tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC January 25, 2014 9:00am-11:01am PST
another warning the state departme issues. and the chris christie saga. a new poll suggests exactly how much of a toll the recent controversy has taken on his popularity. also, cold snap. it's one of the longest stretches of icy weather in decades, and will it derail the nfl's super bowl plans? hello, everyone, it's high noon in the east, 9:00 in the west, welcome to "weekends with alex witt." breaking news from columbia, maryland, 20 miles south of baltimore. we're getting another report of a shooting in a public place. this one at the mall of columbia. at this time, it's unclear how many people have been shot. mall officials say the shopping center is closed. they believe the situation is over, and at this time under control. we're certainly monitoring the situation. we're going to bring you some oh more information as soon as it becomes available. but once again, the mall of
columbia, the shooting in columbia, maryland. we believe there are some people victims of gunshots. we'll find out more information and get it to you as soon as we get that for you. mean time, the white house has just released some new details about the president's tuesday state of the union address. let's go right to the white house and nbc's kristen welker. good afternoon to you. what details have you learned? >> reporter: alex, good afternoon to you. this preview is heavy on the broad themes, light on the specifics. but it does give us a sense of the tone that we can expect to hear from president obama on tuesday night. this preview comes from senior adviser dan phifer, who has boiled the president's speech down to three words. opportunity, action and optimism. here is a little bit more of that preview that we got from dan phifer. he writes, quote, tuesday night the president will lay out a set of real concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and empower all who hope to join it.
now, that, i think, is a little bit of a signal, alex, of what we have been reporting, which is that we expect this speech to focus heavily on the idea of income inequality. this is something that the president has spoken consistently about. it's also something that the president and democrats see as a winning campaign issue in 2014. so i anticipate the president will reiterate his call to increase the minimum wage. we might hear him talk about unemployment insurance benefits. but again, the white house not giving specifics about what he is actually going to talk about. but one white house official does tell me, there will be some new policy ideas in this speech. so we'll be listening closely to hear what those new policy themes are. now, as is tradition, president obama is going to hit the road on wednesday, the day after the speech, to sell the themes and the policy ideas that he maps out in his address on tuesday night. so on wednesday, he's going to head to prince gorges county, maryland, and pittsburgh, pennsylvania. then on thursday, it's milwaukee
and nashville, contintennessee. i should also say staffers at the white house are going to go online the day after the speech, and they're going to be answering questions from people all across the country. again, this white house big on using social media. so they'll be doing that the day after the speech. a little bit about the process, alex, that we're learning, as well. one white house official tells me this speech is on track to being finished. this is president obama's first state of the union since john f. left, and he has grown a beard, what many around here see as a playoff beard. he's not going to shave it until after the speech. alex. >> could be just a state of the union beard, given the work he's had to do leading up to that. no doubt. i love the behind the scenes on the speech writing. thank you so much, kristen welker. new politics today with obamacare coverage, which has hit a new milestone. the obama administration says 3 million people have signed up for health insurance through the
affordable care act since october 1st. that is still behind the pace the administration had hoped for. but officials say those numbers are encouraging. republican leaders voted friday to shorten their presidential selection process, in an effort to lessen the damage, attacking each other during the primary season. under this new schedule, new hampshire, iowa, south carolina and nevada, will host the first four contests in february of 2016. the rest of the states and territories will vote between early march and mid may. then the republican national convention will take place roughly two months earlier than normal in late june or early july. in russia today, new terror threats raising even more concerns about the sochi olympics. now less than two weeks away. the state department in a new warning is telling u.s. citizens attending the games to remain aware of their personal security at all times. in light of all the threats, chuck hagel says if russia needs assistance, the u.s. will be there. >> if they need our help, we want to help.
i think as you -- most of you know, we will have two ships in the black sea during that time. >> over 10,000 american athletes and spectators are expected to attend the sochi games. nbc's duncan golestani is joining me from london with the latest. duncan, what are the new concerns here, the newest ones? >> reporter: hey, alex. the latest we're hearing is that the militant group which claimed responsibility for last month's suicide bombings in volograd have told russians to rebel against president vladimir putin or face further attacks. the warning does not mention the games, but it is the same group which last week warned putin to expect a presence at the winter olympics. the statement was posted on the websites of dagestan, a group from the north caucasus region, where putin has been fighting an insurgency for over a decade. dagestan is a mainly muslim
province, where militants want to create an islamic state. and it is just the latest in sort of a drip of messages that are creating such uncertainty about the sochi games. in the last few days, a video that was posted online early in january started to get more of an airing. it appears to come from a known branch of al qaeda, and in it, militants say violence is coming. russian authorities are also searching for three so-called black widows who they fear may be planning suicide attacks, targeting the games. alex? >> all right. duncan, one thing we are hearing is u.s. security officials will be accompanying american athletes to all the events. that doesn't seem so out of the ordinary. but we're also hearing, particularly with the nordic skiing and with the snowboard teams, they're going to have private security companies accompanying them. can you confirm that? >> reporter: i can't confirm that specifically. according to white house abbreviation, diplomatic security will accompany american
athletes to events. but as you say, that's not really out of the ordinary for big international events like olympic games. the u.s. is only really able to play as much of a security role as the russians will allow. but russia has so far not requested any help and seems reluctant to share intelligence. that's in contrast, for example, to the very close cooperation between washington and london, when the summer games came here in 2012. the u.s. olympic committee has advised athletes going to sochi to avoid wearing their uniforms or team usa logos outside of the olympic venues. the state department did say similar advice is given at other big international events. russia has repeatedly said sochi will be safe, and they have put in place tough security. this 1,500 mile ring of steel, airport style security checks and more than 40,000 police and security officials. but there is clearly now a feeling of anxiety among some of
those traveling to sochi that something could happen. that one of these threats could be made real. alex? >> okay. nbc's duncan golestani in london, thank you for that. we're going back to what we have been reporting since the top of the hour. the breaking news from columbia, maryland, about 20 miles south of baltimore for your perspective. there has been a report of a shooting in a public place. it's at the mall of columbia. unclear at this point how many people have been shot, though there are varying reports anywhere from one to four. those numbers are not firm in any way. mall officials say the shopping center is closed. they believe the situation is over and under control. let's talk now with former atf agent, jim cavanaugh, who joins me on the phone. jim, let's talk about what law enforcement is most likely doing right now at the scene. >> well, alex, if they've got the patrons out, and they've got it locked down, they're trying to, you know, locate the shooter. so they can deal with him. it could be -- sometimes these
things turn into horrible murder-suicide event. so oh it could be kind of static right now. certainly law enforcement, if they have the shoppers out, they might have some shop keepers barricaded inside stores. and what they're trying to do is get down there and isolate, you know, the gunman, so they can control it. >> yeah. jim, this is happening all too often. and without having to put security in place everywhere we go, publicly, which is absolutely impossible to do, what are the alternatives? how do we avoid this from happening? >> yeah, i think we've just -- the country has just not taken this on yet. just a lot of talk we do in the governments. but we don't do any action. and i think really the leaders, city, county, state and federal, have got to take some actions across the board. you know, all of the issues.
gun control, mental health screening, security issues. but, you know, they have just got to take it on. all they do is talk about it. so that's the big answer. the small answer today is, you know, to stop this guy from killing anybody else. >> yeah. what about malls? because they are such a soft target. do they need to be putting in metal detectors when you walk into the many doors, the many ways to access from outdoor parking lots or underground garages? is that really a solution, at least temporarily so? >> you know, it's a case by case basis, alex. as we live our lives, we all don't like to be inconvenienced by security. and i think that, you know, looking at the situation in sochi, everybody is concerned about it, but nobody wants too much of it. the indoor malls which have been traditional in the country have -- seem to be more encapsulatede encapsulated, where the person goes inside and everybody has to run and find a place to hide, kind of like a school, or like a
navy yard. where, you know, the trend has been with the developers, more outdoor malls. the city street kind of style. and that may be more where we're going. shoppers like it. it also may be even better, you know, in these emergency situations, because everybody is not sort of locked in a building, and there's more chances for egress and escape. so metal detectors, i don't know. i don't think we can go there on malls. probably the answer is just more uniformed police patrols, more cameras. nobody should be able to walk into a mall with a long gun, you know, exposed. and we don't stop them before they get in. if anything like that is happening, your security is way too weak. >> yeah. >> i'm not saying we need to search everybody for a handgun. and a handgun can be devastated, alex. you remember virginia tech. >> absolutely. >> and all the people he killed with a handgun.
i'm not saying that's not a problem. but a lot of these shooters have a long gun, a shotgun, a rifle. and that's a devastating weapon. even against the security people or uniformed patrol officer, who may only have a handgun with him. >> right. but many of them, obviously bought legally, the majority of them. and so you talk about the number of things we need to look at and do something about. and clearly, that would include mental healthcare. >> right. >> jim, when you look at the numbers here that we're talking about, maybe one, maybe four. but again, those are soft numbers. we don't have a clue on that for sure. does that indicate to you something that's more targeted? >> yes, it's hard to tell. sometimes i've gone to these active shooting things where three or four people are killed random in a city. and you think, oh, this is just random shootings and it turns out to be people the person knew. and they're trying to gain revenge on. and this happens a lot of times in domestic situations, where a
person may go to one business and they're killing the boss and the assistant boss and the co-worker who they think wronged them. and it's kind of a revenge type thing. so it's hard to tell if it's more widely scattered victims in a mall. the problem with a mall, it's first seen by all of us as a -- just a giant public place. and -- but there are unique businesses, of course, in there. but it's a giant public place. and a lot of times, the shooter is mentally ill, bent on revenge or terrorism and he wants to go to a giant public place. >> yeah, make a spectacle. jim, i know that you're going to make your way to a camera, so we're going to gather more information and all the details as you do so. i know we'll see you a bit later on in the hour. but jim cavanaugh, former atf agent, thank you much for joining me at this point in our coverage of this breaking development. we'll be back with more as soon as we get it. meantime, for you concerned about the weather out there, let's get to the cold ice
temperatures across the country today. part of the latest arctic blast that has spread so far south, it caused a rare snowfall and even some heavy sleet in houston, texas, of all places. just about 115 miles north of the mexican border, it was snowing, i understand. nbc's dylan dreyer is here with the forecast. what is up with this cold? is it here to stay? i know it's january, but come on. >> it's exceptionally cold, even by january standards. i mean, most areas are looking at temperatures about 25 to 35 degrees below average. so it is an exceptionally cold winter, that's for sure. especially when you're talking about ice in houston. but temperatures now in texas already back into the 50s. topping out in the 60s. so that was just a rare fluke event that's not going to happen again today. wind chills, 15 below in minneapolis. feels like 1 below in chicago right now. and high temperatures will be coldest across the upper midwest in the northern plains. elsewhere, though, it's actually not too bad. 37 in boston. actually, above freezing. looks pretty good. what we're going to see as we go into early next week, monday, tuesday and wednesday, this is going to rival that initial
time. we talked about the polar vortex in early january. and this could actually even be colder in areas like international falls and through places like minnesota and minneapolis and chicago, too. we are still seeing some snow showers. we have one, two clipper systems. these produced a little bit of snow, and we are certainly seeing the snow in the northeast, especially towards the great lakes, where we'll see most of our snowfall with the lake enhancement, 6 to 12 inches. elsewhere, especially through in and around the great lakes, it looks like we'll see 3 to 6. then the next one moves in. we could see another inch or two. but it is going to be brutally cold and really not changing any time soon. >> you know, i'm looking at your map there, and i see the white around new york. there's this thing called the super bowl coming up in about a week. what is the forecast for that? >> if i had to make a forecast right now, the latest models are indicating we could see a little bit of light snow saturday. but actually, rain on sunday. a cold rain. >> on top of the snow? >> on top of the snow. but the snow doesn't look like much. but it looks like it could be a rainy super bowl. a cold, rainy super bowl.
that's my early guess. >> all the reason to stay inside and watch on tv. it's all good. thank you very much, dylan dreyer. appreciate that. a new poll in the chris christie story. plus how the controversy is playing nationally. [dog] larry? larry? larry? wanna play? [announcer] a healthy dog is a playful dog. [dog] let's do this larry. [announcer] help him keep those muscles while he loses a few pounds with beneful healthy weight. made with wholesome rice,real chicken,soy, even accents of vitamin rich veggies. it's calorie-smart and tastes so good. beneful healthy weight...from purina. this is the creamy chicken corn chowder. i mean, look at it. so indulgent. did i tell you i am on the... [ both ] chicken pot pie diet! me too! [ male announcer ] so indulgent, you'll never believe they're light. 100-calorie progresso light soups.
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it is 19 past the hour. just want to let all of you know, we're staying abreast of the situation at the mall in columbia that is in columbia, about 20 miles or so away from baltimore. a suburb considered both baltimore and washington, d.c. there has been a shooting, according to police, there. apparently the howard county emergency services department sent out a tweet late this morning, saying that police and rescue workers were on the scene, and confirming that a shooting has taken place. we don't know numbers at all at this point. but we're certainly trying to get more information. we're going to bring it to you as soon as we have it here on
msnbc. meantime, let's now go to the ongoing issues for new jersey governor, chris christie's administration. federal prosecutors issued new subpoenas this week, joining those of the state legislature. in an interview on "up" this morning, new jersey assemblyman john wisniewski outlined his goals. >> we're looking at an abuse of power, because ultimately, our role as legislators is to fix the laws that allowed it to happen. to change the rules of the game that allowed a bridget kelly to send an e-mail to a david wildstein to close the lanes. there is a lot of things that have to be fixed to make that not possible in the future. >> joining me now is steve kornacki, host of "up." we're glad to have you here since you have owned the story from the beginning. i'm curious about your exclusive interview with dawn zimmer a week ago, what have been the biggest developments? >> the biggest developments, in direct response to what she said, she was in the u.s. attorney's office the next day, telling the same story she said
on our air, sharing the same diary with them she shared with us. and the fbi agents by the middle of the week were in hoboken, interviewing members of her staff who apparently she told the same story to at the time that it happened, supposedly, this encounter with the lieutenant governor. there is a city councilman in hoboken, who is an ally of dawn zimmer's who apparently she also told this story to some number of months ago. i think he is prepared to meet with them. so on that piece, it's the fbi and the federal prosecutors that have moved quickly. i think the most significant overall development this week is the news of the subpoenas from the u.s. attorney to the republican state committee and to chris christie's re-election campaign. because that shows the u.s. attorney is not just looking at the hoboken case. the u.s. attorney is now looking at this george washington bridge lane closure scandal. so two scandals at once. and now the u.s. attorney has in some way moved into both of them. i think it's very significant. >> a couple questions there. i understand these subpoenas go all the way back to 2010. so in terms of the scope of what they're looking for, what do you
know about that. and were there to have been any rules, laws, broken regarding the gwb? do we know what those are? these are laws broken or not? >> no, that's the thing. there is a lot of mystery about what exactly it is they're looking for in the state community and re-election campaign. there is a lot of mystery around that and also the question of whether laws were broken with the george washington bridge thing. it's such a mysterious scandal. where it really still could be -- could be these four people who we know about so far. wildstein and baroni and stepien and kelly. it could be they were sort of like for lack of a better term, clowning around. screwing up everybody's day, screwing up everybody's traffic. but it may be that it originated with the four of them and then the administration looked the other way and all that. so it's unclear how thick of a plot there really was to this. but that's something that now presumably the u.s. attorney is interested in getting to the bottom. and it raises to a much more serious level when the u.s. attorney gets involved. but the flip side of that is, it
also raises the question of the legislative committee that john wisniewski chairs, if that's long for this world, now that the u.s. attorney has gotten involved. >> i know you watched the governor's inaugural speech this week. what struck you about that or what jumped out at you? >> it read like a speech he would have written a month or two ago before any of this exploded, when this was not something on his radar politically. it read like the speech he had originally wanted to be. sort of -- this was his stepping stone to a national campaign, sort of a summation of everything he wanted you to know about why he is a different kind of republican, different kind of governor of new jersey. absolutely no mention of the scandal. but, of course, it surrounds him on stage. he finishes his speech, one of the first people he encounters is david samson, chairman of the port authority, under so much scrutiny right now. he walks down the row of ex governors who were sort of there for every inaugural. he meets jim mcgreevey, the governor ten years ago, when chris christie was the u.s. attorney, and jim mcgreevey's
governorship, he was just hounded by u.s. attorney chris christie, with subpoenas on the governor's office, subpoenas on his state committee, democratic state committee. so it was really interesting to me to see the two of them meet. because ten years ago, jim mcgreevey was tormented by a u.s. attorney who was investigating the governor's office, and now this is a week that chris christie finds out the u.s. attorney is starting to look around his re-election campaign and his state committee. >> so what's interesting is new jersey voters were polled, and here's how they put a read on things. only 27% called governor christie trustworthy. but 56% call him a strong leader. that's in the garden state. but how do you think this is playing out nationally? >> yeah, i mean, i imagine it's similar numbers. we have seen some national numbers. i think there is one that tracks that head-to-head with hillary clinton versus chris christie. and back in december, he was beating her by a point for 2016. and now he's down by eight or ten points to her. so i think that suggests that nationally this has raised a lot of questions. this has caused a lot of people
who have looked at chris christie favorably the last few years to hit the pause button. and my guess is, it raises the specter of a lot of the sort of negative stuff people associate with new jersey as this den of corruption, seediness, malfeasance. that sort of comes into the picture. but it's also just a mystery, i think, more than anything. it's just a mystery for a lot of people that it looks like such a petty thing. yet there are such high-level people involved, taking such incredible risks for something that seems so petty. and i think it just -- to most people, it looks like there's got to be some fuller explanation here. we're not getting it from the governor. we suspect there is something. and i think there is this sort of feeling -- i know this exists in new jersey, this exists i think in the media, and i suspect this exists nationally. just this feeling that something bigger is going to come out. just based on the stakes and the players and what little we know at this point. >> yeah. why do i get the feeling that you are just up all night doing this, so that when we watch you tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. eastern time, you're going to bring us the very latest. >> that's the plan.
>> that's the plan. okay. we thank you for that, steve kornacki. thanks for coming on. >> okay. later, democratic congressman, frank pallone, will weigh in on the christie scandal and the new subpoenas at the top of the hour. but back to our top of the story -- rather top of the hour breaking news, everyone, from columbia, maryland. the howard county sheriff's office has now confirmed, there are three people dead. this shooting has happened at the mall of columbia. it is about 20 miles south of baltimore. mall officials say the shopping center is closed. they believe the situation is over. and under control at this point. but again, there is confirmation from police now, three people have been killed in this mall shooting. we're going to be bringing more information as it becomes available. also, we're talking about the security in sochi, everyone. we'll have more on that, as well, for you coming up. we'll be right back. stay with us on "weekends with alex witt." ♪
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that we have showered with you. the howard county sheriff's office have confirmed there are three people dead. the mall of columbia, just this morning here, late morning local time here on the east coast. this mall is about 20 miles south of baltimore, considered a suburb of both baltimore and washington, d.c. mall officials have confirmed, the shopping center is closed. they believe the situation is over in an active way and under control. let's get right to nbc law enforcement analyst jim cavanaugh, former atf agent who joins me now with the camera. pretty distressing news. we heard maybe one to four people had been shot. now the confirmation of three dead. we're getting this, by the way, from the howard county police department. they're also asking people, as you suggested they would, to stay in place inside the mall stores until they can clear everything. talk about what's going on inside that mall. >> well, i'm sure we have people barricaded in various stores in the mall, once the shooting
started. that's the proper response, is you want to escape. you want to -- if you can, outside, get away. if not, you want to barricade. and, of course, the last resort, you're going to fight. but the public has sadly become attuned to this stuff. and as the journalists go out and interview people, you hear them say i heard the shots and i didn't think it was shots. the public now is getting better, sadly. but this is the correct response. and in the police business we call this the, "oh no" moment, or the "oh my god" moment. it's the first moment when the shooting starts. and you hear the shot, and you want to start wondering if it's shot. and the thing to do is to understand that it is a shot. and now you have to react to it. don't be wondering. the wondering is losing you the precious seconds to save your life. so you hear the shot, realize it's a shot, yes, this is a shot, it's a bad thing and now i've got to take action. >> what's so hard, i think, jim,
people -- you hear something, and it just seems so out of context. you are shopping with your family, your friends, you're in the mall, on a saturday morning. and the last thing you think is, what? shots inside. i want to also read you -- there are three tweets that we've gotten here from the howard county police department. the first one reads "three people confirmed dead at columbia mall. victims unknown at this time." the second one, jim, "people inside mall are being asked to stay in place until police can clear each area safely." here's in our one that's interesting to me. "one deceased subject located near gun and ammunition. i.d. unknown." i have never bought a gun, jim. i don't know if when you go into a gun shop you're able to leave that gun store with a gun, you know, presumably you're licensed to own that gun, may have gotten that beforehand, and ammunition. i mean, literally can people walk out of a gun store and load up -- lock and load that gun?
>> absolutely. if you pass the background check, the national instant criminal check system, you can buy the gun and ammunition and leave the store. in fact, we've had cases and i've had cases in my division over the years many times, people would kill themselves, you know -- buy the gun and kill themselves. or buy the gun and commit a crime. but we don't know if he bought the gun at a gun store, could have taken from a relative's house, could have had for a year, stolen gun, out of a car burglary. that's yet to be determined. but, yes, i mean, plenty of access to firearms. could that be the shooter who is lying there, maybe committed suicide, or was engaged by the howard county officer. so oh it could be either one. or it may not even be the shooter. sometimes this is a very chaotic situation in the beginning, and things look one way and not the other. if it is the shooter then maybe nobody else will die. so you hate to say there is good news on somebody being down or shot or killed. but if it's the shooter, that's better for the rest of us nobody else is hurt.
>> jim, getting more information from twitter, from the howard county police department. two more tweets put out there. the call came into 911 about 11:15, so about an hour and fifteen minutes ago the incident was first reported that shots were fired. police made entry, found three dead upon entry. one found near a gun and ammunition. and then most recently, put out just seconds ago, "no recent reports of any additional shots heard." so as you're indicating, as horrible, tragic, terrible as this story is, the fact that it's been relatively silent for the last 75 minutes is a very good sign that, you know, as police and agents make their way from store to store, clearing the place, they can get people out of that mall and, you know, confirmed to safety. >> right. and if you're barricaded in a store in the mall, you might have access to the news or, you know, on your smartphone, trying to get data. the thing is to stay barricaded and don't open that door unless you're absolutely, 1,000% sure that's the police at the other
side of the door. you don't just open the door if somebody says i'm the police. you wait to ensure they're the police. how do you do that? >> well, they might be able to slip their identification you said the door. you can call the 911 dispatcher and say i'm here, i want to know who that officer is. you might hear their radios, you might hear multiple voices so don't open the door unless you're sure. but you have plenty of time to wait if the police are there. so just wait. if you're unsure, just keep waiting and wait and wait. this is where the social media helps us. >> sure. we're getting more information, able to report that, and people do have access to information, at least they can know what's going on. that's part of the fear of the unkno unknown, when you're involved in a situation like this. jim, would it only be -- as a result of a s.w.a.t. team coming to that mall, to try to respond to reports of shots fired? i mean, regular police, just the average police officer, are they -- are they outfitted with the bullet proof vest, as they just go through routine patrols? are they first on the scene?
>> you know, they are. uniform patrol is the first on the scene. when i started in law enforcement, i was a uniformed patrol officer. uniformed patrol officers are very, very good at handling breaking dynamic situations, because that's what they live every day. whether it's a car wreck or a fire or domestic or car chase or robbery. they're very good at handling things that break instantaneously. they're very adept at those things. and patrol now goes in, the active shooter response, since columbine, which we have all talked about a million times, and we know they go right in, they're going to confront the shooter. so find him, locate him, try to stop him. if they can't kill him and he barricades and it becomes a static situation, if he's alone in a room, for example, then s.w.a.t. is going to come in. and what they're going to do is use all the tools of, you know, tactical teams that we use, and they're going to negotiate, they're going to -- they have gas and dogs and snipers and everything they may need. but if it's barricaded alone,
then, you know, it becomes a situation where the police are going to win if they just take their time. because he doesn't have any option if he's barricaded by himself. >> yeah. and just want to reiterate for everyone who might be joining us right now that we have a situation at the mall of columbia in which three people are confirmed dead. this by the howard county police department. as a result of gunshots that took place about an hour and twenty five minutes ago now. we don't know if there are any other victims with regard to just injuries. we do know that there was one person, not identified, male or female, but was found by police on-scene outside of a gun and ammunition shop there. but again, three people have been killed in the mall of columbia. the shooting taking place about 11:15 eastern time, just a short while ago in this last hour. jim cavanaugh, i'm going ask you to stay with us. we're going to take a short break, everyone, and get more information on this and bring you more of the other day's news here on msnbc's "weekends with
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want to bring an update, everyone, on an incident that happened in columbia, maryland, about an hour and twenty five minutes ago, at the mall in columbia. we have confirmation from the howard county police department that three people have been shot and killed. we do not know if one person may be the shooter or not. what police have confirmed is only that one of three bodies was found outside of a gun and ammunition store inside that mall. there were shots first reported to police about 11:15 eastern time. again, some hour and twenty five minutes ago. the only good news to share here is that it has been relatively quiet in the minutes in this hour since. there has been no further reports of gunshot, and we do have police on the scene going right now from store to store, trying to figure out where people are barricaded, and get them outside to safety. as soon as we get some more information on these details, we will share them with you here on msnbc. right now joining me, though, is democratic senator,
robert casey, member of the finance health and economic committees. we booked you to talk about things relative to sochi and security. with regard to security in general in this country, gun control, can you tell me where it stands? i have covered far too many shooting incidents. and i know that you have as well been privy to too many of them. where does it stand these days? >> well, first of all, this is horrific news. and we hope that the numbers that have been reported don't go any higher. but to have three families have a loved one killed in a mall is just horrific, and our thoughts and prayers go out to them. i think it's a reminder that we still have a big problem in this country with regard to the availability not just of firearms and circumstances that we almost didn't imagine them years ago, but the power of those weapons. in this case, we don't know what happened. we'll see what kind of weapon it was, what the circumstances
were. but i think it's unfortunately another horrific reminder that we have got to take action. i was hoping that when we got to the point last year of voting, at least in the senate, on background checks, limitation on the magazines and a ban on the military style weapon, that we would have made progress. but i think we have to keep at it, and i hope we can get more votes this year. but even if we don't get to voting on it, there is still much we can do on those three individual issues, as well as, of course, the mental health challenge that we face. so we've got a long way to go. >> yeah, we do. sir, in the wake of newtown and the shooting in december of 2012 there, it seemed as if the whole country mourned for quite some time. it seemed like there was a real shot at getting something passed, because just -- the emotional toll that that shooting took on everybody was there. has that emotional toll waned in
these months since? >> no, it's my view that newtown changed america forever. now, that doesn't necessarily manifest itself in votes that are successful. but i know the impact newtown had on me. it transformed -- >> me too. >> -- my view of a lot of these issues. so that's number one. i think it was a transformative event, the effects of which we're still feeling. i think another event coming up at the end of this year will be an election. this will be the first election in american history where the two sides on the debate about firearms and the availability of firearms in the hands of very dangerous people will finally have some parity to it, meaning that the two sides will have roughly equal amounts of campaign spending. that will have a seismic impact on this issue. it may not change it in 2014, but i think as we go kind of election cycle after cycle,
you're going to see change that we couldn't even imagine on the ability to have background checks, the ability to have votes on that that are successful, as well as a limitation on the magazines, the number of bullets available at one time and one place. i think of the three, by the way, that's the most important. but i think the election will be the first one, where there is parity in spending on this issue, and that will change the issue. but i think it started with newtown. >> let's hope so, sir, because there certainly seem to be some common sense solutions that have been met with resistance. so i'm hopeful that there will be some change along those lines. i thank you for your candor on this breaking news subject. let me talk with you about sochi. that's what we wanted from the beginning here, with regard to the security measures russian has taken so far. senator, are you comfortable, are you satisfied? >> well, i can't say that i am, because i don't -- i don't have all of the grounding and the intel that you need to see how the russians are doing. but they seem to be making very determined and really focused
efforts to provide as much security as possible. i would hope, though, that the russians -- and there's some indication -- it's kind of a mixed -- a mixed bag on this, in terms of their cooperation with the united states, as well as countries around the world. i hope that continues in the next couple of days and over the time period of the olympics. but even more broadly, we need total cooperation on counter terror. i think the mechanisms are there. i know our government has taken great steps to be helpful and also to work in concert with the russians, as well as other governments. and i just say finally, i think whether your families are making decisions about whether to travel there, they should really pay close attention to what the state department warnings are and the guidance of state department provides. >> yeah. state department is very interesting, sir. they have said that outside the olympic venues themselves that americans should not wear any identifiable clothing which, you know, certainly brings to mind
that there is something to be warned about outside of the venues. those are very, very securely understood at this point. but something else i want to ask you. secretary hagel, which we heard him say if need be, the u.s. will make some sort of an arrangement with russia to use american assets for evacuations. however, we're hearing from other u.s. officials telling nbc news there is no evacuation plan on the shelf at this point. how concerning is that for you? >> well, certainly of great concern. i don't have an update on that or insight to provide other than what the news has -- the news has been reporting. but i think it's another indication of the danger, but also another indication of the steps or the lengths to which our government has taken to protect our athletes and to protect the circumstances on the ground there. but we need -- what we need here is total cooperation between the russian government and our government on this, as well as the other countries, as well. so -- >> yeah.
>> we've got to make sure we're taking steps we need to. but i just hope the russian government, as they're securing the site they work with us. >> yeah. senator, let me ask you quickly about tuesday's state of the union. the white house has just this morning sent out a preview that read, quote, on tuesday night, the president will lay out a set of real concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and empower all who hope to join it. i know, sir, you spoke with reporters this week about your support for a minimum wage increase. but what do you want those specific goals to look like? >>el with, i think it's note worthy, and i think very positive that the president will focus principally on what i've been calling job one, which is jobs. and that's in the midst of an economy that's recovering fast i guess in about the last 46 months, 8 million jobs have been created. but there is still major pockets in regions in the country where there's a lot of -- a lot of trauma from the great recession. so his focus on jobs is
critically important. but also his focus on three words. optimism, opportunity and action. i think all three are very important. we've got to take action to focus on not just the broader jobs issue, but to help the middle class know -- probably no time in american history has the middle class been more devastated than they have over the last generation. and i think the president is right to focus already as he has, since he has been president, on the middle class. but we all need to renew our focus on the middle class and on job creation. >> all right. democratic senator, robert casey, i very much appreciate your time and also talking with us about the breaking news, sir. thank you. >> thanks, alex. speaking of breaking news, we want to bring you up to date on what we do know. some hour and a half ago at the mal of columbia, 20 miles south of baltimore, three people were killed -- at least three people killed, inside that mall. we do not know the identities of any of them. we do know that one body was found outside of a gun and ammunition shop inside that
mall. the only good news we can report at this time, that it has been quiet there. no reports of shots fired in the last hour and a half since whatever tragedy took place there around 11:15 eastern time. we do know, we're going to have a news conference at 1:15 p.m. eastern. we're going to have that for you here on msnbc's "weekends with alex witt." short break, everyone. we'll be right back. ♪
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we have some new pictures to show you right now. these are ariels, and this is over the mall in columbia. this is columbia, maryland, about 20 miles south of baltimore. the area is considered a suburb of both baltimore and washington, d.c. coming up on two hours ago now, 11:15 eastern time, there were reports of shots fired. those went into the howard county police department. they started tweeting about this, which is one of the ways we have been getting our information today. we have confirmation that three people have been killed inside that mall, and that right now agents and police officers are going from one store to the next to make sure that anybody who
may have barricaded themselves inside the store for safety are being brought out and escorted to safety outside. an interesting point, the most recent tweets from the howard county police department, no indication of additional shots fired. the scene is believed to be secure. also, again, as i have said, police are in the mall to clear people out safely. mall believed to be secure, but people inside should wait for police. and finally, one subject dead is suspected shooter, no information about other victims yet. a previous tweet shared the information that one deceased subject located near gun and ammunition, i.d. unknown. it is a pretty safe assumption to say if they believe one person dead is the shooter, it would be that person that they found near gun and -- near a gun and ammunition. i'm going to bring in nbc law enforcement analyst and former atf agent, jim cavanaugh, who rejoins me. he has been with us all hour covering oh this breaking news.
jim, you made a very good point and it seems the howard county police department has reiterated people inside right now, don't just come out, even though you think everything is fine, right? >> right. stay where you are. you don't want to open any doors unless you're absolutely 1000% sure it's the police. and the way to do that is to, you know, talk to them. you might be able to hear their radios and multiple voices. they can slip their i.d. under the door. if there is any doubt, you can dial 911, tell them your location, they can talk to the officer. just be absolutely sure. you've got plenty of time now if the police are outside for them to handle the situation. there is no rush to get out. just hunker down, stay safe. this is the procedure. >> yeah. jim, i want to know -- i don't know if you can see the pictures being provided to us by wbal. these are ariel shots right now. it doesn't look like we're seeing people running out in mass groups. it looks like everything is pretty secure at this time. when you're looking at a scene like this where you have three dead as a result of gunshots
that is coming up on two hours ago, is it pretty safe to say that you're comfortable the scene is secure and that they don't believe that there are other shooters out there? >> from what we can see here, alex, it looks static. so it looks like s.w.a.t. has arrived on-scene tactical command established. and they at least have a lot of information we don't have. they know maybe where the shooter is. whether he's the person who is reported with the gun and ammunition near him, or they have the shooter isolated and located in a certain area. now, we can't see everything, and we can't know everything. but two hours into it, howard county is going to have their s.w.a.t. there, they're going to have the tactical on-scene commander there, and they're going to be making their decisions based on that. so this is a heart-breaking story. we have a report of three or four people killed. we obviously have people in the howard county area who don't know where their family or relatives are missing so it's a
real heart-breaker. it may be static at the moment, and they can then deal with, you know, getting the other people out. we're starting to see some people on the feed walk out. i think that's a good sign. they're walking out you saunder direction of police. so they're safe. so that's a good sign. it's getting safer after the initial tragedy. >> yeah. hey, jim, i'm curious. you would assume that first on the scene would be those private security mall officers that you see going around. i'm trying to rack my brain and think whether i see guns in holsters on their hips as they cruise malls where i've gone shopping. are they armed with guns, usually? >> well, that varies, alex, from mall to mall and state to state and city to city, whether or not the uniformed security are armed. and a lot of times they're patrolling the parking lots to prevent shoplifting or, you know, people being accosted or mugged in a parking lot. and this is really different than overall facilities
security. and like we talked earlier, no one should be able -- remains to be seen here, a handgun or long gun. nobody should be able to walk into a all with a long gun exposed that the mall doesn't have some way to lock those doors. you know, picture yourself, some mall security person, in a room that has access to a bank of cameras that can see every entrance to the ten entrances to the mall. and even though they may not have a uniformed officer at every door, if they see a guy walking across the parking lot, dressed in black with a rifle, they should be able to hit a button and shut all the doors. but we haven't reached that level yet. but we need to be thinking about that, because this is a constant, ongoing horror that the country is experiencing. >> right. well, you're talking about a long gun, and certainly that is an obvious reaction, one that we, you know, should work towards getting that sort of a solution. but, you know, when you've got licensed, registered handguns that can be carried --
concealed -- they can be carried in someone's purse, in someone's coat pocket. you have the big, heavy overcoats these days, given the weather. you know, how do you go about protecting yourself against that? >> well, that's right. and a lot of guns that are used in these mass shootings are obtained illegally and possessed illegally. let me give you an example for a loophole in the law. the navy shooter who had a texas driver's license and wound up in virginia, killing all our veterans and heroes at the navy yard, if the law had been like it had been after the '68 gun control act, he would not even have been allowed to buy that shotgun in virginia. because his -- he was a resident of texas. but the law was watered down in the mid '80s, in 1986, to allow that sale to happen. so, you know, we changed the laws, and we don't think it's going to have an effect, but gun laws stop a murder and killings. and they can be very effective, if they're written correctly. not to, you know, impose undue
restriction on lawful owners. but they can be very effective if they're the right law. >> yeah. absolutely. everyone, i want to reiterate this breaking news and all the developments as we know them at this point as we approach 1:00 here on the east coast and getting into our next hour here of "weekends with alex witt." what we know is that three people have been killed inside the mall in columbia. that is columbia, maryland, about 20 miles south of baltimore, a suburb there of baltimore and washington, d.c. it happened about an hour and forty five minutes ago. that is when the calls came into the howard county police department around 11:15 eastern time, about gunshots fired inside that mall. again, three people have been confirmed dead with one deceased. not identified at this time. though one person's body, not identified as male or female, was found near a gun and some ammunition. we don't know if this was a targeted attack, we're not sure about the identity. what we are right now most concerned about is making sure that that mall stays in lockdown
and secure, as the howard county police department has indicated it is right now. you're joining us with wbal's live coverage, showing us these ariels. and it's showing a relatively calm scene outside. people are being led outside in small groups. we have seen no mass running or any kind of panic out there. i'm talking here with former atf agent and nbc law enforcement analyst, jim cavanaugh, who has agreed with me that it appears they're going from -- or informed us, rather, it appears they'll be going from shop to shop at this point, and letting out anybody who may have been barricaded out of fear inside those stores, getting them outside to safety. and doing so in a very calm and organized fashion at this point. jim, quickly talk to me about those that would have been the first respondents on the scene. local police. at what point do they bring in s.w.a.t., and do you think that s.w.a.t. was brought in here, given that we did not hear any shots fired since that first official round of reports around 11:15 eastern time. >> right.
once that report comes into the 911 dispatcher of an active shooterer or shooting in a mall, they're going to activate s.w.a.t. right away. the lieutenant, for example, is going to immediately call s.w.a.t., patrol dispatched immediately. the first officers that arrive, the first couple of officers that arrive are going to grab their long guns and vests and they're going to go right into the mall to try to isolate and locate and stop the shooter. you know, the lesson from columbine. we learned some lessons as we go in law enforcement, and columbine was one. there's some others we haven't done so good learning. but that was learned. and they go in and confronted him. this could be a suicide, as well. we don't know if the police shot him. it could be a suicide. and it also could be the whole gamut of possibilities here. it could be a revenge shooting over an employment dispute. it could be a random mall attack. it could be a mental health issue. it could be a robbery that went
bad. we just don't really know what it is at this point. hopefully when the police talk at 1:15, we'll find out those details. >> and i'm glad you brought that up, we've got a few minutes until we get to an official news conference to give us the latest on this. the fact that they're pulling this together, we hope they'll be able to summarize what has happened, if not identify those people that have been killed, whether one is the shooter or not, we do not know. of course, families will have to be identified and let known of this tragic occurrence before they'll release any sort of names. but we're hoping that the news and the carnage will stop with the reports of three dead and there will be nothing more than that on this terrible, terrible saturday morning there at the mall in columbia, just outside of baltimore, about 20 miles or so south of baltimore. jim, you and i, we speculated earlier on what can be done to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening. and short of congress taking
action as we spoke with senator robert casey about, just about 20 minutes ago, and instituting some sort of gun control laws and helping the mental health component of all of that get into place, you know, it's about being vigilant. so much of the time. we have to count on not only the security inside of malls and other soft targets like this, but also just random citizens. you've got to be vigilant at all times, it seems, in society. >> you know, you're exactly right, alex. concern -- we were talking about craig melvin the other day about sochi security. you know, concern will keep you alert. alert will keep you alive and that's the way you've got to go about your daily business, unfortunately, even in the united states. you've got to be alert to what your surroundings are. but also, citizens can to things. you know, i think the politicians have not served us well across the board in doing something about these mass shootings on all the issues. not just gun control, but mental health issues and security issues. they can do better. they need to do better.
but we -- citizens can do stuff, as well. you know, you're going to find in a lot of these firearms, i found in almost 40-year law enforcement career, that they come stolen from the home of the juvenile who took it to school and shot everybody. it was his grandfather's gun in the cabinet or his father's gun they used to go hunting with. we need to lock the guns up. we talk a lot about responsible gun ownership. if the gun is not being used for your immediate protection or next to your bed when sleeping at night because you're fear of a break-in, that gun should be secured, not where anybody can take it out of your house or even steal it. that's why gun safes are a good thing to have. and a lot of cities, if you could just stop the guns stolen out of cars, those are always involved in a lot of crime. so there's a lot of ways guns get in crime. but as citizens, we have got to minimize those, as well. how did it get there. >> right. >> adam lanza, had a gun -- his mother gave him the gun. he took the gun right out of the
house. >> again, that's where the mental health component is so important here. because, you know, the reality is, jim, people of sound mind and that understand reality and the consequences of actions, you know, usually don't commit acts of this type. certainly there are crimes of passion when people have, you know, what can be in a court of law issued as a temporary insanity defense. you can understand some people going that way. but for the most part, you know, the mental health component here is something that must be jointly addressed along with any sort of gun control. >> well, we haven't properly done away to flag that. let me give you an example. when i was a uniformed policeman in florida, we had a law called the baker act, that when somebody was completely, mentally disturbed and acting erratically, but maybe not committing a crime, we would be called. all kinds of, you know, scenarios that were just bizarre, you know, people naked outside, running around with a knife or something. but maybe not stabbing someone.
and we would take that person under the florida law, the baker act, and we would take them to the local emergency room and have a medical doctor certify that, yes, they needed observation. and then we would take them to a facility where a psychiatrist could keep them for three days with no criminal charge, and evaluate them. most states have laws like that. but here's the gap. when the guy is released, he could go to the gun store and buy a gun. he's not been committed to a mental institution as federal law requires. so a gap in the law -- and a lot of these people come to the attention of law enforcement, look at loughner in tuiasosopo. the campus police, they knew he was a problem. they -- >> you're talking about the representative gabrielle giffords shooting? >> right. he exhibited this bizarre behavior. so cho wasn't put into the system either. >> virginia tech. >> yeah, virginia tech. so there needs to be a way where
the police observe, and there is action of initial psychiatric evaluation that they can, maybe through a court order by -- getting a judge to sign off, just for a temporary time, to say, you know, flag this guy in the national instant criminal system, he cannot buy a gun, at least until we establish whether or not he should be able to buy a gun. now, there's a lot of civil rights issues. >> absolutely. >> a lot of great lawyers in the country, and we can work that out. and a law enforcement officer ought to be able to do something like that, to flag the nik system to say we have had to take this guy for psychiatric care. he's acting in a bizarre manner. we don't want him to be able to walk into a gun store. >> right. >> until this is somehow resolved. so, you know, there is a lot of gaps that could work out, i think, that aren't going to hurt gun owners, not going to be oppressive to our second amendment rights. they're not going to hurt us in any way. but they're going to make us safer, generally.
you know, it's not a good thing that we could all say we've got great second amendment rights and our children captain captain go to the mall to shop without being massacred. so there has got to be some balance there. and, you know, let's find the right little things that really do work. and i think, you know, we can. across -- and not just on guns, but across the board on all these things, we can do better. >> you know, you bring in children. and i have to share that i'm the mother of two children, and given what i do for a living and the horrific number of stories just like this that i've covered over the years, i can tell you honestly that there's not been one day that doesn't pass that i don't have a fleeting thought about my children's safety in their academic environments. you know, which is just wrong, frankly, to have -- and i know i'm not alone in that. there are parents all around this country who will share those kinds of concerns, because things -- soft targets like schools, shopping malls, as
we're seeing, this mall in columbia, airports, restaurants. it can really happen just about anywhere. so, you know, clearly something as you're saying, jim cavanaugh, absolutely needs to be done. let me just tell everyone what we're watching here, and watching for. in another five minutes, it things are on time, we'll have a media briefing. it's going to happen near the sears there at the columbia mall. reiterating this location, and also these aerials being provided with our thanks by wbal. this is the mall in columbia, 20 miles south of baltimore, maryland. a bedroom community there of baltimore, considered -- a lot of people come and shop at this pretty big mall. you can see for yourself, it's quite expansive. also washingtonions will shop there too. saturday morning, you can imagine the number of people inside at 11:15 when the shots rang out and the howard county police department was informed of what was happening inside. notably, we have confirmation of three deceased. one person, not identified as
male or female found near a gun and some ammunition. whether or not that is the shooter, it is unclear at this time. we hope to have a lot of our questions answered when the media briefing begins any minute now. we're staying live on the story for you until it does. we would assume that families will be notified before any sort of names are released. but imagine the difficulty for people getting out of -- typical, just let's run to the mall on a saturday morning and get some shopping done with their families and friends. only to be met with this kind of horror. we're not sure whether the mall has been completely cleared, but we have gotten indications from the howard county police department that the mall is secure at this point, which means they may be still just going from store to store to make sure that anybody who has been barricaded inside for their own safety has now gotten outside. my sense is, jim, and i'm sure -- i'd like to see if you concur, is that given what we're seeing now, we're looking at agents, and they are dressed, you know, to the nines, is
anticipating anything they might have encountered inside that mall. they're standing around outside, outside of what looks like a media book and also s.w.a.t. cars. it seems since they're standing there, in all likelihood, inside it has been cleared? jim? >> now they're in the process of clearing it. what it is, it's a very large building, obviously. so -- they don't know how many shooters could have been involved. so that takes time. it looks like they have their command vehicle there. that's their tactical officers who are, you know -- there you see. and so they take their time. once they got not bullets flying and it's not an active gun battle, thaern going to take their time, tactical officers are very methodical, very thorough. and they're going to want to get the advantage at every step, at every door. they want to get the advantage. and also, remember, they don't
know what they're facing here. >> absolutely. the fear of the unknown. they don't know if there is anybody else who may be laying in wait, although the fact they have indicated the mall is secure at this point is a good sign. jim, i'm going get a little more information. this comes to us from randy brooks. he is inside the mall right now, and joins us on the phone. randy, tell me what you saw and/or heard 11:15. >> about 11:15, 11:25, all of a sudden we heard a couple of pop-pops, weren't sure exactly what it was. must have been the gunshots, and all of a sudden people panicking, running by the front of the store. and as a matter of fact, right now the s.w.a.t. team is here and taking some of us -- going to take some of us out of here, so we have to make this quick. but the people ran by the store and had one individual, particular customer, who ran into the store and said -- he actually saw the shooter leaning over the rail on the upper level, shooting down at the cafeteria, people down at the -- the eatery. >> wow. >> so he came in and saw him
fire a couple shots. looked like he had a shotgun, shooting over the railing. and i'm going to have to cut this short because the s.w.a.t. team is here and they have their guns and say i have to leave right now. >> randy, i completely understand. thank you very much for speaking with us. and we're going to reiterate what you have just shared with us from eye-witnesses there. randy brooks, get outside safely, thank you very much. all of you may have heard what randy said, that he had a customer run by the store and then come inside, saying that he had seen the shooter, someone with a shotgun on an upper level, randomly shooting down into what he described as the cafeteria area. so that certainly strikes terror. jim cavanaugh, interpret that for me. when he says a shotgun, you know, that's something that one would think would be easily detectible if someone is bringing a shotgun inside of a mall like that. >> right. well, it could be hidden under a coat, certainly, with all of the cold weather, a gun could be hidden under a coat. a long top coat, depending on the size and length of the
weapon. but shooting random down into the food court -- any mall in mesh, is -- america, is more of a random mass killing spree killer type activity than it is revenge on a particular person who did you wrong. so that gives us a picture, maybe into who this shooter is or why they're motivated to do this. it may not be i want to get back at my boss who works at this particular store. or my ex-wife or my ex-husband who lives over here or works over here at this shop. no. i'm just going to randomly shoot at people in the food court. that's a whole different dynamic. so what does that make us think about? right, people that are mentally ill, terrorist-style attacks. you know, those kind of things come to mind first off, when you have that report. >> yeah. and i want to reiterate, that is one eyewitness account, that is nothing that has been confirmed yet by police. i want to tell all of you, we're
waiting for a media briefing, it's going to happen near the sears store at the columbia mall. we're going to take a short break and if the media briefing gets under way while on commercial break, we will bring you right back on and break into our programming with that. in the meantime, short break here on msnbc. we'll be right back with the breaking news. ♪ legs, for crossing. ♪ feet...splashing. better things than the joint pain and swelling of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. if you're trying to manage your ra, now may be the time to ask about xeljanz. xeljanz (tofacitinib) is a small pill, not an injection or infusion, for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz is an ra medicine that can enter cells and disrupt jak pathways, that comes with ra. xeljanz can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers
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to broadband internet at home. it's a place named one america's most veteran friendly employers. next is information and entertainment in ways you never thought possible. welcome to what's next. comcastnbcuniversal. 19 past the hour, everyone, as we're giving you the breaking news. three people have been confirmed shot and killed inside the mall in columbia. this about 45-minute drive or so northeast from washington, d.c. it is in maryland, about 20 miles south oh of baltimore. we have been following wrc's coverage, as well. we are joining them in progress with their late-breaking developments, and their on-air live coverage. let's take a listen to what they're doing. >> to make sure that everything is safe before they get to anything approaching normalcy,
which will obviously not happen for at least a couple days as an ensuing investigation happens after this incident. again, we are waiting to hear more from anne arundel county police about exactly what happened here. i'm having trouble with my audio, so back to you. >> i don't know if you can hear me, derek, but just wondering if you can describe what kind of police presence you're seeing there. of. >> reporter: yes, i've got you back now. >> we're wondering what kind of police presence is there. >> reporter: as we said, obviously -- yeah. obviously, a large police presence. lots of anne arundel county police officers. and i have seen united states park police helicopter not far from here. obviously on the ground in the parking lot. so it had to be involved with this. some other unmarked vehicles here and ems jurisdictions represented here, as well, as this probably went out as a mass casualty event. and they usually throw all of the resources available at something like this at the time. it appears now they may be standing down to it. but if you step out of the way
here, i'll let you take a look down close to the sears and the jcpenney, you can sea maryland state misrepresented by the black counties and county vehicles. most appear to be ems rescue type vehicles. since we have been here, we have seen s.w.a.t. teams suiting up and looking like they're about to enter, part of the sweeping and clearing process. >> derek, we can see behind you a parking lot full of cars. do you know, are people -- are people still in place in the mall, are they escorting people out, taking them to their cars? what's happened to all those people who were in the mall at the time this happened? >> reporter: early on, we did hear they were going to escort people out via the food court on one of the lower levels. however, a number of people went to back offices, went to other parts that might not necessarily be immediately apparent to people who are trying now to clear this mall.
so so they're going to have to do this methodic process, going through the back rooms of stores. we have heard from a witness who was at a bank or near a bank. we have heard from other people who just found some place where they thought they would be safe, and a lot of people got themselves out as well, ahead of any authorities or any sort of official word on what to do. they just sort of followed that wave of people who were running at the time, obviously trying to get away from where they thought those gunshots were coming from. >> you know, the thing that has got to be going through the minds of everybody in the mall and also of all the law enforcement first responders is the overseas mall incident, the siege that went on for days. and you -- when something like this happens, when you are a first responder officer on the scene, you don't know what you're dealing with. while all indications that are the shooter -- one shooter, and that that person has perished, you know, you've got to be very
careful and very -- and they must be very concerned about what's -- what exactly they're dealing with. >> dorene, i was just handed an update. two victims with minor injuries that are not related directly to the shooting, were transported to the howard county general hospital. no other injuries reported. that could mean that people in running and the chaos, scrambling, got hurt. not shot. the other thing that's good about that, we -- there may be no other wounded casualties from the shooting. the bad news is three dead, and that's been confirmed by the howard county police. derrick ward saying the anne arundel county police will be updating information in the news conference and going through the entire cadre of police there at the time, such as maryland state police, u.s. park police and howard county and anne arundel county police. >> and derek, you've been mentioning the reports of one person taken away from the scene
with a gunshot wound to the throat. >> reporter: yes. that was early on in this event. as we were coming here, we did hear about that. and, again, that seem to have happened by ground transport, because we did see a u.s. park police helicopter that was on the ground. it was -- the propeller was moving as they keep it going. but it wasn't -- it wasn't in flight, it didn't look like they were trying to scramble at that point. so that person might well have been transported by ground transport. what that says about their condition remains to be seen. but what we're expecting is happening now is a meticulous process of trying to clear this mall, to secure this mall, make sure that no other victims, and, of course, make sure there are no other shooters. now, all the reports we have heard from witnesses are reporting of one male with what appeared to have been a shotgun or a long gun of some sort. but a shotgun seems to be the prevailing news or account that we're getting now, first and secondhand, from people who were actually in there when this
happened. of course, once we do hear from authorities, anne arundel, howard county, maryland state police, what they can tell us, which is -- i imagine what they're gathering now, we will be able to perhaps clear this up in some of those things that are at least speculation at this point, laid by the side, and we can at least get to determine what exactly happened here. figuring out why it happened, the motivations. that's going to take a lot longer. >> well, while we wait for this news conference to get you said way, derek, and wait for information from the law enforcement authorities about the casualties and all of that, the best we can really do is describe what you're seeing on the scene. does it look like people are able to -- are being escorted out of the mall, are they taking them to their cars, or are they taking them away from the scene in buses, or can you tell anything about what's happening there? >> from where we are, we cannot see anyone being escorted out.
we are being kept far back. i couldn't tell you for sure. i know that you did have some chopper footage earlier. that possibly may be in a better position from the chopper to see exactly if anyone is being taken out en masse. there were several buses here when we arrived. i don't see them here anymore. generally, when the weather is like this, they'll put this outside where folks could get warm and composure. also authorities need to interview people, get all of the information they can from witnesses. >> okay, everyone, we have been listen to wrc's coverage, our sister station in washington, d.c. three people killed in the mall in coluomb columbia, north of washington, d.c. we are awaiting a news conference, 10, 15 minutes late on that. we'll take a short break and come back with more on this breaking news and that news conference here on msnbc. [ male announcer ] this is the story of the little room over the pizza place on chestnut street
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welcome back, everyone, as we approach the bottom of the hour on msnbc's "wbleekends wit alex witt." we are awaiting a news briefing outside oh the mall in columbia, outside baltimore, maryland. two hours and fifteen minutes ago, shots fired, reports of three people killed. one body was found near a gun, and some ammunition. we have varying reports of what has gone on, but most notably, we did speak with an employee of the mall in club ba named randy brooks who said that one of his customers came running after those shots were heard, running by the store, came inside, and said he had seen a man carrying what was either a shotgun or a long gun, and that he was on an upper level, and had been shooting down into the cafeteria on a lower level there. of course, these -- a lot of
these malls have these open atriums in the middle with the surrounding paths in front of the stores there. so that may indeed describe what was happening. no confirmation of that at the time. we are trying to get some information, and as soon as a news conference gets under way, we are going to take you there live and get some answers on this tragedy about 11:15 a.m. eastern time here. three people dead at the mall of columbia. we asked today to have democratic congressman frank pallone join us and talk with us about the situation of chris christie of which he has been an outspoken person here. but before i bring you in, join me here, sir, as we listen into the news conference outside oh the mall in columbia. >> please stay on top of following our twitter account at hcpd news. we are posting minute-by-minute information,@hpcdnews. right now we'll hear from our county executive and chief of police, bill mcmann. they will take some questions,
but again, we're sharing every detail we know right now. there are going to be things they'll not be able to answer at this point. we expect to do another briefing at 4:00. and hopefully we'll have more information at that time. i'm going to turn it over now to county executive, ken alman. >> thank you all for being here. ken u-l-m-a-n, the county executive here in howard county, maryland. listen, i want to just make a few points. first of all, we do have three confirmed fatalities, so we want to send our thoughts and prayers to the family members of the victims, the loved ones of the victims. i want to thank the public of howard county here in columbia, for their patience the folks at the columbia mall for their patience. all of the shoppers, other folks that work here at the mall, this has obviously been a
tremendously trying few hours. and we have seen a lot of patients. we ask people continue to bear with us. this is an active cream crime scene for some time. and we will give you another briefing around 4:00 with more details and potentially when the mall will reopen. lastly, i want to thank our brave men and women in law enforcement here in howard county who rushed into the scene immediately. this was an incredibly well-run, thoughtful operation tactically with a lot of help from our neighboring agencies. we have had help on the ground and continue to have help on the ground from virtually every police department in our region, including the state police. and we really appreciate that. now i want to bring up our police chief, mill bill mcmann, who has been leading this operation on the ground. thank you. >> thank you, mr. executive.
bill mcmahon, m-c-m-a-h-o-n. thank you for your patience. as you can imagine, this is a very complex and trying scene for everybody that's involved. and i know it's also a cause of great concern in the community. we thank our communities for their patience and their understanding and for your friends in the media, we certainly appreciate your understanding, as well. we are giving you and have given you information as soon as we received it, because we know how much concern there is when something like this happens in such a public place as the mall. so about 11:15 this morning, we received a number of calls of shots fired at the columbia mall. we had officers quickly get into the area and we were able to identify three victims at an upper level store in the columbia mall. one of those victims appears to
be the shooter. and at this point, again, please bear with me, this is two hours, two hours and fifteen minutes into the incident. there's still a lot of details we need to confirm. but right now, we think that one of the deceased is, in fact, the shooter. we do not think there's any -- at this point, there's anymore shooters in or around the mall. we are going through our process right now. please think about this on a saturday afternoon at the mall how many people may be in there. when something like this happens, people run in many directions. and they also do what actually we have trained people to do, and that's to shelter in place. so right now, we have many, many people still in the mall that have secured themselves inside stores. our s.w.a.t. teams, with a lot of support from agencies throughout the state, at the local, state and federal level, frankly, are going through, as we are holding this press conference, they are inside continuing to clear that mall to make sure there are no more victims. we do not think there are.
we want to make sure there are not. and to get those people that have self sheltered in place out and make sure none of them have any injuries either from the shooting. again, we don't think there are any. but also any injuries that may have occurred in that process, that panic when people do shelter. so that's what is going on actively behind me in the mall, as we are out here. we do not have the identity of the victims yet. we do not have a motive for the shooting. again, this is a two hours and fifteen minutes into the scene. we are still trying to secure the mall to make sure, again, there's nobody else injured. and then we are getting our investigators into that crime scene to start doing their work, which will enable me to answer some of those many questions you have that frankly i just can't answer right now, because i don't have the information. so i'll take a few questions. before i do -- before i do, let me again thank the columbia mall
who has been nothing but a fantastic partner. we have a great relationship with them, and actually have drilled on this in the past. and that experience has been very beneficial to us. we would like to thank, again, our public for their patience. we have disrupted a lot of people. i know there's a lot of people at home concerned about the well-being of their family who may be at the mall. we understand that, and that's why we're working as quickly as we can to identify those victims so we can give people peace of mind. we understand that. and i would also again like to thank all of the support we have had from law enforcement and emergency management, fire departments, again, local, state and federal level. we'll take a few questions. >> reporter: can you provide the genders? >> i cannot provide the genders or the ages. >> reporter: police chief, can you describe where this exactly happened in the food court? >> i didn't say it was at the food court. i said it was at the lower level of the mall at the store.
i'm not going to identify which store that is right now. [ no audio ] again, we have not gotten our officers in there to i'd that yet. >> do you think there is a domestic issue involved here? >> as i said earlier, we don't know a motive yet. and i appreciate the question, and i understand the interest in it. please understand what we're trying to deal with. our investigators haven't gotten a chance to identify people yet to go to motive. >> in speaking to witnesses, do they give an indication of there was an argument, there was an altercation, people somehow knew each ear or a random year vent and somebody pulled a gun and started shooting? >> i don't have that information yet. our investigators are talking to witnesses and i don't have that information yet. we are -- we are very confident that there was a single shooter, from there is no other shooters in the mall or anything like that. >> did law enforcement fire in this at all? >> we have not. >> can you describe the scene as
you understand it? the mall at 11:15. did this shooting happen when there were a lot of people around? we have had people tell us they saw people drop. i mean -- >> it was in a store in the upper level of the mall. you know how many people, i'm sure are in this mall on a saturday afternoon. chaotic scene. i don't have the particulars about where people were when this happened. we'll get that to you as quickly as i can. believe me, i understand the importance of the questions. >> how do you think people responded in the mall? were they pretty well prepared? >> i don't have enough information to know, but i sense that because we have so many that have sheltered in place that they did what they thought they did, they have done what we encourage people to do in one of these situations. so, again, not having talked to those people, some people are still in there, i don't know. but the fact that it's fairly -- we didn't have stampedes or anyone injured.
yes, ma'am. >> are the witnesses in the mall free to go, are you asking them to go to a specific place? >> our detectives are talking with people as they come out. and we'll continue to talk to them. >> is this a situation where someone shot two people and shot himself -- him or herself? >> two hours and fifteen minutes into that, that is what we have reason to believe. but, again, very fluid situation. many people have not been spoken to yet, i can't confirm that. i don't know how many. >> responding officers, it they find all three dead at that point, the first team, the first group in? >> i'm not sure what order, but yes, essentially they were all found at the same time. >> nowadays, the presumption from the police department is to get in quick. was it regular patrol officers? did you wait for a s.w.a.t. team? what happened first? >> regular patrol officers went in. we also had some other more
specially trained officers part of our s.w.a.t. people that were in this area for another assignment. so we were fortunate we were able to be very well-prepared, very well-trained officers to support our patrol officers very, very quickly. so it was not a situation in which we were waiting to go in there. we went in there very quickly. >> do you have any idea how long from the first 911 call to the first police officer on the scene? >> i don't know. but i'll make sure we have that for you at 4:00. >> do you know if this was isolated to one store? >> all the activity took place at one time, at one store. >> to clarify what you were saying before, when the first police found who is now the deceased shooter, deceased at that time, he was dead. >> that's my understanding at this point. so that's all the questions i'm going to take now. we'll be back at 4:00. believe me, i'm very sensitive to the need to get these questions answered. we will do our best to come back at 4:00 and answer more for you. so, again, thank you for your patience, thanks for being a help to our community. appreciate it. >> the question was, we do
have -- the department has transported two unrelated to the shooting. >> okay, everyone, listening to the chief of police, bill mcmahon, from howard county police, doing his best to answer the plethora of questions by reporters on-scene. it's very early in the investigation so it's being very judicious about what he answers and does not answer and refraining from speculation. what we did get, we knew before the news conference. three people killed in the mall in columbia there. it is a sprawling mall, 200 stores located 30 miles north of washington, d.c., 20 miles south of baltimore. so it is a place that is populated by shoppers from that entire area. it happened about 11:15 in the morning. we know that there were shots fired. good news, as the police confirm, they have the situation under control and there are no other shooters or any further incidents to be frightened of at this point. what they're doing right now is going from store to store, to
try and make sure that anybody who may out of fear have barricaded themselves as they should inside of a store to take cover. they're able to get out and get them outside and then, of course, ask them what they may have seen oh. we do have an eyewitness we're going to speak to in a moment. right now i did want to bring in democratic congressman, frank pallone, who agreed to talk to us about another big story, the chris christie saga. instead, i'll ask you to letourneau leblond your ear of expertise and opinion. this is happening all over this country in soft targets, even in your own state, sir accide, bef holidays, something as a result of a carjacking that went awry. but talk about what you think congress can and should be doing relative to gun control, the mental health component. such a complicatecomplicated, d. even looking at mall security. what can be done? >> i think, alex, congress has to take action on gun safety. that's the most important.
and that means banning assault weapons, universal background checks. it also means limiting the amount of rounds of ammunition. these are all things that president obama and many of us in congress say have -- should have been done a long time ago. certainly in the aftermath of newtown. but i just hope that, you know, we -- these types of incidents, if there is anything positive, hard to imagine anything positive comes out of it, but at least that it creates more of a pressure, if you will, to pass that type of common sense gun safety legislation. >> the word i want to use here, common sense. and i absolutely agree with you. and i've been here at this network long enough to have helped cover columbine, subsequently virginia tech. but i think there was an emotional component that i believe still is across this country, and is certainly i would hope on capitol hill in the wake of newtown. why is it that nothing was able to get done in the wake of that when we were all left tragically heartbroken at those young first graders that were slaughtered in their classrooms, some
underneath the bodies of teachers who tried their best valiantly to protect them and died in the process? >> i think it's very sad, but i think there's still this notion out there that somehow if you limit gun owners' rights that that, you know, is a bad thing. >> but limiting the rights. that is not the issue, is it? >> of course not. >> it's not as if we're trying to do away with the second amendment. people will still have a right to bear arms, individual things. it's the common sense component that gets lost here. >> exactly. and something like 80% of the people agree with those three common sense initiatives. but unfortunately, we still get a lot out of opposition, if you will, from national rifle association and others who think that somehow these limitations are going to be harmful to them. but i agree with you. that makes no sense. we should pass these things. we also need to do more in terms of mental health. it's hard to get treatment. the federal government has cut back on money -- >> it's hard to define what it
is that denotes mental health. where that line is drawn. >> many people can't get treatment. and we should do more in that respect, as well. >> representative pallone, please stay with me. as i mentioned to all of you, we have an eyewitness on the phone who was inside that mall shopping in a jewelry store. joan harding joins me right now. joan, i understand from my producers who passed along information from you, you heard a loud noise. tell me what happened once that happened. >> well, i'm in the store, and you heard a loud sound, as if something maybe really heavy fell in the small somewhere. and then a couple seconds later, actually heard what sounded like a gunshot. and turned around and looked and saw people running. so i got down behind the register, me and some other customers. and a girl that worked in the store ushered us to the back, and it was like seven of us waiting it out in the bathroom. >> oh, my goodness. that is so frightening. tell me, what level were you on? >> i was on the upper level,
about three stores from where the incident took place. >> and when you say the incident, what did you see or what have you been told from anyone else who may have seen it? >> only thing that i knew when they -- when the police ushered us out of the store, they told us not to look when we went past the led store. they said don't look, don't look. and from there, we came down the escalator, and out the front door. >> joan, you've just shared something that i had not yet heard before. tell me the name of the store? are you 100% confident that is the one -- in front of which an incident happened? >> yes. i believe it happened in the store. >> and which -- >> it's called lids. it's a hat store. >> yeah, i'm familiar with that. that is a chain store and we have them in the new york area, as well. so i'm taking that you trusted
what the officers were telling you, you didn't exactly look at what was probably sprawled there at the scene. but can you tell me if it was contained, joan? i mean, did it look like it was all within one area, or was it spread out? >> yeah, it did appear that it was -- whatever took place was in that -- it happened in that one location. >> okay. joan, is the -- the lids store -- so that's on an upper level? >> yes, it is. >> okay. and how long did it take for you to have contact with police? because the incident happened around 11:15, we're told. that's when shots were fired and police at the howard county were informed about it and got themselves over to the mall. how long did it take until you were able to speak with law enforcement? >> it took about ten minutes. because 911, of course, was jammed up. and then when we got in touch with 911, they said, you know, stay in your shelter, and don't come out until the police come and get you.
>> okay. how long were you there? >> we were in there for about an hour. >> did you hear anything in the time that the police -- ten minutes later, after the incident, was there anything? shots, rumblings, loud noises? >> just rumblings. and the girl that worked in the store told us that it was a back exit, and that we could hear people running and she said it was probably the police in the back hallway. and they verdict it, because we can hear them yelling, "howard county police." so they were in the back hallway. >> joan, what a horrific experience for you. i would like to ask you to just stand by for me, if you don't mind, stay on the phone with me. i'm going to bring in once again representative frank pallone, democrat from new jersey. and i want to clarify actually something i said and you were gracious enough not to correct me on the air. but the pa ram us mall was a shooting and then the shooting prior to christmas. when you hear this kind of
thing, this mall, these other two malls in your home state, is there a sense that security needs to be beefed up at these malls? have they beefed them up, particularly in new jersey? >> well, i think there needs to be more security. and as you said,well, i think t be more security. and as you said it's a combination of both people taking action on their own to protect themselves. but sure. i mean, it's sad to say that, you know, with these additional shootings and potential that we need more security. but i think that is true. i don't know exactly what the malls do, but i think we've had enough incidents now that we need to do more. >> absolutely. jim cavanaugh, as you listen to joan harding's description of what went down there, i'm sure you've unfortunately had to experience situations like this in your career, tell me what goes through your mind. >> well, first of all that it's tight and close in and maybe not a random attack. and i got some preliminary
information that it may be a domestic assault where a man and woman killed and another man committed suicide. >> we should say that's preliminary because we don't have that confirmed yet by nbc news. >> right. that's preliminary. but it's all in one spot, alex. so it's all right, you know, not people scattered abtd the mall. so that's kind of an indication that it may be more personal as opposed to just random shooting at, you know, everybody who is shopping. you had a witness on earlier who believed the man was shooting over the balcony to the food court. and we'll see if that holds true. >> uh-huh. >> or could this person have just pointed the gun. we don't know for sure. but to miss harding seemed to be specific that the shooting happened in the lids store, which is a hat store, inside. we've seen across the country and in many years in the police
department, domestic shootings often happen at the workplace of one of the participants where someone goes there to kill them. >> yeah. >> so that may be what has occurred. but the loss of life is tragic. and devastating to the three people involved for sure. >> yeah, absolutely. and i just want to reiterate, i realize there's a level of speculation. you may have some inside tips there, but again, nbc news has yet to confirm this is a domestic-related incident. it could be. it has the markings of that. >> preliminary. >> very preliminary. i want to bring you back, joan harding, one more time. you've been outside the mall for some time. are you being asked questions, ma'am? are you being asked to talk about what you've seen and being asked to speak with investigators? >> well, i spoke with one reporter. and i got in my car and i came home. >> and you're calling me from home right now? >> yes. i don't blame you. i'd high tail it out of there myself and get to safety and let all the shakes calm down. well, i'm very sorry for what you had to witness today.
and i'm sure it has unnerved you incredibly. i thank you for calling in though, ma'am, because you've given us information we had not heard before your call. so joan harding, thank you. i'm glad you're safely home. >> all right. thank you. >> thank you again. so back to you representative pallone. when you hear this kind of thing, you know, grant it it seems like it's just another drip, drip, drip, kind of like chinese water torture. you hear about that and that old phrase from movies and the like. and i'm thinking to myself at what point will congress say enough is enough? what will be the catalyst for something to be done and people come together and realize this is not and should not be a partisan issue. it's about security for each and every individual citizen in the united states. >> well, it's my concern is that this becomes such a norm that people, you know, think well that's the way it is and nothing can be done. i mean, i want people to understand that congress can take action on gun safety and it will make a difference. but how many more incidents? i don't know. i think we just have to keep
electing people and making the point that, you know, you've got to be an add vot ka for the three common sense proposals, ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and limitations. >> limit taxs on the ammunition. that's something to me that defies logic. is there a limitation on ammunition? is it a round of 50, i believe, allowed up to 50? >> no, most proposals are at ten. >> ten. so, i mean, you can get maybe a hunter, somebody who says this is going to somehow infringe on my individual rights. >> but it doesn't make sense. if you're really a hunter, you're not going to want to use 50 rounds of ammunition. it makes no sense at all from a hunting point of view. i think we just keep raising it. and i appreciate the fact that you are, you know, talking about what congress can do. you had all the speakers on earlier because that is what needs to be done. we need to take action. >> quite frankly it's something i wish i could talk about every single broadcast. it's something i'm so passionate about. i appreciate your insights as well. jim cavanaugh, as we're getting
ready to hand off this hour, i'll be handing over to t.j. holmes in just a minute here, jim, i got to imagine grant it you're not active duty in law enforcement any longer, but can you give me an idea of how many situations like this that involved guns and shootings you covered during your lengthy career there with the atf? >> oh, well, you know, i started in the police in 1974. and i retired from atf in 2010. so i was in the police business 36 plus years. >> you can't even begin to count. >> yeah. and of course i was special agent in charge of commanders, so many of my people were involved in shootings and barricaded situations and chases and so forth. random shootings. and atf of course enforces the gun and explosive and bomb and arsenal and also always involved in violence. yes, it's always too much.
it's really sad to see it constantly go on. i think the politicians really have to do something for the country here. the history of our laws has been that when these things happen the assassinations of the '60s brought us some changes in the law, the crime wave of the '30s brought us national firearms act. but we're not seeing any kind of action. senator manchin's bill at checks at gun shows and internet, it's a good law and supported by most of americans and we have to start thinking positively. we need to do something on mental health. it can be done as well. >> it can be done. i appreciate, jim, your insights and helping us through this breaking news. i also appreciate the fact representative frank pallone came onto join to talk about this and he's another person we can speak to directly and say something can be done. i know you want to get something done, sir, on capitol hill. let's hope this will be yet another incentive to do so. thank you, representative pallone, i appreciate your time with us. >> yep. >> everyone, that is a wrap of
this hour of "weekends with alex witt." again, three dead alt the mall in columbia outside of washington, d.c. and baltimore, maryland. they believe the mall situation is secured and the shooter may be among the deceased. t.j. holmes takes up after the break. afghanistan, in 2009. orbiting the moon in 1971. [ male announcer ] once it's earned, usaa auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation. because it offers a superior level of protection. and because usaa's commitment to serve current and former military members and their families is without equal. begin your legacy. get an auto insurance quote. usaa. we know what it means to serve. [ male announcer ] can't take a sick day tomorrow. [ coughs ] [ male announcer ] so he can't let a cold keep him up tonight. vicks nyquil. powerful nighttime 6 symptom cold and flu relief. ♪
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yep...doh. [ boy ] slurpably fun and a good source of calcium. dads who get it, get go-gurt. breaking news, a deadly mall shooting right now near baltimore. three people dead. and the shopping center is down as police begin their investigation. we are live with the very latest there. hello to you all. i'm t.j. holmes in today for craig melvin. you are watching msnbc. and this breaking and sad story on this saturday afternoon, tragedy at the mall. we've been covering this story out of columbia, maryland. three people now confirmed dead after gunfire erupted at the mall of columbia. this happened around 11:00 this morning. so we're a couple hours removed from it, but authorities say they do believe the suspected gunman is among the dead. police do note