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Morning news brief

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It has happened again, another mass shooting, this time in Chesapeake, Va. Police there say seven people, including the shooter, are dead.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The attack happened late last night at a Walmart store. Joining us now is Angelique Arintok from 13News Now at WVEC, who is reporting from Norfolk. Angelique, tell us what you know at the moment.

ANGELIQUE ARINTOK: This morning, Chesapeake city officials confirm seven people, including the shooter, are dead, and police say multiple people are injured after a shooting broke out inside that Walmart off Battlefield Boulevard. While the suspect's motivation is still unclear, what is clear is that lots of people had been out there on Tuesday night to get things together for their Thanksgiving gatherings. The call about an active shooter came in just after 10 o'clock Tuesday night, according to police. Outside the store and in that area, I did speak with one gentleman who recounts leaving the store at about 9:50 and just seeing the aftermath unfold outside.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: I know what gunshots sound like, and so I knew those muffled - the muffled sounds and then the screaming afterwards, just those two together, you knew something bad was happening inside.

MARTÍNEZ: Wow. Angelique, what do we know about the fatalities, the people who have died and the people who are injured?

ARINTOK: A, we do not know yet an age range or names of those who died in the Tuesday night shooting. Investigators do believe, however, that they've found all the victims. In neighboring city Norfolk, for instance, the local Sentara General Hospital is treating five patients. A spokesperson says that they have no update, though, on exactly how they're doing at this time.

MARTÍNEZ: And what about the situation at the Walmart store? What's it looking like there?

ARINTOK: There's definitely going to be some federal investigators involved, local investigators on scene. According to law enforcement officials, it's going to be an ongoing scene at that Walmart for the next five days, lots more to uncover in terms of this shooting. A news conference is upcoming at around 8 this morning in Chesapeake.

MARTÍNEZ: Angelique, considering it's Thanksgiving week, how's the community responding right now? I mean, what have you been seeing and hearing?

ARINTOK: I think there's so much pain and heartbreak in this community. There's no good time for something like this to ever happen. But just the fact that you have Thanksgiving around the corner and with the holiday season here makes it that much more heartbreaking. I was also at the reunification site where immediate family members and emergency contacts of those who may have been inside the store could go in and file in, check in on their loved ones. Sadly, we did see some of those family members come out of the reunification site audibly shaken and audibly upset, understandably, just with Thanksgiving around the corner, too.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Angelique Arintok from 13News Now at WVEC Television. Angelique, thank you very much.

ARINTOK: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: It's been more than three days since a shooter walked into an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs and killed five people.

MARTIN: The suspect is 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, and he's in custody. Formal charges have not yet been filed. Investigators are still gathering evidence to charge the suspect potentially with murder and committing a hate crime.

MARTÍNEZ: Here to talk about what a hate crime prosecution might look like, we're joined by NPR's Adrian Florido. All right. I realize, you know, different states have different definitions about what makes a hate crime, but how does Colorado, Adrian, handle these kinds of crimes?

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Well, in Colorado, they're called bias-motivated crimes, and that's a crime in which an attacker is driven by prejudice against a victim's race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. At a press conference Sunday, the day after the shooting, the district attorney for Colorado Springs, Michael Allen, said this shooting is being investigated as a potential hate crime. The challenge is proving motive, A. In this case, how do prosecutors show that the suspect was motivated by bias against the LGBTQ community? Some legal experts say the mere fact the shooting was at a gay club on a night when it was commemorating victims of anti-transgender violence could be pretty powerful evidence on its own. And of course, investigators will be scouring the suspect's background, digital trail, text messages in search of more evidence of anti-gay prejudice.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So let's say they find the evidence that they're looking for. How hard is it going to be to prove a hate crime in Colorado?

FLORIDO: Well, it used to be that prosecutors had to convince a jury that a suspect was motivated solely by hate. That made convictions very hard to win. But last year, state legislators in Colorado rewrote the law, and now prosecutors only have to prove that bias was one factor in a suspect's motivation. I spoke with Bilal Aziz, who leads hate crime prosecutions in the district attorney's office in Denver.

BILAL AZIZ: So the ability to say to a jury, you don't have to find that his only reason for acting was - is racial- or sexual orientation-based animus. Even if it was part of why he was acting the way he was acting, you may still convict.

FLORIDO: Aziz said prosecutors across the state have welcomed this new tool as a powerful one in the fight against hate.

MARTÍNEZ: So what does it mean, then, if the suspect in the Colorado Springs shooting, if there is a charge and then a conviction of a hate crime? What does that mean at that point?

FLORIDO: Well, it's important to note that the most serious charges the suspect is likely to face are first-degree murder charges, which would mean a life sentence if convicted. If convicted of hate crimes, that could mean several years in prison on those charges. But in practical terms, that doesn't mean much if you're already serving life for murder. Regardless, Bilal Aziz, the Denver prosecutor, said if the evidence is there, filing those charges is still important.

AZIZ: Whether or not it is a lead or top charge, it is still important to signal to communities that we see them and that we are not going to allow this behavior to continue and pursue those charges where appropriate.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So it sounds like there's still a lot that has to happen. But immediately, what's going to happen next?

FLORIDO: Well, the suspect got out of the hospital last night and is now in county jail. A first court appearance is set for today. It's happening virtually. But we still don't know when formal criminal charges will be filed. The local district attorney said earlier this week that investigators want to gather as much evidence as possible before filing those charges.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Adrian Florido. Thanks a lot, Adrian.

FLORIDO: Thank you, A.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: It was called one of the most abrupt and difficult collapses in corporate America.

MARTIN: That's how a lawyer for FTX characterized what happened to one of the world's most popular cryptocurrency exchanges in a hearing Tuesday. Bankruptcy proceedings are now officially underway. And that hearing has given us a better sense of how dysfunctional FTX actually was and how tough it's going to be for the new CEO to turn the company around.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's David Gura joins us now. David, a big mess here. How big of a mess?

DAVID GURA, BYLINE: Well, it's big, A. And there were bombshells aplenty during that first hearing in Delaware. First, a lawyer representing FTX acknowledged a substantial amount of assets have either been stolen or are missing. And the company is also trying to fend off a barrage of cyberattacks. That's the main reason why FTX's attorneys have asked the court to redact the names and addresses of FTX's largest creditors, suggesting they could be targeted by hackers. And the judge agreed to grant that request, at least on an interim basis.

According to a lawyer for the firm, FTX was not well run, and that's an understatement, he said. There weren't many meetings. The company didn't protect data. Executives communicated decisions to staff with emojis. And only 10 months ago, FTX was valued at about $40 billion. But this attorney noted there is no evidence the company's financial statements were ever audited. And on top of that, apparently, the now-former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, relied on apps that deleted messages automatically. So all this critical correspondence is missing.

Last thing, we now have a better sense of how sprawling this company is. FTX is headquartered in the Bahamas, but it has more than a hundred affiliated companies, subsidiaries that are scattered all over the world, A, and that's going to complicate this bankruptcy process as it goes forward.

MARTÍNEZ: So any more information on how this implosion occurred? I mean, it's so big.

GURA: Yeah. Lawyers said there were two cataclysmic events that led to this collapse. First, there was basically a bank run. FTX couldn't meet the demand for withdrawals. But in the middle of that, it became clear there was also a leadership crisis at the company. In the hearing, one attorney for FTX said there were glaring problems with the company's management structure. He called FTX, quote, "a personal fiefdom" of Sam Bankman-Fried.

And this story has so much drama. The lawyer described in detail how and when Bankman-Fried finally gave up control of the crypto empire he built to John J. Ray III, who had been lined up to steer it through bankruptcy. It happened in November, November the 11, at about 4:30 in the morning, after Bankman-Fried spent hours talking things over with his attorney. In those final hours, he also got advice from two members of Stanford Law School's faculty, one an authority on white collar crime, the other a professor by the name of Joseph Bankman, who is Sam Bankman-Fried's dad.

MARTÍNEZ: John Ray, the new CEO, he was in the courtroom. Did we hear from him at all during this hearing?

GURA: We didn't. But in their comments, lawyers for FTX noted over and over again how much experience John Ray has managing complicated corporate turnarounds. Remember - FTX has filed for Chapter 11. So the goal here is to reorganize the company and to sell off assets. And Ray's resume is second to none. He guided Enron through its bankruptcy. He did the same thing for Nortel, several other companies.

But what's remarkable is that in a court filing submitted before this bankruptcy hearing, Ray said all of that pales in comparison to the challenges he now faces with FTX. I mean, just think about that. But it's estimated there are going to be more than a million creditors in this bankruptcy case. Ray has been on the job for almost two weeks now, and he's started building a team, including forensic accountants, cybersecurity experts, and he installed five new independent board members. Ray said FTX has appropriate corporate governance, A, for the first time in its history.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's David Gura. Thanks a lot for the insight.

GURA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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