The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/16/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
In just a moment, we`re going to have an eyewitness account from
somebody who was inside the military recruiting center in Chattanooga today
when the shooting started there. That`s coming up in just a moment. We`ve
got a live interview tonight with a survivor of the attack today.
Joining us now from Chattanooga is the mayor of that fine city, Andy
Mr. Mayor, I know this is a day like no other for you. Thank you
very much for taking time to be with us tonight. I really appreciate it,
MAYOR ANDY BERKE (D), CHATTANOOGA, TN: Well, this has been a really
difficult day for our city. Certainly when I woke up this morning, we
thought it was going to be a normal day. Instead, it`s really turned into
MADDOW: What can you tell us about the ongoing response,
specifically about the investigation, the work that`s still being done at
this hour. What things aren`t knowable, aren`t answered yet but might be
soon as the investigation goes forward?
BERKE: We`ve got federal, state and local officials devoting all
their resources, literally every person for the Chattanooga Police
Department is somehow involved in this. We are coordinating with the
federal officials. You know, we took down this gunman, but now the real
questions start and we`re trying to figure out every single thing that we
can about the days, months and years that led up to this moment.
MADDOW: One of the striking things that we`ve seen just recently
just tonight is these reports that two women were apparently led away from
the suspect`s home in handcuffs with law enforcement personnel. Do you
have any insight or any reporting as to what was going on there?
BERKE: Well, we are continuing to investigate every aspect of this
crime. I really can`t go into the details because the investigation is
ongoing, but I promise you that we`re going to leave no stone unturned as
we try to figure out anybody who was at all involved in this.
MADDOW: Are you concerned, as the mayor of Chattanooga, as somebody
who`s obviously got to be concerned about the overall welfare of your city
in every aspect, are you concerned about potential further violence, either
copycat attacks or acts of revenge of some kind? Are you at all worried
about that or do you have any signs of anything like that to worry about?
BERKE: Every indication that we have says that there`s nothing else
that`s active in our community. There`s no other imminent threats. By the
same token, we don`t want to take any chances either for our city or
someplace else in our country. I think that`s why you`ve seen a tremendous
federal response – as well as, you know, our entire community really
coming together to do something about this.
MADDOW: Do you have the resources that you need? You`re talking
about the large scale federal response, the state, federal and local
officials being involved here. Does Chattanooga as a city have everything
that you feel you need as mayor tonight to take care of people, to handle
the aftermath of this, to handle the investigation and all of the resources
that are going to need to be intensely focused on that investigation? Do
you have what you need?
BERKE: Well, we really do have what we need on the investigative
side. We`re pulling together so that we can do this – I mean, first I
would just say that the – I spent several hours today listening to our
police officers and the Hamilton County sheriff`s department talking about
exactly what happened at the scene. It was an incredible heroism that we
saw from a number of our officers to engage this criminal immediately.
Then, we have done nothing but put together, I think, a coordinated
response to make sure that we know exactly where we need to go from here.
The other part of the equation tonight is it`s the personal side. As a
community, you know, our hearts are broken for the families of these
individuals. We know that we still have others who are injured in our
community. And really as a city that has a connection to the military,
we`re called the volunteer state for a reason. It is really very difficult
for us to expect to accept that something like this could happen in
MADDOW: Andy Berke, the mayor of Chattanooga. I really appreciate
your time, sir. Obviously, as I said, a day like no other in Chattanooga.
The whole country is thinking about your city and saying prayers for
So, thank you for being with us, sir.
BERKE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. So there are hundreds of military installations.
Actually if you define every kinds of military installation that there is,
there may even be thousands of military installations inside the United
States of various types, various sizes, various degrees of public access.
At large military bases, big bases that serve active duty service members
and that house those service members and their families and everybody, a
lot of those bases are actually very large communities with all of the
attending issues that big communities face anywhere in this country.
So, yes, at those big facilities you do have the same kinds of crime,
the same kinds of shootings on some military installations that you have in
other places, other parts of American life. So, at big military
installations you get incidents of domestic violence that result in
shootings, you get disgruntled employees. You get former employees who
have attacked military installations inside the country. You get normal
rates of American-style shootings.
But separate and apart from those instances, we have also had
ideologically or politically terrorist motivate attacks on military
personnel and military installations at a really uncomfortable pace over
the last several years. I`m not talking about U.S. military installations
abroad, I`m talking about them here at home.
June, 2009, 24-year-old man armed to the teeth saw two soldiers
taking a break from their jobs inside this U.S. Army recruiting station in
Little Rock, Arkansas. He had an arsenal of weapons in his car. He had
hundreds of rounds of ammunition. His name was Abdul Hakeem Mohammed. He
opened fire on those two soldiers working in that recruiting office in
Arkansas. He killed one of those soldiers, Private William Long. He
injured the other soldier.
That 24-year-old gunman in Little Rock, he acted alone. U.S.
citizen, he converted to Islam. He had changed his name, he traveled to
Interestingly, he was known to federal authorities at the time of the
shooting, due in part to that overseas travel but also due to his loudly
expressed extremist views which he expressed openly and publicly and which
had caught the eye of federal officials. Nevertheless, he pulled this off.
The Little Rock shooter admitted to being religiously motivated when he
shot and killed that American soldier at that recruitment facility in June
After the shooting, the gunman surrendered peacefully to police. He
was tried and convicted. He was ultimately sentenced to life in prison.
That was Little Rock, Arkansas, June, 2009.
Five months later, Ft. Hood. Shortly after 1:00, November 5th, 2009,
reports of shots fired at the soldier readiness center at the Ft. Hood
military base in Killeen, Texas.
That shooting lasted such a long time, there were so many shots
fired, there were so many people killed, there were so many injured that
initial reports out of Ft. Hood claimed that there must have been at least
two, if not three or more shooters involved in that attack. There were not
three shooters involved in that attack, there was just one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. ROBERT CONE, ARMY`S IN CORPS COMMANDING GENERAL: There was
a single shooter that was shot multiple times at the scene. However, he
was not killed as previously reported. He is currently in custody and in
stable condition. I say again – the shooter is not dead, but in custody
and in stable condition.
REPORTER: What can you tell us about the alleged shooter and what
his motives might have been?
CONE: I think there`s been a lot reported on that. I can`t tell you
much other than his name of the suspect we have in custody and that is
Hassan, Major Hasan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Major Nidal Hasan was an army psychiatrist. He killed 13
people that day at Ft. Hood, injured 32 others with a high-powered handgun
that he modified to make it more accurate, he added laser sights to that
powerful handgun. Nidal Hasan was an American citizen, he was a practicing
Muslim. He had expressed anti-American and anti-American military views
during his time serving in the Army and working as a psychiatrist at Walter
Hasan served as his own attorney during his court-martial, which is
always a bad idea. He was sentenced to death. He`s now one of six people
on the U.S. military`s death row.
So, that was the Ft. Hood shooting. That was the worst mass shooting
on a U.S. military installation in American history.
The following year, October 2010, there were a rash of shootings.
Mysterious middle of the night drive-by shootings at a bunch of different
military installations in and around northern Virginia.
From “The Washington Post” at the time, quote, “The incidents began
the night of October 16th or early the next morning. The first target was
the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the Federal Triangle, then the
Pentagon, then a U.S. marine recruiting center in Chantilly, then the
Marine Corps museum again and a coast guard recruiting center.
It was really strange. It was mysterious, it was scary. Nobody knew
who was doing it or why.
And at the time in the coverage you could sort of tell that nobody
ever expected to identify a suspect in all of those shootings of all of
those military facilities. Snipers can be notoriously difficult to find,
as gun crimes go. But they did know that all of those shots fired at all
those military institutions, all of those shots that hit all of those
different buildings, they had all been fired from the same weapon, and that
clue was apparently enough to produce a solid lead. It took almost a year,
but law enforcement officials eventually found the guy who was randomly
shooting into various types of military buildings.
He turned out to be a marine reservist himself. He was 22 years old
at the time of his arrest. He was arrested at Arlington National Cemetery
with bomb-making material on him. He had bomb-making material in his
backpack. Apparently, he had plans to vandalize the tombstones of soldiers
who had served and died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And even though his random drive-by sniper-like shootings didn`t kill
or injure anybody, he ended up getting sentenced to serve 25 years in
prison. That was the fall of 2010.
Three years later, September of 2013, it was a 34-year-old military
contractor and former navy reservist who made his way onto the Washington
Navy yard where he entered a building and then proceed to go from floor to
floor shooting and killing whoever he could find. His name was Aaron
Alexis. He killed 12 people that day at the navy yard.
After that rampage, the extent of Aaron Alexis` own mental illness
became clear. He left behind documents in which he explained that the U.S.
government had been attacking his brain, using extremely low frequency
electromagnetic waves created by the navy. That was why he had to go do
He wrote something on his shotgun. He wrote, I think you can see it
here, scrawled on his sawed-off shotgun, he wrote “end to the torment!”
Aaron Alexis was shot and killed by police on that day, the same day
that he shot and killed those 12 people and injured eight others, September
2013. And then last spring, yet again, this time it was Ft. Hood again,
April 2014. A disgruntled army specialist walked into a personnel office
at the Ft. Hood military base, opened fire. Specialist Ivan Lopez
unleashed something like 35 rounds at his fellow soldiers that day.
Initial reporting was that he was angry over a dispute that he had with the
Army over his leave.
Ivan Lopez started that shooting spree at a personnel office. He
then got in his car and drove from building to building at Ft. Hood
shooting and killing whoever he could find along the way. He killed four
people. He injured 14 people before he killed himself last spring.
And in addition to those attacks that were planned and carried
through and resulted in all of those killings at all of those military
bases, there have been two other attacks worth remembering today after what
happened in Chattanooga. Two other attacks that were purportedly planned
but never carried out because they were interrupted by law enforcement
because they could be.
In 2007 six men were arrested and charged in a plot to attack an army
base called Ft. Dix in New Jersey. They planned apparently to go on a
rampage using assault rifles and grenades. They vowed in taped
conversations that they would kill as many soldiers as possible. It didn`t
happen. They were caught.
They attempted to have some jihadi training videos copied onto a DVD.
Somebody turned them in, they got caught, under then U.S. attorney Chris
Christie in New Jersey, those men were tried and received life sentences.
The Ft. Dix plot.
The second plot involved a former AWOL soldier, Private First Class
Naser Jason Abdo. His plot again involved Ft. Hood. Private Abdo
apparently planned to detonate a homemade bomb inside a Killeen, Texas,
restaurant that was popular with Ft. Hood soldiers. He aroused suspicion
after he was trying to purchase bomb-making materials at a local gun store.
When the FBI looked into him, when they raided his motel room, they
found tons of bomb-making materials and ammunition. He was arrested in
July, 2011. He`s often remembered as the guy who during his first court
appearance, he yelled in the courtroom “Nidal Hasan, Ft. Hood, 2009.” He
yelled that in open court. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to two
consecutive life terms plus 60 years in prison.
In terms of today`s suspect, in terms of the shooter, the dead
shooter from today`s multiple shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this is
what the FBI has said so far. He`s a 24-year-old man, Mohammod Youssuf
Abdulazeez. Officials say he lived in the nearby town of Hixson,
Tennessee. He`s the son of a Chattanooga City employee.
He`s a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait. He graduated from the
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2012 with a degree in electrical
engineering. The Tennessee Valley Authority confirmed this evening that he
was an intern there in engineering about five years ago.
Officials confirmed to NBC News tonight that he was not on federal
law enforcement radar for any reason before this attack today. They say he
was not in any terrorism database. He was not under FBI surveillance. As
far as we know, Mohammod Abdulazeez only run-in with law enforcement was an
arrest earlier this year for DUI, for driving under the influence. That
was the source of the mug shot you`ve seen all over the place today.
Well, investigators descended on the Abdulazeez household this
evening. We don`t know why, but two women were seen being led away in
handcuffs. We do not know why, we do not know who they are. We don`t know
if they were taken in for questioning or what their status is right now.
The local press is also reporting that Mr. Abdulazeez became a mixed
martial artist after high school.
Several local residents have identified one of the men in this video,
the man not in the green shorts but the other guy in the sort of camo
shorts, several people have identified him as Mr. Abdulazeez.
Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez died today at some point during this
attack. We do not yet know if he was shot and killed by police or if he
shot and killed himself or if he died in some other way altogether.
Honestly, we do not know a lot about this suspect yet or exactly what
happened today or the hugely important question of why. We do not yet know
enough to be able to place him on this terrible and surprisingly long list
of mass shootings and mass murder and murderous targeting of U.S. military
installations inside this country, in our own very recent history.
We are told by officials that he personally had no known ties to the
U.S. military. We know he was apparently not on any federal radar or law
enforcement radar of any kind.
But was he part of some organized terrorism plot? Was he an
activated operative working for somebody else? Was he a self-radicalized
person inspired by terrorism? Was this unrelated to terrorism?
Was he motivated by religious or other extremist ideology? We don`t
know. Was he mentally ill? We don`t know.
There are a lot more unanswered questions than there are answered
questions tonight, but we will have much more coverage of this most recent
American mass shooting coming up, including our interview live with
somebody who witnessed it and survived it tonight, someone who was inside
that U.S. military recruiting center when it was shot up today.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`ve got much more ahead tonight on the story of the murder
of four U.S. marines today in the state of Tennessee. We`ve got a live
report on the latest in the investigation coming up in just a moment.
We`ve also got a live interview with a survivor of the first shooting
today, one of the U.S. army recruiters who was inside the military
recruiting office when that gunman turned up and opened fire on that
office. We`ve got the sergeant first class who was the lead army recruiter
inside that office when the shooting happened. He`s going to explain to us
exactly what happened today. That`s coming up.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So, here`s one of the details that hasn`t gotten a lot of
attention yet but is a pretty incredible part of how this attack, this mass
shooting, this murder of these four marines happened today in Chattanooga,
Tennessee, and specifically how the shooter ended up dead. And that`s the
fact that there was a police pursuit in the middle of this attack. The
mayor of Chattanooga alluded to this in our interview with him at the top
of the show.
But what we know about this, this is basically the details that have
been made publicly available. When the first shooting happened, law
enforcement responded to that shooting. That was about 10:45 this morning.
Local police turned up at the armed forces career center along lee highway
in Chattanooga to respond to that initial shooting, the first shooting. By
the time law enforcement was there, the shooter had taken off. He had left
So, the police started a pursuit of the suspect by car for seven
miles. They were actively in pursuit of that suspect as he drove across
Chattanooga to that second military facility, to the Navy Operational
Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center which is along the Amnicola
The Chattanooga police chief said his officers arrived at the
Amnicola Highway Location quickly. And he says once they got there,
Chattanooga police officers actively and enthusiastically engaged the
suspect, which means we believe that they started shooting.
It was in the course of that shootout that one of the Chattanooga
police officers involved in that pursuit, Officer Dennis Pedigo, he was
injured. He was shot in the ankle. He`s now reportedly recovering at a
nearby hospital. He`s in stable condition.
But despite the fact that those police were in pursuit and they
believe they were not only chasing but engaging with a suspect who had
already shot up the military recruitment center a few miles away, somehow
that shooter at that second site was able to shoot and kill four marines at
that second location. How did that happen?
Joining us now is NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez, who`s at the
Armed Forces Career Center, the location of the first shooting which took
place this morning in Chattanooga.
Gabe, it`s good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You bet, Rachel.
MADDOW: Do we know anything further about the circumstances of these
four deaths, how this one gunman was able to kill these four marines?
GUTIERREZ: Well, the short answer is, Rachel, right now there are
still a lot of unanswered questions. Local authorities and federal
authorities haven`t released many details on exactly what happened at that
As you mentioned, police did engage with the suspect. That could
mean a variety of things. It could mean they went up to him with guns
drawn, perhaps there were shots fired.
However, officials have not yet confirmed whether the bullet that
killed the gunman, whether he shot himself, whether he was shot by police
officers. There`s still a lot of questions at this point.
There are also some people asking what about security at these types
of military facilities. Was there enough? Did the – we don`t know if the
military personnel had come out to see what was going on. We just don`t
Now, the location where we`re at, we`re at the scene of the first
shooting that happened around 10:35 or so. Witnesses say that they saw a
volley of gunfire. Excuse me, that they heard noises that sounded like
gunfire but they just at first weren`t sure exactly what they were. They
thought it might have been some sort of construction project or something
The witnesses came out and noticed something was very wrong. As you
reported, the gunman left here after firing more than 25 rounds or so,
amazingly no one at this location was killed. Then he drove the seven
miles or so to the other location and that is where – that is the place
where four marines lost their lives, Rachel.
MADDOW: Gabe, we`re also told that there are three injuries here as
far as I understand it in addition to the four marines who were killed. We
do have the name of a Chattanooga police officer who was injured. We`re
told he was shot in the ankle.
Do we know for sure if he was shot by the suspect or whether he might
have been shot in the crossfire, if there was some sort of shootout at that
GUTIERREZ: We don`t know for sure. We do know that he has been
treated and released. We do know one of the other people who was injured
is in pretty critical condition at last check, but at this point there is
still some confusion about whether they were shot, caught in the crossfire,
whether shot by the suspect. We don`t have those details at this point.
MADDOW: Gabe, what do you expect in terms of the investigation, what
we expect to learn next? We`re told that the FBI is taking the lead in
this investigation. Does that tell you anything about when we`re going to
get further information, when we expect further briefings, when some of
these questions might be answered?
GUTIERREZ: Well, Rachel, you`ve seen these things unfold. There`s a
trickle of information as it gets under way.
The FBI is on the scene, as you can see behind me. They`re working
into the night and they are taking the lead in this investigation, but ATF
is also working this. So are authorities from some of the local agencies
We are starting to learn a little bit more about the suspected
gunman, who as you mentioned lived near this area. Authorities this
evening have been going to his home and have been – they`re going to try
to find out what he was doing in these last couple of weeks, whether he was
talking to anyone particularly online, whether he had e-mail
communications, phone communications with some people.
And federal authorities mentioned earlier in the day that they were
considering this or they were investigating this as an act of domestic
terrorism. Now, federal law enforcement officials do say that they are
looking into this, whether this might, and the big question is might, have
been inspired – ISIS-inspired perhaps because of the timing with Ramadan
wrapping up. We just don`t know that at this point.
But federal officials are being careful and very methodical as they
go through this investigation and see if he might have been inspired, you
know, by any terrorism groups. At this point we don`t know.
He was not known, as you mentioned, to federal law enforcement
officials before this. He was not part of any terror watch group. An
interesting piece of information is that his father at one point years ago
was investigated for potential ties to terror organization, but that
investigation was closed and he wasn`t on any type of terror watch list at
this point. So we just don`t know what may have motivated him to do this,
and that is something that the FBI and other authorities will be looking at
over the coming hours through the night and hopefully we can at least find
out some more information tomorrow – Rachel.
MADDOW: NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez – Gabe, thank you –
joining us live from Chattanooga tonight.
It`s good to have that bit of information. I mean – to Gabe`s point
there about what we know and what we don`t know and what we`re going to
learn, there`s one further thing to know about the investigation into the
killing of these four marines in Tennessee. I mean, as of right now the
only information we`ve got about the shooter`s motive is what we basically
can infer from his choice of targets or what we can piece together about
what we might guess about his personality from the traces he`s left of his
personality around in social media, online and among people who he`s known
doing different things in his life. It`s very thin stuff.
But Attorney General Loretta Lynch released a statement earlier
tonight that said, quote, “I have directed the FBI to take the lead in the
national security investigation of this heinous attack on members of our
As Gabe alluded to there, the FBI special agent in charge today said
that this will be handled as a terrorism investigation, in his words, until
we determine that it`s not.
So, Attorney General Lynch calling it a national security
investigation. The FBI saying it`s a terrorism investigation, meaning
we`re looking to see if it is terrorism. I mean, all that any of that
means honestly in practical terms as far as we can tell is that this is
going to be investigated as a crime, as a mass shooting and a multiple
murder, but it will be investigated as a mass shooting and a multiple
murder in which the motive and any nexus to international or domestic
terrorist causes or groups will get priority attention. Doesn`t mean that
those exist, it means that`s what they`re looking for.
So far, the National Counterterrorism Center says it doesn`t know of
any nexus to terrorist groups here nor, as we`ve been saying, was the
shooter known to be under any scrutiny by federal law enforcement for any
reason. The National Counterterrorism Center also says that for this
attack, as far as they have been able to tell thus far, there was
absolutely no warning given nor has there been any reputable claim of
responsibility for anybody who might have been in touch with this shooter
who might have tried to inspire this shooter before he did what he did
today in Tennessee.
Coming up next, we`re going to be speaking with the lead Army
recruiter who was inside the first target of today`s attack as the shooter
opened fire. He`s with us next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we know that the shootings today in Chattanooga,
Tennessee, took place in two separate locations. Four marines and the
suspected shooter were killed at the second site, at the U.S. Navy and
Marine Reserve Center. But the first shots were fired several miles away
in an armed forces recruiting center. That recruiting center is in
basically a strip mall on the Lee Highway between a wireless store and an
Italian restaurant. All five branches of the U.S. military have recruiting
offices at that center.
And at about 10:45 this morning, gunshots erupted at that site.
Several witnesses described hearing a series of shots in rapid succession
and then a pause and then another series of shots. Witnesses described
seeing a man in a silver Ford Mustang convertible. Some say they only saw
the man drive away after the shots were fired. Others say they saw him
actively shooting from the car.
One military official tells NBC News that 25 to 30 rounds were fired.
The holes in the plate glass window at the recruitment center look as
though the shooter sprayed in a roughly horizontal line but it`s a pretty
In one of the offices at the recruiting center, one recruiter was
shot in the leg. Some of the service members at that facility escaped out
the back exit.
An employee at a nearby auto parts store told the “Chattanooga Free
Press” that he saw them, and I quote, “running through the brush and the
briars yelling `call 911, someone is shooting at us.`”
But not all of them went out the back door. Some of the service
members were still inside the recruiting station at that point when the
shooting started. They had taken cover and basically barricaded their
Joining us now is one of those service members who was barricaded
inside. He`s Sergeant First Class Robert Dodge. He`s the head of the Army
center at that recruiting station.
Sergeant Dodge, thank you so much for your time tonight. I`m sure
this has been a hell of a day for you, sir.
SFC ROBERT DODGE, WITNESSED SHOOTING: It has. Thank you for having
MADDOW: Can you just – obviously, we`ve got reports and witness
reports and law enforcement sources telling us what they think happened.
Can you just tell us what happened from your own perspective, your own
DODGE: It`s not much different from the other reports. We heard one
shot go off, which kind of alerted us. At that time about a second or two
went by and we heard the first volley of fire. At that time we knew it was
gunfire at our location and then we went into what we call an active
shooter drill. We moved to the rear of our building and barricaded
ourselves in and got down on the ground and waited for it to be all clear.
MADDOW: About how many people were inside the recruiting center at
the time this all happened?
DODGE: I had four personnel in my office, ma`am.
MADDOW: Was it all people staffing the facility there or were there
recruits? Were there people there to sign up?
DODGE: It was all military, ma`am.
MADDOW: Once you heard the gunfire start, was it – how quickly was
it clear to you that it definitely was gunfire? And could you tell just
from your own experience and what you were hearing what kind of weapon this
was, if this was more than one person, if this might be an attack by more
than one person potentially?
DODGE: We pretty much knew right away that it was gunfire after that
initial first pop. Most of us in the office are combat veterans, we`ve
heard it before. You know, we`re soldiers. We shoot all the time, so we
know what a gunfire sounds like.
So, it was pretty much instantaneous that we knew it was gunfire.
So, it was only a matter of maybe one or two seconds and we knew exactly
what we needed to do.
MADDOW: When you say that you knew what you needed to do and you
went into the active shooter drill. Is this the sort of thing that you
have trained for specifically, either in your training to be working at a
soft target army recruiting office like this or something that you trained
for more generally, just in terms of your – in terms of your army
DODGE: As a normal army training, I never trained on an active
shooter drill. But since I`ve been in recruiting working in an office such
as we do, then – yes, it`s something that we do train and practice on a
MADDOW: Thank God. I mean it is remarkable with all of those shots
fired and looking at that glass front of that building, it is remarkable
that no lives were lost. I have to ask if you feel like –
DODGE: We –
MADDOW: Sorry, go ahead, sir.
DODGE: I was going to say we are very fortunate.
MADDOW: Yes. You mentioned that a lot of you there are combat
veterans. As far as I understand it, you served a number of tours in Iraq,
is that right?
DODGE: Yes, ma`am.
MADDOW: I don`t mean to pry, and don`t feel like you have to answer
if you don`t want to, but I wonder if this – how this connected, if at
all, if this resonated for you at all in terms of some of the combat
situations that you were in in Iraq, if this brought back any of the either
same training reflexes or any of the fear of what it`s like to be in a
combat situation? I wonder if that – if this connected for you with your
DODGE: To a point it did. You know, being in those kind of
situations and going through that sort of training, it does help you
prepare for situations like this. The difference is, is when you`re in
combat, you`re in full gear and you have a weapon in your hands and you`re
more ready for it.
When you`re out in a civilian community, it`s not something that
you`re ready for on a regular basis, but the additional training and
experience has definitely helped us and my team react the way we were
supposed to react today.
MADDOW: How long have you been in Chattanooga? How long have you
been working at that recruiting center?
DODGE: Thirty-five days, ma`am.
MADDOW: Wow. Well, Sergeant First Class Robert Dodge, I`m glad that
everybody survived this. I`m so sorry for what happens today in Tennessee.
Thanks for helping us understand what it was like today, and good luck to
DODGE: Thank you, ma`am.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Unbelievable. Much more ahead tonight. It`s just
unfreaking believable this has happened again.
We have much more again tonight from Tennessee, including some very
interesting questions about the weapons, weapons the killer apparently used
Plus, we`ve got other news unrelated to what happened today in
Please just stay with us.
MADDOW: One note about how the people of Tennessee has responded
today and tonight to the murder of these four marines, the attack on two
military facilities in the city of Chattanooga, so many Chattanooga
residents have turned out to donate blood today that the blood donation
centers are staying open longer tonight and opening earlier tomorrow to try
to handle the demand. Do you call it demand when it`s offered?
We got reports of people lining up for six-hour waits to give blood
today. One regional blood bank tonight, which is called Blood Assurance,
says they`re going to expand their hours tomorrow in order to let everybody
who wants to give blood get in and have an appointment.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Almost exactly three years ago today, there was another mass
shooting in the United States, one of the worst in American history. A 24-
year-old Colorado grad student shot 70 people in a full, dark movie theater
in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve of the people he shot were killed, 58 were
wounded. Many of those grievously wounded.
The shooter survived. He was arrested, he was put on trial. He did
not contest the fact that he did it, but he pled not guilty by reason of
insanity, which is a defense honestly that almost never works.
But because he pled not guilty, for months now, Colorado has been
riveted to his trial, with so many victims and so many victims` families
and so many survivors, one after the other getting up on the witness stand,
looking straight across at the man who did it. I mean, it has been such a
traumatic trial in Colorado that the judge at one point ordered the
availability of therapy dogs for anybody who might need that kind of
comfort simply for going through this trial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he walked into the theater on the right-hand
side, you could see this big – this light and he just kept firing. But
you could see him moving this way and that way and moving this way and that
way, and so the light would move with it, but the noise remained the same,
just boom, boom, just like thunder.
MUNIRIH GRAVELLY, AURORA THEATRE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: And I remember
seeing Jesse Childers (ph), he was face down on the floor. And I asked
Derrick, hey, is Jesse OK? And he was shaking him and calling his name,
but the policemen were still yelling at us to leave, so – so we did.
I had to step over him to get out, but we – sorry. We exited out
the door that was next to the movie screen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Do you recognize the person in that
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, ma`am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is that person?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sully, Alex Sullivan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, when you were at the theater on July 19th
of 2012, was Alex Sullivan alive?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you seen Alex Sullivan alive since then?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, ma`am.
BRENTON DAVID LOWAK, AURORA THEATRE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: As soon as I
saw that Jesse had been shot, my focus transitioned to taking care of her.
So, I – the shots continued and I at that point – I had gotten out my
phone and I fumbled around to call 911 as soon as I could. I noticed at
this point that the screaming had stopped and Jesse had sustained a shot to
the head in which case brain matter was exposed.
It was, at that point, I crawled a little closer to her and I prayed
over her. I didn`t really know what to do. It just felt right. I just
gave her the best send-off I could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, after this astonishingly grueling trial, 256 witnesses,
hundreds of hours of testimony, today, the jury in this case rejected the
defense claim that this man with an unimportant name was somehow not guilty
by reason of insanity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Would the defendant please stand for
the reading of the verdicts?
Verdict form count 1, murder in the first degree after deliberation.
Jonathan Blunk. We, the jury, find the defendant, James Eagan Holmes,
guilty of murder in the first degree after deliberation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that was the first count. And then the judge continued
guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, over and over and over again. The
judge reading verdict after verdict after verdict, all guilty.
The man used his legally purchased Glock .40 caliber pistol and his
Smith & Wesson semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and his Remington shotgun
and his tear gas grenades and his 6,000 rounds of ammunition all purchased
legally, and he took 12 lives and tried to take 70 more.
Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. And now, the same jury will
decide if he gets the death penalty on the day that we have to now return
to more coverage of today`s mass shooting, the latest one. Not anywhere
near the next one after Aurora, just the one that happened today.
MADDOW: So, once news broke in Tennessee about the murder of these
four U.S. marines, it became clear almost immediately that that story would
dominate the news cycle, as it should.
But ahead of that news, this morning, President Obama did something
that no sitting U.S. president has ever done before. President Obama this
morning visited a federal prison, the El Reno Federal Correctional facility
in Oklahoma. He was taken to cell block B where he got a look at the 9-
foot by 10-foot cells that are home to as many as three men at a time, nine
feet by ten feet.
He spent time with workers who are in for non-violent drug offenses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are young people
who made mistakes that aren`t that different than the mistakes I made and
mistakes a lot of you guys made. The difference is they did not have the
kind of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would
allow them to survive those mistakes.
I think we have a tendency sometimes to almost take for granted, or
think it`s normal that so many young people end up in our criminal justice
system. It`s not normal. It`s not what happens in other countries.
What is normal is teenagers doing stupid things. What is normal is
young people making mistakes. That`s what strikes me. There but for the
grace of God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Over the course of my lifetime, if any prominent politician,
particularly a Democrat, had made a statement like, this let a loan a trip
like this, they wouldn`t be a prominent politician anymore, right? They
would be announced soft on crime and coddling criminals or something.
But the politics around prisons and our criminal justice are evolving
in a way that seemed impossible for most of my life. The politics of this
issue really are different now. They really are changing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Speaker Boehner, President Obama is visiting a prison
today. He had some commutations during the week. Bipartisan bill by
Congressman Sensenbrenner and Congressman Scott about criminal justice
reform – will you allow that to move forward in your House?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Absolutely. I have
long believed there need to be reform of our criminal justice system. We
have a lot of people in prison frankly, that really in my view really don`t
need to be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican House Speaker John Boehner saying the president
is pushing on an open door when it comes to asking for some criminal
justice reform, prison reform from this Congress.
Since President Obama has been in office, his administration has been
able to make a lot of changes at the executive, the administrative level,
sentencing commission and Justice Department and the president commuting
sentences, the real test, though, for like big change is going to be
whether or not our laws can change, and that has to be Congress.
And maybe they can. I mean, we`ll see. But politically it seems
more possible than it has in decades, decades, more than one generation.
Watch this space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What was the suspect armed with?
ED REINHOLD, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Numerous questions and I`m
not going to go into details into what those are.
REPORTER: Nothing bolt action, right? All semi-auto?
REINHOLD: Again, I`m not going to discuss what he had on him at the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Interesting point that.
That was the FBI special agent in charge in Tennessee being asked
about the type of weapons that were used in this attack today in
Chattanooga, which murdered four U.S. Marines.
The FBI said today there were numerous weapons used, but they
wouldn`t say what types of weapons exactly. As you heard there, one
reporter narrow it down, asked if the weapons were all semiautomatic
weapons, but so far, officials are not saying. That it may turn out to be
an important or at least interesting point here.
There were a bunch of news reports today that describe the weapons
used in this attack as automatic weapons. One defense official said the
gunman used an automatic weapon as did one of the witnesses to this attack
whose witness report was widely reported.
There were numerous sources telling reporters today that the weapons
involved or at least one of the weapons involved was an automatic weapon.
And that may yet be true. There are often early reports in situation like
this of automatic weapons fire, but automatic weapon fire means essentially
a machine gun, right? I mean, you hold the trigger down and while you hold
it down bullets are flying faster than you could possibly fire those
bullets yourself. It`s basically just a steady stream of bullets.
Semiautomatic means puling the trigger separately for each individual
bullet. A semi-automatic weapon is a very, very common thing in the United
States. There are millions of semi-automatic weapons in civilian hands in
the United States.
Automatic weapons on the other hand, fully auto, almost unheard of in
the civilian context in the U.S., and that`s because they were all but
banned by Congress in the 1930s.
So, while there are these reports and you will hear people talking
about automatic weapons fired today, it may yet turn out the shooter had an
automatic weapon. But if that`s true, that will be a very, very big deal
in this investigation. If it turns out that he really did have an
automatic weapon, as is so widely reported today, that will turn out to be
a big deal about this shooter.
If it turns out that`s what he had, that will be a big deal about him
and about this crime. It is way more likely that it will turn out it was
not that kind of weapon. We`ll see. They`re tight lips so far. Stick a
pin in that specific point, though. This is one of the important pieces of
information that will presumably come out of this investigation soon as we
continue to learn more.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for the “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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