Return to Transcripts main page


Emanuel AME Reopens: Services This Morning at Charleston Church; Apparent Manifesto Reveals Racist Images, Rant; "Credible Sighting" of Killer Fugitives. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 21, 2015 - 07:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Alison Kosik. I'm in for Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell in Charleston, South Carolina.

[07:00:01] It's good to have you with us this morning.

I'm outside Mother Emanuel, as it's called, the oldest black church not just in South Carolina, but across the South.

And in just about an hour and a half, there will be a very familiar welcome sign at this church. The doors will open. The classes, the school, the classes here will start here at 8:30 Eastern.

And let's take you actually through what's going to happen today. After Sunday school church services will begin at 9:30 Eastern this morning. Then, at 10:00 churches in the city of Charleston, all across the country will ring their bells in solidarity.

And then, this evening, at 7:45, an expected maybe up to 3,000 people will form a bridge of peace. They will join hands across the Ravenel Bridge here in Charleston in tribute to the nine people who were killed.

Among the victims, the reverend and state senator, Clementa Pinckney. He would have been at the pulpit here today in the church that he loved. We're learning that his funeral will be held on Friday.

Understandably, it's been a very emotional scene here. People have gathered all throughout the weekend, outside the church, some crying, others, complete strangers consoling and hugging one another. Their messages, signs, T-shirts, flowers left for the victims outside this church.

And I'm told by Nick Valencia, our reporter who is going to join us in a moment, that the crowds have come back.

Again, it's 7:00 Eastern here on a Sunday morning, in part because today is about moving forward and healing but as we talked most of the morning about healing, we have now found this manifesto and we're trying to understand what was going through the mind of this confessed killer, Dylann Roof, the website titled "The Last Rhodesian". It lists Roof as the owner.

There are several pictures of him there and we'll show some of them throughout the morning. He's posing with the Confederate flag at some point, wearing a T-shirt with the numbers, 88, a code for Heil Hitler. He's also holding the same type of gun reportedly use in the massacre. There's this manifesto that hints at a plan to, quote, "take it to the real world".

Nick Valencia is here with me in Charleston following this story.

You said you saw some of the people that were here. Talk a bit about what's happening on the other side of this church and then I want to get in to this manifesto.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, all throughout the week, since Thursday morning actually, we've seen crowds gather out there, just really come to the site to see it for themselves. This is impacting not just the state of South Carolina but many people beyond.

I was talking to a group of students who are here for a conference who are saying that they really can't wrap their mind around exactly what happened here.

Now to this manifesto. We should start by saying we don't know if it is indeed Dylann Roof's. There's no signature there. But all signs point to yes.

It appears to be a genuine manifesto, of all intents and purposes. His friends believe that this is his writing. It sounds his demented and twisted logic. "The Last Rhodesian" making reference to the white minority in a country that is now Zimbabwe, a reference to a time period that was very volatile and racist.

And we're now learning a little bit more about the shooter's mindset and logic -- a logic that was framed by recent high profile shootings.


VALENCIA (voice-over): The pictures are startling. Confessed Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof holds a burning American flag. He takes aim with a .45 caliber Glock pistol with a laser site. He holds a Confederate flag.

The Web site Roof owns titled "The Last Rhodesian", on it a manifesto that captured the 21-year-old's troubling words. "We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the Internet." The document reads, "Well, someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world. And I guess that has to be me."

Roof hints that why he chose Charleston to carry out the massacre that left nine members of the Emanuel AME Church dead, calling Charleston, "the most historic city in my state".

Roof who appeared in court Friday to face formal charges, said he became transformed by the controversial Trayvon Martin case. "I was in disbelief", Roof writes, "How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on white murders got ignored?" It was not clear what he was referring to.

This latest piece to the complicated puzzle may offer some insights for investigators, but it's no consolation for a community still reeling from the violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my prayers definitely go out to the family. It's heartbreaking.


[07:05:00] VALENCIA: We mentioned that this shooting according to Dylann Roof's alleged manifesto makes reference to Trayvon Martin.

Now, we're hearing from Trayvon Martin's family, releasing a statement that read in part, "It is very important that an individual with such a vile mind and clear criminal intent would dare seek to undermine our mission of peace in an attempt to destroy the legacy of our son, Trayvon Martin. Trayvon did not commit any crime, nor did he murder anyone. He too was a victim" -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Valencia, we'll continue this conversation throughout the morning.

But now, let's bring in Jeff Gardere. He's a psychologist, professor of behavioral studies at Touro College in New York.

And let's get right to it. In Roof's words he wrote, and let's put some of it up on the screen, "I chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state and one time had the highest ratio of blacks to whites in the country."

I mean, this seems like someone who is, although the logic is demented and in many ways just illogical, maybe his demented logic, there seems to be some sound mind and some clarity of intent.

JEFF GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: Victor, you took the word right out of my mouth. In reading this manifesto, many times, especially if it is his, it is delusional, it is paranoid, it is rageful. It is racist, but it is not psychotic.

And if this is in fact his manifesto, at some point his defense team tries to get him a not guilty by reason of insanity, I predict it will not work. This was a hateful person perhaps with a paranoid personality or some other personality disorder. But he was not, it appears at some point from what I can see, psychotic.

BLACKWELL: So, in your opinion, does this throw all of this conversation about mental illness out the window or no?

GARDERE: No. I think with anyone who was so hateful -- and this is what we have to understand around IN this country and around the world, when someone is so hateful, especially about race, it is a sign of emotional instability. People don't operate in a vacuum. These people usually have some drug abuse issues. They're involved in domestic violence. They get involved in, you know, some of these writings around superiority, especially white supremacy. So, certainly, they're emotional unstable, but they will never rise to

the legal definition, especially in this particular case, of being psychotic or not knowing right from wrong. Quite clearly, he knew right from wrong and this had been planned for some period of time. This was a situation of pure hate that now became so twisted that it was acted out in such a horrific way.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Jeff, I want to talk about the family members and the church family that will be going back into Mother Emanuel today. Two parts to this question, what do they need to hear and help us understand how people like Malcolm Graham who I spoke with a moment ago whose sister was killed in this church, whose 55th birthday is today, how he prepares to go back into this sanctuary.

GARDERE: Well, what they need to hear in these church services more than anything else is less of a focus on this killer, but more on the victims, who they were, how they celebrated life, and how they didn't live in vain.

And I think what we're seeing in asking for that Confederate flag to come down from in front of the state building there, I think this is giving some real meaning to these folks, number one. And number two, and this goes to your second question, how does he begin to heal, how do they begin to heal? Well, it is going to take time. But by seeing other family members who have already forgiven this shooter, I believe that begins to set the template for all of us to start exploring our own mind, our own lives, our own souls around issues of race, and if nothing else, never to give into hate.

He wanted to start, so it seems, some sort of a race war. And what he's gotten instead is the unity of everyone coming together despite race, including race. And I think that's a very powerful message. So, that individual who you discussed losing his family member, in time, as he said, he will begin to forgive this shooter. But it's more about letting go of any kind of hurt or hate that can destroy his own life.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and all of us understand and I'm sure people watching understand that there are many who have not reached forgiveness yet.

Dr. Gardere, always good to have you. Thank you so much.

GARDERE: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. I'll be here all morning as we wait for the doors of the church to open and church services to begin here at Emanuel AME.

[07:10:06] Still ahead, I'll speak with a pastor of another AME church here in Charleston. What will he say to his congregation today?

But next, we've got to cover this breaking news, another new potential sighting of the two escaped convicts in New York. The search teams across the state and across country now descending on a new wooded area in a small town.

Stay with us.


BLACKWELL: Live look outside Emanuel AME church here in Charleston. People already, it's about a quarter after 7:00 Eastern, standing outside this memorial that's been built, flowers, notes. People sometimes just stand here and cry. Others hug complete strangers, console one another.

This morning, services will begin for the first time since that massacre here on Wednesday, at 8:30, church classes will begin. And at 9:30, the doors of the church will be open, as they say, at AME churches. The sanctuary will be opened and the service will begin. We'll, of course, be here for that.

But I've got to toss it back to Atlanta. Alison is following the latest on this manhunt in New York.

What do you have, Alison?

KOSIK: And, Victor, there is new information because there's a new lead in the manhunt for two escaped prisoners in New York. This morning, police helicopters and heavily armed officers are swarming a small town in Southwestern New York. They're hoping that a new and what they call credible sighting will lead them to Richard Matt and David Sweat, those are the two fugitives who were serving time for murder who escaped prison more than two weeks ago.

[07:15:04] CNN has reporters across the state covering all the latest developments. CNN's Sara Ganim is live outside the prison in Dannemora, and CNN's Cristina Alesci is Allegany County, which is the so-called "hot spot" in search going on at the moment.

Cristina, let's start with you. Have you heard about any clues? Have authorities found anything yet?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, they haven't. In fact, a police helicopter just landed behind me. So, there's a heavy police presence here.

What happened was, last night, police issued a statement saying they're investigating a possible sighting of two men who may fit the description of the two escaped convicts. Keep in mind, that is hedged language there, Alison. So, even though there is an incredible effort here underway with resources like canine units, aviation units and special ops, we still don't have information.

And what makes this search very different from the ones we've seen in other parts of the state is really the specificity of the location and the search continues today. Take a listen.


ALESCI (voice-over): Police helicopters and heavily armed law enforcement swarmed the town along the New York-Pennsylvania state line searching for two escaped killers. Residents in the area on alert this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told us -- stay home, lock your doors and windows.

ALESCI: The latest twist in the hunt for Richard Matt and David Sweat takes authorities hundreds of miles away from the Clinton correctional facility where the men escaped two weeks ago. Police responded to an unconfirmed sighting along a railroad line near Friendship, New York, just north of the Pennsylvania border.

They're now following up on all tips, including this one phoned into the fire department.

CALLER: Female passenger, dark hair with two males reported to match the description of escaped prisoners, David Sweat and Richard Matt.

ALESCI: There have been no reported arrests in the manhunt. Police are manning check points in a search area they've reportedly called a hot spot.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: If you don't live in Friendship, they're turning you around and you turning to the other way. So, you have to show identification that you live here. So, they're taking some pretty good safety precautions.

ALESCI: The U.S. Marshal Service added Matt and Sweat to a least of the 15 most wanted fugitive this is week and is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to their capture. And officials are warning, do not approach them. They're considered to be very dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Troopers show up, set up the roadblock.

ALESCI (on camera): How long have they been outside your house?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four hours or more, four or five hours, stopping every car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, if we see them, and they come up on our porch or in our law, we're going to protect ourselves, you know?


ALESCI: Alison, just to put some more context around this search that started two weeks ago, there are over 800 law enforcement involved. They've cleared about 600 miles of trails and over 200 buildings.

Alison, this is going to be a long and very intense search. Back to you.

KOSIK: And, Cristina, we'll continue to check in with you for the latest.

Meantime, let's go to Sara Ganim. Sara, what can you tell us about another developing story in all of

this -- a corrections officer placed on administrative leave as past of the investigation into the escape?


As the search continues here and elsewhere in Upstate New York, so does the investigation into this escape. A corrections officer, a male corrections officer placed on leave Friday night as the ongoing investigation continues. The district attorney telling FOX News last night that that corrections officer is cooperating and is being interviewed.

Take a listen to what he said.


ANDREW WYLIE, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CLINTON, NEW YORK: This corrections officer has been interviewed all day long, cooperating with the authorities and providing information relative to his involvement with Sweat and Matt.


GANIM: The district attorney also telling our affiliate WPTV that the charges that would come against this corrections officer, if they are filed, would be facilitating the escape and promoting prison contraband. Just a note, those are the two charges that another prison worker, a seamstress Joyce Mitchell was charged with about nine days ago when authorities determined that she had brought tools to these inmates used to break out of the prison.

Now, just as a side note, the search continues not just in Friendship, New York, but elsewhere across the state. Searchers here closer to the prison have not abandoned their search. They continue to walk trails and railroad tracks that lead out of the town away from the prison. They've moved their command post about five miles southeast of here as they continue their search.

And they are continuing to follow up lead. One that came in on Friday night, that was confirmed actually by police Friday night.

[07:20:03] That's about 80 miles east of where Christina is in Friendship, New York, police are reviewing some business surveillance tape from that area where there was also an unconfirmed sighting of those two men -- Alison.

KOSIK: OK. Sara Ganim, thanks for that.

Let's move onto CNN's law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. He's joining us now.

Tom, I want you to first listen to a resident of Friendship, New York, describing exactly what the conditions are in this so-called "hot spot" area. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can go for miles and never see a road. There's a lot of creeks, a lot of camps here, a lot of back roads. So, they could be anywhere.


KOSIK: So, clearly there are lots of challenges in this rural manhunt. What exactly are these searchers facing?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT: Well, what this person said is a lot of camps. And what strikes me about that is that camps usually mean campfires. So as the searchers are going through these wooded areas, if there are a lot of people that have backpacked through that areas, hunters, hikers, others, and they find these various camp sites, it's going to be difficult because how will they know whether it's a legitimate camper or these two guys? So, it just creates even more trouble for the investigators going through the woods because other people are also in those woods. And it's going to create all the more number of false leads.

KOSIK: You know, it's kind of amazing when you think of it. There's been a lot of man power, a lot of money put into this search. These guys have been on the lam for what, more than two weeks now?


KOSIK: How can they get away with it for so long?

FUENTES: Well, I think, you know, early on, we suspected that they had others helping them and they weren't left high and dry by Joyce Mitchell when they came out of that manhole cover from the prison. So, if they had help from the beginning, that could have been help with clothing, food, water, shelter, all the necessities, also transportation to get them out of the area. And they had such a head start the very first night that they could have already been 600 miles away before the discovery they were done.

Now, in this case, the newest leads, you know, we heard yesterday at 1:30 in the afternoon, the witness was deemed credible enough to devote the resources. That doesn't mean police can immediately put 800 officers in a rural area like that. So, they were still arriving as of darkness last night.

And, you know, now we don't know where the perimeter was set up in time that they were already gone by the time all the officers arrived and sealed the area. And we don't know to what extent they've been able to seal the area. It's difficult because there's no urban areas to draw officers on in that county. So, they're bringing, you know, when the state police are coming down and the marshals, it's tough to get enough resources there.

KOSIK: All right. Tom Fuentes, thanks for your analysis.

And we're going to be going back to Charleston after the break and we'll go back to the healing that's now happening in the community. But this attack has reignited racial tension in this country and rallies like this one that we're seeing, they're calling for peace. We're going to look at how we can move forward and others a new call for action.


[07:26:46] BLACKWELL: In just a few hours, the doors of Mother Emanuel will reopen and church bells will ring across this city and across the country at 10:00 Eastern. Guys, if we have that live shot, take it, if not, I'll tell you what's happening on the other side of the church.

There are people who are now gathering at the memorial that's been set up, placing flowers, taking a moment to pray. Occasionally, people will burst into song here where nine people were shot and killed just a few days ago.

But today, let's talk about today, people will come together to remember those members of the Mother Emanuel family, including the leader, Clementa Pinckney. Many people gunned down Wednesday during a bible study in the basement of this church. It's usually a safe haven, as most churches are, but was the site of a racist attack we now know. And now, there's a call for action.

Last night, hundreds of people of all races, let's be clear, join the Black Lives Matter rally in Charleston. Watch.


DEMONSTRATORS: Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter!


BLACKWELL: With me to discuss is the Reverend Suzan Johnson Cook. I should call her Ambassador Cook. She serves as the United States ambassador at large for international religious freedom from 2011 to 2013.

It's good to have you back with us on NEW DAY, Ambassador.

SUZAN JOHNSON COOK, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I was also a pastor, but --

BLACKWELL: I want to talk --

COOK: Yes, we both had, so that's important, yes.

BLACKWELL: Many had, and we'll talk about your roles in each and ask you to call upon the experience from both.

I want you to talk about this op-ed you wrote in "Huffington Post", in which you write, let's put it up. There is a war going on. America needs to deal with the three R's, not reading, 'riting and 'rithemetic, but instead race, religion and respect for women. We are losing that war." Explain.

COOK: Well, thanks. First of all, my condolences to Bishop Norris and my colleagues, and all the families and friends and loved ones in both the Charleston area, but also the AME family and Christian family.

But we have had a war going on. People are talking about forgiveness certainly. But out of peril and a lot of pain, we're trying to find a place of peace. And what's been neglected is actually what's been happening over a series of years to Africans Americans and to blacks in America. So, we've really never put race on the table in a real way. So, now, it's really outing what's been happening for a long time.

I was on President's Clinton's race initiative 22 years ago. And we were asking the question, can there be one America?

It's 22 years later and we're seeing a very divided America. We're not one nation under God. We're not indivisible. We're very divided. And so, we have to begin to look at it.

So, my call to action is really for concerned Americans, concerned human beings to understand that black lives matter, all lives matter. And that we can't keep kind of turning the other cheek. People in the community are saying, how many cheeks are left?


COOK: How many cheeks are left?

So, I think there's a call to action.


COOK: I'm sorry. Yes?

The business leaders --


BLACKWELL: I want to jump in because we have -- we have about a minute left, Ambassador Cook.