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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
U.S. Capitol Suspect Shot And In Custody; Police: Female Bystander's Injuries "Minor". Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired March 28, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One is, you know, all of us go through mags a lot, especially those of us who go into these secure locations. And it almost has become kind of rote and routine. You go through. You don't really think about it. You know, your shoes go off. Your -- your keys go off.
But, this time, it was real. It was an actual gun and it was a man who was determined to use it so quickly that he pulled it out right away and was taken down immediately by an officer standing right there.
So, again, to be at that scene and to witness something that it was -- is there for a purpose, but generally these days is kind of rote, sounds like it was quite, quite dramatic.
TAPPER: We have been told that the U.S. Capitol Police will hold a press conference any second now about what just happened. We will bring that to you live.
In the meantime, we're going to squeeze in one quick break. Stay with us. We will be back after this very brief message.
TAPPER: You're looking at live pictures from the site of where we expect the U.S. Capitol Police to deliver a press conference at any moment. They are testing the audio equipment there. And when that event begins, we will bring it to you live.
For a lot of us covering today's potential Capitol Hill shooting, which obviously, thankfully, did not happen, the suspect was fired upon by Capitol Hill police, for a lot of us, we're recalling 1998, when two Capitol Hill police officers were shot and killed in an incident. Those officers, Detective John Gibson and officer Jacob Chestnut, are still constantly memorialized on Capitol Hill by their fellow officers in blue.
Gloria Borger covered that 18 years ago.
Gloria, the shooter that day was a paranoid schizophrenic with no apparent political motive. We don't know anything yet about this suspect. But compare what happened then to today, if you would.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, at that point, there was no visitors center. It's the reason we have a visitors center, Jake, because what would occur is tourists would sort of go into an entrance where you had lots of people, other people, staffers.
Even members sometimes would go through that entrance, members of the press. Very busy. There was no sort of distance at that point really between the building of the Capitol itself and the tourists. And I think at that -- that day, everybody realized that they were unprepared.
And, as you say, every Capitol Hill police officer either knows about that story, recalls that story, there is no room for error anymore when you're an officer on Capitol Hill.
So, two people died. I remember that then the Republican leader, Bill Frist, saved the shooter, if I recall, or tried to save the shooter. And it was a moment when people realized that there couldn't be this kind of a crowd anymore directly inside the Capitol before people had been cleared through security first.
And the center -- the visitors center took a very long time to build. It's very complicated. But if we step back and look at what occurred today -- and, again, we don't know exactly how this went down. We have the outlines of it. It seems to me that things worked very much in the way that they're supposed to work.
TAPPER: The murderer in 1998, the Capitol Hill shooter who killed two Capitol Hill police officers, is still in an institution.
TAPPER: He is still alive.
Let us find out more about today's shooter.
Chris Frates is on Capitol Hill and has more about the incident not long ago with the Capitol Hill Visitors Center.
Chris, what do you know?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jake.
What we're learning is, it was a really dramatic scene that played out here at the Capitol Visitors Center. That, of course, is the center underneath the Capitol, where hundreds or if not thousands of visitors come every day to see the Capitol.
And what we learned is the suspect, as he walked into the building, walked through the mags, the magnetometers, here in the visitor center. Those mags went off. They did what they should. They felt and saw the metal. And as he pulled the gun out of his jacket, he pointed it at a police officer and waved that gun around. That's when an officer responded by shooting the suspect. That
officer was from the side. And that's some reporting coming from our colleague Dana Bash.
And what is so remarkable about this is how quickly that officer responded. As you know, we go through mags every day. It's kind of the rigor as we come in and out of the Capitol. And oftentimes you forget. You get your keys in your pocket, you have your cell phone in the pocket.
And the fact that that officer reacted so quickly, saw the gun waving in the air, and neutralized that suspect with no other casualties is really a bit of a miracle, Jake. And I will tell you that the other thing that was certainly very lucky today is that most of the legislative leadership was not in the Capitol while this happened, starting with House Speaker Paul Ryan.
He was not in Washington today. But he has been briefed on the incident. Mitch McConnell, his colleague in the Senate, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, he -- my staff tells me they believe he's also been briefed. He was home in Louisville, Kentucky, today. And the same goes for Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. She was in San Francisco.
So, if this had to happen, Jake, today was a good day for it to happen on, as most of the legislative leadership was not here. We're still working to learn where Harry Reid was, but really pretty remarkable unfolding at the Capitol Visitors Center, the gunman walking through the mags, the mags going off, the gunman brandishing a gun, waving it around, and then a police officer on the side seeing that, shooting the suspect, and no other casualties, except for one innocent bystander who was hit with some shrapnel.
This, Jake, I think, could have been a whole lot worse, if it weren't for the quick-thinking Capitol Police.
TAPPER: Yes, a horrific incident, but obviously could have been much, much worse. And we're thankful for the quick reaction and the expert training of the Capitol Hill police officers.
We're going to squeeze in one more quick break before the U.S. Capitol Police hold their press conference.
We will be right back. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
[16:45:02] We are expecting at any moment the U.S. Capitol Police to brief reporters on just what happened earlier today when a Capitol Hill police officer shot a suspect with a gun at the Capitol Visitors Center. We have some breaking news about this individual, who has been taken to a hospital. Dana Bash has that and will bring that to us. Dana, what are you learning from Capitol Hill Police?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a law enforcement source and I should say that this comes by way of our colleague, Peter Morris, who says that this actually is an individual who was known to U.S. Capitol Police.
The reason for that, Jake, is because there was an incident involving this individual in October of 2015 during an outburst in the House chamber, during an actual House chamber session, there was an outburst involving this suspect and so the name and the information about this suspect was already known to Capitol Police.
Now, having said that, anybody can walk in through the mag, so I think we're going to learn a little bit more when we have this press conference. The fact of the matter is just because they knew who he was, the fact that he had a history and a record with causing problems in the Capitol doesn't necessarily mean it is easy to keep him out if he's coming in as a tourist.
But again, we'll get more information and maybe this is one of those incidents, as you have been saying all hour, Jake, that with every unfortunate incident and sometimes tragedy throughout history over the past decades, it has caused a change in the way law enforcement at the Capitol does its job.
And perhaps because they knew of this individual, this will be yet another change to try to make sure that those people can't get into the Capitol.
TAPPER: We're awaiting news from the U.S. Capitol Police on exactly who this individual was.
Let us bring back our panelists. Dan Bongino, former U.S. Secret Service agent, I want to ask you a question. When there is reaction time that is so quick, as we saw today, as we've heard about, by the U.S. Capitol Police officers, so that the magnetometer goes off, there's an alarm and then the individual takes out his gun.
Before he has an opportunity to fire that gun is shot himself by a U.S. Capitol Police officer. That is a split-second decision. Tell us about the kind of training that officers go through, because I imagine what you went through as a U.S. Secret Service agent is probably fairly similar to what the U.S. Capitol Police go through in that respect.
DAN BONGINO, FORMER U.S. SECRET SERVICE AGENT (via telephone): Yes, that would be accurate. There's two different things here. There's the actual mechanics of drawing your weapon and firing it as a law enforcement agent and Capitol Hill Police, which is difficult enough to learn frankly. That takes thousands upon thousands of rounds.
But more importantly, Jake, it's the target discrimination. It's training in multiple scenarios to learn not just when to shoot but when not to shoot. Engaging in we used -- we did a firearm simulation system. You would look at a movie screen and see multiple scenarios to make sure that you are accountable for every round.
TAPPER: Dan, I'm sorry. I'm going to interrupt you. The officer is speaking at the U.S. Capitol Police. We'll come back to you, Dan.
CHIEF MATTHEW VERDEROSA, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Every day thousands of people visit the United States capitol and member offices and over 2 million people a year are screened through the Capitol Visitors Center.
Today at approximately 2:39 p.m., an adult male subject entered the north screening facility of the Capitol Visitors Center. During routine administrative screening the individual drew what appeared to be a weapon and pointed it at officers.
An officer fired and struck the suspect, who was subsequently treated by medical personnel. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to the hospital for treatment. The suspect is currently undergoing surgery. His condition is unknown at this time.
A weapon was recovered on the scene. The Congressional Complex was locked down and USCP ordered a shelter in place based on the initial investigation. At approximately 3:40 p.m., the lockdown was lifted and all buildings except for the CVC, which remains processing for crime scene.
The suspect's vehicle has been located on the Capitol grounds and will be cleared of hazards and seized pending service of a search warrant.
An uninvolved 35 to 45-year-old female bystander also suffered what appeared to be minor injuries and was transported to the hospital. No officers were injured. It has not been determined as to how many officers fired their weapons.
[16:50:04]The U.S. Capitol Police investigations Division, the Capitol Police Office of Professional Responsibility and the Metropolitan Police are conducting investigations into this matter.
I stress that much of this information is still very preliminary. I want to stress that while this is preliminary, based on the initial investigation, we believe that this is an act of a single person who has frequented the capitol grounds before, and there is no reason to believe that this is anything more than a criminal act.
As additional information is gained, I'll provide as much as I can through our Public Information Office. I want to assure the American and visiting public that the U.S. Capitol Police officers continue to protect the capitol and the CVC for all who visit.
We expect regular order of business tomorrow morning at the Capitol Visitors Center. So people can safely visit the United States Capitol and their member offices. Again, this is preliminary information. As we get more information, I'll be happy to provide it through our regular PIO sources.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, is this suspect known to you, known to the Capitol Police?
VERDEROSA: While we have not -- I have not received confirmation about who the suspect is, we believe that the suspect is known to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how was he known to you, sir?
VERDEROSA: Through previous contacts?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disruptions, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was this the individual who disrupted the House chamber last fall, a gentleman from Tennessee?
VERDEROSA: I can't comment on that right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, have charges been filed?
VERDEROSA: Not at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, there's been a lot of talk about --
VERDEROSA: Not at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, there's been a lot of talk about security in light of what happened in Brussels. This checkpoint at the CVC was designed to identify a threat before it could get into the capitol. Did this work the way it was designed today? Are you satisfied with the response?
VERDEROSA: It appears that the screening process works the way it's supposed to, that's correct. Again, again, this is preliminary and I know you want as much information as I can possibly give you, but without confirming some things I really don't want to give you bad information.
I'd rather just give you the information when we confirm it. I'll try to provide as much information as I can so that you can certainly get it out to the public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, on the car --
VERDEROSA: I want to thank you very much.
TAPPER: All right, that was the U.S. Capitol Police briefing reporters on what exactly happened. He said that they believe this was just one individual, one individual known to Capitol Police from prior incidents. They said that he is in surgery.
They have not released the suspect's name at this time. They said that the woman, innocent bystander, only has minor injuries. They cautioned, as we all in the media should be doing as well, that a lot of the preliminary information they have is just preliminary and could be corrected.
So with that news given, let us turn back to our panel. I want to bring back Dan Bongino, former U.S. Secret Service agent. Dan, you were describing the importance when it comes to the quick reaction of law enforcement in situations like this not only to fire but not to fire because obviously a number of officers firing at a suspect in a crowded area with one that is teeming with tourists could potentially be deadly and cause a lot of injuries by the officers. So holding their fire also a significant decision to make.
BONGINO: Absolutely, Jake. One of the lessons they teach you from day one in the Secret Service Academy and I'm sure the Capitol Police are taught as well, you are responsible for every single round of ammunition that leaves that gun. There are no excuses.
Especially in the Secret Service when you're standing a foot away from the president of the United States. You don't just get to unload your magazine to eliminate a target. You have to be extremely careful. So the target discrimination is the difficult part.
The mechanics of shooting can be taught, but it's learning when not to shoot sometimes. A scenario such as this having heard the briefing from the officer there, it is amazing, and thank God that the injuries given the scenario and the amount of rounds that apparently seem to be let go that no one else was hurt.
God bless the response. It couldn't have gone any better from the law enforcement side given all the circumstances.
TAPPER: Yes, let's hope that their report that that innocent bystander only has minor injuries, let's hope that that's one of those reports that holds up as time goes by.
Tom Fuentes, what was your reaction to the information given at that briefing? One of the reporters asked if the individual in question was from Tennessee, known to have disrupted the capitol, I guess the House chamber perhaps, in October of last year or in the fall of last year.
He wouldn't comment on that but did acknowledge that this was somebody who was known to Capitol Police.
[16:55:09]TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's true, Jake, but there are probably thousands of people that are known to them that show up there, cause trouble, even if they don't have weapons, get through and past the magnetometers.
So it's not uncommon trying to deal with people trying to get in or after they have gotten in. It is uncommon to have somebody try to walk through that magnetometer with a gun or being in the process of drawing a gun.
From the police standpoint, all in due time. They'll put that name out soon, but they want to have access to that person's residence, computers, phone records, talk to neighbors and friends, others that can shed more light on why this person did what he did.
TAPPER: All right, Tom Fuentes, Art Roderick and Dan Bongino, thank you so much. Thanks to our reporters today. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We'll have to continue with coverage of this story by CNN. I have to take a quick break.
But we'll have much more on this with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" after this very quick break. Thanks for watching. We'll see you later.