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Islamic Society of Florida Condemns Attack in News Conference. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired June 12, 2016 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: -- in the next hour of this horrific terrorist attack. In fact, we're going to start again right now.

Good morning. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, continuing CNN's coverage of the breaking news. A horrific massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Police reporting at least 20 people or approximately 20 people have been killed in the incident, 42 injured.

The FBI special agent-in-charge saying this morning that there are suggestions that the suspect, the killer, may have had leanings toward radical Islamic terrorism, although nothing was definitive at the time of that statement.

We are awaiting a new press conference with the latest information. Investigators are also looking into the possibility of a hate crime given that the target was a gay nightclub. Police released the first -- first details a short time ago. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect is dead. He appeared to be carrying a rifle, an assault-type rifle, and a handgun and had some type of device on him.


TAPPER: Pamela Brown reported just a few minutes ago that the device that was on the individual, on the suspected possible terrorist, the killer, was not actually a threat to law enforcement. It's unclear whether that's because it was a failed explosive device or if it wasn't an explosive device at all.

The incident started around 2:00 in the morning Eastern Time. That's when the club would be the most packed. Shortly thereafter, the nightclub posted on its Facebook page this message. "Everyone, get out of Pulse," the name of the nightclub, "and keep running." Police now say that an officer responded and there was a shootout with the killer outside the club. The gunman ran inside the club, a hostage situation began.

About three hours later at around 5:00 a.m., police used an armored vehicle or a bearcat to knock down a door and enter the club, after which they shot and killed the gunman, who according to Pamela Brown's reporting had identified his name during the standoff with police. Throughout the entire ordeal, ambulances and emergency vehicles

surrounded the nightclub. Police say they received phone calls and text messages, calls for help, giving information from people who were inside hiding from the gunman. Relatives of people in the club also received messages and rushed to the scene.


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. And 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. It was just tragic.


TAPPER: CNN is now going to report the name of the gunman according to law enforcement sources. His name was Omar Mateen. Omar Mateen.

Let's go now to CNN correspondent Boris Sanchez, who is in Orlando, Florida.

Boris, what's the latest? What can you tell us about what's going on where you are?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, they're still processing the scene right now. The law enforcement presence that was here this morning with dozens of agencies out here has diminished significantly, but there is still a huge line between us and that club back there. Pulse nightclub. We're about three blocks away. We know investigators have been scanning every room inside the club.

We heard from sources earlier that the suspect, Omar Mateen, had some kind of device on him. It's unclear what kind of device that was, whether or not it was an actual explosive, some kind of IED. But you can imagine that the investigation will go from there and they'll look into this person's travel records, his online history, what kind of ties he may have had, and what was going through his mind shortly before carrying this out.

We're learning he's actually not far -- he's not from this area. He's from Ft. Pierce, Florida, which is just shortly west from here. So again, there's a name, but we don't have a motive. And that's really the next phase of this investigation.

I can also tell you that about an hour ago or so, coroner vans started driving in, so they're going through the process now of recovering and identifying the remain of those deceased. Hopefully later today we'll have that information for those family members that are desperately awaiting any kind of information after this shooting -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

No official motive as of now, though. The FBI special agent-in-charge did suggest earlier today that there were indications, suggestions that the gunman subscribed to radical Islamist theology.

Let's bring back Congressman Pete King from the Homeland Security Committee.

So, Congressman, we have here the name of the assailant, the shooter, the possible terrorist. Omar Saddiqui Mateen. Is that the name that you had heard earlier?

[10:05:03] REP. PETER KING (R), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: That's the name I've heard. He's from Afghanistan, I believe. And he is also trained in the use of weapons. That's as far as I can go.

TAPPER: Is he somebody that -- I mean, how would somebody from Afghanistan trained in use of weapons get into this country? Was he somebody that was affiliated at all with the Taliban, or god forbid, was he somebody affiliated in working with the United States at one point?

KING: I really can't go any further than that, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Is there anything other than the fact that he's from Afghanistan and trained in the use of weapons that you could tell us about the shooter, Omar Mateen?

KING: No, I really can't. I don't want to get ahead of law enforcement on this. And I've only, again, said, you know, what's -- has now become pretty much public record. I don't want to go any further.

TAPPER: All right, Congressman. Respect where you're coming from. Thanks so much for joining us.

KING: Thank you.

Re Let's bring back our panel. Juliette Kayyem, who used to be assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Phil Mudd, he used to be a top official at the CIA and the FBI, and of course here with me, Art Roderick who used to be with the U.S. Marshals.

So, Juliette Kayyem, you've heard the reporting as it's evolved, the name of the killer, Omar Saddiqui Mateen. Congressman Pete King says he's trained in the use of weapons and is from Afghanistan originally. Your reaction as this information comes in.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DHS: So we have at least a case now in that is going to have international investigation. We don't know where that is going to lead us. What we don't know at this stage, so you know, each of these pieces is a data point, just to describe to people how these investigations go. We have the person now. Now it's a determination of what kind of training he may have gotten abroad, if any. Was he directed by anyone abroad? Or was he inspired by some sort of activity abroad, Afghanistan or elsewhere, that led him to do this at 2:00 on a Saturday morning? Right?

So that is what the next phase of this piece is. So people watching go, so now it's like a bull's eye. We now have the person. And now we've got to investigate the concentric circles. The reason why is you want to make sure there's not something else in the works. We owe it to the victims, who are still being identified at this stage, to know, you know, whether this could have been stopped.

And then also we have this apparatus known as the Joint Terrorism Task Forces. They now are clearly going to be scrubbing all of their information to see whether he, Omar, had ties to anyone else that they may be surveying at this time. So this is the story that is going to unfold in very interesting ways. Some of them will be dead ends for weeks. These cases, as you know, take weeks to figure out.

TAPPER: That's right. We're still learning things about the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. And that was several years ago.

Phil Mudd, while Congressman King told us that his source had told him that Omar Saddiqui Mateen was from Afghanistan, I should note that "The Washington Post" is reporting that they believe his family was originally from Afghanistan, but he was born here in the United States. So as I cautioned earlier in the program, as law enforcement gets information, as CNN learns it, either on the record, on background, sometimes it's contradictory, sometimes it's proven incorrect.

We are bringing you all the information as we get it from reliable sources, and we all try to make sense of it together.

Phil Mudd, your reaction to what we've learned since the last time we spoke.

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think that the investigation will blow up now. And you can think of this in three phases. As Juliette said, there will be a lot of hazy information, but the three phases over the next week, number one, imminent threat. We already had a tragedy, but looking at this fellow's name, his Facebook postings, presumably they'll get access to phone and e-mail data. Are there other individuals out there who are affiliated with him who pose an imminent threat?

Number two, support network. Whether people were involved in the attack or not, were there people who knew, people who radicalized him, people who gave him money? And third and finally, Jake, was there a network overseas that inspired him or trained him to do this? Particularly because you want to ask the question, are they in contact with other people?

So as soon as you have that name in the digital world, you can blow up these three questions within the space of 12 to 24 hours to start putting that web of information together.

TAPPER: And Art Roderick, formerly of the U.S. Marshals Service, when somebody with this name, as it's been described, FBI special agent saying had he is -- there is some suspicions that he had radical Islamic leanings. Either he or his family, both are from Afghanistan. Congress King saying that he had weapons training.

This sounds bad and it sounds like a possible -- possibly, although we have no evidence of it yet.


TAPPER: Possibly not just a self-radicalized individual.

[10:10:01] RODERICK: Yes, I mean, as we sat here for a couple of hours, I mean, as they peel this onion back, it seems to be getting worse and worse. Now granted, if he was here in the U.S. already, where did he receive that weapons training? Had he been overseas in the last couple of years? You know, we know he's going to go through the Facebook postings, but the FBI had his name fairly early on when they were doing the negotiations.

MUDD: Yes.

RODERICK: So that started at that particular point. So for hours now, the bureau has been -- or JTTFs have been looking at this individual, looking at his background, looking at his family members. And that's why we got really early on they came out and said there were some leanings towards radical Islam.

TAPPER: When -- when Art Roderick refers to the JTTF, just for our viewers, that's the Joint Terrific Task Force. It's a group of law enforcement from the FBI, local law enforcement, et cetera.

Juliette Kayyem, you obviously have something you want to say involving this case.

KAYYEM: Yes, so what's very important is this distinction about whether he is foreign and somehow traveled here and evaded immigration or if he's a U.S. citizen. And neither is a good thing, right? We know that, but that's significant for a variety of reasons, including the radicalization process and the training process. If he got trained abroad and was sent here to do a mass casualty event that is, you know, the greatest one since Sandy Hook, that is a significantly different investigation.

It will -- it implicates international relations in ways that if he's a U.S. citizen, gets radicalized, gets access to guns and walks into a soft target. Neither is good. Neither is -- but of them are horrific but in terms of understanding what's going on, in terms of the threat, it's an important distinction.

TAPPER: And if you're just learning us -- just joining us, CNN has learned the name of the killer in the Pulse, Orlando, Florida, nightclub massacre. His name is Omar Saddiqui Mateen. And this name comes after the FBI special agent-in-charge said this morning that there were suggestions that the shooter, that the killer subscribed to a radical Islamic ideology.

Phil Mudd, one of the things that is terrifying in particular -- I mean, the entire incident is terrifying for any number of reasons, but one of the things that's most terrifying is that Afghanistan is a nation that obviously the United States has been fighting a war there for longer than any war in the history of this country, for 15 years. One of the reasons why the United States has been fighting and has given so much blood and treasure in that fight is because of the desire for the Afghan people to have a better life.

MUDD: Yes, I think when you look at this and you look at the origin of the family, one of the questions you're going to have, Jake, is you're suggesting is about the demands of people around the world from places where ISIS and al Qaeda have spread for a fight to continue against the United States.

We thought, when I was at the CIA 10 or 11 years ago that we were beating al Qaeda. Then we seat the incidents of violence from ISIS in places like Europe, in places like Afghanistan going into Southeast Asia, now in California with San Bernardino and in Orlando. I think the key message we may learn is not only that there are individuals here who are inspired by this movement, but that the generational fight that we thought we might be winning against al Qaeda has, in fact, been spread by ISIS. And we got maybe decades to go here. This is going to be a long campaign.

TAPPER: We're going to take a quick break. We're expecting a press conference from law enforcement in Orlando, Florida, any moment. Stay with us. CNN's coverage of this horrific breaking news story continues.


[10:18:07] TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of this horrific breaking news event. The law enforcement press conference has not started yes, but Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat from Florida, is speaking at the podium. Let's join him.

REP. ALAN GRAYSON (D), FLORIDA: So we're doing our part in my office to make sure that there are no bureaucratic impediments to letting them comfort the injured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the people who died inside? Have their families been notified yet?

GRAYSON: I don't know. I don't know. Every victim has been removed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you heard anything about the shooter?

GRAYSON: Well, let me put it this way. The nationality of family members is indicative. But again, the police are holding back that information until it's time for them to come out, until they've done a full background check on him and gone into his home, found whatever evidence may be in his home. Computers and writings and so on, as well as checking social media.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe he might have had help?

GRAYSON: There's no evidence of that at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have an update on the bomb situation? There still a device?

GRAYSON: The police never actually said it was a bomb. They said it was a suspicious device. All the killing that was done, was done with an assault rifle, with a single weapon, an assault rifle. It was done very quickly also.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will the area be cleared?

GRAYSON: I'm sorry, I hear anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When will the area be cleared?

GRAYSON: It will take -- it will take many hours. There's an enormous amount of havoc in that area right now. There's blood everywhere. I spoke to somebody who was on the site. And there is an enormous amount of evidence to be collected systemically over the course of many hours inside.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A larger press conference is coming.

GRAYSON: OK, good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to move the podium. You don't want the podium at all? OK.


[10:20:06] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were wanting it for their remarks so they had the details in front of them but you guys aren't hearing so OK.

Thank you all for your patience and flexibility on the time. We just wanted to make sure we had the latest information, and we were getting some last details during this time. This update will include Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Police Chief John Mina, Sheriff Jerry Demings, Ron Hopper with the FBI, Dr. Michael Cheatham with the trauma surgeon at ORMC, and Amman Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, and the national president of the American Islam.

Mayor Dyer?

MAYOR BUDDY DYER, ORLANDO: Today we're dealing with something that we never imagined and is unimaginable. Since the last update, we have gotten better access to the building. We have cleared the building and it is with great sadness that I share we have not 20 but 50 casualties. In addition to the shooter, there are another 53 that are hospitalized.

Because of the scale of the crime, I've asked the governor to declare a state of emergency. We are also issuing a state of emergency for the city of Orlando so that we can bring additional resources to bear to deal with the aftermath.

Our focus is going to be on identifying the victims and notifying the families. We're setting up a hotline for concerned family members. That is 407-246-4357. The identification process may take some time. So we ask for your patience because we want to be accurate. Concerned family members can call the hotline, however, and let them know that you have someone that you are concerned about.

I continue to be so proud of our community. The support that has shown the response that has been made. I'm also thankful to entities from all around the country and all over the state of Florida. The governor has made all the resources of the state of Florida available. Orange County has made all of their resources available. We have assistance from the White House. So every possible asset we have brought to bear. Mayor Jacobs?

MAYOR THERESE JACOBS, ORANGE COUNTY: Thank you, Mayor Dyer. Of course, let me start with expressing my sympathy for the families, for the loved ones of those who we have lost in the last 24 hours. We know that this affects a large segment of our community. We know that we have a very close-knit LGBT community who has been dramatically impacted by this. So to everyone who is impacted, I want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.

And that we are a united community and what we saw last night does not reflect what we feel in our hearts and our souls here in Orange County. And I am calling on every citizen here in Orange County to never forget that we stand together in times of adversity. But we don't just stand together as a city of Orlando and Orange County. We stand together as a country. We have heard from Texas. We have heard from states all across the country wanting to know what they can do to help.

So when evil like this comes to our community, we respond in force. I guarantee you we will do that again. And thank you all for everything that you do to make this such a wonderful place to be. We know it's going to take time to be able to answer the questions of the loved ones. And there's nothing, nothing more difficult than waiting to find out the status of people that you love. Please be patient. We're doing our best. Thank you.

CHIEF JOHN MINA, ORLANDO POLICE: As Mayor Dyer said, at this point the nightclub Pulse has been cleared and deemed safe of any devices. We're in the process of clearing the suspect's vehicle, which is a van right outside. And we ask that people be patient. Unfortunately, there are many victims inside the club. But like was said, you know, our priority will be on the identification of the victims, the notification of the next of kin.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the outpouring of the law enforcement support from as far away as Boston and Chicago, that let us use their resources if need. And of course, great community support from the Central Florida law enforcement community as well.

I also want to commend the heroic and courageous actions of the initial responding officers who exchanged gunfire with the suspect and also the heroic and courageous actions of our SWAT team, who rescued at least 30 victims -- possible victims, and brought them to safety.

[10:25:14] So again, at this point, just patience because unfortunately this tragedy and the amount of bodies that are in there, amount of victims, it's going to take some time. Thank you. We'll answer questions at the end.

SHERIFF JERRY DEMINGS, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: I'm Sheriff Jerry Demings. And I join our entire community in offering our sympathy to these families who have loved ones. This has certainly been a tragic day for all of us and in that this is a day of worship in most places of America. We do call upon members of the clergy to pray for those family members and for this community and this nation for healing.

In the last several hours, the men and women here in law enforcement have been working diligently to ensure the overall safety of everyone involved. You all have seen most recently where there were members of our hazardous device team, bomb units working from the Orange County Sheriff's Office with units from the Orlando Fire Department to make certain that we do not have any secondary type device or what have you that were in the crisis site itself.

That process has taken an extended period of time to ensure the safety of everyone. And so that's why we have not been able to remove all of the victims, if you will, from the crisis site at this point. That process is continuing. We likely have another hour or two of operational necessity to ensure the safety before we can begin that process. But we do appreciate the collaborative effort amongst all of the different local governments as well as our state and our federal government.

We've all come together in unity to address this issue. And on behalf of our entire community, we thank you, the media, for covering these events and this tragedy. Thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you please confirm 5-0 dead?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take questions after we're finished with the prepared statements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, the FBI has confirmed the subject involved in this shooting incident. At this time, we're making the notifications to the next of kin. So we will have that name to be officially released to you at the next press conference.

What I want to put out right now is that as we all know in many situations, people come and go to nightclubs such as these. So what I'm asking is if anyone out there attended this nightclub and then left before the shooting happened, I would urge you to still call in and come and talk to our investigators because you don't know exactly what you may or may not have seen. So we would appreciate everyone coming forward, no matter how small the evidence in your mind may be.

The other thing is, we are actually setting up a family assistance center at the Hampton Inn located at 34 Columbia Street. We currently have it now with ORMC but we're going to go and move it down to the hotel in order to accommodate more family members in an attempt to -- reunite people with either their loved ones or gather information on people who have not yet been located. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just confirm that number again? 50? Did

you say 50 deaths?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In addition to 53 in the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned earlier that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought we had one more. We have a couple of more people who are going to speak. And then we'll answer some questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. As many of you are aware, a little after 2:00 this morning we were notified of many victims, gunshot victims. As Central Florida's only level-one trauma center, we immediately activated our mass casualty instant plan. We immediately brought in six trauma surgeons to respond, including one pediatric trauma surgeon. We have spent the morning operating on a number of victims.

We continue to operate on them. We have found many of them are critically ill as a results of their injuries. And we are in the process of trying to reunite families as we identify the names of these victims. As has been mentioned, this will take some time. And we ask for your patience. But we will reunite the families and the victims just as it quickly as we can. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you need blood donors?

DR. MICHAEL CHEATHAM, TRAUMA SURGEON, ORMC: Blood is a wonderful gift. That can all be arranged through the local blood banks. Please don't come to the local hospitals. But you can work through the local blood banks to be able to donate and that would be a tremendous help. Thank you.


QUESTION: First name (inaudible)?

CHEATHAM: Michael Cheatham (ph).

MUHAMMAD MUSRI, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ISLAM: Good morning. My name is Muhammad Musri. I am the president and senior imam of the Islamic Society of Florida and the national president of American Islam.

I'm here today to stand as a faith leader with our law enforcement community and our city leadership in this hour of horror that was brought upon our city. I've worked with these leaders for over 20 years. I know their caliber, their strength and their determination to make sure this city is safe.

And I call on everybody in the community, anybody who has any information, to please call the FBI, share what you know. It may help answer many unanswered questions yet. I also call on my fellow faith leaders, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, whatever faith you follow. Please, pray for the victims and their families in this -- in this hour. On this Sunday morning, it's supposed to be a beautiful morning, but it is already a very heartbreaking morning.

And I want to praise the courageous effort of our OPD, who risked their lives, put their lives on the line. One of the officers, as we heard, was injured. And that's a risk they take every day to protect us.

No one could have predicted this. No one could have prepared for it. This could have happened anywhere. It's like a lightning. So they have done a marvelous job to save as many lives after the shooter began shooting, and we are glad that the situation is completely under control. There are no other shooters that this person is not known to be connected with, a network or other people, so the city residents and the visitors should feel safe. The city is as safe as the best city in the world.

I want to also caution many in the media from rushing to judgment and from, you know, sensationalizing the story because we do not want the story to be shifted from the focus of what it is. It's a horrible tragedy. We are mourning. We are sad. We are heartbroken. And it's not really time for any sensational news just -- and rushing to judgment.

So we should all wait until information, facts, come out from the investigators, and we will all see what happened, understand it, and stay together to work together to keep our community strong.

I want to thank Mayor Dyer, Mayor Jacobs, our city leaders, Chief Mina and Sheriff Demings for their leadership, Ron from the FBI.

I think, many times in the past, this has been discussed as the worst nightmare, and we are sorry to know that it happened to us. We don't wish this on anybody else. And we hope this would be the last of the mass shootings that our country has been going through. I think, as a nation, we need to look at this issue of mass shootings, because we just had one too many today. And I think we should do something about it to stop the -- the mass shootings that are happening all the time. Thank you.

(UNKNOWN): Questions?



QUESTION: You were able to, very early on, say that the shooter appears to have leanings toward a radical Islamic terror connection. How is it that you guys were so quickly so sure of that (inaudible) as opposed to it just being a hate crime (inaudible)?

HOPPER: Early on, when we had a possible identification made, we run everything to ground, whether it winds up being the actual individual or not. As so, I mentioned earlier, at this time, I can't say exactly who the suspect or the deceased shooter is. Once -- once we're able to do that; once the notification is made, then more details will be able to be shared, most likely from our counter-terrorism division up at FBI headquarters.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what type rifle was found? How many rounds do you think were fired off?

MINA: Right now, the weapons recovered from the suspect, who is dead, was a handgun and an AR-15-type assault rifle -- an unknown number of rounds, but there were additional rounds.

QUESTION: Did the suspect make any sort of call prior to the shooting, maybe to 911 or to another location, kind of, indicating anything?

MINA: We have no indication of that as of yet.

QUESTION: Or any communication with the suspect -- I know it was three hours before you went in -- between the arrival of the -- shots were fired -- and you finally going in to rescue the hostages?

MINA: There was some communication, but we're not going to release that right now.

QUESTION: Why did the SWAT team wait three hours?

MINA: Well, remember, this is a -- a situation involving hostages, a situation involving things that happened very fast. And, you know, I think it was important for them to know exactly what they had. Once the initial shots were stopped, they were dealing with a -- with a hostage situation.

So, you know, in that -- in that time, we need to set up, re-evaluate, re-assess what's happening, and make sure that all the pieces are in place, we have enough staffing to take care of any situation, we have armored vehicles that come to the scene. And those were crucial in the rescue of those hostages.

So any time we have a hostage situation, we're definitely going to use extreme measures to make sure that we have enough personnel on the scene.


QUESTION: To your knowledge, (inaudible) before you went in, in between the time that...

MINA: Yeah, I can't speak to that right now. That will all be part of the investigation.

QUESTION: So early this morning, there was -- there was a thought that it may be 20 victims inside. That number has risen to 50. Is this now one of the top five, if not the top mass shooting event in this country?

MINA: Absolutely, yes, it is.

Yeah, so this morning, just based on what the initial officers saw, without jeopardizing any more safety, you know, they thought there were about at least 20. But now it's, yeah, up to 50, so definitely one of the worst tragedies.

QUESTION: Is it accurate to say that this is the worst shooting in American history?

MINA: Yes.

QUESTION: Any indication that the suspect had any help, outside help?

MINA: There's no indication of that right now, but that's -- that will all be part of the investigations.

QUESTION: (inaudible) the 50 who were killed were shot during the initial shooting?

And, two, were there any shooting -- were any shots fired after that initial shooting at 2:02?

MINA: There was an initial shooting at 2:02, numerous shots fired. And then there were gunshots exchanged between the SWAT team and the suspect at 0500 hours.

QUESTION: So of the 50 fatalities that we have, do we know if they were all killed during that initial shooting at 2:02, or were any of them killed after then?

MINA: That's...

QUESTION: Do you know?

MINA: That's unknown at this time.

QUESTION: So is this classified right now as a hate crime or as a terrorist event?

HOPPER: At this point in time, we're just conducting a general investigation, period. We'll determine officially whether it's a hate crime or a terrorism incident or even a violent crime, once we have all the facts in place. We're at the very early stages. And as much as I would like to give you everything we have, we can't give you things that aren't 100 percent accurate because then it doesn't -- it's not fair to you, so...

QUESTION: (inaudible) you're saying less now, and you guys came back with (inaudible)?

HOPPER: I'm sorry? A bomb?

QUESTION: (inaudible).


QUESTION: What has -- what has changed, in your eyes, in the three hours (inaudible)?

HOPPER: Well, again, so, since the suspect has not been positively identified to the next of kin, there's not a whole lot more we can share with you at this time. Also, bear in mind that we do not want to jeopardize the investigation. While we feel confident right now there are no other threats to the immediate area or the United States of America, we need to be certain of that before we put any further information out.


QUESTION: Was anyone injured by officers' fire, and were any officers injured?

MINA: Unknown at this time. There was one officer injured. He was hit in the Kevlar helmet with a round from the suspect. The Kevlar helmet did stop that round, but the officer does have some injuries to his face from that -- from that gunshot.

QUESTION: Chief, how would you characterize the shooting?


QUESTION: ... with these weapons? Did he come in shooting, or was he able to smuggle these weapons in?

MINA: Yeah, we're still early in the investigation. Unknown how he got inside the club. But it appears like he was in there and then the shots were fired, from preliminary information.

QUESTION: Chief, can you give us some context? How bad is this compared to other shootings across the country?

MINA: It's absolutely terrible. I mean, 50 victims from one location, one shooting, is absolutely one of the worst tragedies we've seen.

QUESTION: (inaudible)

MINA: One more time?

QUESTION: (inaudible)?

MINA: Exactly. There were more -- there were more victims inside than originally thought. So once it was safe for us to go in and we determined there were no devices, that's when we were able to discover how many victims were actually in there.

QUESTION: Can you talk about where these victims (inaudible) to get away from the gunfire?

MINA: Yeah, that's all going to come out in the investigation. Right now we're going to focus on, obviously, the identification of all the victims and the notification of next of kin.

QUESTION: (inaudible)?

MINA: At least a few hours.

QUESTION: Congressman Peter King just said that the shooter was from Afghanistan and (inaudible)? MINA: No.


QUESTION: Here we are (inaudible) among the worst (inaudible) in the U.S. (inaudible)?

MINA: Absolutely. It's definitely a tragedy not only for the city but for our entire nation. You know, we believe this is a tragedy that could happen anywhere in the United States of America. And what we need to do is continue to be vigilant and call. If you see something, say something and call anyone -- call 911, call the FBI, if you see something that's out of place or you see someone that's acting strange, strange behavior.

QUESTION: (inaudible) the scene?

MINA: No, we can't confirm that.

QUESTION: (inaudible)?

MINA: Absolutely. Just to look into the eyes of our officers told the whole story. Obviously, you know, some of those officers had 20-plus years on. One of the lieutenants who was one of the first on the scene, he's a 23-year member of the police department and almost 20 years on the SWAT team. And you could tell that they were all shaken by this incident, by what they saw inside the club. They did a -- did an unbelievable job, courageous efforts in rescuing many, many hostages, at least 30, from inside the club. But, after it was all said and done, you could tell it really -- this kind of tragedy takes a toll on everyone, even law enforcement officers.

QUESTION: Can you describe what (inaudible)?

QUESTION: ... the calls that you were receiving from the people that were inside...

DYER: So we're going to brief roughly every two hours.

(UNKNOWN): We're going to do three hours, actually.

DYER: Three hours?

(UNKNOWN): Yeah.

DYER: We're going to brief in about three hours. We're going to give you absolutely as much information as we can disclose. There are guidelines for OPD and for the FBI and FDLE. But we're going to give you everything we can possibly give to you.

Right now, we want to focus on identifying the victims and notifying their families. So I would hope you would leave with the information about how families can call in and check on their loved ones or give information about they might think that their loved one was among those who are missing, and we...

QUESTION: Can you give that hotline number again?

MINA: It's 407-246-4357 -- 407-246-4357. And people can call, if loved ones want to call and try and get some information or help us with information.

They could also call the FBI for any tips. And that's 1-800-CALL-FBI. And they'll just hit option number two when prompted -- 1-800-CALL- FBI, option number two, when prompted. And, one more time, our hotline for family members is 407-246-4357.

(UNKNOWN): We'll target the next media briefing at -- we're targeting the next media briefing at 1:30 today. We do understand that Governor Scott is en route. So he may want to do something before that, and we'll keep you guys updated on that. But the next law enforcement briefing will be at 1:30.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We just heard some devastating news from Orlando officials, confirming 50 killed at the Pulse nightclub last night. Fifty would make this the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States. There are 53 wounded, some of them grievously, we're told. In addition, we're told that the gunman used a handgun and an AR-15-type semi-automatic rifle. They would not name the gunman, although CNN has already independently reported that his name is Omar Siddiqui Mateen, apparently born in Florida, although, his parents are from Afghanistan.

Let's talk more about this devastating news, this horrible day in American history, with Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, who serves on the Intelligence Committee and obviously born and bred in the state of Florida.

Senator, first of all, our thoughts and prayers are with you and the entire state of Florida right now. I know that there is -- there's a lot for us to talk about, but you have a message for people in central Florida right now, something they can do to help right now. What is that?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Yeah, well -- first of all, Jake, thanks for giving this the coverage it deserves. It's a horrifying incident, obviously. And the people in central Florida, they are looking for blood donors, particularly the O-plus and O-negative blood types. I put that up on Twitter. Don't just show up at the hospital, as you heard the authorities say, but actually get in touch with the local blood bank authorities. I linked an article to my Twitter feed so people can know where to call.

And, I mean, when you have this level of mass casualty and loss of life here, you can just imagine the demand on -- on the blood banks. So I would encourage those who are eligible and can give blood to please try to do that. That's one thing we can do. And, you know, in the days to come here, in the next few hours, as the authorities try to piece all this together, it is possible that someone watching this broadcast might have some information that will lead us to know a little bit more about this -- this animal who did this.

You've already touched on some of the -- I don't want to say anything or go beyond it because I don't want to undermine their investigation, but I think -- and let me just suffice it to say that I think, over the next couple days, they're going to be looking to see where this individual was inspired to carry out this horrifying act of terrorism. And I think we're going to be talking about a very different kind of case here very soon, is my sense.

TAPPER: Yeah, the FBI special agent in charge has already said that they have suspicions, suggestions as to Omar Siddiqui Mateen being inspired by radical Islamic ideology. And when we have more definitive information on that, we will -- we will bring that to the viewers.

One other issue that I think a lot of people are concerned about, especially people in the LGBT community, Senator, is that this is pride month. Obviously, we don't know the twisted motivations as to why the gunman picked a gay nightclub for his attack, but obviously this is a month where there are a lot of gay pride events throughout the nation. Here in Washington, D.C., police have said that they have increased security at events for the LGBT community.

Do you know of any information that you may have learned from law enforcement or from the Intelligence Committee in the Senate that suggests any other possible attack that might be planned?

RUBIO: Well, as of now, the indications are this is an individual that acted on their own. Obviously, in the next couple days, we're going to learn a lot more about it. And if you look at the nature of the attack, basically the use of a handgun to storm a nightclub and start shooting people, it doesn't take a tremendous amount of coordination. I mean, you don't need a phone call from Afghanistan or an e-mail from Syria to tell you to go do this.

We have seen the way radical Islamists have treated the gay and lesbians in other countries. We've seen it's punishable by death. We've seen some horrifying pronouncements of things that they've done. So if, in fact, this crime is, in fact this terrorist attack is one inspired by radical Islamic ideology, it is quite frankly not surprising that they would target this community in this horrifying way. And -- and I think it's something we're going to have to talk about some more here across the country.

I would also want to say, and I don't want to leave without saying the Orlando police department -- you know, we say this every day. It's almost cliche-ish. What these people did is extraordinary. I mean, they've really put their lives on the line to confront this individual and -- and, quite frankly, saved lives. He had holed himself up into a corner of the club, and they had to go in and extract him from there, and that ended up in a gun battle and his death, but one officer was wounded. Thankfully, it was a slight wound, but it was a bullet wound, but apparently he's doing OK.

But, boy, there -- it was extraordinary courage on their part. But going back to the LGBT issue, look, if this is a terrorist attack -- and when common sense plays out here, OK -- if, in fact, this is an individual -- there are indications that, while he's U.S. born, his family is originally from Afghanistan -- that, in and of itself, says nothing, other than, if, in fact, the leads turn into this is something inspired by radical ideology, then, of course, I think common sense tells you he specifically targeted the gay community because of the views that exist in the radical Islamic community with regards to the gay community.

TAPPER: One last question, Senator, and then I know you have to go. And we thank you for calling in. You're a father of four children, two of them younger. I'm a father of two children. How do you explain this?

And I think there are probably a lot of parents out there watching right now in who want to know how somebody like you -- how do you explain this to your children?

RUBIO: Well, unfortunately, we've had a lot of practice in explaining this over the last few years. And the only way I can ever figure it out is that there is this radical ideology in the world that teaches people at a very young age that you have a right to kill people who don't agree with your religion, and you have a right to kill them even if they're not doing anything bad to you, in essence, just because.

And, again, we don't know yet, but I think there is growing indications from everything we've learned -- and we'll learn more here in the next few days -- it sounds like this is an individual who worked for a security company. So obviously he had to do some background checks and things of this nature. So we'll have more information based on that. We'll see what the FBI is able to gather from his social media accounts and his cell phone. But we'll see what information is available.

But if, in fact, this leads to that explanation, and right now there's a lot of indications that this has some link to radical Islam, I think we have to continue to explain to people, this is the new face of the war on terror. And they have said openly that they intend to target us here. And one of the hardest parts of this war is the individual who carries out an attack by themselves in a soft target like this. And it's basically in Orland, Florida. And it's a reminder that the war on terror has evolved into something that we've never had to confront before, individuals capable of conducting these sorts of massacres unexpectedly in places, you know, that you wouldn't normally associate with the kind of attacks that you see.

And we'll learn more in the next few days, but I have confidence that the FBI and our -- the Department of Homeland Security are on this and that we're going to learn a lot more about this here fairly quickly.

TAPPER: Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, thank you so much for your time this morning, sir.

RUBIO: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: And for those individuals in central Florida, please heed the advice, the suggestions, the request from Senator Rubio. There is a dire need for blood, especially those who belong to the universal donor type of O-positive. Please seek your local hospital, see if you can contribute. There are 53 individuals who have been -- many of whom have been grievously wounded, and we don't want this already horrific death toll to go up. We'll be right back after this quick break.


TAPPER: Good morning. We're following horrific breaking news, a mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which now ranks as the deadliest mass shooting in the history of this nation.

This is Orlando's mayor just a few minutes ago.


DYER: And it is with great sadness that I share we have not 20 but 50 casualties, in addition to the shooter. There are another 53 that are hospitalized.


TAPPER: That's 50 dead. The incident started a couple of minutes after 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time, shortly after the nightclub posted on its Facebook page this message, "Everyone get out of Pulse" -- that's the name of the club -- "and keep running."

Police now say an officer responded, and there was a shootout outside the club. The gunman ran inside the club, and a hostage situation began. About three hours later, at around 5:00 a.m., police used an armored vehicle, a BearCat, to knock down a door and enter the club. They shot and killed the gunman. He now is identified by law enforcement sources as Omar Sidiqqui Mateen.

Omar Siddiqui Mateen -- a law enforcement source tells CNN that Mateen worked as a private security guard. Police say, throughout the ordeal, they were getting phone calls and text messages from terrified individuals inside the nightclub but away from the gunman. Complicating the situation, people's friends and relatives also got messages and rushed down to the club. People who were inside the club are now telling harrowing stories about trying to get out.


(UNKNOWN): It's just shocking.

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

(UNKNOWN): 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 -- the shootings were still going. And the cops were yelling "Go, go, clear the area, clear the area!"

And we're like (bleeped). And so, you know, when I bend 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. And I jumped a couple times because I wasn't sure if that person was someone with a gun or if they were somebody who was hiding, or -- because you don't know. You don't know who's what, who's where. And you're just like, "Oh, man."


TAPPER: We'll bring in CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Evan, what can you tell us about the shooter, Omar Siddiqui Mateen?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we know that he worked as a security guard in Fort Pierce, Florida. He worked for one of the major security companies that does a lot of security, including for the U.S. government. So that is something now that the investigators, the FBI investigators that are working on this case are going to be looking into.

We know that he rented a car in Fort Pierce and then traveled specifically to Orlando to carry out this terrorist attack that now has claimed the lives of 50 people and perhaps more. The -- that might explain why perhaps there was some earlier indications from Peter King, the congressman who was on the air earlier, who was talking about some weapons training. He worked as a security guard for a major security company. So that might explain why he perhaps had some expertise with using these weapons and was able to kill these people so quickly.

Now, what we know, as you mentioned, this is -- in the Washington, D.C. area, there's a big observances of gay pride weekend. And so we know that police there in Washington said that they are going to increase security. We expect that that will happen in other cities as well. In Orlando, this was not a gay pride weekend. They celebrate it at a different time. But this club was packed with hundreds of people, obviously. And that's one reason why the death count is so high, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Evan, just to clear something up from earlier, do you have any information about the birthplace of the shooter?

PEREZ: That's right. He is -- he was a U.S.-born citizen of the United States. His family is not -- they're not U.S. citizens, but he was born...