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CNN NEWSROOM

Remembering Pittsburgh Victims; Nephew of Victim Remembers his Uncle; Social Network Gab Shut Down; Pittsburgh Suspect Critical of Support Group; Kentucky Shooting at Grocery Store. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired October 29, 2018 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:30:00] JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daniel Stein, 71 years old. He went to temple every Saturday. He was retired and remembered for his dry sense of humor.

Joyce Fienberg was 75 years old. She was a former research specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. She was a grandmother, a mother to two sons. We were told she lit up the room. You know, someone said, you always hear that, but, truly, she was a small woman but she lit up the room when she walked into it. She was remembered as being warm and also an elegant woman.

Richard Gottfried, age 65. Dr. Rich, as he was known in this community. He had a dental practice with his wife, had been practicing dentistry for years. His wife is actually Catholic. And the two of them -- he was Jewish -- helped prepare members in the community for marriage at the Catholic Church. He was also a fixture at North Hills School District, where he served a lot of those kids in the school district. They are remembering him as well today.

Melvin Wax, 88 years old. We're told he was a big joke teller. He had a daughter, a son-in-law and a grandson, who he was very close to.

And Irving Youngner, age 69, a little league coach who interacted with a lot of kids in this community. He attended Tree of Life regularly and he -- we were told he was a very kind man.

Again, these few little anecdotes don't begin to do these people justice. People who lived full lives. People who clearly dedicated their lives to bettering their community, to loving their friends and family.

Poppy and Jim, without question, these were people with deep roots in this community and are certainly be grieved today. A lot of broken- hearted people trying to grapple with all of this.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Jessica Dean, thank you.

You know, don't get lost in the numbers. Each one -- it's 11 people. Each one of them a human being with a life, a story, a family.

HARLOW: Countless -- countless friends. SCIUTTO: We're going to do our best to keep doing that.

Well, on FaceBook, victim Daniel Stein's son, he called Saturday the worst day of his life. He described his father as a simple man who did not require much.

Joining us now is Daniel Stein's nephew, Steven Halle.

Steve, thank you so much for taking the time here. I can only imagine what you and your family are going through right now. And I think really the first thing Poppy and I wanted to do was give you an opportunity to talk about Daniel, what he meant to you and what kind of man he was.

STEVEN HALLE, VICTIM'S NEPHEW (via telephone): Well, you know, growing up with my uncle, he was nothing but -- you know, he was exciting to be around. I mean this was a guy who was very outgoing. He was a big part of the community in which he lived in. He would give you the shirt off his back if you asked it. He would volunteer for several different organizations within the Jewish community. And, you know, this is -- this is a life that was taken way too soon.

You know, it's -- it's -- I think it's really -- you know, I applaud you guys for talking about these victims' stories because, you know, the families are grieving about this because the hardest thing for me is, you didn't get to say good-bye to these people.

HARLOW: Yes.

HALLE: You know and it's -- you're leaving open-ended stories and you're not going to hear these stories anymore from these people. And this is complete devastation. I mean not only for our family, but for, you know, the other families involved and the city of Pittsburgh, you know, the state and across the world.

HARLOW: And, Steven --

HALLE: I mean this -- this kind of stuff has to stop.

HARLOW: It does. You know, and as you say, open-ended stories. I think that's such a good way to put it, these lives cut so short as they go to express their beliefs in their religion in the morning, as everyone in this country should have a right to do peacefully, they were not able to do it.

And, again, we'll keep showing those faces and reading those names. And you will not see the face of the shooter and you will not hear his name on this show.

SCIUTTO: No.

HARLOW: Not once.

What is your fondest memory with your uncle?

HALLE: You know what, he was always there. We, you know, we talked. We spent holidays together. You know, during some of the Jewish holidays, I would always make horseradish with the families and I always tried to make it hot and he always commented on how hot the stuff was. I'm going to miss taking it over to him. I mean it -- we're going to have an open chair. I mean things aren't going to be the same ever again.

You know, the part that gets me is his son just recently -- you know, he had a grandson. You know, he's seven months old. He's not going to have that grandson -- the grandson's not going to have him to lift, you know, to be with, you know, like a grandparent should. You know, you should be there to have your grandchildren grow up with you. And he's going to be absent in this child's life. You know, and this poor baby doesn't even know anything about this yet. He's too young to understand.

SCIUTTO: Yes. No, that's an enormous theft.

Can I ask you, what do you want to hear and see? There's an outpouring of support I know you're getting from around the world. What do you want to hear as a way forward? Because you started out by saying here, this has got to stop. What's going to help make this kind of hate- filled violence stop, in your view?

[09:35:18] HALLE: In my view, I think people have to respect each other for who they are, for who their beliefs are. We can't hate people because they believe different things than other people. This out of the norm. Everybody has their own opinions. We have to respect that.

And until hatred, the disrespect, the anti-Semitism, the disrespect for different people for what they believe, it's not -- it's ever -- it's going to go on until people stop. People that are bringing up these children now, we're not -- we're not going to stop hatred. We're not going to stop this until people teach their children what's right. And as long as they're teaching children their beliefs, this is not going to stop.

HARLOW: Yes. Steven Halle, we're with you. We're with all of you. Thank you for sharing that with us. Some pretty amazing stories about your uncle.

HALLE: Thank you.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:40:23] HARLOW: Welcome back.

A key part of the investigation into the suspected Pittsburgh gunman is, of course, is the digital footprint. And minutes before the massacre, he logged onto a social media network. You may not have heard about it, but you should know about this. It's called Gab. It's gab.com. He declared his intent to carry out an attack.

SCIUTTO: Gab's become something of a destination for this kind of speech. It was a place where the shooter regularly posted anti-Semitic threats, conspiracy theories. The night -- the site now says that it has been taken down by hosting providers following the shooting. It blames a smear campaign by the mainstream media.

Joining us now, CNN business chief media correspondent Brian Stelter.

A smear campaign blaming the mainstream media. It's a familiar line of attack.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN BUSINESS CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, it is. And we see some of this take root on these social platforms. You're pointing out that Gab is sort of an alternative to Twitter. It's sort of a free speech utopia. That's what they claim. But, in reality, it is a favorite website of hate groups and bigots. It's relatively small. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have any power. Hateful people, anti-Semites are able to meet on this website, communicate with each other and get even angrier.

And what we are seeing in this country is radicalization, whether it's on Gab or other social networks. Hateful people are able to exist on the Internet in these dark corners, get even angrier, get even more radicalized and then some of them do crazy things. In the case of the suspect in Pittsburgh, we can see from his social media footprint that anti-Semitism, hatred of Jews, is the root of his evil.

But he also hated immigrants. He was being radicalized apparently by what he was hearing and reading and seeing on right-wing media. For the past few weeks there's been so much coverage of the migrant caravan in Central America, these people coming from Guatemala and Honduras. This suspect in Pittsburgh noticed they were being called invaders. He was afraid of these invaders. And that's why, according to his own social media post, he went into that synagogue that was trying to help refugees through the program HIAS.

I just think it's important to understand the context of what happened here, that this suspect was hearing hateful language from right wing media and that was part -- that was a part of the problem.

HARLOW: And joining us in just a minute is going to be the president and CEO of that group. Brian Stelter, again, as you note, and people should read your reporting on this, just shutting down one site or one site like Gab going offline for a period of days is not going to end this, right, this is much bigger, because that hate just goes elsewhere.

STELTER: No, it's a game of Whack-a-mole.

HARLOW: Well, exactly.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

STELTER: Right, it's the world's worst game of Whack-a-mole. But Gab is experiencing the consequence of the marketplace. Market forces are working in this case. Gab has been taken offline because PayPal cut its ties with them, web hosting services cut its ties with them.

So here's what Gab is saying this morning. They are portraying themselves as the victim, of course, saying that their website is under attack. They say they are working to get back online. But they -- you can see here, they say they've been taken off the app stores, multiple hosting providers and several payment processors. They claim they will continue to fight for the fundamental human right to speak freely. But in reality, again, this site is a favorite of bigot, of hate groups. And we saw in this one case in Pittsburgh, this site was a home for this hateful man.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: OK, Brian, thank you for being there. Keep us posted.

And this man, the shooter, was often critical of this group that Brian just mentioned, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, or HIAS. That is a Jewish refugee support group. Well, he posted a lot of hate against it online.

And joining us now is the president and CEO, Mark Hetfield, of the group.

Thank you for being here.

MARK HETFIELD, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE HEBREW IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY (HIAS): Thank you.

HARLOW: Some of what he wrote on Gab, that your organization's overall efforts are sugar-coated evil. And you have said there is too much space for hate in this country and that you, as an organization, have received verbal attacks, attacks on social media, for quite some time, but did you think it would result in physical violence like this?

HETFIELD: No, we never thought it would end like this.

SCIUTTO: The fact is that much of what the shooter posted echo comments by the president and some of his supporters about the threat from this coming -- you know, these invaders, et cetera. Even that word that some of the president's supporters have used or on of the words that he used. But, overall, bigger picture, portraying this as sort of a -- you know, the rable (ph) these threats approaching the country in numbers. In your view, does the president share responsibility, some responsibility, for portraying the caravan in this way?

HETFIELD: Everyone has responsibility to fight hate speech. But we have to start through leadership at the top. And there's no question that the toxic environment that we're now in of hate speech has not been helped by the president's words, absolutely not, about the caravan, about refugees, about Muslims, this has to come to an end, this language.

[09:45:19] HARLOW: You know something, and that is that anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise, which they are. The numbers bear that out. But you say that, Mark, anti-Semitism itself is not. And that struck me. Because it means that in the midst of this horror, you have also seen the best of America. You have seen your donations go up in recent years. You have seen the number of people trying to volunteer go up. How does that America take over? Meaning, how does the best of America

come through to fight this evil?

HETFIELD: Yes, exactly. The vast majority of Americans are not anti- Semitic. And we have seen an outpouring of support since the world woke up to the global refugee crisis in 2015. And we have to keep that in mind. I mean there are more refugees now than there have ever been in history. They need protection. They need a sense of welcome. And the vast majority of Americans and vast majority of the American Jewish community want to make them feel welcome. They're fleeing because of hate. And we have to protect them and protect ourselves from hate in this country.

SCIUTTO: The president will note, and it is true, he has condemned acts of violence in public and he -- in general terms -- and he's condemned this specific act, acts committed out of hate -- hate for Jews, anti-Semitism. That said, the president has continued to portray the caravan as a threat, as he has continued to portray other critics as evil, et cetera. From your point of view, do you separate those two?

HETFIELD: Well, the thing is that this murderer went into this sanctuary to attack Jews, but he was attacking Jews because they were helping refugees, right? I mean that was his stated motive for the attack. And people who hate Jews, anti-Semites, don't generally just hate Jews. They hate a lot of groups, a lot of the other. And that's exactly what happened here.

And, frankly, what troubles me about the president's remarks after this attack is that, yes, he condemned anti-Semitism, as he should have, but he did not say one word, at least not that I've heard, about refugees and about how they were implicated in the attack and how they need protection.

And this synagogue and the Jews in this congregation and the Jews that support HIAS, is exactly what we're about. We're about protecting refugees as Jews because we were once refugees.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: You've also noted that this is not just a uniquely American problem. There are concerns globally at what we're seeing.

HETFIELD: Right. This is not an American phenomenon. This is a global phenomenon of hate, of tribalism, of nativism that's on the rise all over the world. And it has to be fought everywhere and every single person has a role in fighting that, whether it's at the dining room table with your family, or whether it's at work, or whether it's calling out our elected officials, or whether it's social media platforms that allow hate to be propagated because we know that where there are hateful words, these are almost always followed by hateful acts. And that's exactly what happened in Pittsburgh. It's what happened with the pipe bombs. It's what we're going to see keep happening until we demonstrate a willingness to stand up to hate.

HARLOW: America's better than that. HETFIELD: Definitely.

HARLOW: Thank you for being --

HETFIELD: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Mark Hetfield, thanks -- thank you for coming on and thanks for what you do.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Another possible hate crime in the last several days. This one in Kentucky. Why police say it appears that the suspect there wanted to harm the congregation at a predominantly black church, this before he found another target, also black, in that shooting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:53:06] HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

In yet another attack seemingly fueled by hate, a white man is accused of killing two African-Americans last week, gunning them down at a grocery store near Louisville, Kentucky.

SCIUTTO: It's easy to lose sight of these because there's so much going on. But don't. That's why we have CNN national correspondent Ryan Young there from the suburb of Jeffersontown, just outside of Louisville.

So, Ryan, police say the suspect, his initial target was a predominantly black church. Tell us what happened.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. First Baptist Church is just up the road here. And what they're saying is they believe that Gregory Bush tried to get inside that church. There was actually a witness sitting in the parking lot who said they saw him trying to grab at the door and try to get in the inside of that church. Luckily, he was not able to get in that church. And you think about that. They were apparently less than a dozen people on the inside, but that's still a scary situation.

Then he turn his attention to the Kroger that's just behind me, and that's where this all unfolded. In fact, we just had some people stop by and talk to us about the idea, they're shocked that this happened in their community. The idea that someone could show up to a Kroger like this.

And when he arrived to the Kroger, there was a grandfather in there with his grandchild. Maurice Stallard. He was in there shopping, apparently getting some school supplies, when all of a sudden the shots started to ring out. And that grandfather was shot and killed right in front of his grandson. And then, according to police, Bush then ran outside and shot Vickie Jones in the parking lot. And then a bystander then all of a sudden responded and tried to start taking this man down. When you thing about this, there's so many conversations in this

community just about the idea, will he be charged with a hate crime? That's something the mayor says they are investigating at this point.

There was just a vigil here last night where people were coming together saying they don't want this to rock the community any more than it has. They want to come together. And they spiritually want to stand together. But you could understand the fear factor here, the idea that he first tried to get into a church, according to police, and then coming here to this Kroger, a busy shopping plaza. You can understand why people would be upset. They desperately want the attention to this and they want to see those hate crime charges happen moving forward.

[09:55:16] HARLOW: OK, Ryan Young, thank you for reporting for us. This is in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, right outside of Louisville. We will stay on that story.

Also ahead, should the president go to Pittsburgh after the synagogue shooting there this weekend? It's a question Jewish leaders have mixed opinions on that this morning. We'll discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:02] SCIUTTO: Good Monday morning to you, I'm Jim Sciutto.

HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.