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Biden Talks With Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Amid Growing Crisis; Israeli Strike Destroys Building Housing Al Jazeera, Associated Press Offices; CDC: Vaccinated Americans No Longer Need Masks In Most Cases; Pipeline Company Pays Ransom To Group Behind Cyberattack; Senate Intel: Cases Of Debilitating Havana Syndrome Increasing; Former Gaetz Associate Strikes Plea Deal In Sex Trafficking Probe; Houston Police Empty-Handed In Search For Bengal Tiger. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 15, 2021 - 13:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (on camera): Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We start with breaking news.

The White House says President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone. It's unclear if their call happened before or after an Israeli airstrike destroyed an office building housing two prominent media outlets. Both Al Jazeera and the Associated Press say their staff were warned to evacuate before a missile struck the building.

Just a few moments after that strike, the building collapses into rubble. An anchor for Al Jazeera English gave this emotional response on the air.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This channel will not be silenced. Al Jazeera will not be silenced. We can guarantee you that right now.


WHITFIELD: The A.P. also putting out a statement in written form. "We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing A.P.'s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza. They have long known the location of our bureau and knew journalists were there."

The statement continues. "This is an incredibly disturbing development. We narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life. The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today."

So, this is the latest escalation in a week of extraordinary violence. Palestinian officials say 139 people have been killed in Gaza, another 1,000 plus wounded. Meanwhile, rocket fire from Hamas continues targeting Israeli cities, killing at least eight civilians.

Israel's defense minister saying a short time ago they are not seeking escalation, but they are ready for any scenario.

CNN is covering every angle of this story. Nic Robertson is in Ashkelon, Israel. Arlette Saenz is at the White House, and Aaron David Miller will give us his analysis from Washington, D.C.

Let me begin with you, Arlette Saenz at the White House. What more are you learning about the conversation that Biden had with Netanyahu?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Fred, the White House says that President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today. We are still waiting to hear exactly what was discussed in that call, and also when that call took place.

But the Israeli side has released a very short readout of this conversation, and it says that the prime minister informed President Biden of the actions that Israel have -- has taken and plans that they are planning to carry out in the future.

He also said that the prime minister thanks the president for unwavering support from the United States in their right to defend himself -- themselves. And also stressed that they're trying to avoid any innocent parties being involved in these situations.

Now, this all comes as there are rising concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza. We have not heard specifically yet from the White House about what they would describe as transpiring in this phone call.

But earlier today, there was a tweet from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, and she said, "We have communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists, and independent media is a paramount responsibility."

Now, that statement does not exactly directly address that Israeli airstrike which flattened that building in Gaza that housed some media outlets. So, we will see whether the White House will offer any further comment on that, with whether the president specifically raised that in his phone call with Netanyahu?

This is the second call that the president has had with Netanyahu just this week. And earlier in the week, the president has said that Israel has a right to defend itself. But we will see if these growing casualties and this simmering tension of might provoke the White House to offer any further type of comment or change in tone in their approach.


WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz at the White House. Thanks so much.

Nic Robertson back with us now. You've been playing -- watching this in a real-time. You're now in Ashdod. Earlier, you're in Ashkelon. So, what have you been seeing and why did you move?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (on camera): Nightfall along the border, the intensity of strikes the previous night along those sorts of positions increased.

This location where at here, sirens went off here last night, there were incoming rounds intercepted mostly by Iron Dome defensive system. One building was hit here in Ashdod last night. Tonight, so far, sirens not going off in this town, but south of here, their sirens have been going off.

Hamas said that their response to the targeting of that media building would be to target Tel Aviv again. They targeted Tel Aviv earlier today. The sirens were going off there, they targeted not only Tel Aviv but the area around it. And one man -- a 50-year-old man was caught in the street when one of the Hamas rockets managed to get through the Iron Dome defensive system. He was killed in the street there.

So, right now here it feels relatively quiet. But it did the previous night. I think the bigger picture here at the moment is this. That is the scale and number of rockets that have been fired from Gaza has been decreasing over the past few days.

The question I think on a lot of people's minds is, what is Hamas's threat? Are they going to carry through on it to have a big retaliation striking areas around Tel Aviv? Or are we now seeing a slow ramping down of these rockets coming and the strikes on Gaza? And it's not clear quite yet this night should be a good indication of how it's going to play.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nic Robertson, near the Israeli-Gaza border. Thank you so much, be safe.

Let's bring in now CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller. Aaron, so good to see you. So, this is the second phone call involving a Biden-Netanyahu. In your view, what might this latest call involve? Would the U.S. have an ultimatum for Israel with these strikes?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I doubt that. But I think if by next week we're still seeing the intensity of Israeli airstrikes and a surge again of Hamas rockets that the White House is going to have to figure out a way to make it unmistakably clear that this has to somehow tamp down.

It is not going to play the driving force in concluding a ceasefire, because we don't have relations with both Israel and particularly Hamas. It will be the Egyptians and the (INAUDIBLE), which will play that role.

But as you saw today with the strike on the apartment building, it's never a good idea to go to war with the press. Whatever the Israelis were intending, it just as an example it seems to me of the possibility of an even greater horror the longer this goes on.

WHITFIELD: And as the A.P. statement underscored that Israel knew about the bureau for Al Jazeera and Associated Press being housed in that building. So, it's not just striking any kind of, you know, militant office activity or intelligence which is what the Israeli defense had said, but it also is an apartment building, residence, and a place of work for these journalists.

So, that it would strike that building knowing all of that, what does that tell you about where this escalation of violence is? And with the potential (INAUDIBLE)

MILLER: Well, why the Israelis -- I mean, in view, Fred of everything you said, why the Israelis would gratuitously and willfully strike a building they knew it was -- it housed press?

The statement that the IDF spokesman put out, talked about military assets, I think military intelligence and assets co-located.



MILLER: Maybe in a bunker, I don't know. But again, I think that the point here is the longer this goes on, the greater the danger of a mass casualty event. Either as a consequence of an errant Hamas rocket that slams into a residential setting, or an Israeli -- errant Israeli artillery shell.

And that's going to -- if that happens, it's going to twist and turn this conflict in a completely different direction. And that's the real danger here. I suspect 2014, the war went on for 50 days.

I doubt if it's going to go on for that much longer. But again, the Americans are going to have to make a decision on how much pressure to ramp up on both, if in fact, we are where we are today next week.


WHITFIELD: And you heard in Nic Robertson's reporting there that, you know, Hamas has now at a point of determining what it can do next, and that there might be some threats to target strikes near Tel Aviv.

What are its options in terms of what its capability is, and what it would actually act on?

MILLER: Well, yes. Well, anywhere from eight to 10,000 rockets, some of which and greater percentage which are long-range are still held in reserve. I would think that Hamas wants the final act of this particular phase of the confrontation to be some sort of spectacular attack.

And that might be a calculation, or alternatively, both parties may have been reaching the point that the gains they have achieved are can't be supplemented and that there's a risk. And this may well be true in the case of Hamas. Hamas there's a risk of losing what they have achieved.

So, I suspect and I'm hoping that by early next week, this will begin to tamp down.

WHITFIELD: Do you think so. OK, so that's being optimistic. And then, the less optimistic, Aaron David Miller, what -- what's your concern about whether this is the precipice of a large or full-scale, perhaps even regional war.

MILLER: I don't see that happening, Fred. The real problem I think is this. The real tragedy, the poignancy, the deaths, and the destruction, and the asymmetry of the casualties, large numbers of Palestinian civilians. I don't want to detract or trivialize for a minute.

From those Israelis who have died is this. The odds that this round like any of the previous rounds will lead to some sort of pathway that will put Israelis and Palestinians even Israel and Hamas on the road to some sort of long-term ceasefire.

The odds of that happening are slim to none. You need leaders who are masters of their political houses, not prisoners of their ideologies or their constituencies. You do not have that.

And at some point, you will need an American or an external mediator if, in fact, the Israelis and Palestinians want to move forward. But the sheer waste and pointlessness of this is the fact that violence sometimes does produce agreements. But you need strong leaders who are willful and skill -- skillful, and sadly, and I would argue correctly, we do not have those on either side of the line.

WHITFIELD: All right, Aaron David Miller, always good to see you. Thank you so much for your time and expertise. Appreciate it.

MILLER: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, the CDC says fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks but there's a lot of confusion and hesitation still. Dr. Esther Choo offers her expert advice straight ahead.

Plus, an associate of Congressman Matt Gaetz strikes a deal in a sex trafficking investigation. So, how will that deal affect Gaetz's future?

And a mystery in Houston. We have new information on the search for that tiger that continues to be missing in one of America's largest cities. And then, there's a new video right here. We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: The CDC stunned many this week, announcing that fully vaccinated Americans can ditch face coverings in most situations. But the decision is raising a series of questions as more states and companies drop masked mandates. The White House says the decision was made purely based on science.


ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR, COVID RESPONSE TEAM: The CDC is always going to be criticized as being either too fast or too slow. But their job isn't to be popular. They try to follow the science. Our job at the White House is just to let them follow the science and take what comes and try to explain it as best we can to the American public.


WHITFIELD: All right joining me right now to discuss is Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. She's also an advocate for improving equity in healthcare. Dr. Choo, so good to see you.


WHITFIELD: All right. So, how do you, you know, explain the decision to drop these mask mandates? Do you see this as progress or is that an opening for potential problems?

CHOO: Well, like many things in this pandemic, it's a little bit of both. I mean, the question all along with mass mandates has been, why can't we drop the masks once we're vaccinated? And the answer has been that, although, we know that it's highly effective for preventing disease and severe disease, we don't know what it does to disease transmission.

So, the CDC upon getting more scientific information about the low rates of disease transmission among people fully vaccinated made this change. But it's guidance, you know, it's actually -- it's not a mandate to drop all mask mandates.

Disease transmission and vaccine uptake is a local phenomenon, it's not a national phenomenon. So, it will make a lot of sense for communities for individual businesses to make decisions that make sense for people who are there.

And so, you know, I think the biggest thing, the biggest ask is not for everyone to, you know, drop masks all of a sudden because they got their vaccine, but really to be respectful and not be jerks when you walk into say a business that has made that decision to uphold mask- wearing because that's what makes people feel the safest there in their setting, in the context of what's happening with the COVID-19 transmission in that community.

WHITFIELD: And, of course, most folks including experts were hoping this day was one day coming. I guess the questions are, you know, did they expect it to happen this soon?

Already, you know, about 120 million Americans are now fully vaccinated in the U.S., making up about 36 percent of the population. Are you comfortable with this decision coming before the U.S. has reached that higher level of immunity?

I -- the goal universally was what? 70 percent of Americans being vaccinated. So, long way to go between 36 percent and 70 percent.


CHOO: Yes. I think, you know, I think the idea is not that, you know, there's a single threshold, and then, all things fall away. I think what the administration has promised us is that, as we get more vaccinated we will slowly in stages return to, you know, to normal.

And I think that's what's happening. The guidance around masks is as interesting and what it doesn't say as what it does say. I mean, there are many, many settings in which we will still wear masks; healthcare settings, congregate living facilities, public transportation, we still have to recognize that our children under, you know, under 16 are largely still not vaccinated.

We still for a while will not have any vaccination among children under 12, and so, we're going to needed lots of specific guidance about what we do in schools and camps and businesses of different kinds.

We also recognize that there's no way for, you know, for us to tell who's vaccinated or not. So, what is the business owner to do? And the CDC does promise additional guidance.

So, again, masks are not going anywhere anytime soon. We have a long road in this pandemic and we need to be really responsive to local recommendations and to additional recommendations through the CDC.

So, yes, I don't think this is, you know, where we're dancing in the end zone. This is -- there are in some settings for some people, there are times where we can go inside and feel comfortable removing masks.

It's an early step, it's not meant to be a sweeping universal recommendation. I hope people don't see it like that.

WHITFIELD: So, what are you recommending to employers out there who are now listening to the CDC guidance, and now trying to figure out what do we do about so many of our employees who have been working from home and if they are indeed vaccinated, do we encourage them to come back into the office? What do you recommend to them?

CHOO: Yes, I think that's an area where, in some circumstances, they can look at local guidance from their public health departments. And if the local guidance is, look, in our community we have very high vaccine uptake rates. You can look in your -- in your specific organization if there are very high vaccination rates. Disease rates are low, you have low numbers of vulnerable people. That can be a decision that an individual employer can make about bringing people back into the office.

And, you know, you can also still kind of have graded and nuanced recommendations. You know, if you're going to be meeting with lots of people in close settings, that may be a setting where masks need to go back on.

But if people are in their individual offices, you know, they can take masks off if there's maybe small numbers of people in the office that are fully vaccinated. There are no risk factors there.

They may be able to make that decision to remove masks. So, we're getting some freedoms back.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it sounds like it's just going to take some serious getting used to, just like it took a transition getting used to, right? Changing all of our behavior to wear a mask and be safe. So, here we go on another journey in this seemingly endless journey.


CHOO: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: All right.

CHOO: It really is.

WHITFIELD: Exactly. It's coming -- it's coming, I see the finish line. I really do. All right, Dr. Esther Choo, thank you so much for guiding us along the way. I appreciate it.

CHOO: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right still ahead a massive fuel pipeline is back up and running but at what price? CNN has learned the company paid ransom to hackers and that's setting off a new round of concerns.



WHITFIELD: All right, nearly a week after a crippling cyber-attack that shuttered gas distribution to much of the East Coast, we have learned that Colonial Pipeline paid a ransom to the hackers behind the attack.

The company said today it has since returned to normal operations, though shortages continue in so many states, at least for now. Let's discuss this now with Jonathan Wackrow, CNN law enforcement analyst, and a former Secret Service agent.

So good to see you. So, Colonial Pipeline paid the ransom, it says. But now, what? And are you concerned about what it may potentially now be a pattern of sabotage, and you pay them.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (on camera): Yes. Good afternoon, Fred. Listen, yes, from a law enforcement perspective, law enforcement's always going to advise not to pay a ransom. And the reason being is because, one, you don't know if there's going to be a success in actually gaining encryption keys that are going to give you your network back.

You don't know whether or not there's going to be future attacks, some sort of additional malware that has been placed on the system that, that that attacker can come back to. And third, most importantly, you're actually fueling the criminal activity. You're giving them money to then go out and develop and purchase new cyber weapons to then use against you or other industries. So, from a law enforcement perspective, it's not advised.

But let's actually be pragmatic around what's going on here. This ransom attack has crippled fuel deliveries across the East Coast and it was literally one of the worst cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure to date.


WACKROW: You know, the 45 percent of all fuel on the East Coast had been crippled. So, from a business operations standpoint, really the hackers had this pipeline, you know -- you know, choked off. They had to pay that ransom, at least to, you know, attempt to get the fuel flowing again.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and you can't help but worry and wonder whether this was kind of a prelude to more potentially. Especially with the outcome being, you know, they got paid.


So this criminal group behind the attack, previously identified as DarkSide, demanded nearly $5 million. But sources did not tell CNN exactly how much Colonial eventually did pay.

Either way, do you see that that's a cost that will trickle down to customers?

WACKROW: Well, listen, I think when you're talking about oil and gas, a $5 million expenditure is literally a drop in the bucket.


WACKROW: But there's a ripple effect here. And we are seeing that ripple effect. As the pipeline has been restored, we're going to see the supply-and-demand issues play out over the next week.

As earlier reported, the gas only travels approximately five miles an hour through the pipeline. Thinking about how does that reach New Jersey and northern states from the south? I mean, you have a distribution issue right now.

And I think it's important to note this attack is really interesting. DarkSide is a relatively new criminal enterprise.

What they've done is actually they adopted very sophisticated tactics to launch these very calculated attacks.

And what's going to happen is, this is going to persist. This isn't a moment in time.

We've been talking about ransom attacks for a long time on the corporate side of things, you know, attacking network services in different organizations. This is the first time we are seeing it in terms of critical

infrastructure. So this was a real seminal moment on how the pipeline in conjunction with law enforcement responded to this attack.

And moving forward, it's going to set an example of, how are we going to respond to future incidents of ransomware against critical infrastructure?

WHITFIELD: Now with a name and notoriety, what are your concerns about the potential what's next? This group, right, has just been emboldened.

WACKROW: Absolutely. The success of this group over the last year -- I mean, they were only formulated less than a year ago.

What they've done is they've actually professionalized the criminal industry that surrounding ransomware that has literally costs tens of billions of dollars in losses for organizations.

What they do is operate as a service. They provide other hackers with the tools to go out and launch these attacks.

So they're not necessarily doing it themselves all of the time. They're giving other hostile actors all of the resources to do so.

Again, this isn't the last time. And it really, you know, presents a mounting challenge for organizations.

WHITFIELD: Let me ask you about something else now, these mysterious attacks on Americans and what's been dubbed Havana Syndrome.

"The Washington Post" editorial board saying this week, "The mystery attacks on Americans must be solved, and that all of these add up to assault on Americans abroad and now on U.S. soil and that has -- which has alluded detection and is running unabated."

Experts have said the cause of these attacks may be some kind of pulse radio frequency causing symptoms from hearing loss, dizziness and headaches to brain injury.

We're talking about what many American diplomats experienced in Cuba. And then now most recently being reported to have taken place not far from the White House.

So how concerning is this?

WACKROW: Listen, these directed pulse energy attacks, or variations of them, are invisible threats. They have been long-known hazards facing our foreign service diplomats, as you just said.

But right now, what is the most concern to me is literally how brazen this attack was. It occurred right on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., essentially the backyard to the White House.

Let me give you some atmospherics about the location. This is one of the most highly surveilled areas in Washington, D.C., with a constant presence of both overt and covert federal and local law enforcement entities to include the Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and Metropolitan D.C. Police.

So there's a large law enforcement contingency here at all times.

So for someone to launch this attack, they're sending a message, right?


WACKROW: It's very easy to launch these attacks overseas. You're doing it right at the White House's backward. To me, this location was specifically chosen to send a message.

WHITFIELD: Right. It's a frightening detection. But at the same time, it's like thank goodness it was detected, right?

WACKROW: Absolutely.


WACKROW: Absolutely. Again, how are we going to deal with this? How are we going to investigate it?

There are a lot more questions than answers right now but we've got to get to the bottom of this because it's happening on U.S. soil now.

WHITFIELD: That's right.

Jonathan Wackrow, thank you very much. Always good to see you. Be well.

WACKROW: Thanks, Fred. Have a great day.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.


All right, still ahead, a new chapter in the Matt Gaetz scandal. A former associate of the congressman pleading guilty to sex trafficking charges. We'll have the details next.


WHITFIELD: A close confidante of Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz has struck a deal with federal prosecutors.

Joel Greenberg plans to plead guilty to six federal charges, including a count of sex trafficking of a child, according to a new court filing.

As part of his deal, Greenberg will cooperate with ongoing investigations.

Gaetz has not been charged in the investigation and denies any wrongdoing. For more now on this, let's bring in Katelyn Polantz.

Katelyn, what more do we know about this guilty plea, this deal?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: This isn't just a guilty plea. It is a deal that is essentially a building block where prosecutors are making Joel Greenberg, this friend of Matt Gaetz, into a cooperator into a larger investigation.

What that means is they were throwing the book at Joel Greenberg. He was facing dozens of charges. He was sitting in jail. And now he's getting significant leniency.

You only get that in an investigation like this if you provide substantial assistance to an investigation and potentially future cases.

So he would have to testify. He would have to turn over anything he knows how has in documents, if that's something prosecutors need for a bigger investigation.


And Joel Greenberg is also admitting to a significant amount of things, including sex trafficking a minor.

Now, there's a girl who is -- who was a minor at the time that he had met on a sugar daddy Web site, has been paying her hundreds of dollars over Venmo and had been meeting at hotels.

And there's a key line in the allegations that he's admitting to that says he introduced this child to other adult men who engaged in commercial sex acts with her.

We don't know who those people are, but we do know that Congressman Gaetz is under investigation for something that sounds quite similar to this, that's based on our previous reporting.

Now after this plea deal was released yesterday, the congressman released a statement that said he doesn't seem to be named a reference in this document in the court, and that he had never paid for sex with a minor and had never had sex with a minor.

So this is just another piece. There's more to come in that this is an ongoing investigation.

Greenberg will show up in court tomorrow, where he will present his plea documentation, along with a Justice Department's agreement, to a federal judge -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Katelyn Polantz, thanks for all of that information. Appreciate it.

All right, the hunt is still on for India, as in the Bengal tiger cub. Coming up, why police in Houston believe it's evaded them for a week now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: Right now, a frantic search is underway for a tiger in Texas. India is a 9-month-old tiger that was first spotted nearly a week ago in a Houston neighborhood. Police have been trying to track down the big cat with no luck.

And now new video just released a short time ago showing a man playing with the tiger inside a home prior to this cat hunt.

Victor Cuevas is currently behind bars on an unrelated charge and is not cooperating, apparently, in the search for this tiger.

CNN's Rosa Flores is on the hunt, on the prowl, shall we say, in Houston.

Rosa, this case is getting a whole lot of attention. Are residents there scared at all?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, for the most part, no, because police do not give us any indication that this animal is roaming the streets of Houston.

What this investigation looks like, Fred, is more police doing police work, investigators following leads, following tips.

According to the Houston Police Department, they have received hundreds of phone calls, some of them tips, some of them alleged sightings of this animal.

But police are following every lead to try to find this dangerous animal.

Now, let's go back to this video that was just released yesterday by Victor Cuevas' attorney.

It shows him playing with this tiger. According to his attorney, he says this animal is potty trained, that he responds to commands like sit down and lay down.

And that when Cuevas speaks to him in Spanish and says kisses, this animal jumps on his shoulders and gives him a kiss.

Now, this is not meant to be cute. This is a dangerous animal. And that's why the Houston Police Department is the investigating agency. Take a listen.


RON BORZA, COMMANDER, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: A tiger is a tiger. And I imagine it's going through a lot of stress this week, too, with all of the moving that I'm assuming it's going through, which isn't good.


FLORES: Investigators believe that this animal has probably moved six, seven, eight times within the city of Houston. But they do believe that the tiger is still in Houston.

Now "Tiger King" star, Carole Baskin offering a $5,000 reward, Fred, to try to find this tiger.

This reward would go to any individual who turns this tiger over to a sanctuary and then works with police to prosecute the owner and the seller of the tiger -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: OK, we're going to see if that's incentive, because this is quite the mystery. And I'm sure police want to know who will be willing to cooperate with that kind of deal.

Rosa Flores, thank you so much in Houston.

Let's talk more about this. Joining me now is Howard Quigley. He is the conservationist science executive director for Panthera, which is a global wild cat conservation organization.

So good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So I wonder what -- oh, fantastic.

I wonder what your greatest concerns are, because when you look at this new video of this tiger, India, he sure looks playful and even docile.

But what are your concerns here about what may happen or what is happening to this tiger?

QUIGLEY: Yes, that's a big question, what could have happened if we all talked about the what ifs.

We at Panthera and other conservation organizations are just breathing a sigh of relief the worst didn't happen. It could have been a hail of bullets. It could have been a jogger coming down the street or whatever.

A lot of people want these small kittens, and they end up being large, very dangerous cats in the end, even if they look docile.

We know what happened to Siegfried & Roy. We know what happens when animals are upset because they don't have enough food.

So we're just happy that nothing really bad happened. And we hope that the tiger is found and placed in someplace that's certified and can be cared for properly.

[13:50:08] WHITFIELD: So when you look at this video, a 9-month-old tiger, how many pounds approximately is this animal? What's its potential?

And as you just heard from Rosa Flores, there's a belief the animal is being moved around possibly from place to place. So it's likely experiencing a lot of trauma in all of this.

QUIGLEY: Oh, yes, without a doubt. It's an animal welfare issue. It's a law enforcement issue. It's an animal welfare issue.

And it could have been worse, like I said.

At nine months, this animal is probably sitting at about 150 to 180 pounds with the kind of strength that no grown person can endure or persist against.

So it's a dangerous animal, even if Mr. Cuevas has been seen rolling on the floor.

Thank goodness the police officer that was there on the scene held back and backed off, even though he had a gun. It just could have turned out so much worse.

WHITFIELD: And you made --

QUIGLEY: Let's hope we can find this animal.

WHITFIELD: You made reference to Siegfried & Roy. That's the first thing I thought about with this cat on the prowl, that it's been domesticated, et cetera.

And now seeing the video tape and learning from Rosa's information and reporting that it has been taught cues. It has tricks. I mean, it kisses and all that stuff.

So what's your concern about perhaps whether it is going to be sold or what the plan might be for this animal when it is being trained to sit and to take commands and the domesticated?

QUIGLEY: Yes. It takes a very controlled environment to be able to predict the behaviors of these large, dangerous animals and their -- you know, a wild tiger normally has a home range or a territory of 500 square miles.

Now we're training them to live in a living room or lay around or, in this particular case, probably go from three or four different places or sit in the car with Mr. Cuevas as he transfers it. So it's an accident waiting to happen.

And that's why we, at Panthera, and others are supporting the Big Cat Public Safety Act. It passed the House last year. It is sitting in the Senate.

We hope that everybody can see now this is a wake-up call, that there needs to be more regulation on these pet big cats. Because it's no -- it's no laughing matter, especially for those people who live in that neighborhood, who are now thinking, my gosh, I can't let my kids out, you know?

WHITFIELD: Right. Of course. No one wants anyone to get hurt. And certainly, you know, I know I don't want the cat to get hurt either.

Howard Quigley, thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

QUIGLEY: Sure. Thanks for having me on.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: A police officer going "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY," bridging the gap between law enforcement and the Hispanic community he serves.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has his story.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Officer Claudio Jimenez patrols the streets of Charlotte with one goal in mind, changing the way the community perceives law enforcement.




GALLAGHER: Along the way, he greets familiar faces while also meeting new ones.


GALLAGHER: While also meeting new ones.




GALLAGHER: But for Officer Jimenez, the outreach also extends to the airwaves, a tool proving to be even more effective in a pandemic.

Officer Jimenez hosts a weekly show targeted towards the quickly growing Spanish community in Charlotte, discussing topics like crime prevention, road safety, and domestic violence.

JIMINEZ: I give out information, specific, practical, truthful information that comes from the source. I answer questions. I clear up misconceptions that people have.

GALLAGHER: One of those misconceptions, he says, is people often believing that his police department works with immigration.

JIMENEZ (through translation): I am not ICE. I am a police officer. And my mission is to help the community when they are in need.

GALLAGHER: But bridging the gap is paying off.

JIMENEZ: I have received some very, very positive feedback from the community. People are very happy that they have a Latino officer who speaks their language and who knows our culture.

GALLAGHER: Jimenez, a law enforcement veteran, also volunteers at a local food bank, feeding hundreds of families in need, and putting on toy drives.


GALLAGHER: He is one of 103 Hispanic officers that make up the 1,800- member Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

For this Chilean native, this job is a dream come true.

JIMENEZ: I had to learn English. I have to do everything that everybody does. And work hard and become a citizen. And then I became a police officer, which was my dream.