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Interview With Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg; Ohio Authorities Update Mass Shooting Investigation. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 16:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: It was the biggest single-day drop this year, all of this sparked by the escalation of a trade war between the U.S. and China, China retaliating today, saying it will bar its companies from buying U.S. agricultural goods.

I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Dayton. We will be back here tomorrow.

In the meantime, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Red flag after red flag, but no one said a thing.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Hit lists and a fascination with mass murders. Today, new details emerging on the Dayton gunman. New details coming from his ex- girlfriend, who says he made her watch video from a mass shooting on their first date.

This Democrat says it is too late for President Trump to not be a white nationalist. But what would a President Pete Buttigieg do to prevent massacres like El Paso or Dayton? Buttigieg will join me live with his new plan.

Plus, pushback from Democrats in grieving communities over the president's plan to come to El Paso and Dayton. Might those visits actually cause more pain than comfort?

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin with the national lead.

President Trump now planning to visit the communities where two men committed horrific acts of gun violence and carnage, killing at least 31 innocent people. The president will go to both El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, tomorrow.

In El Paso right now, the alleged domestic terrorism is talking to police telling them he got lost when he first arrived in the city after having driven for 11 hours from the Dallas area to begin his racist, murderous rampage. In Dayton, where the shooter was killed by police early Sunday morning, a picture of the murderer who killed his own sister and eight others is emerging, as more details come from his social media accounts and from people who knew him.

The Twitter account believed to be his suggests that he had a longtime interest in violence. He described himself as a metalhead and a leftist.

Let's go now to Dayton, Ohio, where officials are holding a press conference.


RICHARD BIEHL, DAYTON, OHIO, POLICE CHIEF: On the evolving mind-set of the assailant, the materials reviewed thus far reveal that the individual had a history of obsession with violent ideations, to include mass shootings, and had expressed a desire to commit a mass shooting.

Subsequent material has revealed an orientation toward violent ideologies, which elevate this case to one of federal interest. Thus, the FBI will be taking the central role in certain aspects of this case, while the Dayton Police Department continues to focus on the homicide investigation.

So I now ask Agent Wickerham to provide more information about the shift in investigative focus.

However, I will clarify that the information provided will be very limited and not likely to be expanded upon what is already being shared.


TODD WICKERHAM, FBI AGENT: So thank you, Mayor. Thank you, chief.

My name is Todd Wickerham. I'm the special agent in charge for the FBI Cincinnati field office.

So the Dayton police and the FBI have a long history of working together side-by-side in this community, including very, very important Joint Terrorism Task Force assignments that Dayton police officers have, as well as our Safe Streets Task Force. So working together is nothing new for us.

And FBI agents showed up in the early morning hours in the Oregon District after this horrific mass attack. So our investigation with Dayton police is ongoing. We have not made any final investigative conclusions into the motive of the shooter or if he was assisted by any other people in this attack.

However, we have uncovered evidence throughout the course of our investigation that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies. And based upon this evidence, we're initiating an FBI investigation side- by-side with the Dayton police homicide investigation to make sure we get to the bottom and we explore everything and we try to understand the best we can why this horrific attack happened.

So, as we continue to conduct this investigation, we're striving to do three things, what -- to figure out three things -- what, if any, ideology influenced the attacker to conduct this attack, who, if anyone, helped him or had any advance knowledge of his intentions to conduct this attack, and why he committed this specific act of violence.

One piece of evidence does not necessarily constitute a motive, hence the need for a thorough, methodical investigation.

The case is ongoing, so we cannot provide any detailed information into our investigative activities at this time. It's absolutely critical that we do this investigation the right way. This community and our country deserves an answer as to why this happened.


So we ask anybody with additional information regarding this investigation to provide that information to the FBI tip line. It's a tip line that is available 24/7 for somebody to give information.

That tip line is 1-800-CALL-FBI. If you call there and ask to give information about the Dayton shooting, somebody will take that information and provide it both to the Dayton Police Department and to the FBI.

There is another outlet in which people can provide any type of digital evidence that they may have collected, whether on that night or any social media evidence that they may feel is relevant to why this attack happened, and that can be provided at

Now, I also want to thank all of the organizations in this community that have stepped up to help the grieving process and the healing process begin here in Dayton.

I will take a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Agent, can you explain the violent ideology and what violent ideology is it that you're interested in?

WICKERHAM: So, I'm not going to get into specifics as to what we found, because we're so early in this investigation. There is so much more material to go through and evidence to obtain in this investigation.

But we have found very specific violent ideologies that the shooter we know followed and was interested in. So that has given us enough information to open up an FBI investigation to make sure we have every single tool, every investigative capability to figure out why this happened and to try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

QUESTION: To be clear, there is a predicate for a federal investigation. And that would be something having to do with either politics, religion, race, that sort of thing, right? WICKERHAM: So anybody that wants to do violence, that is part of what

has to be shown to a federal investigation of this type.

And so, yes, we have found very specific -- and one thing I will point out, that we have not found any indication that it is a racial motivation. That is not any -- we have not found anything that indicates that it is a racial motivation at this time.

I'm not -- again, we have a lot to go through. So, but different violent ideologies will cause an investigation to be initiated. And we have found evidence of a violent ideology. But I'm not going to get into the specifics.

QUESTION: Did you discover this off his computer?

WICKERHAM: We did not discover it off his computer. We're still going through a lot of digital evidence, but I'm not going to tell you exactly where we found this, because we still have a lot more to go through.


WICKERHAM: We do not have that information at this time. We don't know.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) preexisting ideology that exists that he subscribes to? Or what does it mean specifically?

WICKERHAM: So what we saw is, this individual, the attacker in this case, very specifically seeking out information that promotes violence.

QUESTION: How far back (OFF-MIKE)

WICKERHAM: We're going back as far as we need to find -- try to find out why he did this and also if anybody else knew about this or was involved with this.


QUESTION: ... planning this event or that he was planning to do a different type of event or how premeditated was this event?

WICKERHAM: We don't know at this time.

QUESTION: Do you have any knowledge of him having any mental illness?

WICKERHAM: I don't have that information at this time. I'm not going to give any more specifics about what we do or what we do not know.

QUESTION: Did the events in El Paso affect the timeline of this at all?

WICKERHAM: We have not seen any evidence that the events in El Paso influenced him at this point. Again, we have lots of evidence to go through. (CROSSTALK)

WICKERHAM: No, we have no evidence that the shooter was on the FBI's radar prior to this event.

That's it. Thank you.

NAN WHALEY, MAYOR OF DAYTON, OHIO: Thank you, Special Agent.

Next, I'm going invite Assistant Chief Matt Carper to the podium to discuss the president of the United States' visit tomorrow.


I know there has been a lot of interest in the potential visit from the president into the Miami Valley area tomorrow. We don't have the specifics yet. As soon as we can get more additional information as it unfolds, we will release what we're able to release to the public.

I know any closures or inconveniences or interruptions would be minimal, so we do understand that. So we will share more information as it becomes available and as we're able to.

That is all I'm able to offer right now.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) ... meeting with the president privately?

CARPER: I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Will the family of the victims be meeting with the president privately?

CARPER: I will give you more information as the details are confirmed.

QUESTION: What about protests? (OFF-MIKE)

CARPER: I'm not aware of any organized protests tomorrow.


QUESTION: Can you talk about manpower? Is there going to be extra police on the scene, at the routes? What is that going to look like?

CARPER: With any presidential visit or motorcade going back decades, that is the case.

QUESTION: Sir, at the White House today, Kellyanne Conway suggested that Secret Service had communicated to the president that both Dayton and El Paso are safe and ready for the president's visit.

Would you agree with that characterization, that assessment? Is Dayton ready at this moment?

CARPER: We are always ready for any kind of dignitary protection assignment. Like I said, going back decades we have provided those and sometimes multiple occasions per year.

So, yes.

QUESTION: Given the circumstances that happened here?

CARPER: That is correct. We are ready. Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I ask one more question of the agent, just one more?

You said that he wasn't influenced by events in El Paso, correct?

WICKERHAM: I didn't say that, no. I said we don't have -- not developed any evidence at this point that says that he's influenced by El Paso.

QUESTION: Do you have any evidence developed that he was influenced by other events? We have had several recently.

WICKERHAM: We still have a lot of evidence to go through, so I'm not going to say anything else about that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) shooter's history (OFF-MIKE)

WHALEY: I think we have discussed everything we're going to discuss about the investigation. So are there any other questions?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) homicide investigation. As you continue to look into that gun and the ammunition, have you found any evidence that there was any violation of current gun laws by the shooter?

BIEHL: No, we have not.

QUESTION: Could you speak from the podium?

WHALEY: Yes. They want to get that on their digital.

BIEHL: That will be easy. No, we have not.

QUESTION: Any new information leading up to why they may split up the brother and sister?

BIEHL: I don't know that that is clear. We just -- we don't have any specific information to really understand it at this time. We just know it happened.

QUESTION: What is your take on the governor's proposal that he laid out today, 17-point plan?

BIEHL: You know, actually, I have been a little too busy to read the governor's proposal. So until I have a chance to read and evaluate it, I really can't comment.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) tomorrow for the president coming in and what people should do?

WHALEY: Well, you were all there. So I don't need to -- I don't want to keep on going. But I don't know what you're really asking, frankly, actually.


WHALEY: Oh, yes, I will welcome him in an official capacity as mayor, since he is in the office of the president.

QUESTION: The search warrant of the house, did they find any other guns? (OFF-MIKE)

BIEHL: We're not going to get into the evidence that was seized in that search warrant. That is all part of the investigation. And we haven't had a chance to even evaluate some of the evidence at this point. So...

QUESTION: Any update on the person who was driving in the car with them, brother and sister?

WHALEY: So we're done talking about the investigation. So I think we're done with questions today. We appreciate -- and I will see some of you at National Night Out.

Thank you.

TAPPER: You have been listening to the FBI and Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley and local officials giving an update on the Dayton shooting.

Let's discuss this with my law enforcement experts.

And, Phil, let me bring you in.

You're a former FBI official. What do you make of this case being elevated to a federal level?


If you looked at this a day or two ago, you would have said we don't understand motivation. That could be across the spectrum. The guy had a problem at work, he had a problem at home, he had a problem with a romantic relationship.

The fact that the FBI is being brought in as a -- as the lead in the investigation says, as we heard today, that they have information about motive. The motive of race was taken off the table. There is still a lot of motives about connections to ideologies that would be on the table.

For example, anti-government organizations, there are a lot of people in it country who don't believe the U.S. government should have sovereignty over their lives, leftist Antifa motivations that might lead people to say an act of violence against the government is appropriate.

So the fact that the feds are brought in and that the locals are saying the feds are key gives us a key indication of a big step forward in saying there is a motivation beyond something that is purely personal.

TAPPER: And, Anthony, let me bring you in.

The FBI Special Agent Todd Wickerham said that the most prevalent thing they have an able to discern in the Dayton, Ohio, shooter is evidence of a violent ideology, but, as of now, no specific evidence of the shooting being motivated by racism or by politics.

That doesn't mean they won't find that. But the focus, of course, is his, the shooter's obsession with violence. What might this all mean, you think?

ANTHONY FERRANTE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I think it is clear there are still a lot of unknowns.

Comparatively to the El Paso scene, where we have a living subject who is answering questions with law enforcement, here in Ohio, we do not. And there remains a lot of questions.

[16:15:03] thought the special agent in charge of the FBI put it very well. You know, what were the motives of the actor, who helped him, if anybody, and why did he do this.

I also think it is significant that the FBI is taking the investigation because it allows for more federal charging instrument where he could be charged with more significant crimes in this case.

TAPPER: And, Phil, let's talk about the red flags raised about this gunman. Because apparently as far back as high school, he got in trouble with teachers and the administration in school for doing something that suggests a proclivity of violence and coming up with a hit list of people at school he wanted to kill. But after somebody like that gets in trouble with the school, does that just disappear? Nobody else finds out about it, the police don't find out about it, gun sellers don't find out about it?

MUDD: I think there is two separate conversations to have. One conversation is about counseling. For example, there are people outside of the law enforcement community who are brought in to talk to the kid.

The more significant conversation in my world of intelligence and law enforcement is simple. You have thousands, more than 10,000 police departments across the country, if they do not have political and legal cover to go in and say there is evidence -- not that the individual committed an act of crime but red flag evidence according to a law that we don't have today. If we don't have that, how do you take away somebody's gun because the immediate response that person will get a lawyer saying you don't have the right to take my gun, I have the right to write whatever I want about hate. That's not against the law.

Governor DeWine in Ohio was moving in the right direction. Until you get the legislation he's proposing, you don't have the opportunity in law enforcement to take somebody's weapon away. TAPPER: His "red flag" laws would allow families to petition a court

to temporarily take guns away from an individual if he is believed to be a threat to himself or others.

I want to go to CNN's Randi Kaye. She's in Dayton, Ohio.

And, Randi, officials are saying they uncovered this evidence of a violent ideology but they don't have a motive yet.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jake. And there is new information and you mentioned these red flags, many of the people here in Dayton say they don't need a presidential visit. They want answers as to how this could have happened in their community.


KAYE (voice-over): Some 41 shots were fired in under 30 seconds as panicked patrons ran for their lives.


KAYE: Two new surveillance videos show the chaotic scene in Dayton, Ohio, as a 24-year-old gunman unleashed terror on crowded streets. Now, former high school classmates say the shooter had a troubling past.

DAVID PARTRIDGE, FORMER CLASSMATE OF DAYTON GUNMAN: Connor had a hit list of people he wanted to harm or kill.

SHELBY EMMERT, FORMER CLASSMATE OF DAYTON GUNMAN: He just was an angry person who acted on his actions. And the warning signs were missed.

KAYE: A newly discovered Twitter account believed to belong to the shooter reads, quote: I'm going to hell and I'm not coming back.

As part of the biography it also shows re-tweets of anti-police and extreme left-wing posts. But unlike El Paso, where the accused terrorist outlined his racist political motivations in an online post, police in Dayton don't know what motivated Sunday's massacre.

DEON GREEN (ph), FATHER KILLED: Came around the corner, heard two shots, pop pop.

KAYE: Deon Green (ph) thought he and his father had been spared until he saw the blood.

GREEN: I see the blood just coming from both sides of his head and I just lost it. He looked at me, he was breathing and he just lied there with his eyes open.

KAYE (on camera): So he died in your arms?

GREEN: Yes, ma'am.

KAYE (voice-over): In Texas, authorities now say the gunman that shot 22 people dead at this El Paso Walmart claimed he stopped there for food. He drove some 11 hours from his home in Allen, Texas, to the border city and targeted Hispanics in his attack.

MARIBEL LATIN, VICTIM: I saw him reloading the gun.

KAYE: Maribel Latin was shot twice.

LATIN: Shot eight more bullets. I counted them because I said one of these is going to be mine.

KAYE: Police also telling CNN today that the 21-year-old gunman was unarmed when he drove up to a motorcycle officer near the Walmart. Put his hands up and surrendered.


KAYE: And one more note about the Dayton man who you saw in the story whose father died in his arms, he believe he spoke to the suspect's sister also killed in that shooting. She was right nearby. He told us that she said to him, I've been shot. Please call 911.

He told us he didn't realize who it was until police questioned him about the woman nearby and then he saw her picture in the news.

TAPPER: Randi Kaye, thank you so much.

In the wake of the two horrific shootings, Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg today, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, unveiled a new gun control plan he says will combat domestic terrorism and includes an additional $1 billion in funding for the FBI as well as state and local police.

[16:20:04] It includes a plan to work with social media companies to try to identify hateful messages shared online and stop them from spreading, plus banning some types of semi-automatic weapons, closing loopholes so more gun sales require background checks and creating a nationwide gun licensing system.

And Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins me live.

Mayor Buttigieg, thanks so much for joining us.

I want to ask you about the specifics of your plan in a moment. But I want to know, after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, not to mention in Las Vegas or Orlando, there are always pushing for new gun control restrictions. And Congress doesn't do anything ultimately.

How does a President Buttigieg get it done?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you begin with the fact that America wants this to get done. How much longer can something go against the will of the American people before we have a break through? That is why my plan focuses on action, political action, policy action and civic action.

Right now, it doesn't seem like there is a penalty to be paid, for example, for Mitch McConnell's decision to prevent the universal background check legislation that passed the House, something, by the way, which enjoyed support from the majority of Republicans as well as Democrats across this country. There is not much of a penalty for the Senate blocking that.

That has got to change and one of the actions we propose that you don't have to be president to do, any one of us to do, to get ahold of your senator. It is recess, and they're at home, they're going to events in their home states. I think they should be back if Washington on an emergency basis dealing with this but until they are, we're urging everybody to reach out, call their senator, find their senator, and get something done about this.

Look, we know there are a number of measures to help save lives. We also know that this is not only a matter of gun safety but of countering violent extremism here at home. The decision that this administration made to reduce funding and cancel programs for dealing with violent extremism is the wrong direction. Time to turn that around before we're dealing with another attack like this in the future.

TAPPER: So, Mr. Mayor, one of your proposals is to end the Senate filibuster, so it will be easier to pass gun restrictions that would make it so only a simple majority of senators have to support a policy for it to pass as opposed to the threshold of 60 votes now. That theoretically would have allowed Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act back in 2017.

Are you sure this is the best way forward?

BUTTIGIEG: Look, if the filibuster -- if it weren't for the filibuster, we would have a lot of measures right now. Remember, you referenced Sandy Hook and a lot of us thought, you know, if children could be murdered at that level, in our country surely that will be the last straw. And legislation moved and was filibustered. It stopped dead in the Senate. We can't go on accepting this. Yes, it creates all kinds of new challenges politically.

But when the will of the American people can be defeated so easily on the floor of the Senate, it is time for a change and it is clear the filibuster, which has a complicated and dark history to begin with has outlived the usefulness to the American people.

TAPPER: Yes, but you didn't acknowledge my point which is, OK, so in Sandy Hook, after Sandy Hook, that would have been passed, but then the Republicans would have taken over the Senate and then it would have been completely undone. I mean, that's the whole point.

BUTTIGIEG: And then they would have been -- yes, and in my view if that happened, they would have lost power in 2018. We could do a lot of counterfactuals, but, you know, I think it is meaningful that the ACA is intact even after a lot of what we've been through. Now, of course, the administration is trying to dismantle it.

Look, the point is, if we're asking ourselves this question of how is it that this -- we say never again and it always happens. The indication is that we've got to make structural change. You can't go on doing the same thing and expect a better result.

Obviously, there are structural problems in our politics when you got an NRA that no longer even speaks for the majority of gun owners and yet is able to get its way in Washington against the will of the American people, when you have these things that America expects in Washington and they can't deliver, something is wrong in the very structure of the way decisions are made in Washington. That's what we've got to change and the filibuster is part of that.

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, part of your plan is a ban on what are called assault weapons, the certain types of semi-automatic weapons. What does that ban look like in your administration? Does it stop at outlawing sales? Does it include a mandatory assault weapon buyback? Will you require those who own these guns to turn them into the government? What happens?

BUTTIGIEG: My focus is on stopping sales of new ones. Look, there is estimates there will be 130 million more guns on the street by 2030, if nothing changes. Some of which will be the assault or military- style weapons, things like what I carried around when I was in Afghanistan, that just have no business on American streets or anywhere near schools in a country at peace.

So, let's start by banning new sales of these weapons. Then we can figure out other mechanisms to reduce the number that are circulating out there and above all, stop them from falling into the wrong hands, which is why things like not only universal background check but disarming hate through a red flag law that covers hate crime and closing the boyfriend and Charleston loophole are so important, as some of these secondhand weapons do continue to circulate in our country.

[16:25:18] Will it stop every problem, every crime? No. But it will save lives and we have a moral responsibility to do everything we can to save the thousands of lives that are at stake right now.

TAPPER: All right. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg -- thank you so much for your time, sir. Good luck to you on the campaign trail.

BUTTIGIEG: Thanks for having me on.

TAPPER: Bipartisan gun legislation doesn't have to be a fantasy in Washington. Republican Senator Pat Toomey from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania co-wrote a bill on background checks, but will that move forward? Senator Toomey will join me next.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, as President Trump prepares to visit El Paso and Dayton tomorrow, Democrats back in Washington, D.C. are continuing to criticize Republicans for blocking gun control legislation. Some of which enjoys bipartisan support.

And as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports for us now, this time the person Democrats are focused on --