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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Report: Dylann Roof Entered Church With Gun, Seven Magazines; Roof Remains Behind Bars; AME Churches To Rally, March In NYC; Confederate Flag Flies Full-Staff After Shooting; Comments of Charleston Judge Cause Uproar; Possible Sightings of Escaped Killers. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired June 20, 2015 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: New details this morning about the Charleston church massacre shooter, Dylann Roof's actions inside that church before the killing. Could this massacre have been stopped?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Plus South Carolina's controversial confederate flag, it is one of the few flags across the country that's not in half-staff in honor of the victims. Does that need to change?
PAUL: Also breaking news this morning, a possible sighting of the two convicted killers who busted out of the New York prison. Witnesses say they spotted them near the Pennsylvania border.
It is 8:00 straight up and we're so grateful for your company. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Always good to be with you and we are starting this morning in South Carolina with new information about the shooter and the hunting indicators that this could have been much worse.
PAUL: We've got nine people killed and now revelations that the death toll could have been higher or just as shocking the bloodshed may have been able to be avoided altogether. We're getting confusing contrasts here. The reasons why the confessed killer targeted this church are among the morning's many developments.
BLACKWELL: For some, an unbelievable display of faith and forgiveness. You can see the vigils there in Charleston and around the country as well. This one held last night. There are lots playing throughout the weekend including one that starts in three hours in New York.
PAUL: Also, the judge in Dylann Roof's hearing is facing a social media firestorm this morning. Is there any defense for a sitting judge to use the n-word? That's one of the questions coming up. BLACKWELL: Let's start our coverage this morning with new details from the confessed killer and there are many of them. CNN's Martin Savidge is in Charleston with the latest. What have you learned this morning, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor. Good morning, Christi. There are a number of new developments are coming out of this investigation and let me sort of back you to Thursday morning when this suspect was taken into custody, Dylann Roof up in Shelby, North Carolina.
Apparently, he was transported to the local police department and there he was speaking quite freely and a lot of it was recorded as a result of security cameras. And here's some of what is being revealed thanks to CNN affiliate WBTV.
First and foremost, he apparently said that he had been planning this attack for some time and that the reason he chose Emanuel AME Church was because of its historic significance in the black community here in Charleston.
And also that the gun that he had and we now know that the gun was a Glock 41, that's 45-caliber semi-automatic handgun and apparently it can fire or store as many as 14 rounds initially and 13 rounds with each subsequent magazine.
And again, the report is now that he may have had as many as seven magazines, which of course means he had a lot of rounds. There's no way to know if all those magazines were full.
Also, two, they said that at one point he considered backing out of this attack. Remember, he got to the church an hour ahead of time and was sitting in the bible study class. It was not until it ended that he opened fire.
Apparently, he had feelings that these people were so nice he almost not carried out the attack, but then he changed his mind apparently thinking to himself, if he didn't do it, no one else would.
And we should also point out, that he only thought he shot a few people. He was told that it was nine and he seemed remorseful. And lastly, the reason he was headed in the direction he was, he said he was going to Nashville.
Why, because he had never been there before so a little insight into the twisted logic into this horrible racially-motivated attack -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: Yes, it just seems that the callousness of I'm headed to Nashville because I've never been there before after killing nine people is not consistent with the apparent remorse expressed after learning that he killed nine people. Martin Savidge in Charleston for us, thank you so much.
SAVIDGE: You're welcome. PAUL: Now Dylann Roof's next court date is October 23rd. Nick Valencia is there in Charleston. Nick, I mean, the world really got a look at him during this bond hearing yesterday and it was pretty remarkable to hear what some of these family members has said to him and his reaction to that, yes?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hear via video link from the detention center right next door to the bond hearing court behind me, it was more of a procedural hearing. The judge asking him some formal questions about his identity, things about his address, where he lived, if he was employed or not.
[08:05:06] The gunman, Dylann Roof, said all but ten words. He didn't speak so much and perhaps the most emotional time in the courtroom, a heartbreaking scene when some of the family members of those innocent victims whose life were taken by Roof addressed the courtroom asking for him to repent, some even forgiving him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADINE COLLIER, DAUGHTER OF ETHEL LANCE: I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you, and have mercy on your soul.
FELICIA SANDERS, MOTHER OF TYWANZA SANDERS: We welcomed you Wednesday night in our bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts and -- and I'll never be the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: The chief magistrate caught some people off guard when he started the bond hearing with a statement to the court addressing those in the courtroom saying that there are victims on both sides, not just those whose family members were taken in the bible study group, but also referring to the parents of Dylann Roof.
Those parents released a statement speaking for the first time since this massacre on Wednesday night, that statement reading in part, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those killed this week. We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims' families offering God's forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering."
It is worth noting, this community reacted the exact opposite of the intentions of what Dylann Roof wanted. He said that he wanted to start a race war to create a divide in the community and that's exactly what we have seen here during the healing process, so many people, strangers are coming together during this time of mourning -- Christi.
PAUL: What have you heard from people, Nick? You have been there, what are the conversations they are having to try to reconcile all of this? VALENCIA: Well, they have taken it with incredible integrity and grace. I was speaking to a lot of people yesterday, last night over dinner and it shocked a lot of people here, but they also say it really speaks to the type of community that this is.
Charleston has gone through a lot, at least with this shooting and the case of Walter Scott. There have been other stories here that have not received the national attention.
Shootings as well of young children and this community, that's not lost on that. They banded together to create this bond through this incredible and extraordinary time.
And you saw that presence yesterday during that vigil, those prayer vigils being held. So many people were willing to forgive this shooter. Some others saying that they want to see the death penalty brought against them man. This, of course, is a capital offense and could carry the death penalty -- Christi.
PAUL: Good point. All right, Nick Valencia, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
BLACKWELL: In just a few hours from now a fellow AME church will gather in New York. Our next guest is helping to organize a rally and march. Reverend Floyd Flake is a former U.S. congressman and a pastor of Allen Cathedral. Mr. Reverend Flake, what is the message you want to send?
REVEREND FLOYD FLAKE, SENIO PASTOR, ALLEN CATHEDRAL AME CHURCH, NYC: The message we want to send is that situations like these should not occur. And it seems to me that this person has made his mind up to do something destructive. I don't know that there was anything that could have been done to stop him.
He sat many times in the church trying, I suppose, to decide how he was going to do it and then he did it. For me, as an AME and many AMEs across the country, we have a feeling that what he did he did it just out of selfishness and out of the sense that he wanted recognition.
That he had not gotten before and so he made a decision that he was going to do what he did in that church. And so I think it puts all of us in a position where we look very closely at how we function as a church, as a body, as a people.
Ultimately, we had no idea he was going to do this to that church in South Carolina.
BLACKWELL: How does this change your philosophy of the church? Many churches have opened the door saying all are welcome. Does that still hold?
[08:10:09] FLAKE: Yes, I don't think it will change the philosophy. I think people will look at it for what it is. That there is a person whose mindset was on trying to kill somebody. This is not happening every Sunday or every bible study night. Most of us in our churches have Wednesday night bible study and we don't expect something like this to happen. I think his mind was just set on it. I think he has some issues that he needs to and should have dealt with long before this.
And I expect that as we hear from his parents, hopefully at some point, they'll have some information to help us to understand how this boy got in this kind of predicament and how he got this kind of attitude.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Thus far the family through the public defender has released a statement expressing their sorrow for the families. And we know his brother and sister called in after seeing the photograph to report him and identify him.
Final question, Reverend Flake, why do you think this has resonated with so many people? And we know the shooting happened in Charleston, you're in New York expecting thousands, and there's been reaction around the world.
FLAKE: I think that is because people feel the pain of it and because they didn't expect this to happen. So feeling the pain, it is not limited to the scale of what is in South Carolina because this could have happened anywhere.
And so everybody, I think, has a feeling that if it could be done in South Carolina, it could have been done anywhere or could be done in the future. So the focus is, let's look at it very closely. Make sure that we have all the necessities to make sure our churches are not attacked in this way.
And this helps us to understand that in spite of the fact of no matter how we feel about our relationship with God, that there are some things we may have to do to protect ourselves.
BLACKWELL: All right, Reverend Floyd Flake, I have seen your pastor there at Greater Allen Cathedral AME Church in New York. Thank you so much for joining us. We'll check in and take portions of the rally live throughout the morning.
FLAKE: Thank you very much.
PAUL: Well, a lot of emotion pouring out this morning about a judge. We are learning, too, this morning more about that magistrate who sparked outrage after calling the church massacre shooter's family victims. Find out why he's been reprimanded in the past?
Also next, the only flag not at half mask in order of the victims in South Carolina, the confederate flag at the state's capital. We have two people who are wondering if this needs to change.
PAUL: It's 16 minutes past the hour. The confederate flag you see there flying at full staff this morning near the Charleston statehouse. The same as it has every day since the massacre of nine church goers Wednesday night.
And it is sparking new debate over whether it should fly at all. A lot of people are calling for it to be taken down. Even a hash tag is trending, #takeitdownsouthcarolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before the majority, we understand that the confederate flag is a different race of people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the United States, and I don't have an issue with it. If it comes down to a decision of going for it, I'll go for it. Otherwise, I have no issue with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The confederate flag has just a lot of negative meaning. Anything that has a lot of negative meaning should be taken down, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Joining us now, a couple people who have different views on this, Ben Jones is a former congressman and actor and he supports the flying of the confederate flag. Joe Beasley is with the Rainbow Push Coalition. He opposes it. Good morning, gentlemen. We're grateful to have you both here.
Thank you. So Ben, I want to start with you. In light of everything that's happened in Charleston, why do you support? I think a lot of people want to know why you support the flying of the confederate flag in the first place?
BEN JONES, FORMER CONGRESSMAN FROM GEORGIA: Christi, first of all, I just heard my good friend the Reverend Floyd Flake, an old colleague of mine, say that this could have happened anywhere. He's right. We are a country of over 300 million people.
And if there are just a few thousand deranged people then we have an enormous problem and we have seen evidence of this. It's a much larger issue than a symbol of a war that was fought 150 years ago.
Let me say, clearly, that we of all races suffer from this unspeakable act of evil and that our hearts and our minds and our prayers are with those at Emanuel AME Church.
Further, let me say that there are 70 million Americans who are descended from the confederacy and when we say heritage, not hate, when we say pride, not prejudice. That is what we feel. We are not hateful people. We are loving people.
I've always fought for the rights of all my brothers and sisters and I think Dr. King had it right, the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners should be sitting together at the table of brotherhood. And in this case generating light rather than heat and when people use these awful incidents like this to make political hate, I think it's wrong.
PAUL: But, Mr. Jones, you can understand why -- you can understand why this is a very divisive issue for so many people, yes?
JONES: Well, I hear what you're saying. I, frankly believe that 98 percent of the display of the flag is benign and well intentioned and intention in context are very important when we talk about this thing. It is intention.
[08:20:04] If it is seen in a film or on the "Dukes of Hazard," which I was on in a positive light, it's a harmless thing. I have seen it on bags of rice and on travel posters and things like that. It represents a spirit.
And there are those, obviously, hate groups and white supremacists like these idiots who have maligned it and desecrated it by using it as a hateful symbol. There's no doubt about that, but we do not.
PAUL: OK, I understand that. Ben, thank you for clarifying. Joe, he says that it's benign. How do you feel? Help us understand.
JOE BEASLEY, PRESIDENT, JOE BEASLEY FOUNDATION: Well, it is really deeper than that. We have to go back a long ways to really kind of understand that. You know, when we were brought to this country from Africa to work and to be servants and to be -- we were simply a commodity.
PAUL: So when you see that flag flying, help us understand how that feels.
BEASLEY: It really -- it is alienating. I was recently in Montgomery, Alabama, to deal with a march from Selma to Montgomery. And I happened to drive to a back of the state capitol in Alabama and that confederate flag is flying there.
And it was very offensive to me because it is a symbol of hate and rebellion. And I think that on such a time that people understand that and have the sensitivity, that's about human degradation. Then we're going to have issues and problems.
And the hit is former congressman and still in the face of all this maintain that attitude. He's either not a very sensitive man or he's not an honest man.
PAUL: Well, there was Marion Kimpson who said there's been a great debate of removing divisive symbols. We need to take down symbols of the past in South Carolina and put them in places like museums where history is appropriately recorded. We'll have to see if anything like that happens. Ben Jones, Joe Beasley, we appreciate both of your thoughts here. Thank you so much.
JONES: I just had a personal attack on me. Can I respond?
PAUL: Yes, go right ahead, Ben.
JONES: That's just a terribly inappropriate thing to say. We're trying to build bridges here. Slavery existed on the American flag for a long, long time and from 1619 on. And to accuse my ancestors of being hateful and racist and all this stuff is just --
PAUL: But Ben, only another person --
JONES: It is much more complex than that. Slavery was a northern industry. The profits went to Wall Street. The north had slavery under the American flag.
BEASLEY: That kind of tirade is what is the account for this.
JONES: I'm not questioning your integrity, sir. You said I was dishonest.
BEASLEY: I just said we need to disassemble flying the flag amongst us.
PAUL: It is obviously something that I know you all -- it's a huge debate. A lot of people have very strong feelings and passionate feelings on both sides of it. Again, we appreciate both of your thoughts. Ben, did you want to finish something? Did you have one more thing to say, Ben?
JONES: Absolutely. I think that this kind of divisiveness that I hear turns people against people. We are not hateful people. We do not see it as a hateful symbol. We understand that people can feel very differently about it. We understand that our flag has been desecrated. We know that slavery is the national sin from 1619 on. Not in the southern sense.
BEASLEY: When are you going to do something about repaying the people that worked for 246 years in the country for free.
JONES: I'm all for that, sir.
BEASLEY: You are? You're for reparations?
JONES: No, I'm not for reparations.
BEASLEY: What are you for then? Why aren't you for reparations? If you worked for 246 years and didn't make any money?
[08:25:07] JONES: My people were brought here, too, basically as slaves as commodities.
BEASLEY: No, no. The lie that you came here seeking religious freedom is just a boldface lie. As we begin with reality, we'll have these kinds of conflicts.
PAUL: Obviously, this is a conflict that's going to continue on. There are so many discussions that have to go on and a lot of people say they need things to change to get beyond it.
JONES: I'm willing to sit with you at any table at any time at the table of brotherhood.
PAUL: We'll see if we can make that happen. We will see if we can make that happen. Gentlemen, we would love for that to happen and bring some healing and peace here. Thank you so much.
And for ways you can help, by the way, at the church and the victims of this shooting in Charleston, just log on to CNN.com/impact for more. We'll be right back.
[08:29:43] BLACKWELL: Coming up on the bottom of the hour now, you see in here Dylann Roof appearing emotionless here -- no emotion expressed on his face in court.
Investigators say he's offered startling insights into the shooting rampage that left nine people dead at that church in Charleston.
According to CNN affiliate WBTV, this shooter who has confessed reportedly told investigators he had seven magazines of ammunition loaded and he was ready to kill. Then he chose his target because it is a quote, "historic African-American church".
PAUL: President Obama says his thoughts and prayers are with the family of the church shooting victims and he says the country needs a change in attitude when it comes to gun control.
We want to get more on that from CNN national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty. Hi -- Sunlen.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Christi and Victor.
It's clear President Obama is really feeling the weight of this moment. Commenting for the second time in two days about this shooting while he's out here on his West Coast swing. And he calls for the nation to refocus attention on getting these potential killers, their off of guns. But also realizing at the same time that he has little or no control to change that due to the political climate in Washington right now.
But he did defend himself a little bit on Friday night in San Francisco saying he refuses to accept this as the new normal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I remarked that it was very unlikely that this congress would act. And some reporters, I think, took this as resignation. I want to be clear, I'm not resigned. I have faith we will eventually do the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And many Republicans out on the campaign trail are, of course, noting this tragedy but stopping short of calling on Congress to do something specific skeptical that a government solution is the answer.
Here's Chris Christie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (D), NEW YORK: This type of conduct is something that only our display of our own love and good faith that's in our heart can change. Laws can't change this. Only the goodwill and the love of the American people can let those folks know that that act was unacceptable, disgraceful and that we need to do more to show that we love each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And the President will spend the weekend here in Palm Springs, California, for a little R&R. The White House says there are no plans for him to go to Charleston at this time as that community starts to grieve -- Victor and Christi?
BLACKWELL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty for us traveling with the President.
Let's now go to Charleston where CNN's Martin Savidge is staying there with state representative David Mack who knew at least one of the victims of the shooting -- Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. Good morning again to both of you. Good morning sir.
DAVID MACK, STATE REPRESENTATIVE, SOUTH CAROLINA: Good morning.
SAVIDGE: Thank you very much for joining us.
We were discussing this that you knew the victims inside, particularly Reverend Pinckney.
MACK: I knew Reverend Pinckney very well. We went into the legislature together 19 years ago and I was amazed at his intellect and focus, maturity at the age 23 -- very good legislator, very good pastor. And the way I look at it, I believe that he took the best of his abilities as a pastor and an elected official to serve and to help people. That is what he was all about.
You hear now a lot of accolades now but they are all true.
SAVIDGE: So let's talk about this community and the healing that's going on and taking place. What is happening? How are people coping?
MACK: Very painful, very numb. I've gotten very little sleep since this has happened. And trouble sleeping with the few hours that I have been getting. A lot of folks have been like this. And when you see people coming down and congregate, I think we need each other to sort of get through this. So it's painful, it's raw, it's a very tough time.
SAVIDGE: This is not an act of the community coming together. This is very sincere.
MACK: It is very sincere. And the thing about it, you have seen all races, all backgrounds, all religions -- good people. And that's what I think this country is all about, but we have a segment in this country right now that's just focused on hate.
And I'm very curious with regard to the guy that did this. At 21, how could you have that much intense hate at 21?
SAVIDGE: What influenced him?
MACK: Where did he get it from? Where was the influence? How was he programmed? I'm very curious to learn that as time goes by.
SAVIDGE: Let me ask you this, in the state legislature, what do you think is going to happen as a result?
MACK: Well, we already had a white Republican who I respect very much, in fact, he sits behind me on the house floor, to say, he's going to present a bill to take down the confederate flag. And his quote was essentially that, "My friend got killed just for being black." And he's been able to tie that in.
[08:34:57] That the sad thing about it is that with the compromise in 2000, which I voted against, and also with the plan that says the law on which I also voted against is going to take two-thirds of the house and the senate in order to take it down, that's going to be problematic. But I'm going to sign on to that bill and I'm going to support it.
Also, gun laws, you know, it's too easy to get a gun. There was a study done once that -- a programs over HBO -- a 15-year-old kid followed with a camera. He could not buy alcohol. He could not buy cigarettes. He was turned down from buying porn. Could not buy a lottery ticket but he could buy a gun. And that says something about us as a culture that we need to change.
SAVIDGE: Thank you very much.
MACK: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Pleasure talking to you.
MACK: My pleasure.
SAVIDGE: Representative David Mack of South Carolina. We should point out that the gun under the laws of the state of South Carolina was purchased legally. Back to you -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right. Martin Savidge and Representative Mack, thank you both -- Christi.
PAUL: Outrage this morning following the hearing for accused shooter Dylann Roof. And the outrage is directed at the judge for comments he made in this case that have a lot of people on edge. We're going to talk about what he said next. And also new breaking news in the manhunt for two escaped killers --
yes, there could be a new sighting.
[08:40:01] PAUL: 39 minutes past the hour.
The judge that presided over the bond hearing of church shooter Dylann Roof sparking a firestorm of controversy this morning after comments he made asking for sympathy for the killer's family. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JAMES GOSNELL, JR., CHARLESTON CHIEF MAGISTRATE: We have victims, nine of them, but we also have victims on the other side. There are victims on this young man's side of the family. Nobody would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they have been thrown into. We must find it in our hearts at some point in time, not only to help those that are victims, but to also help his family as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So we are learning more about that judge's past. Documents showed Judge James Gosnell Jr. received a public reprimand in the past by South Carolina Supreme Court -- reprimanded for making racist remarks to an African-American defendant during another hearing in 2003.
We want to bring in HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson; as well as "Daily Beast" columnist and former attorney Dean Obeidallah. Dean -- thank you so much. And Joey -- also good to see you.
I want to start with you Dean. How did you react, first of all, to the judge's comments concerning the shooter's family specifically?
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, "DAILY BEAST": I think they were completely misplaced. And I can understand on some level if you really stretch it -- the imagination as to why he's saying that. But this time the first hearing of this defendant, the focus should be on the grieving families and what they are going through not the family of the shooter. So to me, they were totally misplaced, inappropriate and I think really uncaring, to be honest with you.
PAUL: And Joey, I think a lot of people feel the same way Dean does. And they're wonder how is a judge with this kind of past chosen to preside over a bond hearing that is a potential hate crime case.
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, it's a great question. And we should also point out that following this he'll have no other interaction or contact with this case. It will go to a circuit court. It will be before a judge, but that's then. And we are dealing with now.
The reality is that in this forum, Christi, and in any forum a judge is not an advocate. A judge is not on the bench to really make pronounced pronouncements to advocate to make suggestions at all. A judge is there and in this form just to set bail if setting bail is appropriate. We know that you can't set bail on murder. The defendant is remanded with no chance bail and on the count that he could set bail or he did it as a million dollars.
But to be rendering opinions and making assessments and pointing out who there should be sympathy for is really not what you expect a judge to do. You expect a judge simply to be fair and impartial and to deal with matters concerning the law and the law only.
I should also point out, Christi, that at a sentencing hearing or something of the like, at that point it may be appropriate for a judge to then give a sense of what they are feeling because their state of mind has a lot to do with what they are sentencing you to or if they were in fact doing a bench trial, of course, you want to know what the findings of facts and the conclusions of law are.
But in this particular form as Dean says and I do agree, it is misplaced and I just don't know what or how the judge would rationalize saying what he said and doing what he did.
PAUL: Yes, Dean, at what point do you think anybody would bring up -- that it would be appropriate to bring up the victim's family?
OBEIDALLAH: Not when -- perhaps down the line. Perhaps the family members of the victims could bring that up and that would be an appropriate setting, I think, at that time for them to broach that subject.
Not the judge on the first day of the hearing where there are victims' family members standing there to say let's have sympathy for this victim -- the shooter's family. There's no place for that. Joey said it's illegal time --- I used to be a lawyer, this is not a time for a judge to give an opinion on that kind of situation whatsoever. And he adds to the controversy over this issue and I think adds to the pain, frankly, of some of the families who are mourning right now.
PAUL: All right. Joey Jackson and Dean Obeidallah -- Appreciate your thoughts as always. Thank you for being here.
JACKSON: Thank you -- Christi. Take care -- Dean.
BLACKWELL: New details in the manhunt for two escaped killers who escaped that prison up in New York. Could two new possible sightings help crack this case and capture these men. Also new this morning -- another corrections officer part of this investigation has been placed on leave. The latest on both new developments.
BLACKWELL: All right. So new this morning in the search for two killers who escaped the New York prison more than two weeks ago. First we've learned that late last night, a male corrections officer was placed on leave from the Clinton Correctional Facility as part of this ongoing investigation. Of course, this is coming as New York state investigators are looking into two possible sightings of these convicts, Richard Matt and David Sweat near the New York Pennsylvania border. Witnesses first spotted two men last Saturday walking near a rail yard about 13 miles from the Pennsylvania border. And then two men with the same description were later spotted walking along County Route 115 in the town of Lindley heading toward the Pennsylvania border.
Joining us now for more criminal profiler Pat Brown and CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander.
Cedric, I want to start first with the male corrections officer placed on leave. We have not been given the specifics detailing why this corrections officer was placed on leave, but what would elevate an investigation of a specific person to go to that next step?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, probably what has happened here, Victor, is that investigators have found enough evidence at this point to remove him from duty pending the ongoing investigation.
I think we all have pretty much speculated very early on that it took more than just those two individuals that escaped to be able to carry out such a mission such as this. And I think as this investigation continues, we're going to learn more about why this correction officer is on administrative leave and I think we can pretty much make a reasonable assumption is that in some kind of way he may have had something to do with the escape or in some way may have just failed in his particular duties that night. So not to reach too far, I think we're going to know here in the next couple of days or so a little bit more about that.
[08:50:02] BLACKWELL: Pat -- let's talk about these sightings: last Saturday and Sunday I believe the date match up to 13 and 14 near the Pennsylvania border. As a criminal profiler, do you expect these two for this amount of time for a week after the escape would still be together?
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: You know, it's hard to say, Victor really because, you know, as long as things are going well, they might find that there's a little bit of power in being a duo. But at some point they might just decide, you know, it's too much of a liability. They are looking for the two of us. Better that we just split up.
And it's really -- you know, when I look at matt, this is a guy who once ran to Mexico the last time he killed somebody and then he killed somebody in Mexico and was in prison down there. That's got to be kind of a good possibility for him to go to because he spent time in Mexico. He seemed to like Mexico. I don't know if there's drug cartels to go work for down there, people to hide out with. So that's got to be a target for him thinking, hey, that's a good place for you to go.
Now, for his buddy, I don't know if he thinks that's such a hot idea. So they might split up and just go where they think is best for each of them. BLACKWELL: Cedric, these sightings were from a week ago but we are
just learning about them. Why?
ALEXANDER: Well, you know, with respect to law enforcement, there are certain things that they are going to have to keep close to their chest as they continue this investigation and the search of these gentlemen. So I think it's just important to keep in mind, Victor, that even though sometimes this information may seem late coming to us, I do trust the judgment the law enforcement officials there in New York State is that they are going to stay on target, they are going to eventually catch the subjects and we just have to take the information that they are able to share to us so that it does not in any kind of way disrupt the integrity of their investigation.
BLACKWELL: Pat, what's the appeal that's being made to relatives and friends of Matt and Sweat that we're not seeing?
BROWN: Well, the law enforcement is hoping that one of them will have some information. I mean obviously they have to have some kind of network. It does help if you're trying to hide out or you're trying to get money or trying to get a vehicle. And we don't know which relatives might be willing to help, which ones are not. And also which ones might be -- somebody might rat them out as well. So that's important to know.
And I want to mention something about the sighting. If the word is possible, and one of the problems that the police always have to deal with is when the tips come in, there are people who can jump to -- oh, those are the two guys that look like them. A lot of guys look alike and could be some guys wandering along the railroad tracks and have nothing to do with anything. So the problem is when you start -- you know, immediately going out and saying, this is what we know these guys are down here, then you start a whole bunch of trouble.
So they probably kept it quiet because they were not sure this was even true. They may be in Canada or headed that direction. You don't want to have everybody looking the wrong way and not giving tips where they might actually be. So it's better to keep it kind of quiet.
BLACKWELL: All right. Pat Brown and Cedric Alexander -- thank you so much for joining us.
Later this morning we'll kind of explore how long this search, this hunt for the two can continue at this level. We'll talk more throughout the morning. Thank you, both -- Christi.
PAUL: Meanwhile, hundreds of California firefighters are battling a 17 square mile fire near San Bernardino. This fire threatening buildings, it's forcing evacuations. We'll have more for you in a moment. Stay close.
[08:57:18] BLACKWELL: All right. Here's a look at other stories making headlines this morning. PAUL: An officer and 21-year-old man are dead after what police call
a suicide by cop. Police say the suspect left a suicide note on Facebook before trying to engage in a shootout with police. That suspect shot and killed Officer Sonny Kim before a second responding officer shot the suspect.
BLACKWELL: All right. And look at this video. It's pretty dramatic and caught on Greenwood, Arkansas police body cams. 23-year-old Jessica Sterling, you can see her here -- she's screaming there -- arrested after police say she stole a patrol car while she was handcuffed and crashed it into a gas well. While she was in the back of the squad car, she attempted to break out of the rear window and officers had to use leg irons to keep her there in the back of the car.
More than 1,200 firefighters, imagine that, they're battling this lake fire near San Bernardino, California. It has burned 13,000 acres and threatening at least 500 buildings. So far firefighters have been able to contain only 10 percent of this fire.
Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera has been tracking the lake fire and what is the weather looking like?
IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Things get so out of hand there so quickly because of the drought conditions and the weather conditions are not going to be helping. Today 500 structures throughout 10 percent containment and we're 13,000 as far as how many acres have been burned already here across southern California, east of Los Angeles, east of San Bernardino -- That is where we have exceptional to extreme drought so there is unlimited amount of fuel out there for the fire as they get going.
Look at the heat advisories for today. We actually have heat warnings. When you have a heat warning in the southwestern United States, you know, you're in trouble. 110 to 115 degrees -- that's the way it's going to feel. A little higher up -- well, we're working the file -- we're talking about temperatures into the upper 80s as we head to later this afternoon.
My concern is as temperatures go up, the humidity will go down. That's usually the way it works and today will be no different. Single digits, relative humidities -- that's a mess for firefighters to work with. And of course, the terrain is also a challenge as well.
Hour by hour forecast over the next few hours, we'll see the winds anywhere from 5 to 10 miles per hour. But as the fire continues to spread, fire often creates its own weather here. As the heat rises, you get air replacing that rising air and you get very gusty winds. Temperatures, there you go, in the mid-80s. And that will be the case over the next few days a little further down closer to the valley into the (INAUDIBLE)
PAUL: All right. Hey, Ivan thank you so much.
Tiger Woods' sports fans in case you didn't know -- out of the U.S. Open. The former world number one missed the halfway qualifier. He shot a 6 over par, 76, in his second round. Somebody just chuckled, I guess that's pretty dismal.
He left the course early but told reporters he'll keep working on his game.
BLACKWELL: Yes, I'll just keep working on it. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 eastern in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[09:00:04] PAUL: Don't go anywhere. "SMERCONISH" starts now.