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Witnesses: Shots Fired From Balcony Outside NY Council Meeting

Aired July 23, 2003 - 15:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: If you're just tuning in to CNN, it's the top of the hour, 3:00 Eastern Time.
For about the past 45 minutes or so, we've been covering this breaking news story in New York City, a gunman opening fire inside city council chambers during a hearing, wounding at least two people, possibly one person dead, maybe the shooter.

These pictures via WABC, the first pictures and the only pictures at this time of two of the victims, possibly in police uniforms. Medics working on them, as you can see, taking them into the ambulance.

We're telling -- according to witnesses, at least a dozen shots echoed across the second of this landmark lower Manhattan building, City Hall, sending people just diving for cover beneath their desks from the hall's rotunda to the city council chambers, even to reporters there in New York.

A witness on the phone with us now, Jan Farenbach, who was there when this shooting took place.

Jan, if you can hear me, why don't you just begin by telling me everything that you've seen. Take us to the very beginning of your story.

JAN FARENBACH, WITNESS: Well, I work about two blocks away from City Hall. I heard a lot of noise. I looked out my window, and there were about 15 or 20 police officers all straddling down the street. There were about 25 cop cars. I continued to look out the window, and I saw a lot of commotion. And then I saw somebody actually being taken away in a police car about 25-30 years old being taken away in a police car...


PHILLIPS: The person being -- Jan, the person being taken away in the police car, can you describe what that person looked like? Because we have received a number of descriptions of a possible shooter.

FARENBACH: Yes, she was handcuffed behind her back. It was a young woman probably about 25-30, maybe 35, light skin, long, dirty blonde hair in casual dress, had like a tan shirt on. It definitely was a woman, and she definitely was taken away in the police car.

PHILLIPS: OK. We have received a number of descriptions from a couple of city council members that the shooter was a male in khaki pants, possibly a light-skinned black man or a darker-skinned Hispanic, in his 40s. You have seen a female being taken away in a police car in handcuffs. Don't know if there's any relation there. But, Jan, what else? Were you actually in your place of work when you heard these shots fired?


PHILLIPS: Could you see anything from this balcony where council members said the shooter was firing from?

FARENBACH: No, I could not. I can see the park adjacent to my office, but, like I said, the only thing I saw were a bunch of police officers running down the block and in police cars, and that was the extent of it, and, again, the woman being taken away in the police car.

PHILLIPS: Did you by chance...

FARENBACH: The woman may not have been related to -- may have just have been somebody they picked up that they thought was related...


FARENBACH: ... to the shooting, but not necessarily the actual suspect or something along those lines.

PHILLIPS: Jan, what about the two victims that were on the stretchers that were being taken out of City Hall into ambulances? Medics were working on two victims on stretchers. Did you by chance get a look at the injured?

FARENBACH: No, I did not. It's a pretty hectic scene down there. There's a lot of people milling about and the police security is very tight.

PHILLIPS: I understand...

FARENBACH: You can't really get a look. You can't really even get a straight story as to exactly what happened unless somebody was in there.

PHILLIPS: Jan Farenbach, thank you. Thank you very much. A business owner there in New York City that was one of the witnesses of this shooting.

If you're just tuning in, once again, we're following breaking news. A gunman opening fire in the city council building in downtown Manhattan, wounding at least two people, possibly one person dead, maybe the shooter. We're working this story, getting as many details as possible for you -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It happened about an hour ago in the city council chambers there at City Hall. We're told by a spokesman for the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, that the mayor was in his office at the time and is, in fact, unharmed. But just to piece together some of the witness accounts we've been getting, primarily from city council members who are now clustered in a room for safety's sake while police conduct a sweep throughout City Hall to ensure that there is no further threat. The essence of what we know is that at the outset of the city council meeting, 2:00 p.m. Eastern, about an hour ago, in a period of time they called the ceremonials when proclamations and plaques are delivered and whatnot, the shots rang out from a balcony where the public has access to view council sessions. It began with five to seven shots.

A person in his 30s to 40s, described as a light-skinned black man or perhaps a dark-skinned Hispanic, wearing khakis with a very specific target in mind, according to all of the witnesses we have spoken to. It appears, according to those witnesses, one victim. And then it appears the shooter was shot. Now, was that self inflicted? We do not know. But the fact is that this shooter did, in fact, have a silver handgun of some kind, perhaps a 9 mm semiautomatic, according to one of our witnesses.

Right now, that whole area there of lower Manhattan has been cordoned off. It's a mess with traffic as police try to do the methodical task of going through City Hall right now and ensuring there is no additional threat.

We did see two injured people carried off on gurneys into ambulances, oh, about 45 minutes or so ago. Have not seen additional injuries taken away from there, and that all jives pretty much with what we have been hearing from those witnesses, mostly city council members who saw this thing unfold as their meeting began -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: On with us now on the phone is Sal Lifrieri. He was a security aide to the former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and he joins us on the phone now.

Sal, why don't you give us an idea of when something like this takes place, first of all, how do police officers respond to the mayor?

SAL LIFRIERI, GIULIANI'S FORMER SECURITY CHIEF: Well, one of the things that happens is the protection of the mayor and of the city council is performed by the intelligence division, which is basically the same significance as the Secret Service is in its protection assignment, and one of the things that the intelligence division does and in that protection is to do testing in what we call AOPs, attacks on principals. So, we'll actually rehearse those scenarios that may occur and have a plan in place.

But when a situation like this when something would occur of this nature, there's an actual game plan in place as to whether the mayor is going to be removed from the facility or he's going to be taken to a safe room. A lot of it is done under a prior plan.

PHILLIPS: Do you, by chance, know what happened here today?

LIFRIERI: No, I was not in the city when it occurred. PHILLIPS: OK, so, you obviously know this building very well, and council members were meeting in the chambers, and a number of the council members said that they saw the shots being fired, the gunman firing shots from the balcony. Can you kind of give us a visual of how close this balcony is to the council chambers, how possibly a shooter could have gotten on to this balcony? And if indeed that's the scenario, what would the response have been then with regard to protection of the mayor, city council members, other people -- oh, we're going to take you live now. Mayor Bloomberg is speaking to reporters...


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: ... an attack, not just on two people, and they are in our prayers, but this is an attack on democracy. We will not stop until we find who did this. It is not terrorism. It appears to be a random act, but we cannot allow this to go on. Ever. This is an attack on all Americans.

QUESTION: Do we know anything at this point about the suspect?

BLOOMBERG: We have a description of the shooter, and that description is being used by the police at this moment. They are searching City Hall, and they are searching the neighborhood.


O'BRIEN: All right. Well, clearly, we should clarify for you that what we thought was a live signal with Mayor Michael Bloomberg was clearly on tape, obviously delivered fairly recently.

The mayor leaving us with the impression that the shooter is at- large, which somewhat belies some of the witness accounts that we have gotten from city council members. So, put that in the category of conflicting pieces of information that we will inevitably be giving you as this story unfolds before your very eyes. This is the nature of this. There will be some bad information that we will be sharing with you, and that is what happens in stories like this when there are a lot of things that have happened very quickly in a dynamic way, and that's the process.

Now, let's get another witness's view of all of this, Joel Rivera, also a member of the city council of New York.

Were you in the council chambers at the time, Mr. Rivera? And if so, what did you see and hear?

JOEL RIVERA, MAJ. LEADER, NYC COUNCIL: Yes, I was in the council chambers. We had just finished up our ceremonials. All of a sudden, I looked up and I saw a gentleman pull out what seemed to be a silver gun and he started firing upstairs in the balcony, which is about 20 feet away from the actual chamber floor. Everyone proceeded to duck, and then started heading out for other areas of City Hall.

Apparently a council member was hit and possibly is dead from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) some of our (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Apparently, the perpetrator is still at-large. We're under lockdown with extreme security. A SWAT team, ATF and the bomb dogs are going around to make sure that the building is secure. And there is about 100 people in the committee room by itself, which is a relatively small meeting room inside City Hall. We're under lockdown.

O'BRIEN: All right, if we can back up just a minute. Did you see the shooter?

RIVERA: Yes, I did see the shooter from a distance. He seemed to be a light-skinned Hispanic in a dark suit. He pulled out a silver gun, possibly a revolver, and he fired shots at two people apparently, one person, council member, James Davis.

O'BRIEN: So, you're saying one of the victims is a council member?

RIVERA: From what we're hearing, council member James Davis was one of the victims.

O'BRIEN: OK. Do you know who the other victim was?

RIVERA: We do not know, but we're getting some reports that two police officers were shot and that possibility our security was able to get off a shot and possibly hit the perpetrators.

O'BRIEN: And when you say -- for a moment there -- you're certain there was one shooter, correct?

RIVERA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hearing there was one or possibly more shooters, but we know that three gentlemen entered together. We do not know if they were all in cahoots in this, but we know that one person pulled out one gun, but he did come in with other people into City Hall, but people are telling that.

O'BRIEN: This council member who you say was a victim, where was he at the time? Was he on the council chamber floor?

RIVERA: No, he was actually in the balcony with the individual. They were apparently all sitting next to each other, in conversation. And that's when the individual pulled out the weapon and started firing, and that's when everyone saw the two people. And that's where we -- it looked like it was council member James Davis that was hit and that was down, and he's unaccounted for.

O'BRIEN: He is.

RIVERA: So that's why the speculation has it that he was hit (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

O'BRIEN: OK. And is it uncommon for a council member to be in the balcony with the public at this stage of a council meeting?

RIVERA: It is uncommon for a member to be upstairs during the start of the meetings. We do not know why he was up there, but it was during the ceremonial portion, so it could be that he was engaged in conversation. We do not know why he was up in the balcony. But council members do at times go up.

O'BRIEN: All right, so to put your account in a nutshell, the victims from the way you see it, were council member Davis, another victim who you do not know the identity of, correct?

RIVERA: Yes, we do not know the identity of the other individual.

O'BRIEN: And...

RIVERA: I see that we actually have several SWAT team members coming into the room now checking everyone out.

O'BRIEN: OK. OK, do you need to go?

RIVERA: Pardon me.

O'BRIEN: Do you need to go and deal with that? Or can you talk for...

RIVERA: No, I'm pretty such I can stay.

O'BRIEN: All right. And then we've had...

RIVERA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) police officers, SWAT team entering right now with barricades.

O'BRIEN: What are they doing right now?

RIVERA: Hold on. I don't know what's going on.


RIVERA: I don't know what's going on.

O'BRIEN: If you could stay on the line and tell us what you see, that would be great.

RIVERA: They're questioning -- they're talking to an individual we do not know. They have their shields up. They're taking somebody now.

O'BRIEN: They're taking somebody.

RIVERA: No, they're checking somebody now. This person -- they're checking someone out. I doubt it's for any particular reason, because he doesn't seem like...

O'BRIEN: Do you know the person that they're addressing at the moment?

RIVERA: Yes, they're just questioning somebody we know. His name is David. He's a staff member. They're taking him out.

O'BRIEN: Oh, I see. It's a member...


O'BRIEN: ... a member of Councilman Davis' (ph) staff.

RIVERA: Yes, and they're removing him from the facility...


RIVERA: ... for questioning.

O'BRIEN: For questioning.

RIVERA: Apparently, the person that came with him is the person who shot him, from what we're hearing.

O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. Say that again, sir.

RIVERA: Some people are telling us the person that shot the council member did walk in with him.

O'BRIEN: Did walk in?

RIVERA: He did walk into City Hall with him, from what we are seeing.

O'BRIEN: With this person? Oh, that...


O'BRIEN: That's the allegation is that this is how this person got in, perhaps?


O'BRIEN: And on that point, if someone were coming into City Hall, a member of the public, and they were with a staffer, would they be subjected to a lesser degree of security?

RIVERA: Possibly, yes. If they were walking (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it is possible that they would not be checked as securely as if they were walking in by themselves.

O'BRIEN: So...

RIVERA: But the only way for them to get in possibly with that is that they were walking in with an elected official.

O'BRIEN: So, council members, their staff do not -- are not objected to the level of security that I would be, for example.

RIVERA: Exactly. The staff members are subjected to security, but not to the same level of security as an average person of the public.

O'BRIEN: All right, and are there still police officers in your presence?

RIVERA: Yes, they're a couple of people now for weapons.

O'BRIEN: Oh, really. So, they're actually searching people in that room right now.

RIVERA: Yes, they are.

O'BRIEN: What are they saying to them? Can you hear what they're saying?

RIVERA: No, they took them off to a corner.


RIVERA: And they escorted them out of the room.

O'BRIEN: But it is clear to you that they're -- are they searching everybody in the room right now, or just specific people?

RIVERA: No, only the particular people that fit the description.

O'BRIEN: Right. I mean, these are people linked to strictly Councilman Davis?

RIVERA: Close to the councilman, yes, and possibly (UNINTELLIGIBLE) staffers.

O'BRIEN: Yes. How many people are in the room where you are right now?

RIVERA: I would say anywhere from 75 to 100.

O'BRIEN: Twenty-five to 100. And most of these people...

RIVERA: Seventy-five.

O'BRIEN: ... are members of the -- either member of the council outright or their staff members, is that right?

RIVERA: Yes, right.

O'BRIEN: OK. And are people -- what's the mood right now? Is there still a degree of panic there?

RIVERA: No, most of the people have calmed down. You know, the initial shock has faded a little bit. People have (UNINTELLIGIBLE). One had fallen, but they're OK. But pretty much there's a relative calm right now. But before, people were hysterical, calling up (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

O'BRIEN: All right. Well, Councilman Joel Rivera, I hesitate to leave you in the midst of this, but we're going to move on.


O'BRIEN: And if you could stay close if any developments you see as the police officers continue their discussions there in that room, please let us know.

RIVERA: OK, no problem.

O'BRIEN: All right, thank you -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Miles, we, of course, have not confirmed the dead. The councilman there mentioning that he believes it's council member James Davis that could be among the dead. We are trying to confirm that. We're working that now.

Councilman James Davis has been a guest on CNN a number of times. Ironically, he founded the Love Yourself, Stop the Violence, not-for- profit organization, and it's an organization concerned with the growing violence in urban communities. He began waging a war against guns and drugs and teen pregnancy and school delinquency, starting this program.

Once again, we are trying to confirm if, indeed, one of the dead may be council member James Davis.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, we were able to receive all of the tape now, where he came forward and made a statement not long after the shooting took place in City Hall. This is what the mayor had to say not long ago.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: What we know was that after 2:00, somebody in the balcony of a city council chamber during a city council meeting apparently pulled a gun and shot two individuals. We don't know the condition of either individual, but they were clearly seriously hurt and removed to the hospital.

This is a terrible attack, not just on two people, and they are in our prayers, but this is an attack on democracy. We will not stop until we find who did this. It is not terrorism. It appears to be a random act, but we cannot allow this to go on. Ever. This is an attack on all Americans.

QUESTION: Do we know anything at this point about the suspect?

BLOOMBERG: We have a description of the shooter, and that description is being used by the police at this moment. They are searching City Hall and they are searching the neighborhood.


PHILLIPS: Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressing reporters there after the shooting that took place within the past hour at City Hall in downtown Manhattan.

Right now, you're looking at live pictures via WNYW there in front of City Hall in Manhattan.

If you're just tuning in, a gunman opened fire inside the city council chambers during a hearing. We are confirming now that there are two injured, two victims that have been injured in this shooting. They are at the NYU Hospital right now.

We've had a number of personal accounts from city council members calling in to us from the council chambers there inside City Hall, where they are being contained right now. Some council members saying they thought that the shooter was dead, but now Mayor Bloomberg coming forward, saying that a description of the shooter has been given to police, and they are searching City Hall and the neighborhood right now, leading us to believe that possibly the search is on for this shooter.

Our Maria Hinojosa has gotten to the scene. She's been working her sources, talking to witnesses. She is out now. We have her live in front of City Hall there.

Maria -- what new information can you give us?

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just heard from Mayor Bloomberg, and I want to quote what he said. He said that "This is a terrible day" -- let me just get this to you. He said, "This is a terrible day and a terrible attack." He said -- quote -- "They are in our prayers" -- that would be for the people who were wounded. He also said -- quote -- "This is not terrorism."

Now, as we have been reporting, what we can tell you is that at just about 2:00 p.m. when the city council was getting together for a meeting -- we actually have heard that there was a proclamation that had just given to the Puerto Rican Day parade -- that shots began to ring out from the second floor balcony. At that point, we have heard from witnesses, anywhere from six shots, more or less.

We also know that the -- or we're hearing that the person who was doing the shooting was shot himself and fell to the ground. We have seen two people reportedly taken out on ambulances.

Now, there is quite a scene. Maybe you can give a sense of it from behind me. You might be able to just see that this area has pretty much been evacuated. You are looking at the park area surrounding City Hall. But all around the side -- maybe Mike can move down this way so we can get a shot of the people who are standing over here.

Again, a lot of people just wondering what is going on. As I had said before, this is an area of city workers, municipal workers, so there are people who are not quite understanding what is going on. We do not know at this point whether or not this municipal building, which is where I am standing which is cattycorner (ph) from the City Hall, has been evacuated. And right behind that is Police Plaza, One Police Place.

The information that we got from the fire department in New York is that two people were transported to downtown Beakman (ph) with injuries. We don't know the status of them.

We also know that the area around here has been sealed off, that the gunman apparently pulled out a silver handgun and fired multiple shots. A city council member was apparently hit and fell to the ground. We do not have any confirmation on the victim.

The shooter appeared to be shot at that point and also fell to the ground.

Now, Councilman Michael McMahan (ph), who represents Staten Island, said that the shooter appeared to be about in his 40s. He was wear wearing a cream-colored suit.

And, again, now what we have heard from the mayor is that he is saying this is a terrible attack, they, the victims, are in our prayers. And he said -- quote - -"This is not terrorism" -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Maria, you mentioned that you did get word that it was a council member that was possibly hit. One of the council members talking to us via telephone from inside the chambers said it could possibly be council member James Davis. Have you heard that name?

HINOJOSA: Yes, I have heard that name. I also heard that from another city council member who said that it had been him. But at this point, we don't have any confirmation. We do know that the injured were taken to downtown Beakman Medical Center (ph), which is just about five blocks away.

For people who don't know New York, you would have been able to see the World Trade Towers just behind me over there. So, that is the proximity that we have to what is known now as ground zero. So, this is an area that has very tight security.

Now, one of the people who I spoke to who was in City Hall said (AUDIO GAP) security that exists here in this area and certainly in City Hall, how could this have happened? How could someone have gotten into City Hall carrying a silver handgun? I know that when I come into City Hall, you are walked through a metal detector, so there's a lot of concern now about with this high security how something like this might have been able to happen.

PHILLIPS: And according to council member Rivera, and, of course, this has not been confirmed yet, Maria, but it is possible, according to the council member, that the shooter may have walked in with council member James Davis. According to this council member Rivera, they were seen sitting together out on the balcony, possibly coming into this building together. I don't know if you'll be able to work your sources on the ground there to find out more about that.

Do you, by chance, know anything about council member James Davis? We have some information on him. He's actually been a guest on CNN a number of times in 1990. We're told that he founded Love Yourself, Stop the Violence, a not-for-profit organization concerned with the growing violence in urban communities. Do you know anything about council member James Davis?

HINOJOSA: No, I don't know anything about him. We haven't been able to find out. But it would help if we knew what area he represented. I mean, the city council has a lot of areas that they represent around New York City. I'm assuming that if he was involved with a project called Stop the Violence, he may be coming from a community that has been affected by street violence. But at this point, until we find out what area he represents, we don't have much more information on that.

I can just tell you right now that, again, there is a lot -- you know, you can just look over here, you have a lot of these security folks who are now standing in front of the municipal building, directing people outside of this area. Also, for people who might not know the area, if you just look straight ahead that way, that is where the entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge occurs. So, again, this is an area that because of the proximity of where we are, a lot of security.

We are one -- I mean I can see -- in fact, let's have Mike show you just what that looks like. That brown building over there is One Police Plaza. That is where the police commissioner is based and all of the information about the NYPD is based. This building here that you're looking at is the municipal building, where you have all of the municipal officers. And behind me over here, this is the park area that you can see which is the larger park area of City Hall.

But, again, because of the fact that we are just blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood, there is heightened security at all times. Now, if he was able to walk in, this person, accompanying a city council member, there is certainly going to be probably a lot of questions about what that means. Don't they also have to go through the metal detectors?

Almost everyone who you see going in and out of the City Hall has gone through those metal detectors. City Hall after September 11 became pretty much a closed-in area. You are not allowed to, unless you had documentation to come in and out of that area. So, I can't stress even more how high the security was. So, I know that those two people who spoke to me who were inside were saying, we just don't understand how something like this could have happened.

PHILLIPS: Our Maria Hinojosa there live on the scene on the steps of City Hall there in New York City.

If you're just tuning in, once again, a shooting taking place at City Hall this afternoon, sending reporters and city council members diving under their desks. What we know right now, two victims -- you're seeing video of them here -- we are told, have been taken to the hospital. The shooter, we are told, according to Maria Hinojosa, possibly one of the individuals shot, another individual possibly shot in this shooting, James Davis, a council member in New York City.

We'll continue to get more developments.

On the phone with us now, Miles, you were talking with one of the councilmen.


PHILLIPS: We're actually showing a picture now of James...

O'BRIEN: James Davis...


O'BRIEN: ... the council person who, we were told by council member Rivera just a few moments ago, Joel Rivera, that he was, in fact, one of those injured today.

The glaring inconsistency in our reporting, which you have probably realized here, is that in some cases we have it on fairly good witness authority that the shooter himself is among the victims. But there are also reports that the shooter might have shot two victims and may, in fact, be at-large. That's a big conflict that we're still trying to work out here.

Joel Rivera is among those who has told us that the shooter might still be at-large, and he is in an ante room there with upwards of 100 people who have been cordoned off there, many of them members of the city council and their staff. And there has been a police interrogation under way.

Let's check in with him. Councilman Rivera, what's been going on while we've been talking to our reporter outside?

RIVERA: Yes, we're getting mixed reports of what has taken place, but apparently the perpetrator might have been hit by one of the City Hall security guards, but he is still at-large. Apparently, a council member was shot and may have been killed. Two police officers, from what we are hearing, have been taken to a hospital. Those are what we're hearing.

We're still locked inside the room. The police officers have come into the room and escorted two people out for questioning. We do not know. They were searched and removed from the room. We do not know their identification, but two people have been removed from this meeting room for questioning.

O'BRIEN: OK, so now, first of all, so you have a new report that perhaps the shooter was hit and might have fled. Is that what you're saying?

RIVERA: Yes. From what we're hearing one of the City Hall security guards, that is a police officer, possibly hit the perpetrator, but the perpetrator is still at large, from what we're hearing. But again, I'm Still, I'm locked inside the room and we're just getting these reports from the sergeant of arms that are walking inside.

O'BRIEN: So that would imply then if in fact that is true that are two other victims that the shooter was able to shoot, which is what you said earlier, you believe one of them is Council Member James Davis, the other you could not identify. Do you have any more information on who that other victim might be?

RIVERA: We still have no idea on who the other victim might have been. But form what we're still hearing the main victim was Councilman Davis and another person. But then again we are hearing other reports that two police officers have taken to the hospital. We don't know the validity of that one. O'BRIEN: Who was taken to the hospital? I'm sorry, sir.

RIVERA: Apparently two police officers were taken to the hospital, but we do not know the validity of that.

O'BRIEN: OK. So, it's possible there could be a different number of victims here than we've been saying is what you're trying to tell us?


All right. Well we'll have to put that also in the category of, folks, bear with us here. This is a breaking story and we're trying to pull together a lot of witness accounts in something that is still going on. And so our apologies to you for giving out at times bad information. But sometimes that happens in these events and we apologize for that.

Councilman Rivera, have they given you any indication as to when it will be safe to leave the room you're in? Councilman Rivera, you there? OK, I guess we lost him -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well we've been, as you mentioned, Miles, or the Councilman Rivera who is inside the chambers there mentioned that possibly one of the individuals shot is council member James Davis. And we have been explaining that he has been a guest, this council member, on CNN a number of times. You're seeing a picture of him now on the screen there.

He founded an organization called Love Yourself, Stop the Violence not for profit organization, On an organization concerned with the growing violence in urban communities. And the phone now with me is Kay McClashan. She's -- Kay, why don't you tell me your position with this organization.

KAY MCCLASHAN, STOP THE VIOLENCE: I am the administrative director. I help with the planning of Stop the Violence events.

PHILLIPS: OK. You're the administrative director. I will ask you to speak a little louder for us there, Kay. Maybe get your mouth closer to the phone so I can hear you well. What have you heard? Have you heard anything about the condition of James Davis?

MCCLASHAN: I've heard that he's at New York University Hospital and that he's in intensive care. I only what the media has been saying.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk about James Davis. Kay, I know that you know him well. Why don't you tell us about this organization, tell us about James Davis, the man, the leader and the individual that started this organization.

MCCLASHAN: Well, he's -- he has a passion for the community, especially the urban communities where violence is very prone. I'm very emotional right now. PHILLIPS: I can understand, Kay. I can understand. It's all right. Take a deep breath. I know how close you are with him. It's all right. Just tell us what you're able to tell us in your own time.

MCCLASHAN: OK. He's very passionate about the community. He has a great love for the community. He would sacrifice himself for the community.

As you may know, he's a retired police officer. He looks out for, you know, the community. He started his Stop the Violence movement about ten years ago to address violence in urban communities. It is this, his desire to have an impact in stopping violence, you know, all over the country.

It's not just limited to where we are in Brooklyn. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) attend annual Stop the Violence March for Saturday August 16. We were in the process of finalizing everything. He's like looking forward, you know, to this march to bring the community together to, you know, give them and provide information to them why violence is detrimental to the community.

And for this to happen at this time especially, it's our 10th annual, you know, we endured, it's been a long fight, but he persevered and kept it up. And you know for this to happen to be a victim of violence himself, it's very disheartening.

And you know, we're all very upset. He's a man of God and I can only ask the audience if they can pray for him. He is a man of faith, he believes in God, he trusts God, he trusts Jesus. You know, you know, will deliver him, I know, if he's conscious, he's trusting God to get him through this. I can only ask people to please pray for him.

PHILLIPS: Is he a father, Kay?

MCCLASHAN: No, he is not.

PHILLIPS: OK, is he married?

MCCLASHAN: No, he is not.

PHILLIPS: OK. But obviously a man very involved with his district, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 35 of Central Brooklyn. And obviously with your community.

MCCLASHAN: Correct. And as a council member, a council member for two years. It's been a long fight to get there. But again because of his perseverance, he kept it up and perseverance and eventually, yes, he became a council member which gave him an opportunity to do so much more for the community which is what he wanted to do.

PHILLIPS: Kay, thank you so much for your time. Kay McClashan. I know this was difficult for you, you're the administrative director of this organization, Love yourself, Stop the Violence. An organization founded by Council Member James Davis. Thank you for just sharing some personal feelings about him as a man and a leader, Kay. We know it was difficult for you. Thank you very much.



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