Return to Transcripts main page


Gunman Opens Fire Near Tel Aviv Pub, At Least 2 Dead; Freddie Gray May Have Hurt His Back; Smoke Billowing from Hotel After New Year's Blaze. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 1, 2016 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:08] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Jim Sciutto.

We begin with breaking news. Was it a random act of violent crime or an act of terrorism? Right now, a manhunt is under way in Israel for the gunman who opened fire outside of a pub in Tel Aviv. Closed- circuit video, which we're going to show you right now, shows him spraying the area with gunfire. There he is highlighted as patrons rush to get away. Two people were killed, four people seriously injured.

More surveillance video has surfaced just now. This is from moments before the shooting inside a grocery store. It appears to show a man putting a bag down on a shopping cart, pulling out a gun and as you can see there, opening fire on the street. People running as he does.

CNN does not know who provided either of these surveillance videos.

First, let's go to Ian Lee, our reporter on the ground in Israel.

Ian, what is the latest you're hearing there?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Jim, we're watching these videos and really this is what the police are watching as well. Looking to see what clues they can get from this, about this gunman, which direction he ran off to and which will give him a clue on where he possibly could be going.

It's a quite bizarre footage, that first CCTV footage that shows him in that supermarket, looking at produce, picking it up, putting it back, before putting his bag on those shopping carts and shooting up the pub, the sidewalk, killing those people, then running away, but leaving that bag there, too. That will be another clue for authorities as they search for him right now.

But it is Shabbat here in Israel, and security is going to be ramped up around Tel Aviv. Not only for looking for the suspect but also in case this was a terrorist attack. Right now, they don't know. If it was, they want to secure places of worship as well, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Ian Lee, live from Jerusalem. I want to talk now to Micky Rosenfeld. He's a national spokesman for

Israeli police. He's on the phone with us right now.

I wonder if I could ask you first, Micky, is there any information now as to whether this was a criminal or a terrorist incident?

MICKY ROSENFELD, ISRAELI POLICE NATIONAL SPOKESMAN (via telephone): At this moment in time, the Israeli national police (INAUDIBLE) are investigating, trying to determine whether it is a terror attack or criminal-related incident. It's not clear yet. I have to confirm, it's not clear yet. It's due to the fact we're still examining evidence and right now looking at CCTV footage from a number of different angles, a number of different areas.

But our main emphasis at the moment is to continue searching different units, undercover units, special patrol units, counterterrorism units, all in the area of about two miles of trying to find that specific individual who fled the scene.

SCIUTTO: Micky, I wonder, as you look at these two videos that have come out, of course, the first thing I look at is what kind of skill does the shooter show? And I know it's early and these videos just coming forward. But when you see the way he takes that weapon, the way he uses that weapon, does that indicate to you, training, an amateur? Can you tell anything from these videos at this point?

ROSENFELD: Obviously, there can be a lot learned from these videos. We're not going to go into the psychology and the operational perspective there. The importance of being at this moment in time, just after three hours after the incident took place, we have confirmed unfortunately in Tel Aviv is we have two Israelis dead. We have four injured seriously. We have three people injured moderately.

There is suspect still on the loose and, therefore, security operations are continuing in the Tel Aviv area. Extra roadblocks set up around the Tel Aviv area and in the city of Tel Aviv. Taking into consideration the Sabbath has already come. We're talking about hundreds of people that make their ways to different synagogues and, therefore, secure those areas.

We wouldn't want to have a second incident anyplace in Tel Aviv. Therefore, the operations are continuing relatively intensely.

SCIUTTO: No, Micky. And final question: I understand there was a magazine left at the scene, as in a weapon magazine, that might show this was an unusual kind of automatic weapon to be found in Israel. Any information on that?

ROSENFELD: I can't confirm those details. What I can confirm is what we do until now is an automatic weapon was used. We know that 15 shots were fired, just over 15 shots and sprayed to a number of different directions, people that were inside the pub as well as on the sidewalk, a major incident as far as we're concerned.

[11:05:07] We're watching right now to get -- to find exactly who the suspect is and to clearly confirm what the background is of that incident.

SCIUTTO: Understood. We know it's early. We'll continue to check in with you. We appreciate your time.

Megan Robertson is a senior producer with "The Huffington Post." She has been at the scene of the shooting in Tel Aviv. She joins us by telephone as well.

Megan, can you tell us what's happening there right now in terms of police presence, and particularly the manhunt that's under way?

MEGAN ROBERTSON, SENIOR PRODUCER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Right. So, the street is pretty quiet. Earlier today, there multiple ambulances and it's starting to rain a little bit outside as well, police cars up and down the street. It's taped off.

I can tell you about the scene of the shooting as it happened. I was in the store, about five stores up north of where the shooting occurred. We heard multiple rounds of gunshots and actually people pulled over their cars. This is something I'd never seen before, usually in the United States. But leapt out of their cars. One man with a handgun to pursue the individual who did this.

So, it was a lot of Israelis and people here in Tel Aviv running towards the scene as other people got away from it. So, it was a bit of a confusing scene when it happened.

SCIUTTO: It must have been. Remind me, in Israel, do many people -- are many people allowed to carry weapons like that, personal weapons?

ROBERTSON: That I'm not sure. I'm not Israeli. I do live in New York. I'm just here on vacation.

But a friend of mine mentioned that many people have been trained and have military backgrounds here that they may have a weapon with them or trained to use it, and it's just sort of instinctive for them. The gentleman I saw may have been law enforcement who was off duty at some sort.

But I did speak to a number of witnesses afterwards, one woman who -- she spoke to channel 2 in Israel and also to me, she and seven others described how they get in a storage closet in the basement of a bar next year. One French woman said immediately she heard the gunshots and thought of terrorists. I mean, how terrifying for her, and she thought possibly going to come to her store, when she realized it was a shooting.

It was a terrifying scene but also people were really, really coming together on the streets and supporting each other.

SCIUTTO: These scenes have just become so familiar, haven't they, in Paris, Tel Aviv, San Bernardino. Tell us about your own experience of it as it was happening.

ROBERTSON: Well, my experience was, I was just in a store down the street. We had a very chatty store owner and thank God he talked to us for a really long time because we were actually about to head up to that part of the street, possibly to grab a drink. So, who knows, if he hadn't spoke to us for so long, we may have been there as well.

But tensions here are somewhat high. Israelis that I've spoken to are still a bit on edge, you know, days after a stabbing attack happened at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, so people are a little bit on edge. And this will just continue to probably feed that fire.

SCIUTTO: No question. That feeling of being on edge is not confined to Israel by any means.

Megan Robertson, thanks for giving us your eyewitness account.

I want to bring in now Karen Greenberg. She's the director of Center of National Security at Fordham University Law.

Karen, looking at this open question now, as you heard from Israeli police there about whether this is criminal or a terrorist incident, but as you look at the M.O., so seemingly a random act of violence there. Someone has an automatic weapon and they open fire on a street, what does that pattern tell you?

KAREN GREENBERG, DIRECTOR, CENTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY AT FORDHAM UNIV.: Well, I think your question is excellent, which is where is the line now in today's world between the criminal and the terrorists. Terrorism, which is normally associated with some political agenda, also is about terrorizing civilians, making civilians afraid to go out into any kind of public space. And that's what you're seeing in Tel Aviv and what you've seen around the world in terms of threats and attacks on restaurants, on train stations, on subway stations, on public venues like we saw in Paris.

So, I think the distinction is getting smaller. So, and this fits that description although this is in Tel Aviv, where as you know in Israel where a terrorist narrative, the Islamist terrorist narrative has its home, has its base, has its original rationale. So, it's hard to think of it separate from terrorism.

SCIUTTO: No question. And listen, even if it's not politically motivated terrorism, it's a form of terrorism to shoot people in a public place.


SCIUTTO: I mean, this has become, in effect, the new M.O., you know, for terrorist groups. I'm not assigning blame or explanation to the Tel Aviv shooting because people have not concluded. But when we think of San Bernardino, when you think of Paris and elsewhere, it is soft targets, is it not? As you say, make people afraid to go to public spaces. Last night, we had this security scare in Munich about train stations around New Year's. That's a difficult thing to guard against, is it not, because in effect, everything is a soft target?

[11:10:03] GREENBERG: Well, yes and no. I mean, the one thing law enforcement seems to have been very good at doing over this New Year's, which is one day in the year when all of the world is involved as a potential target, or that's how it seems.

One thing law enforcement has to do is to distinguish between that which is truly threatening and that which isn't. And so, you saw a variety of responses across the globe, all of which to be somewhat wise and using somewhat good judgment. For example, in France, in Paris, where they canceled the fireworks and yet thousands and thousands of people amassed on the Champ Elysee, which is the most iconic central place in Paris.

So, there's a sense that terrorism is something civilians are getting used to, they're going to be cautious, they're going to be careful, but there's been a lot of trust in law enforcement across the globe. And I think that's something worth pointing out, and it's a new phase in terms of understanding what terrorism is.

SCIUTTO: No question. And that's an important showing. I probably like you, Karen, get questions all the time from friends and family -- when I was covering the attacks in Paris, I felt like I got a dozen calls saying, should I go there? We have plans to go there. I had similar questions about New York.

And this is a difficult judgment for members of the public, right? You know, where do I go, where do I not go, but also in terms of the way public officials communicate risks as well. I wonder if you think they're getting that balance right.

GREENBERG: I think they're getting it more right than in the past. Look at New York City. New York City, a target to everybody's mind in terms of a terrorist, terrorist wannabe, terrorist plots. As Mayor Bloomberg, you know, once said, every terrorist has a map of the New York City subway in his pocket.

Look at how New York City cops handled Times Square last night. They had a million people there, who I'm sure whose parents and friends were saying, you better be careful, but they trust in the officials to keep them safe.

There were not a lot of media-driven threat scenarios in terms of, be careful here, be careful there. So, I think the media's part of this as well in finally turning away from sort of fear-mongering of the past towards, we're going to handle this, we're going to live with it. You should be vigilant, you should be cautious. But yes, you should live your lives.

And that's what's happening in real time now.

SCIUTTO: No question. I speak to counterterror officials all the time, and no one -- and I've said this on the air -- no one has told me to tell people not to go somewhere. In fact, very much the opposite throughout the celebrations, Christmas as well. They said, enjoy yourselves. This is our job, in effect, to keep you safe.

Karen Greenberg, really appreciate you taking the time. Happy New Year to you.

GREENBERG: Happy New Year to you. SCIUTTO: There is new information this morning in the case against Baltimore police officers. Did Freddie Gray have a previous back injury? Prosecutors hid that information from the defense? We'll discuss.

Plus, a judge ruling that Bill Cosby's wife will have to testify in the sexual assault case against him. Hear why their private conversations are not privileged.

And breaking right now: witnesses report that the skyscraper hotel is still on fire, one day after the inferno started. These are live pictures from Dubai. We'll have details ahead.


[11:16:46] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

There are new details this morning in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. It could undermine the prosecution of police officers charged in Gray's death last April.

The news, Gray suffered a spinal cord injury, as you know, and later died. Now police report says Gray may have previously hurt his back, but prosecutors kept that information from defense attorneys.

Our Miguel Marquez has the latest.

Miguel, do we know how serious this previous back injury was?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the very big question, whether it was an injury at all. This is all little curious the way this has come out. Defense lawyers have filed documents saying that they want access to all of Gray's medical records because on March 31st last year, a few weeks before he was arrested, an officer says Mr. Gray was giving them information about a robbery and complained that he had hurt his back or that his back hurt.

On April 12th, Mr. Gray was arrested. On April 19th, Mr. Gray died. On April 27th, after a week of protests, Baltimore exploded. And then only on May 1st did that same officer say with all the press about Freddie Gray his memory was jogged, and he filed this unsolicited report that they remember him complaining about a bad back that day when they talked to him March 31st.

Defense lawyers say this is their a-ha moment, that the prosecution didn't turn this over and we should have access to all medical records. The judge in this case has denied that in the Porter case, for instance. We will find out whether or not he will allow it in this case.

Defense lawyers have asked for all of his incarceration records because they heard some anonymous tip that Mr. Gray may have tried to harm himself while in police lockup in Baltimore's central corrections facility.

All of that the judge has to decide on the state, filing its own document, saying they shouldn't have anything, it's all irrelevant. Even if he did have a bad back, it was his neck and a blunt force trauma that killed Mr. Gray. So, none of this should be relevant. The judge should decide on this, we believe, this coming Thursday and then the trial of Officer Goodson is set to begin on the 11th -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Understood, Miguel Marquez. Good analysis on this. Thank you.

Let's get some legal analysis with trial attorney Eric Guster and criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky.

So, police van driver Goodson, he's going to go on trial January 11th. I mean, let's get the exact weight of this new information. First of all, Miguel raises a point. Does it, Darren, have any effect on the relevance of this, the fact that the police officer wrote this report after the fact, in other words, after he died, after he died and after the riots?

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it's a curious bit of timing that this only -- this report would have been authored after the officer's memory was jogged, and not at a time con tem contemporaneous. It opens up this other issue about Freddie being a police informant, that he's providing information about other robberies.

[11:20:02] It really does send us down this whole other area of inquiry about what was his relationship?

I think the real problem, though, when we're talking about this legal ruling is that here we are, the judge is a gatekeeper designed to make sure that only relevant information gets in front of that jury. And at this point where the central issue in the case is how did Freddie Gray become injured, fatally injured, anything that tends to -- that's at all relevant to that inquiry I think should be in the hands of the defense otherwise you risk doing a trial twice. It's a ripe appellate issue if they don't turn that info over.

SCIUTTO: That's right, Eric. I mean, there are especially two questions here. One is what is the actual relevance and weight of this information?

I mean, for instance, my back hurts sometimes. It doesn't mean, you know, eventually, I'm going to break my neck, right? So, that's the question. But on the flipside, I imagine, you know, by withholding something, in a way you make it a bigger deal than it was, right? What's your view?

ERIC GUSTER, CRIMINAL & CIVIL TRIAL ATTORNEY: It's actually a very huge deal. The defense should be allowed to see any potential information that could help their client because in our justice system, the defense has had -- should have rights to everything. If this young man had any type of back issues, any type of medical issues, they should be given that information.

Now, the judge can rule that that information cannot be given in front of a jury, cannot be presented. If it appears that the prosecution is hiding this information or keeping it from the defense, that's a problem.

Just like what Darren just said. They do not want to try this case again if there's a convictions. So, if they don't give up that information and provide it to the defense, they're asking for this case to be retried because that's clearly a case of ethical rules and they should give that information to the defense. Whether used or not, that's used in front of the judge and the judge's decision.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and we already have a hung jury in the first case to go through on this.

Eric and Darren, I want you to stand by because we're going to talk Bill Cosby in a moment.

But, first, I want to get to more breaking news. We're getting word that a driver tried ramming his car into a group of French soldiers who were guarding a mosque in France. Police say the soldiers then open fire on that car, wounding the driver.

No details on his condition at this moment. Also no clearance as to what this driver was trying to do. A soldier and person passing by were also hurt in this. We'll give you updates on this story as we get them.

Let's now go to live pictures from Dubai. This is the hotel skyscraper that was burning. You'll remember last night on New Year's Eve and tonight, a day later, 24 hours later, it is still smoldering, still smoking into the sky night there. Pieces of the building are reportedly passing to the ground. Are we getting the whole story here?

And more on our breaking news. A gunman opens fire near a pub in Tel Aviv Israel. At least two people are dead. A manhunt is now under way.

Stay with us.


[11:26:25] SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

New this morning, smoke still billowing out of the Dubai hotel that was engulfed in flames on New Year's Eve. Officials still trying to find out what caused the massive blaze. But a source tells CNN when curtains caught fire on one floor. At least 16 people have received medical treatment, but amazingly, no one was seriously hurt.

Hear what one person said who was trapped inside that burning building.


DENNIS MALLARI, WAS TRAPPED IN BURNING DUBAI HOTEL: I prayed, if this is my last chance, then so be it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Glenn Corbett is a fire safety expert at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He's joining me now on the phone.

Glenn, it's good to have you here. One thing that struck us, as we watched this fire, particularly as it was under way last night, is the idea, and this is early indications. I've spoken to Dubai officials. They're still trying to determine definitively what caused this fire.

But early on they say that they believe it could have been a curtain in one of those rooms lit up and then led to the rest of the fire. I looked at how quickly that fire spread on the exterior of the building. I'm no expert but that just seems surprising that that would be the cause.

You're an expert. What do you think as you look at this?

GLENN CORBETT, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE (via telephone): Thanks for having me, Jim. When we saw the initial fire yesterday, the first thing that came to mind, particularly folks in fire service, was the exterior cladding or the surface of the material on the outside of the building with that large, you know, vine of fire we saw, it pretty much points to that being at the source of the issue here. As far as why the fire spread so quickly up the outside of the building.

SCIUTTO: And what are we talking about here? We're talking about something on the surface of the windows outside?

CORBETT: Actually not the surface of the windows but the surface itself. Basically, particularly in Dubai, there's some recent reports years ago where studies were made of many of the buildings there and they use a particular cladding system of aluminum, most importantly has a component of plastic, basically. That's, of course, what the fuel was yesterday that we saw.

As a matter of fact, the estimate was that 70 percent of the buildings a few years ago had a similar type of aluminum composite surface material. We don't know for the fact if that's exactly what was here but everything sort of points to plastic as part of this -- again, this exterior service of being the culprit of why the fire spread so quickly.

SCIUTTO: That's interesting. I know you're not saying this definitively, but that would explain a lot of things because they say, Dubai authorities, that the fire was on the exterior of the building. Only it was not on the inside. And it really spread quickly. Like there was something flammable on the outside that was fueling this.

CORBETT: Yes. There were reports, I saw, online that people mentioned they smelled a lot of burning plastic, which, again, would be consistent with that. Dubai has had a few fires. One, ironically, recently the building called the Torch, another -- a few years ago, a similar situation. So, it's something the Dubai government has to take a much more aggressive approach to deal with, basically, particularly ones that are there. SCIUTTO: Yes, if you say 70 percent of the buildings have similar

cladding. And again, it's early in the investigation, that would certainly be something to be addressed.

Glenn Corbett, fascinating really information. Thank you for coming on.

CORBETT: Thank you, Jim.