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AstraZeneca Trial Data May Be Incomplete; Live Coverage of Boulder Press Conference; Local Politicians and Investigators Express Condolences and Commit to Justice. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 23, 2021 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[10:30:35]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: OK, we're waiting for this press conference to begin in Boulder, Colorado.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be on time. I'm going to give you --

HARLOW: OK, they just said it's going to be on time, so that means in just a minute or two, you're going to hear from the authorities in Boulder: the police officers there, the police chief, she and her entire team will speak to us.

Remember, we don't know the names of nine of the people killed in this mass shooting. We only know the name of one. That is Officer Eric Talley, who bravely ran into this massacre. He is survived by his spouse and seven children. But who are the other victims? We may get their names.

Also, what was the motive of the shooter? All we know is that an AR- style rifle was used, but what drove the shooter there? Remember, the shooter has been apprehended, so there will be a trial. So what they can share may be limited. But again, this is about to begin in any -- at any moment.

OK, we'll bring it to you as soon as it starts.

Meantime, AstraZeneca this morning, the drug maker, standing by the results of its clinical trial after U.S. health officials, an independent board yesterday expressed some concern. Why are they concerned? Well, they said they fear that some of the data included in those trial results may have been outdated, may have been incomplete, in their words.

Dr. Anthony Fauci this morning said the inaccuracy in the press release from AstraZeneca may have let to what he's noting, may be completely baseless worries about the vaccine. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It really is unfortunate that this happened. You know, this is really what you call an unforced error, because the fact is this is very likely a very good vaccine, and this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy. It was not necessary. If you look at it, the data really are quite good. But when they put it into the press release, it wasn't completely accurate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That's really important. What he's saying is the data are strong from the AstraZeneca vaccine, but something may have gotten jumbled in the wording of it in the press release. So the difference between those matters a lot. AstraZeneca says it will release new efficacy data within 48 hours.

I'm joined by Dr. Uche Blackstock, emergency medicine physician and contributor for "Yahoo Medical News." It's good to have you. This is worrisome because it doesn't mean that this vaccine doesn't work and isn't safe. And remember, it's being used right now all around the world, especially across Europe. What do people need to know about the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine this morning?

UCHE BLACKSTOCK, CEO AND FOUNDER, ADVANCING HEALTH EQUITY: Right, thanks so much for having me back, Poppy. I would say AstraZeneca has had so many bumps in the road on their rollout over the last year, and this most recent communications issue is just another bump, and very unfortunate.

You know, the data that we have thus far shows that the vaccine is efficacious at preventing hospitalization and death, and even against severe disease. And what it looks like is the press release put out from AstraZeneca only had data up until February 17th, that was the cutoff. And there was additional data after that time that also needs to be included in the analysis.

And so we have these independent monitoring boards, the DSMB, that asked AstraZeneca, said, we need your updated data so that we can revise this analysis and get that information out to the public, and that's what's being done.

HARLOW: OK. What I worry about is what does this do in terms of the minds of anyone who is already vaccine-hesitant or vaccine-resistant in this country. To be clear, AstraZeneca's vaccine has not been given the green light from the FDA yet but it might be, and if it is given that, it could really help speed along the vaccination process for all Americans.

Again, what would you say to anyone looking at these numbers and now scratching their head?

BLACKSTOCK: So absolutely, I understand those concerns as a physician, as a parent, as someone who's been vaccinated. But I think also it's important to realize that you know, the FDA will review this data with a fine-tooth comb, the DSMB will review all of the data in its entirety as well, for weeks, page by page.

[10:35:03] And so we have, in this country, one of the most stringent processes for regulating therapeutics and vaccinations. And so I want to reassure the American people that our regulatory agencies function really at, you know, the top tier across the world, and this should reassure people.

HARLOW: OK. Doctor if I have -- all right, I'm sorry to leave it there, we need to get to Boulder, Colorado. This is the press conference with the authorities, the investigators, the police about the mass shooting last night. Let's listen.

MARIS HEROLD, CHIEF, BOULDER POLICE: -- at the King Soopers at 3600 Table Mesa Drive. The Boulder County Coroner's Office worked overnight to identify all of the victims and notify the next of kin, which I'm extremely grateful for.

The last victim was removed from the scene at 1:30 a.m. today. By 2:02 a.m., all the victims had been identified. By 3:59 a.m., the families of the victims had been notified.

I'm going to read the names of the deceased. Denny Strong, 20 years old. Neven Stanisic, 23. Rikki Olds, 25. Tralona Bartkowiak, 49. Suzanne Fountain, 59. Teri Leiker, 51. Officer Eric Talley, 51. Kevin Mahoney, 61. Lynn Murray, 62. Jody Waters, 65.

Our hearts go out to all the victims killed during this senseless act of violence. We are committed with state, local and federal authorities for a thorough investigation, and we'll bring justice to each of these families.

Regarding the suspect, at approximately 2:40 p.m. on Monday, March 22nd, officers were dispatched to King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive. Officers arrived on the scene within minutes, and immediately entered the store and engaged the suspect. There was exchange of gunfire, in (ph) which the (ph) suspect (ph) was shot. No other officers were injured.

The suspect was taken into custody at 3:28 p.m. He was transported to the hospital for treatment, now in stable condition. This suspect has been identified as Ahmad Alissa, 21, of Arvada. He has been charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree, and will be shortly transported to the Boulder County Jail.

Press release with his identifying information, the victims' information will be forthcoming.

I appreciate you being here. And I want to say to the community, I am so sorry this incident happened and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure this suspect has a thorough trial and we do a thorough investigation. And with this, I'm going to turn this over to Governor Polis.

Sir?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Thank you, Chief, for your extraordinary work over the last day and a half, and there's going to be a lot more ahead. And of course I'm standing here not just as governor but as someone who has called this community my home for most of my life, and who's shopped at that King Soopers in Table Mesa many times across my life.

And you know, my heart aches today, and I think all of ours does, as Coloradans, as Americans, for this senseless tragedy, loss of life as we hear those names. Everybody -- and Boulder County is a small community, we're all looking over the list, do we know anybody. I'm sure that we know people that know people, people of all ages.

People who started their day with a cup of coffee and reading the morning paper, or perhaps getting their kids ready and putting on a winter coat to go out. Maybe they were making last-minute spring break plans. But none of them expected that this would be their last day here on the planet.

Simple run for milk and eggs, you know, getting ready to shop, going in in the regular way we all lead our lives, something that we can all identify with, led to a complete tragedy here today.

And our hearts ache for those who lost their lives, for their families, for the survivors left behind, for the survivors who were able to get out, who have scars that can't be seen but are every bit as painful.

And I want to thank the Boulder Police Department, the first responders, so many police from agencies across the state came to the call in their time of need.

Not only did we lose 10 lives, but this is real horror and terror for all of us, the simple act of shopping at a grocery store.

[10:40:08]

And the last day and a half, the last 12 hours, the families of our victims, our friends, they've been notified of their loss. That's why these names weren't released yesterday. The families have been notified, everybody quietly hoping that it wasn't y our friend or your coworker or your family member. Many residents of South Boulder had people checking in with them, are you OK, are you OK, posting on social media, are you OK.

And look, this loss is especially painful for the friends and the family members of those left behind, and as governor, I offer my condolences to all those who suffered loss. But this is a loss for all of us, and we mourn those who fell as a state, and we mourn them as a nation.

This has been a painful year, and we sit here, once again, surrounded by seemingly incomprehensible, senseless loss. This is a pain that we need to sit with. We can't let ourselves ever become numb to the pain because we simply can't let this be accepted as anything close to normal occurrence.

There's a full investigation under way. The eyes of the nation are on Boulder, the eyes of the nation are on Colorado. And every level of law enforcement, federal, state and local, is working together to make sure that we can bring justice in this case. That's exactly what Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley was doing as he lost his life in the line of duty. He was heroically trying to save others.

The State of Colorado has 35 people from the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and State Troopers assisting the investigation since yesterday. We've offered to help with victims' services as well. And of course, Boulder community has the full support of state and federal law enforcement as we go about the difficult task ahead.

The unfairness of it all, this is going to be difficult for people to process. Flags had barely been raised back to full mast after the tragic shooting in Atlanta that claimed eight lives, and now a tragedy here, close to home, at a grocery store that could be any of our neighborhood grocery stores.

You know, this last weekend in Colorado, many of us had the opportunity to enjoy the spring, beautiful spring outdoor weather, spending time in the great outdoors, a sense of renewal, a sense of hope ahead. Perhaps that we were on the precipice of normalcy. I hope that the victims today got some simple pleasure on that beautiful spring day, before tragedy hit.

I wish I could stand here and promise that the pain will heal quickly. It won't. But for the family and friends and our community, the loss endures. And at times like this, it's hard to see the light that shines through the darkness.

We all need space to mourn, space to be angry -- that's a legitimate feeling -- space to help those who are left behind, space to ask the simple question, why. Space to support those who made it out of the grocery store with their lives, but with lifelong scars that we cannot see. Space to celebrate the 10 lives that were lost yesterday. And we need the fortitude to carry on.

We will hold the evildoer responsible to the full extent of the law for his actions, and we will always remember the victims of the King Soopers shooting.

I want to turn it over to the congressman from the area, Congressman Joe Neguse.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Thank you, Governor Polis, for your leadership.

I want to thank law enforcement in the Boulder County area for their incredible leadership. To District Attorney Michael Dougherty, to the chief of police, to the brave and heroic police officers with the Boulder Police Department, whose actions yesterday truly saved lives.

To the federal partners, Interim U.S. Attorney Kirsch and FBI Special Agent in Charge Schneider, for their efforts, for the coordination. I think you'll hear from law enforcement at the local, state and federal level, has been strong and important as we deal with this terrible mass shooting here in our community.

[10:45:17]

It has been a devastating 24 hours for Boulder and for our state. Like the governor, this is my community. We -- I've lived in Boulder County for many years, my wife's born in Boulder, we went to school in Boulder. This is our community. And we are heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken for the pain and the anguish that so many in our community and across our state are feeling today.

Ten lives lost, ten friends, neighbors, sisters, brothers, parents, colleagues, community members. Families that are grieving today, woke up today without their loved ones, including an officer who bravely died in the line of duty, protecting this community, Officer Talley. His service and his sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Like many of you, my heart is heavy and it is in grief and in anguish. The loss of life is truly heartbreaking and unimaginable, and so our hearts, thoughts, our prayers are with the families of those victims, with the survivors of yesterday's terrible mass shooting, with the frontline grocery store employees, and with every member of our community here in Boulder.

As the governor said, yesterday, Coloradans went to their local King Soopers, to pick up groceries, to buy eggs, some of them to get a COVID vaccine. and in a mere instant, our community was upturned by a senseless act of violence.

This year as Coloradans, we faced a lot of challenges. And in this year of separation due to COVID, of loss and of loneliness, grocery stores like King Soopers have been one of our consistent gathering places, one of the few routine activities that we've continued to engage in as Coloradans and as Americans. It's hard to describe what it means for this safe place to see a horrible tragedy like this unfold.

There is a lot that we don't know, there's a lot still unfolding from yesterday's events. But let me simply say this: This cannot be our new normal. We should be able to feel safe in our grocery stores, we should be able to feel safe in our schools, in our movie theaters and in our communities. We need to see a change because we have lost far too many lives.

As I said, I've lived in Boulder County for many years and one thing I am sure of is this: Our community is strong, it is kind, it is compassionate, and it is resilient. And we will get through this together, as we comfort each other and as we begin the process of healing in the coming days and weeks and tough months ahead.

I'd now like to turn it over to the mayor of Boulder, Sam Weaver.

MAYOR SAM WEAVER (D), BOULDER, COLORADO: Good morning. Today, our city is grieving the senseless loss of 10 lives in our community. The people who were killed yesterday were individuals going about their daily business when a man with a gun monstrously struck them down. They had family and friends, loves and passions and dreams of tomorrows that will no longer come for them. We feel these losses in our bones, some of us more deeply than others,

but all of us are agonized by this tragedy. There will be time to come to pursue justice, repair damage, seek answers and pursue remedies, but today we remember, we appreciate and we honor the lives of those who were killed.

One of those who we remember is Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, who was gunned down as he valiantly protected those who were in mortal danger. Officer Talley, a truly heroic public servant, joins the ranks of six other Boulder police officers who have laid down their lives for the people of our city.

[10:50:11]

We can never thank Officer Talley or his family enough for their sacrifice, but we will not forget it. Many are alive today because of the actions of Eric Talley and other first responders and their bravery is a blessing to us all.

Boulder's a city full of giving and resilient people and we will help each other heal and recover from this tragedy. Boulder's also an active and energetic community, and we will put our energy to use in repairing the civic fabric which has been torn. And Boulder is a thoughtful and visionary community and we will work to build a future in which tragedies like this live in a distant and unimaginable past.

But today we will grieve, and we will console one another and we will remember the 10 precious souls that we lost yesterday.

Thank you and I'll turn it over to Boulder D.A. Michael Dougherty.

MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, BOULDER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Good morning, I'm Michael Dougherty and I am the district attorney for Boulder County.

Yesterday, Boulder suffered a tragic and horrific attack. The victims who were food-shopping were engaged in an everyday act, something we all do. And it turned out to be their last day on earth.

I cannot imagine the pain and agony that their loved ones, their families are feeling right now. And to them, I want to say this: I promise you that all of us here will work tirelessly to support you and help you through this process, and also to make sure that the killer is held absolutely and fully accountable for what he did to them, to all the loved ones and friends of the victims and to the Boulder community yesterday.

Officer Eric Talley died heroically. He was one of the many outstanding members of Boulder County law enforcement, and he'd been an officer here at the Boulder Police Department. And the patrol car behind us is here in his honor today.

He died charging into the line of fire to save people who were simply trying to live their lives and go food-shopping. And the man who gunned them down will be held fully responsible. There were 10 people killed yesterday. The chief, Chief Herold, read

off the names of all 10. I would ask you to join me as a community, as a country in honoring and respecting all 10 of the victims. The killer, his name? That will live in infamy, but today, let us remember the victims and let us work tirelessly for them to make sure the right thing happens in this case. And I can promise you, that is our solemn commitment to the victims and the families, and to this community.

Why did this happen? We don't have the answer to that yet, and the investigation is in the very early stages and the investigators are working hard to determine that, and that information will come. What I can tell you today is that Boulder and Colorado is giving its very best to the response of what happened.

We've had agencies from all around the metro area, district attorneys and prosecutors from all around the state of Colorado, law enforcement from every area around Boulder and Denver, responding to help and give their very all to this vicious attack and to the investigation that will follow.

So we are in the very early stages in the investigation, there is much to learn. But I really want to stress the incredible cooperation between federal, state and local partners. It's exactly what we should do in response to this kind of horrific act.

Having been at the Aurora movie theater shooting, in the hours after that attack, I can tell you part of what made that response so incredibly important was that we had federal, state and local partners responding together, working as a team, giving their every bit of effort and energy and commitment to ensuring justice for all the victims.

That's the kind of response we see in Boulder County here today. Again, just as back then, federal, state and local partners working very closely to ensure that the right thing happens with the criminal case, and that justice is done for each and every one of the 10 victims.

The arrest affidavit and arrest warrant were completed and signed at approximately 3:00 a.m. this morning. The offender, whose name has already been provided to you, is being held at a hospital currently. I anticipate that he'll be released from the hospital shortly and then be transported to the Boulder County Jail.

[10:55:13]

Once he's booked into the Boulder County Jail, we will follow our normal protocol and the affidavit and warrant has been cleared by my office to be released to the community and to the media. So to the media, you can expect that affidavit and warrant to be available for release after he's booked into the jail, which again, at this point, I believe will be later today, after his medical treatment is completed.

I do want to stress that the investigation is really in its early stages, and we're going to work incredibly hard to see it through to completion. That completion is likely more than a year from now. But between now and that day when justice is done for all 10 of these victims, I can promise you we're going to work together at the federal, state and local levels to give this case our all, and to make sure we do justice for these victims.

Nothing will replace -- nothing can fill the void for the families and their loved ones, but I could promise you that we will hold him accountable. Thank you very much for being here, ladies and gentlemen.

And I'm going to turn it over to U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch, and I really appreciate Mr. Kirsch and his team being here both last night and today.

MATT KIRSCH, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF COLORADO: Good morning, everyone, I'm Matt Kirsch, I'm the U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado.

You've already heard from most of the speakers this morning about how this investigation is proceeding exactly as an investigation of this type should, with full cooperation between federal, state and local authorities. I am here to affirm for you, on behalf of the federal law enforcement community, that that is happening.

The federal law enforcement community, the U.S. attorneys -- including the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the ATF and any other resources that are necessary in order to make sure that this investigation is full and complete, will be brought to this investigation.

I want to close by saying two more things. First of all, on behalf of the federal law enforcement community, I want to join in adding that community's sincere condolences and sympathies to the victims, the victims' families, their friends and to the community at large.

We know that the community and all of those people are grieving. We understand that our role, as Michael Dougherty just explained, is to seek justice for this tragic event. And my pledge to you is exactly what the federal law enforcement community is going to do.

With that, I'm going to turn it over to special agent in charge of the Denver Office, Michael Schneider. Thank you.

MICHAEL SCHNEIDER, DENVER SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS: Good morning. As the U.S. attorney said, my name is Michael Schneider, I'm the special agent in charge for the FBI here in Colorado.

First and foremost, I want to offer my sincere condolences on behalf of the FBI to the Boulder Police Department and to the families of the victims of this senseless act of violence.

While we mourn the devastating loss, our objective is to conduct a thorough and meticulous investigation. The FBI is involved because of the resources we can bring to bear to support our law enforcement partners and the investigation.

At this time, we are supporting evidence collection, we are supporting processing the crime scene, we are conducting interviews and we are providing analytical support as we exploit (ph) all the evidence that is collected.

As part of that process, we seek the public's help. Any information that can be provided to aid our investigation, we ask it be provided to the FBI. We have two means of providing that information. The first is digital media can be provided to FBI.gov/BoulderShooting. You can also call the FBI's tip line, which is 1-800-CALL-FBI. Again, no information is too small and we encourage the public to share any information they may have.

Our objective in this investigation is to conduct a thorough investigation, which includes identifying the subject's motives. Our effort is ongoing. It's been less than 24 hours since the shooting took place, and it would be premature for us to draw any conclusions at this point in time. I can tell you the community is safe, and we will continue to share updates as we conduct our investigation that can (ph) draw conclusions as a result of that investigation.

We are grateful to the tremendous partnerships that exist here in this community. We are working very closely with the Boulder Police Department, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the District Attorney's Office. And we can assure the public that we will follow every lead as we conduct our investigation and bring justice to the victims. Thank you.

[11:00:08]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll now take a few questions.