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Synagogue Massacre In Pittsburgh. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired October 28, 2018 - 06:00   ET



WEISS (via telephone): And when dad saw that everybody was hidden in place he did that evacuation and he was able to safely evacuate himself from the synagogue.

ANN BELSER, HEARD GUN SHOTS FROM SYNAGOGUE: I think everyone will remember October 27th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this moment of hope suddenly there was this act of horror where a man ran into the synagogue and with weapons murdered in cold blood 11 people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel that we were all attacked. The people of Pittsburgh feel personally violated too.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a case where if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are hearing actually from synagogues all over the world and not only their condolences but their expressions of solidarity.

BELSER: Squirrel Hill is strong and we're going to remain that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to watch each other's back and we have to be there for each other.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Indeed, watching each other's back here.

Good morning to you. Welcome. I'm Christi Paul.

Victor Blackwell, my colleague, is live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this morning, with the very latest there as those people try to reconcile their grief with the process that comes next -- Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Christi, I am just about a block was he from the Tree of Life synagogue. It's at the top of the hill. You can see it there over my shoulder and there is still a significant law enforcement footprint keeping people away from that synagogue.

A crime scene still this morning and in a few hours, this community will hear the list of names of those who were killed. The 11 people who lost their lives. But likely this tight-knit Squirrel Hill community they know the names of people who did not come home, cell phones that were not answered, the houses that have been untouched since the tragedy hit this community.

Now this morning, the suspected shooter, Robert Bowers, he faces federal hate crime charges after police say he stormed into that synagogue, unleashed this torrent of bullets on worshipers and in all the mass murderer faces 29 federal charges including 11 counts of murder and according to a criminal complaint filed last night the suspected shooter told SWAT officers he wanted all Jews to die.

Now we expect to learn more about yesterday's tragedy in a few hours when law enforcement officials here hold a news conference. That's when they will likely release those names.

For the FBI they've now taken charge of the investigation. And agents say that the suspect's online profile, that will be an important focus here.


ROBERT JONES, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE OF PITTSBURGH: We are in the early stages of this investigation and over the next several days and weeks, we will look at everything in the suspect's life. His home, his vehicle, his social media, and his movements over the last several days. At this point we have no knowledge that Bowers was known to law enforcement before today.


BLACKWELL: Now this morning we will talk about how the community moves forward, what's next for Bowers, what's next for the investigation. But first let's start with how yesterday unfolded.


BLACKWELL: A somber vigil outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, as thousands gathered to remember those killed in one of the deadliest attacks on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.

BELSER: I think everybody will remember October 27th. I think that is going to be a -- that is going to be a date that is etched in everybody's mind. But I think that Squirrel Hill is strong and we're going to remain that way.

BLACKWELL: Eleven people killed, six injured, including four police officers who exchanged gunfire with the suspect at the scene in the historic Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. 911 calls about an active shooter came in just before 10:00 a.m. Saturday during Sabbath services. Police radio captured the chaos, tactical teams engaged the gunman.

UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: We've got a guy barricaded, actively shooting at SWAT officers.

Operator shot. I've got one operator shot at this time.

Third floor contained in one room -- one operator down.

BLACKWELL: The 46-year-old Robert Bowers surrendered after being shot several times by police. He now faces more than two dozen offenses including federal hate crime charges and he could face the death penalty.

JONES: This is the most horrific crime scene I've seen in 22 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Members of the Tree of Life synagogue conducting a peaceful service in their place of worship were brutally murdered by a gunman targeting them simply because of their faith.

BLACKWELL: Pittsburgh police said Bowers made anti-Semitic statements during the shooting and then when he was in custody receiving medical treatment he reportedly told police he -- quote -- "he wanted all Jews to die" for committing genocide to his people.


Bowers also targeted Jews and immigrants and post on social media including Gab, a so called free speech network blaming Jews for helping migrant caravans and he called those in migrant caravans -- quote -- "invaders."

Five minutes before the shooting Bowers posted this, "I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered, screw your optics, I'm going in."

GOV. TOM WOLF (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My heart breaks for the members of the Jewish community. Today, all of Pennsylvania mourns with you. Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in our commonwealth. Any attack on one community of faith in Pennsylvania is an attack against every community of faith in Pennsylvania.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring in Jean Casarez now live from the Pittsburgh Hospital where a lot of injured victims were taken.

Jean, good morning to you. We understand that some of those emergency room doctors there did something -- maybe they would describe it as ordinary but it really was pretty heroic yesterday.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely amazing. Victor, what we learned yesterday, was that three emergency room physicians went to the scene and began to triage the wounded before they were brought to one of the several trauma centers here.

I'm here at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian. It is one of several trauma centers in the city. Four of the six surviving victims are at this hospital and, at last we know that two were in critical condition.

One being a 70-year-old victim, a man, and he was shot multiple times indirectly in the major organs. And so he underwent first surgery yesterday. We also know he had to undergo a second surgery yesterday, critical condition. We are waiting to find out if he made it through the night.

The other in critical condition, a 55-year-old police officer shot multiple times in the torso and his extremities. Now beyond that, we know there is a 61-year-old female victim that is in a trauma center tonight, early this morning, actually, and then also two other officers.

One officer was actually sent home from the hospital last night. Very good news.

We weren't there when this all happened, but audio, dispatched audio captured exactly what was happening as the victims were being shot. We want to play that for you now.


UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: Patrol at the front door -- we got to evacuate some of these hostages.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCH: Received -- request for patrol at the front door evacuating hostages.

UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: We have a spent magazine -- looks like a high powered AK -- middle hallway off the 1-4 corner.

UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: I have a description.


UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: Tall white male, short hair, light blue shirt, jeans. Again that's tall white male, short hair, light blue shirt, jeans.


UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: We've evacuating one right now -- still alive. We have at least four down in the atrium DOA at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCH: Was there earlier intel that he may be in the basement?

UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: I had a report of at least one victim in the basement.

UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: I have an additional four victims -- four victims in the back of the atrium of the front hall -- total eight down, one rescued at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCH: What's your status in the basement?

UNIDENTIFIED PATROL: We're probably at the bottom of the stairwell cleared to the left. Working room to the right we have rifle cases in here with blood.


CASAREZ: The federal criminal complaint gives us even more detail about the officers' injuries. Two officers at the front door meeting the suspect shot in the hand and also shrapnel and glass injuries, but it was on the third floor of that building, SWAT went up to the third floor. The suspect had re-entered and that is where a gunfire exchange occurred and the officer who is in critical condition was one of the two injured on that third floor currently right here at the trauma center behind me -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and investigators say that this shooter was in that synagogue for 20 minutes, which is quite a long time after hearing that dispatch audio really drives home the terror that people were facing inside that building.

Jean Casarez there at the hospital, thank you so much.

Meanwhile officials are building this profile of the alleged synagogue shooter, interviewing some of his neighbors. Let's go now to CNN correspondent Miguel Marquez. He is outside of the suspect's home with more details for us.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For several hours agents -- federal agents have been going through Mr. Bowers apartment just behind me here.

They took no chances coming into this neighborhood. They cordoned off the roads for several hours and then brought the bomb squad in to make sure there was nothing dangerous so they could get in there and do their jobs. And now members of the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been in that apartment for several hours.


In some cases bringing things out and others taking gear in so they can look into and paint a full picture of this man or as full as they can, and also gather as much evidence as the case against him moves forward.

We spoke to several neighbors. Most had very little to say about him. One said he saw him come and go didn't seem very remarkable.

Another said had a couple of conversations but there was nothing more than a hi and a bye. One person who lived right next to him -- his apartment shared a wall with him says that the only thing was odd is that he watched television at very loud volumes at odd hours. He said his fiancee say he was a truck driver.

It sounded like he was listening to news at strange hours of the day and he was here sometimes and gone for many days. This is one of several locations where Mr. Bowers would have bounced around in this area over several years and sounds from neighbors that he had been here for about two years.

But as quiet as he was in his life here in this neighborhood, he was certainly much more vocal online, expressing anger at Jews, at the caravan coming up from South America. In particular, he was angry at a Jewish resettlement organization called HIAS or the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

They had gone to the border in support of the caravan. It's an organization that resettles individuals of all colors and creeds and countries and like in Pittsburgh, and he was particularly angry about them, had posted about them.

And then minutes, just shortly before opening fire at that synagogue, he posted, "I can't stand by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I'm going in." Back to you.

BLACKWELL: Miguel, thank you. Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst and retired FBI supervisor special agent James Gagliano and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson. Gentlemen, good morning to you.

And, James, let me start with you. First 20 hours or so on the morning after, what is this investigation likely look like now?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Victor, it was less than 24 hours ago we learned on the set here in New York of the horrific shooting.

Look, it's hard to believe but it was just a couple of months ago that the Capital Gazette shooting happened in Aberdeen (ph), Maryland. And then we have the Rite Aid Distribution Center shooting just last month. And these things continue seemingly to proliferate.

Here is what is going on right now. The shooter has been charged with a hate crime and that is a federal statute. It basically says that he has been charged with a crime motivated by prejudice. And that means in this instance that prejudice or bigotry was aimed at the Jewish community.

There are two things that investigators are going to be hyper focused on right now. The first is a -- search his home. Were there any accomplices, anybody that provided material support or inspired or directed this person to do that. Knowledge of the crime beforehand is not necessarily a crime but if you inspired them, directed them or provided material support.

The second thing and I don't think this is as important because there is so much out there on the social media platform, the social media platform that this subject professed a loathing for Jews and professed hateful bigotry and hateful invective in rhetoric. I think he even made some statements as police were closing in on him.

I'm certain that the officers in an abundance of caution used the public safety exception asked him questions in the immediate aftermath. And because this person didn't martyr himself there's possible statements there that will be used against him. I think they have got a lock solid case for a hate crime here, Victor. I don't think it's going to be a tough one to prosecute.


Joey, let me give to this to you now. James says that this won't be a tough one to prosecute. You're a criminal defense attorney. You have now got -- added hated crimes. How does one defend against these charges and how dramatically does the addition of these federal hate crimes change this case?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the answer to your question -- Victor, good morning to you and good morning to you, James. How you defend it is to you with great difficulty. Make no mistake about it that the underlying job of any defense will be to preserve his life.

To James' point this is a compelling case and I think it's compelling for a variety of reasons. Look at the devastation that he caused. Look at people who were worshipping.

Just the sympathetic nature of people who were going to profess their religious hate and who are descended upon by a person who decides to take their life. And so remember that the statute carries with it a penalty of death. And I think, you know, you can relate this to the Dylann Roff case in north -- excuse me, South Carolina wherein he was sentenced to death. And so I gather the defense would be to save and preserve his life.


But as a matter of evidentiary value I think those three things that will be compelling, number one, his actions at the scene and any statement that he made of anti-Semitic variety which motivated this complete massacre.

Number two, certainly I think he'll be as investigators go forward, evidence of substantial planning and preparation. And, number three, I think they will find, as they have been finding based on the anti- Semitic rants and remarks on social media the motivations behind it.


JACKSON: So it's a very compelling case and a very hard case to defend.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joey Jackson, James Gagliano, thank you both.

And, James, we want you to stick around because after the break we want to get your take on what the president said about the Pittsburgh shooting. Should places of worship have armed guards?


TRUMP: This is a dispute that will always exist, I suspect. He was able to do things that, unfortunately, he shouldn't have been able to do.



PAUL: Nineteen minutes past the hour right now.

President Trump, again, called for unity last night after the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. He followed through was a scheduled campaign rally in Illinois which he considered at one point cancelling but the president said terror cannot be allowed to interrupt our lives. He said an armed guard may have prevented this attack.

Live with more, CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood. What exactly did he say about armed guards, Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, when it comes to armed guards, the president threw that out as one of several ways that his administration could take steps to potentially prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future and another way was strengthen the death penalty.

And President Trump was condemning bigotry and hatred at his rally in Illinois last night, the one that as you mentioned he said that his team was considering options for cancelling before going ahead with it any way.

Here is what the president had to say last night in Murphysboro.


TRUMP: 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 of its worst. This scourge of anti- Semitism cannot be ignored, cannot be tolerated and it cannot be allowed to continue.


WESTWOOD: Now that rally was not the first time the president had addressed the shooting. Yesterday, he took several opportunities to do so, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, speaking at a farmers event in Indiana, and talking to reporters at Andrews Air Force Base where he threw out that suggestion about arming security guards at places of worship. He even suggested that perhaps at the synagogue in Pennsylvania had had an armed guard then the only casualty might have been the gunman himself.

Take a listen.


TRUMP: If they had protection inside the results would have been far better.

This is a dispute that will always exist, I suspect. But if they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation. They didn't.

And he was able to do things that, unfortunately, he shouldn't have been able to do.


WESTWOOD: Now the flags here at the White House behind me are at half-staff. The president and first lady will be hosting Halloween event here at the White House later today, Christi, so it's possible we could hear more from the president about this tragedy.

PAUL: All right. Sarah Westwood, we appreciate it. Thank you.

I want to talk with Kelly Jane Torrance, deputy managing editor at the "Weekly Standard" and CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano, retired FBI supervisor. He's a special agent.

Thank you both for being here. I want to listen real quickly to Mike Pence. The vice president did speak about this as well.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Law Vegas knows all too well. What happened in Pittsburgh today was not just criminal. It was evil.

An attack on innocent Americans and an assault on our freedom of religion. There is no place in America for violence or anti-Semitism and this evil must end.



PAUL: So, James, seeing the president certainly seemed to be on the same page there, no doubt about it. In terms of how to move forward, that is where the question lies. You heard the president there just say he believes if armed guards had been in there the situation would have been different.

First of all, would it have been different, in your opinion? And second of all, logistically, how does that look, how does that work?

GAGLIANO: Christi, I think you know me well enough to know I'm not a nuanced guy but I'm going to give you a nuanced answer here. First of all, regarding criminals they are just like water. They take the path of least resistance.

So, yes, having somebody armed at a particular entry point might have made this person say, this place is hard to get into, I'll go somewhere else. Now having that said, let me caveat that there is no way that putting a sidearm, a pistol or a revolver on a security guard and putting him outside of a synagogue would have stopped somebody with an AR-15, an assault weapon from making entry.

That would have been the first homicide right there. Now look I spent 33 years in the military and the FBI carrying a gun in the service of my country. I'm pretty proficient with one but firearms proficiency is a perishable skill and skills degrade if you don't practice.

Let me give you one quick statistic. Between 1998 and 2006 the New York City Police Department did a study and they showed that during times of crisis, under stress trained law enforcement officers hit the target 18 percent of the time.


Trained law enforcement officers. So that means one out of every five rounds expended does not hit the target in those type of situations. We cannot expect school teachers, airline pilots, or security guards in front of a synagogue to even have that level of proficiency.

I understand the deterrent effect. I think that's a fair --

PAUL: It is -- it is a deterrent effect?

GAGLIANO: Well, I understand it from the perspective that if you study police sciences across the last century, yes. Criminals, it's been said since Zhuang (ph) Zhou (ph) are like -- they are like water, they follow the path of least resistance. They'll pick an easier target but it is not an end all be all. It's not going to be a panacea to solve the problem here.

PAUL: Right. OK. So, Kelly Jane, I want to listen here to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio because he did not take kindly to this assertion that perhaps armed guards should be in religious institutions.


BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: We should never blame the victims in an attack like this. We should never suggest that a house of worship has to have an armed guard for people to be able to go about their religious observance. That is not America.

That is certainly not New York City. We do not require houses of worship to have an armed guard.


PAUL: Why has there not, Kelly Jane, after Vegas, as we heard from the vice president there, after the shootings in Texas, at the school in Santa Fe, at the First Baptist Church, at Parkland, Florida, in February, why has there not been a better answer than let's add more guns to the equation?

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes, it's a difficult question, Christi. And I have to say it seemed a bit like a non sequitur for Donald Trump to saying, well, if they had an armed guard there this wouldn't have happened. And I do think that Bill de Blasio does have a point that it did look like blaming the victim.

Now every organization, every institution especially ones that face a lot of hate like a Jewish community they might decide and talk about this, do we want an armed guard, do we want something this, we want to seem a little less welcoming but feel a little bit more safe?

But for the president to mention it in his first remarks about this tragedy was really shocking and it made no sense at all and it did seem like he was saying, well, if these guys had an armed guard they have been OK. I mean, that is not the reaction we should be having.

We should be having this is a terrible tragedy. The shooter is the one to blame and let's wait and find out what his motives were and what led him to commit such a terrible act.

PAUL: I don't know that the president was blaming the victim in this case so much. We need to be very clear about that.


PAUL: He did not say it was their fault.

TORRANCE: No, no. Of course, yes.

PAUL: But when we look at this and we are as close to midterms as we are, how much do you think this conversation now with what we have seen in the last 72 hours is going to drive what people do next week?

TORRANCE: Right. Well, you know, it is going to -- it is certainly going to make things very tense and people are going to be thinking about this in the midterms.

But, of course, we don't know yet. Did this guy buy his guns legally? Do we know how he got them? We don't know that.

And a lot of times there are some of the gun control suggestions that come out right after a tragedy like this. A lot of the suggestions were actually already followed, they're already in place. And this person often could have gotten the gun any way.

So, yes, it's hard because you don't want to politicize something immediately but, of course, we all wonder how what can we do, how can we stop this, and it's debate I think we should be having not just in the heat of the moment after these events but really throughout the year and we need to look at this seriously and without passion.

PAUL: All right. Kelly Jane Torrance and James Gagliano, always appreciate your insights. Thank you for being here.

TORRANCE: Thank you, Christi.

GAGLIANO: Thank you.

PAUL: Absolutely.

So coming up, a little known social media sight is at the center now of the synagogue massacre investigation. You heard Victor mentioned it. Details on what we know now about


BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell live in Pittsburgh the morning after investigators say Robert Bowers went into that synagogue at the top of the hill behind me here and killed 11 people. Six are wounded. He is in custody at a hospital after being shot.

Here with me is a staff writer for "The Pittsburgh Tribune Review" Megan Guza. She was on the scene at the synagogue yesterday. Megan, good morning to you. And how quickly after, you know, now we know the time line, were you here on scene?

MEGAN GUZA, REPORTER, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE REVIEW: I was here a little after 10:30. So shortly after things started becoming known outside of the 911 dispatches.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So this is, obviously, atypical for Squirrel Hill to have police presence like this. But when did you get an idea from what you saw here, the footprint, the swath that this was as grave as we now know that it was?

GUZA: As soon as I got here, really. They were still -- it was still an active scene when I got here. There were SWAT teams in military outfits and something I've never come across before in my coverage.

They were running. They were all running in the same direction. It was still very active to the point where there were still police officers telling residents and the media to get inside, to get back.


It's not safe on the street right there.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We were talking off camera every position you chose was too close for them.

GUZA: Right, right. Everywhere was you need to get back.

BLACKWELL: Tell us about this community.

GUZA: It's quiet. It's close-knit even though it's in size it's a large community, a large neighborhood. It's really close-knit and Squirrel Hill is kind of the epicenter of the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. And it's quiet.

BLACKWELL: Yes. So we are expecting that the names of the 11 people who were killed will be released in just a couple of hours. But because you say this is close-knit, you expected people here already knows those names?

GUZA: I have no doubt. I had some family members actually messaging me on social media asking if I had any information about their loved ones. So word has definitely gotten out. And people are just heartbroken.

BLACKWELL: In the early moments when you got here, you said about 10:30 and this happened within 20 minutes, were the SWAT members, were the police officers, did you get any hint that they thought there might have been an additional person involved?

GUZA: I don't think so. I don't think it was clear at that point. It was still a very active scene and they were just focused on getting into the building and seeing exactly what the threat was and going from there.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We have seen vigils since this shooting happened and this community and the surrounding community come together in solidarity with Squirrel Hill. What have you seen and what do you know about this community to inform how they will move forward?

GUZA: I think the phrase last night was -- at the vigil, "We are still Squirrel Hill." And I think that's going to kind of be the sentiment throughout this -- through the grieving period and through the eventual healing period.

It's close-knit. They are going to get through it together.

BLACKWELL: All right. Michelle -- Megan Guza, I'm sorry. Megan Guza, thanks so much for being with me this morning --

GUZA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: -- coming down with the cold and the rain here.

Christi, I'm going to send it back to you and I think it's important what Megan just said there that this is a close-knit community and that motto, "We are still Squirrel Hill." That will inform what we see later today when those names are read and what we see in the days and weeks as this investigation continues and this community tries to find a way to reconcile what they saw here yesterday and move forward -- back to you.

PAUL: No doubt about it. All right. Victor, thank you.

The FBI is looking into posts that were made to this little known social media site to build its case against the accused synagogue shooter. So coming up, we are learning about This is a so- called network that champions free speech.

First, if you could contact a diseased loved one, would you do it? In tonight's episode of "THIS IS LIFE" Lisa Ling visits Lily Dale a community of over 50 mediums.


LISA LING, CNN HOST, THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING: It's been seven years since Tony's son Joe died in a car crash. It may or may not have been an accident. A question which haunts Tony to this day.

TONY, FATHER WITH A DISEASED SON: Anything could have happened. He could have passed out. He could have just had enough.

LING (on camera): The only person who can tell you is Joe.

TONY: Absolutely. I'll never know unless he tells me. LING: What if he doesn't? It's obvious that it's sort of wreaked havoc on your life, this ability to have closure. What if you go all the way to Lily Dale and you don't get a sign?

TONY: Then I'll just have to wait until I see him.


PAUL: Don't miss "THIS IS LIFE" tonight at 10:00 Eastern only on CNN.



PAUL: Forty-three minutes past the hour. And right now FBI agents are coming through the comments and the posts that were made by accused synagogue shooter Robert Bowers on the social media network

A review of his account shows that he made numerous anti-Semitic remarks. He posted images of his gun collection. And the question this morning is why weren't his postings flagged before now?

Brian Stelter, CNN chief media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" like this morning is with us right now. So, Brian, first of all, what is Gab and do they have restrictions on posted content?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Gab is like a lot of other start-ups that are trying to be like Facebook or Twitter. It has a relatively small user base but Gab's claim to fame you can post just about anything. It says it's a free speech utopia where some of the kind of restrictions on Twitter and Facebook against hate speech, for example, don't always exist on Gab.

So the company says, yes, it has some restrictions and works with law enforcement but the site has become a favorite of hate groups and bigots. Sometimes somebody get blocked on Twitter, go over to Gab and use it instead.

So this user, this suspect in Pittsburgh, he was posting all sorts of anti-Semitic hate speech and trash on his Gab page and it was taken down shortly after the killing spree. Here is what Gab says though in a statement. The company has come under a lot of criticism the last 24 hours.

But Gab says, look, "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."

Here's the argument. "If people cannot express themselves through words, they will do so through violence. No one wants that. No one."

So that is the statement from Gab. But there is a bigger problem here, Christi. Forget about Gab. It probably won't exist in a few days. It will be replaced by some other site that will end up becoming a home, kind of a swap for hateful people for racist people and anti-Semites.

The bigger problem here is that people can become radicalized on the internet.


And there are these corners, these dark corners of the Web where white supremacists, where radical domestic terrorists are able to find a home. And I think all of us who live in a free society and love the internet, we have to recognize that problem, that downside.

PAUL: So let me ask you this are there consequences for Gab? Are there real consequences for Twitter to try to manage this better, to alert authorities and when they don't, there could be a consequence for them and perhaps that would deter some of these smaller sites that give people freedom for hate?

STELTER: Yes. The consequences for Gab are essentially capitalistic marketplace consequences. They said overnight that they are hosting service, the company that keeps them on the world wide web has threatened to take them down. So that could be a business model, a marketplace consequence where the marketplace is voting.

But, you know, whether Gab goes away or not, other sites as you point out will pop up like it. And this issue becomes a civil liberties question.

Civil liberties versus security, how much we want to give up, how much we want to preserve. Because what this guy in Pittsburgh could have sat on a street corner in Pittsburgh and screamed all this hateful stuff. The difference on the internet is that he can find community, he can find other racist, he can connect with them.

And I also think we need to keep in mind as we talk about this story and the mail bombs both of these individuals, both of these suspects seem to be consuming a lot of right wing media, far right wing, stream content where they were reading about hateful messages and hateful ideas.

A quick example from Pittsburgh we've learned that he was also posting, the suspect was also posting about immigrants, about illegal invaders in his term. He was apparently consuming news about the caravan. And he said he went into that building because he was reading about refuge programs in Pittsburgh. Part of the problem here is political rhetoric.

PAUL: No doubt. Brian Stelter, very good point to make. Thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

PAUL: And stay close because Brian will be on later today as well at 11:00.

So after the break, one man survived the synagogue attack because of skills he had learned, his son says, at an active shooter training session. He says that is what saved his life. You're going to hear from his son next.



BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell live in Pittsburgh. And as the country mourns the massacre that happened at the synagogue and the 11 people who were killed, we are hearing stories of hope, those stories of survival.

CNN spoke with Zachary Weiss earlier whose father survived the shooting and he says active shooter training saved his father's life.


WEISS (via telephone): My father fortunately was able to make it back home. He is a hundred percent healthy, he's safe, unharmed. The real savior of the day was all of 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 occurred was he heard a loud noise and a couple of congregants went to investigate the loud noise because it was 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 mistakable. From then on forward 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 cancelled. And at the 11th hour, my dad, who has been a 29-year member of Tree of Life or L'Simcha Congregation and has worn many hats during that process which as well as 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 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, 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 and saw that they were hidden he couldn't really find anybody and I'm not sure how familiar you are 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 able to safely evacuate himself from the synagogue.

(END AUDIO CLIP) BLACKWELL: That active shooter training helping to save that one man's life. Coming up, how major league baseball honored the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting.



PAUL: Every fall we honor 10 ordinary people who are making an extraordinary difference. Brad Ludden was one of the top CNN heroes of 2016. Look what he is doing now.


BRAD LUDDEN, CNN HERO 2016 TOP 10: In 2016, CNN heroes featured us on an international stage and since then, we have been approached by a bunch of different patient advocacy groups inquiring as to whether or not our program would apply to their populations. Those conversations led us to believe that young adults within us could benefit from this type of adventure-based healing.

We are excited to pilot our first program for young adults with M.S. I'm pretty overwhelmed with how far the organization has come. I'm just so humbled by it.


PAUL: CNN reveals this year's top 10 heroes Thursday.

Before game four of the World Series in Los Angeles --


PAUL: Before game four of the World Series last night, the Red Sox and the Dodgers paused for a moment to silence -- or of silence to honor the victims of Saturday morning's synagogue massacre.


ANNOUNCER: As our nation grieves their loss and for their loved once we also express our commitment to each other, to embrace the grace and values and tolerance and justice and dignity that form the foundation of our common bond.


Please join us now in a moment of silence.