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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Movie Theater Massacre
Aired July 20, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, breaking news: a Colorado movie theater massacre -- officially now the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. A gunman opens fire at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was not saying anything at all. He was just quiet. He was literally shooting everyone. Like it was, like, hunting season or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: At least 12 dead, 59 more injured, including a 4-month- old baby.
Is this a face of evil? Why would anyone commit this atrocity?
Plus, chilling stories from survivors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one guy, he was crawling on all fours and it seemed as if he had been shot in his back and he was just gasping for air, it was terrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: The battle wages again over America's gun laws. The shooter bought all four of his weapons legally in the last two months. Is there anything could be done to prevent it?
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
America is in shock tonight over an act of evil that in seconds left dozen people dead and 59 others injured. It's the largest mass shooting in the history of United States. All the victims wanted was to see the new Batman film -- a packed theater, nowhere to run or escape from this maniac.
We'll go live to the scene of the horror, that theater at suburban Denver. Police say the killer is James Holmes, a 24-year-old PhD student who after going his murder spree calmly surrendered. The vigil for the victims is being held right now. And we're moments away from a news conference by officials in Aurora, Colorado, which we will go live as soon as it begins.
We're going to have all the latest developments on this tragedy tonight. The latest on the suspect, the survivors, the motive.
But, first, we need to listen to what New York Mayor Bloomberg said today about the massacre.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely. Not just in general. Specifically, what are they going to do about guns? And maybe every governor should stand up.
But, in the end, it is really the leadership at a national level, which is whoever's going to be president of the United States starting next January 1st -- what are they going to do about guns?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: I agree with Mayor Bloomberg. I fully respect the Second Amendment and every American's desire to defend themselves in their homes. But I simply don't believe the framers of the Constitution would have ever envisioned this disturbed young man utilizing his right to bear arms by legally four guns, including assault weapon capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute, specifically to murder fellow Americans.
There are now almost as many guns in America as there are people, and this could only surely lead to more senseless death. Something has to be done. And that debate will start tonight.
But, first, we start with our focus on the victims. With me now is a family who was in the theater and survived the massacre.
Patricia Legarreta, Jamie Rohrs, and their 4-year-old daughter and baby son were at the premiere when the killer opened fire. They join me now for an exclusive interview.
Welcome to you both. An appalling day for you, for those who lost their lives, for America. Tell me what happened. What was the first that you knew that this was going down?
PATRICIA LEGARRETA, SHOOTING VICTIM: You -- the first thing that happened is he came in through the exit door, through, you know, what is being said is tear gas. It was thrown across the theater and it popped and you see the smoke coming out. It almost hit somebody. At first you're thinking, oh, it's a prank, it's a joke. And he walks out and comes back in and next thing you know, you just see the flashes just coming out of his gun and that's when it was like this isn't a joke, this is real.
As that was happening, Jamie yelled --
MORGAN: Patricia, I'm terribly sorry, I have to hold you for one moment, because the press conference --
MORGAN: -- down in Aurora is about to start.
We're going to go live to the press conference and hear the very latest on the investigation I'll come straight back to you and Jamie.
CHIEF DAN OATES, AURORA POLICE DEPT.: Our governor, John Hickenlooper, makes remarks. Governor Hickenlooper?
GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: So this has been a long day and I appreciate how long a day it's been for all of you in the media. We are seeing the community rise up and do the things that great communities do.
We're dealing with this. Seventy casualties, not 71, there was a double reporting there, but the stories that are going to come out of this of how in a remarkably short time the police force in Aurora responded to this situation. Their efficiency in making an apprehension, the ability of our hospitals in remarkably short order to take care of al of these casualties, in an incredible system -- not to say -- I'm not saying it was all perfect but as this story is told, it will be remarkable.
As of 3:30, we still had 30 patients in hospitals, 11 still in critical condition. You know, this is -- it's an act that defies description. You can't connect emotions that we commonly think of.
I mean, everyone I've talked to all day is filled with an anger that can't find focus. And I think the challenge for all of us as a community is to recognize we have to move past that.
Obviously there's going to be a level of accountability to this. Individual is clearly disturbed. Either we will or we will not know exactly the roots of that, of how deep that disturbance is. We know how deep it is but where it came from.
But we are clear that we are going to rise back and lift ourselves above this. I visited several of the families in the hospital and we're going to have obviously some -- when you have that many people that have been injured, you're going to have people with lifetime disabilities.
And we're already as a community beginning to come together. Givingfirst.org, within three hours, we had $125,000 of matching gifts so as they raise money this is through one of the hospitals but all the hospitals are going to participate in this, to make sure the victims of this senseless act of violence that -- again, there just aren't words.
We want to do everything we can to make sure the victims are brought back in every way and supported in every way that we can. We're not going to let this community be defined by such a -- you know, if I had more sleep I might have a better vocabulary.
Anyway, I do think that the first responders were unbelievable, and their ability to work together and coordinate. Our support from the federal government has been incredible. Secretary Napolitano called me from Homeland Security earlier this morning and wanted to do everything she could. She was a little late because President Obama called me before that. But not until after he called Mayor Hogan. He called the police chief.
He called -- the whole country recognizes that this is something we don't accept, we can't explain at this point. But we're not -- we're not going to just let it happen to us. We're going to -- we're going to push back.
I also -- Mayor Hogan's not here. His leadership has been remarkable. And in times like this, you see, you know, what is the true quality of people and how can they deal with situations that, you know, there's no training, there's no way you can prepare for something like this.
I think the way he's handled all the integration of the different efforts between the federal and the state, the county and the local, it really is a remarkable skill. He's been able to keep everybody focused together. No one's pointing fingers. Everybody's moving forward to the next step. All right, this has happened what do we do next?
So in that sense -- and Chief Oates is unbelievable. I don't think I've ever done this but I think you should all give Chief Oates a hand.
HICKENLOOPER: So now, I'll give it back to Chief Oates.
OATES: OK, thank you, Governor. I want to point out that standing behind me are quite a few of our elected city officials and our state representatives. Congressman Perlmutter is also with us. Also joining me here is special agent Jimmy Yacone of the FBI and special agent Andrew Traver of ATF.
And our federal partners have been absolutely tremendous in supporting us. I want to start by saying how proud I am of the men and women of the Aurora Police Department and fire department and Mike Garcia from the fire department, the chief of the fire department, is also here with us.
OK. We got to straighten out some numbers. There are a total of 70 injured in this event, and as of this time, 12 dead. Still the number is 10 in the theater and the last of the bodies were removed from the theater a little after 5:00 this afternoon.
I want to correct one thing. I think earlier today I said the others were all hit by gunfire. I now know a handful of the people who were brought to area hospitals were not hit by gunfire but suffered other injured as a result of the chaos and trauma in the theater. And I can't tell you how many that is but it's a small number. Nearly everyone was shot.
Little information about our subject and the weapons he obtained. In the last 60 days, he purchased four guns at local metro guns shops. And through the Internet, he purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition, more than 3,000 rounds of 223, ammunition for the assault rifle, 3,000 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition for the two Glocks in his possession, and 300 rounds for the 12 gauge shotgun.
Also through the internet, he purchased multiple magazines for the 223 caliber assault rifle, including one 100-round drum magazine, which was recovered from the scene. I've been asked, was the weapon automatic or semiautomatic. I can't answer that question now. Even if it was semiautomatic, I'm told by experts that with that drum magazine, he could have gotten off 50 to 60 rounds, even if it was semiautomatic, within one minute. And as far as we know, it was a pretty rapid pace of fire in that theater.
This evening at 4:00, members of the police department and the many supporting agencies that have provided victim service advocates to support us met with approximately seven family and friends -- 70 members of family and friends who have not had an accounting of their missing loved ones. We met with them for approximately 90 minutes. We discussed all our efforts to identify the 10 bodies in the theater. And did the best we could to deal with their grief and anguish.
We are hopeful that sometime in the next hour we will get a confirmed list of the ten deceased and we will begin the agonizing process of meeting with those families and confirming what has happened to their loved ones. I can't emphasize enough the support of all our colleagues in local law enforcement in handing that extraordinarily difficult task.
We're also aided by our own police department psychologists. Aurora Public Schools has made available two high schools for tomorrow beginning at 9:00 a.m. for professional grief counseling and other resources, including the resources of aurora mental health and the red cross. Those two schools will open at 9:00 a.m. Superintendent John Barry was with us to meet with the families.
And the support of the superintendent and the Aurora Public Schools has been absolutely tremendous.
In addition, I'll talk a little about the Paris Street location. We evacuated five apartment buildings including the apartment building of the subject. Those evacuees have been staying at central high school, again, with the support of Aurora Public Schools.
With regard to the Paris location, it is a very vexing problem how to enter that apartment safely. I personally have never seen anything like what the pictures show us is in there. I'm a layman when it comes to bomb stuff. I see an awful lot of wires, trip wires, jars full of ammunition, jars full of liquid, some things that look like mortar rounds. We have a lot of challenge, to get in there safely.
We decided this evening to postpone action on that until tomorrow sometime. All our folks were pretty well taxed and we needed a break and we're also, with the help of the federal government, we're bringing in some extra resources to consult on exactly how to deal with that problem.
We're hopeful that we will address and resolve that problem tomorrow. Unfortunately, this means that the families that were evacuated have to spend an evening in the evacuation center. We are at this time allowing families, one by one, to go back into four of the five buildings to retrieve necessities like medication and those kinds of things. And, again, our hope is that we'll resolve that tomorrow.
With regard to the investigation, I can tell you, we know a little bit more about our subject. We know he recently left the University of Colorado Medical School neuroscience program on a voluntary -- it was a voluntary separation. We know he hails originally from Riverside, California and attended U.C. California, Riverside campus. Neighbors report to us that he lived alone and he kept to himself.
I have the same cautions about the social media. One of the things modern investigators do is watch what appears on the Internet to see what clues we can find and we know you do that too. OK? And in the era of blogs and everything else, we just caution you that everything you read may not be true. OK?
With regard to our theaters in Aurora. We are -- there are four theaters in Aurora that show this movie. Until further notice, we will have some extra security at those theaters out of an abundance of caution.
I will tell you, I've been getting phone calls from some colleagues around the country asking about this. And I told them I don't know what you should do at your theaters but that's what we're going to do in Aurora for a while. We are fully staffed in all our districts. We're on 12-hour shifts because of the demands to support the crime scene and the new event on Paris.
And thanks to the Arapahoe County SWAT team and the Denver Police Department SWAT team. If we have any demand over the days for those assets, since we are fully taxed, we will turn to our colleagues to help us.
The Aurora town center will be open tomorrow. They've been wonderfully cooperative with the Aurora Police Department. I have a new tip line. If there are further tips that anyone wants to call, it's the crime stoppers number, 720-913-STOP, or 720-913-7867.
We're also offering a general information line for the community. Not for the press. I think the press knows how to reach us. This is for the community if they have questions. The general information number is 303-739-1862.
Our suspect is now in Arapahoe County jail. I just got a call from the sheriff. He asked me if I wanted his picture released. I said no. So I won't be releasing his picture for investigative reasons.
He will be arraigned or have first court appearance 8:30 a.m. on Monday in Arapahoe County district court. There has been an overwhelming outpouring of support for our families, for or victims, for our community, for our cops, for our firefighters, for our EMS people, for our investigators, by this entire community. We've received concern and condolences -- just remarkable.
Our community restaurants started pouring pizzas and food into our station houses here. Just to show support for our police department. And it's just absolutely wonderful.
I have an announcement on behalf of the city, Sunday at 6:30 p.m., there will be a prayer vigil right here in front of the Aurora Municipal Center. We know the governor and the mayor will speak and there will be an appropriate moment for reflection for our community.
Finally, I want to offer a huge thanks to our coroner, Michael Doverson (ph), for all he has done, to help us with the crime scene today and to expedite the recovery and identification of the bodies which is so, so important to our community.
And in terms of the next press briefing, we expect to be able to brief you tomorrow afternoon right here at 2:00 p.m. I will take questions.
REPORTER: Any sign of a motive at this point? Has he said anything about why he did this?
OATES: If we have information about a motive, we will not share it with you. We'd let that play out in the course of the criminal prosecution.
REPORTER: He's talking to you though?
OATES: I won't talk about his admissions.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) that perfectly legal?
OATES: My understanding is all the weapons he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the clips he possessed, he possessed legally. And all the ammunition he possessed, he possessed legally.
OATES: No, I won't discuss how he got in. That's part of our investigation. As much as I'd like to be cooperative with you folks, the most important thing is that there is justice for these victims. And that justice will occur in a courtroom.
So whenever I say no here, it's because there's a higher reason and that is to make sure he is prosecuted correctly. Yes, ma'am?
OATES: No, I can't.
OATES: I gave a description this morning of his appearance. He was dressed all in black. For those of you who don't have this -- entirely in black, wearing a gas mask, a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic vest. Tactical means places to put all kinds of gear and clips. In addition, it was bulletproof, or bullet resistant.
He was wearing ballistic legging in case he took a round in the legs. He was wearing throat protection and groin protection, and he was wearing black tactical gloves. So that's what he looks like in the theater.
REPORTER: Chief, can you tell us if the devices that (INAUDIBLE).
OATES: I don't know enough about -- those of you who were here this morning know I reported that he released, it appears, two devices that set off some sort of smoke and/or chemical irritant. I don't know enough about them right now to answer any questions. Yes?
OATES: Our cops went through a lot. As I told you this morning, they rushed people out of that theater, into police cars. I've heard some compelling stories. One of the things we're working on is how we're going to deal with our own trauma. And we spent some time today with our three department psychologists and somehow in the next couple of days when this is -- when this has slowed down, one of our highest priorities is to deal with our own officers and how they cope with this event. And that's really al I have to say about this.
Anything else? Yes?
OATES: I don't know where he got the armor.
REPORTER: What about the mask?
OATES: It was a gas mask.
OATES: You know, I apologize, I don't now how many families are evacuated. There are a total of five apartment buildings. They're roughly the same size. Three story buildings were anywhere from six to 10 units on a floor so you can do the math.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- obviously SWAT was not -- but they got there really quickly --
OATES: The officers who responded were wearing a regular uniform equipment including ballistic protection. We had a lot of people out last night. Because it was a Friday night and we have a special summer initiative under way where there's extra officers on the street. So, we were fortunate we had about 25 officers there like that.
And as I said earlier, in the end, somewhere between 150 to 200 officers and deputies fairly quickly thereafter.
OATES: I have no way to answer that question. If I knew, I wouldn't.
OATES: I was asked if he had an attorney -- yes, he has an attorney. And the question was, I'm sorry, was --
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) off-duty security at the theater --
OATES: Yes, and we usually work off-duty security at the theater on weekends. This was a Thursday night. And we were not there. But we were there within about 90 seconds.
OATES: Oh, I'm doing just fine.
OATES: I have some information from my detectives on his demeanor since his arrest but I will not share it with you. One more question.
OATES: I don't know how many bullets went through the adjacent theater. I know enough went through that one person was hit.
OK. That concludes this briefing. Tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Thank you very much, folks.
MORGAN: An emotional press conference there with Dan Oates, who's the Aurora police chief in Colorado.
He's updated us now to say that 12 dead, 70 injured -- no, 12 dead, 58 people injured. One less than was first suspended, 30 hospitalized, 11 remain in critical condition. Not everybody was hit by gunfire. Some were injured in the melee that followed.
The suspect was dressed in black and tactical gear. He also released some extraordinary statistics about the ammunition that he built up: 6,000 rounds of ammunition he got on the Internet. Including 100-round drum magazine for an assault rifle which he then deployed, which could have fired 50 or 60 rounds in one minute. Quite extraordinary that he should find this legally obtainable in modern America.
We'll come back and discuss that after the break and also talk to some of the victims of this atrocity.
MORGAN: We're back now with the families who survived the shooting. Patricia Legarreta, Jamie Rohrs and their 4-year-old daughter and 4-month-old baby son. They were at the premiere when the killer opened fire. Let's get back to our exclusive interview.
I can see your young one there -- clearly has been a long and traumatic day. Perfectly understandable she should be a bit upset by now.
Tell me again. You were talking me through what happened. I'll start immediately, I've had a few people tweeting me to say ask them first of all why were they at the cinema with two such very young children. Answer that question first.
LEGARRETA: I take my kids to the movies all the time. It's something you don't expect. A family movie. It's even, you know, PG- 13.
I don't know. You -- we just moved from New Mexico. We don't have a lot of family here. We're huge Batman fans. My 4-year-old daughter just loves Batman. And we were excited.
So we, you know, last minute actually decided to go and get tickets and go as a family to the movies.
MORGAN: And once --
JAMIE ROHRS, SHOOTING VICTIM: And also --
MORGAN: Jamie, let me ask you, to be honest with you, I'm not that interested in why you took your children -- you're perfectly entitled to.
I'd rather move to what happened to you. I know that, Patricia, you were hit by a bullet. Did you realize at the time you've been hit by a bullet?
LEGARRETA: Well, at the -- I did. I could feel the sensation. I felt the tingling in my calf. And I remember at the time that I got hit, the man -- the young man, who was next to me got hit as well. And at the same time that I, you know, screamed "I think I got hit," he at the same time screamed as well And we both fell to the ground. And I got hit when I was --
MORGAN: Jamie, could you -- want to ask Jamie, could you see the killer? Could you see him?
ROHRS: No, I was in the middle -- I ended up on the row over, and then I ended up crawling out. And I'm, like, I'm going to run out. I'm like, you can't run out. So I turned back. And I fall up the stairs and land on my forearm. And I laid the baby down and I'm contemplating my steps. I find myself standing up and looking around.
I could see through the corner of my eye. My idea was don't let -- don't see him. Because if you see him, he can see you. Stay low. Stay -- just try to hide. And people are falling all around, like, you're just hearing screaming right next to me. I'm still standing. I don't know why -- how I'm not hit.
But every time a bullet flashed, you just hear the sound and your ears are ringing. You're like, this one's going to kill me. This one -- this is it.
MORGAN: It's absolutely horrific. I can quite understand why you're feeling now emotional about this. You had your family there, your whole family, and potentially facing the prospect of none of you getting out of that cinema alive when you go and watch a movie. When you heard -- I don't know if you heard the police just now revealing some of the details of the armory that this killer had built up, 6,000 rounds of ammunition he bought on the Internet, four weapons, including this assault rifle.
What is your reaction to that? There's a huge debate going on all around America today about gun control and so on. What is your reaction to the fact that this young man was legally able in the last two months to obtain four weapons, including an assault rifle, and so much ammunition and commit this atrocity?
ROHR: It's -- it's not right. Like, I mean, yes, people are entitled to things but how much weapons do you need? How many weapons? These are destructive -- they're not just handguns. They're shotguns, assault rifles, like you said. They're just so fast at killing people. Like you just realize how many people it can kill so fast. Because, I mean, this only took three minutes and 70 shot, 10 -- 12 dead. It's just -- these are weapons of destruction. It's horrific.
MORGAN: Jamie, did you think that you were going to get out alive or did you fear that everyone was going to die in there?
ROHR: No, this -- my thought was this is how it ends. This is how I die. This can't be the way I die. This can't be the way my son dies. He's four months. This can't be the way my girlfriend dies and our stepdaughter dies. She's four years.
And just so many things pacing through your head. But every time you see a gunshot, I see it through the corner of my eye, see someone drop. And I'm trying to, like, duck, like just trying to get out of the way. And people are falling next to me. But I'm still -- I'm still all right.
Just thinking, this is it. And I just found myself at a point where I had to do something. And it was when I was going to run down the stairs with Ethan. And I was like, he's going to see me and he's going to shoot me. At the point you -- at the time you don't realize it's one person. You think it's -- a million possibilities are going through your head. You're thinking, are they coming from the stairs? Are there more than one? Are there two? Are there three?
Just shots are going off all over. So I find myself just standing. And just my son's on the floor. And I'm looking around. Like, I see the balcony because the shots had stopped for a second. I look over to see if I can jump over because I'm on top of the balcony. And I'm contemplating in my head, like, can I jump, and can I jump with Ethan without him breaking his neck or me landing on him.
As I turn to, like, find Ethan in the dark of the theater with the gas, like, I'm just so disoriented and I lose him. I just lose him. And then he opened fire again. I'm, like, you got to get Ethan. You got to get Ethan. So I'm trying -- I'm, like, you got to run back, you got to find him and get him. And then once I say, just jump if you run back, you're dead. That's it. You're done. You're done. This is it. Just jump. Just pray that he won't kill your four4- month-old. Just pray that he don't find him.
So I jump and I run. I land and I'm running. I'm running. I'm looking behind me to see if people are running behind me. I'm looking for her and for our daughter. I don't see them. There's one half telling me, just go back in, go back. Like, you can't leave them in there. It's like, if you go back, you're dead too. What if our kids live and then they're orphans with no parents.
You're just thinking, like, please let them get out alive. Then I'm thinking, I don't want to live if they all die. I don't want to live if they all die. Just please. I'm praying, just praying. Just please let them get out alive. I got to my truck and I drove across to the mall. I'm try to call 911 and trying to call Patricia.
It's going -- it's just ringing. Every time it rings, I'm like, they're dead, they're dead, your whole family's dead. Just they're dead. And I couldn't think. I got a phone call from a Colorado number and I answered it and thank God it was Patricia just telling me. I was waiting for her to tell me, like, I have -- do you have Ethan. I didn't know what to tell her. Thank God, she had them both. She had them both.
And she was only shot in the head -- I mean shot in the leg. I was just expecting someone to be dead. I didn't think any of us were getting out alive, much less all four of us.
MORGAN: Jamie, it's utterly harrowing hearing your account of this. I'm just so glad that you made it. Obviously other people weren't so lucky. And it's been an appalling day for America.
Patricia, there is one happy ending to this. And that is what happened in the hospital later on, that Jamie did something very special. Tell me about that.
LEGARRETA: We were in the hospital for about a good 10 minutes. And he'd gone to the restroom and came out. And he just looked at me and he said I know this isn't the time or the place. He's like but will you marry me. And I said yes. You just -- something like this just -- knowing -- going through 10 minutes of thinking that he was dead and I'd never see him again, it just -- you never want that feeling again. And it's -- sorry.
MORGAN: Well, it's been an extraordinary conversation with you both. I'm so grateful that you're alive. I'm so grateful your children are alive. I wish you all the very best with your marriage and your future lives together. Lives that you weren't even sure you would have after what happened last night . It is a scandal that this kind of thing can happen to Americans in a movie theater. And that's got to be dealt with.
But for now, thank you very much for joining me.
ROHR: Thank you.
MORGAN: We'll be right back with more breaking news on this appalling atrocity.
MORGAN: We are back with breaking news on the Colorado movie theater shooting. With each new minute, we're getting new details about the alleged gunman, who is identified as 24-year-old James Holmes. Tom Mai used to live right next door to Holmes in San Diego. He joins me now.
Tom Mai, tell me what your reaction was when you heard that the killer who's been taken into custody was the same person that you lived next to.
TOM MAI, LIVED NEXT TO ALLEGED COLORADO SHOOTER: I'm shocked and saddened because of the whole situation. The family very nice. The young man is quiet, very nice, very good student. I guess the problem is we had too much, you know, violence in movie and game, the video games. I guess also the parent right to teach their children right and wrong was taken away by the court system and the educational system. You've got failing children and our failing American family too.
MORGAN: I mean, we don't know yet exactly what the motivation was, what may have caused him to do this. You lived next to him for 10 years. You shared Christmas with the family. You knew them better than almost anybody. You say there was no sign of this. What kind of boy was he?
MAI: He's a quiet guy, you know, very nice. When I come out, I see him, you know, like mowing the lawn or washing the car for his parents. So a typical American boy. Also like, you know, one time we have Christmas get-together with the neighbor at his home. He served my children cookie and hot cocoa, something like that, talking to them. Quiet, nice guy.
MORGAN: His mother still lives next door to you. Have you been able to speak to her today?
MAI: No, I haven't been able to talk to her because too many people tried to get her. And she want to, you know, not to talk to anybody.
MORGAN: It's obviously deeply shocking for them as well. We still await more details of what may have motivated him. Tom Mai, thank you very much for joining me.
MAI: Yeah, thank you very much.
MORGAN: What happened in Colorado is a tragedy. But could stricter gun laws have prevented it? The debate that many people are having tonight across America.
Joining me now is Harvard Law's Lawrence Tribe. He's a professor of constitutional law there. Mr. Tribe, it's a debate that rages every single time there is a shooting of this nature. This is the worst shooting in terms of people who were hit by gunfire that America has ever seen.
Is this enough, now, to prompt stricter gun control? And would stricter gun control have made a difference in this case?
PROF. LAWRENCE TRIBE, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: First of all, I want to express my grief and my deep condolences for the victims. I think gun control is overdue. The Second Amendment does protect the rights of people to possess weapons for self-defense in the home. That's what the Supreme Court said.
But it certainly does not protect the right to buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet or to buy four guns, including automatic and semiautomatic weapons, in a short period of time. There's no reason in the Constitution why we as a civilized society couldn't get our hands around a problem like that.
The reason is the National Rifle Association and all of the people who, frankly, make a living out of restricting the political possibility of gun control. We have to do something about it. I don't know how many killings, how much slaughters it's going to take before the nation wakes up to the need to address the problem.
I think we fool ourselves if we say better and stricter gun control would necessarily solve the problem. There are all kinds of things that we need to do. We may need to do things about the exits at movie theaters, so that if they are opened, there's an alarm that goes off if they are not immediately shut. We may need to do something about our educational system. We need to do something about the culture of violence.
But I think this is a time for the country to come together. And it's certainly not a time for us to divide over the question of whether we can impose reasonable controls on ammunition. I think everyone agrees that the Constitution permits that. It's simply our political system that has failed to act adequately.
MORGAN: Professor Tribe, very eloquently put. Thank you very much for joining me.
TRIBE: Thank you, Piers.
MORGAN: The most deadly shooting in American history was at Virginia Tech University in 2007. Colin Goddard was shot four times by the gunman who killed 32 people. He now works on legislation with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
He joins me along with Dan Gros, president of the Brady Campaign, and David Koppel, who is a law professor at Denver University and associate policy analyst at the Cato Institute.
Let me start with you, David Kopel, you heard there from Professor Tribe it is time now for gun control to be strengthened. What is your reaction to that?
DAVID KOPEL, PROFESSOR, DENVER UNIVERSITY: Honestly, Piers, I think this is the wrong night to be doing this. And I really wish you'd waited to have this segment until after the funerals. This is a time in Colorado and nationally when it would have been better to have more of the segments like you did before with the family, and when people could be unified in helping the victims.
MORGAN: Well, if I could jump in there --
MORGAN: Wait, let me just challenge you on that --
MORGAN: If I may, let me challenge you on what you just said. A lot of people have said that today, a lot people who don't want strengthening gun control have said this is not the day to debate it. I'll tell you the debate to debate it, would have been yesterday to prevent this happening. When you have a young man like this able to legally get 6,000 rounds of ammunition off the Internet, to buy four weapons including an assault rifle, and for all of this to be perfectly legal in modern America, allowing him to carry out the biggest shooting in the history of the United States, that, I'm afraid, means it's too late for this debate, for those people that lost their lives.
So don't patronize me about when we should be talking about the gun control debate. You tell me a good reason why we should not strengthen the law now to stop another young man like him going into a store tomorrow, buying four more weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet, and killing and shooting another 70 people in America.
KOPEL: Because we don't even know the full facts of this situation yet. And that's another reason it would have been prudent for you to wait a few days where we know more about this. Nobody's been able to come up with any proposal specific about the facts of this case, partly because the facts are still being developed. And I know -- you've said many times on the air, America's got too many guns. You want to drastically reduce the number of guns.
If your whole point is there's too many gun, we've got to get rid of lots of them, drastically constrict things, and you think somehow that's going to make it better, well, there's no real evidence that it will. If you want to talk about specific reforms that might involve this specific guy, and prevent future people like him, that's fine. But let's wait till we find out the information, instead of rushing the country into this pro/con thing that I know sells a lot of commercials on TV, but it's inappropriately divisive now.
Nobody's stopping you from having the segment on Wednesday. Can you give people a little bit of breathing room --
MORGAN: OK, you've made your point. Let's move to Dan Gross from the Brady Campaign because I'm really not interested in having a debate about whether we can debate gun control. Given that we now know this young man legally purchased these weapons in the last two months, and purchased this staggering amount of ammunition -- he purchased a hundred-round drum magazine, allowing him to fire off 50 to 60 rounds in one minute in that movie theater, which is what has led to this mass slaughter and mass gun attack.
Given what has happened today, do you think there is now legitimate cause to press politicians for tougher gun control in America?
DAN GROSS, THE BRADY CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE: Piers, I think, like you said, that legitimate cause existed yesterday. And it exists today. It will exist tomorrow. This should be incentive for everybody to make their voice heard. Because, you know, with these guys, it's never the time to talk about it.
You know what, we're not going to talk about it seriously as a nation until the American people get involved in this issue and demand accountability from our leaders, not to do the bidding of the gun lobby, but to represent the people that they've been elected to represent and to prevent tragedies like this.
If Mr. Kopel wants to talk about specific things that can be done to prevent specific people from getting specific guns, you know, what about background checks that can prevent convicted felons, convicted domestic abusers from getting their hands on their guns? The gun lobby works against laws like that on a regular basis. And they're going to be able to continue to until we make our voice heard, which is why the Brady Campaign is launching a petition today at BradyCampaign.org that -- for Americans to sign, to demand that our elected officials do something about this issue, to stop arming dangerous people like this young man was armed today.
MORGAN: Yeah, and just to be clear, you've made it clear that you didn't wait. You didn't wait. You acted today because today is the day to act to prevent something happening tomorrow. Let me go to Colin Goddard. You survived the Virginia Tech shooting, Colin. You went to Capitol Hill to try to persuade Congress to try and reform the gun control laws.
There are many strands to this. As people pointed out to me, in Chicago they have pretty tough laws and they have an almost wild west scenario there with gun crime and shootings amongst the gangs. But that has to do with, in my view, the incredible amount of guns that are in circulation illegally in America. There are apparently nearly as many guns now in circulation in America as there are people.
I'm afraid, the more guns you have, the more likelihood there is they're going to get used. Colin, what is the answer? How are you going to persuade the law makers and politicians? Because at the moment I'm being told by everyone on the airwaves today neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney will even mention guns before the election. It's not politically helpful to them getting elected. That can't be right, can it?
COLIN GODDARD, VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: The American people need to express their outrage directly to their representatives on every single level. This is something that will change when the American people want it to change. Shooting after shooting, we hear words. We see letters. And then they shrug their shoulders and that's it. That can no longer happen.
We need to hold these people directly accountable. These people being their representatives, for doing the bidding of people who profit from selling firearms to anybody, and that ultimately end up killing innocent people. This is insane that in this world and this modern country that we have to have this conversation. It is way overdue.
MORGAN: It's way overdue. And let me reclarify what I said at the start of this program. I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the average Americans' right to defend themselves in their own homes with a firearm, if they need to. This is a totally different issue that we're talking about today. It's got nothing to do with that right whatsoever.
Mr. Kopel, if you want to come back when it suits you and when you feel the time is right, I will be waiting any time to debate this with you. Thank you now, all of you.
We're going to move on. When I come back, I'll ask the man who was shot with Gabrielle Giffords what he would do to change gun laws.
MORGAN: Ron Barber was a top aide to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot down earlier this year -- last year. He was shot at well. Six people died in that attack, including a nine year old girl. And Bob won the special election to replace Giffords when she stepped down earlier this year. He joins me now.
Ron Barber, today must have brought been extremely difficult memories for you. What was your reaction to what happened?
REP. RON BARBER (D), ARIZONA: Well, it did bring back some terrible memories. Obviously I learned about the shooting as I was boarding my plane this morning to come back from Washington, to come home for the weekend. I'll be meeting with constituents tomorrow. I'm sure I will hear a lot about this when I meet with them.
It did, as I say, bring back some pretty terrible memories. I was listening earlier when you were interviewing the family, Jamie and his family. And I was very moved. In fact, I have to tell you, I'm very emotional coming out of hearing that interview about the tragedy -- the almost tragedy that happened to that family and the loss of 12 people, more injured.
We hope they all survive. Having been through this a year and a half ago, on a smaller scale, thank God, but still it has a lot of similarities. I know what's going on right now with those families who have lost loved ones and who are waiting to see their other loved ones recover. I'm thinking back, for example, to the phone call that my wife got from someone who was at Congress on Your Corner when the shooting occurred, telling her that your husband has been shot.
And she said is he alive? And the woman said to her he's still with us. And I know conversations like that have been going on since the shooting started. And all I can say is I'm heartbroken with what I know what's going on in Aurora with those families who have lost relatives and friends and those who are still recovering.
It's a tragic event. And one would hope it never happens again. And I'm just heartbroken for the families. And I just want them to know how deeply I feel about this and how personal this is with me.
MORGAN: Ron, it is -- no one can speak more eloquently about this than you can. I can't let you go without asking you about the gun control debate. You're a politician. You're going to be responsible for trying to force through some changes to this. Do you think it's possible? Do you think that Washington is going to wake up tomorrow, perhaps, and realize that America simply can't keep having this number of outrages involving guns?
BARBER: Well, I think any decision of serious political issues or policy issues are not going to be had now. And I'll tell you why. In my month in the Congress -- I've been sworn in a month ago. What I know is going on is very little. We have passed some important legislation. The Department of Defense budget yesterday and a week or so ago a budget that will help us build our infrastructure and transportation.
But between now and the election, I really believe that very little is going to be said about major policy issues, including this one. Right now I'm just heartsick over what happened. I have to say, it's deeply moving to me in so many levels about the families that have lost loved ones. And I remember what my wife and family were going through. And I know that's happening over and over again in Aurora.
And I want to say to the people of Aurora, know that we're with you. We care about you. We're sending our prayers to you. Hold on to each other. And please, you know, have hope and look forward to a brighter tomorrow, even though today looks very dark.
MORGAN: Ron Barber, thank you very much for those very powerful words. We'll be back after this break.
MORGAN: One of the victims of the Colorado shooting was Jessica Ghawi. The young woman moved to Denver to follow her dream of being a sportscaster. In a tragic twist, she died after narrowly escaping death last month when a gunman opened in a Toronto shopping mall. Joining me now is her boyfriend, Jay Meloff.
Jay, first of all, let me offer you my deepest and most sincere condolences on this appalling loss for you, particularly awful given what she had gone through in Toronto so soon before this. How are you bearing up? What are your feelings about what's happened here today?
JAY MELOFF, BOYFRIEND OF VICTIM: First of all, thanks a lot. I appreciate it. A lot of people have been contacting me, people I don't know, saying they feel for me and Jesse's family. I can't really describe how I feel right now. It still hasn't set in fully. I still can't believe it. I mean, I still think -- I can't believe she's not here still.
And I just want to make sure that as much as the attention as possible is on Jessie and the other lives lost, and that as little attention is paid to the person who did this. That's just what I feel. That's all I can really think about.
MORGAN: Jay, I can see how difficult this is for you. It's the end of our show. I can't think of a more powerful, eloquent way to end it. I'd just send you again my deepest sympathies of your loss, on what has been an awful day for America, and my thoughts are with all the families of all those who lost loved ones today. Thank you very much.
And that's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.