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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With New York Congressman Peter King; Mass Shooting in San Bernardino. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired December 2, 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: This is of obviously a huge developing story we're following here in the United States.
We're following the breaking news, this mass shooting and this mass manhunt that is under way right now. We're following the very dangerous situation still unfolding in Southern California, at least, at least 14 people confirmed dead. Authorities say there may be as many as three heavily armed gunmen on the loose right now.
We're standing by once again for a briefing by the local police chief. We want to welcome in our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're THE SITUATION ROOM.
Police say they will be updating us at the top of each hour. It's now the top of the hour, so we're standing by to hear from the police chief. Just a little while ago, they revealed the extent of this chilling situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARROD BURGUAN, SAN BERNARDINO POLICE CHIEF: Up to three people had entered the building and had opened fire on people inside of the building. We do have some preliminary numbers of upwards of 14 people that are dead and upwards of 14 people that are injured. We do not know where the suspects are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: CNN national correspondent Kyung Lah is on the scene for us
Kyung, we're waiting for the sheriff to come back to the microphone to update us on what is going on right now, but you're getting more information. For our viewers who may just be tuning in right now, tell us what we know.
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are getting these hourly updates, but I want to show you something that's happening right over my shoulder.
You can see that I'm standing near the side of this road. This is one roadway into the IRC. This bus you're looking at driving by right now, these are people who were inside the IRC. They look quite calm, and you see a second bus. These are all the people who were inside.
We're hearing from the police department that what's happening here is they have been moved on to a golf course and then what is happening is after they are interviewed, they are put on to these buses and then they are being taken to other locations.
Those locations are where they are going to be able to reunite with their very, very anxious families. That's the very last bus that we're seeing here. We have spoken to a number of spouses who say that they have been communicating with the people who are inside, their loved ones trying to get some information.
But really they want to see, Wolf, if they want to have that moment where they can hug their wife or their husband and make sure that they are OK. We are hoping to hear some information from the police chief. I'm just kind of looking around to see if that press conference is going to happen.
We actually saw a number of agencies getting together, sort of powwowing before the last press conference. We saw the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, the county sheriff, the police department. There is a very active manhunt happening here in San Bernardino County.
They are looking for, according to the police department, three suspects. They want the public to remain very vigilant. They want them to look for these suspects who may be wearing military-style gear. There really isn't anything beyond that specific description of these suspects.
It is something that they are hoping to get some better definition of as they start to interview some of the suspects. And we're starting to see now some of the cell phone video, the very first cell phone video of people who were inside. Now, this doesn't show any shots being fired. It doesn't show anyone hurt, but what this cell phone video shows us, this is video that was taken by an employee inside the IRC. She sent it to her husband.
You can see the very first responders. The reason why this is useful is you can see that there are a number of different police uniforms that are arriving. County police were here. The police department was here. There was a massive response because of the call that went out that there was an active shooting situation.
The SWAT, we are told, still working their way through the building, hoping to clear it as well as try to get these families reunited, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kyung Lah. We will get back to you.
Stephanie Elam is also on the scene for us watching what is going on.
We're following the breaking news, Stephanie. We know at least 14 people confirmed dead in yet another mass shooting here in the United States, this time in California. At least 14 people have been injured. We're standing by for this news conference from the police chief. What else are you learning, Stephanie?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To follow up on what Kyung was just telling you about the people who are alive and who are making it out and being transported out, I'm now at a center, the Rudy Hernandez Center here, and this is one of the locations where we're expecting some of these people who survived this mass shooting are going to be brought and be reunited with their family members.
We see some family members coming in here. Before I got here, I actually stopped on the corner of Waterman, where this incident happened, and I found one mother and daughter duo who were trying to get back to their relative and I talked to the daughter. She was looking for her brother. They know he's alive and she recounted what he was able to convey to her. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE VOELTZ, FAMILY MEMBER: That we got from him, it was 11:00, 11:00 a.m., saying that there is an active shooter in the building. He saw people get injured and him and his co-workers had to go to the nearest office and lock themselves in, basically barricading themselves in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM: And she went on to tell me that they barricaded themselves in the room. Before that, though, she saw -- he said that he saw, her brother did, three people who had been shot, who were wounded. That's what forced them to run into the room and barricade themselves.
They stayed there until a SWAT team broke in and they thought it was the shooters coming in and they realized that they were being freed and released. They were getting word of this before this even hit the media that her brother was alive, but not knowing what his situation was.
It's been some time and they weren't getting responses from him and presumably he's being interviewed by police officials before being brought and so that they could be reunited. His mother was too distraught to even do an interview, even though she knows her son is safe.
He's a social worker there working with children, but still just too close to home for them as they are trying to just figure out how they will get back here because they were on one side of the street that was blocked off, Wolf, and they were trying to figure out how they were going to get around and back over here and back to wherever he was going to be dropped off to be reunited, but a very chaotic scene for the family members as they are trying to find their loved ones and just put them in their arms again and know they are safe when there are so many casualties involved.
BLITZER: Looks like we are seeing live right now, Stephanie, one reunion that is going on. These individuals are coming over to -- it looks like they are coming over the microphone, if they are going to speak. We will listen in and hear what they have to say.
But this is just one story of so many that are going on right now. Looks like a reunion, and these people must be so relieved that their loved ones are back there. We will check in with them at the same time.
Once again, we're standing by. The police chief in San Bernardino, Chief Jarrod Burguan, is getting ready to brief all of us, brief the news media on what is going on, all the latest information that is coming in. We will have live coverage of that, so stand by. As soon as he gets to the microphone, we will have live coverage.
Joining us is now Congressman Peter King. He's a leading member of the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.
Have you been briefed, Congressman, on what was going on and who may have been responsible for this mass shooting, this mass killing in California?
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Wolf, I have not received any official briefing. I have been in contact with various sources I have.
And right now they are still not certain if it is one, two or three shooters. It's very unofficial, but I'm hearing secondhand that right now there is no link to any foreign terrorism, that, again, there is no evidence of that. Nobody is ruling it out, but there is no evidence of that thus far.
And so really, in view of the fact that these either one, two, or three assailants managed to escape, there's no evidence of their whereabouts, really, I would say law enforcement at all levels is right now still pretty much in the dark.
BLITZER: Have they explained why they are still not sure if it's one shooter, two shooters or three shooters? Are there conflicting eyewitness accounts? Is that what is going on?
KING: Wolf, actually, this is not uncommon.
If you recall last year during the shootings in Washington, the first reports from the police were that eyewitnesses saw two and three shooters and it turned out there was only one. So again, you know, they are trying to sort it out. Apparently, they are getting different accounts, but again people could be at different vantage points, so it's possible one person could have seen three and one only seen one or could be that in all the confusion they thought there was more than one.
So, again, we're still right now in the early fog of war.
BLITZER: The FBI agent on the scene over there at the news conference about an hour or so ago said it may or may not be terror. They simply don't have a motive right now. There is no indication yet. I assume they are going through as much information as they
possibly can to see if there were any warning signs, any information coming in, in the days leading up to this that could be related to this mass murder, if you will.
KING: I understand they are going through either disgruntled employees, former employees, they're going through social media, anyone in the area who was -- made any type of violent threats. All of that is being looked at. Nothing is being ruled out and they're exploring every conceivable possibility.
BLITZER: Police say the shooter or shooters came dressed military style, were fully equipped and may have even had body armor, if you will. That hasn't been confirmed.
If it's not foreign-inspired terrorism, it potentially could be domestic terrorism, right?
KING: Wolf, if those accounts are accurate, obviously, this is well-planned.
And depending on -- to me, no matter how you define terrorism, that certainly would be an act of domestic terrorism, whether it's Islamist terrorism, whether it's local domestic terrorists who have their own agenda, whether it's a racist agenda, or whatever.
But, certainly, when you have that type of coordination, if that's true, that they had long guns, that they had the uniform-type clothing on and they have this type of escape planned, that certainly shows a planned attack that wouldn't just be random and it certainly could be linked to some type of organization, whether it's Islamist or whether it's racist, whether it's white supremacist. It could be any of those, yes.
BLITZER: All right, hold on for a moment, Congressman.
I want to listen to our affiliate KABC. It looks like there is some breaking news going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North of the IRC, where multiple shooting happened, again, we don't know right now if this is actually -- has anything to do with this or is this something totally separate.
We did understand that units were in pursuit and we understand there were possibly shots fired. We see a suspect is down right here. Uncertain if he's in just custody or if he's injured. We are going to try to get a better location here.
I'm going to come off for a second and try to get a street name for you, if we can. It's in a residential area. Again, it's very difficult to see. We will try to get that for you in a second, but multiple agencies closing in, in the area. You can see that we still have suspect -- officers driving eastbound in the area. We understand there still might be a pursuit going on. We will
come off this area right now and we will follow these officers here that might be continuing to what -- officers may be still in pursuit of an SUV. This might be something completely different. Lots of interesting information going on here.
You can see these units trying to speed southbound and we will go ahead of them to see if there is actually a pursuit that is south of them. Now trying to get information from the desk here on where it is.
BLITZER: We will stay in close touch with our affiliates there. That's from KABC.
It looked like one individual was on the ground there, may or may not be related to what happened at the Inland Regional Center, where 14 were shot and killed and another 14 people injured, a massive manhunt under way in the entire area right now.
We're still with Congressman Peter King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Congressman, President Obama spoke to CBS shortly after the shootings and say he wants Congress to do more to prevent gun violence here in the United States.
I want to play a little clip from that interview. All right. We're going to cue that up, that clip, Congressman.
But he basically makes the point he's often made, that these kinds of mass killings, if you will, happen disproportionally here in the United States, as opposed to other countries around the world. I think we have the clip right now. Stand by. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And there are some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don't happen as frequently, commonsense gun safety laws, stronger background checks.
And for those who are concerned about terrorism, you know, some may be aware of the fact that we have a no-fly list where people can't get on planes, but those same people who we don't allow to fly could go into a store right now in the United States and buy a firearm and there is nothing that we can do to stop them. That's a law that needs to be changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You're a co-sponsor of that legislation that would close that loophole, Congressman.
Currently -- hard to believe, but it allows people on the TSA no- fly list to actually go out and buy guns. Why can't this legislation be passed? KING: Wolf, I first introduced this legislation I think back in
2007. So you had four years of when the Democrats were in charge and now we have had -- I guess we're in the fifth year of Republicans being in charge and no one has really seemed to have had the stomach or the will to take this issue on.
I'm glad now the president is speaking out on it, but, again, it's been there for the first five years...
BLITZER: All right. Congressman, hold on for a moment. I think we're seeing -- I want to show our viewers these live pictures that we're getting in right now from the scene.
It looks like the police are pursuing an individual. Could be related, might not be related, but let's listen into our affiliate and see what they are saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: East-west street right here. You can see officers with long guns here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that is what we see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A black SUV. Uncertain if this is the suspect. You can see tactical teams moving up the sidewalk, looking for positions of advantage right now.
Again, the suspect is down. They don't know if additional suspects are in that car. That's where you see those tactical teams moving eastbound. And we are going to come over here moving eastbound up the sidewalk trying to find a position of advantage. We're going to come back out.
The scene we showed you earlier, again, that might have been the scene where we have, again, not confirmed right now, but there is a possible officer injured. That has not been confirmed. But we saw several officers standing over that downed person who looked as if they were wearing a bulletproof vest down there.
But you can see that black SUV and just to the driver's side on the north side of that street, there is a suspect down. It looks -- right next to him looks like -- I don't want to get too close, because that is a gory scene.
Looks to be like there might be a long rifle down near his feet. Again, I don't want to get too close. But they're trying to get to -- to pull out any additional suspect.
What I'm going to do is I'm going to go around the long way. I'm going to go in tight and I'm going to go around the long way so we don't show the suspect down. You can see officers backing off. Going to try to get to the car around the long way here. I'm going to double up. You can see here that is a dark SUV.
Look at all the bullet holes in the windshield, the left side, driver's side completely blown out. This was a very, very graphic shoot-out here. All the windows in this SUV completely shot out.
We do not see any additional suspects in there. We saw the tactical teams running back westbound on the sidewalk. You can see they are trying to figure out whether it's clear to approach and trying to find a position of cover and concealment right now, which there's not a lot of.
Those bushes do not stop bullets. They are trying to find positions of advantage. Trying to see if we have an additional suspect off the right side of the vehicle. They are focusing solely on the vehicle right now. The suspect they can be pretty assured is down in the middle of the street. He is down and he is not moving, more than likely deceased.
Right now waiting, calling out to see if there is any additional activity in the vehicle, but all sorts of pandemonium. I think that original scene, David and Colleen (ph), we have shown you might have been the situation where that original shoot-out occurred.
And, unfortunately, there may have been an officer down, again, not confirmed, just the reports right now that an officer possibly was downed in that parking lot. And that's what it kind of looked like. You saw that there was a wreck in the street. You saw all sorts of debris, two or three vehicles hit, multiple officers.
Again, unconfirmed that an was officer hit or if this is even something that's associated with this same, the IRC shooting, but it appears that the long rifle down at the suspect's feet is down there. I'm going to pull out wide again. I'm going to try to stay wide again. It's a very gruesome scene. I don't want to show it, but you can see it here. Go ahead, David.
BLITZER: All right. So there you have it, our affiliate KABC, those gruesome aerial shots, a dark SUV. You saw the windows shot out, blown out, a very gruesome scene.
They're deliberately staying removed. We're not going to show the body that apparently is there on the scene as well.
Tom Fuentes, you're watching what is going on very precisely. It's a very gruesome scene. Art Roderick is watching, as well as Cedric Alexander, Jim Sciutto.
Tom, it looks like this is an active situation right now, that it's not been resolved yet.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, they are still trying to determine if someone else is in that vehicle.
And, of course, SUVs like that often have dark enough tinted glass that you can't see through it easily from the outside. So we don't know if it's a good guy or bad guy down on the street, but there still could be somebody in that van.
BLITZER: Because it's someone could be a police officer, could be one of the suspects if there is more than one, right?
BLITZER: Art, what do you think?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: They got to be careful here, because obviously this is a residential neighborhood.
You're talking about high-powered rifles and law enforcement is taught you got to have a target to shoot at. So I know from the law enforcement side they are being very careful, but you can see they are using actual front yards and fences there of people's neighborhoods to make sure they have got a good angle on this particular vehicle.
BLITZER: Cedric Alexander, look at that vehicle. All the windows have been basically shot out and as we have been pointing out, we don't know if someone is still inside.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, we don't, Wolf, and -- but I think we going to know here pretty shortly once they continue to surveil the scene and surveil that vehicle.
But, clearly, from the way it looks from here, there were a lot of shots fired into that vehicle as well, too. So I somewhat reckon to believe that there was a shoot-out here that occurred on this street corner, but we're going to know something here pretty soon.
BLITZER: It looks like some sort of military vehicle is pulling in as well, into that area. I just saw it at the bottom of the screen. We will see if we can confirm that.
Jim Sciutto you're watching what is going on right now. This is a vehicle. The police chased this vehicle. The windows have been blown out. It's a gruesome scene, as I said.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Some of those details fit what eyewitnesses said about the shooter earlier in the day, black SUV, long rifle.
There is a long rifle next to that body on the ground, which the cameraman is not showing because it's something of a gruesome scene. Again, we don't know for sure at this point. I was just speaking to a law enforce the official who was making the point the focus of local law enforcement was finding this shooter or shooters to prevent he or she, prevent him or her from acting again.
That had been their focus. This has been an urgent manhunt for that person. It is possible that's what we have seen taking place here. But, again, you just don't know who that person is on the ground, but some of those details match what eyewitnesses said about the shooter.
BLITZER: Jim, one of our producers, Alberto Moya, is on the scene for us.
Alberto, where are you and what are you seeing?
ALBERTO MOYA, CNN PRODUCER: Hi. Good afternoon.
We're on the corner of San Bernardino Avenue and Richardson Street. We have been chasing police scanner traffic of various leads as they have been reported on the air. And this one first -- a couple of them turned out to be nothing. This one, where we're currently at, there has been a massive police presence that has descended on a church called the Cornerstone Assembly of God.
And the sheriff's police department is ordering us to stay back. There are -- I can count at least one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, I would say several dozen police officers surrounding the area. They have heavy guns pointed there, on an extremely heightened state of alert. There is a large police presence that converged here in a matter of seconds.
And that's the scene here. We have been ordered to stay back. They do not know if there is a suspect on the location. There are multiple helicopters that are flying above me as well. They are asking us to stay behind the car.
And let me see if I can get a little bit of additional information. Again, they have surrounded a building called the Cornerstone Assembly of God Church.
There are police officers towards the south of the side, towards the east of the side and they are approaching the entrance and they are staying back, trying to figure out if they're -- they think the suspect is running south.
BLITZER: We saw -- Alberto, I just want to interrupt for a moment. We just saw -- if -- you can see that long gun or at least a long gun on the street, on the other side of that little tree on the bottom of your screen. That's a gun that's there as well.
Alberto, did you actually hear gunshots?
MOYA: I did -- we did not hear gunshots.
We only saw an incredibly fast response from police officers that were in an area nearby. We're about half-a-mile away checking out another lead. They have detained a couple of people when we started listening to scanner traffic about possible shots fired in the area, and then we saw the massive convergence of police forces about half-a- mile north from that location.
And that brings us to Richardson, San Bernardino and the southern edge is a Cooley Avenue, if I can read the font correctly. We're going to try to see if we can put up a shot here shortly if we get a chance. But the sheriff's department here is out here in acting in full
force. There are multiple people who have taken cover behind their truck. There are several police officers that are also with us here using our own crew car for shelter.
They have shut down the area completely. Nobody gets in and out. They are not allowing us to move from here. Like I said, they are in a heightened state of alert. Some of them have kneeled down. There are some police officers that are right by the church as well.
They are -- it looks like they are looking to see the area that is directly to the west -- I'm sorry, to the east of the Cornerstone Assembly of God Church. I was not able to see the gun that you were mentioning. I'm not in -- the location where I'm at, I simply cannot see it from this position.
The police are still very much on alert, but I wouldn't say that they have kind of let down their guard, but they are -- yes, it looks like -- OK, now we have several police officers that are coming from the south side of the church that are moving back out to the street. They may be checking out the southern edge. That would be Cooley Avenue, which is two blocks down from where we are.
Yes, so it looks like they are moving in that position. Our cameraman, Don Larson (ph), was able to move a little bit closer before the police told us to stay back. And my understanding from him is that they were chasing somebody on foot.
OK. The police now are on foot and they are moving south. There's a police presence still at the church. They are moving closer again to the church. There is -- these are more Santa Barbara -- I'm sorry -- San Bernardino police officers, all with heavy guns.
They are moving out towards the south of the church and towards Cooley Avenue, so they might be looking on the streets that are directly to the south of the church.
BLITZER: All right, Alberto, stand by for a moment. Be careful over there. We will get back to you.
Kyung Lah is also on the scene for us.
Kyung, what are you learning?
LAH: I'm near the IRC, the original mass shooting incident.
Just a short time ago, Wolf, we saw a number of vehicles flying out of here with their lights on, the armored tankers as well, and what the police have now told us, what the sheriff -- the sergeant here confirms to us is basically what you see, that there is indeed a scene, not too far from here, that there is one suspect down.
What she does not know as of yet because it's still unfolding is exactly how it's connected to the shooting earlier today here in San Bernardino. They are trying to figure out that. As you can see it unfold right in front of your eyes, they are still trying to get to what is happening here.
She says that the latest tally that they have here at the IRC, 14 dead, 17 people wounded. They are working this active scene, as well as this scene that you're seeing from the aerials from our affiliate. Again, they do confirm that they have a number of officers responding to the scene. The massive police presence that was here bolted to this area and they do have one suspect down, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Kyung.
I want to go back to Alberto Moya, our CNN producer.
Was the suspicion that a suspect or more could have been hiding out in that church? Is that the what suspension was, Alberto?
MOYA: From the position that I'm looking at, it looked like the police officers were surrounding, they were checking out the perimeter.
The police presence that remains right by the entrance of the church now looks like they are not as on a heightened state as they were when they initially got here. They are standing. They look a little bit -- just a little bit more relaxed.
But they are -- now there are more police that are moving further south from the church. We're looking at an area that moved three to four blocks where the police have intensified. The church, I would say, is probably the north, the northwestern edge of that church area.
I can see officers at least one, two, three, four blocks down from where we're currently standing at. The police presence at the church does seem a little bit more relaxed, but it's hard to tell what is happening down the alleyways, because the police will not let us move from in this location.
BLITZER: Alberto, be careful over there. We are going to get back to you.
Art Roderick, explain to our viewers the vehicles. These are military armored vehicles that are in the streets of San Bernardino right there. At the bottom of the screen, we're not showing it to our viewers. There is a body there as well. These are military-style vehicles that were brought in.
RODERICK: More than likely, those are SWAT armored cars, more like a BearCat-type vehicle. And it looks like they have got the suspect vehicle blocked in so that it's not able to move anywhere and they are still looking inside of it.
But you also see a third one between the body and the suspect vehicle. And it looks like they were checking out the body there for a few seconds and went back to make sure that that individual was still down and not able to fire or do anything violent.
But it looks like they have got that car pretty much blocked in. And you notice that the passenger door was open. You didn't see any other doors open, so I'm not sure if they are assuming there was a second suspect that got on foot, but it looks like there is still a lot of activity going on in the area behind the suspect vehicle.
BLITZER: And, Tom Fuentes, they have to also worry about the possibility that there could be some sort of explosive device in that vehicle as well.
FUENTES: Explosives and still heavily armed person inside that vehicle.
And, you know, we make much about the militarization of the police. Well, that's because we have a militarized public in this country with military-type assault rifles, armored vests, bullets that pierce armor, that no other country allows that.
That's one of the situations our police often go up against this type of armament in the citizenry of our country.
BLITZER: So, what you're saying it's justified to have military armored vehicles coming into a city like this at a time like this?
BLITZER: And, Cedric, you agree.
ALEXANDER: Yes, absolutely I agree, and even though there has been a lot of controversy around this type of equipment.
But here is a very good example of this type of BearCat armored vehicle being used in these types of scenarios that help protects officers and provides safety for them as they approach these suspect vehicles or -- and it makes it -- it makes it easier for them to accomplish their mission.
And they are going to accomplish their mission here in a few minutes.
BLITZER: So, let me just update our viewers now, at the bottom of the hour.
We were expecting the police chief to be briefing us, Jarrod Burguan, the San Bernardino police chief. He said he would be briefing us at the top of the hour. Obviously, there has been a development, a very serious development, that we have seen thanks to these aerial cameras coming in from helicopters flying overhead from our affiliates.
These are all live pictures you're seeing from the scene. There was a vehicle, a dark SUV, all the windows basically shot out. And there is a body there, as well as a long gun at the same time. Police are being very, very cautious in moving in. They don't
know, frankly, whether there is one shooter at large, two shooters or three shooters. They are trying to determine that. They want to be as careful as possible. They want to make sure that there aren't more deaths, 14 people confirmed shot, murdered by the shooter or shooters in this particular case.
The police earlier said 14 injured, now Kyung Lah getting new information, 17 people injured. We don't know the extent of the injuries.
[18:30:24] When the shooter or shooters went into what's called the Inland Regional Center, a conference building there, where there were employees from the county health department having some sort of holiday-type reception. And the suggestion is the shooter or shooters went in there with these AK-47-type assault weapons and began shooting and killing individuals.
Our producer, Alberto Moya, is on the scene over there.
Alberto, you're getting more information. You're seeing more of what's going on. Update our viewers here in the United States and around the world.
ALBERTO MOYA, CNN PRODUCER: Wolf, we just had two police officers walk right by our position and said this is an active scene, that's the only thing they would provide to us.
We asked if they had their guy, if they managed to get somebody. The only thing that they would tell us is this is an active scene.
And it is not -- it's easy to see exactly what they are referring to. There are multiple helicopters flying overhead. Now we see that the police presence has extended even further south of where we are.
I'm looking at at least several police cars, one, two, three, four, five, eight police cars closing off the southern end of Richardson Avenue and the northern end of San Bernardino Avenue. They have completely cordoned off this area.
Unfortunately, we are not able to see exactly where the majority of the activity is taking place because they asked us to please remain behind our car. Obviously, they told us that it's an active situation. They want to make sure that we're safe and that nobody else gets hurt after what happened today.
BLITZER: So are they -- are they forcing you to kneel down and hunker down in this active scene where you are, Alberto?
MOYA: Yes, they are. When they originally got here they started moving really fast. They were running all over the place with their guns drawn. Now it's the northern edge of the scene that I described. That's a little bit more relaxed. But you can tell that the police have moved into some of the streets, directly to the south of us.
And as soon as we are in a position -- Now I'm looking at -- OK. Hold on a second, Wolf. I'm looking at the police presence at the church (ph) right in front of us. They have kneeled down, and they have taken an active position. I'm going to see if our camera man can move over. To take a look at them kneeling down. We're going to pan our camera so you can see they are looking at an area that is directly behind the church.
Just a few minutes ago they were -- they were standing up. They looked a little bit more relaxed. Now they've resumed that kneeling down position. There's obviously something that they are checking out there. They want to make sure that nobody gets in and out of the region that they have cordoned off.
So it looks like they are -- it continues to be on a very, very heightened stage for blocks and blocks in this area of San Bernardino.
BLITZER: And we see our CNN camera now. These are exclusive live images we're showing our viewers, Sheriff, law enforcement, guns drawn. This is clearly a very active situation right now.
They may have stopped a dark SUV, the windows all blown out. There's gunfire. There may be a suspect on the ground with a long gun there, but this is considered still an active situation.
Tom Fuentes, the impression you get, based on the actions of the police right there, and these are live pictures we're showing our viewers. This is by no means a done deal. They think there's potentially other suspects at large.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The fact that they think it and they're hunkering down to set up a perimeter tells me that camera and our personnel are too close. They need to expand that perimeter and get people out of there. They're pursuing suspect or suspects with long guns that can shoot hundreds of yards. They have no business being that close to the potential shooting situation.
BLITZER: This is now the deadliest shooting here in the United States, Jim Sciutto, since Sandy Hook. Twenty-six people were killed in Sandy Hook, as all of us remember. Fourteen people confirmed dead here. As the president of the United States said just a little while ago, these mass shootings here in the United States take place, unfortunately, more frequently here than they do, he says, any place else.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have to go back to Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech to have a death toll higher than we've seen here today: 32 at Virginia Tech. And you see, again, it sounds like, from witness accounts and from that long rifle that you see next to what may very well be a suspect in this assault weapons.
However, you described them, weapons with capabilities to shoot multiple rounds. And that gels with what you heard from an eyewitness a short time ago who said she heard 25 to 30 gunshots, what seemed to be a pause for reload. That would indicate a magazine-type weapon with 30 rounds or so. And that's the kind of death toll you can get with weapons of that size and that kind of capability. [18:35:13] But it's interesting here now, because you're hearing
from police on the ground, telling our people there. I'm also seeing that the San Bernardino sheriff is tweeting out now that this remains an active situation, a very active situation there. So they don't -- at least they're not convinced that there is not another shooter on the loose in that area right now. I think we're seeing that in the presence of the police there.
BLITZER: You see that SUV, Tom Fuentes, surrounded there. And you see those armored vehicles, those military-style vehicles on the scene, as well. There is a body there. There is a long gun there, but what specifically, I assume, they're worried there could be other suspects at large or there could be explosives.
FUENTES: Well, at large, yes. I don't think they think at this point there's another shooter inside that van from the positions: they're standing. They're completely vulnerable. And if they think there's an explosive in that vehicle, then they shouldn't be that close, either. So I think...
BLITZER: Look at this vehicle that's approaching, Art. Tell us about that.
RODERICK: Yes, this is some type of, looks like, EOD.
FUENTES: Bomb disposal.
RODERICK: Yes. Bomb disposal device that they're going to use. That's probably a bomb shield that they have there. I think Tom is right. If they think there's an explosive device in there, these SWAT members are way too close to that vehicle right now. They should back up.
I mean, obviously, there's nobody else in the vehicle. The vehicle's not going to move. They should probably back up a little bit and get out of that area and let that EOD unit come up and do their job.
BLITZER: The EOD, the Explosive Ordnance Device, is that the type of vehicle that would dispose is if there is some sort of explosive device there?
RODERICK: They would actually look at it from -- you could see where there was an open screen there. They would actually look into the vehicle from there. They have other devices that they can use. They have a large barrel that they can put a small device into or, if the device is unstable enough, they might just explode it in the vehicle there.
So it really is going to be up to what the -- what those EOD, those first EOD people on the scene actually see inside the vehicle.
BLITZER: These are live pictures from our CNN camera. These are exclusive pictures we're seeing. Law enforcement sheriffs moving in, approaching this area. But it's clearly -- clearly, Cedric Alexander, you're watching this together with all of us. Clearly, a very, very dangerous situation that's still unfolding. It's by no means over.
ALEXANDER: No, not at all. It's still very tense there. And I can only imagine being on the ground there with those officers, how intense of a situation this is. But they're pursuing this very cautiously. And we're going to stay tuned to see what happened here, Wolf, in the end of all this as it unfolds.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, you and I have seen these vehicles in Iraq and Baghdad. I saw them in Fallujah. You can see them in San Bernardino, California, at an event like this, where there could be an explosive device. It's pretty terrifying when you think about it.
SCIUTTO: They build these vehicles to withstand not only bullets but also explosions. And that is exactly the concern here. They know there were high-powered rifles used. They would have seen exactly what kind of rifle based on the casings left at the scene. So, you know, that's a risk.
And because we saw them reacting to the possibility of an explosive device at the scene of the shooting, there is at least concern that there are explosive devices present, and that's why you see those EOD, those explosive ordinance disposal teams in there with special equipment to protect them from those.
This is the thing: as Art and Tom were saying, police forces request that kind of material because the adversaries they face often have that kind of weapons.
BLITZER: Yes. There was controversy, as all of us remember, in Baltimore when they moved some of those vehicles in. The local community was not happy seeing those military vehicles there at the time.
But this is a very different situation, Tom Fuentes. It looks like they could potentially be concerned that there may still be someone inside that SUV with the windows blown up.
FUENTES: I don't think so the way they're standing around next to it.
BLITZER: Why wouldn't they go into that vehicle and check it out?
FUENTES: Because it might be booby-trapped, and they don't have that expertise. So we wait for the people that do.'
I wouldn't be surprised if they back the police vehicles away and just detonate that car. That's what happened in Dallas about a year ago when they had that car trapped that the individual that had opened fire in downtown Dallas. And they may just do that and not bother to risk the safety of their bomb tech personnel to go into that car and just detonate it.
BLITZER: But the downside is you then blow up any evidence that could be used...
FUENTES: Well, they may. But they're worried about safety first.
BLITZER: Safety first is obviously the most important. Alberto Moya, our CNN producer, you're there. Tell our viewers what you're seeing, because these are exclusive images. We're seeing live pictures coming in from our CNN camera.
MOYA: Hi, Wolf. So we've been here for several minutes now, and it looks like the majority of the police that immediately moved near the area of the church have moved now further south.
Our camera man, Tom Martin (ph), who was first to get there, before the police had completely sealed off the area, he indicated that he had seen somebody running. He also said that the Bear CAT, which you may be able to see from aerial pictures. I haven't had a chance to see the aerial from my position. But it looks like they did have a significant police presence, and it's moving towards the south of Richardson Street.
We're on the northern edge. The policemen that had originally surrounded the Cornerstone Assembly of God Church have now, it looks like they're standing down. They look a lot more relaxed. And the police immediately began going from block to block, and now they are moving further and further south. Initially, they went over Cooling (ph) Avenue, which is the street that's directly to the south of the church.
They had more reinforcements -- reinforcements go over. And they went -- they seemed to go block by block by block.
Now, we're taking a look at some of the police here by the church. Also further down Richardson, we're looking at a group of police officers who are making their way back to the northern perimeter of the -- of the area. There are also a lot of onlookers that are being held back by the police. There's obviously a lot of interest in San Bernardino for what's happened today.
Police cruisers are moving back and forth fairly actively. I assume that there might be different tactical teams that are going in to check in the area and related (ph) to each other. But we are looking at a group of San Bernardino Sheriff's Department police officers heavily armed that are now making their way back. They -- like I said, they look a lot more relaxed than the initial few minutes when we first got here where they had their guns drawn. They were on an extremely heightened state of alert. They asked us to stay back. They took some cover behind the police car. And as you can tell, they are making their way to the northern edge of the perimeter.
Let me see if I can ask some of them.
(UNINTELLIGIBLE) still active?
OK. So that's the sheriff's department telling us that this is still an active scene.
Guys, is anything happening down there? Still active? Anybody dead? OK. They would not confirm or deny that anything specific had
happened with the shooter, but as you can tell, they said off the top that this is still an active area. And you can tell from the number of helicopters that are flying overhead. Also, you saw that armored -- that armored vehicle, which looked like some device to help shield anybody approaching the area or if there's any additional shooting that would take place. That's moved into position.
And as I said, we did have a visual indication that the BearCats had been moved into position after it was called for. We listened clearly on the scanners, the police requesting reinforcements, including the BearCats.
BLITZER: And Alberto, very quickly, that one body that we've seen on the scene there, that is believed to be the body of one of the shooting suspects. Is that right?
MOYA: I have not seen the body with my eyes. I am only going by the information that has been relayed. Like I said, the police officers here, the only thing that they would tell me is that this continues to be an active situation. I have not seen the body directly. And the police will not give out any more information, except to say that this continues to be an active scene.
BLITZER: Alberto, stand by. Art Roderick, based on all the images that we're seeing, we're trying to absorb, clearly, this is still an active scene and an active situation that's under way right now. What's your analysis of what we're seeing?
RODERICK: Obviously, they're still targeting the vehicle. They have EOD on the scene, and it sounds like, for a period of time after this incident occurred here, the shooting here at this particular location, that law enforcement thought they might have had a second suspect someplace. I'm not sure if that's the case now at this point and where that information came from. But you know, to be on the safe side, law enforcement always assumes there's another shooter, and this is probably what they're going through the protocols right now to make sure there's not a second suspect.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, you agree?
FUENTES: Yes. It's going to be a touch situation. It's going to be dark in about an hour, and if they think they have somebody on the loose in a residential neighborhood to go door to door that could commit a home invasion and hunker down or steal somebody else's vehicle, do a car hijacking, this is still -- if that's true, that there is another person, possibly, out there, this is a dangerous situation still.
BLITZER: Cedric, the way the police are moving now, and we're showing viewers these live pictures, does it look like they're moving as a result of the situation calming down or still very dangerous?
ALEXANDER: No, it's a still very dangerous situation, and I'm quite sure they've taken all the precaution that they can, because one thing their commanders want to make sure that these officers are safely away from where they need to be. At the same time, too, are able to go house to house and do those neighborhood, walk those streets, and continue to search for our second to third person. So they're doing exactly what they need to be doing now with this situation, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, safety first. You got to err on the side of caution and vehicles move in with protective devices and you use more law enforcement arriving on the scene.
Our producer Alberto Moya is there as well.
It looks like they are moving in with these pictures. You're close there. Looks like they are moving into a house.
ALBERTO MOYA, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): That's exactly right, Wolf. I'm pretty far away but looks through the camera lens, I'm looking at exactly the same thing you are and indeed it looks like they are -- they are checking out every corner, every part of this street.
You'll have moments where the police look like they are standing down like the situation has calmed down and then two seconds later, you see two or three police officers running with their guns drawn. You see two or three cruisers going down the street on Richardson Avenue which is where we're at and every time I ask them is anything, can you tell me anything? They continue to say this is an active situation.
I think they are going to be extremely, extremely cautious. It's securing the scene and checking out every door, every location they could possibly think of just in case there is something else happening. But yes, this is still, you can tell the police is very tense and very careful and going door to door and some of these places like I mentioned, a church here, residential area.
There is a facility with what looked like a couple of large tanks for something. So, it's a little bit of a mix area here but the police are going every single place they can think of to make sure nobody gets in and out.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, you got to really be on the side of caution like this. They don't know if there are other shooters at large. They don't know if there are any improvised explosive devices or anything along that nature. They have to be very, very careful.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, they do. And again, if they have gone into someone's home and taken a family hostage or something, that makes it all the more dangerous in the long run here.
BLITZER: If one or two of the other alleged shooters, that's the fear, they went into a home?
FUENTES: If a guy knock the on your door with a long gun, you're going to let them in. And that's what could happen. They could take a family hostage. They could do a carjacking or couple blocks away before they had enough officers to create the perimeter. So, they may have the person contained. They may not. This is still going to be difficult, and they may not have another person. Could have been someone else running.
So, there is a lot of questions and darkness is approaching and they're going to have a lot of difficulty here tonight.
BLITZER: Cedric Alexander, you've been in law enforcement your entire career. How extraordinary and unusual are these images we're seeing now.
ALEXANDER: Well, we tend to be seeing more and more of them, Wolf, over the last number of years and each one of these scenarios we go back and try to see what we can learn from 'em and so, because we can pretty much anticipate an environment we're in today we're probably going to continue to see unfortunately these type of incidents occur. So, we want to learn better tactics and how to protect the community and the situation such as it is.
And at the end of this scenario, there will be lessons learned as well, too, through all of this.
BLITZER: So, we're seeing these three armored military style vehicles surround that one dark SUV with the windows blown out. You see law enforcements officials moving in. They're protected by the armored vehicles, protected by the glass.
Presumably, Tom Fuentes, they are going in there to determine whether or not there are other individuals or any explosive devices but, clearly, they suspect this is the vehicle they were looking for, 14 confirmed people, 14 confirmed deaths in the shooting incident at the Inland Regional Center, 17 people injured. All in hospitals right now.
But this is a critical moment, Tom Fuentes.
FUENTES: It's critical and if they have a suspect body on the street, they need to process the body and try to identify who that person is. Get DNA, fingerprint it, immediately start running the information through databases because if they identify that person, that may lead to the identification of other colleagues of his in a group that had this bad idea to do this.
So, I think that's a critical part of this, as well. Get the suspect identified and try to determine who else that person hangs out with and may have been conspiring with.
BLITZER: And, Jim Sciutto, as we see what's going on right now, this could be the tail end on the other hand, this could be going on for awhile if there are other shooters at large. We don't know. The police chief originally said there could be up to three shooters, now there's one believed to be dead on the ground in this latest shootout with authorities.
[18:50:02] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What we don't know here is, are they operating out of an abundance of caution now to make sure that there's not another shooter or shooters who left this vehicle or did someone see someone else fleeing from that vehicle in addition to this suspect, this presumed suspect who is on the ground jut out of our view there to the left of the screen behind that tree? That's the question.
And our reporter on the ground has seen the police take an offensive posture and then relax and, again, I think it's clear that the police don't know at this point and in light of the kinds of weapons involved, they are operating at a minimum with an abundance of caution to make sure that there is no one else on the loose.
BLITZER: The chopper pilot from our affiliate, KCAL, Tom Fuentes, said he believes he saw a second body inside the SUV that's been stopped there with the windows blown out. We don't know that for sure. But that's what the chopper pilot apparently says he saw. A second body, another body on the ground. Police say that no police seem to have been injured.
So, maybe there were at least two suspects. If they are looking for a third, that's where they are being cautious right now.
But explain those three military vehicles surrounding that SUV, what they are doing.
FUENTES: I don't know what they are doing at this point. I think normally you would see EOD vehicles get close and try to detonate the vehicle or determine if it's booby-trapped or if it has explosives in it. Now, it's possible that there is a victim, a suspect victim in that vehicle if you had the windshields and side windows all blown out, you could have a Bonnie and Clyde type situation where you have a bullet-ridden body inside that vehicle, and they know that person has to be dead and they are in no hurry to deal with that and get him out of the vehicle.
So, we don't know exactly what they know, but they are close enough to be able to tell if there is somebody in that vehicle at this point.
BLITZER: It looks like they may have taken another body out of that vehicle, Jim Sciutto. If we can see carefully enough, it looks like maybe a second body has just been removed from that SUV if that's, in fact, what the law enforcement authorities are doing. You have a better look at it than I do?
SCIUTTO: Looking closely as I can, and, again, this is an aerial from a helicopter, that may then explain why you had the police moving up there and trying to get closer and make sure that person was dead and no longer a threat. Impossible to say, for sure, but as you look at what was and we're pulling out now and as you look at what is under that sort of white clothing or white sheet, certainly the possibility of another body.
BLITZER: This is a residential neighborhood in San Bernardino, a city of about 200,000 people, some 60 or so miles from Los Angeles, about an hour's drive from Los Angeles. It started off as a regularly routine kind of day at the inland regional center. That's a center that serves individuals with developmental disabilities in the Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
In one of the buildings there, there was a conference under way from the county health care workers, apparently, who were there and the charges that these at least one or two or three shooters went in there with long guns, AK-47 type guns, went in there and started shooting. We had an eyewitness who told us she heard 20 or 30 bullets within a matter of only a few minutes ring out.
The police chief in San Bernardino, Jarrod Burguan, saying at least 14 dead. He originally said 14 injured. Now, that number has now gone up to 17.
So, this is, Cedric Alexander, this is going on on a residential street in San Bernardino, California. You can see law enforcement experts behind those armored vehicles moving very, very carefully, cautiously to try to determine what, if anything else, is inside that SUV.
ALEXANDER: Yes, absolutely, Wolf. They are going to take a great deal of precaution.
But I agree with Tom. It's really very hard to tell exactly what they are doing in and around that vehicle right now.
But the appearance may be, it could be one, maybe two bodies inside of that vehicle. But they are going to proceed very cautiously because they really have time on their side.
Now, with the cloak of darkness moving in, certainly makes it a little bit more challenging for them, particularly if they are going to still be looking for another suspect out there. But I think as time begins to pass, we're gaining more information about how this may end up coming to a close.
BLITZER: Let's hope it does come to a close and there's no more deaths, injuries.
Evan Perez, our justice reporter, is getting information in.
We know, Evan, the FBI is on the scene, ATF, Department of Homeland Security. What are you learning from your sources?
[18:55:04] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, right now, everybody is basically working on figuring, trying to determine what possible could be the motive here and one of the things they're doing is they're running names of everybody who maybe associated with this event that was taking place, where this shooting began this morning at 11:00 a.m. local time. They want to make sure anybody who was at the event and perhaps left it or perhaps missed it today, whether they were involved in any of this.
And obviously now that they have someone who appears to be dead in that vehicle that we keep showing on air, it helps them at least try to put together a picture of who may be involved. Obviously, that means now that they are beginning to get a picture of whether or not this is something that is perhaps related to whatever this county employee event that was being held, or whether there are some other motive.
I mean, obviously, the first thing that the FBI is looking for is whether or not there's any terrorism nexus. Again, there's no information indicating that that is the case. As a matter of fact, it's looking less and less like that is the case. But again, they don't rule anything out until they've checked everything, and one of the things that they are doing right now is they're busily checking the names of everybody associated with that event to see what possibly could be the motive and to bring this to an end.
BLITZER: Yes, the FBI agent on the scene there about two hours or so ago said they could not rule in or rule out terrorism in this particular case. They don't have a motive right now, but they are going through methodically what's going on.
Tom Foreman, once again, 14 people confirmed dead in that mass murder, that mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center at that conference going on with some county employees there, with some sort of holiday celebration was going on. A gunman or two or three gunmen went in there with these AK-47-style assault weapons and started killing and shooting at these people who were having some sort of celebration here in the United States.
Tom, as we see these images, they have to err on the side of caution and worry about the worst case, that there may be a bomb or explosive device there.
FOREMAN: No, that's true, Wolf. And something we haven't talked about is, that they want to get the identification numbers off that vehicle so they can trace it. Was it a rental car, who rented it? That was what led to the solving of the Oklahoma City bombing, World Trade Center 1 bombing, the rental information, does it come to residents whether they're going to want to go to the registered owner at that residence and search residents, look for computer, look for other material, other evidence that links to this person or persons to this event. So --
BLITZER: And that would explain, Cedric, why they were in no rush to blow up this vehicle because they can get very useful information potentially from this vehicle, right?
ALEXANDER: Very possible, Wolf. Very much possible. You're correct.
BLITZER: Yes, if it was a rented car or if it's a purchase car, they look at the vehicle numbers, they can quickly determine where that vehicle came from if, in fact, that was the vehicle that drove into the Inland Regional Center and that individual or individuals.
And, Jim Sciutto, we still don't know if there were one, two or three shooters, even though the police chief at the time said there could be as many as three?
SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. Witnesses reporting that really from the beginning of this but, as we know, witness statements can be wrong, caught up in the chaos of the moment. We may be watching here now the possibility of another shooter or suspect taken out of that vehicle. So, at least the possibility is there, in addition to the body that we've seen on the other side of the street.
But from the beginning, this one has been different. The possibility of multiple shooters, the weapons they used and the fact that they escaped the scene, that's extremely unusual. Multiple shooters, extremely unusual, only two out of 160 active shooter situations since the year 2000 have involved more than one shooter.
And getting away -- I'll defer to Tom here -- but getting away from the scene of the shooting is also extremely unusual.
FUENTES: They did not intend to be martyrs.
BLITZER: The deadliest shooting since Sandy Hook, 26 people were killed then. Fourteen people confirmed killed here.
And you've got to say, those law enforcement personnel who are standing there right near, Tom Fuentes, right near that SUV, they are risking their lives right now. This is an incredibly dangerous potential situation.
FUENTES: Yes, I'm a little surprised by that. I think the EOD personnel would have cleared them out and created a wider perimeter in case that car explodes on its own. If that's been booby trapped, it doesn't mean that just the officers re going to trip it. It could be other things that set it off.
So, I'm a little surprised seeing that many people that close to it.
BLITZER: Another horrendous -- unfortunately horrendous day here in the United States. Unfortunately, as I say, this incident happening and right now in a residential neighborhood in San Bernardino, California.
We're going to stay on top of the breaking news. Don't go away. Our coverage continues with Erin Burnett.