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Local TV: At Least 3 People Dead at Michigan Courthouse; Dallas Killer's Parents Speak for First Time. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired July 11, 2016 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

After a devastating week of deadly shootings across the country, we are right now following some late-breaking news of a shooting potentially one targeting police. Local TV stations in Michigan right now are reporting that at least three individuals have been killed.

This time, the incident is in Berrien County, Michigan, specifically St. Joseph, Michigan. That's on the southwest corner of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, about 45 minutes from South Bend, Indiana.

CNN has been able to confirm that an officer has been shot outside the Berrien County Courthouse. That's according to a person who answered the phone at the Berrien County's Sheriff's Officer.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder just moments ago tweeted that state police have secured the scene. We just heard from a witness who was bunkered down about a block away from the courthouse. She said that the entire town where this is happening was on lockdown.

Let's get right to CNN's Deb Feyerick, who is reporting this for CNN.

Deb, I know it is late-breaking, but what can you tell us? What do we know? What are local media reporting?


What we know right now is that Michigan State Police did secure the scene. It happened at about 2:30 this afternoon. It appears that multiple people were shot. The courthouse was evacuated. A witness says it may have happened inside the courthouse. And so right now it is unclear just how many people were shot, where the shooting occurred, and whether or not the police officer who was injured was the target or simply was responding to what's been described as an active shooter.

The area was on lockdown as police responded to it. There are emergency crews are on scene. But right now the details are unclear as to whether the individual who was shooting has been taken into custody or has been essentially taken down. All of that right now is under investigation. The governor of the state obviously is asking for prayers and for calm right now, Jake.

TAPPER: And, as always, this seems as good a time as any to remind our viewers when there are late-breaking stories like this, information is coming in, be cautious. What we are hearing from local officials, we will bring you the best information we can get from the most reliable officials and individuals on the scene.

But often those initial accounts are not accurate or need to be updated later on. Just with that caveat, let's continue.

Deb, local media are reporting that three individuals are dead. We heard one witness say she had been told, this is to Don Lemon just a few minutes ago, that two of those were killed were county clerks. We have not been able to confirm that yet. Do we know about the status of the police officer who was shot?

FEYERICK: No, we do not.

And the interesting thing is when you go into a courthouse, you usually have a lot of security that is just outside. Usually, you have to go through security. You have officers who are there. If the shooter did in fact make their way into the courthouse, the indication is, is that there would have been at least some back and forth between the shooter and the person who was going into that building. So, again, all of this developing right now.

TAPPER: Let me bring in Paul Callan right now.

Paul, how common is it that there are shootings at courthouses?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: There have been quite a few through the years. Remarkably common.

And I think when you think about who goes on in a courthouse, you would understand why. It is a place of dark emotion often, divorce cases, murder cases, robbery cases. The victims are usually there. The defendants are usually there. So vengeance is always hanging heavy in the air of a courthouse.

And the second thing you have to remember is although county courthouses -- now, this is a local county courthouse. This is not a big federal court, where you would have maybe elaborate security. This is security provided by a small county. I was checking the population of this county. It is 156,000 people in the county.

So I'm betting they didn't have perimeter security around the courthouse. Usually, it's the sheriff's department that supplies some kind of in-courthouse security. When we see these incidents, often a defendant has taken a gun from a sheriff because they get screened before they go into the courthouse. It is airport-type security going in and usually it is hard to get a gun into a courthouse.

TAPPER: One second. I'm being told by my producer that we're being told that shooter

has been killed, according to Reuters. Let's just attribute that. Reuters news agency is reporting the shooter has bee killed. Again, this situation developing right now.


With me is CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.

Tom, walk us through what kind of steps would be taken to secure this location after a shooting.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think, Jake, they would lock down the building.

They would have police officers go through every floor, every courtroom, every judge's chambers, every closet and try to make sure there's no one else there, it's not a coordinated attack with multiple people. In this situation, it is possible that the shooting occurred in the courtroom somehow, and then the person ran out of the building encountering a police officer outside and shooting that officer.

We don't know that yet, but that's a possibility as well. But as Paul mentioned, security is usually at least very tight to get into the building with magnetometers. And in some courthouses, like I live, Fairfax County court, you can't even take a cell phone into a courtroom.

The security arrangements vary depending federal system, the most expensive system, but state and county courthouses usually have a fair amount of security as well.

TAPPER: If you're just joining us, we are bringing you this developing news. Local television media are reporting that in the town of St. Joseph, Michigan, St. Joseph, Michigan, at the Berrien County courthouse, three individuals have been killed in a shooting.

We have been told by Reuters news agency that the shooter is dead. We're not sure if the three includes the shooter. We have also been told, CNN has been told directly by the sheriff's department in Berrien County, Michigan, that a law enforcement officer has also been shot. We are not yet sure about the status of that officer.

St. Joseph, Michigan, is a small town. It's about 8,000 or 9,000 individuals. It's in Berrien County, as we mentioned. It is on the southwest part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It's about 45 minutes north of South Bend, Indiana, so right near the border there.

Deb Feyerick, let me bring you back just to bring us more up to speed.

You were recently at the New York City County Courthouse and the security there is very intense. We don't know what kind of security a smaller town might have.

FEYERICK: We don't. But when I was there, you walk in, there are magnetometers there,

and with the New York City court police, they were all wearing flak jackets, the bulletproof vests. They were very orderly, very sort of moving people through. We do know this area in Michigan is a concealed pistol -- you can carry a concealed pistol. But, again, we don't know whether -- or firearm.

But we don't know whether in fact that was part of this whole equation. If you got past security into the building, he probably would not have done so without significant resistance, because that's where you are going to encounter the heaviest police presence. That obviously -- he may have had to shoot one of the officers in order to get in. So they are looking at that.

TAPPER: Paul, this something we have been increasingly reporting on, whether it's terrorist attacks at airports or shootings at courthouses, is the idea of perimeter security and those law enforcement officers or security guards, wherever the outer ring of security is, wherever somebody would have to give up a gun in order to enter the place, whether that's the very far periphery of an airport or just inside a courthouse, that is one of the most dangerous areas these days to be stationed.

CALLAN: It is a major area of danger and, unfortunately, local courthouses don't have the financial resources to provide really thorough and adequate perimeter security.

Think about it for a moment. You have got a small town here in a relatively small county. If you had to secure every block that was leading toward the courthouse, it would require an enormous number of people. So most courthouses, there is one entrance to the courthouse, maybe two.

There's heavy security at those entrances and that is where they focus law enforcement. Now, if somebody grabs the weapon of a sheriff or a police officer who happens to be a witness in a case on the interior of courthouse, we have seen other examples in the past of such shootings.

There he been judges killed in courthouses using that mechanism. It is very unusual, though, for a defendant to get through security into a courthouse while armed.

TAPPER: And, in fact, Tom Fuentes, let me bring you back. It was just a few weeks ago that a would-be assassin tried to take a gun from a law enforcement official to kill Donald Trump.

Thankfully, didn't succeed in getting the gun from the law enforcement official. But that is a way that a lot of these criminals or individuals with malicious intent try to get guns.

FUENTES: No, that's true, Jake.

And, unfortunately, in this country, many of the victims of that are the police officer himself or herself. They have their gun taken away through a wrestling match or whatever. The person gets the jump on them, takes their gun and then shoots and kills them with their own gun. That happens quite a few times.


Or in the case of the Donald Trump event, take the gun for the purpose of killing whoever the celebrity is at that event. So, you know, we see all efforts like that. And that's the problem is that even deranged people can get ahold of a gun even if they wrestle it away from a police officer or security guard.

TAPPER: If you're just joining us, you're looking at pictures from St. Joseph, Michigan. It is a small town of roughly 9,000 individuals in Berrien County.

And at the courthouse there in Berrien County, in Michigan, in about the southwest corner of the state, about 45 minutes from South Bend, Indiana, north of South Bend, Indiana, in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, there's been a shooting, local media is reporting.

Local television stations reporting that three individuals have been killed. We're told also by Reuters that shooter is also dead. We do not know if the number three includes the shooter or not. We have also been told that a law enforcement official has been shot outside the courthouse, although we do not know as of now the status of that law enforcement official.

Deb, Feyerick, what else can you tell us is going on?

FEYERICK: I do want to say that according to local affiliates in Berrien County, the two bailiffs, the people in charge of court security and law enforcement there on site, did confront the gunman and a shoot-out occurred.

But it appears that the gunman was killed. It is unclear whether the two offices who responded, what their status is.

CALLAN: I wanted to add, this is not without precedent, sadly, in a courthouse. You were asking me about that earlier.

In Fulton County, Georgia, 2005, a defendant got a hold of a gun. He killed a judge, he killed a court reporter and he killed two other individuals as a result of a courthouse incident. I think he managed to kidnap somebody and flee from the scene as well.

This is not without precedence, sadly.

TAPPER: Unfortunately.

We are going to bring you much more on this breaking story, this developing story.

Once again, just to recap, local television reporting that at least three individuals have been killed at a courthouse in Berrien County, Michigan. We will have much more on the story ahead.

Also, an arsenal of weapons and message in blood. We will bring you new details about the Dallas cop killer. His parents are now speaking out for the first time.

Stay with us.


[16:16:55] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We are following this breaking news story. The Berrien County, Michigan sheriff just told CNN that three people had been killed in a courthouse in St. Joe, Michigan. Two bailiffs were killed as well as the shooter. Two bailiffs as well as the shooter in St. Joseph, Michigan, in the southwest corner of the lower peninsula. As soon as we get any more information about that shooting, we will bring it to you live.

The shooting in Michigan, of course, comes at the same time that we are getting new details about the Dallas sniper and his movements before his deadly ambush last week when we killed in cold blood five police officers. The shooter's parents are now coming forward, responding to the heinous actions of their son who hunted down and executed those five officers.


DALLAS KILLER'S PARENT: I love my son with all my heart. I hate what he did.


TAPPER: "The Blaze" released that short preview of their interview. This as we also learn that the gunman had several weapons on him during the attack, as well as bomb material at his family home.

Let's go now live to Dallas where we are joined by CNN's Ed Lavandera.

Ed, obviously, the killer talked about killing white people, he talked about killing white police officers more specifically. Are police any closer to learning when he snapped and when he began planning this horrific attack?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that's the part that they are still trying to nail down. Outside of those moments and the moments before this killer was taken out there in that second-floor building of the community college in downtown Dallas and the words that were exchanged with negotiators during that time, that's really the most information they have about his intent and investigators are still trying to pour through all of the evidence they are collecting to figure out what his ultimate motivation, and what his ultimate goals might have been.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Investigators are still trying to unravel the twisted plot of Micah Johnson and what set him off on this deadly rampage. Dallas police investigators are piecing together more than 170 hours of officer's body cam video as well as dash cam footage and surveillance camera images to piece together a time line of how the deadly attack unfolded.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown says investigators are still working to make sure that Johnson did indeed act alone.

CHIEF DAVID BROWN, DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: We're going to follow every lead until it's exhausted, until I'm satisfied, that this was a lone person.

LAVANDERA: Detectives are analyzing Johnson's arsenal on the seen and in his home. Law enforcement sources tell CNN Johnson brought two handguns and an assault style rifle to the attack. Sources stay it appears the weapons were legally purchased. Some bought online.

But there are still questions about what his plans were for the explosives found in his home.

BROWN: There was a large stockpile. One of the bomb techs called me at home to describe his concern of how large a stockpile of bomb-making materials he had.

LAVANDERA: And there are still questions about the cryptic writings left at two locations inside the community college building where Johnson was killed, writing the initials "RB" in his own blood.

[16:20:10] BROWN: I think that this killer obviously had some delusion. There was quite a bit of rambling in the journal that's hard to decipher.

DALLAS KILLER'S PARENT: I love my son with all my heart. I hate what he did.

LAVANDERA: The parents of Micah Johnson have spoken out for the first time in an interview with "The Blaze". His mother says Johnson left the military after six years highly disillusioned, calling him a good son.

DALLAS KILLER'S PARENT: The ideal that he thought of our government, of what he thought the military represented, it just didn't live up to his expectations.

LAVANDERA: Over the weekend, protesters took to the streets across the country with more than 300 arrests. In Atlanta, thousands shut down major highways. In St. Paul, Minnesota, police say some protesters through rocks and Molotov cocktails at officers below them. In Baton Rouge, police in riot gear took on protesters. The images and tension from around the country are on the mind of Dallas Police Chief David Brown.

BROWN: Don't be a part of the problem. We're hiring. We're hiring. Get off that protest line and put an application in.


LAVANDERA: And, Jake, this is beginning of an emotional week here in Dallas. The Dallas Police Association organizing a vigil for tonight in front of city hall and funerals for those officers begin tomorrow -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera live for us in Dallas, Texas, thank you so much.

Let's bring in former two-term Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk. He was the first African-American ever elected to that office. He also served in the Obama administration as U.S. trade ambassador.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

RON KIRK (D), FORMER DALLAS MAYOR 1995-2001: Jake, it's good to be with you even under these difficult circumstances.

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, feeling anger and sorrow about the five officers killed is obviously not mutually exclusive for feeling sorrow and anger for those killed needlessly in confrontations with police. But this will be a delicate line for President Obama to walk tomorrow when he visits Dallas and addresses the community.

What advice would you give the president about his remarks tomorrow?

KIRK: Well, having been privileged to work with him, support him in 2008, the one thing that comforts me is every difficult sort of issue around race, relations that he spoke to, whether it was in the aftermath of the controversy over Reverend Wright during the campaign or after the horrific shooting at Mother Emmanuel, he rises to the occasion. And so, I don't worry about his ability to express an appropriate level of sympathy and appreciation for those who serve us on the front lines of local law enforcement and sympathy for their families. But also to help the country under the pain that many are feeling in the African-American community. Over the same circumstance that you meant.

And what I said, I didn't say it, I heard Charles Blow say it and I think heard the president, you know the one common thread there is the one thing that both communities want, is that when there is an encounter between the police and particularly young African-American men of color, we just want it to end peacefully. And I think rallying around the notion -- it's not too much to ask in our country.

And we know how to do good police work. That's one thing I'm proud of. We've done that here in Dallas. We ought to be able to find a strategy to accomplish that goal of everybody coming home safe.

TAPPER: Yesterday, I interviewed on "STATE OF THE UNION", one of the most impressive public servants I've ever had the honor to interview, the Dallas Police chief, David Brown. And he said he does not feel as though -- that the public, public officials, local and national and that media, he doesn't feel any of those groups are supportive enough of police. What do you say to the chief?

KIRK: The chief is not only someone with whom I've had the privilege to work with over the years. I know him personally. He is one of the most extraordinary public servants. And you've seen evidence of that by the manner of which he conducted himself here.

But that's what a police chief is going to say. And they have to rally the public to a longer term sensitivity to just how difficult it is to perform the duty we want these men and women to do at the local level.

[16:25:10] And in many cases, these are really young police officers. So I'm not surprised he would say that particularly in the aftermath as something as horrific as happened here in Dallas. I also heard him in his press conference this afternoon applaud and thank our mayor, Mike Rawlings, our city manager, former city managers for their very steadfast and strong support of him.

But this is a time for us to understand why the men and women who put on these uniforms are so special. But there will also be an opportunity for us to examine how we make sure that happens in a way that gives all of us the comfort that they are here to protect us and that's a conversation we're going to have to have and one that the chief has had. And I have to tell you, Jake, as proud as we are of him, it wasn't four months ago with you had a caucus on our council that gave in to the whims of some of our police, they were trying to run the guy out of town and, principally, because he has discipline and fired officers who didn't meet the standard.

So, I mean, this is a chance for all of us to understand. Each of us is hurting in our own way. Productive to try to define who's hurt is deeper than the others. But rally around our common goals to have peaceful communities.

TAPPER: I want to play for you some sound from somebody else very, very impressive from the Dallas community that the American people have met during difficult time. This is a trauma surgeon, Dr. Brian Williams, who earlier today tried to save some of the officers shot a earlier today spoke about that. Take a listen.


DR. BRIAN H. WILLIAMS, TRAUMA SURGEON: I understand the anger and frustration and distrust of law enforcement. But they're not the problem. The problem is the lack of open discussions about the impact of race relations in this country. This killing, it has to stop.


TAPPER: I don't know how well you could hear that sound. But the doctor was talking about, he was an African-American, he understands distrust of police officers. But police officers are not the problem. We need to stop the killing and we need to have open conversations about race in this country.

Your reaction?

KIRK: Well, we need to do both of those things. And let me tell you, as you noted in your opening, I was privileged to serve this city as mayor. There is no order of business more important for mayor, for manager than police chief than to keep our citizens safe. But we also can't turn the other way when they there are officers who don't meet those standards and whether it is out of fear or whether it is out of their own perverse brand of justice.

They crossed that line and endanger lives. We have to acknowledge that those people have to be dealt with in a way that gives the public the confidence that none of us is above the law. And there is a reason we've had all those protest around the country because there isn't that sense.

But I would agree with both the doctor and both our police chief and our president. There is no acceptable response taking action like this very troubled man did the other night. We simply have to lay down our arms and stop the violence. And I know some of my friends on the other side aren't going to like it.

But we also have to listen to the police and give them what they want. There is not a police chief, police department in the country that won't try to govern in a way like we do which we permit the open carry of weapons. That does not make their job easier. They don't want to go into a zone where they are outgunned because of high powered weapon and this type of weaponry. We can't just pull out one piece of the thread. We need to have@ the conversation about what it takes to keep all of us safe.

TAPPER: All right. The former mayor of Dallas, Texas, Ron Kirk, thank you so much, sir.

Donald Trump today boasting that he is the law and order candidate as attention turns to whom he might hire as the ultimate apprentice, his running mate. That story, next.