Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Police Search For "Armed & Dangerous" Suspect at UNC-Chapel Hill; Meadows Testified In Bid To Move Case To Federal Court; Judge Sets Trial In Federal Election Case For March 4, 2024; White Gunman Kills 3 Black People In Jacksonville, Florida. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 28, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: But you could see them walking, you know, not with a real intensive the purpose. They have their weapons slung and clearly weren't engaged with a suspect at that moment. So it does seem to be we're in a pause where they're trying to get their hands around this thing.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Understood. We'll bring all of the information as we have it.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with some breaking news. A shelter in place warning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Authorities say there is a, quote, armed and dangerous, unquote, person on or near the campus. The Governor Roy Cooper now pledging all resources to capture the person he is characterizing at the shooter.

Moments ago, a law enforcement source told CNN that federal law enforcement has responded to the scene but at this point, there was no information, at least not yet, about anyone being shot.

Right now, we're getting information in about a situation where somebody is armed and dangerous. But we do not yet know if anybody on the campus in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has been wounded or shot in any way.

We're going to go now to former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

Ed, right now this is an unusual situation. Moments ago, local schools around the UNC campus at Chapel Hill were told they were clear to dismiss students. What does that tell you about what might be going on right now? It could seem to me, although I'm just a layperson, that if there were wore yours of an active shooter situation, they would not be dismissing students?

ED DAVIS, FORMER BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: Yes, I agree, Jake. It seems as though the situation is winding down at this point in time. But it's sort of a worst case scenario situation. You have an incident that occurred and you clearly have either a shooting incident or an arms person. They believe was very dangerous. They've locked everything down. Now they're starting to clear those places. But they don't have their hands on the suspect.

Sometimes these guys get out of the area and they're on the run. Other times they hunker down in place. And so this real uncertainty, especially in the immediate vicinity of where the incident happened, right? You've got to keep that place locked down until you could clear every room, every area where the suspect might be hiding.

If you could rule out that he or she is in that -- is not in that area, then you could start to -- to open things up. And the peripheral areas are easier to open up than the actual scene of where the incident occurred.

TAPPER: All right. Commissioner Davis, stand by.

I want to bring in Nick Valencia who is covering this for us and has the latest information.

Nick, what is the latest? What do we know concretely about what, if anything, happened on campus or near campus today.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we know that the university sent out an alert shortly after 1:00 p.m. to indicate that there was an armed and dangerous person on or near campus. And then a lockdown went immediately into effect and we began seeing images from our local affiliates WTVD and WRAL of what appeared to be a very chaotic situation and an all too familiar situation on campuses of individual students that it appears being let out in a hurried fashion with their hands up, escorted by police officers in tactical gear. That was around 1:00 p.m. and into the 2:00 p.m. hour. And then the scene abruptly changed and it seemed as though things were calming down.

It was just shortly -- a little while ago that the University of North Carolina police put out a photo of what they're calling a person of interest, and I what to show that to our viewers here. This photo, the tweet or the X, it says, this photo shows a person of interest in today's armed and dangerous person situation. If you see this person, keep your distance, put your safety first, and call 911.

That is coming from the UNC police department. Prior to that, we had heard or seen a tweet from Governor Roy Cooper who said this was an active shooter situation and he was pledging any and all resources needed to catch this person of interest. We have no information as of yet, updating from the university police department there in UNC. So as far as we could tell you, it's still very much, though, an active situation with the lockdown still in effect.

However, we are hearing reports of those schools in the area, middle schools and elementary schools, allowing parents to pick their students up. So conflicting reports right now and some conflicting images from the information that we have to go off of.

[16:05:03] But the latest is that a person of interest, a photo has been put out there of a person of interest in this armed person situation happening at Chapel Hill -- Jake.

TAPPER: Nick, stand by.

Commissioner Davis, I understand police wanting to err on the side of caution in this day and age, where there are far too many active shooters situations in the United State, especially there are heightened concerns around back-to-school time. But based on what you UNC, University of North Carolina police have said, they have not described a shooting, they have described an armed and dangerous person situation.

Is it possible that there has not yet been any sort of shooting? There was just an individual that was deemed armed and dangerous and was on the loose as it were?

DAVIS: Yes, that is certainly a possibility. You know, in the beginning hours of a situation like this, the information is often wrong. It is often exaggerated. It's information that that needs to be run to ground before you make any specific decisions. Unfortunately, the erring on the side of caution is the standard right now simply because lives are on the line here.

So it may actually be an overreaction when all of the facts are on the table. But you don't know that right now. And there are public officials that are saying, you know, there was a shooting there.

So that kind of confusion requires detective work. It required getting people into the location and interviewing witnesses and potential victims. It takes time to do that before you understand exactly what's happening. And in the meantime, there is some kind of confusion unfortunately.

TAPPER: Many students with whom CNN reporters have spoken did not actually hear a shooting, although, of course, we continue to see reports. How are police right now figuring out what exactly happened?

DAVIS: Well, the first thing they do is to go to the exact scene and interview people that were there or were anywhere in the area. They're talking to witnesses. They're talking to potential victims.

The secondary level is immediately downloading any camera footage that is in the area. That is become critically important in police operations today. And they'll have technical teams that are out there that are looking at that information right now. I'm sure if it was on campus, there is a very intricate system of cameras that probably allow immediate access to the data to the officers that are investigating.

And we do have a good partnership based upon the vehicles that I've seen in the area. You've got the state police. You've got the campus police. You've got the Chapel Hill municipal department.

So people are all working together on this. There is going to be a command post set up. That information is being fed to the command post, but, you know, as you're managing an incident like this. There is the incident, which is critical, making sure everybody is safe and your office is safe and doing everything that is humanly possible to maintain safety.

On the other side of it, there's the messaging that you're giving out. You see these young kids leaving those dormitories and buildings being herded out with hands in the air. That's upsetting to the students. It's upsetting to the parents, and really, really difficult situation.

TAPPER: All right. Commissioner Ed Davis, thanks so much.

We're going to continue to follow all of the developments coming out of Chapel Hill and we'll bring you an update as soon as we get one in terms of concrete information.

In the meantime, let us turn to another major story that we're following today. Three substantial legal developments when it comes to the legal cases involving the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump.

One, in the federal case, brought by special council Jack Smith, where Trump is accused of staging a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election, today, Judge Tanya Chutkan set the trial date for that case, the federal case about trying to overturn the election for March 4th, 2024. That would be just one day before Super Tuesday in the presidential primary contest. That's when 15 states will hold elections choosing their nominees for president and other office.

The second major development comes from Fulton County, Georgia, where today Mark Meadows, Trump's chief of staff, took that the stand. He's trying to convince the judge there that his case should be moved to federal court instead of Georgia court. There Meadows could have -- could move to have the entire thing thrown out if he could successfully make the case that his participation in attempts to subvert Georgia's election results were part of his official White House duties.


Third, also in Fulton County, we now know when the former president and his 18 co-defendants will be arraigned on charges related to the conspiracy to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results. That date is next Wednesday and the previous cases Mr. Trump was arrested and arraigned the same day.

Trump will be arraigned first next Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., next Wednesday. He'll be followed by some of the folks that Vice President Pence has referred to as a, quote, gaggle of crackpot lawyers, unquote. That includes Rudy Giuliani at 9:45 a.m., John Eastman at 10:00 a.m. and Sidney Powell at 10:15 a.m.

Then, former chief of staff Mark Meadows will face the judge at 10:30 and the rest of the co-defendants will be arraigned back-to-back throughout the afternoon. They face charges from racketeering to influencing witnesses to conspiracy to commit election fraud. We're going to cover all of these major developments starting with

Sara Murray and a closer look at what is unfolding right now in the Fulton County courthouse.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows --

MARK MEADOWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: To start wholesale trying to change the way that we conduct elections state by state, I could tell we're asking for problems, we're asking for fraud.

MURRAY: Taking the stand in a federal courtroom in Georgia after he and former President Donald Trump and 17 others were charged with racketeering by the Fulton County district attorney for their attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You can't ever accept when they steal and rig and rob.

MURRAY: Meadows who has kept a stunningly low profile amid the various investigation news Donald Trump now breaking his silence on the case under oath. Those were challenging times, bluntly. Meadows told the court of his White House tenure. As Meadows seeks to move his case from state to federal court, the focus of Monday's hearing, prosecutors delved into their case and some of the allegations against Meadows.

Meadows denying under oath that he directed another White House aide to write a memo about how to delay or disrupt the certification of the election on January 6, saying he had zero recollection of that happening and it was the biggest surprise to me upon reading the indictment. Putting Meadows on the stand, to challenge to the events he's accused of participating in in Georgia are risky approach for any criminal defendant.

Meadows looking to make the case that his activities after the 2020 election were part of his official duties as chief of staff, including arranging the call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

MEADOWS: Mr. President, everybody is on the line and this is Mark Meadows, the chief of staff.

TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.

MURRAY: When prosecutors questioned what federal role Meadows was fulfilling in calls with Trump and another purveyor of election falsehoods, his then personal attorney Rudy Giuliani --

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: We cannot allow these crooks because that is what they are to steal an election from the American people. They elected Donald Trump. They didn't elect Joe Biden. MURRAY: -- Meadows said he was acting as a gate keeper and insisted

there was a federal interest in accurate and fair elections. Meadows also claimed he wasn't the driving force in pushing bogus claims of election fraud. But when that Attorney General Bill Barr dismissed the fraud claims --

BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea that the election was stolen and putting this stuff out which I told the president was bullshit.

MURRAY: Meadows said he felt that further investigation was warranted.


MURRAY (on camera): Now Meadows was on the stand for about three and a half hours today, then the district attorney's office was able to call some of their witnesses. Up right now is Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who is already testified that the federal government does not play a role in certifying the state election results.

And, Jake, as you pointed out, the next major milestone in this case is likely to be these arraignments set for September 6th. We're still waiting to see if that's something that's going to happen in a courtroom or if these defendants might waive their appearances.

TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, with the latest, thanks so much.

Now let's go back to that federal case over the alleged conspiracy to overturn the election in seven battleground states. Not just Georgia, but seven total. Today, a judge set that trial for March 4th. Now, that month along, March 2024, that's one day before super Tuesday and three weeks before the trial in the New York hush money case. There's a lot more that goes on in March as well.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is with me.

Jessica, the defense was pushing for a trial in April 2026. The judge said no. We're going to do March 4th. How did she arrive at that date?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, she really tamped down on Trump's team. She said it would have been unprecedented to wait until 2016 for the criminal trial, and she put it this way, Jake, to Trump's lawyer, she said you are not getting two more years, this case is not going to trial in 2026.


And then she proceeded to really chide Trump's legal team for not already prepping for this possibility of a trial in six months. She said this: she said any agent diligent, zealous defense lawyer would not have been sitting on their hands waiting for an indictment. So, basically saying that Trump's lawyers should have started their investigation and preparation for this soon after the special counsel started all of his work. John Lauro, though, Trump's lawyer, he hit back and he said, look, I

was only just brought on to the legal team recently but that's still not a valid excuse for this.

And he also really warned the judge that he wouldn't be able to provide Trump effective legal counsel under this tight of a timeline. John Lauro there kind of setting up the stage for a future appeal on this issue. And, you know, this trial date, it's not only tight, but it is crowded now.

So between October and May 2024, all four of the criminal trials against Trump are slated to start. Some of those could slide. But that is really how the calendar looks right now. Really packed, really hectic for his legal team.

So prosecutors, they pushed back here. They said that most of the material in this particular case in D.C., it's already known to Trump and his team. So the evident that they've handed over including 3 million pages associated with Trump and his PACs, 170,000 pages from the National Archives. So all information that came from the White House, more than 5 million pages of grand jury transcripts, exhibits.

And the prosecution said there are 47,000 pages that they will make key to their case here. So, Jake, prosecutors saying, look, Trump team, it really isn't that tight of a timeline. We're going to be focused on 47,000 pages of these documents.

You should easily be able to search these with a keyword search. You should be able to prepare in time for that trial start date in six months. So, that looks like it's going to be the start time. It could slide slightly but the judge here very determined to keep that March 4th date -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

From the mountains of evident to the trial set right before the election, is this just the beginning of an extremely messy 2024 calendar. Our legal experts will weigh in next.

Plus, that search for an armed individual near the campus of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, this comes just two days after racially motivated murders near a Florida college campus. We'll go live to that scene.

And a powerful storm headed right for Florida's Gulf Coast. A new storm track is due out in just minutes. We'll bring that to you as well.

A busy afternoon. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with an update on the breaking news. Just moments ago, police at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill tweeted, quote, all clear. Resume normal activities. The campus had been under a shelter in place warning after authorities have said there was a quote, armed and dangerous person on or near the campus. Police have not said if there were any shots fired on campus or what initiated this lockdown.

We'll bring you that information when and if we get it.

TAPPER: Turning to our law and justice lead, Donald Trump says he plans to file an appeal after a federal judge earlier today set his trial date in the federal case brought by special counsel Jack Smith where Trump is accused of staging a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election nationwide.

Joining us now to discuss is Clint Rucker, a former prosecutor in Fulton County district attorney's office and Tom Dupree, who served as principal deputy assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush.

Tom, the judge has decided March 4th of next year. What do you make of that decision?

TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, GEORGE W. BUSH ADMIN: Well, it doesn't surprise me that the Trump lawyers of a 2026 trial date was aspirational to say the least. And I don't think it was realistic. And, look, the judge didn't give either side exactly what it wanted but there's no question she sided with the prosecutors on this one. She planted the flag for a March trial date.

I suspect the Trump team will file a flurry of motions over the course of the next few months trying to get the trial date bumped back and we'll see if the judge holds her ground. But at least, the opening signals she sent today was she's serious. She thinks this case, while historically important, is not terribly complex and can be tried next March.

TAPPER: Do you think, Tom, that Trump has a shot on appeal?

DUPREE: At this stage of the game, I do not. I think an appellate court is going to view this trial court's decision to set this trial date with great deference. I don't think the Trump team has a big likelihood of success on appeal. And, of course, that doesn't mean they can't go back to the trial judge and periodically ask her to re- set the date. So I don't think this is a last battle in what would be a long war.

TAPPER: Clint, do you think that President Trump's legal team harmed its chances of getting a cart date after the 2024 election by requesting a trial so far away in 2026?


First, thank you all so much for having me.

And that is absolutely what I think. I think the judge and in fact said that was really a little unrealistic to set the trial out so far from where we are today. I think she kind of has planned a flag so to speak and said, hey, we're going to move this case along. I think the government said we're going to help you streamline and prepare. We're going to identify what it is you need to focus on. And I think that that two-year window was just unreasonable.

TAPPER: Tom, when it comes to the arguments that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is raising in Georgia today, as he tries to move his case from state to federal court, Meadows is trying to suggest that he was acting in his capacity as White House chief of staff when he allegedly assisted Trump in his attempts to overturn the election in Georgia.

He told the judge, quote, I dealt with the president's personal position on a number of things. It's still a part of my job to make sure that the president is safe and secure and able to perform his job. Serving the president of the United States is what I do, to be clear, unquote.

What do you make of that argument? Is it strong?

DUPREE: Well, look, I think Mark Meadows has a non-frivolous argument but I don't think he's going to be successful. I mean, his point about that he was following the president's instructions, makes him acting in the course of his official duties, that principle only goes so far.


It's not the case that anything that the president asks him to do is therefore within his official duties. If the president hypothetically asked him to commit a criminal act, that would not be within the course of his official duties.

I also think the prosecutor has a decent argument that even if Meadows was trying to act for a political purpose, that would violate the hatch act which is the law that prohibits federal officials from engaging in political activity. So, again, non-frivolous argument, but at the end of the day, I don't think he's going to win on this one.

TAPPER: Clint, if the judge does move the case to federal court from Georgia court, am I correct in assuming that the district attorney for Fulton County, Fani Willis, she could still prosecute the case? And do you think that she would change her strategy at all?

RUCKER: That's absolutely right. Although, the venue for the trial and the case would move from state court to federal court, which of course perhaps for the Trump team brings in the advantage of opening up the perspective pool of jurors that potentially could hear the case. I think that the district attorney's office and Fani Willis will continue the same strategy.

Based on what we've seen from the indictment and some of the testimony even today, from the secretary of state who I understand is perhaps still on the stand or wrapping up, I think she's got a good strategy. With respect to the case, and I say stay tuned. It's really going to be really riveting to see how this all plays out.

TAPPER: Clint Rucker and Tom Dupree, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, new reaction from one of Trump's 2024 Republican rivals. Governor Chris Christie will be with us.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: To our 2024 lead, Trump's latest trial date set for March in the federal case, when it comes to overturning the election. That date could have a major impact on the president's race. It's scheduled right before Super Tuesday. One day before Super Tuesday.

We're joined by Republican presidential candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Thanks for joining us.

So, Governor Christie, your reaction to the federal judge setting Trump's trial on the special counsel election interference case, setting it for early March of next year, while you're also a former federal prosecutor, a former U.S. attorney. Is that too soon? Too far away? What do you think?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's a realistic date, Jake, given that it is a one-defendant case. I remember talking to you at the time of the indictment and there is question about why did Jack Smith just indicted Donald Trump and have six unindicted co- conspirators? I think today is the reason why he did that.

He decided to get this case moved to trial. He had to restrict it to one defendant. He indicted the person he felt was most culpable.

And today, I think what the judge did was two fold. One, she gave them another six months to get ready for trial. In a single defendant case. And, two, she made it quite clear to the Trump legal team that the public relations games that they and their client play are not going to impact the decisions that she makes in the courtroom.

And, so, I think for Republican voters, the biggest thing they have to look at now is we're going to have a guy running for president who from March 4th, probably for the next four to six weeks will be every day in a courtroom in Washington, D.C. and not campaigning against Joe Biden.

This is disastrous for the Republican Party. And this is why I've been saying right from the time I got into the race, that given his personal conduct, given the stuff that he did himself, that he simply can't be our nominee.

TAPPER: So, on that debate stage last week, you and Governor Asa Hutchinson were the only two to talk to -- to call out what Donald Trump is accused of having done. Although former governor, former Ambassador Nikki Haley did pointed out that Donald Trump is the least popular politician in America and she argued that nominating him would be a bad idea for that reason.

Do you think -- six out of eight of you, not including you and Hutchinson, raised their hand and said they would support him even if they were a convicted felon. Do you think the other six feel that way or just performing for the base? What do you think they actually think?

CHRISTIE: You know, Jake, I can't imagine that six experienced people up there who have had the life experiences that they have had and the political experiences that they've had could actually think that that's the right answer, that that's the right answer for our party. But more importantly, that's the right answer for our country.

And they'll have to search their own hearts and their own conscience about why they made the decision they made to raise their hand. But what I'll tell you is that I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that it is the wrong thing to do for our party. And it is the wrong thing to do for our country.

We cannot normalize this conduct, Jake. Put aside the charges and whether you agree or disagree with the charges. No one disputes the conduct. And the conduct that underlying it is not only beneath the office that he held at the time that he committed many of these acts, but it is way below the conduct that you would want for someone who is going to ask for that job back.

And I want Republican voters to understand, they nominate Donald Trump and he's going to lose to Joe Biden and independent voters will abandon us in a general election.


That will mean a packed Supreme Court. That will mean the elimination of the filibuster. That will mean a lot of things that I think Republicans in this country will find a hard time living with and we don't have to. We could nominate someone who could take on Joe Biden and his record directly and I believe I'm the best person to do that.

TAPPER: There was a column in "The Philadelphia Inquirer" by progressive journalist named Will Bunch talking about how he thought the news media was doing a disservice to the public by not frankly and candidly describing what he views as an authoritarian streak going on in the Republican Party. You haven't read the column I assume so I'm not going to ask you about it.

But you do describe the conduct of Donald Trump trying to overturn the election as reprehensible. You do condemn it?


TAPPER: But so many people in your party, and I'm not just talking about people running for president or on Capitol Hill, but I mean voters, Republican voters don't seem to have a problem with it.

And I'm wondering, do you think that your party has an authoritarian problem? That they really honestly don't have a problem with violently trying to stop a free and fair election from going -- going forward?

CHRISTIE: No, Jake, I absolutely don't think that we have that problem. I think what we have is a Donald Trump problem. And that right now what's gone on is that people view Donald Trump synonymously with Republican Party. And that if you oppose Trump, that is somehow favoring Biden. And many Republicans don't want to do that for very obvious reasons.

And I think that that is why we need to have this full debate and discussion that we just really started on Wednesday night about who should be leading our party and who should be leading our country. And I've said clearly on the authoritarian side of things, this is Donald Trump's problem not the Republican Party problem. He's the guy who thinks that Vladimir Putin is an excellent leader and brilliant.

He's the guy who thinks that President Xi is straight out of Hollywood. He's the guy who thinks Kim Jong-un is wonderful. I mean, these are things that he's said about these authoritarian leaders and that is because Donald Trump would like to be one himself. He likes that.

He doesn't want to debate with anyone as he showed on Wednesday night. He doesn't want anybody to disagree with him. And, look, that is just not the way our system works.

And I know that the truth is what matters the most. I'm going to continue to stay up for the truth. I urge everybody to go to, donate to support the truth, because we're going to keep saying it.

And I think it is going to get through to Republican voters and to voters across country. But it's going to take time and I'm going to be patient and persistent.

TAPPER: Governor Chris Christie, thank you so much for your time today, appreciate it.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, Jake. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the latest from police after murders near a Florida campus motivated by racism.

And a new update coming up in a matter of minutes as Tropical Storm Idalia gains strength. Forecaster become a major hurricane and set its sights on Florida's gulf coast.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: There was a booing directed add Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but a Jacksonville Florida councilman shut down those hecklers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JU'COBY PITTMAN, JACKSONVILLE COUNCILWOMAN: Okay, listen y'all. Let me tell you. We put parties aside because it ain't about parties today. A bullet don't know a party.


TAPPER: All of that during a vigil Sunday for three Black victims murdered by a racist white gunman in Jacksonville, a gunman hell-bent on killing Black people. His actions have left the community shaken to its core.

The victims were 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr, 29-year-old Jerrald Gallion and 19-year-old AJ LaGuerre, targeted because they were Black.

The terror unleashed at a Dollar general store by a person officials call a maniac. He then turned the gun on himself until once police arrived. Before that, the gunman had texted his father to go to his room and that's where the gunman's father found these deranged racist messages that the gunman left.

It's a pattern of hatred we have seen quite a bit in recent years and in the United States and in 2021, a report released from both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security called domestic violent extremism the greatest terrorist threat in America right now, carried out predominantly, the say, by white supremacists. In June 2015, for example, at a historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, a white supremacist killed nine black people who welcomed him in for prayer.

August 2019, of course, a white supremacist in El Paso, Texas, targeting Hispanics at a Walmart killed 23. Just 15 months ago at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, another white shooter motivated by hate and racism killed ten African Americans.

Those are just some of the hateful attacks against racial minorities within past few years and today, it's Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville, Florida, reeling from an all too familiar form of hate and violence in the United States.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. He's outside the Dollar General store in Jacksonville.

And, Brian, we are learning more about what happened when that shooter initially shopped at Edwards Waters University, a historically Black college, before killing three people at the store where you are right now.


Just a short time ago, some new and very disturbing information coming from school officials at Edward Waters University, just a few blocks away from here, talking about what the shooter did, what -- what took place when a security officer encountered him on the campus of Edward Waters University.

[16:45:09] That security officer's named was Lieutenant Antonio Bailey. Lieutenant Bailey said that he was tipped off by a student that the shooter looked out of place on the campus of the university. And then he approached him.

Here's what he said happened next.


LT. ANTONIO BAILEY, EDWARD WATERS UNIVERSITY POLICE OFFICER: There was a individual that was putting on tactical vests, putting on gloves and putting on a mark and hats. And at that time, you know, I just wanted to approach the vehicle and figure out what he was doing on the university property.


TODD: And Lieutenant Bailey said when he approached the shooter, the shooter then sped off in his vehicle, jumped a curb and almost hit a column.

Also, some interesting information from the president of Edward Waters University, A. Zachary Faison, who said a short time ago that the aim of the shooter was to come to Florida's first historically black university and to commit murderous havoc.

But the sheriff of Jacksonville, TK Waters, had said earlier that the shooter did have an opportunity to attack people on the campus and didn't take it. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd for us in Jacksonville, Florida, thank you so much.

Coming up next, the reaction at Edwards Waters University where that Jacksonville gunman was spotted just moments before his deadly rampage.



TAPPER: Sticking with our law and justice lead and the aftermath from Saturday's racist deadly attack in Jacksonville, Florida, where a white gunman, motivated by racism, killed three innocent black people.

I want to bring in Jacksonville City Councilman Rahman Johnson. He's also a professor at Edward Waters University, where the gunman initially stopped.

Firstly, Councilman Johnson, how are you? How is the community of Jacksonville and the campus, how is everybody doing?

RAHMAN JOHNSON, PROFESSOR, EDWARD WATER UNIVERSITY: I will tell you -- and, Jake, thanks for having us on. It was a heaviness. There was a heaviness in this community that continues. I'm better, but I will tell you after I went over to Newton, near the

school to talk to our students, to be with the community, I came back to city hall, sat in my office, I closed the door and cut the lights out. That's how heavy it felt being here.

As a journalist, too, I've spent my entire career telling stories. This story is one that literally snatched my heart apart.

TAPPER: Yeah. Do you know if -- I just want to ask you as a journalist, as a former journalist, if campus security alerted Jacksonville police after the shooter sped away, after being approached, or if the issue was dropped once he left?

JOHNSON: I'm told and I asked myself, obviously, as you said, as a journalist, we're always going to be inquisitive about those stories. And so, I asked the security team myself. And that was one of the things they said, that they immediately called JSO, the sheriff's office in progress while they were pursuing the suspect.

So, I'm looking to get more information. We were briefed by the FBI, by the sheriff's office and so many others. But then the question then exists why wasn't that person stopped since they were trespassing on the campus of Edward Waters? What was it that allowed them to get away?

And I certainly appreciate that there were the things that that security department did, but I want to look at what can be done differently. And I want you to take into this account, Jake, we were supposed to be there, we meaning my colleagues on the council and so many others, Secretary Marcia Fudge, we partnered with her for the House party. And so, the House party event was scheduled to be at Edward Waters on Saturday.

However, we ended up moving the victim to the state college, Florida State College, about two miles away because there was an issue with the pipe that caused the air conditioning to go out. So -- but by happenstance and, of course, due to the blessings of God, we ended up not being in that space. This could have been so much worse.

TAPPER: So many questions follow all of these tragedies. One of them, ones that I have, those who are put under the Baker Act, which the gunman was under as a teenager, they're not allowed to legally purchase guns. The Baker Act is a law that allows people to be involuntarily detained and examined up to 72 hours when they're undergoing a mental health crisis.

Jacksonville sheriff says there was nothing indicating that the gunman couldn't own any guns.

Do you think Florida's laws when it comes to this intersection of people with severe mental health problems who are dangers to themselves and others, and gun laws, do you think it's strong enough?

JOHNSON: Jake, we're just weeks away from passing a permit-less carry statute in the state of Florida. Absolutely, they aren't strong enough. This intersection, it leaves loops available, but we end up with people who don't need to have guns, who don't need to have access to these kinds of weapons and they get them.

We also are in a place where the kind of divisive rhetoric that's coming from some of the people in leadership, when you come -- especially when it deals with issues with the African-American community, where it talks about -- I'm sure you've heard it before, where they were saying that slavery had benefit to some of the people that were slaves, that were enslaved.

When you start having those conversations and you want to get rid of diversity, equity and inclusion programs, you are planting the seeds of discord. And those seeds bare the fruit that we saw from this crazed gunman on Saturday.

TAPPER: Yeah, not to get into the quibble about the changes. I think it was the idea, it's in the curriculum that some slaves were able to learn trades that later they benefit -- they were able to benefit from. I know it's very controversial.


JOHNSON: I'm not going to get into it.


JOHNSON: But at the end of the day, there are no redeeming qualities to slave, none.

TAPPER: Right. No. Obviously, I agree with you.

Councilman Rahman Johnson, thank you so much for your time today. And our thoughts and prayers --

JOHNSON: Jake, thanks very much.

TAPPER: -- and best wishes are with all the people from the community of Jacksonville and Edward Waters University.

Coming up, the brand new forecast for Tropical Storm Idalia which has a path set on hitting Florida.

Stay with us.