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Gunman Obtained Weapons; Cousin of Man who Shot Gunman Speaks Out; Community Members Speak of Shooting. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 6, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:44] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin, here in New York.
You're watching CNN's special live coverage of this church rampage that left 26 people dead, including a 17-month-old baby.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman in Sutherland Spring, Texas.
Ten of the 20 wounded in this small town now in critical condition and authorities just revealed they have viewed video from inside the church behind me as the violence erupted.
Those are just some of the new details on what happened as worshippers gathered here at the First Baptist Church for Sunday service. The gunman opened fire even before he entered the building. And before it was all over, he either killed or wounded nearly half -- nearly half of those inside.
We have video of a previous service from inside the building, which shows you, I think, the camaraderie of those inside there, how everyone gathered together, how people would come here for togetherness and to worship God as a community.
Everyone here in town knows somebody who was inside that church. It is such a moment of suffering here.
I -- earlier, I had a chance to speak with one of the heroes here in town, one of the two men who chased down the killer, who caught ultimately the man who perpetrated this awful crime behind me. His name was Johnnie Langendorff. I believe we have that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNIE LANGENDORFF, CHASED TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTING SUSPECT: Right whenever I pulled up, I saw the shooter coming out about where the cars were parked. And the other gentlemen coming from across the street, both had weapons drawn. And in a matter of half a second, there was an exchange of gun fire. 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 just shot up the church and we got to chase him. And I said, let's go.
BERMAN: You tell me, you said, let's go.
BERMAN: Did you have any second thoughts? What was running through your head right then?
LANGENDORFF: Nothing. Get him.
LANGENDORFF: Because that's what you do. You chase the bad guy.
BERMAN: 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. 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: 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'll never breathe again. And it doesn't serve it justice completely, but he's not -- he won't hurt anyone else ever. And I was thankful that once that it was all said and done, that I got to hold her in my arms again and that I got to go home with her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That was Johnnie Langendorff who, again, drove his truck to the nearby county and ultimately led to the death of the man who perpetrated this crime behind me.
We are learning new details about the killer, his contact with this church. His in-laws, they attended this church, though they were not inside at the time. We heard from local officials just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREEMAN MARTIN, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: One thing everybody wants to know is, why did this happen? It's a senseless crime. But we can tell you that there was a domestic situation going on within this family.
The suspect's mother-in-law attended this church. We know that he had made threatening -- threatening -- she had received threatening texts from him. And we can't go into details about that domestic situation that is continuing to be vetted and early investigated, but we want to get that out there that this was not racially motivated. That it wasn't over religious beliefs. There was a domestic situation going on within the family and the in-laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:05:10] BERMAN: As I said, new developments just coming in now in this investigation in Sutherland Springs.
Dianne Gallagher here in front of the church as well with the very latest.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And another question they're asking right now, John, is how did he get his hands on those three weapons? ATF spoke a little bit earlier today and they said they're still trying to go through some of the paperwork dealing with his discharge from the Air Force. Now, the Air force tells CNN that he received what is called a bad conduct discharge after being court- martialed on two counts of assault, one on a spouse, one on a child. He served 12 months' confinement and also was busted down in rank to an E-1.
Now, many wondering, how then he was able to legally obtain these weapons. ATF did confirm that Kelley purchased all three of them, including the Ruger AR-556 that they say he used to carry out that attack at the church here behind me, as well as the two handguns they found on him after finding his body in the car there.
Now, the question again they have is, how did he pass these background checks? Because CNN has sources that tell them that he purchased that AR-556 back in April of 2016 at Academy Sport and Outdoor Store in San Antonio, Texas. Now we are told that he used a Colorado address when he did that and he also didn't click the box that said that he had any sort of disqualifying past, any sort of a history that would disqualify him from getting a weapon.
We're told by sources that when they went through that, they didn't find any disqualifying information. However, Governor Abbott here in Texas says that Kelley applied for and was denied a license to carry in Texas. So there are still a lot of questions, John, about how he got his hands on all three of the weapons which, again, ATF said he did purchase. They want to get more information from the military, find out where the disconnect was here and, again, how he was able to have all three of those weapons.
BERMAN: Dianne Gallagher, thanks so much.
Clearly, several opportunities here. Several points where authorities maybe should have had alarm bells go off.
Dianne Gallagher, our thanks to you.
And, Brooke, as I toss it back to you in New York, I want to tell you, just over the last few minutes, I have seen several different groups of people outside this church here praying. Small groups here and there holding hands and looking for some kind of answer, some kind of peace amidst all this horror.
BALDWIN: Hearing all the stories of also just, you know, folks from this town jumping in to try to help. Let me tell one piece of that story, John Berman, and then we'll come back to you there in Texas in just a moment.
You know, we still haven't heard from the other man who shot the gunman and later helped chase him down, but his cousin, Ken Leonard, is joining me on his behalf. Ken is also a friend of the guest pastor who was killed in that shooting.
So, Ken, thank you so much for being with me. And my heart just goes out to, you know, obviously, your family and this community that is reeling. So thank you so much for taking a moment with me today.
KEN LEONARD, COUSIN OF MAN WHO SHOT CHURCH SHOOTER: Thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: So, let's start with your cousin, who I know is like a brother to you. And it's my understanding that, you know, he had heard there had been an attack at the church early, early on. Can you tell me how he knew so quickly?
LEONARD: When I talked to him he said that he heard -- he heard gunfire. And he's -- he knows about guns and he knows what a gun sounds like. And his daughter had actually gone to go see what was going on in her car. She came back and told her father that there was a man in black that was shooting people at the church.
So Stephen (ph) went into his safe, grabbed his AR, which is AR-15, the same style weapon that the shooter was using, grabbed a handful of ammo and a magazine and was running barefooted toward the shooting. He said he was loading the magazine as fast as he could. He didn't even know how many rounds he had put in the magazine.
When he got there, the guy had come outside and it seemed that -- to him that he was reloading outside. And he saw that the guy was wearing body armor and there was a Velcro strap from the back to the front. And he knew from that, that the man had front and back body armor and that the vulnerable spot was going to be in the side. And so that's where he shot him the first time.
BALDWIN: That's where he got him.
LEONARD: After he -- that's where he got him the first time. The man dropped the weapon when he was shot and went and forced his way into an SUV that a guy just happened to be nearby and he pushed him into the passenger side.
[14:10:03] As he was doing that, Stephen shot him again in the neck. And then he forced his way into the car, turned around and returned fire and shot two rounds through the back of the SUV. And that's when Stephen shot him a third time in the neck again.
BALDWIN: Oh, my goodness.
LEONARD: He then went to the guy named Johnnie that you interviewed and said, that guy just shot up the church, and Johnnie said, I saw everything, let's go. And so Stephen got in the vehicle with him and they took off and chased him and at a high rate of speed and eventually the guy went through an intersection into a field and came to a stop.
Stephen went up and made sure he got the passenger first to get on the ground because at that point he wasn't sure whether he was part of it or he was innocent, but --
LEONARD: He made sure he wasn't a threat, but made sure he was safe at the same time.
LEONARD: Then went around to the driver's side and yelled at the driver to get out of the car. And when he went up to the car, he saw that the man was already dead.
BALDWIN: My goodness, Ken. I'm just taking in everything you just said. And just even going back, if we can, to the fact that he hears the shots, goes back into his house, grabs the gun, and there are many people in this world who would have stayed right there in the comfort of their own home.
LEONARD: Oh, that --
BALDWIN: I mean has he played this -- has he played this all back in his head and was there ever a moment where he thought, gosh, maybe I shouldn't run toward the shots?
LEONARD: Well, Stephen is the best shot that I know. And the best way I could describe him is, he's the Atticus Finch of Wilson County. And he -- without armor and barefooted ran into the fire and put his own -- his own life at risk, took return fire and fired accurately three times. That's an amazing accomplishment, especially for a man who has no - wasn't ever in the military.
BALDWIN: How is he doing today? Have you talked to him?
LEONARD: Well, he's shook up. I mean, as you -- as you can imagine, he -- he took -- he took a man's life and he feels the pressure of that. He also feels the pressure that he wishes he had acted sooner. And, of course, Brian Holcomb (ph) and his family are all friends of ours.
BALDWIN: Oh, bless you.
LEONARD: He grew up right around the corner from me and so we're friends with him and his wife and his family. And we go back to childhood. And it's just -- it's just an amazing thing that he had the presence of mind to save lives and stop it right there.
BALDWIN: The Holcomb (ph) family. That's the family that so many people in this country have been reading about today, Ken. You know, the woman who was pregnant and her three children just some of the victims.
I was just even looking at numbers, Ken. I mean this is a town of I think it's 1,000 people and so basically 4 percent of this town was murdered on a Sunday morning in church.
LEONARD: I know. I know. It's unfathomable. We have a country that's got to find our faith in God again because it -- it is -- it is really going crazy.
Brian, the last time I saw him, he was working in his canvas shop. He's one of the happiest people I know. One of the most friendly people I know. And he was listening to Gospel sermons on the stereo working in his shop. He's a deep man of faith. And if the situation had been reversed, he would have done exactly the same thing Stephen did.
BALDWIN: Well, bless him and bless you and thank you so much just for taking the time. And, like I said, just our deepest condolences going out to the Sutherland Springs, Texas, community and such -- just a horrible, horrible moment.
Thank you so much, Ken. I really appreciate you.
LEONARD: Sure. Keep everyone in your prayers. Thank you.
BALDWIN: We will. We will. Thank you.
Ahead here on this breaking news out of Texas, my next guest was a member of First Baptist Church for 50 years. She is one of the 600 people who call Sutherland Springs home. We'll talk to her live about this.
And also on the eve of President Trump's visit to South Korea, officials from North Korea tell CNN they are watching this trip very, very closely and will respond if President Trump does anything, quote, crazy. We'll take you live to that part of the world when CNN's special live coverage continues on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
[14:19:16] BERMAN: All right, John Berman in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
And we do have some breaking news.
We just learned that one of the deceased inside the church behind me was the grandmother-in-law of the killer. Her name, Lula White. She is among the 26 people killed. Now authorities told us earlier that the killer had sent a threatening text message to his mother-in-law. She was not inside the church at the time of the shooting, but the grandmother-in-law was. Lula White among those killed.
Also among those killed, 14-year-old Bella Pomeroy. She was the daughter of the pastor and the pastor's wife. They also were not at church during the shooting, but their daughter Bella was. And earlier today we heard from the pastor talking about the horror, but also how much he loved his daughter. Listen.
[14:20:12] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FRANK POMEROY, PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: We have -- we've had a long night with our children and grandbabies that we have left.
She's going to share this with you.
SHERRI POMEROY, PASTOR'S WIFE: Frank I want to say thank you to all the outpouring of love for our family, from family friends and complete strangers. News media have been bombarding us with requests to share and comment and appear to celebrate Annabelle's life. However, as much tragedy that that entails for our family, we don't want to overshadow the other lives lost yesterday. We lost more than Belle yesterday. And one thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely and vice versa.
Our church was not comprised of members or parishioners. We were a very close family. We ate together. We laughed together. We cried together. And we worshipped together. Now most of our church family is gone. Our building is probably beyond repair. And the few of us that are left behind lost tragically yesterday. As senseless as this tragedy was, our sweet Belle would not have been able to deal with losing so much family yesterday. Please don't forget Sutherland Springs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Remarkable strength. The mother of Bella Pomeroy, just 14 years old, who was killed in this church behind me.
Also standing strong this afternoon is Beullah Wilson. She's lived in this town for 63 years. Which, by the way, I have to say, I don't understand how that could be since you are so young, but thank you so much for joining us.
You knew people inside this church?
BEULLAH WILSON, FORMER MEMBER OF THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH FOR 50 YEARS: I did. I did. We moved here in '54 on a Wednesday and on Sunday we started -- started going to this church. We were members there about 46 to 50 years and then we were -- the Lord moved us to help start some new churches. And we come back. We're here. And I can't remember if it was a year or two. And then we were called out again starting more ministries. But we retained the friendship and the love for these people. They were --
BERMAN: Talk to me -- talk to me about the people that this community lost. Lula White, for instance, we just found out that she was among those killed.
WILSON: She was a dear friend. She was a dear friend. But this community is -- it's like a big family. All of our lives are intertwined with one another and we're all about the same level. One hurts, we all hurt. And many of these people have been here for years. We devote so many friendships with just so much love. And God will see us through it.
BERMAN: You're going to need that love.
WILSON: We're going to need it (ph) to people. And if you see one, hug us (ph). We're a hugging people. We greet each other with hugs.
BERMAN: Listen, you said it's one big family. Generations of this family were lost here yesterday.
WILSON: Yes. That's hard to comprehend. It's hard to even -- I'm still numb. I'm sorry. I'm just still -- I can't believe it happened here.
BERMAN: We have grandmothers like Lula White, and we also have kids as young as 18 months old.
WILSON: That's what's so heartbreaking, the little children. And -- but, you know what? God is still very strong. He's still in control.
BERMAN: Do you ask yourself when something like this can happen in this town -- and you say you moved here. This was the kind of place you never had to lock your door. Everybody knows everybody. They greet each other with hugs. Do you ever ask how something like this could happen here?
WILSON: Oh, yes, we have. We asked because we didn't know the whole situation. And we said, who come (ph) him to pick this church? We're out here. We don't bother anybody, you know? Nobody -- and for him to come here and do this. But then now we find out that he did have a connection with this church. And it's so sad. But, you know, the young man, even that's sad that he felt like he had to do that. That's so sad.
BERMAN: It is so sad.
And one of the things we want to do is -- is not talk about him or think about him --
WILSON: That's right. (INAUDIBLE).
BERMAN: We want to think about the people who were a part of this church. The people who we cannot hear from anymore. That we can only hear about through you. So tell me about some of the people that we lost.
[14:25:03] WILSON: Oh, just wonderful Christians. Very outgoing. Helping other people. These -- some of these people that I'm just now finding out --
BERMAN: I told you -- I told you that Lula White --
WILSON: You told -- yes, Lu and I just found out about somebody else.
BERMAN: And Lu -- tell me about Lu.
WILSON: And that listed here and they were workers in the church. They were -- did not -- these were not people that come and sit in services and go home. They work. They work through the week. They held a program for the -- Pomeroy has a number of programs going on. And these people were workers. It's going to be such a void in the church because these people held positions of teachers, workers.
WILSON: And it's just so sad. And I just want to ask people, pray for us. Yes, pray for us to have the strength. If you see one of us, hug us or hug, a pat on the shoulder. It means so much just knowing people care and they're grieving with us.
BERMAN: Beullah, we care.
WILSON: Thank you.
BERMAN: We're so honored to meet you. And this town, this community, is going to need you going forward, going to look to you for strength. The strength that you're giving everyone.
WILSON: Yes. We don't give up.
BERMAN: Beullah Wilson, thanks so much.
WILSON: You're welcome.
BERMAN: Brooke, it's -- you know, it is astounding. As I was saying, we were reporting the news about Lula White, the grandmother-in-law of the killer who we just learned moments ago was killed. And I'm standing here with Beullah and she says, you mean Lu? That's how people look at everyone behind me.
BALDWIN: I know.
BERMAN: Everybody knows everyone else here. And, again, there have been generations of this town and of this church community that are now gone.
BALDWIN: Pray for us, she says. Pray for us. And if you see one of us, hug us. Go hug her, John Berman, for me, please. Thank you so much. We'll see you in just a second here.
We've got more breaking news out of Texas. But also ahead we've got to talk North Korea. They say they are watching President Trump's trip to South Korea very, very closely, as the president warns that the time for strategic patience with Kim Jong-un is over. This as the North Koreans say they are ready to respond if President Trump does, quote, anything crazy.
Also ahead, Senator Rand Paul attacked at his own home in Kentucky. His injuries, severe, broken ribs and a bruised lung. What we know about the man who attacked him, coming up.