Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Police: Relative Says Victims Threatened To "Kill Everyone" In 2019; Police Release Photo Of Suspect Dressed As Woman To Aid Escape; New Subpoenas In GA Election Probe Reach Into Trump's Inner Circle; Kinzinger Posts Audio Of Multiple Violent Threats To Him & His Family; Autopsy Report: Walker Was Handcuffed When Body Arrived At Coroner; Brittney Griner Writes Letter To Biden Pleading For Help; Ukrainian Paramedic Hailed A Hero After Surviving Russian Captivity. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 05, 2022 - 17:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They range in age from 34 to 88. Dozens more, of course, were injured in that shooting at the July 4 parade in Highland Park.

Police at a press briefing that just wrapped announced there were two previous interactions with the parade shooting suspect. One of those in September 2019 was when a family member of the suspect called police to say that the suspect had said he was going to kill everyone, specifically he was talking about his family in the house and that he had a collection of knives. Police responded, say they removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from his home and took those weapons. They said they did not have cause to arrest because no one signed a complaint. We'll get you the very latest as we continue our coverage.

I'm Erica Hill, in for Jake Tapper. Wolf Blitzer picks things up now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the death toll rises to seven in the Highland Park, Illinois mass shooting. This, as police revealed that knives and a sword were removed from the suspect's home in 2019 after a relative said he threatened to, quote, "kill everyone." Authorities also releasing a photo of the suspect dressed as a woman on the day of the shooting. They say he was trying to aid his escape by hiding his identity and trying to blend into the crowd.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. New information just moments ago released about the suspect of the shooting attack on the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Tonight, a seventh victim has died. And we're learning more about the accused gunman planning for the deadly attack. CNN Security Correspondent Josh Campbell is on the scene for us in Highland Park. So update our viewers, Josh. What are you learning?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, after each one of these tragedies, one key question is whether it could have been prevented, whether a suspect had had potential contact with law enforcement that may have prevented what actually transpired. Now what we're learning just -- we learned a moment ago from authorities holding a press conference is that the suspect in this deadly July 4 shooting did indeed have previous contact with law enforcement. They described an incident back in April of 2019. They said that an individual contacted police saying that the suspect had attempted suicide.

Now this report, according to authorities was delayed a week. Authorities did respond. They spoke with the suspect, they spoke with the parents and ultimately deemed that this was a mental health issue. It was handled by mental health professionals.

We're also told that there was another incident in September 2019 where police were called to the shooter's house. A family member had reported that the shooter said he wanted to, quote, "kill everyone." Now what was concerning at that point is that police say the suspect had a collection of knives, daggers, a sword. Those were confiscated by authorities.

Now I asked police as we were pressing them in that press conference whether this -- there was anything else that could have been done. The police said that they did everything that they could under law, under the circumstances that the suspect could not have been involuntarily committed based on those pieces of information. They did report it to the state police. The State Police told us that the suspect didn't have firearm identification cards, so there was no indication that he was potentially armed with anything other than those daggers that they ended up confiscating.

But again, a lot of questions there, particularly about these parents, you know, the suspect had five firearms. Questions there about how he was able to obtain those without police possibly being alerted.

And finally, Wolf, we're also learning new information about what was happening during the shooting. And the suspect's ability to conceal himself, we'll show you this photograph that we got, this is from surveillance photo that shows you the suspect dressed up in, what appears to be women's clothing. Authority say that they believe that's the case because he was trying to conceal himself.

Now our colleague, Eric Levenson, spoke with some community members here who said that the suspect had a tattoo. He was known as the tattoo guy. So, that's why police believed that he was trying to dress himself up as a woman in order to try to conceal himself in that crowd and ultimately wait -- make his way of escape.

A lot of new pieces of information there, Wolf. It's -- these items are some of many that police are looking at as they're trying to obtain a motive in this deadly shooting.


CAMPBELL (voice-over): The deadly July 4th attack near Chicago was planned several weeks in advance according to law enforcement.

DEPUTY CHIEF CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: 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.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Officials believe more than 70 rounds were fired from a rooftop in Highland Park as parade goers fled for their lives.

Police say the gunman was dressed as a woman during the attack and they believe he acted alone.

COVELLI: Investigators do believe he did this to conceal his facial tattoos and his identity and help him during the escape with the other people who were fleeing the chaos.


CAMPBELL (voice-over): Seven people died and at least 30 others were injured according to officials. One witness described the carnage as she ran for cover and hid with other parade goers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw a girl shot and killed. Saw her die.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): After the shooting, police say the 21 year old suspect fled the scene and headed to his mother's home.

COVELLI: Crimo exited the roof. He dropped his rifle and he blended in with the crowd and he escaped. He walked to his mother's home who lived in the area and he blended right in with everybody else as they were running around almost as he was an innocent spectator as well.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): According to law enforcement, he then took his mother's car, a 911 call or noticed it and alerted police. After about an eight hour manhunt, he was taken into custody during a traffic stop Monday night. When he was arrested another rifle was found inside the vehicle.

Police are now investigating the alleged shooter social media and streaming posts under a pseudonym that show violent cartoon images depicting a young man aiming a rifle and engaging in a shootout with police.

COVELLI: In September of 2019, a family member reported that primo said he was going to kill everyone, and Crimo had a collection of knives. The Highland Park Police Department, however, did immediately notify the Illinois State Police of the incident.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): His uncle who lived at the same address with him and his father said he saw no evidence of the violence to come.

PAUL CRIMO, SUSPECT'S UNCLE: There's been no warning signs as I saw. I see no -- nothing that will trigger him for doing this.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The FBI is now combing the parade route for evidence in the shooting. And police say they are now looking online for a possible motive, including the suspect's post featuring ominous lyrics like one he narrates saying, "I need to just do it, it is my destiny."


CAMPBELL: Now, Wolf, one major question is how prosecutors will be approaching this case. We're told the police have called a press conference in one hour's time where we expect to hear what charges will be brought in this deadly shooting. Wolf.

BLITZER: And of course we'll stand by for live coverage of that. Josh Campbell, stand by, I also want to bring in CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia and D.C. Police Commissioner. Also along joining us, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, the former FBI Supervisory Special Agent Peter Licata.

Chief Ramsey, what's your analysis of these two prior contacts the police had with Crimo, with the suspect? They had previously said he wasn't on their radar, but now we just been told only a few moments ago that they did have these two interactions with him, including seizing lots of knives, daggers from his home, and this threat, a family member suggesting that in September 2019 he was threatening to, quote, "kill everyone."

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I guess in the spring of 2019, they got a call that he was suicidal. And that was a week after he apparently attempted to commit suicide. That's handled differently. That's a mental health issue and it was turned over and handled by mental health professionals.

The second one where he was threatening allegedly to kill family members and he did have access to knives, police responded, they confiscated the knives, but apparently family member didn't want to prosecute. So they didn't have any probable cause to actually arrest him at that point in time. Now, they did apparently notify the state. But my understanding is he had no firearm owner's ID card at the time, which is required in Illinois, FOID card, and there were no firearms involved.

So again, this is 2019. You know, you look back on these things years later and a lot of questions, obviously, can come up, you know, what if this and what if that. But the reality is, in my opinion, from what I've just heard, police handle things properly.

BLITZER: Well, let me get Peter Licata to weigh in because police also say the suspect, and we have a picture, disguised himself with a women's clothing and that he had an escape plan. So what are these new details just released a few moments ago tell us about the level of preparation that went into this brutal attack?

PETER LICATA, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It is not just another random act of violence of a disturbed individual. It is just somebody that planned this attack deliberately. It would be my assessment that as a custodial interview continues and more information develops that he actually practice that route. He probably climb that fire escape at least one time. This was just not a random fire escape to get onto that roof of that retail store and pick out aiming points.

Moreover, all this information starts to feed to this second part of this investigation, which is building the prosecution's case. So they can use this information to level the charges against Crimo for their prosecuted math (ph).


BLITZER: Chief Ramsey, I thought it was interesting the authorities, the local authorities at this briefing that they just had a few moments ago, they said the suspect is speaking with them but they still don't know the motive. So how are they going to try to figure out why he carried out this attack?

RAMSEY: Well, they're going to continue to talk to him. They're going to continue to comb through social media. They're going to continue to go through whatever evidence they may have recovered when they executed search warrants in his home, I'm sure his vehicle. They'll try to piece this together. But the good news is he's at least talking. And as he's talking, they may be able to begin to develop a motive.

But right now, I think they have enough to be able to charge. And I think you're going to hear that pretty soon -- that charges against him for murder.

BLITZER: Yes. They did say they would have had some sort of announcement coming up fairly soon. And as I said, we'll have a coverage of that as soon as it happens.

Peter Licata, the suspect did post, and if you've seen him, some pretty violent images, lyrics, cartoons Online. What does that tell you, if anything, about his state of mind or a potential motive?

LICATA: It follows the pattern not only of him but of what we've seen here in the past. It's just it goes to Salvador Ramos, Uvalde, posted something similar about his plot on social media. Peyton Gendron of the Buffalo pops -- Tops supermarket also posted something online about going ahead and trying to kill that security guard at the Tops market, he posted that back in March, a few months before the incident happened. Arcing back all the way to Columbine, where your two subjects, Harris and Klebold, plan their operation for almost a year, working at a fireworks distributor for not compensation of money but for fireworks, for devices that they would use in their attack.

All this goes to the pre planning and all these individuals and the consistency that all these individuals have used. And what needs to happen is the human factor needs to step in. People that see these posts need to report it. This is not big brother, this is to prevent a potential random act of violence, a major act of violence that could be prevented by either calling law enforcement, confronting the individual and talking to them or having them or calling a healthcare professional in order to report this to see what their motive is and to see how far they're going to take this.

BLITZER: Josh, as we all heard, police say the suspect purchased the weapons, the guns legally. So how difficult is it for police to stop this kind of attack when the perpetrator is determined?

CAMPBELL: Well, that is a challenge. And particularly with this type of weapon, this AR-15 style rifle that we've seen, Wolf, used in so many of these mass shootings under certain gun laws, they are available, they're actually easy to obtain. And so the question is, the larger gun debate that we've seen is, well, whether people in the situation or similar to this shooter with his background, should be able to obtain that kind of weapon? Whether, you know, when he went to purchase those weapons, when he did so legally, if there was a robust background program in place, could that have picked up on some of the prior issues, the suicidal issue, the threatening to kill members of his family issue that may have precluded him from getting that weapon? That is a key point here.

But obviously questions now as well for members of the family, which we are waiting to hear from them. Obviously, they did the right thing and calling police whenever they had an issue with his having knives and threatening his members of his family. But did they see him collecting these weapons over the period of a year, police say. And if so, someone who was in this type of mental distress or, you know, this situation, should that have been a red flag itself to them to acquire all of these types of weapons? A lot of questions for the family, but also this gets this larger issue of the gun debate that we've talked about, would a background check situation spread across the country have picked up on some of these prior incidents?

BLITZER: Josh Campbell, Charles Ramsey, Peter Licata, guys, thank you very much. Don't go too far away. The breaking news continues.

Next, police revealing tonight the suspect in this Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois had previously threatened to, quote, "kill everyone." We'll talk to a local official about that when we come back.



BLITZER: Moments ago authorities at Highland Park Illinois revealed new details about the suspect in the Fourth of July parade shooting including that knives and a sword had previously been removed from his home. CNN Senior National Correspondent Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us with more on the victims, all of whom have just been identified. So what can you tell us, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, six out of the seven victims as you mentioned, Wolf, have been identified by the coroner here in Lake County. They range in age from 35 to 88. All of these people had gone to a parade on the Fourth of July to experience a good time, a holiday and it ended in total tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) LAVANDERA (voice-over): Nicholas Toled's family says they're broken and numb. The 78-year-old grandfather attended the Highland Park Fourth of July parade with his family. It was supposed to be a day of fun, instead, it ended as a horrific nightmare.

Investigators say the gunman fired more than 70 rounds from a rooftop into the crowd lining the parade route. Jacki Sundheim was struck and killed by the gunfire. North Shore Congregation Israel says Sundheim had worked as a preschool teacher and events coordinator at the synagogue. In all, the gunman killed seven people with a high powered rifle, one authority say was similar to an AR-15 but declining to provide other details about it. At least 39 people at the parade suffered injuries.

DR. DAVID BAUM, TREATED SHOOTING VICTIMS AT JULY 4TH PARADE: The people who were gone were blown out by that gunfire

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Dr. David Baum helped treat some of those victims in the aftermath of the shooting as police say the gunman was blending into the crowd and escaping the mayhem.

BAUM: That horrific scene of some of the bodies is unspeakable for the average person. I mean having been a physician I've seen things in ERs and, you know, you do see lots of blood, but the bodies were literally -- some of the bodies were -- there was an evisceration injury from the power of this gun and the bullets.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Dr. Wendy Binstock Rush was a parade spectator. She saw a man with injuries and tried to save him.

DR. WENDY BINSTOCK RUSH, TREATED SHOOTING VICTIMS AT JULY 4TH PARADE: People were holding pressure on abdominal wound that he was profusely bleeding from. The paramedics had put an Ambu bag which is, you know, mask attached to a bag which I could then breathe for the patient, but unfortunately, he had lost way too much blood and his injuries were too severe and we did perish at the hospital.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): During the barrage of gunfire, Barbara Medina was marching in the parade. She ran away from the scene with her seven-year-old daughter. In the stampede of people running, she tripped and fell. She knew instantly her arm was broken.

BARBARA MEDINA, INJURED IN JULY 4TH PARADE: I thought it was gunshots, but I didn't want to believe it. And then, it almost -- I was trying to convince myself, no, it's got to be like a drum roll from the band up ahead of us. It's -- it was just like a ppprrr kind of noise. And then all of a sudden, everybody started running from Central Street, coming around the corner to where we were. And that's when I realized, you know, we had to run and get out of there.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): And Wolf, we're here at one of the hospitals that has been treating -- that have been treating the patients that have come in. We were told that in, at least, three different hospitals were about 39 different patients. Nine of those, we are told, are still hospitalized, eight of those suffered gunshot wounds, and that one of those people is a 69-year-old who is in critical condition tonight. Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope for the best. Ed Lavandera, on the scene for us. Ed, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Lake County, Illinois Board Member Paul Frank, whose district covers much of Highland Park where this horrific July 4th parade attack occurred.

Thanks so much, Paul, for joining us. What's your reaction, first of all, to the news just released that the suspect had not one but two, two prior contexts with police, with law enforcement, including an incident that led to knives and a sword being seized from his home?

PAUL FRANK, LAKE COUNTY BOARD MEMBER, ILLINOIS: Of course, angry, sad, disappointed. I think we're all as a community, still in shock. I think it's fair to say that everyone is in mourning, but I know that our community is going to come together and we're going to support each other. This is a generous, caring community. We care for each other, we care for other people around the world when people are in need.

But the other emotion that I want to express, especially based on the facts revealed today, Wolf, is anger. A lot of people in our community are angry. I'm angry, that this is a completely predictable event, that these weapons of mass murder are so readily available.

None of us should be surprised that people with ill intent would use them to kill a lot of people. That's what they're made for. It's sad, it's horrific, and I'm angry.

BLITZER: Yes. Police say these two weapons that this suspect had were purchased legally. It's hard to believe, but that's what the police are now saying.

You and your family were at the parade yesterday when the shooting started. Tell us what that was like and how everyone is doing today.

FRANK: Yes, thank you, Wolf. My immediate family and friends that were with me lining up getting ready to march in the parade, we all got home safely. Where your crew is here on Central Avenue is where the parade march, is basically turns from St. John's to go right down Central Avenue. My wife and her friend were just feet from where I'm standing right now hiding behind our war memorial sheltering after they ran away from the gunfire.

What I saw from my staging area with the other elected officials in the parade, was a rush of people terrified, running and screaming. There was no information. But we knew something terrible was happening.

BLITZER: Highland Park is such a wonderful, wonderful place. I've been there so many times over the years visiting family and friends. What's your message to your community, Paul, tonight?

FRANK: I know deep down that this is a strong, caring community. And I know that we're all going to support each other and come together and we're going to mourn together but we're also going to feel this for a long time. And I hope sincerely that there are not more towns in the future. I hope that this country can move in a better direction and start to recognize that these weapons of mass murder are directly causing these mass fatalities. There's an issue here that we're not facing it and it's not OK.


BLITZER: Good point. Paul Frank, thank you so much for joining us. Please pass along our love to your family, to the entire community.

FRANK: Thank you.

BLITZER: And we will have much more on the July 4 parade shooting Highland Park, that's coming up. We're staying on top of the breaking news.

But we're also watching other major stories right now including this, new subpoenas in the Georgia election probe reach into former President Trump's inner circle, including Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. We'll have details. Standby.



BLITZER: This is just in to CNN, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has just announced a seventh hearing will be held next Tuesday, July 12.

Meanwhile, new subpoenas have been issued in Georgia's probe of former President Trump's efforts to overturn the state's presidential election results. They target Trump allies, including Rudy Giuliani, Lawyer John Eastman, and Senator Lindsey Graham, among others.

Let's discuss this and more with Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. How much of a legal threat to these new subpoenas just released, represent as far as the overall Georgia investigation is concerned? And do they pose a real threat to former President Trump?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Well, I think so, Wolf. I mean, I've always thought that the Georgia example is probably the area in which former President Trump is in most legal jeopardy, you know, that the facts are really not in dispute. You know, we all heard the phone call where he told the responsible election official to go out and find 11,780 votes, right? And then he gave him an alibi, he could say, he said, you know, you could just say that you recalculated.

And then there was a threat, you know. And so to me, you know, I obviously, saw up close and personal what happened in D.C. on January 6th. But to me, you know, if a powerful person can call a responsible election official and say, I need you to do this for me, I mean, that, to me, just feels like it has to be a crime. And, of course, you know, the seven subpoenas that were issued, where people who can get at, you know, exactly what the President intended. And so I think this gets pretty serious.

BLITZER: I looked at the list. Are you surprised to see Senator Lindsey Graham on this list of new subpoenas in Georgia?

HIMES: Well, I guess I was. I mean, we remember Senator Lindsey Graham sort of, you know, complete surrender to Donald Trump, talking about carrying water. So, you know, the notion that he might have been involved in conversations about how Donald Trump might have remained the president is not beyond the realm of the possible.

It's hard to know, Wolf, obviously. You know, subpoenas and grand juries, and investigations happen in behind closed doors and very quietly for very good reasons. And I should say, having said that, it's plausible that, you know, maybe Senator Graham knew something just because somebody is subpoenaed does not mean that does not impute any sort of sense of guilt. The question is, did Lindsey Graham know something that would be important to the Georgia investigators?

BLITZER: Yes, and we've gone ahead and subpoenaed him. Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who is a key member, as you know, of the January 6th Select Committee just released a very detailed compilation of threatening voicemails. He received at his congressional office here in Washington. I want you and our viewers to listen to part of it. Listen to this.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I guess I can't say a whole lot more other than I hope you naturally die as quickly -- possible you -- piece of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You backstabbing son of a -- You go against Trump you all know you all -- are sitting up there lying. Like a -- dog.

KINZINGER: Hey you little -- Going to come protest in front of your house this weekend. We know where your family is and we're going to get you, you little --


BLITZER: So what's your reaction, Congressman, when you hear that kind of awful threatening phone call voicemails?

HIMES: Well, I guess I have two reactions as a member of Congress, obviously, not as high profile as Adam Kinzinger. But number one, you know, Adam stood for the truth. He's one of the few Republicans who is stood for the truth. And the truth, by the way, is not in dispute anymore. You know, what is Adam's committee done? What is the January 6th committee done? Is put Republican after Republican after Republican. Trump, Republican, Trump's family, Trump's people on the stand to tell the story. So there's just no way you can call that fake news. So, you know, just -- it -- what worries me here, Wolf, is the state of our politics. When the facts are so clear. And yet a good percentage of the American population just decides not to believe them. And some small percentage of that group decides they're going to call up a member of Congress and threatened his life. That is how our politics ends, Wolf.

This is how our democracy ends. And that kind of language, by the way, and this is where it becomes sort of personal for me. You know, here I am talking on CNN, you know, we are a heavily armed populace with a small percentage of people who think in very violent ways. Somebody is going to get hurt, somebody's going to get killed and Americans need to step back and think about their obligations as citizens in the greatest democracy ever.

And the kind of garbage that is getting left on Adam Kinzinger's voicemail is a complete betrayal of generations of people who have fought for the civility and the understanding and the fellow feeling which without which our democracy is over.

BLITZER: And Adam Kinzinger as you and I know, is a patriot served in the U.S. military, still serves in the U.S. military reserves, served in Iraq and Afghanistan.


And to get those kinds of horrible, horrible threatening calls not only threatening him but his family as well is disgusting. Congressman Jim Himes, thanks so much for joining us.

HIMES: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll have much more on the July 4th parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois. That's coming up. Also, another important story we're following, body cam footage of that fatal shooting of Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio, raising new questions about police training and tactics. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: New developments tonight in the fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker who suffered more than 60 gunshot wounds. CNN's Paolo Sandoval is in Akron, Ohio for us tonight.



POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Authorities in the city of Akron released about 18 minutes of body camera videos, each minute offering a different perspective showing eight responding officers before they opened fire shooting and killing Jayland Walker. After the release of the footage, Akron's Police Chief said those officers will have to be accountable for each one of the shots they fired. CHIEF STEPHEN MYLETT, AKRON POLICE: They needed to be able to articulate what specific threats they were facing. And that goes for every round that goes down the barrel of their gun and they need to be held to account.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Investigators over the weekend shared more about the possible perceived threat the officers face during the pursuit, including a single gunshot that allegedly came from inside Walker's car while police were chasing his vehicle. They say this muzzle flash image captured by state traffic cameras as evidence and investigators later recovered a shell casing at that scene.

It was shortly after the car chase turned foot chase that you can see in this video, those eight officers opened fire with a barrage of bullets. Officers described Walker reaching for his waistband right before they shot him, according to the police chief. Walker was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

The Akron police union released a statement saying, "The decision to deploy lethal force as well as the number of shots fired is consistent with use of force protocols and officers' training." The medical examiner's preliminary report viewed by CNN shows Walker's body covered with bullet wounds. Akron's police chief estimates there could be more than 60.

After the release of body camera footage nearly a week after the shooting, tensions flared sparking protests. Demonstrators peacefully marched to the Akron mayor's doorstep on Monday, echoing the Walker's family call for accountability.

ROBERT DEJOURNETT, WALKER FAMILY COUSIN: What I didn't see is, you know, him get out of the car and start running and people firing on him. And does it take that much.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Pastor Robert DeJournett, a cousin of the Walker family says they want to get justice for Jayland in a peaceful and a dignified way.

DEJOURNETT: We don't want any rioting or anything like that. We want to -- we want answers. We are angry. We have the human side of us. We feel that -- the pain. And, you know, personally, I want to scream out and be mad but what is that going to do? We want to take that anger. We want to use it for the benefit of systemic change.


SANDOVAL: It will ultimately be up to the Ohio State Attorney General who will take all of the evidence has been gathered by state investigators and present that to a grand jury and they would decide if potentially charges will be filed in this case possibly months from now. But, Wolf, they will consider a mountain of very disturbing evidence not just the video that we just played, but also the file from the medical examiner.

In fact, in response to a request for information, the medical examiner's office provided me with an opportunity today to review the preliminary autopsy filed and it does show Walker's body with many, many bullet wounds. His hands restrained behind his back with handcuffs when he was taken to the medical examiner's office.

I have tried for several days to reach out to officials here at Akron police headquarters for an explanation to see if it potentially adheres with their department policy. And at this hour, we are still waiting to hear back.

BLITZER: When you hear something, let us know. Polo Sandoval in Akron, Ohio for us on the story. Thank you very, very much.

We're going to also follow up on the breaking news in the July 4th parade shooting. That's coming up next. And a major blow to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as two, two top ministers now resigned. Is this a tipping point for his leadership?



BLITZER: Tonight the White House says President Biden is prioritizing bringing in prison WNBA star Brittney Griner back to the United States. And he has read the handwritten notes sent to him by Griner. She recently wrote to the President pleading, pleading with him to remember her and other American detainees in Russia.

CNN's Kylie Atwood is following all of these developments over the State Department. Kylie, tell us more about this letter, first of all, and the efforts to try to bring Brittney Griner back home.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Quite a desperate and personal letter from Brittney Griner to President Biden on July 4th. She made a personal plea to him saying that she believes in him, talking about the fact that she hadn't voted in the past but she did vote for him in 2020. And she also discussed how much it hurts for her right now to think about July 4th, and how she has historically celebrated American freedoms on July 4th, American veterans on July 4th, but of course, it is much, much different for her right now because she is detained in Russia.

She has been there since about the middle of February. And she made this plea to President Biden to try to do everything that he can to bring her home. I want to read to you from that letter saying, "As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I'm terrified I might be here forever. I miss my wife. I miss my family. I miss my teammates. It kills me to know that they are suffering so much right now. I'm grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home."

Now, we do know as you were saying, the White House said that President Biden did had read this letter from Brittney Griner. But what we don't know is if he plans to write back to her or if he plans to have any conversations with family members.

[17:50:10] Brittney Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner spoke with our own Abby Phillip last week and she was critical of the Biden administration saying that their rhetoric doesn't match their actions when it comes to their efforts to bring Griner home. Now, the National Security Council and the State Department are both saying that President Biden and the Secretary of State are keenly focused on bringing home all Americans, that they are working aggressively to do that, with all means available to them.

But, of course, there remain questions about what could be the thing to bring Brittney Griner home. She had a trial last week. She has another trial in Russia this week. We'll be watching that incredibly closely. Wolf?

BLITZER: Let's hope she comes home soon. Kylie Atwood over at the State Department, thank you.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, a Ukrainian paramedic is speaking out for the first time about her harrowing experience from being a recent prisoner of war. She was captured by Russians during the battle for Mariupol and was released at a prisoner exchange. CNN's Alex Marquardt has this exclusive report.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In this Russian propaganda film, Yuliia Paevska is marched, hooded and handcuffed into a dark interrogation room. The hood yanked off harsh light blinding her.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Paevska, who is Ukrainian, goes by the nickname Taira, and is a famous medic known across Ukraine. Until very recently, she was a prisoner of war, held by Russian and pro-Russian forces made to appear in the propaganda film which accuses her of harvesting organs and compares her to Hitler. After three months in captivity, Taira, who we met today with her husband was freed in a prisoner exchange. But in her first sit down interview since then, it's clear the wounds are still fresh.

PAEVSKA (through translation): There was physical abuse and psychological pressure. The extreme psychological pressure did not stop for a minute all these three months. Constantly you are told that you are a fascist, a Nazi.

MARQUARDT (on-camera): It sounds like torture.

PAEVSKA: It was and physical also.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Taira says she was deprived of food for days, beaten and threatened with a death penalty.

PAEVSKA (through translation): They kept interrogating, but at some point they realized that they would not get anything out of me. They threw me into solitary confinement into a dungeon without a mattress, on a metal bunk.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): When the war started in February, she headed to the brutal fight in Mariupol, capturing dramatic video on a body camera she wore. In March, as the Russians closed in, the memory card was smuggled out by journalists in a tampon. Then at a checkpoint, Taira was recognized and take in prisoner.

PAEVSKA (through translation): I asked to be allowed to make a call, call my husband. They said you watched too many American films. There will be no call.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): She says she was told lies about Russian battlefield successes and used against her will as a character for Russian media to claim that their forces are fighting Neo Nazis.

PAEVSKA (through translation): They are absolute victims of propaganda, of a ruthless propaganda that completely destroys their ability to think critically. If it were not for this, this conflict would not exist at all, I am absolutely sure of it.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): It may be some time before Taira returns to the front lines. She also wants to train for next year's Invictus Games for wounded veterans as the reality sets in that this will be a long war.

PAEVSKA (through translation): This is an absolutely ruthless regime that wants to dominate the world. They told me that the whole world only had to submit to Greater Russia and "this is your destiny. You have to accept, just stop resisting."


MARQUARDT: And Wolf, that message there just stop resisting from those Russian troops to Taira away to try to demoralize her as well as the Ukrainians. Of course, the Ukrainians have been mounting a very significant resistance. They have had some successes. They have had some defeats including the recent defeat, essentially of the Luhansk region in the eastern Donbas.

They are now focus, the Russians, on taking the rest of the Donbas and that includes the Donetsk region. That is where we will also see the Ukrainians putting up some fierce resistance and where we expect the Russians to launch their next major offensive.


Wolf, it is also in the Donetsk region, in the Russian-backed controlled area that Taira was held for those three months, cut off from the world, cut off from her family, unable to contact her husband, unable to contact her daughter, unaware of what was going on in the war, and held in those horrific conditions. Held in a prison, in a cell that she compared herself to a Gulag.

BLITZER: She's a courageous woman. Alex Marquardt in Ukraine for us. Stay safe. We'll be in touch. Thank you very much. Up next, we're getting new details right now about the man suspected of firing on a July 4th parade, killing seven people in Highland Park, Illinois, including an alleged previous threat to, quote, kill everyone.


BLITZER: Happening now, Highland Park police now reveal they did have cast contact with a mass shooting suspect removing weapons from his home back in 2019 after a relative said he threatened to, quote, kill everyone.