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THE SITUATION ROOM
3 Officers Dead, 3 Wounded in Baton Rouge; Obama: Attack on Officers "The Work of Cowards"; Interview with Bobby Jindal. Aired 6- 7p ET
Aired July 17, 2016 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Cultural warfare has now defined our politics to the point where we can't come together.
[18:00:06] Trump is right about this. We have an inability to come together because we have no common ground, even about what our problems are and a way of going about solving them.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's a really sensitive moment in the air right now.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. I mean, everyone I think feels on edge. It feels like walking around here with all the barricades here and all the security, I think the country is on edge. And I do think there is this yearning for leadership.
I think some people obviously think Obama has done a good job. He's recuperating something like 51 percent and some think Trump is the answer as well. And we'll see how Republicans themselves react to these events. They have obviously in some, ways been upset with Trump. They feel like he's not always been presidential. We'll see if anything else happened to the candidate.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by, because there's much more coming up.
Happening now, we're following the breaking news out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And once again, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're live here in Cleveland, this on the eve of the Republican National Convention. We'll get to more on that in just a few minutes, but first the horrific breaking news we've been following.
Three police officers have been shot dead. Three other police officers wounded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One of the wounded is in critical condition right now, fighting for his life.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BLITZER: The shootout was captured on video by a witness.
Officials say the gunman was killed on the scene. Our sources have identified him as 29-year-old Gavin Long from Kansas City, Missouri. Authorities stressed there is no active shooter situation under way right now.
President Obama just spoke in the last hour about this horrific murder, calling on the nation to condemn violence against law enforcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. MIKE EDMONSON, SUPERINTENDENT, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: At approximately 8:40 a.m., Baton Rouge police officers at a convenience store observed the individual. He was wearing all black standing behind a beauty supply store, holding a rifle.
At approximately 8:42 a.m., reports received of shots fired. At approximately 8:44 a.m., reports received of officers down on the scene. At 8:45, reports received of more shots being fired. At 8:46 a.m., reports received that the suspect, again, that was wearing all black, standing near a car wash located right next to the convenience store.
At 8:48, our emergency EMS unit arriving the scene. They were staging so they could start approaching and getting the bodies that were at the scene to render first aid. Officers engaged the subject at that particular time, and he ultimately died at the scene. That was officers responding to the scene itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our Fredricka Whitfield arrived on the scene just a little while ago. She's joining us now.
Fred, what is the latest you're getting on this investigation?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's still unclear, this 29-year-old Gavin Long of Missouri. That's all we know thus far. We don't know his motivation, we don't know if he lives in the area, but is from Missouri, or if he traveled here from Missouri. We don't know anything more about him, just the I.D. just as you heard, the police officers there talking about how he was spotted, with a long arm weapon behind a beauty supply.
A call went in. Police responded. And then there was gunfire. And we know now three police officers were killed. We're told that their experiences range from one year to nine years.
When we first rolled up here just about an hour, just trying to get through this area, a two-mile radius is still cordoned off. This is a major thoroughfare where there are a lot of restaurants. There are car dealers, et cetera. You can see the blue lights behind us where it's still an active crime scene.
And when we rolled up and just tried to get direction of where we were permitted to go, I saw police officers who were embracing one another, comforting one another. One of the police officers that I spoke with, a Baton Rouge police officer, he knew two of the three officers who were killed today, and his eyes were filled with tears. He says this hurts very deep.
You heard the governor, Louisiana governor earlier today also say during that press conference just barely say an hour ago say that an attack on one is an attack on all. You heard the sheriff's department deputy who said, this is a police force that was already feeling very depleted over the last 12 to 14 days following the Alton Sterling death by two police officers.
There had been protests here. It has created a much more tenuous relationship between some community members here and the police department. So already people, civilians, taxed about all that has transpired, and then you have this and people still trying to figure out what precipitated this, who is this 29-year-old, how did this happen?
I spoke to a couple people who live in this neighborhood just a few minutes ago, and they said, you know at, Wolf, we are undeterred. They have set up a voter registration table here on their own. They've been doing this for the past two weeks, because they say this kind of violence between citizen and police is something much deeper, much bigger. Those were their words.
They've been putting up these voter registration booths ever since the Alton Sterling shooting, and they say, and they're trying to encourage people, the only way to help a community heal is to be actively involved, and that's how they're starting, and they say even with the backdrop of these blue lights, even though the investigation is ongoing, even though police say there is no active shooter and that they took down what they believe to be the primary suspect, the 29- year-old, the people I talked to here in the neighborhood with the voter registration booth set up, they say they will continue to encourage people to be involved in the community, at the same time also trying to encourage a better relationship between members of the community here and police -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Fred, I want you to stand by for a moment.
Our law enforcement analysts Bob Reid and Art Roderick are here. Justice correspondent Pamela Brown is with me as well.
Pamela, you've been getting new information. Update our viewers.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, I've been speaking to law enforcement officials, Wolf, and we've learned that the FBI is running names of possible associates of this gunman, trying to figure out if any of these associates actively or knowingly were involved. But officials I spoke to in law enforcement say without a doubt this was an ambush on law enforcement. Law enforcement was targeted by this gunman, 29-year-old Gavin Long.
Right now, they're trying to figure out if he had any affiliations with any hate terrorist groups, domestic terror groups. We know that following Dallas, the FBI has been in touch with some of these domestic terrorist groups and they claim they've not been sending out this message to its followers to attack police. But, of course, there is a possibility that these people could be aligned with these groups and go rogue.
What's interesting to note here is this was the gunman's birthday, so what they're looking at is whether the gunman wanted to do a suicide by cop on his birthday, whether he wanted to go down in flames and send a strong message, but of course that is something they're factoring in. Another possible scenario, Wolf, they're looking at is the question of whether a gunman or an associate called 911 to lure, in the police officers.
We've seen similar tactics used in other places in the country. Recently there were some arrests from people in hate groups that wanted to use this tactic. What they're trying to figure out now is whether this 911 call was made to police. And for police officers who are trying to protect the communities, now when they respond to 911 calls, they have to ask themselves, am I being lured into an ambush?
There is big concern of police across the country. One official I spoke to said, it feels a bit like it's open season on law enforcement. There's a lot of concern.
BLITZER: We spoke just a little while ago with Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy who said, apparently, he has heard that on this individual's Facebook page, there were references to hate and perhaps some sort of association with a hate group. Have we been able to follow up on that? Have we heard anything about that?
BROWN: So, I know our investigative team right now is scrubbing all social media sites. We have to be careful, Wolf, because sometimes we'll put up fake social media sites of a shooter after a situation like this, so we're verifying what we see. But we know this was an African-American from Kansas City, Missouri.
The question remains, what brought him to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and what were his affiliations?
BLITZER: Bob Reid, walk us a little bit behind the scenes right now. You're a CNN law enforcement analyst, former sheriff here in Cuyahoga County.
What are they doing right now to find out if others may have been involved in some way and whether this individual is now dead, 29-year- old Gavin Long from Kansas City, Missouri, may have had some hate motivation, if you will?
BOB REID, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think it complicates things a little bit with him being out of state. Now they have to coordinate themselves with officials in Kansas City, which the FBI will be doing. The logistics of it are a little more difficult.
But at the same time, a lot of manpower is going to be assigned to a case like this. They'll have a lot of people doing a lot of things and very quickly. [18:10:03] BLITZER: We have some eyewitness accounts of what they saw
and heard. Let me play a little bit of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brady, from what we've gathered from a witness and from law enforcement, there have been reports that officers were targeted. Do you believe that based off what you have seen and heard?
BRADY VANCEL, WITNESS: I'm not entirely sure. I don't think police officers were targeted. It could have been a plan to attack, but not from my assumption, what I witnessed as I walked around the fence and saw a man laying on the ground in a red shirt that wasn't a police officer, and he's in an parking lot, an empty parking lot, with another gunman running away as more shots were being fired back and forth from several guns. And then, about 45 seconds later, that's when police start to pull up on the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see one of the suspects wearing a mask? We've heard reports of a masked gunman, military style, ninja style. Did you witness that?
VANCEL: Yes, ma'am. He ran -- as he was running down the fence, I guess to run away from the scene, he was running towards me. He wasn't military or ninja style at all. He was in black shorts or black shirt and he had a mask on, and a gun in his hand.
The way he was moving, you would know that this was just a pedestrian running with a rifle in his hand more than someone with trained skills moving with a rifle. So, if anything, this is just a man on the street acting out or having, you know, a problem. I'm not entirely sure. I just know from what I saw, I don't believe that it was police targeted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brady, this is Greg --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want to just bring Pamela Brown back into this. You're hearing from sources that the indications are that this may have been some sort of an ambush of these police officers, is that right?
BROWN: The preliminary view of this from the FBI, other law enforcement agencies and I should caveat that sometimes officers, and this is not a consensus, as you two can say, but people I have spoken with believe that police were targeted, that this was an attempt to target police only heels of Dallas and other scenarios we've seen across the country.
But, again, you know, we haven't really heard from officials on the ground why police arrived on that scene, exactly. So that's what they're trying to figure out. We know this 911 call was made, but the question is, was there a crime and something else going on? Why were police there?
So, there's still unanswered questions, but the way it's being viewed is law enforcement was targeted and this is certainly raising concern for law enforcement across the country of doing their jobs. And particularly as we sit here in Cleveland, security here in Cleveland with protesters and law enforcement outside.
BLITZER: Very intense.
Art Roderick, our CNN law enforcement analyst, former assistant director of the U.S. marshal service and previous officer before he went into the marshal service.
You're hearing this information. What's your analysis?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It seems like he came there for one purpose. He left Kansas City. It's going to be interesting to see what the timeline was when he was in Kansas City, when he left Kansas City. Did he come from Kansas City to the police station, stake it out and then make his move?
So, this timeline is going to be key, and I agree with Pamela that this was targeting -- they were targeting enforcement. We think -- you know, obviously we have a tinder box going on in Baton Rouge, and more than likely we're going to find out that's why he came to Baton Rouge from Kansas City. A lot of things are pointing to that. None of them confirmed 100 percent yet but it looks like he came there.
BLITZER: No accident he was there presumably a week and a half ago. We all know the killing of African-American Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge by police officers. And the suspicion, I suspect, the suspicion is he may have wanted to go to Baton Rouge or whatever?
RODERICK: Exactly, yes, yes, especially once they get into his apartment or home in Kansas City and they execute to get his key to basically letting us know what his mindset was.
BLITZER: We're getting a lot of information about this individual, 29-year-old Gavin Long from Kansas City, Missouri. We're going to update our viewers. Everybody, stand by. There's other information coming as well.
You heard the president speak out very passionately about this a little while ago. We're going to have the president's remarks and a lot more coming up right after this.
[18:19:08] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're getting more information on the breaking news we're following. Three police officers shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Three other police officers injured, wounded, one of them right now fighting for his life.
The president just a little while ago went into the briefing room at the White House to speak out on this senseless killing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Regardless of motive, the death of these three brave officers underscores the danger that police across the country confront every single day. 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, and the rule of law that makes society possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[08:20:00] BLITZER: Our correspondent Athena Jones was there at the White House when the president spoke out.
You can see, Athena, the president visibly clearly moved. He has to do these events way too often.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. That's one thing he said in his remarks, this happens far too often. It seems this is become almost routine that he's called upon to come out and give these words of comfort and try to make allow -- help Americans make sense of what is going on.
You mentioned before the break him talking passionately. I also thought he seemed weary simply because this is something he's had to do so much.
We heard him offer words of support for police. One thing we did not hear him do, as we often hear him do after shootings or similar shootings, is talk about guns or gun control. It's something he's been criticized for in the past. He may have left that out because there's still so much to learn about the events there, what went down in Baton Rouge, the weapons used and all of that.
But one thing we also heard from him is this call to unity. He's been trying to make the point, including in the memorial service in Dallas last week, that America is not as divided as it would seem from these shootings and from the rhetoric we've seen out on the campaign trail.
He didn't try to make that case today. It's a case that's difficult to make seeing all this violence occur. Instead he made a challenge to the American people to unify. He said at one point, it's important for everyone, regardless of race or profession or political party right now to focus on their words, focus on words and actions that can unite the country rather than further divide us.
He said, we don't need inflammatory rhetoric or careless accusations and that only we as a people, as American people, can prove through words and deeds that we will not be divided.
So, I would say, he appeared very serious, as one would expect, somber and weary at having to come out to give these kinds of soothing remarks yet again, Wolf.
BLITZER: He also said we must temper our words, open our hearts, and he promised that justice will be done.
Athena, thank you very much. I want to bring in CNN law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander.
He's joining us right now. Cheryl Dorsey, she's a retired policewoman from the LAPD.
Two scenarios being examined right now, Cedric, one of those scenarios, the officers were responding to a 911 call, encountered the suspect and were shot, or it was all a setup with that fake 911 call to draw police there and to ambush those police officers. It's pretty -- it's pretty stunning if, in fact, that was the case.
You heard Pamela Brown, our justice correspondent, say that the FBI and others are investigating this possibility that it was an ambush.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, let me say this. It certainly is leaning towards that direction that it may very well have been an ambush situation. And if it is, certainly that is very frightening to all of us because we're seeing this way too often.
And this is just a very, very challenging time for us in this country at this moment. But let me add quickly here, there is no time that's important as this very moment that police and the community really have to work together to get us through this. We do have to be really careful about the language that we use, and we have to use a great deal of temperament, but at the same time, we have to be able to communicate with each other so that we can stand together.
Any time a law enforcement official is attacked and killed in senseless ways that we have seen here in the last couple of weeks, that is an attack upon every American citizen in that community, because it's those police officers that are there under the call of the law to protect and service. An attack on them is it an attack on all of us. There's no other way to put it.
BLITZER: Cheryl, you worked at the LAPD. You were a police sergeant there. You know there is a lot of concern right now that these killings of police officers will create this culture of fear, if you will, among police officers when responding to legitimate 911 calls in the future. They're going to have in the back of their minds, is this really a 911 legitimate call or not?
You appreciate that, I'm sure.
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LOS ANGELES POLICE SERGEANT: Absolutely. And so, there are legitimate concerns on both sides of the arena and understand, I come from both worlds as a police officer and as a black woman and a mother of young, black men. So, let's not ignore the elephant that's in the room, Wolf, and let's not pretend that these things don't have a correlation.
So, unless these police departments stop minimizing and mitigating the bad behavior of officers, I think it's my fear that we'll see young men like this Gavin Long who feel hopeless in their situation act out in a way that's inappropriate.
And so, Wolf, as a member of the National Coalition of Officers for Reformed Justice and Accountability, we are engaged and available to speak to the president and anyone else who wants to have a real candid dialogue about how we need to bridge the gap between minority communities and the police department so that there's no loss of life on either side.
[18:25:17] BLITZER: The family off Alton Sterling, the man who was killed about a week and a half ago, they reacted to this shooting of police officers today. Let me play the clip for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VEDA WASHINGTON-ABUSALEH, ALTON STERLING'S AUNT: We don't call for no bloodshed. This is how all this started, with bloodshed. We don't want no more bloodshed.
If you're not with us, leave, go home, go wherever you came from. This is our house. You can't come to our house killing us. That's what you're doing, because at the end of the day, when these people call these families, they tell them that their daddy and their mama is not coming home no more.
I know how they feel because I got the same phone call. No justice! No justice! No peace! That's what we're calling for. Stop this killing! Stop this killing! Stop this killing!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Heartbreaking reaction from the family of Alton Sterling. Cedric, when you hear that, what's your reaction?
ALEXANDER: It is very heartbreaking, but what I hear her saying as she talked to the American people in her own way is that she's still in pain because of her own loss, and she's in equal pain at the loss of the officers there in her community today. She may very well have known those officers. Baton Rouge is a very small community.
And my heart goes out to all of those who have lost their lives here in the last few days. But when I listen to her, I hear her pain, and it is certainly very hurting to all of us. She just don't want any more bloodshed and she's crying out for everyone in this country to come to peace with each other, and that is certainly what we need to do at this moment.
BLITZER: Cedric Alexander, thank you. Cheryl Dorsey, thank you as well.
The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, he's standing by. I'm going to speak with him momentarily. We'll get the latest on the investigation.
Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARL DABADIE JR., BATON ROUGE POLICE CHIEF: We would ask for prayers from this community for our officers, for our families, for the families that have been affected by today's senseless shootings that went on this morning.
Prayers for all law enforcement, not just the BRPD, but for all of us. As the sheriff and the colonel said, we stand united and this is a united front. Make no mistake about that. This is very united.
We'll get through this as a family, we'll get through this as a community, but I want all of the BRPD officers to know that I support you. Every single one of them, I stand with you, I stand beside you, and we are going to get through this and we're going to get through this together.
This is not going to -- this is not going to tarnish this city or this department. We're going to move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Powerful words, indeed. Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're following the breaking news. Three police officers shot and killed, three other police officers wounded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
When a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty, organizations like the Blue Alert Foundation step in to help the families these men and women in uniform leave behind.
Tom Berry is joining us now live from Tampa, Florida. He's the founder and director of the Blue Alert Foundation.
Tom, thanks very much for joining us. Our deepest, deepest condolences. Have you had a chance yet to reach out to the families of these three police officers who were murdered today?
TOM BERRY, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, BLUE ALERT FOUNDATION: Not as yet, Wolf. We're still waiting for the identification of them. I had to get up here in two hours, so in the lead time I did not get that information yet to reach out to them.
BLITZER: So what do you do once you get in touch with them? What can you say to these families who are so grieving right now?
BERRY: Well, Wolf, it's hard. I mean, a -- a spouse knows that their husband or their wives are going out in the field to do their job and do their job correctly. And they never know at that time that they're going to come back home. But having this certain climate going on right now is even making it worse for them. They're in fear. They're trying to figure out what to do. They're coming to points where they're taking off stuff on their car saying, "I support law enforcement" or "My husband is a police officer" because they're in fear of what's happening in the United States now with our law enforcement.
BLITZER: All of us are so dependent on law enforcement to protect us. What's your advice to people who may be watching and listening right now? What needs to be done to get -- to move on right now and stop this kind of madness.
[18:35:08] BERRY: Well, we're trying to get stuff done. We're trying with a summit. We're going to put that out real soon on it at the U.N. to bring world leaders in, and celebrities and athletes and law enforcement to figure out, what can we do? We want to open up dialogue. We want to be on an even playing field to get this to stop so we can trust everyone and trust to protect everyone out there, law enforcement and the community.
This is not a one-way street where I'm concerned. This is a two-way street to protect the communities that our law enforcement are there to serve and to protect.
BLITZER: You heard the president of the United States say earlier, we have our divisions. They are not new, but we must stop all these careless accusations out there. All of us, he said, must temper our words and open our hearts. I assume you believe that's appropriate advice from the president.
BERRY: Absolutely. We've got to open up our hearts but we've got to -- both sides, we've got to stop it and stop the rhetoric that's going on there with the -- with law enforcement. I mean, I don't know what to do as one person, but I know if we get a group of people together, we can absolutely try to make a dent and stop what's happening right now.
BLITZER: Tom Berry is the founder and director of the Blue Alert Foundation.
Tom, thank you very much for joining us, and once again, our deepest, deepest condolences.
I want to go to Paulo Sandoval right now. He's getting new information on the police officers who were shot and killed.
Polo, what are you learning?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At this point we're learning -- getting some details about at least one of the three police officers who died today on the line of duty. The first one -- in the line of duty, the first one 31-year-old Montrell Jackson, a man that we are told had been with the department for at least 10 years. 32 years old. There are a lot of this man's stories that are now beginning to surf online, that we're poring over right now to be to confirm and to be able to bring you some of these stories. But as you may imagine, he was somebody who was a member of the community, somebody who ultimately gave his life now defending that community.
So expect more information regarding Officer Jackson and also the other two officers, one of which is a 41-year-old who was with the department for less than a year, and then the third individual, Wolf, who actually worked for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department. So, again, these are now the stories that are beginning to surface slowly as we begin to learn more about those three officers who were shot and killed today. We at least know a little bit about one of those right now. BLITZER: Yes. And our hearts and prayers, our condolences go out to
the families of those three police officers who were shot. We know one of the police officers who was shot is fighting for his life right now.
Polo, thank you very much.
There is more information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Let's take a quick break. We'll share that with you right after this short break.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
[18:43:04] BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer. We're following the breaking news, three police officers shot and killed, three other police officers wounded, one of them fighting for his life right now in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
I want to bring in a voice that knows Baton Rouge very well, has a relationship with law enforcement in Louisiana, the former Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, is joining us on the phone.
Governor, thank you very much for joining us. I wish we were speaking under different circumstances. You know your community in Baton Rouge well. First of all, how is the community dealing with this?
BOBBY JINDAL (R), FORMER LOUISIANA GOVERNOR: Wolf, our hearts are broken. You're right, I do know the law enforcement community. You know, they helped take care of me and my family these last eight years as I was governor. These are incredible heroes. They run towards danger, not away from it, so that we can be safe. An awful, awful day for the people of Baton Rouge today.
BLITZER: Are you being briefed as a former governor on the current investigation?
JINDAL: Wolf, you know, I do have contacts in law enforcement. I've talked with them throughout the day, but I'm not sharing any information that they're not making public. I defer to the colonel, Colonel Edmonson, the head of state police, and Governor John Bel Edwards. It's their role to brief the public on what's going on, and I respect their roles.
I'm still very close to law enforcement so I have been talking to them. And, look, the response was immediate, it was heroic, it's what you would expect. I think that this is going to help bring our community together. You know, people are going into and coming out of churches as they hear about this news. And I know in my church, for example, even before the shooting, our pastor talked about the importance of unity, of praying, of crossing divides.
And this is a time for us -- forget ideological divides, forget racial divides. This is a time for us to remember we're all created in God's image, we're all valuable. And I think, you know, Baton Rouge is a great community. I was born and raised here. We care for each other, we love each other, but there's been a lot of tense days these last several days. And I'm just -- we need to start healing. We need to put this violence behind us.
Look, all lives are precious, all lives matter.
[18:45:01] We need to stop dividing ourselves by race or any other artificial divisions. This is an awful, awful tragedy done by an evil person, but hopefully we can start that process of healing. The irony is in the last couple of days, Friday was obviously a very emotional day for a lot of people with the memorial service, the funeral service. But ironically in the last few days, it felt like things were beginning to return a little bit to normal. It began to feel like some of the tension was leaving.
We had fewer protesters, we had -- we've had law enforcement from around the state come into Baton Rouge to help protect and provide security. But that, you know, again, that was -- even that presence had begun to be reduced, so ironically in the last few days, I think law enforcement felt like maybe we were turning a corner, maybe things were getting back to normal.
I've got to say, these are incredible men and women. I mean, literally I've seen them around my young children. I've spent time with them, I've spent countless hours with them. Every day, I know their wives, their husbands, their children, they just worry about the safe return about their loved ones. Every day they took very dangerous job. Even a routine job that can become deadly.
And I know that these families are grieving when one of them is hurt. When one of them is killed in the line of duty, much less three. I know it impacts every single law enforcement official in our community.
BLITZER: Were these police officers ambushed? Can you share that with us based on the information you're getting, Governor?
JINDAL: Well, like I said, I'm going to defer. I think the governor and the state police, you know, the superintendent, they provided briefings. What they've said publicly to date is that the officers responded to a call on Airline Highway -- and I want to emphasize to folks this is a very normal part of town. The police headquarters is actually the old Women's Hospital where I was born, where two of my three kids were born. There were a lot of shopping, a lot of retail in that area, it's near the Cortana Mall. It was the -- you know, the second mall in our city, then now there's a third mall in our city.
And so this is a very normal, high frequently, you know, visited area. This is a highly trafficked commercial corridor. This is a normal neighborhood you would see in any city, in any community in America. And this was a Sunday morning. They get this call. There is a man in a mask in black clothing walking down the street with a gun. They respond and, you know, he opens fire.
Just -- you know, I happened to be -- coincidentally, Wolf, I happened to be near that area. I didn't see the shooting, I didn't see firsthand, but I happened to be there and near that area and I saw police units all of a sudden turn on their lights and rush both to the hospital and towards that area. It was a very rapid response from state and local law enforcement. And again even when they weren't sure if there were additional shooters, they bravely went in there to protect human life.
And that's what they do. Look, every day when they hear shots fired they do the opposite of human nature. They run towards those shots so that we can be unsafe. And that's what they did this morning. They did their job extremely well. We'll find out more details as they investigate. This was apparently an out-of-state shooter. They'll investigate his motivations. And not that you can ever understand evil like this, but they did what they're trained to do. They ran toward those shots to make sure there weren't other deaths, other injuries.
BLITZER: Good point. Bobby Jindal is the former governor of Louisiana.
Governor, thank you so much for joining us.
JINDAL: Wolf, I would just ask for your viewers' prayers and thoughts for these families. A lot of them won't be seeing their loved ones again. I know they could definitely use your prayers at this time. Thank you.
BLITZER: Yes. And we know the identity, Governor, of one of the three police officers shot, 32-year-old Montrell Jackson. He was among the police officers who were shot and killed. Our deepest, deepest condolences to the Jackson family for that loss.
All right, Governor, thank you very much.
Fredricka Whitfield is on the scene for us in Baton Rouge.
Fred, what are you hearing from people there near the scene?
WHITFIELD: I've talked to a number of people who happened to live in the neighborhood. You can see right behind me, Wolf. This is a residential community. You heard the governor talking about this airport highway, which really is a vital, commercial district. There are car dealerships, there are restaurants, there is the beauty shop where of course we've heard this gunman now, Gavin Long, who eyewitnesses say they saw him behind this beauty shop with this long- armed assault weapon of sorts. And that's when police responded.
And just here to my right -- Steve, I'm going to ask you to unlock your camera a little bit and swing over. It's not the prettiest look because you've got the barricades up. And you've got a number of trees but just next to these police squad cars, that is the police headquarters for Baton Rouge Police. So they didn't have to go far to respond to the call, just down the street here about a mile and a half, and that's when, of course, when the police arrived, we know from eyewitness accounts, we know from police now, that these police officers were shot, three of whom were killed. I spoke with a number of police officers earlier, one in particular
with tears in his eyes. He knew two of the police officers. He says this hurts very deep. The police community here is a very tight one. But then the flipside to that, I talked to a number of residents in the area who say the relationship between some members of the community here and the police department, it's been very tenuous.
[18:50:08] And it's been that way, according to some of the people that I spoke to who didn't eyewitness the event but they were in the vicinity, who say there has been a problem between some communities and the police community here for a very long time well before the shooting of Alton Sterling. And this has now just reached a bubbling point. But of course, they say they are undeterred. They're hoping that this community, the police community, civilian community, can build, you know, together, can close any gaps there might be between some -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope that happens.
All right, Fred, thanks very much.
Just a little while ago, President Obama spoke out about these murders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 and the rule of law that makes society possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Donald Trump wasted no time in replying to the president tweeting out this, and I'm quoting Donald Trump. "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."
Let's get some analysis. Joining us now, Molly Ball, political writer with the "Atlantic." Our senior political analyst, former presidential adviser David Gergen is with us. Our CNN Politics executive editor, Mark Preston, and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
So very different responses from the president and from Donald Trump.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Polar opposites. You know, Donald Trump's response was exactly what President Obama said the country does not need, period. You know, in the president's speech, he said we don't need an inflammatory rhetoric or careless accusations to advance a political agenda. And he was clearly referring to Donald Trump in that.
So what you see is not only a polarized country here, but we have polarized politics that reflects that country and, you know, I think that what you heard with President Obama was a president who almost seemed to sound like there was some futility to his remarks, that he's done this 15 times and that each iteration to me seems to get harder and harder for him. And with Donald Trump, it was effectively it's his fault. I'm for law and order and the president doesn't have a clue.
BLITZER: Molly, how do you see it?
MOLLY BALL, POLITICAL WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I think that's right. I mean, and I think that, you know, Donald Trump's campaign from the very beginning has been about this theme of America under threat.
BALL: Whether it's from terrorism, whether it's from crime. Whether it's from outsiders who are immigrants or outsiders who are Muslims. And so he is now -- you know, we see him at the convention, a lot of the theming of the convention talking about make America safe again. He is trying to be the law and order candidate who is telling people that he will take on these threats more aggressively. And I think that he would -- he probably views statements like Obama's as only so much sort of political correctness.
BALL: I think Donald Trump would say this is something that can't be solved with words. It needs tough actions. So we do see completely different world views and we do see the themes of this election, I think, playing out very much on the turf that Donald Trump had staked out.
BLITZER: And, David, we're going to see these themes played out this week here in Cleveland at the Republican convention and I'm sure next week in Philadelphia at the Democratic convention.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And Donald Trump has already scrambled Monday night for the first opening night of this convention to focus on these issues of law and order so he can present himself as a law and order candidate.
I do think what we saw today was every person responding exactly as they have. Obama was eloquent, Hillary Clinton was supportive. And Donald Trump went on the attack. But what was missing from all three was a plan of action. They seem so helpless. We seem so helpless. We hear words, words, words, what's going to actually happen, what you'd love to see at these conventions is in the Republican convention, OK, lay out what your three or four steps that you guys are united on. If you win the election.
And the Democratic convention, you guys lay out your thing and let the country choose. Right now we have nothing to choose from.
BLITZER: And Donald Trump will have this theme, he's the law and order candidate. MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: And he'll do this
tomorrow night, as we talked about. We'll hear about Benghazi and trying to keep America strong and how he feels that Hillary Clinton really let the country down. But it will be about him being a law and order type of candidate, somebody who is supportive of police. But what I do think is important out of this horrific tragedy that we saw this morning and that we've seen over the past couple of weeks, we only have to compare this to what we saw in Turkey just a few days ago is that we're going to have a convention here in Cleveland where there's going to be a set of ideas that is going to be diametrically different than we're going to see a week from now. And the fact that we can have a democracy and argue this stuff out is really important.
[18:55:05] And I do think that we do forget about that, that we are lucky to be living in a country where that could happen.
BLITZER: Hold on -- hold on for a moment because, you know, there's an emotional statement that I want to read to our viewers here in the United States, indeed around the world, the words of Montrell Jackson, one of the police officers who was shot and killed today in Baton Rouge, only 32 years old. He wrote these words on Facebook on July 8th after the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge. And he writes this.
"I'm tired physically and emotionally. Disappointed in some family, friends and officers for some reckless comments, but hey, what's in your heart is in your heart. I still love you all because hate takes too much energy, but I definitely won't be looking at you the same. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me or my wife. It was needed and much appreciated. 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 consider me a threat.
"I experience so much in my short life and these last three days have tested me to the core. When people you know begin to question your integrity, you realize they don't really know you at all. Look at my actions. They speak loud and clear. Finally, I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don't let hate infect your heart. This city must and will get better. I'm working in these streets, so any protesters, officers, friends, family or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you."
Our special coverage will continue right after this.