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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Movie Theater Attack in Germany; Attacker Killed in Germany; Officer Found Not Guilty in Freddie Gray Case; Divided Supreme Court Deals Blow to Obama's Immigration Policy. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired June 23, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Edward Nero specifically, who was acquitted earlier on the charge, sort of clasped his hands, smiled, and said "yes" as that last verdict was read of not guilty in this case. Officer Goodson hugged his attorneys. There was clearly great relief among the police in that courtroom -- Carol?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Miguel Marquez, Jean Casarez, many thanks.
Of course, that breaking news coming out of Germany.
I'm going to turn it over to my friends, John Berman and Kate Bolduan.
I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman.
We have major breaking news on several fronts this morning. We are going to begin with Germany right now, because just as we're coming on air, we're learning of an attack on a movie theater there. German TV, ARD, reports at least 25 people have been wounded. This happened in the city of Viernheim, south of Frankfurt.
I want to get to CNN senior international correspondent, Frederik Pleitgen, in London.
Fred, what are you learning?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. It's actually just in the past couple minutes that German media is saying apparently the man who walked into that movie theater, who was shooting, has been apprehended by the police. Apparently, 25 people were injured. It's not clear whether or not it was from some sort of gunshot wounds or whether or not it was some sort of gas that he might have released, but the latest we're getting is he's actually in custody. But there was in the meantime a situation where he was inside the movie theater. The police were trying to get at him and called in several police Special Forces for reinforcement to actually do that. But again, the latest we're getting right now is that the situation could possibly be over at this point in time. Not clear whether this was terror related or whether there was some sort of criminal act that was going on there. We're trying to get more information as we go along. But at least 25 people seem to have been injured in some way, shape, or form. Some media even saying it could be up to 50 people who were wounded in all of this -- John?
BOLDUAN: But importantly, and as you just said, this is the newest information is that following this attack you now are hearing reports that this man has been apprehended. Do you know how this transpired, alive, dead, what that means?
PLEITGEN: Yeah, not clear at this point in time. There's some media saying that he was killed by the police, others unclear at this point in time. We're waiting to get more info to see what's actually going on there.
But the information that we're getting is he apparently walked into this theater. He had some sort of gun on him, as well as an ammo belt around his shoulder, went and fired several shots, some say into the air, others are unclear whether it was into the air or actually at the crowds. It appears as though most of the crowds who were inside that movie theater, which, by the way, is part of a larger mall complex. This is a movie theater, a theater in a mall. It's a very, very crowded area. It happened at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon when many people would have been there either shopping or going to the movies. He walked in and fired several shots. Many of the people ran out. The police moved in, had to call reinforcements, some of them arriving by chopper to come to terms with that situation.
So certainly this was something that the local authorities there believed was very, very dangerous and was very dangerous for an extended period of time. It's not clear at this point in time whether or not the shooter is dead or alive.
BERMAN: Fred, we do not know the motivation of this attacker right now. What we do know is that Germany has been on high alert for months right now after what happened in Paris, after what happened in Belgium. There were raids in Germany. There were people apprehended in Germany. There's been a great deal of concern that what happened in Paris and Belgium could spread to Germany. Talk to us about the posture there.
PLEITGEN: Yeah, you're absolutely right. It was a big concern of the authorities in Germany. And one of the reasons for that was is that some of the attackers who took part in the Paris attacks and also had ties to the people who were behind the Brussels attacks as well, which, of course, killed many people in November of last year. And then in March of this year, some of them had actually come through Germany. Some of them had come on that big refugee trek that happened in the summer of last year when almost a million refugees from places like Syria came to Europe, many of them, of course, going into refugee camps into Germany. And it was later also found out that some of the people who were behind the attacks in both Brussels and Paris had actually stayed for a period of time at a refugee center in Germany. So the authorities very much on high alert there.
Also, of course, one of the other things that I know we were talking a lot about, John, as those attacks back then were unfolding, we have to keep in mind there are open borders in Europe. So people who are in Paris, people who might be smuggling weapons from Eastern Europe, it's pretty easy to get to Germany. So the authorities, you're absolutely right, have been on high alert, especially after that wave of attacks that we saw in France and in Belgium last year. You had, of course, "Charlie Hebdo" at the beginning of last year. Then you had in November the Paris attacks killing well over 100 people, and in the Brussels attacks. And then in the aftermath of that, if you recall, there were a lot of alerts in Germany as well. There was a soccer game that was completely shut down. So, yeah, the authorities there have much fearing that something of terrorist nature could happen in Germany.
But you're absolutely right. Again, we have to point out that at this point in time it's unclear what the motivation of this person was.
[11:05:23] BOLDUAN: Unclear of the motivation. Unclear kind of the situation with the person who they believe they have apprehended at this point.
Fred, stand by.
We want to go right now to Atika Shubert. We have her on the phone. I think she is in Berlin.
Atika, what are you hearing on your end of what is the very latest of this word of an attack in this movie theater, this complex that also involves a mall?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We know that police have entered the cinema complex. We don't know what's happened to the shooter, whether he's alive, dead, in custody, or not. It does appear that a large number of people were able to get out of the cinema. Police in the meantime have sealed off the cinema area, very heavily armed. This is very unusual to see these types of police in Germany like this. But at the moment what we know from the official broadcaster here, ARD, is that 25 were injured in the attack. Now, we don't know exactly how they were injured, if they were shot or injured in some other way. What we know is that a masked man entered the Kinopolis, the cinema center, and he was apparently carrying some type of gun and shot into the cinema. Police aren't giving any further details until the operation is over. It's still ongoing, so still a very fluid situation here.
BERMAN: Atika, Fredrick was talking about the anti-terror, the Special Forces operations that Germany has to respond to this type of situation. These are people who have been training for just this eventuality.
SHUBERT: Absolutely. It's a special task force and they have been training really, frankly, for a number of years for this possibility, but that has been a heightened alert ever since the Brussels and the Paris attacks, especially when we know that a number of the Paris attackers actually came through Germany on their way to the Paris attack. And there have been multiple incidences of ISIS terror cells being disrupted in Germany. We know that, for example, one cell was in Germany, and the planning to attack Dusseldorf, and the police here made a number of arrests. So the special task force has been training for a situation like this.
We're still waiting to see exactly who the attacker is, whether or not this was a terror attack, but it does seem that the special task force is there on the scene dealing with the situation right now -- John?
BOLDUAN: Atika is working her source there is.
Atika, thank you very much.
Let's go to CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's joining us right now.
Jim, this is something that you say an attack in Germany is something the United States has been concerned about for quite some time.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. Of course, let's start with the caveat, as you and John have both been saying, we don't know what this attack is yet. But just for context, from U.S. intelligence and counterterror officials, they've been concerned about Germany because it has an enormous presence there of the kinds of groups who want to carry this out. But you also hear quietly from U.S. officials that Germany has not quite made the preparations necessary to help prevent an attack. Of course, no country is completely insulated. We saw this ourselves in the U.S., with all the steps and all the alertness here. But the concern has been that it's early for Germany. Do they have the communication internally among their intelligence services? We saw the same criticism with Belgium before the horrible attack that we saw in Brussels. A sense from the U.S. side that Europe is a bit early in this game here. They often talk of a pre-9/11 mentality in European countries. That goes to communication not just within Europe, between, say, France and Germany and Belgium, but within countries in Europe, that they haven't gotten the of intelligence right. But also even there are legal challenges there, protections. There's a great history as you know, in Germany, with an internal intelligence services, going back to East Germany, the Stasi, et cetera. So they have legal protections and they also have political hesitancy to be particularly aggressive. And, of course, this is a debate we still have in this country, balancing freedoms, legal protections, against trying to fight terrorism. But the sense you often hear from here is it's early in the game there. They have a lot of barriers to sharing intelligence. They have a lot of reluctancy to surveillance even based on some of the history that perhaps after attacks countries are more likely to do than they are, sadly, before attacks. So you have that context, one.
[11:10:05] But you also have, and I have heard this from European intelligence services and U.S. intelligence services, that bad guys, that Islamic extremists have had Germany in their sights for some time. They have disrupted a lot of plots but, as we know well, all you have to do is get one plot through. You can disrupt a lot of them. It's impossible to block all of them. So there's been great concern about Germany for some time. And again, as I complete that thought, add the caveat that we don't know for sure what this attack is, what's behind this attack, but that's certainly the context leading up to today.
BERMAN: Jim, we're looking at pictures right now, the first pictures we're getting in, first video of this shopping complex, this cinema and mall there. You can see some of the law enforcement presence there.
You know, they're moving around. They're not exactly in attack posture right now. Some of them may be media there also. You can see a man with a helmet.
BOLDUAN: And just not clear exactly when this is from. It is just coming into us. As Atika Shubert is pointing out to us, they are still in the complex. This is still ongoing. It does look like --
BERMAN: Now they're moving in a little bit more slowly into the building there.
All right. We're going to keep our eye on that.
Jim Sciutto, you said Germany is still early in the process of dealing with possible terror situations. Look, again, we don't know what this is, but what we do know is that the attacks in Paris, the attacks in Belgium, they had footprints that went through Germany. There were concerns about Germany being used as a transit route. There were concerns about people connected to those attacks, who had been in Germany and were in Germany. So there is a very direct connection between Belgium, France, and Germany.
SCIUTTO: There is.
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Jim. Sorry.
SCIUTTO: And what I would just say, to be fair, you know, Europe today is kind of like the U.S., right? To move from Germany to France is kind of like moving from New York to Connecticut, right? With what are called the Shangan rules, you have visa-free travel between these countries. You don't really have border stops. So to be a transit point is very easy. It's very easy. Just as the gunman in Florida could have moved from one state to the other, you have very similar circumstances between countries in Europe. And then you add on top of that Europe's proximity to Syria. It's really just crossing a border there, right? You take a raft from Syria into Greece, and then to get from Greece, you know, to other countries in Europe is relatively easy. They have set up protections as this refugee flow has grown, but moving around is very easy. It's very easy for any country in Europe to be a transit point. That's just a fact of life in Europe today.
BOLDUAN: And, Jim, in light of what you were talking about here, in light of the Paris attacks, in light of the attacks in Belgium, and in light of the fact that, as you said, the bad guys have had their sights on Germany for quit some time, what kind of movement, what kind of changes have you been hearing from your sources that are going on within Germany, both seen and behind the scenes, to try to stop, to thwart an attack before it happens? Again, with the caveat, as we don't know exactly what the motive of this one is.
SCIUTTO: Exactly. Listen, you're seeing one of those changes in the pictures we're watching right now. To have that kind of tactical response, to have that team at the ready is one of those changes. So let's be fair there. None of these countries are doing nothing, right? They are making preparations. The thing is that you hear -- listen, the U.S. changed enormously after 9/11. Legal changes, intelligence sharing, internally, the way police forces have been trained, the weapons police forces have to respond to these attacks, that kind of thing. That's a lesson we learned, sadly, with the loss of 3,000 lives and, of course, the various attempts since then leading right up to in Orlando just a couple of weeks ago. It's newer there. So they don't have the intelligence sharing internally or between countries that we have. It's getting better, but they don't have it. And I have heard that criticism repeatedly.
One thing I do know is that the U.S. is sharing its resources with all its allies in Europe to help prevent these kinds of attack. That includes surveillance. It includes communications intercepts. It includes satellite intercepts, movements, et cetera. So across the pond, that kind of sharing is happening. Is the sharing happening within Europe or within Germany and other countries like Belgium and France? The criticism I have heard is, no, it's not. But also a legal issue there. They haven't made the legal changes. And granted, this is an issue of an opinion. And often times, you will hear this sniping between intelligence services. You have to take that with a little bit of a grain of salt. But the fact is they have legal barriers there that we don't have here today, and that's in part because of our experience.
[11:15:03] BERMAN: Jim, stand by for one moment.
Let's just remind people what's going on right now. Reports of 25 people wounded in an attack in the town of Viernheim, south of Frankfurt, an attack in a cinema that's part of a mall complex. It's an ongoing situation. We're not exactly sure if this attacker has been apprehended, killed, neutralized. There are some reports of that. But, again, at least 25 injured in this attack.
Let's get to Atika Shubert covering this from Berlin.
Atika, you had a chance to check in with law enforcement. What's the very latest?
SHUBERT: Yeah. What we understand from police is that the situation is ongoing. It still remains unclear, so they don't want to give any other information out at this point.
What we know from the public broadcaster, ARD, is that 25 people have been injured. Now, what happened was that shortly after 3:00 p.m., a masked man entered the cinema complex and began firing. He had a weapon of some sort. We don't know exactly what kind. A number of people were able to get out of the cinema. What we know from police as well is that heavily armed police have actually gone in. This is the special task force here that deals with these kinds of hostage situations. They have actually gone into the cinema. Now, we don't know if the shooter has been neutralized, if he's been killed, if he's still alive in custody or not. This is what we're still waiting to hear from police. But a very concerning situation now unfolding there.
BOLDUAN: Atika, is there any talk that they have a sense that this is the one shooter or could there be more people involved? Are you getting any sense of that?
SHUBERT: At the moment, from police, what we understand is only one shooter. We don't have any indication of a wider group being involved here, not yet at any rate.
BERMAN: And again, we don't know exactly what the motivation was of this attacker. We do know there have been terror concerns in Germany for some time with links to what happened in France, with links to what happened in Belgium.
We also know the U.S. issued a travel warning after Belgium to Americans traveling in Europe to be careful of public places like sports stadiums. You would think movie theaters and malls would fall into that category.
This, Atika, falls into the area of a soft target that can be vulnerable.
SHUBERT: Absolutely. I mean, this is not a big city. This is a small town outside of Frankfurt. Anybody who was in the mall was just enjoying the afternoon there, maybe catching a movie. This is a cinema complex inside a mall. So it's definitely a soft target.
What we don't know at this point is whether this is a criminal attack, whether this is a terror attack. We just don't know.
But what we do know is that the Germany special task force has been deployed on the scene and they have sealed off the area. And it goes to show that the country has been gearing up for the possibility of an attack like this.
BOLDUAN: No matter the motive, a very serious situation still unfolding right now.
Atika is working her sources.
We'll get back to you, Atika, as soon as you get something new.
I think we have some new information coming in from Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.
Barbara, what are you picking up? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Perhaps a
sign of the times. The U.S. Army in Europe, which is headquartered at Wiesbaden, about an hour's drive away, we just talked to them, and right now, they are, in fact, doing a head count of personnel. They're trying to get what they call 100 percent accountability. Make sure that they know where all of their military people, military families, dependents, children, their civilian employees, that nobody was in this cinema complex, was in this town when this attack happened.
Now, to be clear, they have no reason to believe at this point that anybody was, but this has been a very, you know, hard-fought lesson for the U.S. military around the world. When these attacks happen, they have to begin very quickly to get that accountability. Do they know where all of their people are?
In Wiesbaden the U.S. Army has about 8,000 to 10,000 people. There are tens of thousands of American military personnel at a variety of bases across Germany. And that has been part of the calculation for the U.S. in the heightened security awareness in Germany. U.S. military bases across Germany over the months have tightened up security, tightened up procedures at guard posts to let people in and out. So you might not think that this one attack would impact the U.S. military, but they're taking no chances. They have now begun this process of reaching out to all their personnel in the U.S. Army in Europe, saying check in, let us know you're OK, let us know that your family is OK -- Kate?
BERMAN: Barbara Starr, stand by.
We're also getting now some information from the U.S. embassy in Germany. They do say that shots have been fired, people have been injured in Viernheim. This is the U.S. embassy confirming what we've been reporting. They're also looking into the possibility, the embassy says, that tear gas may be to blame for some of the injuries on scene.
So we are continuing to get information about what's going on there as part of this operation. That man walked into that cinema complex slightly after 3:00 p.m. local time wearing a mask. He did shoot. But now the embassy says they are looking into the possibility the tear gas was used as well.
[11:20:21] BOLDUAN: Again, the motive behind this attack, that is one thing that is unclear. A total head count, the reports have been a little all over the map, but they believe 25 people injured. That's the latest we're hearing. The latest on the shooter, on the attacker, that is unclear as well.
We do know from Atika Shubert that a special task force in Germany, they have moved in. They are in the building. You see pictures of it right there. We have video of it as well.
This is a complex that is a movie theater within a mall complex. It fits into the category we unfortunately have to talk about quite often, a soft target. Something Tom Fuentes, CNN's law enforcement analyst, he knows a lot
Tom, what are your first thoughts. A lot unclear still coming in, what are your thoughts here?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, my first thoughts, Kate, are that it still could be any motive going. You know, Germany has had more than one million refugees from the Middle East come through, and some stayed in Germany, some moved on to other European countries. But they've also seen the rise recently of extreme right wing groups that have risen up in response to that. Almost neo-Nazi type groups, saying enough is enough, wanting to stop the immigration, wanting to do something about that. And then you have the usual mentally ill people that can get their hands on a gun, even though guns are highly restricted. It's still possible on the black market to get them. Right now, we don't know where the motivation lies with this one and we'll have to wait and see.
BERMAN: We don't know anything about the motivation. But we do know the target. It happened at a movie theater, a cinema complex, part of a mall. At least 25 people have been injured at this point. That type of target, Tom, we know, we've seen it in the United States, be hit for various motives. We know overseas these public gathering places have been an area of concern for U.S. officials.
FUENTES: Sure. Just like the United States, a movie theater or a movie theater complex that has multiple entrances, is always going to be very vulnerable and it's going to be nearly impossible for theater owners, either in the United States or overseas, to put enough security to stop a determined attack on someone coming in. You have multiple theaters, multiple entrances and exits. You have -- you know, if somebody comes in heavily armed, they're probably going to overwhelm if you just have light security at those entrances. And the fact that theaters are in operation morning, noon, until late evening almost on a daily basis. So you have a number of vulnerabilities here with a movie theater. Everybody knows it. And there's -- really it's a difficult task to do something about it.
You also in Europe have much greater use of mass transit and train systems, bus systems. So those terminals would also be soft targets, shopping malls, soft targets. So it's a very difficult situation for any authorities, either here in the United States or overseas, to deal with the aspect of a soft target.
BOLDUAN: And some aspects -- again, a lot unclear right now. Some of the aspects we're hearing reports of involving this attack, a masked man entering and shots were fired, but also the U.S. embassy saying they are looking into the possibility that tear gas may be to blame for the injuries on scene. We don't often hear about gas, tear gas, being used in an attack.
BOLDUAN: What do you make of that? FUENTES: Right. The reason you don't hear that is tear gas is
actually a canister or a pellet that's pumped into a location. Normally, you would not do it while civilians or hostages are potentially in there. You would use it in a barricaded subject. And the second aspect of tear gas is it's also considered an incendiary device, because it's like a flair. The flair creates smoke. The smoke carries the irritant, the pepper spray pellets. In the United States, for example, FBI rules that if the SWAT team deployed, you notify the fire department because it may cause a fire. And I can't imagine they would pump tear gas into a theater complex or a mall complex with the extreme risk of fire that would be there for doing it.
BERMAN: Tom Fuentes, stand by.
I think we have new information coming in from Jim Sciutto, who joins us from Washington right now.
Jim, what can you tell us about the ongoing operation to get whoever this person was behind these attacks?
SCIUTTO: John, two points. This is coming from U.S. officials who, keep in mind, have a very close relationship with their German counterparts. One, U.S. officials being told by their German counterparts that the attacker here has been killed. We heard the same from the German interior ministry earlier just in the last few minutes.
On the second point, as to motivation, and again, we've all been very careful here to describe what the motivation is, because, frankly, investigators don't know, but it is not clear that this is terrorism at this point. There were other explanations, the possibility of a criminal, someone who is frankly unhinged. But I'm told by U.S. officials that it is not clear this was a terror attack, that it could very well have been something else.
[11:25:29] Again, you, Kate, John, we've been very careful to inject caveats in this from the beginning. But at this point, the information is that it could very well not be a terror attack. We'll be standing on this as U.S. officials in contact with their German counterparts.
BOLDUAN: And I think people can understand quite honestly that it is maybe difficult to ascertain a motive with the news that you just broke that they have killed the attacker. I mean, this is very early on. They're still in the building trying to ascertain exactly what the situation is, Jim.
SCIUTTO: No question, they are. The key fact there is killer killed, or shooter killed. We don't know if there are deaths at this point. Attacker killed, so the immediate threat appears to be neutralized. But as you can see from the pictures we've been getting in, they want to be sure about that. They don't know if there are other co- conspirators. That's why you see that police response at this point. At least the immediate threat seems to be neutralized. That's what U.S. officials are hearing from their German counterparts. Then you get to motivation. As you identify this person, and then
you're able to backtrack, you will get a better sense of what the motivation is. But to be clear, U.S. officials are not -- saying that there are many possibilities here other than terror to explain this attack.
BERMAN: All right. Jim Sciutto, stand by.
We want to bring people up to speed where we are because there's a lot going on in the world.
BOLDUAN: A lot of things going on.
BERMAN: Number one, Jim Sciutto reporting U.S. officials telling him the attacker is dead in Germany. Someone who went into a movie theater and opened fire in Germany, wounding at least 25 people. So the attacker is dead. We do not know what the motivation was there. That's one piece of information.
Another piece of breaking news, not guilty verdicts on several counts for Officer Caesar Goodson. He was the officer charged with the most serious charges in the death of Freddie Gray. He's been declared not guilty by a judge. This was a bench trial. That just happened in Baltimore.
BOLDUAN: And also major decisions coming out of the Supreme Court this morning. Most specifically, a crushing loss for President Obama as the Supreme Court was deadlocked on the president's controversial executive actions on immigration.
And what you're looking at right now is the briefing room at the White House. They are getting set up for a very important reason. President Obama is set to speak at 11:45. He'll be coming out in about 20 minutes. We're expecting him to come out to speak to reporters. This is ahead of -- President Obama is getting ready to head to the West coast for a trip. But right now, we're going to be hearing from the president, reacting, you can all assume, to this loss at the Supreme Court for the president.
BERMAN: It was a victory for the White House in the sense they got an affirmative action decision that they were supportive of at the University of Texas.
BERMAN: But immigration, certainly a huge blow to his executive actions on immigration.
So let's go back to our breaking news out of Germany, an attacker opened fire at a movie theater there, wounding 25 people. Just getting information from Jim Sciutto that U.S. officials have been told the attacker is dead.
Let's go back to Germany now. Atika Shubert in Berlin with the very latest.
Atika, what are you learning?
SHUBERT: That's right. We know that police went into the cinema complex. Now we hear from U.S. officials, told by their German counterparts, that the shooter has been killed, shot by police apparently. We're still trying to get more information from both the police here and the interior ministry.
What we know is that there is a special task force on the scene. They had sealed off the area and gone in. So they are likely the team that was in there dealing with the shooter.
We also know that the local broadcaster, ARD, has said 25 people were injured. Hospitals tell us they were preparing for the possibility of even more injuries. We don't know what type of injuries however. As you pointed out earlier, the U.S. embassy was saying some of this could be tear gas-related injuries. We're not sure whether or not this is tear gas released by the shooter, how exactly this happened. We are trying to get those details and we'll bring them to you as soon as we have them.
BOLDUAN: Atika, for our viewers joining us right now, can you give a sense of where things have moved very quickly today? This began at 3:00 p.m. local time. This is a movie theater within a mall complex in a suburb of Frankfurt.
SHUBERT: Yeah. This is a very fluid situation still. It happened a short time ago, just after 3:00 p.m. A masked man apparently entered the Kinopolis. This is a cinema center inside a mall. What we have from local media are reports that he shot, he had some sort of a weapon, and everybody ran outside. Now, there was some confusion as to whether or not he had taken hostages or if everyone had managed to get out. Police then circled the cinema. They sealed off the area.