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At Least 12 Shot, at Least Four Dead at Pittsburgh Synagogue, Gunman in Custody; Trump Addresses Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired October 27, 2018 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] MICHAEL EISENBERG, DDS, PAST PRESIDENT, TREE OF LIFE, SQUIRREL HILL CONSERVATIVE SYNAGOGUE: ... that one piece of -- one task that Homeland Security told us to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because in the past you couldn't push through the exit doors?
EISENBERG: They weren't easily opened and they had safeties on them so that they couldn't open either way but now they've - he was able to get out, I mean he could be alive because of this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where were you when you find - where were you when you found out that this had occurred?
EISENBERG: I was heading up to the service. I mean I'm there every -- I was there last night, first service, I was -- I go up there around 10 o'clock and -- in the morning and one of the vice presidents that I work with on Facilities now that I step down, he called me - he works for the city emergency management and he said he just got word that there's an active shooter at Tree of Life, "go up there and see if this is true."
And I tried to get up, I only live a block away from the synagogue and I tried to get up Shady Avenue, there was -- police cars everywhere, there were guns drawn, rifles, it was surreal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are -- we first thought it was a training, a drill, whenever it came over the police scanner we thought - we couldn't even believe it. Do you -- have you heard about any people that were victims inside, their positions, or do you knew of them?
EISENBERG: No. I'm sure I know everyone there. I know everybody in the building. I know that -- this - I - almost don't want to know but I have to know - the tragedy that occurred inside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What have you been talking with about -- with the other people that are past presidents or you know, in a position of power within the Jewish community here in Squirrel Hill, what has everyone been saying to you?
EISENBERG: Well I mean all we had up until now was we had a -- I called all the -- tried to call a lot of -- I couldn't reach but the other past presidents, I spoke to the current president but we were all either not in the area or we were en route and we just couldn't get in there.
I mean I was walking -- like I said I was walking up Shady and all of a sudden, just hear the shouts on the police officers, "just get out of here," and you knew it was not a drill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever had any issues in the past with people coming in, people that were suspicious in any way or did anything that had caused you to be concerned?
EISENBERG: No. We've never had any threats. I will tell you, I've always had a very watchful eye because of what's going on in the current climate, you know, you see these bombs being mailed across the country and our security was really just that nobody has ever tried you know, it was just the fact that nobody ever tried to do anything because you know, like most religious institutions we have an open door.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked the CEO of the Jewish Federation the same question I'll ask you, can you describe for people that are watching that aren't from Pittsburgh that don't know Squirrel Hill what this means for the Squirrel Hill community that they would be targeted in this manner?
EISENBERG: It just means that moving forward this is a real occurrence and that we need to learn from this and you want to be proactive and do things -- in light of this happening it will be a catalyst for more security in the future, I'm sure, across all congregations, all religious institutions, because this is reality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you're glad if you hadn't done that one thing which many would think as a simple security measure who knows how many people use those exit doors to get out.
EISENBERG: Right. It was something that I was listening to the walk through, I was listening to the Homeland Security experts and a lot of this comes down to ability to afford security but to free up a door many times is free, just use it, just -- and it doesn't cost anything.
And we did it and a guy that we love in the congregation you know, Augie (ph) is -- could very well be alive because of this because when he went to use that door he got out of the building.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he was not in the basement. Are there ways to get out of the basement?
EISENBERG: There are, yes. There -- yes, there are and a New Light congregation who -- their New Light sanctuaries in the -- in the lower floor of the building, they know the routes to get out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's next for you?
EISENBERG: Next for me is going to be more training, saying this -- it's not that -- when I would get up as president in front of leadership and say "this could happen," now it's like "this did happen." We have to put forth efforts to secure our building and all the other leaderships across Squirrel Hill and probably across the country are going to have to do the same.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Thank you.
All right we're going to take it back --
WHITFIELD: Hello again everyone. Thanks so much for being with us. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York.
This "BREAKING NEWS," we're going to begin with a gunman opens fire in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Official report 12 casualties and at least four dead.
CNN's Nick Valencia is tracking the story for us. So Nick what are you learning?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is so disturbing Fredricka, how many times have we reported on similar situations, mass shooting in an American city, this time in [12:05:07] Pittsburgh, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, a high concentration of Jewish communities there in that neighborhood.
And here's what we know, according to the website for Tree of Life Synagogue, their Saturday service, their Shabbat Service which is the busiest day for any synagogue, started at 9:45 a.m. and the first reports that we got here at CNN, reports of an active shooter came in just after 10:20 this morning.
And here's what we know at this time, according to our Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz, at least 12 people have been shot. We heard earlier from police, there were multiple casualties.
What we can confirm here at CNN is at least four people have died. An additional three police officers were evidently injured in gunfire though their injuries, the extent of their injuries has not been made clear just yet.
The shooter we can report is in custody. And according to KDKA, that alleged gunman has been described as a white male, a bearded heavy- set, white male; we don't know any other information about this alleged gunman other than to report that he is in custody and is currently, a last report being transported to an -- a hospital with unspecified injuries.
This is still a live scene. You're looking at images there on your screen. It is still a very active chaotic scene there in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
We can only assume that police are continuing to sweep the area for other potential threats, perhaps even devices in that general vicinity.
The president, President Donald Trump, has tweeted about the incident, so has the first lady just a short time ago, the vice president and the governor of Pennsylvania, we understand is in route, the vice president tweeting about this.
We just heard from the Past President of the Tree of Life Synagogue saying that there are three competing services happening on Saturdays around 9:45 and upwards or nearly a hundred people could have been in that building at the time of the shooting.
Again, this is all still a very fluid situation here, a very chaotic scene and another scary day here in America.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much Nick. We'll check back with you.
Let's talk more about all this. I want to bring in Retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent, James Gagliano; CNN National Security Analyst, Samantha Vinograd; former U. S. Marshall, Art Roderick; and former Secret Service Agent, Evy Poumpouras; and former Secret Service Agent and Department of Homeland Security official, Charles Marino. Glad that all you can be with me.
So we just heard you know, information coming from our sources, 12 shot, four confirmed dead, three, among the injured are three police officers and so James does this tell you that there was an exchange perhaps of gunfire between this gunman who authorities say is now in custody and these -- at least three officers injured?
JAMES GAGLIANO, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Absolutely. So we have somebody who has committed murder, attempted murder, and assaulted police officers and responding law enforcement. You know, people have been texting and saying you know, who has purview here because you know, is this a -- would FBI have oversight for something like this.
As we were watching the feed there I can tell you, I saw a Robert Jones who is the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Pittsburgh Division on scene, he's a former Assistant Director of the WMD Branch, the Headquarters. The FBI will assist in this case until there is a determination which will -- reasoning will be in that direction, that this could possibly be a hate crime.
The things have happened thus far, these are murders, obviously these are state charges so the police, it's there scene right now, the FBI is going to offer whatever you know, evidence response team for crime scene, whichever type of response capabilities, investigative capabilities, the FBI lab for pressing -- for processing any type of evidence going forward so they're going to be working in a collaborative effort right now until we determine what type of charges are going to be leveled against his gunman.
WHITFIELD: And so there are multiple things going on here. You've got the investigation of the who, the -- what happened, the sequence of events and of course anything that may have preceded what took place today, all at the same time.
But when we heard from the former president of the Tree of Life Synagogue, who says, just in recent years did they take action to have more exits, at the same time open doors, it's a place of worship they want to welcome everyone to come in, only on special you know, high- religious holidays would they have security of the door so today may have been a very porous day where anyone and everyone is welcomed.
How will investigators approach that knowing that there are so many ways of entry and exit?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well many religions does have like many and open-door policy which means that we welcome people to come worship with us particularly on a Saturday morning service where by the way we often say a prayer for peace which in light of what's happened today is deeply upsetting to many of us.
But I think that local law enforcement in various communities around the country work with the FBI and work together to try to ascertain specific threats against [12:10:12] specific synagogues.
As I mentioned earlier, the percentage of anti-Semitic attacks has gone up significantly in 27 -- 2017, we've had 12 anti-Semitic attacks in the state of New York alone so at this point every synagogue has a security team that is regularly assessing what that threat environment looks like and in today's day and age interacting with local law enforcement in their community to ascertain what the threat level looks like, who I would imagine, James are in touch with the FBI to track hate-crimes, threat reporting and potential leads in that respect.
And Evy you know, while we heard from the former president who said you know, or Evy (ph) rather, what we -- what we heard from the former president earlier who said he actually worked with Homeland Security you know, and advise on how to protect this place of worship, yet at the same time you know, honor the open-door policy, allowing people in.
How will investigators go about trying to see whether there is any correlation between what happened today and the shooter or shooters you know, acts today, whether there were any threats ahead of what happened today, if there's any history with this suspected gunman or gun men plural?
EVY POUMPOURAS, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: They're going to go look at that but I think the most important thing to really look at here is that sometimes you don't need a threat. Sometimes there is no warning.
And what the president was speaking about earlier that he had worked with Homeland Security and that they actually come to the synagogue, I think that's really important. However, we want to teach I think, what the communities want to take I think (ph) proactive so reaching out to local authorities, saying, hey you know, what, we're calling from a church or a synagogue or a school, wherever you are, and asking them, inviting them over, "will you come over and speak to us about this, and will you speak to our staff about this." And so this waiver body is trained. Everybody has knowledge and knowing something that something as simple as making your emergency doors work, can save lives.
And then also teaching them you know, it's not just one door, how -- know where multiple doors are, walk those doors, know where every door leads; teaching them what's cover, what's concealment, how can you use that so that way when you're in an environment and something does happen, you can respond. You don't have the time to stop and think what do I do because those seconds count, those seconds matter, so I think it's super important for communities, for these leaders in these communities to reach out to law enforcement, invite them, create relationships with them.
And also, they can train them what to look for, anything odd or any suspicious behavior, anything that might seem you know, concerning.
And when you create this relationship, everybody can work collaboratively together because I think what we've been doing historically is putting the onus on law enforcement. "Law enforcement can solve this problem." "Law enforcement can figure this out." And we can't do that because law enforcement is most -- in most situations, a reactive part of this. The problem happens, they try to get there as quickly as possible so we need to shift this.
We are seeing more and more mass shootings, historically happen, we need to shift that perspective and say what can we do collectively to be proactive and to try to mitigate or prevent them.
WHITFIELD: And Art, while police say this is an active shooter scene, even though they have one suspected gunman in custody.
What's the level of questioning, what kind of access, what kind of information potentially can they get out of this suspect before they leave the scene, before they say all clear?
ART RODERICK, FORMER U. S. MARSHALL: Yes. They're -- they're in the phase now of making sure that the scene is safe so there's a couple of different things going on, not only are they clearing the facility, the synagogue but also the parking lots surrounding it, and any neighboring houses to make sure that everybody is accounted for and that this individual was acting alone.
There also questioning him, as Jim had mentioned earlier, you know, we've been talking about this public safety issue as we did with the mail bomber but you know, they want to make sure that this individual acted alone, that there were no other people helping out and that you know, the area is safe.
And one other comment, on the top of the hour, Evy was talking about the same thing about the security surveys. Both with my time at the Department of Homeland Security and with the Department of Justice, as a U. S. Marshall, we did these security surveys all the time for places of worship and that is key because these surveys will talk about issues of exit doors, surveillance cameras, actual security at these facilities. So, it's incumbent upon these places of worship and schools to reach out to local law enforcement or two of federal law enforcement and get these surveys done.
And then Charles, what about resources. This happens when already the country's law enforcements, so many divisions on heightened alert as a result of the 13 you know, pipe bombs that have been mailed across the country to a variety of people including you know, former presidents so [12:15:12] now you've got according to James' information a little bit earlier, you've got New York authorities who have now descended on protecting a number of synagogues throughout the city as a result of this shooting taking place in Pittsburgh.
Talk to me about how resources are being fanned out, how multitasking you know, is the real challenge today?
CHARLES MARINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT AND DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: Good morning. Thank you for the question and you know, my thoughts and prayers go out to everybody affected by this event. And thanks to law enforcement for doing an excellent job.
Resources certainly are an important issue for local law enforcement. I think in the mail bombing case you saw a perfect example of a prioritization where they needed to find this individual, right away. You saw the Joint Terrorism Task Force surge (ph) all of its resources to resolve this issue quickly and the investigation certainly goes on which is requiring resources but those resources will be brought to bear to see this through to a final resolution.
In this case here, Evy brought up a good point about coordination with local authorities; local authorities are very well trained in -- regarding what types of resources to respond with depending on the situation.
Here it's -- it cannot be stated enough that the training and preparation and early engagement by many Jewish organizations with the Department of Homeland Security, many, many years ago being aware of this very real threat that they face at their synagogues and other places of worship, were prepared with how to survive this type of event.
At the end of this is going to be very interesting to find out how many lives were saved because of their preparation and practice for this type of event. But law enforcement is certainly there with the numbers that are necessary to stop the threat.
Josh Campbell, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI Supervisory Special Agent has also joined the table here and so Josh, you know, this is an immediate priority, simultaneous to the immediate priority of all of these packages that have been mailed out which investigators continue to look at as they have a suspect. However, we just heard from the FBI Director, Wray, who said yesterday, "don't be surprised if there might be other packages out there," so how simultaneously you know, are these investigations happening separately, at the same time perhaps there may even be you know, a crossing of resources?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST AND FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: So the FBI has 56 field offices around the country, some 400 satellite offices, they're called Residential Agencies; these are the offices in communities around the country with the agents who work with local authorities, state officials, other federal officials, and so they -- they are used to working in their domains.
What would happen here is, authorities there in Pittsburgh in the field office would be working with their counterparts locally, fusing up but that information is actually shared to larger networks around the country; they're basically it's been set up since 9/11 where we -- if you have information you can blast that out to partners. It's a two-way street you want to let them know what's going on in your area, you want to know if they know anything that might be helpful to you so that's all going on right now.
Lastly, it's -- there's so many resources that are available to law enforcement, it's what they call mutual aid, where if one -- if something happens in one location and you know, officers can plus up, ask for assistance, I imagine that's probably going on right now. And so I'm -- I'm not so much concerned with the lack of resources.
One thing that's interesting is if you're back at FBI Headquarters right now in the Department of Justice, this is a central nervous system and so you are actually monitoring both of these threats. Right as we speak right now, I have no doubt that CNN is on in the Strategic Information Operations Center at FBI Headquarters and they're seeing what's happening on the ground, they're communicating with the officers who are sending them intelligence that we don't see right now, again trying to get that picture, but very much an all- hands-on-deck approach to be able to cover two very high-profile incidents at the same time.
WHITFIELD: Sam, take us to the scene right now, likely of what's taking place. While authorities say they have one person in custody, we don't know if that person is cooperating, providing any more information, about digital footprint or about whether that person was working in concert with anybody else. At the same time there is the immediacy of tending to the injured.
We know that there are you know, 12 people shot, four dead, those are the latest numbers and authorities of course don't want those numbers of fatalities to rise, how do they...
VINOGRAD: Well that's...
WHITFIELD: ... do all this?
VINOGRAD: ... exactly right. The immediate priorities to make sure that anybody that's been injured is stabilized, they're going to take care of that person.
James you mentioned this earlier, they're also going to make sure that whomever is coming out of that building is not in any way implicated in the crime.
And those things can happen at the same time, while simultaneously trying to make sure that this was in fact an isolated incident. We do not yet know whether this individual was in touch with anybody else or whether he inspired any other attacks around the country, even if there wasn't that direct contact.
We've talked about that with respect to the bombing suspect and whether he inspired copy -- copy-cat attacks; this is a massive media event [12:20:12].
I would imagine that the FBI in coordination with local law enforcement around the country is advising folks on the ground to make sure that no threats come up over the coming hours as members of the Jewish community participate in afternoon services on Shabbat and other members of religious communities are also worshiping.
If this is defined as a hate crime that implicates the Jewish community but also implicates other places of worship as well and I would imagine that authorities are coordinating again about any threats that come up over the coming hours.
WHITFIELD: And James that digital footprint, you brought up earlier, so important in investigating today, not just trying to understand the history, what preceded but sometimes it also raises a flag of what might be planned next so...
GAGLIANO: Within mere...
WHITFIELD: ... what are they looking for?
GAGLIANO: ... within mere moments yesterday of Mr. Sayoc's name being released to the public...
GAGLIANO: ... we already had through Lexis and Nexis checks his bankruptcy filing; we had pictures of him on social media platform, -- CNN was even able to pull him out of a crowded rally and isolate that image. The digital footprint here is critical.
And again, what it goes back to is motivation. We look at this, the pieces seem to fall in place, who were the victims, who were the people that were targeted but as people have been expressing in the past week during this bombing scare, law enforcement have got to keep an open mind of this. Law enforcement have got to make sure that they don't get so hyper focused in one direction that they close their bandwidth down and don't take everything into account.
And that's why profiling has become you know, racial profiling or any other type of profiling has become an asset (ph) for law enforcement, we want to make sure, look active shooters, 4 percent of them are women but immediately you're not going to you know, who that out, say well this couldn't be, you've got to make sure that you keep everything in play and you follow the evidence wherever it takes you.
So Evy, you know, while this is an active shooter scene right now one person according to authorities is still -- I mean or is in custody. Can you explain for us what are law enforcement looking for before they feel certain that they can give it an all clear, that the threat -- the immediate threat is over in that neighborhood?
POUMPOURAS: You know, they're going to want to try to speak to him and hopefully he is willing to talk and that's the most important thing, asking him those questions, right off the bat, who's working with you, are there any bombs, are there any other guns, what's going on, just to address those immediate things. And if he is speaking that would be helpful to law enforcement.
But at the same time, you have to corroborate what he's saying because obviously this is an individual who just open fire, you can't take what they say also is a truth so...
POUMPOURAS: ... getting that information verbally from him, trying to assess if there are other people involved, going around the area, securing the area, finding out where he lives, his residency; they immediately want to go simultaneously, go there, assess the environment, looking at the digital footprint, looking at who is talking to, to contacting family, and friends, doing all these things.
And it's -- it's -- you don't want to leave the scene until you really know what's going on and you feel comfortable leaving the scene.
POUMPOURAS: ... them staying there and taking their time is a wise thing because they're trying to make sure they check all those boxes not make it -- you can't make any assumptions, right?
POUMPOURAS: ... can't assume, "OK we've got him. We're good," and that's really important to make sure because how many -- also how many weapons that we have, did he have any explosive devices. And if you're looking at a large amount, there might be a question of well, did he get resources from somewhere, did someone else help him...
POUMPOURAS: ... with you know, -- any other individuals involved. And once you can say with some level of certainty, "OK we can remove," and it's also rendering the area safe because this is a residential area, people live there, before law enforcement takes that huge print out, there's all these personnel there, before they leave they want to make sure that everybody else there is also safe.
So it's not just...
POUMPOURAS: ... securing him but securing the area and the people that live there.
WHITFIELD: Right. Multiple teams have fanned out, Josh?
CAMPBELL: Yes. We can't underscore the potential value here of having a subject that's been taken alive.
Now sometimes in these incidences if there's an exchange of gunfire, a shooter will be neutralized, again that's up to the officers on scene to determine is there a threat, does this person continue to pose a threat.
If they're able to take them into custody, now they can interview him. Now they can talk to him.
Again, a dead body doesn't speak, right, so if a neutralized subject is there, it makes it a Herculean task for law enforcement officers to (INAUDIBLE)...
WHITFIELD: So it's almost a priority to see if you can take down and keep alive so that you can extract more...
WHITFIELD: ... information?
CAMPBELL: I wouldn't -- I wouldn't say that that's a priority because again the focus of law enforcement officers will be to neutralize the threat, so they're not going to go into the scene thinking OK well let's try to take this person if we can alive.
Their main focus is, does this person pose a threat to them around.
I'm saying this is a residual benefit of being able to have someone that you can then interview, you can ask, "OK, why were you doing what you are doing. Were you working with other people?" And it's interesting because in some of these cases that we've seen, you have a -- people across the spectrum, some people are really proud of what they've done and they want to tell you about it, this is why was here, this is...
CAMPBELL: ... what's going through my mind. Other people may clam up. Other people may immediately regret the decisions that they've... WHITFIELD: Yes.
CAMPBELL: ... made and then be cooperative. Some people might lawyer up and not say anything [12:25:14] at all.
But again it's -- it's a potential value for law enforcement officers to be able to sit in front of someone and ask question.
WHITFIELD: Might it also be on display that this might be an especially combative individual, we're talking about three police officers that were shot?
GAGLIANO: Yes. And to Josh's point, the problem in most of these active shooter situations that we've seen over the last 20 years, the person committing them is some type of zealot or crazy person and they're going in there with the notion that they're going to take their own life or they're going to force law enforcement to take their life; that makes it very difficult.
Look where we are just over a year from the Las Vegas shooter. We still don't have answers there, why? He killed himself. And had no social media platforms. Had no digital footprint in reality other than his surveillance cameras and we are still struggling to tie the pieces together.
And people argue all the time and say, "Why are you so focused on the motivation behind it?" Well, it's causality and it helps us get in front and being proactive of hopefully preventing the next one.
I look at situations like this, a year ago, the vehicular attack down and lower Manhattan, just a few blocks from here. New York City decided to put up concrete bollards on the...
GAGLIANO: ... Westside Highway...
WHITFIELD: Around Halloween.
GAGLIANO: ... bike paths, they responded to it.
And it's awful to say thi,s in a free and open society, where we cherish our civil liberties, we love living in an open society but these are soft targets and people are looking at them as such and going, I can't -- maybe I can get away with this at the airport, I can't take out my vengeance at the Fed or at a museum where there is security but maybe I can walk into a house of worship or a school or someplace that doesn't have adequate security.
WHITFIELD: This is terrorism in so many different ways.
All right, moments ago the former Rabbi of Tree of Life Synagogue, Chuck Diamond, spoke to reporters and he had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
CHUCK DIAMOND, FORMER RABBI OF TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: About 9:45, so the -- I mean, Jews come later services so for a lot of people that's probably a good thing today.
At the time we -- there's a -- three services in the buildings as you've heard and there's maybe 10 to 15 I would say for each service possibly that time.
People would be in the outer area may be just coming in, there are few staff people who might be greeting people so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's one entrance and Wilkins (INAUDIBLE).
DIAMOND: There's one entrance. During -- on Shabbat there's no security. I have to tell you I always, it's in the back of my mind, had something like this and it might happen you know, because of the way of the world today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the Past Presidents Michael Eisenberg...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... tell us that he did go under -- he did conduct training...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... including Homeland Security...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) people (INAUDIBLE).
DIAMOND: Yes. People came in, sponsored by the Jewish community -- the Federation of Pittsburgh, has a very active program and...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of training did they go into?
DIAMOND: Well, I'll tell you, I wasn't there for that particular training but it's something -- again, as a Jewish professional and with what's going on in the world, even though we've been safely safe here in Pittsburgh, it's just something that's in the back of your mind, to see somebody -- I once had during Hebrew -- the religious school time, somebody pulled up in front of the building wearing a long trench coat and went to go into the trunk of his car, and I knew him but I was -- I went out to check it out just to make sure.
So you have to you know, you just always have to be careful and this is what you dread hearing.
I got a call about 10 o'clock from an old congregant who said what they heard. I'm -- I'm concerned...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry. DIAMOND: ... I'm concerned about the people who were the early -- the people who came on time, and most of them are older and I just talked to one of their sons who doesn't know where his mother is and you know, it's a concern and...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So many people showing up to the scene not knowing if their loved one is all right...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... What is your words for them?
DIAMOND: Just to "have some faith and hang in there," and try to be of comfort to them. It's a very difficult time for all of us -- for everybody but for those who knew people who were there.
I called people that I knew, trying to see that they were OK you know, and one is a doctor and he said he saw somebody's name on the list who was taken to the emergency room who was again one of those people who were always there in time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Had you ever talk to the congregation about what if this happened, would you think they knew what to do?
DIAMOND: I have never spoken to them about it, no.
You know, again I had it in my mind what I would do in helping people and it's kind of frustrating that you know, in some ways you wish you were there to help people; you always think like you can be of help to some degree.
I'd worked in a synagogue in Detroit, Michigan where in 19 -- I wasn't there in 1962 but a Rabbi was killed by somebody who came in and ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're hearing unconfirmed reports that this was fueled by hate.
DIAMOND: That's what it sounds like. There's a lot of anti-Semitism out there and there's a lot of hate out there. You can just look in the news everyday. And it's sobering that it's touched our community. And I've gotten text from people from Israel, from Canada, you know, wanting to know if I was OK. And it's just -- it's a terrible time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The man who was the past president said now when he talks with security officials, he can say -- instead of saying what if it happens, he can say, it did happen and hopefully get more done.
DIAMOND: Well, it did happen, and then you see -- during the week, the doors are locked. On Shabbat, it's a little bit more of a chore because you don't necessarily have anybody in the office to let people in. We can't let that happen. We have to take all precautions at all times unfortunately.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you been able to reach anybody that you know that may have been in there?
DIAMOND: I reached out to a few people who weren't there. One particular person who was always on time with his son coming in from Sewickley said that he got caught up in traffic. And when he got here, he got out of the car and a policeman said, you know, where you going. He said, I'm just going to services. And he said, no, you're not. And he went home.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Describe the Jewish community in Squirrel Hill for people that are watching that aren't from Pittsburgh.
DIAMOND: Yes. It's a really nice -- I grew up here. And I live right up there around the block. So it's a community -- I mean, the house that I grew up in. And it's a wonderful Jewish community.
There's -- I think we all get together across the board whether it's Orthodox or Hasidic or conservative or reform. And we have wonderful Jewish communal organizations like the federation, like the Jewish community centers. So it's very vibrant and very active.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know if any children --
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're listening to the former rabbi of the Tree of Life Synagogue Chuck Diamond there saying it's a very sobering day. A lot now has to be reconsidered. He too recalls it being an open door policy at that church and says security was not something that would generally happen. High level security on Shabbat. But all of that now he says has to be reconsidered.
So, again, active shooter scene there in Pittsburgh, in this community, even though one person is in custody.
Meantime, we just got in this tweet from the president. This now perhaps his third tweet of the morning in respect to what's happening in Pittsburgh. Saying this now, "Events in Pittsburgh are far more devastating than originally thought. Spoke with mayor and governor to inform them that the federal government has been and will be with them all the way. I will speak to the media shortly and make further statement at Future Farmers of America."
The president will be heading there. You're looking at a very rainy situation there at Andrews there where the president's motorcade on the way before the president boards Air Force One. Perhaps he'll have more comments. It's always an opportunity that reporters try to take. But given very rainy, nasty situation, who knows how difficult that will be. But of course we're on it.
Meantime, we're going to continue to talk here with my panel here at the table. Also joining me now, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN Crime and Justice Reporter. So it was through your sources we first learned that there were 12 people shot. Shimon, a confirmation of four dead. It is still an active shooter situation.
What are your sources telling you now? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I think we need to be clear to viewers, there are no -- there's no others shooting, there are no other shooters at this point. They believe that they have the one person responsible for this in custody.
What's going on right now is that law enforcement there is going through the building. There are several floors in the building and they're going through. There were some suspicious packages that they seem --we're probably going to get an all clear here pretty soon.
They've gone through the building. They have not found anything so far so we do expect at least the scene to open up for investigators now to go come in and start processing the crime scene.
The other things that we learned is that the shooter here, during the incident, during the shooting, he uttered anti-Jewish phrases. He was talking about Jews alive certainly while the police were taking him into custody during his surrender. He was talking about Jews.
So clearly this is now developing into an obviously hate -- some kind of a hate crime. So we'd likely see the FBI come in and take over the investigation. But I think --
WHITFIELD: Let's listen in right now.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- at Squirrel Hill, be speaking, making a statement at the Farmers of America. You see what we're doing -- the future farmers, they have the big conference and we'll be going there.
I guess some of you will be going with me and we'll be making a major statement. It's a terrible, terrible thing what's going on with hate in our country frankly and all over the world. And something has to be done. Something has to be done.
But, it looks like the results are coming in and they're more devastating than anybody originally thought in the morning.
[12:35:03] In the morning, they thought that it was the shooter but they had the shooter, they soon would, but the results are very devastating. You're seeing the numbers come in.
So, we'll be speaking to you at the conference, the Future Farmers of America conference, and it's just a shame to watch this, to see this. For so many years, so much of it, absolutely a shame. Have any questions?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you think you need to revisit gun laws?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gun laws. Gun laws, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Well, again, this has little to do with it if you take a look. If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. This is a dispute that will always exist I suspect.
But if they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation. They didn't. And he was able to do things that unfortunately he shouldn't have been able to do.
I hear the police were outstanding. I hear the police did an incredible job. And as you know, numerous police were badly injured. But, again, law enforcement did a fantastic job. But we're going to have a very complete statement for you with the results are coming in of what took place, how it took place.
Again, law enforcement was outstanding. As always. I mean, as usual, and as always, law enforcement was really outstanding. They stepped up to the place. But Pittsburgh, great community, incredible people.
I spoke to the governor. I spoke to the mayor. And to see this happening again and again and again is just a shame.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President -- (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- instead of seeing it happen again and again, to end this kind of violence?
TRUMP: Well, it's a violence, it's a -- you look at the violence all over the world. I mean, the world has violence. The world is a violent world. And you think when you're over it, it just sort of goes away, but then it comes back in the form of a madman, a wacko.
I think one thing we should do is we should stiffen up our laws in terms of the death penalty. When people do this, they should get the death penalty and they shouldn't have to wait years and years. Now the lawyers will get involved and everybody's going to get involved and we'll be 10 years down the line. And I think they should stiffen up laws and I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue.
Anybody that does a thing like this to innocent people whether in temple or in church, we had so many incidents with churches, they should be -- they should really suffer the ultimate price. They should pay the ultimate price. I felt that way for a long time.
Some people disagree with me. I can't imagine why. But this has to stop. So we're going to have a statement at our stop with the young farmers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, towards the beginning of your presidency, you met with the NRA. You said maybe you were the president who can help solve this. Do you see that now as a possibility?
TRUMP: It's a case where -- and again, nobody knows exactly what took place yet. It's too soon. But this is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately. So this would be a case where if there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him. Maybe there would have been nobody killed except for him frankly.
So it's a very, very, very difficult situation. And when you look at it, we can look at it two ways. But, again, if they had somebody to protect people -- now, isn't it a shame that you even have to speak that way? isn't it a shame that we even have to think of that inside of a temple or inside of a church? But certainly the results might have been far better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that all churches and synagogues should have armed guards?
TRUMP: I hate to think of it that way. I will say that. I hate to think of it that way. So we'll see you with the Future Farmers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that what you're suggesting, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that what you're suggesting?
TRUMP: No, it certainly an option. I mean, in this world, this is a world with a lot of problems. And it has been a world with a lot of problems for many years. Many, many years. And you could say, frankly, for many centuries.
I mean, you're looking at what goes on, but certainly you want protection. And they didn't have any protection. They had a maniac walk in and they didn't have any protection. And that is just so sad to see. So sad to see.
The results could have been much better. It is a very, very -- it's a very difficult thing. For me to stand as president and to watch any of this go, you know, before I ran for office, I'd watch incidents like this with churches and other things and think, what a shame, what a shame.
[12:40:07] But it's even tougher when you're the president of the United States and you have to watch this kind of a thing happen. It is so sad to see. So we'll see you at the -- with the young farmers. A lot of them are out there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there's anything you can do with the NRA?
TRUMP: We're always talking. We're always talking to the (INAUDIBLE).
WHITFIELD: All right, the president on his way to Air Force One there, and then on his way to the Future Farmers of America. But before that moment -- taking a moment there to answer questions from reporters there with a variety of thoughts on the shooting that has taken place in Pittsburgh. Everything from, you know, the world is a violent world, saying perhaps what needs to be entertained is a stiffer laws on the death penalty. Bring the death penalty into vogue he says. And he also says, you know, it's a case where no one knows. However, he also said if perhaps there was an armed guard inside the synagogue, they would have been able to stop him. Meaning, the one gunman that we understand at least is in custody right now.
All right, back with me now, with my panel here. Josh, Sam, and Shimon. All right, so a lot there.
Sam, your first reaction there? The president focusing not just, you know, on the consequences and not necessarily drilling down on the causation. You know, he did start out talking about, you know, this being a display of hate. But then went to stiffer laws. Your thoughts?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's an incredibly irresponsible statement by the president. This is a live investigation. He made statements at the beginning that this was far more devastating than he had previously thought. We don't know when he was briefed, we don't know exactly what he was briefed on. But there is still people that have not been able to get in touch with their family members who were at their services this morning.
There's still people waiting to hear if their relatives, if their children, if their parents may have been involved in this incident. And saying that it's more devastating than originally thought, I can't even imagine how that must feel.
And to crib from Josh' commentary in the break, This was his greatest hits. He went to everything he typically does in this situation. The death penalty, arming more people to prevent more gun violence.
And going back to this notion that this isn't the result of a narrative underway in America. That this isn't the result of a hateful rhetoric increasing at this juncture in time. He's looking to point fingers, again, while this is an ongoing investigation and we don't have a whole lot of information yet.
WHITFIELD: Often times, people are looking to the president to then address, you know, a causation of hate. I mean, this is a place of worship. And someone has gone into a place of worship, disrupted peace, killed, injured. And people are looking for the president to talk about, you know, how do we get to unifying some kind of, you know, bringing people together message.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right. And I think what we just saw there, you know, makes it a little harder for law enforcement. Because when you think about it -- I mean, I know this being inside the FBI when there's a major incident, the law enforcement community will reluctantly share information. They'll only share so much -- as much as they need to, to inform the public about a threat. To let them know, OK, they're on the case.
But, the reason why it gets kind of frustrated now in this side of the business to get information is because they really hold that close to the vest because they don't want to speculate. They want to get the facts straight. I remember, you know, being a -- handling a number of these incidents where we're thinking, OK, we're pretty sure that this is the case but pretty sure isn't good enough. So until we know what the truth is, law enforcement isn't going to go out there and speculate.
We saw the opposite just now and that's what's unfortunate here is that, you know, I can -- I know working with teams under President George W. Bush, under President Obama, the White House teams, any time a president would step to the mic, they would have a reason, they would have a message. They would determine what do they need to tell the American people because their words matter. I don't know if there was a strategy behind that but there's a lot of speculation.
Again, he's the commander-in-chief. He -- you know, he can say whatever he wants. Law enforcement isn't going to overrule him. But it's just fascinating to see that kind of speculation about what's happened here when we don't even know when law enforcement officers are still processing the crime scene.
PROKUPECZ: However, though, he has been briefed and he does know what happened here.
CAMPBELL: It's clear what happened here, right? I mean, law enforcement has already told some of us what has happened here. Is that they think it's a hate crime.
WHITFIELD: He put this by saying as we're learning more, at first, I didn't --
PROKUPECZ: Yes. At first, (INAUDIBLE) but he's learned more --
WHITFIELD: Loosely he says that.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. And it is challenging because he -- instead of uniting folks and saying, you know, we'll get through this, we're coming off a pretty scary week in this country when you think about with all the packaged bombs.
WHITFIELD: And still in the midst of.
PROKUPECZ: Still in the midst of. But not only for us that are sort of dealing this but what about law -- for law enforcement this is a very perilous time. When you talk to senior law enforcement officials, they will tell you what we are facing and what we are seeing on the threat stream, it's really scary what's going on.
WHITFIELD: And let me just interject while you are making that point. We're now looking at aerial images of a very sizable -- this is a large synagogue taking place in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood.
[12:45:05] This was the Tree of Life Synagogue where if you're just now joining us, this is where a shooting took place earlier today not long after services were to get under way. We understand they were going to be -- they were probably simultaneous at least three services taking place in this very sizable synagogue. Police have said sources that Shimon Prokupecz has spoken with confirming 12 people shot. Three officers shot and four people had been killed. So continue with your thoughts, Shimon.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. So just to get back to that scene. So here's -- just to get back to what's going on, on the scene. So police have spent sort of the last several hours -- it's couple of hours I should say going through, floor by floor of this synagogue. They came across some suspicious packages, some stuff belonging to him. Medical bags as well because obviously they were treating the injured.
They've gone through some of that. They don't believe right now that there are any bombs or explosives inside the building. So we should be seeing them exit the building where investigators now can go in and start processing the crime scene.
WHITFIELD: And I think that makes it difficult too because think about it. You know, a shooting takes place, people sometimes drop what they have. Their purses, bag, they drop, they run, et cetera. So now when investigators go on, while they might be looking for a bag or anything in association with a suspect, they also have to treat everything, right, everything as potentially suspect. So it takes time, that's why now a couple hours after the fact it is still considered an active scene.
VINOGRAD: And especially we're hearing reports that there may have been a Brit which is a Jewish ceremony for newborn boys happening at the temple this morning. There maybe presents as well. There maybe additional packages that people brought into that building which would further complicate things.
CAMPBELL: And Fred, if you think about what happened just last week, right where we're seated, right here in the CNN's center, you know, we talked a lot about these -- what security officials here are wondering why do you evacuate a building if there's a device somewhere. Because they don't know if there are other devices that are elsewhere and they have to methodically work through and tick through every square inch of a facility. A massive compound as we see some of these images. They're going to have to go through all that.
And to your great point, they don't know what's suspicious and what's not. They treat everything suspicious unless they, you know, have that comfort level that, OK, now we can move on. But it just shows the (INAUDIBLE) to show up to a situation where you just don't know what you're dealing with.
Evy Poumpouras, national security journalist and former Secret Service agent, I want to bring you back in to this. Evy, so as it relates to the president's comments, he was there on the tarmac before getting on to Air Force One, with a scattering, you know, of thoughts about this investigation. It being, you know, worse than he initially thought. Also, you know, going to thoughts of that's why you have to have stiffer laws, death penalty. And had there been an armed guard in his view at the synagogue, perhaps this wouldn't be so bad. What's your experience in terms of a president's message, how it can either help or complicate matters?
EVY POUMPOURAS, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: You know, I think when he receives his briefing and making sure what he does or doesn't address. But there's a couple of things I do want to hit on. One of the things that concerned me sometimes when I see -- when we go on air and we discuss these things, is when people address these shooters and individuals as wackos or as crazies.
And when we take --
WHITFIELD: And the president used that word, you know, a world of -- this is a world that is a violent world and you have wackos.
POUMPOURAS: Right. And so the concern with that is when we put people in these boxes, we're not solving the problem. A lot these needs to be prevented rather than reactive. You know, even in harping on that because the capital punishment, that's all after the fact.
And quite often, when people commit these egregious crimes, the more severe punishment will not help. But identifying individuals and labeling them as such is not going to be able to help us. But being able to understand why these individuals do this, understanding who he is, is there a history of mental health? Is there previous criminal record? Is there hate? What has happened in that person's life?
If we can gather knowledge and identify the people that do this, understand the profiles. Are there profiles? Are there patterns? And then create a society where we together can prevent this type of stuff or spot these white flags.
So calling people names or calling people crazy or wacko, when I see that, that doesn't help. You're just putting somebody in this random category. And then now what do you do with that individual?
And as far as having somebody at the front door security, you can have that. But what I've learned as I do -- a lot of schools and religious places reach out to me and they'll ask me, they'll tell me, we're afraid, what do we do? One of the biggest problems they have is money. They cannot afford to pay somebody to stand by that door all the time. Resources is a big problem.
And we also see in this incident there was, what, three officers so far from what we understand were injured. Those are three officers. They had a problem probably with this individual and were injured during a gunfight. So having that security person at every church or synagogue or school, or any other soft target, that's a big undertaking.
[12:50:01] WHITFIELD: Yes, it is. Well, you know, on the issue of security, we've heard a few different things. Whether be from the former pastor, the former president, you know, and even a member of that synagogue. All saying that there have been in the past some threats of -- or anti-Semitic behavior that's been targeted at that synagogue. We also heard the thought that police presence or higher security only takes place on high, you know, religious holidays. But on a day like this, a regular, you know, Saturday services, they don't have the same kind of intensified police security.
But we do know, you know, Sam, across country at so many synagogues we're learning right now as a result of what's taking place here, they are heightening security. Is there a regular practice perhaps at many synagogues across the country have taken given that there has been a history of anti-Semitic behavior, you know, from coast to coast? And we heard from the former president of this synagogue who said he actually consulted with Homeland Security about the best measures to put in place.
VINOGRAD: Well, Fred, the president was right about one thing, and that is that anti-Semitism and hate crimes are nothing new. I think he'd be hard pressed to find a Jew or a member of another minority religious group that hasn't received some kind of threat or been part of some kind of hate crime. Most synagogues around the country are very aware of the toxic environment in this country at any time against the Jewish community. And very regularly share information with local law enforcement.
Certain synagogues have law enforcement -- direct law enforcement relationships and even have security guards at the door. I belong to a synagogue. It has security personnel on the high holy days. I have to tell you -- and we don't know exactly what happened yet at this synagogue. Two security guards with pistols even at the door of a synagogue are going to have a hard time working against a man with an AR-15 or an assault rifle of any kind. So, I don't know that it is the -- it is on the synagogue to really work better with local law enforcement.
WHITFIELD: Security doesn't always mean what you see either.
VINOGRAD: Correct. And Josh can speak to that I'm sure. But the direct relationship between local law enforcement in small towns, in cities, in those synagogues and other places of worship is even more important today.
CAMPBELL: Yes, it is a reality in the United States and this is, you know, very unfortunate. I say this as, you know, some of the work of law enforcement liaising with community groups, community -- you know, religious groups that the Jewish community is different when it comes to the threat, when it comes to how they look at security. And it shows you just, you know, when an incident like this happens in one location, it still terrorizes people across the country because they'll wonder, will this happen to us next.
Now, you know, I look at this, it's hard to disassociate yourself personally. I mean, I go to a Protestant church. While walking in the door, there's not an armed security guard at large present and they're not constantly getting threats. There are security that rove around obviously, you know, we're in a heightened state --
WHITFIELD: There's a presumption of safety that everyone goes when they go to a house of worship. CAMPBELL: Correct. But, you know -- you're exactly right. But unfortunately for the Jewish community in the United States, security is a mainstay. It is part of going to synagogue. And, you know, I can tell you, you know, walking around Los Angeles, you see synagogues, you see a large security presence outside. You just can't forget what that means to people to know that, you know, I can't even go in to this facility to practice my faith and my religion is what I always having to keep in the back of my mind, and as a very real reminder in front of me, that I'm under a threat.
It's very serious and, you know, to Sam's point, law enforcement and the Jewish community, they're synced up across the nation. They share information. They share best practices. It's just this reality and it's disheartening, and obviously sad when you have incidents like this happen.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And Evy, are you still there?
POUMPOURAS: And one thing I want to jump on regarding what Josh is saying, security and law enforcement, two different things. You can have security guards or people there. It doesn't always mean they're going to be armed. And then even if they are, you don't know what their level of training is.
And so, here, we have again three officers who tried to deal with this individual and got injured. And you're going to have a security person who's hired from a private company, you don't know what level of training they have. You don't know how good they are. You don't even know if they can run from -- I've seen some security people in some places where I don't know if they could run from one corner of the block to the other.
And so there's also that. It's security and law enforcement, they are not the same thing. So just because you put somebody there who's got, you know, a uniform on doesn't mean they're going to be able to deal with the situation.
WHITFIELD: Right. Instincts are different and measured differently.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, exactly. And look, when you think about the Orlando shooting where all those people were killed, I was there, I covered that shooting. There was a police officer out there who was overpowered by the shooter who was using high-powered weapons. So that's going to happen and that could have -- could be what happened here.
You know, there are some indications that he was using a high-powered weapon here. So even if there was an armed guard there, what is one armed guard going to do --
PROKUPECZ: -- against someone who comes in with --
WHITFIELD: All of these situations are very different.
PROKUPECZ: They're very different.
WHITFIELD: There may be some common threads bu, you know, there is no framework --
PROKUPECZ: The thing is --
WHITFIELD: -- you know, for terrorism.
PROKUPECZ: Right. When -- if someone wants to do something like this, there is really nothing anyone can do to stop it, right. No matter how much security you have, you know, you -- the concern always is as we hear, like, did someone know something about this individual and didn't come forward?
[12:55:07] Did someone know something about this individual and didn't come forward? Did someone know that he was about to do this, that he was planning, that he had these weapons, that he had these anti-Jewish views or saying something recently?
We'll see if that was the case and if someone didn't come forward. Or was this guy kind of just in hiding and planning this on his own. You know, those are the things that usually prevent these kinds of attacks.
But once someone gets ready to do something like this and, you know, and Josh could certainly speak to this better than I can, there's really nothing you can do to stop them. So the idea that, you know, there may be -- whether there was an armed guard there or not, I don't even know why we're talking about. You know, we should be focusing on the people who've injured. The people who are now suffering, the families.
I mean, on a Saturday, you know, it's the Shabbat, it's the Sabbath. It's like, you're in there to pray, you're in there just to be with your family. Yes. And this should not happen, right?
And that's the larger question here in terms of what is going on. If this continues and just continues to happen. And that's something we should remember law enforcement is facing with. This is a big problem for them right now.
WHITFIELD: Yes. There are multiple hallmarks of terrorism, terror acts, hate-filled acts like this. Clearly no singular --
POUMPOURAS: Guys, I have to go, I'm sorry.
WHITFIELD: Yes. We got you, Evy, thank you so much. But no singular framework for something as heinous like this.
Thanks to all of you. Stick around. We got so much more straight ahead.
Again, this is still an active live shooter scene even though one person is in custody. Law enforcement remains there at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
We'll be right back.