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Coverage Of The Mass Shooting In Tree Of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 28, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:00:00] SUZAN HAUPHMAN, FRIEND KILLED IN SHOOTING: What I remember of Dr. Rabinowitz was he wasn't just my dad's doctor, he was there for me. He was there for my mom and my brother. And he was our doctor then, too. He walked us through every piece of my dad being in the hospital for three weeks. And he just did it all. And he was just this unassuming, small person with the biggest, biggest heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Small in stature, but a huge heart. We heard that over and over again from those who knew him. And what one thing that the people of this community, the Jewish community here and beyond want everyone to know is that they want to focus their attention and their love on those who were shot, those who were killed, and the community at large. They would like to wholly ignore the person who did this - Victor.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes. We heard from the woman there in your story who said we need to talk about the victims a lot. And we will do that this morning - this afternoon I should say a lot.
Sara Sidner, thank you.
Let's also check in though with the investigation. CNN's Miguel Marquez.
What are you learning about the suspect?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The more we learn about him, the more just horrifyingly terrifying. That this is a person who lived apparently private life who had apparently quiet life who had a seemingly tranquil exterior. But clearly underneath and online, there was just depth of hatred for Jews and for many different groups.
So we have spoken to several neighbors of Mr. Bowers who say that he was neither friendly nor unfriendly. He would say hello. He would say goodbye. He claimed that he was a trucker. The only thing one of the neighbors shared a wall with him is a duplex apartment-rot of complex where he lived and that the people right next to him said that sometimes they would hear the television on very loudly at odd times in the day or the night. That was the one thing that was kind of distract them as odd. We have also talked to neighbors at a different address, a relative of
his. And those neighbors say that he was over at this address quite often. In the last couple of months, though, he had stop coming. He was helping care for his cousin who apparently had some physical ailments and was disabled. But Mr. Bowers had stopped coming to this address for some time.
Everyone basically said this was an individual who they didn't really know very well at all. They would see him. He would come and go. But when you start to look at what he was saying online for months and years before, his hatred of Jews.
Seventeen days before this event, he was posting about the migrant caravan in Central America and Mexico. He was pointing at one Jewish organization in particular, HIAS, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that does indeed resettle immigrants. They had been down in the border. The have done a video down there. He reposted that.
There was great concern about this particular organization. They hosted a refugee Shabbat the week before. All of this happened. And those -- that horrible, just minutes before going into shoot up that synagogue saying that I can't stand by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I'm going in.
And he did. And it is shocking to be tracking down the life outside of this man and then see what someone like that, just completely unknown to the people who saw him almost every day that he would be capable of this violence - Victor.
BLACKWELL: Miguel Marquez for us this afternoon. Miguel, thank you.
And for you at home, I want to just discuss quickly this balance that we are going to try to navigate this afternoon.
You heard from Sarah Sidner there talking about how the people in the community want to focus on the victims and we will do that. And we will talk about their lives and who they were, not just their deaths.
But also, as we heard from Miguel, covering the story of how this person executed the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of this country. So we will do our best to startle that line.
And Fred, a little bit of news here. Just a few minutes ago, Mayor Peduto, the mayor of Pittsburgh talked to some reporters saying that he spoke with President Trump. Not specifically about the planned visit that the President has talked about coming here to the Tree of Life Synagogue. That he will leave that up to the families and to the synagogue to plan when and really if the President will come here. But he said that the President was very cordial, very supportive and saying that this community will recover, strong as steel. And we will get more from the read out of that conversation and bring that to you when you see me again -- Fred.
[14:05:04] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. Victor, thank you so much.
And to that point, our coverage has to be and will be all encompassing. Appreciate that.
All right. Right now, a community is still reeling from what has been called the darkest day in Pittsburgh's history. Thousands of people embraced each other, crying, praying at that vigil last night. And another vigil will be held later on today.
About an hour ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers fans at Heinz field paused for a moment of silence before kickoff. And you see the Star of David, also. That also helped set the tone there in the stadium.
Joining us right now, Rabbi Julie Shonfeld, the chief executive officer of the Rabbinical Assembly which is a worldwide association of conservative rabbis.
Good to see you, rabbi. And how are you feeling today?
RABBI JULIE SHONFELD, CEO, RABBINICAL ASSEMBLY: Today is obviously a tragic and terrible day for my community worldwide. When one Jew is targeted for being Jewish, much less an entire community is targeted and murdered in this way, every Jew everywhere in the world feels pain and suffering. Feels that sense of threat. And I also believe and I have been hearing from faith leaders and community leaders of all different communities and diverse parts of the world, everybody feels that.
WHITFIELD: And I have heard from so many who said even preceding this, there has been a constant feeling of potential threat. But now that this happened, does this set off, is it a catalyst for, you know, deeper feelings, more apprehension or, you know, concern about what potentially is around the corner.
SHONFELD: Look. For the Jewish community living with the sense of threat, has been a part of our history for a few thousand years. We have never ever let that stop us. We have never let that stop us from being not only a kind and welcoming community to our fellow brethren, but to really taking up that sense of threat and trying to lead in the world to see that others that people of every race, ethnic and faith background, sexual orientation are not threatened. And to join with them and to be with them.
And so, while on the one hand, obviously, there is no Jewish school child who will not go to school tomorrow feeling some sense of threat. But what we teach our children and what we try to do for each other is to make sure that we never let that keep us home, but that we make that take all the us out to defend ourselves and other people and to raise up God's message for the Jewish people in the world that we will be a blessing. That we will care about morality. That we will care about decency. That we will be a light unto the nations even in a dark time like this one.
WHITFIELD: Synagogues across the country now, you know, have been beefing up security since this happened in that 9:00 (INAUDIBLE) yesterday. And you heard the President of the United States addressing the shooting yesterday saying that, you know, had there been an armed guard, perhaps lives would have been saved. Do you worry that, you know, open arms, open doors, you know, at places of worship, you know, is soon to be a practice of the past as a result of this latest, you know, threat and as a result of the deadly, you know, deadliest attack, anti-Semitic attack on U.S. soil?
SHONFELD: The Jewish community and every faith community is built around having its doors open, right? Every faith community, and not only synagogues, but churches, mosques, temples, pancake houses, shopping centers, folk music festivals.
We live in an open society. And we cannot allow ourselves to give in to feeling that we all have to hide behind gates and locked doors and armed guards in order to be American. The promise of America is that we live in freedom, in safety, and with a sense of community and opportunity.
And so I believe that we can't allow that to make ourselves that kind of a closed society, but the opposite. What we have to do is join together as people who are caring and people of good will. Let the thousands of people we saw last night out in the streets after Shabbat and that we saw in this very moving clip that you had of the Steelers game today, right. That Americans stand together and say that we believe that we have to be a society that can live in safety and where our freedom to express ourselves is not allowed to be hindered by living in a situation in which we can be subject to, you know, battle grade weapons coming into a synagogue.
[14:10:15] WHITFIELD: And you helped lead this assembly which, you know, is the worldwide association of conservative, you know, rabbis. What is conservatism mean? Help people understand what this means. It's not an extension of a political view.
SHONFELD: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: But when people hear it, they are not quite sure.
SHONFELD: Thank you, Fredricka.
So Conservative Judaism refers to conserving our religious traditions. And it is actually the sort of centrist, big tent place for everybody, a movement of Judaism in terms of people bringing different philosophies, political philosophies, life philosophies, but we are joined together because of our belief in Jewish traditions, our shared faith, our shared history.
And so, it's actually Conservative Judaism interestingly was originally referred to in many corners as American Judaism because it was a Judaism that was built and flourished on the shores.
Tree of Life congregation is 150 years old. It represents 150 years of continuous peaceful, warm, open, thoughtful prayer. It represents a point of view about the world that says that our ancient traditions can be melded with science, with changing society, with diverse people. So sometimes what is conservative is not conservative at all, but is really about being together with other people in a way that we can conserve our society and conserve our values and our morals and find things that lift us up and bring us together.
WHITFIELD: Rabbi Julie Shonfeld, thank you so much for being with us. And you know, collectively, our hearts are broken.
SHONFELD: Thank you. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the investigation into this tragedy is really just beginning. And what could have sparked this heinous crime and what can be done to prevent more from happen something we will discuss, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think everyone will remember October 27th. I think that's going to be a date that's etched in everybody's mind. But I think that Squirrel Hill is strong and we are going to remain that way.
[14:11:45] BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell in Pittsburgh, outside the synagogue where a gunman carried out the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States history.
And today, this is understandably a devastated community searching for answers to why this man would want to take the lives of 11 people as they worshipped. And the victims of this incident range from - their ages range from 54 to 97 years old. That they were at worship ceremonies at the Tree of Life synagogue on Shabbat morning when the suspect burst into the building, armed with multiple hand guns and assault rifle.
Now, official say, this suspect, 46-year-old Robert Bowers was an anti-Semite. He made some statements during the shooting and targeted Jews on social media. And Bowers is now charged with 29 criminal counts including federal hate crimes. He is due in court tomorrow. Now I if he is convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Let's bring in now CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez. He joins us now with more on the investigation into the suspect, also into the shooting.
Evan, this afternoon and day on, what more are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, as you heard from the prosecutor there in Pittsburgh, this is a horrific crime scene that is going to take the FBI as much as a week to process.
Today, for instance, they did a search of the vehicle, his vehicle that he drove to the scene there. And they are still looking through surveillance video in the area to try to piece together the moments before this attack happened. Obviously, he was able to get into the synagogue and he injured four police officers who responded to the scene there, heroically trying to save lives.
But as you mentioned, there are 11 people who died there at the synagogue. And now those 28 charges are against Bowers.
The FBI says that when the officers engaged him, one of the things he said was that he wanted to kill Jews and he essentially explained why he was doing this. So now, when he appears in court tomorrow, we are going to see for the first time the charges that he is facing. And as you mentioned, these are charges that include obstruction of the exercise of religious beliefs, use of a firearm to commit murder in relation to crime of violence. These are hate crime charges under federal law, obviously and some of them carry the death penalty, Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Evan Perez in Washington. Evan, thank you.
And as I toss it back to Fredricka Whitfield, to continue our coverage, Fred, I just saw about a dozen federal agents who are just leaving the Tree of Life synagogue here. So while this is now a place where people are bringing flowers and candles, handing them over to an officer who was walking across the street because the public is not allowed to get so close. We are as close as anyone can get right now. This is still an active investigation on the scene of the shooting that happened yesterday - Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Victor Blackwell, thank you so much. We will get back with you there in Pittsburgh.
Let's talk further now about the potential legal path and beyond.
With me now is Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor. Also with me, Norm Eisen who is a CNN contributor, a former White House ethics czar and a former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. Good to see you both.
So Elie, let me begin with you. You know, the suspect is facing 29 charges to be in court tomorrow. You know, charges including murder and federal hate crimes, but not domestic terrorism. The U.S. attorney did say, you know, for now, no domestic terrorism charges. But help us, you know, help explain, you know, the difference between what constitutes a hate crime versus terrorism. And I asked this, you can't help but harken back to the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, you know, carried out by the Ku Klux Klan. Four little girls were killed. That was considered a terror attack.
[14:20:39] ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure. For now is the key phrase that use there, Fredricka. The charges that are on the books right now. The murder charges that Evan just laid out, they do carry the potential death penalty.
What prosecutors do a lot of time is, especially in a case like this is, you need to get a charge on the books immediately like someone like this so they can be arrest and held and locked up. These charges are the most readily provable. The fact that he went into a place of worship declared something about his intent to murder Jews and then in fact murdered 11 people.
So that's enough to hold him for now. The investigation will continue as Evan said. And if they can develop facts that would support domestic terrorism which involves generally speaking an intent to intimidate or terrorize civilians or policy makers, then those charges could well be added as well. WHITFIELD: OK. And I know, you know, Norm, you too, you know, you
are wearing multiple hats here, you know. You got the legal eye on this. At the same time, you know, this hits close to home. And I asked you because, you know, you tweeted out earlier today. And you wrote, Trump is cynically pandering with his Israel policies. And he is at the same time stoking hate such as attacking globalists and triggering the shooter of Trump's pro-Israel policies do not inoculate him from responsibility for the consequences.
So, you know, you are implying that the President, you know, has some responsibility, you know, for the tone and the tenor or something that set the stage for this Pittsburgh shooting?
NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Fred, thanks for having me on this solemn day.
That tweet is part of a conversation that has been happening on social media and other forums about the President's responsibility. And I was responding to someone asking if the President has pro-Israel policies, how can we accuse him of stoking anti-Semitism? But at the same time, and it's painful to have to discuss this in such a devastating time for my community, Fred, with people I know and cherish who live in Squirrel Hill.
But we have to realize that President Trump has created a climate through his hate-filled attacks, his aggression - his verbal aggression against minorities. But also through his own encouraging violence in his rhetoric.
It is no coincidence that we are seeing the targets of his ire who are now being exposed to actual violence. And I think we would be doing a disservice to the dead and also not protecting us against future attacks if we didn't address the ways in which President Trump has contributed to this. And frankly, I find his sympathies to be not believable.
WHITFIELD: And what do you mean by that? Because he had a few different versions of, you know, expressed thoughts on what transpired yesterday.
EISEN: Well, he had a tweet. It's not clear if he wrote it or someone else did. And then he went back to partisan business as usual at his rally last night. And unless he is prepared, which we know he won't do, repudiate the hate that he spewed into the public discourse. And by the way, also stop putting these AR-15 assault weapons in the hands of people. Cut that off. Let's have some reasonable control of those weapons.
I just don't think the President can believe he is using -- can be believed. He is using hate as a way to stoke his base. And his distortions and lies about this migrant caravan appear to have been part of triggering this shooter. So, as much as it pains me to have to talk about the causes in this day of mourning, for me, when my heart is breaking, I feel that we have to be honest about that in part out of respect to the people who were killed as a result of it. WHITFIELD: And this alleged shooter did make reference to the caravan
on that social media site that we are going to talk about later on as well to give people a better understanding of what this site was and what he was already documented as saying just prior to this attack.
And so, Ellie, you know, you sent out a tweet talking about a personal connection to an organization, the suspected gunman, you know, railed against online before the massacre. And you wrote this, saying the Hebrew immigrant aid society helped settle my grandparents when they came here in 1949 after surviving the holocaust. Just a reminder, on an unthinkably dark day of the spirit of charity and compassion that has carried us over the years and generations.
So talk more about, you know, this reference and how personal this is for you and really for so many in this country.
[14:25:37] HONIG: Yes. So I think there are millions of people in the United States and around the globe that include Jewish people and non-Jewish people as well who had felt the impact deeply by what happened yesterday in Pittsburgh. And different people relate in different ways. For me, there is the connection that you just laid out. Like I said, my grandparents, one of whom I knew, was a holocaust survivor when she came here in 1949, immigrated to this country, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society helped settled her here and helped her get established here.
And as Mr. Eisen referred to, before ambassador Eisen referred before, one of the motivations of this individual, this shooter was he was railing and ranting against the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. That was his last tweet before he went in and committed these murders. But I do think that the spirit of charity and compassion that this group embodies really will go far away and helping people to heal from this.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And I spoke with the director of that organization yesterday who said this in no way will redirect their mission and compassion to assist in whatever way they can, just they have for many decades.
Elie Honig, Ambassador Norm Eisen, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: And we will be right back.
[14:31:17] BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm Victor Blackwell live in Pittsburgh, just across from the Tree of Life synagogue, the site of yesterday's deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States.
I want to bring now in Naflati Bennett. He is Israel's minster of education and Diaspora affairs.
Mr. Minster, thank you for taking a few minutes to speak with me first. But the reason for coming here, more than just sending condolences from Israel, why did you feel it was important to you be here in Squirrel Hill?
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI EDUCATION AND DIASPORA MINISTER: Well. I'm minster of the Jews all across the world. And I'm here to say to the Jewish community here in Squirrel Hill and Pennsylvania and the United States that the state of Israel stands side by side with you. This is a horrific attack. I just saw the location itself and it is terrible. We stand side by side with America.
BLACKWELL: You will be speaking at the vigil in just a couple of hours here in this community. (INAUDIBLE) that a bit for me, more specifically, what will you tell them to try to help this community heal as they try to understand what happened here yesterday?
BENNETT: I think this is a very remarkable community. A very warm and diversified community. And I think it's beautiful. I think everyone sort of knows everyone here. My message will be very simple. Light will defeat darkness and we won't let the murderer defeat the spirit of the Jewish community, the spirit of the Tree of Life. And we will win.
BLACKWELL: Light will defeat the darkness. But there is a growing darkness, the Anti-Defamation League has statistics in which they track these anti-Semitic incidents. And they have reported that in 2017, there was a 57 percent increase in these incidents, ranging from graffiti to anti-Semitic posters and vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries.
2017 versus the previous year, to what do you attribute that growth? And what's your response to that?
BENNETT: Well, I'm seeing a surge of anti-Semitism across the world in the United States, but also in Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Europe. You know, I'm not in the business of understanding anti- Semite. What I can say is that the American people are amazing. I'm an Israeli, but I can see that the American people abhor this sort of action wall to wall. There is no other -- everyone stands behind the Jewish community and that warms my heart. I know that the Jewish state stands behind the Jewish community here. We are going to unite. We are going to get over this together.
BLACKWELL: You can't legislate love or tolerance or compassion. But there is -- is there something that a government, that leaders can do to try to make this less prevalent to curb the growth?
BENNETT: Absolutely. It's to step up and speak up loud and clear against any form of violence whatsoever, against anyone. Jews, Christians and Muslims, it doesn't matter. We are all human beings. We all need to respect each other. And we need to stand clearly and as the representative of the Israeli government, I'm saying, we will never ever accept any violence against anyone.
BLACKWELL: All right. Minster Naftali Bennett, Israel's minister of education and diaspora affairs, thank you so much for being with me.
BENNETT: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Thank you so much. Coming up, President Trump is weighing in on this tragedy. Is the
heated political rhetoric in our country fueling violent acts and Lawmakers want to cool down?
We will have more, straight ahead.
[14:39:41] WHITFIELD: Prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. They say Robert Bowers made anti-Semitic comments during the shooting and just prior to, targeting Jews in fact on social media.
And even as the investigation continues, questions are being asked about whether some of President Trump's rhetoric is fueling extremism on Capitol Hill. There is disagreement over the President's impact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:40:10] SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), CALIFORNIA: I don't see where President Trump is somehow to blame for this. Now, President Trump in his rhetoric is very direct, but I don't see how you connect President Trump to a person who is deranged going into a synagogue. He has been very clear about anti-Semitism as well as all of us have been. That is a sick, vile thing.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: I am concerned that this hateful deranged act acting on his hatred is the latest in a series of violent incidents this past week that shows that our national political culture is motivating folks who are inspired by hate, by fear, by bigotry to take up and act on their deranged ideas.
I think those of us in national office, our President, those who would hope to be President, those of us in Congress who have louder microphones and who are heard from and seen more regularly need to take responsibility for ways in which we lower the temperature.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I want to bring in now White House reporter Sarah Westwood.
So Sarah, the President commented in a variation of ways yesterday in a variation of ways and then went ahead, you know, he commented on the synagogue shooting and then he did go ahead with his planned campaign- style rally last night. So what's the message the White House is wanting to send from the President?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Fred. The President responded to this several times in several different ways, speaking about the tragedy yesterday. And as you mentioned, his aides have looked at possibly cancelling that Illinois rally, but the President said he didn't want to let an evil person dictate his schedule.
And the President really responded to this in two different ways. One was the unscripted way and that involved throwing out ways to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening in the past such as strengthening the death penalty and even putting armed guards in houses of worship.
And the other was the scripted way. President Trump condemning the anti-Semitism that was behind this attack on that synagogue in Pennsylvania. Take a listen to the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. This dispute will always exist, I suspect, but if they had some kind of protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been very much a different situation.
This evil anti-Semitic attack is an assault on all of us. It's an assault on humanity. It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-Semitism from our world. This was an anti-Semitic attack at its worst. The scourge of anti-Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerate and it cannot be allowed to continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: Now the flags behind me at the White House are flying at half-staff in honor of the 11 people who died yesterday. The President and the first lady, they are hosting a Halloween event here later today, so it's possible we could hear from the President again about the tragedy today.
And Trump also has several campaign rallies across the country this week. It is the last week before the midterms. So Fred, we are likely to see the President continue to try to juggle his role as the campaigner in-chief and the consoler in-chief during this sensitive national moment.
WHITFIELD: And Sarah, do we know what the President or the White House is weighing as they try to determine whether the President should go to Pittsburgh?
WESTWOOD: Well, Fred, we know that there is a potential visit to Pittsburgh on the books. The President said so. But we are not sure when exactly that will be. But as I mentioned, the President's schedule is already filling up pretty quickly with those campaign rallies. It's the last day before the midterms. He has travel scheduled on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, all through the weekend to Election Day. So really, there is not that much time for the President to visit Pittsburgh, but something they have to put together soon.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sarah Westwood, at the White House, thank you so much.
All right. Still ahead, as the community mourns this horrific attack, many people in Pittsburgh are sharing these stories of bravery in the face of evil. More on that coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:48:53] HAUPHMAN: I have no words. I'm shaking inside. I'm shocked. And I'm questioning everything. Everything. My life. My upbringing. God. Our government. My friends. I was questioning everything in my head all at the same time. And I just started reaching out to all of my friends here because I need to know they were all OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: That are feeling in Pittsburgh reverberating across the country after yesterday's horrific shooting at a synagogue.
And today, before or I should say last night before game four of the world series in Los Angeles, the Red Sox and the Dodgers paused for a moment of silence to honor the people who lost their lives in that shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As our nation grieves their loss and for their loved ones, we also express our commitment to each other, to embrace the Grace and values of tolerance, justice and dignity that form the foundation of our common bond.
[14:50:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join us now in a moment of silence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And today, a moment of silence in the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.
So as the country mourns the deaths of 11 people at the Pittsburgh synagogue, we are also hearing stories of hope and survival.
CNN spoke to Zachary Weiss earlier whose father survived the shooting. Zachary says active shooter training helped save his father's life.
ZACHARY WEISS, FATHER WAS INSIDE SYNAGOGUE DURING SHOOTING: 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 tragic active shooter incident. The first thing that occur side he heard a loud noise. And a couple
of congregants went to investigate the loud because it was possible that maybe a senior citizen had a horrific fall or maybe there is 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 unmistakably from then on, and then treated like an active shooter situation. And my dad was actually not supposed to be there. The family was 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 congregation and as were many have during that process which as well many others have was called in to assist the rabbi who also was feeling a little under the weather. And they both helped lead the Tree of Life pushed that congregation for the service.
And when everything occurred with the active shooter situation following that (INAUDIBLE) training, which was the security measure that I mentioned, they were able to hide in place and then my dad was able to go down to the brisk (ph) and make sure they were aware, which they were already hiding.
When he was upstairs, he explained to me as he was (INAUDIBLE), 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 so that they were hidden, couldn't really find anybody. And I'm not sure how familiar you are with the ALICE acronym, but E stands for evacuate. And when dad saw that everybody was hidden in place, he did that evacuation and he able to safely evacuate himself from the synagogue.
WHITFIELD: And in the midst of this tragedy, actor Tom Hanks was in Pittsburgh this weekend. He has been spending time in that city filming a movie about the life of Mr. Rogers who lived and was from that area. This photo of a sign Hanks found that says love thy neighbor, no exceptions. Hanks commented to me, this photo is the spirit of Pittsburgh, with a broken heart today for those of squirrel hill.
As the community mourns, authorities delve deeper into the investigation. The latest on that, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN BLACKMAN, FRIEND OF VICTIM: It made me want to be more aggressively Jewish. To wear my star of David every day. It's not optional now. I'm a little bit scared, but I'm kind of always scared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) [14:56:41] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Waking up and hearing birds is one of my favorite things. When I go birding, I find that it takes me out of my head. It is almost as if you enter this whole new world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Birding makes me feel a lot more relaxed. I actually have a lot of difficulty like calming down in the city. It's a nice way to spend an hour or two in silence almost.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nature is absolutely essential to human health. Cognitive benefits are seen. Blood pressure improves and so does pulse. And then over the course of an hour to an hour and a half, if you are walking through a natural setting, symptoms of depression or anxiety improved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Downey woodpecker. Everyone see that?
HEATHER WOLF, BIRD TOUR GUIDE, NYC AUDITORIUM: It's magical, you start to understand the viewpoint of nature and what there -- the animals go through. There is a perched a little bit to the left there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Focus on finding beauty in nature versus worrying about whatever terrible things are going on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Using your mind in the different way, getting away from the computer and just knowing this next hour and a half, I'm going to stand here and look at these beautiful birds.
WOLF: You are always meeting new people. A lot of times when you are birding, you will notice someone else with binoculars. People think they have to go on this trip to a place that has a lot of birds. You really don't need to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes you aware that like even though we are living in in the city which you think is such a man-made structure, in fact, there is tons of like around --.
[14:59:49] WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. And thanks so much for joining us this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. My colleague Victor Blackwell is joining us live from Pittsburgh where a community is in mourning after that horrific attack on the Tree of Life synagogue.
Eleven people murdered in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in our nation's history.