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Deadly Attack on Two Military Centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired July 16, 2015 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:09] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast.
Our breaking news as four marines are dead and a female sailor seriously wounded in two separate attacks at military centers in at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Authorities say the shooter is 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He is also dead.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Law enforcement officials say it is too soon to know the motive for the fatal rampage, but they're looking at everything from terrorism to a simple criminal act. The justice department, the FBI holding a news conference this hour in Chattanooga. We'll bring that to you as it happens here.
CNN's justice reporter Evan Perez is in Washington for us gathering more information.
Evan, I want to go to you and I want to ask you about this FBI briefing. It is going to happen at any moment. Are your sources telling you anything about what they're going to talk about?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Don, we expect that this is mostly to reassure the community there in Chattanooga. I'm sure this is something that they have never seen anything like this before.
And so, one of the things that the justice department and the FBI wanted to do is provide as much of an update as they can to the local community to let them know where this investigation stands. We know that they've spent the better part of today just trying to understand more about the shooter. And they've gotten a lot of information. They don't yet know what his motivation is. They haven't yet established the motivation. But they have a clearer picture of his past, his background, as Drew Griffin mentioned. He had interviewed a friend who discussed some of his travel to the Middle East. That is something the FBI is aware of. That is something that they are looking at. They want to know what else he might have done during those travels. Was it - was he meeting with people? And if that in anyway influenced what he carried out today.
Now, again, we have not established any links to any known terrorist organizations. There's no indication that he was in any of the FBI data bases that they use to track potential suspect, potential terrorist. And so, that is something also that is very interesting. This is something scariest part of what they do at the FBI which is what happens when one of these guys shows up that you have no knowledge about it. That you know nothing about. And that's what the scary part of this particular case was.
LEMON: Evan, I want to ask you about this blog post where he apparently talked about believers and nonbelievers, about being a good Muslim, and about jihad. What do you know about jihad?
PEREZ: Right. Exactly. And those blog poster were just posted just a couple day ago, Don. And that is as well part of this investigation. The FBI has not established that he indeed wrote those blog posts. But it does appear to be his -- it's under his name. It links to an email address that perhaps matches up with this. And so that's, again, part of this investigation.
And what's interesting about it, Don, is if you read what he's ruminating about is about what it means to be a good Muslim and how much of a prison this present world is. It matches up to a lot of what you read about online from fundamentalist believers of Islam. These are people who have a very strict interpretation of their religion and it does match up with some of that.
Now, we don't know whether that is exactly what motivated him to carry out this attack. I mean, this is a second generation immigrant. His family was very successful family. If you look at the house, if you look at the neighborhood that they lived in, he had an engineering degree from University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. So, by all accounts, he was headed somewhere, seemed to be headed somewhere, and then something went wrong. So now the FBI is trying to figure out what exactly that was.
LEMON: And speaking of heading somewhere, his high school coach, one of his high school coaches, told our Drew Griffin, at least one of his coaches, I'm not sure it was on high school told out Drew Griffin that he believed he had traveled either to Jordan or to Yemen and then came back. Do you know anything about that?
PEREZ: Well, what's interesting is that the FBI is aware of his travel. They put together a full dossier of where he's been in the last few years. That travel was some years ago. And again, it doesn't necessarily explain what happened today because according to that friend and according to I think his coach, he was there doing teaching is what he said. He was teaching kids wrestling and so on. What else was he doing? Who else is he meeting with? That's part of the investigation.
Now, the FBI, the U.S. intelligence agencies are reaching out to Jordanian authorities to see if they can help put together a picture of what exactly, who exactly he was meeting with there. We don't know where else he might have traveled. Once you go to Jordan, there's many other places you could go, obviously. And so now, that is part of this investigation, as well.
[23:05:11] LEMON: All right, I want you to standby, Evan, because I want to bring Victor Blackwell in now. Victor joins me by phone.
Victor, I seen you on reporting all day on the story. Now you're at this press conference. What's going on there?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, we're just a few minutes out from the start of this news conference. And from a federal law enforcement sources traveled he in Chattanooga to be part of this investigation.
This is the show, of course. And a show of cohesive nature of this investigation with the authorities, the Tennessee bureau of investigation. The federal authorities with the ATF, the FBI --
LEMON: All right, victor. We're going to get to the press conference now. Let's listen in.
I'M BILL KILLIAN, EASTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE U.S. ATTORNEY: Good evening. Thank you for coming. It's been a long and sad day. Thank you for enduring. This is not a press conference to update you on the progress of an investigation. Our hearts and prayers and thoughts go out to those victims' families who were killed. And those victims who were otherwise shot.
We're here to explain some things and answer the questions we can about what this investigation involves. It is an ongoing, extensive and expansive investigation with federal, state and local agencies headed by the FBI. I am joined on stage by U.S. Senator Bob Corker, by Governor Bill Haslan, Mayor Andy Berke of the city of Chattanooga, special agent in charge of the FBI for the eastern district of Tennessee, Ed Reinhold, special agent in charge of the alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives (INAUDIBLE). I'm Bill Killian, eastern district of Tennessee U.S. attorney.
We will answer those questions that we can answer. We will keep you apprised of this situation as we can. Federal law prohibits us from revealing certain information. And please respect our inability to answer some of your questions. Otherwise, we will answer what we can.
I would ask the general public if you're contacted by the law enforcement agencies or the FBI, please cooperate. If you think you have information that might assist this investigation please call the FBI and they will deal with that accordingly. Otherwise, this, as far as we know, at this juncture, there are no safety concerns for the general public. So with that being said, I turn it over to the governor Bill Haslam, governor of Tennessee.
GOV. BILL HASLAM, TENNESSEE: Thank you, sir.
Chattanooga is a great city with a broken heart tonight. As the U.S. attorney put it very well, it's been a tragic and long and sad day. And I think all of our hearts go out to the families of the four marines who lost their lives.
In the middle of that, there has been some heroic actions. But the marines who lost their lives and some others there at the facility who did everything they could to minimized the damage at Chattanooga police department officers and some Hamilton county sheriffs' department officers.
I want to say one thing and then I'll turn it over to Senator Corker. But I've been very impressed with the FBI's commitment to finding out everything possible in this and devoting the resources to answer every question that we all want answered and that we'd like to answer tonight.
But I'm incredibly impressed with the commitment they've already shown and with the commitment of the local law enforcement folks, the state people as well as the federal officers to do everything they can. So on behalf of the state of ten Tennessee, we're grateful to that. And with that I will turn it over to Senator Corker.
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Thank you, governor. Our nation mourns the loss -- the senseless loss of four of our nation's heroes. And another one lays in very serious condition here in a local hospital. Also, today, one of our great men in blue is wounded in the hospital, certainly not too serious, but of condition of someone who certainly came to the aid.
This is a great city. And I know that our city as well our nation, come around the families who will need support who have the sudden shock of loss of a loved one what came to work today carrying out their duties in a normal way. Doing the things that our great men and women do to support us. Today, senselessly, four of them are gone and one is fighting to save their life.
I too want to thank the outstanding state and local officials that have come to the aide. The FBI has been outstanding. Bill Killiam has done a great job. The FBI will, very soon, lay out the details for you as they can. But I want to thank them so much.
And again, I know this community will come around these families. This community will do everything that they can to make sure that these law enforcement folks have everything they need to understand why this young person had the motive, the desire to do this senseless thing that has shaken this nation. And I will turn it over to the mayor of this great city, city full of people who care deeply about other, Mayor Berke.
[23:11:17] MAYOR ANDY BERKE, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE: Thanks, Senator.
This has been a long day for our city. Hopefully, soon, I will put my head down for a little while. And I just thought I'd say a couple things that I'm going to think about as I drift off for a few minutes.
What I think about this afternoon as I came back to the police service center with Chief Fletcher and walked up to see a woman who was at the scene telling the chief about the heroic deeds that her fellow officers did to help her and to save another one of our officers.
I'm going to think about another officer who was at the scene who engaged the criminal, telling us about how the training that he had received, helped make sure that the actions didn't have greater effect.
And I'm going to think about another officer who is truly my friend who as I hugged him and said good job shook just a little bit.
This is the reality of what happened in our city today and the tremendous work of our law enforcement officers.
Also, I'm going to be thankful that these people, who over the course of the years, aren't just employees of the city but truly people that we care about and know that they're home with their families tonight. And then I'm going to think about those who aren't.
We have four families, four people who died who won't be seeing their families this evening. And we live in the volunteer state, a state that's rich with tradition and affiliation with our armed forces. And where we cannot countless on what happened to those four families today.
So our hearts ache for them. We understand as a community what it takes to heal. We are thankful for those who are home safely. And we will certainly give a prayer in all of our hearts for those who aren't.
We thank you for coming out tonight. As we close out this portion, we want to answer whatever questions that we have and I'll bring up Ed Reinhold from the FBI. He's most likely to have answers about the specific questions in the ongoing investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questions?
ED REINHOLD, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN-CHARGE: No, we have no idea at this point what his motivation was behind this shooting.
REINHOLD: We are just beginning this investigation. We will explore that option. But, at this point, we don't have anything that directly ties him to an international terrorist organization.
REINHOLD: I can't speculate on what his motivation would have been or what if any affiliation he may have had.
REINHOLD: Again, I'm not going to discuss that particularly investigation. Let me just say, we are at the beginning of this investigation. We still have three active crimes scenes that we are investigating. It's going to be a long night for our folks. We will be here for several days processing just the crime scenes. We continue to cover every possible need. And again, if I can reiterate what the U.S. attorney said, I do ask the public, if you have information to contact us. I can provide -- I actually have it written down, our phone number, 865-602-7582. If you have information, please contact us or contact the local police department who will provide that information to us. Yes, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) [23:15:39] REINHOLD: We are checking every pose place that he could reside or could have resided. Visited where he shopped, where he went to school, who his friends were, if he worked out at a gym. Every possible lead. So we have information that he's been in various locations and we will check each and every one of those.
REINHOLD: That has not been determined as far as how he died. An autopsy will be conducted this weekend by the U.S. government. And we will determine the cause of death for him. Yes, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)
REINHOLD: As far as we can tell, at this point, again, it's preliminary, is he started his shooting over at the recruitment center on Lee highway and moved from there. We did not believe he exited his vehicle at Lee highway. We believe he shot from inside the vehicle, moved over to the naval/ma lean corps center here. About 15 miles away where he did enter the facility, exited his vehicle and engaged in gunfire there.
REINHOLD: There's no indication at this point that anybody else was involved. Obviously, we're still at the beginning of this investigation. And that includes whether or not anyone else was involved in this.
I'm sorry, let's go back here.
REINHOLD: We will not release the names of the marines. It is our policy that we will not release the names of the victims at all. Department of defense will have to make that determination as to whether or not they want to release the names of the marines.
REINHOLD: The Chattanooga police department has asked that the name of that officer not be released. For his privacy, he has asked for that and we will honor that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is doing as well can be expected after being shot by a brazen criminal like this.
REINHOLD: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say he entered the building, entered the facility, meaning inside the gate. So we're still investigating that as a possibility.
(INAUDIBLE) REINHOLD: No.
REINHOLD: He had several weapons. I'm not going to go into detail as to what those weapons were. Again, that is potential evidence for future - for future prosecution id we need it.
REINHOLD: I'm not familiar with (INAUDIBLE).
REINHOLD: The residents there - the residents that we are in the process of searching to see if there is any evidence connected to this investigation.
REINHOLD: No one else - nobody else has been taken into custody. It's common practice for us when we enter a location to secure anybody in there just for the safety of the officers.
We're going to have to include the press conference at this time. We will have -- we will schedule a press conference tomorrow at 3:00 and we'll do them daily at 3:00 unless something causes us to change it to do it earlier. Thank you very much.
LEMON: All right, press conference is wrapping up now here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Here are the highlights. A highlight is that they said they have no safety concerns now for the public. They're also saying that motive, they don't know yet. There is no answer to what the motive is. International terror, not directly yet. They don't know. Still investigating. They also gave out a number for people to call, 865-602-7582. That's the FBI if you have any information.
Again, they said it started at the recruitment center. They believe he shot in the car center, did not get out. And then went over to the naval marine corps center, enter that facility, meaning inside of the gate, not necessarily inside the building, got out of the car and that's where he did the shooting there. No one else is involved, they said, at this point. And no one else taken into custody. The reason people -- you may have seen someone put in handcuffs is because he said that the head of the FBI the, Ed Reinhold said it's the standard procedure to secure everyone when there is an active investigation going on for the safety of their officers and personnel. They are searching the residence which is believe to be Hikson (ph) resident that they were asking about.
And, again, still, no motive. Every day at 3:00 eastern time, they will deliver a press conference and try to answer as much as possible.
So those are the highlights, the fine points of basically what they were talking about this evening. Back with me now, CNN's Evan Perez, also Juliette Kayyem who is a
former homeland security assistant secretary, Stuart Kaplan, a former FBI agent.
To you first Evan, as a person who normally handles on this front. Does it sound like they are making any progress in this investigation?
[23:20:43] PEREZ: Absolutely, Don. I think that what they're doing is they're trying to make sure that they are being very careful. There's a lot of information that they have to get from elsewhere. They are certainly talking to intelligence agencies in Jordan and elsewhere to see if there is any other information that they can glean about perhaps his travel, about communications, anybody who he was communicating with before this event today. And that's going to be key to try to determine what was his motivation, what was his state of mind. Because obviously, nothing yet has jumped out at them. There was nothing clear that indicate he's connected to ISIS or some other terrorist group that would make this easier to solve.
So now this is harder work for them. You know, the suspect is dead. So now they have to try to divide what he was trying to do. It's not clear that he left any kind of manifesto or anything like that which is something - sometimes we see one little bit that I thought was interesting in the press conference is he mentioned that the FBI was not releasing information about the weapons that the shooter had with him. We know from sources, Don, we just put - we are putting this out now, that he -- police know that he used an ak-47 style gun. That that was the rifle that he used when he carried out the shoots.
And so, the question now is according to what the FBI special agent in charge said is, you know, that's information that they're not ready to release simply because they're working other aspects of this case to see if there are possible charges. So that leads me to believe that they're investigating how he got this gun and if there was a crime committed there in the way he got this gun. That is a very interesting revelation that came from that press conference just now.
LEMON: There are numbers of agency there. OF course, the FBI spoken and Bill Killiam who is with the eastern district of Tennessee, the U.S. attorney there, he spoke. Senator Bob Corker, of course, and then Bill Haslan was there, who is the governor, the mayor, as well. And so, there are a number of different agencies. According to the ATF, also involved in this.
So my question Stuart is, what will the FBI's next step be? And how will they coordinate all these different agencies and groups and people involve?
STUART KAPLAN, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, they have set up a central command post. And I think what was just talked about, I was very interested with respect to the special agent in charge deflecting any questions with respect to the weapon and indicated, and he said, because of potential further or later prosecutions. There is no doubt that they are going to run down tonight through tomorrow the means and the motive and how he was able to obtain this weapon. The ammunition, the magazine, who may have facilitated or assisted him in obtaining this type of weapon. And all of those leads are very cumbersome. They are very time consuming. They take a lot of manpower. And what they will do is they would delegate from the local to the state to the federal level and they will pan out and basically canvas the community and wherever it may take them.
But I will tell you that there is no doubt that the FBI generally does not come out at 11:00 and participate in a press conference unless there's going to be some benefit to that at a future date.
LEMON: Juliette, go ahead. What (INAUDIBLE) to you?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: What wasn't said which is essentially that he was known to law enforcement. There has been no reporting today, and certainly they did face tonight that either local state or federal agencies knew that he was on some list, that he had done something that made them nervous.
You know, most of these cases we have seen in the past, the guy had shown up somewhere. Someone got nervous about him, even if it was a couple of years ago. That to me, makes this a little bit more curious of a case that someone could have essentially plan this, bought the weaponry as the other guests are saying and then plan this. And there is no sort of any evidence by law enforcement that this would happening. And that's unique. In most of these cases, we go back and within hours, they are like it is this guy, he was under investigation.
So this is a different kind of case. It may suggest why the investigation will be very slow and methodical at this stage.
[23:25:16] LEMON: All right. I want everyone to stand by. You saw Senator Bob Corker at that press conference. He is standing by. We're going to speak to him live right after this break.
More with our breaking news.
[23:29:11] LEMON: Our breaking news this evening, the investigation into today's deadly rampage in Tennessee that left four marines dead and a sailor seriously wounded. The FBI, the justice department and Senator Bob Corker just held a news conference. Senator Corker joins me now live.
Senator, I appreciate you joining us. I know it's been a very long day for you. I know there are some things that you cannot address and you can't answer. But I need to ask you some things that are coming in. We have information through our sources from our reporters have learned that the suspect was armed with an ak-47 style weapon at the time of the attack. That's according to law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation. Can you tell us anything about that?
CORKER: So I know there's a lot of interest and I know the nation is shaken to four of our greatest and one additional fighting for their life. I assure you there's a lot that I would like to say right now. But the law enforcement officials here, the FBI taking the lead, as you know, needs to keep investigation under close wrap so that they can do this as thoroughly as possible and make sure that all of the loose ends that need to be followed can be followed appropriately. So I apologize. I don't think I'm going to be any use to you relative to what's happened on the ground here. I do, there's going to be much I want to say down the road.
LEMON: We understand that. So let's talk about maybe you can expand on some of the things that were discussed. Right at the start, Ed Reinhold said that there - not Ed Reinhold, Bill Killiam said there was no safety concern for the general public here. Can you assure the public that there's no safety concern?
CORKER: Based on what I've been told and the briefings that we have before we came out, I know of no reason relative to this incident that anyone here in the community should be concerned or any of the place relative to this particular incident.
LEMON: OK. A big discussion has been, of course, in our nation lately is been ISIS, Jihad, on American soil, so on and so forth. That is a big concern now. And so, what happens next? You, as a lawmaker, what do you intend to do next?
CORKER: Yes, yes. So I don't want to in any way tie, at this moment, the two together. I don't want to do that. But relative to the topic that you bring out now that is a topic that's been around for a long time. There's no question that entities like ISIS throughout our country are going to want to recruit young impressionable people to their cause. I mean, that is one of the things we have had hearings about. Please, again, don't cut this in some other place that's not what I am referring to necessarily here in any way. I'm not, in any way, trying to tie at this time to what's happened here. But it is something that's going to be happening more and more. I mean, that is exactly, if they can recruit people through social media, they can radicalize people, trying to create this type of incident, again, not referring to this specific incident, but this type of incident in places around our country is exactly what they'll attempt to do.
LEMON: Yes. And we are not trying it either. But of course, those questions came up during the press conference and it has been discussed all day after this incident happened.
And you know, a number of times in the recent past, our military installations have been targets here. What is your concern about that? Why do you think our military installations are being targeted? And do we need to ramp up security at these installations?
CORKER: Yes. Well, I do think, obviously, you know, we've gone through the regs, today, if you will. And I understand that part of the regulations that occurred at the Pentagon is that facilities like this on the inside do not allow the people inside to have weapons. That's a decision that - and a regulation has put forth by the chain of command at the Pentagon itself.
So my guess is that this is an issue that definitely is going to be looked at. If you look at what happened in the chopping center, recruiting facility where there's absolutely no security. It appears that the shooter drove by with a weapon and didn't even go into the facility. And I don't know what can be done in a situation like that. I'm not sure whether the guard post was manned at the naval facility, I don't know. But obviously, with this type of issue occurring, there is no question that I'm sure the House and Senate will look into what is occurring. But the specific steps should be taken to the Pentagon to try a deal with the security of our men and women. And I'm sure they're doing that. And I'm sure they're very cognizant of a threat. And I know that at all times, one of their greatest efforts they put forward is to make sure they do everything they can to protect the men and women that on our behalf protect our nation.
LEMON: Again, you know, as we said, and as you have been saying and reiterating here throughout the entire interview, we don't know what the motivation was. We don't know if it's tied to international terror. But when you look at this sort of activity and someone doing something like this, whether it's a lone wolf or whether it's someone who may have some mental issues here that has to be of concern to not the people of Tennessee, but to the people of United States. And there has been much discussion in Washington about that as well.
[23:35:06] CORKER: Yes, no question. Look, the national security, the security of our citizens are the greatest responsibility that we have. We live in a world right now that's very unstable. We live in a world where people are engaging in this type of activity more and more. So, yes, it's s of great concern. It's of great concern to their local officials here. It's great concern. Our governor has great concern to us. And we live in a world that fortunately, we live in a country that's free. It's difficult to ensure when you have people like this.
Again, I don't want to speak to the motivations at this point, but it's very difficult to ensure that our citizenry is protected. But again, there will be a point in time when I can talk more fully about this. And I've rather just stop right now and say this is a great community of people. This is a community like -- never seen more compassion, more of a heart and soul. I know that this community is going to surround these communities that have been so affected. I know our nation is doing that now. This is a great nation. And in spite of the concern that so many of our citizens -- I was traveling to an airport today to get here and obviously, this is what is on people's minds. This is the number one issue to Americans as our own personal security would know that. And we all need all at every level be vigilant and make sure we are doing everything we can both through intelligence. Our intelligence candidly - well, I don't want to get in to that because I'm afraid it might somehow tie into this type of episode.
But at every level, our nation certainly needs to understand that we live in a dangerous world. And for us to continue be the great nation that we are, we do
everything to protect our citizen.
So with that, I'm going to stop. Thank you for (INAUDIBLE) this. And again, our thoughts and prayers are with these families who again, had people coming to work this morning carrying out their duties as they normally would and they're not coming home and one is fighting for their life now.
LEMON: Yes. Victims who have not even been identified.
Thank you, senator. I appreciate you joining us this evening.
We know the senator can't speak a lot about the investigation as with the FBI mentioned this evening as well.
We are going to be right back with more on this breaking news. A deadly rampage in Tennessee that left four marines, four of our marines dead. What happened when we learned about this shooter coming up.
[23:41:29] LEMON: We are back now with our breaking news, the investigation to the rampage shooting in Tennessee that left four marines dead.
Joining me now to discuss this, CNN's Evan Perez who have some information for us and Drew Griffin as well.
Evan, I want to get to you first because the FBI asked for tips. They gave out a number at this news conference. What do they want to know? What are they hoping that they'll turn up by asking for this information?
PEREZ: Well, Don, they believe that, you know, somebody out there knows something that they are not yet aware of. The FBI investigators are not yet aware of. I mean, one of the parts of this investigation that I think is of great interest to them is, you know, his travel, his associations, anybody who, perhaps, might be able to explain what his thinking was, what, perhaps, his radicalization was before, if that is, indeed, what caused this, whether he was radicalized. What explains that?
And then secondly, the weapon that he was using today, it's a very powerful weapon. It's an AK-47 style weapon. Did anyone see him go out somewhere and practice shooting this weapon? Does anyone know where he got it from? Again, these are things that only can come from people out there in the public who might have some information. The FBI wanted to encourage people as one reason to do this press conference to encourage people to come forward with any information, nothing is too small. If you know something and you haven't yet told the cops, please do that, is what - that's the message that they were trying to send. And to also reassure the public there that they are doing everything they can to try to resolve this.
LEMON: All right. Evan, stand by.
Drew Griffin, you have new information about the shooter's arsenal and the heroine shootout. What can you tell us about that?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: I'm getting the information. There was a briefing state Tennessee lawmakers were briefed about what happened right over my shoulder by the FBI. And apparently, what they're describing is this harrowing kind of stand offshoot out between the suspected and the police. It involved, you know, these 30 round clips that would, if you know anything about the ak-47, that's the banana clip that clips on and off. You shoot off 30 rounds. You put another one on that is another 30 rounds. And at one point, as it was described to me by the source, the suspect was holding off police, holding them off with this fire power that he had. We did see just about an hour and a half ago, a Chattanooga police car towed out of here riddled with bullets.
So I think in the coming days we are going to get details about the type of fire power that was going on behind us that quite frankly sounds like something straight out of a war zone or a shootout you might see on the streets of Afghanistan, not what you'd see here in Chattanooga.
LEMON: Yes. And of course, according to sources that our reporters and out investigators here, producers are learning at CNN, that he was carrying an ak-47-type weapon, Drew.
But also you spoke to one of the shooter's coaches and he gave you some information. What did he tell you?
GRIFFIN: You know, we're getting a lot of insight. This fellow's name was Almir Dizderevic. And he was more than a coach. He was a teenage friend, about nine years older than Mohammad Abdulazeez. Met him when he was just a child. They trained together in the gym in Marshal Arts. Became kind of a friend-mentor-coach, but also a fellow Muslim, worship with him.
And I want you to just listen to what he described to me as the person he knew, but also, details about how this person he knew actually was traveling back and forth to the Middle East in the last couple of years and his demeanor over that time. Listen to what he had to say.
ALMIR DIZDEREVIC, MMA COACH, FRIEND: I observed him to be very unique. I mean, that kid never frowned. I mean, he always smile. He always shook my hand, how are you doing? I never heard him cuss. And that's what shocked me. Today, what I heard, when I saw his picture on the news. I mean, I looked at the phone and my eyes were just like, wow. I mean, I can't believe this. And it is hard. It is hard to -- I mean, we were friends in the past, you know. That's the thing that gets to me.
I cannot tell you how somebody else lives their particular religion or if he or she got in the wrong people and wrong theology or got radicalized or become extreme for whatever reason, I can't tell you that.
GRIFFIN: When was the last time you saw him?
DIZDEREVIC: About a month ago or so.
GRIFFIN: Tell me about that.
DIZDEREVIC: I just told you a minute ago.
GRIFFIN: I'm sorry. What were your conversations like?
DIZDEREVIC: Pretty much. I mean, we were walking at the end at the free -- walked out, people were shaking hands, saying bye. I saw him. I said brother, how are you doing? I haven't seen you in a while. How is everything? Are you doing all right? Smiling, talking to me, no problems. And another guy just talk to him on the phone about a case. He said he saw him just a day ago at a local store. And he said absolutely nothing. He was shaking hands saying, you know, how you doing? Everything is fine.
So, again, what goes inside of a person or what's causing things, I don't know. His demeanor that it was absolutely nothing that would show me that he was upset about something. And I know he moved out of the country a year or two ago. He went back home and he stayed overseas. And asked his dad about where is Muhammad? And I haven't seen him in a while. And so, he said he moved back home. But I saw him couple of times on his visit now. I'm not one to speculate. But what happens overseas in certain different environments, I don't know.
DIZDEREVIC: Where was he overseas?
GRIFFIN: You would have to ask his family about that.
GRIFFIN: You say he went overseas for two years?
DIZDEREVIC: A year or two ago when he actually went back.
GRIFFIN: Went back where?
DIZDEREVIC: Jordan? Yemen? I don't know. I'm not sure which one.
GRIFFIN: You're sure he was in the Middle East?
DIZDEREVIC: Well, that's what I was told. So, that's what I was told and that's what I went by.
GRIFFIN: Did you ever talk to him about being in the Middle East?
DIZDEREVIC: I asked him, how is everything? What you are doing? He said he's teaching kids. He is teaching wrestling. And doing, you know, just - I said how are you doing? Everything OK. He said I'm doing well? I'm doing a lot of good.
GRIFFIN: So what year are we talking about?
DIZDEREVIC: You mean when I talked to him?
GRIFFIN: No, when he was in the Middle East?
DIZDEREVIC: I'm telling you - I mean, when I talked to his dad, I mean, it's a year or two ago is when he went back. But he - I mean, I've seen him several times when he came back here. So in the last two years, I'm sure that he was overseas somewhere, you know.
GRIFFIN: So we do know that authorities are trying to track those travels and track whom he may have talked to. Met, you know, begun conversations with if he did travel back to the Middle East. If he took any of those connections back here with him. That's all part of the ongoing investigation.
But you heard that just a month ago, this mass murderer was at a mosque here in Chattanooga praying with fellow Muslims and there were no signs that anything was wrong - Don.
LEMON: All right, Drew Griffin, Evan Perez, thank you both. We will come right back. We are going to have more on our breaking news, the deadly shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee that left four marines dead.
[23:52:53] LEMON: Welcome back, everyone with our breaking news tonight, the investigation into today's rampage shooting in Tennessee. Four marines are dead, the FBI says it has no information that ties the shooter to any international terrorist organization.
Joining me now is Mubin Shaikh, a jihadist turned undercover counterterrorism operative. He is the author of "Undercover Jihad." Also with me is Buck Sexton. Buck is an ex-CIA agent and a national security editor for "the Blaze." And Stuart Kaplan is with me as well, a former FBI agent.
So Mubin, I want to ask you, we know investigators are looking at blog posts attributed to someone with the same name as the shooter. It very well could be him. You read those posts which discussed Islam. What jumps out to you? What are your thoughts on it?
MUBIN SHAIKH, JIHADIST TURNED UNDERCOVER COUNTERTERRORISM OPERATIVE: Yes, the - I mean, the first one with the prison post quotes. It quotes a well-known prophetic tradition that says is the world is (INAUDIBLE), the material world is the prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
The second one, which talks about the three people trying to describe the elephant, you know, he talks one of the identity of the jihadist, the identity of the companions of the prophet Alain Salam (ph) as warriors. They became generals, he said some of them. So there's that militant self-identity.
And the second is a call (INAUDIBLE), to emigrate. And this is something that ISIS has been doing more so than really any other group. Those two things lead me to believe that he was at least ISIS friendly. Would be surprising one bit if we do find out that he had some kind of likeness - liking of ISIS.
LEMON: Are these ordinary -- is this typical Islamic teaching?
SHAIKH: Well, the first (INAUDIBLE) about the world being like a prison for the believer, I mean, it just talks about the restrictive nature of the world. You're not supposed to fulfill your desires. I mean, some you have to keep in check, others are OK. It is pretty normal. In fact, a lot of, you know, (INAUDIBLE) Muslims see that as like almost like an sexism, you know, to kind of being in the world not of the world. So not by itself, but it depends on how people take it.
[23:55:05] LEMON: OK Stuart, you know, you heard moving - does this all of this sound like it's coming from someone who was inspired by radical Islam?
KAPLAN: Yes, I think so. And, in my opinion, it goes back to we live in a very politically correct climate. And I think if you speak to the FBI on the ground who lived this day in and day out, part of the struggles with law enforcement is that their hands, to a large extent are tied by quote/unquote "profiling" people who may be posting these type of comments on Facebook or on their blogs. And unfortunately, they can't pursue those leads just because they may be held to some scrutiny with respect to profiling someone just because they're exercising their first amendment right.
And I think that we need to refocus and pay a little bit more attention and maybe loosen those constraints on law enforcement to allow them to follow up when perhaps some of this stuff is showing up in social media.
LEMON: So explain to -- talk to me more about politically correct. You're saying that -- go ahead. Explain that more.
KAPLAN: Well, you know, obviously, you know, people that are law- abiding, we live under the constitution and we want to live in a free society. But in this climate and in this world, I think what we're seeing is that there's got to be some efforts on law enforcement to be able to track and follow and monitor some of this social media content that shows up. And of course, you have people that are very critical of law enforcement who may go out and follow up on leads just because someone may post something on their Facebook. And I believe that unfortunately, the climate as it is, and the society that we live in, that those are indicators and red flags that someone may be in the beginning stages or in the stages to perhaps eventually carry out what we saw today in Tennessee. And I would like to see law enforcement have that latitude to go out and talk to people.
LEMON: Buck, what do you make of that? Is he right?
BUCK SEXTON, NATION SECURITY EDITOR, THE BLAZE: There are sensitivities at play when it comes to particularly what is protected under the first amendment. And look, I think you're going to find out within a very short period of time here that the postings that we're talking about now are just the tip of the ice burg. It's very likely based on other cases, cases that I'm familiar with, working with the Intel division, the NYPD or elsewhere, that he might have had anonymous twitter accounts, meaning that it wasn't in his name or there might have been other activity he was engaged in online, perhaps going to some of the more ISIS heavy chat rooms. There are going to be things that the FBI will probably be finding out in the hours ahead. So it's not just the questions of the post that we already know about,
as suppose that we don't yet know about. And I understand the hesitation for some law enforcement officers and the general sense that there's a process that they have to go through here. But let's keep in mind, until today, the Colorado shooters James Holmes was the alleged shooter. But we all know who was the shooter. And when you look at the facts of the case here, when you look at this individual, when you look at all these pieces together, the choice of targets, the method of the attack, all of that, it seems very clear that, like I said, it was a terrorist attack and that he did this in the name of jihad and whether we have a direct link of someone who's professing to be part of ISIS or not. We know that ISIS has said look, you don't even need to talk to us, you don't need to be in direct connection with us, you can just go out and do this in our name. And you are a (INAUDIBLE), you are a holy warrior, a part of our cause.
So I think this is all what's going to come out in the days ahead. Of course, I know people are being very tight lip about it now. And there are issues of political correctness especially when you're talking about looking at people because of speech. You know, when does someone go from having a problem with U.S. foreign policy, having a problem with some of our or actions in the Middle East, to being an ISIS supporter, just based upon Internet postings. That can be pretty tough to slice and pretty tough to differentiate sometimes from a law enforcement perspective.
As I said, we're not going to get all of the possible lone wolves. This has been clear from the beginning. And it is just a question of a numbers and how many these attacks unfortunately we have to suffer because this is going to continue to happen. There will be more radicalized individuals here at home. And I don't think there's a ready answer for how to prevent this, quite honestly.
LEMON: And it's a very interesting conversation that we're all having here. And you heard Senator Bob Corker being very careful not to tie this to any sort of jihad or any sort of international terrorism.
But I thank you, gentlemen, for joining us. And what we know about this evening is that four people are dead now. Four people are dead. One is seriously wounded, in the hospital, was in surgery earlier. Again, we are hearing that there is no direct link at this point to international terrorism and there is no motive at this point.
That's it for us tonight. I'm going to see you back here tomorrow night. For our viewers here in the United States, the 70s, the state of the union is now good, starts right now. And for our international viewers, our live coverage continues now with George Howell and Natalie Allen at the CNN center in Atlanta.