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One Dead in L.A. Hostage Standoff; Trump Blasts Cohen Investigation; Criticism over Putin's Invitation to Washington; Duck Boat Tragedy; More Anti-Government Protests Rock Nicaragua. Aired 3- 3:30a ET

Aired July 22, 2018 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A woman is dead and a suspect is in custody in Los Angeles after a gunman held workers and customers hostage inside a grocery store.

The U.S. president is spending his weekend at his New Jersey golf resort and lashing out over the Russia investigation.

Plus dangerous weather is lashing parts of Asia. A typhoon in Vietnam turns deadly and a heat wave scorches Japan.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.


VANIER: Los Angeles police have a 28-year-old man in custody after he barricaded himself inside a grocery store and held dozens of people hostage for several hours.

These are shots of the suspect as he surrendered peacefully to police after the standoff at a Trader Joe's grocery store. Trader Joe's employee Melyda Eldorado was shot and killed inside the store during the suspect's gunfight with police.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I regret to inform you that there is one fatality, that occurred inside, of a woman. We will have details forthcoming. But, of course, family notification and trying to figure out more details, we don't have anything more than that.

But she was pulled out by the police department from the store. Fire department was able to take her, treat her onsite but she was pronounced here onsite.


VANIER: Those wounds were from an earlier gunfight with police after he shot his grandmother and another woman. Police chased the suspect to the store, where the standoff began. One employee talked to CNN about how he and others managed to escape during the incident.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wasn't sure if I had a viable exit on the ground floor, so I proceeded upstairs, where we have an upstairs storage space. I moved through the storage space to a back kind of a break room that we have, where we have an emergency ladder.

Grabbed the emergency ladder, proceeded even further back to a back storage area. I grabbed a couple of my co-workers, brought them back as well. I barricaded the hallway as best I could.


VANIER: CNN's Miguel Marquez was on the scene during the incident.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just an incredibly tense several hours here in Los Angeles. One person dead, others shot and possibly could expire as well. All of this at a Trader Joe's, a popular grocery store in Southern California.

This is the remnants of what was a hostage barricade situation. About 1:30 Pacific time in the afternoon, the individual shot his grandmother several times. He took someone else with him, a young woman with him.

Police later in Los Angeles picked him up and started following him. They were in literally hot pursuit when the young man crashed into a pole outside this Trader Joe's with a gun in hand, starts running in, exchanges gunfire with police. That's when somebody inside the Trader Joe's, a young woman, was hit.

Police followed him in, tried to resuscitate her but she expired at the store. And for then several hours, the individual held up in the store, taking hostages at one point and then letting them all go later in the afternoon, surrendering himself to police, asking for a pair of handcuffs, which he handcuffed himself and then turned himself over to police. It has ended -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


VANIER: Earlier we heard from Devin Fields, who arrived at the Trader Joe's the same time the gunman got there.


DEVIN FIELDS, WITNESS: I was arriving at the Trader Joe's, walking into the parking lot from up the street, when a bunch of -- five cop cars drove past me up the street in pursuit of someone that I didn't see. And I heard some pops of some gunfire.

And then the gunman's car came from behind me and looked like it had damage to the front bumper, was hanging about halfway off. And he was trying to turn. But the traffic kind of kept him from going anywhere. Didn't really have anywhere to go. So he crashed his car into that pole and jumped out of his car.

And he had a pistol in his hand and just started opening fire on the police behind him, at which point I dove behind --


FIELDS: -- a small retaining wall at the edge of the parking lot. It was maybe 10-15 yards from me.

I laid down there with my back against the wall when three LAPD officers came, ran up and knelt behind the wall right next to me and opened fire on the gunman. Then he returned fire on them, so they got down on the ground to protect themselves.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far as you saw -- sorry, keep going.

FIELDS: At that point, I think he had gone inside the store. And after he was inside the store for a little while, they had me crawl away from the scene and then run away around the corner.


VANIER: All right, let me take you to U.S. politics. On Saturday, president Donald Trump blasted the Russia investigation on Twitter again, also his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

Trump started his day with this. "Inconceivable," he wrote, "that the government would break into a lawyer's office early in the morning, almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client, totally unheard of and perhaps illegal."

Cohen had recorded a conversation with Trump just before the 2016 presidential election. In that conversation, they talked about former "Playboy" model Karen McDougal. McDougal, you may remember, she alleges she had an affair with Trump, something he's always denied.

After that tweet about Michael Cohen, the presidential anger turned to another very familiar topic. Our Ryan Nobles is traveling with the president.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president is spending the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

And his Twitter feed was busy on Saturday. He specifically took the opportunity to suggest that the investigation into his campaign's potential ties to the Russian government during the 2016 election could end up having an effect in the election in 2018.

The president tweeting, quote, "No collusion, no obstruction but that doesn't matter because the 13 angry Democrats were only after Republicans and totally protecting Democrats. Want this witch hunt to drag out to the November election. Republicans better get smart fast and expose what they're doing."

Now the president's tweet storm comes against the backdrop of increasing criticism for his decision to have this summit with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Helsinki and subsequently his decision to invite President Putin to Washington sometime this fall.

And there's been a lot of talk about the reaction from the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, who was at a security summit in Aspen. Coats learned of the president's invitation during an interview with NBC. And Coats seemed to be a little bit shocked.

Well, Coats attempted to clear the record on Saturday night. He put out a statement that said, quote, "Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me during a live interview. My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or to criticize the actions of the president.

"I and the entire intel community are committed to providing the best possible intelligence to inform and support President Trump's ongoing efforts to prevent Russian meddling in our upcoming elections, to build strong relationships internationally in order to maintain peace, denuclearize dangerous regimes and protect our nation and our allies."

You'll note that the Director of National Intelligence makes no mention of whether or not he thinks it is a good idea for President Trump to invite Vladimir Putin to Washington sometime this fall.

But there is certainly one person who thinks that the president's interactions with Russia have not been going very well and that's his former opponent, Hillary Clinton. She had some harsh criticism for President Trump during a festival on Saturday. Take a listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The great mystery is why the president has not spoken up for our country. And we saw that most clearly in this recent meeting with Putin. We don't know what was said in the room with just the two of them.


NOBLES: And there's no doubt that we've grown a bit accustomed to President Trump and Hillary Clinton trading barbs long after the 2016 election has been decided. But it's worth pointing out that this is really out of the norm.

Usually, after an election like this, the two sides go to their respective corners and are respectful of the jobs that they have to do after the fact. That's certainly not the case this time around and just one other example of how the Trump administration is unlike any presidency we've ever seen -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, New Jersey.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: Let's bring in political analyst Bill Schneider. He's the author of "Standoff: How America Became Ungovernable."

Bill, this started off as a really, really bad week for Donald Trump after his meeting with Vladimir Putin. His own party was extremely critical of his performance. He had to backtrack. He had to do damage control. In the end, though, he doubled down. He announced even a second meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Do you think that, as we stand, six days after the meeting, he has now recovered from that?



SCHNEIDER: He has not recovered. The administration is still split. You have parts of the administration that's treating Russia as an adversary and an increasingly hostile power.

And you have the President of the United States who's trying to get closer to Mr. Putin, trying to treat Russia, if not as an ally, certainly as a country that he hopes will be friendly.

Well, this is part of the war between the president and the intelligence community. He's defying the intelligence community, who have been warning the president, the country, the Congress about Russia's intentions. This is now almost open warfare.

VANIER: Yes, but the critics within his own party have now muted their criticism. Republicans seem to have accepted his backtracking and his damage control.

SCHNEIDER: Well, elected Republicans have done exactly that because they realize that one thing that Mr. Trump has going for him is the base of the Republican Party. He has converted the Republican Party to his philosophy, which includes a more open attitude toward Russia.

And the result is that any elected Republican in Congress or anywhere, who criticizes the president, who differs with the president, could be targeted by the Trump base, the Trump following in the primary.

And it could endanger their career. They've begun to realize that when they saw their criticisms of Mr. Trump were not being echoed by Republican voters.

VANIER: What do you think about the timing of the second meeting?

Because we don't know exactly when it will happen. There is still even the possibility that it might not happen. But the Kremlin seems to be open to it. The second meeting, scheduled to take place in Washington, is for this fall.

In other words, around the midterm elections. Before, just after, we don't know. The timing of that is going to be really jarring. SCHNEIDER: That's right. In the midterm election in November -- I think it's November 6th -- the president -- the Republican Party could be handed a big setback partly because of what Democrats are characterizing as a bungled relationship with Russia and a very bad summit.

And that could put the president in a very weak position because it looks like he doesn't really have a strong following in the country and he'll be in a weak position to deal with Russia if it happens after that.

Even before that, every word the president says, every action he takes, every gesture he makes with Mr. Putin by his side, will be scrupulously analyzed and will become fodder in what is certainly to be a very bitter political campaign.

VANIER: But consider this argument, though, the flip side, that this second meeting could actually provide the U.S. president with the opportunity to right this ship, if you will, from the first meeting because he could -- he could deliver a much better performance to the eyes of his critics and he could come across as much harder on Vladimir Putin.

He could say the right words. He might even have things to deliver on some kind of diplomatic deal with the Russian president.

SCHNEIDER: All of those things might happen. But they're not particularly characteristic of Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump's habit is to double down when he's taken a position. And he appears to have taken a pretty firm position that we want to have better relations with Russia.

We'll see what he does. There's no really confident way to predict what he will do if Mr. Putin actually shows up before the election. But whatever he does, it's going to be an issue in the election.

VANIER: What's your best explanation of why Donald Trump has found it so difficult so far to acknowledge that Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election?

And, of course, I know he has done it but that was part of the cleanup. In the moment when it mattered most, standing next to Vladimir Putin, he found it hard to do that.

SCHNEIDER: The answer is what it always is with this president, self- regard. He regards that any insinuation that Russia intervened to help Mr. Trump win the election, which Mr. Putin said he favored when he was asked about it, any indication that Russia helped Mr. Trump makes his election in 2016 look questionable, look illegitimate, possibly.

I don't know any American who's arguing Mr. Trump won solely because of the Russians but it does raise a big question mark over the legitimacy of his election and he simply can't tolerate that.

VANIER: Bill Schneider, as always, pleasure speaking to you. Thank you.



VANIER: As she made it through the Missouri boat tragedy and now wonders whether her fate was actually worse than death, listen to this.


TIA COLEMAN, DUCK BOAT SURVIVOR: Lord, if I can't make it, there's no use in keeping me here. And so I just let go. And I started floating.


VANIER: Next, the story of the mother who lost her husband and her three young children.

Plus the blistering heat wave striking Japan. We'll also tell you about that. Stay with us.





VANIER: Investigators in the U.S. state of Missouri know that the tour boat that sank on Thursday changed its route unexpectedly while it was in the water. Now they want to know exactly when the boat's driver and captain decided to change course and, perhaps more importantly, why; 17 people died when the vessel capsized during a thunderstorm.

This is what the weather looked like at the time. Authorities are also looking into what the captain knew about the weather forecast before the boat left its dock.

As they wait for answers, survivors of the tour boat tragedy are left trying to cope with their heartbreak. CNN's Kaylee Hartung spoke to one survivor who lost nine family members, including her husband and three children.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, Tia Coleman's story is stunning. She spoke to reporters, emotion still very raw, while she's still in the care of the hospital here in Branson, Missouri.

She shared with us memories of her loved ones' loss, reaction to the devastation she's still processing and she recounted some details of her experience on Thursday evening. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLEMAN: I've always loved water. I don't know if it's a Pisces or what. I always loved water, but when that water came over the boat, I didn't know what happened. I had my son right next to me. But when the water filled up the boat, I could no longer see. I couldn't feel anybody. I couldn't see.

I just remember I got to get out. I got to get out. And I don't know if somebody pushed me or what happened, but I hit my head on the part of the boat. And when I got out into the water it was ice cold. And I remember as we were going into the water they said that the lake stays pretty warm like in the 80s.

So, I knew from it being so cold that I'm close to the bottom not the top. And I remember kicking and swimming, swimming up to the top and I was swimming I said, Lord please let me get to my babies. I got to get to my babies.

I was kicking. The harder I fought to get to the top. I was getting pulled down. I kept fighting and I kept fighting. I said Lord, if I can't make it, there is no use in keeping me here. And so, I just let go and I started floating.


HARTUNG: Tia says she believes when that boat's salvaged from the lake behind me, that the life jackets will all be on board because she says the crew members never instructed the passengers to put them on.

That boat still under 80 feet of water here. The divers were able to recover the equivalent of a little black box on board. That video recording also believed to have audio. The box has been sent back to a federal office in Washington, D.C., to be processed.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, investigators spent much of the day inspecting a sister vessel provided by the owners of the boat company with the hope that they can familiarize themselves with the configuration of the boat so that when the one sunk at the bottom of this lake is salvaged, they will be able to better understand its working order.

I spoke with the state's attorney general today as well and he pled three different times with the owners of the boat company to cooperate with the investigation -- investigations, I should say, because, as he explained, there are two parallel investigations at this time.


JOSHUA HAWLEY, MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL: This investigation's in its early stages. There are actually two parallel investigations going on.


HAWLEY: The NTSB is conducting an investigation into the sinking of the vessel and the circumstances surrounding that immediate event. The Missouri State Highway Patrol is conducting a broader

investigation into the circumstances that led to this tragedy beforehand and whether or not this should be treated as a crime scene.

HARTUNG: The U.S. Coast Guard tells us they plan to raise that boat in the next couple of days -- Cyril.


VANIER: Kaylee Hartung reporting from Missouri.

Anti-government protests are not letting up in Nicaragua and they could be morphing into an outright rebellion. More demonstrations are set for the coming hours. They protest president Daniel Ortega.

Events like this one on Saturday have been upbeat, they've been peaceful. Others, however, have been violent, even very violent. The government has launched a brutal crackdown. Some demonstrators are arming themselves.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights says at least 284 people have died since the unrest began in April. For a look at how this situation has developed, here's CNN's Rafael Romo.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): It started in April, a mostly student-led movement against proposed pension cuts. That was met with a shower of bullets. Police and paramilitary forces brutally squashing (sic) dissent. Hundreds dead in the unrest, according to the Organization of American States. Many more injured in an uprising that has engulfed Nicaragua.

Protests that began three months ago quickly erupted into violence. Evidence that discontent has been simmering for some time. A growing opposition to an ex-guerilla president who was once a rebel himself. Speaking on the 39th anniversary of the revolution he helped orchestrate, Daniel Ortega blames unrest on a foreign-backed coup (ph).

DANIEL ORTEGA, PRESIDENT OF NICARAGUA (through translator): It has been a painful battle, a painful one, because we have faced an armed conspiracy financed by internal forces and we all know of and from external forces which we have recognized.

ROMO (voice-over): More than three decades ago, Ortega was a revolutionary leader, part of the Sandinista rebels, who overthrew Anastasio Somoza, a dictator whose family had ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist for more than 40 years.

Ortega soon went on to become president. Now himself a mainstay of Nicaraguan politics for nearly 40 years. After sidestepping the constitution and pressuring lawmakers to remove term limits, Ortega is now in his fourth term with his wife as vice president. He has run in every race since 1985, despite some discord over claims of voter fraud and intimidation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Damn Daniel Ortega, because he doesn't want to leave. He only wants to stay in power. And the people are tired.

ROMO (voice-over): All these sentiments fan the flames of protests in April, now quickly swelling into a broader rebellion against Ortega's rule. The heavy-handed government response receiving international condemnation and accusations of grave human rights violations.

RUPERT COLVILLE, SPOKESPERSON, U.N. HIGH COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Police, armed elements and other violent groups have carried out so- called cleanup operations in different parts of the country.

We are observing an emerging and disturbing practice of human rights defenders and people who have merely taken part in protests being criminalized.

ROMO (voice-over): Ortega refused claims of government abuse and defends his time in power. But critics say he is becoming more and more like the dictator he once fought against -- Rafael Romo, CNN.


VANIER: Now we're going to focus on a different part of the world.



VANIER: Thank you for watching, I'm Cyril, he's Derek. Back with the headlines in just a moment, stay with us.