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Surveillance Video Shows Collapse of Condo Building; Biden Lays Out Crime Prevention Strategy as Violence Spikes. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 24, 2021 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: More on the breaking news we're following out of Surfside, Florida, right next to Miami Beach. Take a look at what is incredibly disturbing new video and it appears to show the moment that this condo building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed early this morning. A warning here about how hard it is to see.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Yes, it comes down in two parts. There is the second part coming down. Listen, your heart goes out to whoever might have been inside of that building as it happened. We do know that two people, thankfully, have been rescued so far. But, sadly, we also know that they are still searching for perhaps dozens of others who at least, at this point, have not confirmed that they are safe.


That is a view of what it looked like on left prior to the collapse and here is where it is now, a entire section of the building sheared off, about half of the units. And what remains, officials are concerned, that is structurally unsound as well. And we should note, people from that portion of the structure have been evacuated.

I want to speak now to retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore. He served as the designated commander of Joint Task Force Katrina, of course, responsible for military relief efforts in the wake of that hurricane, where you saw collapses as well.

But, listen, the scale of this, General, you've dealt with a lot of disasters here. Tell us as you look at this what strikes you and what happens next?

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.): What happens next is the continuation of the search and rescue. Miami-Dade County is home to some great assets. One of them is Task Force One. It is a world renowned, the United States has deployed them around the world and as well as across the country to help other communities in other states deal with building collapse, earthquakes, natural disasters. They are some of the best and they're right there in Miami-Dade.

So that search and rescue that is being led using the National Incident Command System, which was developed after homeland security was evolved after 9/11, those things we invested in after 9/11 is being used today to command and control and provide those task forces to do that search and rescue.

Now, this is not like what happened of the cause of 9/11 nor does it look like what happened in October 19 when we had a building collapse in New Orleans, which was under construction. But the similarities are the investments we made in our first responders' ability to respond by creating these task force of experts and all they do is constantly train.

That being said, simultaneously, there will be investigation coming in from OSHA to determine failure. But that will not happen until we go from search and rescue to recovery. So what is seen right now, I see right now a very disciplined system between the Dade County folks as well as the Surfside officials, which I think is important to get good information out to people, Jim.


HARLOW: Lieutenant Honore, Poppy Harlow here with along with Jim. How do you continue a search and rescue operation when the rest of the building is at risk of collapsing, which is what the mayor said this morning?

HONORE: That is why we have people at Joint Task Force One. They have technology, they have the dogs, technology that includes sounds, sight, robots, they have moved us to a different level from what we used to watch on television 10, 15 years ago. Again, much of that investment and lessons learned for dealing with the buildings in 9/11 and moving forward to what we have now from this type of a structural build, the one that happened in New Orleans in October of 2019, lessons were learned that are brought forward today.

And that is why we have this Joint Task Force One, which is sponsored by the federal government. They're located in Miami. And they will be a big assistance to the first responders. What they have to look at, you know, they were doing something on the roof. That is one of the root causes of what happened to the building in New Orleans that was under construction. Don't know, too early to tell or was it something in the original construction that failed or was it something to do with climate change with undersea activities eroding the beachfront and maybe it is coming from underneath, and the USGS will have to do a seismic report.

But there's much to learn right now. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who survived and the ones we don't know where they are, which is going to be hard to do. But they appear to have a good handle on communicating with the public. My hats off to them so far.

HARLOW: And our deepest gratitude to all of them, those teams on ground. As you said, they are the best of the best. Lieutenant General Russel Honore, thank you so much.

And we'll be right back.


SCIUTTO: We continue to follow breaking news out of Surfside, Florida, and here is the latest. Rescuers are searching, still searching for any signs of survivors in a massive pile of debris created when a 12-storey condo building, part of it, collapsed this morning. Look at those pictures there. Authorities say at least one person is dead, two people have been rescued from the wreckage, dozens more are injured.

HARLOW: Let's bring in Nicholas Balboa, an eyewitness who is also a hero this morning. I know you don't want to be called one, nick, but you found a little boy and you pulled him from the rubble. And he was -- he was underneath his bed. What can you tell us about him? How old was he? Did he look injured? Could he speak to you?

NICHOLAS BALBOA, HELPED RESCUE PEOPLE FROM PARTIALLY COLLAPSED BUILDING: So, yes, he could speak to me. He's ten years old, is what he said.


From -- when you say under his bed is, there was a bed frame and a mattress that were laying above of him so I could only assume that that might have been his bed judging by the size of the mattress. So he was probably just sleeping and then all of a sudden the building gave way. He said that his mother was in the apartment with him as well. So, I couldn't see her or hear her. So I have no idea what her status was but I do hope that she is all right. As for him, he's a guardian angel, that is all I can say, given he came out unscathed.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You've described this as an image like 9/11. And I just wonder if you could tell us what the moments were like leading up to, as we're watching now, we're seeing pictures of this ten-year-old taken out of the wreckage, tell us what you heard and what you did when you heard it.

BALBOA: Sure. So, I was outside, I happen to be walking my animal. I was on Hardy, which is South of Collins. It is just about half a block. I felt the ground shake and then I heard what sounded like thunder. And so it didn't quite register to me like what might have been going on, just it happened so suddenly. I thought it might have been a storm. But then it happened again at about 30 seconds to a minute later and then it was like something is wrong.

So I brought my dog back up stairs and then went back downstairs and went to Collins because I could see that people were already coming outside to get kind of a view of what had happened. So I walked down to the building, the front side is still standing, so I couldn't actually see clearly what collapsed.

But at that point, fire crews were -- they were arriving on site, so emergency vehicles were -- they were pushing us back. I decided to walk around one of the apartment buildings to the north of it and then walk along the beach to get a vantage point of the back side of the building. So it was there that I could see exactly what had happened. There weren't any police, there weren't any fire presence on the back side of the building. There were just a few onlookers. It couldn't have been more than maybe a handful. And so it was extremely quiet, like eerie. It was unusual, one of those moments that I can't describe.

I could hear somebody yelling and screaming. So myself and another individual, we decided to get closer and it was at that point that I could begin to hear him clearly and hear by his voice that he was a little boy, couldn't have been more than in his preteens.

So then I saw an arm sticking out of the wreckage and he was screaming, can you see me and whatnot. So we started to kind of climb up to him to try and see if we could get him free. But there was -- it was too heavy, too much rebar and stuff like that. It was going to take quite a bit of an effort to get him out. But he was screaming, don't leave me, don't leave me, don't leave me. And so we wanted to stay with him and make sure that we got fire and police over there so I was able to signal a police officer using the flashlight of my phone.

And so the police officer came over, he got up to him, I was wearing flip-flops so it made the climb a little difficult. But they got up to him. He got a perspective and then he got fire over there to start digging him out.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Jesus, a ten-year-old boy.

HARLOW: Nicholas, you saved -- you and those first responders saved a child this morning, which is really everything. Thank you for being with us.

BALBOA: Well, thank you.

HARLOW: Well, coming up, as we continue to follow this breaking news out of Southern Florida, President Biden unveiling a new plan to address the rise in violent crime across the country. What does it mean for cities dealing with this? We're going to speak with Minneapolis Community Leader Sondra Samuels, next.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Right now, bipartisan group of lawmakers are working to hammer out a deal on police reform by the end of the day. This months-long negotiation over policing is happening as President Biden addresses the nationwide spike in crime. He announced a plan yesterday that will allow cities to use leftover COVID relief funds to combat the violence in their streets.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Folks, this shouldn't be a red or blue issue. It is an American issue. We're not changing the Constitution. We're enforcing it, being reasonable. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Well, last year, the city of Minneapolis diverted about $8 million away from the city's police department to other services, but with homicides this year in Minneapolis on pace to reach the highest level in years, the city council recently approved $5 million in new police department funding. There is a lot to talk about here.

Sondra Samuels is with me. She is the president and CEO of the Northside Achievements Zone, a non-profit that works with thousands ever families in the most underserved communities across Minneapolis. Sondra, good morning and thank you for being here.

Let's start on the dire statistics in your home town, in my home town, homicides nearing record highs there, gunshot victims up 123 percent from this time of a year ago, and violent crime arrests down one- third.


That is the data.

You talk about working alongside police officers while holding them accountable. What does Minneapolis need from the Biden administration?

SONDRA SAMUELS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NORTHSIDE ACHIEVEMENT ZONE: Yes, absolutely. And, Poppy, thank you, great to be on the show. There is one stat that you left out of this like insane increase in violent crime and homicides, which is happening here in Minneapolis and all around the country, is that, disproportionately, the people who are being harmed are black and brown folks.

And so in my community, I know there was a number thrown out that of all of the gunshot victims, like 60 percent are black, it is more like 90, because it is gunshots based on kind of community violence, right? And we only make up 20 percent of the city of Minneapolis. And so the disproportionality in terms of the harm that has happened at the hands of dysfunctional police force, so, yes, Poppy, which has to be transformed, that is our demand, that is where the whole slogan around Black Lives Matters comes from.

And while we do that, and while we invest in social supports, in ending the racism in education and health and income and wealth and all of that stuff, we have to also have sufficient levels and sufficient levels of staffing of police officers that will keep our babies, our elderly and our citizens safe. And so it is both end, Poppy. Like that is my banner. It is like we have to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time.

HARLOW: Right.

SAMUELS: And I just want to say for folks who are -- have the rhetoric of we are going to get rid of cops and abolish them, we're defunding, which happened here in the city, some defunding, significant, they're not the enemy of folks like me who say we need sufficient staffing levels. We're all struggling as Americans of how we fix a system that is broken, Poppy. And what I would say is that some of the decisions have just been premature and they've harmed very people they were intended to help and that is the black community.

HARLOW: You said, our babies. So let's talk about the kids of Minneapolis for a moment. At least 22 children have been shot in Minneapolis so far this year. Let's look at six-year-old Aniya Allen. She died in May. She was shot eating McDonald's in the back of her family car. And her grandfather called her one of the future leaders of this city. Nine-year-old Trinity Ottison Smith killed last month while playing with a friend on a trampoline. And ten-year-old Ladavionne Garrett Jr. shot in the head in April riding with his parents.

As a black mother, what reform, right -- you say don't defund but reform our police, what saves our kids?

SAMUELS: Right. So what saves our kids, and I think the president said this great in a wonderful way, Poppy, it is going to take all of us to really think through what our solutions are. And, you know, the police killing of George Floyd, which happened here in our city, was just the tip of the racist iceberg. Under that waterline, there is the racism in education, the racism in housing, the racism in health, the racism in the disparities around income. I mean, it is all of that, Poppy. So we have to get it all of it.

But in the meantime, this both hand, what we need is for police, which are part of our village, to be properly staffed, Poppy. Because how do you -- at a time when violence is at an almost all-time high, do you actually get rid of police officers?

You know, I mean, we here in Minneapolis, we have 200 police officers who have left the force since the beginning of 2020 and that is who left but retirement, PSTD, things of that nature. But 89 more are on leave. And we are at woefully low staffing levels. You mentioned, Poppy, that our city is refunding and you know a lot of cities, Baltimore, Oakland, L.A., Mayor de Blasio in New York, are now giving money back to the police force because they know that what we're doing is not sustainable.

The money that the city council put back to the police for, you know what it was for, Poppy? It was for overtime. And they had to put it for overtime because we don't have enough cops. You call 911, and you're on -- you're put on hold half of the time.

And so our approach is just not sustainable. It has to be police and community, office of violence prevention. All of the things that the president talked about, and Minneapolis is one of 15 cities that the president is going to specifically be focused on, which I'm excited by.

HARLOW: Looks, Sondra, you have said that this is really at the heart of the fight for the heart of America.


So we will continue to have your voice on this show and watch what happens Minneapolis and across the country.