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STATE OF THE UNION
Interview With Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Orlando Nightclub Shooting Deadliest Mass Shooting in U.S. History; Florida In State of Emergency. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired June 12, 2016 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. We continue CNN's breaking news coverage of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
For those of you just waking up and turning on the television, you might want to move the kids away from the TV. 50 people have been killed, 53 others are seriously injured after an overnight mass shooting, a terrorist act at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The shooting started today, a couple minutes after 2:00 a.m. eastern time.
Police now say an officer responded, there was a shootout outside the club, the club is Pulse. The gunman ran inside the Pulse nightclub and a hostage situation began shortly thereafter. The nightclub posted this message on its Facebook page -- quote -- "Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running."
The hostage standoff lasted about three hours. At around 5:00 in the morning today police used an armored vehicle, a bearcat to knock down the door and enter the club. After which they shot and killed the gunman who has been identified by law enforcement sources as Omar Saddiqui Mateen from Fort Pierce, Florida. A law enforcement source tells CNN that Mateen worked as a private security guard. Police say throughout the ordeal they were getting phone calls, text messages from terrified individuals inside the Pulse nightclub but away from the gunman complicating the situation at the time people's friends and relatives also got such messages and many of them rushed down to the Orlando nightclub.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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's going to pass out and to come and get her, and help her, and call the cops and help. And she was just afraid -- just it was -- just tragic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us.
What a horrible, horrible day for the nation and specifically for the city of Orlando, Florida. You had to tell the world that this is, in fact, the deadliest shooting -- mass shooting in the history of the United States.
MAYOR BUDDY DYER, ORLANDO: There's no way to describe it other than horrific and unimaginable. I am, however, proud of the way that our OPD, OFD and surrounding law enforcement agencies responded. The victims are large in number but there were 350 individuals in the nightclub when the shooter began and it could have been worse.
TAPPER: It could have been worse indeed and we've been hearing heroic stories not just about first responders but about individuals in the nightclub taking care of each other. Helping each other out. Tending to each other's wounds.
But let us turn to those who are still in harm's way. There are 53 individuals in the hospitals and trauma centers in and around Orlando. I know that there was a call for those in the area who are O negative, O positive, or AB blood types to donate blood. Is that still something you need? And give us an update on the people in the hospital.
DYER: Absolutely. It's something we need. Fortunately the trauma one level emergency center is located about half a mile from the scene of the crime. So we were able to transport victims very quickly and efficiently. They had a team of surgeons that they brought in around 3:00.
So probably a lot of individuals are safe because of the proximity and the quality of the care that they were given. I don't have any estimate on how many individuals are still at risk of those who have been transported.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, we've been told by Congressman Adam Schiff who's on the House Intelligence Committee and also Senator Bill Nelson of your home state of Florida announced that there are suggestions that local law enforcement says the shooter, the terrorist who has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen, that he pledged allegiance to ISIS at some point. What else can you possibly tell us or can you even confirm that report?
DYER: I'm going to let the FBI disclose the official information that they have with regard to the shooter. We don't know his motivation in picking the location that he committed the crime. And I would feel more comfortable letting the FBI brief you on that.
TAPPER: Is there anything at all that you can tell us about the wounded? Do you expect the death toll to climb from the already- staggeringly sad number of 50?
DYER: Let's pray that it doesn't. I can't confirm that it won't. There are certainly individuals that came in in serious condition but we have high quality care going on.
But there have been a lot of people in surgery and are still in surgery as we talk right here. There has not been another death that I know of in -- since the last report and the jump from 20 to 50 all corresponded to individuals, victims that we found inside the nightclub when it was cleared and they were able to investigate.
TAPPER: Yes. Could you -- if you could, explain that a little bit. Being told that the death toll was around 20 and then being told it was this record-breaking 50, the worst record ever. How did that happen exactly?
DYER: There was an estimate of how -- there was an estimate of how many people were believed to be dead inside of the nightclub and there was information that there were explosive devices, planted in the nightclub. There was information being texted out that the shooter was suiting four of the hostages up in explosive vests so there was a lot of misinformation going on relative to that. So once the shooter was down we weren't able to immediately send in people to investigate.
We sent our bomb detecting robot in because there was a battery pack lying next to the shooter. He had a bag lying next to him so we believe that there were still explosive devices that could have been detonated. We made sure that we kept our officers and other responders safe and conducted the initial inquiry in a prudent manner. And once we were able to go in and actually look at the scene, we identified that instead of 20 there were 40 individuals in the nightclub.
TAPPER: And then what about the other 10?
DYER: They had been transported to -- well, to get the number exactly right, there were 39 in the nightclub plus the shooter, that makes 40. There were nine who were transported to hospitals that died either en route or at the hospital and there were two that were outside the nightclub.
TAPPER: And could you tell us what happened during these three hours between the initial confrontation at 2:00 in the morning and when the police burst down the wall or the door with the bearcat? There were three hours of negotiation. Was the shooter -- did he make demands? Was he identifying who he was? Was he explaining why he was committing this horrific act?
DYER: There were no negotiations, I can say at this point that there was communication. I can't yet say what those communications were but there were communications between the shooter and OPD. There was also text message communications from a number of the hostages and the hostages were in two different locations. There were some number between five and eight in a room with the shooter and there were another group between 15 and 25 in a separate isolated room.
We breached the wall of the isolated room with the bearcat and were able to evacuate the hostages who were in that room and that is when the shooter came out, opened the door and started shooting outside and that's when we took him down.
TAPPER: And lastly, sir, I know you have to go, but there are so many Americans watching right now who want to know what they can do to help. Obviously those who are in the Orlando area can give blood and we've been giving that information all morning but what can those individuals as Americans who are watching, what can they do?
DYER: Certainly sending their prayers of support and if they have family members in the Orlando area, giving them some love and support.
We're most concerned right now about identifying the victims and being able to notify the families so every one of the 50 victims has a family unit, has a group of friends. So it's not just 50 individuals that have been impacted, it is our entire community. And then in addition it's those individuals who were there and witnessed the events. We're going to have counseling services available but right now we just need love and prayers.
TAPPER: Just to clarify one point you just made, sir, and then I'll let you ego. How many of the 50 victims have been identified? How many of their families have been notified?
DYER: Only a handful so far because they would be the ones that were transported so they would be among the nine that were at the hospital.
The process of identifying the 40 -- well, the 39 plus the shooter that remain in the nightclub is going to be somewhat cumbersome and we are asking everyone to be patient. We want to make sure that we get it accurate and don't make any mistakes.
TAPPER: All right. Mayor Buddy Dyer on what must be the worst day of his mayoralty. Thank you so much. Appreciate your time, sir, and Godspeed. Best wishes to you and the citizens of Orlando.
DYER: Thank you.
TAPPER: And we have a photograph we want to show you right now. It's coming in.
Let's bring that up. This is a photograph of the shooter Omar Saddiqui Mateen. That is what he looks like. We are still getting information from law enforcement. What we have been told about this individual is that he's from Fort Pierce, he had been trained as a security guard and according to Congressman Adam Schiff who's on the House Intelligence Committee, local police have told him that Omar Saddiqui Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Paul Cruickshank, we have him now. He is our terrorism analyst here at CNN.
Paul Cruickshank joining us now live from London. Paul, what can you tell us if this was in fact related to ISIS in some way. Has is claimed responsibility? Is there a response from the horrific misanthropes (ph) of ISIS? What do they say? PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Jake, there has been no claim of responsibility from any group including ISIS so far. However on pro ISIS forums, their supporters are reacting with considerable excitement in the wake of this shooting.
I think we can expect that to rise if some of the reports that the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS are borne out. We've seen that in numerous cases in the west where a gunman or an attacker pledges allegiance to the leader of ISIS just before launching an attack. So we saw that with that kosher market attack in Paris in 2015. An attack a few months later in Copenhagen. We saw that also in the United States with the San Bernardino shootings and also an attempted shooting in Garland, Texas, in 2015.
So it has been a feature of these plots, ISIS-inspired plots where the shooter will pledge allegiance to the leaders of ISIS so that ISIS can then take ownership of the attack. I think we can expect if these reports are borne out and they are confirmed I think we can expect ISIS to take a great deal of ownership for this attack. This would be the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
TAPPER: Indeed. It's already the deadliest mass shooting in the United States ever. But, yes, indeed, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 although there have been several others since then, whether Fort Hood or San Bernardino or the Boston marathon attacks. And we can go on and on.
Cruickshank, is this the future of terrorism? Or not even future. Is this the present of terrorism? Lone wolves, self-radicalized carrying out their twisted acts and not necessarily even the plots and conspiracies of al Qaeda?
CRUICKSHANK: I can tell you, Jake, it's the biggest concern in the United States of people who aren't necessarily connected to ISIS haven't traveled there but launching attacks in ISIS' name.
There's particular concern in the United States because of the confluence of increasing radicalization in the United States and easy access to weapons. We all know how easy it is to get weapons, very powerful weapons in the United States. So there has been a lot of concern from officials that we could see exactly this sort of attack play out.
In Europe where I am right now the concern is more ISIS-directed plots. A larger group of plotters who have been trained in Syria coming back to launch attacks. We saw that with the Paris attack. But some similarities as several analysts have noted between this attack and Paris. A music venue, a hostage situation. We saw that play out November in the Bataclan a concert hall in Paris, Jake.
TAPPER: That's right. And we're just being told right now that President Obama will address the nation at 1:30 p.m. Eastern. That's 10:30 a.m. Pacific to talk about this.
And, Paul, I would expect the president to in addition to expressing the sorrow of the nation and talking about the fact that this is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the nation.
I would expect him to note the radical Islamic ideology while also at the same time cautioning the American people not to suggest that all Muslims or even a majority of Muslims have anything other than revulsion when looking at this act.
CRUICKSHANK: Absolutely right, Jake.
And really what stands out in the United States, the vast majority of the American Muslim community absolutely reject this ISIS ideology. It's really a very small minority in the United States. A slightly larger minority in Europe.
But that being said, there have been a thousand investigations opened by the FBI into radical extremists, suspected radical extremists in the United States. 800 of those connections are of individuals who are believed to have some sympathy with ISIS.
So there is a significant problem of radicalization in the United States. We've seen a string of plots and attacks over the last few years, Jake. But one thing we've also seen is a falloff in the last several months of a number of Americans trying to travel to join ISIS in Syria.
That has been an encouraging sign but the worry has been that if they find it more difficult to get to Syria they'll want to launch attacks back home. And just a few weeks ago the key spokesman for ISIS, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, called on American ISIS supporters to launch a surge of attacks during Ramadan.
Ramadan just started a few days ago. ISIS has been telling their supporters you'll get ten times the rewards in the afterlife if you carry out attacks during Ramadan. So certainly that message will be a great interest to investigators as they look through it a (ph) little (ph) bit (ph), Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Paul Cruickshank, thank you so much. Our reporters right now are working the phones, working their sources, trying to find out as much as they can about the Orlando terrorist. We are going to bring you their reporting as soon as we get back from this quick break.
TAPPER: Welcome back to this breaking news.
President Obama will address the nation during the upcoming hour about what now is the deadliest mass shooting in American history. He'll speak at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 Pacific. CNN will carry his speech live, of course.
He will be addressing the fact that 50 people have been killed and 53 are injured. Some of them grievously after a lone gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida and conducted this horrific act of terror. The other deal started at about 2:00 in the morning east coast time. An initial shootout with police led to a three-hour standoff when there were hostages and people hiding in the club.
Police then broke into the nightclub and the gunman appeared and he was shot and killed. He has been identified as Omar Saddiqui Mateen. CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez has been working his sources. He joins us now.
And Evan, as you heard earlier in the broadcast, Congressman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee said that he had heard that local law enforcement say that he -- I'm told that Governor Rick Scott is speaking right now. Evan, we'll come to you in a second. Let's listen to Rick Scott.
(BEGIN LIVE COVERAGE - IN PROGRESS)
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: This is (INAUDIBLE) happen anywhere in our country. The first thing you think about is you just can't imagine what these families are going through. The families are still waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones. The most important thing we can do right now as law as enforcement is doing their job and health care workers are doing everything they can for the victims, is pray for everybody.
Thank God we have the law enforcement we have at the states, the Orange County police department, the sheriff's department, FDLE, all the federal agencies, everybody's coordinated their activities very well. It's heroic, the individuals that went in to the building knowing there was an active shooter. So we need to be very thankful that there were individual there is willing to risk their lives to save other lives and they clearly saved other lives.
For anybody that thinks that they should do this, I can tell you the state of Florida, the local law enforcement will be swift in their justice. We have great law enforcement in our state and they'll going to always do the right thing. I declared a state of emergency for Orange County. We're going to provide all the resources that anyone needs and I can tell you everybody is going to work together and that's one thing great about our state, Orlando, Orange County.
And I want to thank all the federal agencies for all their support. But right now, our hearts and prayers go out to everybody that's been impacted. I can't imagine family member that is still waiting to find out what happened to their loved one, it has to be heart wrenching. I know the state attorney wanted to say something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to thank the governor for coming down to join us. This is a terrible, terrible evil act. As a father of seven, I called and checked on some of my kids this morning to make sure they were OK.
We're doing everything we can, law enforcement is working well together. Our victim advocates are helping out to see if we can help with families and I just encourage everyone, as I did my staff, to please donate blood because we're going to need a lot of it. I want to thank our local law enforcement officers for the amazing job they've been doing. Thank you, sir.
SCOTT: We're glad to take any questions. Excuse me just for a second. The law enforcement has already said -- the mayors have said when they're going to have another press conference which will provide more information.
There's a lot of unanswered questions and at that time they'll be able to answer the questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Scott, was the suspect someone that was on your radar before hand? Are authorities in Florida aware of this suspect and any bad activity he may have been up?
SCOTT: I know there's a later press conference, law enforcement will answer all those questions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said this was an act of terrorism, can you define why? What makes this an act of terrorism?
SCOTT: This is clearly an act of terror. This is -- I mean, you just can't imagine this would happen to our community, our state or anywhere in our country. But for somebody to go in there and be an active shooter and take those -- that number of lives -- any life -- but that number of lives and injure that many people is clearly an act of terror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that make you change your views? Would you back any kind of gun legislation or restrictions on gun purchases, anything like that?
SCOTT: Right now we are -- this is the time to find out exactly what happened, a time to pray for those that have been -- that have lost their families, have lost their lives. Pray for the victims. There will be plenty of time to deal with how our society comes together.
I can tell you the Orlando area, the Orange County, the state of Florida we're very resilient. We will come together and do everything we can to help everybody that's been impacted but also bring this community back together again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)?
SCOTT: I've not talked to him yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, can you talk about why you issued a state of emergency?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what does that mean for the families and the victims? SCOTT: We declared a state of emergency to make sure that all the
resources that would be necessary for the city and county would be necessary -- anything that would be needed from the state is available immediately. The head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Rick Swearingen, is the coordinating officer but we've worked with the mayors and sheriffs and the police chief to make sure they have the resources they need.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, what do you know about what was happening between 2:00 a.m. (INAUDIBLE)?
SCOTT: Law enforcement will answer those questions. They're having another press conference I think at 1:30.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor, do you know how many families of the victims have been contacted at this point?
SCOTT: I know that -- all of that will come out as -- law enforcement will clear all that out. But I know they're working hard to reach every family member. And also they have victim advocates -- as the state attorney said, to take care of all these families. You just can't imagine. I have daughters and grand children, I can't imagine this happening to my family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you meeting with the families yourself, governor?
SCOTT: It's devastating. You know, you don't want this happening anywhere in the world but you know we -- I can tell you law enforcements, our elected officials, the mayors, at the state level (INAUDIBLE) hoping this would never happen. We worked with (INAUDIBLE) hoping this would never happen. It's devastating when you see -- when you see how many people lost their lives and the impact it will have on their families. I got -- I mean, I've got kids and grand kids. I can't imagine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you be meeting with the families yourself, governor?
SCOTT: I will meet with the families at the appropriate time. Look at what they're going through right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Scott, you said there was kind of impediment this morning in between communication, between the families and the hospital staff due to privacy regulations. The White House has been contacted. What role are you playing try to help facilitate the families, being able to connect with those still in the hospitals?
SCOTT: I think -- the way I understand that's been resolved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) stop something like this (INAUDIBLE)?
SCOTT: Look, we're dealing with a tragedy right now. Our prayers go out to everybody impacted. Law enforcement is doing their job. There will be plenty of time to think about how we continue to improve our society. We'll continue to work on how we do that. We're a resilient state. Bye-bye.
MAYOR BUDDY DYER, ORLANDO: I'll answer one HIPAA question real quick. So the CEO of the hospital came to me and said they had an issue related to the families that had come to the emergency room because of HIPAA regulations, they could not give them any information.
So, I reached out to the White House to see if we could get the HIPAA regulations waived, the White House responded through appropriate channels to waive those so that the hospital could communicate with families that were there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have all the victims at the hospital been identified (INAUDIBLE)?
DYER: I don't know, I think the majority of them have been. We have not identified the victims that are still in the nightclub but I believe that the ones that have been transported to the hospital and are deceased have been identified. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor, have you spoken to the president (INAUDIBLE)?
[12:30:00] DYER: I have spoken within the president, the governor. Everybody has lent their support to this. The president offered any resources that the federal government could possibly provide. The FBI has just been tremendous. The FDLE has been tremendous. So we have no complaints about our state partners and our federal partners and their help.
QUESTION: Mayor, will you talk about the -- the things that you need from the federal government? What are some of those (INAUDIBLE) that you need right now?
DYER: Well, the waiving of the HIPAA laws so that the doctors and health care personnel can communicate with family members was probably the most important, but we've got on the ground what we need from the federal government right now, which is the FBI and all of their resources and the coordination with FDLE and OPD. So I -- there's not too much more that I can ask of them. They were here immediately in response. They've done a lot of research into the shooter. That they'll be prepared, I think, to update you on. The next press conference is probably going to be around 2:00.
QUESTION: Thank you.
GERALDINE THOMPSON (D), FLORIDA STATE SENATOR: I am State Senator Geraldine Thompson and Pulse Nightclub is in the Senate district that I represent. And I just had an opportunity to speak with the governor about the state of emergency that he has declared and to thank him for making sure that the resources that are needed come into this community. And we know that there are people donating blood and while they are
making that sacrifice, we're calling on the community to support them by providing water, providing food. And the governor and I are going to have a serious discussion about reform because the families not only lost members of their families to this tragedy, but they lost a feeling of safety. And so when we talk about safety, we have to talk about how guns come into the hands of violent and unstable people. How is it that assault weapons that are used in military operation get into the hands of a single individual and how is it that magazines of weapons and bullets that are usually used in military combat come into our communities. And so we can't feel safe until we address those issues and those are some of the things that I'll be talking with the governor about.
QUESTION: How does this -- how do you (INAUDIBLE)?
THOMPSON: Well, every time we have one of these mass shootings, we talk about reform, but nothing is done. And this has brought it home to our doorstep. And as I said, I'm going to be talking with the governor about what we can do with regard to some of our laws. We have people who buy guns at gun shows that they are not required to have background checks. They can buy guns from private individuals and they're not required to have background checks. So these are some of the kinds of things that can be put in place. And I am heartbroken for the victims, I'm heartbroken for their families. I want their families to know that we are working to address this problem so that hopefully we won't see this as something that's routine that happens in our communities time and time again.
QUESTION: Geraldine, can you say and spell your name for us again?
THOMPSON: My name is Geraldine, spelled g-e-r-a-l-d-i-n-e, last name Thompson, t-h-o-m-p-s-o-n. I am the state senator that represents the community where the Pulse Nightclub is located in Tallahassee.
TAPPER: All right, we just heard from the governor of Florida, as well as other local officials, including a local state senator. Obviously one of the thing that was highlighted at that press conference was the fact that there are still so many families who don't know what happened to their loved ones. And the mayor of Florida, Mayor Dyer, told us that there were nine individuals, nine victims of this mass shooting, rushed from the club to the hospital and declared dead on the scene of arrival at the hospitals. That's nine. Two innocent victims killed outside the club, and 39 inside the club. I believe that's not including the terrorist himself.
So that's 39 families who still don't know what happened to their loved ones. Thirty-nine individuals inside the club who have not yet been definitively identified by law enforcement. So one cannot imagine the pain and emotional anguish that these families are going through right now as they wait to hear whether their loved ones are on that horrific list.
Let's continue to talk about this breaking news story with CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, who used to be with the U.S. Marshal Service. Also joining us is U.S. -- is CNN national security contributor Juliette Kayyem, who was former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
[12:35:01] Juliette, let me go to you. I mean what a -- what a horrible scene, not just the --
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.
TAPPER: The deadliest mass shooting in the history of this country, but also the fact that there are loved ones and friends of the 39 victims inside the club who still don't know if their loved ones were taken or not.
KAYYEM: That's right. It was actually jaw dropping to me when the mayor said that there were still people they were identifying in the club. I mean, that just gives you a sense of how horrific that scene may be. They want to be careful, they want to be respectful, they will take their time, but, obviously, that means that people are waiting to get verification that they are one of the 39 that are inside. My -- those who are injured in hospitals, their family have probably been notified. So those waiting may be waiting for very bad news.
The other things that have happened since we've been on is, just to make clear the difference between ISIS-directed and ISIS-inspired. We are going to hear a lot about ISIS in the next couple of days. They will take credit. They will be gleeful. They will be online. They will be shouting from the rooftops. That is -- that is the atmospherics of what is going on.
For law enforcement purposes -- so we want to just keep our focus on understanding what happened. There is a big difference between ISIS- directed and ISIS-inspired. ISIS-directed is a much bigger problem. It means that ISIS was able to get someone, train them and get them into the United States to plan a mass event. That's sort of what we saw in Paris. There is no evidence that that is the case yet. This will unfold slowly.
And that if we have an ISIS-inspired, that is, of course, the hardest thing to stop because it's an individual who may not have notified anyone and may just be passively absorbing ISIS' message with no direct contact to anyone with ISIS.
So there are difference and they matter for law enforcement purposes, even though the atmospherics of it may -- we may want to clump everything into ISIS. It is a very significant difference and I suspect that is a difference that the FBI is being guided by right now.
TAPPER: All right, Juliette, thank you so much for that.
Joining us on -- right now is the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, who greets us on this, what must be the worst day of your governorship. Mr. Scott, thank you for joining us.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA (via telephone): Well, this is -- this is -- this is sickening. It makes you mad. It's -- it's clearly an act of terror when somebody walks into a -- a nightclub and basically murders all these individuals. So this is an unbelievable tragedy for my state.
You know, we all -- the first thing we think about is our own families. I have daughters. I have grandkids. And you worry about them. There's a -- so, but I -- what I can tell you is, I've declared a state of emergency for Orange County, which is where -- I'm about a block away from the nightclub right now at the command center. But I've declared a state of emergency to make sure all state resources are available. We have great law enforcement in our state.
But, look, this is an attack on Orlando, an attack on Florida, it's an attack on America, it's an attack on every one of us. And we are all going to -- I can tell you in Florida, we believe in justice. And if anybody wants to commit an act of terror in our state, we will show up, our justice will be swift and our penalties are going to be very severe. This is devastating.
TAPPER: Governor, obviously, it's a horrific act of terrorism, the deadliest mass shooting in the history of this country. I think a lot of people are curious as to what the origin of this terrorist was. We have Congressman Adam Schiff was on this show earlier. He's on the House Committee on Intelligence, Select Committee on Intelligence, and he said local law enforcement are saying that this individual had pledged allegiance to ISIS. And there is reporting that this individual was known to law enforcement. What can you tell us about that?
SCOTT: We don't know all the details. I know there will be more details come out from our law enforcement. I'm here with, you know, federal, state, local agencies. Everybody is working very hard to not only deal with that issue, but also to deal with all of the families and the loved ones that are impacted.
But I can tell you there's great coordination at the local, the state and the federal level. You have to really admire the law enforcement that are willing to -- you know, when they had to break in to the -- through the wall into this nightclub and go in, they're not exactly knowing what was going to happen. You have just so much thank God that we have the law enforcement we have in our country.
TAPPER: Absolutely. Today's law enforcement, today's first responders are -- as has been pointed out on the show earlier, the equivalent of first responders in a war zone quite often.
[12:40:08] There are families who do not know yet whether or not their loved ones were taken from them. There are 39 individuals in the club who have not yet been identified whose loved ones have not yet been alerted. How soon -- how long will that process take?
SCOTT: They're work -- they are working through trying to find next of kin for every individual. Not only the -- the -- making sure that the individuals that are injured, but also those that lost their lives. And they're doing that as quickly as they can. And -- and you just can't imagine, if your family got one of those phone call, how devastating it would be to your family.
So -- but I can tell you that this state is going to do the right thing and our law enforcement are going to do the right thing. And we're going to stand up to this terrorism.
TAPPER: The shooter, the terrorist, is apparently from Fort Piece, Florida. The police, law enforcement are sort -- have been searching his home. I imagine his family will be in some sort of protective custody over the next few days and weeks. What can you tell us about his life in Florida? We're told that he was a trained security guard who did work and possibly even worked for the federal government at some point.
SCOTT: Yes. Clearly we don't -- we don't know all the details. I know that in working with law enforcement here at every level they're working hard to find all those things out and I know that they will be putting that information out as soon as they feel comfortable doing it.
TAPPER: The LGB --
SCOTT: There's a whole --
SCOTT: There's a good process here of really people working together to make sure -- make -- you know, to make sure we know exactly what happened because we don't ever want this to happen again.
TAPPER: As you know, this is Gay Pride Month. The LGBT community appears to have been directly targeted in this attack. That was an LGBT nightclub. And there are a lot of people, members of that community and supporting friends and family who are very worried. Obviously if this was radical Islam, which the special agent in charge of the FBI suggested it may have been, that is a community that has been under siege from radical Islam. Are you taking any special precautions to make sure, especially during Pride Month, but also in Florida, which is known as being hospitable to the gay and lesbian community, to make sure that that community is protected?
SCOTT: Well, Jake, we don't want anybody in our state to ever be targeted. We don't want anybody to be discriminated against. And so in every case when we believe that there is somebody doing the wrong thing, we -- we work hard to make sure we take care of them. And so what we'll -- you know -- you know, as we go through this process, what we'll learn through this is we'll learn what we can -- what we can do to hopefully never, ever, ever let this happen again.
TAPPER: But I guess point is, you've declared a state of emergency in Orange County, Florida, where Orlando is, but there are other areas of the state of Florida, South Beach, for example, where there may be a large and thriving LGBT community that might be very, very afraid this morning. Are you taking precautions? Are you sending law enforcement to make sure that there are no copycats or just in case this individual wasn't a lone wolf that that community is being protected?
SCOTT: Absolutely. I mean our -- we have really good law enforcement in our state and when something like this happens, one of the first things you do on top of dealing with the issue you have at hand is saying, OK, so who else could this impact and what can we do to make sure that does not happen?
TAPPER: And, lastly, sir, in addition to individuals being called upon in the Orlando area to give blood -- and let me repeat that again, that if you are O negative, O positive or have AB blood, you should go to oneblood.org or dial 888-9-DONATE to find out where you can donate because the hospitals in that area, in the Orlando area, need your blood. But beyond that, sir, there are a lot of Americans watching right now who want to know what they can do to help. What can they do to help, sir?
SCOTT: I think the biggest thing is pray. You know, pray for -- I mean just think about -- I mean pray for the victims, pray for their families, pray that this never happens again. We have a wonderful state. Orlando is a wonderful community. We have a wonderful country. We -- I don't ever want this to happen again. The -- it just -- it's devastating to these families that my heart just goes out to them. I just can't imagine losing one of my daughters or losing one of my -- my grandsons.
TAPPER: Florida Governor Rick Scott, thank you so much for calling in. We appreciate it. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the good citizens of Orlando and with Florida today.
SCOTT: All right, thank you. Bye-bye.
[12:45:00] TAPPER: We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to have all the latest from our reporters who are working their sources trying to find out more about the terrorists who caused this devastating attack, the deadliest mass shooting in the history of this country. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN's breaking news about this horrific event, the worst deadliest mass shooting in America history. President Obama will address the nation at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 Pacific, about, as I said, what is the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Fifty people killed, 53 injured, some grievously, after a gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
We are now learning about the suspect -- learning more about him. Let us use the information that I'm about to share with you sparingly. His name was Omar Saddiqui Mateen. That is a name I will not mention again for the rest of the show. And that is his photograph. We know that he was trained as a private security guard. His parents are from Afghanistan. He was apparently on the FBI's radar from Fort Pierce, Florida. Twenty-nine years old.
[12:50:10] Let us take that graphic down and join CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez on the phone who can tell us more about what law enforcement new about this terrorist.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER (via telephone): Well, Jake, as you -- Jake, as you said, he was investigated by the name. His name actually had come up in previous investigations. In other words, he wasn't the focus of the investigation. They looked into possible ties to extremists, Islamic extremists. Whether or not he was a sympathizer with al Qaeda or ISIS.
Now this occurred some time ago, some years ago, and that perhaps explains why no action was taken and why he continued to work as a private security guard. Now, this company that he worked for is a major company, a major security provider, a contractor for U.S. government buildings. So that is something now that obviously they're going to -- is going to be a -- some focus for investigators. It's just -- if this man was on the radar for possible ties to extremist, how was he able to keep his license and security guard able to be able to buy weapons with very little questions asked, obviously.
We're told that he was able to buy these firearms legally and that -- including in the last couple of weeks in the St. Lucie County area there in Florida where he lived. But that's what we expect will be probably dominating this case now as the FBI investigates this, which is what did they -- what did they miss perhaps when they looked into him. Was there something they could have done differently that might have changed the outcome here?
TAPPER: Now, we do know, Evan, that having your name on a terrorist watch list is not enough to necessarily preclude you from legally being able to buy a firearm in this country, but I'm curious, I would think that it would pop up in a -- in a sort of security check for somebody who is working for a private security firm, especially a reputable one and one that provide security for government buildings, no?
PEREZ: One would think so. And that's something that i -- that I'm asking questions about, Jake, because I don't know what types of security -- what types of checks these security companies do when they -- when they -- when they do a background check on an employee. And whether or not -- the question is whether or not they go back and keep checking your background after you've already started working for them and let's say something comes up later on, are they aware of it? Are they able to get that -- that kind of information? Obviously the fact that the FBI never brought any charges, you know, it's relevant because you can't take away someone's Second Amendment rights just because they were investigated.
The president recently addressed this very question, Jake, when someone asked him about the Second Amendment and he said, you know, we have cases where people are put on no-fly lists and we are not able to -- the FBI is not able to deny them their right to buy a firearm. And he thinks that that is something that needs to be changed. Obviously that's something Congress is going to have to take a look at.
TAPPER: All right, thanks so much, Evan Perez.
CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto also is working his sources.
Jim, what are you learning? JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (via
telephone): Well, this was, intelligence officials saying the same as law enforcement officials, that this was someone who was known to the FBI -- known to law enforcement. The thing is, to be -- to be known -- there are hundreds of people who are known and that is not guilt in its own life (ph). So you can have -- express something, you could have followed someone on Twitter. I mean there are a thousand different levels of support, right, that you can express for these groups, and this is the problem that counterterror officials and law enforcement officials have in the U.S. right now is that you have a long list of people who are in that category.
The percentage of those people who would carry out a horrible attack like we've witnessed today is just a small percentage. You can't lock them all up. That's the problem that they face here that you have on top of that this added idea that not only was he out and free, but he was -- he had a gun, right, and he was working as a security guard, which brings a whole nother question which Evan just raised, which is why did that not turn up at least in the background check for that position.
It is an enormous challenge to try to do -- try to prevent these things in advance, even if you have some indication that they've expressed some sort of level of support because that is not necessarily predictive of carrying out an act of terror. It's a really difficult thing to do.
TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.
And Art Roderick, former of the U.S. Marshals, there was something you wanted to say about some those conversations?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, regarding the clearance issue. This sounds like to me that if the individual is working and securing federal buildings he might -- he possibly could be working for the Federal Protective Service as a contract employee. Now, they'll -- the backgrounds they do there are generally single scope or double scope, which means they might do a criminal history check on him to make sure that he hasn't been a convicted felon and then, number two, do a financial check to make sure that his finances are in order.
[12:55:09] Now, once they do that and you get on the job, for that particular low level of clearance, they might not every check on him again as long as nothing comes to the forefront. Now, when you have sort of a top secret clearance or higher, then that is reinvestigated every five years if nothing occurs in between the first time you're issued that clearance and then the next five year reinvestigation.
TAPPER: All right, our thanks to Art, our thanks to Juliette Kayyem.
For more information on ways you can help the victims and their families in this deadliest mass shooting in American history, please go to cnn.com/impact and that will have more information. Our live coverage of this horrific, horrific terrorist attack continues with Wolf Blitzer after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[01:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.