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Sources Say, Authorities were Warned about FedEx Suspect's Potential for Violence in the Past; Chicago Police Release Video of Officer Shooting 13-Year-Old; White House Releases $1.7 Billion to Fight Variants. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 16, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: Those already passed the House, pass a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and overhaul immunity to gun manufacturers.

Thanks for your time today here on Inside Politics. See you on Monday and have a great weekend. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello, I'm Ana Cabrera, thank you for being with me. I would normally say Happy Friday but I can't today because on this Friday, we are reporting yet another mass shooting in America. Eight people are dead in Indianapolis after a gunman opened fire late last night at a FedEx facility near the airport. At least six other people were injured and taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds, two others were treated on site and released.

Police have yet to identify the shooter who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and they haven't determined a motive. But we have just in to CNN this new information. Authorities were warned about this suspect's potential for violence in the past. We also know cops believe the gunman used a rifle. A home is being searched in connection to the suspected shooter and the sequence of last night's events are starting to be pieced together.


DEPUTY CHIEF CRAIG MCCARTT, INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE: There was no confrontation with anyone that was there. There was no disturbance. There was no argument. He just appeared to randomly start shooting, and that began in the parking lot, and then he did go into the building, into the facility for a brief period of time before he took his own life.

My understanding is that everything by the time that officers entered that the situation was over.

The estimates that we have heard are just a couple minutes, that it was -- it did not last very long.


CABRERA: Just a couple of minutes. And about the time it's taken me to read this story, the gunman took eight lives.

This morning, a heart-wrenching scene as some of the workers reunited with loved ones.

I want to go live to Jason Carroll at the scene, also joining us, CNN senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez.

And, Jason, authorities didn't provide much information at that news conference just a couple of hours ago. What are they still piecing together right now?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, it's really interesting. It's really more about what they did not say. What they did say, it's very clear that they know that this suspect's vehicle, they know that vehicle, they've been -- they've got a crime lab out there, tearing through it, looking through that. They're at a location, what they believe to be the suspect's home. They are there as well.

So even though they're saying they're not positively identifying the suspect, it's very clear they have a very strong idea of who this person is. They're just not ready to go public with that person's name, at least not now, at this point.

I know that you saw some of that, you know, heart-wrenching video right there of some folks who were finally reunited with their -- those FedEx employees, but I have to tell you there was still some folks out there who still have not yet been reunited with their loved ones, they're still waiting for word.

And, in fact, during that briefing, Ana, we learned that some of the positive I.D.s of some of those who died during the shooting, that still has not happened yet as well. And the investigators are really pressed on that, what's taking so long.

They explained, again, to the coroner, through other investigators there, that this is a lengthy process that they're going through. They're still here at the scene. It's still very much an active crime scene here and a number of the investigators are trying to make the determination in terms of I.D.-ing some of those who died here at the scene.

So, still a lot of unanswered questions, but one point is clear, once again, Ana, they know who this suspect is. Ana?

CABRERA: And, Evan, what are we learning about this apparent warning, law enforcement got about the suspect?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we know the FBI is there assisting in this investigation, and I think what we'll find is that they'll be there for a number of days, and part of the reason is because of this information about a prior contact and prior knowledge about this suspect.

Now, what we're told, my colleague, Shimon Prokupecz and I are told by officials, is that there was previously a family member who reached out to authorities to warn that there was a potential for violence from this suspect. It appears that what happened next is the local authorities and the FBI became involved, they looked into this, the FBI opened a preliminary assessment, a preliminary investigation of the suspect.

Now, at some point, they closed the investigation and it appears that what happened is they did not have enough evidence to continue it. Now, the question is, why is that?


What did they find? Those are questions we do not have answers to at this point but, it does tell you that at least someone in the circle there around this suspected shooter had some concerns, and raised it, and it appears that there wasn't enough there found in the investigation to warrant continuing that investigation.

So at this point now, we know that the investigators are at a home, as Jason pointed out, believed to belong to the suspect or associated with the suspect. They're going to be looking through any computers, social media devices to try to figure out whether they can get any kind of motivation from -- answers about a motivation from that investigation.

Again, a lot more questions than answers at this point.

CABRERA: Evan, do we know how long ago this warning came?

PEREZ: We don't know. And we know that these are very difficult things, Ana. As you know, you've covered so many of these things before, and often the job of law enforcement is to take the information from a family member and then try to figure out how to figure out what -- you know, what is behind that. And often they come up empty handed.

CABRERA: Okay. Evan Perez and Jason Carroll, thank you, and you're right, we've covered way too many of these shootings. This makes at least 45 mass shootings in the U.S. in just the past month. CNN defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are wounded or killed, excluding the shooter, 45. That is more than one per day. We couldn't even fit them all on this map.

Let's bring in CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Commissioner, first, your reaction to this new information that law enforcement had been warned about the suspected shooter but they didn't have enough info to continue the investigation.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, we'll find more out about that as time goes on, and find out, was it a direct threat, was it actually something actionable, other than you had an individual who had a propensity toward violence. There's a whole lot of those around. And can you actually do anything legally to deal with the suspect who actually hasn't done anything yet? That's always one of those balancing acts that you have.

So until we know exactly what was told to authorities, it will be kind of hard to comment on that. But --

CABRERA: I know. I'm shaking my head, Commissioner, because we always are told by law enforcement, if you see something, say something. And yet this appears to be an example in which a family member, which I'm sure was difficult for a family member who loves this other person, to say, hey, this guy may turn violent, and then to see what has transpired, what do you mean you can't do anything, potentially?

RAMSEY: Well, it depends on what they said. I mean, was it a direct threat? I mean, what was it? And we don't know the answer to that yet. But, yes, you're right, a family member called, they had to be concerned. But until we know exactly what information was provided, it's going to be hard to assess whether or not there should have been more action taken or what have you.

So, you know, I mean, this is tragic, and it's -- something has got to be done. It's just -- we just can't go on and there will be more to come, unfortunately.

CABRERA: Well, we know that --

RAMSEY: But there will be more.

CABRERA: Forgive me for stepping on you there. We know that in a number of states there are red flag laws and I think we're still looking into what the laws are, obviously, there in Indiana, and we don't have enough information about this suspect and the weapon that was used. In fact, there are a lot of holes right now in terms of the investigation. Local police say they haven't even made a positive I.D. of the shooter yet. We know victims' family members haven't been notified. Does that surprise you?

RAMSEY: Yes, it does. But I guess they have a different process of being able to identify the victims. I understand why they're not giving out the name of the offender. I probably wouldn't either at this point. You still got search warrants you want to serve. There are people who you want to get your hands on to be able to interview, and so forth. And the minute it goes public, of course, then you run into the complications of having media show up at a house or have other people and so forth, so it makes it more difficult.

But as far as the victims go, yes, that is unusual. You do what you can to try to I.D. them. They were all -- I'm guessing they were working there so you should know who they are because you want to notify next of kin as soon as possible. But it sounded to me like they have a different process in Indiana in terms of death notifications. I'm not certain around that, but that's what it seems like.

CABRERA: Well, we are going to continue to stay obviously on top of this investigation. Charles Ramsey, thank you for being a great resource to us.

So we've told you the numbers. In fact, the U.S. leads the world in mass shootings, but why? I recently asked Professor Adam Lankford, he has been studying mass shootings for years.


ADAM LANKFORD, CRIMINAL JUSTICE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: I did a study of 171 countries to really look at where do public mass shooters attack most frequently and why.


And despite having less than 5 percent of the world's population, the United States had approximately 30 percent of the world's public mass shooters, really, like six times as many as we should have if things were evenly distributed.

And in addition, we have more than 40 percent of the world's civilian firearms. And so to your point about guns, firearm access seemed to be a critical explanation here. You know, I looked for a bunch of different possible explanations but, really, what the data said was that firearm access explains why people here, when they want to do something bad, do something so terrible compared to people with bad intentions but less access in other countries.

CABRERA: Politicians often throw out various factors to try to explain mass shootings in America and one of those is mental illness. Take a listen.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Let's target the bad guys, the felons, the fugitives, those with mental disease, let's put them in jail, let's stop them from getting guns.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The real challenge here is mental illness and identifying people who are likely to do this kind of thing in advance is very, very difficult.

CABRERA: Adam, what did your research find about whether there is a correlation between mass shootings and mental illness?

LANKFORD: Well, so I think it's important to acknowledge that, certainly, you know, if you look at individual mass shooters, they often could benefit from mental health treatment but that doesn't explain why the United States is so different from the rest of the world.

So one of the things I looked at was suicide rates. And suicide and mental illness are closely correlated. And the United States does not have anywhere near the worst suicide problem in the world. And if you think about treatment and services, you know, there are a lot of countries around the world who wish they had our treatment services, our medication.

So, you know, ultimately, the key is what makes the United States different as a factor that could explain why we're so different when it comes to this form of violence, and mental illness just isn't it.

What came first, the chicken or the egg, in this case, it's what came first, the desire to kill or the acquisition of the firearm. And the answer was the desire to kill in many cases. So many of these shooters are not lifelong gun owners, or hunters, you know, and if you're a hunter or a lifelong gun owner, I feel your pain, you shouldn't be unfairly blamed. The problem is, these perpetrators, they're going in to a gun store and they've already decided that they want to kill. And they're looking across the counter, and they're just waiting for someone to give them a tool that can make that possible.

So, really the key is, like given that we know sequentially that they already want to kill when they purchase that firearm, can we do something to stop that transaction?


CABRERA: So let's talk about what can be done. President Biden has now responded to last night's shooting saying gun violence, quote, stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. He also called for gun violence prevention legislation, and CNN's Tom Foreman is following that for us.

Tom, we know the president took executive action recently on gun control. We've already seen the House take action on a couple of bills. Everyone is waiting on the Senate. Where does the legislation stand right now?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it stands where all major gun control legislation has stood for 20 years, and it's sort of legislative limbo. The question is, can they crack it out of that?

You mentioned the House measures. Right now, they're moving forward on the Senate side. Senators Murphy and Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both from Connecticut, are carrying forward the effort to say that they think they can get ten Republicans to join them in bipartisan support, Murphy in particular. He said, I think we can do this. So they're trying to see if they can bring Republicans around.

Any bill would likely omit private transaction background checks. What this means is if you're making a deal with somebody privately to pass a gun on to somebody else, that may get around that. Why would that be there? Because that might give room for Republicans who are saying I can't go against my gun rights supporters if I don't get some room in here to say it's not as broad as they would fear.

Red flag legislation is in discussion, albeit with due process concerns. What is red flag legislation? Just what you're talking about a minute ago, the notion that there are people out there who have provable mental issues, and maybe they should not be allowed to have guns. Maybe to get guns, to have them, maybe there should be a limit on that.

There's a lot of public support for trying to stop that from happening. People saying that is a bad idea, including a lot of gun supporters who think something should be done about that.

And, of course, one of the real issues here is that none of this is on the agenda for April. Schumer says the Senate will hold a vote, that is going to happen, according to him, but the question is, can they push forward enough here, do they have to bargain so much away even if they get a deal, that it doesn't really amount to much?

But for the moment, there are a lot of people on the Democratic side who are saying, look, look back of the those numbers you just cited, Ana, how can you not do something?


CABRERA: Exactly. When does it become urgent when we've had 45 mass shootings in the course of a month, since the Georgia spa shootings? Tom Foreman, thank you for breaking it down and letting us know what to keep an eye on.

A split second decision, Chicago Police have now released body cam footage showing an officer shooting and killing a 13-year-old after shouting, drop it. A gun was found near that spot. But was it in the boy's hand when the officer opened fire?

And as the nation races to vaccinate Americans, nearly half the states reported an increase in COVID cases this week. Michigan hospitals are reaching full capacity. We will talk to a doctor there.

Plus, China, are you watching? President Biden's face to face meeting with Japan's prime minister to set a clear message.



CABRERA: Those are protesters in Chicago chanting justice for Adam after body cam video newly released by Chicago Police shows the moment an officer made a split second decision to fire a single shot killing 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

Police say the boy was seen holding a gun at the end of a chase. They also say the video shows less than a second passes from the time Toledo was seen holding that gun to when he was shot and killed by the officer.

CNN's Ryan Young is following this for us in Chicago. And, Ryan, this shooting happened last month but this body cam video has just been made public. We're also learning new details about the officer. Where does this investigation go from here?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, that's the big question at this point. I can tell you, when it comes to police- involved shootings, look, this video was released pretty quickly, and they were pretty open yesterday when they were talking to us, sort of giving us preliminary background in terms of what may have happened in this shooting.

You see that spot shadow on the weapon, that's something that police were pointing to, saying the teen had a gun in his hand, but obviously the family attorney doesn't agree. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOUNG (voice over): The tragic final moments of a 13-year-old boy unfolding in just 19 seconds. Chicago Police releasing this body camera footage, and we warn that it's disturbing, showing Officer Eric Stillman responding to a shots fire call before chasing one of the suspects down in an alley.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please stop. Stop right there now. Hey, show me your hands. Drop it. Drop it.

Shots fired, shots fired, get an ambulance up here now.

YOUNG: The officer firing a single fatal shot into the chest of Adam Toledo. Despite efforts to save him, the teen was pronounced dead at the scene.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D-CHICAGO, IL): No parents should ever have a video broadcast widely of their child's last moments, much less be placed in a terrible situation of losing their child in the first place.

YOUNG: Chicago Police say Toledo had a gun in his hand before the shooting and that they recovered one from just behind the fence, highlighting it in this video edited and released by the department. But the body camera footage appears to show Toledo had his hands up and was not holding anything at the time he was shot, a crucial detail his family's attorney says is important in the investigation.

ADEENA WEISS ORTIZ, LAWYER FOR ADAM TOLEDO'S FAMILY: If he had a gun, he tossed it. The officers said, show me your hands, he complied, he turned around.

YOUNG: Toledo's family agreed to the release of the video after viewing them with the Chicago mayor's office earlier this week. Now, the officer who killed Toledo is on administrative leave, his attorney telling CNN he was left with no other option, adding, Stillman was well within his justification of using deadly force.

But for protesters and Toledo's family, there are questions about his death that need to be answered.

ORTIZ: All I know is an officer is trained to not shoot an unarmed individual, not to shoot an unarmed child.


YOUNG (on camera): Ana, look, they are still worried about the fallout from this case, all up and down Michigan Avenue. Extra security guards have been hired at businesses, some are even boarding up their windows, they're worried about what happened last summer when people were still upset about some of the violence with police across this country that they took to the streets and started throwing bricks through the windows.

Last night, we saw police at the ready but nothing happened. But still, that high security presence remains even as we speak.

CABRERA: Such a sad situation. Ryan Young, thank you.

We more than a year now into the coronavirus pandemic, but you go to some Michigan hospitals and you think we were just battling the first wave, cases surging, hospitals nearly full and medical workers being pushed to the brink. We'll go live to Michigan in just a moment.



CABRERA: Well, the fight against coronavirus and its variants just got a boost in the form of $1.7 billion.


ANDY SLAVITT, SENIOR ADVISER TO WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM: State and local public health departments are on the frontline to beating back the pandemic but they need more capacity to detect these variants early on before dangerous outbreaks.

This funding will enable CDC and states to do more genomic sequencing as we activate the nation's great research capabilities to detect variants earlier and increase our visibility into emerging threats. This investment will give public health officials to chance to react more quickly to prevent and stop the spread.


CABRERA: Here is the situation right now. We are seeing COVID spread. Nearly half the states in the U.S. reported an increase in COVID-19 cases this past week.


While 20 states reported an increase in deaths compared to the previous week. And Michigan currently has the second most cases of that B11 variant.