Date: July 16, 2015
Guest: Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Steven Rogers, Manny Gomez, Steve Rogers,
Lisa Bloom, Andy Berke, Steven Rogers, Manny Gomez, Jonathan Allen
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: I`m Steve Kornacki, in for Chris Matthews
We`re following breaking news on two big stories tonight. Within the
past hour, a jury in Colorado found James Egan Holmes guilty of 24 counts
of first degree murder, two counts for each of the 12 victims of the 2012
mass shooting at an Aurora movie theater. Holmes had faced a total of 166
You`re looking at a live picture from inside that courtroom where the
verdicts on those charges continue to be read as we go on the air right
But we begin with the latest from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where
earlier today, a gunman opened fire at two separate military facilities, a
recruitment center and a Navy and Marines Reserve center. Four Marines are
dead. So is the shooter. The FBI has identified him as Mohammod Youssef
Abdulazeez. According to NBC News, he was a naturalized American citizen
Earlier this afternoon, the FBI briefed reporters on the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED REINHOLD, FBI SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: We believe it was a single
shooter at this point. No reason to believe anybody else was involved at
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to look at the shooter. We`re going
to do an intense look at him to see if -- what his connections are. We`ll
look at his friends, families, associates, anybody who is associated with
him to determine the cause or the reason why he conducted this attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The United States attorney in Tennessee said they`re
investigating this as a case of domestic terrorism. The shooter was armed
with numerous weapons, including automatic guns.
This afternoon, Chattanooga`s mayor, Andy Berke, described the attack
as a nightmare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY BERKE (D), CHATTANOOGA MAYOR: It is incomprehensible to see what
happened and the way that individuals who proudly serve our country were
treated. This is, as I said, a nightmare for the city of Chattanooga, but
one to which we will respond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: President Obama also addressed the attack today. He asked
all Americans to pray for the families of the victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main message right
now is obviously the deepest sympathies of the American people to the four
Marines that have been killed. It is a heart-breaking circumstance for
these individuals, who have served our country with great valor, to be --
to be killed in this fashion.
But we take all shootings very seriously. Obviously, when you add an
attack on a U.S. military facility, then we have to make sure that we have
all the information necessary to make an assessment in terms of how this
attack took place and what further precautions we can take in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: NBC`s Gabe Gutierrez is outside the shooting scene at that
recruiting center in Chattanooga tonight. Gabe, what`s the latest you can
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Good evening, Steve.
Well, we`re here at the site of the first shooting. The shots rang out
here around 10:35 this morning, and witnesses described it as a chaotic
scene. Some of them thought it was some sort of construction site or
something. They described it as jackhammers over and over again in quick
succession. They described more than 25 rounds being shot at this location
Now, right now, the FBI is on the scene. They are taking the lead in
this investigation and trying on figure out what the motive may have been
here. There are still so many unanswered questions in this case.
Now, as you`ve been reporting, that first shooting happened here.
More than 25 rounds were shot. Then the gunman drove about seven miles to
a second location, a reserve center. Amazingly, no one at this location
was killed, but four Marines lost their lives at that other location.
And right now, it is a very somber scene here in Chattanooga. A
makeshift memorial is growing for the victims. We`re hearing of several
prayer services that are scheduled for tonight, again, as the investigation
continues and the FBI tries to figure out what might have led to all this.
Steve, back to you.
KORNACKI: Yes, and Gabe, what have we learned so far? What do we
know, just some sketchy details that I`m reading about the background of
GUTIERREZ: Well, he was a naturalized American citizen. He`s
originally from Kuwait. But right now, again, there is no exact (ph)
motive that is being discussed by federal officials. They are
investigating it, they said, as an act of domestic terrorism.
But right now, they are looking through his home that he lived near --
in the Chattanooga area. They`re trying to see, you know, who he may have
spoken with in the last few weeks if -- federal officials had not been
investigating him prior to this. But you know, that is the big question
right now. What may have led him to do this?
Was he perhaps inspired by some of the recent -- you know, some of the
recent terrorist groups that have been asking for attacks in the U.S.? We
just don`t know that to this point, and we don`t know what may have
contributed to his decision to come out here And to open fire not just at
this location but in that other reserve center, targeting military
facilities. And that is important to note here. He apparently wanted to
do some damage to the U.S. military.
And again, four Marines have lost their lives. As the president said,
many people around the country are praying for Chattanooga, and local
officials here say that this is just an absolutely devastating tragedy, and
they`re trying to understand of it -- understand it and make sense of it
KORNACKI: All right, Gabe Gutierrez in Chattanooga, appreciate that.
NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams now joins us from
Washington. Pete, what`s the latest you can tell us?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, federal officials tonight say
that there are several factors that point to the possibility that these the
attacks may have been terrorism.
First is the obvious, the choice of the targets, government buildings,
military personnel in uniform. ISIS social media in the past six months or
so has relentlessly been urging followers to stage attacks against the
military, against the federal government, against anybody in uniform. And
you have all three of those factors in these facilities.
And several officials say tonight there are other indications that
this may be an act of foreign-inspired terrorism, though they decline to
offer specifics about this. They`re, as Gabe said, going through his past
now, looking at the people Abdulazeez was in touch with, looking at his
social media use, his phone calls, trying to piece together the days
leading up to this event.
And they say that they didn`t have any warning that this was coming.
But three days ago, on a blog, he wrote that life is short and bitter, and
stressed the importance of jihad, Steve.
KORNACKI: Wow, Pete Williams, and that`s an interesting bit of
reporting there when you say federal officials say they`re looking into the
possibility of foreign-inspired terrorism. I guess that would encompass
both the possibility that this is -- he read propaganda that originated
with a foreign source. Does it also encompass the possibility of some kind
of coordination overseas?
WILLIAMS: So that`s a very good question. I think it`s fair to say
that at this point, at just this point of the evening, they`re leaning
against the idea that this was directed by some overseas terror
organization. In other words, instructions, You ought to go do this,
rather than inspire.
And here`s the reason. Very often, when you have these directed
attacks, such as the attack on the Draw Mohammed contest in Garland, Texas,
as soon as the attack is over, ISIS immediately takes credit for it. That
has not happened here.
By the way, there were rumors early in the day that there had been
some ISIS supporter tweeted out something about Chattanooga just before
this happened. In fact, it was after it happened. The time on that is
confusing, but it came out well after the attack.
So there`s no indication that there was any warning or a credit
claimed immediately afterwards, which suggests that it was -- if it was, in
fact, ISIS-related, that it was inspired, rather than directed.
KORNACKI: And in terms of the investigation, Pete, just the
background of the sort of the sketchy details we`re learning right now -- I
guess, an American citizen but originally from Kuwait. How is that going
to -- what bearing will that have on the investigation going forward?
WILLIAMS: Well, that fact in and of itself doesn`t mean much.
They`re going to look at -- you know, he`s been in the United States for
quite some time. Father`s a city employee. His -- he went to high school
in the area. He graduated from college with an engineering degree.
So you know, I`m sure they`ll look at all the factors. If he had been
from, you know, Casper, Wyoming, my home town, they`d look at that, too.
But that in and of itself doesn`t mean anything.
KORNACKI: All right, Pete Williams in Washington, appreciate the time
tonight. Thank you.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
KORNACKI: And Congressman Chuck Fleischmann is a Republican whose
district include Chattanooga, where that tragedy took place today. So
Congressman, just curious, the latest you are hearing on the scene down
there tonight about what`s playing out?
REP. CHUCK FLEISCHMANN (R), TENNESSEE: Well, Steve, this is a sad day
for Chattanooga. It`s a sad day for America.
I`m here now. It`s later in the evening. But the events, as I
learned, as they unfolded today at two locations here in our great city --
this is sad. I am sick. I am ill. Four wonderful United States Marines
lost their lives. There is a gunman who committed horrific acts. And it`s
a sad day for Chattanooga and for America.
KORNACKI: You know, and as we were saying, Congressman, that this
investigation obviously turns to the question of potential of a terror
attack, the potential that it`s inspired by something overseas, something
the investigation, obviously, is going to presumably turn up evidence
As we were saying earlier, there`s been all this talk in the last few
months from ISIS about the idea of going after military targets in the
United States, going after people in uniform. Obviously, the military has
a presence in Chattanooga.
Can you talk about the presence of the military, the role it sort of
plays in the community down there?
FLEISCHMANN: I`m sorry, sir. I didn`t hear -- I didn`t hear your
question? Talking about the presence (ph) where, sir?
KORNACKI: The role -- Congressman, tell us a little bit about the
role in that community of the military, of these military installations.
FLEISCHMANN: I could not hear through the feed, but I think I heard
what you were saying, most of what you were saying, sir. Let me say this.
Chattanooga is a very proud community of its military heritage. We have a
naval reserve center here.
I know this. We are getting an investigation into this immediately.
We`re going to find out what happened, why it happened. Resources are
pouring into this city at the federal level. I`ve talk to state
investigators, local investigators.
This has been a nightmare for our city and a nightmare for America.
We have got to take steps that this doesn`t happen again. We live in a
dangerous world, and Steve, this is not the world that I grew up in. I`m
52 years old. I could not have fathomed a situation when I was growing up
that in my home town, a horrific attack like this would take place.
KORNACKI: All right, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann down there in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, appreciate the time tonight. Thank you.
I`m joined now by Steve Rogers, who was a member of the FBI Joint
Terrorism Task Force, also retired FBI agent Manny Gomez.
Steve, let me start with you. Just -- the investigation that they`re
faced with right now in terms of trying to figure out the roots of an
attack like this, practically speaking, how do you pursue an investigation
STEVE ROGERS, FMR. MEMBER OF FBI JOINT TERRORISM TASK FORCE: Well,
establishing motive is key to the questions that need to be answered. And
you brought them up, Steve. Was this foreign-inspired? Was it foreign-
directed? Was he a lone wolf? Was he radicalized here?
Once that question is answered, then the investigation moves forward
rather quickly. But I`ve got to tell you, they`ve got to move -- and
they`re good at this. They`ve got to move forward to get those questions
answered, especially to find out -- and you want to find out, Is there
anybody else involved in this? Is there somebody else out there waiting to
commit another attack?
KORNACKI: Yes, and Manny, I`m just curious, your read on the
situation. From the information that we know out there about how this was
executed today, the fact that nobody apparently has stepped forward to
claim -- no organization has apparently stepped forward to claim any credit
for this -- how do you look at this right now, based on what we know?
MANNY GOMEZ, RETIRED FBI AGENT: Well, it`s very interesting that the
FBI, very quickly after this started unfolding, called it a case of
domestic terrorism, as opposed to international terrorism. They`re finding
out every and all fact (ph). They`re dissecting this individual and trying
to ascertain, Was he directed or was he inspired? Was he radicalized?
And if he was directed, then it becomes an international terrorism
case. If it was inspired, then it will remain a domestic case, and perhaps
even a lone wolf type of situation that we`ve been seeing and hearing more
and more about in remote areas.
Everybody is always concerned about the main targets, New York City,
D.C., et cetera. But here we have small town America waking up and
realizing that they`re very vulnerable, as well.
KORNACKI: Yes, and Steve, that`s an issue, too, is (ph) it (ph) small
town America, you know, and the congressman just a second ago down there in
Chattanooga saying, Never thought in my lifetime I`d see something like
this in my community. There`s probably people around the country saying
the same things about their community now -- I could never imagine this
happening. But what if it did? And obviously, there`s a big role there
for local law enforcement in these situations.
ROGERS: Steve, I`m glad you brought that up. And I`ve been kind of
beating the drum on this all over the country. The FBI, the CIA, military
intelligence -- they`re doing a great job, a fantastic job, and I believe
they are the reason why we haven`t seen a catastrophic attack.
But in order to help them and in order to prevent a catastrophic
attack, we need the help of the people in each community, and especially
the local cop.
Do you know, Steve, that the cities, I think, are well prepared with
anti-terrorism units and training. But I challenge anyone to go out to the
suburbia, talk to the street cops in the small towns. They probably don`t
have a clue what to look for, what to analyze.
So we need to get them tools to help them gather intelligence, analyze
the intelligence and get it right to the FBI. That`ll be a tremendous help
in the war on terrorism.
KORNACKI: All right, Jim Cavanaugh is also with us. He`s a retired
ATF special agent-in-charge and an MSNBC law enforcement analyst.
So, well, Jim, let me ask you, too -- we were talking about this a
second ago, the idea that they -- they came out -- the federal authorities
came out immediately after this and said domestic terrorism. And I guess
by definition, the idea of domestic terrorism would preclude foreign
Were you surprised to hear that declaration so quickly?
JIM CAVANAUGH, FMR. ATF AGENT, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No.
They`re always a little bit ahead of us here in the media. You know,
having been a commander on the ground, you know, we have this stuff a
little bit sooner.
The thing that Pete said was so interesting, Steve, on his reporting,
where he had a source that said the shooter had said a few days before in a
blog that life is bitter, and you know, he wanted to commit jihad.
So now you have a guy who`s attacked military facilities. He says he
wants to commit jihad. I mean, so you`re starting to look at, OK, so this
guy is acting maybe under a terrorist motive. And if he is, then just like
your two guests from the FBI said, you know, what is actually motivating?
Directed attacks or direct connections to an organization like al
Qaeda or ISIS, direct connections, directed operatives -- it doesn`t feel
like that. Those are usually well-planned, maybe have multiple operatives
and multiple attacks. It feels more like it would be he was inspired.
We call it internationally inspired because he might be inspired by
the writings or the computer musings of guys like Anwar al Awlaki, who was
the cleric who came from America but he was in Yemen, killed in a drone
strike. And he was inspiring people like Major Hasan in Ft. Hood and many
So when we say internationally inspired, we mean a person who lives in
America, has no direct connection to the core terrorist groups overseas,
but is inspired by their writings, their computer magazine, you know, their
So I think, overall, the United States needs to really do a better
job. Our units to do this are -- in my view, are not funded and staffed
enough. There`s a unit in the State Department, and it`s been beefed up
recently, but I`m telling you, we need to think of this more on a larger
scale, Steve, like the Manhattan Project.
You know, when you hear in the media, Well, they have 20,000 Twitter
followers -- so we throw up our hands? We have 320 million people in
America. We have the best technology. We have more people that can use
Twitter and smartphones and computers and iPads than anybody. We developed
a lot of that stuff.
We can counter all of that stuff. When those guys get on Twitter, we
can have five people answering them on Twitter. I mean, we could flood the
airwaves we`ve got to come together without the politics, the Congress and
the White House, get a plan, think big, like the Manhattan Project.
CAVANAUGH: Nobody thought you could split the atom. And think big
and counter this.
KORNACKI: And Manny, let me ask you about that, too, because I mean,
practically speaking, listening to what Jim says is interesting. And I
think about this, the nightmare scenario I think everybody`s been thinking
about in this country the last few years, watching the rise of ISIS or al
Qaeda before that, is the idea of these lone wolves here who are inspired.
It`s indirect. You can`t -- you can`t break this, like, chain of
communication between something happening overseas and something happening
Ultimately, you`re also trying to get into the minds of people to
preempt one of these attacks.
GOMEZ: That`s absolutely right. And so far, law enforcement has done
an exceptional job at identifying, investigating, preventing and arresting
individuals that are either thinking about going overseas to fight with
ISIS or considering doing a home-grown attack like in this one.
But it`s a numbers game. ISIS is extremely successful at recruiting
people. They recruit an average of 50 people a day. And their message is
clear and simple -- If you can`t come here and fight with us, then take to
the streets with whatever you have, whether it`s an improvised explosive
device, a firearm, a hatchet, whatever, go out, kill military, kill law
enforcement, kill Americans, and help the cause like that.
They`re very good doing that. They outnumber us in doing that
because, like the gentleman said, their media campaign is amazing. We need
our own media campaign to counter theirs. It`s the most cost-effective and
efficient way to at least begin trying to change the minds of these young
people that are on the fence. Let`s reach out to them the same way that
ISIS is reaching out to them.
KORNACKI: All right, Jim, Manny and Steve, stay with us. We got to
squeeze a break in here, but when we return, what law enforcement is
looking for as they investigate today`s shootings. They say they`re
treating this as an act, as we say, of domestic terrorism, Pete Williams
just now reporting that there are indications this could be a case of
foreign-inspired terrorism. Our coverage continues right after this.
KORNACKI: We`re coming right back with what investigators are looking
for as they try to figure out a motive in today`s deadly shootings at two
military facilities in Tennessee.
HARDBALL returns right after this.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL and our coverage of the deadly
rampage in Chattanooga, where, earlier today, a gunman opened fire at two
separate military facilities, a recruitment and a Navy and Marines reserve
Four Marines are dead. So is the shooter.
NBC News has identified that shooter as a naturalized American citizen
from Kuwait named Mohammed Yousef Abdul Aziz. Officials say they are
treating this as a potential act of domestic terrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL KILLIAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: These service members served their
country with pride and they have been the victims of these shootings. We
are conducting this as an act of domestic terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams is reporting
tonight that sources say there are indications that today`s attack is a
case of foreign-inspired terrorism.
Joining me now is NBC News terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann, along with
Steve Rogers, who was a member of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and
retired FBI agent Manny Gomez.
So, Evan, let me start with you. On this reporting from Pete
Williams, the idea this might be foreign-inspired, we have that initial
declaration there from the U.S. attorney in Tennessee saying domestic
terrorism, now maybe foreign-inspired. Does that change the understanding
of what happened today?
EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Look, I mean, it was an
unusual term to begin with, domestic terrorism. What exactly is he
referring to? Is this a white supremacist group he`s talking about, or is
this an act of an individual who has never left the United States or has
not been outside the United States in a while and is doing this of their
own accord? It wasn`t really clear.
If this is something ISIS-inspired or al Qaeda-inspired, yes, that
makes perfect sense, the idea of being radicalized online, the idea that
there was no warning, meaning this person wasn`t in contact with anyone
overseas or part of a terrorist group.
But I think it is also important to emphasize something. We really
don`t know what his motivation was right now. We only know what his name
is. And if you look at the material online that has been ascribed to him,
there is nothing explicitly in there that says, I want to carry out jihad.
It merely says that jihad is a good thing.
And while the language, I would say, is reminiscent of what some of
what Anwar al-Awlaki has written and talked about -- and certainly that is
worrying and it`s certainly worth paying attention to -- this is not
someone who apparently had some kind of presence on the Internet where they
were loudly proclaiming their support for ISIS or radical jihad or al Qaeda
or that any of that stuff.
KORNACKI: So, this is something you would really have to go looking
for to have found. These are blog posts that may or may not have been his.
KOHLMANN: And even if you found it, you wouldn`t necessarily know
that this was significant.
I think really here the most interesting evidence that there is going
to be is, what was in his vehicle? What was on his home computer? Did he
leave any kind of notes behind? That`s the kind of information that right
now it seems like only the authorities know about. And that`s why it`s
interesting that they switched the way that they`re describing this.
And certainly the way that they`re describing this would suggest that
they have evidence in that regard. But, again, it is very important to
emphasize, right now, aside from this guy`s name, we have no reason to
indicate that he is pro-ISIS, pro-al Qaeda, pro-any of that. There is no
significant online presence that says this person is a jihadi-inspired
And as long as there isn`t, we have to be careful about that.
KORNACKI: And, Steve, let me ask you about that, too, because what
we`re talking about is the idea of this or any potential lone wolf attack
and the idea of how to stop that. And one of the obvious things is to --
online -- are people leaving clues online?
So Evan is saying, apparently, that this blog post this guy might have
put up didn`t necessarily -- it is not something you would necessarily look
at and say, oh, OK, we could see this one coming. From an investigator`s
standpoint, trying to preempt these things, what kinds of clues can you
find realistically online for somebody like this?
STEVE ROGERS, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, you have to take totality of
the information you gather from a forensic analysis of all the -- his
computer, cell phones.
But what is important, I couldn`t help but -- but my eyes went up when
Jim mentioned, we have got to think big, Steve. And what I believe he is
saying is that your best evidence is going to come from someone who heard
him say something. He could have talked on someone. There is a witness.
He could have handed something to someone.
So it is very important that the entire American public gets engaged
in the war on terrorism. And as my good buddy here knows, you know, your
best evidence comes from the mouth of a witness.
So you`re right, Evan. They could get this electronic data, but where
is it going to point? To more electronic information? But get a witness,
Steve. Get two people who heard something, who he said something to, and,
bingo, you have got your motive.
And, Jim, that`s an interesting, the idea of getting people out there
-- I mean, it`s the old, I guess, if you see something, say something line.
They have that in the subways here in New York all the time. But I guess,
as we said, as the fear of this sort of thing spreads outside of major
cities, sort of major, obvious targets, that`s something for people across
the country to be thinking about a little bit.
JAMES CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Right.
When we looked over the Fourth of July, we talked about the
preparation so much in New York and Boston and Washington, D.C., but,
really, when we look at the history, a lot of times, if it is inspired --
we don`t know exactly what has happened here yet.
But uninspired attacks with lone actors and two actors like the Boston
case or Garland, they strike often near their home. They`re from New
England, they strike in New England. They`re from the Southwest, they
strike in Arizona or Texas.
So, they don`t always go to the big city. Now, New York is always a
magnet, a target, and certainly has a huge population in L.A. We all
understand that. But here you are in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And in other
cases, you`re in everywhere America.
When I was a special agent in charge here of the FBI`s Joint Terrorism
Task Force, we had a half-a-dozen in my area in a couple of states. And we
had all kinds of targets that the FBI knew about, that all the agents from
all the agencies and the state troopers and everybody worked on to find
out, just like Evan described, what they`re saying online, what does it
really mean? Are they really actors or are they just big talkers?
And a guy mentioning jihad -- and Evan`s analysis is brilliant,
really. It is true. A guy mentions jihad online, that is not going to
raise any hackles from the Joint Terrorism Task Force really, necessarily.
I mean, jihad is something that is legitimate talked about in the
world, in Islam for sure, and it is not always a military evil thing. It
is part of their religion, so it can be innocent. But if you put it on the
heels of four murdered Marines, then it takes on a different cue.
So, I do think we have to look at it. But one thing is, like your
guest from the FBI said, we do, I think, on this issue of allowing people
to be radicalized in America, do not put enough resources on it, and we
think too small on it.
When we think about it, we say, oh, there`s 20,000 of them. There`s
so many of them, we can`t do it. We can do it. We can do a much better
job. We won`t be able to stop them all, but the FBI arrested 10 people or
so before the Fourth of July. They have interrupted a lot of plots. They
have done a great job. But some guy slipped through. But we still got to
do better. You can always do better.
And this is something we can do with our technology and our people and
our heroes, our Congress, our military. We can do a much better job. And
they might not be able to get through as much, because when they find
somebody, as Evan will tell you, when they link to somebody with a Twitter
or an account, they then circle around that person on the Web and start
bombarding them electronically, trying to convince them that this is the
way, to kill, to go, to die.
So, maybe we can interrupt that cycle a lot, and there would be a lot
of different ways we could do that, I`m sure.
KORNACKI: All right, Jim Cavanaugh and our panel are going to stay
with us throughout the hour, as we cover developments from Chattanooga.
And we are awaiting a news conference in just a few minutes with all
of the latest on today`s attacks.
Also still ahead, we are going to go live to Colorado for another big
story that`s breaking tonight, a verdict in the Aurora movie theater
shootings. That is next. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The other big breaking story we`re following tonight comes from
Colorado, where a judge just finished reading the verdict in the capital
murder trial of James Holmes. Guilty, that is the verdict on every single
In July of 2012, Holmes opened fire at a sold-out movie screening at a
theater in Aurora, Colorado. He killed 12 people and wounded 70 others,
the victims ranging in age from just 6 years old to 51 years old. This was
one of the deadliest mass shootings in the country`s history.
Now, Holmes` defense lawyers conceded that he did carry out that
shooting. He entered a not guilty plea by reason of insanity. The verdict
comes three years almost to the day after that horrific act of violence.
I`m joined now by NBC special correspondent Scott Cohn from Colorado.
So, Scott, a lot of counts here he was charged with, guilty on every
single one of them. Is that a surprise at all?
SCOTT COHN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I guess it depends how you
looked at IT going in.
You know, it took about an hour to read through all 165 counts. But
it was fairly clear from the beginning that it would be guilty across the
board, really a sweeping verdict.
And what this does is, it makes James Holmes now eligible for the
death penalty, as the sentencing phase begins as soon as Monday. And what
you couldn`t see on the feed coming out of the courtroom that we all
watched, according to our team that was inside the courtroom, is a room
that was just overflowing with emotion.
The foreperson of this jury, a man in his late 20s/early 30s, actually
was at Columbine High School, previously the worst mass shooting in
Colorado history, survived that, was actually friends with the shooters
through middle school. And he, according to our team in the courtroom, was
looking at Holmes, staring at Holmes throughout as all these verdicts were
KORNACKI: All right, Scott Cohn on the scene there in Colorado, thank
you for the report. I appreciate that.
And I`m joined now by Lisa Bloom, attorney and legal analyst from Los
So, Lisa, this is understanding, because my understanding of what the
prosecutors were tasked with doing here was an unusual challenge in a way,
where when somebody enters -- in the state of Colorado, where somebody
enters a not guilty by reason of insanity plea, the prosecutors, the burden
is on them, as I understand it, to prove he is not -- not -- he is not
LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST: That`s right, to prove that he is legally
And that just means that he knew the difference between right and
wrong at the time of this horrific massacre. He did clearly have a mental
illness. Nobody disputes that. But many people have mental illnesses in
America. And the question is in this case, as in so many cases, is, was he
able to understand the difference between right and wrong?
And the prosecutors put on a very strong case, over 200 witnesses, to
show especially that he planned this. He had elaborate notebooks. He even
had the booby-trapped apartment so that when first responders came to his
home, they would be injured. This is something he really thought out in
elaborate detail. And the jury agreed with the prosecution he did know
right from wrong, and therefore he was legally guilty.
KORNACKI: I wonder, Lisa, the idea of the not guilty by reason of
insanity plea, it has been around for a while. Now, I think, was it John
Hinckley with the Twinkie defense all those years?
Is this something do you think juries and just people in general are
more skeptical of that concept than they maybe were before?
BLOOM: Well, juries have always been skeptical of the not guilty by
reason of insanity defense.
And there many cases where people are profoundly mentally ill where
juries simply will not apply it. And we just saw the American sniper case,
by the way, back in February. That was obviously a severely ill young man,
but the jury rejected that insanity defense, and so too here, because I
think, overall, Americans don`t like the idea that, yes, somebody committed
a horrific crime, but we`re going to let him go.
It almost feels like an excuse. I think what a lot of people don`t
understand is that he would have been locked up in a psychiatric facility
for a very long time. However, this case, surely both sides knew was all
about the penalty phase. And that is whether he will get death penalty or
not. That`s where the real trial begins, probably starting on Monday.
KORNACKI: Right. We will see. And, obviously, we will just --
totally different case, but, in Boston, we just had that death penalty
verdict given out to Tsarnaev up here.
BLOOM: That`s right.
KORNACKI: So, we will what happens in Colorado.
But, Lisa Bloom, thank you for your time tonight. Appreciate it.
BLOOM: Thank you.
KORNACKI: And coming up, we return to the other major story tonight,
four Marines dead in two shootings at military centers in Chattanooga,
Tennessee. We are going to talk to the mayor of Chattanooga in just a
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
We`ve been following breaking news out of Tennessee where a gunman
opened fire and killed four marines on two military facilities today. That
gunman has been identified as a Kuwaiti born naturalized U.S. citizen named
Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez.
For more on how the community is coping, I`m joined by Chattanooga`s
mayor, Andy Berke.
Mr. Mayor, thanks for taking a few minutes.
We had the congressman from your area, Chuck Fleischmann, on earlier
and he was talking about how in his lifetime he never would have imagined
seeing a day like this in Chattanooga. I imagine you`re feeling something
similar right now.
MAYOR ANDY BERKE (D), CHATTANOOGA, TN (via telephone): Yes. No, our
hearts are broken for these marines and their families. Tennessee is a
volunteer state, and we have a history of affiliating with our military and
the idea that an individual went to two different locations where people
who proudly serve our country were located, intending to do them harm and
did harm to so many people is incomprehensible.
KORNACKI: And have you heard anything about the back ground of this
shooter? I -- there`s some reports that I guess he might have been living
in the community before this. Obviously, not originally from there. But
are you hearing anything or learning anything about, did people know him
around there? Did he have any kind of a reputation or anything?
BERKE: Well, our investigation is ongoing. We have the FBI, the ATF,
Chattanooga police department, the Hamilton County sheriff`s department,
everybody right now is involved, answering every question possible.
And over the next few days, I promise that every resource we have as a
community is going to be devoted to figuring out exactly what happened
KORNACKI: All right. Mayor Andy Burke from Chattanooga, Tennessee,
appreciate you taking a few minutes with us.
We`re back now with Steven Rogers, a former member of the FBI Joint
Terrorism Task Force. Manny Gomez is retired from the FBI and a former New
York police sergeant.
So, Manny, let me ask you this. Sort of -- we`ve been talking about
this all night and just this idea of the lone wolf, or the foreign-inspired
attack. And I think one of the fears that everybody has in this country is
the idea that this is something we`re just going to have to live with going
The idea that we can declare war on terrorist organizations around the
world, try to disrupt them, try to find out when they have plots. But now,
maybe we`re entering this new world where even if you do all of that, all
it takes is some guy somewhere in this country, reading something on the
Internet, never saying anything to anybody, maybe never even putting a blog
post up, goes and buys a few guns and does something like this. I mean,
how likely is that it this is the new normal?
MANNY GOMEZ, RETIRED FBI AGENT: It is the new normal. It has been,
in fact, the new normal for over a year now. And we have to get used to
the fact we have to be law enforcement`s eyes and ears, a force multiplier
if you will, and the simple saying, see something, say something. Yes.
But we need to be aware of the things that we`re looking out for. If
we see an individual, it is 84 degrees out and he is wearing an overcoat
and sweating, that`s a clue. Tell your local cop. Let him with the
experience and knowledge, training and resources, do that quick
investigation to find out if there`s a threat there.
If you have a colleague at work that, all of a sudden, overnight, is
different and talking craziness about killing people or killing soldiers,
et cetera, report it. You may not think that it`s anything. But report it
to your local authorities. Report it to the FBI. Let them conduct the
That`s how the FBI and other local law enforcement have been able to
identify, investigate and stop numerous attacks. But they need everybody`s
KORNACKI: So, on that point, Steven, that`s one of those things, a
lot of people when they`re walking around, they see somebody or something
that maybe in some way could be suspicious, there is that human instinct
where we say I`m just being paranoid or just crazy people out there who are
sort of crazy and they do different weird things, and they kind of dismiss
it like that and they don`t say anything.
You were telling me an interesting story in the break though about
somebody who did say something and it led to something pretty big. Can you
tell us that?
STEVEN ROGERS, FMR. FBI JOINT TERRORISM TASK FORCE: Steve, the call
to the police from the public always starts off with this phrase, "I don`t
want to bother you, officer, but". So this is an "I don`t want to bother
you, officer, but" story.
In 2002, I was sitting in my office in New Jersey and I got a call
from a resident of our community. She explains to me that an individual
had moved into her apartment complex two or three months ago, if you will,
and said that the fellow was going around the area asking about
neighborhood watch, asking about police patrols, asking about security.
And no one thought anything about this. Until this happened.
She was walking do you know the hallway of her apartment complex one
morning. As she`s walking past his apartment, he opens his door. She
looks in. She notices that there is no furniture in the apartment and he`s
there several months.
But, Steve, what caught her eye, was the largest map of the United
States she ever saw with red dots in certain areas on that map. She knew
enough in her mind to say, you know what, I see something here. There`s
something not right. I`m going to call the police.
Well, I had sent our detectives to conduct a preliminary
investigation. We brought this individual into our police headquarters.
We called the FBI, Steve. They took the guy into custody.
I can`t tell you what happened at that time. Information sharing was
not as it is today. But I can tell you this, that I believe in my heart
based on the totality of the information we received later, that that lady,
that woman who saw something and said something did something very
significant to help the police.
So, we need to let the people know. Nothing is that insignificant.
And, Steve, you`re not bothering us. Please, make the call.
KORNACKI: Yes. No, I think that`s a great story for people to hear
because I think a lot of people that they hear that and then they probably
KORNACKI: And that`s what could happen if you don`t hesitate.
Steven Rogers, Manny Gomez, appreciate you both being here tonight.
ROGERS: Thank you.
KORNACKI: We`re going to continue to monitor developments from
And when we return, this issue is already becoming a topic on the
campaign trail today. We`re going to look at how the candidates are
responding to the shootings. That`s next.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
KORNACKI: Former President George H.W. Bush is recovering from a
fracture to a neck bone caused by a fall at his home in Maine. Bush, the
41st president, is in the hospital being fitted for a neck brace.
According to a statement, he did not lose consciousness in the fall and he
is able to move his limbs normally. Surgery will not be required.
As former First Lady Barbara Bush said, quote, "A slip and fall is not
going to take out a World War II pilot."
Our best wishes to the former president for a speedy recovery.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
The sudden and awful events in Chattanooga today are reverberating on
the presidential campaign trail tonight, with candidates left and right
coming together to call for prayer and healing in the wake of the tragedy.
Most Republican candidates immediately took to Twitter to offer a unified
message of sadness and of prayer.
After a town hall in New Hampshire today, Hillary Clinton began her
press conference with condolences for those four lost marines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to say a
word about how tragic and regrettable it is that we lost four marines in an
act of senseless violence, what is being called another instance of
domestic terrorism. It`s terrible when we lose marines anywhere in the
world, but to lose four in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is just heartbreaking.
And, obviously, my heart goes out to their families and to their
colleagues, and I hope that we can find a way to stop this kind of violence
that is stalking our children, people in bible study and people who wear
the uniform of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Jonathan Allen is the chief political correspondent with
So, Jonathan, these are moments where, you know, in a way, there`s not
much these candidates can say but these are candidates auditioning for the
role of the head of state in this country and these are moments that test
them in a way.
JONATHAN ALLEN, VOX CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: These are moments
that test them. Obviously, politics is a little bit on the side in a
moment like this, a lot on the side in a moment like this. But we do hear
these candidates showing that they can -- they can act presidentially in a
moment like this, with the one exception of Bobby Jindal who used the
moment to attack the president of the United States for what he said was
failing to take on the challenge of radical Islam --
KORNACKI: Yes, let`s actually -- I want to put that up. That is the
exception, I guess, to the rule today. Everybody`s statements on this were
pretty much identical except Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor. He
released a statement, as Jonathan is saying there, on the shooting. He
went after the president hard.
He said, quote, "It`s time for the White House to wake up and tell the
truth. The truth is that radical Islam is at war with us. We must start
by being honest about that. This is grotesque. You cannot defeat evil
until you admit that it exists."
Jonathan, I guess my reaction to this, why would Bobby Jindal make
such a strident and such an overtly political statement at a time like
this, and honestly, what I come to is it`s politics, what is the political
calculation. I look at it and say Bobby Jindal right now is fighting to
get one of those ten spots in the Republican presidential debate and he`s
ranked about number 15 right now if you look at the polls. He`s got about
three weeks to make something happen to get into the top ten. And the only
way you make something happen is if you throw a Hail Mary pass.
If you make a lot of noise and maybe you can move up 3 percent, 4
percent, 5 percent. And so, he`s looking at this moment right now. He`s
ALLEN: I think that`s absolutely right. He`s looking to distinguish
himself from the rest of the Republican field. I think he has in a way
that`s sadly very unpresidential.
But I think he`s making a play for religious bigotry as an attempt to
get to that 2 percent, 3 percent, 4 percent, 5 percent, that he needs to
get from being basically nowhere on the map right now to -- it`s unusual
choice and an unfortunate one, and we`ll see whether it`s effective in the
KORNACKI: It`s interesting too, I guess Donald Trump tonight was
speaking about an hour ago. Apparently this did not come up in his speech.
He tweeted about this, but he only simply said that his thoughts and
prayers were with the families of the victims today.
So, even on this one, Donald Trump, who is known for being so
outrageous in the last few weeks, Donald Trump being very mature on this
ALLEN: That`s amazing. Bobby Jindal has managed to make Donald Trump
look completely rational, totally sane, and by comparison, presidential.
Look, what Bobby Jindal said in part is so obscenely stupid because we
just watched a mass shooting in South Carolina that had absolutely nothing
to do with religion. I mean, other than being in a church.
KORNACKI: All right. Thank you to Jonathan Allen from Vox.
Appreciate the time tonight.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
Our coverage continues right now on "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES."
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