News Brief: Va. Mass Shooting, Calif. Democratic Party, Trump To U.K. Twelve people were killed when a gunman opened fired in a Virginia Beach government building. Democratic candidates offer a preview of future debates. The president kicks off a state visit to Britain.
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News Brief: Va. Mass Shooting, Calif. Democratic Party, Trump To U.K.

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News Brief: Va. Mass Shooting, Calif. Democratic Party, Trump To U.K.

News Brief: Va. Mass Shooting, Calif. Democratic Party, Trump To U.K.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The same grief that has stricken so many American communities has now enveloped the city of Virginia Beach.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We've been hearing some of the stories of those who were in a city building when a city engineer opened fire. Christi Dewar lost one of her best friends, Keith Ryan Cox (ph), in that shooting. She says that he was hit while trying to shelter others.

CHRISTI DEWAR: I called him my big teddy bear. He was the type of person that you know he would - in fact, you know he would lay down his life for - and exactly what he did.

MARTIN: Dewar spoke with NPR's Bobby Allyn, who joins us now from Virginia Beach and has been covering the aftermath of this shooting. Bobby, what are investigators saying at this point? What do we know?

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: I've covered a lot of mass shootings, and I really saw something I've never seen before here. Early on, Virginia Beach officials made a forceful point to reporters, which was they would only speak the gunman's name once when they IDed him. And they really stuck to that. I mean, every other time they called him the suspect, not by his real name, right? And really, that, you know, I think reflects this larger trend among law enforcement in these tragedies, which is let's focus on the victims. Let's focus on the community and not glorify the perpetrator. So we only heard his name once. And it's DeWayne Craddock.

MARTIN: And he was a city employee, right?

ALLYN: He was. He was a civil engineer for 15 years. And, you know, he sent a resignation letter over email to his boss just hours before the shooting. And how that information came to light, Rachel, is really interesting. Now, I had interviewed a colleague of the suspect who told me, yeah, yeah. He put in a two-week notice the Friday just hours before the shooting. But when I walked into a press conference, the Virginia Beach police chief emphasized repeatedly that the suspect had not been fired. And I was like, wait, what?

So I raised my hand, and I said, OK. He wasn't terminated, but he voluntarily walked away from the job. Do I have that right? And the city manager walked up to the mike and says, yes. Yes, he resigned. And, you know, that answer just totally moved through the room. Reporters' jaws dropped. Like, why did it take a direct question for that to be publicly stated?

MARTIN: Right.

ALLYN: And, you know, we don't yet have an answer to that. Now, this wasn't a we-saw-it-coming kind of case. By all accounts, Rachel, the shooter was well-liked. Some people called him soft-spoken. He had a clean disciplinary record. His colleagues said there were just absolutely no warning signs.

MARTIN: Wow. How are people doing? I mean, you've been talking to two people who worked in that building, but just the broader community.

ALLYN: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, as you can imagine, there's really been an outpouring for the victims' families here. And the city's doing everything they can. They're assisting people in the grieving process. They're helping to arrange funerals. You know, the community has, you know, kicked in some extra support as well. Here's Jason Bedell. He's a pastor at Forefront Church. And he told NPR some of the survivors and first responders to the shooting scene actually go to his church. Here he is.

JASON BEDELL: So we've had counseling sessions with individuals walking through some of those things that they heard, that they saw. But how do you help begin to process some of those things?

MARTIN: How do you indeed? A question that many there will be trying to answer for a long time. Bobby Allyn, NPR's reporter in Virginia Beach covering this. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

ALLYN: Thanks, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: President Trump goes across the pond for a state visit to the U.K. And it could be, in a word, awkward.

INSKEEP: The president is set to meet with the prime minister, Theresa May. She is preparing to leave her job amid Britain's unresolved chaos over Brexit. London's mayor is already looking forward to President Trump leaving his job someday. Sadiq Khan is a critic of the president, and the president has also insulted Sadiq Khan. And the mayor spoke over the weekend with Sky News.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SKY NEWS")

SADIQ KHAN: This president won't be there forever. And one of the things that people look back on about our approach to this president is that they'll - I think they'll regret that our government, this prime minister didn't stand up more to him.

MARTIN: And we should note, before the plane even touched down at Stansted Airport - Air Force One, that is - President Trump was already stirring things up. NPR's Frank Langfitt is covering it all from London. Hi, Frank.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: Let's start with the remarks from President Trump. What'd he say?

LANGFITT: Well, he counterpunched - you're right. Just before he landed, he counterpunched on Twitter. He said that Khan had done a terrible job as mayor of London, called him a stone cold loser, compared him to the very dumb and incompetent mayor of New York City - in the opinion of the president - Bill de Blasio, except he noted that Khan was only half of de Blasio's height. That's not true. Khan is actually about 5 foot 6, de Blasio almost 6 1/2 feet tall. So that was basically welcome to London, Mr. President.

MARTIN: I mean, that's a longstanding feud too now at this point, Sadiq Khan and...

LANGFITT: Yeah. It goes back more than two years. And I think that it started - it's hard to keep track of these things, Rachel - but I believe that Mayor Khan, of course, is Muslim. And he was - took great - he did not like President Trump's ban on people coming from seven majority-Muslim countries.

MARTIN: Right.

LANGFITT: And then it's sort of gone back and forth.

MARTIN: So what is the president going to do there? What's on the agenda?

LANGFITT: Yeah. Well, today it's mostly pomp and circumstance. He's brought his family. There's going to be a state dinner with the Queen at Buckingham Palace tonight and tomorrow, as you mentioned, meeting with the prime minister, May. She's a lame duck, so not expecting a lot on the policy front. But there is something interesting that's been happening on the issue of Huawei. And, of course, this giant telecom company, the U.K. is interested in having it help develop 5G network here.

MARTIN: Right, Chinese telecom company.

LANGFITT: Yeah, the Chinese telecom company. And the U.S. is very concerned about being able to spy not only on the U.K. but also, because of the close intelligence-sharing relationship between those two countries, using that to spy on the U.S. Several prime minister candidates have just suggested in the last day or so that they won't necessarily let Huawei participate in 5G. That would be a victory for Trump if that happens.

MARTIN: And, of course, it's the 75th anniversary of D-Day, right?

LANGFITT: It is. And so after a couple of days here, the president will then go to Plymouth and then onto Normandy to commemorate that. And that's kind of the foundation of what people refer to as the special relationship, this unusually close military, political and diplomatic ties between the two countries that were really forged during the war, in World War II on the continent.

MARTIN: At the same time, though, I mean, the basis of the relationship may be strong, but there are a lot of people in the United Kingdom who aren't so keen on President Trump. He's been there before, and there were protests. Are we going to see that again?

LANGFITT: We're going to see - probably see huge protests. You know, this is a city that's diverse and cosmopolitan, that doesn't like President Trump's policies. And for instance, I think tonight we're going to see people outside of Buckingham Palace during the dinner actually banging pots and pans and trying to create a not - lot of noise.

MARTIN: NPR's Frank Langfitt reporting from London on President Trump's first state visit there. Thanks, Frank. We appreciate it.

LANGFITT: Happy to do it, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: All right. What can we expect in the first presidential debates that are coming up for Democratic candidates?

INSKEEP: Well, if a Democratic Party meeting in California is any guide, some of the candidates may work to distinguish themselves from the man who's been leading the early surveys, former Vice President Joe Biden. Let's listen to one candidate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PETE BUTTIGIEG: In these times, Democrats can no more keep a promise to take us back to the 2000s or the 1990s than conservatives can keep a promise to take us back to the 1950s. We can only look forward.

INSKEEP: Kind of a subtle jab at the much older Joe Biden there from South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of the Democrats who spoke, as Biden did not, at the California Democratic Party annual convention.

MARTIN: You know who was also there? NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow. He joins us now from San Francisco. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Joe Biden noticeably was not physically present, but it sounds like he still loomed large in this thing.

DETROW: Absolutely. It wasn't just Buttigieg. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren also used their speeches to go after this return-to-the-status-quo message that has been a big part of Biden's messaging so far. Nobody said Joe Biden, but there was a clear subtext to a lot of this. Here's Warren blasting other Washington Democrats, as she put it.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELIZABETH WARREN: Some say if we all just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses. But our country is in a time of crisis.

DETROW: So Biden did not have a chance to respond to all of this. He was campaigning in Ohio, speaking at a Human Rights Campaign dinner. But these are all candidates trailing Biden in the polls, and it sounds like they are starting to test out attacks on him. So far, there has not really been much Democrat-on-Democrat criticism in this race. But that could change very soon with the debates just a few weeks away.

MARTIN: Right.

DETROW: At the end of the month, Biden will be onstage, able to respond to this criticism.

MARTIN: So we talked earlier, Scott, about the mass shooting that happened in Virginia Beach, which is something you could imagine Democrats seizing onto if not to at least express condolences, but then maybe also talk about gun policy. Did any of that come up with the candidates?

DETROW: You know, not at all, and it was really surprising. Fourteen different candidates spoke at this in speech after speech after speech. No one was mentioning Virginia Beach aside from one or two real glancing references. The only candidate to do that head-on was Cory Booker.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CORY BOOKER: But here, just yesterday, we had another mass shooting in our country. Twelve Americans died. And we are seeing the normalization of mass murder in our country.

DETROW: And I think this was evidence that, on that point, he's right. This was a room very receptive to gun control, things like universal background checks. Most of these candidates are running on strong platforms of gun control policy. And yet, no one felt the need to adapt their message or respond to the shooting. It felt like another news story.

MARTIN: Yeah. So it's important what candidates say in these forums, but also what they don't say and how they handle unexpected moments that can happen at the edges of events, which is what happened to Kamala Harris, right?

DETROW: Yeah. This was a scary moment. I'd just been talking to other reporters about how none of these candidates really have security, let alone Secret Service, at this point in the race. This was at a separate event across town sponsored by MoveOn. She was speaking on stage. And a protester, a guy in a scraggly beard and a man bun, rushed the stage and grabbed her mike. He did not try to harm her. He just wanted to talk about animal rights, but that wasn't clear at the time.

Harris was very calm. She just slowly walked away as people jostled the guy off the stage. The other notable reaction was her husband, Doug Emhoff. He was one of the people who leapt onto the stage to get the guy away from her and take his microphone back.

MARTIN: Oh, all the things...

DETROW: (Laughter) Yeah.

MARTIN: ...That can happen in presidential campaigns. NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow, covering the presidential primary in San Francisco, that big Democratic convention. Scott, thanks.

DETROW: Sure thing.

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