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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Investigators Zero In On Engineer's Role in Crash; ISIS Seizes Key City West of Baghdad; U.S. Special Ops Forces Kill ISIS Commander in Raid; Officials: Biker Gangs "Armed and Dangerous." Aired 7-8:00p ET
Aired May 18, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:08] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. The investigation into the Amtrak crash now zeroing in on the engineer. Sources tell CNN they are not ruling out something intentional. A live report coming up.
Plus, ISIS seizes the key city of Ramadi. Not far from Baghdad, 400 prisoners released from jails, hundreds killed. Twenty five thousand fleeing the city. Will there be a massacre?
And tonight in Texas, police on high alert warnings of more biker gang violence. Nine murdered in a shoot-out. What started this? And could it happen again? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with the breaking news on the deadly Amtrak crash. Investigators now telling CNN that they are zeroing in on the engineers handling of the train. Sources say they are looking into a range of possibilities. And tonight that they say they are not ruling out something intentional. The FBI is also trying to figure out what may have caused that speeding train to derail. Eight died, more than 200 injured. Tonight they are ruling out one thing. They are ruling out the possibility that a bullet was what damaged the train's windshield.
Investigators are still looking to determine, though, if the train was hit by another object and what role that could have played in the crash if so. A review of the train's black box has been completed. The NTSB has found no indication, let me repeat, no indication of mechanical failure at all. That's perhaps why they're zeroing in on the engineer.
Rene Marsh is OUTFRONT tonight in Philadelphia where Amtrak service resumed today. And Rene, the investigation is now focusing on the engineer's handling specifically. They're not ruling out a wide variety of things, including something intentional. What more have you learned?
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, I can tell you, we've been here all day talking to law enforcement and government sources. And there is a sharp focus on this engineer, how he handled the train, and also his experience. We know from the NTSB that the engineer has been on this particular route for several weeks that is not a lot of time. So they're looking at that. We also know that just because investigators are looking at him and his handling, it doesn't necessarily indicate there is a criminal act here. In fact, we do know that police investigators here in Philadelphia as well as the district attorney's office here in Philadelphia, they're in a bit of a holding pattern as far as criminal charges simply because they want to wait and see exactly what the NTSB concludes and what it finds in its conclusion. We do know as far as the NTSB investigation, Erin, that they have completed the analysis of the black boxes. So far no indication of mechanical failure. But an NTSB source does stress that it is still very, very early in the investigation. Too early to rule anything out at this point. They say that they will not have an exact cause until the conclusion of this investigation, which could take 12 whole months -- Erin.
BURNETT: And Rene, the train, what we do know, right, 106 miles an hour at the time of the crash, more than twice the speed limit. This is the thing that nobody has been able to explain, right, why the train would suddenly and in the space of about 45 seconds, a little bit less, accelerate like that. At this time what are they saying about whether that acceleration was intentional?
MARSH: Well, they have something that is very valuable which is the train's recorders. And based on the data from the train's recorders, the NTSB is saying that this engineer manually moved the throttle forward to increase the speed of the train there is no question about that. The question is, though, why did he do that and what happened after. Why wasn't this train slowed down as it approached that 50 miles per hour curve. That remains on the answered -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Rene Marsh. And of course, we should emphasize when they talk about so many things still being on the table, including something intentional, the engineer did at the very last moment hit the emergency brakes. So, he did try to slow down.
OUTFRONT now, Transportation Attorney Andrew Maloney and Jim Remines, former investigator in-charge of the NTSB who investigated rail accidents for 18 years. And Jim, you heard Rene. You know, you and I have spoken before about this crash. And you had said look, I don't buy into the projectile. They are now firmly saying it was not a bullet. That was certainly not something that is to blame here. They're now focusing in on the engineer, Brandon Bastion. Do you think that's the right thing to do?
JIM REMINES, FORMER NTSB RAILROAD ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: They're going to be homing in on his qualifications, everything he has done since he has been to work on the railroad. They're going to be looking at that day before, what he did. The event recorder will tell them a lot about how he treated the train as far as the speed restrictions and operating requirements. Everything points to me that they need to look at his qualifications and his training. They will go back and talk to his instructors, see who qualified him to operate on the territory, and see if there is anything. Because he is not able to communicate what he did prior to that, they're going to have to rely on the physical evidence, the event recorder and that type of information. So right now they have to treat him as if he didn't survive the crash.
[19:05:43] BURNETT: Which obviously because he's saying he doesn't remember anything.
BURNETT: But you know, he had been an engineer for four years on Amtrak.
BURNETT: I know he was relatively new to this route. So, I guess the question for you, Andrew is, do you think that there is something to be said for that's not enough experience?
ANDREW MALONEY, TRANSPORTATION ATTORNEY: I don't know that it is enough experience. He is traveling on this particular -- this particular track is the busiest corridor in the United States. And I'm not sure how familiar he was with this specific set of tracks at night.
MALONEY: He clearly should have known there was a curve coming up if he had had enough experience to know that. I've heard rumors that the train was late in departing, at least half an hour late. Perhaps he thought he should accelerate to make up some time and took it too far. We've seen only last month a pilot at Germanwings actually intentionally crash an airplane. I'm not suggesting that this engineer did that. But those are things that have to be looked at because his conduct right now is inexplicable.
BURNETT: And Jim, they're not taking something intentional off the table. Now, there is a lot of things still on the table. So, I want to emphasize that. But they're not taking intentional off. You know, one thing that we all do know now about Brandon Bostian Jim is that he was online ranting about the rail industry and the safety in the rail industry in saying, why don't they prevent exactly this type of tragedy. He even talked about human error in one post and I'll just read it to you. He said, I wish the railroads had been more proactive from the get-go. The reality is they've had nearly 100 years of opportunity to implement some sort of system to mitigate human error but with a few notable exceptions have failed to do so. You know, it doesn't mean anything, but it does stand out that this was a guy who was obsessed with safety, who was posting about it all the time. Is that something that makes you feel better or is that something that raises the yellow flag?
REMINES: It makes me feel that he is overconfident. And being overconfident, you kind of are not too careful when you should be. So the fact is that they have asked Amtrak to put up speed limit signs means that I'm not sure whether the speed limits on the curve or not, but it could have just been an oversight on his part that got him into the predicament he is in.
BURNETT: What do you think? He is that over confident? MALONEY: He has certainly proven his point. The quote you just
read, he has now demonstrate how relevant that technology really is. So his point has been proven. Whether he intended to prove it himself or not, I couldn't tell you. But it may be that he is just the opposite. I'm not disagreeing with Jim. But there is another angle, and that he is less confident. That he is insecure with his skill set and his training. And because he is relatively new --
BURNETT: You pump your chest and you promote yourself.
MALONEY: Well, yes. But he is the type of person that wishes he had positive train control to back him up. So, if you're not comfortable in your skill set you might want the technology to help back you up if you make a mistake.
BURNETT: Uh-hm. So do you think, Andrew, there will be criminal charges? I mean, obviously we don't yet know enough and intentional or non-intentional would impact that. But --
MALONEY: Yes. It's quite possible. They certainly are going to investigate it. You know, eight people were killed. There are scores that were seriously injured. The captain of the ferry, the Staten Island ferry that crashed into the dock back in 2003 was prosecuted and he plead guilty to manslaughter. The director of the New York City ferry system was also prosecuted. He wasn't even on the boat at the time. And that's because they failed to follow protocol and have two men -- two crewmembers on the bridge. So there is precedent for this. The recent accident was very similar to this derailment. And the Bronx State office has just recently, literally this past week indicated that they are not going bring charges against Mr. Rockefeller that engineer.
BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much for joining us on that breaking news as they're honing in on the engineer specifically now on the Amtrak crash. A major development.
OUTFRONT next, a significant victory for ISIS, the capture of Ramadi just outside Baghdad. Now the fear as ISIS will launch a bloodbath, murdering innocent civilians. That and we will reenact that raid for you exactly what happened.
Plus, police in Texas on high alert tonight. Fear of more violence from biker gangs after a massacre left nine dead. Tonight the leader of one of the biker clubs tells his side of the story OUTFRONT.
And then another republican presidential hopeful stumbling over that Iraq question. What is so hard about it?
[19:13:38] BURNETT: Tonight ISIS claiming victory capturing a key Iraqi city, giving the terrorists a strategic foothold that is actually less than 70 miles west of Baghdad. Newly released ISIS video supposedly shows militants advancing. It's video of them firing rockets, engaging in combat, as you can see. Obviously, the direct shots of all the rockets going off. Here is what we do know. More than 500 civilians were killed there by ISIS in the past two days. And security forces. Twenty five thousand people have fled. Most of them going to Baghdad, which is now becoming encircled actually by ISIS. Despite that, the United States, though, insists the terrorist victory is only temporary, not anything to worry about.
Nick Payton Walsh is OUTFRONT.
NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The ISIS flag now over the city of Ramadi just 80 miles from Baghdad, flaunting pictures of dozens of prisoners they have released and of the abandoned Iraqi army arsenal that is now theirs. The city threatened for months. The surrender by Iraqi forces was sudden a significant blow. And exactly what the U.S. and allies did not want to see happen. Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, a strategic foothold that makes up a third of Iraq. To the east of ISIS in Ramadi, Iraqi police and tribes are massing to fight back. But ISIS controls two other towns close to the capital, Fallujah and Karma. If ISIS can hold Ramadi and topple to Iraqi controlled basis to the west, near al-Baghdadi and -- they would have a straight shot into Baghdad from their strongholds in Syria.
U.S. officials were quick to frame the loss as part of the long fight against ISIS.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: The campaign against dash is a long one. It's going to take a long time. We've already said that.
WALSH: But Monday, an admission this is a loss.
JEFF RATHKE, ACTING DEPUTY STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: There is no denying that this is a setback. But there is also no denying that the United States help the Iraqis take back Ramadi.
WALSH: A stark change in a narrative of success, the U.S. tried to build revealing a weekend raid that killed an ISIS commander in Syria. Abu Sayyaf, said to be a money man, killed guarding a trove of vital documents. A worthy risk U.S. officials insist, even though few ISIS experts have heard much about him.
WALSH: A lot of time issue Erin is, this was supposed to be the months in which the U.S. worked with the Iraqis to retake Mosul from ISIS, not wonder how they might launch campaign to save Ramadi. And tonight the issue is we know 25,000 people have fled, according to the U.N., Ramadi in the past few days of fighting. But how many of that city that used to have a million in it, probably has about 300,000 roughly, how many are actually still inside the deserted streets you saw facing either a brutal life under ISIS, or more terrifyingly potentially execution if ISIS view them as Baghdad loyalists -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.
I want to go to Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, you know, this raid that the United States is now, you know, championing that this was a very big raid. They were able to get a major player from ISIS. Obviously, others are skeptical of that. What have you learned about exactly about how the raid happened now?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we now know that the U.S. had been keeping its eye on this man, Abu Sayyaf, not his real name, of course, since March when those Delta Force commandos took off in their helicopters to make their way to that building, that compound where they were hoping to find him. They had fresh intelligence knowing that he was there. He had been under surveillance. They had been monitoring his pattern of life so to speak. So, they had a very good sense that he was there. When they got there, they got into a firefight. They had to blow a hole in the side of the building to get inside. And when they came across Sayyaf, he by military accounts resisted and he was killed. But this is sort of a classic U.S. military commando operation. They went in very quickly, very hot, very heavy. They were able to capture his wife, and she is undergoing interrogation in Iraq -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Barbara, so what was the United States able to get in the raid? I mean anything actionable in terms of intelligence? Are they releasing any of that at this point or no?
[19:18:01] STARR: Well, you know, that's the question. Why risk so many American military lives to go after this guy. What we're being told is it was not just that he was the money man in charge of ISIS oil and gas operations, but he had taken on an increasing role in the organization. He may have had contact with the leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. He knew what was going on in ISIS. They wanted to get his laptop, his cell phone, talk to him, talk to his wife about everything that they knew. They felt that this was an intelligent treasure trove if you will, and in fact, Erin, we should say that after the raid, White House officials called some of the families of American hostages that had been held in Syria by ISIS. They wanted to let them know that they were looking for any information in this treasure trove about the fate of those hostages.
BURNETT: All right, Barbara, thank you. And I want to bring in the former CIA operative Bob Baer. So Bob, here is the thing. Right? They're now saying this guy was huge guy, this guy ran the oil and gas, this guy was a major player for ISIS. But some people are saying he really wasn't. And maybe he might not have been the main target, that now they're playing him up because they got him. But he wasn't really the main goal here. I mean, they risked about two dozen Delta Forces, 24 of America's top fighters to go in on this particular raid. What do you think? Was he really the prize?
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Erin, I don't think he was. You know, this is the first raid into Syria other than the hostage rescue attempt. It was a big deal. It was risky. They had to bring a lot of force in. They would have preferred to get more people or somebody of higher value I think once they determined who he was, they made the best of it, said he was important. But that's not to detract from the fact that getting hard drives, cell phones, and the rest of it, you learn all sorts of things. This is the beginning of an organized intelligence collection operation against the Islamic State. And you have to do many, many of these raids before you can really go to war with them and ultimately decapitate them as we did al Qaeda in Pakistan.
BURNETT: Is it worth the way they're doing it now? I mean now it's raid by raid. Because the U.S. doesn't want to put, quote- unquote, "boots on the ground." So there are boots on the ground, but they're Special Forces boots. They're your most highly trained fighters that the United States has. Is it worth risking their lives in groups of 20 and 24 to go into these places and then okay you get something, but you get the wrong guy?
BAER: Well, Erin, these guys are really good. I've seen them in action. They can get in a place and out with no casualties mostly, especially after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
BAER: And there are a quite a few of them in Erbil in Northern Iraq and the Kurdish area. They have been in the battlefield before this in Iraq with helicopters. But the point is, I think Erin, this is not going to be enough. This is a drop in the bucket. The Islamic State, ISIS is a true menace to the stability in the Middle East. And with this offensive they're carrying out in Syria against Homs, against Palmyra and now Ramadi and Fallujah, we have to find a way to stop them. I'm not advocating putting boots on the ground. But we've got change the game here because we're losing right now.
BURNETT: What about John Kerry, Bob? John Kerry says, don't worry about it, we're going get it back. Don't worry about Ramadi. But when you look at a map, when you're looking around Baghdad. You're looking at the capital of Iraq almost encircled by ISIS. Who is telling the real story? The story about ISIS growing stronger and an ISIS takeover of Iraq or John Kerry in the U.S. who says, don't worry?
BAER: The State Department doesn't have a clue what to do about it, and neither does the military, it's such a bad problem. And you look at Ramadi, it covers major roads, roads north up the Euphrates and roads to Jordan. It's symbolically. It's very important to the Muslims. And the only way they're going to be age to take Ramadi back is by flattening it. And if the Shia militias go in there and they used our air force or even the Iraqi air force, and flatten that town, you will see a sectarian conflict in Iraq like we've never seen before.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Bob Baer, thank you very much. I'm not mincing words there with his view on the State Department. And tonight on CNN we take you inside ISIS. Who are they? What do they want? Blind side. A special by Fareed Zakaria is tonight at 9:00 Eastern.
And OUTFRONT next, Texas police on alert amid rumors of even more gang violence tonight. This as nine are killed when rival biker gangs face off in Waco. Will it happen again? And a special report inside again.
And remember this incident in New York when biker culture turns truly ugly.
[19:26:45] BURNETT: Breaking news on the wild biker brawl that left nine alleged gang members dead in Waco, Texas. Texas officials just issuing a warning to all police. They say more armed gang members may be heading to Waco now, and that they should consider these groups, quote, "armed and dangerous." A law enforcement source also telling CNN tonight that at least four bikers may have been killed by police during Sunday's shoot-out at a crowded restaurant.
Kyung Lah begins our coverage tonight OUTFRONT in Waco.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cell phone video captures the carnage. Bodies lying outside Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco. A dispute in the bathroom led to nine people dead, 18 injured in what police call a bloody brawl between rival biker gangs and then a gun battle with officers.
SGT. W. PATRICK SWANTON, WACO POLICE: We have wounded inside. We had people stabbed. We had people shot, and we had people beat.
LAH: Pictures show one of the biker groups, the Cossacks being arrested. Many of the others part of the notorious bandito motorcycle club.
(on camera): You guys call yourselves clubs. They call you gangs.
JIMMY GRAVES, COC STATE CHAIRMAN: We are not a gang. We do not do gang things. We are not affiliated with gangs.
LAH (voice-over): Jimmy Graves is high up the Texas bandito chain. But he is also the state chairman for the Texas Confederation of Clubs, a multi-group biker association. Braves, who was supposed to lead the event says this wasn't a recruiting meeting but a friendly organizational one. He blames a few bad apples.
GRAVES: They want to be outlaws.
LAH (on camera): The Cossacks want to be the outlaws?
LAH: And so the banditos are trying to go straight?
GRAVES: We've been straight. We're not trying. We have been straight. We didn't do nothing here. We're fighting for our rights. They're saying lies on TV and telling everybody that the banditos are after police officers.
LAH: So none of your guys pulled out weapons against the police?
LAH (voice-over): About 170 arrested from the brawl. Graves fears he'll also be arrested and wanted to talk to us at an undisclosed location outside of Waco. A bandito for 24 years, Graves says the club has changed. Like his now faded swastika tattoo, crimes are a relic of the past. But the Texas Department of Public Safety still lists the banditos as a tear two game, the second most dangerous classification, and the Department of Justice identifies them as one of the top two largest outlaw motorcycle gangs in the U.S., dealing illegal drugs like meth and cocaine, internationally operating in 13 other countries.
(on camera): All that is not true?
GRAVES: No. They've been reading too many comic books, watching TV, watching too many b-rated biker movies. We have been stereotyped. They're not thugs. Mainly when we find a thug in our bunch, we get rid of him.
SWANTON: I absolutely disagree with that. This is a criminal element that came in here yesterday and killed people. They're not here to drink beer and eat barbecue. They came here with violence in mind.
LAH: Police said that they arrested 170 people. How many people is that? What kind of a logistical challenge is it? So many people if I had to take them to the convention center to process all of them we are hearing. As far as how many weapons were seized, more than 100. That, Erin, is how heavily arm they'd all were -- Erin.
BURNETT: Incredible. Kyung Lah, thank you very much. Live in Waco tonight.
And investigators are continuing to gather evidence, and we're going to show some new video right now. This is officials loading the gang members' bikes on to flatbed trucks because of course there are hundreds of them. They say they have confiscated about 100 motorcycles now as evidence. A number of cars have also been seized because of course they have all these people. Nearly 200 people that they're keeping in jail right now to try to figure out who shot whom.
OUTFRONT now, McLennan County sheriff Parnell McNamara. His office is involved with the investigation. And Steve Cook, the executive director of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association. He spent time with the Bandidos, which, of course, is one of the gangs involved in this horrific massacre in Waco.
Sheriff, let me start with you.
The breaking news tonight that we're reporting now that law enforcement where you are in Waco is saying that these gangs have put out an alert to their members saying to arm themselves with weapons and travel to north Texas. How concerned are you about that?
SHERIFF PARNELL MCNAMARA, MCLENNAN COUNTY, TEXAS: We're very concerned about any kind of threat that may be coming our way. We're taking extra precautions. We've thrown a higher state of alert. We brought on extra deputies to patrol. We've had our helicopter in the air all afternoon.
And we certainly hope it doesn't happen here, but if it does, we're going to be ready for it. And we're going to meet it head-on. And we're going to take care of it.
BURNETT: And, Sheriff, let me ask you on that front, the important development that we have -- a law enforcement source telling CNN that at least four bikers may have been killed at the hands of police during the shoot-out, four of the nine. Do you know if that's true?
MCNAMARA: I'm not in liberty to comment on that right now.
BURNETT: All right. Steve, let me put the question to you. I know that you believe these gangs would not target police, even though this alert that has gone out to the gang members to arm themselves with weapons, head to North Texas, given that you do have a law enforcement source saying some bikers may have been killed by police. I understand the sheriff can't comment on that. But that report is out there.
Are you concerned for police?
STEVE COOK, MIDWEST OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE GANG INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION: You know, I'm always concerned for the officers. And with that being said, the sheriff and his deputies and the chief and his officers at Waco have done a phenomenal job, and I think they ought to be recognized for the job they have done with this. This is a major undertaking, and they should be very proud of their efforts in this, you know, based upon the type of situation.
You know, as far as these organizations are concerned, there are individual members that could potentially try to turn arms against law enforcement. I do believe that they know that the kind of heat that that's going to cause, in addition to what they're already enduring --
COOK: -- is probably, you know, a death blow for them. I don't think the attitude of all of them is going to be that, because regardless of what they say, they know the police were doing their job. They may not like the job that the police had to do, but they know the police, you know, did what they were supposed to do.
BURNETT: So, Steve, how dangerous? I mean, you have been undercover. How dangerous are these guys? I mean, the people running the Bandidos, they now have this alert out. Come with your weapons. Travel to north Texas. That's the alert they have put out.
We know the police have confiscated 100 guns already, 100 guns. I understand this is Texas and you have more lenient gun rules, but that's a lot of guns. Brass knuckles, chains, knives, bats, clubs, guns. Some of these bikers are convicted felons. How dangerous are they?
COOK: They're extremely dangerous. They're a volatile organization. They're fuelled by meth. I had to laugh a little listening to your senior member that I won't dignify by saying his name, talking about the organization.
COOK: -- that's not the Bandidos I know. A matter of fact, the Bandidos I know are the ones that participated in this horrific act, the same ones that killed a whole charter of their own members up in Shedden, Ontario.
BURNETT: So, Sheriff, you have nearly 200 people in jail and you just heard our reporter who interviewed that senior member of the Bandidos, talking about how you had to bring them all to the convention center to try to even process them. Are you going to be able to figure out who to charge in time, or are you concerned that people, you know, who are guilty of murder are going to be let go?
MCNAMARA: That investigation is being handled now by the Waco Police Department. And they have done a very fine job on the initial shoot-out here. They acted very swiftly and very professionally, and they saved lives at this time.
The investigation is ongoing, and I am very confident that the Waco police, the DPS, Texas Rangers, and all the other agencies will be able to come up with the active shooters.
[19:35:05] And until then, we've got -- we did charge 170 people today with engaging in organized criminal activity. There could be more charges coming. And each one of them has a million dollar bond.
BURNETT: A million dollar bond.
All right. Well, I appreciate your time, sheriff.
Also your time as well, Steve Cook. We appreciate both of you. Thank you.
And next, the Bandidos. You keep hearing this name. And you just saw one of the senior leaders interviewed. Why are they one of the most feared motorcycle gangs in the country?
And first, it was Jeb Bush. Now, it's Marco Rubio stumbling over the same question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Was it a mistake to go to war with Iraq? I'm asking you --
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Yes, I understand. But it's not the same question.
WALLACE: But that's the question I'm asking you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. Breaking news: Texas officials warning law enforcement that members of two biker gangs have been, quote, "instructed to arm themselves with weapons and travel to north Texas."
[19:40:02] That's latest we have here. This is the warning that has just gone out after the attack, of course, in Texas in which nine were killed.
The groups this alert says are considered armed and dangerous. Now this comes as police are already on high alert after biker gangs threatened to target police. Investigators have seized more than 100 guns from the biker gang shoot-out in which nine were killed. We're learning more about the five motorcycle gangs that may have been involved. They're some of the most dangerous and notorious in the nation.
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At least five motorcycle gangs gathered at Waco's Twin Peaks restaurant when the midday fight broke out. At its root, a rivalry over turf and recruits. Their names meant to intimidate -- the Outlaws, Scimitars Cossacks, Bandidos.
With the history of violence and criminal behavior, the Justice Department calls them OMGs, or organized motorcycle gangs. If you see them coming, that other OMG just might fit the bill.
This 2002 brawl among rival gangs left three dead. The fight captured on casino surveillance cameras. Maybe most shocking, it was in the middle of Harrah's Casino in Laughlin, Nevada after members of rival gangs, Hells Angels and Mongols tried to use the same entrance.
Even noncriminal motorcycle gangs have engaged in aggressive behavior. 2013, New York City, when motorcyclist Christopher Cruz applied his brakes in front of Alex Lien's vehicle, he bumped the motorcycle. When he stopped to help, other motorcyclists began beating the SUV with their helmets. Terrified, Lien fled, hitting two other motorcyclists until he was finally stopped. Pulled from his SUV and beaten while his wife and 2-year-old daughter watched on.
Nationwide, there were about 500 large gangs with multiple chapters and some 2,500 smaller organized motorcycle gangs. The FBI estimates in all some 44,000 people belong to OMGs.
The motorcycle gang threat is rated at similar levels to prison, street, and neighborhood gangs. Many large motorcycle gangs make their living producing and/or distributing drugs like meth, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin and marijuana. In more recent years, some have formed alliances with Mexican drug cartels.
Motorcycle gangs, a notorious part of American culture -- around about as long as the motorcycle itself. The FX hit series "Sons of Anarchy" about the friction within a motorcycle gang in the fictional town of Charming, California. It is nowhere near the first portrayal.
America's interest in motorcycle gang culture immortalized in the 1953 film "The Wild One." It was based on a real life biker brawl in Hollister, California, in 1947.
The next chapter in motorcycle gang violence now being written.
BURNETT: And as you say, part of American culture. But still, new and shocking to a lot of people when they hear this latest alert going out tonight where they're saying law enforcement in Texas that the gangs are saying arm yourself with weapons, come to north Texas, target police.
Is this a growing threat?
MARQUEZ: Yes, we may see more of this in the days ahead. Law enforcement officials saying it is growing from Alaska all the way to Connecticut, several gangs now getting a much larger in those areas. The Wheels of Soul, the Outlaws, the Vagos, the Pagans, all growing, which they say will lead to the possibility of more turf wars in future days ahead.
BURNETT: What's driving the growth? Do we have any idea?
MARQUEZ: They operate in the same areas as other gangs. It's the desire for money, for turf, for everything in those areas that traditional gangs, whether they're neighborhood-based or prison-based or street-based gangs, they are all fighting for as well.
BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you very much.
And as Miguel and I are talking, just want to let you know that in Waco, we are anticipating any moment a press conference from Waco police.
Looks like -- he is just doing a microphone check. So, as soon as we get that, we're going to bring that to you. As we said, they're going to be responding to that warning coming out where they say the gangs are arming themselves with weapons and are going to be convening, coming to north Texas as soon as we get that, we're going bring that to you.
Also, the Marco Rubio fumble today, a question about the U.S. war in Iraq. He fumbled it. Can one badly handled question derail a candidate's campaign? It's a crucial question for Jeb Bush tonight.
And an extreme sport legend along with a friend both killed attempting a wing suit flight from a cliff in Yosemite. What went so horribly wrong?
[19:46:92] BURNETT: All right. I want to take you straight to that press conference with the sergeant in the Waco police. Let's listen in.
SGT. W. PATRICK SWANTON, WACO POLICE: -- the same tomorrow. I told you earlier today, it was long drawn-out process. There was a lot of evidence to collect, a lot of things to move. And it was going to take a while. We didn't really have a time frame. We thought we could try to do it in one day that didn't work out for us. We're not going rush, and we're going to finish up tomorrow.
There is really not a whole lot of new information that I can present to you other than we have progressed to the point where we're now moving motorcycles out. Those vehicles that you see towed are being escorted under police escort to our impound lot where they will be secured.
The individuals that were killed in Sunday's event, the names are not being released at this point. And the reason we are not doing that is we have not totally notified family members. And until we do that, we're not going to release those deceased individuals' names. That may come some time as soon as tomorrow. It may be the day after. As soon as we know all the family is notified, we will release those names.
I had a question earlier about where the bodies were sent. They were all sent to Swift's (ph) in Dallas to perform autopsies.
There is an organization that has released information indicating that they know how many officers -- I'm sorry, how many individuals were shot at the hands of officers. I will tell you that information is not confirmed from us. The autopsies have not been completed, and that information may very likely be incorrect, and it is not coming from me or Waco Police Department. That has not been verified by us. It has not been fair verified by autopsies or medical results as well. When that becomes available, it will be much later down the road would be my guess, that information we'll get out to y'all as quick as we can.
Tomorrow's agenda will look like this: we will start very early in the morning about 8:00 with a full crew of detectives here to try and finish processing this scene as quickly as we can. We think we will be able to get it finished some time tomorrow.
We, again, like to thank the business members here at Central Texas marketplace for helping us, providing this area, and staying shut down for the safety of everybody involved.
I can tell you that we have met with the management, the national management of Twin Peaks. They have been extremely cooperative with our officers today. It is my understanding they put out a press release as well indicating that they have pulled the franchise license from the individual that had this local twin peaks. We are pleased that they are working with us. They are -- they
are absolutely concerned about the safety of their establishments and they wanted us to know that they appreciate what police have done to protect our community and are looking into what they can do to help improve relationships as well. And we appreciate their effort and applaud that effort as well as that is a large national corporation, and they are stepping up to the plate in assisting us with that as well.
Again, numerous law enforcement agencies have been here today. We'll continue throughout tomorrow and hopefully we'll get this wrapped up tomorrow some time. As information becomes available throughout the morning I'll pass that along.
[19:50:01] My guess will be, we're just kind of talk about moving motorcycles and collecting evidence throughout the day.
Time for a few questions --
BURNETT: All right. We're going to listen to those questions for you. That is Sergeant Patrick Swanton of the Waco County Police.
Important, he said, they haven't notified the families of the nine who were killed in the massacre yesterday, that's why they're not putting their names out to the press, and also saying he categorically will not confirm how many gang members were shot and killed by police. We early cited a source saying law enforcement officials told CNN four of those nine gang members were killed by police. He said he would not confirm that, and said any reports about the numbers could turn out to change. We'll continue to follow that for you.
But again, gang members have been told to arm themselves with weapons and travel to north Texas tonight.
All right. Next, Jeb Bush, now another presidential hopeful is stumbling over the same question, it's a question that's kind of basic. It was an eight year war, it cost a lot of money and a lot of lives, but yet they don't seem to have answers. Why?
BURNETT: Jeb Bush and his wife at a fund-raiser tonight in Florida. The presumed presidential candidate trying to get past a very rocky week, stumbling repeatedly over whether the United States should invade Iraq. And now, another presidential hopeful is struggling too.
Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.
[19:55:02] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans eyeing the White House are trying to pull the Iraq debate back to their comfort zone, attacking the Democratic president who ended the war, not his GOP predecessor who started it. RICK PERRY (R), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: This president, Barack
Obama, made a political decision that he was going to live up to a political promise that he made during the campaign. He was hell-bent on pulling out of Iraq, and we are paying a huge price for it.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: When it comes to blaming people about Iraq, the person I blame is Barack Obama, not George W. Bush.
BASH: But there's no escaping the central question that tied Jeb Bush in knots all last week. Knowing what you know now, would you have invaded Iraq?
This weekend, it was Marco Rubio's turn to struggle.
WALLACE: Was it a mistake to go to war?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to decide to go into Iraq, because at the time, he was told --
WALLACE: I'm not asking you that. I'm asking you --
RUBIO: In hindsight.
RUBIO: Well, the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein is not there.
WALLACE: So, was it a mistake or not?
RUBIO: But I wouldn't characterize it -- but I don't understand the question you're asking, because the president --
WALLACE: I'm asking you, knowing -- as we sit here in 2015 --
RUBIO: No, but that's not the way presidents -- a president cannot make decision on what someone might know in the future.
WALLACE: I understand. But that's what I'm asking you. Was it a mistake?
RUBIO: It was not a mistake for the president to go into Iraq based on the information he was provided as president.
BASH: Last week, Rubio was the one with a clear answer to the Iraq in hindsight question, as his one-time mentor Jeb Bush stumbled.
RUBIO: Well, not only would I not have been in favor of it, President Bush would not have been in favor of it.
BASH: But what tripped Rubio this weekend, squaring that with what he said in March to a slightly different question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it a mistake to go to war in Iraq?
RUBIO: Oh, I don't believe it was -- the world is a better place because Saddam Hussein doesn't run Iraq.
BASH: As for Jeb Bush, the questions still keep coming on the campaign trail, not just from reporters, but voters too, like here in Iowa this weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel having a brother who should be held responsible for 6,000 soldiers with unjustified war with Iraq and over 100,000 innocent civilian deaths also?
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: So what was the question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel?
BUSH: How does it feel? Look, I'm proud of my brother, and he did what he thought was right.
BASH: While all of that is going on with the Republican field, Erin, Hillary Clinton hasn't been asked a question from a reporter in nearly a month, which Republicans ironically who probably can't stand the press as much if not more than Clinton are eager to point, but Clinton world pushes back. They say that she's been accessible to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. They've been sending list of questions. It should be clear, those questions are from screened participants. It's not the kind of free-flowing give-and-take that you just saw with Jeb Bush right there.
BURNETT: That's an important point, she hasn't been taking those free-flowing questions at all.
Thank you very much to Dana.
And joining me now, Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee.
Sean, I apologize because that presser, we're taking this right up to the wire on our show. But the bottom line question, two major Republican presidential hopefuls stumbling on the Iraq question. And I'll give you that the whole would you have done then what you know now, OK, rhetorically, it's silly, but it's still something they should be able to answer, right? You can make one mistake, but four mistakes for Jeb Bush? How is that acceptable?
SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think it's kind of minimizing it to some degree. He was asked a question the first time, he misunderstood it, I think everyone took at his word. I think I actually agree with Senator Rubio, he was asked two separate questions.
So, but -- I mean, Dana had it right, at the end of the day, this is a stark contrast with what's going on on the other side. Everyone of those candidates not just engaging with voters but with reporters, sitting down and having a dialogue with them, and having a discussion, so people can Monday morning quarterback their answers, saying they weren't prepared or there wasn't as tight as it should have been.
But it's in sharp contrast to the lack of availability Hillary Clinton has had to the press corps. She's taken zero questions. She only engaged in staged events. I think there's a big difference.
So, you know, I get it, yes. If you want to have live events, it can be tough sometimes. But our guys are much more out there and engaged with voters than she is.
BURNETT: And I get, your job here is to try to turn it to Hillary, which you just successfully did, but let me ask you, Sean -- you know, last week I talked to Matthew Dowd, who of course is one of the chief strategists for George W. Bush's election campaign. He's now a critic of the Iraq war and an independent. But he says this could be Jeb Bush's Ted Kennedy moment. Ted Kennedy was asked, why are you running and he didn't have an answer. He could never come back.
Howard Dean, we all remember the scream, right? That was it for Howard Dean. Rick Perry couldn't remember what one of the departments of the government is that he would get rid of. He stumbled over the question, that was it for Rick Perry.
I mean, these things can seem small, but it can ruin you.
SPICER: I think you're right in the sense that it could, it hasn't. I think our candidates are engaging and they'll make mistakes, and I think both of them are going to recover. It's way early in the campaign cycle, and I think we've got long way to go.
BURNETT: All right. Sean, thank you very much, incredibly succinct. Even less 10 seconds to say goodbye.
Thank you to Sean Spicer. We appreciate his time.
And thanks very much to all of you for joining us, as our breaking news coverage of the Waco story continues.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" begins right now.