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11 Killed In Deadliest Anti-Sematic Attack In US History; Suspect Posted Anti-Semitic Rants On Social Media. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired October 28, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: 11 people murdered in the deadliest aspect of anti-Semitic attack in our nation's history. The victims were there to pray and worship when they were targeted and gunned down in their holy place of worship on Shabbat morning. The victims include a husband and wife, two brothers, and a 97-year-old woman. And we're starting to learn more about their stories as investigators search for answers in what still considered a deadly crime scene.
The suspect, 46-year-old Robert Bowers is currently under guard in a hospital, recovering after surgery. Investigators have just finished their search of his car and continuing to search for any surveillance video that could help investigators piece together the moments leading up to the attack. The city and nation are rallying around this broken, heartbroken community with a unified message that hate will not win.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL PEDUTO, PITTSBURGH MAYOR: We know that we as a society are better than this. We know that hatred will never win out. That those that try to divide us because of the way that we pray or where our families are from around the world will lose. And in Pittsburgh, we're pragmatic. And we find solutions to problems.
We will not try to rationalize irrational behavior. We will not try to figure out ways in order to lessen the degree of crimes such as this. We will work to eradicate it. We will work to eradicate it from our city, from our nation, and our world. Hatred will not have a place anywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. CNN has reporters on the scene to bring us the very latest. Sara Sidner is where another vigil will be taking place soon. There was one last night. And Miguel Marquez has the latest on the investigation. But first, let me begin with Victor Blackwell there in Pittsburgh, just outside the synagogue where this mass shooting took place. What is happening there, Victor?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I'm just across the street, at the intersection where the Tree of Life Synagogue is. And two things are happening simultaneously right now. One the inside, we've seen federal agents in and out, more than a dozen of them by my count today collecting evidence, continuing this investigation into what you described, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States. But outside, we've seen people come as close as they can, which is this intersection, and handoff notes and flowers and candles to Pittsburgh police officers who then walks it across the street and put it with the rest, in this growing memorial to the 11 people who lost their lives here.
This community living that message that we heard last night, we are still Squirrel Hill, talking about the sentiment of inclusion and love in and also around this community, which we will see it again tonight. Let's go now to CNN's Sara Sidner who is here in Pittsburgh.
With this vigil will be starting soon, what are you learning today? We know we learned the names and the ages of those killed here on Saturday.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Eleven people gone, and no matter what their ages are, the people we've talked to here, even the person, Rose Mallinger, who was 97 years old, people said she was spry, full of life, and this was not her time to go. But indeed, inside a place of worship, that was where she was the most comfortable and that is where her life ended.
I do want to talk to you about what people are telling us how they've been feeling and how they've been trying to figure out how to deal with all of this. They describe the kind as the kind of pain that shakes you from the inside out. The kind of pain that you can't really understand that makes you question everything.
We talked to some the Jewish worshippers here and how this thank you is Squirrel Hill, the seat of the Jewish community. There are synagogues all-around and each person is having conversation with themselves on how to move forward, how to talk to their children about all of this. And they're also very clear in one thing. They want to make sure that the victims are remembered.
We've talked to a couple of people who knew the victims or were friends with some of the victims or one of the victims was a family doctor to several people. We learned about doctor Jerry Rabinowitz. We also learned about Cecil and David Rosenthal, two brothers who would stand at the front door proudly and welcome every single person who would come into the congregation. I want to let you hear more about David and Cecil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BERMAN, LOCAL PITTSBURGH CANTOR: The first name I heard was Cecil Rosenthal.
[15:05:00] Cecil was a beautiful man with special needs that I remember from when I was growing up in Pittsburgh, we attended the same congregation. And he was just always a sweet, sweet gentle soul that was friendly and helpful to everybody. He came -- I understand he came all the time because he wanted to help be part of the community and to make it accessible to everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: You heard there about Cecil. His brother, David, was also in the synagogue where he was for most of his life on a Saturday. People said they rarely missed and they were there to greet everywhere. Both of them lost their lives.
We know that Bernice Simon and Sylvan Simon, they were husband and wife. They both died there that day. Rose Mellinger who was 97 years old, we're told by a friend was there with her daughter that day. They thought maybe they would go and have lunch afterwards as they often did, they never were able to do that.
So many stories about so many people who have touched so many lives, this community reeling from this tragedy, and not to forget the six people who were injured, including four police officers. In talking to some of the folks here today, some of tat the other synagogues in the neighborhood, there really is a sense that this has changed their community but it is also going to make it stronger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUZAN HAUPTMAN, FRIENDS KILLED IN SHOOTING: The vehicles need to be talked about a lot. They can't talk for themselves anymore. And their families may not have the words. The victims can't ever leave our hearts. And I'm not going to politicize this or even talk about the person that did this. I want to only talk about them and keep them all in our hearts and they will live on forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: And we will do that. We will keep them in our hearts. We will keep them in our prayers, this community very fiercely protective of those who have lost their lives and families as well. Here at Soldiers' Memorial, people are starting to stream in now. They are all here to make sure that people know they are loved in bringing this community together. Victor?
BLACKWELL: Yes. Sara, their legacy is not in how they died, but how they lived. We'll talk more about those victims throughout the day. Sara Sidner, of course, thank you so much.
Let's check in with CNN's Miguel Marquez which just got into new reporting about the investigation. The search of the suspect's car is complete, but what else are you learning, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What is most terrifying about Robert Bowers is what an unassuming, placid exterior he presented to friends and people who lived near him and just how deep the hatred and anger ran privately in this man. Police have gone through his home, his last known address. They took many, many hours going through there. They even took the extreme caution of sending in a robot, a bond robot prior to going in to make sure that there were no booby traps or anything that could endanger them before they went in. They process a material for several hours yesterday. They've now gone through his car. They are looking for surveillance tape, anything that might lead them approximated for several ho many hours and anything that lead him to paint a picture of his movements days and weeks before this. But certainly we know a lot from Mr. Bowers himself.
Every neighbor we have spoken to, everyone that we have come across who knew him in any way, say that this was an unassuming, not friendly, not unfriendly, but a guy that they would see. He would wave hello and goodbye. He also helped care for a disabled cousin of his. People in that neighborhood said they hadn't seen him in the last couple of months and thought that he might have moved on or moved away.
But we do know that in the weeks and months before this, he had expressed great hatred of Jews, and in particular in the last few weeks, he had posted about the caravan of migrants moving up from Central America, called them invaders, singled out one Jewish organization in particular, HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society that does indeed it has for many decades resettled people from all stripes, all countries, all places.
Singled them out because they had been at the border, had created a video. He had reposted it and then shortly before going into that synagogue said that he couldn't take anymore. He couldn't take -- didn't care about the optics and was going in.
[15:10:04] Just a shocking picture of someone who can be so unassuming on that had been at the border and shortly before going into that synagogue said that he cooperate take it anymore. Didn't care about the optics and he was going in, just a shocking picture of someone who can be so unassuming on the outside and so hateful inside. Investigators are digging into all of this. Victor?
BLACKWELL: Yes. Miguel Marquez, thanks so much. Fred, talk back to you, this investigation continuing not just through the search of the home and the vehicle, but speaking with those friends as relatives, and going through of course that trove of anti-Semitic and xenophobic comments on social media. We'll see what more we learn about the investigation. Back to you.
WHITFIELD: Right. And then we'll see just how much more impactful, potentially impactful to the gathering of anymore potential evidence just might be as the legal road is about to begin. Thank you so much, Victor, and Miguel, and Sara.
So as the community reels, investigators are filing charges against the suspect. So what are all of those the charges and what are they making of the suspect's disturbing social media footprint? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:15:13] SCOTT BRADY, US ATTORNEY WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA: The distinction between a hate crime and domestic terrorism is, a hate crime is where an individual is animated by hatred or certain animus towards hate towards a certain ethnicity or religious faith. And it becomes domestic terrorism where there's an ideology that that person is then also trying to propagate through violence. And so, we continue to see where that line is, but for now, this place in our investigation were treating it as a hate crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. That was u. S. Attorney Scott Brady announcing the decision to charge a suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting with federal hate crimes instead of domestic terrorism for now, that you heard him say.
With me to discuss this is CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin who is also a former and Federal Prosecutor, Josh Campbell who is a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI Supervisory Special Agent. Also with me, CNN Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. Good to see all of you, thanks so much. All right.
So, Michael, based on the description we heard from the US attorney, do you see that, you know, the standard has been met for potential, you know, terrorism and charges to as it relates to this suspect Robert Bowers?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Probably, but it's not necessary to go there that hate crimes statutes that have been employed in this charging document that was filed is sufficient to cover what it is that this fellow did. In addition to the 29 federal charges, the state charged him with multiple uses of firearms to wound and kill people, and ethnic domestic hate crime in there state law.
So he is pretty much facing life imprisonment or death if the federal government decides to charge it that way. So the use of the terrorism statutes layers on additional obligations for the prosecutor to prove, which aren't needed in this case. So I think if I were the prosecutor, I would stay with the hate crimes statutes.
WHITFIELD: And then, Josh, let's talk about what investigators are focusing on right now. We've heard Kumar reporting with Miguel Marquez, and they're exhausted looking into the vehicle of the suspect, but they are now trying to concentrate on the home and making sure it's not booby trapped before they can, you know, thoroughly get inside, et cetera. What types of evidence might they'd be looking for to help round out and existing charger or potentially even explore other charges?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. So there really three key areas to investigators as a subject is now in custody. What they are looking at as you mentioned is his physical presence, so residences, perhaps places of employment., again, trying to find out, is there anything that may assist them in furthering these charges, any type of notes, any type of, you know, additional evidence again, trying to get into his mind set.
There's also his digital presence. And we've been purporting on this very troubling posts for example on social media. We understand that the FBI has actually sent a team from the operational technology division. These are the experts and technological exploitation from Quantico to Pittsburgh, to that.
They will be going through devices that he has. I've have no doubt they will be getting search warrants for those, but then also going through the social media post again to try to get into the mind set of, you know, what was motivating him. And then the last, the three prong of this is, his network, his orbit, his associates. They will be talking to friends, relatives, colleagues, trying to get him to the mindset, try to build out a further picture of who this person was.
WHITFIELD: And Evan, based on what we know and what the public knows thus far, there was a lot there. Do they feel like they are still yet more to uncover?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT. Yes. You know, this is one of those interesting cases where the perpetrator, the shooter has plainly made clear why he did this. So there's a lot here that the FBI all right knows frankly just from the fact that this shooter was so present on social media.
But one of the things I think certainly the FBI is going to be looking for is -- and I think for us and the public we'd want to know is, did anyone see anything? In the days and weeks and months before this crime occurred, did he have other contact with local authorities in that area? Did any other police departments have any contact with him? Did he act out in the other way?
That's one of the key things here for the FBI as well because I think they want to put together a picture of this man, you know, studying people like this is very beautiful to try to see that they can prevent future crimes like this.
So, look, I mean it's hard to get into people's head, but certainly someone like this left a trail and that would be something the FBI wants to collect.
[15:05:02] ZELDIN: May I add something to Evan's point? The statute that's principally used here, the section 247 of title 18.
It's name is called the Church Arson Protection Act. It was passed in 1996 by the Congress at Bill Clinton's behest because of a lot of church bombings, especially African-American churches.
And what Clinton did was he convened a Church Arson Action Task Force on the wake of these things and they issued a report about two years later. But they made a decided point as government leaders to take this issue of hatred into their hands and try to do something about it.
Now, obviously they weren't completely successful, but it would be nice if in all of the hand ringing that's being done by the executive, they now take the same course of conduct that Clinton did, put together a task force, see what's driving this sort of behavior. We had Charleston, we have this, we have, you know, LGBT violence and see if we can actually put together something that's comprehensive to address this on a going forward basis as Evan suggests.
WHITFIELD: In the President's earlier statement yesterday as he was about to, you know, board Air Force One, he talked about, you know, stiffer laws should be on the horizon, the death penalty, et cetera. But, you know, Michael, the charges that this suspect is facing right now, death penalty is potentially on the table.
ZELDIN: That's right. In that statute in this Church Arson Protection Act --
WHITFIELD: On this application --
ZELDIN: -- you can seek the death penalty or life imprisonment, you know, and it's prosecutor's choice. Sometimes they like the death penalty for the symbolism of it, sometimes they don't like it for the protracted litigation that that penalty cases bring. But either way, upon conviction, this man is not going to spend any more time outside of the federal prison -- federal prison system.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Michael Zeldin, Josh Campbell, Evan Perez, appreciate it.
All right, the head of the Anti-Defamation League said the Pittsburgh shooting is the deadliest attack on Jews in US history. So, how is the league responding to this attack and how does this community overall. This nation start to build, rebuild.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We feel their sadness and we are all one people. We're Americans. And we believe in being able to have your own religion, whatever you want to do and have somebody be so much full of hatred, we condone it and it's not America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:27:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell live here in Pittsburgh. According to the Anti-Defamation League, what happened here yesterday at the Tree of Life Synagogue is the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.
Joining me now is Jeremy Pappas who is a regional director for the group. This tragedy happened here in your region. And thank you for spending just a few minutes with us. We're now more than a day on from the immediacy of this attack. What are you feeling today?
JEREMY PAPPAS, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Our thoughts and prayers are still with the entire community. We're still coming to terms with what you just said. This is the single biggest, largest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States here in 2018 and that's something that's unspeakable. It's unspeakable. BLACKWELL: How does this? And I know that, you know, we are just a day on from this and there will be a vigil in a few moments, the second one here since the shooting. But how does this community start to heal and reconcile what happened here with what and who this community is?
PAPPAS: This is community is a strong community. It will band together, but it's important for them to mourn and to come together to mourn and we can -- so we can understand what happened and understand it as a community and then begin to heal as a community.
I was walking a second ago around the building and someone said, you know, "Mommy, is it true that people were killed just because they went to synagogue on a Saturday morning?" And she didn't answer and that's because it's true __ to say. That's why people were killed because they were Jewish.
BLACKWELL: Let's talk about a trend that the ADL discovered in tracking anti-Semitic incidents, 57 percent increase in 2017 versus 2016. I mean the anti-Semitic incidents that we're talking, vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats and graffiti. To what does the ADL attribute that rise?
PAPPAS: You know that's only what's been reported, so we know that number is much higher. The rhetoric in this country is giving rise, it's giving people an opportunity to speak out. But what it shows is that the hate exists and it's really incumbent on the leaders, all leaders to speak out against this hate.
I have received over 30 reports of incidents in the last 24 hours since Pittsburgh happened. What that means is that people need to be vigilant, people need to speak up and people need to let us know and report this incident as they happened. Just last night in Ohio, there was a swastika party at a haunted house in rural Ohio, last night. Not last week, but last night.
BLACKWELL: I understand also the ADL tracks this geographically with this new heat map. What do we know about regional concerns and what do you know about your region here?
PAPPAS: The regional concerns in terms of our region, which covers all the Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, in those areas we have seen a rise, a rise not only in the areas of our communities, but also on the college campuses in terms of recruiting, recruiting hate mongers, recruiting people that are extremists.
[15:30:00] And we're concern because that number is only continuing to rise and we expect that number to continue to rise.
BLACKWELL: Jeremy Pappas with the ADL, thank you so much for being with us. I know this is a difficult time for all of us. The President weighed in on the Pittsburgh tragedy, saying the attack on the synagogue was evil, but critics say his own political rhetoric is motivating these kinds of _ attacks. Is that true and what can be done to stop it? We'll talk abut that, that's coming up.
[15:35:20] WHITFIELD: Prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against the suspects in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. They say Robert Bowers made anti-Semitic comments during the shooting even prior and targeted Jews on social media. And even as the investigation continues, questions are being asked whether some of President Trump's rhetoric is fueling extremism. On Capitol Hill there is disagreement over the President's impact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: I don't see where President Trump is somehow to blame for this. Now President Trump and 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's been very clear about anti-Semitism as well as all of us have been. That is sick vile things.
SEN. CHRIS COONSI (D), DELAWARE: I am concern that this hateful deranged act by a man acting on his anti-Semitic hatred is just 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 an 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: President Trump is pushing back at any idea that his words may have motivated any violent attacks and he points out that the suspect apparently posted anti-Trump messages. But the President's Former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci says "The President can help himself right now."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: We got to tone it down and you know again, I don't want to repeat myself, but I think it's worth repeating. He's the President of the United States. He controls the news cycle and the bully pulpit and he can do it. And he does it, I think he goes through 50% on his approval ratings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. I want to bring in now former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. Good to see you. So let me play --
CHARLIE DENT, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Fred.
WHITFIELD: -- you know a bit of the President you know from this week and just take a listen to his response. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: If that 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.
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 to together 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 tolerated and it cannot be allowed to continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So this is all just yesterday a variation of thought coming from the president after that synagogue shooting. So how do you interpret you know his handling, he's word choice, so he's demeanor and all that?
DENT: Well, first, let me say something about the Jewish community where I live in Allentown, Pennsylvania. When I go to those events that they have on a regular basis and there often public events, there's always security around, the uniformed police officer.
In fact today there's a prayer service in Easton, Pennsylvania more in the synagogues and always security around. So the Jewish community I think more than most does actually take security very seriously. And I think it's unfair to say that they didn't secure the temple. These hate killings have been going on now for sometime.
We saw it in Orlando, on the LGBT nightclub. Charlottesville with the African-America -- excuse me, Charleston at the African-American church, of course Charlottesville and tiki torches and all the anti- Semitism we saw there, and of course yesterday in Pittsburgh.
Look, this is out of control. The civil discourse in this country has degraded significantly. The president should accept some responsibility for that. Not for these killings of course, but he certainly has contributed to the dialogue that is degraded so much.
WHITFIELD: So, it's your feeling that the President -- he can make an impact on the overall tone of the country, whether it's before what took place yesterday or even after?
DENT: Well, Yes. I believe it's in couple bent upon the president of the United States. He does bear some responsibility for trying to bring --
[15:40:03] WHITFIELD: How can he do that?
DENT: -- to speak in more measured tones. I mean look, I know it's not going to happen it just -- you know you can't change him. But the president of United States needs to try to unify us from time to time, and speak to us in ways that unite and not divide us. I mean these rallies that he has on a regular basis, you know, it seems that he eggs on the crowd, you know, to criticize CNN or to, you know, lock him up or lock her up whatever the object of his venom is on a given day. I think this is really a problem. And he needs to control himself much better.
Having said that, I don't blame him for the killings, he's not responsible for that.
WHITFIELD: So there were examples of that you know at most recent rally, even after the President you know called for unity. You know after the arrest of the Florida you know suspect, after the series of mail bombs. But then, you know even he returned to, you know, criticizing the media or even blaming the media for actually fomenting divisions in this country.
Who has the president's ear on guiding the president or helping the president try to be an example of unifying this country? Whether it would be by words or behavior?
DENT: Well, I think this is really the ultimate conundrum for all of us. On the one hand, the President know -- he'll say the right things as he did in Pittsburgh largely about anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated.
WHITFIELD: But doesn't -- it seem like that is when there's a script, but when he leave the subject.
DENT: That's correct.
WHITFIELD: That's the true Donald Trump and those are the words or that perhaps is you know the demeanor that kind of sends confusing messages for people.
DENT: Yes, I certainly like teleprompter Trump better than I do rally Trump, when he goes out there, when he's unscripted. And he, you know, I think he really does thrive on creating these divisions. He engages in name calling and insults on a regular basis. This is not for presidential. Let's face it.
But that kind commentary is not presidential. It degrades civil discourse and -- look, and I want to be fair too, some of this started long before Donald Trump. I think the tone has degraded. I've said on another show the other day, you know, I would go home as a member of Congress, I would have people get in my face and say, "Hey I might agree with you on this given policy." But you know --
WHITFIELD: When you are a public figure, I mean when you're a public figure, you know civil service then you are open to people expressing themselves directly because people feel like wait a minute, I helped elect you in you, right? And so, I do have and that's part of America. You can express yourself and, you know, as a citizen to particularly to a public official it comes with the territory, right?
DENT: Of course, but I would have people say things to me like you know you're not angry enough. You need to yell louder. In other words, even if they might have agreed with me on a given policy, they didn't think you're fighting or yelling hard enough. I mean I'm telling you, I watched a talk show host in my area you know criticize a Senator whom you supports saying that he's not angry. He's not screaming lout enough.
I mean this is what we've got. I mean people have monetized politics. They monetized or either trying to drive bibles and clicks, and anger and rage sells --
WHITFIELD: But that's very different --
DENT: -- consensus have compromised he's not.
WHITFIELD: But it seems like that very different from an elected official. We're talking about the highest office of the land at a rally. And either listening to people from the audience who are saying, you know, lock her up or, you know, chanting things that certainly provoke division. And instead of saying, you know, let's take a more unified path, you're not seeing that from a person who represents the highest office of the land at all times. Instead it's kind of like, you know, throwing the fist in the air like, yes, I'm with on that. Isn't that problematic?
DENT: It is. I mean truthfully, if the president is going to be holding rallies, you think he wants to talk about policies, things that he's actually trying to do more rather than get into the insults and the name calling that we hear too much of and, you know, egging on the crowds you know to start yelling CNN sucks or whatever they say at these rallies.
I mean, yes, I agree with you. The President bears some responsibility for the degradation of the civil dialogue in the United States.
WHITFIELD: All right. Former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania, Charlie Dent, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
DENT: Thank you. Thank Fred.
WHITFIELD: The social networking site, Gab, is getting a lot of attention after you know was reveal that the Pittsburgh suspect aired his hatred for Jews and others on that website. So what exactly is that and how is it? How is the site responding?
[15:45:00] That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've all one nation, and what makes us different is we're really one spirit together. We're one soul. So when someone gets hurt in America, every one in Israel feels it into their soul. Because we're one connected soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. The suspect charged with the mass killing at Pittsburgh synagogue was active on social media. Investigators are now taking a closer look at posted Robert Bowers made on a website called gab.com minutes before police were alerted to the shooting.
[15:50:05] Investigators say Bowers made a post saying, "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in."
Bowers used the site to make frequent anti-Semitic posts and complain about migrant caravans. He also posted photos of his handgun collection there.
The company sent out a statement defending the site saying, "We have nothing but love for all people and freedom. We have consistently disavowed all violence. Free speech is crucial for the prevention of violence. If people cannot express themselves through words, they will do so through violence. No one wants that, no one."
So with me is CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy. Good to see you, Oliver. "The Washington Post" says Gab, I'm quoting now, "Gab, the social media site similar to Facebook and twitter that is popular with white supremacists and other far right figures." That's how "The Washington Post" classified. And is it true?
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA WRITER AND REPORTER: It certainly true. Gab is sort of this free speech absolutist social network. It's really like an alternative Twitter. Twitter has rules against harassment and hate and things of that nature. Gab really does not. You can almost post anything on Gab without restrictions, without being sanctioned by companies.
So in effect, it's become the cesspool of hate for people who want to voice anti-Semitic things. They want to be sexist. They want to post racist memes and comments. Those are the sort of people that are on Gab. And it's basically their home. They post things and other users encourage them to post these things. And I think in this case when I saw that the suspected shooter had gone and posted things on Gab, it was no surprise. Gab is really the home of a lot of these anti- Semitic racist individuals.
WHITFIELD: Also the Washington Post, you know, reports that Gab confirmed that it had deactivated the account by Robert Bowers name following the shooting. So are there others who are, you know, currently speaking in the same kind of vein who continue to use Gab as their platform?
DARCY: I mean, people -- I can't stress this enough. You hear a lot of people say that, you know, that someone posts an anti-Semitic remark or racist remark. On Gab, they are the worst of the worst sort of posts like posts that are demeaning Jewish people, saying that they're subhuman, they're insects, they're, you know, the spawn of Satan. Like they are terrible, terrible comments that you can go on Gab and you can see. And the platform does not moderate these. The whole -- WHITFIELD: So they just took down Robert Bowers', you know, account --
WHITFIELD: -- then immediately following suit, others who were speaking the same kind of language, do they continue to go with impunity or have they been taken down?
DARCY: I mean, the whole point of the platform is that there are no restrictions on speech. So they don't have -- they'll say that like threats of violence, that crosses the line. But for the most part, the platform -- the whole point of it is that there are no restrictions. So like I said, on Twitter, you will in theory get banned or suspended or sanctions for posting hate and harassment.
On Gab, that's not the case. And if you go there, if anyone goes on there, they can see it's clear that people post racist commentaries, sexist commentary, anti-Semitic commentary all the time. Gab is for those people who want unfiltered, unfettered free speech.
WHITFIELD: So I also understand Paypal, you know, has now banned Gab, you know, from using the company's money sending services. So what's the potential impact there? What's the statement that Paypal is trying to make, et cetera?
DARCY: Yes, Paypal is, you know, cutting ties with Gab, and that's really no surprise. Gab is also saying that their hosting provider is going to suspend their account on Monday, so tomorrow at 9:00 in the morning. So, you know, they are facing some backlash, but the founder of Gab went online last night and said that he will do anything it takes to keep Gab running. Whether it means having to build the entire infrastructure from the ground up, he will do that. But he did acknowledge they might be offline for some time, as these larger companies cut ties with them.
WHITFIELD: All right, Oliver Darcy, thanks so much, appreciate it.
DARCY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, as people in Pittsburgh grieved, investigators look for answers into how and why this horrific crime happened. The latest on that next.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God is love. God is love. The Lord will come to you and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God is love. God is love. The Lord will come to you and --
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(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:58:41] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Eleven lives lost Saturday morning in a senseless hate crime. Eleven people killed for simply being Jewish. And in their place of worship, on their holy day, and now a tight knit community is grappling with the loss and remembering these victims.
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BERMAN: The first name I heard was Cecil Rosenthal. Cecil was a beautiful man with special needs that I remember from when I was growing up in Pittsburgh. We attended the same congregation. And he was always just a sweet, sweet, gentle soul that was friendly to everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Jerry was just somebody who when you see him, your eyes light up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he's gone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he's gone.
HAUPTMAN: 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're going to remain that way.
UNIDENTIFID FEMALE: The victims need to be talked about a lot. They can't talk for themselves anymore. And their families may not have the words. The victims can't ever leave our hearts.
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