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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Suspect Behind Chattanooga Shooting Has Been Identified; More on the Tennessee Shooting; Gunman's Coach Believes Suspect Went Overseas a Couple of Years Ago. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 16, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUTFRONT: AC 360 starts now.
[20:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening.
We are waiting on a news conference right now from the governor of Tennessee about today's massacre in Chattanooga. This is where it is going to happen. We will bring tight you the second it does. The governor is being briefed right now with the very latest. And the developments have been coming in one right after another today in the shooting rampage which is now officially being investigated as an act of terrorism. It took the lives of four marines.
Tonight, without getting ahead of the story, we will bring you the latest on all of it. We have just now obtained new video of the killer, a young Kuwaiti and Jordanian American named Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. This is a mixed martial arts competition he took part in. He is the one with the hair there in the camouflage shorts. You'll hear from his high school wrestling coach in a moment.
We have also just obtained his yearbook photo and the quotation that goes along with it. It reads, my name causes national security alerts. What does yours do? And here is a more recent photograph, a mug shot earlier this year after an arrest for DUI.
However, the lasting images will not be of him, but of his rampage. Took him just about 30 minutes driving a rented convertible first to a recruiting center then a naval depot opening fire at both.
We know that investigators have been searching the home where he grew up. That federal officials are now treating this as a terrorism investigation. And that security is being ramped up at federal facilities around the country. Officials are keenly aware of the context to all of this.
Tonight is the final night of Ramadan, the holy month. And ISIS has been calling on followers to make it a bloody one for the west with attacks like the ones in Paris or more recently in Garland, Texas.
Tonight all angles, all aspects, everything we know, starting with Drew Griffin where those four marines lost their lives and moments later so did the gunman.
Drew, what are your sources telling you right now about the shooting?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is where it all ended, John. This is where the four marines died. This is where the suspect died apparently at the hand of Chattanooga police who had chased him here or followed him here from that first crime scene.
When this began, about eight miles that way, it was a shooting at what appeared to be a strip mall. Police then gave chase to the suspect in a rented convertible silver mustang to this naval operations center. Whereas we have got exclusive video, you can see the car that the suspect drove actually drove through or partially through the front fence of this center. This is where the shootout took place. But the sources inside, the investigators are keeping mum about exactly what happened, exactly how this happened, where the marines died and exactly how this suspect was taken down.
BERMAN: Drew, I spoke to a witness at the first scene, who said he never got out of the car when he was shooting. Any indication whether he got out of his convertible mustang at the naval depot where you are?
GRIFFIN: I can only tell you visually, if you look at that car, it has been opened up. It looks like it has been gone through forensically. Obviously, they checked it out for bombs. I see no evidence of the body or what would have been a body there in terms of kind of a forensic scene.
We don't know if he got out of the car and ran. If he got out of the car and actually chased into an area where he found these marines. Those are the kind of details we just don't have yet, John.
BERMAN: And to be clear. He was shot by law enforcement. Earlier in the day, official were reluctant to say whether it was at the hand of police or possible suicide.
GRIFFIN: This is what CNN's justice department correspondent Evan Perez broke just about an hour ago now that Chattanooga police shot and killed this suspect. We don't have the details exactly how that happened. But that is what Evan is reporting. That this was not a suicide. This person was taken down by the police who were chasing him.
BERMAN: All right. And finally, Drew, on way, we showed the video of him involved in an MMA competition, a Mixed Martial Arts. You got your hands on this video. What can you tell us about it?
GRIFFIN: I can tell you it was given to us, or pointed to us by his mixed martial arts teacher from the high school days. And John, as we have seen so many times, he was absolutely stunned, said, tears came to his eyes when they announced that this shooter's name was this person's name that he knew that he coached. He called him, even though he was, a Jordanian --
BERMAN: Drew, I should point out we are looking at video. I just want to point out. You know, keep going here on a second. He is the one in the camouflage pants. The one with hair right now. I just want to make clear what we are looking at right now.
You are saying, Drew, an all American kid, the coach never would have suspected.
[20:05:00] GRIFFIN: That's right. A good student. A good wrestler in high school. And a good fighter with this mixed martial arts training that he did. And he was also apparently a good Muslim, a practicing Muslim who often at 6:00 at night at the gym, John, would lay down his prayer rug in the coach's office, and say his prayers and then come out and continue training.
But, you know, as we have seen in so many cases, where and when it snapped, we don't know yet. At this time everybody is just shaking their head saying this was a nice kid from a nice family. And he was as American as anybody else.
BERMAN: All right, Drew Griffin. Thank you so much for that. Appreciate it.
President Obama this afternoon expressed condolences for the fallen marines, four marines shot dead. He is calling the shooting heartbreaking and promised a prompt and thorough investigation.
As we mentioned federal investigators are deep into this already trying to figure out everything they can about the suspect. His possible motives, possible ties to others.
Evan Perez, justice department correspondent, working all his sources, what are you learning now?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: John, we know that Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait. He had a Jordanian, Jordanian citizenship before he and the rest of his family were naturalized as U.S. citizens in recent years. We know that the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga says that he received an engineering degree there. This is a family that, appears, and certainly from the looks of the neighborhood, they were middle-class family. They seemed to have had achievement, educational achievement. The father went to Texas A&M University. And again, this is apparently from talking to neighbors there, in Chattanooga, this was a family that seemed quite normal.
And so that's what now -- is what the FBI is trying to unravel is what, what was behind that? When was, when was it that Abdulazeez decided that he was going to carry this out. Was he inspired, was he connected to any body in international terrorism? We know ISIS has been calling for attacks of this kind in the United States. We haven't yet -- the FBI hasn't said whether they found indications that he was acting on behalf of ISIS or in behalf of anybody else. But that is certainly the big question now tonight.
BERMAN: Any sign of a motive? I know they are going through social media, blog posts trying to find anything this guy may have written. Any sign of motive? Any sign of what he has been doing since he graduated with that engineering degree? PEREZ: You know, that's the thing. This is one of the cases that
certainly makes, people at the FBI scratch their heads. Because, you know, they have their eyes on hundreds of people around the United States who might be consuming ISIS propaganda and who they suspect or who they fear might be motivated to carry out attacks just like this. This guy was not on anybody's list. He was not on any databases. And he certainly wasn't one that would have been part of any previous investigation that the FBI had going. This is why you saw James Comey of the FBI, the director of the FBI go to the White House today because this is one of those that, you know, either because he was making efforts to stay off the radar or because simply what the FBI was looking for this guy didn't show up. That's what's disconcerting. And that's why you see all right warnings, recently, John about the types of suspects.
BERMAN: All right. Evan Perez for us, thank you so much.
Again, there is so much coming in. You may find out something new. So let us not what you hear.
Just moments ago we learned police had beefed up security around military recruiting offices here in New York. Joining us to discuss the situation here and around the country, former NYPD detective Harry Houck, currently a CNN law enforcement analyst. Also joining us CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, a former federal homeland security official and official for Massachusetts. Also joined by former secret service agent, Dan Bongino.
Juliette, let me start with you. We know this is now being investigated as an act of terrorism. They are investigating it thinking it might be an act of terrorism. What does that mean? And what do they need to declare that out loud? They say they hadn't spotted this guy before.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. So they don't need to determine what it is yet because there is no case right now. At least the one suspect we know of is dead. So what they're going to do is - Muhammad is sort of the bulls eye. We know who that is and they are going to do an investigation that has concentric circles, who are his friends and family, who did he work with, who is he hanging out with, who was at the wrestling gym? Then it will be, is there any evidence that say there is an international piece to this, which will then bring in the CIA, the NSA and other foreign intelligence agencies. So there is going to be two parallel pieces.
We don't -- we don't need to call it anything. In other word, this is just a normal investigation. Behind it, we might eventually call it domestic terrorism. But right now, really, all we want to find out is there anyone else? Who was he aligned with? And who might have helped him plan this? That's most important thing. I know people want to call it something. And it is clearly terrorism. But it is just -- it's not that important for investigators on the ground who are just putting the pieces together of some horrific act today.
[20:10:00] BERMAN: Harry, let's talk about the plan itself. Because obviously, there was some thinking that went into this. He had two military offices, not prominent. I mean, these are not big bases at all. I mean, the storefront recruiting center and then I think a relatively unknown naval depot. He rented a convertible. He clearly know how to shoot a gun.
HARRY HOUCK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Exactly. I mean, you know, he had to buy the weapon or get somebody to buy the weapon for him. He had to plan this somehow. That happens to be on the last day of Ramadan. So he must have planned this earlier. This is the day I want to make this attack. So basically that's probably why, you know, we had, you know the attack today on Ramadan.
And you know, this guy had to be radicalized somehow. I mean, here is a guy who had the American dream going on. You know, he had a degree. He want to school. He has good parents. And all of a sudden what was it that flipped the switch in this guy's brain and we are probably going to find out when we execute the search warrants in the house which they probably already done. They are going through computers. They are going through his cell phones. We're going to find out exactly how that happened or did somebody else radicalize him.
BERMAN: You think there is a trail? Or one way or the other, you think there is a trail --?
HOUCK: There is always a trail.
BERMAN: Dan, I want to talk about the security situation, the posture at these locations. You know, the first place this guy hit was a recruiting center, military recruiting center. By design, they're meant to be inviting and accessible.
DAN BONGINO, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT OFFICER: Right. You know, listen, there is always got to be that argument about the liberty versus security argument. And I always default to liberty, obviously. But we have to very seriously consider a very significant investment in the federal level at hardening up the soft targets.
Listen, John, Al-Qaeda, ISIS has made no secret of the fact that they want to target our military officials. They put it out on Facebook. They said they warned our military officials not to put public information out there because they're being targeted by ISIS.
A recruitment center like this, without any armed security in front of it which as you said accurately so is inviting to bring people in is an obvious target. And I think we are going to have to look at a different security posture and pretty big investment by our government into hardening these targets out.
BERMAN: You have to think differently, that's for sure.
Juliette, I want to read you his high school yearbook quote which in a lot of people are talking about right now. It said "my name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?" So, he is 24, 25. He was 24, 25, right now. This is probably six years old. What does it tell you about his state of mind six years ago?
KAYYEM: Either he was joking because we don't know, high school yearbook. And you know, he had friend that sort of laughed with him at that, or obviously had some sense of persecution. But the truth is that at least what we know right now, he went through college seemingly unscathed. I mean, in other words, there is no evidence yet coming out that this kid was a dropout. He did not do, you know, sort of not connecting with people.
And so, what happened since graduation would be what I am looking at first. This is, you know, what people write in high school yearbook, six years ago. You know, I wouldn't take as a face value right now. What I would do is sort of look - what I most interested in this last two years. Because the here is a guy, as Jim Comey, the FBI director, this is our scariest scenario in the sense not even on a JTTF list.
BERMAN: That's the scariest part. The scary thing is that they spotted the guy, they thought he was super dangerous. The scariest thing, Harry, is they hadn't spotted him. They had no reason to think there was anything wrong. And looking, we are talking about this yearbook quote. His religion was clearly part of his life. His coach talked about that. But radicalism was not part of his life by outward appearances so far it seems.
HOUCK: Right. It seems like that, that might be the plan to, you know, to live your regular life like you have no animosity towards anyone. And then plan your attack into attack. And when you have people that you know around every day don't see any kind of radicalization, you know, in your everyday life, then they are shocked when something like this happens.
BERMAN: And Dan, you know, this did take some planning. And this guy clearly hit what he was shooting at to an extent, but how much planning or how much training does an attack like this take?
BONGINO: Well, Harry is accurate. There is always going to be a degree of planning. But what keeps me up at night, and I know a lot of security professionals, are the small arms tactical style soft target attacks. Small arms meaning not talking about RPGs here. We are talking about either a machine gun or automatic fire weapon or handguns.
They don't require a lot of training, John. Think about the 9/11 attack. You were talking about learning how to fly a 777, 747, and $500,000 in expenses. Every one of those little interactions they made along the way, where they are learning how to fly the plane, having to spend all that money to rent apartments and cars, all left investigative bread crumbs. When you get a small arms attack like this, which just requires the knowledge to literally pull a trigger, that's all. They don't even have to be marksmen.
You are not talking about those investigative bread crumbs leaving a real distinct trail where we can in turn mitigate and arrest and stop these attacks in advance. That's why the soft target attacks with small arms are so dangerous. And it brings about the same amount of terror regardless because of new social media environment which the terrorists leverage to their benefit.
[20:15:17] BERMAN: Juliette, you know, you said they don't have to call it anything right now. Right now the key is to investigate. Let's just talk about this summer because this summer is different. This summer, there is heightened security posture. This summer over Fourth of July holiday there was increased concern about a possible terror attack. If this does prove to be someone who was inspired by ISIS or another terror group, doesn't this just prove what can be accomplished, what evil can be accomplished here and won't that raise the level of concern even more?
KAYYEM: Yes, and it should. I mean, my personal feeling this is clearly terrorism. I guess my point earlier was -- that for an investigator it don't -- they need to just look at the facts, right? What are we connecting, you know, all of the dots and where do they lead us? You don't want them thinking about ideology right now for guys and gals on the ground you want them just putting the pieces together. And in particular was there any foreign contact.
Looking at it from outside, it is clearly terrorism. I mean, in the sense that, if the motivation is as we think it is, he went after service members who represent United States defense apparatus, killed them, unarmed military, not in a war zone, obviously. And those are the definitions of -- of terrorism.
So for me, this is clearly a new world order in some ways because also, this was not a guy leaving the bag behind us as we saw in the Boston marathon. This was I'm taking a gun and I'm walking in. And if I get killed in the process, so be it.
BERMAN: Right. Juliette, Harry, Dan Bongino, thank you so much.
Quick reminder, we are waiting to hear from Tennessee's governor. He is getting the very latest information right now in a lose door briefing. We will bring it to you in a minute he steps to the microphone.
And when we come back, what could be a significant new development, a woman led out of the killer's family home in handcuffs. So what's going on with this? That's just ahead.
[20:15:32] BERMAN: We have breaking news in the Tennessee shooting rampage. Video just in to CNN. A woman taken from the killer's family home in handcuffs. The family home what one neighbor called a nice, polite, young man who became a mass murder.
Gary Tuchman joins us now. Gary is in the neighborhood.
And Gary, we are seeing this picture for the first time of this woman being led out of the home. What information do you have about what happened there?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we can tell you that when police got to this neighborhood, and we must tell you this neighborhood is the kind of place you come to and move to when you are fulfilling the American dream. This is where Abdulazeez lived most of his life from early as when he was seven years old. The street is now closed. Police blocking it because police are inside the house investigating, making sure there is no booby traps or bomb making material, taking out evidence.
So when we got there we are told by people who live in the neighborhood, that they said FBI come out with your hand up. We don't know the relationship of that woman to the gunman, but we do know she was handcuffed and led out. That doesn't mean she was arrested. It just means she was handcuffed and led out. And that's all we know at this point.
Now, the bomb squad, canine units were here. The canine units are still there. The bomb squad has left. But as we said they're still on the scene going through the house.
We can tell you Abdulazeez graduated from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga campus in 2012 with an electrical engineering degree. It does not appear that he had any job. He had various internships after he got out of college. But it does not look like he had a full time job.
We also know, John, that in April of this year he was arrested for DWI. He had a hearing scheduled for the DWI charge two weeks from today -- John.
BERMAN: Interesting. Now, the neighborhood itself, you call it the place where you move to when you want to fulfill the American dream. What are neighbors saying about the suspect and the family?
TUCHMAN: Neighbors are absolutely stunned. And we have talked to a few different people who knew him, who knew his family. We talked to one gentleman who has three children. He says his three children used to be babysat by the gunman's older sister and younger sister. And at times, the gunman would come over too and he would talk to him and he thought he was just a normal guy. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't see anything wrong with him.
TUCHMAN: What kind of family does he have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're good people. I never found any kind of conflict with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: It sound like a cliche. But it must be stated, everyone we talked to in this neighborhood totally stunned. Can't believe this guy, who they have seen in this neighborhood since he was seven years old, they think in 2nd grade, could have possibly done something like this.
BERMAN: All right. Gary Tuchman, thank you so much. Fascinating details.
Look. Once again, I want to remind you. We are waiting on the governor Bill Haslam there to come speak to us at any moment. He is behind the doors right now being briefed by law enforcement with the very latest on the investigation. Some new details coming our way soon from the governor. So stay with us for that.
In the meantime, on the phone with us right now, someone who will never forget this day like so many in Chattanooga today, Laneesha Lewis. She was at the first shooting location.
Laneesha, you were in your car on the way to the nail salon which was part of that strip mall. Tell me what you saw?
LANEESHA LEWIS, WITNESS (via phone): As I, well, after I parked and pulled up, I was getting ready to get out of my car. And I saw him pulling up just a casual car drive up with their drop top down. And I saw him reaching into his passenger side and lift up a very large black gun and just begin to open fire inside of the recruit office.
BERMAN: Did you get a good look at him as he was doing this?
LEWIS: I did. I was about two parking spaces over from where he was.
BERMAN: What did he look like? What was the expression on his face?
LEWIS: It really wasn't -- he didn't look angry or anything. He just - I mean, he just looking directly, you know. I just could really see the side of his face. And he was looking directly into the building and just shooting. There wasn't even, there wasn't a huge difference in his demeanor. It was just a regular, you know. It wasn't like he was looking angry or mad or anything. He was just sitting in his driver's seat, opening fire.
BERMAN: How long, did you watch this happen? How long before you got yourself to safety?
[20:25:03] LEWIS: He fired at least six shots before I drove off.
BERMAN: And that's just got to be terrifying. It is something that no one should ever have to see, someone attempting to commit mass murder. What was going through your head at the time?
LEWIS: I just couldn't believe I was seeing what I was seeing. I just, I initially saw, I was like, is that guy really shooting? And I, you know, I was frozen for a moment. And then, that's when I drove off after I realized OK, I am in danger, let me move. Because before I was just watching him, you know, shooting and I was in shock.
BERMAN: And I know the entire city is in shock. How are you doing tonight, Laneesha?
LEWIS: Still calming down. But I'm much better than I was at the scene.
BERMAN: We are glad you are safe. Thank you.
LEWIS: Thankfully we all, everybody, everybody at that location still has their lives and we just know it was God protecting us. BERMAN: Laneesha, thank you for being with us. We are glad you are
LEWIS: Thank you.
BERMAN: Up next, so many in the military though tonight mourning the loss of four marines, reeling from this attack that seemed to come out of nowhere. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins me with the latest from the military's perspective. That's just ahead.
BERMAN: Breaking news, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam on the shootings in Chattanooga. Let's listen.
GOVERNOR BILL HASLAM, TENNESSEE: We have been briefed on the situation and as appropriate those - that information will be divulged later. For now, I think the important thing, a couple of things. First of all, the incredibly impressed with the cooperation between state and local and federal law enforcement officials. It is really impressive and encouraging. And I think the second thing is, it's been - Tennessee and Chattanooga who reacted just the way that I thought they would with an outpouring of love and support. And the law enforcement officials were saying, I don't know we have been anywhere, where we have seen a community that just rallied so quickly. To, to -- to the tragedy that we have had. So with that I will call on Mayor Berke for anything that he would like to add.
MAYOR ANDY BERKE, CHATTANOOGA, TENN.: Thanks, governor. Also, thank our Congressman Ted Pike (ph) for being here. Our hearts are breaking for the families of these Marines tonight. And we also know that there are others who have been injured today that we're thinking about. My e-mail inbox, my Twitter feed, everything has been filled with community members who want to do something. Because that's who Chattanoogans are. I also say that every time I hear another story about what police officers did today. As I said several hours this afternoon, doing, I am completely impressed by the heroism that they showed. And so, we want to thank the governor for coming here. He called me very soon after the incident to talk about what happened. Talk to Congressman Fleischmann. As well. Talked to the White House many times today. This is a tragic day for our city. But certainly, as the governor said. All of our officials have responded in the best way possible. So, we thank you very much.
HASLAM: Taking a few question, if anybody has them, the things we can answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
HASLAM: I think as in any situation where there is some confusion about how widespread it was, I think law enforcement, a lot of places took extra precaution because of that. So, the Capitol was never actually locked down. But I think the security was heightened during that time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the reaction of homeland security here?
HASLAM: I've been nothing - I'm just beginning to get briefed on what's happened, but from everything I can understand I think the congressman said he had talked with the secretary earlier today. They have been nothing but supportive and helpful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, have you spoken with the families?
HASLAM: We have not. That's, that's still -- obviously the Department of Defense is in charge of that at this point in time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has been the reaction from the White House?
HASLAM: I'll let Andy talk to that.
BERKE: I will just say, you know, I contacted the White House very soon after the incident. I then got proactively called several times from the White House. They have been very concerned and in touch. As a matter of fact, during my press conference today, you know, I got off and I saw that there were four calls from the private number which, which, was them. And then I got another call. So, you know, the president has been getting constantly briefed about this. And -- I know that -- they are completely in touch with what is going on in Chattanooga.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, has anyone been arrested ...
BERKE: I really can't comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) any concerns you have regarding what this might do, regarding backlash to -- to Islamic groups? Or are you concerned about that?
BERKE: I think chief might be the most appropriate response to that.
CHIEF FRED FLETCHER, CHATTANOOGA POLICE: Absolutely. It's a very good question. And I can assure you that the Chattanooga police department is working with all the local state and federal agencies to ensure that every single resource is put where it is needed. Or where people feel like it is needed. We are identifying spots. We are meeting on an hourly basis to make sure that any identified areas that might feel vulnerable are addressed in the appropriate manner. I can assure you that all agencies, federal, state, and local are working together with the common goal of keeping everybody in this community, across this city, across this state and across this country safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not going to disclose anything about the investigation. The investigation is entirely in the purview of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
FLETCHER: I'd need to go find an update soon as I get out of here. I need to check on my officers. The injured people in our community and find out exactly what's going on. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many other people were injured?
FLETCHER: We have four people that we know that were fatally wounded. And we had several others that were transported to the hospital. And several others that were treated at the scene and released.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).
FLETCHER: That's still part of the investigation. As you know that's a very tricky thing to find out. Those things can be difficult to ascertain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).
FLETCHER: I can tell you that there are no braver or more selfless people than the Chattanooga police department. I can tell you that the officers of the Chattanooga police department saved many lives today. I have never been prouder to be a public servant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).
FLETCHER: If you have information, please go through the numbers we have given you for our communications departments. We have a single point of contact. And a very structured stream to get information to the lead investigators with both the Chattanooga police department and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Thank you.
BERMAN: You were listening to the governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam. The mayor of Chattanooga, Andy Berke, and also the police chief. The mayor said that our hearts are breaking for the families of these Marines tonight. Obviously this brazen attack not just shaking a city, Chattanooga, or a state, Tennessee, but the entire U.S. military. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us now with the latest on that. Barbara, what has the military response been to this tragic incident?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, John. Right now we can tell you that the U.S. Marine Corps continuing to reach out to all of the family members of the fallen. And indeed they are the fallen, because this procedure for assisting families is the same procedure as if these Marines fell on the battlefields of Afghanistan or Iraq. They're going to have family liaisons with them. Marines with them to help them through the next many hours and days of everything that they will be going through in the time ahead, to grieve for their loved ones. You know, the Marines are a small family. There is only tens of thousand of them. And a lot of them know each other. This is being very felt deeply across the force.
BERMAN: It certainly seems as if they were killed today because they were Marines. Barbara, back in May, military bases around the country increased their security level force protection measures because of heightened concern about the possibility of terrorist threats. Any connection to that heightened level of security and concern and what happened today? STARR: Well, not a direct connection that anybody is able to tell us
about just yet. We have seen across the world, and in many places in the United States, these so-called lone wolf attacks, inspired by ISIS or other terrorist groups. If it's been the big fear of U.S. law enforcement, and the military had responded to this issue say by raising security levels at military bases across the country. More security checks, more I.D. checks, that sort of thing. Here's the problem, John. One of these sites was a recruiting center. One was basically another local area where military people worked. This is what basically happens across this country in towns and cities across America. The military is part of the fabric of American life. Recruiting centers in a strip mall, like the one that was so brutally attacked, they are relatively open. They don't have armed security around the clock. They want to be open. They want young Americans come in, ask about the military, think about a career in military service. Again, this is one of the problems. If these kind of facilities are under attack, how do you actually protect them when they may be in a strip mall next to a grocery store. You know, again, the military does not want to wall itself -- itself off from American life. So this is a very difficult problem.
BERMAN: No, they are accessible and inviting many of these locations by design. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.
Back with our panel digging deeper into any and all potential terror connections. So many new questions, right after a quick break.
BERMAN: We are talking about today's tragedy in Tennessee and what may have turned a quiet young man into a mass killer. Joining me now, CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, also Mubin Shaikh, author of "Undercover Jihadi." He has a unique perspective, he is a former jihadist and a counterterrorism operative. Paul, the joint terrorism task force now taking the lead on this, they are looking at this as an act of terrorism. What exactly will they be looking for these next several hours?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: John, they will be looking at whether he had a radical profile, whether he was in some way a supporter of ISIS, or of al Qaeda, whether he had a radical circle. Whether in the past few months, he made any overseas travel potentially to the Middle East or somewhere like that. They'll be looking at all these things, his social media profile. And the context here of course is that ISIS have called for attacks against the U.S. military by their supporters, and they have called for attacks during Ramadan. Today is the last day of Ramadan. Ramadan has just ended here on the East Coast. They will be looking at the possibility that this was an attack by an Islamic extremist on the last day of Ramadan. We do not yet know the motive at this point. It's very important to emphasize.
BERMAN: What about ISIS communication, ISIS messaging, ISIS reaction going out this afternoon and this evening around the world? CRUICKSHANK: What we have seen so far on Twitter, are these so-called
ISIS fan boys, celebrating, lots of tweets congratulating this person for launching this attack. Though we have seen no formal claim of responsibility yet from ISIS. And law enforcement authorities have not told us about any kind of communications that may have gone back and forth. Though we have seen in some recent terror plots, ISIS operatives in Syria communicating with Americans in the United States. For example, Elton Simpson, who attempted to carry out that attack on an event in Garland, Texas just two months ago.
BERMAN: I just heard from someone who was something of an acquaintance of this young man. He was described to me as a country guy who liked beers and Tennessee football. Just another guy. In Chattanooga, Tennessee. How do you go from "just another guy" in Chattanooga, who by the way is fairly well off, to a mass killer of four Marines?
MUBIN SHAIKH, FORMER JIHADIST: Well, this is one of the most common things you hear, he seemed like such a nice guy. I didn't suspect anything. We hear this all the time. No matter what kind of criminal offense it is. Usually the more horrific it is, the more surprised people are. But remember underneath that exterior is something else going on. I saw the yearbook posting earlier on the coverage on your program. You know, there are other things happening in his life. We may not know them now. But certainly I think you will see more and more things kept pushing him, or at lest he perceived that. And then he just decided now is the time for me to act.
BERMAN: That yearbook quote was effectively "my name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?" That was in high school, presumably five, or six years ago. As you say, maybe it suggests there was something on his mind way back then. But Mubin, you study this and you talk about this now as part of your life. It is hard to understand how you can go from someone who apparently is enjoying the fruits of being in America, football, beer, an engineering degree, how you can go from someone who benefits from it to someone who might potentially attack it.
SHAIKH: Well, you are hypocritical is what it is. You can still be living in the society, enjoying all the good things it provides you. But still hate it. You will take -- take the benefit of it. Or in the case of other places where people take literally benefits, like welfare benefits. I mean, they're glad to take the money and the opportunity, but, the chance they're given to strike, they will.
BERMAN: Paul, does it make it harder or easier to investigate when there is this apparent facade of normalcy out there?
CRUICKSHANK: It obviously makes it a lot harder to investigate by the FBI. It does not seem like this individual was on any kind of watch list. It does not seem that he was on the radar screen of U.S. law enforce officials. And people can live parallel lives that they don't tell their families about. They don't tell their friends about. They can retreat to a different universe. A kind of online universe, where they're accessing this very radical propaganda from groups like ISIS. And ISIS is telling them it is your religious duty to carry out attacks against the United States, because the United States is attacking the caliphate, the so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq. During Ramadan they said there will be ten times more reward in paradise for followers in the United States if they were to carry out attacks.
BERMAN: We still don't know if he was motivated by anyone else, how he was motivated by any other factor. But, Paul, is it your experience in talking to investigators over the years there is bound to be some answer to that question and soon. Some kind of footprint that will be in their hands over the next several hours?
CRUICKSHANK: Absolutely. The entire U.S. intelligence and law enforcement apparatus are going to go at this. I am sure they already probably have answers if not now, very soon. About this guy's potential radical trajectory. But we do not yet know. And I have to emphasize this again. Whether this was an act of Islamist terrorism, but tonight, it's starting to feel like that may be the case.
BERMAN: Mubin, are you worried there is more of this to come?
SHAIKH: There will be more of these attacks to come, certainly.
BERMAN: Why do you feel that way?
SHAIKH: Well, I mean, when Adnani (ph), the spokesperson for ISIS, first made the, you know, the call to do that, in Canada we had our own response. We had an individual run over two soldiers with his car. Killing one of them. We know this, the Adnani said attack, the police, the military in uniform in particular. And we are seeing that. And so, it is a very clear trajectory. I mean, they make the call. Some of their zombies rise up and answer the call. So it's not the last one. And, you can be sure that there will be more.
BERMAN: Paul, it's interesting, Paul, because we had heard after the Fourth of July holiday a feeling from federal law enforcement they had thwarted possible attacks or at least possible plots. What this shows is that even if you are having success at stopping some things, perhaps more things will slip through the cracks, and it just takes one.
CRUICKSHANK: Well, absolutely. As long as ISIS continues to exist, as long as they continue to hold territory, as long as they're seen by their followers as being the leaders of this so-called new caliphate, they will continue to have a platform to call for these kind of attacks. People will respond because they will see it as their religious duty. I think this is unfortunately now becoming the new normal. Not only here in the United States, but also in Europe. And in France, just on Monday they thwarted a terrorist attack against a military facility there, John.
BERMAN: Paul Cruickshank, Mubin Shaikh, obviously, again, the details not yet known, the ties not yet complete. But investigations going on tonight, whether there is a connection between this man and a possible foreign terrorist organization or groups. Next, some late developments from the scene. New insight from some
people who knew the suspect. We will tell you this new information we are getting tonight.
BERMAN: So we said at the top, developments have been coming in one after another in the story out of Tennessee. And a picture of the killer has been coming into focus. Joining us again, Drew Griffin at the naval facility where the killing happened and also where it ended. Drew, you're just getting information from friends of the suspect. What are you hearing?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually it was another coach, a man who has known this person since he was just about 11 years old. Actually just up until a month ago, John, was at a mosque, the greater Islamic center of Chattanooga praying with this now dead suspect. He said he was absolutely fine. Amir Dezadarzovic (ph) says that everything we heard about this kid so far, that this was a great, all- American kid, very polite, very devout Muslim, but certainly not showing signs of radicalism in any way, shape, or form. He did mention though that a couple of years ago, he thought that the suspect went overseas for a time. And says, you know, if it was anywhere he might have been radicalized, it could have been during that trip. Certainly, this is again the-- the member of the Muslim community here saying certainly he wasn't radicalized here in Chattanooga. I think it's fair to point out he was a practicing Muslim in this town, and up until a month ago, was practicing in one of the big mosques here in Chattanooga.
BERMAN: Trip overseas. First we are hearing of that. Drew, you also spoke to a different coach, a different mixed martial arts coach of Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez. What did he tell you?
GRIFFIN: I think his reaction when we learned the name, as we all did this afternoon, he learned it on the radio here. His reaction was tears came to his eyes. This kid was, as he says, just a great all- American kid. This is Scott Schrader, his mixed martial arts coach. And we just talked to him about an hour ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT SCHRADER, FORMER MIXED MARTIAL ARTS COACH: I mean, he seemed like the all-American kid. I mean he never, never loud, never boisterous, never got out of line, hard worker, you know, seemed to enjoy, you know, the training. And you know, got along with everybody.
He is a smart kid. I mean, he was in high school at the time. And I believe he went on from there to get an engineering degree from UTC. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: He did in fact, John. He got an electrical engineering degree. He did some internships. We do not have any evidence he had a full-time job. But just on the training, to snow you what kind of a kid he was. He would train in the gym, 6:00 comes around, takes his prayer rug, goes into the coach's office. Does his prayers. Comes back out. Goes right back into the ring. Everybody who knew him so far just shocked at what took place over my shoulder today.
BERMAN: Apparently a mass murderer. Drew Griffin. Thank you so much.
Our Gary Tuchman has managed to get closer to the home where the killer grew up and where a woman was led away in handcuffs a little while ago. Gary, what's the latest?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The house right there. The tannish, beige house on the left. The operation continues. Police are inside the home. We can tell you, though, they would not let us this close if they were still concerned about the possibility of booby traps or explosives. Indeed there was an explosive expert here in a bomb squad truck. That bomb squad truck left, but they are still continuing the investigation of the home where this man lived most of his life. Neighbors tell us he moved here when he was 7 years old.
BERMAN: Gary Tuchman, with the latest details from the search team where this man grew up. Thank you so much, Gary.
The recruiting center that came under fire is as we said is in a strip mall. There are plenty of other businesses right next to it. When the gunman opened fire, a lot of people there feared for their lives. Gina Mule works in a restaurant right nearby. She heard the shots. She saw the shooter. She joins me right now by phone. Gina, we have just a couple of minutes right now. Explain to me what you saw. This driver pulls up in his convertible. Next thing you know, what?
GINA MULE, WITNESS: He just opened fire. Actually he was shooting before I went to the front of the restaurant to see him. I heard gunshots when I was in the kitchen, I ran to the front. I'd seen the gun. I'd seen him just holding it out of the car and he was just opening fire on the businesses next store. Tons of round. One after the other, 20, 30 shots. It was horrible.
BERMAN: What kind of a gun, could you tell how big of a gun it was?
MULE: It was huge. It was like a big high-powered rifle. I mean, after it was all said and done, when police were coming out there with their big rifles and stuff, it looked like those. A real big rifle.
BERMAN: Now, you never saw him get out of the car. But --
MULE: He never got out of the car.
BERMAN: It was a convertible. What was he doing, standing up inside the convertible shooting? MULE: No. He was sitting down. He just had his gun over the door of
the car. And was just opening fire. He never got out of his car, not once.
BERMAN: My God. To look out your restaurant, where you go presumably every day and see a guy leaning out of a convertible shooting what looks like a high-powered rifle into the office next door. What was going through your head?
MULE: I was scared. But I was in shock. I really couldn't move. I was just wondering was it real? I didn't know what to think, to be honest with you. I was literally ten feet away.
BERMAN: And then it was over after - what, a minute or two of firing. And he just gets in the car and drives off?
MULE: Two minutes from the time I heard the gunshots to where he drove off. It was just in an instant, he was gone.
BERMAN: How long before law enforcement or first responders were on the scene?
MULE: They actually got to the scene pretty quick. After the call was placed. As soon as the guy drove off. Just a couple of minutes later they were pulling up.
BERMAN: You stayed and worked in the restaurant for the rest of the day?
MULE: I stayed and worked for like the next hour. Until they blocked off the area. We had a couple of customers who were coming in. And then when they blocked off the area, nobody was able to come up to the restaurant. Or, you know, so we just stayed there. We had -- we couldn't leave. Had to talk to FBI officers and stuff like that before we were able to go. But we eventually shut it down. And got out of there.
BERMAN: Gina, quickly, in about 10 seconds. How are you doing tonight, what's your mood, what's your mood in the town?
MULE: I am okay. I'm going to pray for the families of those who are involved. And what I don't want Americans to do is just to go out there and attack all Muslims, you know. I work with a lot. I have a lot of good friends. They're good people. These radical ones are who we need to go after. But I don't want everybody to have this stereotype in their head just to think all Muslims are bad. Because they're not.
BERMAN: Gina Mule, thank you so much for being with us tonight. We're glad you're safe. That's all for us tonight on "AC 360." You can get all the latest information on today's tragedy in Tennessee with Don Lemon at 10:00 p.m., new details coming in every second. We'll see you again at 11:00 Eastern Time.
The CNN original series, "THE SEVENTIES," starts now.