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26 Dead in Texas Church Shooting. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired November 6, 2017 - 3:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, ANCHOR: Troubling new questions about the man who gunned down 26 people at a Texas church, why was he allowed to buy a weapon after being court marshaled and discharged from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...that mental health is your problem here, as we say, a very based on preliminary forts (ph), a very deranged individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time.

DAVE BRIGGS, ANCHOR: President Trump on his trip to Asia says shooting is not a guns situation, it's a mental health problem, that's plus much more on his high stakes meetings in Japan before he heads South Korea trade, and important issue as is that North Korea Nuclear threat.

Good morning and welcome to Early Start, I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, November 6th, it is three A.M. in the East, two A.M. in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Just five weeks after Las Vegas.

Just five weeks after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, another community shattered, torn apart by gun violence. At least 26 people killed in Sunday's church shooting in the small Texas town of Sutherland Springs, near San Antonio.

About 20 others wounded with victims ranging in age from five years old to 72.

BRIGGS: Oh, no. The shooter, 26 year old Devin Patrick Kelley is dead, Kelley was court marshaled by the Air Force and given a bad conduct discharge in 2012.

He leaves behind an unfolding mystery, what set him off on this rampage. Let's bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher live this morning for us in Sutherland Springs. Dianne, good morning to you. Much like Las Vegas, so many questions and very few answers. Good morning to you.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDANT: Good morning, Dave, Christine. And yes, that is the situation we're looking at here, they're still trying to figure it out, piece it together.

You can probably see behind me, plenty of media and plenty of police, law enforcement, deputies. They've roped off the entire area around the first Baptist church, here about 15 hours after that shooting.

They say about 11:20 in the morning, somebody spotted that suspect wearing a tactical type vest, a ballistic vest, at a gas station across the street. He then walked to the church, opened fire before he even got inside, and while he was in there he committed the worst mass shooting in the history of this state of Texas, but on his way out a neighbor, a man who lived next door to the church, got his own gun fired engaged upon that suspect, started to chase him, police joined in and chased him.

They then found him about eight miles away, where he crashed his vehicle. He died of a gunshot wound, they're still trying to figure out if it was self inflicted or if it was from that neighbor.

Now, they say they found additional firearms inside his vehicle, but we're told by an official, a source that says that he used an AR - a Ruger AR 556 in the shooting in the church.

And that that was purchased at an Academy outdoor sports back in April of 2016, in San Antonio Texas. Now you mention htat court marshall, he was broken down in rank by the Air Force, he received a bad conduct discharge, and it was for two counts, one count of assault on his spouse, one count of assault on his child.

And the question now is how he managed to pass a background check, how he got his hands on that weapon. Of course law enforcement's still trying to sort of fit through that right now, because it is complex that -- Dave, Christne -- part of is the fact that this was a military situation, it was a court marshal.

We're trying to sort of peel back the layers there, but again, this is somebody who lived in New Braunfels, Texas, we're told that's relatively close to this area, maybe about 45 minutes, an hour from here.

And so, I mean, the people here in this community, they want those answers but at this point right now, we're talking about 26 people killed we're seeing, Dave. That's about four percent of the population of Sutherland Springs.

BRIGGS: Man, such a small town, no doubt everyone knows someone who was in that church. Dianne Gallagher live for us in Sutherland Springs.

ROMANS: And this shooting has left the tight-knit Texas community struggling for answers, even if they rely on their faith, and on each other.


BRIGGS: Joining us now on the phone right now CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Cedric Alexander, past President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement executives. Good morning to you, Cedric. Let's start with this investigation. Where does it turn right now? CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well they'll continue with what they've been doing throughout the night, but certainly what's going to be important here is to try to make some determination as to what the motive was behind this horrible incident in which these people were injured and killed.

It is still early into the investigation, but even though from the time that it had occurred, we have gained more information into his military histories, his family history. But to that community, it is just devastating. It's shocking. And as you've heard some of the citizens there say this type of community where everyone knows each other and supports each other, this is very, very difficult.

But here again, let me say something. Whether it's a small community or a large community, this type of act of violence by someone who appears or may have some type of mental health - may have had some type of mental health condition going on - is devastating to any community.

ROMANS: Let's talk a little bit about his background because we know that he had - he was in the military, in the Air Force, he was court marshaled in 2012. He bought this weapon in 2016. That court marshal was for assault on his wife and his child. He was demoted, received a bad conduct discharge. Why wouldn't that show up on a background check?

ALEXANDER: Well you would think that it would, but, of course, we don't know all of the circumstances behind what may have occurred in his particular case particularly being in the military. So we don't know whether this was some kind of flaw in the system, or rather it just it not show up out here as we would think it would if it would had have been anyone else. But certainly, that being a case of domestic violence where he was arrested and appeared he had been incarcerated for some period of time and then discharged, I'm quite sure that's going to be one of the things in which the authorities there are going to look into and determine how that was able to happen. And maybe we need to look at how we could close that gap to make sure that that type of thing doesn't happen again.

BRIGGS: And to Christine's point, Cedric, are crimes committed in the military part of a criminal background check regarding purchase of weapons?

ALEXANDER: Well you would think that they are.

ROMANs: Right.

ALEXANDER: But here again, I cannot say with any certainty whether they are or not, but you would certainly believe that any crime that was committed in the military - that it would be available to - for background checks. So it very easily could have been a flaw in the system when this occurred, but unfortunately it did get past us, and I think that's a very important question that needs to be asked because people are going to be asking that question all day.

ROMANS: Let me ask you this - the president is in Tokyo in Japan, and he said this mass shooting is not a gun situation. It's a mental health problem. So many of these cases - and frankly they happen with great frequency - can you unwind the mental health problem with the guns? They seem to be the same story.

ALEXANDER: Well they always seem to be the same story, and certainly in the more recent cases that we have seen in going to Las Vegas if you will, there is a mental health component. Now where that begins and where gun ownership begins is still a very, very blurry line because everyone with a mental health illness certainly is not violent. However, if we - for those who stand by an exercise their second amendment right, they certainly will tell you that they have the right to own weapons, and even people who have mental health history it may be able - we may be able to determine whether can own a weapon or not.

If you get - that's the crocks of the issues here, and I think we have to be very careful. But we have to know more - as much as we can about a person who has a mental health issue. If they have a known mental health history, that is easy. But as you well know, someone can suffer a mental health issue without any previous history. They can go into a deep depression, they can have a schizophrenic episode, something traumatic happens in their life. It can happen to anyone at any time and then they get their hands on a weapon.

But I think we have to be very careful how we think about those two things together and you've got to be able to look at each case individually in terms of who got that weapon at that time and under what circumstances.

BRIGGS: Cedric Alexander, thanks so much for being with us. We'll check back with you in the next half hour.

ROMANS: It's so frightening that this happened again and it's five weeks since Las Vegas and we aren't -- haven't even narrowed in precisely on the motive for the Vegas shooting when there's another one to analyze. A truly, truly American phenomenon.

All right, President Trump speaking about that shooting during his trip to Asia.

DONALD TRUMP; PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So sad, Sutherland Springs, Texas, such a beautiful, wonderful area with incredible people. Who would ever think a thing like this could happen?

ROMANS: But it did, only five weeks removed from the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The President still says guns are not the issue here. We're live in Tokyo.


TRUMP: ...times, American's always pull together. We are always strongest when we are unified. To the wounded and the families of the victims, all of America is praying for you, supporting you and grieving along side of you.

ROMAN: There's the President. President Trump in Japan reacting to yesterday's mass shooting at a Texas church. He's ordering flags across the U.S. at half staff through Thursday night. Asked about the shootings, he says guns are not the issue, mental health is.

TRUMP: We have a lot of mental health problems in our country as do other countries, but this isn't a guns situation. I mean we could go into it, but it's a little bit soon to go into it.

But, fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction. Otherwise it would have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse. But this is a mental health problem at the highest level.

BRIGGS: So the shooting now taking some of the focus away from the President's Asia trip, but it is nonetheless crucial. CNN's Alexandra Field live for us in Tokyo. Good morning to you Alex. There's a bromance that seems to be blossoming between Shinzo Abe and President Trump and it was on display in this press conference wasn't it?

ALEXANDRA FIELD; CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you can't image two leaders speaking in more superlatives about one another. Just absolutely heaping praise on each other, talking about their close friendship, this close relationship, the countless hours that they spend on the phone, the rounds of golf that they play, but all of this was driving home a bigger point.

They say that these two countries are closer than ever before. That the alliance is stronger than ever before and that they are 100 percent on the same page when it comes to developing a strategy for how to counter the mounding threats from North Korea.

The Prime Minister in this press conference today, announcing that Japan will take further steps against North Korea issuing new sanctions targeting 35 different entities and businesses, also talking about increasing their buying of defensive equipment from the United States, something that President Trump was also pushing hard for in this press conference.

He says that he very much agrees with President Trump who has sometimes been criticized for his fiery rhetoric directed at North Korea. He say's, now is not the time for dialogue with North Korea, that you cannot talk for talks sake, that it is important to apply the maximum amount of pressure and that President Trump is correct, that he is taking the right approach when he continues to reaffirm for the allies in the region and for the international audience at large, that all options remain on the table.

Certainly, the President's tough language has sparked some fear here in the region, that this could ratchet up the tension that has been at such a boiling point on the peninsula, but he's got a strong supporter in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Next stop for the President on this five nation tour of Asia will be South Korea, where he will be meeting with the president there, also talking about how to deal with the North Korean crisis. Dave?

BRIGGS: Yes, President Trump definitely dialed back his rhetoric a little bit though. No rocket man, no fire and fury, no threatening North Korea. Alex Field live for us in Tokyo. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: But the President repeatedly criticizing Japan's trade practices, vowing to renegotiate what he calls a lopsided relationship.

TRUMP: We want free and reciprocal trade, but right now our trade with Japan is not free and it's not reciprocal and I know it will be.

ROMANS: Speaking to a group of Japanese business leaders, the President did not say how he would narrow the $57 billion trade deficit with Japan. It's the third largest for the U.S.

A trade deficit is not inherently good or bad, but Trump partly blamed Japanese companies for the current imbalance calling out auto makers for shipping cars instead of building them in the U.S.

President promised a new deal with Japan could mean more trade than anybody every thought, his words exactly, under TPP. That refers to the Trans Pacific Partnership. Japan was one of the biggest backers of that trade deal. Trump withdrew the U.S. during his first week in office.

BRIGGS: A huge trove of leaked documents made public Sunday, seeming to show financial times between Russia and a member of President Trump's cabinet. The leak, known as the Paradise Papers, is the source of new reporting by dozens of news outlets working together with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The documents have not been independently reviewed by CNN but the "New York Times" reporting, based on the documents, that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has a multi million dollar stake in a shipping company.

ROMANS: A shipping company who's top customers include a big Russian energy firm. That energy firm's owners include a member of Putin family and a Russian oligarch. Now Ross disclosed his finances earlier this year including the shipping company, which he said he plans to keep his stake in.

BRIGGS: Spokesman for Ross says the Secretary has never met the Russian oligarchs who are the energy companies major share holders. The spokesman says Ross recuses himself from any matters that could pose a conflict of interest.

ROMANS: Also mentioned in the Paradise papers, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn, The Times mentions both men answer reporting, but says there's no evidence of any illegality.

The Paradise Project is based on more than 13.4 million documents dating from 1950 to 2016.

BRIGGS: People are suspicious, every time there's a connection, it seems to be with Russia, and it seems to be with this cabinet. Investigation will continue.

ROMANS: All right, 20 minutes past the hour. 26 people killed in another mass shooting in the United States, we go live in Texas at the latest. Also major anti-corruption arrest in Saudi Arabia, dozens of people swept up. But is this really about corruption, or is leadership looking to consolidate power, we're live in Riad.


BRIGGS: Several of Saudi Arabia's most high profile princes and businessmen swept up in an anti-corruption probe. At least 38 former, current, and deputy administers now under arrest, accused of corruption.

CNN has obtained a list, showing the names of at least 17 of the princes and top officials arrested by a newly formed anti-corruption committee initiated by the Saudi King Salman.

The committee also removed three ministers from their positions, let's get to CNN's Becky Anderson with more. Becky, good morning to you. Some feel this is a power grab as much as it is cutting down on corruption, is it both?

BECKY ANDERSON, MANAGING EDITOR, CNN ABU DHABI, ANCHOR: Well, it's certainly been an extraordinary weekend here in Saudi Arabia's capital Riad providing further confirmation, if any were needed, of exactly who was in charge here and how the kingdom's new leadership is positioning itself, both domestically and I have to say, on the international stage as well. I mean cynics might call this a power play. Supporters of the young, crown prince will tell you that the messages of an era of elite indulgence is over.

And to be quite frank, this was a move that was well flagged earlier in the year in an interview with an Arabic language TV station. Mohammed bin Salman, who is the crown prince here, warned that every person who has engaged in corruption, regardless of their status, will be held accountable provided he said "the evidence of wrongdoing exists."

So the warnings were there. The most high profile of these targets said Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the billionaire businessman and owner of a company called Kingdom Holding which is a company that has stakes in Citigroup and Twitter, Apple and News Corp worth about $20 billion himself. Big other business people such as the Chairman of the Bin Laden Group, a major construction firm here in the Kingdom. The Saudi media mogul, Waleed Al Ibrahim, also out princed Meta bin Abdullah from his post as head of the Elite Guard.

It is the speed of these moves internally that somewhat shocked even the most supportive of Saudi watchers coming as they do at a time of increasingly muscular policy by Saudi Arabia with regard the region and its laser focus on Iran as the number on security problem backed, of course, by the US President, Donald Trump. So if there is one message from here within the Kingdom it is that this start at the top and that nobody will get away with anything going forward. Dave?

BRIGGS: Economic implications are around the globe. Becky Anderson life for us in Riyadh. Thanks so much. ROMANS: All right, our top story this morning, a Sunday worship service shattered, 26 people killed ages 5 to 72. Remembering the victims just outside San Antonio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess as we serve a moment of silence to honor our neighbors who've been affected by this act of violence, (ph)


ROMANS: And now big questions - -bid new questions about the attacker. Why could he buy a gun despite being court marshaled for assaulting his wife and child? We're live in Sutherland Springs.