Return to Transcripts main page


Three Officers Killed, Three Wounded in Baton Rouge. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 17, 2016 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett and welcome to a special edition of "OUTFRONT." The breaking news, a heinous attack on police in Baton Rouge. A lone gunman opening fire on police. Police responding to a report of a man on the street with an assault rifle. When they arrived, he opened fire.

Three police officers killed, three more wounded. One in critical condition right now fighting for his life. And we do know the identity of one of the slain officers at this hour. He is 32-year-old Montrel Jackson. You see him there.

The suspect was a masked man dressed in black shot and killed by police at the end of this. Police are identifying him late today as Gavin Long, a 29-year-old black man from Kansas City, Missouri.

The attack coming just days after five police officers were ambushed and killed by a sniper in Dallas 12 days after cell phone video captured a black man shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge.

A short time ago, President Obama condemned today's killing speaking to the nation as an attack on all Americans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Regardless of motive, the death of these three brave officers underscores the danger that police across the country confront every single day, and we as a nation have to be loud and clear that nothing justifies violence against law enforcement. Attacks on police are an attack on all of us.


BURNETT: And tonight coverage of this breaking story, plus the Republican National Convention, which is kicking off right here in Cleveland, Ohio.

Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT tonight in Baton Rouge. An Nick, what is the latest that you're hearing?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, over the course of the last two weeks, Erin, Baton Rouge is a community that's been strangled from within by violence. It has been nearly two weeks since the shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, that black man who was shot and killed at the hands of a white police officer.

In the days that followed we saw high anxiety, tensions rose very quickly as we saw demonstrations near riots over the course of the past week and those tensions seem to have cooled and the grieving period took place as Alton Sterling was laid to rest on Friday.

The whole time, though, police in this community remained on high alert because the concern the whole time has been that something like Dallas could happen here. And on Sunday morning, it did.


VALENCIA (voice-over): At 8:40 a.m., a quiet Sunday morning in Baton Rouge when officers spot a man dressed in black holding a rifle near a convenience store. At 8:42, reports received is of shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: We have an officer down. We need the Bearcat now for an evac.

VALENCIA: Responding officers locked in a gun battle.

UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: We took a round through the windshield. He had a mask on.

VALENCIA: At 8:48 with medics on the scene trying to get to the fallen officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officers engaged the subject at this particular time, and he ultimately died at the scene.

VALENCIA: The ambush-style attack leaves three officers dead, three others wounded. The shooter, later identified at 29-year-old Gavin Long. The crime scene remained active for several hours after the shooting. Police uncertain whether more shooters might be on the run. Many in the immediate area sheltering behind closed doors.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: We're on lockdown at the moment. Everybody is in the back. We cannot leave. Even if we could leave, the police are blocking down the street. So everyone has to stay where we are.

VALENCIA: Baton Rouge is already a city on edge. The shooting comes less than two weeks after a black man was shot dead by a white police officer. After consoling the families of the victims, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards addresses what he called the unspeakable tragedy.

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA: It's unjustified, it's unjustifiable. The violence, the hatred just has to stop.


VALENCIA: Back here in Baton Rouge, we're outside the very hospital where one of those officers is still clinging to life. He's listed in critical condition. Those officers who were shot range from 32 years old to 51 years old. Their years of service range very widely from one year of service to over ten years of service. This is a police department both at the local level and the state level that is hurting very deeply by what has happened here over the course of the last two weeks.

It's something that we've seen residents begin to understand as they're showing their support towards the police officers.

[19:05:05]About 10 minutes ago, we saw a 2-year-old little girl come here outside the hospital to give a bouquet of flowers to these officers who are still on heightened alert standing guard as one of their fellow men inside clings to life -- Erin.

BURNETT: Nick, thank you very much. OUTFRONT now, our justice correspondent, Evan Perez. Evan, it's a shocking story here I think that is horrifying the nation. What are you hearing about what the motive might be? Obviously, one of the stories that we're hearing is possibly that this shooter could have lured police in making a fake 911 call. What more do you know?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. That's one of the scenarios that's still being explored by law enforcement. It's really a remarkable thing to think that these law enforcement officers were responding to a 911 call that appears -- and it's not clear whether or not that was a trap, essentially, something that was done specifically to lure these officers into a confrontation with this suspect.

We know that we've seen this type of thing in the last few weeks even, just around the time of the Dallas shooting, one incident that was overlooked was an incident outside of Knoxville in Eastern Tennessee in which a suspect did exactly that.

He started shooting, and he wanted to lure police officers, investigators believed, and he managed to lure them into a gunfight. He ended up being injured and arrested.

Just last week there was a threat the FBI was on alert for in Southern Florida with the same scenario, people who were thinking of luring police officers into a gunfight by making fake 911 calls.

Obviously, there's still a lot of investigative work to be done here, but that is one of the scenarios they're looking into. It really does raise the question of what officers can do. You know, they're trained to respond to 911 calls as quickly as they can.

Now, they're going to have to wait for tactical teams to come help them. It's going to slow down the response and people will end up dying because they need 911's help -- Erin.

BURNETT: Evan, thank you. OUTFRONT now, I want to go to the mayor of Baton Rouge, Kip Holden. Mayor Holden, this city is grieving and this nation is grieving for you on this horrific day. What more are you able to tell us about what happened?

MAYOR KIP HOLDEN, BATON ROUGE (via telephone): Well, you know, we are still looking at a lot of things, but the investigation for the most part will be ongoing. There were two people arrested in an adjoining parish and they're checking to see whether there maybe any linkage to those two individuals.

They are being questioned right now by state police and other officials as to whether or not they may have been linked to the shooting as well. But right now, this has just been a day of turmoil.

When you are looking at families now -- and I recall one quick story was at the hospital Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. And I'm there. And I'm in the room where an officer died, and his family's there.

But the most gut wrenching thing I've seen in my life was this 5-year- old girl who says, I know my daddy is not dead and he's coming home to be with us this afternoon.

And so when you see those kinds of things and when you see those who would perpetrate this type of violence upon innocent people who are responding to a call, we have to stand back and question ourselves and say, what is going on? Sanity has to take place and the insanity has to stop.

BURNETT: That's a horrible, horrible thing to imagine having seen that poor child and her mother. You heard our reporters, Mayor, saying that one scenario they're looking at is a bogus 911 call that perhaps was placed to lure the officers to the crime scene.

I know that you said there are at least two others that are being questioned as to whether others were involved or whether this was a lone shooter. But in terms of whether this is a bogus 911 call, whether this was an ambush against police, what are you able to tell us right now?

HOLDEN: Well, we had a briefing about three hours ago. In that briefing, I have to tell you they pretty much had said that this was not an ambush. You know, they check to see whether or not there were other people involved.

Now I'm not disputing what your reporters said, but I'm sitting in there and I have to tell you what I walked out of there with. But I can tell you the investigation is still very active.

So what the reporter is saying could very well be the truth, but we're not going to release it until we have the facts to back it up.

BURNETT: So you're still looking at all scenarios including that this was a real 911 call and then a situation went bad on the scene?

HOLDEN: Yes, ma'am, we're definitely looking at that in particular because of the way this guy was targeting these police officers. But one other thing, Erin, that stands out with us is that several officers made the observation.

They say we wear body armor, but it seems like now these shooters are aiming for the heads of police officers. So I would caution police officers all across the United States to probably begin to look at that scenario.

[19:10:05]And if you have to get more equipment or do whatever you need to do to additionally protect those officers, it is time to do it. I don't think time is on our side in terms of waiting.

BURNETT: Mayor Holden, thank you very much. I want to go straight to the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, joins me now. Governor Edwards, what are you able to say in terms of where this investigation is? Obviously, at this time there are so many things we do not know.

GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D), LOUISIANA (via telephone): Well, we do know that in terms of the events of today, there is one shooter. That shooter is dead. What we don't know and one of the reasons the investigation continues is whether he was assisted by one or more others.

And if so, whether those individuals are still in the area. And so there's lots of steps to be taken in the investigation and often times the investigation is impeded if too much information is released prematurely, especially if that information turns out not to be correct.


EDWARDS: And so the decision was made here to make sure that we're controlling the flow of information so that the essential information is put out there, but we're not going to hamper that investigation so that it can be brought to a speedy and full conclusion.

BURNETT: And Governor Edwards, we are learning now the identity of one of the officers, Montrell Jackson, 32, who was killed by the shooter, a black officer. We do not yet know the identities, the races of the other two officers.

We do know that the shooter was a black man. In the context of what has happened in Dallas, in the context of a black man being shot by a white officer in Baton Rouge, in the context of what happened in Minnesota, what are you able to tell us right now, if anything, about whether race was involved in the shooting?

EDWARDS: Well, certainly we're going to -- that's part of the investigation to figure out what the motive was. But I will tell you that neither the race of the shooter nor the race of the victim that you just spoke about, Officer Montrell Jackson or any other, really matters in this situation as far as what we're dealing with right now.

It was a senseless act of violence. It is unspeakable. As I said earlier, it's unjustifiable, it's unjustified. It just doesn't make any sense. It doesn't further any dialogue that is constructive in our nation today on any issue and it just needs to stop.

And for anybody who thinks that they were doing something that would honor the life of Mr. Sterling here in Baton Rouge or I should say the death, perhaps, the family of Mr. Sterling spoke out powerfully and eloquently about the need not to resort to violence.

BURNETT: Yes, they did.

EDWARDS: And so that certainly -- it's an interesting fact, I suspect, but at the end of the day, the race of the shooter and of the officers is really immaterial. This is a terrible act of violence and it should never happen in our country.

BURNETT: All right, Governor Edwards, thank you very much. Next our coverage of this breaking story continues, as we are learning more about the shooter. He was an ex-Marine. That is another piece of information just coming in. What was the motive?

Plus President Obama calling on Americans to unite. Donald trump says the president, quote, "doesn't have a clue." And here on the ground in Cleveland police everywhere plus 3,000 federal agents. Our special report coming up.



BURNETT: The breaking news in Baton Rouge. Authorities searching for a motive after a man opened fire on police officers in Baton Rouge. Three officers killed, three others wounded. One in critical condition tonight.

Sources confirming to CNN that the man behind the carnage was a 29- year-old who was killed in a shoot-out with police. Today was his birthday. And we are also just learning that he was in the military.

Drew Griffin is out front now on the ground. Drew, what more are you learning about his background and what the motive might have been?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, as far as his background, he spent five years in the U.S. Marines, 2005 to 2010. He rose to the rank of sergeant. We know he was deployed in 2008 for about seven months. He went to Iraq. He was able to get the Iraq service medal.

Also won a medal for counterterrorism stuff and that he was a specialist in data. That is about all we know from the military concerning his rank and anything about him. There doesn't seem to be any trouble there.

He did file for divorce in 2011 and apparently has no children. As for why he did this, I must tell you, Erin, it's still a bit of a puzzle, but we are reviewing some social media posts which we're trying to vet right now which would show that this is extremely preplanned and could be an act of protest.

We're still trying to get this vetted. But if we're looking at some of the same person in the social video webs that have been posted as the one gunned down here by police, it would at least answer many of the questions as to why. It wouldn't justify any of what happened, though -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Drew Griffin, thank you very much. And you heard the latest reporting there from Drew as they're working on vetting this information, we're going to bring it to you.

But I want to go now to the former Cuyahoga County Sheriff Bob Reid here with me in Cleveland, our political commentator, Hillary Clinton supporter, Bakari Sellers also with me, Art Roderick, former assistant director for Investigations at the U.S. Marshals, Pastor Mark Burns, Donald Trump supporter, and NYPD lieutenant, former and criminal justice professor, Darrin Porcher.

All right, let me start with you because I know you've been talking to your sources on the ground. You just heard what Drew was reporting. A man matching the description of the shooter was seen sitting in a car, sitting close to Baton Rouge police headquarters before the shooting.

All right, so we don't know that that was him, a man matching his description was seen there. What are your sources telling you?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think the key to this is he came from Kansas City. What was the timeline in him coming from Kansas City to Baton Rouge? It sounds to me like what I'm hearing is he was surveilling the police department and then this shooting occurred a very short distance from the police department.

So now we've got to sort out the 911 call, who actually made the 911 call, which I think is key here. We don't know -- and I'm glad to hear that the law enforcement is keeping all their options open.

But I think that's what we have to do at this point is to try to jump to conclusions, but it's just here we are again a former military individual that has taken up firearms against law enforcement similar to what we saw in Dallas.

BURNETT: I mean, that is the horrifying and frightening thing, Bob, is that this is very similar to what we saw in Dallas. Of course, we don't yet know a motive at this time. But, of course, it does fit that mold at least on the headline of what happened. How important do you think his military background is?

BOB REID, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it's important because he'll have the access or the ability to use weapons and semiautomatic assault rifles, he'll have that background to do that. And I think that law enforcement looks at this and says you know what? We'll always be there to serve and protect, but their survival is going to go up.

[19:20:08]I mean, our level to survive is going to be paramount, especially if it comes out that it was an ambush situation. I agree with art. We should wait and see what happens. Wait to see what all the information is first, but military background gives him the background to know automatic weapons.

BURNETT: And obviously, Bakari, you know, we're working on vetting these social media posts, figuring out whether it was him, what indeed he was saying, but you know, look, the nation hears this and they do contextualize it with the shootings of black men, one was in Baton Rouge, the shootings of the officers in Dallas. You have a black man here who was the shooter. One of the first officers, one of the three, the only one we know of, was also black.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think when the nation looks at this and the way that we in the media sometimes get wrapped up in narratives, people want to jump to the conclusion that somehow that we're more divided than we actually are.

I think that the first thing that we have to go to is the fact that we lost more law enforcement today in a tragic and cowardly act of violence. That's first and foremost.

But you can be like me and be on the side of people who don't want law enforcement officers to be attacked in any shape, form and fashion, but you can also not want police brutality against young African- Americans.

Those things are not mutually exclusive. So when you have a moment like this, I think that we all have to take a step back and say, look, you know, we have to pray for our law enforcement and make sure we're supporting our law enforcement. And today is a day when we're mourning more dead law enforcement and that has to stop.

I think our president did a an extremely good job today in leading this country and it's incumbent upon all of us who have voices on TV and elected officials coming up at this convention in the background to take some onus and responsibility of bringing our country together.

BURNETT: So Darrin, I mean, what happens here? Because you're now looking at the fact that law enforcement going out to do their jobs were shot and killed. The second time in two weeks something this horrific that no one could have thought it could possibly happened, it has now happened twice. One would think that if you were in law enforcement now, you would think twice before going on these calls. You would think twice.

DARRIN PORCHER, FORMER NYPD LIEUTENANT: Absolutely. Vigilance is of optimum importance. One of the things to take into consideration with the police investigation of this magnitude, the first 24 hours is when you're going to receive the greatest amount of intelligence.

That amount of intelligence would be employed to local and state police departments on a national level. That way they can assess what the threat assessment is and they can prepare their officers within these departments to prepare for the worst.

One comparison that we have here is the shooter in Dallas and the shooter here in Baton Rouge both have military backgrounds. Therefore, when we look at the threat assessment for officers, this is something that's going to play a role in how they should interact or engage with citizens in moving forward.

BURNETT: And of course, Art, it also could end up a situation where the signs were on social media and missed before. We're not sure but that could be the case. But let's just be honest here. The vicious cycle that this creates is you had another young man black shooting of police, which is exactly what police say they're afraid of happening. Now you see this happening. That is the vicious cycle that this perpetuates.

RODERICK: I'll tell you, Erin, I've already seen memos from different police departments going to other officers telling them that a minimum, a minimum of two officers will respond to every call for service and that those officers at the time they respond will make an assessment either to gear up or gear down.

So now you're seeing issues where staffing is going to take an effect. You've got police departments that ride one-man cruisers, now you're going to have two in a cruiser. OK, so what is that going to do to staffing?

SELLERS: I have to push back slightly. We don't have a vicious cycle of black men shooting at police. I think that's very dangerous rhetoric. That is not what happened.

What we have are two instances of tragedy in this country. We're still sorting out, one is very fresh, one happened last week. Disturbed individual. But the narrative cannot be we have a cycle of black men shooting at police.

Because that ratchets up the tension in this country where it doesn't need to be, but two, it puts in danger more black men. I think we have to be very cautious about that.

PASTOR MARK BURNS, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: I want to speak about what Bakari is saying. I think it's so important how our country's so divided that we look at this tragedy not as a black tragedy or a white tragedy, but this is an American tragedy.

Cops died. What took place in Baton Rouge, what took place in Minnesota, what has taken place in Dallas, this is an American tragedy. It's until we remove those narratives that we create, we will continue to have senseless killings over and over and over again on both sides.

The police, it's not them versus us or us versus them. We are them, they are us, and that's the message of unity we need to discuss.

[19:25:11]REID: But in the short term, I think it is an American tragedy, but law enforcement needs to look at what's happened over the last two or three weeks. If they want to ramp up their survival techniques they he to know.

BURNS: Absolutely.

BURNETT: You can't be in denial. All right, thank you all of you.

Next, the war of words over the Baton Rouge shootings already beginning political. The different responses from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

And today's shootings in Louisiana, new details about one of the fallen officers. We are learning more about 32-year-old Montrell Jackson.


[19:30:10] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're live from Cleveland, Ohio, where, of course, the Republican National Convention is going to begin tomorrow. I'm Dana Bash reporting from Cleveland.

But even though the center of the political universe is here, all eyes are on what happened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, today. The deadly attack on three -- and shooting -- got killed three officers and left several others wounded. The candidates, at least the main candidate here, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump is not yet here. And Hillary Clinton is down today, but both released statements about this deadly shooting.

I want to show you, first and foremost, what Hillary Clinton said. In part she said the following, "Today's devastating assault on police officers in Baton Rouge is an assault on all of us. She went on to say, we must not turn our backs on each other. We must not be indifferent to each other. We must all stand together to reject violence and strengthen our communities." Now, interestingly, Hillary Clinton decided to wait to issue that statement until President Obama spoke.

He gave some remarks from the briefing room back at the White House talking about the fact that this attack was cowardly, but he also said that people should temper our words and open our hearts, even and especially after he said that, though, Donald Trump, the man who will later this week be formally nominated to be the Republican Party candidate for the White House, he said first in a Facebook statement, "We grieve for the officers killed in Baton rouge today. How many law enforcement and people have to die because of a lack of leadership in our country? We demand law and order."

But then he put out a series of tweets especially after President Obama made his remarks that were so incredibly different and provided a real contrast to the kind of words we saw and heard from not just President Obama but more importantly Hillary Clinton. Here's what he said in his tweet, "President Obama just had a news conference, but he doesn't have a clue. Our country is a divided crime scene. It will only get worse."

I want to bring in our Sunlen Serfaty who has been covering this political angle. And how the people who want to be the next commander in chief are responding to this. Sunlen, what do you think about the very divergent ways Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump responded to this?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. You know, this all certainly providing an interesting and more serious backdrop to the events here in Cleveland. And you know, the general rule of thumb in politics is that if there are national security concerns that helps the Republicans. So, certainly that's something that Donald Trump and the Republicans here in Cleveland will try to highlight during their convention this week. One night this week is solely devoted to national security. Certainly the most recent attacks domestically and abroad will be topic number one sort of feeding into that narrative coming out of the convention.

But certainly this is a city that is already bracing for the potential for protests that is in the backdrop as well. We've heard from the police chief many times saying as of now there's been protests, no arrest, but they're certainly bracing themselves for thousands more to descend on Cleveland. Donald Trump, of course, and his vice presidential pick making their big debut this weekend leading into this big week for them here in Cleveland.


SERFATY (voice-over): On the eve of the GOP convention, Republicans are getting a closer look at their newly minted ticket.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're both ready. I have no doubt. We need toughness, we need strength. Obama's weak, Hillary is weak.

SERFATY: The running mates both projecting a message of strength to confront challenges at home and abroad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that is all a result of a foreign policy of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that has led from behind and that has sent an inexactly, unclear message about American resolve.

SERFATY: The first joint interview coming on the heels of the official rollout of their partnership.

TRUMP: Back to Mike Pence.

SERFATY: A more understated and unconventional event than recent VP announcements. Sources tell CNN that Trump asked his advisers if he could reconsider his selection of Pence after the offer had been made, but Trump seeming to reject that talk with his Saturday announcement.

TRUMP: Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice. I've admired the work he's done especially in the state of Indiana.

SERFATY: The chairman of the Republican National Committee also disputing that there were any doubts on Trump's part.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all. It was in the Pence pick, and it had been in the Pence pick for quite a while.

[19:35:06] SERFATY: Sources tell CNN that one of the factors driving Trump's decision to go with Pence was to bring balance to the ticket in terms of experience and temperament.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who know me well know I'm a pretty basic guy. I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.

SERFATY: Pence is known for being mild mannered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said campaigns ought to be about something more important than just one candidate's election.

SERFATY: Trump tells "60 Minutes" that he doesn't expect his running mate to mirror his combative style on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: We're different people. I understand that. I'll give you an example. Hillary Clinton is a liar. Hillary Clinton -- I was just proven last week.


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton -- you better believe it. Hillary Clinton is a crook.


TRUMP: I call her crooked Hillary. I didn't ask him to do it, but I don't think he should do it. Because it's different for him.

SERFATY: The pair's many policy differences including trade and the Iraq war also being put under the microscope. Republicans are trying to downplay any divisions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that Donald Trump is willing to be challenged by other people. It shows that he's not looking for someone, for yes people around him.


SERFATY: And one of the issues that divided the running mates was Donald Trump's proposal during the primary to ban all Muslims coming into the U.S. He's recently backed off that proposal and tonight offering fresh clarification saying it would not be banning all Muslims but rather individuals coming from certain countries and certain terror states -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Sunlen, and just more developments here on the story as we're learning more on the breaking news story out of Baton Rouge and the shooter, now learning that the shooter belonged to several conspiracy groups. One of which he described himself as a freedom strategist and a spiritual adviser. Another one he had posted a blog for the site Stop Organized Gang Stalking. So, we're just starting to get small pieces about who the shooter was, what the motive might have been.

Right now David Gergen joins me. Former advisor to four presidents including Reagan and Clinton. David Chalian, our political director, Bakari Sellers back with me, political commentator and Hillary Clinton supporter, Donna Brazile, a CNN political commentator, democratic super delegate, and Mark Burns, a Trump supporter along with Corey Lewandowski, our political commentator, former Trump campaign manager.

Let me start with you on a very personal basis. When you heard this news this morning, your heart sank like everyone in this country. But you got on the phone with your family in Baton Rouge, your family in New Orleans. DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I have family in both

places, I have family in all over the great state of Louisiana. And our hearts are hurting there, we are grieving. The city has mourned. And we just buried a young man just a few days ago. And the city came together today. People going to churches. It's the Lord's Day after all.


BRAZILE: Grieving, trying to heal, trying to bring about reconciliation. And then this awful tragedy. Tonight families in Baton Rouge are mourning. We have an officer who is still recovering from his wounds. He just got out of surgery. And speaking with the Governor's office, our hearts are really broken. I mean, this has to stop. I went to school in Baton Rouge. I know Baton Rouge. It's not just a government town and a college town, home of the jaguars and the tigers. It's a small community in many ways and to see such tragedy, see so much pain, it grieves us all, not just in Baton Rouge but across America.

BURNETT: And the President also used the word, I heard, see you nodding, about being the Lord's Day Pastor Burns. And I know you're supporting Donald Trump, but this is something that many are coming together.


BURNETT: The President also talked about that. Donald Trump came out after the President, Bakari, and he tweeted, after the President addressed the nation. He tweeted later this afternoon, President Obama just had a news conference, but he doesn't have a clue. Our country is a divided crime scene and it will only get worse, exclamation point.

BAKARI SELLERS, HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think that January 20th, 2017 is going to be a sad day for a lot of Americans because that's the day that the President will leave the White House. And what we saw today from the President of the United States was a very strong statement. We saw him, he seems to bring the country together show support for law enforcement. I mean, what Donald Trump did is what Donald Trump does best, which is this 1968 George Wallace type rhetoric in which we attempt to divide the country even further.

Speaking of 1968, I would challenge Donald Trump just to read a book, even go back to Tom Brokaw's boom 1968 where you have the death of King, the death of Robert F. Kennedy, the -- massacre, a few years later, you have the Kent State shooting. So, our country has seen these things before, we're not more divided, but we've always had to deal with these issue of racial strife. I mean, I hope that Donald Trump, I mean, God bless us all, he may be president of the United States, but if he is, but he's going to have to do a better job with his language, because right now he is part of the problem we're attempting to solve.

BURNETT: Was today the day? I mean, why? A day when everyone just felt a sinking feeling, right, that how can this happen again? That this has to stop. Why come out and talk about how divided the country is?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I think what he wants to talk about is the support of the law enforcement community. And he's talked about that a lot. And he has been a candidate who I think in general the law enforcement community has supported. And he wants to show his support of that community. Look, we have police officers who are being targeted either because of their race or because of the job that they have. We need to make sure that doesn't continue in this country. What we need to make sure is that the police have every resource available to them and we need to stop anybody who is going to be attacking our peace officers because they're there protect us.


[19:40:30] LEWANDOWSKI: And that's something Donald Trump has been adamant about.

BURNETT: Pastor Burns, but his words were but he doesn't have a clue, talking about Barack Obama in his tweet.

BURNS: Well, you know, I really didn't want to politicize what has taken place. I really think it's so important that today we don't really make this about Donald Trump's response or make this about Hillary Clinton's response or even the presidential race. I really think this is the time, Erin, that we as Americans really unite together to say it is the senseless killing must stop. We will not tolerate it, whether it is a white cop killing a black person or a black person killing a white cop, the moment we start putting titles associated to our names and just start addressing ourselves as Americans, that is the moment we can really begin to keyhole this.

BURNETT: Yes. And yet, David Gergen, these two people wanted to be the president of the United States. It is that leadership that we want and need to hear from them.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's right, Erin. And we've had now over 240 mass killings this year in the United States. And I think the candidates over the next two weeks need to have a serious conversation with the country about what plans they have, what exactly they would do to stop this madness.


GERGEN: What is Donald Trump? We understand he wants to be tough, he wants to be law and order candidate. What's he going to do about excess police force? What he's going to do when a young man walks on the street with an AK-47 that just opens up, you know, on cops the way this guy did it? We don't know -- I think you're right. We should not inject politics into the day, but the next two weeks are really important moments for these two countries to define, let's have an argument over the, and let the winner govern.

BURNETT: Because David Chalian, before we go here though, on the GOP convention where we are, there's going to be a make America safe again day, okay, the first day. Rudy Giuliani is speaking and a sheriff from Milwaukee both of whom have spoken out against Black Lives Matter. At Hillary Clinton's conference, they're going to have a night where several black men who have been shot by police, their mothers are going to speak. And those shootings are widely credited with beginning the Black Lives Matter movement. So, you have them each talking to a very different audience.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, though, I think, you know, to divide this as just sort of Black Lives Matter versus the police I think is the wrong thing. That's not how we live in our communities. I think it's a much more complex situation than that. And sometimes it gets lost in the political debate. In looking at the responses today and as you've said we're hearing Donald Trump's response, he cites such a divided nation, Erin, and he clearly attributes that sort of division to Clinton and Obama.

What I think Trump is going to have to answer here at the convention this week is how does he become the uniter? In our poll out this morning that's a deficit for him right now. It's a deficit for Hillary Clinton, too, but it's a bigger deficit for him. And I do think he has to add that one extra sentences, at least that's all what we could be looking for is okay, if we believes we're so desperately divided, what does he suggest as the uniter? Because as you said, he has the strength quality down and he offers that credential, but it doesn't just take strength if you take him at his own words, we're divided and it takes reunification to get there.

BRAZILE: And Erin, many of us have young black boys, young nephews and we also have cousins and uncles who are cops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And law enforcements.

BRAZILE: And we don't make a distinction. Lives are important. Violence must end. We don't make distinctions. And that's why I think this Black Lives Matter versus cops. We're all one people.


BRAZILE: And we cannot keep making ourselves act as if we have to divide. I can't divide myself from my cousins, my uncles, my brothers, my cousins. I love them all.

BURNETT: All right. Well, hit pause there on that. Next, police response to police shootings, the chaotic scene as officials at one point believe there were multiple shooters on the run and one of the officers killed in the horrific shooting today. What we are now learning about Montrell Jackson and his heroic actions.


[19:47:56] BURNETT: The breaking news we're learning more about what the events were that led to the shooting deaths of three Baton Rouge police officers specifically the 911 call that brought officers to the scene of the attack.

Pamela Brown is with me. She has been working her sources. And Pamela, what have you learned now? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're learning more

about this gunman just from looking at his activity online, Erin. And he was involved with some conspiracy groups online and he also posted on a blog for the site, Stop Organized Gang Stalking. This is a site which discusses the stalking of citizens by police and other government entities. And he was also involved in other websites and conspiracy groups that, frankly, I have never heard of. He talked about a support group an organization called Freedom From Covert Harassment and Surveillance whose mission is to help those marginalized and abused by remote brain experimentation, remote neural monitoring of an entire human body.

So, this is just one part of the gunman we're learning about some of these groups he was involved in. He describes himself online and at least two websites as a freedom strategist mental game coach nutritionist author and spiritual adviser. So, sort of perplexing, Erin, when you look at some of the stuff we pulled online. We've also learned in addition that he was a marine, a former marine. He was discharged in 2010 in the rank of sergeant. He spent some time in Iraq. I've learned from my sources that he was in Kansas City living there as recently as this year. So, the big question is, what brought him to Baton Rouge, Louisiana? Why was he there?

BURNETT: One of the most crucial questions of course was what brought him from Missouri to Baton Rouge, what the motive was there. And we are learning also as Pam was reporting, more on what we're learning about the shooter, we're learning more about the officers that were shot. Just days ago, Montrell Jackson, the 32-year-old officer who was killed wrote an emotional message to his Facebook friends in the wake of the violent shootings.

And Nick Valencia has much more. Nick, just please share with us some of what he had to say. It certainly would move you to tears not even knowing the horrific acts of today.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Montrell Jackson was one of the many police officers here in Baton Rouge that was on a heightened state of alert. The fears over time over the last nearly two weeks since the shooting death of Alton Sterling was that something could happen here, that police officers could have potentially been targeted. Montrell Jackson, one of those officers that had concern and worry that he may find himself in the crosshairs of somebody that wanted to do harm to police. And earlier today, that's exactly what happened. It was at 8:34 a.m.

According to Colonel Mike Edmonson and the state police, the first reports came in of an officer down. Subsequently we know that in all six officer were shot and wounded, three of them fatally. We're outside of the local hospital here where one of those officers is still clinging to life. We have been trying to reach out to get an update on the condition of that officer that is listed as critical. But we have yet to be able to get in touch with the hospital woman, spokeswoman. So far, people here are just waiting. There is just off camera here, there is a group of officers waiting to hear news as well. They're also acting as security. They are, some of them in riot gear,

tactical gear waiting for perhaps something even worse to happen. We cannot underscore enough how just tense the environment has been here in Baton Rouge since the shooting death of Alton Sterling. It was just five days ago that police say they disrupted a plot to harm police officers where at there were at least suspects that broke into a pawnshop and stole guns with the intention of using those weapons against police officers.

There were some discrepancies in the days afterwards. Police officers never charge those young men with the plot to kill officers, but they say that threat was credible. It appears the whole time that something like today could have happened where officers were shot and killed by somebody who wanted to do harm to them -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Nick, thank you very much. And my panel is back with me.

Pam, let me just start with you though on this issue of motive. Obviously there have been reports as to whether this was a fake 911 call luring police into an ambush or whether it was a real call and they walked into something. Do you have any sense of which it might be?

BROWN: Well, the preliminary view of law enforcement, federal and local law enforcement is that they believe that law enforcement was lured in. They're trying to verify this 911 call, but there is a view that this number one call could have been part of that effort to lure in these police officers and that effectively this was an ambush on law enforcement only raising concern for police really across the country in the wake of Dallas.

Other incidents we've seen across the country in Georgia recently, the suspect called 911 to lure a police officer there and a firefight broke out. And so, there is a lot of concern as one law enforcement official told me, our job is to go into the community, keep the community safe. Who is going to keep us safe now? That is really what law enforcement is feeling right now in the wake of what we saw in Baton Rouge.

[19:52:52] BURNETT: I mean, Art, this is something that you had indicated earlier. You thought might be the case, that that ambush scenario, which is saying that is the view that they have right now.

ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, US MARSHALS: Yes. And I think the main point of that view is he came all the way from Kansas City. Why did he come from Kansas City? This wasn't some local person in Baton Rouge doing this. So, you know, I'm glad law enforcement is keeping all the options open. Motive is key here. We have to get this right. So I think probably by tomorrow at some point, we should have exactly the motive for this. Listening to Pam's report about some of those websites, immediately I thought of paranoia. So you know, I think we're going to see an individual here who has some mental issues and similar to what we saw in Dallas.

BROWN: And I want to say Erin, I don't know if you've seen -- not to interrupt -- we're getting some more information about the groups he was involved in including he had membership in the sovereign citizens group according to my colleague Evan Perez. Investigators found a card on his body suggesting he was a member of this Wichita Nation, this is a citizens group that claims to descend from black original inhabitants of the Americas before European settlements. This is according to two officials. So what's clear to me and the picture that is emerging, this person, this gunman was aligning himself with various groups really across the spectrum.

BURNETT: And you know, when we read the Facebook post, which is so moving, Donna, you know, when you talk about uniting the country in an issue that is so charged about law enforcement and about race, what he writes so poignantly, this officer who was killed by this man today. He says, I swear to God I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks and out of uniform some people consider me a threat.


BURNETT: This is a black officer writing about how he feels as a police officer targeted and as a black man.

BRAZILE: As a black man targeted. And, you know, just a few days ago Senator Scott talked about the troubles that he's experienced, wearing a pin and still being asked for his identification as a United States senator. He also says and Montrell, bless his heart, his family, he is a father, a newborn born in March. His wife, I'm sure is grieving, we will help you. We will help you. We will help you. He said, these are trying times. Police don't let hate infect your heart. The city must and will get better.

I'm working in these streets, so any protester, officer, friends, family, whoever, if you see me and need a hug and want to say a prayer, I got you. Clearly this was a public servant who was dedicated to his job and his community, and I just pray for his family and the family of all the other slain officers as well.

BURNETT: Eloquently he put this. And David Chalian this is what we want from this week, from next week is for the leaders for the two presumptive nominees to step up and take that message of unity.

CHALIAN: That's right.

BURNETT: To listen to what this man wrote.

CHALIAN: Yes. This is now an opportunity for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The mission now, the challenge to them in these two weeks is to demonstrate that they are the leader with the right path to start bringing these factions of the country together, to unite us as one people obviously to also speak to protecting our law enforcement, but this is their leadership moment. That's what has to come out of these two weeks. That's what they take to the people --

BURNETT: And Corey, very quickly before we go, will we hear that from Donald Trump, not just blue lives matter, Black Lives Matter? CHALIAN: No, I think what you'll going to hear is a unification

process. That's what everybody wants. And if our country is going to be better than it is today, we need -- in bringing everyone together, and put us forth on the right path. That's what Donald Trump wants to bring. That's what he has to bring to be successful.

BURNETT: These next few days are going to be the real test of whether he does that. Thank you all very much. We'll be right back.