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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Republican Presidential Candidates; Baltimore on Edge; Terror in Texas; Tensions Rise after Baltimore Suspect's Gun Fires; NYPD Officer Shot in Head Dies; African-American Doctor, Female CEO Join GOP Race. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 4, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: Baltimore on edge. A gun goes off. Police mobilize, creating new tension and confusion -- tonight, fears that one wrong move could reignite the city after a curfew was lifted and the unrest eased.
Terror in Texas. Was ISIS behind an attack by two men with assault rifles who crossed state lines to target opponents of Muslim holy war? The two gunmen now have been identified. They are both dead, as investigators search their home for clues.
And this. The Republican gospel? The 2016 presidential campaign takes strange turns as a choir raps an Eminem hit and two controversial GOP candidates jump into the race.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
We're following two breaking stories tonight, tense and confusing moments on the streets of Baltimore as police make a new arrest and witnesses hear a revolver go off. Stand by for the latest information on what happened.
Also breaking, federal authorities are investigating a possible link between ISIS terrorists and an attack in Texas. At least one of the shooters apparently was an ISIS sympathizer with a past conviction related to terror.
We now know the names of both gunmen who were killed by a police officer after they opened fire outside an event featuring controversial drawings of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
We have our correspondents, analysts, and newsmakers. They're all standing by as we cover all the breaking news.
Let's begin in Baltimore and the new tension following that police incident.
CNN's Brian Todd is on the scene.
Brian, what are you seeing and hearing tonight?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a moment of tension here made even worse by the fact that it occurred in this intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenue, where so much of the tension has occurred over the past week.
This is the place where a bulk of the protests had occurred, where looting and the burning of cars had occurred. Well, a couple of hours ago, we did have a gun incident here. Police gave us some information on what exactly occurred. They observed a man by a closed-circuit camera. They observed him walking with handgun. When police approached him, a short chase ensued on foot.
At one point, the man's gun fell and it discharged, according to Lieutenant Colonel Melvin Russell of the Baltimore police. The man was not injured. No one else was injured. We're told by the police that they, the police, never discharged their weapons.
But it does come, again, at a time when we have just come off a week of heightened tension, especially at this intersection of Pennsylvania and North Avenue, and it comes at a time, Wolf, when city authorities have really tried to ramp down the tension. They have lifted the curfew. The National Guard is in the process of withdrawing from Baltimore.
So, this moment earlier this afternoon really did kind of make tensions boil for a short time, but things have calmed down here. Again, the suspect was not injured, according to police. He did not want any medical attention, but they took him away in an ambulance just in case. And things have certainly calmed down here now, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope it stays that way. Brian, thank you.
CNN's Athena Jones is also in Baltimore for us.
What your seeing, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Same situation. It's much calmer here at this intersection where at this time last week, there was a looting of the CVS pharmacy. It would soon be set on fire, now much, much calmer here and across the city. Things are peaceful and almost back to normal.
JONES (voice-over): President Obama today in New York.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that sense of unfairness and of powerlessness, of people not hearing their voices, that's helped fuel some of the protests that we have seen in places like Baltimore and Ferguson and right here in New York.
JONES: As the city of Baltimore, rocked by violence this time last week, tries to return to normal, with some 4,000 National Guard troops beginning to pull out, the mayor lifting the curfew on Sunday, good news for local businesses.
OKAN ARABACIOGLU, JOE SQUARED: I am really, really happy about that. I cannot wait to see our regular. I cannot wait to see customers. I cannot wait for employees to feel relieved.
JONES: And the mall that was one target of looters in last week's unrest has opened its doors again.
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), MAYOR OF BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: This is just a great day for this community to have the mall reopened.
JONES: Since April 23, police made 486 arrests. And 113 police officers were injured. Some 200 businesses, most minority-owned, were lost in last Monday's violence, hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R), MARYLAND: It's going to take a little while for us to get totally back to normal, but I think the lifting the curfew is a good idea. It's been a really rough week, but let's get back to normal in the city and get people back to work and back to school and get people coming back into the city.
JONES: Once-tense demonstrations turned into celebrations, a group of marching bands showing up at City Hall Sunday to show a positive picture of Baltimore.
Meanwhile, it's only the beginning for the legal case against the six officers charged in Freddie Gray's death. Now the question is whether state's attorney Marilyn Mosby can win convictions.
MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE'S ATTORNEY: At the end of the day, my job is to seek justice.
JONES: So things have calmed down, but, of course, it's going to take many in this community a while to recover after the looting and the burning and the money lost during the curfew.
But the law enforcement presence is getting back down to normal levels and already 1,500 of the 4,000 National Guard troops have pulled out. The full withdrawal is expected to be completed in the next few days -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Athena, thank you very much.
Let's talk about all of this and more with one of the organizers of the Baltimore protests, the Reverend Jamal Bryant.
Pastor, thanks very much for joining us.
So, what's your reaction to what we saw just a couple of hours ago or so in the streets of Baltimore, confusing reports? We heard a man had been shot by police. Police then explained no weapon was discharged. The individual was arrested. But it sort of underscores a still very tense situation, right?
REV. JAMAL BRYANT, EMPOWERMENT TEMPLE CHURCH: It reveals that so many people were wishing on a star that after the indictments were read that everything would go away.
But, as you can see, Baltimore is still in a tense and a tenuous position because there are a whole lot of issues that still need to be addressed. It's so much larger at this point than Freddie Gray. It's almost akin to giving chewable vitamins to a patient, saying it's going to get rid of a tumor.
We still have to deal with job inequity. We still have to deal with voter disenfranchisement. We still got to deal with the prison pipeline. There are so many issues the governor, the mayor and even the president is going to have to address. And it's not just going to go away, because, as you aforementioned, we still have a long journey before we get in a courtroom.
BLITZER: Well, let me just pick up on what you raise, voter disenfranchisement in Baltimore? Are people having trouble registering to vote? Have you seen that?
BRYANT: Well, you have to understand, in a population of some 600,000, 700,000, we only have an 11,000-voter turnout in the last election. So, maybe it's voter disillusionment because they really didn't feel like there was going to be any change to happen.
Friday, there was a pronounced exclamation with Marilyn Mosby, 35 years of age, youngest state's attorney of a major city in America, to say to young people, you did this. She ran against an incumbent. None of the pollsters thought she was going to do it. She was woefully underfunded. But the community came out, and because she stuck with them, the young people now understand the power and the influence of their vote.
BLITZER: So, people were allowed to vote. The problem was that a lot of times people don't go out to use that right that all of us, of course, as Americans have.
How much mistrust, Pastor, is there between the police and community right now?
BRYANT: It's a whole great wedge that needs to happen.
Tremendous pain has been inflicted. And just saying I'm sorry doesn't make the pain go away. What you have not dealt with is, on last Monday, when all of this broke loose, when Mondawmin shut down, there was a whole cluster of children who were stuck at the mall who couldn't get home, who didn't have cell phones, didn't have a ride, and were trying to figure out what to do.
And so there is really going to have to be marital counseling between the police and the citizens of Baltimore to see, how do we co-exist under the same house and move forward? Because the page has got to be turned. And as your reporter just mentioned, we're in the healing process. We have cleaned up. And we're looking forward to a brighter day for Baltimore, because we are, we believe, Charm City, the most resilient people in the United States.
BLITZER: Well, do you think that the leadership in Baltimore, the mayor, the police commissioner, the state's attorney, can they get the job done, the healing process?
BRYANT: They are going to have to.
At this point, we take on the position of realizing that nobody is going to be left behind. The people have spoken. Mahatma Gandhi said the greatest violence you can inflict on people is poverty. And so we felt our greatest pain. So, there's nothing else that you can threaten us with.
And so now we hope America realizes and recognizes how much abject poverty has been taking place in Baltimore. And we don't want campaign promises. We need to see follow-through with housing, with education, opportunities, and an infusion of capital into inner cities.
BLITZER: A s you know, Pastor, the state's attorney, Marilyn Mosby, has filed charges against those six Baltimore police officers involved in Freddie Gray's death. Do you think she can get convictions in those cases?
BRYANT: Well, that's up in the air. We don't have much of a precedent when you would consider that, since 2005, only 12 U.S. officers have ever been convicted of that kind of a crime, only 12 since 2005.
In South Carolina alone, where last week all of the media attention was, since 2011, 216 officers have shot people, with no repercussions until Walter Scott. Baltimore realizes that there is a long ride between an indictment and a conviction.
As a consequence, you got George Zimmerman walking free. You got Mr. Darren Wilson in Ferguson ordering pizza, feeling absolutely no consequence. Baltimore feels like we're making steps and strides. Simply by having these six officers' mug shots on television helped us turn a corner to know that it's possible.
And, Wolf, even if they are not convicted, please know Baltimore's -- Baltimoreans are now armed with their rights and understand we're not just going to let it keep going on as it has always been.
BLITZER: Reverend, we are going to take a quick break, but I have more questions for you, if you can stick around. We will be grateful.
BRYANT: I'm with you.
BLITZER: Much more with the Reverend Jamal Bryant when we come back.
[18:15:52] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, the spiking tension in
Baltimore after police say a suspect's gun went off while officers were trying to take him into custody. Police say one was hurt.
It happened as President Obama was in New York City talking about the troubles in Baltimore and announcing a new initiative.
We're back with the Baltimore protest organizer, the Reverend Jamal Bryant. There he is.
We will get back to him a moment.
But, first, I want to go to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, who is joining us from New York with more on what the president had to say today -- Michelle.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Right. It was pretty remarkable. While people at home were watching those pictures play out in Baltimore, the president here, announcing a new My Brother's Keeper private nonprofit, called out the press, he called out politicians, and society in general for being reactionary, for only paying attention to those communities when something big is happening and then going about their daily business.
Well, he said indifference weakens our nation as a whole and that it's time to move beyond simply blaming the policing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we ask the police to simply contain and control problems that we ourselves have been unwilling to invest and solve, that's not fair to the communities. It's not fair to the police.
What we gathered here to talk about today is something that goes deeper than policing. It speaks to who we are as a nation and what we're willing to do to make sure that equality of opportunity is not an empty word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: Now, the president also got really personal here, saying that he identifies with some of the young men he spoke to, and that he himself growing up didn't have a father, often felt lost and adrift, and what separated him from other kids is maybe getting a few more chances.
He also said this goal of expanding opportunity in America is something that he's going to be working with, along with his family, for the rest of his life -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle, thanks very much.
I want to bring back the Reverend Jamal Bryant. He's back with us from Baltimore. He's one of the organizers of the protests there. What's your reaction to what the president had to say today, Pastor?
BRYANT: I'm inspired to hear the president say that, that he's able to get where he is because he was given a few more chances. I hope he will afford that same courtesy to the same young people that he called thugs last week.
The reality is, is that we had seven successful days of nonviolent protests and just one day where we had a major mishap. A lot of young people are still wounded by it. And I hope that the program will find its way to Baltimore, as well as I hope the president will come himself, so that he can see how dire the reality is in our city.
BLITZER: He hasn't taken back that word thugs. The mayor of Baltimore did. You want him to do that?
BRYANT: Yes. I need him to do it immediately.
Not only did our mayor do it, but our president of the city council also rescinded that word. I spent much of last week going to high schools in Baltimore. And to hear the frustration and the agony of our first and only African-American president do that is -- was amazing to us, when it is that, whenever there's a revolution, something is always broken. And you can't just sweep it under the rug.
April 12, Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, in trying to give some insight as to what was taking place in Baghdad, he said looting sometimes is, in fact, the byproduct of freedom. Whenever you're coming out of dictatorship, something is going to be broken. That's what the secretary of defense said on the exact same day that Freddie Gray was murdered.
And so, at some point, we have got to have some balancing act as to how it is that our young people, particularly African-Americans, are swept under the rug and everybody else is given a pass.
BLITZER: What would be achieved, from your perspective -- I know you would like the president and probably the attorney general to come visit Baltimore. What would happen? How would he be received?
BRYANT: I think warmly, is that people don't want to know how much you know. They want to know how much you care.
And I think that you have seen over the last couple of days in Baltimore that we are, in fact, a civil people. We are a rational people. But when you talk about decades of neglect, decades of abject poverty, decades of in fact being looked over and cast aside, it comes to a boiling point.
And that's what you saw last week in Baltimore and almost saw again today. There's got to be some revisit as to how it is that Baltimore, just 43 miles from the White House, 43 miles from the nation's capital, and when you go six miles away from the Inner Harbor, it's as far as east is from west.
BLITZER: You would welcome him at your church, I assume, right?
BRYANT: Oh, absolutely. I would be an usher and walk him down the center aisle. We would be glad to have him. I voted for him twice. I'm proud of a lot of the work that he's done.
But I think, in hours like that, a lot of people try to absolve their conscience by just throwing a check at the problem, but not being a part of it. I think it would go a long way for the minds, the psyche, and the self-esteem of African-American young people, who are, in fact, the true leaders of this movement, from Ferguson, to Sanford, Staten Island, to Baltimore, is being led by young people, no organization, no charismatic leader, just the young people who understand we are committed to changing this nation one city at a time.
BLITZER: We know the curfew has now been lifted. The National Guard troops, several thousand of them, they are drawing down.
What do you think is going to happen in the coming days? What would you like to see happen?
BRYANT: I want to see the businesses thrive. So many of the business leaders have called me, have come to see me and said, Pastor, please, whatever it is we can do, let's try to stop it.
Baltimore is one of the most beautiful cities in all of America. We want as much business to come there. But, Wolf, with that, we want, when business comes, for them to be able to participate and to be able to contribute in minority businesses.
Minority business owners do not have enough stake in the business and enterprise of our city. With us being 64 percent of the population, there should be more evidence of it in terms of the contractors, in terms of entrepreneurs, and in terms of those who are leading in business. And all they need is an opportunity, such as which was afforded to our president.
BLITZER: Let us know if you get a call from the White House to welcome the president to your church.
BRYANT: Thank you.
BLITZER: Pastor, we will be in close touch with you. Thank you very much for joining us.
BRYANT: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: We will have more breaking news coming up, including the positions ISIS link to an attack in Texas that's left two gunmen dead.
Plus, a cop shot on duty has died. We have new details on a case that's rocking New York City.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:27:05]
BLITZER: We're following breaking news in Baltimore, new tension after a suspect's gun fired as he was being taken into custody. Police say no one was hurt, but the suspect was taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Let's get some more.
Joining us, the former FBI Assistant Director, our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, the HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson, and our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Joey, we saw an immediate response after that suspect's gun went off in the streets of Baltimore today. Crime has spiked since tensions erupted in Baltimore after Freddie Gray's dead. There have been, what, eight homicides since last Tuesday alone, according to "The Baltimore Sun."
I guess the bottom-line question, Baltimore is not out of the woods yet, is it?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, it's not out of the wood yet, Wolf, not at all.
But I certainly, in being there this past weekend, was inspired by the people and what they were doing. I think what they certainly appear to be doing is attempting to move forward and get matters together. And I think that there was some real sense of hope in their efforts, at least from the county attorney, in taking the first step in seeing whether or not these officers should be held accountable for what they did.
And I think that will go a long way in terms of the pursuit, in the event that there's an indictment, in the event that there's a trial, to sort of convey to the community that there's a real concern about them, about what happens to them, and that any injustice, whether it be by the police, whether those police be black, white, Hispanic or anyone else, or whether there be civilian crime, that it be dealt with and dealt with accordingly.
And that's certainly what I saw and I heard while in Baltimore this weekend.
BLITZER: It seems -- and you spent a lot of time, Tom, in Baltimore over the past few days -- that the police have their act together better now, because, after that gun was discharged today, there could have been real riots, if you will.
But they got their act together. They explained what was going down and things calmed down.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they did, Wolf, but it could have been worse. If the subject didn't drop that gun, if he turned and pointed it at a police officer, they would have shot and killed him and we would be back to where we were before last Monday. So, I mean, fortunately, he dropped the gun, and that helped. And
then the police didn't fire a shot. But I think that's the problem here, is that you have a black police commander come out on the sidewalk immediately and say, no policemen fired a shot, and the crowd doesn't believe it.
BLITZER: We saw them using pepper spray, because there was suspicion of the police right away. And it could have gotten a lot worse, if the police hadn't acted as quickly as they did, in having a news conference explaining what happened.
FUENTES: The question is, what do we want the police to do? They pick up on the security camera this guy has a gun. Do we just say, well, if we confront him, it's going to go bad, the crowd won't like it, let him go, ignore it? And if you approach him, and if they have to make an arrest, or worse, then what?
So, the police are really in a difficult spot.
BLITZER: How solid of a case, Jeffrey Toobin, do you think Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney in Baltimore, has?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think the only fair answer at this point is, we don't know.
Obviously, these are very serious charges. And the prosecutor gave a rough outline of how she thinks the events transpired. But there was not a lot of detail about how she plans to prove it. Who was the witness who will say that the driver wanted to see, in effect, Freddie Gray dead?
I mean, that's a very serious accusation. He's charged with second- degree homicide. That is not -- you know, she's going to need witnesses who can put bad -- you know, who can show criminal intent on the part of these defendants. And she may well have it. She may have admissions from these defendants.
But in terms of what's publicly available, there's really not much proof out there.
BLITZER: Joey, I spoke in the last hour with Billy Murphy. He's the lawyer representing the Freddie Gray family. And he said he fully understood that the lawyers representing these six police officers would try to get a change of venue, move any trial from Baltimore elsewhere in Maryland, that it would be a dereliction of their responsibility as criminal defense attorneys if they didn't.
Here's the question. To you, Joey, how difficult will it to be move trial out of Baltimore?
JACKSON: You know, I think it depends, certainly, on whether or not there's a feeling that you cannot get a jury that would be fair and impartial.
And look, the point is that there are a number of people, a number of people who will be called to that jury pool. And they'll be questioned, and they'll be evaluated.
And if the standard is not so much have you heard about the case, the standard is having heard about the case and having evaluated what went on in the case in your mind, without knowing any evidence, can you give a fair hearing to the defendants as they sit there? And if the answer to any of those people who are in that jury pool is no, then it's problematic. Then they will get excused for cause, meaning if they say I can be fair, I can't be impartial, that's one thing. But if you impanel someone who says, "Yes, I've read about it, I've heard about it but I'm going to sit here and I'm going to give them a fair hearing, that's enough."
Now, having said that, certainly there's a potential, given the entire dynamic of Baltimore, that that may not happen. That being there may not be able to be a panel who can be fair. But certainly, I think the people of Baltimore, you know, are in a position to evaluate, to sit there in judgment and to do so in a non-prejudicial way. And if they can do that, then there will not be a change of venue. If they can't do that, then that's another story.
BLITZER: Yes. We all remember what happened to the Rodney King case in Los Angeles, what 20 years or so ago when they moved the trial out of Los Angeles to Simi Valley and the police officers got off.
Let me change the subject. Tom Fuentes, to you. As you know, very sad story in New York City. Two plain-clothes police officers were attacked, and one of those police officers, Brian Moore, was shot in the face. He died today.
I guess the question: are police officers in greater danger in this country today than they were six months ago, a year ago, five years ago? You've studied this.
FUENTES: I think so. I think that's very true.
But if I can go back for one second. The Rodney King police officers did get off. The FBI case convicted them. They went to federal prison on the civil rights case.
BLITZER: The medium (ph).
FUENTES: But on the maybe (ph) case, yes.
But on the officers, yes, you have the NYPD officers again attacked. And this one, we don't know whether it was racially motivated. They were just trying to, you know, check somebody for a gun who, obviously, had the gun.
And then also last week on Wednesday, we had a white female uniformed officer in a Wal-Mart in Houston working an off-duty detail. And a black man came in there with a butcher knife, stabbed her 14 times, and told the police it was revenge for what happened in Baltimore. Luckily, the customers jumped on him while he was in the final act of stabbing her, probably the fatal wound, and she is in critical condition. May still lose one arm from the attack. And the subject is in custody. So we've got a couple of these already, where it's clear that the
motive was some type of anti-police...
BLITZER: Sad story. Go ahead.
TOOBIN: I just would like to add. I mean, look, cops have difficult jobs, dangerous jobs. But crime is down in the United States. Crime is down against police officers, against everyone.
So, you know, obviously we focus on these cases, as well we should, but I think the bigger picture -- you know, we need to remember that this is a safer place than it was ten years ago and 20 years ago. All of the United States is.
BLITZER: Let me let Joey weigh in. Go ahead, Joey.
JACKSON: Look, the point is, is that we all want safety. We want security, whether it's against police officers, whether it's against someone else.
And you know, any act that's committed against a police officer, if it's for the purpose of just them being police, that's problematic. This will end when the community comes together with the police, and that starts, Wolf, with tissue of trust. It starts with tissue of mutual respect. It starts with empathy, and it starts with an understanding that they have to work together, the police and the community, if as Jeffrey says, crime is down -- if it's to go down even further.
[18:35:13] And that's the goal, to have both -- the police need the community, and the community certainly need the police. So that gap has to be bridged and bridged soon, if we're going to move forward in a way that's constructive.
BLITZER: As a country we got a work to do to fix all of this.
Joey, thanks very much. Tom, Jeffery, guys, thanks. Appreciate it.
Breaking news coming up next. We have new information about an attack in Texas, and possible links to ISIS.
Plus a gospel choir rapping Eminem. What's the unlikely tie to the Republican presidential contest?
[18:40:14] BLITZER: More breaking news tonight. Federal agents have been urgently searching the home shared by pledging loyalty to an ISIS leader and using the worse word "Texas attack."
The two shooters were killed by a police officer after they opened fire outside an event, giving controversial drawings of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is joining us from Garland, Texas, just outside Dallas, where the attack happened. What are you learning Pamela?
BROWN: Well, Wolf, we're learning from sources that one of the two gunmen, Elton Simpson, who had been on the FBI's radar for years. But law enforcement sources say there was no indication that Simpson and his accomplice and roommate, Nadir Soofi, had been planning an attack here, even though just a couple of hours before they arrived here by car, one of them sent an ominous tweet.
BROWN (voice-over): Investigators searched the Arizona home shared by Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi today, trying to learn what motivated them to travel to Texas to carry out an attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, they were there to shoot people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): "God bless America"...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): "God bless America"...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): "God bless America"...
BROWN: The incident unfolded quickly in a Dallas suburb at a controversial art exhibit showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Police say the two men pulled up to the parking lot in a dark colored sedan. A police officer and a security guard stepped out of the car.
The attackers, both in bulletproof vests, jumped out of their car with assault rifles and opened fire. The unarmed guard was shot in the ankle. The officer, armed with only a service pistol, killed both gunmen.
JOE HARN, SPOKESMAN, GARLAND POLICE: Under the fire that he was put under, he did a very good job. And probably saved lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to stop this right now.
BROWN: The controversial even inside was nearing an end when the shots were fired. Security moved the 200 people attending to a secured location. None of the attendees were hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were actually walking out, and an officer starts blowing a whistle. And they're telling people to get down.
BROWN: Simpson is believed to have sent this tweet just hours before the attack using the hashtag #Texasattack. He also linked himself to a known British foreign ISIS fighter, who later went on to tweet out details of the attack.
Simpson was the focus of an FBI terrorism investigation for several years. In 2011 he was found guilty for lying about his plans to travel to Somalia to engage in violent jihad.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BROWN: And a law enforcement official says an investigation into Simpson was recently re-opened. We have learned that he was very active on social media, corresponding with known ISIS fighters.
We don't know as much, though, about his accomplice, Nadir Soofi. I can you tell right now, Wolf, as we speak the FBI and other law enforcement officials are scrambling to figure out the motivation in trying to piece together a timeline here.
BLITZER: Very disturbing stuff. Thanks very much for that. Pamela reporting.
Let's talk a little bit more about the attack. The possible ISIS connection. The former FBI assistant director, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, is still with us. What do you make of the links, potential links to ISIS in this case?
FUENTES: Well, I think what they're hoping they'll be able to establish, what type of links they had through the computer searches, phone records, interviews with colleagues and others.
But the idea is did ISIS deploy them to go do this shooting? I don't think so. It was such a feeble attack that I doubt that seriously.
But the fact that they wanted to do it on behalf of ISIS, pledging loyalty to ISIS. The FBI has cases just like this in 50 states right now involving thousands of people all together, making the same pledges, making the same threats, using social media. They just can't follow every person that's out there that comes up on the radar.
BLITZER: Let me read to you the statement, just part of the statement that was just released by the homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson. We'll put it up on the screen. "In reaction to last night's attack, we urge that members of the public not misdirect anger and suspicion at those simply because of their religious faith."
What do you think? You have a statement there, the full statement. Apparently they were alerted to this event that was going on in Garland, Texas. And they started with local, state, federal authorities to take steps even before they suspected any violence was going to occur.
FUENTES: That's right. The federal, state and locals were working closely. Garland Police Department, which has the jurisdiction in this case, worked with the event organizers and the venue, the people that control that venue for months. So they planned this thing.
I think what we've seen is a well-planned defensive alignment of personnel and then very capable, very well-trained police officers at the outer perimeter that stopped these guys right at the checkpoint.
You know, we had the Paris attack, gunmen with automatic weapons, policemen with pistols, the policemen were killed.
[18:45:04] We had the attack in Copenhagen, the first of the two there. Automatic weapons with the bad guys, policemen killed. Here you have you two guys again, assault rifles, automatic weapons and one police officer well-trained able to take them out.
You barely see that in a James Bond movie. That's exceptional performance on the part of that officer.
BLITZER: That police officer is OK. He was hit in the foot.
FUENTES: Flesh wound in the ankle.
BLITZER: Yes, but he's OK.
Here's what worries a lot of people. These two guys one of them on probation for allegedly being involved supporting terrorism, Elton Simpson there you see a picture of him. They were able to get body armor, bullet proof vests, assault rifles. What do you make of that?
FUENTES: This is America. We've got 300 million guns on the street. People were able to get body armor. It's not illegal here, like it is in many countries of the world. They're able to buy armor-piercing shells, which are not illegal here for the public, unlike anywhere in the world, and assault rifles themselves without having to be registered with the government that you have an assault rifle.
So, you know, a lot of those weapons fall into bad hands and fall into hands of people convicted. And remember, his only conviction, he was on probation for lying to the FBI, not the substantive terrorist charge of wanting to go to Somalia and file with al Shabaab. So, that's a difficult problem.
But, again, gangs are able to get guns. Everybody that wants a gun in this country has no problem getting one legally or illegally.
BLITZER: Well, apparently, Elton Simpson, who went by the name Ibrahim, according to the president of the mosque in Phoenix, Nadir Soofi, we don't know much about him. But at least Elton Simpson, he was pretty active on social media. You pointed out correctly, I must say, that it's impossible for the FBI, national federal law enforcement, to be tracking all of those people who may be active on social media, writing, supporting love letters, if you will, of ISIS.
FUENTES: I know. I think the people would be shocked in this country and all over the world to know how many thousands of these people are doing that, essentially like you say sending love letters to ISIS, I want to join. The girls that want to go be brides. You know, the whole thing.
And the FBI, I can tell you to follow one person. I ran surveillance operations at one point in Chicago FBI office. It takes 30 agents to follow one person 24/7. And they are following -- there's a million on the terror watch list. So, you do the math. We don't have 30 million FBI agents.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Tom Fuentes, for that analysis.
Just ahead, we'll have more from Baltimore on that new incident involving police and a suspect whose gun went off. Also, is it music to Republican's ears? You're going to find out why
a gospel choir rapped an Eminem hit. An African-American man and woman join the 2016 Republican presidential race.
[18:52:29] BLITZER: The 2016 presidential race is more crowded tonight after the entry of two Republicans who aren't your typical GOP candidates. That would be the former pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson and the former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash has more now on their announcements today.
How did it go, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Both of them are clearly unlikely candidates. But what is so fascinating of the five Republicans who have announced so far, we have two Hispanics, one black candidate, and one woman. It's a far cry from what we used to see during Republican presidential primary debates, a stage almost entirely of white men.
BASH (voice-over): A black gospel choir in Detroit singing Eminem's "Lose Yourself", an unusual spectacle for a Republican presidential announcement.
BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Ben Carson and a candidate for president of the United States.
BASH: In a more subdued by hardly subtle online video, Carly Fiorina became the only woman in the 2016 GOP field by taking direct aim at the woman on the Democratic side.
FIORINA: Our founders never intended us to have a professional political class.
BASH: A pair of presidential campaign kickoffs notable not because they're front-runners, but because they're even running at all. Neither has ever been elected to public office.
Ben Carson, a son of a single mother with a third grade education who became a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon.
CARSON: I do have a lot of experience in solving problems, complex surgical problems that have never been done by anybody before.
BASH: Carson was largely apolitical until this highly political speech just two years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast, criticizing Obamacare.
CARSON: We spend a lot of money on health care, twice as much per capita as anybody else in the world, and yet not very efficient.
BASH: That catapulted Carson into Republican superstardom.
But the staunch conservative also became notorious for controversial remarks, arguing homosexuality is a choice.
CARSON: A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight. And when they come out, they're gay.
BASH: He later apologized, but today owned his gaffes.
CARSON: I'm probably never going to be politically correct because I'm not a politician.
BASH: Carly Fiorina was the first female CEO of a Fortune 100 company, Hewlett-Packard. Her best applause line for conservatives -- nominate her and you take the first female president thing off the table for Hillary Clinton.
CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like Hillary Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe, but unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an active, not an accomplishment.
[18:55:03] BASH: But her experience comes with baggage. She laid off thousands, but left HP with more than $20 million in severance.
BASH: Now at this point, neither Carly Fiorina nor Ben Carson is registering much in the polls at all. And, of course, it's a very crowded Republican field, single digits, Wolf, barely. But, you know, sometimes when there are people who are running who are pretty low in the polls, they don't have a lot to loose so they become more interesting as candidates.
BLITZER: Yes. We'll see if they get a little bump from their Republican announcements.
Right now, let's bring in Gloria Borger and Jeff Zeleny.
Gloria, what do you think his chances are, Dr. Carson?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: OK. Can we give him a couple of hours in the race before we sort of say he is not going to be president? I will do that. Look, this is a man who in March was at 9 percent in the polls. Now he is at 4 percent in the polls. It's way too early, Wolf.
The thing that he's got going for him is that he is a well-known FOX pundit. He is a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. And he is not from Washington. Put that on one side of the ledger.
The other side of the ledger is that he has no legislative experience, no executive experience, no political experience, no national security experience. And that list gets longer and longer. So, a bit of a neophyte.
BLITZER: As he himself acknowledges, Jeff. He has said some very controversial things too.
BORGER: That too.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He has. And that is going to be a big issue here. I talked to a couple of establishment Republicans who say not this again. In 2012, we saw a rotating cast of Republicans who were challenging Mitt Romney, from Michele Bachmann to Newt Gingrich to Rick Santorum. And they pushed the conversation to the right. That's when Mitt Romney said self- deportation, he was up against the ropes.
So, the biggest impact he could have on the race show is how he influences the dialogue here. But I get a sense that things are a little bit different this time. Republicans seem more interested in winning and more intent on winning. So, we'll see. But he will still influence the conversation of this race.
BORGER: Particularly on the evangelical side. You know, he's running more as a conservative on the evangelical side. That part of the field is pretty crowded right now.
ZELENY: It's crowded.
BORGER: So, they tend to split up the electorate that way.
BLITZER: And then, Carly Fiorina, she can say things about Hillary Clinton and she is saying some tough things about her that maybe some of the men can't.
BASH: Absolutely. And she understands that that is absolutely her space, that you're going to have, you know, 11 or 12 men on the stage and she is the only woman in there. That's why she is saying let's take it off the table. Don't give her the benefit of being the first woman president, she can't say that if I'm running.
BLITZER: Let me quickly -- let me quickly, Gloria, shift to Bill Clinton now. He came out. He did an interview this morning. And he said his foundation, the Clinton Foundation, never did anything knowingly inappropriate.
BORGER: That's a little Clintonian, isn't it? I mean, talk about parsing words.
You know, there was this interview on NBC News. I thought Bill Clinton was a little testy in it, a little bit cranky, as if he didn't want to be answering all of these questions again. And, of course, he and Hillary have done nothing wrong. And why is everybody attacking them for doing good deeds.
They are doing good deeds with the Clinton Foundation. But there are questions that need to be answered. And I think he was just a little sort of unhappy about having to answer them in that situation. In Africa, and he said at one point, you know, I talked to Hillary
about this, and she said no, nobody would ever do that and do a favor for you and try to get to me.
BLITZER: But she is at some point going to have to answer some questions, too, right?
ZELENY: Without a doubt she is. And I talked to her advisers. She has no plans on giving a speech on this or doing a formal sit-down interview. But she'll have to answer these as they come up.
She'll have to answer to something else, too. She is going to testify on the Benghazi committee. Not entirely related to this. But that is probably going to happen within the next couple of weeks.
So, she will have to answer so many questions about all of this swirling around her.
BASH: Yes. And it's not so much the question that he got about how did you let this happen and so forth. For her, it is entirely a quid pro quo question. Did she actually do anything to help any of these governments or these entities while she was the secretary of state because of the donations? He said no, but it's very different when you ask the candidate herself.
ZELENY: And did she live up to her pledge to disclose everything while she was secretary of state?
But can I say one thing? All of these Republicans, including Carly Fiorina and everybody else, running as the anti-Hillary, running against Hillary, when you have 10, 12 Republicans, whether it's a male or a female, ganging up on Hillary Clinton, if you're looking at it from the other side, that may work in Clinton's favor.
BASH: To get the base.
BORGER: Get the base rallied up around her, no matter if she is liberal enough or not liberal enough. When you see all these Republicans not talking about each other, but talking about her, it could work in her favor.
BLITZER: All right. Tomorrow, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor --
BASH: They got some help (ph)--
BLITZER: He will also be making -- I think he will be the sixth Republican in this race. More to come.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for following us on Twitter. You can always tweet me @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitroom.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.