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Police Follow "Several Leads" In Hunt For Sweat; Police: Escaped Killer Contained; Police: Matt Shot When He Wouldn't Put Hands Up; North Carolina Attack For Fifth Time In Two Weeks; Search for David Matt Intensifies Overnight; Witnesses Talk about Attack on Tunisian Hotel; President's Eulogy on Clementa Pinckney. . Aired 6-7a ET

Aired June 27, 2015 - 06:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking this morning, a desperate search, right now, for convicted killer, David Sweat. Police are swarming an area of New York hunting down the escapee one day after his partner, Richard Matt, is shot dead.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Also breaking this morning, we now know more about the gunman responsible for pulling dozens of -- in a popular beach resort in Tunisia. This as a witness described him pulling a weapon from his umbrella and opening fire.

BLACKWELL: President Obama in the role of preacher. You hear him singing "Amazing Grace" during the eulogy for slain pastor, Clementa Pinckney in South Carolina.

We are starting this morning with that breaking news on convicted killer, David Sweat. Officials say they are closing in on this escapee. This morning, it appears they have him surrounded.

PAUL: Good morning. Thank you so much sharing your company with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you.

PAUL: Yes, right now, more than a thousand law enforcement officers are around the woods scouring things and trying to put up a perimeter near the town of Malone in upstate New York, near the spot where Richard Matt was killed in a firefight with border patrol officers yesterday. His partner, David Sweat, is still on the run now in day 22, I believe.

BLACKWELL: Police are using everything, infrared technology, helicopters, police dogs, and ATVs. They are trying to find him, of course. Polo Sandoval joins us live from inside the search area. Polo, what are you seeing this morning?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This morning, as the sun begins to rise over the Adirondacks, we can tell you that law enforcement here on the ground, Victor and Christi, are hoping that daylight will provide them with an advantage as they continue to try to track down David Sweat, the remaining fugitive that is still on the run. But you get to talk to some of the people who live in some of these small communities, this morning, they are breathing at least a partial sigh of relief and they are also conscious this isn't over yet.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): After three weeks on the run, escaped killer, Richard Matt, was shot and killed near Malone, New York.

GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK: You never want to see anyone lose their life, but I would remind people that Mr. Matt was an escaped murderer from a state prison. Mr. Matt killed two people who we know about.

SANDOVAL: Police narrowed in on a cabin in the surrounding woods after receiving a tip from the driver of a recreational vehicle. He reported hearing gunshots and later realized his camper was hit.

JOSEPH D'AMICO, NEW YORK STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: We discovered the smell of gun powder and realized a weapon had been fired as we were doing the ground search in the area. There was movement detected by officers on the ground.

What they believe to be -- a tactical team from Customs and Border Protection met up with Matt in the woods, challenged him, and he was shot dead by border patrol at that time. We recovered a 20-gauge shotgun.

SANDOVAL: Now the focus of the manhunt is on David Sweat who is said to be contained in the area, though, there's been no actual sighting. Police are now using helicopters and vehicles with infrared spotting technology. Residents remain on edge.

(on camera): How have you been feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anxiety through the roof and I'm on medicine! It's been awful. I can't sleep. Then darkness hits. I'm wondering where they are, what they are doing, how they got out.


SANDOVAL: So much uncertainty this morning being felt by the people who live in some of these quiet communities here in the shadow of some of these mountains. We should also mention there were some previous reports in the moments after the shooting of Richard Matt that suggested that law enforcement officials were closing in very close to tracking down Sweat.

However, officials later said that, at this point, they have absolutely no information confirming David Sweat's whereabouts, but they also don't have any evidence that seems to suggest that they left the area, Christie and Victor.

And that is why, today, you will see an intensification really of these resources of the manpower as they try to track down this remaining fugitive. BLACKWELL: So let's talk about that intense use of resources here. You're inside the search area. Are you able to lay eyes on anything that is happening from your vantage point?

[06:05:00] SANDOVAL: No. It's interesting, Victor. From our vantage point here just at the base of this hillside you can actually see up from the distance, if I step out of the shot, you may be able to see that the top of a couple of state patrol units, really those are just one of several that have been driving up and down this remote road.

There is another one right there. Officers have been strategically placed along this hillside. This is really where much of the focus of the search is this morning. We haven't seen them just from their patrol units, but they also been on foot and some in the air yesterday and even on all-terrain vehicles.

Because the reality is that this is a very serious tough terrain to navigate. Officials are having a very hard time to track these down. But, ultimately, Victor, authorities are also very aware of the fact that if they are going to be able to track down this remaining fugitive, it will likely be with help from the eyes and ears of the public because really that is what led them to Richard Matt yesterday.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about how this search is changing. Polo, thank you. Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes and Larry Lawton, former convict, but now works on the other side of the law known as an honorary police officer. Good to have both of you.

I want to start with you, Tom. Christi said in our morning meeting and I think we all felt that when we went to bed last night after Richard Matt was shot dead, we expected this morning that David Sweat would be in custody. Do you really believe this guy has been, the term they are using, contained, Tom?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, Victor, I think that, you know, we are reasonably sure that he is contained but it's not a 100 percent. There is always a chance, as you see how thick those woods are. Was he separated from Sweat when the shots were fired already? Did he have a little bit of a head-start to get out of what became the perimeter? You know, we don't know that now. I doubt that he got out, but it's not impossible.

BLACKWELL: So, Larry, let me come to you. I mean, Sweat has made life miserable for the inmates there at Clinton Correctional. The honor block is gone. He knows what is waiting for him if he is caught. Do you expect this will end with a shoot-out, or it will end possibly in the way that the standoff with Richard Matt ended?

LARRY LAWTON, FORMER INMATE: Well, you know, obviously, he doesn't want to go back. He escaped. He knows he is going to be faced with 23-hour day confinement. He knows the guards will not give him any respect at all nor the inmates.

I mean, a lot of inmates, you know, they are in their own routine and people think he is going to be hero. To some, he will. Obviously, pretty sick, but he will. But to others, he is the guy who messed up their routine in prison.

People get into a routine that's just very mundane. I talk about that all the time. I was with 880 life sentence guys in one facility I was in and 200 are psychopaths and 400 get into a routine. They get up, they go to work and get a lover and before you know it, they are in their own routine and that is about the numbers.

BLACKWELL: Tom, is it expected he would go back to Clinton Correctional?

FUENTES: I don't know. That will be up to the New York authorities. I would doubt it but I don't know.

BLACKWELL: All right, so let's listen to the New York police who talked last night about the search.


D'AMICO: We continue to search. We have a lot of people in the area. We have canines and a decent perimeter set up and searching for Sweat at this time. We will remain the perimeter we have at that time and a ground search like we have been in the last couple of days, a tactic that's been successful for us in law enforcement.


BLACKWELL: So good ground search. We know that, Tom, there were possible betting spots, leftover candy wrappers after the initial exhaustive ground search. Why wasn't this found before they found Richard Matt?

FUENTES: I think at the time of the first ground searches, they had already gotten out of what became the perimeter area. They were already farther away. We don't know how far, but that's the presumption that once they set that perimeter up near Cadyville, it was too late and they had already escaped that.

That's been the problem in this all along. If you had a sighting, even if it wasn't a confirmed but just a credible sighting, by the time you get hundreds of officers and then spread them up in the woods and set up the perimeter, you have to discuss who is going to cover what area, what radio frequencies, distribute maps.

So all of that information and by the time that happens, it gives just enough time for a person to walk away or run away. Now I think in this case, because of the thickness of that woods, again, it's probably not likely that he got out of this perimeter, but it's not impossible.

BLACKWELL: All right, Tom Fuentes and Larry Lawton, stay with us. We will continue the conversation after the break. We are going to take a quick break and come right back to this. Stay with us both of you. Stand by.

If David Sweat is captured, will the legal consequences be better or worse for the two correction workers in custody who allegedly helped the prisoners escape? Joey Jackson joins the conversation.

[06:10:10] PAUL: Also breaking this morning, new details on who is behind the gruesome attacks on tourists at a beach resort in Tunisia. We have a live report for you coming up.

BLACKWELL: Later the meaning behind the president's moving eulogy in South Carolina.


BLACKWELL: Police are rushing in resources into this small town to try to search for one of these escapees, the one who has survived this morning. We'll have more on the breaking news, intense manhunt going for the fugitive, David Sweat.

The air, ground, officers said to be in hot pursuit is the phrase they are using of Sweat. Officials also revealed that the escapee is contained, that is the term they are using, but police admit they do not have eyes on him.

All of this comes hours after cops shot and killed his fellow inmate, Richard Matt in Malone, New York and people there, in that area, they are, obviously, relieved that Matt has been taken down by police. Listen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have one guy down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did that one guy die?


[06:15:10] PAUL: We want to get more insight into everything that is going on in upstate New York there, as Victor said, you see a little bit of relief but, obviously, not completely.

We have HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson with us, and Tom Fuentes and Larry Lawton are still with us as well. Gentlemen, thank you for sticking around.

Tom, I want to start with you. As we listen here together to Richard Matt's half-brother concerning the killing of his sibling. Listen to this.


WAYNE SCHRIMPF, RICHARD MATT'S HALF BROTHER: I mean, it might sound bad, but I was, in a way, hoping this was the outcome. I still don't think of him as the Rick that I knew. I can only think of the man that threatened to kill me and has killed other people and escaped.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: So, Tom, obviously, that speaks to just how dangerous these two really are. And the fact now that David Sweat is on his own, does it show to you that perhaps he may be more desperate and does that modify the search at all for him and the way that the strategy that they used to get to him?

FUENTES: No, Christi. I don't think any of it changes. I think they hope they have him contained in the perimeter that they have set up. They hope they are very close to him, and they will have the same rules of engagement and how they deal with him that they had with Matt.

If he poses a threat, he is going -- his life is going to be gone. If he comes out hands up and especially, I mean, he could take off his clothes and come out hands in the air where he is clearly surrendering, they will take him alive. They will not assassinate him.

PAUL: Their goal is to take him alive, though?

FUENTES: Well, I think they want to take him alive and find out what happened in this whole story. The decisions is made by the person, is made by Sweat. The police will do what they have to do. If he wants to be taken alive, they will take him alive. If he doesn't and if he doesn't imply with their lawful orders when they run into him, they are going to take his life and that will be over.

PAUL: Yes, so Joey, here's the thing, I think a lot of people are wondering today too, if both of these escapees are killed by police, how does that affect the cases of Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, the two that are already charged in this case?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. It's a fabulous question, Christi. But I think what happens it's discretionary by the prosecutors, and remember a lot of what they may know, that is, the police and law enforcement, may have very welcome from these two sources who are defendants right now.

So on the one hand, you could say, listen, you were involved in promoting prison contraband and as a result of giving them the tools and that type thing to move them forward and get them out of there you should certainly be on the hook for anything that they did.

But what we are doing here, Christi, is we are not talking about them having killed someone else, we are talking about one of them being killed and who knows as to what happens with the other.

Certainly her defense attorney, as well as, you know, his defense attorney, they will make the argument we provided material aid, not only to have them escape but to law enforcement to perhaps get his capture, so it may very well not affect the case in a material way, but that is up to the prosecutors to decide.

PAUL: So, Larry, I heard you say earlier that, you know, you believe they would have been long gone and at the end of the day, they are only 14 miles from the prison, is at least where Matt was discovered. But the fact that they were still together, it is believed, I'm wondering if you think that David Sweat has the withal to survive this without his partner in crime at this point?

LAWTON: Obviously, it's going to be very rough and he is contained. But what he has, and I think Tom and law enforcement will agree, he has patience. They have noticed that right from the beginning. Both of them have a lot of patience to do what they have done.

If they catch him, he has no incentive whatsoever to talk about any of the guards, what they did, or any of the people that he associated with, whether it's other cell mates or other people in the prison, whether it's a doctor, a nurse, or like, a civilian worker.

There is no incentive whatsoever for him to give up any information. He would be known even by the guards as the rat. Believe it or not, they don't like that as well. As you know, they have been doing stuff with guards for years and they will continue to do it.

I think the whole system is broke in a lot of ways, but that's just one of them. So I don't see him coming out alive. I don't know if he has got that kind of personality. I'm sure they looked at it too, you know, what kind of -- I think they knew Richard Matt wasn't coming out alive.

PAUL: Joey Jackson and Tom Fuentes, and Larry Lawton, we always appreciate your expertise. They are going to stick around with us all morning. Thank you so much as we have so much more to talk to all of you about.

Also, we are going to continue to follow it this morning and we will bring you the latest as the information comes in to us. Right now, it is an ongoing situation, Victor.

BLACKWELL: It is, indeed. We will continue to follow it throughout the morning.

[06:20:00] Look here, the White House displaying the full rainbow last night celebrating the Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex marriage across the country, but some state lawmakers are already saying, not here and not so fast.

Also, why the government is concerned about next week's 4th of July holiday and the warning to Americans. We have got more straight ahead.


BLACKWELL: All right, here's a look at stories making headlines this morning. It's 23 minutes past the hour.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are warning a possible terror threats in the U.S. around the 4th of July holiday. Now, this warning does not include any active plots, but it says that the threat level or the general awareness should be raised through weekend. The bulletin also warns of attacks that could be linked to perceived defamation of the Prophet Mohammed. The FBI says it has increased it's monitoring of some suspects.

PAUL: And a lot of you waking up this morning to a full day after new definition of marriage. Celebrations across the U.S. after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples can, indeed, marry nationwide. A lot of couples also immediately ran out to the courthouses for marriage licenses. Some conservatives including 2016 presidential candidates have said they will fight this ruling, cite the constitution and religious freedom laws.

BLACKWELL: So consider this. In just two weeks, five people have been attacked by sharks on the North and South Carolina coasts, five people in two weeks. The latest victims were both attacked Friday. A man in his 40s and he was bitten on the top of his foot and that was Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina.

[06:25:06] And a 47-year-old man was bitten several times yesterday that happened on the outer banks. He was bitten on the lower back and lower legs. CNN meteorologist, Ivan Cabrera, joins us now. Everybody is asking why is this happening?

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think a lot of people are in the water this time of year. Nothing unusual is happening in terms of the water temperature here. If we were having shark attacks in Southern New England this early in the season, then we would take something fishy going on across the north.

We would have warmer temperatures but we don't, low 80s and mid-80s where the attacks have been happening across the Carolina Coast and so nothing unusual as far as the water temperatures. Marine biologists have to take a look and see what is going on with the tiger sharks and bull sharks.

So we have some do's and don't's here. Swim to your lifeguard and swim in groups and be vigilant and dress in dull colors. Sharks are attracted to bright colors and piers because we have a lot of bait and people fishing there. Don't swim near a pier and don't pee in the water.

They are attracted to urine. So just keep in mind more people get killed by lightning in the United States than by shark attacks. I think just be vigilant and you will be fine.

PAUL: That is your tip of the day.

BLACKWELL: Don't be in the water. All right, thank you, Ivan.

So we are staying on top of this breaking news. New York police are closing in on escapee, David Sweat. Officials say they have the fugitive contained after his accomplice is shot dead. We will take you to the manhunt next.

PAUL: Plus we have disturbing new information about the gunman who carried out a terror attack at the beach resort in Tunisia. The big question is was ISIS behind this plot? What we have learned next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: We are pushing forward on these breaking news this morning. Authorities right now, searching for David Sweat, he is a convicted killer on the run this morning. Police believe they have Sweat surrounded within a perimeter. Over a thousand officers now. They are using ATVs, search dogs, infrared, helicopters, working to stop him before he gets any farther. Polo Sandoval is live from New York. Polo, tell us about the search effort, what you're hearing and what you're seeing this morning.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Victor it only seemed to have intensified overnight. We know this really dozens of these generator lights were actually brought in to try to track down this individual, to try to illuminate this portion of upstate New York. We do know that, at this point, investigators have no reason to believe that the remaining fugitive here, David Sweat, is not in the area, but there is also no evidence to confirm that, at least there was an actual sighting that he is still in this location, Victor. So, looking ahead, we do expect officers to continue to search this portion of upstate New York. The people who live in these - in some of the communities here are at least partially relieved that at least one of these very dangerous individuals is no longer on the run. That is Richard Matt shot and killed yesterday and now the focus is on David Sweat. Where he is? And, of course, is he still even in the region at this hour, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Polo Sandoval, we'll check back in a moment. Thank you.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I want to our - the big story that we are following this morning, Victor. That horrifying terror attack in Tunisia, and we are getting some new details now about the gunman who attacked at that beach resort. He was born in 1992, he had a masters' degree in electronics, he was not known to be affiliated to any terror group, and his passport didn't have any sign of foreign travel. Now, ISIS is claiming responsibility for this attack and posted a photo of the alleged attacker. Here is the thing. Witnesses say they cannot be certain that is the gunman that they saw at the shooting scene. The attacker killed at least 38 people, though, wounded 36 others. CNN's Becky Anderson is there. Becky, what more have you learned about the attacker and what they are doing this morning?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, not very much more than what you just told us. He is apparently from a town very close to here, as you rightly point out, doing an engineering master's degree, we believe. And may have worked in entertainment in the tourism industry which may be the reason why he appeared to know the layout of this hotel, the imperial Marhaba behind me, which is where he wreaked havoc and horror on Friday.

Between four and six minutes he shot indiscriminately on the beach, within the hotel and here, outside in the car park before trying to escape, and he was shot by a security guard here.

We spoke to a number of eyewitnesses, who are absolutely terrified by what they saw and heard. Have a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I heard gunshots. (INAUDIBLE) within two minutes, (INAUDIBLE) bang, bang, bang. It's out to the balcony when hundreds of people running and screaming to the (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking -- taking a shooting -- and shooting people and falling to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indiscriminately?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, indiscriminately. Anybody. Anybody that they can see. I saw him shoot four people and they fell to the ground. (INAUDIBLE). In fact, he looked as though he had got (INAUDIBLE).


ANDERSON: This town of Soussa, Christi, survives on tourism. Tourism makes up some 15 percent of the Tunisian economy. One hope it will not be the nail in its coffin. This is a country that is suffering, so far as its economy is - an unemployment, some 30 percent among the youth, and object poverty in some parts, and sitting right on the border as it does with the festering wound that is, these days, the country of Libya.


ANDERSON: Horror visiting this hotel behind me on Friday. Back to you.

PAUL: All right, Becky, thank you so much for bringing us the very latest from there. We certainly appreciate it. Victor.

BLACKWELL: Well, Christi, there was not just that single attack yesterday, but three deadly attacks in one day. They are in Tunisia, France, and Kuwait as well, happening on three continents. I will have details of the attacks in France and Kuwait, and if there is some concern that these were coordinated or the timing was just a coincidence.

Plus, what does this mean for us here in the U.S.?


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BLACKWELL: The breaking news this morning, we are following the search for convicted killer David Sweat. Police, right now, on the ground hunting, also from the air for this escapee. They say they are closing in on him and they have him contained. That is their term.

PAUL: We are going to have updates on this throughout the morning obviously. But we do have new details we want to share with you on two other terror attacks in France and Kuwait apart, of course, from the attack on the Tunisian hotel. In France, first of all, authorities are questioning a man who carried out a gruesome attack or is believed to have carried out a gruesome attack in southeastern France driving a van into a gas factory and setting off an explosion and then he left the decapitated head of a victim covered it - pinned to the fence of the factory that he attacked. He is claiming to be a member of ISIS. Let's move to Kuwait now. ISIS is claiming responsibility there for an attack on a Shiite mosque. An apparent bomb blast tore through the mosque killing at least 27 people, 227 others were wounded. Let's bring in CNN Military Analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Olivier Guitta - Guitta, excuse me, managing director of GlobalStrat. Thank you, gentlemen, both so much for being with us. So, Lieutenant General, I want to start with you, if I could.

So ISIS is claiming responsibility for two of these three attacks. Do you believe that they were ordered to do so? And that they just were lone wolves who carried this out or did they actually dispatch people to these areas?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING: Well, it depends on how you define ordered, Christi. I think they certainly would be supportive of all three of these attacks and especially in the diversity of them. One against an American business, one against the Shia mosque named after a moderate Imam Sadiq, and the third one being in Tunisia against Western interests. But to say they ordered it, probably not. It was more of a -- it's definitely different than al Qaeda that used to go centralized planning, decentralized execution. I think now we are just in a mode of attack any interest of the West, any interest that goes against the caliphate.

PAUL: So, Mr. Guitta. Of course, it's Ramadan, the holy month. How do you think that affects what we are seeing this increase in terror attacks?

OLIVIER GUITTA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, GLOBASTRAT: It affects it a lot, especially it happened three days after al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State released an audiotape where it called on all his followers to attack infidels, especially Shias and Westerners during Ramadan and they would be doubly rewarded. So, I tend to agree that -- it wasn't coordinated, but much more of a coincidence that it was the first Friday after that call for attacks from the Islamic State.

PAUL: Lieutenant Hertling, Lieutenant General, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a bulletin warning of possible attacks here in the U.S. over the Fourth of July weekend. He said it was partly in response to the terror attacks in France and Tunisia and Kuwait, but do you think this warning was eminent, despite those attacks?

HERTLING: I think it was. Christi, I think you have probably seen the FBI, over the last week or so, be extremely active in their questioning and even in their detainment of some that they have seen on the watch list. So they are attempting to step up the pace a little bit, it's extremely challenging given the number of people who have been self-proclaimed jihadists who they found looking on the Internet. But I think the FBI is trying to do everything they possible can -- and Homeland Security, excuse me -- to stop these kind of attacks and knowing that we are in the middle of the month of Ramadan and knowing that it's the anniversary of the caliphate stated by ISIS and knowing it's the Fourth of July, all three of those things contribute to the potential for attacks and the kinds of styles that we have seen in the past.

PAUL: Well, and Mr. Guitta, of course, this is the second terror attack of mass casualties in popular tourists destinations there in Tunisia.


PAUL: On March 23rd there were people who died when a gunman - the part of museum. How entrenched do you think ISIS is in Tunisia specifically?

GUITTA: Look, Tunisia is an interesting example. Because compared to other country, the Islamic State is less entrenched because the main group is (INAUDIBLE) Sharia, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Historically been very present in Tunisia, but that shows you how quickly the Islamic State can gain followers and get operatives to act. But that is one of the things that we have to remember. Al Qaeda is not dead yet. And there is a competing target between those two groups all over the world.

PAUL: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Olivier Guitta, we are so appreciative of your thoughts this morning. Thanks for being with us.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christie.

GUITTA: Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: President Obama, like few have seen or heard him before. This emotional, at points rousing eulogy during the funeral of murdered South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney. But it was the moment that he broke into song that surprised everyone.


BLACKWELL: On morning, we've got the latest on the search for convicted killer David Sweat. Police have been out all night and into the early morning hours searching for this escapee. We will have updates throughout the show.

PAUL: And it is still a very active search and investigation there this morning, Victor. Thank you.


PAUL: President Obama ended a historic week with one of the most powerful personal and stunning speeches of his presidency some would say. He delivered the eulogy for slain church pastor Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine victims gunned down in South Carolina ten days ago. By the end, he had the crowd of some, look at this, 5500 people on their feet. They were clapping, they were cheering, some call Obama "Reverend the President". Others called the eulogy life changing. Here is why.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer could not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney in that Bible study group. The light of love that shown as they opened the church doors and invited a stranger ...


OBAMA: To join in their prayer service. The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court in the midst of unspeakable grief with words of forgiveness!


OBAMA: He couldn't have imagined that.



OBAMA: We all have to acknowledge the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride.

AUDIENCE: Yeah, yeah.

(APPLAUSE) OBAMA: For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression, by recognizing our common humanity and by treating every child as important ...


OBAMA: Regardless of the color of their skin or the station into which they were born and to do what is necessary to make opportunity real for every American. By doing that, we express God's grace.


OBAMA (singing): Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.


BLACKWELL: And ending the eulogy as you hear there with "Amazing Grace." We have got with us CNN political commentator Errol Louis joining us now for more. Ariel, let's talk about the many facets of this eulogy and the missions the president had. I mean he had to convolve with city in many ways, educate parts of the nation and then lift everyone higher. Did he do it?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought so. The most remarkable thing about it, Victor, is that when they say the reverend president, there is - if you go back over it - and I watched it twice and I sort of looked at the transcript of it. There isn't a single thing he said that he needed to be president in order to say. In other words, this was just a man. This was a political leader. That was the role that he was playing. He didn't list the programs that his administration is proud of. He didn't call for any new legislation or anything like that. He really - and he didn't appeal to what past presidents have done. He didn't mention Lincoln, he didn't mention Kennedy or FDR. He went down an entirely different road and he spoke to the people who were in front of him primarily in a setting that I think anybody familiar at least with Christian and civil rights tradition could lock into. And it was, in some ways, kind of a risky thing to do. You always risk kind of losing people when you try something like that, but I think for most people watching, it worked and it worked very well.

BLACKWELL: So, you talk about going down a new road and risk. Many have described this week of the president as one that will definitely live in his legacy, but a different approach from the president, starting at the beginning of the week with this WTF podcast. Let's put up what we have from that. The president said, I know what I'm doing and I'm fearless. It's all happened. I've been through this. I've been screwed up, I've been in the barrel tumbling down Niagara Falls and I've emerged and I've lived and that is such a liberating feeling. Is this - this eulogy part of the new, quote/unquote, fearless President Obama?

LOUIS: Well, I would remind you, I'd remind everybody that it goes right back to audacity of hope, right? I mean it was - it was a pretty risky play to even run for president in the first place as a freshman U.S. senator and announcing in 2007 that he was going to run against former first lady, the entire Democratic establishment on some level.


LOUIS: And that is the sort of a political style of Barack Obama. That when he is a state senator, he decides he is going to run for U.S. Senate in a state that wasn't necessarily even aware of him, much less receptive to him. It's the strategy that leads him to, again, run for president in 2007 and seemingly coming out of nowhere and toppling a juggernaut in the primaries. This is the kind of thing that he has done. Think back even to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Kept completely under wraps. Could have easily have blown the whole thing. But this is a president who has always based his style on sort of making the big play.

BLACKWELL: But Errol, there is a point at which, you know, there are people who believe that this fearlessness is synonymous with liberating, feeling that you can accomplish everything or anything, but for some, fearlessness and self-confidence can border on hubris, and then that becomes dangerous.

LOUIS: Well, certainly this president has been accused of maybe being arrogant, maybe a little chilly, a little distant. Frankly, it has caused him problems. I mean one interesting little footnote. John Boehner flew with the president to the funeral and heard the eulogy. He was sitting there in the audience as well. It was just noted in passing that it was the first time that the speaker of the House has flown on Air Force One during this presidency. This is not somebody who is sort of warm and chummy in the sense that many back-slapping politicians tend to be. So, yeah, there is certainly a downside to it and, frankly, it has cost him politically.

BLACKWELL: All right, Errol Louis, we will continue this conversation throughout the morning and throughout the next several months. The fourth quarter of the Obama administration. Thank you so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.


PAUL: All right, Victor, obviously, we want to remind you that we are following breaking news. Police have one of the escaped killers in New York contained. They have shot and killed the other. But at the top of the hour we have live report for you on how the dragnet is tightening they believe on David Sweat.