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Interview With South Carolina Senator Tim Scott; South Carolina Shooting Suspect Appears in Court; Victims' Loved Ones: We Forgive, Hate Won't Win. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired June 19, 2015 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Emotions laid bare at the first court appearance for the Charleston gunman.

I'm Brianna Keilar. And this is THE LEAD.

The national lead. Dylann Roof confessed to coldly gunning down nine innocent people, and this afternoon, at his bond hearing, he heard from some of the grieving families that he hurt so badly. And some said, "I forgive you."

Roof was radicalized, and said that he was hoping to start a race war. How many others like him are out there plotting a similar attack?

Also in national, they may wish they were forgotten, but those two escaped prisoners still on the run and still outpacing authorities. Now Richard Matt and David Sweat have landed on the U.S. Marshals' most-wanted list.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar. Jake Tapper is off today.

Today, moments ago we saw and heard from Dylann Roof for the first time in court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your age?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're 21 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you employed?

ROOF: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're unemployed at this time?

ROOF: Yes, sir.


(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Those pictures from inside court barely more than an hour ago, and you see the shooter here, his jumpsuit too big. It's draping loosely on his thin frame, showing no visible emotion throughout the entire hearing.

He only ever glances up for more than a few seconds when answering simple prompts from the judge, this happening a day after Charleston cried in outrage and confusion, trying to comprehend how the congregation at Mother Emanuel welcomed this man to their sanctuary, and he thanked them by turning the church into a shooting gallery.

And now from the same court hearing, we have heard from some family members of the departed, including a survivor whose son was slain where he stood inside that church.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your name, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Felicia (ph) Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Ms. Sanders, for being here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms.

You have killed some of the most beautiful people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts. And -- and I will never be the same. Tywanza Sanders is my son, but Tywanza was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. But, as we said in the Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul.

You have hurt me. You have hurt a lot of people. But God forgives you, and I forgive you.


KEILAR: I want to get right now to CNN's Martin Savidge. He's in Charleston, South Carolina.

Martin, these are dramatic scenes inside of this courtroom, as Dylann Roof faces the judge there for the first time. You just got the arrest want. What does it say?


These were released just after that bond hearing completed. And there are a number of these warrants, but there are a couple details, and some of which we did not know about, and they add to the grimness of what is already a horrible story.

First and foremost, this is kind of the interesting note. When authorities were putting out the image of the suspect at that time, they didn't know that he was Dylann Roof. Apparently, once those images were circulated by the media, they were contacted by Dylann's father and Dylann's uncle, who spoke to the authorities.

And the other fact that has come out of these arrest warrants, that the victims were hit multiple times. And then the other factor that comes forward, this is something we already knew, but it's of course been verified now by the authorities officially.

And that is, even after he was leaving this killing spree, he still continued to elicit racial slurs as he walked out of that church. Meanwhile, Dylann Roof had his bond hearing today.

And I have to say, Brianna, I have been through a lot of these hearings. This was the most emotional, the most powerful I have ever listened to.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Confessed mass murderer Dylann Roof staring downwards with little visible emotion as he appeared via a video feed at a bond hearing today in Charleston.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your age?

ROOF: Twenty-one.

SAVIDGE: Roof only spoke a few words as he stood through the short hearing, charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your Honor, I have met with Mr. Roof. I think he understands the proceedings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm setting your bond, young man, at $1 million.

SAVIDGE: Law enforcement sources tell CNN Roof he admitted that he shot worshipers in cold blood as they gathered for a Bible study Wednesday at historical Emanuel AME Church.


His chilling motive? One source tells CNN that the 21-year-old wanted to start a race war. Continuing to gather evidence against Roof, investigators have traced the .45-caliber handgun he was carrying to the shootings, and they Roof bought it around his 21st birthday in April.

When he bought the gun, Roof already faced a felony charge for drug possession. In February, an officer found illegal prescription drugs in his pocket after employees at a shopping mall complained Roof was asking them unsettling questions about how many associates were working and what time they leave.

A police report says Roof told police he had no prescription and a friend had given him the drugs used to treat opiate addiction, but he hasn't been convicted of a felony, which might have been shown up on a background check and prevented Roof from purchasing the gun.

In Charleston, a shell-shocked community struggles with the horror and hatefulness of the attack, as they plan nine funerals and try to answer troubling questions.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: That it took place in God's house, in the holy city of Charleston, South Carolina, runs roughshod over our moral sensibilities.


SAVIDGE: You might have heard in there the magistrate talked about the $1 million bond. That was for a weapons charge, the weapon he used to carry out the murders. There was no bond that was set. The judge said that he just did not have the authority on to set a bond when it comes to multiple counts of murder.

That is going to have to come by a higher judge. So there is no bond. He is not getting out -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Martin Savidge in Charleston, thanks so much for your report.

And I want to get more information now from CNN's senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin. He has been talking to people who knew the shooter.

And, Drew, I know that you spoke to the family's pastor earlier today, his family, friends, roommates also speaking out. What you can you tell us about that?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, collectively, we are looking at a group of people that are I assume at this point wondering why they didn't sound the alarm on Mr. Roof.

We have an unemployed drug-using person spewing hatred, even forecasting some of the things that he did in Charleston. He had a gun. His friends were concerned about that, even his grandfather reportedly telling "The Wall Street Journal" that he was concerned about his grandson because he was becoming a loner and diving into this hate-filled rhetoric.

The family did have a meeting of sorts this morning at one of the shooter's sisters' house. Many of the family members were there, we are told. After the meeting, the pastor did come out, and I want to share with you what the pastor told us about that family.


REV. TONY METZE, ST. PAUL'S LUTHERAN CHURCH: What they have asked and what I ask is that we continue to hold all these families in our prayers and that the whole world, our nation, Charleston, our community understand that we love them, God loves them, and we want the best and we want to continue to hold those people in our prayers.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GRIFFIN: There was supposed to be a joyous weekend, believe it or not, in the Roof household. One of the daughters was to get married. The poster confirms, of course, that that wedding has been postponed.

But, beyond that, Brianna, the family has chosen not to talk. They have a lawyer. I'm sure they're looking at the legal implications of everything. And so far, they have not made any public statements concerning this shooting or their family -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Drew Griffin, thank you so much.

This pain and this suffering, it's so clearly worn on the faces of the families of these victims. You can hear it in their voices. And it's shared by so many more people, among them, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.


GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And so we have some grieving to do. And we have got some pain we have to go through.

Parents are having to explain to their kids how they can go to church and feel safe, and that is not something we ever thought we'd deal with.


KEILAR: I want to talk now to South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

Senator, thank you so much for joining me. We are so sorry as we watch what has happened in Charleston. Our hearts go out to the people there. And I think yesterday, watching the governor, Governor Haley, you could just see with how shaken she was, really an expression of the emotion over the last 36 hours.

How have you been handling this? How have you been processing it? And how have the folks around you been processing it?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I think it's a very difficult time. And the raw emotions that you saw on the governor's face, that you heard and felt in her words are the same raw emotions that I have.

Clementa Pinckney was a friend of mine, and a solid person and loving person, a gregarious personality, someone who really was a uniter in our community. And I tell you that I have gone from the very strong sense of anger to confusion and to prayer. And I think what you are seeing here in the Charleston community is a range of emotions driven by a senseless murder -- murders.


And we can't get our arms around it. We have all grown up in a place where we have learned to love each other. We have grown so much. We have seen so much progress in South Carolina and Charleston specifically, my hometown. And now to see this senseless act of violence, this absolutely unbelievable act of evil here at home, in a place of worship, of all places, it's hard to comprehend. And I frankly don't think that it is possible to fully comprehend what's in the mind of a person who is willing to do what this person has done.

KEILAR: It is -- it's truly senseless.

And from what we can tell so far, it seems clear that the shooter settled on Mother Emanuel because it is a black church. And it's clear that he was motivated by racist ideology.


KEILAR: The Department of Justice now says it's investigating if this crime is an act of terrorism? Do you think it's terrorism?

SCOTT: I can tell you, for the nine victims, it was certainly an act of terrorism.

Looking at the specific definition of terrorism, I'm not quite sure that I have arrived at how to define it. Is it an act of terrorism? From thought of us in the community, we certainly feel a sense of being terrorized.

So, the question really remains, the biggest question that remains from my perspective is, how does someone with that level of hatred carry out such a heinous act and then what do we do about it?

So, for me, the definition of what this person filled with hate, filled with racism, what he did, trying to figure how to define it, terrorism or not, it was an act of absolute hatred and a crime that is beyond comprehension. And hopefully he will meet his fate through the criminal justice system and then he will answer to the good lord.

KEILAR: A hate crime charge, Senator, would have to come from federal prosecutors. And since your state is one of only five without a hate crime law, do you think it's time that that changes?

SCOTT: Well, I think the maximum penalty for his acts under South Carolina law is death.

I'm not sure that there is a stronger penalty than death, and certainly life behind bars is another option, but the fact of the matter is that, under the law, I think we have the strongest options available to us today.

KEILAR: I want you, if you will, to listen to something that President Obama said yesterday when he was addressing the shooting.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.


KEILAR: So, the president there is talking about gun control. You certainly are a big supporter of the Second Amendment. You say that gun rights should not be restricted.

Do you think that it's a conversation of some sort of gun restrictions? Do you think that's a conversation worth restarting?

SCOTT: I certainly think we will have a conversation around the gun laws of our country.

But what we should examine as we peel this case back a few layers, what we will find is that he broke several gun laws in his committing of this atrocity, this murder. He has, without any question, broken several of those laws.

And so the question is, is there a law that could be put in place that would have prevented this from happening? My answer is no. So, the fact is that, yes, we have some very strong gun laws. Yes, he broke all the gun laws that we have. And so the question goes to solutions.

I'm willing to go to the table and look for real solutions. Some have suggested the background check process did not work the way that it was supposed to work. I would say that you will see all cards on the table, and we will have a thorough and good evaluation of what happened and what should happen as we move forward.

KEILAR: There's a discussion, a big debate going on right now about the Confederate Flag that flies over the South Carolina Statehouse.


KEILAR: We heard from Senator Lindsey Graham. He said, look, this is about this guy, it's about the shooter, it's not about the flag.

Do you agree with him?

SCOTT: Well, certainly.

I mean, listen, the actions of this one individual is not connected to the Confederate Flag. That's clear. This is a man that was filled with hate, filled with rage, and he took it out in South Carolina. And we are all paying a heavy price for that.

The fact of the matter is, will there be a longer, broader conversation around the Confederate Flag?

[16:15:00] I'm sure that there will be. But the good news that in the year 2000, just about 15 years ago, both blacks and whites, Republicans and Democrats, came up with a compromise that at the time worked for our state. And will there be an ongoing conversation going forward to look for a solution that works for our state? I think the answer will be yes. BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Tim Scott, thank you so much for

talking with us. Our hearts go out to you and the other people of Charleston in South Carolina.

SCOTT: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: Just moments ago, we heard from a survivor of the attack that said every fiber of her body hurts after losing her son in the shooting. You can imagine that, that it would.

And the story of his heroic final act to save her life is next.



CHRIS SINGLETON, SHOOTING VICTIM'S SON: Love is stronger than hate. So, we just love the way mom would, and hate won't be anywhere close to what love is.


[16:20:06] KEILAR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar.

And that was Chris Singleton. His mother Sharonda was among the nine shot and killed by a sinister gunman at Mother Emanuel in Charleston.

And I want to go now to Athena Jones. She is there in Charleston.

Athena, you're getting a better picture of those people were, of the people who are leaving behind families and friends, and really just suffering through so much grief that was very apparent today.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was very apparent today, Brianna, as you've been saying, anyone who was able to watch or listen to that bond hearing was able to bear witness to the grief being expressed by the family members of the lost loved ones. And this comes as we're learning more about the youngest victim of Wednesday's shooting.


TYWANZA SANDERS: What's up? Another day, another dollar.

JONES (voice-over): Tywanza Sanders was an aspiring rapper, who went by the name "Fresh Wanza".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please give it up for Ty Sanders.

JONES: A newly discovered YouTube videos, the youngest of Charleston's church victims also appears to have tried his hand at comedy.

SANDERS: The first thing I need --

JONES: Even giving a shout-out to his parents from the stage.

SANDERS: I have my mom and dad in the back.

JONES: But at just 26, Sanders came face-to-face with evil in his house of worship. He would be killed shortly after he filmed this Snapchat of his bible study group.

Survivors have told family friend Sylvia Johnson about those last moments with the shooter.

SYLVIA JOHNSON, FRIEND SURVIVED S.C. CHURCH MASSACRE: After the young man tried to stop him from doing what he wanted to finish off, he said, no, you've raped our women, and you are taking over the country.

He shot the young man. His mother was there, and she witnessed. She pretended as though she was dead, she was shot and dead, but she watched her son fault and laid there. She laid there in his blood.

JONES: A haunting end for a young man who recently shared a song online called "What's Wrong With Just Being Black?"

SANDERS: One you go black, you never go back. Ain't no way we can just be scrap like metal.

JONES: For the young man who law enforcement say was hoping to start a race war with murder, victims' friends and family have only offered forgiveness.

Pastor Clementa Pinckney's cousin is urging the shooter to seek help.

PATRICIA HAMM, SLAIN PASTOR'S COUSIN: I'm concerned he gets the right help, that he even asked for forgiveness for what he's done and acknowledged that he did do wrong.

JONES: A college baseball star who lost his mother in the massacre is surrounded by support, and showing nothing but love.

SINGLETON: Love is always stronger than hate. So we just love the way my mom would, and the hate won't be anywhere close to what love is.

JONES: Sanders's 87-year-old aunt Susie Johnson was killed alongside him.

TIM JACKSON, GRANDSON OF VICTIM: My family will forgive him hopefully, and justice will do whatever they need to do to him.

JONES: And as for Sanders' friends, they set up a scholarship fund to help others achieve their dream.

A.J. HARLEY, FRIEND OF TYWANZA SANDERS: You know, we will continue growing the scholarship and trying to provide education, because that's what he was about. We want to continue that movement for him.


JONES: And, Brianna, we spent much of the day on the other side of Emanuel AME, where a makeshift memorial has been growing -- has been growing all day, people coming and leaving flowers and wreaths. Tonight 6:00 p.m., a prayer vigil is being held by the city of Charleston in a nearby arena -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And they already have a scholarship fund. I am struck so much by the grace of the people of that church.

Athena Jones for us in Charleston, thank you so much.

And for some, it is a sign of hatred and racism. For others, it represents pride and heritage. The Confederate flag, it's flying high at South Carolina state capitol despite calls for it to be taken down. We have that next.

Plus, the line between hateful speech and potentially dangerous acts. Just how many other lone wolves are out there, and are police even tracking them? That's ahead.


KEILAR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Jake Tapper.

For some, it is a symbol of hate and racial oppression whose wounds may never fully heal. For others, it is a point of pride, one that harkens back to the days of southern supremacy, and they proudly display it on manicure lawns and license plates.

But even after Thursday's tragic shooting, the Confederate flag continued to fly over the grounds of South Carolina's capitol as nine black families prepare to bury their loved ones.

CNN's Tom Foreman joining us now with a look at the history and also the growing controversy over the use of this flag -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Brianna, some black lawmakers are so upset over those images that you just showed there, that they are taking it into their own hands. They say they're going to renew their political battle to essentially push this flag off of their capitol's grounds altogether. Now, that's a tall order, even under these circumstances.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Even in the wake of overwhelming sadness, even amid charges of horrific crimes, there it is, the Confederate flag flying above the grounds of the South Carolina capitol while outrage erupts below.

CORNELL BROOKS, NAACP PRESIDENT: This was a racial hate crime and must be confronted as such. That symbol has to come down.

FOREMAN: The U.S. flag was order to do half staff, but the rebel flag remained high, padlocked into place. Why? State law.