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Police: This is Mass Casualty Situation. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired June 12, 2016 - 06:00   ET



[06:00:10] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it is a very chaotic scene in Orlando this morning, and we want to take you there live. We're so grateful you're here with us as we cover what has now been described as a mass casualty shooting in downtown Orlando.

Live pictures coming to you from some of our affiliates there, this from WKMG. We know Orlando police telling us the shooter inside that night club where this happened is dead. They tweeted that just a couple of moments ago. But that does not mean that they have secured that entire area, because they could still be looking for another shooter. They have just clarified, one shooter inside is dead.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, for people who are just waking up. Let me tell you what we know.

A shooting that happened at Pulse Orlando. It's a gay nightclub in downtown Orlando, the heart of the city. Happened around 2:00 a.m., so about four hours ago now. This man, at least one person, walked into this crowded night club, multiple victims now headed to several hospitals in that area.

We know that the Orlando Regional Medical Center, the Arnold Palmer Hospital, the Winnie Palmer Hospital, all on lockdown. It happened just several hours ago. This from the Facebook post of the club around 2:00, telling everyone to get out of Pulse and keep running. We have our law enforcement analysts here. We'll get to them in just a moment.

Orlando police have said that this was a situation that ended with mass casualties. There was an explosion that was heard in that area, but police have said that that was a controlled explosion by law enforcement.

We have been collecting interviews, sound from our affiliates there in the area with people who were both inside, outside of the club. We'll get to that in just a moment.

But let's start with CNN's Boris Sanchez, who is about three to four blocks away at the edge of that area, that expansive scene.

Boris, what's the latest you have there?


We're watching a massive police presence, kind of reconfigure our right now. Crime scene investigators just showed up. Orlando police, sheriff deputy, several agencies from central Florida, as well as helicopters in the air. Obviously, a very serious situation.

As you heard, Orlando police just a few moments ago, confirming the shooter inside the club is deceased. We did hear from multiple witnesses inside that said that they thought there may have been more than one shooter. So, it's important to clarify, as Christi said earlier, that the scene is not exactly secure at this point.

But the flow of information that we've received kind of gives you an idea of how this all unfolded. Witnesses inside the club tell us that about 2:00 a.m. shortly before 2:00 a.m., they heard loud, loud popping noises.

One witness said that he couldn't tell if it was part of the music or something else, and he realized it was something more nefarious when people around him started hitting the ground. He was fortunate to get out.

A short while after that, police arrive on the scene, put the whole thing on lockdown, and they told us that about 4:30, there was going to be a press meantime, we were hearing reports there was some kind of hostage situation inside and that there was potentially a bomb inside. One witness described, or said to us that there was potentially a shooter hold up inside a bathroom.

A short while after we got that news, Orlando police pushed back the press briefing, essentially saying the situation was too fluid. Not a long time after that, we heard the loud explosion, a controlled explosion by Orlando police, and then we started getting more information, until we heard just about a half hour ago, Orlando police saying this is a mass casualty event.

So, it gives you an idea, we heard that loud explosion, they were able to confirm there were mass casualties, that a SWAT team was able to move in and confirm some of those details. Again, the shooter was found deceased inside the club. But as the situation unfolds, we don't know if they acted alone or if they have been accompanied by others.

I can tell you, one of our producers went down the street here, fortunately, silver lining in all of this that there is a hospital just down the street from the Pulse nightclub, the Orlando Regional Medical Center. Our producer walked down there and he said that there is a line of gurneys and doctors outside, as well as families of many people that believe that their loved ones were at Pulse nightclub. They were trying to get information and people are obviously trying to get taken care of.

So, there are many details to try to parse through, and we're going to be keep pressing for more information and we'll bring it to you as soon as we get it.

BLACKWELL: All right, Boris. Thanks.

It's important to say although there are eyewitnesses who say that there were hostages inside the club, that there was a report of a bomb, those have not been confirmed by law enforcement.

[06:05:07] I just want to make sure we say that. And there was, again, that one explosion, which law enforcement says was a controlled explosion that was done by law enforcement. And again, we can't say it often enough. That early in these breaking news situation, some of the details that come out, that we hear from witnesses, even sometimes from law enforcement officials are inaccurate because of the fog of breaking news.

You see the response there on your screen. This large scope, this large scale here, and as soon as we get this news conference, they'll be able to confirm some of the things we're hearing. Right now, we're only getting updates through Orlando police Twitter account. They've called this a mass casualty situation, and victims being taken to local hospitals.

We want you to hear from some of the people who were there, who were inside and outside of the club.

PAUL: Christopher Hansen is one of them. He was a witness at the night club. Here is what he has to say.



REPORTER: If you had to count, how many shots do you think there were?

HANSEN: Oh, more than 20 or 30. I mean it, was just one after another after another after another. It could have lasted a whole song, I mean, because after everybody was out, people were -- the shootings were still going.

The cops were yelling, go, go, clear the area. Clear the area. We're like (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

So, you know, when I went down to help this guy, I'm like are you kidding, you're still watching yourself. And then, you see people on the side of buildings. I jumped a couple of times, I wasn't sure if that person was someone with a gun or if they were somebody who was hiding, because you don't know, you don't know who is what, who is where. You're just like, oh, man.


PAUL: Something that adds to the confusion, it is a night club. We know that it is very loud. The music is pulsing. So, when they hear the shots, they don't know if it is part of the music or they don't know if something is actually happening there. BLACKWELL: And some of the witnesses have said that they didn't know

that this was a real situation, that this was an emergency.

PAUL: Right.

BLACKWELL: Until they saw people start to hit the floor.

PAUL: Uh-huh.

BLACKWELL: Let's go back to some of the sound we've had come in. This, from a mother, came in just moments ago, one of the persons inside that club.


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 said she was hit and she was bleeding from her arm and she was going to pass out, just come and get her and call the cops and help and she was just afraid. Just tragic.


PAUL: This is what is so disturbing to about this in the aftermath, as Victor mentioned the fog of the situation at the moment. You have all of these people who knew their children were there, that their brothers or sisters were there, and they have no idea where they are or what is happening.

In fact, let's listen here to the mom of a son, her son was in that night club. Let's listen to what she said moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But they won't let us know. They're not letting us know names of anybody.

REPORTER: What can you tell us about what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I could tell you that my son was in there with his boyfriend and two other guys, two other friends. And the two friends went to the bathroom, and when they went to the bathroom, they heard about 20 shots. And then they recognized it as being a shooter, so they took off running.

And while they were waiting outside the club, they saw Juan, who was my son's boyfriend, they saw him being transported into an ambulance with multiple gunshots. But my son hasn't been heard from, so I don't know if he was left in the club, if he got shot or if he is being worked on here. I don't know.


PAUL: Being worked on here, she is at the hospital. Cedric, there are people just like her all over Orlando, wondering

what is happening with the people that they love, that they know were there.

Do officers have designated officers? Does the department have designated officers dealing with those families specifically?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, once we identify who those families are, and clearly, there will be a number of families involved. All resources and I'm quite sure, all police personnel will be on that scene doing their initial investigation, and coordinating what it is they need to do next.

Those patients that have been taken to the hospital that are able to talk, that are conscious, they will be interviewed as well. There will be opportunities for their families to contact them and they to be able to contact their families as well.

[06:10:00] But it is certainly important to note here that there are going to be many people at the scene outside of the hospital at this very moment, such as you heard parent of the one of the nightclub goers there. So, it's going to be very tense for a little while this morning.

BLACKWELL: We have video in from one of our affiliates. It shows law enforcement officers firing shots in the direction of the night club. Let's watch that, and then we'll talk more with our law enforcement analysts.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that, they're shooting back and forth.

Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. They're all shooting back and forth. Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They won't let you out of the area.


BLACKWELL: All right, so that video coming in from Facebook from someone who was recording it just -- it looked to be maybe a block away from the law enforcement officers who were firing shots.

We also have with us on the phone, CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI.

Two questions for you, I want to start with the video we just saw. When you see these police officers firing shots at the club, is there an expectation and an assumption that there are shots being fired back at them? What would cause them to fire these shots in the direction of the club, tom? TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone):

Well, I think, victor, that would be the assumption, they're under fire and returning fire. Otherwise, I can't imagine police officers in a crowded situation like this just firing, you know, where they could injure innocent people.

But it's too early to say what exactly we saw in that videotape. Obviously, we see shots fired, we see the muzzle flashed coming from the weapons, but I just don't know why they're shooting or who they're shooting at, what the exchange is all about.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I asked that question, because we're still waiting for the news conference that was scheduled about an hour and 45 minutes ago, and then was pushed because of the fluidity of the situation. We just received that tweet roughly 20 minutes ago now that the shooter inside the club is dead, still waiting for an update from Orlando police.

We're going to take a break in a moment, but first, Tom, I want you to answer that question. We heard from Orlando police that there is support from federal agencies. As the former assistant director of the FBI what, would be -- what would cause there be to a federal nexus here, simply the size and scope of the situation and the response, or would there be some specific variable that would bring in federal agencies?

FUENTES: Well, early on in a case like this, you don't know if it is an act of terrorism, hate crime, you know, whether there is more to this than one or more individuals that are just deranged or, you know, having a reason to go in and commit a hate crime at that place.

So, normally, that would be a common procedure to ask for any and all help. And it doesn't take the designation of mass casualty. It's up to the police department generally to ask for the additional resources from surrounding police departments at the local, county, state and federal level, and especially in the mass casualty situation.

The idea that this could be coordinated, that there could be other intelligence to be brought to bear, information and leads that will come from identifying this shooter, who is deceased, and as we mentioned earlier, going to his residence and getting additional information from the computer. That could generate leads throughout the country, and even internationally, depending on who that person was in contact with. And how many more people may have been in communication with him.

So, that would be, again, a standard procedure in a case like this.

PAUL: All right, if you're just joining us, a quick recap for you here. Orlando police designating this a mass casualty shooting inside a nightclub in Orlando. We are about four hours in to this very tragic situation.

Just stay close. We're back on the other side of the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:17:38] BLACKWELL: All right, we are pushing forward on the breaking news that's coming in from Orlando, Florida. Orlando police designating this, classifying this shooting at a night club, pulse night club there, a mass casualty situation. This happening after a shooter walked in and opened fire.

PAUL: Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that, they're shooting back and forth.

Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god. They're all shooting back and forth. Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They won't let you out of the area.


PAUL: That video, obviously coming from witnesses outside the club and sometime after 2:00 a.m., when this shooting happened. But we do know that there are multiple victims at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Arnold Palmer Hospital and Winnie Palmer Hospital as well. Those hospitals all on lockdown.

But again, this happened at Pulse Orlando. This is a gay nightclub that's in the heart of the city there. And a Facebook post from the club at 2:00 a.m., told everyone to get out of the club, and to keep running.

If that gives you a sense of the chaos and the desperation that was going on at that moment, Orlando police later reported a controlled explosion that was by law enforcement, again, police say the shooter inside that club is dead. But that does not clear the way for them to stop the investigation for a shooter.

There could be multiple shooters. We have had witnesses who have said they thought there were multiple shooters, but that has not been confirmed.

This latest Facebook from the club just minutes ago, "As soon as we have any information, we will update everyone. Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and your love."

Cedric Alexander with us. Tom Fuentes with us, both our law enforcement analysts.

Before we go to them, we do want to take you to the scene where the sun is starting to come up at 6:19, almost four and a half hours after the shooting took place.

[06:20:02] Boris Sanchez is a few blocks away.

Boris, what's happening there now?

SANCHEZ: Hey, Christi. We're still awaiting this police briefing that we're said to get details about at any moment, hopefully to get more information about this.

I can tell you things are markedly different at the scene. When we first got here, there was an enormous police presence. It has started whittle down. We've seen fire trucks starting to leave, several ambulances starting to leave.

But we have We've seen bomb sniffing dogs, asking questions of people just standing around just watching to see, to be sure that the scene is secure and safe. As you mentioned, they said earlier that the shooter was deceased inside the club, but it is still uncertain if he may have been accompanied by other people, so that's why where the investigation is right now.

In terms of the victims, we don't have a clear number on the number of potential casualties or the number hurt. I can tell you down the street at the Orlando Regional Medical Center there is a line of gurneys outside, doctors outside trying to assist people as well as families who believe their loved ones may have been at the night club as the shooting unfolded. They're trying to get more information.

So, things are very chaotic out here as we await more information. We're going to make sure to get more information from Orlando police shortly and we will bring it to you as soon as we know more.

BLACKWELL: Boris Sanchez, outside of the police perimeter there. We know it is about three to four blocks in each direction.

And Boris mentioned there that there was supposed to be this news conference about two hours ago. That has not yet happened. For the parents, for the loved ones, for the friends, it is the not knowing that is the torture as the hours go on.

But there is at least one mother who knows what happened inside that club as it relates to her son. Her name is Rosalina Ramos (ph). I want you to listen to hear what she heard about her son who was inside Pulse Orlando when the shooting started.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I received a call that my son got shot, and --

REPORTER: Who told you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One, a girlfriend of my son. And she say that my son got shot she was crying, all that stuff. A lot of crazy stuff happening over there.

Then I run over here, when I get here, I try to get to the club. They place it happened. And then, you know, that part was closed, those street. Some of the police, they send me, I'm asking where are they, ORMC, they send me over here, they told me, you know, they send me to another street, when I get here, they not allow me to enter to the hospital.

REPORTER: Have you gotten any sense of your son's wounds or how --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, nothing. Then I call to the -- a few minutes ago, I call to the hospital. They told me they don't have any, all the people they have in this hospital, some of the people, they transferred to another hospital, because this hospital is full.

And then you know, I keep contact with the person that she have, my son telephone, you know, the cell phone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the key of my son car. She told me that he got shot, my son got shot three time. Yet I don't know how he is doing. I don't know nothing.

I want -- I'm worried. Because he -- a few minutes ago, she told my son, my other son that he had big hole in the stomach. He had shot in the chest, and he had another shot over here, near the stomach.

So I don't know how my son is doing. I try to be in contact with, you know, my son's father side, because he's in Puerto Rico. I'm now -- I don't know. I am waiting from 2:00. This happened, you know, the situation happened. The girl who was in contact with me, she say two men was in the door, they started to shot.

REPORTER: So she saw two people shooting?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, two people was shooting everybody, like crazy. My son tried to escape or something like that. And when what happened, they shot my son three times.

[06:25:00] But they shot him like crazy. Some of the people was in the bathroom, like his friend.

REPORTER: Hiding, hiding?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. She was over there. She just get out, you know, after they was safe. After that, when I was over here, waiting and waiting, I shot in this area, in front of the hospital, I don't know, maybe inside of the hospital, because I hear that somebody tried to shot people in the hospital. Also, I hear shot in this side in the back of the hospital. The police, you know, they tried to control the situation.


PAUL: OK, so I want you to absorb this for a moment, if you would, please. Here is this woman, this mother, who has been told her son has been shot three times. She can't find him. These are some of the live pictures you're seeing of that night club where at 2:00 a.m. this morning, there was a mass shooting. There are mass casualties. If we really stop to think about this, as Pulse has asked, keep them

and everybody else in their prayers. There are family members, parents who have no idea where their children are. They know that they were there. They don't know their condition.

It is a bit of a chaotic situation now. Four and a half hours after some of these parents got a call that their kids or their family members were in a situation, and they still don't have these answers. It is understandable that they don't, but just trying to put into perspective what these people are going through this hour.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I mean, it's clear here how information is being passed.

We're going to go to a break in just a moment. But you understood from Rosalina Ramos, that she got a call from her son's girlfriend, that he was shot three times, she doesn't know where he is.

Now, she mentioned a shooting at a hospital. There is no confirmation from Orlando police that there was any shooting inside a hospital. They are relying upon cell phone, video we're getting in, calls from loved ones because there has not been this news conference that was scheduled for two and a half hours ago.

We understand why. This is a fluid situation, but this is how people are getting their information, and we're waiting for it to come in.

We'll take a quick break and we'll tell you more as it comes in, from the Florida police, the confirmed information as we continue the breaking news coverage.



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Just in, as it relates to this breaking news we've been following all morning.

This news conference that was scheduled to start at 4:30, has now been pushed to 7:00 a.m. so about 30 minutes from now, we're going hear from the police chief there, Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando, the town sheriff in Orange County and the FBI will brief at 7:00 a.m. So we'll bring that to you live as soon as it happens.

But we also have video that just came in of the response to the shooting. The citizen and police response. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pulse Orlando night club is on South Orange Avenue.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): And you could see just maybe people who were inside the club, people who were nearby the man here has blood on the back of his shirt. Officers and other trying to carrying this man down the street. You'll see in a moment they placed him in the back of this pickup truck.

From what we've seen, there were ambulances everywhere, but quite possibly, not enough, or not in the area where they were needed. So this response of the local police officers and people who were either inside or outside of the club just doing a triage ambulance here to try to get this man to some medical attention. And you see the situation, some of this quite graphic this morning, unfortunately. We're just getting this in. This now, a mass casualty situation declared by Orlando police.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Yes. No doubt about it. As we continue to see some of the pictures that we're just getting in as well. If you're just joining us, I want to recap it for you real quickly, 2:00 a.m. this morning a shooting happened at Pulse Orlando. This is a gay night club. It's right there in the heart of the city. You see it right there in the middle of your screen at the top there.

I want to share a Facebook post with you from the club at 2:00 a.m. It told everyone at that time, "Get out of the club and keep running." Orlando police later reported a controlled explosion by law enforcements. But police do say the shooter inside that club is dead.

We'll share this latest Facebook post with you as well. This is from the club, just a couple of minutes ago. "As soon as we have any information we will update everyone. Please keep everyone in your prayers as we work through this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and love."

Again, 30 minutes from now, we will get our first press conference from police, from FBI agents, from the sheriff's department, after this incident. And a little while after this shooting, as we've heard witnesses describe people on the floor and people who were bloodied and people running for exit and locked in bathrooms, somebody posted -- we got this video, of a shooting that happened near that night club, again, or right outside the night club a short time after the initial shooting inside. Listen to this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that. They're shooting back and forth. Look at this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. They're all shooting back and forth. Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They won't let you out of the area.


PAUL: You heard her say, "They won't let you out of the area.

Law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander, is with us now. And he made an observation about that shooting because you wonder if they had a target, if somebody was shooting at them. What is your assessment of what we saw?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: If we have accurate reports, police officers being engaged in a shooting, then they have identified a target. They've identified a target. They've identify it as a threat and either they were fired upon, they returned fire, but they were making an attempt to protect those in and around that club and to protect themselves.

So if officers were engaged in a shooting this morning, all of us across the country, as law enforcement officials know, those officers at that point had a target. They were engaged, and they fired upon that target.


BLACKWELL: As some of the information we're getting in from our producer, John Couwels, who is there, that although this is an expansive scene here, several blocks in either direction, three to four blocks we know from our Boris Sanchez, that multiple fire trucks and ambulances have now left that scene.

Now, there is not a complete clearing. You see live pictures here of the response here, a lot of it cordoned off. You can see in several shots you see here this is Pulse, Orlando. The police cars there and still just family members who heard about the shooting and are waiting for some type of confirmation. They're not getting it from the hospitals. They're not getting it from police just yet.

And Orlando Police Department has said that all of their information will come through Twitter, until 7:00 a.m. Eastern. So you're watching outside the Eastern Time zone that's about 25 minutes from now we'll get the latest from the police department, the sheriff's office, the mayor there, also the FBI.

We have with us -- do we still have Tom Fuentes on the phone?


BLACKWELL: Tom Fuentes, CNN law enforcement analyst, former assistant director of the FBI.

Now that the scene is clearing, just a bit, and we're getting a list of the names and those who would be included as we're four and a half hours into this, what stands out to you? Your first question.

FUENTES: Well, right now, what stands out is that there is no longer a threat to the community, outside of that club. And I think they were -- by allowing the other units to leave the scene now and start clearing out and you could see by the body language from the camera and here (ph) that it looks like no one feels that there's a continuing threat here at all. So the police believe that if it is one shooter or two shooters, the shooters are neutralized and no longer a threat.

PAUL: Police -- Orlando police just tweeting out 45 seconds ago here, any information you have could aid investigators in this case. Anyone who was at Pulse nightclub and was a witness, please come to the Orlando police headquarters.

Tom, when you put out a statement like that, when you ask for the help from the public, do people really show up at headquarters, and how quickly does that happen? And before you answer that question, I just want to clarify for our viewers, what you're seeing here is one of the coordinated bomb -- I believe a bomb squad, the bomb robot that they had there, but this is our first look at it, as the sun is coming up. And you can see that the people around it. I just wanted to make sure that our viewers understood what they were looking at.

But, Tom, I do want to get back to you with the question. When you've got police kind of giving out an all call of whoever has any information, please come see us, what does that tell us about their knowledge of what has happened overnight?

FUENTES: Well, of course the club was tweeting out for everybody to run at the time of this incident and so when people were fleeing the scene, of the shots being fired they ran away for their own safety, which is understandable. So what the police are saying to the community, if you were in there, if you have valuable information, or if you have other information, if you were aware of someone you knew saying that they were going to go do particular act, please notify the police. Please come to the station and talk to them.

Yes, they will come. The problem is, that oftentimes more people come who aren't witnesses, they just want to get engaged in the situation. And you know, so that often happens. There are more witnesses that show up than were actually at the club. And it will be up to the police to sort out whether someone has valuable information that they actually did something that is important, and they're credible and get the information.

BLACKWELL: CNN law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander here. You see people boarding buses. We saw that shot. Let's take that shot again from "WKMG" guys on the ground the crowds there who were outside of this cordoned off area, this police zone, who are waiting for answers. Boarding public buses here.

Some of the melee after this, we showed that video just a moment ago, of just citizens, civilians, piling people into the back of pickup trucks, taking them down the street, I would imagine even at this point, several hours into this event, it is still difficult to get your hands around who is where, who was impacted that work continues for probably the rest of this day and beyond.

ALEXANDER: That would be correct. That's a huge scene, and quite sure you had hundreds of patrons in that night club, and maybe a much larger crowd than that. So what we're going to see as it relates to that, Victor, is when a situation like that occurs, where you have mass casualty, you're going to have all your firing ambulance services responding, transporting people to hospitals. But you're all going to have -- also have citizens whose are going to assist, they're going to throw people in the car. They're going to throw them on the back of a truck, whatever it is that you need to do, to get people some emergency care, and I think that's part of what we saw this morning.


So it was all hands on deck. It was a police, it was the community, everybody was engaged together in order to get people the help they need. And I think here very shortly, we're going to hear what those numbers, approximation of what those numbers are of those who may have been injured.

PAUL: What characterized as a mass casualty as police have described it. We're 20 minutes away from a live press conference. We will bring that to you when it happens. We're going to take a quick break. We're back in a moment.


BLACKWELL: All right, 15 minutes until the top of the hour now. We'll get the latest on the breaking news out of Orlando from officials there.

At 2:00 a.m., let's get you up-to-date if you're just joining us, 2:00 a.m. local time, it's about four hours and 45 minutes ago, there was a shooting inside Pulse Orlando, a nightclub in the city there, the heart of the city on South Orange if you're familiar with it.

We know that this is now a mass casualty situation, that coming from Orlando police. Victims were taken to several hospitals in the region. Orlando Regional Medical Center, Winnie Palmer Hospital, Arnold Palmer Hospital, we know all three of those were on lockdown at some point. We had video of there being shots fired in the direction of the nightclub, but we do know from police that the shooter inside the nightclub is dead.


We're still waiting for confirmation if this is the only shooter involved. The number of those shot, injured, killed. We also saw that there were several ambulances that were scrambling to get the people inside and outside of that club to hospitals. There were civilians who put people into the back of pickup trucks there.

We're about four hours and 45 minutes into this now. The sun is up. Some of those vehicles have cleared, but this is still a very active situation, if not an active crime screen.

PAUL: Absolutely. In fact, we have seen -- you see there some of the people who are getting on buses, we're assuming many of them have been there since this happened around 2:00 a.m. but there are still bomb squad members on the scene. There are still SWAT team members on the scene outside Pulse there. And the surrounding perimeter they've cordoned off.

And again, 15 minutes away from a press conference. Hopefully we will learn more. But we do want to take you to Boris Sanchez because he is just a couple of blocks away from where this whole thing happened.

Boris, what are you hearing now from people who are there, and seeing now that the sun is up and we can get a better picture?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you mentioned, law enforcement is kind of reconfiguring their presence here. We're still several blocks at least three or four blocks away from the actual crime scene, the heart of where this happened, the Pulse nightclub. But there is an expanded law enforcement presence, dozens of officers out here right now coordinating and talking to people.

We saw bomb sniffing dogs here just a short while ago. So as you said this is still a very active scene. And officials are looking to nail down exactly where everyone is, where any other accomplices that this shooter might be, if there are any.

So this scene is still unfolding. It's not exactly secured just yet. But we can tell you that right now the scene at the hospitals, the Orlando Regional Medical Center just down the street is chaotic. We know there were gurneys outside just about an hour ago. And doctors outside, family members as well, those who believe that their loved ones were inside Pulse nightclub, looking for answers.

You can imagine the difficult time that they're having trying to find out if their loved ones are OK. We don't have an exact number of those that were injured or the deceased.

Orlando police said this was a mass casualty event. And as we spoke to eyewitnesses, they told us that they saw several bodies on the ground as they were trying to get out. Of course, we don't have much information on the shooter right now. You can imagine, that's the next phase of the investigation. Once they secure the scene, they'll look into the person's background, look at any computer records, phone records, to figure out why someone would show up at this club at close to 2:00 a.m. and open fire on seemingly innocent people who were just having a good time.

Obviously, we're hoping get more information at 7:00 a.m. That press briefing is going to take place just on the street here. We'll hear more from Orlando police.

PAUL: OK. I want to show you -- just take a moment and really sobering moment as we look at the video of, well, of that club, but of these people. It is such a testament to how people come together after a shooting like this. These are people who were witnesses, who were around the club, who may have been inside the club helping those who are injured, carrying them down, we're assuming to hospital.

Look at this. Citizens as well as police officers, trying to get somebody to a nearby hospital there. Sometimes putting them as you're a going to see here, just in the back of a pickup truck to get them to the hospital because there clearly was not enough -- there were not enough emergency vehicles, or perhaps, too, because it was cordoned off, it may have been very difficult to get emergency vehicles to the scene at certain points of the evening.

But as Boris said, it was a very chaotic scene, with gurneys outside the hospital with those doctors, people were screaming for people to get out of the way. We heard one witness talk to us earlier this morning, and so many people confused, not knowing what's going on, not being able to be reunited with the people that they know and love who were in that nightclub.

Cedric Alexander, law enforcement analyst here with us now. We were talking about how expansive the scene is.


PAUL: You designate people to deal with these families, but now we are almost five hours out. I'm sure a lot of them are watching, wondering, how long do I have to wait now before I get information. Can you give them some guidance?

ALEXANDER: Well, it is going to take a little while longer. But I would speculate, I would step out here and speculate a little bit that some of these families are being notified, are being informed as they're able to do so.

But here again, we have to remember, this is a very large crime scene. And you have lot of police personnel and emergency personnel involved. Just trying to triage and get injured people to emergency care.



ALEXANDER: And that's going to be first and foremost. So, what I would say to the families and the friends we as a nation we'll stay very prayerful with you, but the important thing is here is to try to -- since they're there on the ground in Orlando, to make an attempt to contact hospital, police, that may be in and around the hospital itself, just make it known who they are. But as time progresses more information will be given. But you got to remember, those emergency care professionals, physicians, nurses and others, they are fully engaged at this...

PAUL: Yes.


ALEXANDER: ... very moment trying to save lives.

PAUL: Yes. Their responsibility is to that victim in front of them.

ALEXANDER: That's number one. That's number one.

BLACKWELL: And they're trying first to get their hands around what happened.

ALEXANDER: Absolutely.

BLACKWELL: Because there are so many people as we just saw who were put into the back of pickup trucks, may have been put into cars and driven to hospitals. They may not have a full -- have their minds and their hands wrapped around exactly where everyone is.

ALEXANDER: Yes. That's right.

BLACKWELL: We're going hear from someone was inside the club. An eyewitness in just a moment. We've got a quick break. And we know that we've got this news conference with the local, state, and federal authorities including the Mayor Buddy Dyer there of Orlando, we'll bring that to you live. Quick break. Breaking news coverage continues in just a moment.


BLACKWELL: All right, good morning thanks for staying with us. We're going to move forward to the breaking news. We're just a few minutes out from this news conference in Orlando, Florida. Police now reporting that a shooter is dead.


The body inside the nightclub where the shooter opened fire on a crowd early this morning. That was about 2:00 a.m. So about five hours ago. Police calling this a mass casualty situation at Pulse Orlando, there in the heart of the city.

But we're expecting them to brief us at the top of the hour, just a few minutes away from this shooting that happened around 2:00.

PAUL: Mm-hmm. At 2:00. We know the bomb squad has responded to the scene. We know a SWAT team is still outside the scene. But you're looking there at the podium as we wait to get some more information.

One of the questions we've had this morning is what constitutes a mass shooting? What kind of numbers are we talking about here? There you can see there the SWAT team is still outside.

Do we have the video, guys, can we pull it up of the -- there was a close up of the club itself. Where you could see -- you can kind of see it there. A blown out window. The doors, still wide open. And here, the police presence that is still on the scene there amongst this expansive scene, several, several city blocks here, as we wait to try to understand exactly what happened. We know that the shooter is dead, as Victor said.

BLACKWELL: At least one shooter.

PAUL: At least one shooter.


PAUL: We do not know if there were any other shooters. There were many witnesses saying they believed there had been more than one just based on what they saw. But again, in a fluid situation like this when things are happening so fast and as Victor very beautifully characterized it, the fog of the moment, a lot of initial reports turn out to be inaccurate.

BLACKWELL: It is also important to say that Orlando Police Department has been only giving information through their Twitter account. They have not been accepting phone calls. They have not been answering questioning there on the scene.

So we've been watching their Twitter account, where they have been giving updates since this happened at about 2:00. There have been maybe a dozen there. There is a new one there, Christi, I know you have it up on your screen.

PAUL: It says anyone -- any information that you have could aid investigators in this case, they're asking people who were at Pulse nightclub who might have been a witness, to come to the Orlando police headquarters at 100 South Hughey Avenue. So they can talk to you personally because remember part of the point here that might have added to some of the confusion with police trying to conduct this investigation is the fact that the nightclub posted, get out of the club and keep running...

BLACKWELL: Keep running.

PAUL: ... when it happened at 2:00. So there could be an awful lot of people out there who have information that the police need and they just can't find them now. So that is the call from police right now as we are just a couple of minutes away from this presser.

BLACKWELL: You see the video on your screen, if we can play that again. I just want you to understand what you're looking at. This is video of people who were there inside the club, outside the club, during and after the shooting. Carrying people who need immediate medical attention to their cars. You saw there, to a pickup truck. One of the men there, Christopher Hansen, the man who was wearing the hat, who was helping someone down the street.

One of our affiliates spoke with him about -- you'll see in here in just a moment. Spoke with him about what happened inside that club when those shots were fired. Let's watch that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you had to count how many shots do you think there were?

HANDSEN: Oh, more than 20 or 30. I mean, it was just one after another after another after another. And it could have lasted a whole song. I mean, because after everybody was out, people were -- the shootings were still going and the cops from yelling, go, go, clear the area! Clear the area. And we're like (expletive).

And so when I bent down to help this guy, it's like are you kidding? And it's like you're still watching yourself. And then you see people on the side of buildings. I jumped a couple of times. I wasn't sure if that person was someone with a gun or if they were somebody who was hiding. You know? Because you don't know. You don't know who is what, who is where and you're just like, oh, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander with us now. One of the things you might be wondering as you hear these people talking about these repetitive shots they were over and over, and in the chaos, part of the problem is when you are in a night club, as many of you know, it is very loud. The music is pulsing. They couldn't identify immediately that these were shots being fired, or that this was something very real and dangerous that was happening. But it does make you wonder, most night clubs have some sort of security.

Cedric Alexander, how do you get a gun of that magnitude and we don't know what kind of gun it is, but something that has the capacity to shoot over and over and over, that many rounds. How do you get that (INAUDIBLE) like that?

ALEXANDER: It is not impossible to do. It's not impossible to do. Most night clubs, particularly larger venues are usually going to have security outside. They're usually going to wand people or either pat search them before they come into a club. But that does not preclude the fact that they still can carry a weapon inside.


And there are a variety of different ways in which that can happen.