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Any Moment: Officials Update Boulder Shooting Investigation; Police: "We Too Want To Know Why" But Still No Motive; Boulder Officials Update Investigation Into Mass Shooting; DA: "Remains To Be Seen" Whether Motive Will Ever Be Known; Police: Investigation Likely "At Least a Year-Long Journey". Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 26, 2021 - 12:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: This is the top of the hour. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for being here. Right now we are standing by for an update from officials in Boulder, Colorado and Monday's mass shooting at the King Soopers Grocery Store.

These are live pictures from where we will be hearing an update. They're probably giving a rundown real quick of how things are going to go. Looks like this should be starting pretty soon. We will bring it to you when they get underway.

10 people were killed in this shooting. The youngest was 20. The oldest was 65. The suspect has been charged but there is still a lot that we don't know including the shooters motive, why the King Soopers supermarket was targeted in the first place.

What we do know other than the fact that these poor people who have those innocent lives stolen from them is what we do know is that the 21 year old suspect use an AR 15 style pistol modified with an arm brace. And he bought the gun six days before the attack.

We saw the suspect in court for the first time just yesterday. He is facing 10 counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder is that was added yesterday. Prosecutors say more charges could be coming.

The defense though says they need more time to fully assess the scope of the shooters mental illness is what they have said in court. This is families are starting to prepare for funerals. You see this video here the community in Boulder gathered once again for another visual - vigil to honor them last night.

Joining me right now is CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, what are we expecting to hear from officials in just a minute?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: While they're telling - well, hopefully we'll get more information on the motive, perhaps if they've learned it you know, because this is a pending case.

And there's now a criminal case. It's getting - they're pretty much limited in what they can say. But the DA is going to speak also the Chief of Police here and some other officials are expected to take the podium here shortly.

As you can see behind me the big question Kate, obviously is motive. And have they been able to connect any of the dots during their investigation? You know, where this happened on Monday, we're now into Friday. So presumably they've interviewed a lot of people, they've recovered a lot of evidence.

So hopefully they can shed some light. You know the big question is why was this particular grocery store targeted? This is some 30 minutes from his home. So that is one of the biggest questions. Also some new information that we received just this morning was from the gun shop where this weapon was purchased.

And the gun shop, they're releasing a statement confirming that the weapon was purchased at their shop. Of course, we know from police that the weapon was purchased about six days or so before the shooting.

And what the gun shop says is that they are shocked by what happened and that their hearts are broken for the victims and the families. They also go on to say that they did run a background check on the suspect and that he basically passed that background check.

They did that with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and because he passed that background check, they were able to sell him the weapon. And so that is what the gun shop is saying. And I think some of the officials are now as you can see behind me are shouting --.

BOLDUAN: Yes, Shimon, let's just - I don't know - it doesn't look like anyone's taken to the podium, man. I can't really tell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Chief Nurse Harold is going to be our first speaker. Chief?

BOLDUAN: And let's listen in.

CHIEF MARIS HEROLD, BOULDER, COLORADO POLICE: Thank you for coming today. I think it's very important that I give an overview of the last five days work. So the community is walking step by step through this investigation. And then we're being as transparent as possible.

So with that, I want the community to know, in the past five days 26 law enforcement agencies have been working around the clock to determine a timeline of events leading up to Monday's mass casual shooting that occurred at the King Soopers.

But like the rest of the community, we too want to know why. Why that King Soopers, why Boulder, why Monday. And unfortunately at this time we still don't have those answers. As of Friday afternoon, Friday, March 26, there have been 167 individuals' federal, state and local agencies that have worked over 3000 hours on this investigation.

This is common practice. But I can't tell you enough my appreciation for the assistance we're getting in this investigation from the federal, state and local agencies. But let me just give you a timeline of what we've done since Monday to recap this week.

The coroner's office worked tirelessly to identify 10 victims in very quick order. The Boulder police detectives work with the district attorney's office to charge the suspect with 10 counts of murder in the first degree and one count of attempted murder in the first degree.


HEROLD: The officer who exchanged gunfire with the suspect has been put on administrative leave per our normal standard operating procedures. The officer an 11 year Boulder Police Department veteran was not injured during this incident. The firearm used by the suspect in King Soopers on March 22 is a semi automatic Ruger AR556 pistol.

It was legally purchased in a gun store in Arvada, Colorado. The defendant was also in possession of a nine millimeter handgun. But at this time, we do not believe that gun was used in this incident.

On Wednesday, the crime scene personnel finished the King Soopers lot parking lot and were able to success to release many of those vehicles to the rightful owner. Yesterday a team of investigators including myself did a walkthrough of the entire crime scene which was very complex and obviously very challenging to not only me, but the investigative team.

I just want to say a few things about the community. We have received such an outpouring of sorrow, grief. And just it's just been extremely heartening for me to see how the community supports this Police Department and the other victims involved in this unbelievable incident.

For that, I just want the community to know that I'm very grateful. I also want to end on this because I have never seen this happen in my 30 year career. We have been able to successfully pull a team of victims advocates from across this region to work not only with our police department, but all of the victim's family.

And I think that is so important because this is just the beginning of this journey. And this will be at least a year long journey for these victim's families and the police involved in this case. So I have never seen such a great tool used in such a wonderful way.

And for that, I'm extremely grateful as well. And I think we're going to answer some questions after District Attorney Mark Michael Dougherty speaks. Michael.

MICHAEL DOUGHERTY, BOULDER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thank you, Chief. Good morning, everyone. My name is Michael Doherty. I'm the District Attorney for Boulder County. And on Monday, Boulder suffered devastating, horrific and traumatic attack to our community. 10 people were killed and many others were placed in grave danger.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones and this community during the difficult time that we're all going through. And we are committed to ensuring that justice is done for each and every one of the victims and for their loved ones.

Yesterday, the defendant had his first advisement in court. He was advised of his rights by the judge and he's currently being held without bond and remains in custody. Next week, the court will announce the next court day and will share that information with the community as soon as the court announces the court schedule.

And at some point we'll have a hearing. It's called a proof evident presumption great hearing which in Colorado is required by law when someone's being charged with first degree murder and held without bond.

The court is allowed some time for that hearing to take place so that the defense attorneys and the prosecutors have time to go through all the video evidence, all the reports and all the discovery. And again, that next court date will be announced by state judicial next week.

I do want to stress of course the defendant has the right, the constitutional right to a fair trial. It's important that I stress that every time I talk to the media and community for a few reasons. First and foremost, it's the right thing for me to say and the right thing for us to do to ensure that he has a fair trial and that at the end of the trial, he'll be held fully responsible for his actions.

Second, I want to make sure that we use due caution in talking about the case and the facts of the case in order to protect his right to a fair trial, but also to make sure that that trial takes place here in Boulder County.

If we share too much about the facts of the investigation, it's possible we'll see a motion by the defense to move this trial to somewhere else in the state of Colorado. And I want to make sure that the people of Boulder have the opportunity for this trial to be held and for justice to be done here in Boulder County.

She'll hear me say every time we - the press now the charges have been filed, that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he's proving guilty. It will be a lengthy court process.


DOUGHERTY: In every murder prosecution, the process takes at least a year for us to complete. I anticipate that that will be the same in this case. So I share that with you as I do it, the victim's families and every homicide case, just so you, as a community have an understanding of how long this process is going to go for.

And we will, as the chief highlighted, keep everyone updated throughout that entire process. I promise you that. I also emphasize it because over the past few days, we've seen a tremendous outpouring of support for all the victim's families, and for the community members devastated by the attack that took place on Monday.

It's my hope and my request that support for the victim's families. And for everyone impacted by this horrific attack continues all throughout the next few months and until justice is done in this case and beyond. They're going to need that kind of help and support for years.

So we've seen a tremendous outpouring of support over the last few days. We stand now in front of a patrol car, that when we met with you on Tuesday, you could see it clearly. And now you see today how many flowers are placed here you go to King Soopers.

You see the flowers and memorials that have been set up there that support for the victims. It's my hope and I certainly my intent to continue that throughout this entire process. Defendants currently charged with 10 counts of murder in the first degree. He's charged with one count of attempted murder in the first degree.

Additional charges of attempted murder in the first degree will be filed in the very near future. I will share with you those officers from the Boulder Police Department and the University of Colorado Boulder Police Department. So both Boulder PD and CU Boulder PD responded very, very quickly to the report of shots being fired at the King Soopers.

Immediately after responding they charged into the store. Their action saved others other civilians for being killed. They charged into the store and immediately faced a very significant amount of gunfire from the shooter, who at first they were unable to locate and they put their lives at risk.

And that'll be reflected in additional attempted murder charges that will be filed by the District Attorney's office the next couple of weeks. In addition, I anticipate other charges will be filed in the weeks ahead.

And as that information is finalized, we'll make them better available to the media and to the community. As a result of the actions of law enforcement there was significant danger to civilians who are still in the supermarket and significant danger to the community.

That danger ended because of the response of law enforcement. The Police Chief mentioned that there's an officer on administrative leave and as she pointed out that standard protocol. Anytime we have an officer involved shooting in Boulder County or anywhere in the state of Colorado, there's a certain protocol that we're required to follow.

That protocol involves a multi agency team of high level detectives, investigators and district attorney staff assigned to investigate the officer's use of physical force or deadly physical force against another individual. That protocol has been followed since the evening of the shooting.

So by that I mean that multi agency team responded to the scene on Monday night and began their investigation they've been investigating throughout the week. That multi agency team in order to maintain the integrity of the investigation does not include anyone from the Boulder Police Department, its investigators from other agencies.

The District Attorney's office will continue to oversee and support that investigation. The investigators met just yesterday and a different law enforcement facility elsewhere here in Boulder County to brief everyone on the status of that investigation.

And once it's determined whether the officer was justified in firing his weapon or not, that decision and all the accompanying materials we share with the public and with the community and available through the District Attorney's office.

As in other mass tragedies and mass shootings here in Colorado, there has been tremendous interagency assistance and cooperation. I can't stress enough how many federal state and local partners have come together in response to this devastating attack.

Standing behind me today again, we stand shoulder to shoulder united ensuring justice is done for the victims, their loved ones in the Boulder community or the FBI, the US Attorney's Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, ATF and various law enforcement agencies and partners from all around the metro jurisdiction.

As the chief highlighted we also have victim advocates all around the metro jurisdiction, responding to help the victim's families in this case and connect with the many people who are being impacted by the shooters actions on Monday.

There's a lot of work that remains to be done. This just happened on Monday. But I will share with you that the investigation is progressing rapidly.


DOUGHERTY: All the agencies involved and committed to ensuring justice is done had been working incredibly hard day and night as they will throughout the weekend, to make sure that all the information that can be learned about the shooter, the victims, the witnesses, King Soopers, any connection between all of those becomes known and is available to the successful prosecution of the offender.

But I really do want to highlight everyone including Coroner Emma Hall and her staff for how hard they've been working since this tragedy took place on Monday. I will also thank the other District Attorneys from around the State of Colorado and around the country who've reached out to offer their support and assistance.

And we greatly appreciate all the help and assistance that we're receiving here in Boulder from all around the state and all around the United States. To the victims, families and to this community, I promise you that we work tirelessly to make sure that the right thing happens in that case, that are my firm and solemn commitment.

And everyone in this building, everyone connected to this investigation shares that determination and focus. We'd be happy to take a few questions from members of the media now. Thank you.


DOUGHERTY: Thank you for your question. I do appreciate having the assistance and expertise of the FBI as I've talked about; they have their evidence Recovery Team at the scene. They do an absolutely outstanding work at the crime scene, it's very large scene.

And answer to your question, the FBI, CBI and all the law enforcement is involved are doing a deep dive into the offender's background as well as the background of everybody involved in this incident victims, witnesses and so forth.

And at this point, we don't have any particular information to share in that regard. We'll continue to look into it and any connection we could find will make available to the public once we determine whether it's accurate or not.


DOUGHERTY: I don't have that information at this point.


DOUGHERTY: It's a good question. I think the victim's families and the community are desperate to know the motive. We want to know the motive. And that's going to be the focus of all our efforts going forward whether or not we're able to determine it remains to be seen.


DOUGHERTY: Still very early in the investigation and that's going to remain a focus for us going forward. Yes.


HEROLD: Sure. Just the vastness of the scene, you're talking about a huge supermarket, obviously, a huge parking lot, numerous vehicles. It's just one of the most complex scenes I've ever - I've ever worked personally. And that's why I'm so grateful that the FBI and their crime scene team are here in the state CBI is here.

It would take the Boulder Police Department weeks to get through a crime scene, that's complex. And so thanks for your questions.


HEROLD: I really do wish I could tell you that I just don't know. And that like the DA said that's the focus now of what we're trying to figure out. It's - it'll be something haunting for all of us until we figure that out. And like someone said, sometimes you just don't figure these things out. But I am hoping that we will.


DOUGHERTY: Any conversations between the defendant and his counsel of course, we'd privileged and protected we would not have that information available to us.


DOUGHERTY: As the Chief indicated in her remarks, the suspect is believed to use an AR 556 pistol that was purchased legally in Arvada, Colorado. He was also in possession of a nine millimeter handgun. And at this point in time, it's not believed that that was used during the incident.

The ATF and FBI have done tremendously thorough investigation into the guns that he had on him that day. As well as other firearms that might be connected to him and that investigation is ongoing.



DOUGHERTY: So, I've spoken loud and clear over the years since becoming District Attorney about the need for us to reduce gun violence in Colorado and throughout the United States. And at this point in time, those discussions and real action needs to continue.

I'm going to remain much focused on this case, it is my primary focus. And today we stand just a few days after this mass shooting. And I'm going to keep the victims and their loved ones and the successful prosecution of this case as my focus.


HEROLD: I do not - I do not believe so at this time. Obviously, we're going to be investigating this for weeks and weeks. But at this time, I just don't know that.


HEROLD: I don't have the information, Michael. Do you have the information?

DOUGHERTY: I do have a preliminary idea as to how many shots were fired. We're not ready to confirm the number yet. It's a painstakingly thorough investigation being conducted by the FBI evidence Recovery Team. So to answer your question, yes, we do know the number.

But we're not ready to finalize that number; I'm going to confirm that it's accurate. If you picture a supermarket, picture all the shelves, all the products, everything, they're going through every single shelf, pulling everything off the shelves looking in the walls and that is going to continue throughout the weekend.

And once that crime scene is released, we'll be in a position to announce the number of bullets that were fired by the shooter in this case.


DOUGHERTY: So more information on the firearms will be released in the future. But at this point, this is all going to say on the firearms. We're still conducting a very thorough investigation with the help from the ATF and the FBI on the firearms that he had on him that day and other firearms within his possession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) DOUGHERTY: Thank you for your question. I'm not going to talk about any particular witness. What I would say is if anybody out there has any information, I really encourage you to contact the Boulder Police Department or the FBI tip line with information.

And for witnesses who have been cooperated with the investigation, we greatly appreciate that cooperation, it's going to allow us to ensure that justice is done in this case. And it's my hope that all witnesses will cooperate going forward.


DOUGHERTY: It was a grocery store in the middle of the day. So from your own experience, we've all been to the supermarket. That's how many people were there.

And the defendant - but for the actions of law enforcement and the quick thinking by a lot of the people in the supermarket, this would have been much, much worse in terms of the number of victims.

And answer to your question, it's been reported that there have been security concerns around the defendant. That's not exactly unusual, necessarily. I don't have any specific information.

But there have been other cases where there might be a particular concern of the individuals moved to another facility. And that's all I have on that particular question.


BOLDUAN: All right. We've been listening in to updates from the District Attorney in Boulder as well as the Chief of Police. With me now is CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Jonathan Wackrow. He's a former Secret Service Agent. What is the - just a reaction to what we just heard?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So Kate, you know, what we heard was, there was a lot of insight into the investigation in the process. But there's not a lot of information that was actually being given that people really want. And what is it? It's the motive; it's answering the question why.

So what we did hear was that there was significant law enforcement coordination with over 26 agencies responding. The investigation is progressing rapidly, but it's also very complex. And I think that's an important part here to focus in on is just the complexity of this crime scene.

And you have multiple train features of this crime scene, really starting from the vehicle or how the suspect arrived at the supermarket. The parking lot was a major crime scene; it's where that first contact came with the - with the first victim of the shooting occurred outside.

The chief had indicated that that crime scene has been processed and cleared and now the focus is obviously inside the store. But again, there are significant complexities. And because of that, the FBI evidence response team has been heavily involved with working with other law enforcement entities in actually processing that crime scene.

One of the big things that you know - has been a question with the FBI is involved in is there a Nexus to terrorism. And right now they have not adjudicated that answered. We do not have a definitive answer whether there's a tie to your terrorism in this case.


WACKROW: So again, there's been a lot of you know, insights into the case but not a lot of information. That was critical that people are asking.

BOLDUAN: The Chief of Police saying we too want to know why, why King Soopers why Boulder, why Monday and that we still just don't know. But importantly, the District Attorney also made very clear that additional charges of attempted murder in the first degree will be filed very soon.

He right now is charged with 10 counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted murder. More charges to come. Jonathan, thank you.

WACKROW: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still add for us. Georgia's sweeping new voting law is met with protests and lawsuits. Up next, where the fight goes from here.


BOLDUAN: Now to the sweeping effort to rewrite voting rules across the country. Overnight Georgia Governor, Republican Governor Brian Campy signed into law a huge package of new voting restrictions.