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Manhunt Underway For Maine Gunman; At Least 18 Killed; IDF Claims Airstrike Killed Hamas Intelligence Official; CNN Speaks With Mother, Sister Of Missing American. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 26, 2023 - 12:30   ET



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You understand how this shooting. This really changes the approach that law enforcement has to take to him. They're always going to go into cases like this moving as quickly as they can.

But look at the terrain around here. Maine is one of the least populated states in this country. I've been up in this area. This is all an awful lot of rural area, an awful lot of wooded areas where pursuing someone is very different than it is in an urban environment.

Authorities largely are saying to people to stay locked down. But think about the distances we talked about before, 8 miles in here. They've locked down all the schools down here in Portland. They've told kids to stay home. They've closed them all. Because this is expanding by the hour.

How they will track him down in this environment? Remember, the Androscoggin River runs right through here. If he has access to a watercraft of a new type, he can come straight down and go right out through here. Many, many ways, he can move away from this.

And I will tell you this, Dana, one of the challenges for law enforcement is because they don't know where he is, the search area itself, again, by the hour gets more complicated. If he got into a different car, after he got rid of that other car that he had a short while ago, if he got into a different car than the one that they found at one location out here.

If he got into a car and started hitting at highway speeds, and just went in one direction, he could easily be well beyond Cleveland, Ohio at this point. Does that happen very often? Doesn't seem to but it certainly could. And it complicates the equation for all these authorities looking for this man who they say should be seen as armed and dangerous. And it makes you understand why so many communities far away from this are paying attention and actually should. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: He should indeed. Thank you so much for that, Tom.

Joining me now is Maine Senator Angus King, who was also the state's former governor. Thank you so much for being here. I know that you have been meeting this morning with the current governor and other officials there, including law enforcement. What can you tell us at this moment about Robert Card, this suspect, who, of course, is considered armed and dangerous?

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I don't think I can add much to the reporting that you've already had, Dana, that he is armed and dangerous. It was interesting last night on all the press reports he was referred to as a person of interest. This morning, he is referred to as a suspect. Warrants have been issued for his arrest for murder.

So that -- and you've covered all the mental health of the Army Reserve, the skill with a gun. But Dana, there's a very important context point here. And you were you were talking about it a few minutes ago. Ironically, on Monday, the FBI designated me in the safest state in the country.

And although we have a very high percentage of gun ownership in the state, one of the highest in the country, I think the last figures I saw we were the second lowest in the country. So that's why this incident is so shocking. As I say we were the second lowest in the country until last night.

And this is because Maine has a tradition of firearm ownership and use. And all of a sudden, we've got one individual out of 1.3 million --

BASH: Yes.

KING: -- who has just terrified this region.

BASH: Terrified indeed and again, Josh Campbell earlier made this point and I want to emphasize, there is no desire, have no desire, nobody does to stigmatize mental health. But the fact that this individual had sought treatment, the fact that this individual, in addition to that, we are now learning from his people who know him from the Army Reserves is a very skilled marksman. I mean, that combination is quite, quite scary.

KING: Well, you're absolutely right. And it's a question of connecting the dots. And the question -- and I'm sure there'll be a lot of review of this and a lot of analysis. Was there something missed? Was he deemed a danger to himself or someone else?

There's a tricky moment here, though, Dana, because there are a lot of people in this country that for whom owning firearms is important. And if you say -- if you go in for a mental health checkup, or if you commit yourself for some mental health treatment, that will then result and you're losing your right to bear arms --

BASH: Yes.

KING: -- then people aren't going to -- a lot of people are going to say, I'm not going in for that checkup, which is the opposite of what we want.

BASH: Yes, I understand that. KING: So this is a very challenging area. And the problem we've got here now is, Dana, that we're -- we want to move from fear to grieving, but we're still looking for this guy. And as you say, as you point out, we've got schools closed. The two colleges in the vicinity are both on lockdown. A massive manhunt is underway.

And I must say your reporter who said if this guy had a second car, he could be in Cleveland by now, that's pretty daunting. I don't suspect that's the case but it's a very, very dangerous situation.


And I love this state and I love these people I've formed for a long time. And this is just an awful dark day for us. I can tell you that.

BASH: Absolutely. I know. You're a very busy man. Appreciate you coming on. Please come back as you get more information and hopefully, this aspect is found and sees justice.

Thank you, Senator.

KING: Thank you. Thank you, Dana, and thank you for your reporting.

BASH: Thank you. And we are continuing to follow the breaking news out of Maine. Right now, police are urgently looking for a mass shooter. We are also still closely watching the war in Israel and in Gaza.

Coming up, I'm going to speak to a mother whose 19-year-old son, an American citizen was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. She's speaking out for the first time. Stay with me.



BASH: Just in to CNN, Israeli forces say an airstrike has killed one of the Hamas intelligence officials who helped plan the barbaric October 7 attack on Israel. The news of this strike comes after the IDF conducted a raid in northern Gaza. IDF spokespeople said it was targeted and intended to create better terms for ground operation.

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to rain, quote, "hellfire on Hamas". As Israel inches closer to that potential invasion, one factor on everybody's mind is the more than 200 hostages still being held by Hamas inside Gaza.

One of those hostages is Edan Alexander. Edan is 19 years old. He grew up mostly in New Jersey. He graduated from Tenafly High School in 2022, and then volunteer to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. He was taken hostage by Hamas during the terrorist attack on October 7th.

I'm joined now by Edan's mom, Yael and his sister, Mika. Thank you so much to both of you for coming. You have a picture there and we have photos of Edan. I know you haven't been out very much talking publicly about your son, but now you think it's important. Why? YAEL ALEXANDER, FAMILY MEMBERS MISSING: Yes, I think it's important. I think it's important people to understand that my son is only 19 years old. He just graduated last year from Tenafly High School. We live in Tenafly, New Jersey. His sister Mika is a senior now in the high school. And his little brother Roy, is 12, he's in the middle school in Tenafly. And we just hope to hear something like how he's been, what's going on there? Some kind of -- yes.


BASH: And you haven't heard -- have you heard anything?



BASH: In almost three weeks?

Y. ALEXANDER: We just know that he's alive and he's in Gaza, kept by Hamas.

BASH: You know that he is.

Y. ALEXANDER: They told us that he is alive. And he's over there at the Gaza. And we just hoping for him to come back home. And we need to understand that this is 20 days now without my baby with me, and I just want him to come back home.

M. ALEXANDER: Yes. And we think it's important as ever to act right now in turn, kind of our hope into action because of the -- of what we heard about the two hostages being released at first and now two more being released. So now, us and the other families of the hostages have a lot of hope that good things are going to come with our family members.

BASH: Including -- because he's American?


M. ALEXANDER: Yes. Yes, definitely.

BASH: He decided to go back to Israel. So he was born in Tel Aviv but grew up here.


BASH: In the United States, to go back to volunteer in the IDF.

Y. ALEXANDER: Yes. That was his decision when he was in senior year. He told me and my husband Adi, that this is something that he believes in. He loves Israel. He wants to do any effort that he can to help the people there to guard them, to protect them and he wants to do that.

We were surprised at first because we thought he's going to go to do like college like, all his friends, but he told us he wants to do this. And then to come back home. M. ALEXANDER: Yes.

BASH: When was the last time you spoke with him?

Y. ALEXANDER: The last time I spoke with him and text with him, it was October 7th, Saturday morning. It was around 6:34 when the alarms start in Tel Aviv. I was in Tel Aviv with my parents, with the family. I came to visit him actually, so I had like two days with him that week. And then he went back to the army.

BASH: What did he say in the text?

Y. ALEXANDER: We texted. He told me, mom, don't worry. A lot of missile here but I'm safe. And I told him, OK, let's be in touch.


After a few minutes, he called me. I was shocked a little bit because I knew he was busy, he's guarding, you know? He's over there. And he just told me, mom, a lot missile here, a lot of like --

M. ALEXANDER: Attacks.

Y. ALEXANDER: -- attack, like, the situation here is not so good. I told him, I love you. Be safe. Be brave. And I'm still here, like, let's be in touch and that's it. We finished the phone call and then I text him again and again and again. And nothing came through since then. And it was morning. It was a few minutes before 7:00 a.m.

BASH: What do you want people to know about your brother?

M. ALEXANDER: I want people to know that he's just such a happy and lively kid. He cares so much about family and his relationship with me and his -- our younger brother Roy. And he just will do anything for his friends and anything for his family. And he's just truly like my best friend. You know, I'm 17. He's only two years older than me. And I just -- I'm patiently waiting for the day that we're going to be reunited again.

Y. ALEXANDER: I'm speaking with him like every day in my heart, like the whole day, I'm speaking with him and just tell him how I -- we miss him. And we are doing everything that we can and we want him to come back. And just to tell him about all this stuff that we did and --

M. ALEXANDER: Doing -- still doing --

BASH: And so far there have been civilians who have been released. He's IDF, so he's military. But --


BASH: -- the hope is that because he's American, he'll be looked at differently.

M. ALEXANDER: Yes. Y. ALEXANDER: Yes, I really hope so. Like we had a 90-minute zoom with President Biden. And he assure us that he's doing everything that he can. And they're working behind the scene with everyone that they -- like to make it happen and they all will come back.

And, you know what? I'm thankful for this country and for all the people that are around us. They're like, I'm feeling that they really acting and trying to help and really to do something, you know?

BASH: That's --

Y. ALEXANDER: -- for all of us. And I'm feeling the love and I'm feeling --

BASH: That's amazing.

Y. ALEXANDER: -- all the prayers and that's why I'm full of hope that he will come back to us. And he will come back home.

BASH: It's amazing that you have hope and --


BASH: -- you know, we all must have hope. I'm a mom of a boy, listening to your description is is hard to imagine. But you have that photo there. We have the photos up and we will continue to show the world --

Y. ALEXANDER: Thank you.

BASH: -- your baby boy who is being held captive. Thank you both for coming in.

Y. ALEXANDER: Thank you so much for having us.

M. ALEXANDER: Thank you so much.

BASH: We'll be right back.



BASH: Back to our breaking news in Maine, police are still searching for 40-year-old Robert Card, the suspect in last night's mass shootings that left 18 people dead. Just now, Card's brother called for him to surrender and he tells CNN his family is helping law enforcement track him down, as the urgent manhunt intensifies, so does fear and anxiety of people across that community.

I'm joined now by Melinda Small, she owns Legends Sports Bar and Grill which is just a few yards away from one of the scenes of last night mass shooting. Thank you so much for being with me. Your bar and grill, Legends, as I said is very close to the bowling alley.

Seven people were murdered there last night, seven of the 18. Can you tell us what you, your staff, I know your husband was there, experienced as that rampage was going on so close to the place where you work?

MELINDA SMALL, OWNER, LEGENDS SPORTS BAR AND GRILL: Yes, within seconds of the shooter arriving at the bowling alley, one of our guests received a call that indicated that they had a family member inside the building. So we were quickly alerted to the shooting.

I feel very blessed to be alerted so quickly because I do believe, within two minutes of the first shots, we were on lockdown. My team responded very, very quickly and got the doors locked. And we advised everybody to get away from any windows and started telling individuals what was going on.

Everything happened very, very quickly, obviously. And then the police were there in securing the doorways --

BASH: Yes.

SMALL: -- the glass doorways to the patio to make sure nobody was able to get in and we had a police officer come in and tell us that we need to evacuate immediately. And they escorted four people at a time. And once the four people were out into safety and other four went until the building was vacant.

BASH: That's so terrifying. And at this point, all of your friends and family are safe and accounted for?

SMALL: Correct.


BASH: How are your neighbors coping with this? How are you coping with this? I mean, you're sheltering in place as we're speaking.

SMALL: I think I'm in a bit of a shock, to be honest. It's something that we know happens, but we don't think it's going to happen to us. And Lewiston is a fairly small city. And to think that this is in our own backyard is just -- it's just very hard to comprehend.

BASH: Hard to comprehend for so many reasons. But one of the reasons is because the crime rate is so low where you are and in the state, largely.

Melinda, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We're so glad that you're safe and and that law enforcement did handle things so well in your establishment.

SMALL: Yes, I'm very, very blessed that everything went the way it did for us, but for so many, it has not gone so well.

BASH: Yes, no, it sure didn't. Thank you again.

And thank you --

SMALL: Thank you. BASH: Thank you. And thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after a quick break.