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Multiple Victims in Florida Nightclub Shooting; Orlando Nightclub Shooting Termed a Mass Casualty Event. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired June 12, 2016 - 05:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: People have been injured in that area. Police say that a gunman opened fire inside the nightclub. They say that this is an ongoing situation and they are telling everyone to stay away from the Pulse nightclub. It is a gay nightclub in the heart of the city of Orlando.

June is Gay Pride Month. A witness tells CNN that he heard rapid gunfire as he ran from the nightclub around 2:00 in the morning Eastern time, which is when that bar was closing.

We continue to follow this breaking news; as we get more information or as we hear from witnesses on the scene, we will bring it to you.

Joining us now, CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, is on the line.

Tom, first of all, let's point out that it's important to wait. We don't know a lot at this point. We're waiting to hear the first statement from police. We have our reporters, our affiliate reporters and our own correspondent following this developing story.

But I do want to talk about the safety situation for people in that area.

Again, Pulse is tweeting out for people to run, to keep running and authorities saying stay away from the Pulse nightclub.

What can you tell us about that as police try to make sure that everyone is safe in that area?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there's several problems with that, George.

First of all, the nightclub may tell people to run but of course police are going to need witnesses to try to figure out who did this and how many were involved, what exactly happened.

I have seen multiple accounts that maybe the shooter is still inside the nightclub, barricaded, possibly has hostages or fled. So they're going to need to try to determine what the situation is there.

One witness account had a person firing an assault rifle inside and someone else firing from a vehicle passing by. So you're going to have so many reports that are going to turn out to be not accurate.

But with the exception of the reports that there are multiple shooting victims, would indicate that the part about it being an assault rifle involved might be true.

HOWELL: And also I want to point out for our viewers here, looking here, if we can go back to those live images. We do see and you may see a reporter standing in the way. You may see the reporter coverage the story. But we're following live video feeds there from Orlando. That is affiliate WFTV. That affiliate obviously covering the breaking news in the city.

Tom, I do want to point out the information that CNN has. We do know that -- we understand that the person fired inside the nightclub but we don't know whether the person is still in the nightclub.

We do not have information about whether hostages are involved. Still waiting to hear from authorities to get the very latest from them on this situation.

But I do want to ask you about a point that you raised.

When this club is telling people to run and to keep running, you mentioned the concern there, that they may have trouble then finding those witnesses who heard, who saw things, correct?

FUENTES: No, that's true. Hopefully anybody that was in there and saw something, even if they did run, will later call back to the police and say, you know, what they had seen while in there.

Obviously, the people that were wounded are going to be witnesses as well. And we're hoping there's no fatalities. But we don't know that yet, either.

So it is important for the police to talk to as many people as possible to get the identity of who did this and whether they are still at large, whether they still pose a threat to others outside of that nightclub.

HOWELL: CNN's Tom Fuentes on the line with us, our senior law enforcement analyst.

Tom, please stand by for us as I recap for our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world who may be watching this breaking news coverage.

The latest that we understand, police in Orlando, Florida, say that a gunman opened fire inside a nightclub. They say that there are multiple victims in this situation.

It is an ongoing case and they are telling everyone to stay away from this nightclub, called the Pulse nightclub, there in the center there in the heart of Orlando, Florida.

Keep in mind that June is Gay Pride Month. This was a gay dance club. Witnesses tell us that they heard rapid gunfire as this -- as he ran, I should say, from the nightclub. This happened around 2:00 in the morning Eastern time. That's right around when the bar was closing.

So what you are seeing are images there in Orlando, as police are doing their best, obviously, to keep people away from the Pulse nightclub and to deal with the situation at hand.

Let's bring in again CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, who is joining us, following this situation as well.

Tom, as police go about keeping that area closed off from other people, what's the methodology?

What will they be doing next to move in, I guess, closer to that nightclub and determine what's happening there?

FUENTES: Well, that will depend on whether they still think they have a shooter inside the nightclub or not. Obviously, they're going to have a crime scene within that nightclub and they need to do a crime scene --


FUENTES: -- investigation there, try to recover the bullet casings, other forensic evidence inside there and figure out what exactly happened.

And the first thing involved for the police is going to be whether they still have a shooter on the premises or whether that person has fled or maybe taken his own life. So that's the big problem right now.

We don't know what the police know. And we're not sure how much they don't know at this point, as to what happened inside that club and whether they still have an active shooter, potential situation inside the premises.

HOWELL: Tom, so let's talk about again what we don't know. I just want to talk about what is not yet confirmed.

Again, there are many reports out there, as you mentioned. Sometimes these reports are erroneous. But whether the shooter is still inside the club, still unclear about that. Whether there are possible hostages, as you mentioned, Tom, unclear about that.

We're waiting to hear a statement from police about the situation there. You're looking at live images there in Orlando, Florida, where it's 5:05 in the morning and reporters are on the scene, covering this breaking news in Orlando.

The latest that we understand, there are multiple victims in this case, an ongoing situation and, again, the club telling everyone to run and keep running. Authorities are telling people to stay away from the Pulse nightclub.

Tom Fuentes back on the line with us.

Tom, one question that I have for you, as investigators go about trying to get back in touch with those people who saw something or heard something, how crucial is the timing for them to talk to them as quickly as possible?

Will they have trouble finding them?

FUENTES: Well, it depends on how much they know or what they saw. If it's just someone inside the club heard shots fired, they can at least say how many shots they heard or if they saw other people outside the club with weapons as they left or as they fled the area.

But you mentioned the police getting in touch with the witnesses in that situation. It's going to be the other way around.

The police are going to have to rely on people who were there that fled the scene getting back in touch with them and they'll have to sort out whether they are being given truthful information and whether the people were actually at the club.

Oftentimes you can have a situation where there's 100 people in the club and 500 claim they were witnesses. So that will be another situation, of them trying to verify the information that they're getting is accurate from people who were at the scene, actually heard or saw something that's relevant for the police to know.

HOWELL: Tom, I do want to point out some information we're just now getting here in to CNN.

It comes from our own CNN producer in Orlando, John Coles. who is telling us, quote, "an explosion was just heard in the vicinity of the Pulse nightclub."

That's the latest we have from CNN producer John Coles, again, who is on the ground and covers the news there in Orlando, Florida, for CNN.

A loud explosion heard outside the nightclub. Again, police telling everyone to stay away.

There have been multiple people injured in this case, Tom. So again, there's a lot that's out there on social media about what's happening. CNN going with the information that we can vet, the things that we see, the things that we hear and the information we get from authorities.

Given what we know so far, what's your read on things?

FUENTES: Well, I think that's hard to tell. If they have the possibility of a person being locked inside of a room and they're trying to do a building clearing exercise in there, they may have used a stun grenade before entering a room that they think might be occupied by a shooter.

So we'll find out later if that's the case, if that's just a tactical use of an explosive device by the police, just to distract somebody, if they are in a room and they want to try to capture them.

HOWELL: Tom, that's a good point. Thank you for pointing that out. Important to keep that in mind.

Again, our producer, John Coles, saying that he heard an explosion in the vicinity of the Pulse nightclub, a loud explosion, we're told.

Again, police say that the gunman opened fire inside the nightclub. They say that there are multiple victims in this case. An ongoing situation and, again, authorities telling everyone to stay away from the Pulse nightclub.

We're now being told exactly, Tom, what you said, that the explosion that was heard was a controlled explosion by law enforcement. So clarifying the situation there. All of this information is coming in. And you get to see the process of vetting information.

A loud explosion heard outside the Pulse nightclub. It was a controlled explosion by authorities there. Investigators telling everyone to stay clear of that nightclub.

All of this happened around 2:00 am Eastern time in Orlando, Florida.

And the video you see now, these are live video feeds coming from WFTV, our affiliate in Orlando, at 5:09 --


HOWELL: -- in the morning.

Keep in mind you may see reporters stepping in and out of these shots. That's because again we're taking live feeds from our affiliate that is covering the breaking news in their city.

We understand also that this happened in the heart of Orlando, again happening around 2:00 in the morning. We understand that there are multiple victims. Do not understand, though, don't know the extent of those injuries.

Tom, I'd like for you to just come in and talk to us about, again, what we know now to be controlled explosions by authorities. Talk to us about how that would be part of this process.

FUENTES: Well, that could be one of two things.

First of all, if they were trying to get through, say, a locked steel door or something and they couldn't enter it, they might use a controlled explosive, such as detonation cord as a breaching tool; in other words, to blow the lock or hinges off a door so they could get into a room.

Or the secondary use and more common use by SWAT teams is that if they think they have a person armed on the inside of a room before they enter it, they would use a -- what's commonly called flash-bang or stun grenade, which is like a hand grenade, except it doesn't have shrapnel. It just has the noise and the impact and the concussion of a regular grenade.

And what that does is since the police know they're about to detonate it and the bad guy doesn't know they're about to detonate it, his central nervous system would be stunned.

And it gives the police about a one- or two-second advantage to try to take control of an individual before they realize what's happening. So those are the two common ways that an explosive device would be used in a situation like this.

HOWELL: Tom Fuentes, stay on the line with us, if you will. I believe that you'll be joining CNN U.S. as they take our programming here in a moment.

But again, you're looking at live images coming from Orlando, Florida. This is where a shooting happened at a nightclub called the Pulse nightclub. Again, this happened around 2:00 in the morning. We understand that there are multiple victims in this case. The extent of the injuries still unclear.

We're waiting to get a first statement from authorities there. Authorities have not come out on camera yet to talk about what happened but the latest that we understand, this happened around 2:00 in the morning. Authorities saying that a gunman opened fire inside the nightclub.

Stay with CNN as we continue to cover this breaking news in Orlando, Florida.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Breaking news had us on early today to make sure that we have you in the know about what is happening and what we're watching. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell. Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and joining us from around the world. The breaking news out of Orlando, where police are responding to a shooting at a nightclub.

PAUL: This happened at a nightclub called Pulse. It is a gay nightclub. This was around 2 o'clock this morning. So we're just 3.5 hours into this thing. Police are telling CNN multiple people have been injured.

You're looking at some of the video that's coming from that area right now. We know bomb-sniffing dogs are at that club. And around an emergency room of the Orlando Regional Medical Center, which we understand is in that vicinity, authorities are telling people to stay away from that area.

And the nightclub itself, posting this cryptic warning to Facebook, quote, "Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running." Our Boris Sanchez is live on the scene with breaking new details.

Boris, what are you learning at this hour?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, good morning to you. Details are hard to come by right now but I can describe the scene to you that's behind me right now.

A moment ago, we heard several loud noises coming from three or four blocks down the street.

I'm going to get out of the way so you can get a better picture.

There's an expanded, a giant police presence here. All kinds of agencies from Central Florida are here to assist the City of Orlando officials.

And just a few moments ago, we heard some loud noise, as I said, some loud, popping noises. Again, the club is about three or four blocks away. Before that, we heard a very loud explosion, a very loud sound that shook us all and startled us all.

Moments after that, we had a tweet from Orlando police, saying that there was a controlled explosion, that everything is under control. Obviously, we didn't see any flames or smoke emerging from the scene.

But we had heard reports earlier that there was potential for some kind of a hostage situation that may have been unfolding. Again, those are unconfirmed reports.

We're still working to get more information. But one telling thing, Orlando police were supposed to have a press briefing to give us information at about 3:40 this morning -- actually, rather, 4:30 this morning.

And they canceled that because they said this was still a very fluid situation and they didn't have enough information to provide us with.

So far, what we're getting we're hearing from witnesses. We spoke to one witness just about an hour ago, who says he was inside the club at about 2:00 am, shortly before 2:00 am, when he started hearing loud, popping noises, loud noises inside the club.

But he said he couldn't tell whether or not it was the music that was playing inside the club that was very loud or something else. And immediately he realized it was something else when he said he started watching people around him hit the floor.

He himself took to the ground. He got on the ground and he said that he tended to someone who had been shot.

He had a bandana and he was able to plug a bullet wound with that bandana. He said that many people were trying to flee the scene through multiple exits of the club. He said he was fortunate to make it out but he did mention that he did see several bodies. He didn't specify whether or not they were dead or injured.

It's impossible to tell in a chaotic scene like that. But it does sound like there are multiple injuries here.

We also heard from another witness, a gentleman who works at a Dunkin' Donuts across the street from the club. And he said that about 2:00 am, he also heard very loud noises. He took cover and that shortly after that he saw three or four people leaving the club that were obviously bloody and injured.

He said that moments after that, police arrived on the scene and put everyone on lockdown. He's still there now. He hasn't been able to leave because the scene is completely locked down here.

So, again, the information very hard to come by at this point. We're still waiting to hear more from Orlando police. And as we do, we'll bring it to you. Obviously, things are still unfolding between us as I mentioned before. We're still hearing a lot of activity behind us.

And as, of course, once we get more information, we will make sure to bring it to you right away -- Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Boris Sanchez, there for us in Orlando, outside of Pulse nightclub.

And you can see that that area is shut off for several blocks around.

We want to go now to Christopher Hanson. This is tape of his account. He was at the nightclub. Let's watch and we'll talk more in just a moment.


CHRISTOPHER HANSON, PULSE WITNESS: Didn't see any of the actual shooters. I just saw bodies going down. And I was ordering a drink at the bar. I fell down, I crawled out. People were trying to escape out the back. (INAUDIBLE) knocked down. I just know that when I hit the ground, I was crawling and I hit my elbows and my knees.

And then I head across the street, as people who were -- (INAUDIBLE) blood everywhere.


HANSON: I was helping somebody because he was lying down. I wasn't sure if he was dead or alive.

And I was like, "Hey, are you alive, are you OK?"

He didn't speak English. But the person next to us who was helping us -- I don't know if it was Portuguese -- was able to get his name. He was (INAUDIBLE). I took my bandana off and put it in a knot and I shoved it in his hole, the bullet hole that was in the back because it didn't go through. It stayed in.

Then the second person I helped, she got hit in the arm. And her name is Carlesha. She came from Ohio as well because they just moved here from Ohio. So moving here, this is my first nightclub, being out, been here two

months and this is the experience. I didn't know it was Latin night. I didn't understand the music but I still danced. I'm still wet. I don't know if it's sweat, blood. I just know that it's under my nails a little bit. And just -- it was tragic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you hear?

HANSON: Loud, banging noises, like gunshots going off, of course, but I wasn't sure if it was the music because I thought it was (INAUDIBLE) song or something because it was kind of like -- it went with the beat almost until you heard just too many shots.

It was just like bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. That's when you just know chaos is just -- it was in turmoil. And there had to have been more than one or two. Had to have been. There's no way. Or (INAUDIBLE) clip.

I don't know much about guns but it was -- it sounded (INAUDIBLE) a handgun or something.


BLACKWELL: Again, Chris Hanson, Christopher Hanson, who was an eyewitness inside the club.

Again, you are getting video here. This is live from our affiliate WESH in Orlando. You can see that there are multiple ambulances, law enforcement there as well.

And Christopher there was describing just the melee inside, the cacophony of sound.

You can imagine the music, you can imagine these -- gunshots and what was going through those people's mind here.

You see here we're going between shots here. So at some point you'll see live video; at some point you'll see tape. We're getting video in from our affiliates. Our crew is there as well.

And we have in studio with us, Cedric Alexander, CNN law enforcement analyst.

PAUL: So, Cedric, when you take a look at what we're seeing -- and I'm curious to know, because this doesn't happen very often.

When they say there's going to be a press conference, there's going to be a press conference.

The fact that they called that press conference off, what does that tell you they're dealing with?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, clearly what it suggests is that there a lot still yet they do not know.

And I think before the chief or the authorities get before the cameras and reveal any information that they have, I'm quite sure they want to give you something that's going to have some legitimacy and accuracy to it.

So as the morning continue to unfold, what you're going to see is an evolution of what occurred from the time of that shooting up until the point of that press conference.

But it's at a point right now where it's very, very early in the investigation. And you don't want to disclose information that is not considered to be accurate this early on.

PAUL: Tom Fuentes is with us now as well.

Tom, what are you -- what would you say, what can you tell us about the reason for a controlled explosion by law enforcement that we're hearing about this morning?

FUENTES: Well, normally the two main reasons for using a controlled explosion would be either to breach a door, so if you have some kind of --


PAUL: Tom, I'm -- Tom, I'm so sorry. I don't mean to cut you off but we want to get to some live coverage that's happening right outside or right near that club right now. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- because he heard over 100 shots and it was still active. They said they weren't taking any bodies out of the club because they had a potential bomb in there.

So I don't know if he's still in the club, if he's incapacitated and he's dead or he's being worked on here at the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you heard that there was a potential bomb inside the (INAUDIBLE)?


BLACKWELL: All right. You heard there from a woman who was apparently waiting for someone or hoping to hear from someone who was still inside the club and apparently was not able to get out.

Tom, I want you to finish that answer on what we are hearing from Orlando police. There was that report of a loud explosion. Several of the witnesses have described it. Our own CNN producers heard it. And then the tweet from Orlando police, saying that sound was a controlled explosion by law enforcement.

So when you hear that, you say what?

FUENTES: I say they are either trying to get through a door that they can't open and want to open and are using some type of either detonation cord or some other explosive breaching material to blow the hinges off or the door lock off. That's one method. More commonly is if they think they have a barricaded subject in a

room that they want to enter, then they may throw in a stun grenade, which gives --


FUENTES: -- law enforcement a one- or two-second advantage.

In other words, the sound and the concussion of the grenade stuns the person inside. It freezes their central nervous system for one or two seconds. Since the police know that they're using that device, it doesn't stun them. They are able to have a one- or two-second advantage to try to take control of somebody.

So those would be the two common methods in a tactical situation.

PAUL: All right.

Cedric, I want to bring you back into this conversation because I think one of the most urgent things that people are trying to discern for themselves and not getting answers for, is, is there still a threat?

Is this shooter or shooters, are they still in this complex?

ALEXANDER: Well, we do have some unconfirmed reports that it may be a barricaded subject. I think that's still yet to be determined and confirmed by local authorities.

But what you're going to have here is a very large crime scene. That's going to involve a lot of people that appear to have been injured.

So as the morning continues to move forward, I think we'll gather much more information in regards to what you're asking.

But in addition to that, it will begin to crystallize for us what may have occurred, who was involved in this event, a person or a number of people.

And I think we'll see that as we continue to go through the morning.

BLACKWELL: We have a witness account from a gentleman who was there at the club with friends, his name is Anthony Torres. And I'm reading a bit of what he said.

He said, "There were a lot of people still inside the club because they had already done the last call and everything. So it was towards the end before it closed."

He goes on to say, "The shots did not sound like a regular handgun. It sounded like it was shooting repetitively and it wouldn't stop.

"From what we were hearing from the police and the people around there, they were saying there was a shooter inside of the club, locked in the bathroom." Now that is one eyewitness account. It is important to say that early

on in breaking news situations like this one that many of the early details are not specifically accurate because there is, what we're seeing, the cloud, the rush here, with all the law enforcement there -- and people may have thought they heard one thing and it was actually something else, much like the case with this explosion.

There were reports early that it was a bomb. Police now say that it was a controlled explosion by law enforcement. So it's important to say that these details, the specific numbers will change as the morning goes on, as police get their handle on what's happening there.

ALEXANDER: Absolutely.

PAUL: So how do you proceed, Cedric?

When you're looking at this situation, at least from what we can see and we don't know if there is still a threat inside the building. We know that law enforcement, as Tom was talking about, had this controlled explosion.

But when you look at these pictures, what -- how do you proceed?

ALEXANDER: Well, if you look at the pictures, just from the pictures that we have that are in front of us, that is a huge crime scene. There are a multitude of things that are going on at that scene. You could potentially have SWAT there that's attempting to engage, an unconfirmed report of a hostage situation.

You have people on the scene, clearly, that are still injured and being treated and transported to hospitals. You have investigation of witnesses who may have heard, seen or witnessed anything that's relevant to this particular case. So there's a lot that's going on this morning.

And as the morning continues, as you heard Victor say, it's going to continue to crystallize. And I think it will begin to make a little bit more sense to our viewers in terms of what occurred.

BLACKWELL: All right. We're approaching 5:30 am, about 3.5 hours after this shooting at a nightclub in Orlando. You have live pictures there, some tape that came in from Facebook, from eyewitnesses there.

We're going to take a quick break. But again, a shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, multiple injuries reported. We are awaiting a news conference that was postponed, scheduled for an hour ago.

As soon as we get more information from police, we'll bring that to you live. But we just got an update from Orlando Regional Medical Center. We'll have that for you right after the break.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Welcome back. And welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.

If you are just joining us, let's reset on the breaking news we're following out of Orlando, Florida. Police say multiple people have been injured after a gunman opened fire in a crowded nightclub there early this morning.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: The nightclub is Pulse there in Orlando. It's a gay nightclub. They say they are in the heart of the city. We know there are bomb-sniffing dogs at this club. And recently an explosion was heard near the area. Now we do have some confirmation on that. Orlando police have said that was a controlled explosion by law enforcement.

Our Boris Sanchez is on the scene right now with new details.

Boris, help us understand what's going on there right now.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, it is essentially unfolding before us. Right now we're about three or four blocks away from the location of the nightclub. And I'm not sure if you can see behind me just how expansive this police presence is.

It's huge. There are at least a dozen agencies, sheriff's deputies, even airport police are here, assisting in this situation. We've had unconfirmed reports that there's some kind of hostage situation potentially inside this nightclub. Again, that has not been confirmed by Orlando police.

In the past hour, we heard a very loud explosion. As you mentioned, (INAUDIBLE) that was a controlled explosion. We heard some staccato bursts a short while after that.

And as you can see, an ambulance is rushing out of the scene right now. We don't have any idea as to the number of wounded or potentially the number of dead. But we have heard from witnesses that were inside the club who told us that shortly before 2:00 am they heard very loud popping.

One witness told us that he wasn't sure if it was part of the music or perhaps something else and he realized it was something else when people around him started to hit the floor.

And he took to the ground himself. He said that he tried to assist several people that were wounded as he was leaving. And he mentioned that he saw quite a bit of blood and people on the ground. So again, not sure exactly how many may have been hurt but it's clear that several people were at least injured in this shooting.

We also spoke --


SANCHEZ: -- to a witness who was across the street. He worked at a Dunkin' Donuts there and he said similar story, at around 2:00 a.m., he started hearing very loud noises. Shortly after that, he saw people emerging from the club bloodied. And after that, police arrived and put the whole thing on lockdown. And it's been on lockdown ever since.

So as we try to get more information on what these explosions were and just how fluid the situation is, we were expecting a press briefing at 4:30 am. That got pushed back, Orlando police essentially saying that the situation was too fluid to provide us with any information right now.

So that gives you an idea of just how ever-changing the situation appears to be. We still don't have any concrete details though we're expecting to get some shortly.

BLACKWELL: All right, Boris Sanchez for us there, as Boris said, about three to four blocks away from the Pulse nightclub there in Orlando.

If you are familiar with Orlando, you visit it or you live nearby, it's on South Orange Avenue, which is a major thoroughfare there in the city. They are in the heart of Orlando there.

Many of the injured were taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, which is just a few blocks away, fortunately.

Moments ago, we got this sound in from just outside of the hospital from our affiliate, WFTV. This is with the mother of one of the persons inside that club -- watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2:07, I got a text message from my daughter and my two nieces, "Please come and get us. Please come and get us now. They're shooting. They're shooting."

Then about 2:12, I got a phone call from my daughter, saying she was hit and she was bleeding in her arm and she was going to pass out. And just come and get her and help her and call the cops and help. And she was just afraid. And it was just tragic.


PAUL: Also want to take you to our affiliate, WESH, who just filed this report outside of that hospital.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm sure and I can tell you, just from the people we've been visiting with here outside the hospital, not knowing what's going on with loved ones, waiting for confirmed information, as you can see, the frenzy of activity going in and out. And, Stuart (ph), we counted how many?

Two, three pickups coming in and out of here, literally with police screaming over their loudspeakers for folks to get out of the way so they could come rushing up to the emergency room. That's how fluid this situation is at this point. And for the folks who have already been here two, three hours, there's

this sense of desperation to find out information about what's going on.

I talked to one woman, who said her son's friend was shot in the back. He's in here.

But this just gives you a sense of the confusion at the scene here, Brett (ph), as folks are trying to get information. But more importantly, you have all of these folks inside this club, where it's not secure yet, obviously, where they had to go working through this club and then get the injured people out finally when they felt it was secure enough to do so and then rush them down to the emergency room here.

But we don't have any confirmed information from OPD yet on the extent of the injuries. But just from the urgency of watching what's going on back and forth in front of us, clearly the injuries are severe. The emotions here are raw, as people just don't know. And at this point, it's not an overstatement to say that they are absolutely desperate to find out some information.

That just gives you a sense of the enormity of this situation, that police from multiple jurisdictions are having to deal with. So you know, Stuart (ph), at this point, as we're standing here outside the emergency room and you're listening to this raw emotion with these folks not knowing, this is tough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's tough to see and tough to witness, especially --


BLACKWELL: All right. That coming in from our affiliate, WESH, coming in just a few moments ago outside of Orlando Regional Medical Center, where we know that several of the victims from this shooting at Pulse Orlando, the nightclub shooting at 2:00 am this morning, where that shooting happened, they were taken.

This just came in from Orlando Regional Medical Center, a statement saying that the hospital was placed on lockdown as well around 2:00 am. You might have noticed that there was police tape, caution tape in the background of that shot from WESH, as police are on guard outside of that hospital as well.

Let's go back to WESH live now and listen to this woman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- his boyfriend, who's in here getting treated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had any communication with them at all?

Any text messages, anything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, none. None at all. He went there with two other men and two other friends and those two friends were in the -- happened to be in the bathroom when the shooting happened. And they were able to run out at the time the shooting happened.

But Juan is in here, shot and my son is unaccounted for right now. So I don't know if he's still in the club, if he's dead --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- if he's shot in here. I just hope he's OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do, too. We absolutely do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we know that you're not alone in your sense of not knowing what's going on.

Did your son go to this nightclub a lot?

Did he frequent it quite a bit?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he's single. He's dating a young man but they're single men. They don't have any kids. They enjoy -- they both are -- work and they enjoy going to clubs on the weekend.

So --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From what I understand, (INAUDIBLE) the witnesses were saying that it was a very peaceful atmosphere at the time all of this started.

I mean, had he given you the sense that this was a place he went a lot and enjoyed going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he lives in downtown Orlando. They go to all the places in downtown Orlando. They love Orlando. And he went to UCF as an undergrad and a grad student. So he's been in Orlando since 2003.

And then after he became employed, he wanted to stay in Orlando. So he does go to, you know, the clubs. He was just at SeaWorld. I just talked to him at 6 o'clock.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we're going to stand right by here with you as we try to get more information about what's happened to your son, as well as the other victims.

And we --


PAUL: All right, again, that was just one woman, who is really displaying to us the desperation of people there, trying to find people that they know were in that club and the chaos at the hospital, outside the hospital, let alone what's happening at the club itself.

We have to take a quick break here. Tom Fuentes has been watching all of this with us, our law enforcement analyst. He is with us again after a quick break. Stay close.





BLACKWELL: We're getting more on the breaking news this morning out of Orlando, Florida. Police say multiple people have been injured, now headed to Orlando area hospitals. This happened after a gunman opened fire on a crowded nightclub very early this morning.

PAUL: This is some of the latest video that we're getting in. You can see the emergency vehicles as they try to get people to those hospitals. We do not have conditions on any of those people, nor how many people are affected here.

But this was something that happened at Pulse Orlando. It's a gay nightclub in the heart of the city there. We're going to show you a Facebook post here from the club at 2:00 am that told everyone to get out of the club.

Recently an explosion we know was heard near that area and we do have confirmation now that Orlando police have said that was a controlled explosion by law enforcement.

But look at this huge picture -- oh, we just lost it there -- of the police presence, the cordoned-off blocks around it.

Our affiliate, WFTV, we want to take them live right now, as to what they're hearing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he give you -- sorry to cut you off.

Did he give you any indication there were multiple gunmen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From what I've heard and from other people, it sounds like there was two gunmen. Because one of them was in the bathroom, supposedly as of right now. I'm not quite sure how accurate that is anymore because his phone is like dead or something.

But last I heard from him, about 20 minutes ago, there's a gunman in the bathroom and there's been cops out here with like rifles and dogs, just searching the area for someone else. So there's multiple gunmen, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overall reaction to all of this, I mean, thankful you've heard from your friend, because many people standing out here are still waiting to hear from their loved ones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. I'm terrified that it happened in Orlando and kind of disappointed because it's like I was going to come out to Pulse tonight but I went to a friend's house. And it's like this was going to be a job for me when I graduated in a couple months. And I work at all the clubs down here so it's just kind of scary to think last night with Plaza, tonight with Pulse. It's like the clubs just seem like they're getting targeted.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, Chris. And that is the very latest out here. We'll continue to update you on this --

BLACKWELL: And you heard that man reference a shooting at a club last night. That was the location where "The Voice" finalist, Christina Grimmie, was shot and killed last night.

No update from police on this shooting. No connection between the two. That man said he was not inside the club. But we do have an account from someone who was inside the club, describing a chaotic scene to CNN.

His name is Anthony Torres. And here's part of his statement.

"There was a lot of people still inside of the club because they'd already done the last call and everything. So it was towards the end before it closed."

Torres goes on to say, "The shots did not sound like a regular handgun. It sounded like it was shooting repetitively and wouldn't stop. From what we heard or we're hearing from the police and the people around there, they were saying there was a shooter inside the club, locked in the bathroom."

Now again, we have no confirmation from police of there being anyone locked inside the club. What we have is that there was a shooting, multiple injuries, taken to multiple hospitals in the area.

We have our CNN law enforcement analysts here in studio. We have Cedric Alexander. On the phone, we have our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes.

And, Tom, I just want to go to one thing we learned from the hospitals, that the Orlando Regional Medical Center, where several gunshot victims we're told through a statement, were taken is on lockdown, has been on lockdown since 2:00 am, going on four hours now and also Arnold Palmer Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital, they both are on lockdown.

What would lead hospital management to lock down these three hospitals?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the only thing I can think of is that maybe they thought that whoever did these shootings might do more and follow some of these victims to the hospital and create a situation in one of these hospitals. I think that would probably be the only reason that they have to fear

for the safety of individuals at the hospital and not want -- and also not want other people coming in.

Family members and everyone else just trying to keep the hospital (INAUDIBLE) should and keep the emergency rooms open without being interfered with by people who, even though they are good wishers, can still cause a chaotic situation.

PAUL: So Tom, when we're dealing with a situation like this and we just heard that gentleman saying he thought there were two shooters. Again, we have absolutely no confirmation of that.

But when you don't know what you're dealing with in a situation like this, how do authorities deal with what -- OK. I'm sorry.

I want to go -- you know, we're just getting some breaking news in. Orlando police have just tweeted that this is a mass casualty --


PAUL: -- situation. You can see it there. We can confirm this is a mass casualty situation. Support from local, state, federal agencies. We expect to brief media shortly. We will take you to that press briefing as soon as it actually happens.

But, Tom, your thoughts as we now hear this is, indeed, a mass casualty situation.

FUENTES: Well, right now, there's two main issues for the police to deal with and the first one is to try to save lives. Anybody that's wounded and still inside that facility, if they can get them out and get them to the hospital for medical treatment, that's priority one.

But, obviously, the other priority is safeguarding the community and others that, you know, do they still have an active shooter?

Do they have a shooter who has survived this and is at large?

Either in -- either did lock himself in a room in the club or left the club and is in the neighborhood and, maybe, you know, far away from the scene right now and feeling like that person could do another attack, either today or at another time.

So that's part of, you know, what they are dealing with right now, is the unknown. And as many witness statements of survivors that they can get that will be accurate, people that are in there and actually saw, if possible, saw who was firing the shots, that will be a huge issue because all these rumors will spring up that, by the number of shots fired, you know, it will sound like multiple (INAUDIBLE) automatic weapons and all of that.

But even one individual with two handguns can do massive damage, as we saw, in the Virginia Tech shooting. He killed 33 people with two pistols. So you can fire a lot shots out of handguns with extended magazines and semi-automatic pistols as well and not necessarily have to use an assault rifle.

But, you know, again, that's what we're going to find out. And the police will be trying to gather bullet casings and find out what kind of weapon was used.

They'll be at the hospital -- and this is gruesome -- but recovering bullets as people are being treated in the emergency room and in surgery and try and determine what kind of weapon or more than one weapon is out, what they are up against.

BLACKWELL: All right. I want to read again what just came in from the Orlando police. This tweet coming in.

"We can confirm this is a mass casualty situation. Support from local, state, federal agencies. We expect to brief media shortly. We will advise shortly on media staging area."

Again, all info comes through Twitter for now. No phone calls or emails, you're seeing that message to the media.

Let me come to you, Cedric Alexander, our CNN law enforcement analyst here in studio.

Mass casualty is a very important classification.

What is the threshold for law enforcement to now turn this from multiple injuries to mass casualty?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's very strong language. And what they are telegraphing to us, it very well could be some very significant casualties there, not just injuries.

BLACKWELL: Is there typically a minimum number that changes this from --

ALEXANDER: Not necessarily, not necessarily, certainly it depends on the situation. We know that a nightclub on a Saturday night, it was probably a very, very large crowd.

What's going to be determined here, once a press conference is conducted, we'll have a better assessment in terms to what they mean by mass casualty.

But if they are tweeting out mass casualty, then they are pretty convinced that this is a very serious situation. But before I put any more inference on that, I think it would be important to wait until we get this press conference, hopefully, here very shortly. But that is certainly telegraphing some severity here.

BLACKWELL: Tom, let me come to you with this information, that support from local, state and federal agencies. You are the former assistant director of the FBI.

What would be the threshold to reach the...

OK. We just got an update from Orlando police, this tweet coming out just seconds ago.

"The shooter inside the club is dead."

That coming in from Orlando police now, nearly four hours after this shooting at Pulse Orlando, downtown Orlando.

"The shooter inside the club is dead."

How will that change this investigation moving forward in the near future, Tom?

FUENTES: Well, it will make it a whole lot easier to know that they don't have a threat continuing from the shooter. So at least the person that caused all of these mass casualties is no longer a threat and they can proceed to the next phase, which is going to be the crime scene investigation and gather the forensics and identify the shooter as quickly as possible.

Go to that person's residence and do searches there to try to recover his computers and gather --


FUENTES: -- information that may give a reason as to why he may have wanted to do this.

Was this a hate crime against gays?

Was it a jilted lover and went in there and that caused this to be the reason?

Or we may never know. And that often happens in these types of situations.

At least the shooter has been neutralized and probably -- in many of these cases, it's often a self-inflicted wound that causes that. At least this will make it easier for the police to go forward with the crime scene investigation and then safely get wounded persons out of that location, get them to the hospital and then, as I said, go forward with the forensic work they have to do.

PAUL: Cedric, when we listen to what's happening right now, we're getting this word that the shooter is dead.

Do you believe, based on what we know and historically, what do cases like this tell us?

Is this something that is usually well, well planned in advance?

ALEXANDER: Oftentimes it is.

Oftentimes that is --

PAUL: So what kind of -- where will you look and what kind of clues could you find?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think what Tom just indicated is going to be very important to the investigation.

Once you identify the shooter, whoever she may -- whoever it may happen to be, once they identify getting into their residence, getting into their vehicles and getting into their electronic equipment and maybe making determination in terms, maybe there were some messaging that could have been done prior to this.

Evidence may show within his home or his car some things that might be very relevant to the investigation.

But this is certainly a very sad and tragic event this morning and a lot of painful family and friends that are there on that scene.

BLACKWELL: Of course the latest reporting here, "The shooter inside the nightclub is dead."

The question is, is there just one shooter here?

Police make that qualification, "inside the club."

We've got to take a break. We'll be right back, continuing the breaking news. A mass casualty event here in Orlando overnight.