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Boulder Grocery Store Massacre Nation's 7th Mass Shooting In 7 Days; 11-Year Boulder PD Veteran Among 10 Dead In Supermarket Shooting; All 10 Victims, Suspects In Boulder Supermarket Shooting Identified; Tense Senate Hearing On Gun Reform Highlights Party Divisions; Obama Releases Statement On Co-Shooting & Gun Violence. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 23, 2021 - 12:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Top of the hour, I'm Kate Bolduan, thank you so much for sticking with us. Here is what America is waking up to today another U.S. city in mourning right now after another mass shooting this time at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

A short time ago, police and investigators held a press conference about yesterday's attack which left 10 people dead. And a lot of information came out. Most importantly, what we learned are the names that you're seeing on your screen.

And it takes a bit to show you all of them because authorities released the names of all 10 of those killed in the shooting yesterday. Their ages they range in age from the 20 years old to 65 years old, all of them going about their lives, some at work.

Some customers, one of them a 51 year old police Officer Eric Talley, who leaves behind a wife and seven children. He was the first officer on the scene and he was killed in the line of duty. While this investigation is really just getting underway, they were still processing the scene.

They last they removed the last victim from the scene they said at about 2 o'clock this morning. While that is still underway, those who witnessed the horrific attack, they are just trying now still to make sense of what they lived through.


RYAN BOROWSKI, EYEWITNESS TO COLORADO GROCERY STORE SHOOTING: What I saw was a terrified face running towards me. She was a woman, you know shorter than me. And the first two shots that happened, I saw her face and her running down the aisle towards me. I turned and kept up with her and we all ran down the aisle towards the back of the store together.

The employees in the back of the house didn't know what was going on. So we told them that there was a shooter and they told us where the exit was.

SARAH MOONSHADOW, EYEWITNESS TO COLORADO GROCERY STORE SHOOTING: When we had gotten out of the store, there were people lying in the street. I tried to run for him and my son pulled me back and said that we had to get away.

But I just tried to focus on my son. I was mostly focused on like just making sure that he stayed as close to me as possible and that - that he didn't stand up too far because I just didn't want him to be too tall and become like a moving target because we couldn't tell exactly where the shooter was.


BOLDUAN: Boulder police do have a suspect in custody. He is charged they have released his name. He is headed to the Boulder jail shortly. He has been charged with 10 counts of first degree murder. This is the country's seventh mass shooting in this country in just the last seven days.

And it comes less than a week after eight people were gunned down at the spots in the Atlanta area. It was just a week ago. We were still talking about this even yesterday as this tragedy played out. This is all something that Colorado's Governor when he spoke today, he says makes it all the more tragic.


GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Flags had barely been raised back to full mast after the tragic shooting in Atlanta, the claim eight lives and now a tragedy here. Close to home at a grocery store that could be any of our neighborhood grocery stores.


BOLDUAN: We have reporters covering all the angles of the story for all of us. CNN's Dan Simon, he's on the ground in Colorado and CNN's Stephanie Elam, she's learning much more about the victims. Stephanie, what can you tell us first and foremost about those who were killed?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it's worth noting Kate, when you take a look at the time that this happened, you have a tragedy happening around 2:30 in the afternoon, people just trying to duck into the grocery store, get a few things to go on with their life as we're looking at the end of this pandemic.

Maybe they've made it through it. Maybe they've been sick and now they've lost their lives in this moment. And you look at the names of those 10 people and see that they range in age from 20 years old to 65 years old, all gunned down senselessly in a grocery store.

And you listen to Governor Jared Polis talk a little bit about just what this means for this people for this community. In fact, take a listen to what else he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. POLIS: People of all ages and people who started their day with a cup of coffee and reading the morning paper are 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.


ELAM: And obviously devastating for these families that found out overnight about their loved ones. One of the people that we are now getting more information on is Ricky Old. She was 25 years old from Lafayette, Colorado.


ELAM: Her uncle says that she lived alone and that she was a strong, independent young woman. She was a manager at this King - grocery store as a matter of fact. And he called her energetic and charismatic and "a shining light in this dark world".

And you see that picture of him there with her. And then also we've been speaking about Officer Eric Talley. He's the one who was the first to show up on scene and respond right after the 911 call started to come in.

A 51 year old father of seven, who according to the police chief really didn't need to become a police officer, didn't become a police officer until 2010 when he was 40 years old. But she said that he had a profession but this was a calling. Listen more to what Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold had to say about him.


CHIEF MARIS HEROLD, BOULDER POLICE: And he's everything that policing deserves and needs. He cared about this community. He cared about Boulder Police Department, he cared about his family. And he was willing to die to protect others.


ELAM: And you can hear the emotion and her voice there. I think it's also noteworthy that many of these first responders, they also live in this community. You heard Governor Polis talk about the fact that he used to shop in that very store.

You heard the police chief said that that's her local grocery store that she lives just a few blocks away. This is hitting them very close to home to look at this in this college town in this beautiful town of Boulder, Colorado, which is just gorgeous.

And now all of this shattered by what has happened and all these people who have lost so much in just a few moments of assistant - senseless act with a gun.

BOLDUAN: Just a few moments. Stephanie, thank you. So Dan, about those - about the few moments we've learned much more about what they believe happened yesterday, how it played out, but also what are you hearing about the investigation now?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well hi, Kate. Well first of all, the focus of course should remain on these victims. And I promise you we'll hear their names a lot over the next several days as the community in the country mourns their loss. But here at the scene, I can tell you that the mobile police crime lab is still in front of the grocery store.

As investigators continue to process the scene they indicated that it could take several days to gather all the evidence and that the investigation as a whole could last an entire year. In the meantime, we did learn the name of the suspect he's been identified as 21 year old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa of Arvada, Colorado charged with 10 counts of murder.

Authorities did indicate that he has spent most of his life in the United States; they did not indicate where he may have lived prior. He is currently in the hospital after there was an exchange of gunfire with police when they went into the grocery store.

You saw those images where the suspect who was bloodied was escorted out of the grocery store, put on a stretcher and then taken to the hospital. He is in stable condition and we are told will be brought to the jail soon. And authorities expect to release some of the legal documents this afternoon.

He did talk to investigators; they did get some information from him. But at this point, they're not releasing what he said. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, a long road ahead on that. Dan, thank you very much. Stephanie thank you very much. Joining me right now for more on this is Cedric Alexander, former President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

It's good to see you again, Cedric. I just want to get your reaction to everything that we've learned in the last hour which was a lot from this press conference about the victims about the shooter about this investigation now.

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, what we all learn what we hear much too often here is the tragedy? We're hearing the names; we're beginning to see faces to go with those names of those victims who lost their lives. The bigger question becomes for us as a nation, what are we going to do about this?

Or is this just going to be a news story over the next two or three days and then we're off to something else. This is a continuous ongoing problem for us in this nation. We're going to have to have some real conversations around gun control.

And understanding all of us understanding regardless of what side allow, you may sit on, it's very convoluted. It's very complicated. And it's a very emotionally driven subject. But we continually, continually conceded to see these types of depth

that really just do not make sense in a country such as ours. So that's the real work that's got to be having to be done. And we can - all of our hearts go out to those who lost their lives.

But we say that tragedy after tragedy after tragedy. We're in the middle of a pandemic. We're going to come out of this. We're coming out of it slowly, gradually.


ALEXANDER: We're going to defeat this. And we got to defeat the - the next big monster, one that's been hanging around for a long time. And that's how we're going to be able to identify those that can do harm to others without violating the rights of those who subscribe to our second amendment.

BOLDUAN: You speak so eloquently about this. And sadly, we've had this conversation before. I'm sitting here thinking about the last time that we had this conversation. I'm sitting here thinking of the picture of that victim, Ricky Old and saying she looks very similar to another victim from another shooting that we have covered in the past.

And I'm sure even on TN together, Cedric it is - it's startling and striking and saddening even to think about it. But just when you think about the impact that this has on one community, the Chief of the Colorado University Boulder Police Chief, she said, you know, I feel numb.

I live three blocks from here. I just had Officer Eric Talley in my office two weeks ago to give his son an award for being clearly an amazing human being for saving, saving his little brother who was choking.

As a former chief, I just wonder kind of what you think in these moments, because you know what that person is standing up there to the microphone and having to say?

ALEXANDER: Well, it's very tough for her. Anytime that you're chief, you're responsible for the community in which you're served, but you're also responsible for the men and women that serve under you, you get to know people personally, intimately.

Sometimes people who work under your command, you know their work ethic, you know their dedication to duty, you know their courageousness even before today or yesterday, I should say. So for all of us who have been chiefs, we have lost people somewhere along the line.

I know I have heavy chief twice in this country - officers from suicide, from on duty deaths which oftentimes in is ways, very tragic and painful. When we have to meet with those families, when police officers are crying because the men and women that they work with, they see laying there in pain are suffering or have lost their lives.

I know the empathy, I have great empathy I should pay for this chief and what she's going through and what the entire department is going through. They have been traumatized horribly so in a tragic act that should not have happened, but it did.

And you have one officer who runs today, who gets there to try to save lives - his life, so courageous. We can't bring any of these people back.

But what we can do to honor them is to begin to have some real conversations around what it is that we're going to do different so that we don't have to continually and so frequently and so painfully continue to go through what we go through in this nation around those who get their hands on guns and do harm to others. This has to stop.

BOLDUAN: And are left as a nation asking why, why and why again, Cedric, thank you so much for coming in.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next for us, news we told local reporter in Colorado who says this is at least the fifth mass shooting that he has covered in the state since he's been reporting. His reporting on the police radio calls that came in as the events unfolded. That's next. He joins us.

Plus while all of this is developing in Colorado, a fiery debate is already starting once again in Washington. We're going to take you live to Capitol Hill next.



BOLDUAN: Today less than 24 hours after Boulders mass shooting, lawmakers are debating gun safety legislation on Capitol Hill. The debate quickly become - quickly becoming hearten. CNN's Lauren Fox is joining me now from Capitol Hill.

Lauren, this hearing as I understand it was scheduled before yesterday's tragedy. What are you hearing what's been happening here?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what you have seen over the last several hours Kate is really this debate unfolding in a way that is very familiar to anyone who has watched the gun debate up here on Capitol Hill.

You have both sides really digging in over the question of whether or not it's appropriate to expand not only background checks, but other measures that could protect Americans from these kinds of mass shootings.

Early on in this hearing you already had some of those fireworks between Republicans and Democrats play out. Here's a moment I want to - I want to lay out for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Thoughts and prayers are not enough. And yet thoughts and prayers is all we have heard from my colleagues on the other side.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.


FOX: And Kate you know one thing that really stood out to me in today's hearing that is a little different than what we saw in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and then the subsequent gun debate is the scope of what we're talking about up here on Capitol Hill.

What this debate has not been today is really a discussion much about an assault weapons ban or limiting the number of magazines in a gun. I think what you have seen today is really a much more focused debate on background checks.

What you could do around the edges to make sure that when someone goes to buy a gun, there are the restrictions put in place that a dangerous person can actually buy that weapon.

And you know you're seeing some pushback from Republicans up here on Capitol Hill that they don't want to have this discussion even after what we saw yesterday on folding in Colorado. They're arguing that this is what Democrats always do.

They always want to have a debate about gun reform. Democrats are arguing this is what Republicans always do. They always want to offer thoughts and prayers. What they don't want to do is talk about background checks as a real legislative change to move things forward. Kate?


BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Lauren. I really appreciate it. Let's head back to Colorado right now. I want to take - I want to take, I want you to take a look at the front page of one of the newspapers in Colorado, The Colorado Sun had this headline.

And this article as you can see right there, he's - he just shot at us twice. In this article, Political Reporter, Jesse Paul describes a unique way that his newsroom was able to kind of stay on top of the news, getting the details as they were unfolding and sadly piecing together exactly how this played out and the response from the police officers to this tragedy.

Jesse Paul's joining me right now. Appreciate your time. Talk to me about how the afternoon unfolded as you and your team were covering this.

JESSE PAUL, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE COLORADO SUN: Yes I mean, this has really become almost something we know how to do very well you know, you see a tweet come across from a local police agency. And then you just start sending resources to the scene, listen to the police scanner.

And you know these things; we get kind of false alarms all the time. But you can tell very quickly that this was something real and serious.

BOLDUAN: Yes unfortunately, you become good at this, which is so sad. You and your team were able to reconstruct kind of the police response as you were able to go through archive scanner traffic. I was reading this in your article today. What did you find? Walk us through that.

PAUL: It's almost typical, right? I mean, for all of these mass shooting events. But you know police officers raced to the scene. It was almost normal people were calm, and then you know, kind of chaos breaks out when they start seeing you know, bodies laying in the parking lot and inside the store and then the gunman shooting at them.

And then the swat team comes and then you know the medical helicopters. And it provided a really chilling kind of real time view of what people were facing as they responded to the shooting.

BOLDUAN: Yes, we're learning a little bit more, we learned that the names of all of the victims, just I guess now about an hour ago, hour plus ago all 10 victims. What more you're learning about Officer Talley?

PAUL: Officer Talley you know was a guy who by all accounts, you know didn't have to go into law enforcement who joined the Boulder Police Department in 2010 had seven kids. And you know really tragically, it sounded like he was trying to kind of get out of the frontline job and was maybe trying to become a drone operator.

His father is told, I think CNN and multiple news outlets right that he was, you know really aware that something like this could happen and didn't want to do that to his family. And the fact that he was one of the first officers on scene.

And the officer who died is just heartbreaking. And this is that you know Boulder is not a community that is used to this kind of violence. Rarely is there you know a shooting in Boulder. This is only the sixth police officer in Boulders history to be killed in the line of duty. And I think it's been 30 years since the last one died in the line of duty.

BOLDUAN: Wow. You wrote on Twitter something that I want to read for everybody. Last night you wrote, I've been - I've been a reporter in Colorado for 11 years including foreign college. And this is at least the fifth shooting that you have covered where more than four people have been shot.

You know as a - as reporters and journalists, we, you have to cover and you take yourself out of it. But this also happens kind of in your community. How do you reflect on that?

PAUL: Yes and I actually realized that there was another shooting that I hadn't counted that I've also covered for people that have been shot. And so it's - it's impossible. I mean it's, you know the planned-parenthood shooting in 2015 happened a mile from where I went to college.

And I wondered if there were students in there that had died. But it's - in this morning, I woke up and just started crying. You know it's - it's really hard to watch this happen to your community and you get numb to it in the moment. But then as - as it unfolds, it really kind of hits you about what's happening.

BOLDUAN: The adrenaline keeps you going. And then the reality sets in when you have a moment to take to breathe which is the hardest part. Please continue doing your fantastic reporting and serving your community. Thanks for coming on, Jesse.

PAUL: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: All right. We have to transition because we have this just and former President Barack Obama, he just released a statement on this mass shooting Boulder, Colorado. It's just coming in. Let me get over to CNN's Kaitlan Collins, she's at the White House with more on this.

Kaitlan, just starting to look at it. It's a lengthy statement coming from the former President and the First Lady.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. And what's interesting also is the timing of the statement because this is coming out before the president has even spoken on this. We know he is expected to do so before he leaves the White House for Ohio 1pm. But he hasn't actually spoken on it yet.

He's just been briefed on it. And we've heard from senior aids. But we are hearing from a former President Barack Obama putting out this lengthy statement on the shooting that happened in Colorado last night. I'm not going to read it all to you.


COLLINS: But I'm going to go to the end because this is the part where he's really talking about what we've had is this national conversation in the last you know 24 hours since this happened.

And Barack Obama said in the statement that a once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country. We shouldn't have to choose between one type of tragedy and another.

It's time for leaders everywhere to listen to the American people when they say enough is enough because this is a normal we can no longer afford.

He also says it's long past time for those in power to fight this epidemic of gun violence to do so. So that will be interesting to see how that shapes the response that we get from the White House any moment now. Of course, every president unfortunately in modern history has had to deal with these mass shootings for the last several decades. Of course President Obama when he was in office was no stranger to it as well.

And in 2012, remember he actually tasked by then Vice President Biden with coming up with those gun measure proposals in the wake of the sandy hook shooting?

So the question of how the White House will respond here what President Biden will say any moment still remains to be seen. Of course, a lot of the focus today is on those victims given we just got their names from the authorities.

But it is notable that we are already hearing from former President Obama on what he believes the aftermath of this shooting should look like at least here in Washington.

BOLDUAN: Yes and as you read this statement, you can read his sorrow. But also his anger as you're just noting because he knows that one of the things that angered him most as he left office was the fact that there was a failure to get any kind of legislation through after the tragedy of Sandy Hook.

If babies - if babies being slaughtered young children being slaughtered wasn't going to shake America wake to get something done. Then what are we as a country?

One line that sticks out to me I just want to read it for everyone as well is when he writes, we should be able to live our lives without wondering if the next trip outside our home could be our last we should. But in America, we can't.

That's what we're hearing from President Obama. And soon as Kaitlan points out, we're going to be hearing from President Biden tragedy striking America once again, this statement is very strong. Kaitlan, thank you very much for coming on and bringing that to us.

We've got much more ahead. I'm going to talk to us Colorado state lawmaker as per state mourns, yet another deadly shooting much more and lot coming in stay with us.