Return to Transcripts main page
Twenty-Six Dead, Twenty Hurt in Texas Church Massacre; Trump: The Problem Isn't Guns, It's Mental Health; Manafort and Gates Back in Court. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired November 6, 2017 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning, everyone. John Berman in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Poppy Harlow standing by in New York.
26 people killed behind me in this church. We do have new developments. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, said it was not a random act, this church, not chosen at random, the killer's in-laws, members of this church, but not inside at the time. They did arrive afterwards. Not a random act, but a horrible act, a terrible act, an act of unthinkable tragedy, so many of the victims, children.
The sheriff here says more than 10 of those killed were children. The victims range in age from 5 to 72 years old. One of those killed was the pastor's 14-year-old daughter. The pastor's wife says most of our congregation is gone.
We have many questions about the killer himself. Why was he allowed to buy a gun? He was discharged for bad conduct from the Air Force. He served time for domestic abuse. He was denied a gun permit in the state of Texas, yet still was able to buy the Ruger assault-style weapon that he used to carry out this horrific killing.
I want to bring in CNN's Brian Todd from a different vantage point here at this church for what we're learning this morning. Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, some new information that we're learning this morning about the shooter, according to the sheriff of Wilson County, Joe Tackitt, the shooter had two weapons on him when he went into this church yesterday. He had a handgun as well as that AR- 556 assault rifle. The sheriff saying he's not sure at this time if the shooter used that handgun inside the church.
Also, from the sheriff this morning, he says the gunman suffered wounds from a civilian and then he shot himself, but it's not clear if the wounds that he died from were actually inflicted by the civilian or if they were self-inflicted wounds. So that's some new information this morning.
Also, what you just mentioned, John, very interesting new information about the shooter's in-laws, Sheriff Joe Tackitt saying that the in- laws were - they did attend this church on occasion but were not there at the time. They arrived afterward. I was also told by the sheriff moments ago that investigators have gone to the shooter's parents' house. They live roughly 30 to 45 minutes away from here. Investigators from the Texas Rangers have gone to the shooter's parents' house to talk to them and to try to get some more information on this.
We've been reporting that the shooter identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26 years old, was an Air Force veteran. He was court-martialed for bad conduct in 2012 for assault on his spouse and on a child. He was also divorced in that year. And the divorce records show that there was no child in the marriage. So was the child maybe a child from a previous marriage, maybe another child? We're digging on all of that information as well, John, so again, just getting some bits and pieces of new information on the shooter. You mentioned Governor Greg Abbott on our air a short time ago and he'll question of the shooter applying for a license to carry a gun. Here's what the governor said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS: Devin Kelley sought to get a license to carry a gun in the state of Texas, but the state of Texas denied him the ability to get a gun. So how was it that he was able to get a gun? By all the facts that we seem to know, he was not supposed to have access to a gun, so how did this happen? That is one of the unknowns out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: A lot of unknowns out there. Also, the main unknown that we have right now is the specific motivation but maybe a clue in that the shooter's in-laws did attend this church but were not there at the time. Also, one little tidbit of information we got from the sheriff a short time ago. He said there is private video in existence of the service yesterday but he said the video does not show much. John?
BERMAN: All right. Brian Todd. Thank you.
We do have some breaking news. I'm going read it to you. We did just learn that the killer, I'm not going to use his name, was terminated from a job as an unarmed security guard at a nearby amusement park, the Schlitterbahn amusement park, which people in the area will know.
Let me read you part of the statement. "The killer worked briefly -- 5 1/2 -- weeks this summer at Schlitterbahn New Braunfels as a seasonal unarmed night security guard. His employment was terminated. All our security guards must pass a criminal background check through the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Now we do not know why he was terminated. Did the background check bring up the fact that he was convicted of domestic abuse while he was in the military? Received a bad conduct discharge? Some of the questions we need answers to.
[10:05:00] Now as horrific as this killing was, the fact is it could have been worse. That in itself is a terrible thought, that 26 people could have been even more. One of the reasons it was not more was the heroism of one of the individuals standing with me right now, Johnnie Langendorff. He chased the killer down in his truck to the county nearby. Johnnie joins me right now with his girlfriend, Summer Caddell. Thank you both so much for being with us. Johnnie, you know the church is behind us. I understand you were driving by -- in your truck on the street just one street past. Tell me what happened.
JOHNNIE LANGENDORFF, CHASED TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTING SUSPECT: I pulled up to the intersection. I just left the BP Station and pulled up to the intersection. As I normally do, going back to her house. Right whenever I pulled up, I saw the shooter coming out about where the cars were parked and the other gentleman coming from across the street. Both had weapons drawn and a matter of half a second, there was exchange of gunfire. It lasted just a few seconds. And the shooter got in his vehicle and took off.
And the gentleman with the rifle came across the street opened my door and said he shot up the church and we got to chase him and I said let's go. Then we didn't even stop at this intersection. We just buzzed right on through and they got pretty fast doing about 95, going down 539, to keep up with him and letting dispatch know where he was going because I didn't think -- I didn't know if anyone had a clue or not which direction he had gone. I know that all the police were coming to the church to help, but, you know, I wanted to pursue him to make sure he got caught.
BERMAN: How long was this chase?
LANGENDORFF: It was about 10 or 12 minutes long.
BERMAN: How did it end?
LANGENDORFF: It ended up with him wrecking his vehicle into the bar ditch.
BERMAN: Did you then walk up to the vehicle?
LANGENDORFF: No, sir. I stayed on the pavement. The other gentleman got out immediately and drew his rifle on him and he was telling him get out, get out, and the shooter never got out. But we barricaded behind my truck until police showed up and I directed traffic to stop in case there was gunfire until police showed up. It was pretty much at a standstill.
BERMAN: Did you see the killer get shot in that exchange of gunfire that happened right here behind us?
LANGENDORFF: No, sir. I didn't particularly see anybody get shot. They were just shooting at each other. I couldn't -- I can't verify any hits.
BERMAN: So you saw two men shooting at each other.
LANGENDORFF: Yes, sir.
BERMAN: The other hero tells you that this killer just shot up a church. He drives off and tells you to chase him. You tell me you say let's go.
BERMAN: Did you have any second thoughts? What was your running through your head right then?
LANGENDORFF: Nothing. Get him.
LANGENDORFF: Because that's what you do. You -- you chase a bad guy.
BERMAN: Summer, your boyfriend just helped, you know, bring down a man who killed 26 people. What do you think of that?
SUMMER CADDELL, GIRLFRIEND OF MAN WHO CHASED SHOOTING SUSPECT: I think it's awesome. I couldn't pick a better person to do that, right place at the wrong time technically. But he did an amazing job.
BERMAN: Did you think he had it in him? Did you think he had it in him?
CADDELL: Of course. I always believe in him.
BERMAN: Does it worry you at all?
CADDELL: I wasn't worried until later. All the news stories and everything else coming out and I wasn't hearing from him for a while so I did get worried.
BERMAN: Johnnie, the other guy, anything you can tell us about him?
LANGENDORFF: You know, he's very much a hero. He acted -- he acted quicker than he could think as well. He did absolutely the right thing which was try and take him down on the scene. You know, from what I know, you know, from what I know he was just taking a nap and heard the gunshots and reacted.
BERMAN: What kind of gun did he have?
LANGENDORFF: He had an AR-15.
BERMAN: Both the killer and the individual you drove had AR-15s?
LANGENDORFF: The killer from what I heard -- had a pistol during the fire fight --
LANGENDORFF: -- which is the main part that I saw.
BERMAN: And then the guy with you, the other hero had his own AR-15.
LANGENDORFF: Yes, he had his own AR-15. Yes, sir. And he came out bare footed.
BERMAN: He was bare footed.
LANGENDORFF: Yes. Yes, he had no shoes on or nothing but he was ready to act and the moment police got there and everything, you know, he did all the right things.
BERMAN: Grabbed his gun before he grabbed his shoes.
BERMAN: Which tells you something about the mindset of the other hero involved in this. You said the chase was 12 to 15 minutes long. Going 95 down these, you know these country roads. What was going through your head as this was going on?
LANGENDORFF: Not a lot. I like to drive. And so if I can get away with driving fast, well, you know, and I had to catch the guy. I had -- I had to make sure he was caught.
[10:10:00] And at one point, the gentleman riding with me said you may have to use your truck to get him off the road and there was no hesitation. It was do -- you know, do everything necessary to make sure that this guy is stopped.
BERMAN: Did you have a chance to have a conversation with the other hero in the car?
LANGENDORFF: Not much, no, sir. Police showed up and after everything was taken care of, after the man was confirmed dead. They pretty much separated us. Everybody had questions and so much going on. No, sir, we didn't really get to talk.
BERMAN: Did you know -- he said he shot up the church. Did you know there were 26 people, including a dozen children killed?
LANGENDORFF: No, sir.
BERMAN: Summer, you live here. You live nearby. Do you know people who were inside that church?
CADDELL: Family and friends and you know it's a small town. Everybody knows each other for the most part. So there are ties everywhere.
BERMAN: How are you doing? I mean, how is the town doing this morning?
CADDELL: They're really coming together and that's awesome. There's a lot of love around here.
BERMAN: They're going to need the love.
BERMAN: How are you doing? Look, you know, I know that you were driven by the desire to do good, I know you reacted on instincts and man, you have got some good instincts right now, but it's got to be a shock after something like that is over to know the risks you were in. So, how do you feel this morning? LANGENDORFF: I'm thankful. I'm very grateful. I'm -- I hope that everyone affected is able to rest a little better knowing that this guy, he will never breathe again. And it doesn't serve it justice completely, but he's -- he won't hurt anyone else ever. And I was thankful that once it was all said and done. I got to hold her in my arms again. I got to go home with her.
BERMAN: That's an amazing feeling, especially when you know that so many people who were inside that church, who knew people inside that church will never be able to hold their loved ones again.
LANGENDORFF: Yes, sir.
BERMAN: But again as you said, some measure of peace and finality that you helped provide. What do you think would have happened? How far would he have been able to get? Do you think he might have been able to kill more had you not been there?
LANGENDORFF: That is a -- kind of an unanswerable question because who knows. They said that his vehicle was completely filled with more firearms and everything, so he was, obviously -- he, obviously, had a lot going on. And it was put to a stop and that's what matters.
BERMAN: You guys going to church this Sunday?
BERMAN: All right, Johnnie, Summer. Look, thank you both so much. Thank you for bringing us Johnnie. Johnnie thank you for what you did. I think you're an example of quick thinking and bravery. Something not everyone would do.
LANGENDORFF: Well, I just did what I thought was right.
BERMAN: Thank you so much. Johnnie, Summer, thank you very, very much.
CADDELL: No problem.
BERMAN: Poppy, you know, you hear Johnnie explain it. He sees a shoot- out. His first thought is, let's go. You know -
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Not a hesitation, right?
BERMAN: Something like that.
HARLOW: You just do what's right. You go get the bad guys. Let's go. An American hero.
John, thank you. We will get back to you in a few minutes. That was extraordinary to hear from him.
We are following a lot of news this morning. President Trump offering his condolences, his thoughts and prayers, to the families of those victims at the church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas. During a news conference in Tokyo this morning, he called it a horrific act of evil. He said the shooting is a result of the gunman's state of mind, mental illness, not a gun situation. Listen to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I think that mental health is your problem here. This was a very - based on preliminary reports - a very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn't a guns situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: The president promised the administration's full support to state and local authorities investigating the shooting. Texas Governor Greg Abbott says this attack is the largest mass shooting in the state's history. He ordered flags to fly at half-staff across Texas today.
Ahead, more developments from the tragedy in Texas. What we're learning about the victims and also the gunman. Also, the president's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, along with former campaign aide Rick Gates in court this morning. What they are trying to bargain for. And President Trump's latest message to what he calls the North Korean menace, a live report from our team traveling with the president in Tokyo ahead.
[10:15:00] BERMAN: All right, John Berman in Sutherland Springs, Texas where 26 people were killed at the First Baptist Church behind me, yesterday during the 11:00 a.m. service. Many of those killed were children. There is an investigation ongoing. The shooter is dead but we're learning new details about the months preceding this killing.
This man was let go as a security guard at a water park nearby. We're not quite sure why he was let go, but the Schlitterbahn Park, the Schlitterbahn Springs Park, says they do routine criminal background checks and we do know the killer served time for domestic abuse and was let go by the Air Force for that action.
Joining me now is law enforcement trainer and former NYPD sergeant Joe Giacolone, and law enforcement consultant and former NYPD detective Tom Verni. You know, Tom, I want to start with you, and one tidbit we do have from the governor this morning. He says the shooting was not random. This church not chosen at random and we do know that the shooter's in-laws attended this church though they were not in the room at the time. That seems like a significant statement from the governor.
TOM VERNI, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Good morning, John, and my condolences to the family and friends of those who are affected by this awful tragedy.
[10:20:04] Yes, I don't think it was a -- I was getting the idea that it was probably not a random act. As soon as the information came out about his domestic violence past. I mean, this guy clearly was troubled. I mean, I don't generally agree with President Trump on too much, but I can agree that mental illness is a severe problem in our country. It's something that has been overlooked for quite a while since they started deinstitutionalization back in the 70s.
This person clearly mentally unstable, but also had a history of violence and was able to somehow get his hands on weapons. This is a story that repeats itself over and over again. You can't go to a movie theater. You can't be a first grader in class. And now you can't go to church. So I'm not sure, you know, until the pain gets great enough, for enough people, then we can maybe have a serious conversation about what we're going to do about mental illness in this country. What are we going to do about common sense gun reform in this country?
BERMAN: Well, mental illness if it does turn out to be mental illness isn't usually exclusive from a discussion on gun laws. And Joe Giacolone, let me bring you to this conversation because the things that are now known about this man raise so many questions, being dismissed from the water park. The discharge for bad conduct, serving time for domestic abuse and the fact that he was turned down for a gun permit in the state of Texas, yet was able to buy the Ruger assault weapon in April of 2016. Those seem incongruous, those facts.
JOSEPH GIACOLONE, LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINER: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think we're going to find out even more as they establish the linkage between the perpetrator and the crime scene, the perpetrator and the gun, of course. One of the things that they're going to investigate is going to be focusing on is how he obtained that gun. The ATF I'm sure is on top of this. They're going to find out.
I mean, if this was a loophole we know that there was -- I believe the president removed the section that if anybody had that mental illness part that you could still obtain a gun. So, I mean, here's -- here is an example of where some politics can play into these tragedies. So we have to be really mindful of that. And as investigators go forward, we need to be able to establish this motive.
I mean, I call it the homicide triangle, love, money and drugs are generally the three major motives for somebody to do something. And this might, you know, factor in the love factor with the family. So investigators will uncover that. I think social media, his computer, any manifestos he left behind through the search warrants. We're going to learn a lot more about this killer as the days go forward.
BERMAN: Yes. Tom Verni, what's going on in the investigation right now? What do you think that, you know, the Texas Rangers and the FBI are doing?
VERNI: Well, luckily you have two great criminal investigative bodies that are involved here. Texas Rangers are very good at what they do, as well as the FBI as we know. So I'm confident that they will get to the bottom of this. Unlike some of the other recent situations like Las Vegas, where we're still trying to piece together what the motive was here. I think this might be a little easier in the sense that this is a local guy, you know, we know who he is. They know who he is, where he came from. So that's going to speed along the investigation a little bit because this is not just some unknown whack job coming from parts unknown. So that will help a little bit. And yes, they're going to want to know and could come through his social media if he's on that, his phone records, any contacts that he's had recently since that firing that was discussed earlier.
We want to know what -- there has to be something. There has to be something that made him snap and commit this horrific act like there are in all of these acts unless you talk about someone who is aligned with some sort of mission like when we talked about the New York massacre that took place last week, you know, where someone is radicalized for some reason. This is just probably more of a situation where he just -- he was -- he snapped, he had access to weapons and then went out and committed this horrific act in a church.
BERMAN: But if he snapped, he snapped so many years ago when he committed the act of domestic violence. You know if he snapped, he snapped in a way that got him fired from the water park. So there are things, there were signs along the way here that were either missed or didn't matter, as far as -- as far as some of the gun restrictions were concerned.
Joe, I do want to ask you, you can't see it right now, but Johnnie Langendorff, the man we just talked to who helped chase down this gunman is standing next to me being mobbed by the media right next to me, maybe you can pull that shot up from a different camera. He and another man chased this man. The other man pulled out a rifle and engaged in a gun shoot-out with him. What have we learned about mass shootings and these mass casualty events? Is this the type of thing that almost needs to happen or is this the type of thing that you should then -- instead of running and hiding in place, do they need to be confronted.
GIACOLONE: Well, I mean, that's the third part of that, right, the fight part. I mean, here, I think this gentleman just acted on instinct.
[10:25:02] He and his other fellow get in a truck and drive off. I mean, when you think about it, you could even -- in his own words, basically they didn't realize what they were doing until after it was over.
And as a former law enforcement officer I can tell you that you do things and then you don't realize it until after the fact like say, what did I just get myself involved with. So it's pretty amazing. But we want to make sure that public doesn't take the law into their own hands either. So it's a very dangerous line that we're walking here. And we got to make sure that other people don't get injured or law enforcement comes on the scene and confronts the wrong person too. That is also a possibility. So we have to be very mindful of that.
BERMAN: In a perfect world Johnnie Langendorff wouldn't have to chase a killer 95 miles an hour down a, you know, a country road to catch him. But obviously, we don't live in a perfect world this morning. Joseph Giacolone, Tom Verni, thanks so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.
HARLOW: All right, John, we have a lot ahead. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort wants more freedom to travel while he is -- while he awaits trial. You see him making his way into court this morning. He will make the case. Will the judge allow it? Next.