Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
Authorities: Orlando Gunman No Direct Link with ISIS; New Info on 3-Hour Standoff; New Details on Gunman Weeks Prior to Shooting; Update on Wounded; Pulse Night Club Target Because It's a Gay Bar. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired June 13, 2016 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:26] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, live in New York.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman, live in Orlando, Florida.
Behind me, you can see the Pulse nightclub where, just 24 hours ago, there was a three-hour standoff, shootout, leaving 49 people dead. 24 hours ago, there were people running down this street looking for safety. And over the last 24 hours, this has been a crime scene with law enforcement looking on the sidewalks left and right for bullet casings everywhere. You can see the authorities still there and command-and-control vehicles trying to find out what they can inside that nightclub.
As that happens, we're getting brand new details about the gunman who went in there, guns blazing, at the Pulse. We learned just a short time ago that authorities do not believe that there is a direct link to ISIS. They do not believe he tried to communicate with ISIS. They do believe that he tried to buy military grade body armor just weeks before he went into that nightclub, but for some reason he was not sold that body armor. Again, investigators have found no evidence of direct contact with ISIS though obviously he did pledge his loyalty to ISIS during the attack.
We also now know that the gunman traveled to Saudi Arabia twice. The Saudi interior ministry says he visited in 2011, also 2012.
Also new this morning, the death toll has been revised to 49. He killed 49 people, wounded more than 50. A full one-third of the people inside that building were wounded or killed by this one gunman, this horrific ordeal that lasted three hours and ended when a SWAT team smashed into the building killing the gunman in a shootout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're shooting back and forth.
(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED: Oh, my god. They're all shooting back and forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: The Orlando police chief detailed the final minutes of the standoff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MINA, CHIEF, ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: We used our armored vehicle, the Bearcat armored vehicle, to punch a hole in that wall. We were able to release dozens and dozens of people that came out of that hole. The suspect came out of that hole himself armed with a handgun and a long gun, engaged in a gun battle with officers where he was ultimately killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. We have a number of new developments this morning in the investigation just over the last few minutes.
Joining me now CNN's Boris Sanchez, who has been here since the gunfight itself; and CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, I want to start with you. It is your reporting.
Despite the fact that this gunman called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS, as of now, no known contact between the shooter and ISIS.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation says no communication with -- contact with ISIS central commanders or known operatives overseas.
But as you know, with ISIS, you don't need that, right? Because one of their weapons -- and we've seen that in Paris, for instance -- that was a directed, coordinated attack. They were dispatched by ISIS central into Europe. But you have other attacks that were pure lone- wolf, self-radicalization attacks, which were just as dangerous and can be just as deadly. The trouble is, harder to detect in advance because you don't have those contacts to catch, to surveil to prevent something like this from happening. That is the particular threat of ISIS that they're able to direct and also inspire from afar.
BERMAN: Absolutely. To be clear, just because there was no known contact, it doesn't make it less deadly and dangerous. In fact, it is a goal of ISIS for this to happen.
SCIUTTO: They said -- their spokesman said during the holy month of Ramadan, which we're in right now, it's a time of fasting, encouraging supporters around the world to carry out attacks in any way that they can.
BERMAN: Two known trips to Saudi Arabia.
SCIUTTO: That's right. This is also new information. We know he traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2011, 2012, for what's known as the Umra, the lesser of the two Muslim pilgrimages. The hajj is the big one. Regardless, it's a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. And during that trip he went through the United Arab Emirates, Dubai. To this point, officials say they don't know of any contacts during those trips with bad actors in Saudi Arabia. That doesn't mean they might not find out about those at a later date but, to this point, they don't. That travel is interesting. It's a line of inquiry, but it doesn't yet tell us something that was functional to this attack.
BERMAN: Boris, we're also getting new information over what happened for the three hours of the standoff right behind us at this nightclub.
[11:05:09] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's been a lot of questions about what happened exactly during the standoff. Officials this morning confirm it wasn't just that off-duty police officer that was outside the club that went in when shots were fired. There was also a contingent of additional police officers that went in shortly after, and they essentially forced the shooter to retreat into a bathroom. We saw a lot of text messages between family members. One of them specifically mentioning being in a restroom and fearing for their lives.
Police mention that the situation was stabilized after the gunman reportedly mentioned some kind of explosive device. All day yesterday, the ATF was here scanning for explosive devices partly because they believe he had something on him that may have gone off.
From what we understand, there was some indication from police, it may have been the call to 911 saying that he was pledging allegiance to ISIS, that something tipped them off there was going to be an imminent loss of life, and that's when they decided to move in. They took that bear-claw armored vehicle and put it through the wall of the bathroom where they saw dozens of people coming out, fleeing for their lives. One of them happened to be the gunman. He exchanged fire with them and that's when they took him down.
BERMAN: Boris Sanchez, Jim Sciutto, great reporting. I will let you get back to the streets so you can find out what you can. Appreciate it.
BERMAN: We have also new details about the gunman's activities in the weeks before the shooting. CNN has learned that Omar Mateen tried to buy military-grade body armor recently.
And just a short time ago, we heard from Mateen's father. He said he is sorry and upset about what happened, and he claims he doesn't know why his son did it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SADDIQUE MIR MATEEN, FATHER OF OMAR MATEEN: As a father, it's painful, but I don't approve of that. Again, I repeat myself that what he did was act of terrorist. And it's against my principle, against what I taught him. I wanted him to get more higher education to serve the community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. I'm joined by CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez.
Evan, you broke the news about this body armor, military grade. Exactly what's going on mere?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we know investigators have now learned that the shooter attempted to buy this body armor from a local store in recent weeks, about a month ago. Now, the store wasn't able to sell him what's known as level-three body armor. It turns out, because they didn't carry it. But the attempt suggests to investigators that Mateen may have been plotting this attack for some time, according to law enforcement officials I have spoken to. This type of body armor is higher grade than even the kind that most police departments issue to their officers. In fact, it's a kind that some militaries use. Now, again, the store apparently just didn't carry it.
We know that he worked as a security guard and nothing in his background prevented him from buying the firearms that he was able to buy in the weeks before the shooting.
And, John, we're also learning that Mateen attended a mosque, the same mosque that another terrorist who carried out a suicide bombing in Syria attended, and his name is Mohammed Abu Saleh. And he attended occasionally, apparently, the services at this Ft. Pierce Islamic Center, according to a mosque. Back in 2014, the FBI looked into possible ties between Mateen and Abu Saleh. They decided that there just wasn't much of a connection there -- John?
BERMAN: That was one of the point of contacts the FBI had with Mateen. They questioned him about his relationship, but at the time, decided it was not significant.
Evan Perez, again, with the news that Omar Mateen tried to buy military grade body armor within the last few weeks.
Thanks so much, Evan. Appreciate it.
Let's go to Kate in New York.
BOLDUAN: John, we'll get right back to you in a moment.
49 people are dead, 53 others wounded after the shootout -- the shootings early Sunday. Of those 53, 43 remain in the hospital. Six of them are undergoing surgery today, we are told.
CNN's Victor Blackwell is outside the Orlando Regional Medical Center with much more on this.
Victor, what are you hearing, the state of those wounded? What injuries they sustained, and how it's looking for them right now? What are you hearing?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it is an urgent situation here at the hospital. We've learned from officials through a tweet that there were surgeries late into the evening and several of the survivors are undergoing surgery right now.
And with so many people inundating the hospital system at once, there was a massive call for blood donations, and this community responded en masse. Let's look at some of the people we saw in lines. 5,300 donations of blood in one day, a record, we're told, by OneBlood, the system that's collecting those donations. People stood in line for five hours or more, and we know that they were working overnight until maybe 4:00 in the morning processing those donations and sending them off for testing.
Many of those people are back in line today. The people who could not get in to make those donations yesterday. We spoke with one of them. Her name is Carrie Gray. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:10:21] CARRIE GRAY, DONATING BLOOD: It's love. This is Orlando. This is what we always do. We come together regardless of the situation, and it's just what we do. And as an American, you do more. So after this, I'll probably go for a couple hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Again, the lines are growing for people who want to donate blood. But there is some frustration because the FDA prohibits collecting donations from gay men who have been sexually active within the last 12 months. However, this facility is on an old computer system, so they're using the old FDA regulations that lifetime ban for sexually active gay men over the last 40 years. Again, some frustration here. But I can tell you that the system is working nearly around the clock trying to process those donations. They say it's about a two-day span from donation to getting it to the hospitals available for transfusion. We know that the hospital not only working to take care of those victims, those survivors we're calling them, but also the nearly 200 family members who have been coming here to check on those loved ones. The hospital also saying that they are working to collect the latest on their conditions and to give that information as soon as they get their handle around those 43 patients who are still here -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: The pressure on that hospital system still great right now.
Just a reminder to our viewers, 43 people are still in hospitals. Victor was just telling us many of them, several of them in surgery today. We're going to continue to follow those developments on those injuries and those wounded and bring them to you as we get them.
Let's get back to John in Orlando.
BERMAN: Thanks, Kate.
As many as six operations going on today for those inside the hospital. We will watch that.
No doubt that the Pulse nightclub was targeted because it is a high- profile gay bar. Whatever the motive of the shooter, that much is certain.
I'm joined now by Orlando city commissioner, Patty Sheehan; and GLAD president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis.
Patty, thank you so much for being with us.
Not only are you a city official in Orlando, you're also part of the gay community here in Orlando, a community that I believe has to feel targeted this morning.
PATTY SHEEHAN, ORLANDO CITY COMMISSIONER: It's the heart of my district. And, of course, yes, many people in the community are just horrified by this violence that's happened in our community. We've never had something of this scale before, and it's just a horrible day in Orlando. But what I'm encouraged by is the number of blood donations, the community coming together and just the outpouring of love and support internationally.
BERMAN: You know, I have been told by many it's a gay-friendly city. It's a population --
SHEEHAN: Very much so. We're 100 percent on the human rights index. We're known as a welcoming city. Our mayor is wonderful, a wonderful ally in the gay community. We've passed discriminations and public accommodation, housing, employment. We had the first gay marriage ceremony in Florida on the steps of city hall. We're a very welcoming community.
BERMAN: It has to be -- when you're dealing with 350 people inside that club on Saturday night, I have to believe almost everyone in this community knows someone or knows of someone who was inside those doors when the terror broke out.
SHEEHAN: Yeah. I just talked to a couple of people who were waiting for word from their friends and they're just heartbroken. They're showing picture of their friends, and it was just awful. I can't imagine what they must be going through.
BERMAN: Sarah, as president of GLAAD, you have dealt with a lot, but nothing quite like this.
SARAH KATE ELLIS, PRESIDENT & CEO, GLAAD: Nothing quite like this. This is heartbreaking for the community, not just here in Orlando, but absolutely here, but abroad and in this country as well, from coast to coast and country to country.
BERMAN: You know, and I think it's important for people to know, Pulse is a gay nightclub, one of three or four in the city, I have been told, that are very well known. But this is the kind of place you go to feel safe. Not safe from attacks like this, but safe because there are other people there you feel comfortable with, people like you. And for many people, in the gay community going to a gay bar is the way they can feel safe.
ELLIS: Yeah. A gay bar and a nightclub are so much more than just that. They're a place where we come together as a community, and they've been a safe haven for decades, and they've been a place where as a community we've organized. I mean, Stonewall, 1969, is one great point where we came together at Stonewall and organized a gay liberation movement. So I think it's really important, a sense of security has been taken away. We will fight harder and we will fight longer, and we'll do what we need to do, but they really -- that was an attack on our heart and soul.
BERMAN: It was an attack on America's heart and soul, not limited to any one community.
ELLIS: Yes. Agreed.
BERMAN: Sarah, Patty, thank you for being with us. And we're here right along beside you.
ELLIS: Thank you.
[11:15:00] BERMAN: We do have breaking new details about the gunman's activities in the weeks before the shooting, including how the killer tried to buy that military-grade body armor. That's coming up.
Plus, abusive and unstable. Chilling new details about his past, his possible mental state. The shooter's ex-wife says that she was held hostage by him from her own family.
BOLDUAN: "A sick, abusive, unstable man with anger issues" -- that's how the shooter's ex-wife is describing him. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SITORA YUSUFIY, EX-WIFE OF OMAR MATEEN: In the beginning he was a normal being that cared about family, loved to joke, loved to have fun, but then a few months after he were married, I saw his instability. And I saw that he was bipolar and he would get mad out of nowhere. That's when I started worrying about my safety. And after a few months, he started abusing me physically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:20:56] BOLDUAN: She also said her family had to rescue her from the marriage. But Omar Mateen's brother-in-law, responding to that interview that you just saw there, tells CNN he didn't see anything related to mental illness in his brother-in-law.
Let's talk more about the investigation into this man. David Katz is here, a former DEA official, a firearms and Homeland Security expert, and CEO of Global Security Group; as well as Bob Baer, former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst.
Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here. As always, under the worst of circumstances we're discussing this.
Some of the information we're getting out -- Evan Perez is doing some great reporting -- saying that he in recent weeks tried to go get military grade body armor and that the store for some reason that we don't know yet --
KATE, FORMER DEA OFFICIAL 9 FIREARMS AND HOMELAND SECURITY EXPERT & CEO, GLOBAL SECURITY GROUP: The store didn't have it in stock.
BOLDUAN: Is that what you're hearing? Because it was refused to sell it to him is how is was described to Evan.
KATZ: Go on eBay, you will buy it unrestricted.
BOLDUAN: Our reporting is that they refused to sell it to him.
KATZ: The reporting I have heard they refused to sell it to him because they didn't have it in stock. Most security companies selling those products are going to have at best level 3A body armor. They don't typically keep the hard armor plates in stock. It's more for military application or SWAT teams. This suggests he knew he'd be going to take this action, that the responding officers would be around with high-powered rifle and he needed something above soft body armor, Kevlar or Specter Shield. He wanted the hard plates our guys overseas would be using. So that's why he wanted them, but he couldn't get them because typically it's not something you'd sell to the civilian market.
BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask you, the fact he's even looking for it and seeking it out, what does that tell you about the level of planning and how this man was expecting this to play out.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, a couple things. We can almost be certain he was ready to die. The fact that he was buying ceramic armor intended to -- he was going to fight it out with the police and there was no way he was going to come out of there. Number two, he carried a long gun into a crowded club. He had a handgun for close in. He had a perch somewhere in that club where he couldn't be grabbed. He cased it.
BOLDUAN: Why do you think that? Why do you think he cased it? Just the sheer number he was able to injure?
BAER: The number of people, killing 49, wounding 30-some. It was a crowded club. You just don't go in with a long gun ever, ever because people will grab it. You have to keep that away from you. This is why assaulters will have on their side they have small guns like an MP-7. He went in with an AR-15. He had to stand back. He had to keep people away. Clearly, had cased this place and was prepared to do this.
And by the way, I really don't care what the families say about a shooter. It's always crazy stories, fathers, mothers, wives. I just look at this guy. He goes to Saudi Arabia. He comes back. He sets preparations for an assault, for mass murder, and then carries it out and then takes the police on. And apparently, with an early shooting, too. So the guy was ready.
BOLDUAN: He called 911 from inside the bathroom. You don't hear terrorists calling 911. And they also then had some level of negotiating with the police. The police chief said something that really struck me at one point during a press conference. He said he wasn't -- the gunman -- he wasn't asking for a whole lot. We were doing most of the asking. That was really striking to me to hear that.
KATZ: There's a lot of the story that's yet to be reported. Apparently, he shot his way into the club. He entered it already shooting. He, apparently, engaged a uniformed officer. Same thing here. We have these details where you can hire security who is a police officer in uniform. Basically, paying for the as a security guard. So apparently, he shot his way into the club. But what's striking is you mentioned the long gun. Really easy to take that away from somebody. You can't swing a long gun in a tight, confined area. You have that many people being attacked at the same time, no one is throwing beer bottles at him, chairs? I don't care who is the guy is, if a mass of people rush you, you are off your feet. Look at the night before when Christina Grimmie was killed. One shot, the brother took the guy right off his feet.
BOLDUAN: Then what does that tell you was so unusual about this circumstance?
KATZ: Probably had a lot of alcohol going on. You dull your reflexes. Complete surprise. But, you know, it's important for people to understand that you have three options in an active shooter operation. The best one is to avoid, run, get out. The second, if you can get yourself into a place where you can barricade, and at least have some impediment --
BERMAN: That's why folks went to the bathroom, hid in the dressing room.
KATZ: Right. But the third option, kill the guy. Go for the guy, because either your life is going to end at his discretion. You either have to act or accept. And the FBI has done 160 studies of active shooter incidents. In 13 percent of those, unarmed civilians have taken the guy off his feet and ended it. So that's -- I don't know why that didn't happen here. Maybe he was in a perch. I don't know.
[11:25:06] BOLDUAN: Guys, stick with me.
Real quick, do we have the new video you want me to go to, guys? No. OK.
We're going to continue this conversation. We'll have new video coming in.
We're expecting to maybe hear from President Obama shortly. We'll get to that when that comes in.
Thank you, guys, so much for being with me.
Coming up for us, the gunman's father says that he never saw any red flags but he also said what his son did was an act of terrorism. We have breaking details in this investigation ahead.
Also, we're remembering the victims of this horrific attack. About a third of the people in the club were shot. The people that were trapped -- there were many that were trapped inside, some in bathrooms, some in the dressing rooms. The frantic calls for help. We'll be right back.