Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Gunman Opens Fire at Military Facilities, Killing Four Marines; FBI Investigating Tennessee Shooting as Terrorism; U.S. Increasing Security At Federal Buildings Tonight; FBI: Shooter Identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. Aired 7-8:00p ET
Aired July 16, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:11] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news on many fronts. Four marines shot and killed outside a military site in Tennessee. New information at this hour about the alleged shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. His wrestling coach will be my guest OUTFRONT.
Also breaking, the FBI investigating these attacks as terrorism across the country. Security stepped up.
And more breaking news, the sole survivor of a plane crash in Washington State telling her story to CNN for the first time. You will hear her speak about how she survived right here OUTFRONT for the first time. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with breaking news. CNN has learned the alleged gunman who opened fire at two military sites in Tennessee today is 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. Four American marines were killed. At least three others wounded. The shooter is dead. Law enforcement source says the FBI is investigating the shootings as terrorism. And this is a picture of Abdulazeez. We have this just in to CNN, as you can see, smiling picture. Notable there with a freckle. Otherwise, a normal looking young man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF FRED FLETCHER, CHATTANOOGA POLICE DEPARTMENT: What we do know is that somebody brutally and brazenly attacked members of our armed services and officers of the Chattanooga Police Department and the sheriff's office responded immediately. And they were able to make sure that no further loss of life happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, the Department of Homeland Security increasing security at federal buildings here in New York, security already amped up at military recruiting stations and other sensitive locations. And moments ago, the President of the United States speaking and saying, given the nature of the shootings, he is putting military bases on alert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We've also been in
contact with the Department of Defense to make sure that all our defense facilities are properly attentive and vigilant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Victor Blackwell begins our coverage OUTFRONT in Chattanooga. And Victor, I know there are breaking developments that you have involving the shooting where you are standing right now.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erin, we know that the other location, that Naval Reserve Center, four marines were killed. But we know just moments ago receiving word from the Marine Corps that the shooter's bullets hit more than just doors and windows at this location. A marine recruiter was shot in the leg. Has been released from the hospital. The FBI teams are here on the ground pacing, looking for shell casings and a motive in this shooting.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): Around 10:45 this morning, the first shots fired. A witness says a silver mustang convertible pulled into this plaza lined with military recruiting offices.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just pulled up and I didn't think anything of it. He had his drop top and he looked to the side and next thing you know he lifted up his arms like this with a big black gun and just -- it was one shot and then it was endless shots, one after another, just unloading.
BLACKWELL: From there the alleged shooter, now identified as 24- year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, took off racing to a naval reserve center about seven miles away. Police responded giving chase, catching up with him at the reserve center where a gun battle broke out.
FLETCHER: They arrived on the scene extremely quickly. And they actively and enthusiastically engaged this brazen criminal.
ED REINHOLD, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: The response by the local law enforcement was overwhelming. They were able to neutralize the threat.
BLACKWELL: Four marines were killed on the scene. At least three others were wounded. Sources tell CNN the shooter also died on the scene. It was all over within 30 minutes. A former recruit is devastated to see the aftermath.
BILL KILLIAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: We are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism.
BLACKWELL: And late tonight, a law enforcement source tells CNN the FBI is working the case as a potential terrorism investigation.
BLACKWELL: And Erin, while investigators on the other side of that crime tape are taking photographs and collecting evidence, on this side of the tape, members of this community are coming, some in tears, leaving flowers and notes for the people who have been killed and injured in this attack at two locations tonight -- Erin.
BURNETT: Victor, thank you. And Gary Tuchman, I want to go to him now, he's outside the alleged shooter's family home. It's in Hixson, Tennessee, that's just a few miles outside of Chattanooga. Gary, you have found a lot out about Muhammad Abdulazeez, the alleged killer. What do you know?
[19:05:04] GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you this, Erin. This neighborhood, which is about a 15-minute drive away from where the four marines were killed, is a beautiful upscale neighborhood. And it appears that Abdulazeez lived here for most of his life. We've talked to one particular neighbor who lives two doors down from where Abdulazeez lived. He says he has known Abdulazeez since he was seven-years-old. He says that his two sisters, an older sister and a younger sister, used to baby-sit for his own children. He says that Abdulazeez was in his house at times. Very pleasant and he was totally stunned when he heard about this.
But right now, you see the police cars behind me, Erin. And that's because they have closed off the street not only to the news media but also to residents. Because right now, federal, local and state officials are inside the house going through it, making sure there's no booby traps, no explosive devices, seeing what evidence they can find. They have been there for at least an hour and a half now. We saw an ambulance go in. We believe that was for precaution. But right now they are in there looking through the house. We are told by another neighbor that at one point, people inside the house, we presume his family members, were told to come out with their hands out. They came out. So right now the police are inside searching the home.
BURNETT: Have you had a chance to speak to some of the neighbors there who have known Muhammad for many years. And what are they telling you about him, what kind of person he was?
TUCHMAN: Yes. What they are telling us -- first of all, they are telling us that this is a fine family. That they have gotten along with people in the neighborhood. The people in the neighborhood have gotten along with them. They also say that Abdulazeez himself did not talk very much. But this one neighbor we talked to who his sisters baby-sat for his kids, told us he was a very nice, polite young man. And when he heard about this and this is the sad part. When we heard this and we've covered a lot of tragedies, this man we talked to, he heard about this on the radio and he says, I hope that's not in my neighborhood. And he starts driving home and he saw all the police cars there. And then he heard it was Abdulazeez and he was stunned out of his mind. He says, he never could have imagine that. Never saw anything wrong with this kid in any way, shape or form and just totally stunned. BURNETT: And now the President says there's going to be answers,
Gary. The FBI is obviously working overtime to try to nail down his motive, right? Why this could have happened? Is there anything on that front that you know about at this moment?
TUCHMAN: Yes. No. What we know about this young man, and he was 24-years-old. He graduated three years ago from the Chattanooga campus of the University of Tennessee with an electrical engineering degree. He had a couple of internships. But if he had a full-time job, we don't know about it. His trail seems to stops around 2012 when he had his last internship. So, he's an educated, college graduate. On his resume, he talks about how he is proficient in all these things. If you look at his resume, you think this is a career guy with a bright future had. Instead, he is dead and he's the gunman who is killed all these innocent people.
BURNETT: All right. Gary, thank you very much. As Gary gets more information -- and literally, I want to emphasize our viewers, what we know about the alleged shooter Muhammad Abdulazeez is developing moment by moment.
I want to bring in now his high school coach, his wrestling coach. Kevin Emily joins me now on the phone. Kevin, let me just start with you, what was he like? You just heard what our reporter was able to gain from neighbors who knew him. You knew him well. You coached him. What was he like?
KEVIN EMILY, FORMER COACH OF ALLEGED SHOOTER (on the phone): Yes, I did. I knew Muhammad very well. And Muhammad was -- he was a great student. He was, you know, a good wrestler. And you know, he was a smart individual. He was very friendly. And, you know, and got along with the whole team. He actually started for me. And he always contributed, always did what I asked him to do. And never had any problems with Muhammad. And he was very humble when he was in high school. You know, he always listens to me, he looked me in the eye. And he was just -- in high school he was a great kid.
BURNETT: So, you know, that sounds very consistent with what Gary is hearing. You are adding in the word humble. Gary also was reporting the neighbors are saying that the family attends a local mosque regularly. Do you know or when he was in high school, did faith play any role in his life?
EMILY: I don't want to go into it too much. You know, when he would, you know, he would need to pray, he would say, you know, hey coach, I have to go pray. And I would say, okay. You know, sometimes he would miss practice. But other than that, no. You know, his mom and dad would come to the wrestling matches. You know, I have had conversations with his father. And they were always very supportive. And, you know, to the best of my ability, they're a great family. And like I've said, I'm totally in shock. A lot of my former wrestlers have been reaching out to me. And, you know, my prayers to the families, and even Muhammad and his family as well. Because it's just -- I don't have answers for it. Doesn't seem like him.
BURNETT: So, it sounds like this is someone who was, you know, faith was important in his life. He was humble. He was a good student. He was a starter for you. It sounds like what you are saying is, whatever happened here, it happened after you knew him, something must have changed.
[19:10:08] EMILY: I mean, I don't want to agree to that extent. I just know that as a student -- Muhammad was a regular student. You know, there was no red flags about anything. You know, that I could say, you know, here or there, yes I saw that. No, Muhammad was, he was, you know, one of the guys that, you know, we had a tight bond together. So, no, I mean, his everyday activities were normal. You know, I took one summer at wrestling camp to talk to Muhammad because I was interested in, you know, some things about him.
EMILY: I just wanted to know. After our conversation, I felt like I knew more about him than I had, you know, taken the time to know, which made me feel better about him. Because a lot of people don't take the time to get to know a person once they find out their religion. So, I didn't see anything different in Muhammad at all. I even talked to him, you know, I talk to all my wrestlers after high school. And he reached out to me last year and let me know how he was doing.
BURNETT: You did speak to him in the past year. Yes.
EMILY: Yes. He contacted me. Yes.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Kevin, I really appreciate your taking the time to share all of this with us. A lot of this is new information as we're learning and trying to understand more about what could have caused this horrific act.
The Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is OUTFRONT. He joins me on Skype. And Mayor Berke, I appreciate you're taking the time. You just heard our reporter with the latest information that he had about Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. His wrestling coach talking about him as a humble student, a great student. There were no red flags. He was a young man of faith who had missed practice to pray at times. A very polite young man. That's what he was able to tell me. What else can you tell us about Muhammad?
MAYOR ANDY BERKE (D), CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE: Well, I don't know anything about Muhammad except for what I know from today. And of course, today's incident was a horrible and violent scene in our city. We had four marines tragically killed. A couple others wounded. And one of our own, a Chattanooga police officer, was shot in the leg by the shooter. And so for us, you know, and for me, I think, today our hearts are breaking in this city from what happened.
BURNETT: And are you concerned at this point, Mayor, from the briefings that you are receiving, that he could be part of something that would involve anyone else, any sort of a cell or bigger operation?
BERKE: I'm not concerned that there is an issue right now in Chattanooga. Everything that we have seen indicates that there was nothing else going on today. But every one of our resources right now is devoted to fully investigating whether he was part of something bigger. And if so, what? I know that the FBI, the ATF, the Chattanooga Police Department, Hamilton County sheriff's office, all of us have everybody on duty to make sure that we know everything about this incident possible.
BURNETT: And was there any warning in advance? Any kind of a threat? Anything similar when you look back that you now say, that could have told us?
BERKE: No. There really wasn't. And in fact, you know, we have already had discussions with the FBI about that. Most of our information that's homeland security related comes from the federal government. There was not any indication that something was going to happen today. I will say though that our officers were prepared and acted heroically. You know, I spent several hours listening to them describe what was really a harrowing and violent scene.
BERKE: Bullets whizzing around them. And you know, they were telling me about the training that they had received and how it kicked in when they encountered really this, you know, horrible incident.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, mayor. I appreciate your time tonight. Our breaking news coverage continues OUTFRONT next with security stepped up across the country. Was this act of terror inspired by ISIS? An eyewitness describing the moments the alleged gunman opened fire and how she got away from police. She is OUTFRONT, next. She will be my guest. We'll be right back.
[19:18:10] BURNETT: Breaking news. Four U.S. marines killed in a shooting rampage targeting military sites. The alleged gunman, 24- year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He fired dozens of shots with a high powered rifle. Officials say this is now a terrorism investigation. Tonight, high alert. The Department of Homeland Security saying it is boosting security across the nation in the wake of these attacks.
We're hearing that in New York City and in Washington, D.C. where Rene Marsh is OUTFRONT right now. And Rene, this is something that has now changed the security picture across the nation.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. A short time ago, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that he is ordering enhanced security at, quote, "certain federal buildings." Now, a government source is telling me that includes buildings here in Washington, D.C. as well as Tennessee where this incident occurred but is not limited to those two areas. We should point out, because of the security concerns, the Department of Homeland Security is not giving any details as far as which specific buildings will receive this enhanced security. And they are also not giving many details or any details at all about what this enhanced security would look like. But they are stressing that it is being done out of an abundance
of caution, of course. It's not the first time we have seen DHS make a move like this. Before July 4th, we saw that they ramped up security at federal buildings. We saw the same situation last year after the Canadian government was under attack. So, this is something that we have seen before. But again, the headline in light of what we are hearing here, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson ordering enhanced security at certain federal buildings -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Rene. Thank you very much. And now as our breaking news continues, we have some breaking details on the last moments of the alleged shooter's life Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
Our justice reporter Evan Perez is breaking this tonight. And Evan, what are you learning?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we know that Abdulazeez was killed by a Chattanooga police officer who was responding to the second shooting, the second scene there, which was the naval training center. And that's where this all, this rampage came to an end. That's also the scene where we know the marines that were killed, that's where they died. We know that according to sources, that what he did was he rammed the vehicle through a gate to be able to enter the grounds there. And that's where he shot and killed those people that died today.
And also, we're also told, Erin, that he was not in any of the databases that the FBI had been looking at. Obviously, there's increased concern about ISIS supporters around the United States as hundreds believed to be supporters who are in various stages of support of ISIS. And so the FBI has been very much concerned that some of these people could be plotting attacks, again, following up on ISIS calls for attacks during the month of Ramadan, which ends today as you know. And so, that's been the concern. The question is, why wasn't he on this -- on the databases? Was it because he was purposely off the radar or was it something that perhaps was missed? And so, that's now the big focus of the FBI. That's why you see the FBI Director Jim Comey today at the White House. Because he is definitely having to explain what the FBI has been doing that this is their biggest fear, is that they might miss some of these guys.
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Thank you very much, Evan, with those breaking details.
And I want to go straight now to our terrorism analyst Paul Cruikshank. Paul, the FBI, they have given us the name obviously, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. Four marines are dead. What do you now think about his motive?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Erin, I think we have to be very, very careful still about calling this Islamist terrorism. We don't know whether it's Islamist terrorism at this point or whether that could be some other kinds of motive. That is always possible. There's a strong possibility that it could be Islamist terrorism. And the context here is ISIS calling it for a surge of terrorism during Ramadan. And as Evan was saying, this is the last day of Ramadan, about an hour to go until sunset before Ramadan finishes. And ISIS leaders have sent to that followers around the world. They have issued fatwa saying that they will get rewarded ten times more in the afterlife if they launch an attack the end of Ramadan. So, the timing may be significant here.
CRUICKSHANK: And also, you know, the target may be significant as well. Because ISIS have called on their followers in the west to launch attacks especially on military targets, on soldiers. And we have seen ISIS-inspired plots just in the last few months in the United States against those kind of targets.
BURNETT: So, Paul, I mean, you are saying, obviously we do not know the motive. And it's important to emphasize that. As you're saying though, the timing would fit with ISIS was called for. The timing would fit what ISIS is called for. The target would fit what ISIS is called for. What we've just been able to find out, just from talking to the former wrestling coach of this man was, you know, he was a great student. He was humble. He was polite. This fits with what our reporter is hearing on the street where he lived. Right? You are hearing everybody that the -- is completely shocked. In terms of his faith, his family attended mosque regularly. In high school he would miss practice sometimes to pray. But the mosque director at the mosque in Chattanooga is telling our Gary Tuchman that he was not familiar with Mohammad. He was not a regular attendee at least at that mosque at this time. When you put all that together, does that say anything to you?
[19:23:46] CRUICKSHANK: Well, unclear again on the motivation.
CRUICKSHANK: But we have seen people being very, very quickly radicalized, particularly in these ISIS-inspired plots. Moving from being not particularly devout at all to launching terrorist attacks and terrorism attempts within the space of just a few months sometimes. We have seen examples of young men and indeed young women hide their radicalization from their families. We have seen examples of them inhabiting a kind of parallel universe online when they may be interacting and following --
BURNETT: Can happen quickly. Yes.
CRUICKSHANK: -- kind of ISIS propaganda. They will going to be investigating all that at this point. But we do not yet know at this hour whether this was an Islamist terrorist attack despite the fact that how many of the whole marks of that kind of attack given the timing, given the targets.
BURNETT: Right. Exactly. As you said, timing and target, but we do not yet know. The FBI of course working every second they can to try to figure out what the motive was. Formally, thank you very much, Paul. And next, we are going to speak to a woman who witnessed the
shooter drive up to one of the military site and open fire. She was right there. She saw it. And she will be with me.
And more breaking news, the sole survivor of that fiery plane crash in Washington State. You see her there speaking out for the first time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Go up and there was a light and then it was all trees and then it was all fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:29:28] BURNETT: And our breaking news tonight, four marines killed, three people wounded in a deadly shooting rampage that targeted military centers in Tennessee. The alleged gunman is Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez. He was dead at the scene. The FBI is treating this as a terrorism investigation.
Drew Griffin is OUTFRONT from where it all ended today. That's the U.S. navy supports center where authorities say Abdulazeez shot and killed those marines and was then killed himself. We don't know the full circumstances of whether that was at his own hands or by law enforcement. Drew, you were able to get exclusive video of the car that Abdulazeez allegedly used to carry out these attacks.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's literally 200 yards from where I'm standing right now, but down over the side where those cars are. And you see the yellow police tape. The building there in the background over my shoulder is the Naval Reserve Center. The video that we took, which I hope you are seeing now, Erin, shows the car, which had rammed through at least part of the gate, part of the barrier. It is that rented Mustang. All the doors are open. The hood is open. The trunk is open, obviously, the site of an intensive forensic evidence hunt.
I can tell you that that forensic evidence is being gathered even at this hour. I peek over the side, and there were several dozen agents still there combing the area. As you said, somewhere behind me is where those four marines were killed and where the suspect was gunned down -- according to our justice reporter, Evan Perez, gunned by a Chattanooga police officer -- Erin.
BURNETT: And, Drew, what more are you learning about the alleged gunman? I mean, we have been talking to people who knew him this hour. But, you know, desperately trying to find out what the motive could be. What have you learned about Mohammad?
GRIFFIN: Yes, and this falls into that repetitive puzzling category. This kid, although Kuwait, Jordanian roots and born in Kuwait, he was ever bit an American person, American kid, all American is what his mixed martial arts coach just told me. He was from a Muslim family. He was devout. They were devout.
He would stop during practice 6:00 at night, go into the coach's office, lay down his rug and pray. But never any kind of that Islamic radicalized talk or anger, according to the coach.
And, you know, just to build on what Paul just told you, that is what we hear a lot of times. These people, if this becomes a radicalized Islamic terror event, these young boys, especially these young kids, can be radicalized very quickly. It happens over the Internet. It often happens without any knowledge of their own Muslim community going on.
They simply stop going to the local mosques because, quite frankly, they start to not like what's happening in their local mosque. They think their mosque should be fighting the war.
GRIFFIN: And they look elsewhere.
BURNETT: It's interesting, because the high school wrestling coach said the same thing to me, that he would miss practice to pray. But to your point there, the director of the mosque, the family apparently goes to, said he was not familiar with Mohammad, didn't know him. So, that would fit what you said, if perhaps he stopped attending. I mean, obviously, we don't know at this point. He says he didn't know him.
Is there anything else, Drew, as you have been reporting this to give us a better sense of who this man is? You're talking about with roots in Kuwait and Jordan but an all American kid.
GRIFFIN: Right, graduated from high school, graduated from the local college, had an electrical engineering degree.
GRIFFIN: Had internships at some of the local businesses here and was seeking full-time employment. On the surface on his resume, living the American dream with all the benefits of America open to him. That's what we can tell you right now.
Why he snapped, we have no idea.
BURNETT: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you very much.
I want to go straight now to Erica Wright. She joins me on the phone. She was there today, working at the hair salon, two doors down from the first shooting location, that military recruiting center in Chattanooga.
Erica, thank you very much for talking to us. I know you must still be in shock and fear. You were at work? You heard popping sounds.
When you looked out, what did you see, Erica? ERICA WRIGHT, EYEWITNESS TO FIRST SHOOTING (via telephone):
Well, we heard a loud noise that we thought was a car backfiring or something like that. Then, there was a pause. So, we went to the window or the front door to see what exactly was going on.
And when we looked out that door, we saw a guy in a silver Mustang convertible just unloading a large gun on the naval center two doors down from us. So, at that time, we just ran to the back of the building, grabbed our phones and called 911.
And by the time -- when we got on the phone with 911 just a couple of seconds later, the shooting stopped. And we looked up and he was pulling out of the parking lot.
BURNETT: I mean, Erica, what -- what could have gone through your head? This is a strip mall. You go to work there every single day. You see people walking into that recruiting center.
When you saw a gunman shooting -- we have pictures, I mean, completely shooting up the entrance to that recruiting center -- what did you think?
WRIGHT: We just all, you know, take care of us. We didn't know if he was going to go through the whole strip mall shooting or if he was going to stop there.
[19:35:03] So, our thought was just get to the back of the building where if he kept shooting, we wouldn't be hit. It was just not real to us. Just something you see on TV.
BURNETT: Well, Erica, I appreciate your telling the story. Again, I know you must still be in shock. Thank goodness you are safe and thank you for sharing.
OUTFRONT now, our counterterrorism analyst and the former CIA counterterrorism official, head of the Counterterrorism Center, of course, deputy director at the CIA, Phil Mudd.
Phil, Erica works just two doors down at a hair salon from the military recruiting center. And, you know, we have the bullet ridden door to show everybody what actually happened here. But every American can imagine this, right? This is a strip mall. It's got a military recruiting center, a hair salon. Who knows, all these stores?
The former CIA operative Bob Baer said to us today, this is the one I was afraid of, a soft target being hit. Ordinary Americans tonight, Phil, now realize in a way that perhaps they have not before that this can happen anywhere to anyone.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Sure.
But you have do remember, if you put this in context, despite the tragedy, we're still talking in terms of violent crime in America of a minor number of people who are involved. That's a brutal truth, but it is a truth. We accept gang violence, we accept drug violence, we have a new phenomenon that we don't fully understand that might result let's say in a dozen, two dozen murders in America this year.
The fact that we had this event tonight doesn't mean Americans are suddenly more vulnerable to this. It means we're coming to a realization that we have a problem in America we have to understand. That said, it pales in comparison to the other crime issues we deal with and we accept every day.
BURNETT: Well, it's also though, this is something -- you know, we have seen it happen in France, right? You have seen it happen -- again, we don't know the motive, whether it is Islamic related terrorism or not, but we have seen recent events that are just that in Tunisia, in France, in Australia. We now have something perhaps like that happening here.
When you hear the reporting, Phil, that we're getting more and more about this young man, you know, upscale family, well-educated, humble, well-liked, a great student, very devout, two of his coaches have now said that to me as well as to our Drew Griffin. But no evidence at least of radicalization, although, recently it didn't seem that he was perhaps attending a local mosque.
If there was radicalization here, if there was, how do you think it happened?
MUDD: There's a couple characteristics. Let me take you behind the scenes here that I think would be interesting if I were watching this case.
Let's take one off the table. Devout doesn't mean anything to me. In fact, if you are devout, you are more likely to talk to people who would explain to you that this kind of activity is unacceptable.
Separating from the congregation, that means a lot to me, because what he might be saying is, everybody here is too happy in their current circumstance. I want to change the circumstance. I want to represent ISIS. I want to do something different from the congregation.
Other interesting things, two locations. The second location he is trying to go through a blocked facility. That tells me his emotional state is in question. He is going to risk his life when he does that. Why does he do that in two locations? I think there's an anticipation on his part and the part of many that maybe this is worth risking his life.
One last little clue: that is electrical engineering. This is a brutal truth, but let me tell you this, if you shoot up those facilities with the weapon that is not the same impact you will get if you carefully plan an operation as an engineering student with something like a backpack bomb. I look at this and say, maybe he acted emotionally as much as he did with some sort of religious motivation.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Phil Mudd, thank you very much. For those just joining, electrical engineering, that's what we understand Mohammad Abdulazeez degree was in, that he obtained in 2012. And next, the breaking news, new information on the shooter's a
-- the last moments here. We have some new headlines coming in. Our Barbara Starr is with me with those. She's getting on the phone now.
And the soul survivor speaking for the first time. The teen who survived a plane crash telling us about the terror she endured and how she survived.
[19:43:14] BURNETT: We're back with our breaking news tonight. We are learning a lot more at this moment about the alleged shooter who targeted two military sites killing four people and wounding three more.
I also want to be clear that we are not giving out those names until all family members have been notified. And we are not yet aware that that has happened. So, I want to make sure that everyone understands that we are awaiting for the families to know exactly what happened, who was injured and who lost their lives in this brutal attack today.
Two law enforcement officials telling CNN that Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez was born in Kuwait, that he had Jordanian citizenship. He entered the United States with a Jordanian passport. Abdulazeez was a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. The school says he had a degree in electrical engineering in 2012.
The attacks today are sparking heightened security across the nation. In New York City, they have deployed critical response vehicles to provide additional security at military recruiting stations and other high profile targets.
OUTFRONT now, our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
And, Barbara, they are making explicit moves to change security now.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, at least at these recruiting stations in New York City, Erin. These are very high profile areas. There has been recruiting stations in Times Square, for example, for many, many years. There's always worry about the potential for copycat situation for other unhinged individuals to be out there. So, it's pretty typical to try to add additional security and lower the profile of some of these areas.
But recruiting centers in particular, to have security at them is a very tough proposition. They are in towns and cities across this country. We see the one in Tennessee essentially at a strip mall. They are meant to be open.
[19:45:00] They are meant to basically invite young Americans in to come, sit down, talk with a recruiter about the possibility of a military career.
So, it's a big tradeoff, as concerns grow about these lone wolf attacks, about ISIS-inspired attacks, and terrorism, the military still -- part of the country, part of the national fabric in towns and cities across the country, they don't want to wall themselves off from that -- Erin.
BURNETT: Barbara Starr, thank you very much.
And I want to go straight now to the former assistant FBI director for the criminal investigative division, Chris Swecker.
Chris, good to have you with me.
I want to show for you and our viewers this new video that we just have in at this moment. This is a video of the alleged shooter in a mixed martial arts event. We understand that he was into MMA. He also was a wrestler in high school. I spoke to his coach earlier this hour.
He was an athlete. He is the one whose face is not blurred for those of you watching. That is Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez.
Chris, when you hear all the things we have heard about him, you see him as an athlete in the mixed martial arts wrestling, a devout Muslim. His MMA coach was telling our Drew Griffin, he would take out his prayer mat and pray in his office, his high school coach told me he would miss practice to pray. But he said he was humble young man, a good student and there was nothing radicalized about him.
When you put all of that together, what do you hear?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER ASST. FBI DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Well, first thing that comes to mind is I recall one of the Tsarnaev brothers was a mixed martial arts -- or was into martial arts as well. The devout religious -- it fits sort of a profile there. That means that he is susceptible to being influenced by people that he thinks are equally devout or more devout than him probably over the Internet. So, if there's any radicalization here, obviously, it happened over the Internet.
BURNETT: So, I want to ask about you that, because the FBI, obviously, right now is working overtime. They are trying to figure out what the motive into have been. They don't know yet know what it was. But if it happened online, is that something that possibly was missed?
I mean, I know that it's almost impossible to find everybody. But they are trying to keep a database of anybody who is in a chat room or talking about ISIS or talking about anything radical.
SWECKER: Well, yes, the FBI can't be everywhere. Rules have changed since 9/11. Before 9/11, the FBI couldn't surf the Internet and go into blog sites and chat rooms and just surf and look for people who might present a threat. Now, they can do what they call a threat assessment and do just that if there's some credible information that something is happening.
But this is really tough. This is -- if he is, in fact, a lone wolf terrorist, it's like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles. The only people who can really be the early warning system, if you will, are people that are very close to them.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Chris, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
Pretty sobering when you realize how difficult it might be to stop this from happening again.
And next, an incredible story -- Autumn Veatch, she was the girl flying home on a small plane with her grandparents. The plane slammed into a mountain, burst into flames. She is the survivor. You will hear her telling her story right after this.
[19:52:12] BURNETT: And now breaking news, the 16-year-old sole survivor of a plane crash speaking out for the first time.
A miraculous story. Autumn Veatch was flying with her grandparents. Their plane crashed, she emerged from a fiery debris, surviving for two days until she found help.
Autumn is telling her story OUTFRONT for the first time. She sat down with our Sara Sidner. Sara is with me.
And, Sara, what did she tell you?
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, an incredible, incredible story.
Not only did she survive that plane crash and tried to save her grandparents, but she survived falling down a cliff, maneuvering a water fall before she got to safety. But she remembers vividly what happened when that plane went down.
AUTUMN VEATCH, SOLE SURVIVOR OF PLANE CRASH: We completely lost sight of what was going on at all. Like, all of the windows, you couldn't see a single thing. It was all white.
GPS wasn't really working. And I was kind of freaking out really bad. I just kind of hunched down a little bit, but I was scared. I was like, well, they'll sort it out. It will be OK.
I am still panicking, freaking out. Then (INAUDIBLE) started freaking out, kind of yelling. Turn the GPS back on and such. And then -- Leland said that he was going to go up. They would try to fly up. Just, because they're in the mountain, he's like, we're going to crash into the side of a mountain. I can't see anything that's going on.
So, started go up and it was light, and it was all trees. Then it was all fire. I mean, I was kind of hunched down. The impact itself didn't really hurt me. But the fire did. SIDNER: Did you think at some point I'm not going to make it.
I'm going to die?
VEATCH: I was certain I was going to die. The second day, I was living outside. Like the morning after I had been, I tried to sleep, the morning after. I was certain I had hypothermia because, I was freezing.
SIDNER: Once you were down on the ground, the plane crashed, it was on fire, what did you do then? What did you see around you?
VEATCH: I got out. There was fire. My face got burned. Like my hair was burning and stuff. And -- my immediate response was to go and try to help them out, because they were alive. They were alive. They were both screaming.
And I was, there was no way I could get to grandma because she was on the far side. There was nothing I could do, but I see if I got grandpa out first then, maybe she would come out. I was trying to pull him out. I couldn't do it. There was a lot of fire.
And I am a small person. And that's what happened to my hand. I was trying to pull him out, but there was a point where it was like, well, he is, it's just not happening.
[19:55:00] SIDNER: You must have been so incredibly stressed out, scared, sad, how did you go forward from that point?
VEATCH: I just my instinct was to go downhill. So I started going downhill. I mean, I was, obviously distressed, crying, and -- and really scared to be alone in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
SIDNER: You knew to go down as opposed to going up and the sheriff's department said that is likely what saved you. What gave you that instinct? Was it something you learned in the back of your head or you just knew to do it?
VEATCH: Yes, because of the survivor shows I used to watch with my dad when I was a lot longer, I mean, I always remember, going downhill and finding bodies of water. It's like water always lead to civilization.
So, I mean, as soon as I couldn't hear a freeway, I was thinking like, well, just, just try to find running water. And I did. I found a little tiny bit of water. It was going downhill. I just followed it. I was just walking in it, just following it. And it just grew into like a river. And I followed it.
SIDNER: She followed that water to a bridge and made it out alive. But she spent a long time trying to get help, because cars just passed her by until two men saved her -- Erin.
BURNETT: That's incredible. They passed her by. Wow, I knew someone stopped. I didn't know people didn't stop. Wow. All right. Thank you very much, Sara, and an incredible
interview with Autumn. As you could see, such an -- I mean, incredible young woman.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: "AC360" starts now.