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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump's Path; Sandra Bland Death Investigation Continues; Louisiana Theater Shooting. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired July 24, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is it a game-changer? I will ask the British defense secretary.
Crying and crying. As officials insist Sandra Bland committed suicide, a former jail mate talks on camera about what she saw and heard before Bland died in her cell. Did her friends and family answer her calls for help?
And Trump's path. As he campaigns against illegal immigration, is the Republican presidential front-runner opening the door to giving undocumented workers what the critics are calling amnesty?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, police are scrambling to figure out why a man described as erratic and paranoid went on a deadly shooting rampage at a Louisiana movie theater. We're standing by for a news conference by officials in Lafayette.
Court documents reveal that 59-year-old John Houser had a history of mental illness and that family members were so scared of him that they got a restraining order back in 2008. Police say Houser shot and killed two people, wounded nine others, before turning his .40-caliber handgun on himself. Survivors say there was mass confusion and panic as once again a night out at an American movie theater turned into a night of real-life horror.
We have correspondents, analysts and newsmakers standing by as we cover all the news that's breaking right now.
First, let's go to our national correspondent, Ryan Nobles. He's joining us from Lafayette, Louisiana, with the very latest -- Ryan.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are still waiting for that news conference expected to happen in just a few minutes. But back here behind me, this theater remains a crime scene. Investigators have been in and out of it all day today as they try and figure out exactly what happened here last night.
NOBLES (voice-over): Just before 7:30 Thursday night, police say this man, 59-year-old Johns Russel Houser, stood up in a crowded movie theater armed with a handgun and opened fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could have been shot. Like, I didn't know where the shooter was. I don't know where he could have been.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was blood everywhere. That's when we realized what was going on.
NOBLES: Houser shot at least 13 rounds. Witnesses say it was complete chaos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just heard the alarm go off, and then everybody just screaming to get out, people everywhere Panic. It was all panic.
NOBLES: First-responders raced to the scene, carrying out the wounded. This cell phone video shows an officer and two civilians coming to the aid of one victim.
Houser's car, a 1995 blue Lincoln Continental with swapped-out license plates, was parked right outside the theater exit, leaves his keys on top of his tires. Police say his plan was to escape after the attack.
JIM CRAFT, LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA, POLICE CHIEF: There were two police officers who were actually on the property at the time the incident occurred. The quick law enforcement response forced him back into the theater, at which time he shot himself.
NOBLES: Twenty-one-year-old Mayci Breaux died on scene; 33-year- old Jillian Johnson succumbed to her injuries at a nearby hospital. Two of those injured were teachers, getting ready for the start of a new school year. One of them pulled a fire alarm after being shot.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: One teacher literally jumping over her friend potentially saving her life. The second teacher was shot anyway in the leg, had the presence of mind to pull that fire alarm. Who knows how many lives were saved just by that presence of mind.
NOBLES: Houser is described by police as a drifter, estranged from his family. In his hotel room, police found disguises and wigs, possibly for a getaway. What remains a mystery tonight is motive.
CRAFT: This is such a senseless, tragic act. Why would you come here and do something like this? And so, just like the victims, we are searching for answers, too.
NOBLES: And this community is still reeling. The healing process has yet to even begin, but across the state today, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal ordering all flags at state buildings to be lowered to half-staff -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Ryan, thanks very much, Ryan Nobles on the scene for us. People who knew John Houser say he was politically charged.
Online posts suggest he was anti-government, anti-media, and possibly a white supremacist.
Our Miguel Marquez is digging deeper into the Louisiana gunman's past.
What are you learning, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's got a very long and sordid past.
1989 is where things go back to criminally for him and when the mental concerns first were raised. But it was in 2000, 1999, and 2000, 2001, when he lost his bar, lost his liquor license, lost his business in LaGrange, Georgia. He was so angry at the government when he lost his business there that he even took to raising a Nazi flag, or a flag the size of a bed sheet, over the buildings, so that people outside could see it.
It was that event, losing his business, where it seems his life began to unravel.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): John Russel Houser, known as Rusty, portrayed himself as a self-made business owner, entrepreneur and realtor.
The reality of the 59-year-old who had a law degree from Alabama's Faulkner University appears much different.
REM HOUSER, BROTHER OF JOHN RUSSEL HOUSER: We hadn't been close in years. And I'm not sure of the right -- but we just separated from him, and just different emotional, depression issues, psychological problems, and that type of thing.
MARQUEZ: A 2008 restraining order offers a glimpse into Houser's life, taken out by his own family, says Houser had a history of manic depression and/or bipolar disorder.
His wife, so concerned about his mental state, removed all guns and/or weapons from their home.
COL. MICHAEL EDMONSON, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: We saw in there that there was a restraining order put against him, that his wife was fearful of him, his daughter was fearful of him.
MARQUEZ: The family even sought to have Houser committed to a mental care facility involuntarily, a request granted by a judge.
JIM CRAFT, LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA, POLICE CHIEF: We know he had some contacts early on in the city with some businesses, but, you know, nothing that would have alerted anyone to think maybe that we need to call law enforcement about this fellow or anything like that.
MARQUEZ: In postings last January to the blogging Web site USmessageboard.com, Houser expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, saying the mass murderer accomplished far more than any other through pragmatically forming.
On the same site, he saluted fundamentalist Muslims who have killed in the name of their religion. And on the Web site politicalforum.com between March and May 2013, postings that can mostly be described as nonsensical ramblings, but there are themes. Again and again, he expresses concern about the media/black bloc vote/business/political alliance, his writings expressing fear of gays, the demise the white America, fear of Israel. He says even of the NRA, "I knew they weren't worth a damn."
He calls those who don't agree brainwashed, saying, "I have lived all my life as an oddball. And now there seems to be a purpose in it."
EDMONSON: We're putting those things together, trying to find some type of closure to this. It's going to take a while. This is not a 100-yard dash. It's a marathon.
MARQUEZ: Just last year, Houser was evicted from his home in Phenix City, Alabama, and had most recently been his living in a Motel 6.
HOUSER: We didn't know where he was. We didn't know anything about him, and so this was a complete shock.
MARQUEZ: In 2006, in Alabama, he was denied a permit to carry a concealed weapon because his record showed an arrest for arson and a report of domestic violence.
MARQUEZ: Now, the other thing that comes very clear from all of his writings on all these various Web sites is that he suffered from paranoia. Very, very afraid that the United States and the world was descending into chaos and what he believed was going to be what he called a "Mad Max" sort of situation very soon -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Miguel, thanks very much, Miguel Marquez reporting for us.
Let's bring in the former FBI assistant director, our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.
Tom, this is another major shooting at a movie theater right now. What do we need to learn from this?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Here we go again, Wolf, madman with a gun. We see this over and over and over again. So until we do something about the mental health programs in this country, and then the programs to take guns away from people like him, it's going to repeat over and over. We will be here every month talking about something similar.
BLITZER: Is it time to start thinking about security, beefing up security at movie theaters all over the country?
FUENTES: It's almost impossible to do that without having just 500 police officers at every theater. The reason is you would have to have security and magnetometers on the front end where the patrons come in.
But all of these theaters because of fire regulations have double doors that lead out of each one of the separate theaters. You would have to have a cop at each one of those exit doors, because somebody could go out, prop that door. Like, in this case, his car was parked right outside. Then they could go out and get their weapons, come back in and shoot.
You would just have to have a small army at every one of these theaters all over the country. It would just be cost and time prohibitive. There probably aren't enough police officers in the country to do that.
BLITZER: We're awaiting this news conference, an update from local law enforcement. I think the governor, Bobby Jindal, is going to be there, the police chief, as well as some other law enforcement authorities in Lafayette, Louisiana. We're going to have live coverage of that coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But there's so many soft targets out there. If there's a person who wants to go out there and do some really destructive damage, it's not difficult to find a soft target.
FUENTES: Look at all the times that we have had mass shootings. They occur in grade schools, high schools, colleges, movie theaters, shopping malls. Any time people gather, sporting events, you're going to have a soft target with multiple people vulnerable.
BLITZER: It's a crazy situation now. There were presumably some signs that this individual, Houser, may be dangerous. Right?
FUENTES: Yes. Right, we hear about the signs now. But at the time, besides how many people get restraining orders against somebody else, against a family member, we hear about those things all the time.
BLITZER: I think these law enforcement authorities, the police, the Lafayette, Louisiana, police chief, Jim Craft, Louisiana state police colonel, Michael Edmonson, Governor Bobby Jindal, I anticipate he's going to be at this news conference, the sheriff, Michael Neustrom, from Lafayette Parish in Louisiana.
Looks line Bobby Jindal is right there, being chased by some reporters, camera crews. He's going to be speaking as well. We're going to get an update on what's going on. Are there specific questions, Tom, that you want answered, at
least at this early stage of this investigation, what they might be able to share with us?
FUENTES: I think the question would be at this point, does any information come up about an affiliation with a white supremacist group? We have seen that in the past, angry white man, older in age, that may have those kind of inclinations.
We just had a few years ago an 80-some-year-old guy walk into the Holocaust Museum and start shooting. So, it could be similar to that.
BLITZER: All right, here we go. Let's listen in.
CRAFT: Good afternoon. This is our evening update on our progress in this case.
Today, crime scene investigators continued their work from last night. They have completed processing of the scene. As I said earlier, it was very slow and deliberate.
And as a result, we have some updated information. We now know as a result of the walk-through on the crime scene after it was finished being processed and the work that our investigators did, talking to some of the victims, that the shooter did not enter the front lobby of the theater. He actually exited out a side door, where his car was parked, in an apparent attempt to get to his vehicle.
At that same time a police unit was pulling into the parking lot, he reentered the theater, fired some more rounds, we think three more rounds, and the fourth round, he took his own life. This is a result of the crime scene investigation process and interview. We were able to interview one of the victims who was shot last night in the hospital today.
So, as a result of that, we now know that he tried to exit through that door, reenter into the crowd. He fired some more rounds and then took his own life. Another important thing to note is that some time ago, we had equipped our officers with first-responder kits, emergency medical aid kits.
They are actually designed for when a police officer is shot in the line of duty. The officers who responded to this scene last night entered the theater with those kits and used them on the civilians who were wounded. A number of those kits resulted in bleeding being stopped and people being stabilized, so they could be transported to the hospital.
The victims so far, five are still hospitalized. A total of four have been treated and released from the hospital. Three are deceased. We have confirmed through the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms unit the weapon is a high-point .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun. The weapon was purchased at a pawn shop in Phenix, Alabama, in February of 2014. ATF has informed us that the purchase was legal.
We are going to continue to hold this scene throughout the weekend. We want to make sure that we have gathered every piece of evidence that we could. We have an update on evidence confiscated inside the scene. A total of 15 shell casings were recovered in the theater in various areas. Our investigators were able to determine which seats people were in when they were shot.
Once we are able to interview witnesses regarding where they were seated in the theater, we will be able to recreate the setting of that theater just seconds before the shooting took place.
Today, a number of people have reached out to us regarding counseling services, not only for our police officers, but the victims, their families, and the citizens of our community. And so, on Monday, we hope to open a counseling shelter in Lafayette that will offer services to anyone who feels the need to discuss this incident or to discuss what they went through or simply just to have someone to have a conversation with.
And so, as a result of the FBI, Lafayette Consolidated Government, the Department of Health and Human Resources, we are going to have those services available for those victims.
I want to turn it over to Mike Edmonson a minute to discuss a fusion center and some of the leads that we have been following up today.
EDMONSON: Thank you, Chief.
I want to paint a picture real quick, just so you all can understand. I followed the chief in there earlier this afternoon. I think you saw us walking across the parking lot. This was the first time for him to go into that particular theater. And this is his town. He's a police chief. And I know him well as a friend and a father. But I watched his emotion.
That was a horrific scene in there, to see where the trajectiles were, the sticks coming out of the seats, to see the blood on the floor, to actually smell it in that room. And I watched his reaction. I watched him taking it all in.
This is a small town, right near a university. And that's why it's so important we have got to sit there and do everything we can to bring closure to these families. I mean, you heard the chief throughout the night. You're going to hear the governor in just a couple of minutes. It's important from a fusion center perspective and state police, we have been combing through the blogs that individual has been putting together.
He makes rants about the government. He makes rants about different situations around the United States, around the world. But we're going to pull each one of those out. We're trying to interview as many people as possible. We had troopers and investigators in Lake Charles, along with the FBI here in the Lafayette area, in Baton Rouge. Every single place that you're getting that information out has allowed us to take that and follow up, why was he there, who was he talking to, what can we get out of that as we try to put this puzzle which has many, many pieces back together.
We travel to different parts of this country with the FBI to determine, talking to his mother, talking to his daughter, talking to his estranged wife, trying to get some information that will lead us. They have painted a picture, but, as I told you earlier, we have got to deal in facts. A lot of hearsay, a lot of innuendoes on the Internet, we're trying to take those and put some facts to them to try to determine what caused this guy on this particular evening to buy that ticket, to go into that movie theater?
Thank God that the police got here in less than a minute. When he walked out, he dropped that 10-round clip and reloaded, he walked out that door. Who knows who he would encounter in that parking lot? He encountered a police car coming up, responding to the scene. He turns around, and goes back in, and apparently fires additional shots inside at that particular time before he turns it on himself.
And he turned it on himself because coming up the hallway in that small theater were police officers coming into it. Thank God for those first-responders who didn't think about what was probably happening where gunshots were taking place, but they responded to it.
And then the triage of the ambulances and the first-responders that got there, that no doubt saved human life, there's no doubt about it by walking in that room and seeing that thing. As the head of the state police, but as a father, walking in there and thinking, picturing my kids in there, picturing me in there. And I know that's what the chief was doing.
We're going to continue to work closely with him. Like I said earlier, this is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. We're trying to bring some closure. We're trying to bring to the point -- it's easy to say, you know what? We're just not going to figure out what happened.
We're not at that point yet. We're far from it. We're going to pool all the information, keep supplying it to the police department here, to the chief, working without our detectives and our intelligence in the fusion center to try to figure out what caused that guy to be here, what caused his motives, and try to find out why he bought that ticket, why he stood up and fired directly into two people sitting in front of him.
At this time, I want to turn it over to the governor, and then we will take some questions from you all.
JINDAL: Thank you, Mike.
You know, last night, when I got the call from Colonel Edmonson, I was having dinner with my wife. Got into a car, came over here with the colonel to see for ourselves.
I have got to tell you that my emotions over these last several hours, including just now walking into the theater for the first time and seeing the blood on the floor, seeing the discarded snacks and debris that victims just left hurriedly behind, and I'm alternating between deep, deep grief and sorrow over the loss of innocent human life, as well as intense anger, anger at the senseless, evil, and random violence in our corner of the world, right here in Louisiana, in Lafayette.
This could have been our families. This could have been your family. The reality is these were just folks, regular folks like you and me, out to see a summer movie in their last few days of summer break. You know, in talking to some of the victims and their families, our law enforcement officials have learned things like, for example, one of the surviving wounded victims played dead to stay alive.
What we have learned from inside is that it appears that the shooter actually took his time and was somewhat methodical as he shot folks from the top of the back of the theater. It appears more and more that he was planning his escape, literally had the keys on the tire of his car parked near the exit. It appears more and more that he had thought about how to get away.
I, too, like the colonel, want to thank the chief and his men and the women of the first-responders. Lafayette Police Department and the other police agencies did such a phenomenal job, running towards danger, not away from it. I had a chance to talk to some of the folks, the families of those that were wounded. I talked to the father of one of the young women who tragically lost her life.
It's a family of faith. I told them, no parent should have to bury a daughter, to bury a child. I first actually met him last night when he was desperately trying to find out what had happened to his child. I was so amazed by, in this most awful moment that any father, any parent could imagine, he was trying to be strong for his wife, his other children, and relying on his strong faith, his Christian faith.
Lafayette, we will get through this. It's going to be tough. There are going to be tears. We need time to grieve and we will grieve. But this is a resilient community. I do want to remind folks there were incredible heroic acts. You heard about the police officers that ran towards the sound of gunfire, very likely saving many lives in doing so. You heard about the teachers, one who jumped in front of her friend, a second who pulled a fire alarm even though she herself was shot.
Today, we learned about a couple who took a wounded victim in their own car to the hospital. They didn't even wait, to make sure that person got treatment as quickly as possible. I met with some of the doctors and nurses that provided treatment to the families, to the individuals that had been hurt.
You know, the FBI agent on the scene made it -- he said it so well this morning when he said, we're trying to make sense out of a senseless act. Lafayette, I have got to say, evil -- we see evil in our midst, but good and love will triumph over evil. We will get through this. It's going to be tough. But right now is a time for us to shower these families with
love, with prayers, with our thoughts. What they need right now, we need to mourn and we need to time to grieve over two lost women and their families' loss. But now is a time for to us shower their families and the other victims and their families with all the love and prayers and thoughts that we can provide.
In the end, love will triumph over evil. I want to ask the mayor to come up here and offer a few thoughts as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Couple of things.
We have prayer services that are going on right now. We have prayer services that will happen tomorrow. The cathedral will have something on Sunday morning at 7:30. But I guess what I want to get across more than anything is, Lafayette yesterday at this time was a safe city. And today at 5:23, we're still a safe city.
What happened last night was an anomaly. The shooter didn't have any real motive that we know of. It was all random. It was a very strange thing. It hasn't changed how safe this community is. It's a horrible, tragic situation. Again, we're going to continue to work with the victims and their families and reach out to them.
But don't forget, Lafayette was a safe city yesterday. It's a safe city today. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any questions?
QUESTION: What do you think he's been doing (OFF-MIKE) and why do you think he chose Lafayette? Why was he here? (OFF-MIKE)
CRAFT: We actually just had a discussion about that awhile ago. We're trying to determine his timeline as to when he was traveling.
We know he entered the state some time around July 2 or July 3. And we know that he's been up and down the interstate a few times, based on his visits to other communities. And so that's what investigators are working on right now, trying to establish a timeline, trying to find maybe people he communicated with, trying to determine what his purpose was here.
We know that he spoke with some people about maybe some business opportunities, maybe opening a new business here in Lafayette. A lot of entrepreneurs come here because of the type of city we have here. And so maybe that's what attracted him here. But, so far, we don't have any of those answers. And we hope through review of his journals and the things he kept in his room, we will be able to establish a better picture of what drove him here and what drove him to commit these acts.
EDMONSON: His mom sent him money, $5,000. He was looking for a job. Police detectives located where he was actually hanging out, trying to -- trying to get a job. He needed money. And why he changed the license plates, switched it on his car,
probably to make a getaway. Why did he have those outlandish wigs in the room with the glasses? We have had all kinds of information that came forward through the Internet and through the media, location of other sites of somebody that had on a wig and other locations.
So certainly we follow up on every single one of those. We want to pull the video footage of each of those locations so we can try to put him in there, try to build a timeline. I think, once we build that timeline, we can try to figure out why Lafayette, why this location. There's all kinds of speculation out there.
QUESTION: But what was his day-to-day life (OFF-MIKE) what was he doing? Was he staying in his room? Was he out and about? What was he doing?
CRAFT: No, he was out and about. We know he did some drinking while he was there. But he was out and about, and he was contacting different people, not only in this community, but in other communities.
So, he was circulating while he was here. And whether he arrived July 2 or July 3, we haven't established that yet. But we know he's probably been to this location more than once. We learned that today. And so maybe he was testing, maybe he was checking, maybe he was determining, is there anything that could be a soft target for him?
QUESTION: Can you talk about what kind of entrepreneurship he was trying to do, what kind of business he wanted to get into?
CRAFT: I know that he had discussed with a couple of businessmen a two-minute oil change service.
So that was one of the things we found out as we have done more inquiry into some of the information that we began to develop today as we did interviews and talked to family members.
QUESTION: I have a question for the governor.
Just a little while ago, Representative Terry Landry, who you know is from Lafayette, a former state police superintendent, he said that this is an opportunity to start a conversation about gun control and how to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people.
What would you support as a leader to make it tougher for people with mental illness to get guns?
JINDAL: There are a couple of things. There will be a right time and place to have that conversation. We're less than 24 hours out. We have got two families that need to bury their loved ones.
We have got families waiting for their loved ones to leave the hospital. And they're praying for their full recoveries. I think now is the time to focus on their victims. There will be an absolute appropriate time for us to talk about policies and politics. And I'm sure that folks will want to score political points off this tragedy, as they have tried to do off previous tragedies. Right now, let's focus on these families.
It hasn't even been 24 hours. Let's focus on these families. Let's give them the love and the support and the prayers they need. And I think that's the appropriate thing. And I think it's the right thing for us to be doing right now.
QUESTION: Governor, when will that time be? We just had a shooting last week in Chattanooga. We have had them leading up to this almost every month.
When will that time be, because, over and over again, we keep hearing the same thing from our political leaders. And you want to be the leader of not only the United States, but of the free world. What would you do different to stop these tragedies from happening all over the country?
JINDAL: You can ask as many times as you want. My answer is not changing.
I -- look, I today talked to the father of a man who lost his daughter. Right now, the important thing is to show them all the love and prayer and support. I'm more than happy to talk about this in a few days. Right now is not the time. It's been less than -- excuse me -- it's been less than 24 hours. Lafayette's grieving.
Let us bury our dead. Let us mourn for those that have been killed. Let us actually take care of those that are still in the hospital. It hasn't been 24 hours. Let us mourn.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Chattanooga, what do you say to them? It's been over a week.
JINDAL: Look, let us mourn. You can ask me these questions in a couple of days. I'm not going anywhere. I'm happy to talk about this.
We're happy to talk politics, but not here, not now. Now is the time to grieve. Now is the time to mourn. Now is the time to come together and show that Lafayette's resilient and we can get through this.
I'm not shy about providing my opinions on any topic. Every reporter here knows that. I'm more than happy to talk to folks. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not disappearing. But, right now, let's -- let's actually focus -- I hope you will do stories about the two young women who have lost their lives. And I hope you will talk about the doctors and I hope you will talk about the heroic law enforcement officers that ran towards danger. I hope you'll talk about the teachers that not only helped each other and helped others. I hope you'll talk about the couple that transported the victim directly to the hospital.
Now is the time to focus on them. Now is the time to show them that good and love will triumph over evil. Now is the time to show them there is tomorrow, there is hope. This was an awful, senseless, evil tragedy. Now it's time to let these law enforcement official dozen their jobs and try to make sense like the FBI agent said, try to make sense out of a senseless act.
You know, we'd all love to come up with a predictable reason for why this madman chose Lafayette, chose this movie theater, because as a father we want to keep our children safe. If we could figure out, there were some predictable reason, we would know how to make sure this doesn't happen to our family members. It could have been our families, could have been your families.
That is what is so deeply frustrating about these kinds of acts of violence. And the law enforcement, look, they've got more work to do, they're going through videotapes, they're still going to journals, they're still processing evidence. I suspect we'll let them do their jobs. I suspect we're never going to find -- there's never a satisfying answer but I don't suspect we're going to find any kind of explanation. Let them do their jobs.
But to date this doesn't seem to be any type of explanation for why Lafayette, why this theater. There doesn't seem to be a connection between this shooter and these innocent folks whose lives he permanently disrupted.
Again, as a father, I understand why people want to find that connection. If it were more predictable it would make us feel a little better about our own safety, our own children. But right now, it is time to let these families grieve. Now is the time for us to keep them in our thoughts and prayers. There are still folks in the hospital. There are still folks that are still getting medical care. There are still folks waiting in the hospitals, waiting for their loved ones to get out.
Now is the time to love on them, to pray for them, to support them. I'll be happy to come back and talk policy and politics another time. Now is not the time.
REPORTER: Governor, are you staying in the area for a while, giving up your campaign to pause --
JINDAL: Look, absolutely, I'm going to stay here as long as we need to continue to provide whatever support -- look, the chief's done a phenomenal job but we're going to stay and provide whatever support we can for as long as we need to do that. This is the most important thing going on right now. The campaign can certainly wait.
REPORTER: Governor, (INAUDIBLE) what struck you the most?
JINDAL: I'm sorry. Yes, look, when you walk through the movie theater, first of all, you see the pools of blood. You see the victims' pools of blood. You see where the -- where he committed suicide. You see where he killed himself.
But in the middle of all that you see the normal debris, what you'd expect in a normal movie theater. You see where somebody left a soft drink, where somebody left a wrapper. It looks -- if you -- there are bullet holes, there's damage in several areas. It's obvious, you know, he fired several different times.
But two things -- one, it looks like a normal movie theater. Looks like a movie theater you and I have walked into hundreds of times. Looks like the same movie theater my kids have walked into several times in this summer break back in Baton Rouge. It looks like a normal movie theater. You can picture yourself walking in there to watch a movie on a Thursday like these folks did.
In the middle of that, you see this horrific violence. You see where they've cut open a seat to get out the casing. You see where they've -- again, you still see the blood on the floor. They haven't cleaned up all the evidence. You still see these jarring, jarring reminders of violence.
The second thing that is obvious, and again, I praise the Lafayette Police Department and their investigators. They walked us through and you start at the back of the theater. And you see the trajectory of the different -- you know, where this madman shot. Look, this wasn't a sudden burst. This was -- again, they're still piecing together the evidence, they've still got witness interviews to process.
But what it appears is that this was slow and methodical. This was a gunman that took his time. After he fired the first couple of shots, as people got up, he got up and methodically worked his way down. Then you can tell when he tried to run for the exit and he came back and shot a few shots upwards.
This was a slow and methodical -- look, it was barbaric. I don't know whether you want to call it execution or whatever you want to call it, a massacre, it was barbaric. It wasn't just one single burst. It wasn't targeted at one person. You can tell where he did damage. It literally spread across the width of the theater.
And some of the folks who are most seriously hurt, obviously there was one fatality right in front of him. Some of the folks that had the most serious damage were actually to the right of where he was as he was shooting down, as people got up.
It seems -- we may not ever know. It seems he purposely chose his seat up at the top where he had that vantage point over everybody. It seems he chose -- we won't know but it seems like he chose a theater that had an exit where he could get out to his car.
It seems like -- you've heard there was a wig in the car. You've heard he kept his keys down there. It seems like he had planned this. And they'll find out more. They'll find out how many times he'd come here previously. They'll find out as much as they can about the planning that went into this.
[18:35:00] One of the things I think was shocking was not only the horrific, graphic scenes of violence in this normal place of entertainment for families. There was a room set up for a kid's birthday party. I think it was a kid. It looked like a kid's birthday party. As we walked by the concession stand a woman's purse was still
left where she'd been ordering her concessions. There's still food, nachos and popcorn that you'd expect in a movie theater.
People ran out, they didn't come back. So, it's literally, people just left in mid-activity. They left the movie theaters and all those different theaters. What's horrific about this is, again, the violence and the senseless loss of life.
And to see that intermixed with what should be a normal place of entertainment for families and children.
REPORTER: Was everybody (INAUDIBLE)
CHIEF JIM CRAFT, LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA POLICE: We know that he shot a number of people the first time when he went outside. He apparently saw the police car. He had dropped the magazine. So, he inserted another, reentered, and fired four more times. We think possibly that at least one victim was hit in that second burst of gunfire.
The three shots at the people still in the audience and one shot into himself.
REPORTER: Have you ruled out whether or not he had any help? I mean, are you looking into whether or not he had talked to anybody about this, planned on anything?
CRAFT: That's something that we've kept an open mind about. We are scouring his journals, trying to find associates, people he may have befriended. But, thus far, you know, a little less than 24 hours into the investigation, we don't show that he had any accomplices. We don't show that he had any help. We don't show that there was a second person maybe waiting and that sort of thing to aid in his escape.
So, at this point, we say no, not so far.
REPORTER: Chief, do you know which side of the theater the car was on, which area --
CRAFT: Sure, his car was parked on this side of the theater between Doucet Road and the building. He was parked right at that emergency exit. If you come out that emergency exit in Theater 14, there's a sidewalk there that leads to the parking lot and that's exactly where his car was parked.
REPORTER: Chief, was there any security inside the cinema?
CRAFT: No, there was not. That's another thing that we're concerned about. Normally, the cinemas employ police officers on Friday and Saturday nights on the property. Because of the large crowds that attend movies.
Thursday nights is not a big attendance night. So this was no security on the property. I know people asked about the two police officers who were in this area. Those two police officers were on patrol and had stopped there to -- one was a sergeant, one was a patrol officer. I think they were exchanging paperwork when the call came in.
REPORTER: Can you give us names?
REPORTER: Chief, you mentioned that there are five still hospitalized (INAUDIBLE)?
CRAFT: The five that are still hospitalized, four are stable. One is critical, perhaps being updated we hope this evening to guarded.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) two people lost their lives but it was only two. Is it something of a miracle this weren't more?
CRAFT: We feel like it was. He had two ten-round magazines. I know there was information earlier that he had numerous magazines in a pouch. That pouch turned out to be one of our police officers' first aid kits.
He had two magazines. We think both of them were fully loaded. That gave him 20 rounds. Out of 20 rounds, he shot 11 people.
But some people suffered multiple wounds. One gentleman was shot four times.
REPORTER: All 20 rounds?
JINDAL: I want to praise the chief's men. You asked about not more fatalities. The reality is his men's quick reaction, he mentioned these first aid kits that he ordered for officers that get shot in the line of duty. They quickly applied those kits. We saw the debris of some of those kits inside.
And look, I think without a doubt if it hadn't been for his officers' quick reaction, Acadian ambulance and the local hospitals, you could have had more fatalities. I want to praise the chief and his men, his foresight for ordering those equipment, that equipment, those supplies, and his men for applying it. They were here literally almost instantaneously to apply that life-saving equipment.
REPORTER: Chief, I'm sorry (INAUDIBLE). Do you have any evidence to show whether or not he'd been in the theater before last night?
CRAFT: If what?
REPORTER: If he's been to the movie theater before last night?
CRAFT: We're checking that now. The theater does have video in the lobby. And so, our job now is to go back and start looking at previous weeks.
[18:40:05] We're also checking other theaters to see if he visited other theaters. There's an effort ongoing to talk to other theater owners and managers and showing them photographs and determining whether or not he has visited other locations.
REPORTER: Is there any --
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) witnesses in there, did the shooter say anything, do they remember him saying anything before or during the massacre?
CRAFT: No. No.
REPORTER: Is there any indication (INAUDIBLE) --
CRAFT: You know, people have mentioned that. It certainly is coincidental that Colorado this week had a trial. And I don't think that guy has been sentenced over there yet. But it's -- we're look at those similarities.
CRAFT: Yes, and we don't have any information to indicate that he watched that or anything like that.
REPORTER: Chief, were any of the moviegoers or the victims inside the theater, were any of them carrying concealed weapons? Any of them had their own personal firearms? If so, did they respond at all to this shooter?
CRAFT: We don't know of anyone who was carrying a firearm in that particular theater. As I said earlier, there are over 300 people in the building, 25 tickets were sold for this particular movie at that particular time. And we think there were about 25 or 26 people in the theater.
REPORTER: Chief, Chief. (INAUDIBLE) reported he visited a food bank in Lake Charles? Do you know anything about that?
CRAFT: Yes, we have investigators that went to Lake Charles today to interview those folks. I think it was a church, maybe, or a service run by a church. And I think they gave him some food and some money.
And we're working with the state police detectives and the Calcasieu Parish sheriff's office to talk to those folks and determine if that is the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
REPORTER: Will there be any additional updates?
CRAFT: No. Tonight there won't be any additional updates. We have a lot of lot of work to do. And we will -- we will notify you when it is time to provide some additional information. WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so there you have it. The
police chief of Lafayette, Louisiana, Chief Jim Craft, giving us the latest on this investigation on what happened. We also heard from Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana.
I want to quickly get some analysis. Tom Fuentes is with us.
We did learn in this particular case the shooter, Houser, he did legally purchase this .40-caliber handgun at a pawn shop in Alabama in February of 2014. That's not very long ago. And it does follow a history, a long history of years of some serious mental problems this guy had that were apparently pretty well-documented.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's right. We had heard earlier that he had been rejected in attempting to buy firearms in the past because of either his mental health or the prior arrest and conviction for the arson case and domestic violence.
So, you know, the fact that he was able to do it in this case in Alabama, you know, we'll have to look into that as well. Anybody can walk into a gun show and walk out with an assault rifle or handgun with no problem, if they have the money that's all they need to walk out. So, you know, once again, we see someone with a severe mental condition obtaining a gun, in this case legally, again, and carrying out a terrible act.
BLITZER: In Georgia, his home state, he couldn't get a license to carry a concealed weapon. But in Alabama, not that far away, he's able to legally go to a pawnshop and buy this handgun.
FUENTES: Well, buying the gun is one thing, carrying it's another. Most states do require some type of a conceal permit course that you take, apply for the ability to do that. It doesn't sound like he was in Louisiana long enough to obtain permission to be carrying concealed weapons. So, you know, we would obviously have weapons charges on him had he survived.
BLITZER: Tom, stand by. I want to get some more on what's going on. We're following the breaking news.
Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:48:49] BLITZER: Get some analysis of what we just heard, the breaking news we're following on that mass shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Matthew Horace is joining us right now, former ATF special agent in charge.
What did you make of this notion that he was able, this guy, John Houser, the shooter, the killer in this particular case, to legally buy this 40-caliber handgun as recently as last year in Alabama, at a pawnshop. Given the fact that he did have a criminal background, given the fact he had a well-documented mental health problem, that he could go ahead and buy this gun.
You heard the police officer say legally.
MATTHEW HORACE, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE : Well, this is a part of what Tom said earlier that we need comprehensive gun control reform in the United States. This is one of those loopholes.
As you know, Wolf, states' rights are very strong in the United States. Every state is very different. We've got to put something in place where people like this cannot legally purchase firearms.
Everyone knows now he was having serious mental difficulties. But he went into a pawnshop, filled out a form presumably went through the process, which does have several holes in it and got that gun which killed these people.
BLITZER: When you heard what was going on, Joey, what did you think?
[18:50:01] JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, you know, it's amazing. Every other week, it appears we're talking about this, especially, Wolf, upon the backdrop of a verdict that we just got in Colorado and the death penalty phase that's proceeding in this case based upon what, a theater shooting.
Now, to be clear -- it's legal and it was legal to purchase. Why? Because the law says it's legal.
So until you get to the issue of what needs to be fixed about it and we know about his mental health history, we know about an arson arrest, we know about him being denied a gun previously. So you have to speak to that issue. You have to speak to the civil commitment laws. His family saying he was not well. You cannot confine a person forever, not suggesting that you can.
But, certainly, we need to step up the ability to have someone confined if they represent a danger to themselves or they represent a danger to others.
Finally, Wolf, we talk about soft targets. Maybe it's time to make them not so soft. Theaters you expect to go with your loved ones, enjoy, have fun, have humor. But when things like this happen, perhaps we need to re-evaluate the security that exists. And, of course, finally, public participation so important as we say in New York and everywhere -- if you see something, you say something.
BLITZER: But on that specific point, Tom, you go to a movie theater some places in Europe, certainly in Israel, you go to Africa, certain places, South America, there are metal detectors, there are enhanced security as if you go to a stadium. I want to go to the Verizon Center and watch the Wizards play, somebody checks for metal detection. That's just standard operating procedure nowadays.
Is it time, what Joey says, to take another look at that?
FUENTES: That's true. That's why you pay the price for an NBA ticket that you pay compared to a movie theater. If we want to pay $100 a ticket to go to movies, that's about probably what it would cost to have enough police officers, magnetometers and some of these theaters in the morning and stay open until past midnight. So, you would need multiple shifts, seven days a week. And then, every fire exit would have to be guarded as well, because like in this guy's case, park the go outside, go and get your weaponry and come back in the fire exit.
So, you would have to have a small army of police officers at every one of these theaters at every city in the country. I think it's just so prohibitive.
Then, he'll just say, well, never mind, I will go to a school. So, every school is going to have do that. We have that from preschool through universities.
So, you know, as soon as you tighten down one place or one industry, you are creating other targets to be available.
BLITZER: All right. Standby. Much more on the breaking news right after this.
[18:56:59] BLITZER: We are following the latest developments on the mass shooting in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two young women brutally killed. Nine people injured. The shooter, John Houser, then goes and kills himself.
Jeffrey Toobin, we learned now that John Houser legally purchased the .40-caliber a handgun at a pawnshop in Alabama in February of last year. Most Americans want to see greater background checks. He had a history of criminal activity, history of mental problems, yet legally can go into a pawnshop and buy this gun.
You heard the president say, his biggest frustration is he couldn't get this tighter gun safety control done. It seems it may not try given the opposition.
What's going on over here?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think this is one of the paradoxes of the American political system that you have especially in the United States Senate, you have small states overrepresented in terms of per capita representation and smaller more rural states are more pro-gun. And there is just simply not a majority constituency for gun safety rules, even in light of the fact that the public is overwhelmingly supportive of it.
And so, this sort of situation seems likely to continue. And, you know, the terrible tragedy is, even those of us who cover these stories on a daily basis have a hard time keeping track of how many there have been because it happens over and over again.
BLITZER: Matthew Horace, what about the background checks? You worked at the ATF for a long time. Why not tighten up the rules for background checks? Obviously, hunters, people who legally can go ahead and use weapons, they should be allowed to do so.
But what's wrong with tighter rules for background checks?
HORACE: Wolf, I don't think anything is wrong with it. I know every ATF agent that I know would hope there would be stronger and stricter measures. But we have to enforce the laws that Congress enacts. And we have to deal with states' rights as well. It's a very complicated issue for us.
BLITZER: Final thought from you, Joey Jackson, because you've worked in these areas for a long time as well.
JACKSON: Sure, Wolf. Something has to give. It's time, obviously, not only to have the discussion but to match action with the discussion. I know it's just not the issue of gun control. Absolutely, it's mental health and what surrounds that.
But you know what? It's all too often, Wolf, that we're on your show and others and it's the same old tune. People are dying and something certainly needs to be done about that.
BLITZER: Our hearts, of course -- all of our hearts here at CNN and all over the country, around the world, go out to the families of those two young women who were killed at that movie theater last night in Lafayette, Louisiana. There you see them.
Deepest, deepest condolences to the families. Families of Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson. May they rest in peace.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.