Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Flags Flying At Half-Staff In Honor Of Boulder Shooting Victims; Ten People Killed In Boulder Grocery Store Shooting; Survivor Shares Her Ordeal Inside Grocery Store; Leading Senator On Gun Reform Vows Action After Boulder; Biden Demands Gun Law Reforms After Boulder Market Attack; Brother: Shooting Suspect May Have Suffered From Mental Illness; Dr. Fauci Calls Controversy Over AstraZeneca Vaccine Data "Unforced Error", Company Stands By Results, Promises Update. Aired 8- 9p ET
Aired March 23, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks to Sunlen. Thanks to all of you. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, flags are flying in half- staff at the White House tonight again. They were lowered today for victims of the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. They had just been raised briefly yesterday after honoring the victims of the Atlanta area mass shootings.
After a long year of COVID, just as we finally have a hint of normal back inside, this is a reminder that part of that normality that returns is gun violence.
And in Colorado, every sensation that follows, there's the numbness, the ache, the emptiness that is compounded by familiarity.
This is for Colorado, the third mass shooting in a generation. The children of Columbine and Aurora are now the parents of Boulder. The President spoke to their loss today, but did not leave it at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour to take commonsense steps that will save the lives in the future and I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act. We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country.
Once again, we can close the loopholes in our background check system, including the Charleston loophole.
The United States Senate, I hope some are listening, should immediately pass the two House passed bills that close loopholes in the background check system. These are bills that received votes of both Republicans and Democrats in the House.
This is not and should not be a partisan issue. This is an American issue. It will save lives, American lives and we have to act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, tonight we'll talk about the chances for any meaningful gun legislation with Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy who worked hard for reform after the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary.
We're joined as well tonight by a survivor of this latest horror in just a moment and we'll bring you up to the minute as well on the investigation.
But before we do any of that, we do want to focus on those whose lives were taken so savagely yesterday.
This is Rikki Olds. She was the front end manager at King Soopers grocery store and was at work yesterday when the shooting began. Friends called her a strong, vivacious, charismatic woman.
After they heard about the shooting, Rikki's family members tried to reach her. They were panicked when she didn't answer. They were finally notified at 3:00 a.m. last night of her death. Her uncle called her a shining light in this dark world.
Rikki Olds was 25 years old.
Denny Stong also worked at King Soopers grocery store. According to "The New York Times" people knew him told "The Times" he was one of the kindest people around. Denny Stong was 20.
Tralona Bartkowiak was called "Lona" by her friends and she had many of them. According to "The Denver Post," she owned a clothing and accessory shop in Boulder. Her brother told "The New York Times" she had simply stopped by the supermarket to pick up her prescription when she was shot. She was 49 years old.
Officer Eric Talley was the first officer to run into the store knowing full well the danger he faced. You arrived on scene just minutes after the first reports of shots fired. It wasn't surprising to those who knew him.
His colleagues say he was an outstanding officer and he died a hero. Officer Talley joined the police force in 2010. He had a big family, seven children and he loved that family more than anything in the world. He was recently looking to becoming a drone operator because he believed it was safer. Officer Eric Talley was 51 years old.
Lynn Murray was a former magazine photo director and a mother of two, according to "The New York Times." Her husband called her an amazing woman who now leaves behind two children. She was 62.
Kevin Mahoney was also caught in line of fire at the supermarket yesterday. Just last summer, he had the joy of walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Erica Mahoney posted this picture on Twitter to honor her dad who she called her hero. "I love you forever, dad," she wrote, "You're always with me." Kevin Mahoney was 61.
We don't have information or photo yet of Neven Stanisic, but he was just 23 years old.
Suzanne Fountain was 59, Jody Waters was 65 years old. And Teri Leiker was 51.
Just as reminder, we will not be mentioning the alleged shooter by name or showing his picture. We don't want the focus to be on him, but it is important to understand more fully what we did not yet know when we left you last night and there are late developments to report with that.
Here's Lucy Kafanov who joins us from Boulder. Lucy, what more do we know now about this alleged shooter and the weapon involved and what happened?
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know that police have recovered two weapons from the scene, a senior law enforcement source confirms to CNN that a Ruger AR-556 pistol that the shooting suspect purchased on March 16th was indeed the firearm used in the shooting. That source also confirmed that the suspect was carrying a nine-millimeter handgun during the incident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... in the store.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went right down there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god. Guys, we've got people down inside King Soopers. Look, there's --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy [bleep].
KAFANOV (voice over): Shots ring out and panic sets in. The early moments of terror captured on live stream.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 136, we're in a gunfight, hold the radio.
KAFANOV (voice over): At 2:40 p.m. local time, police are on the scene at the King Soopers grocery store after a report of an active shooter
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still multiple shots being fired at us. I copy, we're taking multiple rounds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just looked at my son and I told him in between shots, but the fourth shot I started counting. And I told him we have three seconds. Stay low and don't look and just move fast and he almost hesitated and I just told him, we don't have another option. We don't have any more -- any other chance to get out of here.
KAFANOV (voice over): Eight minutes later, this tweet from Boulder Police urging residents to avoid the area. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the building. This is the Boulder Police
Department. The entire building is surrounded. I need you to surrender now.
KAFANOV (voice over): Officer Eric Talley is one of the first to respond. One of the 10 victims in Monday's mass shooting.
ANNA HAYNES, COLORADO GROCERY STORE SHOOTING WITNESS: I initially heard maybe 10 gunshots I also saw the gun man himself holding a semi- automatic rifle. I heard screaming. I heard people leaving in their cars and it just devolved into chaos within just a couple of minutes.
KAFANOV (voice over): By 3:14 p.m. more gunfire, SWAT vehicles and hundreds of officers are on the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were talking rifle fire. As soon as we patrol, entered the building, if we can get the rolling shield up here ASAP, that would be perfect.
KAFANOV (voice over): Seven minutes later, officers are still trying to determine the location of the gunman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised, we do not know where he is. He is armed with a rifle. Our officers shot back and returned fire. We do not know where he is in the store.
KAFANOV (voice over): By 3:28 p.m., the wounded suspect is taken into custody and to the hospital.
One senior law enforcement source tells CNN the weapon used was an AR- 15 style firearm, but still no word on what was behind the violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No motive at this time. It's challenging. I live three blocks up the street from that store.
KAFANOV (voice over): The Boulder Colorado Police Chief expressing what an entire community is now feeling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're worried about your neighbors. You're worried about your partners. You're worried about everything when you get that call. And so yes, I feel numb and it's heartbreaking.
COOPER: What activity have you been seeing in Boulder tonight?
KAFANOV: Well, Anderson, police have blocked off the area surrounding the grocery store with a chain link fence, but throughout the day we've seen a steady stream of visitors coming by to pay their respects to the 10 victims who so tragically lost their lives on Monday afternoon.
We've seen dozens, if not hundreds of flower bouquets, notes offering condolences, a very somber and emotional scene. I took a walk past there just moments ago. But I can tell you that whole area, the focus of attention is actually
going to move in about an hour to the Pearl Street Mall for a vigil for those victims.
It is a famous shopping and dining area here in Boulder -- Anderson.
COOPER: Lucy Kafanov, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
One of the survivors now, Maggie Montoya is a pharmacy tech at the King Soopers helping yesterday to get people COVID vaccinations. She joins us now.
Maggie, I'm so sorry for what you've been through. And I appreciate you talking to us. First of all, how are you doing?
MAGGIE MONTOYA, SUPERMARKET SHOOTING WITNESS: I'm okay, physically okay, just working to think all of this through.
CARLSON: We mentioned Rikki Olds at the top of the program and I understand you knew her. She sounded like a really good person.
MONTOYA: Yes, she was fairly close with the pharmacy staff. She was always checking in on us, grabbing hotels at the end of the night.
We had all been working a lot of overtime hours and she was always giving us the overrides to leave and asking us about our day and just a phenomenal, phenomenal lady, and just heartbreaking.
We're the same age and just feeling I'm so young and knowing that she's just -- she's gone too early.
COOPER: When did you know something was happening yesterday?
MONTOYA: I was signing people up for the COVID shot and the next person in line was my store manager, Sherry and her sister getting ready to get the shot. And heard the first shot. And Sherry --Sherry, just yelled, "active shooter." And we all just scattered. Just at the first sound first, first rounds of it -- of the shots.
We just -- everybody went their separate directions. I didn't know where everybody went.
COOPER: Where did you go?
MONTOYA: We just -- we just all ran away. I ran to the counseling room. That's the entry point for the pharmacy, and also where we like administer the vaccines.
COOPER: And where did you hide?
MONTOYA: There's two desks in there, I hid under the far desk against the wall. And my pharmacist, Carrie, who was in there with me. She was right by me, she was standing the whole time behind the wardrobe as much as she could and she just held -- held a chair -- a chair there the whole time. Ready to -- ready to throw if we needed, whatever, whatever we needed to do.
COOPER: What did you hear?
MONTOYA: A lot of gunshots. A little bit of screaming. And then just -- it was quiet. It was quiet for a long time with just the store music and then random shots of fire throughout the store.
And then our pharmacy phones kept running off, we probably received 20 calls in that hour that were just nerve racking, because we had to silence them. But silencing them, we were worried that he would hear us.
COOPER: When you say, you were silencing, that you'd pick up the phone and then just press -- turn it off?
MONTOYA: My pharmacist -- my pharmacist would put down the chair and lean over and hit the hang up button. We had a -- we had one phone in the counseling room, all the other ones were out of reach for the people in the pharmacy to access without coming out from the back. So we had to silence the phones from our end.
COOPER: Were you afraid that the phones ringing would attract the shooter?
MONTOYA: We were afraid that the constant ringing would attract the shooter to just to a noise over in our location. But we're also worried that if they kept ringing that would bring his attention and then worried that if we silenced them that would bring his attention that there was someone in there silencing the phones, but we didn't -- we just silenced them.
COOPER: And I know you were able to call and text family and loved ones as this was happening.
MONTOYA: Yes, as soon as we got in the room, my pharmacist dialed 911 from the phone in there, and I dialed 911 from my phone. And after the next couple rounds of shots were fired off, I hung up on 911 and called my family and called my parents instead.
COOPER: What did you say to them?
MONTOYA: I just said, hey, I just want to let you guys know that there was an active shooter in the store. I love you. Listening to what they said back, just, they were in shock, obviously, hearing that just out of the blue and then I tell them, I need to go, but I'll text them when I can.
COOPER: I mean, I can't imagine how scary it is to be you know, under a desk not able really to see what's going on and to just hear shots and then silence and the store music. How long did you stay under that desk?
MONTOYA: For over an hour. We guess around 2:30 to 3:30.
COOPER: Did you have any sense -- I mean, obviously you couldn't see anything, did you have any sense by the distance of the sounds how far or near the shooter was?
MONTOYA: All I know is that it was loud. They sounded like they were ringing from different locations. But they were all loud. But, we didn't realize where he was until the police announced that the building was surrounded and we heard him right outside the pharmacy saying that he'd surrendered, but we didn't know he was so close to us and he'd been standing out there and they found his weapons right by the pharmacy.
COOPER: I want to bring in your boyfriend, Jordan as well, and show our viewers that the pictures captured both of you embracing after this. Jordan, what was going through your mind yesterday?
JORDAN CARPENTER, BOYFRIEND OF SHOOTING SURVIVOR, MAGGIE MONTOYA: I'm in disbelief at first. Maggie sent me a text kind of when this was all going on and then immediately her mother called me and just wanted to know if I knew what was going on and at that point, I didn't.
But Maggie lives like three blocks from that King Soopers and I was at her house. So first reaction was just to go there. And I beat most of the police presence. And as soon as I got there, then it went from disbelief just to shock and just couldn't believe what I've seen and what was happening.
COOPER: So at the point that you got there, were there police already on the scene?
CARPENTER: Yes, not the mass of them that eventually came there. There were hundreds. But there was definitely a strong police presence when I got there. But I mean, I was able to park and walk just across from the pharmacy, that's how few were there at that point.
COOPER: And were you able to text with Maggie or talk at all while she was under that desk?
CARPENTER: Well, her text to me said, you know, don't call and so I didn't even want to text her, though, no, I didn't want her phone going off and not alerting anyone. So I was texting with her parents and other people that were concerned, and I was just there watching everything unfold.
COOPER: Gosh. And Maggie, you said that when -- toward the end, that the shooter said something, what did he say?
MONTOYA: He said, "I surrender. I'm naked." And he said that both times in response to the announcements over the loudspeaker. That he needed to surrender.
COOPER: He was responding to that loudspeaker saying, "I surrender, I'm naked."
COOPER: And, he was close to the pharmacy where you were at that point at the end? MONTOYA: Yes, it sounded like he was right outside our door. We
couldn't see him through the crack of the door. But it sounded like -- we could hear him just so clear. He wasn't yelling that loud, but he sounded like he was right in front of us.
COOPER: And then, I assume, even after you heard that, obviously, I'm guessing you stayed either in that -- you stayed in that room until SWAT or police came in.
MONTOYA: Yes, we waited until the very moment the SWAT team -- we heard them rounding up the counters and the pharmacy, and rounded up my coworkers in the back and then knocked on the door for us to knock back if anyone was in there and then they walked in.
And then brought up the rest of our coworkers -- the pharmacy staff into the counseling room with us.
COOPER: What was it like walking out of the store?
MONTOYA: It was horrible. We saw what we think are the killer's bloody footprints leading from the pharmacy out the door. And then they told us to not to try to look to the side or to our feet, so we wouldn't see what was surrounding us.
But I was up front and I happened to glimpse to the side because I saw a body and it was just an instinctive look over and that's when I saw that it was it was -- it was Rikki and just all of us in the staff like we all knew who it was.
COOPER: It was your friend.
MONTOYA: Just -- yes, it was Rikki Olds who was laying there, and I was just -- that's when it just all crashed down. Like, of course, I was just nervous the whole time I was back there and really anxious and didn't know if I was going to make it out of there. But it just, it all came crashing down seeing someone I knew dead there that wasn't going to be able to walk out to her family or to walk out the store.
COOPER: Maggie and Jordan, I'm so sorry what both of you have been through and I'm so glad you have each other and I've gotten through this and I know it's going to be difficult days ahead for you and so many people in Boulder, but I appreciate you talking to us tonight.
CARPENTER: Thank you.
MONTOYA: Thank you.
COOPER: You take care. Take care of yourselves. Thank you.
Coming up next we'll have more on the White House effort to make this time different from every other attempts in the wake of a mass shooting to do something about the weapons involved.
We'll be joined as well by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy. His path as a lawmaker was shaped by the trauma of the mass shooting of school kids in his state. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COOPER: President Biden is now learning what all Presidents do, the part of the modern day job is that of mourner-in-chief helping the country through tragedies like Boulder, Atlanta, Parkland and Mother Emanuel.
It's a role that other world leaders only rarely have, if at all. And today, this President called for action he believes would make moments like these less common.
More now from CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House. So what does the President want to see Congress do? And how likely does he actually think it is?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Two very different answers because one, he wants to see the Senate take up those bills that recently passed the House. Those are bills that would basically expand and strengthen background checks.
But even before this latest shooting, they were already facing a pretty steep uphill battle in the Senate. They do not have the support anywhere close to it of 10 Republicans which are required to pass and so what we've heard from Republicans basically all day long, even in the light of what has happened in Colorado, and of course in Atlanta last week is that they still do not like these House passed bills.
So that's going to be another mountain for them to climb, but, Anderson, the President went even further that than that today, calling on them to ban assault weapons. That is something that typically you've seen them try to stay away from when they're trying to get legislation that could actually get passed through though it's been a while since anything significant has happened.
But that is what President Biden called for today, in his remarks here at the White House.
COOPER: Is there any sense for how much pressure the President is willing to put on senators privately or publicly?
COLLINS: Well, that's going to be the test for him. Today, he said he hoped senators are watching his remarks here at the White House, but they also have other legislative priorities. That's why getting gun legislation through has not been at the top of the list for the last several weeks, because they're focused on the pandemic, the economic recovery.
They've got several more bills that they want to use for that. That's why that question to President Biden that a reporter posed to him today about whether or not he thinks he has the political capital to actually get gun measures passed on Capitol Hill, he crossed his fingers and basically said, "I hope so. I've still got to count the votes."
And so that's the thing to keep in mind here, and it is certainly a lesson he has learned from his time as Vice President is that the further away you actually get from the shooting, the tougher it can be here in Washington to keep lawmakers attention.
COOPER: Kaitlan, stay with us. I want to bring Maggie Haberman into the conversation. She's a CNN political analyst and "New York Times" White House correspondent.
Maggie, gun control is a fight then Vice President Biden took on after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, it was largely unsuccessful. Congress is even more divided now than it was back then. I mean, does anyone really think they would be able to get anything done this time?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think the last thing you're going to hear President Biden say is that he can't get it done. I think that he tends to express optimism about all legislative priorities.
But I agree with you that, you know, I think it is an uphill climb, especially given all of the other pieces of legislation that they want to push through, given how incredibly polarized the Senate is, politically now and given the fact that just for almost a decade, there's been no political will towards this.
I was struck that he talked about an assault weapons ban, which I think almost no one thinks is likely to happen again. But it does put a goal post very far one end, if the goal is to try to negotiate back from that, it remains to be seen.
I think it will be a very, very uphill lift. And I think that as Kaitlan said, the White House knows and the President knows that the public consciousness about incidents like this fade as time goes on.
And, you know, news moves very quickly these days. So they are -- if they want this to get done, they're going to have to exert a lot of political pressure and I'm not sure that's what they want to do right now.
COOPER: And Kaitlan, to do anything substantive requires, I assume more than something that they would do by executive order.
COLLINS: Right. And that has been a story, it's almost, you know, become this unfortunate ritual here in Washington where something like this happens, leaders call on Congress to actually pass laws, it doesn't happen. There's no appetite for it.
And then they sign Executive Orders. They don't actually amount often to much. Much more has been done at the State level over the last several years than what's really happened at a Federal level, but that is something that the White House is preparing for. He's got several advisors working on potential executive orders related to tougher gun measures that he could take.
So you could likely see that, but the question is going to be: does he introduce new legislation? What is that path going to look like for President Biden?
COOPER: Maggie, Senator Joe Manchin, who is a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, he has already signaled he opposes the gun reform bills that passed in the House last week, is still pushing a bill he developed with Republican Senator Pat Toomey after Sandy Hook. Is the White House engaging with Manchin at all on this?
HABERMAN: As far as I know, there is no engagement on that. And as far as I know, nobody thinks that that bill has much of a chance of going somewhere. I think that obviously, Manchin has emerged as a pretty key figure who the White House is paying attention to.
But I think so far, they are still figuring out exactly how they're going to go about this if they do make a huge push to go forward.
And again, I think they will try to do something, given everything else that they have on their plate. I'm not positive just based on what I'm hearing that this is going to be a huge effort right now.
COOPER: Maggie Haberman and Kaitlan Collins, I appreciate it very much. Thank you.
Coming up, we're going to talk to a lawmaker who has seen the heartache from mass shooting firsthand and made it her mission to change it. The question is, what can be done?
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Minutes after the (INAUDIBLE) and the 10 people died in the Colorado shootings. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy wrote on Twitter that in his words, this is the moment to make our stand now, end quote. Murphy's from Connecticut were 20 children and six adults were murdered by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a leading voice in Congress in the fight for laws like a new assault weapons ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): It's not just the families who grieve it's the trauma that just washes over these communities like waves and the weeks and months afterwards. Is it going to be hard? This is going to be difficult. But to honor those 20 lives and six more in Newtown, we're going to get it done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Murphy didn't make that promise today or yesterday or last week. The video just saw came from 2013, only weeks after he took office and barely a month after the Newtown killings.
Back to this day that return of the assault weapons ban and many other gun violence prevention bills have not become realities. Senator Murphy joins us now.
Senator, thanks so much for being with us. You looked a lot younger back then, as I imagined I did as well. You know, the obvious and distressing question. I mean, if Congress didn't do anything to address gun violence after Newtown were children were massacred. Do you think it will ever take action?
MURPHY: Thanks a lot for noticing. You know how I've aged in this job Anderson.
COOPER: I added myself in as well. So.
MURPHY: I know it was good same at the last minute there. Listen, you know, I think what I learned in 2013, is that, you know, we had won the argument in the American public for universal background checks. We were just badly outmanned politically, the NRA had spent 40 years building up a political juggernaut and the anti-gun violence movement was weak.
And so, over the course of the last eight years, we've been building up our own juggernaut and the reason today that we have a Senate and a House that supports universal background checks and a president who's ready to sign it is because we've been winning more races than we've been losing on the issue of guns. The question is, can we get it done this year?
I think there's a reason that Mitch McConnell refused to bring a background checks vote before the Senate for the last five years. It's because he was afraid -- there would be 60 votes to pass it because there's a lot of Republican senators face With the choice of 90 percent of their constituents on one side supporting background checks and the declining power of the gun lobby on the other, they're going to choose their constituents.
So, I've been talking with Republicans all day, we're going to see if we can get something to the floor that will get 60 votes. But don't count us out, just because we failed in the past doesn't mean we'll fail this year, a lot of things have changed.
COOPER: I want to play something that Republican Senator Ted Cruz said today during the Judiciary Committee hearing partly in response to your Connecticut colleague, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Senator from Connecticut just said, it's time for us to do something. I agree, it is time for us to do something. And every time there's a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders. What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats proposed taking away guns from law abiding citizens, because that's their political objective.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How would you say to that?
MURPHY: I mean, Ted Cruz is really good at yelling. He's not good at telling the truth. And the truth is that states with stronger gun laws have lower rates of gun violence, communities with higher rates of gun ownership have higher rates of gun violence. Just take, you know, Connecticut and Florida, for instance, Connecticut, one of the toughest sets of gun laws in the nation, Florida, one of the loosest sets of gun laws.
We have 400 percent less gun grime in Connecticut than Florida does. That's not coincidence. That's not because our citizenry is fundamentally different. That's because we're just a lot more careful making sure that people who own weapons are law abiding don't have a history of serious mental illness.
So, the data is just 100 percent clear, and Republicans have sort of resorted to raising their voice because the American public isn't on their side. Ten percent of the country agrees with Ted Cruz, 90 percent of the country agrees with me.
COOPER: I mean, there are two gun safety bills passed earlier this month by the House. It is, you know, you said you're looking for, you know, are there enough for 60 votes? Do you think there actually are in the Senate to actually survive, you know, filibuster to say nothing, in fact that, you know, you got your Democratic colleagues in West Virginia, Joe Manchin, who doesn't support the House bill says he wouldn't support gutting the filibuster, even if his own compromise legislation installed.
MURPHY: Yes, I talked to Joe for a while today, you know, it's no secret that he doesn't support the House bill. But there's a strong version of expanded background checks that he does support. You know, in 2019 seems like a lifetime ago. But it wasn't that long ago. It was right after the El Paso and Dayton shootings that the Trump administration was floating, expanded background check proposal around the Hill.
And during that time, I was getting phone calls from Republican senators who were saying to me, Hey, listen, Murphy, I voted against background checks back in 2013. But things have changed. And, you know, I'd like to find a way to get to yes. So there's a lot of conversations that can be had, I think there's a pathway to 60 votes. It's not easy. But I do think it's there.
COOPER: Actually, that's interesting. As far as the ban on assault style weapons is concern is that even in the realm of possibility, I mean, there's obviously was banned back in the 1990s, was allowed eventually to expire, that seems certainly an even heavier political lift than universal background checks.
MURPHY: It absolutely is. But, you know, back to data. You know, let's be very clear, when we had a ban on assault weapons from 1994 to 2004, we saw a significant reduction in mass shootings. There were a lot of mass shootings before 1994, and then all of a sudden, after assault weapons were illegal, there was a dramatic uptick.
So there's plenty of data to tell us that an assault weapons ban is a big part of the solution when trying to cut down on these mass shootings. But you are right. It is a much heavier lift and background checks. And my theory of the case is that let's pass background checks first.
And let's show Republicans that when they support things that are wildly popular, like background checks, the sky won't fall, the gun lobby won't defeat you and your next election. In fact, you'll win more converts. Assault weapons bans are only slightly less popular than background checks.
The latest polls suggest that the majority of Republicans now, Republican voters support bans on assault weapons. So, I would argue start with a background checks bill and then use that bipartisan coalition to try to move on to other reforms after that.
COOPER: Senator Murphy, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
MURPHY: Awesome, thanks.
COOPER (voice-over): Authorities in Colorado now trying to piece together both a possible motive and a timeline leading up to yesterday's attack. There's also what the suspects brother is saying about his brother's mental state. All that when we continue.
COOPER: More now in our breaking news. As we reported earlier in the program a senior law enforcement source tells CNN that the suspect in the Colorado mass shooting purchase an AR-15 style firearm, a Ruger 556 pistol only days before yesterday's tragedy. That source also confirms the weapon was used in the shooting and was modified with an arm brace.
He was also carrying a handgun according to the source. This is the suspects brother tells CNN he believes his brother was suffering from mental illness and was increasingly paranoid in his words. Court records also show he pleaded guilty back in 2018 to a charge of third degree assault after attacking a high school classmate, all part of the landscape that authorities are just now beginning to examine.
Joining me now, CNN legal analyst, Anne Milgram, former federal prosecutor. And Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI, a CNN contributor.
Andrew, what does it say to you that investigator as an investigator that the suspect purchased the weapon used to kill 10 people just 10 days before the shooting?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not that uncommon Anderson, we've seen this in other mass shootings before that perpetrators typically try to arm themselves or you'll see large purchases of ammunition. Remember, the Aurora, Colorado shooter purchased, I think thousand rounds of ammunition in the weeks leading up to his assault.
So, it's indicative of a clear level of planning and preparation. So, it shows that despite maybe claims of mental illness and everything else that this person was aware of what they were going to do and the tools that they would need to read that kind of violence on the supermarket that we saw yesterday.
COOPER: And Ann for prosecutors, and that's one of the things they're doing now is building that case of planning and plotting.
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, that's exactly right, Anderson. I mean, this is going to be, what you would do as a prosecutor here is you would anticipate that it's going to go to trial, and that the defendant here might make insanity defense, right, that's already being set up with questions of mental illness.
And so, they're going to be methodical, they're going to get every single piece of information that they can get what the defendant did, where he was, any electronic records that they would have, you know, people he was talking with, whether that's online, anyone who he'd spoken to recently, and just doing that, really the full 360.
And they're going to do their best to lock down every single piece of information to understand every single thing they can about this defendant so that if they go to trial, they'll be completely prepared.
COOPER: Anne, also the city of Boulder had an ordinance that banned assault weapons, but on March 12th, a judge blocked it from being enforced, according to a senior law enforcement sources suspect bought the weapon used to commit the crime four days after that ruling. I know you've looked at the ordinance, we don't know if the gunman did purchase the firearm in Boulder. If he did, would that ordinance have blocked him from doing so?
MILGRAM: Yes. So this is one of I think the more interesting questions the judge just invalidated this ordinance. And, as you said, you know, there's a lot we still don't know this AR-556. What is very clear, though, is that the ordinance by its specific language, it said that it talks about assault weapons and/or large capacity ammunition magazines. It specifically referenced the tragic shooting, mass shooting in Sutherland Spring, Texas in 2017. Were the suspect the defended their use an AR-556 and murder 26 people.
So, it's clear to me that this ordinance was intended to try to capture this weapon. Again, you know, the folks in Colorado haven't said that specifically. But it certainly looks to me, like it was their intention to capture this type of a weapon and to prohibit it under the ordinance that they passed it through.
COOPER: And Andrew, you know, yesterday, there was, you know, was concerned that, you know, police had to release a lot of information, were holding back in information for a long period of time, is part of it now, perhaps them wanting to time to not only obviously contact family members, but also, you know, look at the alleged assailant, go to his home, get all that process and way without reporters, you know, finding out the trail.
MCCABE: Yes. There's no question that by holding back the suspects identity, they cut themselves a little bit of extra room to do that sort of investigative work. So, one of the first things you're going to want to do in any one of these situations is to execute a search warrant at the suspects residence. That can be very dangerous work. As we saw, again, with the Aurora, Colorado shooter who laid numerous booby traps in his apartment for the investigator, you know, to ensnare the investigators when they got there.
So, it's certainly it does give them a little bit of latitude to do that stuff quietly for a couple of hours. But eventually, the name of that suspect has got to come out. Especially when you're, you know, you're you got a sense, you got to write an affidavit, you've got to get a warrant to have that person arrested and presented before the judge. So it's an inevitable reality the investigators face.
COOPER: And Anne, the Boulder district attorney today said investigators haven't identified a motive in the case yet. How are they going to go about that at this point in the investigation, just talking to relatives, those who knew him?
MILGRAM: So that's a great question. And I should say that I know the Boulder district attorney, he and I were classmates in the Manhattan days office together. So we started together. He's an outstanding prosecutor, as thoughtful, as thorough as anyone I've ever worked with. And he's going to going to literally try to go through every single piece of evidence to understand what the motive was.
Now, we know that you don't, you know, when you when you go to trial at a homicide, you don't actually have to prove the motive for the crime. But here, they will prove that. I have no question that they'll want to be able to answer the question for the families of those whose lives were lost yesterday, as well as for the jury.
And so, they'll go about it by interviewing every single person that they can anyone who knew that the defendant, anyone who spoke with him recently. And also, of course, you know, he may have social media posts. There's a lot we still have to learn, but they will track down every single piece of evidence that they tend to understand what happened here.
COOPER: And Andrew, obviously, as we know, a police officer lost his life in this attack when first people in to the support market on the scene. For law enforcement, how does that impact an investigation or does it impact how they go about doing their job?
MCCABE: Well, obviously it's an incredible blow to that police department to the men and women who served alongside that officer, but honestly, Anderson, I don't think it's the sort of thing that negatively impact the investigation. If anything, those police officers are going to be even more determined and even more energized to do everything they have to do to ensure that this is suspect faces justice, for the violence that he's brought into all lives and the fact that he's taken one of their comrades.
I don't think it's going to have -- it's not going to slow them down in any way. And, you know, it might really, for some folks to really focus on what they're doing.
COOPER: Andrew McCabe, Anne Milgram, appreciate it. Thank you.
Still to come, we're going to turn briefly from this story to a coronavirus update. There's a new controversy over the AstraZeneca vaccine and were Dr. Anthony Fauci calls an unforced error by the company. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us when we return.
COOPER: We'll have more of the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado that claim 10 lives including that of a police officer in a moment. But we want to turn now to COVID vaccine controversy. The makers of a potential fourth COVID vaccine or defending themselves after an unusual statement from the U.S. health officials which essentially said AstraZeneca cherry pick data about the efficacy of its vaccine this. The statement came from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci. This is how he explained the controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: This is really what you call an unforced error. Because the fact is, this is very likely a very good vaccine. And this kind of thing does is you say do nothing, but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy, it was not necessary. If you look at it, the data really are quite good. But when they put it into the press release, it wasn't completely accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Saying this morning, the company said is standing by its results and would issue an update within 48 hours.
Want to get perspective now from our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So we talked about AstraZeneca last night and some of the bad headlines it's received particular in Europe. So, what is this unforced error that Dr. Fauci is talking about?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the basically the unforced errors that they release this data that we talked about last night, based on a cut-off time period of February 17th. So they had 32,000 people in this trial, they study them up till February 17th. And then they just sort of, that's the data they presented, they didn't give us the most recent five weeks' worth of data. That's basically it.
Now, what AstraZeneca is saying is, look, we have the new data, it sort of matches the data we've already presented, we're going to show you that in 48 hours. But what has happened here is this independent body, the Data Monitoring Safety Board, they saw the data that AstraZeneca put out, and they saw what they've been --they looked at their own sort of analysis of the data. And they basically said, look, it doesn't match is AstraZeneca cherry picking here, as you pointed out, so that's the real concern.
We'll know more, I guess, in the next 48 hours, and then hopefully, when the FDA analyzes the data, we'll get to see their more precise analysis, because right now, we're just sort of taking the company's word for it. But we've covered this a few times now with these other vaccines. This is the first time something like this has happened, Anderson.
COOPER: And how concerned are you that regardless of what we see in 48 hours that it contributes to people's fear of vaccines?
GUPTA: You know, I think it will sadly, you know, I mean. AstraZeneca has had a little bit of a pattern. Now, you remember, there was there was a vaccine trial that was paused for a period of time. That's why we're hearing about the data from AstraZeneca so much later. There was this concern about clots in Europe, although that didn't really amount to be anything. But this sort of stuff does sort of contribute, at least to some skepticism about this particular vaccine.
GUPTA: I don't know if it translates Anderson into skepticism for the other vaccines. And it's a shame if Dr. Fauci is right, that this is a good vaccine, because, you know, the world needs it.
GUPTA: This is 20 percent, roughly of the world's supply.
COOPER: Yes. More than 20 states point to open vaccine eligibility to people over the age of 16. By the end of April, the Biden administration is concerned that Johnson & Johnson won't meet their goal of 20 million doses by the end of the month. How would that impact the nation's supply?
GUPTA: You know, I don't think it will make that big of an impact. But this is also some a little bit of surprising news. And we're talking about some brand name, pharmaceutical companies here. They were supposed to have 20 million doses by the end of this month.
What we know from Johnson & Johnson is they have 4 million doses ready to go when it was authorized. And there's basically been 1.2 million doses since then. So they would need, you know, 15 million doses or so, by the end of the month, just in the next several days. What we're hearing is that that's not likely to happen, the number is likely to be closer to 4 million.
But Anderson, you remember that Moderna and Pfizer, ultimately, we're going to have 300 million doses of each of those vaccines, because they're two dose vaccines that would that would be enough for 300 million people, which is more than every adult in the country. So I think the vaccine supply itself not going to be an issue. But Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are probably not going to make up any of the extra doses.
COOPER: There's also just in terms of the treatments, there was also new data from Regeneron, about their COVID-19 antibody treatment.
GUPTA: Yes. So, I mean, you know, we don't talk enough about the antibody treatment, I think, you know, vaccines obviously get all the attention. But you remember, antibody treatments is essentially giving the antibodies to somebody that the vaccine would actually generate in someone's body, you're actually giving them those antibodies, and they can be quite effective. There's been good data about this.
What the new news is, is that the dose that you could use of the Regeneron antibodies, that's the one that President Trump received, remember, when he was sick, you could give half the dose and still basically get the same effect. So, this is for people who are have mild symptoms, but are considered high risk.
The goal of the antibody treatment is to keep them from being hospitalized. So, you got to give it early, and it's expensive, several hundred if not $1,000 for these types of treatments, but we're not really using them that much. You know, maybe this will be an incentive for people to use them more.
COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, thanks so much, really appreciate it.