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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Confessed Charleston Shooter Appears In Court Via Video Link; Charleston Massacre Aftermath; Interview with Mayor Riley. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired June 19, 2015 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening.
Tonight we are live from Charleston, South Carolina. A community that is hurting beyond measure. Yet continues to show the world what grace and strength looks like. You can see that behind me. People streaming to the makeshift memorial, the entrance to the church, and it's been like this all day not far from here, the college of Charleston, a prayer vigil for the nine victims just ended. It was held in arena on the campus, a huge crowd turning out to honor those who lost their lives with song and prayers.
There's a lot of ground to cover tonight, new details about the massacre itself and the investigation. As we said last night, ordinarily on this program, we don't use the names or the pictures of shooting suspects of mass murders. We don't believe they should get any sort of recognition. But because this is an active hate crime investigation, for the next two hours, we will occasionally use the confessed killer's name and occasionally show images of him, but sparingly.
Our focus though, as always, will continue to be on remembering those who were killed here and their loved ones. Today, the confessed murderer made his first court appearance by video link. Some family members of victims were at the bond hearing and the judge allowed them to address the man who murdered their loved ones. What they told him was frankly humbling. Instead of hate, they often offered forgiveness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADINE COLLIER: You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgive you and I forgive you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Those words and others floored a lot of people. Here's what President Obama tweeted about that extraordinary display of grace. In the midst of darkest tragedy, the decency and goodness of the American people shines through in these families.
Martin Savidge who was at the courthouse today, he joins me now. One of the people who were there, was an actual survivor of the shooting.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we didn't know that at first, you know, usually bond hearings are pretty typical events. This one was extraordinary. And there was no advanced list that told us who was going to be there representing the family of the victims. And it was only until they began speaking, began to determine who might be whom. But it was clear by the words this woman used, she was there, she was a survivor. And now she had gone from staring down the barrel of a gun to now staring at that suspect in custody and confronting him. And listen to her words. They're just absolutely haunting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FELICIA SANDERS: We welcomed you Wednesday night in our bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most prettifulest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts. And I'll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son, but Tywanza was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. But as we said at bible study, we enjoyed you. But may God have mercy on you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Those words, you can see, are over the imagery of her son. Her son died there. This is the mother who had watched it happen.
COOPER: Her son died in front of her.
SAVIDGE: Right. And, you know, you just cannot begin to imagine the suffering, and yet they are confronting the suspect now.
COOPER: And not only confronting, but talking about forgiveness. I mean, I talked to one family member, and we are going to play some of that interview later because we are on for two hours, who said, look, it's too early for me to talk about forgiveness, but we heard that repeatedly today in this bond hearing.
SAVIDGE: Right. And that was the word, I've got to say, first thing, I did not expect to hear, not so soon after this event. Now, keep in mind, you're talking about people of deep faith. That's why they were inside that church, studying the bible on that night. But still, to hear forgiveness and to hear them say it so strongly. Again, listen from inside the courtroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETHANE MIDDLETON BROWN: And I would like to thank you on behalf of my family for not allowing hate to win. For me, I'm a work in progress, and I acknowledge that I'm very angry. But one thing DePayne has always joined in our family is that she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hate. We have to forgive. And I pray God on your soul and I also thank God that I won't be around when your judgment day come with him. May God bless you.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [20:05:08] SAVIDGE: The reason, by the way, that you don't see these families making the statements is out of respect, the camera did not focus on them, but every word was heartbreak.
COOPER: Just extraordinary. Martin Savidge, I appreciate the reporting.
We want to talk about also some of the things the judge said today in that bond hearing. But before we do, I just want to give you a sense of what is happening here, right now. The vigil that many people attended, the hundreds perhaps thousands of people attended, which is not too far from here, that has ended. And so many of the people who were at that vigil have now started to come here to the AME church.
There are hundreds of people right now who have shown up, just in the last 15 minutes or so. The street, itself, has actually now closed off, as people are just milling in the street. Many or hundreds of people are waiting in line to try to get to the makeshift memorial, which is out in front of that church. Now, all throughout the day, hundreds of people have been coming to lay flowers, to lay wreaths, to leave hand-written signs. When I was there earlier, I saw a little girl laying a sign that she had written, with some drawings on it. People were leaving teddy bears. People were saying prayers. They just want to take part and show their solidarity with the people here, with the survivors, and with those who lost their lives.
But this is a scene. We have not seen this many people outside the church. And it is likely to last for quite some time, because there are long lines and I see, just looking down the block, I see at least 100 more people on their way here, if not more.
Talking about that bond hearing, though, one of the things that got a lot of attention today at the bond hearing was the judge himself. The judge early on asked for sympathy for the killer's family. Here's what Charleston county magistrate, James Gosnell Jr. said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES GOSNELL JR., CHARLESTON COUNTY MAGISTRATE: Charleston is a very strong community. We have big hearts. We're a very loving community. And we are going to reach out to everyone, all victims, and we will touch them.
We have victims, nine of them, but we also have victims on the other side. There are victims on this young man's side of the family. Nobody would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they have been thrown into. We must find it in our heart, at some point in time, not only to help those that are victims, but to also help his family as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I just want to show you what's happening right now. And let's listen in, a bagpipe player, and a crowd impromptu singing "Amazing Grace." Let's listen in.
COOPER: One of the extraordinary moments that we have witnessed over the last two days here in Charleston. People come up to you and right now they're handing out flowers. These are also handed out during the vigils.
Sunny Hostin is here with me. I know people handed you flowers as well. Have you ever seen anything like this? I mean, there is this sense of shock, of grief, there is certainly anger, there is confusion perhaps how this could have happened. But to see all these people here, coming together, and in just an impromptu moment, singing "Amazing Grace," it's extraordinary.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I've never seen anything like it. I mean, certainly, as a prosecutor, I've been around communities that have experienced tremendous grief, tremendous tragedy, victims of terrible crimes. I have never seen a community come together like this so quickly. Let's remember, this just happened just a few days ago. And all day today, people have been coming up to me and saying that this community was a strong community, a loving community, and that they would be coming together.
[20:10:14] COOPER: There was a lot of controversy about what that judge said early on at the bond hearing, talking about the victims on the killer's family, that they were victims as well. You've been looking at his past statements. He's actually made some pretty controversial statements in the past.
HOSTIN: He has. It's quite extraordinary, actually, Anderson. In November of 2003, during a reduction bond hearing, this judge, Judge Gosnell, told an African-American defendant, and he says he said these things to sort of force him to change his path of life, but he said, and I'm quoting here, he said, "there are four kinds of people in this world. Black people, white people, rednecks, and then he used the n- word." And because of that, that horrible statement, and in addition to other misconduct, this judge actually, in 2005, was publicly reprimanded by the state Supreme Court.
Now, the court had about three options. One was a confidential reprimand, two was this public reprimand, which is very serious, three would have been a suspension of 60 days. He got sort of the mid-level reprimand, but still, very, very significant. But, again, tells you a little bit about this judge.
COOPER: To have a judge sitting on a bench, using the n-word to an African-American defendant --
HOSTIN: In court, during a legal proceeding. And he retains his role on the bench.
COOPER: In fact, he's one of the most senior jurists now, I believe, on the bench.
HOSTIN: That's correct. And it just really goes to show you, I think that his words were so outrageous and so unusual. You never hear a judge during a pro forma bond hearing say something like that. It just sort goes to show you that he should not have been the judge dealing, even on a magistrate level, with a potential hate crime.
COOPER: In terms of any trial that occurs, will he be the judge sitting on that trial?
HOSTIN: Well, if there's ever a silver lining, I suppose that is the silver lining because his role is over. As a magistrate judge, he only handles a bond hearing. But again, I mean, you see what's going on here tonight. My goodness.
COOPER: People now singing "this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine." Again, we've seen so many things over the last 48 hours. And we're going to be bringing them to you in the next two hours tonight, because there is such grace here, such amazing grace here. It's not just song, it is a sentiment here. It is a belief that we have heard from the mouths of those who have lost their sisters, their loved ones, and we're going to bring some of those people to you in the next two hours. And in the days ahead, funerals, of course, will be held for the nine people who were murdered inside the church behind me. Their lives, their legacies will, of course, be celebrated.
Sharonda Coleman Singleton was just 45 years old. She wore many different hats. She was a mom, a coach, a high school speech therapist. By all accounts, beloved no matter which hat she had on. She was incredibly hardworking. She leaves behind three children and countless friends. She was also a reverend here at the church. And shortly before she was murdered here, she had visited homebound people who weren't able to make it to the church. That's the kind of woman she was. I spoke to her daughter, Cameron Singleton, and her best friend from college, Rita Whitney, earlier.
COOPER: Rita, for you, I mean, you've been lifelong friends.
RITA WHITNEY, SHARONDA SINGLETON'S BEST FRIEND: Twenty-eight years of friendship. This is probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. Sharon was really like my heartbeat.
COOPER: You met in college?
WHITNEY: We met in 1987, day one of college. We were both on the track team, and that's the day our friendship flourished and began.
COOPER: And you've been friends ever since?
WHITNEY: We have been the very best of friends ever since 1987. There are actually four of us that are very close. We have been at each other's weddings, we have been at the delivery room for all of our babies.
COOPER: She was in the delivery room --
WHITNEY: She was this the delivery room for five of mine.
COOPER: She was coaching you? WHITNEY: Well no, she didn't coach. She was just there for support.
Everybody wants to see what's being born into our new family. So, yes, we were in her delivery --
COOPER: You were in Cameron's delivery?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WHITNEY: So we have a bond.
COOPER: What do you want people -- Cameron, what do you want people to know about your mom?
CAMERON SINGLETON, SHARONDA SINGLETON'S DAUGHTER: She was a great lady. Like, everyone already knows that she was great. They have no bad things to say about her, you know. I just want them to remember her smile, how good she was, how she'd like wake you up in the morning, she was just great. Always happy.
COOPER: Always happy.
COOPER: I bet she was the kind of friend you could call up and say, hey, I need you, you'd be there?
[20:14:56] WHITNEY: My call to Sharonda would be -- all I had to do when she answered and say is - what my key words would be when times were tough and I just need her to pray, all I had to say was, I need to go in the closet, and all I had to do was sit down and she would just start praying. And every single time, her words always changed the situation. But it wasn't just like that for me, it was like that for everyone she knows. It was like she was given the gift to be able to give you the soothing word, whatever the word you needed for that moment, she would be able to give it to you.
COOPER: That's a power, that's a gift.
WHITNEY: It's a gift. She was definitely God's child, definitely. He sent her here with a purpose. We may all never see this purpose, but she definitely had a purpose.
COOPER: When you heard the news, where were you?
SINGLETON: We were across the street from the hotel. The day it happened, she was doing a lot of stuff. I didn't see her that much that day. She left early in the morning. I saw her in the morning, you know, said bye, went back to sleep. And then, you know, she went to work. She did summer school, because she's a speech teacher, then she went to go see visits, then went to bible study.
COOPER: She went to visit people who were sick and shut in. SINGLETON: Members of the church.
WHITNEY: Took care of the community.
COOPER: Is that right?
WHITNEY: She is has always room for prayer.
COOPER: For people who couldn't get to the church, she would bring the church to them.
WHITNEY: Yes. Yes.
She was definitely a spiritual woman. And the thing is, she may have received her call to ministry maybe about eight or so years ago, but even in 1987 when we met her, you could see it in her.
COOPER: Is that right?
WHITNEY: Most definitely. She didn't need to wear the robes. She didn't need to have to be ordained to have the title reverend in front of her name. It's who she was. And you knew it. You felt it through her spirit and saw it in her smile. Everything about her was infectious. No matter what type of day you were having, even if you just got close to her, things would be a whole lot better. That's what Sharonda was about.
COOPER: What do you want to -- I don't want to use this person's name, what do you want to see happen to the person who did this?
WHITNEY: You know, the thing is, it is not up to me to decide what your fate is. That's going to be a conversation he and God are going to need to have. But I just want him to know and understand that he may have taken her from this world, so he'll never remove the words she left behind. He'll never be able to change the people's lives she affected, he'll never be able to take away the memories that all of us have.
These children, they've lost a significant piece of their life. A significant piece of their life, but you know, the thing about it is, she always kept her children in the faith. And she taught them well, and to trust and believe with the support system they have, not only will they flourish, they will follow in her footsteps.
COOPER: Is that something you feel you want to do? Follow in her footsteps?
SINGLETON: I don't know about preaching, but I want to make people feel special. I want to make people feel that she made me feel. You didn't know her for -- if you knew her for five minutes, you felt like y'all could have been friends forever.
COOPER: You know, there was this bond hearing today and some people spoke and said things to this person and some people spoke about forgiveness. Were you surprised to hear that? SINGLETON: No. One thing she taught us was to love and forgive.
When she was punishing us, we say, wait, you all say we deserve a second chance, second chance.
COOPER: You tried to use that to get out of punishment?
SINGLETON: Yes. Sometimes it would work. We all do deserve a second chance.
COOPER: Even somebody who's done something horrific?
SINGLETON: Yes. We all deserve to be forgiven.
COOPER: Thank you both so much for talking to us. Appreciate it. Thank you.
COOPER: Imagine that, a 15-year-old girl who has just lost her mother, talking about giving somebody, a killer, a second chance. Talking about forgiveness. It is extraordinary.
A lot more ahead tonight, including the latest on the investigations into the murder that took place here in Charleston. You'll hear from a friend of the shooter who took his gun away from him and then you are going to hear why he gave it back to him when "360" continues.
[20:20:00] COOPER: And welcome back.
We are here outside the AME church. And again, I just want to show you, the scene, because it is just extraordinary. The crowds continue to grow, the street has been blocked off. There are now, I can't tell how many hundreds, I'm guessing, 400, perhaps, maybe 500 people here. They're just standing in the street, milling around, talking to one another. You hear people kind of greeting each other, friends who maybe haven't seen each other since the attack took place. And a lot of it is just strangers, who maybe don't even live near each other or aren't even near the same communities here in Charleston, but are joined here, joined here in sorrow and joined here in grief and joined here in sort of defiance. A quiet defiance.
We heard people singing "Amazing Grace," an impromptu song. Also singing closer to the church "this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine." I, in a way, wish you could be here to kind of take it in for yourselves, because it's something we rarely see. We often see a makeshift memorial sprout up in the wake of the tragedy. We've seen that far too many times over the last many years. That's become a common sight, but something like this, a community coming together, that's something you don't see very often.
New details tonight about the steps the killer took to carry out the massacre inside the church behind me. CNN affiliate WBTV is reporting that the shooter told investigators he had a glock handgun hidden behind a pouch around his waist and had seven magazine clips with him when he entered the church, just two nights ago. Now, you can see that pouch in surveillance photos released by police.
WbTV also reports that the killer told investigators that he had been planning the attack for some time and had chosen his target, because he knew it was an African-American church with a long and storied history.
And we've known for a bit the shooter's father and uncle called the authorities when they recognized him in that surveillance video, but we have also learned someone else from the family called as well.
Brian Todd joins me now from Columbia, South Carolina.
Brian, what have you learned?
[20:24:59] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we have this just in tonight from our editorial producer, Elon Byrd, who spoke to the shooter's father. The father confirmed that not only he, but that his daughter, the shooter's sister, placed separate calls to the police tip line in the hours after Wednesday night's shooting. So you have now three members of the shooter's family who placed calls to the police in those crucial hours. You have the father, his daughter, the shooter's sister, and an uncle who placed calls to the police tip line. Three members of that family, calling police in those crucial hours.
Also tonight, we have learned that the shooter likely planned some kind of an extreme act for quite some time. That there may have been a dispute within the shooter's family, about his purchase of a gun, and that he had some violent ideas about provoking tension between the races.
TODD (voice-over): The license plate saying confederate states of America, patches on his jacket, the flags of apartheid era South Africa in Rhodesia, symbols of a life descending into a pattern of racial hatred. But it was the shooter's behavior, a friend says, that really scared him.
JOEY MEEK, SUSPECT'S FRIEND: He said he wanted segregation, he wanted a race war, he wanted to be white with white and black with black.
TODD: What did you say?
MEEK: I mean, I didn't agree with his opinion at all and we just argued about it.
TODD: Joey Meek had been friends with the shooter in middle school. They lost touch a few years ago, but reconnected in recent months. Meek says he recently talked about a six-month plan he had to, quote, "do something crazy." Meek says he doesn't know details of the plan. He said one night, recently, the shooter drank a liter of vodka and talked about a race war, Meek says, and when meek decided to take action.
MEEK: That same night, I took his gun and I hid it. And the next morning, I didn't want to get in trouble, with him say I stole his gun, so I put his gun back in his trunk.
TODD: How do you feel about that now?
MEEK: Terrible. I mean, terrible, but then again, I can't go back, because I was looking out for myself, really, because I didn't want to get in trouble for stealing a gun.
TODD: Meek says the shooter's parents gave him money for his 21st birthday, which his grandfather confirmed to CNN.
MEEK: They didn't want Dylann to have his gun.
TODD: Why not?
MEEK: I have no clue. His parent knows him better. I guess it's just instinct his parents have.
TODD: But meek says ultimately, the parents seemed to give in.
MEEK: His parents gave him cash for his birthday in April, and they both split the price of the gun in cash and gave it to Dylann to go buy the gun and put it in his name.
TODD: We don't know if his parents knew he was going to use the money to buy a gun. In a statement, the shooter's family says, quote, "words cannot express our shock, grief, and disbelief as to what happened that night. We are devastated and saddened by what occurred." The family's pastor also spoke on their behalf.
PASTOR TONY MUTZE, ST. PAUL'S LUTHERAN CHURCH: They've asked what I asked, is that we continue to hold all these families in our prayers. And the whole world, our nation, Charleston, our community understand that we love them, God loves them.
TODD: There was other bizarre behavior from his friend, recently, Meek says.
MEEK: One day he asked me if I can videotape him burning the American flag. And I said, hell, no, you're crazy.
TODD: Now Meek's got his own message for the victims' loved ones.
MEEK: That I'm -- I'm sorry this all happened to everybody and it could have been prevented if -- if people would have taken him serious, but Dylann wasn't a serious person. And no one took him seriously. But if someone would have taken him serious, this would have all been avoided.
COOPER: Brian, I mean, I think a lot of people hearing his roommate talk and saying, you know, he knew he was talking about doing something crazy, talking about a race war, knew he had a gun, why didn't he say something to authorities? I mean, if you see something, say something. Even if it was just a suspicion, maybe police had even just talked to this would-be killer, than it might have changed the course of events.
TODD: You know, Anderson, there are probably several things involving Joey Meek, involving the shooter's family that could have taken place that did not take place that might have prevented all of this. As far as whether and why Joey Meek didn't report the gun and that he had taken possession, at least for a very short time of the gun, we don't know that. Joey Meek didn't really indicate that he had notified anybody, that he had taken possession of the gun. And because of some extenuating circumstances in Meek's situation, he didn't want to divulge publicly, we believe he probably didn't notify any authorities that he had taken possession of that gun, at least temporarily.
Also tonight, Anderson, we did learn from Joey Meek that in those hours after the shooting, meek also, in addition to the shooter's family members, Meek called the FBI and gave them detailed descriptions of the shooter, what the shooter was wearing. The shooter's license plate, his car, and he believes that he was crucial in them apprehending the shooter. So you have got Joey Meek calling the authorities right after the shooting, you have got three members of the shooter's family also calling authorities after the shooting. And that, of course reason to believe that, you know,
[20:30:00] there was some awareness there of what could happen and maybe some layering there, beforehand, that didn't take place, that maybe could have prevented this.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, a lot of what-ifs, certainly. And the message, I think, certainly, for anybody out there is that if you do see something, if you suspect something, police always say just give them a call, even if it's mistaken, they would rather know about a potential threat than not. Appreciate the reporting.
As we've said, the confessed killer is now facing nine counts of murder. Now, if the Justice Department finds that the massacre was, in fact, a hate crime, that will add another layer to the charges and potential punishment. Joining me now is Matt Horace, a former ATF special agent in charge, and senior vice president and chief security officer at FJC Security Service.
Matt, as we've been saying, we've been trying to focus on the victims. That said, there is an important information to be learned about how this guy was able to purchase a gun. And police are still trying to hunt that down, find out more information. There were red flags in his background. Other brushes with the law. Obviously, they didn't prevent the purchase. Why?
MATT HORACE, FORMER ATF AGENT: As we all know, Anderson, he was not a prohibited person, in terms of a federal statute. And the federal statutes are very clear, as to who can possess a gun and who can't possess a gun. And as we said earlier today, there's a broad difference between who should have a gun and who can have a gun. There were some red flags here in this case, just as there are in so many of the other active shooter investigations throughout this country. You just heard the witness telling us all the things that he was seeing and all the things that the family had observed themselves. Too little, too late. Somebody needs to speak up. If you see something, say something.
COOPER: The fact that, by the shooter's own admission, according to authorities, his motivation was based on race, on hatred of black people, desire for a race war. We've seen images of him wearing those patches aligned with the apartheid regime in South Africa, with the racist regime in Rhodesia, how difficult is it to track and stop someone who plans to act alone, as opposed to someone who's very publicly part of a broader group? Because there are a lot of groups and law enforcement can track groups. But lone wolves, individuals who are just motivated by watching stuff on the Internet or listening to records, that's harder to stop, isn't it?
HORACE: Anderson, it really is. And the difference is, when we have these group dynamics, there are ways that the government and the different law enforcement agencies can get into the groups and determine the extent of their criminal use of firearms and explosives and other things. And they give us a reason to investigate them. In this case, even those everyone suspected that something wasn't quite right, no one would have guessed that we would have taken it to this extent.
COOPER: Well, Matt, I appreciate you being on, Matt Horace, still a lot to learn. Just ahead, the mass murder has investigators looking into where the shooter, exactly where he got his extremist views. And a lot of people tonight are saying that you do not have to look much further then the actual grounds of the South Carolina statehouse. It's there that the confederate flag is flying by Confederate Memorial, and at full staff, at that. The American flag, the state flag, those are at half-staff. The confederate flag, that has not been lowered at all. Should it come down altogether? I'll talk to Charleston's mayor about that.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are here outside the site of the massacre at the AME church. As you can see, there are still hundreds of people who are just standing outside the church, just come here to pay their respects and they more continue to come as darkness begins to fall.
Earlier, our CNN affiliate WBTV has been reporting that the church massacre, the gunman told police he chose his target intentionally, because he knew it was a well-known African-American church. We've already seen evidence of his racist beliefs, obviously, in photographs. And Brian Todd, a few moments ago, reported on those patches of the shooter's jacket's, flags of apartheid era South Africa and the racist regime in Rhodesia.
Now, of course, both of those flags are no longer in use. They were retired or redesigned because they were so hurtful to so many. South Africa has a new flag, Zimbabwe of course does as well. But another symbol of hate for many people is officially sanctioned in South Carolina. The confederate flag, which flies on the lawn of the state capitol at Confederate Memorial. It used to fly over the state Capitol. It's a contentious issue, and the massacre two nights ago has reignited calls to take it down. Tom Foreman has more tonight.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even in the wake of overwhelming sadness, even amid charges of horrific crimes, there it is, the confederate flag, flying above the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol while outrage erupts below.
CORNELL BROOKS, NAACP PRESIDENT: This was a racial hate crime and must be confronted as such. That symbol has to come down.
FOREMAN: The U.S. flag was ordered at half-staff, but the rebel flag remained high, padlocked into place. Why? State law. In 2000, civil rights activists successfully lobbied for a larger confederate flag to be removed from the Capitol dome. But in exchange, all other tributes to the Confederacy, including the flag on the Capitol lawn, became untouchable without an override by two-thirds of the state legislature. That's not likely here or in other places, where some have said for years the flag is about southern pride, heritage. In Mississippi, it's even part of the state flag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here to show our support that we're proud of being who we are and where we're from.
FOREMAN: Opponents equate that to defending what Germany did under Hitler. Actor Wendell Pierce (ph) from the Wire tweeted, "The Nazis are responsible for autobahn and advancing rocket science. Do we fly the Nazi flag to remember that heritage?" It's an old debate, but even top politicians admit it has new resonance.
GOV. NIKKI HALEY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I think the state will start talking about that again, and we'll see where it goes.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: At the end of the day, it's time for the people in South Carolina to revisit that decision, would be fine with me.
FOREMAN: Maybe times have changed. Just this week, the U.S. Supreme Court said Texas can deny a request for license plates featuring the confederate flag. But nine other states still allow it on their plates, including South Carolina, even as opponents are pushing a symbol of their own. #takeitdownsc.
Tom Foreman, CNN.
COOPER: I talked about the flag and the shooter's apparent desire to start, in his words, a race war, with Charleston's long-serving mayor, Joe Riley. I talked to him earlier today.
COOPER: There are reports that this killer wanted to start a race war, in his words.
MAYOR JOSEPH RILEY JR., CHARLESTON, S.C.: That is fantasy, that he would even think that. But if he wanted to and if he hoped to, it was a tragic and dismal, murderous failure. Because he broke the hearts of black people and white people to the same degree. And this is a community. And we have been, but all that did was make this community love each other more. So if that was his goal, he failed.
COOPER: There are some people who, you know, they see the shooting of a man in North Charleston several months ago, and now this. Is there a race problem here?
RILEY: No, there isn't. I mean, first of all, this guy, Mr. Roof, lived 110 miles away. So you can't, there no way to really make him a part of this region's community or life or values or anything. He's a bad person, that came away -- from away in another community, with this horrible idea and intention, and, quite honestly, there isn't.
COOPER: Two of the flags, the American flag and the state flag were put at half-staff at the Capitol. The confederate flag is still flying. Is that something that concerns you or is that --
RILEY: Well, you know, I (inaudible) a march, spent four days walking from Charleston to Columbia on these two feet, with a biracial group of leaders to protest the flag being atop the state Capitol where it used to be. And we succeeded. They brought it down. They just didn't complete the task. They brought it down, and then there was an effort to put it in a smaller place in front of the Capitol. And -- but I don't think it has a place there. And I think --
COOPER: You wish --
RILEY: It belongs in the museum. It's a part of history, and that's important for all to go and to understand, but it shouldn't be in front of the Capitol. It's -- it just shouldn't be there.
COOPER: When you heard that this young man has made a confession, was that a sense of relief?
RILEY: Well, I kind of figured he would. I mean, you know, that somebody like that there, I mean, I figured he would, so I didn't imagine we would have any difficulty convicting him. And, you know, he's just blinded and corrupted by racism, and perhaps other things that are going on. But I figured he would confess to his dastardly deed. It's just awful.
COOPER: Well, up next tonight, we remember the youngest victim who was killed here at the church, Tywanza Sanders, a young man who friends say was always smiling and encouraging them to do the same. We hear he died trying to protect others in that Bible study Wednesday night. We'll talk to one of his close friends, coming up.
COOPER: The historic church known as Mother Emanuel here, as night falls in Charleston, hundreds of people here still standing against the darkness, wanting to join together, to pay their respects. Some people are singing, there's clapping, prayers. But we have seen thousands of people throughout the day come by here, lay flowers, bring balloons, teddy bears. So many people just want to be here, just want to say a prayer.
The youngest victim of the church massacre was 26 years old. 26 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him. Tywanza Sanders. His friends say he always had a smile on his face. Just last year, he graduated from Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, and what's remarkable is Tywanza died trying to protect others, including his mom, when the gunman opened fire two nights ago during Bible study. She survived, and earlier, you heard her speak to the gunman in court today at that bond hearing about the pain of losing her son.
Well, there's a lot of pain tonight here, including Tywanza's friend, A.J. Harley, who joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us. What do you want people to know about your friend, about Tywanza?
AJ HARLEY, FRIEND: I just want people to understand, you know, as I was saying before, how genuine of a person he was and how caring he was, and you can tell and how everybody's been saying, how, you know, he took his last breath trying to save his family and protect the others there. So I just, you know, I want to let everyone know how imperative it is to understand the kind of person he was, the integrity that he had, and how caring he was.
COOPER: And to know what the price of this loss is. I mean, these were the best of Charleston, these people who were here in an expression of faith.
COOPER: Was faith important to Tywanza?
HARLEY: 100 percent. He was dedicated to his church, dedicated to his family. Faith was extremely important. His family instilled that in him, like they did in all of us, you know, growing up, that's a major part of how we grew up.
COOPER: The fact that he would be here --
HARLEY: Any of us. Or anybody else. He'd probably be out here singing and chanting with everybody else, so definitely.
To see so many people come out and want to honor your friend and remember your friend and all the others, what is that --
HARLEY: It's phenomenal. I definitely didn't expect this out here tonight. It's just mind blowing to see all these people out here, and this is not it, you know? There are some people up the street. There are people all around, you know, trying to, you know, put the memories together for everyone that was lost and trying to represent for the city. So.
COOPER: You have -- there's obviously a fund that's going to be starting. I think they're getting the website up now and we're going to put that up on our screen. But you've also, you have a scholarship fund that you started last year in -- was it in your high school?
HARLEY: We started it in the high school with some friends. It's called the Race for Achievement scholarship. It was some friends that came together, a group of us --
COOPER: Tywanza was involved with that.
HARLEY: He was affiliated with it.
COOPER: But you've now renamed it after him.
HARLEY: Definitely. We had to. We knew that. I knew, once I heard what had happened, that it was necessary.
COOPER: And you have a website, I know, in case people are --
HARLEY: Right now we're still getting the paperwork situated to make sure everything is legal and put together correctly. So we want people that want to reach out, not only to give to the church, for everyone, but for our group, if you're interested, the website is firstname.lastname@example.org, well, the e-mail address, so you can reach out to us.
COOPER: Listen, I thank you for talking to us.
HARLEY: It's a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.
COOPER: I appreciate you letting us know a little bit about your friend. I'm so sorry for your loss.
HARLEY: Appreciate it.
COOPER: We remember all nine of those who were killed, who were murdered. This senseless tragedy. Each strong in faith and family. You'll see how each made a difference, coming up.
COOPER: Throughout the day, hundreds of people have been coming to the church here, just as they did yesterday. Some come empty-handed, they just want to be here, they want to pay their respects. Others bring flowers and teddy bears, handmade signs. It's the kind of makeshift memorial we've seen spring up too often in the wake of tragedies like this. There have been too many tragedies like this, but for the city of Charleston, this is -- continues to be a shock that resonates, that has shaken this community. People just want to be here, they spend some time, say some prayers, like that young man right there, trying to make sense of something which is impossible to make sense of.
And there are hundreds of people here now, singing outside the church, right in front of that memorial. That was earlier today. This is the scene. Hundreds have gathered here, and you hear them singing, people holding hands. There is strength in numbers here. Amazing grace, just 48 hours after this tragedy. There are difficult days ahead in this city. There's no doubt about that. There are nine funerals that have to be planned. Nine families have to say their good-byes. Six women and three men are gone, but they will certainly never be forgotten, and the message here, from so many people we have heard in church pews and on the streets is that in the face of horror, in the face of hate, we shall overcome.
COOPER: We shall overcome. And when you see the outpouring of love, the outpouring of support, the hundreds of people who are here right now, you can believe the words of that song.
Up next, we're on throughout the next hour, right here. There is so much more to bring you. We're going to focus on the grief that the families confronting the killer in court today. Their message, amazingly, one of forgiveness. An incredible moment, you'll hear it when we continue.