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THE SITUATION ROOM
Suspect in Custody after Church Massacre. Aired 5-6:00p ET
Aired June 18, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, captured. The alleged gunman in the massacre of nine people in an historic black church is now in custody, arrested 250 miles away from the Charleston, South Carolina crime scene after a citizen's tip.
The suspect, a 21-year-old white man with a police record and a reputation as quiet and strange. We're hearing from some who knew him.
The motive: the gunman reportedly announced that he came to kill black people, was he connected to white supremacists? Was he self- radicalized? Why federal authorities are now investigating this as a hate crime.
And the victims, a pastor, a librarian, a college grad, an 87- year-old woman. Police say they and others were murdered because of their race. We're looking at their lives and their legacies.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news as yet another American community grieves tonight and the entire country recoils in shock and horror. The young man who police say gunned down nine worshippers at an historic African-American church is now in custody. Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Roof was arrested after a citizen's tip in North Carolina about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from the site of the massacre at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
According to police, the suspect sat in a prayer meeting before standing up and saying he was there to shoot black people. All of the victims, including the church's pastor, were black. The alleged gunman is white. Federal authorities are now investigating this as a hate crime.
We have complete coverage tonight. I'll speak with South Carolina congressman, the former governor Mark Sanford, and our correspondents, analysts and guests. They're standing by with the very latest details.
Let's begin with CNN's John Berman. He's at the site of the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina. John, tell us what happened. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, we just learned that this
suspect, Dylann Roof, has waived extradition, and he will be back on his way here to South Carolina, where police say shortly after 9 p.m. in this church behind me, Emanuel AME, Mother Emanuel, as it's called, is accused of opening fire after a Bible study class, a prayer service, killing nine people, six women, three men, in what many are now calling a hate crime.
BERMAN (voice-over): Tonight the first glimpse of the alleged gunman in the Charleston church massacre. Authorities transporting 21-year-old Dylann Roof shortly after his capture.
MAYOR JOSEPH P. RILEY JR., CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: A terrible human being, who would go into a place of worship where people were praying and kill them, is now in custody.
BERMAN: He was nabbed in North Carolina, about 250 miles from Charleston in the Emanuel AME Church, less than 24 hours after the shooting. Police were tipped off by a citizen after a huge manhunt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you please send out an EMS command page advising of an active shooter, multiple people down.
BERMAN: Police say the shooter spent almost an hour inside the church with a dozen others, attending a Bible study class before he pulled out his weapon. Sources say it may have been a handgun given to him by his father as a birthday gift.
According to witnesses, the gunman said he was there to shoot black people, telling victims, quote, "You rape our women, and you're taking over our country, and you have to go."
LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Acts like this one have no place in our country, and no place in a civilized society, and I want to be clear: the individual who committed these acts will be found and will face justice.
BERMAN: Among the dead, church pastor and state senator, the reverend Clementa Pinckney. Witnesses say he was preaching when he was shot. A black cloth now draped over his seat in the South Carolina legislature.
This is someone who should be revered and respected, and all of us want answers. We want to know why this young man chose this church, why he chose Senator Pinckney?
LYNCH: Three worshippers inside the church got out alive. A 5- year-old boy reportedly survived by playing dead. A local NAACP leader tells CNN that one woman was spared, because the shooter wanted her to tell the world what he'd done.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's something particular heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace, we seek peace. A place of worship. [17:05:03] LYNCH: Emanuel AME is one of the largest and oldest
African-American congregations in the south. It was once burned to the ground, because its worshippers worked to end slavery. President Obama calls it a sacred place in America's history. And tonight, the people here in Charleston are grieving.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We woke up today -- and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken.
BERMAN: An emotion so understandable. I can tell you there was a palpable sense of relief when officials had this suspect. They got him in custody. There was a great deal of fear here overnight into the early morning hours, because someone went into this church behind me and said he wanted to kill black people and did. Yes, there is anger. There are questions. But more than anything, people in this community are now looking to each other and want to move forward together -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, John, thank you. John Berman on the scene for us.
The alleged gunman is 21 years old with a prior record and an online profile that suggests extremist views.
Let's go to Brian Todd. He's joining us from South Carolina with more on this part of the story -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we've been talking to people here in the Columbia, South Carolina, area, which is the hometown of Dylann Roof. We have a little bit more information tonight on his recent arrest record.
According to authorities here and according to the court records, he was arrested in February at a South Carolina mall not far from here when employees at a Bath & Body Works complained that a white male dressed all in black was asking, quote, "out-of-the-ordinary questions about how many associates were working at the store and about when they would be leaving."
The police officer who responded to that call said Roof was arrested after he found illegal drugs that are used to treat addictions on his -- in his possession. Two months later, Dylann Roof was arrested again for trespassing at the same mall, apparently accused of ignoring a ban that the ban had instituted on him after that initial arrest.
We also have found out some information about his schooling. This is White Knoll High School in Lexington, South Carolina, just outside of Columbia. We found that he bounced around the school system here in Lexington and in nearby Richland County, South Carolina. Various elementary schools and middle schools.
He went here to White Knoll High School just for the ninth grade, but an official here said he had to repeat the ninth grade, but he left in February of 2010, in the middle of his second ninth-grade year. Then he went to Drayer (ph) High School in Richland County to finish his ninth-grade year, apparently. We're trying to dig as to where he might have gone after that, but there's no record of him attending schools around here right after that. So we have the information through ninth grade.
Now, as for his schooling here, I spoke to John Mullins, who was a friend of his in the ninth grade here at White Knoll -- at White Knoll High School, and I asked him a key question about Dylann Roof, basically given what we know now about the crime he's committed. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Did he ever exhibit any racist tendencies?
JOHN MULLINS, CLASSMATE OF DYLANN ROOF: He said some, like, jokes before, but they weren't too serious. I didn't think of them as serious.
TODD: What kind of jokes?
MULLINS: I'm not really going to say them, but they were just racist slurs in a sense, like under -- he would say it, like, just as a joke. I don't know how else to explain it, but I never took it seriously. But now if he showed his other side, so maybe I -- it should have been taken more seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: John Mullins said he is sick and devastated over this incident in Charleston, South Carolina. We have also just found out, Wolf, that Dylann Roof has waived extradition and that he is being flown back tonight from western North Carolina to Charleston -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd. Thanks very much.
All right. Let's stay at the massacre scene right now. Let's bring in CNN's Don Lemon, who's got a breaking development for us. Don, what are you learning?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, I actually have an exclusive for you and our viewers. And it is from inside of this church during the Bible study. And I want to put the picture up on the screen. The first one. You're looking at the first image you're going to see inside of this church during the Bible study.
This is, if you look at the corner of your screen, the man in gray, the person you see in the gray sweatshirt, is 21-year-old Dylann Roof in this prayer service, in this Bible study before any of that shooting started.
The images that we got, we got this from one of the victim's, his Snapchat account, Tywanza Sanders. A friend contacted our producer on our show, Ian McKenna (ph), and gave him -- sent him this image. And the other image that you're going to see here. [17:10:08] The other image that you see, and it's shocking to see
him among this group. This is another victim in this. It's state senator and the pastor at this church, Clementa Pinckney, inside the Bible study, leading the Bible study. These are the only images that we know that exist now from inside this church when this happened.
It's just amazing to see that this young man came into the church, made himself a part of this Bible study, sat there for an hour calmly, listened to these people, lulled them in, made them believe that he was part of the group and that he wanted to seek God in some way and he need some studying from the Bible. And then he shoots and kills nine people.
Wolf, the images are startling. We're working on getting more from the same source, and we'll have that for you on CNN. But Wolf, it's really unbelievable to see the calm in the room. The young man among the group before all this shooting and this chaos and this act of terror started.
BLITZER: And they welcomed him into this Bible study class. He sat there, as you point out, Don, for an hour. Then he took out a gun and he just brutally killed six women and three men? That's what happened, right?
LEMON: Yes, absolutely, and then according to someone who was there, she said she was speared. Because he allegedly told her that "I want you to go back and tell everyone what happened," wanted her to be a witness to all of this, her to be the conduit to the world as to what happened.
But again the images are startling that you're looking at. If we can put the one back up now. This is believed to be 21-year-old Dylann Roof inside of the Emanuel AME Church just moments, moments before he murdered, really massacred nine people in an act of terror inside if this church.
And then the other image that is on your screen that you're looking at is another victim here, the pastor of the church, state senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney, welcoming this young man into the fold and all of the young people, all of the people who were there that evening into the fold, and trying to teach them to do good, teach them from the Bible, teach them God's way, the holy way. And amongst them was a devil, this young man, who is accused of this horrible act, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Don Lemon reporting. We're going to get back to you, of course, and I want our viewers to remember Don is going to have full coverage of this Charleston church massacre, its aftermath at 10 p.m. Eastern later tonight on "CNN TONIGHT."
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina. He's a former governor of that state. When you heard that report from Don Lemon, he sat there for an hour, this not only was a mass murder, Congressman, as you well know. It was a hate crime. It was also an act of terror, right? REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't know what was
going through the kid's man, but I know that certainly the act of a deranged human being, and again, this level of malice is something I think is unfathomable in this community, in this nation. I mean, it is -- I think your correspondent last talking said the work of the devil? Clearly the work of the devil.
BLITZER: What do we know? What have your people there on the scene told you about this shooter, Dylann Roof?
SANFORD: I don't know. I've just got back from Washington, D.C., and I've been, obviously, inundated with phone calls, texts e- mails from folks back home saying, did you hear? Are you aware of? You know, starting early this morning and beginning late last night.
And you know, I've had conversations with folks in leadership, you know, in the white and the black community here at home, but in terms of knowing the ins and outs of what made this kid tick, I don't have a clue. What I do know is that proof is in the pudding, which is he was a terribly disturbed young person, who in this case perpetrated an unimaginable crime.
BLITZER: Do you know, Congressman, if he had any connections to hate groups, to racist groups, white supremacist groups, anything along those lines?
SANFORD: I don't have a clue. I don't know, but again I know what he did, and that is the part that has brought all these cameras into place. That's the part that's brought leadership from the black and white community. That's what's inflicted unimaginable pain to the families of the affected. I know what he did. That's all I know about him.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman. I want you to stand by. We have more to discuss, including I know you knew the pastor at this -- at this church in Charleston. Stand by. We'll continue our breaking news coverage right after this.
[17:19:19] BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news, the alleged church massacre gunman is now in custody, arrested 250 miles away from the historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, where he murdered nine people, apparently just because they were black.
We're back with the South Carolina congressman, the former governor, Mark Sanford. Tell us a little bit about the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor here. You knew him, right?
SANFORD: I did. We overlapped by eight years; during the eight years I was governor, he was a South Carolina senator. He was a remarkable human being. You talk about walking the walk with regard to one's faith, he walked the walk.
[17:20:04] I think, you know, you talk to anybody who knew him, he had a real gravitas about him in the way that he approached his faith, in the way he tried to help folks in his community.
BLITZER: When you hear that a 5-year-old, Representative, a 5- year-old pretended to be dead in order to avoid being shot, what goes through your mind at what happened at this historic black church?
SANFORD: The obvious, which is I didn't get to see the images that you were showing over the television, but I heard you talking through them. Clearly, absolute mayhem, and again diabolical intent, in that somebody would go into a Bible study, listen for an hour and then decide to shoot everybody in there?
So I mean, I think it's horrific. I, you know, admire that child's, you know, survival instincts to say, "I'm going to play dead and hope that this devil of a human being doesn't shoot me?" But just absolute mayhem. And you're -- again, you can only imagine what that child must be thinking today.
BLITZER: Is it time to tighten security at black churches in South Carolina?
SANFORD: I think that, again, there will be all kinds of different legal, legislative and judicial remedies offered. I think right now is the time for mourning. I think it's a time for the community to come together around this congregation that has absolutely devastatingly impacted.
BLITZER: The president, as you know, he spoke out about the shooting. He was obviously very moved, as all of us has been, but he also said it was time to focus attention on gun control. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: At some point we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Congressman, your response?
SANFORD: My response would be in a free and open society, which is something that does mark our society, one who is willing to, in essence, kill themselves in the process of killing others will always be able to do so. And it's the tension that's existed for 1,000 years between security and freedom.
Again we'll have a long political debate on whether or not we have that calibration right. What I do know is that too often in the wake of tragedies like this, advocates on both sides of the debate use the debate toward their own ends. They say, "This is now again the time that we need 'X' or 'Y.'"
Again, I think it's premature. I think what we need to do is focus on the families whose lives have forever been impacted, to think about the quality of the life that Reverend Pinckney lived and how we might model his life. Think about race relations in this state and in this country. There are a lot of things to think about, moving to a large debate on gun control I don't think is what should come in the immediate aftermath within 24 hours of this tragedy taking place.
BLITZER: The other issue that's come up, and because there's a photo of Dylann Roof sitting on a car -- sitting on his car with a plate reading "Confederate States of America." Today, as you know, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas is allow to reject a license plate design with a Confederate flag.
On the grounds of the South Carolina state house, they still fly a Confederate flag. Congressman, is it time for South Carolina to make a change?
SANFORD: Again, another intense debate within South Carolina. Because for some folks that represents heritage. For others it represents hate. It's for that reasons that the Confederate flag was brought down off the state capitol and put on a place of memorial on the statehouse grounds. That was a compromise that was formed some years ago.
I think that you have to be attentive to where my brothers in Christ are coming from on this debate. Lonnie Randolph, Reverend Darby, a long list of friends who believe passionately that it still ought to come down from that place of memorial.
But I have an equal number of friends who say, "Wait a minute. My great uncle died in this particular effort. For me it wasn't about slavery, and it was about states' rights." It's an intense debate.
What I do know is a compromise was formed. I was the first governor in the history of South Carolina to apologize for the Orangeburg massacre. I think that there are things that we can do, but again, it's premature to go into an intense, exhaustive, emotionally-draining debate on what we might do there, before we first have time to mourn the passing of these families and the lives that have been impacted.
BLITZER: Congressman Sanford, thanks very much for joining us. As I've been saying all day, I wish we were talking about other stuff. Obviously, we have no choice. This is a huge, very tragic development. Congressman, thank you.
SANFORD: Yes, sir, a pleasure.
BLITZER: Coming up, was it chance, or did a gunman intentionally target one of the Charleston's most historic African-American churches?
[17:25:07] Plus lines of distinction cut short. Stay with us for more on the shooting victims, including a pastor who's being called the moral conscience of the South Carolina state legislature.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:30:03] BLITZER: We have exclusive images taken from inside
the bible study session by one of the victims as the gunman sat in on the class before opening fire.
Let's get a closer look now at the nine victims slaughtered by a man who reportedly declared he'd come to shoot black people.
CNN's Alina Machado is joining us live from Charleston.
So tell me us about these people, wonderful people all.
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All of them by all accounts wonderful people, Wolf. This massacre happened at the church right down the street from where we are. All day we've been seeing a steady stream of people showing up to pay their respects, some of them even holding flowers to honor the victims who lost their lives here.
Now these people, about a dozen people had gathered here last night for a bible study when authorities say that gunman opened fire, killing nine of them. This community is still reeling. Witnesses tell us that one of the -- the victims, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of this church, was preaching inside the church when he was shot and killed. He was just 41 years old, the father of two. And he was also a state senator. He had been serving in the state legislature, Wolf, for nearly two decades.
BLITZER: Tell us a little bit about some of the other victims because we simply want to know.
MACHADO: Well, you know, the other eight victims of this massacre have varied backgrounds, but they were all united by their faith. The youngest was Tywanza Sanders, he was 26 years old. He was a graduate of Allen University and also a local barber. The oldest victim was 87-year-old Susie Jackson.
Now 49-year-old Depayne Middleton Doctor also died here. A few of her friends told me she was simply an exceptional woman who had a very, very deep faith. She also worked at Southern Wesleyan University at the University Learning Center here in Charleston. And she leaves behind four daughters -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Alina, thanks very much.
And as Alina just reported, the pastor of the Emanuel AME Church, 41-year-old Clementa Pinckney is among the dead. He began preaching when he was just a teenager in 1996. At the age of 23 he became the youngest black person ever elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He was 27 when he became a state senator. Today Pastor Pinckney's Senate desk is covered in black.
His fellow State Senator Marlon Kimpson is joining us now from Charleston.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us. Our deepest condolences. I know he was a good friend of yours. Tell us a bit about him. MARLON KIMPSON, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE SENATE: Well, I think
you've accurately described him. He was a giant of a man. He was truly the moral conscience and the moral compass of the general assembly.
We would often go to Senator Pinckney at times when we were negotiating key pieces of legislation as it made their way through both bodies. When we would reach an impasse, he would provide spiritual guidance as well as the experience and leadership based on his experiences with being a pastor about what the right thing to do in South Carolina would be.
And so he will be definitely missed. This community is in mourning, but so will the eight other family members who suffered the death at the hands of this criminal.
BLITZER: Let me ask you two questions I just asked Congressman Mark Sanford. The first one on what the president said, it's time for tighter, tougher gun control in the country. Are you with the president on that?
KIMPSON: Correct, I am solely with the president on that. South Carolina's laws need to mirror the federal laws. The federal laws restrict -- are much tighter restrictions on gun ownership. In addition, we need to repeal some of the gun laws that we passed recently in the general assembly, for example. We now have citizens who can carry guns in bars where there's alcohol. That's not good common-sense legislation. I opposed it at the time, and will seriously consider bringing that issue up.
We spend too much too many in South Carolina advocating for gun right owners. And don't get me wrong, I believe in the Second Amendment, right to carry, but there's also a constitutional right for a state to exercise its police powers, particularly when we have a large violent deaths occurring here in South Carolina.
BLITZER: As you know, Senator, there's a photo of Dylann Roof setting in his car with a plate reading Confederates States of America.
[17:35:03] Today the Supreme Court here in Washington ruled that Texas is allowed to reject a license plate design with the confederate flag. But on the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse, they still fly a confederate flag. Is it time for South Carolina to make a change?
KIMPSON: Well, it's a long time for us to remove the flag. You know, that flag was put in front of the statehouse as a compromise, back before -- when I got in the general assembly. It is a divisive symbol, it agitates citizens and it's offensive. It's time for the confederate flag to come down, but in South Carolina, we have to figure out a way to gain bipartisan support, much like we did the body camera bill, which was a significant piece of legislation we passed.
And so we're going to have to make that appeal to the business community and the various groups that come to South Carolina because it needs to be a groundswell of support and one that we can build a bipartisan coalition.
BLITZER: Should African-American churches in South Carolina, Senator, right now beef up their security?
KIMPSON: No. You know, the church has historically been a place of security, peace, a bastion where we could interact with one another and all worship God. I don't want us -- I want us to be very vigilant and patrol the grounds, be more cognizant of who comes in our facilities, but we still need to maintain an open door because we want to make sure that people who want to give their life to Christ face no impediments in coming in the church door.
And so today we had a very powerful ceremony, all were welcomed. There was a heightened level of security, but we've got to maintain the essence of the black church, and that is, in all churches, quite frankly, where there's a spirit of openness and come one, come all. We can't let this criminal change the way that we worship. It's very, very important. He wins if we do that.
BLITZER: State Senator Marlon Kimpson -- Senator, thanks very much for joining us.
KIMPSON: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: And our deepest, deepest condolences.
The suspect to the Charleston church massacre is on the move. We are waiting for a plane to take him back to South Carolina from North Carolina, where he was arrested.
Coming up, we'll have de tails on what's going on. You're looking at live pictures, that plane, that small plane is about to take him back to South Carolina.
[17:42:31] BLITZER: We're following a breaking news. Just a little while ago, police took church massacre suspect Dylann Roof out of the North Carolina jail where he's been held since his capture earlier in the morning. He's being flown back to South Carolina. Looking at live pictures now to face charges in the shooting deaths of nine people inside an historic black church.
You're looking at these pictures of Shelby County Municipal Airport. That plane will be taking Roof back to Charleston.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in Charleston for us. He's got more on what's going on.
Martin, update our viewers.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly the fact that he's going to be returned in custody less than 24 hours after this whole horrific shooting went down, in some respects is relief for law enforcement, but it is nothing to dissuade the grief that this community is feeling. Still, that said, they have their man and they plan to prosecute him fully.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did you do it?
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Tonight 21-year-old Dylann Roof is in custody, caught in North Carolina armed with a gun.
MAYOR JOSEPH RILEY JR. (D), CHARLESTON: That terrible human being, who would go into a place of worship where people were praying, and kill them.
SAVIDGE: Roof is suspected of killing nine people inside the historic Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.
GOV. NIKKI HAILEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We woke up today, and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken.
SAVIDGE: Just at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday night, Roof entered the church. He was invited to join a bible study group.
SYLVIA JOHNSTON, PASTOR PINCKNEY'S COUSIN: He sat next to my cousin, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, for throughout the entire bible study. At the conclusion of the bible study, from what I understand, they just started hearing loud noises just ringing out.
SAVIDGE: Witnesses told police that around 9:00 p.m. roof stood up and said that he was there to shoot black people. He allegedly then took out his handgun and opened fire, killing nine.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Can you please send out an EMS command page, advising of an active shooter, multiple people down.
SAVIDGE: First responders rushed to the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Several victims regarding that active shooter, give me at least four medic units. Plus two supervisors on the call, please.
SAVIDGE: Three people survived the shooting. The local NAACP president was told by a family member that one survivors received a chilling message from the shooter who told her, quote, "I'm not going to kill you. I'm going to spare you so you can tell them what happened."
[17:45:07] Tonight authorities are looking into Roof's background and if he had help in orchestrating what is being investigated as a hate crime.
CHIEF GREGORY MULLEN, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA POLICE: We will do search warrants, we'll do interviews, we'll go back and try to put together why this might have been happened.
SAVIDGE: A law enforcement official tells CNN that the suspect's father had recently bought him a 45 caliber gun for his 21st birthday.
SAVIDGE: The real question here is now that they've found him is finding out more about him. Especially as to why he was motivated to carry out the crime and if he had any help in doing it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Lots of questions need to be answered, we're staying on top of the story for our viewers. Thanks very much, Martin, for that report.
Coming up, our correspondents, they're working their sources, they're talking to people who know the suspect in the Charleston church massacre. Stand by. We're getting new information.
[17:50:26] BLITZER: The breaking news we're following. And there are many unanswered questions in the wake of the Charleston church shootings.
Let's bring in the former FBI assistant director, our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, the criminal defense attorney, the HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson, and the former ATF special agent in charge, Matthew Horace.
You know, this alleged killer, if you will, he went to this bible study where there are a limited number of people. If he really wanted to kill a lot of people he could have gone to the church on a Sunday morning.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it could be. We don't know all the answers to that, why that particular service at that particular time. You know, maybe we'll never know. But they'll be looking to try to talk about that with him.
BLITZER: If these churches asked you, Tom, for advice, whether to beef up their security at this sensitive moment what would you say?
FUENTES: I'd say maybe temporarily. For a short time. Just because of a copycat killer that might be out there. But not for the long run.
BLITZER: What would you say, Matthew?
MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: I would have to agree with Tom on that one. Listen, we're hoping this was a one- off, one-time deal with a real bad guy and we're hoping no one else is going to do a copycat crime.
BLITZER: As you know, Roof, Matthew, was targeting these victims allegedly because of their race. And in this picture, we're going to show it to our viewers, you see him wearing a jacket. That's not the picture I want to show. There's a jacket of him with a sweatshirt, he's got an apartheid-era South Africa flag, he's got a flag of Rhodesia. There he is right there. He's got a confederate flag on his car. Clearly he must have been inspired by hate, if you will, by
racism. How do you find out, though, if he's actually connected, Matthew, to any hate groups?
HORACE: Well, there's a couple of different ways. As Tom knows there are databases that we keep, the FBI has, the Southern Poverty Law Center, in trying to tie in these individuals and see if they are in fact involved with hate groups.
BLITZER: Joey, South Carolina has the death penalty. But no hate crime laws. So what's the difference there? Explain from the legal perspective why the death penalty is currently not enough, you also need some hate crime laws as well?
JACKSON: Sure. Well, as a practical matter, because he engaged in the act of murder, the penalty is going to be significant. It doesn't get any more significant than the death penalty. And in fact, what ends up happening is, for a hate crime to be proven at the federal level or any other level, you have to demonstrate what the basis was for committing the act. Why did you engage in it? Did it have anything to do with racial intolerance, with intimidation? You know, so you have to establish that.
As a practical matter, Wolf, when it comes to simply establishing murder, that you need to show as a motive, why he would have engaged in this act, and that is the state of mind. But you otherwise don't have to demonstrate for a murder charge that it was predicated upon hate.
What also needs to be mentioned is that he's eligible for the death penalty because of what we call an aggravating circumstance. He killed two or more people at the same time. And so either way, whether it's prosecuted federally as a hate crime or whether it's prosecuted at the state level without any hate legislation but simply as a result of a murder charge, the penalty is significant and could result in his death.
BLITZER: And Matthew, could he also be charged with an act of terror?
HORACE: I'm not quite sure on that one, Wolf. I think -- I think we're going to have to look and see, you know, if he was a prohibited person with a gun or not, and what his intent was. It all comes down to intent.
BLITZER: What do you think, Tom?
FUENTES: Matthew is correct. If it's because of ideology or some political, religious, ethnic belief, then it could be an act of terror. But again, as Joey was mentioning, you'd have to prove that additional element. Premeditated murder in this case is going to be much easier. The gun, his bullets, into the people that killed. And the premeditation, as he sat there for an hour. So it's not like this was road rage or some sudden impulse. He thought about it, had another hour to think about it, then coolly, calmly killed those people. BLITZER: You think, Matthew, there's anything in his background
that would fit a profile of a mass murderer? We know he's charged with drug possession, trespassing, 21 years old. But people don't remember him necessarily as being a potential mass murderer, if you will.
HORACE: Wolf, you look at the profile of other active shooters throughout the last decade or two. Most single lone wolf attackers, most male, most in that same age range. So I think the more we dig, the more we're going to find over the next couple of days and weeks and months to try to determine what sparked this individual to do this.
BLITZER: Matthew Horace, thank you. Tom Fuentes, Joey Jackson, guys, all of you, thanks very much.
[17:55:04] Coming up, we'll have more on the breaking news, the alleged gunman in the massacre of nine worshippers at a historic black church now in custody, arrested 250 miles away from the Charleston, South Carolina, crime scene.
We have new details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM about the suspect, the victims, and the investigation.
[18:00:03] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. In custody. The alleged shooter in the Charleston church massacre is being flown back to South Carolina to face charges just hours after his capture.