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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/22/21

Guests: Marc Sallinger, Anna Haynes


MSNBC continues its breaking news coverage of a shooting situation at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questions about loved ones and Chief Joe Chris (ph) will able to provide more information for family members to contact the city police department for more information.

REPORTER: Is the suspect currently scheduled to appear in court?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a suspect in custody. There is no scheduled court appearances yet.

REPORTER: Have any charges been filed? Will there be any charges filed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the suspect is being treated medically at the hospital right now. I can promise you that we`re going to ensure the right thing happens with this case.

REPORTER: Is he from the Boulder area?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s all I have at this point. I appreciate you being here. We`ll be giving out more information.

Boulder Police Department will be in charge of giving out more information. I`ll ask the chief to let family members know where they can go or call for information on possible victims.

REPORTER: If you were in the parking lot and saw something, who should they call if they give that statement?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for that question. If there are witnesses out there who have information, and there were many witnesses to this who are cooperating with the investigation already, but if there were additional witnesses they should contact the Boulder police department.

Let me turn it over to the Chief Jill Chris (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, if there was witnesses that saw this event 303- 441-3333, that`s the main number into the Boulder Police Department.

REPORTER: Say that one more time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, no problem. 303-441-3333. And that`s the main number to the Boulder Police Department.

If there`s family or loved ones that have questions as well, they can contact that main number and will be sent an address in regards to additional information there.

REPORTER: Your officer, we`re told he or she went back in, saved lives by what they did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s all the questions we can take right now. I know you wanted more information. We don`t have more information we can share at this time. We will continue to post all information we can on our Twitter and we will announce the next press conference as soon as we know.


REPORTER: You don`t know how many deaths there are?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re hoping to have more information to release later this evening, yes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will find out. We will let you know.

REPORTER: Ma`am, how long is this going to be blocked off?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to continue to ask people to avoid this area. This will be blocked off for quite some time. So, please continue, to call individuals to avoid this area.

REPORTER: Ma`am, some news media has already reported there were six victims. Can you correct that or confirm that? It`s already out there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will have more information to release soon. Thank you for your patience. There will be more information released tonight. Yes, there will.

REPORTER: Is the man a suspect, or a woman?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Obviously, a very difficult situation tonight in Boulder, Colorado. That said, this is unusual in terms of public communication. It`s been more than three hours since this still -- this incident that has still been undescribed officially in basic terms started unfolding in Boulder, Colorado.

It`s an unusually long period of time for us to have gone after what appears to have been a mass shooting where we have no official information from authorities. The press conference that you just saw wrap up live there, that`s something that was delayed for almost an hour, as we waited for police to come out and tell us anything. You know, there is an art to briefings of this sort. This was unusually uncommunicative.

Basically, what they are confirming is that there was a mass shooting incident, that it was a multiple fatality incident, that one of those killed was a Boulder police officer. They will not say how many additional people were killed. They are saying that the only person who they believe was injured but not killed in the incident was a person who is now a suspect, a person of interest in custody. So, they`re saying the suspected shooter was injured and is being treated at the hospital right now.

And they know of nobody else being injured. But as to the number of people who were killed, we don`t know. It`s a very unusual thing to not have a characterization from the police at this point. And sometimes if they won`t give you basic information, like the number of fatalities, it may be -- and this is dark, but it may be because they`ve got people who are seriously injured and the person who is briefing the public at this point may not be able to tell you the exact status of a person, if they`re not sure whether or not that person is going to make it, and they don`t want to understate or overstate the case.

In this case, they`re saying there`s no other injuries other than the suspect in custody. Everybody else is dead. They won`t say how many fatalities have been. But they did incher confirm one of the multiple fatalities is a Boulder police officer.

Again, I mean, it pains me to say we have to start this show this way for the second time in a week. But we have been following this breaking news all day today out of Boulder, Colorado. The basic story that we believe characterizes the situation -- although it is somewhat shocking not to have any official confirmation that I can refer you to at this point.

The basics of the situation that we have been following is that a gunman opened fire inside a supermarket in Boulder. Now, the Kings Soopers grocery store on Table Mesa Drive. Multiple people were killed including one police officer but they`re not specifying exactly how many casualties.

The shooting occurred just before 3:00 p.m. local time. Witnesses say they heard multiple gun shots. About an hour after the first report of this active shooter people were seen escorting a man away from the building. He was not wearing a shirt. He appeared to have blood on his leg. You see that here.

Again, this is relevant, given what we just heard from police. Police are saying there was one known injury in addition to multiple fatalities. They`re describing the person who is injured as the person in suspect, in custody. This is apparently an injured person we saw led away from the facility by police earlier today. We do not know anything about who this man is, or whether or not, in fact, he is considered the suspect. Police are saying they have a person of interest in custody tonight who is being treated at the hospital for an injury.

Importantly, they are saying there`s no longer an ongoing public threat. There had been some other statements from Boulder police after this initial incident started to unfold that created concern that there might be a second incident, potentially a second shooter, some other connected incident. They`re saying now, importantly, that there is no ongoing public threat in Boulder.

Boulder, of course, is a great American town, university town. It`s about half hour northwest of Denver. The supermarket where the shooting took place is in a big shopping center, University of Colorado campus is about a ten-minute drive down the road. Residents of the area are a mix of families, working class, middle class families and students from university.

This particular grocery store has its own pharmacy, which means people who were inside the store today weren`t necessarily just there for groceries. Some were there to get their COVID vaccine shots as well.

The Boulder community health center confirming to NBC News tonight they`re currently treating one patient, at least one patient who was injured during the shooting. They did not release any information on the patient`s condition. Importantly at this point, we don`t know if that one person they are treating is the suspected shooter, but that would be the one piece of information that Boulder police commander appeared to be pointing at during this less than bare bones briefing to the public. Again, more than three hours after this started to unfold.

It`s frustrating and unusual to not have more officially confirmed details to give you at this point. Boy, are they keeping their cards close to the vest here.

Joining us now is Gadi Schwartz. He`s NBC News correspondent. He`s been covering this story every step of the way today.

Gadi, thank you so much for joining us.

I`ve summarized what I can tell in terms of what the police have just told us, what seems unusual to me about the bare-bones nature of what they confirmed. First of all, have I gotten any of that wrong and can you advance our understanding at all in terms of what we understand about this offer the course of the last few hours?

GADI SCHWARTZ, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Rachel, right now, we`re finding ourselves in a very difficult position because we saw that bare-bones press conference as you described and then we saw the entire shooting play out over a livestream. With your help, I`m going to try to navigate, without speculating in terms of what we saw with our own eyes watching that live stream and how it matches up with that press conference. I`m not sure if you picked up on it as well.

You could hear reporters expressing their concern and frustration, saying it`s been three hours. How do you not know how many people have died in this? Then you heard the response, we don`t know.

So you just have to keep a couple of things in mind. First, we do know that a Boulder police officer lost his or her life in this shooting. And so they`re going to be proceeding very, very cautiously and very methodically. They`re also going to be dealing with the loss of one of their own.

But as that press conference was playing out, you also have a lot of people, us included, that were aware of what was happening just outside of that King Soopers from this very well-watched YouTube video that was going on live. I`m just going to walk you through what we saw.

Three hours ago, there was a YouTube video that popped up. It was live. It appeared as though a streamer was getting ready to walk into this store when they started to hear shots. So immediately they started live streaming.

What they saw from there was a couple of bodies that seemed to be -- one was in front of the King Soopers. There was a body inside of the entryway of the King Soopers. We`re not going to show you that individual video. It is extremely disturbing. It is important in the context of what we know we`ve witnessed with our eyes, watching that live stream. Then there was a body in the entryway of the supermarket.

So, there were three bodies that we saw from that live stream. And then we saw a state of confusion from people that were kind of milling about. There was a security officer in the front of the King Soopers who seemed to be confused and told the live streamer there was a shooter and the shooter was still inside. At that moment, the live streamer started to realize what was going on and started running around the parking lot, warning people to get back, that there was an active shooter. And about two, three minutes later, we started to see officers first arrive.

And throughout that time, we would hear a barrage of gunfire. Sometimes it sounded like a small caliber. At other times, the gunfire sounded like a loud boom. It`s unclear if that was the acoustics inside of the King Soopers or if they were possible a different firearms, that there were different distinct sounds from that gunfire.

It also appeared that some of the gun fire started when the officers were there. From that live stream, we were able to see officers make entryway through the front of the King Soopers as well as teams going up on the roof. It appears as though they were cutting down into the roof.

That matches up with some of the descriptions we heard from some of the people that were inside of the King Soopers who were rescued by officers coming into the King Soopers from the roof and then guiding them out. It`s unclear if there was an exchange of gunfire between the gunman and the officers inside, but as you saw, a little bit after that, the level of anxiety that you saw officers having all around that perimeter seemed to relax. And then you saw that man come out that we just talked about.

Again, we should note, it is unclear if that man is an actual suspect. What we do know, however, is that at that press conference, they said there was a suspect in custody, a person of interest in custody, as they described it. That person had been injured. That`s the only person that came out with that had injuries that we saw from the livestream, from the YouTube streamer, as well as the live stream of all the helicopters.

So, he came out with no pants, no shirt, appearing to be wearing boxers and bleeding there from his leg. And then you started to see a lot of people coming out of the King Soopers led by officers who were basically taking them to safety. So, again, Rachel, there`s a lot to unpack there. Some of it we saw unfolding live. Not very much information coming from that press conference other than the fact that at this point, Boulder police confirmed they have lost one of their own and now we are starting to see investigators make their way into King Soopers wearing protective slippers and going through very methodically.

This is one of those cases that obviously they don`t want to take any missteps. But, again, just another mass shooting in Colorado after years of string after string of mass shootings. Just a little while ago we were there at Highland`s Ranch, at the Stem School shooting. Before that, Aurora, Colorado, Columbine, I mean, the list goes on.

So, yet another community tonight reeling from an attack that happened without warning. This time in Boulder, Colorado -- Rachel.

MADDOW: Gadi Schwartz, NBC News correspondent who has been following this closely for us all day -- Gadi, thank you for your time tonight. I`m not cutting you clear entirely. We may be back with you if we learn more over the course of this hour.

I want to bring now into the conversation from Boulder reporter Marc Sallinger from our NBC Denver affiliate, KUSA.

Mr. Sallinger, thanks for joining us on short notice. I really appreciate you being here.

MARC SALLINGER, KUSA-TV REPORTER: Thanks for having me, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, we`ve just seen the press conference from local officials that gave us a little bit of information, but very little detail, especially given how long it has been since this incident started unfolding. We have so many questions. It seems the details we`ve got confirmed are multiple fatalities. We don`t know how many. One of the fatalities is described as a Boulder police officer.

Public threat is over. A suspect or person of interest is in custody. He`s described as the only known injured party. But other than that, we know very little else.

Can you help us fill in any of the details from KUSA reporting or from what you`ve observed?

SALLINGER: Yeah, Rachel. Emphasis on little information that we got from that press conference. I mean, we don`t even know yet how many people are dead in this shooting, which we`ve been told that it`s multiple people have been killed but we don`t know how many yet. We do know it`s one Boulder police officer who has lost their life. We expect there will be a procession through Boulder at some point this evening.

There`s still a lot of law enforcement vehicles behind me that are both leaving and staying with their lights on.

We doesn`t know, again, how many people have been killed. We don`t know the motive. We don`t yet know how this ended. We don`t yet know what type of gun or anything like that. Rachel, more questions than answers at this point at least, now coming up on five hours since the first calls came in.

MADDOW: And, Marc, one of the things we were discussing with Gadi Schwartz is that we are in this unusual circumstance where we have very little official confirmed information but thousands of people were able to watch at least parts of this effectively play out in real time thanks to some people who were live streaming it, by happenstance or whatever.

Some of the unusual details or questions raised by people who watched the live stream are about, you know, how many people were in the supermarket? How many people were sheltering in that location and for how long? Why did police respond with what appeared to be some dramatic methods, not just the armored vehicles and things we were able to show in this B roll but also reports that they cut through the roof of the supermarket in order to try to bring this thing to an end.

Have you all been able to confirm any of that on scene or lend any explanatory detail to that?

SALLINGER: Yeah. So my photographer Taylor Shess (ph) and I arrived -- we showed up 45 minutes to an hour after the first calls came in, and when we got there, we could see that there was a fire truck, one of the big ladder trucks, that had its ladder extended on to the roof of the King Soopers and what looked to be SWAT members were climbing the ladder on to the roof. You could see the long guns on top of the King Soopers roof.

We heard stories from my colleagues who have been reporting this story in Boulder. We`ve heard stories of customers who were there to get their COVID vaccines. Of course, King Soopers is now giving out COVID vaccines. They were there to get their COVID vaccines and ended up being taken up into a room and sheltering there in place until they could get out.

But just the drama and the fear that was amongst those people who were in the supermarket is probably just incredible. When we were there just outside of the supermarket, we could see police officers guiding people who were presumably inside the store at the time. They guided them over to the edge of the parking lot right where they were standing and gave them blankets.

You could see some of them had name tags almost as if they were employees of the store there. You could see the fear in their eyes. I mean, a lot of them were crying. Some of them were just giving each other hugs. They were given blankets to try to keep warm. It`s a cold day in Boulder here.

Just that fear, at least as a reporter, is what I`ll remember tonight.

MADDOW: Marc Sallinger joining us from NBC Denver affiliate, KUSA -- Marc, thank you. And again, do come back to us tonight within the hour if we learn more. It`s been hard to get official confirmation of anything. We would love to have you back as soon as you know more.

SALLNER: Thank you.

All right. We`re going to bring into the conversation now, Jim Cavanaugh, MSNBC law enforcement analyst, retired ATF agent in charge, someone we turn to for explanatory value on nights like this, particularly when we don`t have a full picture of what happened but we know that what happened is a nightmare.

Jim, thanks very much for being here.

I want to ask if you can fill in any of the blanks for us, as layman, people who don`t have experience with these sort of crime scenes, these sort of investigations as to why it might be that the Boulder police would be saying that they can`t release even basic information like numbers of casualties because they are still processing the scene. Three-plus hours into an attack like this, they don`t know how many people have been killed?

JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That`s not a logical explanation. I think what they`ve got is their investigators are driving the public statement more than the commanders. Sure, they have to notify the next of kin, but the public has a right to know, you know, the size of the disaster in their city and certainly they can count and they know they have so many number of fatalities and so many people at the hospital injured or whatever. They could give that to the public without giving out the names of the wounded people or killed people until they notify next of kin. They`ve said an officer was killed.

Also, you know, that`s really not going to hurt the crime scene. That`s not going to hurt anything. As far as the suspect`s identity, if they`re waiting to serve a search warrant at his house, Rachel, that could be the reason why they wouldn`t give his identity.

If detectives and agents are already at his house, which likely they are, and already starting to search in some location, in some place, you know, then his name -- he has been on national TV. So if you knew the guy, you would know who he was. So then you could give his name and the charge. Certainly we know the charge. They know the charge.

A charge is a couple page complaint of a murder, murder of a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon, even if they want to go to a minimal charge as an initial charge.

So, they could tell us the suspect, they could possibly tell his identity. They could tell us the number of fatality s fatalities. They probably should have held off another hour.

The problem is they`re going to get so much pressure now from the media there in Denver, Colorado, and the region, and you`re going to have reporters trying to chase down every witness and neighbor and you want to get ahead of that and give out a little more information.

Listen, they`re dealing with a crisis, Rachel. They lost one of their own officers, and that will spin a department. It`s really tough. Boulder is not a huge, huge department.

So, I give them that. I understand that. But they`ve got to give the basic facts. It`s not going to hurt the criminal investigation out there. And tell the public. They could also say whether it`s a rifle or not.

But, look, here is the problem we have in America with these open carry laws. If you`re in a supermarket checkout line and a man is walking across the parking lot carrying a rifle in a state that allows people to open carry rifles, is he an active shooter, coming to shoot everybody at the supermarket, or is he a man carrying a lawful rifle?

That`s why these laws are so bad. We don`t need those kind of laws, open carry. We haven`t had them for years in America. We don`t need that kind of law.

The guy can walk in. Who knows what he`s going to do with his rifle. So, you know, it`s just sad. It`s sad we`ve got to do that.

It doesn`t prevent people from owning a rifle. It doesn`t prevent people from using a rifle to target shoot, protect themselves, hunt. Why have we got to allow them to carry it across the parking lot of a supermarket and until he decides to pull the trigger is the only time we could be alerted to what he might do.

So, America should rethink a lot of these open carry laws. These people don`t even need to hide the gun to walk in to where they`re going to do their mass killing. So, we don`t know exactly what he did here. Maybe he did hide the gun or didn`t hide the gun. He`s in a supermarket reportedly with a long gun and, from what little information the reporters could glean, there`s some mass casualties. And, Rachel, a dead Boulder officer. The patrol officers of America take the brunt.

As a patrol officer, you get the call. Man with a gun. Shots fired. You don`t really get a lot of information.

And you`re going there. You`re there within a couple of minutes. You`ve got your handgun, maybe a long gun or shotgun if you could get to it quick enough, some body armor and you`re rushing in.

And there`s a gun battle. As Gadi reported, some were loud and some were muted. That could very well be the fight of the AR-15 and the officer`s pistol. And if you`re faced with that you`re losing already.

MADDOW: Jim, let me -- Jim, let me ask you one question about the sort of tactics and what we`re able to see here. Obviously, there are those striking images of man with no shirt and no trousers on, wearing shorts only, barefoot. One leg appears to be covered in blood.

We do not know who this man is or the circumstances of what we`re seeing here. You see officers checking what may be his injury. We had police commander say that the only known injury and not fatality in this incident is the person they have in custody as the person of interest or the suspect. Again, I`m not telling you that that is the suspect there, but we are putting together pieces of information as they come in.

If the -- what tactically explains why this guy would be down to his shorts? We`ve got incredibly militarized gear in terms of the way that the police are outfitted in many of these cases. We can see what looks like a military platoon posting up outside this facility. Then we`ve got this unusual situation where this guy is stripped down to his shorts.

Tactically, do you know what would explain something like that?

CAVANAUGH: Well, in a felony arrest with a shooter, SWAT can just order the guy to drop his gun, drop his helmet, order him with verbal commands while SWAT operators are undercover, drop your helmet, drop your vest, drop your shirt, you know. Take off your trousers.

I know you don`t have a weapon. Stand and walk backwards toward me, kneel down, whatever method they want to use and then could handcuff him safely. These guys could come in with a bomb strapped on their stomach, have two handguns in each pocket. They could have a long gun.

So, you know, it may very well have been the SWAT operators just verbally allowing him to take off each piece of clothing, you know, to dress him down verbally while they`re behind cover. What`s important to note here, Rachel, to go back to your first question, you remember the shooting in Dayton, Ohio, and it took let`s than a minute where the gunman shot multiple people in less than a minute. Dayton officers were nearby and they shot and killed him.

This is an exacerbated, long event. You`ve got patrol arriving within two to three minutes, you`ve got a dead patrol officer it looks like. Could be a SWAT officer. We don`t know for sure. It could be a SWAT officer.

But patrol is the first ones in. And they`re likely the most vulnerable. So possibly it was one of the first responding patrol officers. And then you have to get SWAT there. And then you have to get a fire truck with a ladder and then you have to get SWAT up the ladder, and then you have to breach the roof. And all of that takes time.

So this guy is in there for some number of minutes. I mean, Gadi can probably calculate that from his excellent reporting out there. From the time that the first victims were seen on YouTube until the time, you know, this guy is safely marched out, that`s got to be a time that transpired.

Why is that important? He decided not to kill himself. He didn`t think he wanted to kill himself. He didn`t want suicide by cop.

He was able to be apprehended and over a number of minutes. So, it`s interesting to see how sometimes these things do take time to play out. And it did take SWAT, as you see -- you say militarized officers. Yes, they have to be.

Look what they`re facing, probably a military rifle. It could be a bomb. So they have to have that equipment. They have to have the bearcat vehicle. They have to have all that equipment to get in there, to be able to safely get him in custody, stop him from killing the others, Rachel, and not let them kill them.

We had extreme bravery by one of the Boulder officers tonight. Extreme bravery. A lot of heartache in Boulder tonight.

MADDOW: That`s right. And, again, that`s the one confirmed fatality from local law enforcement, saying there are multiple fatalities here they will not otherwise describe that, other than to say one of those killed is a Boulder police officer. We wait for local information from local law enforcement and local reporters.

Jim Cavanaugh, MSNBC law enforcement analyst, retired ATF special agent in charge -- Jim, it`s always great to get you in here on a night like this. I`m sorry it`s always these sad circumstances, sir.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`re going to take a quick break and we will bring you more information on this story as soon as we get it. A lot of other news to get to tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So, for tonight, we`ve been covering the breaking news out of Boulder, Colorado, where there has been a mass shooting event of supermarket, multiple fatalities, including one Boulder Colorado police officer. One suspect wounded and in custody, according to local police. But not much more information than that at this point that we can give you.

As we say in the business, we are efforting further information, further reporting. We will bring that to you as it comes in to our newsroom over the course of the hour.

Of course, as we continue to follow that news out of Colorado tonight, it is stomach churning on its own terms. It`s also because we`re not over the last one of these. It was only last week, less than a week ago, Tuesday last week, when another mass shooter murdered eight people at three different massage businesses in the Atlanta metro area. It was less than a week ago.

This weekend, there were demonstrations and vigils all over the country to protest against not only the Atlanta attack, but again killed eight people. But more broadly, the upsurge in violence and harassment directed at Asian- Americans. Six of the eight victims in the Atlanta attacks were of Asian descent.

New York, Washington, D.C., all up and down the state of California, Seattle Washington, Bellevue, Washington, Minneapolis, all these places held protests, demonstrations, marches, vigils this weekend. In Atlanta itself, there were large demonstrations and vigils this weekend as people remembered the victims of those shootings on Tuesday and also tried to confront the broader issue of attacks on Asian Americans, tried to show solidarity with the Asian community in the wake of all these serial attacks.

At the end of last week, President Biden and Vice President Harris repurposed their already-planned trip to Atlanta. It had already been planned before the shootings happened Tuesday night. Instead of their original itinerary, they held meetings with Asian community leaders in the Atlanta area, in Georgia.

President Biden and Vice President Harris did still talk about the COVID relief bill on that trip and what`s in it. They still did some of that. They visited, for example, the centers for disease control to try to buoy and support the workers there, who have been through their own kind of war this past year with the pandemic.

Tomorrow we`ll see the president and Vice Harris -- vice president do more of that. Talking about COVID but also talking about the COVID relief bill.

President Biden will go to Ohio to talk about COVID relief. Vice President Harris, today, went to Jacksonville, Florida, where the administration just had FEMA open up a mass vaccination site, that can vaccinate 3,000 people per day.

Vice President Harris went toy food pantry in Jacksonville as well, to highlight the fact that the COVID relief bill offers $230 month in food stamps, $230 a month for that 45 million Americans who count on that program to feed their families. That is a ton of people. That is a big boost.

This has not been a big headline about the COVID relief bill but it is a big deal. If you are a family who relies on food stamps, $230 extra a month in food stamps? That`s for 45 million Americans. That`s a very big deal.

Again, every element of the COVID relief bill hasn`t had a lot of individual attention. Some of these events by the president and vice president are designed to bring individual attention to provisions like that.

Along those lines right now, this is up in Times Square, in the middle of New York City. A moving billboard the size of a building. It says help is here. Thank you, Joe Biden and Democrats. Help is here, 100 million shots, 100 million checks. Help is here.

This is running 24 hours a day in Times Square right now. I`ve never seen anything quite like this, particularly from the Democrats. Maybe this means Democrats are finally not shy anymore about stuff they get done in government. This might help people give them credit for what they do in government. It might also embarrass Republicans, who try to take credit for these provisions even after voting against the COVID relief bill. We shall see.

As those thank you, Joe Biden and Democrats messages started streaming around that times square building today, in that big multi-story ad, today, the newspaper for whom Times Square is named, "The New York Times," broke what Joe Biden and the Democrats are planning to do next, a giant new infrastructure bill, even bigger than the COVID relief bill, at least as it`s initially being conceived.

They`re aiming at a once-in-a-generation, once-in-several generations, huge investment to build and rebuild schools, roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, the electric grid, water systems, sewer systems, electric vehicle charging stations across the country, rural broadband, high-speed 5G wireless service. I mean, you think the COVID relief bill was popular? It was historically popular, the most popular major piece of legislation in decades.

But all those things I just listed on the infrastructure bill, they are likely to be more popular than the COVID relief bill was. Even Republicans in Congress say they think the U.S. ought to be investing more, making historic investments in our decrepit infrastructure. As money to spend on things to go, it is unequivocally and inarguably the thing that benefits the whole country, that creates an outsourceable U.S. jobs, jobs and infrastructure improvements that literally every state in the country needs at one level or another, the kinds of improvements to the things we all share that not only make life better for everyone, but make life cheaper and more efficient for everyone, including for businesses which use the same highways, cell towers and ports and water lines that we all do.

It is the sort of thing that hypothetically is a non-bipartisan -- excuse me, nonpartisan interest. A bipartisan shared priority, theoretically, for all sorts of rational reasons. What will Republicans do? They`ll vote no on all of it, we know. But maybe the Democrats can do it anyway, the way they did with COVID relief. The beltway press is already harrumphing at the audacity of the ambition and this next thing that Democrats are teeing up, despite the fact that the infrastructure bill will be phenomenally popular, at least the parts they announced thus far, the parts I just described. The beltway press frankly is not used to the federal government and Congress doing stuff that has a tangible effect in people`s lives. And they like it.

So, you`re seeing all these harrumphing already that they want to do something else big after they did a big COVID relief bill already, we`ll see. I mean, the beltway press is right, though, that Democrats would have a much more certain and straightforward path to do a big infrastructure bill and everything else they want to do if they reform the filibuster. That remains on the bubble as to whether or not Democrats in the Senate will change the Senate rules to make things easier to pass.

That said, one way to get that and lots of other things off the bubble was a subject of a pretty wild congressional hearing on the House side, on whether or not Washington, D.C. should be a state. After the original 13 colonies, all the other 37 states admitted to the Union since have been added by an act of Congress.

Why not one more? The last two were in 1959, Hawaii and Alaska. Alaska residents recently brought one of their U.S. senators a new flag with 51 stars on it, asking their senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, to please support the admission of a 51st state. Please support the admission of Washington, D.C. as a new state.

There`s efforts, actually, all across the country to try to get Senate support for adding D.C. as a 51st state. It has a bigger population than Wyoming does, has bigger population than Vermont does. D.C. residents pay as much or more in taxes as everyone else in the country. They do jury duty. They fight in wars. They vote for president. They do all the other things that all U.S. citizens do, but they don`t have anyone who votes in Congress to represent them, which is the very definition of taxation without representation, which is a thing that`s supposed to be a thing in this country.

There`s a referendum among D.C. residents in 2016 as to whether or not they wanted to become a state, 86 percent of D.C. residents said yes, we would like to become a state. The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote very soon to make D.C. the 51st state, which would then send it to the Senate. That`s why the focus of advocates for D.C. is more on trying to bring senators along.

The House vote is basically a fait accompli. The House will vote that D.C. statehood should become a reality. Nevertheless, today`s D.C.`s statehood hearing in the House, nonetheless, was redonk. It was ridiculous in terms of the Republican arguments against D.C. statehood.

Democrats are essentially unified that D.C. should be a state. It used to be an interparty fight within the Democratic Party. Democrats have come around to the idea that D.C. should be a state. Republicans are all opposed but are having a hard time articulating exactly why they`re opposed.

For example, Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman of Washington insisted today that Washington, D.C. can`t be a state because Washington, D.C. doesn`t have any mines, as in underground places where miners work. D.C. doesn`t have that, so clearly D.C. can`t be a state.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was testifying at the time that Congressman Grothman raised this argument. She had to concede, it`s true, we do not have any mines. Maybe that shouldn`t settle the issue.

Republican Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia then demanded to know how on earth they could be a state since D.C. has no car dealerships. I do remember the part of the Constitution where it spells that out. No taxation without representation, no cruel and unusual punishment, no being forced to quarter soldiers and then nobody gets to be a state without at least one major car dealership.

Mines and car dealerships are the absence thereof. That was the argument from the Republican side today about why D.C. can`t be a state.

Incidentally, D.C. actually has car dealerships. Why is that the basis on which this decision should be made?

Anyway, I do not know what the United States Senate will ultimately do about D.C. statehood but the House is going to pass the bill to make D.C. a state. After they do that, you would still be more likely to find mountain top removal mining operation with Chevy dealership in D.C. than find ten Republican senators who are going to agree with this.

So, I don`t know what the Senate is going to do. It will probably depend on Democrats getting it together to reform the filibuster. That said, the Senate is almost all the way there for -- toward its goal of confirming President Biden`s cabinet. Why is that? Because the filibuster doesn`t apply to cabinet nominees.

It took two full months but they are almost there in terms of confirming President Biden`s cabinet. New labor secretary, former Boston mayor, former union construction worker, son of Irish immigrants, Marty Walsh, was confirmed to be the new secretary of labor.

Among many other things that that means it also means that the great American city of Boston, Massachusetts, is about to get a new mayor to replace Mayor Walsh. The president of the Boston city council, African- American woman named Kim Janey is due to take over now that Mayor Walsh is becoming labor secretary. We`re hoping to have an interview with acting Mayor Janey later this week. She will make history as the first-ever African-American, first-ever woman to take that particular city`s mayor job.

But once the Senate winds down with Biden cabinet confirmation hearings, Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer told us once that`s done they should expect to start confirming new Biden judicial nominees. They will start confirming new judges. He says that will happen after the cabinet nominees go through but the Biden administration has announced precisely zero judicial nominees so far. So, again, we will see how far they get with that and how fast.

They`ve got to get a bunch of sub-cabinet level nominees in there, with what`s starting to feel like a semi-emergency at the Justice Department with what was left behind at the Justice Department under Trump Attorney General Bill Barr. Obviously, Biden`s new attorney, Merrick Garland, has been confirmed and sworn in. Other senior Justice Department officials have not made it that far along in the process yet.

That`s becoming newly significant as new, weird evidence continues to emerge, including this weekend about Bill Barr`s leftovers. Bill Barr`s personal appointees at the Justice Department, leaving behind them some pretty bizarre messes, including a new, emerging mess potentially with the prosecution of the January 6th U.S. Capitol attackers. We`re going to have more on that coming up later on this hour. But that is lending some urgency to the need to fully staff up the Justice Department, given the smoking wreckage left behind by Trump and Bill Barr.

They`ve also not been able to get Biden nominees confirmed at a couple of dozen senior positions at HHS, Health and Human Services Department. Frankly, HHS could use a full complement of senior officials given the scale of what they`re trying to pull off in terms of the COVID response. The administration, obviously this weekend, hitting the president`s 100 million vaccine doses goal, they hit that goal more than 40 days ahead of the benchmark that the president set as a goal before the inauguration.

Today, there was a strong new clinical data presented, about a fourth vaccine candidate. We got two-shot vaccines confirmed in this country, one one-shot vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, already confirmed. A fourth candidate from AstraZeneca, looks to be on its way to approval by the FDA next month.

We may not necessarily need it in this country since the administration already says it`s secured enough vaccine for everyone in the country by the end of May. At least, we may not need the full amount that we were expecting from AstraZeneca early in the process. If, in fact, we have enough vaccine, or we will soon have enough vaccine to vaccinate everybody in the country that wants one, or needs one, that will raise all sorts of interesting questions about the United States as a global leader and how the U.S. can lead the world. Not just in vaccinating our own people, but in getting everyone vaccinated, in all countries so that the coronavirus crisis gets defeated globally and we don`t end up, in this country, with a semi permanent pandemic we never really get under control because of unvaccinated parts of the world where new variants and mutations are involving that could essentially defeat our immunity.

As the president has pointed out and public health experts are arguing, this pandemic will not end in our country until it ends everywhere, globally. We may yet be the last country on earth that can still lead a global effort to vaccinate everybody, everywhere, so that we and the world can actually live in a COVID-free world.

That said, can`t get out above our -- can`t get out ahead of -- over our skis, as they say. We are nowhere near done here. We got 27 states showing a rise in cases again. We`ve got more transmissible and more deadly variants circulating here with increasing speed and at increasing scale, including places that are opening up rapidly like New York City. The challenges remain huge, as do the opportunities if we seize them. Everything all at once.

More to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: We`re continuing to follow this developing story out of Boulder, Colorado today in which there have been multiple fatalities, some sort of mass shooting at a supermarket in Boulder near to the University of Colorado campus.

We opened the show this hour with a live report from local police officials who were sharing information, which was not much. They were saying there were multiple fatalities, including a Boulder police officer. They would not say how many were killed, saying they were still processing the scene.

They did say the public threat is over. The suspect is in custody and is receiving medical attention after being wounded in the incident, but we know very little beyond that.

Anna Haynes is at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She`s actually the editor of CU Independent, which is the student-run news site at the University of Colorado.

And she joins us by phone.

Anna, thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate you making time tonight.

ANNA HAYNES: Thank you, Rachel. I appreciate it.

MADDOW, WITNESSED BOULDER, COLORADO SHOOTING (via telephone): So, I understand you live near where the shooting was today and were able to witness at least some of what happened. Can you just describe what happened?

HAYNES: Yeah, so my roommate and I live directly across the street from the King Soopers. We initially heard what sounded like maybe fireworks or a car engine failing, but then the sounds kept going and they were gunshots. So I looked outside my window, and I saw two things. I saw a body in the middle of the parking lot that I later realized was a dead body because they brought a body bag, and then I saw the shooter. He had the rifle. He was firing at somebody.

It was blocked by a car, but I`m fairly sure he was firing at somebody, and he turned around and he ran up the handicap ramp into the building, and then after that I saw people screaming and running out of the building.

MADDOW: So you saw him with a rifle, with a long gun in the parking lot, firing in the parking lot before entering the supermarket?

HAYNES: Yes, I did.

MADDOW: Did you -- could you -- what did you make of it at the moment? Was it clear to you that he wasn`t a police officer, that this wasn`t somebody who was responding to the scene? Why did you believe that he, at that point, was the perpetrator, in effect, of the attack?

HAYNES: Mainly because the -- we hadn`t heard anything of the shooter yet. The police hadn`t arrived. I don`t think the police yet had been informed at that point. I believe that was the very beginning of it when he had just entered the parking lot.

He didn`t look like a police officer. He looked panicked, he looked like he was firing sort of in a panicked way, and I knew that it wasn`t a police officer or anybody that should be handling a rifle.

MADDOW: Anna, in terms of how this unfolded over the course of the day, we know there was ultimately a massive police response just because we`ve been able to see it over the course of the day. About how long did everything take to unfold? It sounds like you saw the very first instances of this, what you`re describing as even the very first police officers were visible to you on-site.

How many hours over the course of the day did this take place?

HAYNES: So that happened around 2:30 or 3:00 our time when I first witnessed the scene. My roommate and I have been staring out the window at the scene for -- since then, and it`s been like four or five hours that we`ve just been staring. We can`t really do anything else.

MADDOW: Yeah. Anna Haynes, a student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. You and your roommate were in -- I mean, unlucky enough to be close enough to see it, lucky enough to not be caught up in it yourselves, but you guys need to take care of yourselves given what you`ve seen. This will undoubtedly be traumatic for you guys.

Thank you for helping us understand what you saw.

HAYNES: Thank you.

MADDOW: As I mentioned, Anna Haynes is a student at University of Colorado-Boulder. She is an editor of the CU Independent, which is the student news site in Boulder, Colorado. She and her roommate directly across the scene today as it started downfall. We`ll let you know as we learn more.

I`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Thanks for being with us here tonight. Our ongoing coverage continues now with "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening, Lawrence.