis, let me start with you. We do not even know yet the specificity of the charges, as we wait to hear from law enforcement and other officials on the scene in Highland Park. What are your big, one or two big questions right now?

ED DAVIS, FORMER BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, the big question is motive. It's looking like, you know, there's mental health issues here. It's looking like it's the same story that we've heard over and over again, but motive is extremely important. And I'll tell you that that there's a lot going into the investigation right now to look at other potential people, were to get the gun, was a straw purchase, or were there other people that that knew or somehow aided him? There's a lot going on there. But you know, right now centrally, we should all be thinking about the difference.

KING: Yes, we should. And we're going to touch on that in a moment. But you're absolutely right that on this day, the victims' families who've lost loved ones and a community that has done. Peter Licata, there were different descriptions yesterday, when the suspect was arrested. Some people said person of interest, some people actually use the word suspect. Does it make any difference?

PETER LICATA, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, at this point, no. (Inaudible) investigation, law enforcement has coined this term person of interest, in this day and age with social media, with the digital world we live in. When law enforcement identifies somebody as a person of interest, I would say nine times out of 10. That's our subject. My former colleagues, commissioners, former colleagues know that this is the person that we definitely want to interview. And more than likely it is the person that we want to in fact, arrest and potentially indict.

KING: And so, as we wait for more details, Commissioner Davis you mentioned motive. I'm going to go through some details here of what people have said and what we know, and then ask you both. What can be done because we've had this conversation too many times. The three of us have had this conversation, and my colleagues throughout the day, 24 hours a day, have had this conversation.

This is the suspects uncle, talking to CNN yesterday. I'm heartbroken. I'm so heartbroken. There were no signs that I saw that would make him do this. I have nothing bad to say about him. That is from the suspect's uncle. We now know from online postings in one video titled, Are You Awake?

The suspect is seen with multicolored hair and face tattoos and is narrating, I need to just do it. It is my destiny. The video shows a cartoon animation of a stick figure who resembles the suspect in tactical gear, carrying out an attack with a rifle.


In another video titled Toy Soldier, a similar stick figure cartoon character resembling the suspect is depicted lying face down on the floor and a pool of his own blood, surrounded by police officers with their guns down. Mr. Davis to you first. I understand their First Amendment rights. I understand you can say things in the United States of America that are outrageous. You can write these fantasies online. Is there no way, whether it's a family member or for some algorithm or something to track this, and at least say someone needs to go knock on this door?

DAVIS: Well, there is a way, John, that, you know, the social media companies have algorithms that can tell you what you're thinking about buying, just based upon your search history. There's no reason why that technology can't be directed at this problem. But people have been very hesitant to do that because of privacy concerns in the issue of big brother.

I think on this situation where people are having homicidal suicidal ideations online, there should be some type of identification and response by people. But it's a huge, huge job. And that's just, you know, clipping the corners, because the real problem here is the, these enormous guns that have magazines that fire 30 and 60 rounds. And I mean, a SWAT team couldn't repel that, even if they were ready for it. In some cases, this is what we're up against. These are weapons of war. It's just a huge problem.

KING: And so, Peter, if it is a huge problem as the commissioner details. You're familiar with the FBI, the technology available. Is there a way to screen some of this stuff without crossing the line and violating an American's individual freedoms, individual right to privacy, individual right to think crazy things, to think reprehensible things? Can you monitor it without stepping over that line? Or is that the issue?

LICATA: You can monitor it, John, but it's a difficult thing to monitor. The resources are limited. Algorithms as commissioner said, you know, exist for social media. But more importantly, I think we need to start putting the focus on what we human intelligence, the ability for somebody who saw criminals' postings to call somebody, to call law enforcement, to call a mental health professional, call the family, you know, go back to Salvador Ramos, witnesses reported him hurting animals. He posted information about owning guns and doing bad things with it prior to incident at the grocery store.

Payton Gendron. Social media post about going and killing a security guard at the tops market. And then finally, harken back to Columbine. Two individuals there, Harris and Klebold, they plan and act for a year and they work (Ph) in fireworks store and didn't take compensation monetarily, in order to be able to collect fireworks that they use an air attack.

People need to start stepping up. Everyone wants to dismiss this about, you know, what, he's OK. He's a good kid. He's a good guy. There is nothing wrong with him. People need to start stepping up. It's not big brother, it's stepping up and calling law enforcement, confronting the individual or getting a hold of a mental health evaluator that might be able to limp or minimize this from happening again.

KING: It's a fantastic point to make about people just stepping up. Commissioner, you mentioned your compassion for the victims on this day. Just like in Uvalde, the doctors responding to the scene, say they saw unthinkable, unspeakable things because you have weapons fire with a high-power munitions, the bullets, those rifles use. I want you to listen to a doctor who responded to the scene, just saying some of what he saw. It was just horrifying.


DR. DAVID BAUM, HELPED TREAT SHOOTING VICTIMS AT HIGHLAND PARK: The people who were gone were blown up by that gunfire. Some of the bodies were - there was an evisceration injury from the power of this gun and the bullets. There was another person who had an unspeakable head injury, unspeakable.


KING: Unspeakable. Commissioner Davis is a word again, we're using far too often, but you mentioned compassion for the victims. I know you've come at this from a law enforcement perspective, but based on your experience, what do you do? What do you do to help the families?

DAVIS: Well, I saw (Inaudible), you know, spearhead the largest per capita fundraiser for victims that raised millions and millions of dollars from businesses in Boston, after the marathon. And I get to know some of the victims, people like Jeff Boehm, and some of the families of the deceased. They really need help. They live with this forever.

This is a headline right now. But the families are going to suffer for years and those from the truck trauma of this incident. We need to do everything we can to step up and help them, and fundraising in support is really, you know, the kind of personal support among people that know them. It's critical here, you have to stay close to the victims.


KING: Mr. Davis, Peter Licata, we're going to ask you to stand by as we await this news conference from law enforcement and other authorities in Highland Park. But as we've been discussing today, in Highland Park, six families woke up without a loved one, dozens more now have to reckon with the future irrevocably changed by shrapnel.

The people caught in the crosshairs spanned generations, the youngest eight, the oldest 85. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Highland Park. Adrienne, what are we learning about the victims of this horrific tragedy?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we are learning the names of the deceased, at least two names have been released by either members of their synagogue or family members. I want to start with one victim who we just learned about Nicolas Toledo. His grandchildren describe him as a loving man who was creative, adventurous and funny.

The other person, who we've learned about is a former preschool teacher, Jacki Sundheim. She was identified by members of her synagogue. One longtime member of that congregation says, Miss Jacki helped coordinate her wedding, making sure that they flowed smoothly. Things were flowing smoothly. Parade goers tell us along this route, moments before that shooter opened fire, that celebration quickly turned to sorrow. One father telling us what he did to protect his children. Listen in?


ALEXANDER SANDOVAL, HAD SON IN DUMPSTER DURING PARADE SHOOTING: When the shots stopped again, as when we started, we decided we had to run, so we started shooting again. And then we ran behind the building, and I put my son in a dumpster, and he sit there with his dog. And I went back to look for the rest of my family.


BROADDUS: And he was one of many who ran for safety, and when they took off, they left many of their belongings behind. We've been telling you throughout the morning about the lawn chairs that were left here along the parade route. But John, the one thing that stands out the most to me on the sidewalk behind me, a child's shoe. John?

KING: Heartbreaking, heartbreaking. Adrienne Broaddus on the scene for us. Adrienne, thank you. Thank you for that important reporting. And as we know that we are waiting now in an update from Highland Park officials on that July 4 parade shooting. We'll take you there live as soon as it begins. Another mass shooting, where eyewitness who saw bloodshed terror. Hundreds of people at the Highland Park parade now have painful indelible stories.


ZOE PAWELCZAK, WITNESSED HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING: I grabbed my dad, and we ran and suddenly everyone was running behind us, and people were just shot behind us. And they let us go back to get our car keys and everything and right where we were, there was a girl just dead. Another man was shot in the ear, blood all over his face.



KING: From Highland Park today, we are hearing the stunning and heartbreaking accounts of those who were there. You just heard moments ago from the man who put his son and his dog in a dumpster, as the shots rang out, so he could run back and get the rest of his family. A young girl about to start marching, only to see people running from the fourth of July parade route screaming shooter. Brad Harsen remembers hearing gunfire, turning to find his six-year-old son and seeing a friend, covering him with his body.

Brad Harsen joins us now live. Brad, grateful for your time today. I'm sure it is a traumatic day, still trying to process what happened to you and your family yesterday. Describe that moment? You hear gunshots, you turn to see your - to find your son and your friend and neighbor is covering him with his body.

BRADLEY HARSEN, WITNESSED HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING: Yes. I was sitting - we were sitting with our friends, and gunshots rang out. I dove on the ground, and I pulled my one-year-old son and his stroller onto the street next to me. And I tried to cover as much as I could on that side. I look over and my neighbor Joel, was covering the other side of the stroller and his own children with his body as the second burst of fire rang out.

KING: That is a breathtaking moment of bravery. And Joel Krause has now joined us at the scene. Joel again, number one, congratulations and it's just amazed at your heroism and your bravery in that moment. Brad has just described it from his perspective, when you heard gunshots, what happened and what went through your mind?

JOEL KRAUSE, WITNESSED HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING (voiceover): Yes. Thanks for having me. And just having us on. I mean, first you don't really know what's going on. I think the confusion was definitely immediate. But unfortunately, we witnessed a very graphic a body of a man that passed away Nicolas Toledo. His family was right behind us. And so, we after seeing that it's kind of you just react and try to protect your children as best you can. I mean, unfortunately for you know, for Brad and him and his partner got separated.

So, we wanted to go check it on him later and there's just so many images, and you know, sounds and things that are just permanently ingrained from this experience everything from bullets whizzing through the trees to people screaming, and you know, just lots of visions and things that you never really want anybody to experience.

KING: And Brad to that point, as Joel just noted, you were separated from your partner and one of your children. How did that process play out? And how long did it take to figure out everybody was OK?

HARSEN: It felt like an eternity. My wife grabbed our six-year-old daughter and ran as soon as she could. I was on top of the stroller with our infant with Joel on the other side. And it took - looking back at the phone records, it took about nine seconds. We didn't have our phones - oh, nine minutes. We didn't have our phones. Joel and his wife Kate grabbed them one and brought them to me when they came to find us. But both of us were using strangers' phones, trying to call phones that nobody had. And so that, those nine minutes felt like an eternity to us.


KING: Joel, listening to the two of you with the poise and the courage you acted with. Had you ever thought what would I do if I was in a situation like this? And actually, had thought about it before? Or was this just your reaction as it played out?

KRAUSE (voiceover): I am the reality of the world we live in, and I have thought about it before. And it's something you don't want to ever have to actually act upon. But you do have to sort of think about it. What would you do in that situation? And there is not much you can do. I mean, this was extremely horrific. And as much as you tell yourself, you're going to do one thing when you're in the moment. It's just about protecting and try to protect it as much as you can. And in this case, we had our families there, and our tiny children had to just witness horrific things. So, in the moment, you just act, and you try to do your best. And you try to think about the people around you and what you can do and just roll with it, I guess. But it's, yes, I really hope that nobody else has to experience what we did.

KING: I can tell you parents everywhere listening, including the one right here and leading this conversation are an all, in all of what you did. Brad, you tweeted after this. Once you got to safety, along thread, I want to just read some of it. We were there, right there. We live in Highland Park, Illinois.

Today, we were in the middle of a murderous attack. I had to pull my infant child to safety as people were dead and dying around us. I got separated from my wife, when she carried my six-year-old to safety. You said as part of this tweet thread, you weren't even sure why you were tweeting that you just thought maybe you just needed to vent and let this out. Take me through that process.

HARSEN: Yes. Yesterday morning, I had less than 300 followers. I'm a graduate student. I study history. And I've been trained to write I've been trained to think. And so, in processing, when we were back at Joel's house, all I could think to do is just throw something into the void. I had no idea that it would gain the traction that it did, I had no idea that it would become what it's what it's become. But in that moment, all I could do was just put fragments of thought into words and just throw it out there.

KING: Well, it's remarkable. What you say throughout there, it's very poignant, and very well done. Joel, let me ask you in closing, we're about to hear from officials in your community about the suspect, about the charges, we assume and about the like, that's important. Also important is what the two of you are going through right now. You have if I have this right, a seven-year-old and a four-year-old. Joel, what are your conversations with your children about what they thankfully lived through yesterday?

HARSEN: They're still processing, like all of us. And I think we are just trying to sort of gently let them ask us questions and answer them as honestly as we can. There is not any benefit to sugarcoating what they survived. I want them to know that we are extremely fortunate and not everyone made it out of the situation alive and not everyone is going to be OK.

And I mean really all of us are changed by it. And I really hope that we can finally get some real change going. I know that everything is happening, almost daily in this country and I'm just - I'm really tired of it, but I'm angry. And it's hard to be strong for your children but you do your best and talk to them and make sure they feel like they can open up to you and be loved and that's really all you can do.

KING: I hope that both of you will come back and continue this conversation as you go through the process with your children, as you go through the process in your community. On this day, though, I hope you both understand that you are heroes. A lot of people watching, applaud your courage and your bravery at a time of just unimaginable crisis. Gentlemen, thank you both.

HARSEN: Thank you for having us.

KING: As noted, we're still awaiting a news conference now from Highland Park officials, the latest on that parade shooting, we'll bring that to you as soon as it happens. And as the investigation continues, politicians now voicing anger at yes, yet another mass shooting in the United States of America.




KING: We'll take you straight to Highland Park, Illinois, right now. Local officials briefing up on the strategy on July 4. Brad, let's listen in.


DEPUTY CHIEF CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: (Inaudible) and chief of police, Lou Jogmen. My name is Chris Covelli, and I am the spokesman (crosstalk)


KING: We'll take you straight to Highland Park, Illinois right now. Local officials briefing us on the tragedy on July 4. Let's listen in.

CHIEF COVELLI: So, over the past 24 hours, there's been a significant amount of information obtained by investigators and this consistently extremely hard work by Highland Park police, the major crime task force, state police, ATF and the FBI. Everybody has been collaborating very well to further this investigation. The community has been absolutely terrific as it comes to reporting information that they have, things they may have witnessed, things they may have seen, turning over video that has really helped us further the investigation and aid investigators.

One point I just want to clarify is Robert Crimo III, he's 21. He'll be 22 in September of this year, and he's a resident of high wood. So, throughout the past 24 hours, investigators have spoken with numerous witnesses, some of the survivors. They've had the opportunity to review numerous video clips, both from cell phone video recordings and fixed cameras in the area.

And they've conducted a number of other follow up investigations and based on where we're at, at this point in the investigation and some of this is still preliminary, so is subject to changes, we keep moving forward. But we do believe Crimo, pre-planned this attack for several weeks. He brought a high-powered rifle to this parade. He accessed the roof of a business via a fire escape ladder and began opening fire on the innocent Independence Day celebration goers.

The rifle was purchased in Illinois, and the information we have thus far is that it appears to have been purchased legally by Crimo.