Return to Transcripts main page
Major Winter Storm to Hammer New England Tonight; Gunman Still on the Loose In Denmark; Interview with Former President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia; Police: Second Shooting in Center of Copenhagen
Aired February 14, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington, in for Poppy Harlow tonight.
We're learning new information about a deadly terrorist attack in Denmark. Authorities now believe there was only one gunman in that rampage. Witnesses say they heard 30 to 40 bullets fired during a free-speech event in Copenhagen.
A 40-year-old man was struck and killed, three police officers wounded. The possible target of today's attack, cartoonist Lars Vilks. He's faced death threats before for his portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad. And this is the man police are looking for, and this is the car they believe was used in his getaway.
Moments ago, we heard from Astrid Sondberg, a reporter in Copenhagen. She says police right now are searching a nearby lake hoping to find a weapon. And we'll hear from an eyewitness in just a moment.
But, first, we are tracking a dangerous blizzard tonight. It's barreling toward the Northeast, fueled by hurricane-force winds and it will hammer the Massachusetts coast all night long. This makes four, count them, four massive snow-dumping storms to cover New England in just a month. It's a record that nobody wants, and the governor of Massachusetts is already telling people in his state to stay indoors and off of the roads. More than 1,000 flights have been canceled going into or out of Boston, New York, and Newark.
Let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley who's covering the storm from Cape Ann, Massachusetts, and CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam in New York.
Will, you're right in the bull's-eye of this newest blizzard. Are you ready?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are ready, as ready as you can be, Jim, but the next 12 hours are going to be critical here, because along the coast, high tide hits about 7:30 a.m., 12 hours from now, and even though we've only seen light snow and light wind, you can see the roads already treacherous right now. And, of course, this on top of all the huge piles of snow in this area.
I want to give you a sense of just how dangerous these roads are as we get into our SUV. Keep in mind, we're driving a Ford Expedition. So, this is a large vehicle that is used to dealing with a lot of snowfall, and yet we are already at this early stage of the game having a difficult time getting around, definitely important to stay buckled up.
And we're going to show you the front view because this is really what is so dramatic here. This is the road that takes us to our hotel, a hotel that, like many in this resort town of Rockport, Massachusetts, are full right now of people here for the holiday weekend, it's Valentine's Day, a lot of comes have come here, and basically told if they are here for the night, they have to stay here.
Look at the snow drifts on the side of the road. They are up almost as high as our SUV. We have at some points just a couple inches on either side of the vehicle, Jim, a situation that's only expected to get more treacherous throughout the overnight -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Well, that is unbelievable, Will. Stay safe out there. We appreciate that.
Almost looks like the snowplows have to carve a tunnel between these huge drifts on either side of the road. What's it like?
RIPLEY: Yes, you're exactly right. That's what they've done. These roads are almost like tunnels. In fact, in some areas, they actually have carved out tunnels. If you're looking, if you're getting in specific houses and businesses, you have to crawl underneath because this is very heavy, snow pack, and it's icy, difficult snow to move.
They've actually run out of places to dump of the snow, Jim. Parks are filling up, beach parking lots are filling up with snow. They'll have to start putting it in the ocean, especially after this, expected to be a major snow event here -- Jim.
Well, let's go to Derek Van Dam in New York.
And, Derek, I suspect these are not the days to tell friends and neighbors what you do for a living because I'm sure they're just fed up with this stuff up there in the Northeast. Are they going to get a break from this anytime soon?
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Don't hate the messenger, right, Jim?
ACOSTA: That's right.
VAN DAM: I think Will is really in that perfect bull's-eye position to get the strongest of winds and the heaviest of snow. It's no wonder why they have said, the National Weather Service has said that roads will become nearly impossible to drive on overnight tonight. We can blame three storms leading to that tunnel of snow that Will was driving through just a moment ago with our fourth storm upon us at the moment. Several millions of Americans currently under some sort of winter
weather advisory or a blizzard morning, that stretches from eastern Long Island through the shores of the cape and into the coast of Maine. This storm hasn't even moved off the coast just yet. It's currently just near our nation's capital, but as soon as it interacts with that very warm, relatively warm Atlantic water, we are expecting this thing to strengthen and deepen.
You can see the snow bands moving through. New York City, lots of activities taking place in the Big Apple this weekend, including the NBA all-star game. They're going to have to deal with subfreezing temperatures in terms of wind-chill and very strong winds, not to mention the blizzard conditions for the New England coast, including Boston.
Here's our snowfall totals going forward, just 2 to 4 inches for Big Apple and Philadelphia, 4 to 6 inches for Rhode Island and Connecticut. We extend the 8 to 10 inches of snowfall near Boston with upwards of a foot to a foot and a half for the coast of Maine.
The other concern is the strong gusty winds, near hurricane force for Cape Cod, 40 to 50-mile-per-hour gusts, plunging the wind-chill values this Sunday morning.
By the way, Jim, a lot of us very active on Twitter this weekend out in the storm, using the #CNNsnow, hoping some of our viewers will join us as well.
ACOSTA: All right. Very good. And I can report that it is snowing here in the nation's capital.
All right. Derek Van Dam, thank you very much.
Back in Denmark, authorities have mounted a massive manhunt for the gunman responsible for today's deadly terrorist attack. Earlier, I talked to a witness about what he saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNIS MAYHOFF BRINK, WITNESSED ATTACK: We were all, of course, terrified and panicking inside the room and trying to get out of different doors. But we could also hear shots in the street afterwards, so even though we were way out of one door, we stayed inside and was just hiding behind tables that were turned over and anything we could hide behind.
ACOSTA: And, Dennis, how were you able to escape? What was that like?
BRINK: We didn't escape from the room at all. We stayed inside the room, and you were just hoping that that assassin wouldn't get into the room. After a few minutes, a person came into the room with a gun and we all panicked very much, but it turned out to be probably a person from the Danish intelligence service who wasn't interested in doing us any harm and was just securing a different door. He was shot. We could see he was bleeding. And then another I think
maybe five minutes later, we heard the police cars all around. So, we simply stayed inside the building and --
ACOSTA: Dennis, if I could jump in, when this all started happening, was it fairly clear to you who these attackers were coming for, for this cartoonist, this artist, Lars Vilks?
BRINK: Well, it's because Lars Vilks was there, there was a lot of security before. There was like a security check system like the one you go through at an airport, and therefore, of course, we knew that it might be an issue, although nobody of course expected something like this.
But when I heard the person yell in what I think was Arabic, at that point, I thought it was probably some terrorist or something who wanted to kill Lars Vilks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And police, of course, are hoping to find the gunman before he could carry out more attacks like we saw in Paris last month.
And we're getting reaction from Washington to that terror attack in Denmark. The spokesperson for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, states the United States condemns today's deplorable shooting in Copenhagen. We offer our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased victim, and our thoughts are with those wounded in this attack. We have been in close contact with our Danish counterparts and stand ready to lend any assistance necessary to the investigation.
A cease-fire is now in effect between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine's military forces. But will it hold the former president? The former president Georgia, I should say, Mikhail Saakashvili, he is in Kiev. He will join me, next.
ACOSTA: One of Vladimir Putin's biggest enemies joins me in moments to take us inside the Russian leader's mind. This as the cease-fire in Ukraine passes the two-hour mark and counting. Pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine's military forces stop firing on each other at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
But will the ceasefire hold? Mistrust is obviously high on both sides. The U.S. wants Putin to stop meddling in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin for their part they deny that Russian forces are even inside Ukraine.
My next guest stood up to Russia when tanks invaded his small country back in 2008. The president of Georgia at that time hell his ground until Russian tanks retreated. The president of Georgia at that time held his ground until Russian tanks retreated. That former president, Mikhail Saakashvili, joins me now from Kiev, the Ukrainian capital.
President Saakashvili, thank you very much for joining us.
What do you think the prospects are for the cease-fire? Do you think it will hold?
MIKHAIL SAAKASHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA, 2004-2013: Thank you for inviting me.
First of all, I have tell you I've joined me in my new capacity as board of advisers to President Poroshenko. I accepted this position a few days ago because I believe that he's a man of peace, he's somebody who wants to cease this war. I come as you rightly said from the experience, from the background of knowing what the war with Russia looks like. And there is no normal person or especially presidents who would like his people to die or to send his soldiers into the harm's way.
Having said all that, I spent a whole evening tonight with President Poroshenko, and I have to tell you that he is pretty realistic about the prospects.
We know that Putin is after the Ukrainian democracy, he wants to undermine them. He thinks Ukraine gets time for the reforms, for change, for all kind of, you know -- for issues connected with tackling the economic problems, then Putin will consider that he has failed.
So, yes, we are pretty realistic about the chances and we know that he might -- it might not hold, but we'll do our best to keep it.
ACOSTA: And you said that you believe that Vladimir Putin is trying to undermine Ukraine's democracy. What is his end game? What is he after, do you think, in the end here?
SAAKASHVILI: Well, in short term, he certainly wants to inflict military defeat on Ukraine to this place called Debaltseve. It's a key railway juncture.
Now, amazingly so, Ukrainians have put up heroic resistance. And Putin has been doing his best to advance the last days. But the Ukrainians have counterattacked, liberated some of the places in southeast of Ukraine and they're holding pretty well under very, very heavy arterially shelling in this place called Debaltseve. Putin basically was -- there were talks in Minsk as you might know, and actually Putin was trying to delay cease-fire because he needed more time to take more territory, to control more, to have better place from which he could further undermine Ukraine.
So, actually he failed to get that. That's why I think he's continuing to shell or have continued to shell in the last few hours.
ACOSTA: And do you think he is trying to stall the West from sending defensive arms to Ukrainian forces? As you know, the Obama administration is weighing that decision as we speak, and they have said the cease-fire doesn't really change that calculus, that that option remains on the president's desk.
Do you think the president should exercise that option?
SAAKASHVILI: This is absolutely crucial, and actually Hillary Clinton, former secretary and my good friend, that Ukraine deserves to get defensive weapons because of the heroic resistance they put up in their fight for freedom and for Western values. And head of Senate Armed Committee, John McCain, had been a vocal proponent of sending Ukrainians the weapons. But I think ultimately the decision lies with the White House. And Secretary Kerry has been also, you know, privately, expressing his support for us.
So, there is a consensus bidding up. There is a new secretary of defense, Ashton Carter, who basically advocates arming Ukraine.
ACOSTA: That's right.
SAAKASHVILI: One has to say that Ukrainians are not asking for attack weapons. They are asking for defensive weapons because they're asking for anti-artillery weapons so they have to defend themselves from advancing Russian tanks so that Russians would not take over new cities and places. They're asking for unmanned flight devices so that they could monitor advance of Russian troops, and they are asking for artillery tracking radar so that they know from which place the Russian firings are coming. I think --
ACOSTA: That is something we'll have to obviously watch as we move forward here, whether or not the Obama administration exercises that option.
And, President Saakashvili, we have limited amount of time. We're going to have to leave it there and move on. But thank you very much for your time. We appreciate your perspective, especially after your dealings with Vladimir Putin. That perspective is crucial. Thank you very much, sir. We appreciate it.
Breaking new developments from a deadly terrorist attack in Denmark. We will bring you there live next.
ACOSTA: Breaking news. We're hearing there's a huge police gathering right now near the scene of the deadly terrorist attack in Denmark today. TV 2 reporter Astrid Sondberg is there. She joins me on the phone.
Astrid, from what I understand, there's been another shooting and that this one may be close to a synagogue, although that is early information. Want to caution that. It may be near a synagogue. What can you tell us?
ASTRID SONDBERG, TV 2 REPORTER (via telephone): It is a new shooting. It's not even ten hours after the first shooting where one man was killed and three police officers were hurt. At this new shooting I just heard from the police, one man has been hit in the head by bullets and two police officers have been hurt as well.
We do not know it is connected to the synagogue. We do not know that it is connected to the former shooting today. Most busy train station in Copenhagen is evacuated and there are armed police officers in the center of Copenhagen.
ACOSTA: And, Astrid, you and I were talking about this earlier, these kinds of crimes are not common, we don't typically see shootings like this in Copenhagen. And so, why we don't want to say it is definitely connected, it is certainly suspicious and could be connected to what happened earlier today, just based on the fact that there isn't a lot crime of this magnitude in Copenhagen.
SONDBERG: That is true. It's rare that police officers are involved in shootings in Copenhagen. And it's very rare that it happens twice a day.
ACOSTA: What does the police activity look like right now as far as you can tell?
SONDBERG: I talked to the chief head of police in Copenhagen earlier today, and he told me that every available police officer in Copenhagen has been called to work tonight and the police officers expect they will not go home and sleep. Right now it's 1:00 in Denmark and the center of Copenhagen where normally people would be partying and walking about drunk to the bars, it's only people you see there are police officers and they're armed an shouting to people that they have to hide.
ACOSTA: And so, this must be a terrifying situation in Copenhagen, as you mentioned. This is a time when people should be out having a good time in that city. Has Copenhagen dealt with anything like this before?
SONDBERG: No, we haven't, actually. We have been aware for some years that Copenhagen might be a place to attack for terrorists, but this is the first time we have had a real actual shooting where people have been hurt and killed and our prime minister has said to us that we consider this to be a political attack, to be a terrorist attack, and we will have to band together and we will not accept violence in Denmark at this point.
ACOSTA: And, Astrid, one thing we have heard about Denmark is they have had a problem with radical Islamists, extremists, going down to the Middle East, training in place like Syria, getting that training and coming back and this is a major concern for counterterrorism officials across Western Europe in the United States.
SONDBERG: This is true. We do not know at this point who is behind the shootings and we do not know the shootings are connected. But it is true that the police investigation teams, they know and they are aware that people have been coming back from Syria. And it may also be people who will be have access to weapons in Denmark. If they want to do something, then they might be able to.
ACOSTA: All right. Well, Astrid Sondberg with TV-2 there in Copenhagen. We appreciate your time very much. Thanks for talking to us and keeping us up to date on that unfolding situation.
Coming up, Boston has been buried in nearly six feet of snow and more is on the way. The latest when we come back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ACOSTA: I'm Jim Acosta here in Washington. We are following developments in Copenhagen.
There has been a report and we believe it's been confirmed by authorities there, a second shooting, a new shooting, in addition to the shooting we saw earlier today at the free speech event. There are reports and we believe now a confirmation of a second shooting in the center of Copenhagen.
We were on the phone just a few moments ago with Ashford Sandberg. She's a reporter with TV 2 there, and I want to go back to her.
Astrid, what more have you learn about this investigation? I assume this is unfolding as we speak.
SONDBERG (via telephone): It is unfolding as we speak. The latest news from the police is that it is not safe to be out in the center of Copenhagen so they ask people to stay indoors. And we know just before the second shooting which happened not even 10 hours after the first shooting, a lot of police were going to a part of Copenhagen, the northern part of Copenhagen, and we supposed it was because they had some information about the man who could be behind the fist shooting.
We still do not know if the second shooting is connected to the first, but we do know that the center of Copenhagen is right now shut down.
ACOSTA: And do we -- obviously, we're hearing reports of potential people being injured in the second shooting. Do we know anything about the identities of those people, how many have been shot? Any details you can offer there?
SONDBERG: We don't know if there are fatal injury bus one person has been shot in the head and we do know that apart from him or her, two police officers have been wounded, one in the arm and one in the leg.
ACOSTA: And we were talking about this earlier. This is highly unusual for something we saw earlier today, this shooting, this -- it appears to be a terrorist attack on that free speech event involving the artist Lars Vilks, who obviously is known for drawing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. We know that that event happened earlier today, that incident happened earlier today, police are investigating that, and it's also highly unusual for a second shooting as the one we're seeing right now, unfolding right now, where somebody as you said was shot in the head.
This is all very unusual happening in Copenhagen, isn't that right, Astrid?
SONDBERG (via telephone): It is. We have known for several years that we might have some kind of terrorist attack in Copenhagen or in Denmark, but it hasn't actually happened before now.
There have been situations before where people were planning to do some kind of attack, but the police have been stopping them every time. This is the first time that the prime minister and the head of police actually tells us that we consider this to be a terrorist attack that has been happening.
ACOSTA: Tell us, what has the prime minister said today, authorities said today to try and keep people calm and safe? It is obviously a dangerous situation right now.
SONBERG: It is a dangerous situation according to police and to the prime minister. She tells us she met with the press just on the scene of the first shooting, and she was very serious, she said, but the next couple of days will be difficult in Denmark.
And we should stick together. We would not tolerate an attack in Denmark. He also asked everybody to keep an eye out, to be watchful, and if anybody sees anything out of the ordinary, contact the police because we don't know what will happen but we are on high alert.
ACOSTA: All right, Astrid, stay close by. We may be coming to you in just a few moments. But first I want to go back to Bob Baer, our counterterrorism expert, former CIA analyst. Bob Baer, he is on the phone with us right now.
Bob, obviously when you hear about a second shooting, we're getting reports that it may have been near a synagogue in Copenhagen, and that there are people wounded, potentially one person, maybe more, what's your take on all of this?
BOB BAER, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT (via telephone): Well, first of all, Denmark is a very accommodating country for immigrants, takes good care of them. Other than these blasphemy accusations against, you know, Danish journalists and cartoonists and the rest of it, it is not a natural place for a battle to break out in the center of town.
The Danish police are good, but this has never really been a problem even when there was Palestinian terrorism. This is brand-new and makes me wonder if there's not some sort of offensive from the Islamic State. Of course, we don't know it was the Islamic State that carried out these attacks.
ACOSTA: I guess, it's also possible, Bob, and we don't know yet if these two shootings are related although Astrid Sonberg, a reporter there in Copenhagen, says it's highly unusual to not only have one but both of these incidents on the same day.
It's possible that police -- and this is all, of course, unfolding right now, it's possible that police may have caught up with this individual that they were looking for.
Earlier today, we had heard that it was two gunmen and then just about an hour and a half ago we heard, no, authorities believe it was just one gunman involved in that terrorist attack on that free speech event involving the Danish artist -- or the Scandinavian artist, Lars Vilks, who was there in Denmark.
BAER: Keep in mind -- attack on a place that was guarded as well. The Danes were prepared for this. They coordinate closely with the French, the United States, but the problem is these groups are using encrypted communications and global -- mobile Wi-Fi.
What's surprising for me is Denmark is not the kind of place where you can easily get a hold of weapons. These people are much better organized than al Qaeda was ten years ago using improvised explosives. These people are at war.
ACOSTA: I lost you there, Bob. Are you still there on the line with us?
BAER: I'm still here. These people are at war. The fact they're using weapons rather than improvised explosives tells me that this has gone way beyond al Qaeda into something more organized and potentially more dangerous.
ACOSTA: OK, I just want to let our control room know they are interrupting your audio, Bob. I cannot hear you anymore. So if they could disconnect that so I can continue to hear you.
But Bob, if you stop talking I'm just going to keep talking here and ask you to weigh in on this issue that the Obama administration is very concerned about, and that is this threat posed by radical extremists, violent extremists, people who might come from the west, the United States, Western Europe.
And then travel down to Syria, get training, fight along people like is, and then come back to the west, come back to Western Europe, back to the United States. Later on this week, the Obama administration, the White House, is holding a Counter Violent Extremism Summit.
One of the countries that have a big problem in this area is Denmark. What do you make of that? Seems strange Denmark would have this kind of issue.
BAER: It's not because there are a lot of Danish-Muslims going to battlefields, learning about weapons and explosives, and they could also come to United States, all they'd need to do is register, take a flight in, and tracking these people is virtually impossible.
They could pick up weapons, explosives. This is a military assault in Paris, now in Copenhagen, and these people are ready to hit the United States and we are clearly a target. I think it's a matter of time.
ACOSTA: What is the answer here to this problem? You can't turn the airports into fort r fortresses. Security is already so tight and restrictive it frustrates travelers on a basis. Travelers have been frustrated for so long and they're trusted traveler programs and the like.
But what can we do to stop this flow back and forth of these extremists heading to the Middle East, coming back, and potentially carrying out these kinds of attacks? BAER: Well, Jim, I'd like to give you an optimistic prognosis here, but the problem is that the Islamic State wants us to come into the Middle East, they call us crusaders, they don't even mind the bombing because they think that brings in more recruits. And if they capture more hostages or attack the continental United
States, they believe that we'll be forced into the Middle East where there would be some sort of cataclysmic battle. I know this sound crazy to you and me, but this is the way these people think.
ACOSTA: All right, well, Bob, hang with us if you can. We're going to go to a quick break and come back, reset, and try to get more information on this latest shooting.
Keep in mind, we're not talking about the shooting that happened earlier today at the free speech event involving the artist, Lars Vilks from Sweden. That was repelled by his own security force.
This is a separate second shooting that has taken place in Copenhagen near a synagogue from what we understand. We believe one person has been injured and we're going to try to get the latest here when we come back right after this. Stay with us right here on this latest unfolding story here in Copenhagen.
ACOSTA: I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. We are following the breaking news in Copenhagen, a new shooting, second shooting in that city today. We are following developments on the ground.
We spoke to a reporter who is on the ground there. Just a short while ago, our Bob Baer, and now I want to go to our CNN producer in Copenhagen, Susanne Gargiulo, she is on the phone right now.
Susanne, I know that this is sort of a late-breaking, you know, constantly developing story, minute by minute, what can you tell us right now as far as what we know about this second shooting?
SUSANNE GARGIULO, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): Hi, Jim. Yes, the latest that we know is basically three people are shot, one is shot in the head and two are hit by shots in the arm and leg. Basically, the police are not saying anything yet.
It's too early to say yet if the shooting is related to yesterday's shooting, the earlier one, but we still know nothing about what happened to the injured. The shooter has apparently escaped on foot from the scene according to police.
And they have issued a description of this man. That's about all we know right now, but basically three more people are shot, which makes it six in the span of less than 12 hours in the center of Copenhagen.
So it's a heavy, heavy drama here, there is police all over the inner city. They've issued a statement saying it is not safe to be in the street. This is a time of night and a time of the week when there are just oceans of young people out in the clubs and some of the things I'm watching is they basically are not quite understanding how serious the situation is.
They've been drinking. They are partying. They are running around the streets, but they're basically clearing the streets now. I've never seen anything like this before in this city.
ACOSTA: Susanne, let me ask you, you were just giving us some new information that we did not have until you reported it moments ago. Three people shot in the latest shooting, one in the head, two others who were also shot. It sounds more lightly wounded than this person shot in the head.
GARGIULO: And my question is we were hearing earlier reports about half an hour ago that this second shooting may have occurred near a synagogue. Is that your understanding as well?
GARGIULO: Yes, it is. It is near a synagogue, but whether or not it's related to the synagogue is impossible to say. It's basically right in the center of Copenhagen so it could be, who knows, is it random, the synagogue. They're basically not saying anything yet, the police. They're not speaking up.
I saw also there was a report from another of the news bureaus. They were just reporting that they saw armed vehicles, military driving around in the street, and the military will not confirm this, and the police are not saying anything.
But it could seem that the situation is escalating and they're basically pulling as much into the streets as they can now. But again, we just don't know anything yet. It's too soon to tell.
GARGIULO: It's developing minute by minute so I don't have a lot to tell you about this last incident aside from the fact that one person is shot in the head and two were hit by shots in arm and the leg is what they're saying.
ACOSTA: I think you're right on target, Susanne, in saying that we should not race ahead of the facts here. One of the things I want to ask you about when you are first talking about this, you said the shooter escaped on foot. You're talking about the shooter from the second scene --
GARGIULO: Yes, I am.
ACOSTA: -- escaped on foot according to police.
GARGIULO: That is according to the police, and I'm sure according to eyewitnesses, but that's not what they say. According to the press release, they simply say that he has escaped on foot from the scene.
ACOSTA: And let me ask you about this because I was talking about this with our other reporter we were talking to earlier this hour, and she was saying that it is unusual for this kind of violent activity to be taking place in Copenhagen.
You don't see shootings like this on a regular basis. So to have two in the course of 12 hours as you said you don't want to say that they're connected without conclusive proof and that kind of confirmation coming from law enforcement. But it's obviously a suspicious thing that these two incidents have happened so close together.
GARGIULO: Yes. I'm sure there will be a lot of speculation, but more so I think we can really expect some shock from people that live here and in general because this is just something that -- the fact, I mean, for me as a Danish person and a reporter, just watching, you know, this the streets just police everywhere.
Streets shut down, people being told this is not safe, I mean, this seems like a war zone, frankly, in my subjective view as I'm watching this. It's quite frightening. And I'm sure lit frighten most people here.
These are not things that happen on a normal basis. Here you can basically walk the streets at night in the dark and feel safe. Of course there are some certain gang-related areas you may not go into but they're few and far between. This is really highly unusual.
So it will be a shock to people in Denmark when they wake up unless they're all sitting around watching this, which I assume a lot of them are. It's very unusual and will be frightening for them.
ACOSTA: The reason why you say this is unusual not only because of the violence that broke out in Copenhagen today, but also because as you said, it is so eerily quiet, it sounds from your description on the streets of Copenhagen right now.
You described it as kind of a war zone when streets maybe shut down and it would just be completely quiet. Normally these streets would be teeming with young people going out for the night, having a good time. I mean, can you paint that picture for us?
GARGIULO: That's right. I mean, the picture is basically normally these deep parts of town, talking about downtown where people go out and party, they will be people walking on the streets in lot of these areas and police are basically shooing them off the streets.
All you see is a lot of police car, a lot of police. As we heard the earlier reporter say, you know, they've pulled out every single police officer into this overnight. So they're all out on the streets.
And it just never -- it's never been seen like this before. It's really quite unusual. And one of the things that the local newspaper was reporting earlier is that eyewitnesses were saying they were -- they were running around in people's gardens in and out as if they were chasing people in certain areas.
So there's a massive -- I mean, basically the picture is just a massive manhunt, and there are people on the streets supposedly and possibly with guns that are quite dangerous, and they don't know where they are. So they're taking all of precaution they can.
That is basically what the picture looks like and we don't know where they are. We don't know where the guns are. So, you know, they're doing what they can to protect us. It would be as unusual a situation to the police as it is for people that live here, obviously.
ACOSTA: Let's pause for just a moment and reflect on what we know right now, Susanne. Three people shot in this latest shooting in Copenhagen that shooting taking place near a synagogue. We don't know whether or not the shooting is related to the synagogue as Susanne was saying on the phone.
This is a dense European city and so the synagogue may be there on the corner, and the shooting maybe completely unrelated to that, but it is important to point out that this is the second shooting in this city in Denmark in the last 12 hours.
The one that happened earlier today happened at a free speech event that featured the Swedish artist, Lars Vilks, who is known for his caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
There was a shooting earlier in the day. We thought there were two shooters involved in that. Authorities now say just one shooter involved and we talked to a witness earlier today about what he saw, what we heard, it was quite chilling. Let's listen to him.
DENNIS MEIHOFF BRINK, WITNESSED ATTACK (via telephone): We were all, of course, terrified. We were panicking inside the room and trying to get out of different doors.
But we could also hear shots in the street afterwards. So even though we were on our way out of one door, we stayed inside and were just hiding behind tables that were turned over and everything we could hide behind.
ACOSTA: And Dennis, how were you able to escape in what was that like?
BRINK: Well, we didn't escape from the room at all. We stayed inside the room. We were hoping the assassin wouldn't get into the room. After a few minutes, a person came into the room with a gun and we all panicked very much.
But it turned out to be probably a person from the Danish Intelligence Service at least he wasn't interested in doing us any harm, and he was just securing a different door. He was shot in the leg, though, we could see he was bleeding.
And then another I think maybe 5 minutes later we heard the police cars all around. So we simply stayed inside the building.
ACOSTA: Dennis, if I could jump in, when this all started happening was it fairly clear to you who these attackers were coming for this cartoonist, this artist, Lars Vilks? BRINK: Well, it's so that because Lars Vilks was there was a lot of security before. There was like a security check similar to the one you go through in an airport.
Therefore, of course, we knew that it might be an issue, although nobody, of course, expected something like this. But when I heard the person yell in what I think was Arabic, at that point, I thought that it was probably some Islamism terrorist or something who wanted to kill Lars Vilks.
ACOSTA: And that was an eyewitness to the attack earlier today in Copenhagen. We will be keeping an eye on those developments on the ground with our producer who is there. We'll be talking to her shortly.
But we should point out since the attack on "Charlie Hebdo" in Paris last month, law enforcement in France, the U.K., Spain, Belgium, Greece, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, have made hundreds of arrests trying to smoke out these sleeper cells.
Former CIA operative, Bob Baer, joins me once again on the phone. Bob, these countries all over Europe stepping their efforts to find these suspected terrorists, what is that work like? It must be a painstaking task, but in some cases a race against time.
BAER: It is a race against time. They have advanced computers. They're running algorithms through phone calls, immigration records, intercepts, they combine these databases and they are looking for connections.
But the problem is these cells in Europe don't call back to Syria or Iraq for instructions. So you're hunting for a needle in haystack and especially that these are based on cells, but I will tell you what disturbs me the most with the "Charlie Hebdo" and these Danish attacks.
These people have clearly had weapons training and they were taught how to do a military assault. You don't attack a place that is well protected and get it together and shoot it out unless you've actually been around guns a lot.
So these people I can say, just speculating at this point, of course, have gone to some combat area, have been taught to use weapons, have been taught not to flinch when the shooting starts, and this is of course our greatest fear.
We all considered this a couple years ago when these wars once they spread through the Middle East would spread to Europe then eventually United States. There is a prediction that a lot of people made as I did, and that is what is coming to pass.
ACOSTA: And Bob, I heard the president talk about this and one thing that he says, and he said this recently at a news conference, is that the Western European problem when it comes to Islamist extremists is different than the problem in the United States.
The problem in the United States is such that it is not as severe. You have Muslim-American populations that are blending in with the rest of the country. In Western Denmark, you have whole communities where it is just very self-segregated and there is not as much of that melting pot atmosphere going on.
Does some of that lead to a temptation to be lured into an extremist lifestyle, to be lured down to Syria and into this sort of thing?
BAER: It does, but the problem is Scandinavia takes more care. I've worked with the police and they go out of their way to integrate people, you know, build mosques, social welfare, language training, the psychologists -- this is why it is such a shock.
Denmark is not conflict to anyone in the Middle East. So you're seeing jihadists are taking this play book, everything is in black and white, and they're at war with the west.
As we were talking about earlier, they consider blasphemy a sentence of death. They don't pay attention to Danish laws, and you see it reflected in the war when they're slaughtering people. So this form of Islam, I can't say what I have seen last, but it is nothing extraordinary.
It is an epidemic and it worries me that this is connected to Yemen, and the Shia government. Do you will see another civil war and more blowback will come to the west?
ACOSTA: Bob, we will get back to you appreciate those insights. We're going to come back in just a few moments and we're going to try to reset the scene in Copenhagen.
Things are developing quickly. There has been another shooting in addition to the one that happened earlier today. We understand there is a new shooting near a synagogue. Three people shot, we'll have more on this unfolding story when we come back.