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Mass Shooting at Oregon College; Local Police Officer Interviewed. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 1, 2015 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

We have some shocking news for you, possibly 10 killed and at least 20 more wounded. Those are the grim numbers right now out of Roseburg, Oregon, Roseburg, Oregon, about two-and-a-half, three hours south of Portland, Oregon.

There in Roseburg, according to the Oregon State Police, a shooter opened fire at Umpqua Community College. The Douglas County fire marshal described multiple patients in multiple classrooms. Pure chaos. Local and state police rushed to the college of 3,000-plus full-time students hunting for the shooter.

The Douglas County commissioner says the shooter has been neutralized. A source telling CNN that investigators are now examining social media posts that they believe could be by the alleged shooter, including a potential warning the gunman possibly discussing online about his plan to kill others.

Mercy Medical Center, the major hospital in the Roseburg area, tells CNN they have received nine patients. They're expecting three more. They asked the public to "please continue to pray."

Let's get right to CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

Pamela, give us the situation on the ground right now, the ticktock of just how this tragedy transpired. Get us up to speed.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a horrifying situation, Jake, that unfolded after classes started this morning around 10:38 at Umpqua Community College.

We have learned that a man in his 20s walked into one of the school buildings there on campus and opened fire in multiple classrooms. And as we have learned, he killed at least 10 people, according to preliminary reports. We know federal authorities are responding. The ATF bringing in their canine units. And the FBI also responding in what is a very active investigation at this hour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) 911 OPERATOR: Active shooter UCC, 1140 Umpqua College Road.

BROWN (voice-over): Within minutes of the shooting, terrified Umpqua Community College students took to social media, one saying: "Students are running everywhere. Holy God." Shortly after, police and rescue workers deployed, not knowing what they would find.

911 OPERATOR: Somebody is outside one of the doors shooting through the door. There is a female in the computer lab.

BROWN: Umpqua Community College, home to more than 3,000 students, quickly put on lockdown and later evacuated. Information coming in piecemeal because the college is in such a remote location.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect is down. We have got multiple gunshots wounds. We're going to need multiple ambulances on scene.

BROWN: State police telling CNN law enforcement was able to detain the shooter.


BROWN: And as you heard there from the initial radio call coming in right after this shooting, you heard the operator there say the suspect is down.

We have learned that law enforcement does know the identity of the suspect in his 20s. And, of course, we are waiting to learn whether he is dead or alive and what the motive may have been in this horrific shooting -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Pamela Brown, stay with us.

I have a spokesman for the Roseburg Police Department on the phone right now, Sergeant Aaron Dunbar.

Sergeant, first of all, of course, our thoughts and prayers are going out to the Roseburg community. What can you tell us right now? How many casualties are there?

SGT. AARON DUNBAR, ROSEBURG POLICE DEPARTMENT: You know, I can't give you a lot of details because we are still getting information from the scene. We have dozens of people out there still investigating.

And, you know, we also have a lot of responsibilities when we go to something like this. We're searching the entire campus and locking it down, evacuating students and staff, in addition to the crime scene investigation. So, it's a little slow getting information out.

TAPPER: Can you tell us whether or not this shooter is believed to be alive?

DUNBAR: I do not believe that he is. The radio traffic that you played at the beginning of the show indicates that he's not. But I don't have the specifics. TAPPER: I know law enforcement has to take every precaution to make

sure that it is just one gunman and therefore you can't rule anything out, but is there any indication right now that there was more than one gunman?

DUNBAR: We don't have any indication of that. At this point there is no ongoing threat to the community.

TAPPER: Is there -- I know you know the identity of the shooter. And I'm sure you're not going to tell me who it is, but is there anything suggesting that this was a student?

DUNBAR: You know, I just absolutely do not have that information.

We're doing a press conference here shortly and so hopefully we're going to be able to release some more information then. But there are a lot of people releasing information that do not probably have accurate information. So, we're trying to be cautious and make sure that anything that we're releasing is 100 percent accurate.

TAPPER: We totally appreciate that. And we know in these situations a lot of the information coming out is not necessarily accurate.


The Oregon State Police have said that at least 10 individuals have been killed. Is that your best understanding as of right now?

DUNBAR: That's the best information we have at this point.

TAPPER: All right. Sergeant Aaron Dunbar with the Roseburg Police Department in Oregon, again, our thoughts and prayers with your community. Thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

DUNBAR: Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: Deb Feyerick from CNN is looking into this possibility, possibility that the alleged shooter posted online about his plan to shoot up a school.

Deb, what can you tell us? This is coming from people close to the investigation.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is coming -- this is coming from sources who are being briefed on the investigation.

What we're being told is that the gunman appears to be in his late 20s. He was online last night talking to others about his plans to carry out this shooting. All of this right now is under investigation as detectives make sure that the people he was talking to -- in fact, they're trying to reach out to them to find out what the motive was, why he was doing this.

The first call, Jake, came in about the first -- the first 911 call came in about 10:45 Pacific time, a report of a man shooting through a classroom door into the computer lab. A woman was shot. We don't know whether she was killed, but she was shot. He then moved to a second classroom and continued opening fire.

Initial reports is that he had a long gun. I have spoken to a source who says there does not appear to be any connection to international terrorism. This was an active shooter situation with the gunman picking a soft target, the people who are on this campus. So, right now, all of that is under investigation, conversations that he was having online, the people he was having these conversations with.

That's one of the reasons that they had to also search the campus to make sure there wasn't another gunman, that in fact he was acting alone. And while police, Jake, say that he has been neutralized, shots were exchanged. We do know that. And in the words of one law enforcement officer, the suspect is down. So, we are continuing to monitor the situation now, Jake.

TAPPER: Right. Sergeant Aaron Dunbar of the Roseburg Police Department just told us that his understanding is that the suspect has been killed.

Is there anything more you can tell us about the suspect, especially as it relates to that online conversation that he may have had yesterday talking about a school shooting?

FEYERICK: Well, I have seen some of the back and forth of the conversation that this man was having.

Right now, we, like investigators, are trying to determine and confirm that in fact this is the suspect and this is the conversation that he was having. Authorities do believe it's authentic, but they will not say that just yet. Again, there seems to be some sort of motive. He knew that he was going to target this particular community college. There's also an indication that he had warned others simply not to go to school today.

But we don't know to what extent or how many people were actually following this conversation or how broadly he was broadcasting his intentions.

TAPPER: All right. Deb Feyerick, thanks so much. Stay with us.

Right now, I want to go on the phone to Jodi Sonka, who is at Umpqua Community College.

What can you tell us, Jodi? Where were you when the shooting started? Where are you now?

JODI SONKA, WITNESS: I was in the building right next to it. I was in the science building. And I am home now, thankfully.

And we just heard that something was happening in the middle of our biology lab, and so we all got taken to the backroom, where we waited because we didn't know what was going on. And then our professor heard what was happening, so we were all standing in there. And then the FBI came in and had us put our hands up and made sure he could see us and made sure that we were all OK, everything was OK.

And then we got taken out and taken by bus to the fairgrounds, where our family members could pick us up.

TAPPER: What did you hear when you were in class and the shooting was taking place? Did you hear multiple shots? Did you hear anything?

SONKA: I did not hear any shots actually. We were working on a lab. And we were all kind of noisy anyways, and then all we heard was we need to get in the backroom now. So, we all ran in there.

And there's so many people in there that were freaking out because we were all trying to figure out the same thing, what was going on. And by the time we figured out what was happening, the FBI came in and got us and said the shooter had -- was down.


And we were all taken outside to be patted down by police officers to make sure that no one else had anything on them. And we were loaded up into buses and taken to the fairgrounds.

TAPPER: Classes just started this week at Umpqua Community College. You're a freshman.


TAPPER: Have you -- I suppose it would probably be a little early for this to have happened, but have there been any drills or anything along those lines?

SONKA: No. No.


SONKA: We -- that's -- my professor thought it was a drill, because he's like, oh, this never happens, it must be a drill first week.

And when he heard it was real, he said we all need to get in the backroom now, immediately.

TAPPER: And have law enforcement officials told you anything about what exactly happened? Have any other students who were witnesses perhaps told you anything?

SONKA: I have not heard anything. I have not heard any names or anything.

TAPPER: Did you hear anything officially from the school? Has Umpqua Community College notified you of anything via text or...




The only thing that I have heard is the shooter possibly could have done some damage to some cars, and so our cars will have to be searched. And we are not allowed to go back to get them until we get the OK.

TAPPER: All right. Jodi Sonka, we are grateful that you're OK, and thank you for sharing your information with us.

We are expecting a press conference from Roseburg, Oregon, from the investigators looking into what exactly happened on the campus of Umpqua Community College. There are initial reports, initial reports of 10 killed in a school shooting.

We're going to take a very quick break. We will be right back with all the latest.


[16:16:05] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We're continuing to follow tragic developments out of Roseburg, Oregon, which is about 175 miles south of Portland. Oregon state police telling us that 10 people have been killed by a gunman, but now that gunman has been neutralized. The doctors at Mercy Medical Hospital, the major hospital near treating Roseburg wounded in the shooting as we speak.

Let's go to David Jaques. He's on the phone. He's the publisher of the "Roseburg Beacon", a local newspaper in the region. He is on the scene right outside the school.

David, what can you tell us? What are you seeing?

DAVID JAQUES, ROSEBURG BEACON (via telephone): Well, what I'm seeing now, Jake, is they're continuing the evacuation of students. I'm standing next to one student who was released. In fact, they were going to put him on one of the buses leaving the campus, but he has a concealed carry permit and he was carrying on campus, which is legal in Oregon. So they escorted him to his van and he was able to leave separately. As far as I know, very few students have left are not leaving on the evacuation buses.

TAPPER: What do you know in terms of concrete numbers of casualties?

JAQUES: Within the last eight minutes, the best number I have is 13 confirmed dead. I don't have anything later than about five minutes ago. We've seen several ambulances leaving the scene without their lights. That's not a good sign.

TAPPER: And what do you know in terms of the status of the shooter?

JAQUES: Well, we don't know anything with a certainty. I talked to law enforcement what we're hearing is that he was detained. We also heard early reports that he then put down I cannot confirm that. But I am standing next to a student who was just able to leave the campus, one of the few.

TAPPER: And what are the students telling you? Was the shooter a student? Was he known to anybody?

JAQUES: John, do you know if the student was known to anybody? Have you heard anything to that effect?

Yes. No. There's no information been released at least on that story, Jake. So, I really don't know.

TAPPER: And what is the process right now in such a horrific event? What is the process right now in terms of police notifying next of kin? How is that playing out?

JAQUES: Well, several of the bodies that -- of the deceased had no identification. So, that's the first problem. And there's a lot of frantic parents. We even have one first responder who's pretty upset right now. He hasn't been able to make contact with his son. And, of course, that's any parent's worst nightmare.

But I just talked to somebody in the control center and they said, David, we don't even -- a lot of these bodies we don't even have any identification on them. So, they're going to students, faculty, others to try to help with that process.

TAPPER: Tell us just a little bit if you would, David, about this community. Most people watching have probably never heard of Roseburg, Oregon. It's a rural area?

JAQUES: Roseburg is that county seat for Douglas County. Douglas County is the fifth largest county in the state of Oregon. It's on Interstate 5. We're about 65 miles south of Eugene. A lot of people know about the Ducks, so that's a landmark for a lot of people who haven't been to Oregon.

You know, it's a rural community. We have a lot of satellite community surrounding Roseburg. The population of the surrounding area probably immediate area to Roseburg is around 60,000. The city is around 21,000.

But, you know, as far as the atmosphere here, Jake, everybody is just in shock. This is something that doesn't happen in this kind of a community. And, you know, the ramifications are just beginning to settle in a little bit. I don't know. It's just horrific.

TAPPER: It is horrific. David Jaques, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

[16:20:00] Peace Health Sacred Heart Medical Center at River Bend, a nearby hospital, just tweeted out that they have received three victims from Umpqua Community College and expect two more to arrive there shortly.

We're also waiting on a press conference set to begin any minute where Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Oregon state police officials will update us on the situation. We'll bring that to you live.

Right now, I want to bring in Jeff Kruse, he's an Oregon state senator. He's in Roseburg, Oregon, right now. He joins us by phone.

State Senator Kruse, what can you tell us about what's happening right now? STATE SEN. JEFF KRUSE, OREGON (via telephone): I listen to your

interview with David, and I think his numbers are fairly accurate. What I do want to say is that the response by folks, the ambulance folks and state police, county sheriff and city police I think was really good this time. And they got there relatively quickly. And they were able to diffuse the situation.

The reality right now is we don't have a lot of information. And quite honestly I think that's appropriate until all the investigation has been done. It's better if you don't put out half baked information.

I know everybody wants to know everything, but I think the response of the police of not releasing names or actually the condition of the shooter, because I've heard things David heard that he was in custody and he was down. And they need to see who he is, identify next of kin. Find out if more people are involved in this than just him and a few things like that before they start releasing information.

TAPPER: Do you have any idea how quickly people arrived on the scene? You were praising the first responders. I think the 911 call was at about 10:38 a.m. Pacific Time.

KRUSE: Well, what's interesting, most state police, most sworn officers are out on patrol, but state police office in Douglas County is a mile and a half away from the college. So, my sense is knowing all hands were on deck and they emptied out the office and they went.

So, I'm assuming that was relatively close. It would have taken folks from the sheriff's office probably about seven, eight minutes to get there. So, I'm assuming it was a pretty quick response. And obviously dependent upon the type of weapons who are being used, an automatic weapon, a whole lot can happen in short periods of time.

I do want to praise them because it probably could have been a lot worse than it was.

TAPPER: Oregon State Senator Jeff Kruse, thank you, our thoughts and prayers out to your community.

Once again Oregon state police saying ten people were killed at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. That's about an hour or so south of Eugene, about three hours south of Portland, Oregon.

We're expecting any minute to get an update from I believe fire officials on the deadly developments out of Roseburg, Oregon. A school shooting in which at least ten people according to Oregon state police were killed.

We will bring that press conference to you live right after this very quick break.


[16:27:58] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Any minute we're expecting Oregon officials, Governor Kate Brown,

state police officials to update us on the tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon, the tragedy at Umpqua Community College. State police officials telling CNN that ten people were killed there by a shooter, dozens more possibly wounded.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd, give us a better idea of the location of the college and the area around it.


We're going to give you kind of an aerial view and layout of the ground views of the buildings at Umpqua Community College to let you know how this situation played out on the ground.

According to police dispatch transmissions and sources familiar with the investigation at least some of the gunshots took place at Snyder Hall, that is right here on campus. That is Snyder Hall. Also gunfire took place we're told in the science building on the campus of Umpqua Community College.

According to a police dispatcher who called in during this exchange of gunfire, a police officer reported exchanging shots with the shooter. And reported he was in a classroom on the southeast corner of Snyder Hall. This is a picture of Snyder Hall from the ground.

And from everything we've stud studied from aerial views and everything we believe this here is the southeast corner of Snyder Hall where according to a police officer who called in to dispatch, he was exchanging gunfire with the shooter at about that point in the building.

Now, law enforcement officials tell us the shooter started in one classroom and started moving to others including the science building. And I'll give you -- sorry, excuse me. I'll give you a shot of that science building right there. This is the science building they moved into the science building at one point. And those are the two buildings where we know gunshots took place.

But again, there were multiple patients and multiple classrooms on campus here. According to the Douglas County fire marshal, it took law enforcement responders a while to secure each classroom.

Here's a layout again of the school. This is an aerial view from Google Earth. It sits on about 100 acres, Jake. It's backed up to the Umpqua River right here. Runs along Interstate 5 which is just up here.

There are at least 16 buildings on the campus at Umpqua. But if you count them, actually seem to be more auxiliary buildings up around here.