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Search for Escapees Narrows after Dogs Pick Up Scent; Source: Prison Worker Says Escapee Made Her Feel 'Special'; Pentagon Weighs Plan for 'Lily Pad' Bases in Iraq. Aired 5-6:00p ET
Aired June 11, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:13] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Jake. Happening now, closing in, the manhunt intensifies as dogs pick up the scent of two escaped murderers. The search is focusing on a small area where clues were found. Are the killers about to be caught?
The wild side. Police are talking to a prison employee who allegedly was made to feel special by one of the killers. Someone who knows hers says she was always attracted to trouble.
More American troops. Just hours after the Obama administration announced a fresh deployment to Iraq, the Pentagon is talking about building new bases near the front line. How many more troops will that require?
And terror teen. A 17-year-old pleads guilty to helping ISIS. How did a young American living just a few miles from the White House get involved with the terror group?
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: And we begin with this hour's breaking news. Police may be closing in on a pair of dangerous escaped murderers. We have seen searchers in upstate New York converging on a thickly wooded area. Sources say the dogs picked up a scent, and investigators found food wrappers and a shoe or boot prints.
Police hoping to avoid tipping off the killers by saying too much, will only confirm that a lead has developed. During a news conference this afternoon, state police also said aircraft and extra searchers have been brought in. They are strongly urging anyone in the area to lock their doors and report any sign of trespassing or unusual activity.
We have crews on the scene. We have experts who are working their sources. They're standing by, along with CNN reporters who have been covering all of today's breaking news.
I want to begin right near the search area, this new area they're searching, with CNN's Miguel Marquez.
What have you seen, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in West Plattsburg. This is about seven miles from the prison. It's about four miles from where that area was where those -- where they are now intensifying their search.
What they found overnight was an area that appeared to have been bedded down like leaves and grass, have been turned into a bit of a mattress and flattened out. They found those food wrappers you mentioned, the shoe print. And most importantly, searchers say dogs picked up a scent, which leads them to believe that they were there fairly recently, hoping that they'll be able to get there fairly recently, hoping that they'll be able to get there.
They have poured in resources here. We've even seen some coming in the last couple of hours. They brought in about 12 very large sodium lights that they're probably going to light up very large areas overnight.
We also saw fresh New York state troopers coming in in buses and in vans going in, as well. Five hundred searchers now. They've been sifting through some 600 leads that they're tracking down. Hundreds of homes, a lot of them summer homes in this area, as well. Some of them may be empty. They are telling people if they are going back to their summer homes, if they're having somebody check on them, if there is any sign of a break-in, let authorities know.
Authorities also trying to get through those vacant summer homes to try to figure out if those two may be holed up in one of those places, as well. There were reports, rumors, concerns, across this area. They shoot through here very quickly. There was one earlier today that some rifle shots had been heard, some gunshots had been heard in the area of Cadysville, New York. That turned out to be nothing, say police here.
It is a very rural area. A lot of hunting goes on here. And it wouldn't be -- it would be pretty common to hear gunshots in this area. So they're saying that that had nothing to with anything.
But they are intensifying their search. They expect to have helicopters up possibly with flare or the ability to see heat, heat- seeking cameras later tonight so they can possibly search a very broad area and see if they can see anyone outside -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Miguel Marquez there near the search area. Thank you for the update.
We're also learning some new details about the prison workers who's being questioned about the escape. Investigators say that Joyce Mitchell befriended the men and may have had a role in assisting them.
Brian Todd, you've been talking with people from her past, and you've discovered some pretty surprising details.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have, Brianna. We've got new details tonight, new information about Joyce Mitchell, where she grew up, an account from her former brother-in-law about her earlier marriage, and new specific details of her contact with the escaped inmates.
TODD (voice-over): Escapee Richard Matt made Joyce Mitchell feel special. That's what she told police, according to a source familiar with the investigation. The source says Mitchell did not specifically mention she was in love with Matt.
SUPERINTENDENT JOSEPH D'AMICO, NEW YORK STATE POLICE: She was befriended or she befriended the inmates, and may have had some sort of role in assisting them.
TODD: Fifty-one-year-old Joyce Mitchell, nicknamed Tillie, is an industrial training supervisor to Clinton Correctional Facility, where she worked with the two escapees.
[17:05:03] A source close to the investigation says authorities believe she was going to drive the getaway car for Richard Matt and David Sweat after their escape, but at the last minute, she changed her mind.
Mitchell has been, quote, "extremely cooperative" with investigators, according to the local D.A. She's not been arrested or charged. Her son Tobey told NBC News she's not the kind of person who would help inmates escape. On a possible relationship with Richard Matt...
TOBEY MITCHELL, SON OF JOYCE MITCHELL: She definitely wouldn't have an affair against my father, and it definitely wouldn't be with an inmate. There's no truth to that.
TODD: He's referring to her current husband, his stepfather. I spoke with Joyce Mitchell's former brother-in-law, Thomas Primo, though he hasn't seen her in at least 25 years. He doesn't think very highly of his former sister-in-law.
THOMAS PRIMO, JOYCE MITCHELL'S FORMER BROTHER-IN-LAW: She's likes the wild side of people, I guess, always looking for the ones that are, you know, a little bit of trouble.
TODD: I asked Primo about Joyce Mitchell's short marriage to his brother.
PRIMO: Rocky. Very rocky. She cheated on my brother, and that kind of broke his heart.
TODD: CNN made multiple requests, but neither Joyce Mitchell, her ex-husband, or their biological son could be reached for comment.
Mitchell, formerly Joyce Clookey, is seen her in a seventh-grade yearbook photo from Brushton-Moira High School in that area.
As the manhunt intensifies and Joyce Mitchell speaks to investigates, she still hasn't spoken publicly about her contact with the inmates.
TODD: A New York state official tells CNN authorities are holding off on any move to charge Joyce Mitchell with being an accomplice, concerned that any legal action might end her cooperation. The Clinton County district attorney declined to comment on any such decision, Brianna.
KEILAR: And Brian, her former brother-in-law, he -- I know he shared some additional details with you. This was a -- this was a tough divorce, right?
TODD: Yes, sad details about that breakup, Brianna. He said after the split, his brother battled problems with alcohol. He got in trouble with the law, and they never -- that his brother never got to see their biological son after the divorce.
Now again, we've made multiple requests. Neither Joyce Mitchell, her ex-husband, nor their biological son, Tobey, could be reached for comment on any of these new details.
KEILAR: All right, Brian. Thanks so much.
And with us now in THE SITUATION ROOM is Robert Fernandez. He's commander of the U.S. Marshal Service's capital area regional fugitive task force.
So given what you know here about manhunts, the facts that these clues have been picked up, the scents from the dogs, and this bedding and food wrappers, how promising is that?
ROBERT FERNANDEZ, COMMANDER, U.S. MARSHAL SERVICE: Well, it's difficult to say. I can't confirm or deny that any of that is actually...
KEILAR: And we're not saying that. They don't want to tip off...
FERNANDEZ: Correct, but you know, there's no timestamp on a scent, so it's very easy that these guys could have slipped out of any perimeter if they are in that area.
It's very similar to the Eric Frein manhunt in Pennsylvania, which I was out on last October.
FERNANDEZ: It's very difficult to contain an area like that.
KEILAR: OK, but let's talk about that, because Eric Frein, he was an outdoorsman. He had survival skills to boot. Right? And that made him very tough to track him down. These are two guys who, we're told, are apparently not outdoorsmen. They're not outdoorsy guys. They don't really like the outdoors. And one was on pain medication for a bad back. So you assume that without that medication he has some physical
limitations. Do you think -- is this a different situation, then, as you assess the abilities of these guys?
FERNANDEZ: Yes, absolutely. These guys have been out of society for a while. They've been locked up. They didn't have the time or the ability to do any preparations.
And Eric Frein was the exact opposite. His prosecution is ongoing, so I can't go into much detail.
FERNANDEZ: But he had made preparations, knowing that he was going to be hiding in the woods. And us as investigators out there looking for him, we found concrete evidence that he was still in that area. It's difficult to say in this case. That's why I want to stress that it's very easy for people to slip out, call someone, hop on a bus. So we need to have the public still maintain -- be vigilant and maintain -- you know, keep an eye out for these guys.
KEILAR: Back to the scent. There has been some rain. There was an area where it appeared that someone had been sleeping. This is what we're getting from reports.
When you think of rain and you think of weather issues impacting that, does that give you -- would that -- something like that give you a sense, any sort of trace that they may find of these guys, any sort of hit from the dogs? Is it going to -- would you think that it would have -- they would have been there sooner? More recently because the rain might have watched it away if, say, it had been two days and there had been rain and the dogs might not have caught the scent? Or is it possible the dogs catch a scent days and days, even with rain?
FERNANDEZ: Well, I'm not an expert on bloodhounds or tracking dogs. We have been in situations where we have used them, and bloodhounds are amazingly incredible animals.
It's hard to say. Some of them, they -- I was told by a bloodhound handler that the difference between a bloodhound and a German Shepherd and its ability to smell is the same difference between a German Shepherd and you with your ability to smell.
[17:10:18] FERNANDEZ: So if that is the case, that they did pick up those scents, then it looks pretty promising. And I'm sure the New York State Police are doing absolutely everything they can right now to follow up on that, but we still have to keep an open mind. One of them or both of them could have slipped out, and we have to -- we have to remember that and know that they could be anywhere in the country.
KEILAR: You say one or both of them. Is there -- is there any way -- you've seen manhunts similar to this before. If you have escapees and there's two of them, do they tend to stay together?
FERNANDEZ: It's really hard to say that, too.
FERNANDEZ: Because some cases they stay together. Other times they've split apart. Once they've received help, they've split apart. Sometimes in a group. Those Texas escapees, they all stayed together. So it's hard to say. There's no real -- there's no real way to make that determination at this point.
KEILAR: Let's talk about this female prison employee investigators are focusing on, Joyce Mitchell. And we understand that she told investigators that Richard Matt made her feel, quote, "special." We've heard from people who know him. They've said that he's a master manipulator. So it sort of fits together maybe with what we're hearing.
But what kind of critical information can someone like Joyce Mitchell, who may have an idea of what's going on, what might she be providing authorities?
FERNANDEZ: Well, that gets into an area where it's more sensitive, because the investigation is ongoing and there could be possible prosecution right there. I really don't want to get into that, and I can understand why people would be curious about that.
But you can assume that the state police are going to be looking at everything, everything she's saying, and following up on any leads that are developed by interviews with her.
KEILAR: Are you surprised that -- OK, so you say that these guys may have slipped further afield than this search area, which when you look on a map is actually pretty small. But is there sort of a pattern to what escapees do?
We saw with Eric -- why am I spacing on his...
FERNANDEZ: Eric Frein.
KEILAR: Yes, yes. No, no, not Eric. The...
KEILAR: Rudolph. Yes, we've seen with some of these escapees, that they might be just be very close to where the staging area is. Is that normal? Is that unusual?
FERNANDEZ: Well, it's not unusual. It's not normal, either. It depends on a case-by-case basis. These guys could be hunkered down in some area. There's a lot of seasonal cabins and recreational houses out there that are only occupied part of the year.
We really need people who may be full-time living in that area, if they notice anything different, notice an empty cabin that normally doesn't have lights on or any activity, and then they see activity, we need them to call in. KEILAR: You think that's the key, these vacation homes? These,
even shacks, as we can see in maps that are outside of some of these homes? You think that may be the key?
FERNANDEZ: It could be. If they are still in that area, it could be. And with the Eric Frein manhunt, he was actually breaking into those places. And, you know, you can always find canned food. So it's a possibility and something that needs to be checked out.
So if people know that they have vacation homes out there, and if they notice anything that they might have thought was just vandalism from normal kids or something, but they should call their local police and let them know, and get the word to us.
KEILAR: All right. Robert, thank you so much for being with us, giving us an update here. Robert Fernandez.
FERNANDEZ: Thank you.
KEILAR: Really appreciate it.
Please stand by. We have much more news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, and we'll be back in just a moment.
KEILAR: We are following breaking news. Searchers may be closing in on the pair of murderers who escaped from a maximum- security prison in New York. And we've also learned for new details, pretty alarming, really eye-raising details about the woman who may have helped the escapees.
New York State Department of Corrections officials had previously received a complaint concerning Joyce Mitchell's relationship with one of these two escaped inmates. That is according to a state official who was briefed on the investigation.
Now, with us now in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about this, we have former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes; and former ATF special agent in charge, Matthew Horace.
Tom, you heard that. So this is -- the corrections officials had previously gotten a complaint concerning her relationship with one of the two escaped inmates. What does that -- what does that tell you? Maybe not surprising.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it tells me that other people saw them together and had suspicions that there might be something going on or that she might be overly friendly with him. And often -- this is a common situation that happens in prisons, where female staff members, usually not the guards themselves, but often people that are brought in to teach various things or do rehab, that type of thing, end up in some type of a relationship with the inmates. And it's not uncommon.
KEILAR: Matt, can you divine anything from this? That perhaps we've heard from -- you know, we've seen reports that Richard Matt is someone who one person described as a master manipulator. Do you think that that could have happened here? Is it just too soon to tell?
[17:20:08] MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Well, what happened -- what happened here, a -- one thing is for sure. A relationship was established and, as Tom says, is fairly common in the penal system for this to happen, both with men and with women.
KEILAR: What is she telling, Tom? What is she telling officials? Do you think? What do they get from her?
FUENTES: I don't know exactly how cooperative she is or how much she's able to cooperate in that regard, but you know, she would know a lot and she's able to keep telling them a lot, which is why they wouldn't want to bring charges right now. They want to keep it in the situation where she's at hand, and they can keep talking to her, get more information about where they might have gone or who they might contact.
KEILAR: You've seen, Matt, this search area that is relatively close to the prison and the areas where the bloodhounds got a hit on these guys, is just a few miles from the prison where they escaped. Is this normal? I mean, do you normally see escapees try to get as far away as possible? Do you see some really try to stay kind of close and bide their time before they can get away?
MATT: Well, Brianna, just like our colleague said from the United States Marshals Service, there is no normal or abnormal when it comes to prison escapes.
But let's keep several things in mind. This case parallels very closely to the Eric Frein case, but there are some very striking dissimilarities, as well.
The only thing that will sustain these suspects' maintenance out in the woods is their ability to maintain sustenance, food, water, clothing, et cetera, and their ability to navigate the rugged terrain of the Adirondack Mountains. And I don't have any information. I haven't heard anything that said that these guys were master manipulators out in the woods. So they could be walking for days and be in a very small area if they don't know how to navigate.
KEILAR: Yes. And that's why we're keeping an eye and why authorities are keeping an eye on these cabins and these buildings around these areas.
All right, Matt, thanks so much.
Tom, really appreciate it.
Coming up, with another 450 U.S. troops headed to Iraq, the Pentagon is talking about creating bases near the front lines. That could require hundreds more American troops. What is the mission here? And a 17-year-old honor student pleads guilty to using social
media to support ISIS and helping eat teen travel to Syria to join the terror group. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:27:05] KEILAR: Just a day after the Obama administration announced plans to send another 450 troops to Iraq, the Pentagon is talking about creating a system of forward bases, located like lily pads across the front lines. And they might require hundreds more troops.
I want to go live now to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara, explain this to us.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it's all a highly classified plan that the Pentagon has been working on. If it's approved, it could mean more U.S. troops in some of the areas of Iraq of the heaviest combat.
STARR (voice-over): Flashy training for ISIS fighters. Propaganda? Absolutely, but the ISIS threat could send hundreds of additional U.S. troops to Iraq. The Pentagon is now actively looking at sending troops to at least four more Iraqi bases, possibly dozens more. It means either shifting U.S. troops already there, or sending more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to start...
STARR: The idea unveiled just hours after the administration announced 450 troops were going to an initial location in Anbar province.
JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The key component of this strategy is to improve the Iraqi security forces, improve their capabilities and their confidence on the battlefield.
STARR: Iraqi airstrikes pack a punch in Anbar, but ground troops are still struggling. ISIS perfecting rigging vehicles with explosives, terrorizing everyone.
Additional U.S. troops would advise Iraqi units headed into combat, trying to gain back territory. The new idea: additional base locations would serve as so-called lily pads, centers of security operations in a zone of conflict.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is all very hypothetical, because this is not a recommendation that the president's military advisers have offered.
STARR: General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs, told reporters, "We're looking all the time to see if additional sites might be necessary." The most likely initial location: along the corridor that runs
from Baghdad to Tikrit, to Kirkuk, over into Mosul, Iraq's second largest city that Iraqi forces want to take back from ISIS.
At these so-called lily pads, U.S. troops would provide Iraqis key military skills like command and control, logistics, resupply, the types of failures Iraqi forces had during the fall of Ramadi.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The concept of a lily pad strikes me as a little iffy. Is the facility potentially going to be overrun by ISIL when U.S. forces are absent? Is equipment going to be confiscated? Are we going to have more debacles and meltdowns like in Ramadi a few weeks ago?
STARR: So how many U.S. troops nobody can say right now. Some of them might be repositioned, in the Pentagon's words, from their current locations in Iraq, but a good deal of them may come from their bases here in the United States -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.
And joining me now to talk more about this, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He served in the Air Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thanks so much for being with us. I want to ask you about something General Martin Dempsey said today these lily pad sites. These are these additional bases, Barbara outlined them, that would be near the front lines. They're trying to support Iraqi troops. You heard her say re-supply, command and control, logistics, but this is really out there. How is this not potentially combat troops on the ground?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R), ILLINOIS: Well, you know, I think we're -- it's kind of getting under that fine line because, you know, when all is said and done you're going to have to have security at these bases, I think to an extent it's going to have to be American security because obviously if you're training troops that you don't think are adequate for combat you're not going to rely on them.
KEILAR: You don't rely on them for security.
KINZINGER: Absolutely. So, look, this is a start. I'm not opposed to this, but I think when all is said and done, we've got to look and say, we need a broad overall complete strategy. And I think the best thing the president can do, and he's the only one that can do this, not me, not a senator, nobody else, he needs to do an Oval Office address to the American people, why is ISIS bad? How has this happened? And how are we going to defeat them?
And the last thing about that is, it's not just Iraq we're dealing with this. We could kick ISIS out of Iraq, that would be fantastic. The problem is it's in Syria where the molten lava is actually spitting out from and going to other places. So it's got to be a broad strategy beyond just Iraq.
KEILAR: How does he outline this broad strategy that you talk about? And how does Congress and specifically Republicans say this is what he needs to do when Congress has not had a full debate on authorizing military force in this fight against ISIS?
KINZINGER: Yes. Well, Congress is not commander-in-chief. And I think that's a big difference. First off I think the commander-in- chief --
KEILAR: But isn't it one thing to say he needs to have a broad strategy and it's another for Congress to do its job in how to debate?
KEILAR: And in a very formal way rather than, you know, members of Congress saying he needs to do this?
KINZINGER: So --
KEILAR: That might be better.
KINZINGER: So I'm not opposed to doing the -- the use of military force. I actually think the president is acting legally under existing Use of Force Authorizations. But what he sent to us limited not just him, it limited the next president. He said this is a three-year AUMF, it's not going to have enduring offensive operations, which implies ground troops, and there were these limits in there that I'm not willing to vote for.
If the president wants to limit his own strategy, then that's fine, but he's not going to make Congress complicit in the decision he needs to make as commander-in-chief.
KEILAR: This is a recommendation, we have the 450 additional troops. That's right now what the recommendation is, but when you look at the possibility for these lily pad sites, for these -- really they're extra bases that would go up.
KEILAR: Don't you think that number will grow?
KINZINGER: It probably will and it probably should. You know, there will be some re-position, I'm sure, folks in Baghdad or in other safer areas to more forward lines, but it's probably going to take more troops. And I think an important part of the strategy, we did this in Iraq during the surge and this is why we were so successful, was we actually began to do interdiction on high-level targets, mid- level targets in ISIS with special operations.
They're very good at what they do. We saw in Syria -- I mean, they crushed the target they went after, and the people defending them. This is what these men train to do every day, you take one target, you get 10 new targets from the intelligence you got, you take those 10 that leads to 100 and you begin to -- be part of wrapping up that network.
KEILAR: Americans look at these recommendations for more troops. They are concerned about combat troops, boots on the ground.
KINZINGER: Of course. Yes.
KEILAR: How much danger are these additional troops in? And are -- will more be if these lily pad sites do go ahead?
KINZINGER: Well, look, they're in danger, they're in a very bad part of the world. But let's not forget that they are very good at what they do. If you ever see an American military unit head to head with an ISIS unit that's attacking them, I guarantee you that we would crush them in a very one-sided way. And we can't forget that.
Now that's not to downplay the danger, so we need to have rescue operations available. We need to have combat power available to protect them, but no doubt we have to do something. Otherwise this is a problem that's not just going to end in Iraq, and we'll say well, poor Iraq, it's a failed state. It's going to spread everywhere else. And that's what we need to be concerned with.
KEILAR: Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
KINZINGER: You bet.
KEILAR: Appreciate it.
And breaking news that we have ahead, a judge rules there is enough evidence to charge police officers in the shooting death of 12- year-old Tamir Rice. But this comes after private citizens requested murder charges. Does the prosecutor in this case have to comply?
And then just miles from the White House, a teenager pleads guilty to using social media to support ISIS and help another teen travel to Syria to join the terror group.
KEILAR: In a blockbuster and unusual ruling, a judge has said that there's enough evidence to charge Cleveland police officers with homicide in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was holding a pellet gun before he was killed. But the ruling comes out after private citizens bypassed the prosecutor and requested murder charges.
So what happens now? We have full coverage of this beginning with CNN justice reporter Evan Perez.
So, Evan, the judge basically says to these private citizens, yes, you have probably cause for arresting these officers, I agree with you, but basically all the judge can do is advise prosecutors to do this and it's nonbinding. So where does that leave us? EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's not binding. That's
right. It's non-binding. And you know, this is an unusual law. It basically allows outside citizens to come to a judge and say we believe that there's enough evidence for you to charge someone with a crime. And that is a very -- it's very rarely used, even in Ohio.
[17:40:10] And so what this judge has now decided is that there is enough evidence to charge Timothy Loehman, the rookie officers who shot Tamir Rice, with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide, dereliction of duty. The second officer, Frank Garmback, with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.
And, you know, the ruling is very stark. He says, the judge says the video in question in this case is notorious and hard to watch. After viewing it several times, this court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly. And what this means, Brianna, is that it's up to the prosecutor to decide whether he wants to go along with what this judge believes is clearly a crime.
And what it does is increases pressure frankly for the prosecutors to try to do something here that even -- there's a lot of pressure from the public already to charge these two officers with a crime.
KEILAR: Just ramps it up.
OK, I want to talk now by phone to CNN correspondent Martin Savidge. He's in Cleveland. And I know, Martin, I think you've actually talked to the prosecution, right? What's the reaction to this?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): I was actually having a conversation with the prosecutor this morning and then this ruling comes out this afternoon. The whole reason we're in Cleveland is that we pretty much in a sense that something like this was coming down.
Here's the official statement now coming from Timothy McGinty, who is the county prosecutor. He says, "This case as with all other fatal use of deadly force cases involvement law enforcement officers will go to the grand jury. That has been the policy of this office since I was elected. Ultimately the grand jury decides whether police officers are charged or not charged."
As it just so happened, I was talking to the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, the police union, when this particular municipal court ruling came out. They're very angry about all this because they say how in the world now if this does go to some prosecution of the officers, the jury pool is so affected that a judge is already saying, yes, it is worth charging this man with murder, or in the case of Timothy Loehman that's what he's saying.
So they find it really unusual and certainly damning against their clients. And so far a grand jury has not ruled on any of this.
KEILAR: Let's bring in legal analyst Sunny Hostin to give us some insight on that.
So you heard what Martin just said, Sunny. Explain this to us. If this goes to grand -- this is going to a grand jury anyway, how does this change things other than symbolically maybe ratcheting up this public pressure?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think largely it is symbolic because it's still to date, you know, what weight the order carries with the prosecutor is unclear. I mean, the judge certainly felt that he has no choice but to order -- you know, that the officers be arrested. But he also said if there was this conflict between the law and the rules laid down by the state Supreme Court, so he could not himself issue warrants without a prosecutor's complaint.
So I think it certainly is somewhat symbolic, but it does place pressure on the prosecution. And let's be clear. Tamir Rice was shot in November 22nd, 2014. We're talking almost seven months ago. This stands in stark contrast to what we saw just recently in Baltimore where these officers were charged without the grand jury and then just a few weeks later the grand jury did indict.
So I think seven months into certainly it's plenty of time for a grand -- for this case to have been investigated and for this case to have been presented in full to a grand jury. Because as, you know, the judge said in his order, everyone has seen this video. And so I think this will put the onus now on the prosecution to tighten this up and get their work done.
PEREZ: You know what, I think what Sunny is referring to also is what we're seeing around the country is prosecutors and really the judicial system trying to struggle to come up with a way to deal with what is clearly a problem, which police officers, you know, civil civilians, and how -- whether or not to bring charges. You know, we saw what happened in Ferguson with a prosecutor who decided to, what everybody believes, rig the system so that there was one outcome that was preordained.
And then we see what Marilyn Mosby has done in Baltimore, which is swing the pendulum in a totally different direction. This is another way, which is outside citizens coming forward to a judge, and a judge basically agreeing with them. And it's going to be interesting to see how other jurisdictions deal with this because clearly there's a problem. Right? You have a problem with police officers killing citizens and there being lack of accountability. At least that's the general view in the public.
[17:45:02] PEREZ: And I see -- and I think this is going to be an interesting way to deal with this.
KEILAR: It's a very good point.
Evan Perez, thanks so much. Sunny and Martin, thanks to you. Coming up, a teenager who lives only miles from the White House
admits that he was a secret recruiter for ISIS. How many people did he help?
And also get a live update from that manhunt for those two escaped murderers. The search area now has narrowed after bloodhounds picked up a scent.
KEILAR: A Virginia teenager is facing up to 15 years in prison after admitting that he used social media to support ISIS, and that he helped another teenager travel to join ISIS in Syria. Prosecutors are calling this case a wakeup call for American communities.
[17:50:07] CNN's senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns has been looking into this -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, Ali Shukri Amin tweeted, blogged, promoted, and recruited ISIS followers all over the Internet for about eight months. But the big reveal came today as the FBI said the face behind that enormous online presence was actually a teenager from northern Virginia. A teenager they had been investigating for helping ISIS sympathizers with their financing.
JOHNS (voice-over): Tonight, a 17-year-old honor student from a D.C. suburb, Ali Shukri Amin, pleading guilty to giving material support to ISIS after the FBI tracked him down for recruiting for the terror group.
ANDREW MCCABE, FBI: The FBI received information that Amin was communicating online with known and unknown individuals, and believed to be members of ISIL and that Amin was supporting violent jihad.
JOHNS: We now know Ali Shukri Amin, who dropped out of a Manassas, Virginia, high school in February, was a blogger for jihad. The brains behind the controversial now suspended Twitter handle known as Amreekiwitness, which promoted itself as, "dedicated to raising awareness about the upcoming conquest of the Americas."
MCCABE: Amin worked to create a prolific online presence that included more than 4,000 followers on his Twitter account. Using the moniker Amreekiwitness, Amin was an influential online figure who inspired individuals who wanted to financially support ISIL.
JOHNS: Prosecutors say Amin was instrumental in helping an 18- year-old named Reza Niknejad actually travel to Syria to join ISIS. The Justice Department has filed charges against him, too, but he is still believed to be overseas. Amin was also helping ISIS sympathizers financially by teaching them about the virtual currency known as bitcoin.
DANA BOENTE, U.S. ATTORNEY: That included directing people how to use bitcoin and how to use bitcoin anonymously. He also engaged in recruitment to try and get them to go to Syria to fight with ISIL.
JOHNS: Amin's lawyer with the teen's mother by his side says his client's fervor and support for ISIS was all about opposing the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
JOSEPH FLOOD, ATTORNEY FOR ALI AMIN: There is a lot of people who -- of conviction who oppose the Assad regime, and when you share those beliefs, it's very easy to get caught up in joining, at least in the virtual world, some movement that you feel is opposing something that is absolutely criminal.
JOHNS: Amin joins the growing ranks of promising young Muslims in America who have been lured into radical Islam online. He faces up to 15 years in prison for his involvement in this case -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Joe Johns, thank you so much.
I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen as well as CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA official Phil Mudd.
This arrest, does this -- this plea, does this deter or does it embolden ISIS sympathizers?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I watched a lot of cases like this at the FBI. For a 17-year-old, it is hard to deter a 17-year-old if he's going down a path like this. I think the interesting story in this case is we used to ask communities in places that were at risk, in Minneapolis, for example, back in the days of al Qaeda before ISIS. Please tell us if you see your kid is going south.
But that kid was recruited in secret. What we're finding today is the huge vulnerability ISIS exposes itself to when kids like this are up on Twitter. I mean, how stupid can you be at 17 to be up on a public media site to say, I want to participate in ISIS recruitment efforts?
KEILAR: Seriously. And he even went, like, sparring online with the State Department once about the Islamic State. These are very brash sympathizers, but we understand that there are, according to the FBI, about 200,000 individuals who are getting these messages online from ISIS. That's a huge audience.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's a huge audience, but I mean, just to pick up on what Phil said, I mean, it is great (INAUDIBLE) to law enforcement when people are posting on social media, publicly on Facebook and Twitter. Now they can also, you know, do it in a protected password kind of thing or a direct message on Twitter, which is harder for law enforcement to look at without a warrant.
But typically, these are kids who aren't paying a lot of attention to these things. Sometimes they are doing -- they are encrypting messages. Sometimes they're not. But in this case, this kid must have drawn a lot of attention with, as you say, sparring with the State Department online.
KEILAR: Real quick, 15 years, too long, too short?
BERGEN: For a 17-year-old, it's a very long sentence.
MUDD: It's too long. In my judgment as a counterterrorism guy, we have a premium on counterterrorism here that differs from what we do in other violent crime, like gang recruitment. I think we ought to rethink it.
KEILAR: That's fascinating, fascinating point. We'll revisit that some other time.
KEILAR: Thank you so much, Peter and Phil.
MUDD: Thank you.
[17:55:00] KEILAR: Coming up, the manhunt is intensifying. Dogs picked up the scent of those two escaped murderers. This search focusing now on a small area in New York where clues were found. Are these killers about to be caught?
KEILAR: Happening now, on the killer's trail. There's new hope that two escaped convicts will be found soon after new clues were discovered near the prison they escaped from. Tonight, law enforcement officers are scouring every inch of a narrowed search area.
Special connection. We are learning more about a prison worker's relationship with one of the escapees. She told police he made her feel special. And the man who's known her for years is telling CNN about her, quote, "wild side."
Expanding battlefield. The U.S. is looking for more places for American forces to aid the battle against ISIS.