tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN October 23, 2021 10:00am-11:00am PDT
dead and another wounded. according to an affidavit, baldwin fired what he believed to be a safe prop gun, not knowing actual live rounds were inside. the shot killed cinematographer halyna hutchins and injured director joel souza. in a statement to cnn, a cast member for the movie says sets are by nature dangerous environments, though they had no direct knowledge of the events that led up to the shooting. cnn's lucy kafanov is in santa fe where the investigation is under way. lucy, what more are you learning? >> reporter: well, fred, authorities have not filed any charges, they're still investigating. we know based on an affidavit released by authorities that they have seized all of the electronic material on that set. you can imagine it must have a lot. there's film cameras, phones, ipads, anything digital that might give them more clues about how all of this went down. a lot of interesting facts coming out through that affidavit that help us sort of
piece together the timeline of how these tragic events unfolded. we understand, you know, thursday afternoon, early thursday afternoon, alec baldwin was on the set of this western movie, "rust," he was dressed in his old western clothing. this was an 1880s period western film. now authorities say that alec baldwin was inside that church looking structure on set. the assistant director was outside of that building. he grabbed one of three prop weapons that was laid out by the head armer on a cart outside of the building. he brought it inside to alec baldwin, handing it to him shouting, "cold gun" which is supposed to indicate that the weapon does not contain any live rounds. and that is, of course, when everything went terribly wrong. we understand that mr. baldwin, according to the affidavit, took the gun and fired. halyna hutchins, the 42-year-old director of sincing to raffi, a rising star by all accounts, she was shot in the chest, suffering
a fatal wound. airlifted to a hospital, pronounced dead on the scene. the director, joel souza, was right behind her. he was shot in the shoulder. he was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. we don't know the status of his condition. alec baldwin's western-style costume, according to authorities, appeared to be stained in blood. authorities do tell us that he is fully cooperating with the investigation, fred. >> and then, the armerer, the person who handles weapons on a set and in this case for the movie "rust" was on a podcast, that armerer office a podcast just last month. what did she have to say? >> reporter: yeah, well the affidavit names her as hannah gutierrez. we understand that she is quite young, 24 years old. she was trained by her father, the legendary gunsmith thel reed, who started teaching her how to use prop weapons when she was just 16 years old. this was her only time, this
particular production, "rust," was only her second time working as head armer. she recently completed work on a film with nicolas cage called "the old way." that's what the podcast was interviewing her about in which she shared how she had doubts about whether she was ready to do this big job. take a listen. >> i just finished up working on "the old way" with nicolas cage. his very first western. >> i heard about that. >> and it -- it was also my first time being head armerer, as well. >> and how was that? >> you know, i was nervous at first and almost didn't take the job because i wasn't sure if i was ready. but doing it, like it went really smoothly. >> reporter: she also in the podcast admitted that she found loading blanks into a gun, quote, the scariest thing because she didn't know how to do it. she told interviews she had to call her dad and sort of ask for advice and help on that.
now again, this podcast was focused on the nicolas cage production. but it is fitting in terms of what we're hearing from other cast members, at least what's been reported out there by the "los angeles times." we understand that prior to thursday's incident, crew members had actually walked off of the scene, several quitting the production due to safety concerns. some of them were covid safety measures. some of them were long hours worked. the fact that crews had to stay 50 miles away in albuquerque, but some of the concerns were about gun safety measures on scene. the local reporting the "l.a. times" reporting that prop weapons had misfired previously on the "rust" production. fred? >> all right. well, investigators are going to be looking at any and all facets, any information, all information is going to be potentially instructive as they investigate this incident. lucy kafanov, thank you so much. all right. now to florida where the manhunt for brian laundrie has ended after the remains found in a
25,000-acre florida nature preserve were confirmed to be his, but the search for answers continues. law enforcement experts say items including a notebook and backpack discovered near laundrie's remains are key pieces of evidence that may shed light on the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and the death of his fiancee, gabby petito. cnn's paolo sandoval is live for us in northport, florida. so tell us more about what you're learning there. >> reporter: fred, that discovery marked the end of the actual manhunt for brian laundrie, but it's important to remind viewers that the search for actual answers, it is still anything but over here. that's because there's still many questions that are left unanswered here in northport, florida. one of which is exactly how he died. his family attorney telling cnn that his skeletal remains were discovered this week. those are now soon going to be in the hands of a forensic anthropologist who will be analyzing those remains, hopefully provide at least some clues here. the laundrie family attorney also has previously said that he had had some conversations with
his parents and that they were concerned that it could potentially take his own life after he left his home here last month. and of course before they found the remains of gabby petito last month here. so there's still a lot of questions there. here's the other one, too, is what if anything that his parents actually know or were they at least told anything before their son left their home. we do understand that they have cooperated with the fbi here from day one, according to their attorney. but there are various items that were recovered along with brian laundrie's remains. you mentioned a backpack and a notebook, as well. authorities in florida saying that they are being careful with those items because they were heavily damaged. they hope that there could potentially be some information there that could tell us a little bit more. the meantime, you have two families that continue grieving. in fact, we saw mr. laundrie early today, he left his home and stake td up no trespassing
signs, not answering publicly questions. his attorney saying from the beginning of the investigation that they have cooperated with the fbi. important to remember that back on -- first couple of weeks in september when authorities initially showed up here after petito was reported missing, that they simply referred authorities to their attorney. >> all right. paolo sandoval, thank you so much. still a huge mystery. all right. so as the gabby petito case unfolds, many families of missing black men are pleading for more accountability. the mother of galani day this week buried her son, an illinois state university graduate student. but she says she won't be able to rest until her son's death is no longer a mystery. the 25-year-old student went missing in august. his body was found about a week later in the illinois river. he was not identified until nearly a month after he was reported missing. the cause of death still unknown, and carmen bolden is urging the fbi to get involved in this investigation.
>> says i don't know why i lowered gulani into that ground or what happened to him to cause him to be -- for me to have to lower him to the ground. now i need answers. i need answers because the police departments that were involved in searching for my son and looking for my son and finding answers for my son failed me. they failed my child. >> the fbi field office has declined to answer whether it will answer the request to handle the investigation citing a department of justice policy that prevents it from commenting on active investigations. still to come, big names on the trail. the latest from the neck and neck governor's race in virginia. plus, shouting threats, negative billboards, and an influx of cash, why this year's school board races across the country are like none before. wew
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the national school board's association is apologizing for a letter it sent last month to president biden. the letter compared protests and threats against school board members to forms of domestic terrorism and hate crimes. in response, attorney general merrick garland directed federal officials to coordinate with local law enforcement on how to handle increasing threats of violence. the board of directors now says, quote, there was no justification for some of the language included in the letter. across the country, school board meetings are turning into screaming matches. culture wars erupting over masks, vaccine, and so much more. and with elections just days away in many states, schools could be in for major changes. here's more. at the end it says "you have become our enemies, and you will be removed one way or other.
have a miserable, miserable day for the rest of your life, you filthy traitor." >> reporter: nikki hudson is seeking re-election to the school board in suburban columbus, ohio. not long ago she says she received a threatening letter over her support of masks and a diversity and inclusion program. what do you tell your kids when you get a letter like that? >> you tell them you don't live in fear. we don't back down to bullies. and we also make safe choices. so you don't go places alone. make sure that someone's with you. >> reporter: normally these off-year nonpartisan school board elections are sleepy. the turnout is very low. but that was before the pandemic when school boards were still boring. >> you're stepping over your line -- >> you don't need to breathe for me -- >> let's take a recess. the board will take a recess. >> reporter: after protests and fury over mask mandates, vaccines, and anti-racism
curricula, school board races are the front lines of a national culture war. candidates are facing heat normally reserved for big-time politics. >> i wanted to try and bring people together -- >> reporter: a local pastor and westerville school member, ended his school bid weeks before election day. >> i feel like i have -- i feel like i've failed. i feel like i'm failed some people in this community. that looked to me to try and be a person who will always listen and will always try to figure it out. >> reporter: that's the conversation -- he seeings no way forward. others see an opening. many candidates running for school board across ohio this year are first timers, and some candidates say the races are nasty. >> it's insane if i can say it. i did not know going into this how much partisan issues drive nonpartisan elections. >> reporter: brian steele is one
of those first-time candidates. his campaign in worthington is locked in on a rallying cry heard across the country in these elections. >> when they actually do a vote, it's supposed to be an open forum, they're supposed to discuss it, have community input. we're finding a lot of these decisions made at the meeting are predetermined decisions. >> reporter: the anger that could benefit candidates like steele is based in an idea that school boards have a shadowy political agenda, even though all meetings in ohio are open to the public, protesters demand transparency. >> we need to be a voice for all of our students. we need to be a voice for all of our families. we need to make sure that everyone is included. >> reporter: another first-time candidate is kelly davis. she says she got into the worthington school board race to foster dialogue over issues like race. she preferred to talk about that but she's had to navigate a murky political fight instead. >> you'd think it would be something more than a school board race where you are -- you're having negative ads that are being marketed out there that people are trying to pull
you into that negativity that i just have no desire to be part of. >> reporter: newly formed political groups are spending money in places like worthington. negative billboards and mailers now par for the course in school board elections here, across suburban columbus, and the country. >> my fear is that this is going to discourage the right kind of people from being school board members. >> reporter: after 14 years, charlie wilson isn't running for re-election after his term on the worthington board ends next year. wilson said he was followed after a particularly contentious board meeting. you felt you had been followed -- >> i wasn't going to take somebody to my home with my wife there. >> reporter: this is a lot of emotion for -- >> it is -- >> reporter: for -- will wilson is worried about the future of school boards. as an officer in the school board association he endorsed a letter to the biden administration pleading for immediate assistance to help address increased threats of violence and acts of
intimidation directed toward school board members. the department of justice launched an effort to help combat the trend. >> when there are threats and when there are disruptions by virtue of violation of federal law, well, the biden administration, it's time you guys step up to the job and do your job, frankly. our democracy's at stake here. >> reporter: some of them feel like they're being threatened. >> good. period. i don't know what else -- good. they should feel -- they are not physically threatened, their incumbencies are threatened. >> reporter: ryan leads one of the outside groups hoping to shake up school boards. he's a republican consultant and conservative media commentator. from his home in new york city, he's running a pac that has endorsed some 50 school board candidates in seven states, including several in ohio. his pac plans on spending $125,000 on those races. >> the money is going to primarily mailers, digital ads, text messaging, stuff like that. a little money can impact a lot of people.
>> reporter: his main goal is fighting critical race theory. >> it's hidden in other terms like diversity and inclusion. however, it is still critical rates theory. >> reporter: his plan is simple -- drive new voters into the incredibly low turnout elections, take over school boards and empower the newly elected members to start changing policy. >> they will check what textbooks are being used, look at what outside speakers are being presented, what the superintendent is doing, what the inclusion and diversity program is. i think those are the things that will probably be inspected and looked at first and foremost. i really hope this chancges the way school boards and curriculum is being handled. >> reporter: and in suburban columbus, early voting is already under way. >> we will vote out nikki hudson! [ cheers ] >> reporter: the negativity is stepped up as election day gets clotheser. at least one board member says it's starting to take a toll. a few days after she put on a brave face in her back yard, nikki hudson gave us a call.
>> i have found myself in a space where, this may sound weird, but i find myself repeating over and over and over again that i'm not okay. i'm not okay, and i'm not okay. >> reporter: what do you think campaigning like this is going do for other people who might want to run for school board? >> i'm truly concerned about the void that's going to be there because who would want to do this? >> thank you so much. let's talk before all this. joining me now is charlie wilson, a member of the worthington, ohio, board of education, he's a past president for the national school boards association. we saw you in that piece. but we do want to make clear that you're not speaking in any capacity for the organization. you are representing yourself, your point of view. thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you very much. >> so mr. wilson, what is this really about? i mean, i'm not hearing anything
from the many people who were interviewed, they're not talking about trying to get enough pencils in schools, books in schools, making sure that kids are getting a balanced education. but instead there's a lot of dissension, and we're hearing a lot of detail and seeing a lot of detail about how people's lives are feeling threatened, people being followed, et cetera. what in your view is really at the core here? why has this become so contentious? >> i think it's a multitude of things, but i think the primary motivation is an attempt by certain dark money groups to undercut public education. public education has been under attack all across this nation, and at the federal level for about 30 years. and i believe that a variety of anti-public education groups are using this pandemic and the
crisis to stir up a lot of animosity toward public education and toward very devoted, dedicated school board members all across the country. >> so then what are your concerns and worry about those who will sign up to be engaged on a school board? we heard from the one woman at the end of the piece there who said, you know, why would anybody want to do this anymore because it's become a dangerous job. what are your concerns or worries about who's willing to sign up to be a school board member anywhere in america? >> well, my concern is that among the 90,000 school board members that we have across america, virtually all of them got into it for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to do what is best for students. and that has been the motivation for virtually every school board member i've ever met. my concern is now people are getting in for other purposes to
drive either a very anti-historical curriculum agenda or to drive a blatantly anti-public school agenda or just to be disruptive. and that will bring on a new type of school board member who will not be putting our children first. that troubles me greatly. >> all right. and now to this -- while you're the past president of the national school board association, this letter was sent to the biden administration asking for intervention, some help because board members felt like their lives were being threatened. but then now a letter of apology comes out from the school board association saying, okay, we may have, you know, overstepped the bounds of certain language being used. did this undermine the effort or
the call, or where are you on the letter itself and then the apology letter that would follow? >> it's important for people to understand that the national school boards association is not a political organization. it is not a partisan organization, it is not even a bipartisan organization. it is a nonpartisan organization. almost all the 90,000 school board members that run for election across the country, almost all of them in virtually every state run without an r or a d behind their names. they're running in a nonpartisan race, nonpartisan purposes, and the national school board association runs the same way. it is not a political organization. so we were caught by surprise because we don't have a big -- does not have a big propaganda
machine, and while nsba has sent many, many letters to many presidents over its 80 years of existence, nsba never saw any kind of a pushback or a setting up a fire like that. so it is not nsba's desire to be involved in any -- any type of partisan or political situation. >> the apology letter was kind of zeroing in on the comparison to domestic terrorism or hate crime and asking that the biden administration, department of justice, treat this as such in that category. but you're saying the spirit of the letter, that there are threats being made to school board members, that it's become a dangerous, perilous, you know, job, that there is still need for intervention. you're still looking for a federal response on some level so that people feel comfortable with their jobs, and they don't
feel like their lives are on the line for trying to protect the education or the best welfare of public school students, gdid i get that right? >> well, let me be clear. as you said at the beginning of your interview of me, i am not representing the national school board association. i'm not here as a spokesperson for the national school board association. i have no authority to be a spokesperson or representative of the national school board association. i'm here just to tell you that there have been across the country a number of very serious threats that have been communicated by u.s. mail, by voicemail, by the internet, and those are federal crimes, and i personally as a local school board member have been concerned that the justice department was not stepping up and investigating those federal crimes. i have no reason whatsoever to believe that any of the threats
in the worthington school district were initiated by parents or by people who live in our district. i have reason to believe that these were outside groups funded by outside groups that are stirring up this kind of violence and threats in our community. >> uh-huh. charlie wilson, we appreciate you talking with us today live, of course talking to our colleague in his piece. appreciate you. >> you're very welcome. >> thank you so much. all right. still ahead, another water crisis in michigan. this time in benton harbor. high levels of lead contamination prompting a state of emergency.
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all right. at any moment now, you will see a former president stumping for someone who is running for governor in virginia. this is high profile, it has become. you've got former president barack obama stumping for the democratic candidate, terry mcauliffe. you're looking at live pictures now at the rally getting under way in richmond, virginia, where obama will be speaking soon. he is hoping to get the crowd excited there for the democratic candidate, terry mcauliffe, who is in a surprisingly tight race to be the next governor in that state. for more, let's bring in dan merica, joining us right now. so give us an idea of what the crowd is expecting there and if terry mcauliffe's team is hoping
for some real enthusiasm sparked by the former president. >> reporter: this is as big as surrogates get at this point. obama won richmond, this city, with 80% of the vote in 2008 and 2012. and that really speaks to what this event is about. it's about turnout. i can tell you talking to voters here, there's a lot of folks who have already voted for mcauliffe. they're decided that they're going to vote for him on november 2nd. there's not much persuasion going on here, they're here to see president obama and to get boost democratic turnout in this election. that is something democrats have been worried about. thrive been worried that folks who voted for obama in 2008t an '12 and the last decade iran as motivated in this race to turn out and support mcauliffe as they are in these national races. and that is what we expect obama to make the case on is just -- just about an hour. we expect him to argue that the same things that brought voters out to vote for him in those presidential elections, for
biden in 2020, are on the ballot. he's going to acknowledge as we're told that this race is tight, and that is exactly why he's here. he wants to make sure that mcauliffe is elected and that he's elected by boosting democratic turnout. fred? >> and so while we see the democrats, you know, are bringing all the big guns for mcauliffe, what about for the republican contender, youngkin? is it likely that he is going to be seeing a former president by the name of a donald j. trump who might be at some point stumping for him in the next ten days? >> reporter: the short answer is no. there are no planned rallies between donald trump and glenn youngkin. trump did call into a republican rally nearby here this week. and that really quickly turned into an ad for the mcauliffe campaign. so even though trump has not been in virginia physically, he has certainly been a rhetorical device that mcauliffe has used and all democrats here have tried to turn youngkin into mcauliffe. mcauliffe told me way before the
primary was over that he would pay for the jet fuel to get trump to virginia because it was so important that he's able to tie youngkin to trump who lost this commonwealth by ten points. now trump is not planning on coming. a number of top democrats are. youngkin has used that as a way to attack mcauliffe saying that he is the candidate, he doesn't need to stump in this state for him, and that mcauliffe is trying to turn this ways into anything about himself. but it remains to be said that trump is unpopular here. he lost the commonwealth by about ten points in 2020. and i guarantee you're going to hear democrats behind me tying youngkin to trump even if there are no plans for trump to come to this state. >> uh-huh. and so dan, i hear the crowd behind you, they're getting a little excited there. i'm hearing the name obama being mentioned. is he likely to be stepping out at any moment now? >> thank you, thank you, thank you -- >> reporter: he will be out shortly. i think sometime in the 2:00 hour he's planning on coming
out. we're in the preprogram which is a lot of democrats from the state. you're going to say mcauliffe speak as well as a few other folks, but i think sometime in the 2:00 hour. >> we'll be looking, watching, and taking it live. dan, thank you so much. all right. another water crisis in a michigan city. this time in benton harbor. officials there declaring a state of emergency this week over lead pipes contaminating it the city's water supply. sound familiar? well, it parallels flint, michigan's, water crisis. lead in the water is plaguing the city of nearly 10,000 residents which is roughly 85% black. cnn's miguel marquez went to benton harbor where residents there are all too familiar with failing city resources. >> reporter: courtney sherrod and her family of five go through a lot of bottled water. >> about 200 bottles a week. a week. i have three children, and a big husband at home.
>> reporter: she says they sometimes go to the gym in the next town over just for a shower. >> my children had to go to school the next day, so we went to the y and made sure everybody took showers at the y the night before so that they could go to school. >> reporter: the y's in a different town? >> it's in st. joe where the water is clean and they pay lower water bills than us. >> reporter: benton harbor, population 10,000, the latest high-profile american town dealing with lead in the water. >> i'm concerned about it because i've heard the danger of it. so you want to stay away from it as much as you can. >> reporter: what do you use bottled water for? >> drinking, cooking, and brushing your teeth. >> reporter: since 2018, samples of water taken from hundreds of homes here have shown lead above the federal threshold of 15 parts per billion gallons of water. >> nobody -- nobody should have water that they can't drink and have to pay for it. nobody should have contaminated water. this is america. this should not be happening to
any community. >> reporter: but benton harbor isn't alone. the natural resources defense council and environmental group estimates some 22 million americans, most in the midwest and northeast, may be getting their drinking water, at least in part, from lead pipes. >> they are concentrated in these older communities which also are disproportionately where we have more vulnerable populations, people who are poor, and predominantly people of color. >> reporter: michigan's democratic governor signed an executive directive to expedite the replacement of lead pipes here asking for more money from the state legislature. the republican-led state legislature so far has responded by opening an investigation into the governor's response to the water crisis. none of it building confidence for those who live here. >> the governor says they have a plan, they're going to replace all the lead pipes in 18 months. do you believe it? >> no. >> reporter: why? >> nothing's happened all this time, so why should i -- does
flint have new water pipes? >> reporter: they're still working on it. >> okay. there you go. >> reporter: miguel marquez, cnn, benton harbor, michigan. >> our thanks is on miguel. tomorrow night, lisa ling is back with an episode of "this is life." this week she investigators the current debate about decriminalizing sex work. >> why do you use the word prostitute rather than sex worker? >> because i prefer to call things for what they are. >> this is esperanza. >> i don't want it to sound like this flowery, glamorous industry, second workers work like any other job. it's not. sex is not work. it's sex. >> she knows firsthand what people experience in the sex trade. she survived it. tell me what it was like when you first began your journey in the sex trade. >> my friend and i were outside of the club, and she took me by the arm and walked me down the
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a haitian gang leader is threatening to kill the 17 missionaries he is holding hostage if he doesn't get the ransom he's demanding, $1 million apiece. all but one of the hostages are americans, and the rush to rescue them is growing more urgent by the day. matt rivers reports from port-au-prince. >> reporter: the threat from 400 gang leader wilson joseph was chilling. if his demands are not met he says he will kill the 17 missionaries his gang kidnapped last weekend. from its stronghold in the suburb, the gang has terrorized this community for years, kidnapping now a hallmark tactic to make money. something this french priest knows firsthand. we met him in a church compound in port-au-prince when he told us how the gang took him and others in april.
he says, "we had to go through there to get to a work event and were intercepted by young men with guns. the grabs forced our driver to follow them. that's when i knew we were being kidnapped. it i just kept call." they were taken to a more rural area and forced to sleep outside in cardboard under a tree and were moved to one abandoned house and another in difficult conditions to say the least. he says, "it was like a dark hole, like a prison cell, the last place we were in, with no windows. at the beginning they were giving us food once a day, but by the end they stopped feeding us. they forced us to go hungry," he said, believing it was a negotiation tactic. a source in haiti's security forces tells us that he believes the 17 missionaries could be going through a very similar situation right now somewhere several miles down that road, made more difficult by the fact that five of them are children, with the youngest being just 8 months old. in the small town where the
missionary group is based, a protest calling for their release. palpable anger rising toward what they see as an incompetent government. this protester says these missionaries do things for us in our village the government doesn't. they've handed the country over to the gang. we demand their release because these missionaries are everything for us here. people remain angry because there have been little updates from the government as to what if any progress is being made, though a government source says that's on purpose so as not to make negotiations any harder. it remains impossible to know how long the 17 missionaries will remain captive inside whatever location the gang has placed them. for father brion, it was nearly three weeks in total. he says the kidnappers play with time, they test the nerves of their victims, especially when they are negotiating so the victims can't lose faith. they need to keep their hopes up. in our case, our faith was our best ally. matt rivers, cnn,
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just funneled through and that's what you're seeing, this green and yellow tube is almost what it looks like. that's the river and it channels all of that very intense moisture into a very targeted location. in this particular example the target is northern california. now, that doesn't mean they're the only ones going to get rain. a lot of the surrounding states likely to pick up pretty intense moisture as well. here's the forecast going through the day today as well as tomorrow because this is going to be several waves of systems making their way through the western state. widespread. look at the orange and yellow colors. you're talking 4, 6, even 8 inches of rain. 100% of california is in drought so they need rain, the concern really becomes when you get a lot of rain in a very short period of time because that can lead to flash flooding. when you look at the risks, the red area is a moderate risk, level three out of four. this pink area, that's considered a high risk, a level four out of four, the top category. and i can not emphasize enough
how rare those events are. on average you only get about 16 high risk days a year, yet they account for more than 85% of flood damages. just showing the significance of this particular event. not only are we getting rain, you can see right now on the radar, but it's also snowing so a lot of those higher elevations are going to get a lot of snow. some could get 2 to 4 feet total. we do have the flash flood watches in effect not only for areas of california but sceven some portions of western nevada will likely get intense rain as we get multiples of the bands making their way through. and as we mentioned, a lot of snow, 2 to 4 feet potentially in the sierras, which is why you have a winter storm watch in effect. >> allison chinchar, thank you so much. we'll be right back. (sfx: continued vehicle calamity.)
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hello again, everyone. thank you for joining me this saturday. i'm fredricka whitfield. investigators are back on the set of an alec baldwin movie in new mexico collecting evidence in a shooting that left one person dead and another wounded. according to an affidavit, baldwin fired what he believed to be a safe prop gun, not knowing actual liv