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Coverage Of The Mass Shooting In Tree Of Life Synagogue, Pittsburg; Past 72 Hours In This Country Have Been Filled With Tragic Rhetoric And Worse, Hateful Action Just Beyond Comprehension; Aired 10:00-11:00p ET
Aired October 27, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please be advised, suspect's currently injured, 93 yards. SWAT talking to him, telling him to continue to crawl at this time. Shadow one, suspect is talking about all these Jews need to die. We are still communicating with him. Be advised red shirt at this time. We don't know if he changed clothes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the Suspect keeps telling about killing Jews. He doesn't want any of them to live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, right. I already relayed that. I'm on the other side of the stairs. Copy that.
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BALDWIN: This community, this Squirrel Hill community, those who live there of course just in mourning and in disbelief that this could possibly happen in a sanctuary.
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ALLISON SENNOTT, PITTSBURGH RESIDENT: In this community, no. There's no -- there's no violence. It's not -- it's not on the news regularly. It's not -- there aren't people dying. It's a place where you would walk as kids and a lot of different communities here, Christians and Jews and a variety of Jews from the very orthodox walking around. There hasn't been an issue. It just makes it really, really terrible.
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BALDWIN: We want to focus on this community now. CNN's Jessica Dean is live for us in Pittsburgh where a candlelight vigil was held this evening at the Presbyterian Church for just everyone devastated and in mourning.
And you just tell all of us more about Squirrel Hill.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, I'll tell you this. Squirrel hill is devastated tonight. There is just a very heavy cloud of grief that hangs over this community. But as you mentioned, they came out to the church behind us. And this was something that was kind of -- just came together organically because I was told by people here in the community they just wanted to be together. They just wanted to comfort one another, and more than anything they wanted to send this signal that hate is not what happens here in Squirrel Hill, that love is what will be triumphing at the end of the day.
And so they all came together with that in mind. And I talked to a lot of people who say they lived here their whole life. That they know each other's kids. That they know each other's families, you say hi on the street corner. That this is a diverse community and it's a community that feels safe. And as you can imagine, that they were absolutely stunned when this happened here in their community today. And I think it shook so many people. But again, they wanted to make sure that love was the message of the day, that coming together and unifying behind that was very important to them.
Now, all of the candlelight vigil and all of this playing out as this investigation also continued tonight, we found out later this evening that the feds did go ahead and file those criminal charges, those hate crime charges, against the suspected gunman in this case, 29 counts in all. This as they continue, as you mentioned, to comb through his social media accounts, which were riddled with anti-Semitic messages. One such message that went out just minutes before that first police call today.
But again, just so many people here who are grieving, who are affected personally by what happened today, and also those who don't know anyone personally who was affected today but just are so deeply saddened that this could happen in their community that this sort of behavior, that this horrible, horrific thing could happen right here in the neighborhood where they walk their kids, walk their dogs, and have spent much of their life.
Brooke, tomorrow there is going to be a press conference in the morning. We are expected to learn more about the victims and of course more about those criminal charges, those hate crime charges that were filed this evening.
BALDWIN: So many heavy hearts across religions, just across the country and across the world tonight for this community where you are standing.
Jessica Dean, thank you, in Pennsylvania.
Six people were wounded. Some of them were police officers, who of course when everyone's running away they are the ones bravely racing toward the scene. Found themselves immediately in the thick of this gun fight. As for those who lost their lives, Pittsburgh officials told us that they will release the list of names tomorrow morning.
CNN's Jean Casarez is outside the hospital where those survivors are being treated tonight.
Jean, tell me how they are doing.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are outside one of the level one trauma centers here in Pittsburgh. It is the University of Pittsburgh medical center, mercy hospital. There are six surviving victims in all of this. Two of the six are in critical condition. We understand one is a 70-year-old male, multiple gunshot wounds affecting major organs. We know that he has undergone a second surgery, currently in critical condition.
Another a 55-year-old police officers in critical condition. Once again, multiple gunshot wounds. This time to his extremities.
We also know a 61-year-old female victim is in the hospital, level one trauma center. Also another officer and a 27-year-old officer here at this particular trauma center. But some good news, one of the officers, law enforcement, they have been released from the hospital at this point. We also know that Sunday morning at 9:30, they will release the names of all that perished in this shooting. Eleven fatal victims here in Pittsburgh.
Jean Casarez, CNN, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
[22:05:53] BALDWIN: As we wait for those names in the morning, Jean Casarez, thank you.
We did hear from the President today. President Trump mentioning this mass shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue at both of his campaign rallies today.
Our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is in Murphysboro, Illinois.
And Boris, what was the President's message?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Trump acknowledged to supporters here in southern Illinois that he considered canceling tonight's rally though earlier in the day he said it was an obligation. This is one of more than a dozen stops the President has made in October campaign for Republican candidates across the country. He ultimately told supporters here that he felt he had to move forward because quote "we can't make evil people important."
The President considered tonight's rally akin to September 11th, saying that the New York stock exchange opened one day after the September 11th terrorist attacks, something that is just factually inaccurate. The stock market actually took about a week to open after those attacks.
Nevertheless, the President for the second time in a week called on Americans to unite in the face of domestic terror saying that Americans have to come together to fight scourge of anti-Semitism. Listen to more from the President.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There must be no tolerance for anti-Semitism in America or for any form of religious or racial hatred or prejudice.
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SANCHEZ: One more note, Brooke. The President was asked as he was departing the White House whether he would consider supporting gun control legislation, something that would potentially prevent attacks like the one we saw in Pittsburgh. The President dismissed that idea. Instead, he had other thoughts. Listen to this.
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TRUMP: This is a case where they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately. So this would be a case for 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 you can look at it different ways. But again, if they had somebody to protect people -- now, isn't it a shame you that even have to speak that way? Now, isn't it a shame 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.
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SANCHEZ: It's not the first time we've heard the President suggest armed guards as the possible solution to shootings. We heard him say the same after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting earlier this year in parkland, Florida. The President clearly believing that having armed guards at places of worship or schools is a better solution than passing gun control legislation, Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's a question of how realistic that is.
Boris, thank you very much in Illinois.
There's a lot to talk about. First just on the investigation here. With me, CNN law enforcement analyst Josh Campbell, who is a former supervisory special agent at the FBI. Also with us, Shimon Prokupecz, CNN crime and justice reporter. And CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin.
So gentlemen, let's begin with the, really, the newest piece of all of this and these 29 counts that he is now facing. Walk us through.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Right. So the big thing here obviously with these charges he is being charged with crimes of violence that are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes. So this is a hate crime. It's clear this is what the government is saying. And that's how he is charged. And then generally, it is just the 11 counts of obstruction of exercise of religious belief. Eleven counts of use of firearm. There's other counts here.
But the bottom line is he is now officially arrested. He is now going to face court. He is going to be seeing a judge in Pittsburgh. Whether it's tomorrow or Monday that remains to be seen. But that's it, you know.
And this is all we really know right now because the other documents we usually get when someone is charged, like the criminal complaint, that has not been released yet by the U.S. attorney's office. And in that we'll learn a lot more once we get those documents which are going to be released tomorrow in the morning at the press conference.
BALDWIN: OK. We come to you in just a second. But let me go straight to Michael Zeldin, to you, with your legal hat on. I mean, we had heard from the attorney general Jeff Sessions earlier today that they would be filing, you know, this hate crime charge and that in fact they have in addition to a number of other charges. Is that the most significant here?
[22:10:10] MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. The charge of violating the -- I think it was actually passed by Congress in 1996 and signed by Bill Clinton. I think it was called the church obstruction act. It was related to church bombings. But it prohibits interfering with religious freedom and it carries a maximum of death, murder if death results from your acts.
So these are death-carrying charges. The section 247, which is what is the principal charge in this charging document and the use of firearms cascade down from it. So yes, this is as serious a charge as one can bring in a hate crimes case, a death-carrying sentence. Whether they proceed with the death request is up to them, but the statute they are using does carry that if they want or they can go with life in prison.
BALDWIN: Let me just remind everyone, before I come to you, Josh, as we come to ultimate potentially death penalty in this case. Sitting right there, the head of the ADL, I don't think I can say this enough. ADL saying this was the most violent, the deadliest attack on Jewish people, the Jewish community in the history of the United States. Just let that try to sink in. Go ahead, Josh.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's obviously very serious. And I think what these charges show is obviously there's what the U.S. government brings to bear legally and what the penalties will be. But I think it's also -- there's a symbolic angle here as well and that is the federal government, the department of justice, attorney general Jeff Sessions. They are essentially saying that no, we will go after those who traffic in hate, who you know, try to target people with violence, which is a very strong message to be sending. It will be interesting if this becomes now part of some Saturday of a new shift or initiative. I mean, you take just the last week what we see in these two incidents of, you know, serious violence that appear at least on the surface to have some type of political motivation or some type of hatred involved. Is this now going to be a new initiative? Each department of justice as they come, in each new leadership, they
can set the priority for the department about what they want their people to focus on. And it will be very interesting to see if the department of justice under Jeff Sessions and obviously under the President, if they look at this and say OK, we have a problem here, this is something we need to focus more on. It's one thing to sit here and walk past a crime scene with victims and dead bodies and prosecute the person that did it. It's quite another thing to try to get out in front of these problems before they actually happen to dedicate those resources to doing just that.
I will say one last thing. We actually heard tonight from the FBI agents association which we were speaking -- CNN was talking to one of their spokespeople who actually renewed this call from the agents association to Congress, to the White House to actually move forward on this domestic terrorism legislation. They cited this incident. They cited the incident with the package bombings. There is no domestic terrorism statute right now.
BALDWIN: That's stunning.
CAMPBELL: That's something they are trying to call on. And the reason of saying this, they want the tools, the investigative tools to be able to investigate these things, to be able to preempt this type of crime.
BALDWIN: Welcome to America in 2018. That's the kind of thing you need.
PROKUPECZ: You can probably bet that this attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and this department of justice will recommend the death penalty in this case. I'm sure of that.
BALDWIN: We heard that already. Wasn't Trump alluding to that already?
PROKUPECZ: Basically, yes. And it's Trump's department of justice right now. And really you know, Trump likes to say that somehow would prevent something like this.
CAMPBELL: Can I say one quick note on that? Because this has been bugging me all day.
BALDWIN: Let it out.
CAMPBELL: So what the President was saying today, you know, he came out to the microphone just minutes after essentially we heard about this. We had, you know, been covering it. Still a lot of facts that were unknown. But he was essentially saying that look, you know, it's hard to describe this. I mean, he is basically saying that we don't need due process it seemed. He is saying that we need to speed things up, move straight to the gallows, you know, for these kind of people, which obviously we all feel just that visceral --
BALDWIN: It's a visceral reaction. But you need due process. CAMPBELL: But this country is based on the rule of law. And again,
you know, people will debate the death penalty. That's a separate conversation just in general. But we have legal processes in place to ensure that there is justice, there is due process. Everyone wants people like these monsters that do this type of violence to face the swiftest and, you know, most serious justice as they can. I think what I'm distinguishing it from is some of the chest beating, OK, let's, you know, blast past all the norms and rulings our country's based on that we are going to offer due process on one hand which I kind of set aside that's just bluster. But it will be interesting to see whether the department of justice actually prioritizes these types of crimes and moves forward with really throwing resources toward getting out in front of the a lot of this.
BALDWIN: Michael, do you want to jump in on that before I move on to where this suspect is right now? Go ahead.
ZELDIN: I believe actually one of the priorities of the attorney general has been religion and religion-related crimes. I'm not sure, to Josh's point, I'm not sure that it isn't yet a priority. I think it is a priority of the administration. It's a matter of resources and then definitions.
What are they going to determine to be a religious interference crime and what priority will they be giving resources to enforce those things? But I think this will be a catalyst for sessions to do what he's wanted to do all along, which is prosecute these types of cases.
[22:15:31] BALDWIN: Yes. And again, just as we sit here and we were sitting here yesterday and I know it's late on a Saturday night but I can't not remind everyone the week that was with the two black Americans killed in that grocery store in Kentucky and then the pipe bombs. Obviously these people targeted, many of them for their political views, critics of this President and now, you know, members of the Jewish faith clearly targeted because of what they believe. Just sit on that for a second.
Lastly, his beliefs. Gab.com. For people, again, who are just sort of tuning in and learning about what has happened today, who this individual is, tell us more about his anti-Semitic rants online.
PROKUPECZ: Right. So it is clearly anti-Jewish. He had issues with the caravan. He had issues with people who when supporting some of the immigration movement, the caravan, and was in some ways pro Trump you could argue on some of this stuff.
BALDWIN: He said he didn't vote for Trump. He doesn't like Trump because he surrounded himself with so many Jews.
PROKUPECZ: Right. But he has issues with the whole - right, the caravan. There were issues of --.
BALDWIN: That's right.
PROKUPECZ: So the thing - you know, it has become a treasure trove really for us to understand and for law enforcement to understand what his mindset was, what he was thinking and how he was thinking. And also the post that he made a post just minutes before. He posted just minutes before the attack sort of that it was go time, right, like I'm going in.
PROKUPECZ: So this, you know, it is an interesting sort of platform for people to communicate on. They protect -- they tout themselves as protecting free speech and --
BALDWIN: They don't monitor. Unlike twitter and Facebook and other sites, if, you know, you put hate speech out they are going to yank it down. And apparently this gab.com which many of us never heard of until today is a place for bigots, for extremists to --
CAMPBELL: Yes. It's a platform for hate, essentially. Or at least it allows that to go, you know, to fester. And maybe this will be part of the effort. You know, Michael mentioned maybe this catalyst we see to become better as a country where we actually look and see OK, we all believe in first amendment free speech. But if that, you know, comes up and runs up inciting violence, that's something obviously we need to look at. If I can end just quickly with a positive note.
CAMPBELL: In the midst of tragedy, I think that one thing - we have seen so many of these types of tragedies, so many of these types of incidents, but the one thing that continues is obviously, you know, we have our leaders that will disagree with certain things that they do. We talk about the policies that we want them to implement.
But the country's more than our leaders. Right? And I think what we have seen, just to again on some positive note if there is one is that after each of these tragedies one thing always holds true and that is the country comes together to the extent that you have people looking here, people are mourning for the Jewish community today in the United States of America. And one thing that's always -- the commonality with these attacks is the bad guy always loses. Yes, he has killed people and we mourned their loss. But let's surpassed that. And hopefully, we can come together, you know, as a country and realize that look, we are more than this. We are better than this. There may be hate festering out there but this is the aberration and then we have that national conversation about how do we get past this and prevent this from happening.
BALDWIN: Sure. Just nobody wants the next one. Nobody wants the next one.
Guys, I'm going to say thank you all so very much, Michael and Shimon and Josh. We have this just in also from the White House here. We will show you live pictures. There it is. The President ordered the flags half-staff in honor of those synagogue shooting victims.
Live pictures at the White House. We will be right back.
[22:22:13] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
The ADL Anti-Defamation League says they believe today's shooting at this Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. Eleven people were killed, eleven, all adults. We are told six others were injured. This is being treated as a hate crime. The source telling CNN that the gunman made anti-Semitic comments as he opened fire and in fact after he was arrested.
His social media accounts as we were just discussing were full of these anti-Semitic and also anti-immigrant views. That said, I really want to focus in on this community, Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh.
And Zachary Weiss is with me on the phone. His father Stephen was actually inside the synagogue when the gunman opened fire.
So Zachary, I don't even know if I have the full, you know, words to express our deepest, deepest sympathies to your community, to the Jewish community for this heinous crime that happened in this synagogue.
How are you holding up? How is your family? How is your dad?
ZACHARY WEISS, FATHER WITNESSED THE SHOOTING IN THE SYNAGOGUE (on the phone): It's been -- the day's been what it's been, (INAUDIBLE) where they have been - what the day has been, what it has been to be honest with you, Brooke. And we really appreciate speaking -- I don't want to speak necessarily on behalf of the congregation, but the outpouring of love and support, not just citywide, statewide, but really worldwide is. It's nice - it is unfortunate that it's in this instance, but it's nice to see that there's been so much support and outpouring. And we obviously ask that that extends beyond today and beyond tomorrow and beyond the days to come.
But it's been tough. My father, fortunately, was able to make it back home. He is 100 percent healthy. He is safe, unharmed. The real savior of the day was all those who sacrificed in one way, form, or another and the fact that there was an active shooter training that was put into place last year that a lot of people including my father took which really was able to help in the event of this active tragic shooter incident.
BALDWIN: That's what we heard, that you all practiced. You practiced an active shooter drill. And you had to, you know -- you were prepared for what happened today. I was talking to the head of the ADL earlier and he was telling people that there was a brisk happening this morning. Was there a baby boy all part of this, what happened?
WEISS: Well, there has been a lot of confusion in regards to this. And my answer to that is this, that there -- the synagogue is called tree of life, but there are also two other synagogues that rent space in the synagogue. So at the same time there were two services, one of which was from the Tree of Life and then there was another service from a separate synagogue called Dor Hadash (ph) and New Life did in fact have a brisk. So there was a bris, a third event that was also occurring at the synagogue. And between the three synagogues it would be fair to guesstimate probably about 30 to 40 individuals were at the synagogue at the time.
[22:25:28] BALDWIN: I understand. What did your father share with you that you feel comfortable sharing with us?
WEISS: It all felt like slow motion. I think the first thing that occurred was he heard a loud noise and a couple of congregants went to investigate the loud noise because it was quite possible that maybe a senior citizen had a horrific fall or maybe there was some kind of material or something at the synagogue which caused a loud noise. And when a couple of the congregants went down the noise was unmistakable. From then on it was treated like an active shooter situation.
And my dad was actually not supposed to be there. The family was actually supposed to be on vacation, and it was canceled. And at the 11th hour my dad, who has been a 29-year member of the Tree of Life or (INAUDIBLE) congregation and has worn many hats during that as many others have, was called in to assist the rabbi who was feeling a little under the weather and they helped lead the Tree of Life portion of that congregation for the service.
And when everything occurred with the active shooter situation following that ALICE training which was the security measure that I mentioned in the previous answer, they were able to hide in place and then my dad was able to go down to the brisk and make sure they were aware, which they were already hiding.
When he was upstairs, he explained to me as he was headed up, he saw casings moving and he expressed that he was roughly five feet away from the moving casings but did not get a clear image of the gunman. And he was able to go back to the tree of life congregation, and he couldn't find anybody.
And I'm not sure how familiar you are, Brooke, with the ALICE acronym. But the E stands for evacuate. And when dad saw everybody was hidden in place, he did that evacuation and he was safely able to evacuate himself from the synagogue.
BALDWIN: Thank goodness. Zachary, last question. A lot of people learning about the Squirrel Hill community tonight. What do you want the world to know about you?
WEISS: I want the world to know about the Squirrel Hill communication -- Squirrel Hill community, rather, excuse me, that we are a very loving and together community. And this is one of the safest neighborhoods if not the safest in the city of Pittsburgh. And this was a tragic accident -- I wouldn't consider it an accident. But it was very, very tragic what happened and what unfolded from the morning and going on through.
And please do not -- I would advise the viewership not to forget this moment, not today, not tomorrow, and not moving forward because unfortunately incidents like these are becoming all too familiar to our society. And however that needs to change that needs to change. And this awareness is definitely an important step. And I appreciate the platform and that happening. Although others in the congregation may not be speaking as much right now I know they appreciate the support as well and they continue to ask for that support.
BALDWIN: Zachary, how old are you?
WEISS: I'm 26.
BALDWIN: Twenty-six. I'm so glad you, your father -- I'm glad your father's OK. I'm just -- our deepest condolences for your community.
Zachary, thank you.
WEISS: I appreciate that. And I'm glad my brother and my mother, we are all safe. We have a happy ending. But there's at least 11 others that don't. I'm definitely thinking about them and the injured as well.
BALDWIN: We all are. Thank you.
WEISS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up here on CNN, investigators are searching the suspect's house, trying to find more clues. We will hear from some of his neighbors next.
[22:32:21] BALDWIN: Investigators are trying to learn more about the Pittsburgh shooter here. Federal agents converged on this apartment complex where he lived.
Miguel Marquez is outside his home.
And Miguel, you tell me what we see behind you.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Federal agents have been going through his apartment just behind me for many, many hours now. They took no chances, though. They sealed off the neighborhood. They moved the bomb squad in to make sure there was nothing that could endanger them as they went about their work. And for the last several hours members of the FBI and ATF have been in that apartment going in and out, bringing some things out, taking gear in as they go through piece by piece and try to form a portrait of this man and look for evidence of what he did as well.
Neighbors saying - I have spoken to several of them now. One of them said -- saw the car come and go, didn't really know him at all. Another said talked to him a couple of times. Fine. One guy said, well, he didn't seem not unfriendly, didn't seem friendly. We waved (ph) every now and again to that his fiance told him that he was a truck driver and that he was a fairly normal guy that kind of kept to himself. The only thing he thought was odd is that he would listen to the -- or watch TV at a very loud volume at odd hours. So he was here for a few days, gone for others. Mr. Bowers seemed to have not only this residence but several in the
area over the last several years. But for as quiet as he was in his home life, he was certainly more vocal online, posting about the caravan that is making its way from Central America and his anger at that. At a Jewish refugee resettlement organization, HIAS, or the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and his anger at that. They were down at the border, made a video down there. He keyed on that. And then moments before going into that synagogue saying I can't sit by and let my people get slaughtered, screw your optics, I'm going in - Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's incredible, though, because of everything he wrote on this social media site, the treasure trove that law enforcement had. Despite the fact he wasn't known to law enforcement, no criminal history that we know of.
Miguel Marquez, thank you so much there at his home in Pittsburgh.
You know, the past 72 hours in this country have been filled with tragic rhetoric and worse, hateful action just beyond comprehension. And if you are asking like I am, like so many people are, what is going on in America, you are not alone. So let's try and put this in perspective. Coming up next.
[22:38:28] BALDWIN: Tonight, let's take a look back at just the past 72 hours in America. So you go to Wednesday. Police say a white man walked into a grocery store in Kentucky, shot and killed two African- Americans, and a witness reportedly heard the gunman saying "whites don't shoot whites." that was Wednesday.
Also a few minutes before the man had tried to walk into a predominantly black church nearby.
Flash forward to Friday. The FBI arrested a Florida man who authorities say mailed 13 IEDs, pipe bombs across the country. The targets included former Presidents, a former vice president, and a former secretary of state. Those targets were all people the President had specifically called out. Right? So that's politically motivated.
And finally today, a man who frequently posted anti-Semitic hate-laced comments online, he terrorized this place of worship, this synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on the day of Saturday Shabbat services, killing 11 people, 11, and wounding six others.
This is what the last three days in America looked like. Fear and terror and violence.
CNN Presidential historian Tim Naftali is with me now.
And again, the ADL saying they believe this is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. What is going on?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Brooke, it's a sad thing to say, but it's true. That anti-Semitism is like the canary in the mine shaft for our country.
[22:40:02] BALDWIN: How do you mean?
NAFTALI: When we are heading or we are in moments of a lot of late and intolerance, you see a spike in anti-Semitic behavior. The America first movement in the 1930s had a deep undercurrent of anti- Semitism. The reason that America did not bring and allow more Jewish refugees into this country was that many of the isolationists did not like Jews.
Charles Lindbergh, the great Charles Lindbergh who flew across the Atlantic solo without stopping was the symbol of the America first movement, and he spiced his speeches and arguing against involvement in the European war with attacks on Jews.
In the McCarthy period there was a deep undercurrent of anti-Semitism that ran through the understandable concern about communism but for many people Judaism and communism were completely mixed together.
In the '70s there was an uptick in anti-Semitism, which is why the JDL began to take -- begin statistics, collecting statistics about anti- Semitic activities in the '70s, and now.
So I think that today's attack was not an attack just on Jewish Americans. Because it was an attack on people because of whom they worship, who they are, it's an attack on all of us. So when these poor people are buried, America is burying its dead. This is a sign of a deep sickness in our country. And it is a sickness that cannot be solved by talking about Republicans or Democrats. It's a sickness that we periodically see and it's a test of our ability as Americans to find our basic values and stand up for them. We did it in World War II. We did it in the '50s. We did it by coming to some understanding of the Vietnam War. And we are going to do it again, I hope.
BALDWIN: You were talking as we were chatting in commercial break about the burden that people suffer with the history of genocide. Talk to me about that.
NAFTALI: Well, I think that -- I think that if you have a Jewish friend this is a particularly difficult moment. When an attack occurs and it starts with "all the Jews must die" or whatever that horrible man said, the effect on anyone of a people that has suffered genocide is much stronger than the basic human empathy that one should have when people die needlessly.
It's like how a Tutsi would feel in Rwanda if someone, a Hutu again said kill all Tutsis. It's the way that the Herero people and the Namo people in today's Namibia would feel. It's the way Armenians feel and it is the way that Jews have crumb the world feel when someone yells and feels comfortable yelling, all the Jews must die, and then goes ahead and does it.
So I think that there is a special historical burden. The Jewish people like the Tutsis and others. And this hits at the core. And there's a special historical burden of those around them to understand that this is a particularly traumatic moment for members of the American community who happen to be Jewish-Americans.
BALDWIN: Thank you for that.
NAFTALI: It's a terrible day. For this country.
BALDWIN: Tim Naftali, thank you.
The Jewish community in Pittsburgh and all around the country, all around the world really, in mourning tonight. So coming up next, I will talk to a former rabbi at this Tree of Life Synagogue. He has been there for seven years. He'll talk about how his community is coping. They're devastated.
[22:47:58] BALDWIN: While this investigation continues into this alleged killer's motivation, this man posted a number of anti-Semitic statements on social media.
Chuck Diamond was a rabbi at the Tree of Life Synagogue until last year. He joins us live.
And Rabbi Diamond, my sincerest condolences to you. I know you have been out there all day long. You live in this community. You were the rabbi for this synagogue for seven years. How did you first hear about this?
CHUCK DIAMOND, FORMER RABBI AT TREE OF LIFE: Well, Brooke, thank you. I was at home and I got a call from somebody a few minutes after, I think, while it was still happening and somebody said, did you hear what happened at the Tree? And then I started getting texts and emails and I decided that I could be of some help to maybe get outside. I live a couple of blocks from the synagogue. And I just wanted to get out and comfort people as best I could.
BALDWIN: And it is my understanding, Rabbi Diamond, when the shooting started it was during Shabbat services. Do you know -- was there a brisk taking place as well?
DIAMOND: You know, I heard that story but I have not confirmed it so I'm not sure. There was another at another synagogue and I suspect it was maybe mixed up but I don't know for sure.
BALDWIN: OK. I know that --
DIAMOND: The shooting --
BALDWIN: Go ahead, sir. Go ahead.
DIAMOND: The shooting took place at about, I think, a quarter to 9:00 is when services start. And there are three congregations who share the space. It is a beautiful building. And so, at the beginning of services, there aren't a lot of people there I have to say. And that was, I guess, fortunate for the people who come later.
BALDWIN: Sure. DIAMOND: But I knew exactly who would be there, the regulars who
always come, who you can depend on, and, unfortunately, some of them didn't make it out alive.
BALDWIN: I wanted to ask you about that, and, of course, I don't want to get ahead of law enforcement. I know they will be identifying the victims, we've heard, tomorrow morning.
BALDWIN: But you know some of those.
[22:50:01] DIAMOND: Right.
BALDWIN: Those lives lost.
BALDWIN: What can you share?
DIAMOND: Well, I think they were good people.
DIAMOND: There was one elderly woman in her 90s who would come with a smile on her face every single week no matter what the weather. I believe her daughter was shot but is doing OK.
There was another man who just the synagogue was his home since he was a kid, and the synagogue took care of him and he was always there to greet people when they came in. Whenever I would go to services when I was a rabbi, he was always there to greet me. And they are just good people in all three congregations. And unfortunately, you know, it is such a tragedy as you know, Brooke.
BALDWIN: For people, Rabbi Diamond, who have never stepped foot in a synagogue, it is a house of worship, it is a sanctuary, it is a safe space. For people who have never heard the mourner's Kadesh (ph), for example, it is a Jewish prayer that marks the death of a loved one.
BALDWIN: Can you in your own words, how egregious this attack was?
DIAMOND: Well, sanctuary says it all. This is a sanctuary. We have sanctuaries and we want to feel safe in, not only synagogues and churches but our schools as well. And we don't feel safe there.
When I was a rabbi I felt a great responsibility for the congregation. And I have to say I always thought in recent times in the back of my mind of something like this happening. And it is just a terrible state we live in. You guys have to cover this too many times.
BALDWIN: Agreed. Agreed. And this is your community --
DIAMOND: And I also want to say, Brooke -- BALDWIN: Please, go ahead. Go ahead.
DIAMOND: Yes. I just want to say also that the first responders and the people, the law enforcement, just so brave and do such a good job.
DIAMOND: Also, I'll tell you, the news people I have talked to have just been comforting. You also do a good job. So I just wanted to state that because of the times we live in today. Appreciate it.
BALDWIN: I appreciate you. I appreciate you.
And just lastly, it was your community, your literal community, your Jewish community was attacked because of your beliefs. What do you want to communicate to your community tonight?
DIAMOND: Well, first of all, Pittsburgh is a wonderful city, and the Jewish community is great. I believe all parts of the Jewish community get along together, and I feel that we were all attacked. I spoke to other rabbis from other movements within Judaism, and we feel personally violated. And I believe the people in Pittsburgh feel personally violated, too.
This isn't necessarily about just being Jewish, although clearly it seems to be an anti-Semitic act, but it is against humanity and what is good in humanity. And I think that, you know, I'm tired of throwing up my hands when things like this happen and saying, what can we do. I think we need to take some sort of action. I hope our leaders are leaders and take action. There's a lot involved in this issue. I think for the short term we have to provide comfort for those in the community and we have to watch each other's back and we have to be there for each other.
BALDWIN: It is sad that this is America in 2018. Rabbi Chuck Diamond, thank you so much.
DIAMOND: Yes. And hard to believe.
BALDWIN: Hard to believe indeed.
DIAMOND: Thank you, Brooke. Take care.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Also last hour I talked to the CEO of the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt. He told me about how he was learning of this tragic, tragic news as he himself was walking out of Shabbat services this morning. Here he was.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: This is the most lethal and violent attack on the Jewish community in America in the history of this country.
BALDWIN: Just stop for a second on that. That is profound and profoundly sad.
GREENBLATT: It is sad and, Brooke, it will be more sad tomorrow as the stories of the victims come out. I have -- what I have heard already is heartbreaking. I think first and foremost, our thoughts need to go out to the families and the victims who went into a synagogue to worship, who went into a synagogue to pray, and there was a brisk taking place. You know, there was a ceremony.
BALDWIN: There was a brisk.
GREENBLATT: That's right. There was a --
BALDWIN: Ceremony, go ahead and explain what brisk is.
GREENBLATT: When a boy baby is born, a male baby is born, eight days into its life it is brought to the synagogue for a service where the baby gets its name. And at this moment of hope, suddenly there was this act of horror where a man ran into the synagogue with automatic weapons and murdered in cold blood 11 people, whose only crime, of course, whose only offense, of course, was that they were Jewish and that they were praying.
So it is hard to imagine something more despicable and I think just very sad overall. It make them sick to an attack on the Jewish community, but it is also an attack on our country. These are all our values, these are all our children. This is any one of us.
[22:55:21] BALDWIN: I was just talking to a friend whose mother is afraid of stepping foot in a synagogue now. What is your message as these moms and dads were at services this morning where anyone was allowed in on a Saturday morning.
BALDWIN: What is your message to the Jewish community tonight?
GREENBLATT: Yes, Brooke, I learned about this incident when I walked out of my own synagogue this morning. And I looked at my phone as I walked out the door. So Brooke, I will tell you this. We cannot let the white supremacists, we cannot let the bigots and haters win. So we need to introduce security protocols at all of our synagogues and any house of worship, as I said before. And we need our leaders to lead and to call this out when it happens immediately, intentionally and honestly.
BALDWIN: What do you want them to say specifically?
GREENBLATT: To say that hate has no place in our country. To say that we can't imagine a world in which this country isn't appreciated for what it is, the most diverse, the most enriched country in the world. I think our Jewish community along with our Muslim community along with our Sikh community, along with our Christian and those who don't worship, we are all in this together. And I wish our elected leaders would remind us of that and turn down the rhetoric. That's what we need.
BALDWIN: That was Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the ADL.
Thank you so much for being with me these last three hours with our CNN special coverage. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Anthony Bourdain "PART UNKNOWN" is next.