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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Suspect Shot in U.S. Capitol. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired March 28, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.
We're going to start with breaking news.
A lockdown has just been lifted at the U.S. Capitol after Capitol police shot a man and a woman was hurt by shrapnel. It was a frightening scene today as crowds flock to the nation's capital this time of year, many families in Washington on spring break.
Staffers inside local buildings at the Capitol were told to shelter in place.
We have a team getting all of the latest. Manu Raju and Brian Todd are gathering information from air sources.
Brian, let me start with you. What do we know right now? What happened?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, what we're told by law enforcement officials is that a suspect, a male was shot by Capitol Police in an area that occurred apparently close to the Capitol Visitors Center complex.
Our photojournalist Greg Robertson (ph) will just go over my left shoulder, take you in to where the emergency response vehicles are still gathered over there, police still gathered. That is the entrance to the visitors center. We're told this incident may have taken place somewhat close to that point right there.
That is the corner of First Street Northeast and East Capitol Street, right near where the incident apparently took place. What we're told, Jake, is that a male suspect was shot by Capitol Police. That suspect as of about a half-hour ago was en route to the hospital. We presume that he has gotten there at this point. We are told that a female bystander was wounded by shrapnel.
No other injuries that we know of at this point. We were told that no police officers were injured. And as you mentioned a moment ago, Jake, the lockdown is now over. The Capitol sergeant at arms has just announced this to the staff, that everybody is free to move around. The House and Senate office buildings are now open for business. We just talked to one lady who was actually wrapping up a tour at the Capitol Building with her grandson. She did not see or hear the shots, Jake, but what she did tell us...
TAPPER: All right. Sounds like we lost Brian Todd.
Let's bring in Manu Raju, also on the Capitol.
Manu, there were reports of another incident at the White House around the same time. What is the latest on that? What does the Secret Service have to say?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, this actually is not related to the incident at the Capitol.
Both the White House and the Capitol, neither of those buildings are currently in lockdown right now. And as Brian was saying, where he's standing right now is a significant spot. That is the entrance of the Capitol Visitors Center. That's where hundreds and hundreds of tourists come through those doors each day and exactly where that shooting took place is going to be very significant to understand, given how risky of a situation it is for all these tourists, who happen to be gathering near that precise spot.
Now, of course, Jake, also this is an important time at the White House. There was the Easter egg roll that was happening today. There are thousands of people were prepared to enter attending that event. And in the Capitol, this is cherry blossom season, so tourists are going in and out of the doors of the Capitol Visitors Center.
So, that's why what we saw was a very aggressive response from law enforcement officials waiting outside that Capitol Visitors Center entrance, which is where that shot, where the shooting did take place, right around that entrance, which is right next to the Supreme Court, right near the Capitol Building itself -- Jake.
TAPPER: And of course these potential threats are not theoretical. Many, as you know, in 1998, there was an incident inside the Capitol where a shooter actually killed two Capitol Police officers. It was the summer of 1998, so officers there, security there are always on alert because they know not only could something happen, things have happened.
RAJU: That's absolutely right, Jake. Officers really take everything incredibly seriously.
I have seen time and time again when there is even a threat of a suspicious package in the Capitol, for hallways to be evacuated, even if there really is no threat immediately. But clearly they don't take anything for granted, and especially in a situation like this, and clearly with someone with a gun, with a firearm near that Capitol Visitors Center entrance, where there are so many tourists.
Even if lawmakers are not around -- and they're not. They're on a congressional recess right now. Law enforcement takes it incredibly seriously. We have seen actually incidents of people trying to actually bring guns inside the Capitol. There was actually an incident in December when someone was arrested for trying to bring a firearm into the Senate.
And that person was actually caught and charged with trying to bring a firearm into the entrance. So clear this has happened in the past. We're still gathering details to figure out exactly what happened here. But, as we know, as Brian Todd just reported, that suspect has been shot and injured and taken to the hospital. So we will see exactly what happened and how the police responded.
But it's clear, Jake, these officers take nothing for granted, especially since that attack in 1998, when two Capitol Police officers were shot and of course after 9/11 and as the risks of terrorism continue to increase.
TAPPER: That's right. When you were talking about suspicious packages, I was thinking about the anthrax attacks on the United States Capitol in 2001 after 9/11.
Let's bring in CNN's chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, you're hearing more about the scene inside the Capitol Hill Visitors Center. What are you being told?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
A law enforcement source that I have been communicating with -- and I should say that both Ted Barrett and Manu, they have gotten backup about this from other sources, that the gunman came through the mag, and this is where the incident happened, at the magnetometer machine, the place where we all know from going to airports, if we don't go to a place like the Capitol, you go through and you wait to see if it beeps.
Well, it beeped and it turned out that at that moment the gunman pulled out the gun, which is what caused the beep to happen on the mag, and that's when he began to fire and he was shot by the one officer, as we have been reporting.
So the question had been, how did this guy even get a gun into the Capitol? Well, it appears the answer is he didn't. He tried, was unsuccessful, and it seems as though the mechanisms in place, both the technology and the people, the law enforcement officials who were there, they stopped it from happening.
TAPPER: All right, well, thankfully, thankful for that. The Capitol Police and the U.S. Secret Service, we tend to cover them only when there are mistakes or disgraces, but they as a general rule do an amazing job under very dire circumstances. The White House and Capitol Hill under constant threat.
Let's go back to Brian Todd for the latest on this Capitol Hill shooting.
Brian, what more can you tell us? TODD: Jake, we can tell you that the lockdown has essentially been
lifted. This sergeant this arms for the Senate has just announced that the lockdown is over. Senate and House office buildings are back open for business. People are free to move around now.
What we're told by law enforcement officials is there was a male suspect who was shot by Capitol Hill police right at the entrance to the visitors center. That's right over my left shoulder, down East Capitol Street, where those emergency response vehicles are right now. Still a lot of law enforcement gathered down there. That is where the incident occurred.
We're told a male suspect shot and wounded, that suspect taken to the hospital. We're told that a female bystander was wounded by shrapnel in the incident. No word yet on her condition. We're also told now that there are no other suspects at large, so this incident appears to have wound down, Jake.
One male in custody, but wounded, and a female bystander wounded by shrapnel. No other suspects at large right now. Police officers just swarmed to the scene when we got word that there had been a shooting near the entrance to the visitors center, which again is just down here, and the Capitol was on lockdown for about an hour.
I talked to a woman who was there taking a tour with her grandson. She said they were in the rotunda area inside the Capitol finishing up their tour when the incident occurred. She did not see or hear shots, but she said they told them to get down right away, sit down on the floor, not make any noise and they held them there for a little while and then she said they released them.
So, again, this incident appears to have wound down now. The lockdown has been lifted. House and Senate office buildings are now reopened, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Brian, before I turn to our next guests, I just want to make sure we understand this. So the only injuries we know of right now are a woman who was hit with shrapnel, an innocent bystander, and the shooter himself. No one else, including Capitol Hill police officers, has been injured in this incident?
TODD: That is correct, Jake.
That is what we're told by law enforcement officials. There were no law enforcement personnel injured in the incident. The only people wounded were the suspect who was transported to a hospital and a female bystander hit by shrapnel. We have not been told where she might have been taken, what her exact condition is here, and we will hope to get more information on that shortly.
And we're also told no other suspects at large at the moment, so the incident appears to have wound down.
TAPPER: All right, Brian Todd, thank you.
Let's bring in former FBI Assistant Director and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, as well as CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick.
Art, let me start with you.
The visitors center, it can accommodate 4,000 tourists, I'm told. What kind of security has been established inside that building?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I'm pretty familiar with that area. I have been in and out of there several times. And I'm glad to hear that this incident occurred right there at the doors because that's exactly where the magnetometers and the security are.
We had initial reports that it was inside one of the small movie theaters that they have in there, which means it would have been deep into the visitors area, which to me would have been a problem, because that means somebody had got the weapon past security.
But it sounds like both the equipment and the law enforcement response was right on and they were able to engage the individual right there at the magnetometer and make sure that that person did not get into that area.
TAPPER: Tom, take us through what investigators right now are likely trying to determine.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Jake, the main thing is trying to get his full identity, verify who this person is, whether they acted alone, whether he's affiliated with any kind of a terror group.
Some of the attacks at the Capitol in the past have been from white supremacist groups. So this may be ISIS sympathizer or it may not. It could be just a lone nut that decided to take a gun in there and threaten the police and got shot doing it.
That's what they will be trying to learn. Is he an individual, is he politically or religiously affiliated with some group, or did he act alone and is this truly over?
TAPPER: We're going to be getting a press conference and we're going to carry it live in about five minutes.
Local police will be giving an update on the status and we will bring that to you live, but let's continue this conversation.
Art, you can actually trace the history of security on Capitol Hill through the various shootings that have happened there. In 1954, a number of Puerto Rican nationalists got into the chamber and actually shot five members of the House of Representatives. Security was extended. In 1998, a white supremacist, I believe, was able to get into the Capitol Building. The perimeter was extended.
Now we have an incident happening outside the Capitol at the Capitol Visitors Center.
RODERICK: Yes, I'm very familiar with how the Capitol Police train. They actually train at one of the law enforcement training center facilities up in Maryland. And they actually have a mock area of the Capitol that they use to actually practice active shooter incidences, suspicious packages, all these types of incidences that occur.
But of course they also do in-service training there at the Capitol. But they are well-trained for these types of incidences. And, unfortunately, through trial and error, they have become very good at what they do. And a good indication is what happened today, where they were -- actually engaged the individual right there at the security point.
TAPPER: Tom, as we have been discussing, a male suspect is in custody. He is, if not at the hospital, en route to the hospital after being shot by Capitol Police.
Do you think it's likely that at this point he has been identified?
FUENTES: I would think so, Jake. I think it's very likely that he's been identified. And I think they will withhold that information for now so that they can get to his residence, to family members, co- workers, others that may be familiar with him before the media gets to those locations.
So they may hold back the identity for some length of time in order to be able to get far enough into their investigation and not be obstructed by what's going to ensue when the media tries to go to those locations also.
RODERICK: You know, Jake, one of the other issues too...
TAPPER: Art -- go ahead, Art. I'm sorry.
RODERICK: No, if you saw that shot with Brian Todd, you can see that they have the barriers up on the street there. That street is usually blocked off all the way up to the Capitol and you can only get in there by foot.
So, I think the first thing they're going to have to do is, OK, where is this individual's vehicle, locate that vehicle and then obviously search it.
And, Tom Fuentes, as you have noted, white supremacist groups have posed threats to the Capitol. Of course, in this era of ISIS, everyone is very sensitive right now to any possible Islamist terrorism. We don't have any evidence about any motive behind this individual or his identity.
But certainly, coming after Belgium, certainly coming after the attacks in France, law enforcement at the Capitol already on heightened alert.
FUENTES: No, that's true. What you don't know is whether there is a coincidence, a copycat, what it might be. That's the fear that they have. That's why the quick reaction to lock everybody down, secure the
premises and try to figure out whether they have multiple people posing a threat at multiple locations, both in the Capitol or throughout the country. So that's the reason for the quick response.
But it would have happened anywhere, with or without Belgium or Paris or any of the prior attacks that we have seen already in Europe.
TAPPER: Also joining me on the phone is former U.S. Secret Service agent and former NYPD Detective Dan Bongino.
Dan, your response to the news from the Capitol?
DAN BONGINO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well, Jake, this really highlights the difference between access control and security.
We have seen this problem over and over, where you have an unsecure area. Then you have magnetometers, and you have a secure area.
[16:15:04] You know, I said over and over, access control -- a ticket is an access control device, a ticket to a football game. What we have to do to solve this problem is we have to engage in a more vibrant, comprehensive security program in the United States that's focused more on some of the softer issues, Jake -- surveillance, external surveillance around the capitol, counter-surveillance looking for people that could be surveilling the capitol as the potential target.
We have to really re-invest in our intelligence operations in the United States, because as soft targets become a priority, you're going to see this situation present itself again and again. You saw it in the airport in Brussels and you saw it here today, although there's no indication whatsoever this is terrorism, I want to be clear. You saw the same problem appear today at the capitol.
TAPPER: Well, just to play that out, let me -- let me ask you a little bit further, in terms of what happened at the Brussels airport, what could have been done beyond what was done? You see individuals with suitcases. You don't know that they have bombs in their bags. It could be just what is normally in a suitcase.
BONGINO: That's a fair question. It's very call out a problem if you don't have solution.
Here's the solution: the Israelis have been doing this for a long time. They have a very vigorous behavioral profiling system. I want to be very clear on this, a behavioral profiling system. It's not based on physical characteristics.
It's based on certain behaviors, everything from things like micro- expressions, Jake, little -- little things in people's faces, expressions they make that they may not know they're making, to clothing, to the way people twitch and what we would call in the Secret Service jokingly, the duck walk. When someone is carrying a gun, they'll use their elbow to feel for the gun. They don't even know that they're doing it. These are the kind of things you can train. People -- listen, none of
this is 100 percent, I'm not suggesting that. But what I'm saying is it's the kind of thing we really have to reinvest in because as soft targets become the new primary target, it's going to be absolutely impossible to keep pushing these perimeters out farther and farther. They'll be nothing left in Washington, D.C. to be able to walk around as a free man or woman. We can't do that.
TAPPER: No, absolutely not.
And, Art and Tom, let me bring you back into this conversation because, obviously, the Israeli model is one thing, but there is not the same tradition of openness and the ability and ease to access the United States Capitol that there is in Israel. There is not -- there is not the same sense that the Knesset is the people's building and anyone can go in and see their member of Knesset as there is in the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate, Tom.
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, that's true. I've lived and worked in and around Washington, D.C., for several decades now, and the problem, especially in the mall area of Washington, is you're besieged by visitors from around the world and tourists that come in. They dress according to their native attire in their country, not necessarily to what might be the local fashion here.
So, many people are going to look different. They're going to have different color skins and different clothing, head attire, scarves, hats, things like that. And so, really, in a way you just have too many people that would look too different, requiring too much law enforcement attention to be able to allow that in Washington.
Especially this is probably the peak tourist week with the exception of the Fourth of July that you have in Washington. The cherry blossom/spring break time and later this summer, we'll have July 4th tourism. And you just have millions of people and they don look like the rest of us, and that's just a fact of life here.
TAPPER: All right. Let me bring in Chris Frates, if I can. He's on Capitol Hill, I believe.
Chris, what's the latest where you are? Chris Frates?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have some news coming in here, Jake. I can tell you that the suspect entered the Capitol Visitors Center, as he went through the metal detectors, that's when the alarm sounded. When that alarm sounded, the suspect began to draw his weapon and that's when Capitol police shot the suspect.
So, this is a new information with the tick-tock of exactly how this went down, Jake. So, just to repeat, the suspect entering the Capitol Visitors Center, that's in the basement of the capitol. He started to go through the metal detector, the metal detector, of course, sensing that gun, setting off an alarm. As that alarm went off, he drew his weapon and that's when capitol police fired. We're getting from sources here on Capitol. And I can also tell you that legislative leaders, most of the legislative leadership on the Hill today were not in Washington, starting with House Speaker Paul Ryan. He was not in Washington. He's been briefed on this incident, however.
Also, his counterpart on the Senate side, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, was home in Louisville when this all went down. I'm told by his staff they're certain he has been briefed. On the Democratic side, Nancy Pelosi was in San Francisco. We have not yet heard from Harry Reid's office, he's a Senate Democratic leader, so we're still waiting to hear back from him.
[16:20:02] And I'm told, the leadership staff for those three members all safe and sound, so that is good news. But while this all went down, most of the legislative leadership -- in fact most of the lawmakers were not here today. It was Easter recess. Congress was not in session.
So, if this had to happen, today was a day where there was not as much traffic on the Hill because Congress was not in session. But really the breaking news that we are following, the suspect entered the Capitol Visitors Center, set off the alarm as he went through, pulled his gun and as he did that, he was shot by capitol police officers, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Chris Frates on Capitol Hill, we're going to take a very quick break. We are expecting a live press conference from the Capitol Hill Police Department on what exactly transpired. We'll bring you a lot more after this quick break. Stay with us.
[16:25:15] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's breaking news. We are awaiting any minute a press conference from the U.S. Capitol Police about the shooting that took place not long ago at the visitors center at the U.S. Capitol.
An individual trying to walk through the magnetometers. The alarm went off and what we are told from our reporters is that the individual then tried to take out a gun. He was shot. He has been taken to the hospital. We do not know his identity yet. We do not know his motive for bringing a gun or trying to take it out.
We're also told there was another individual who was wounded, a woman was wounded by shrapnel in this incident. We do not know yet about how she is doing. Those are the two individuals we have been told were affected directly in this event. No one else was wounded. No one else was shot.
But, obviously, a very dramatic event on Capitol Hill. There was a shelter in place for quite a bit of time. That has since been lifted roughly half an hour ago.
Let's bring in some of our panelists. I want to talk to Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director and also a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and also CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick. And, Art, let me start with you. When an incident like this takes
place, how often do law enforcement officials have a list of people, suspicious characters, that they are on alert for and how much are events like this just a complete random individual that they have never heard or seen from before?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I mean, there are -- when you look at security issues here specifically, I know we're talking about the visitors center, but obviously, there's a lot of facilities here in the U.S. protected by magnetometers. I mean, when I was with the U.S. Marshals, I recall two or three shootings that occurred the exact same way. What the marshals started to do was looking at doing screening outside of the building area so that at least these individuals did not get into the alcove or the front area.
Now, when you look at this incident, there is an area between where the screening occurs at the Capitol Visitors Center and where you actually walk into the main dome area to go down and get your tickets. So, they might want to start looking at moving that area out for screening outside of those front doors because once you get into those front doors and get through that magnetometer you do have a clean shot right to where all the visitors are standing to get their tickets.
TAPPER: And, Tom Fuentes, right now, we were talking about this earlier, this individual has been placed in police custody in addition to being taken to a hospital for treatment of his wounds that he may have suffered from being shot upon by a Capitol Hill police officer. When you think about the quick reaction time of that Capitol Hill police officer, that he was able to shoot this suspect before the suspect was able to fire his gun, it shows you just what level of alertness these officers are.
FUENTES: No, it does show that and shows how quickly these incidents happen. So, that law enforcement officer that fired that shot had probably about a one-thousandth of a second to make that decision. So, as the individual was drawing his weapon out, whether it was under a jacket or waistband, when that machine goes off and that officer series that that person is doing something extremely suspicious, like pulling out a gun, he's got just a split second to react and stop him.
Stopping him in this case was going to be to take a shot and not let that individual get a shot off or series of shots off, endangering the public and endangering the officers. So, it's an extremely, extremely quick decision that has to be made and apparent low was made correctly in this case.
TAPPER: Let's go to Dana Bash right now, also on the scene.
And, Dana Bash, what are your sources tell you about this incident? What's the latest?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, just to Tom's point, the idea is that -- what I'm told again and I think it's revisiting, the dramatic scene that apparently went down here at the entrance to the visitors center, that the suspect came in, went through the mag, and again the mag did what it was supposed to do, it beeped when it sensed the metal. And it was a gun.
And once it beeped, the suspect drew his gun and pointed it at an officer but that I'm told it was another officer who shot the suspect from the side. So, it was really, again, like Tom said, obviously, it happened in just a split second.
But two things. One is, you know, all of us go through mags a lot, especially those of us who go into these secure locations.