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Press Conference on Ohio State University Knife Attack. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 30, 2016 - 13:59   ET


[13:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi may be in danger of losing her role as the top Democrats in House in uncertain political times. Did she hold off the challenge and what's next for the Democratic Party? That may be the real question.


KEILAR: All right. We are looking in on a press conference here. Ohio State University police and representatives talking about that attack that we saw there this week. Let's listen in.

BENJAMIN GLASSMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO: -- officially, the various law enforcement agencies involved in various components of this investigation. And because we are talking about an investigation and not prosecution, most of the relevant information is going to come from my colleagues in law enforcement and I'll yield the podium to them very shortly.

I did want to say on behalf of the United States attorney's office and Department of Justice is, first, to give our regards to the victims of the offense and our prayers for their speedy and complete recovery.

Our thanks to the Ohio State police, the Columbus police and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force for their excellent response and coordination with each other, which is really excellent collaboration among law enforcement agencies.

My role, the United States attorneys' office role here and the Department of Justice is to provide whatever support we can terms of legal process for the ongoing investigation.

Now, because we are talking about an ongoing investigation and legal process, unfortunately, we're not going to be in a position to provide certain details about what's going on. Nevertheless, I do think it might be helpful for you to hear from the various different law enforcement components as to what they are doing. And then after they can give you a briefing from each agency's perspective, we can come back and answer any questions that you might have.

With that, I would yield the podium to special agent in the FBI Cincinnati Field Division.


Good afternoon. I'm Angela Byers, special agent in charge of the Cincinnati FBI office, which also includes Columbus.

First, I want to thank the Ohio State University and the greater Columbus community for their support in the aftermath of Monday's attack on campus. Our sympathies go out to everyone who is impacted by this tragedy. The men and women of the FBI are part of this great community and we will be with you, united as we move forward, together. We are all Buckeye strong.

I want to commend the Ohio State University Police Department and the Department of Public Safety for their swift a protect students, faculty and staff in the wake of Monday's attack. The officer involved took decisive steps to end the immediate threat and the university wisely activated the Buckeye Alert System, which helped alert those on campus of the danger.

The FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, including the Columbus Division of Police, the Columbus Division of Fire, the Ohio State University Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, has been working together to determine as much as possible about the attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan. These efforts include the detailed analysis of electronic devices, social media accounts and other materials. The Joint Terrorism Task Force and our partners have conducted dozens of interviews with family members, co-workers, neighbors and others. These efforts will continue with an immense amount of local and federal resources being devoted investigation.

At this time, we are not aware of anyone else being involved in the planning of this attack, but the investigation continues. It appears that Artan may have at least been inspired by Anwar Awlaki and the Islamic State and we will continue to pursue this as part of this investigation.

Please understand that this investigation is very comprehensive, and thorough, as we meticulously go through evidence, intelligence and information to determine what may have led to this attack. It will take time.

[13:35:06] At this point in the investigation, we want to ask the public for assistance in one specific area. We ask for anyone with credible information about Artan's whereabouts on the Monday morning prior to the attack at 9:52 a.m. to call 1-800-call-FBI. Again, 1- 800-call-FBI.

While we know several details about his travels that morning, we want to fill in any time that is not accounted for. We appreciate your support and assistance.

I want to, again, thank all of our partners, including the Ohio State University Police Department, the Columbus Division of Police, the Columbus Division of Fire and our partner agencies on the Joint Terrorism Task Force for all of their work on this continuing investigation. We will provide updates as the investigation permits.

Thank you.

I next want to introduce Columbus Division of Police deputy chief, Mike Woods.

MIKE WOODS, DEPUTY CHIEF, COLUMBUS DIVISION OF POLICE: Just to, a couple comments to back up Special Agent Byers' comments. I'm Michael Woods, Columbus Police Homeland Security Subdivision.

We echo the thoughts of the FBI and express sympathies to all those involved in the attack on Monday. We are extremely grateful no innocent lives were lost and we're hopeful all victimless make a full recovery.

We also want to thank public officials across Columbus that responded and assisted in this effort. Our training and planning we've done for several years now came into play, and we were very happy with the success and the response.

As mentioned, our investigators assigned to the JTTF and counterterrorism unit of working with the JTTF to provide information on the background of the attacker and trying to work that a timeline and provide any information we can.

From the Columbus police perspective, this is a two-part investigation. The first part is the component that we're working with the FBI in relationship to the attacker and any motive that he may have had. And the second component is the investigation into the police-involved shooting. Although these are two separate components, they -- the investigators are communicating with each other and sharing all information to make sure we have a clear picture of what took place.

Deputy Chief Richard Bash come up next to speak of specifics involved with the police-involved shooting as well as the aggravated assault on the victims.


Hello. I'm Richard Bash. I am the investigative subdivision deputy chief here in Columbus.

As mentioned prior, the Columbus Police Critical Incident Response Team, also known at CIRT, has been tasked with the criminal investigation into this incident, including assaults committed by the assailant and resulting use of deadly force by the Ohio State University police officer.

This incident, as with every police-involved shooting that we investigate, is a criminal investigation and conducted just as any other criminal investigation would be conducted.

As this is also an open investigation, some details cannot be shared and will not be shared until the conclusion of all criminal proceedings.

These investigations are exhaustive, and will take great deal of time to complete. And our focus is on an accurate and complete investigation, so no stone will be left unturned. Upon completion of this investigation. it will be submitted to the

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien's office. Mr. O'Brien's long- standing policy is to present each and every police-involved shooting that results in death to a grand jury -- and I don't expect this to be any exception -- for them to review that for consideration.

Lastly, I would like to ask anyone who has additional information about this incident, and has not yet spoken with a police detective, to give us a call at area code 614-645-4146. That's the number to our homicide section and we would greatly appreciate any information they could give us.

Thanks for your time.

GLASSMAN: Oh. Thanks.

All right. So, if there are questions, we're willing to try to entertain some of them now.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- wondering what is the program that brought this man's family to the United States? He was, you know, originally Somalia, wasn't he in Pakistan for years? So, what -- (INAUDIBLE) -- there a refugee -- that brought him here?

GLASSMAN: Do you want to address that or would you like me to address that?

Go ahead.

BYERS: So to repeat the question, she was asking how Mr. Artan arrived in the United States, what program he came in to. He was a Somali refugee here now. We can tell you had e did come here from Pakistan, where he arrived but really can't get into further background of his immigration to the United States.


BYERS: I really can't answer questions as far as the immigration program. That's not what we are involved in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: At this point, do you have any direct evidence of connection with ISIS as a contact with anyone from ISIS (INAUDIBLE).

BYERS: As I previously stated, all we know at this point is we believe he may have been inspired by Anwar Awlaki as ISIS or ISIL. Our investigation will determine that. It's too soon to draw any type of conclusions.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- posts or -- other findings also with the (INAUDIBLE). BYERS: We are looking at the Facebook posts and trying to determine

the authentication. So, that is one thing that leads us to believe that it's possible that he may have been inspired by Anwar Awlaki.


BYERS: I don't have that information available. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIEID REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- while sort of -- (INAUDIBLE) morning of the attack.

BYERS: The question was, do we know if think was premeditated, if he came up with the plan previously or came up with the plan that morning? We don't know. One thing we're trying to work on. Up with that plan. That's why we are asking anybody's assistants that may know any of his whereabouts that morning.


BYERS: That's part of the investigation. I really can't get into it right now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about ISIS taking responsibility or claiming that this is their encouragement? Particularly (INAUDIBLE) --

BYERS: No. As I've said, we only believe that he may have been inspired by ISIL. In the past, they have claimed responsibility when the -- the assailant has been dead, that can't refute that. So, that makes it pretty easy for them.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And talk about the way, the way this -- this was carried out? A lot of terrorism experts are saying that ISIS put out videos with knives, how to use cars. Can you go into whether or not this was very similar into what propaganda is online, inspiring others to carry out attacks like this -- (INAUDIBLE)?

BYERS: So that's a very long question. If I could maybe try to summarize that. He's basically trying to determine if, what -- was ISIS out there putting this information out there as to -- this is a method. We have seen those methods being used already. So, we don't know whether that's something that he's getting from something that ISIS is putting out there or whether he's inspired by other attacks. We really are still trying to determine that motive.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We are hearing he did buy the knife on the morning, we're hearing at a Walmart. Can you confirm that and tell us where in town?

BYERS: The deputy chief will answer that.

WOODS: We do know he purchased a knife that morning at a Walmart on the west side of Columbus, what we don't know if that purchase was the knife used in the attack. That's another item we have to fol1ow-up on but we do know a purchase was made that morning.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And what kind of holes -- who you say, you have in the timeline for Monday morning -- (INAUDIBLE).

WOODS: Right now, a lot of holes in that. I would say that we have basic information about the purchase of the knife. We know the time of the attack. We also know we have some footage from Ohio State University about where the vehicle was. That time in between the purchase and the arrival on campus we want to fill in. So, that's why we want that public help to tell us if they saw something, what did they see, where they saw it, what time it was. Just help us fill that timeline in.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What was the time frame of -- (INAUDIBLE)?

WOODS: I don't have an exact figure. It's a several-hour time from the purchase until the attack.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know why that building? Do you know why he specifically chose that building?

WOODS: Yeah. That's all part of the investigation. There's really no determination as to why, why Ohio State. Why that particular building. Why that street. That's all -- all the information we're trying to decipher from any electronic signatures he's left behind, why did he go there?


WOODS: We don't know that. We'll have to check with Ohio State on that.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you been able to determine if that gas leak, report add gas leak. Was that truly a coincidence?

WOOD: We believe that was coincidence from Ohio State. We believe that alarm went off the Friday before, so it may have been a problem with the alarm. That morning, it did go off. We also received a 911 call I believe from someone inside the building reporting the alarm. We have interviewed that person and believe that the alarm related to the fluorine leak was all coincidental.

[13:45:23] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And the morning -- (INAUDIBLE)?

WOODS: I'm not saying a 911 call but we did receive a phone call from an OSU staff member indicating they had the leak and we contacted that person and interviewed them.


WOODS: That was Monday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was there a person shot in the - (INAUDIBLE) --reported by one media outlet, and I never heard about it again.

WOODS: Deputy Chief Bash can speak to that investigation.

BASH: That is correct. We did have a bystander, a witness, who was shot in the bottom of the foot. That is correct.


BASH: That's what we believe, correct. The only gun at the scene we believe was there was that of the police officer.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And comment on what the OSHA police officer and how many times he told the suspect to drop his knife before he shot him? Can you elaborate?

BASH: Kevin, I can't really elaborate too much, as you know, this is an ongoing criminal investigation. We know from some of the witnesses he did instruct him to drop the knife, more than once. That much we do know.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do any of the victims know him? Did he have a personal relationship with any one -- hurt?

BASH: I don't have indication they do or did.

I don't know if anybody else has any indication that that's the case at all.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Toxicology reports done, talk if that reveals anything.

BASH: That will be a part of the autopsy. We haven't received the final report yet. I expect that any day now.


BASH: None yet. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And any previous law enforcement contacting on several -- (INAUDIBLE) -- the suspect were given -- (INAUDIBLE) monitored -- any interaction you're aware or --

BASH: Not that I'm aware of.

Deputy Chief Woods?


BYER: Let me repeat the question, since people may not have heard. Was there any contact or knowledge of any law enforcement of the suspect Artan, and the FBI had no knowledge of him and no contact with him. He was not subject of any investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you talk about -- a lone wolf attack and how difficult to try to find (INAUDIBLE) are there any indicators to law enforcement, do they need too a better job controlling social media? Where -- if this was a case of -- (INAUDIBLE).

BYER: The question is about the lone wolves and being out there in social media. Law enforcement does our best to try to, within the limits of the law, to see what's out there in social media to try to prevent these types of attacks, but we can only do so much. And, you know, some of these people, there is no indication. We believe that post was that morning, so if it is authentic by him, so that would not have helped us, really, to be on to him that quickly and prevent that attack.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any altercation in previous Facebook posts, able to look (INAUDIBLE) selecting a device that -- (INAUDIBLE) -- is there a bit of a continuum of desperation you could see now in hindsight? (INAUDIBLE?

BYERS: So to repeat that question, in reviewing his Facebook posts, was there anything obvious that might have been picked up on, to indicate he was a potential problem. I really can't comment on where we are on the Facebook review right now. I know what is ongoing. That takes a while to get the proper legal processes as well as then conduct those reviews of electronic media and social media accounts.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In talking to neighbors who had contact with him over the last couple of years, they all describe him as a very polite and the respectful, pleasant, active kid. I guess from your interviews and from your looking back at what you have so far, I mean, do you find a different version of this person?

BYERS: He wanted to know basically from what is being told in the media, people saying he was a very nice, polite young man, asking whether or not we found anything different in our interviews. I really can't disclose what we're learning in the interviews. That's part of the ongoing investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In terms of -- (INAUDIBLE) -- describe the retaliation, possible retaliation of -- (INAUDIBLE)

BYERS: I really - Deputy Chief Woods?

[13:50:06] WOODS: You know, as far as retaliation would go, we would tell the Somali community or any community that feels threatened, contact the local police and we will send officers out and we will investigate that and take the appropriate steps. We have not heard that. we're not seeing that, but if we get those calls we will definitely act upon them.


WOODS: I have not met or spoke with the officer personally. And as Deputy Chief Bash mentioned, because it's still an ongoing investigation, any contact with him has got to be right now from our standpoint as official, so we're waiting to do that official interview with him and his shop will take care of that.


UNIDENTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: I can answer the question about speaking to the officer. The question is how he's doing and have we had contact with him. I've spoken to him several times the last was yesterday. I'm impressed by his humility and concern for the victims. And he's hanging in there, and that has been our main focus. And we appreciate Columbus police and the FBI taking the lead on the officer-involved shooting so we can focus on taking care of the victims and the officer.


BYERS: It's too soon to draw any type of conclusions whether or not this is terrorism. We have a long road to go in the investigation. We have lots of evidence and lots of digital media to go through and that could uncover a trove of information for us so we can't draw any conclusions at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does everybody in the House where he was living have access to the same computers?

BYERS: I can't discuss what we found in the search warrant executed on that residence. We found several electronic media that I can't get into who had access to what media in that house.


BYERS: I don't want to get into the things that were found in that search warrant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have time for four more questions.


BYERS: We executed a search warrant on the house.

BASH: As is standard policy, we'll execute a search warrant for the vehicle that was used so we can have access to anything in that vehicle, and any other search warrants we may need to get into anything we find inside that car. So right now, CPD has executed one and I think FBI has executed --

BYERS: The house.

BASH: -- another one at the house.


BASH: The vehicle was -- you asked if the vehicle was registered to him, and the vehicle was not registered to him. I believe it was his brother.


BYERS: I believe I've already answered that question, but to repeat that, any validity to ISIS claiming responsibility, we -- it's too soon to draw that conclusion. We believe he may have been inspired by Anwar al Awlaki or ISIL but they have been known to take credit for incidents like is when the assailant is deceased and cannot refute that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you describe what kind of cooperation or

lack of cooperation from the Somali community?

BYERS: So, we've gotten cooperation with the people we have spoken to. We have a great community outreach relationship with the Somali community as does Columbus police, and we're hoping they won't see retaliation, and we are here to pursue any type of civil rights investigations should that happen.

WOODS: I'd like to close real quick with this is the second incident in Columbus, Ohio, within the last year so -- so what I would like to remind everyone is this can happen in New York City, it can happen in Columbus, Ohio, or any small town in the United States. So, what we're asking again is if you see something that's unusual, let us know about it. Call the FBI, call the Columbus police. We can follow up on that and that's one more step that we can use to maybe prevent one of these attacks in the future.

Thank you.

KEILAR: All right, we just watched a live press conference there at Ohio State University from a number of law enforcement officials on this attack that we saw on the university. 11 people injured by a suspect wielding a knife who has been identified.

I want to bring in CNN producer, Shimon Prokupecz; and CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, joining us by skype.

Something that struck me by this -- and I don't know that we learned a bunch.


[13:55:09] KEILAR: But they did say he was at least inspired by Anwar al Awlaki, who is a cleric, associate of al Qaeda, was inspiration to recruits, died in -- killed in 2011. So presumably, he was watching these online videos, right?


KEILAR: But then she said it's too soon to draw conclusions about terrorism?

PROKUPECZ: They're being careful. This is what the FBI does. T to review everything before they make a determination but the fact they're saying he was -- appears to have been inspired tells you everything right there.

I think one of the biggest things for them right now is they don't know why he chose to do that, to do the attack that morning, and what happened. We know from talking to law enforcement that he was having some problems at school and maybe that's why he chose the school to sort of do this attack but we --

(CROSSTALK) KEILAR: His mother had told law enforcement that, that he was having some sort of struggles.

PROKUPECZ: Yeah. The mother told law enforcement he was having struggles with grades and having a hard time adjusting to school. So maybe that could have been what motivated him to sort of go on this attack at the school.

But the FBI still does not know for sure that that's the reason why. All they know is that he was inspired by ISIS and they also believe by al Awlaki just from his Facebook posting.

KEILAR: So, Tom, they asked people, if you know anything about what happened on this Monday morning and as Shimon said, they're trying to piece this one together. They know he dropped his sister at school, Shimon pointed that out, then he went to Walmart that morning and purchased this butcher knife, as they have described it. So, what are they trying to piece together here?

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFROCEMENT ANALYST: Well, one of the key factors to piece together, Brianna, is whether he met with an individual or group of individuals that might have also further inspired him to actually carried out this act. So, the FBI does in this case -- and I ran two Joint Terrorism Task Forces -- is try to reconstruct his movements and activities going back 30 days, 60 days, as far back as they can take it, to see if anywhere along the line he attended a meeting or met with a group of others that may have been the people that tipped him over the edge to carry out the attack. They're not trying to do this for the fun of it. They want to know whether anybody else could be involved that may have directly inspired him and might be, right now, directly inspiring others to do a similar act.

KEILAR: You're nodding as you hear Tom saying that about what they're trying to piece together.

PROKUPECZ: I think they have a pretty good idea here. I think publicly they want to be really careful and they should be. We've seen this in the Orlando attack, in San Bernardino, so for them, it's to be careful and make sure they have pieced everything together.

And like Tom said, one of the most important things for them right now to make sure he wasn't communicating with anyone else. While they believe he wasn't directed by ISIS or some other terrorist organization, they can't say that 100 percent because they haven't gone through all his phones yet. They haven't gone through the computers yet. That.

KEILAR: They haven't been able to do that?

PROKUPECZ: They haven't. They have started the process but it takes time and they're being slow and methodical about it and they're -- they had to get search warrants. But there's nothing to indicate he was communicating with anyone outside of the U.S. or was directed.

KEILAR: So then this is the concern, Tom, and certainly not just in this case, which thankfully it wasn't lethal for anyone but the suspect. That is certainly the concern that if someone like him becomes self-radicalized -- and you heard authorities pushing back on the idea that, yes, he may have posted something on the internet but it was that days, it was in such proximity to the attack it doesn't give them any time to work to do any intervention.

FUENTES: That's true. I think that's what you heard from the special agent in charge that it was such a recent posting that day that they didn't have time to act on it. Even if they'd been made aware of it, it would be difficult to track him down. Where was he, he's not in his own vehicle, so that would have been difficult even if they put it out a "be on the lookout" notice. These are difficult circumstances.

The other concern now for authorities around the country is you don't have to look at an al Awlaki video or ISIS, the thousands of that put out every day, you can turn on cable news or local TV news and hear all about this and how he did it and why he may have done it, and you could have people all over the country that are on the tipping point of maybe being self-inspired just by the media.

KEILAR: That's certainly a big question that you raise.

Tom Fuentes, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much.

That's it for me. Wolf is back at 5:00 eastern on "The Situation Room."

And the news continues next on CNN.

[14:00:10] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.