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News Conference Update On Orlando Terror Attack Investigation; Mayor: Authorities Identify 48 Victims In Club Attack; Police: SWAT Team Rescue Saved Dozens of Lives; Interview with Hillary Clinton. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 13, 2016 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] BUDDY DYER, MAYOR, ORLANDO, FLORIDA: The FBI did an unbelievable job of clearing the scene. By 11:00, all of the victims had been removed and turned over to the medical examiner and to the FDLE. And then, they also stood tall and did their job and now 48 of the 49 victims have been identified. Twenty-four of the next of kin have been notified, with more to come.
The number to call for families is 407-246-4357 -- 407-246-4357. As the next of kin are being notified we are putting the names of the victims on cityoforlando/victims. So again, I want to just compliment the medical examiner and the FDLE for the work that they did all night long in making the identifications and then notifying the next of kin, and we will continue that process today.
Again, we will not be defined by the act of a cowardly hater. We will be defined by how we respond, how we treat each other, and this community has already stepped up to do that. Thank you -- Governor.
GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: Thank you, Mayor. Just a few minutes ago I asked President Obama to declare a state of emergency for the state of Florida. I did that yesterday for Orlando, Orange County, and the mayor did it yesterday for the city.
When you stop to think about this you think about -- we all think about thank God it wasn't our family. If you go through that list of family members we have a lot of individuals from Puerto Rico. We have a wonderful Puerto Rican community.
We have a young lady, K.J. Morris, that just moved here from Hawaii to take care of her mother and grandmother. We have an individual, Liz Doma (ph), that works at Harry Potter, and I was just there last week. So you think these are people that we interact with every day of our lives.
Our law enforcement has done a wonderful job. The Orlando Police Department, the sheriff's department, FDLE, the FBI did a wonderful job of getting the bodies removed from Pulse. And FDLE, with the medical examiner, did a great job of identifying the bodies.
This is a wonderful community we live in. This is a wonderful state. We are the best melting pot in the world. We have 20 million people who live here. We have over 100 million come visit here because it's a wonderful place to both live and visit. We are going to continue to work hard to take care of these families and make sure we try to get this community back in the seat -- back to work as quickly as we can.
But right now it's time to grieve for each family member that either lost a loved one or still has somebody in the hospital injured. I'll now turn it over to Orlando chief, John Mina.
JOHN MINA, POLICE CHIEF, ORLANDO, FLORIDA: Good morning. I wanted to provide some information about our initial response and subsequent rescue of many, many people. So again, we had an extra duty, off-duty officer working for Pulse nightclub in full police uniform.
At about 2:00 he responded to shots fired. He did engage in a gun battle with the suspect somewhere near one of the entrances. Shortly after that additional officers responded. Those additional officers made entry while the suspect was shooting, engaged in another gun battle with the suspect, forced him to stop shooting and retreat to the bathroom, where we believe he had several hostages.
At that time we were able to save and rescue dozens and dozens of people who were injured and non-injured and get them out of the club. Things kind of stabilized. Based on statements made by the suspect about explosives, about possible bomb vests, we kind of secured everything, called SWAT and we did set up for an explosive breach on the bathroom wall where we knew there were approximately 15 people in the opposing bathroom to where the suspect was with his hostages.
Based on statements made by the suspect -- based on information we received from the suspect and from the hostages and people inside, we believe that further loss of life was imminent. I made the decision to commence the rescue operation and do the explosive breach. The explosive breach did not penetrate the wall completely.
We used our armored vehicle -- the Bearcat armored vehicle -- to punch a hole in that wall and defeat the wall. So there's a hole in the wall about two feet off the ground and about two or three feet wide. We were able to rescue dozens and dozens of people that came out of that hole.
[07:35:00] The suspect came out of that hole, himself, armed with a handgun and long gun, engaged in a gun battle with officers where he was ultimately killed. So at the time -- at this time I just want to say that the P.D. officers, from the initial responding officers to the SWAT officers, to all the other law enforcements acted very heroically and courageous and saved many, many, many lives during this operation.
One officer was struck in the Kevlar helmet right above his forehead. That Kevlar helmet did save his life. I talked to him --I spoke to him at length last night. He is doing great.
So at this time I'll turn it over special agent Danny Banks. I'll answer some questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you clarify if any more victims were shot when it was a hostage situation. DANNY BANK, FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORM CENT: So, good morning. I want to talk very briefly about what our primary mission for all us today is, and that's the identification of the victims and the notification of the family. As heard from Mayor Dyer, we have confirmed the identity of 48 of our 49 victims. The last identity confirmation is pending right now, so we anticipate having that name here shortly.
A number of those, as you've heard from the mayor -- we have notified their next of kin and that is our 100 percent priority mission today. As you are aware, the City of Orlando is advertising the names of those victims as we make the notification to the family member. And I'll explain to you very briefly on how that's going.
We have teams of FDLE agents, OPD officers, FBI agents that we are deploying as we're identifying these victims throughout the state, and really throughout the nation, to identify the family members to let them know that their loved one is deceased. Once we've confirmed that, that is at the time we'll post that to our website. So I ask that everybody just respect the privacy of the family and that we will advertise those names of those victims, but only at the time that we can confirm the next of kin is notified.
Again, I want to state that is the primary mission of all of us right now, to notify the family members exactly that one of their loved ones is dead. And then we will advertise those names publicly to the rest of the community. So, I'll turn it over to now -- I believe the FBI is ready to speak -- Ron Hopper. U.S. Attorney, Lee Bentley.
LEE BENTLEY, U.S. ATTORNEY: As Mayor Dyer said, yesterday was the most horrific day in the history of Orlando. Indeed, it was a day of the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States. A terrible tragedy. First of all, on behalf of the federal government, I'd like to thank our state and local partners -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Orlando Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
The men and women of these agencies have been working tirelessly over the last day and a half. On behalf of the federal government, I'd also like to thank the governor, Sen. Nelson, and all of the other elected officials who've been here today for their help, for their interest in what's going on here.
We're working very closely at the United States Attorney's Office with our partners at the main Department of Justice and the National Security Division. We're also working, of course, with the FBI and with ATF. An amazing amount has been done in just over 24 hours. As has been explained, almost all of the victims have been identified. The notification process is ongoing.
We've been collection a great amount of electronic and physical evidence. There is an ongoing criminal investigation. It is still in the early stages. We do now know yet whether anyone else will be charged in connection with this crime. I do want to let you know that we have no reason to believe that anyone connected to this crime is placing the public in imminent danger at this time, but there is an investigation of other persons. We're working as diligently as we can on that.
We have teams of prosecutors, as well as teams of agents working around the clock getting search warrants, getting court orders. If anyone else was involved in this crime they will be prosecuted. And now I'm going to turn it over to the ATF, special agent in charge, Regina Lombardo. Thank you.
REGINA LOMBARDO, ATF: Good morning. First, I'd just like to extend -- ATF's family would like to extend a heartfelt, warm appreciation for the extended visit here today. On behalf of the ATF, we'd like to say we are here to give you their role in the investigation.
We found on the scene there were two weapons on the scene. ATF brings a unique tracing capability to the table. We have been able to trace those weapons. The weapons have been traced to the last known purchasers, which is the shooter. One of the weapons was also -- the third weapon was also found in his vehicle. We are still working on tracing that weapon, as well.
We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the victim's families, as well as the LBGT community. We are working the investigation with a team of ATF analysts -- special agents. We are working together with the FBI and all our state and local partners here today. We have a team of people here that are able to provide what we can't to this investigation.
I'd like to now turn it over to the FBI, special agent in charge.
PAUL WYSOPAL, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Good morning. My name is Paul? I'm the special agent in charge of the FBI's field office here in Tampa, which includes the Orlando resident agency. I think yesterday you heard from our assistant special agent in charge, Ron Hopper, who did a commendable job as the on-scene commander for the FBI.
I think one of the things to take away from this is bad events, such as this, as we learned in 9/11, brings the community together, including the law enforcement community as you see everybody represented here. We all work together from the get-go. From the time of 2:00 in the morning when the shooting began, everybody rallied together to work the case as one force.
We have a Joint Terrorism Task Force, of which all these agencies represented at this scope are also represented on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, so we work cases side-by-side. I think a lot of the investigation, so far, has been disclosed to you. The main thing that we looked at in the very beginning is the victims. As you heard, there are 49 that are deceased. Forty-eight have been identified. Family members of about 24 families have been notified.
We also have brought down 30 victim witness specialists and they are to work with the families to try to get them what they do need. The resources that are available. Other agencies have pulled their resources and brought them done. The FBI has brought resources to bear from the Miami field office, the Atlanta field office, the Jacksonville field office, as well as Quantico, Virginia.
The laboratory has sent down shooting reconstructionists and that's kind of the next task as hand. As of late night, within 24 hours, all of the victims were removed from the Pulse bar lounge and now we're going to be processing it with the shooting reconstruction team to get as much forensic evidence as we possibly can at that point.
The investigation continues over the night. We probably processed about 100 leads that were worked on by agents and task force officers combined. The task force has been up and running since the beginning of this and will continue to run. That's one of the things that all the agencies will do, is bring their resources to bear.
Our focus is to get the truth, to get it to you as quickly as we can, but you have realize there is a balancing act. A lot of what we do on investigations may become classified. We can't disclose that information. We, basically, ask for you patience and that you bear with us in this investigation. We'll disclose what we can, when we can, and you have to recognize that when we can't it's not because we don't want to, it's because there may be prosecutions down the road. We're not sure where the leads will go.
As you know, post-9/11, no stone is unturned and that's the same today as it was then. Every terrorism case and investigation is going to worked the same way. No stone will be left unturned and we'll follow the leads wherever they take us and we'll brief you as best we can, when we can. But you'll have to bear with on that and just trust our judgment.
The FBI has been in existence for over 108 years now and we've earned the people's trust by working cases hard and being straightforward with you. And we don't want to violate that trust by giving you bogus information that two hours later we've got to come back out and tell you that information was wrong. So we'll keep you abreast as best we can by giving you accurate information, and by doing that it may take us some time to get you that accurate information.
So, with that, I'd just ask you to bear with us as we move forward in the investigation. I want to do like everyone else did and commend the first responders. They actually saved lives by responding as quickly as they did. Numerous people were brought out alive and unharmed and many more are in the hostile. Hopefully, they'll recover.
Again, that process -- and that's another thing that's a bonus for this community -- that is has come together and hopefully that will maintain and stay the course. Barring that, i guess we'll take some questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why has the number changed from 49 to 50 dead?
[07:45:00] WYSOPAL: I think what some people have been giving out a one point in time was the shooter was included in the number at 50. There were 49 victims. We don't really count the shooter as a victim, so that's how got the 49. Forty-eight of those have been identified at present. Twenty-four of those families have been made aware of their location.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, can you help us clarify one thing if you don't mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a couple more remarks and then we'll answer questions.
JERRY DEMINGS, SHERIFF, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good morning. This has certainly been a trying time for all of us and i can tell you, as a native of Orlando, this is certainly touching to my family and I. I have served here in this community with the Orlando Police Department and now as the Orange County sheriff, and there's never really been a time where I've seen where the agencies at the federal, state, and local level have really come together to work. And throughout the night our agencies have continued to work with the FBI.
We have a great partnership and i am certain that within just a short period of time all of these victims will be able to be identified and those families will be reunited with their loved ones, if you will. That effort is certainly going on and so we have received tremendous outpourings of support from across the country from our colleagues and law enforcement. And i can tell you that it's very heartwarming to all of us who wear the badge and carry the gun on a daily basis.
As i have talked with some of my staff and some of the staff at the Orlando Police Department who responded yesterday to this tragedy. The men and women were certainly touched by this. Many of them saw some carnage that they would never, ever seen in any other location. If you think about it, this is --
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we've been monitoring this presser here in Orlando. You can see the coordination of local, state, and federal authorities. We still haven't heard from Gov. Scott. You see him there in the background. There was a lot of cooperation here to try to help stop what is now already the most deadly shooting in American history. This is the biggest loss of life in something connected to terror since 9/11.
We're going to leave the presser now because we're also dealing with the need for leadership in this situation and the two main people who want to be president, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They've both been speaking about this. We'll have them both on NEW DAY this morning.
Secretary Clinton joins us now. Secretary, sorry to have to speak to you under these circumstances, but what is your message to this community and the country? This situation enhances the fear that things are getting worse. That they are not safe. That the war against terror is not working. What is your message to them?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE (via telephone): Well, first of all Chris, i think we all should be paying attention to and praying for the families who lost loved ones and those dozens of people in the hospitals fighting for their lives. There are so many people who still have not been accounted for. I also want to send, you know, my appreciation to the first responders who risked their lives and performed so greatly in Orlando.
Even as we figure out more about what happened, we also need to get to work. This was a terrorist attack. ISIS appears to be claiming credit for it, whether it had anything to do with it or not. At a minimum, they seem to have inspired to. We have to defend our country from the so-called lone wolves and work with our allies to dismantle the global networks that fuel this kind of radicalization.
And it's a complex challenge but we're absolutely up to doing it. We have the resources, the relationships, and the experience to get it done. And this is a moment for Republicans, Democrats, Independents, all Americans to work together as one team. It's a time for statesmanship, not partisanship. Our fellow citizens should expect that.
It's a proud part of our history and what makes us exceptional, and the American people deserve nothing less. And if we remember how we came together as one nation after 9/11, we should recapture that spirit as we face this challenge.
CUOMO: We see in the communities here, whether it was the long lines of those looking to give blood, those coming out this morning to support those who were victimized in one way or another, Americans respond. And i think what we see in these situations is demanding the same of leadership. One of the criticisms in these situations is that President Obama won't use the words Radical Islamic terror. That is seems to be either a fear or a protective instinct about blaming the religion.
You are now coming under scrutiny about what you will call this. What this means to leadership. Do you believe that this is Radical Islamism or Radical Islamic terror? Will you use those words and if not, why?
[07:50:00] CLINTON: Well, first of all, from my perspective it matters what we do more than what we say. You know, it mattered we got Bin Laden, not what name we called him. And I have clearly said that we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. And, you know, whether you call it Radical Jihadism, Radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I'm happy to say either.
But what I won't do, because I think it is dangerous for our efforts to defeat this threat, is to demonize and demagogue and declare war on an entire religion. That plays right into ISIS' hands. So this is something that -- you can, we can call it Radical Jihadism, we can call it Radical Islamism, but we also want to reach out to the vast majority of American Muslims and Muslims around this country -- this world to help us defeat this threat, which is so evil and has got to be denounced by everyone, regardless of religion.
CUOMO: When we talk about what to do after these situations there always winds up being the gun debate. Tell me, in your estimation, what law would have made this situation not happen? What could have made this not a situation where this man was able to get weapons? CLINTON: Well, first of all, Florida doesn't regulate assault weapons, or 50 caliber rifles, or large capacity ammunition magazines. It doesn't require a permit to purchase a gun. It doesn't require any registration whatsoever. It doesn't require gun owners to be licensed, and it doesn't require a permit to carry a shotgun or a rifle. It doesn't even require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between non-federally licensed parties. Now, you know, that's a lot of nots.
I believe, strongly, that common sense gun safety reform across our country would make a difference. We know the gunman used a weapon of war to shoot down at least 50 innocent Americans. We won't even be able to get the Congress to prevent terrorists or people on the No Fly List from buying guns. This is just totally incomprehensible, Chris.
And I think we've got to get back to common sense gun safety reform and we can't fall into the trap that is set up by the gun lobby that says if you can't stop every shooting and every incident, you should not try to stop any. We did have an assault weapons ban for 10 years and I think it should be reinstated.
CUOMO: What I'm saying is that when we get into the laws there's so many laws already and it always seems like it's more about the politics and the practicality of change, especially in light of what the Supreme Court decided in 2008, that you have an individual right.
Now, you have circled around this issue and it's becoming more important, Secretary, so I'm going to ask you. Do you believe that there is an individual right to bear arms, as the Heller case decided in 2008? It's a very important building block for what kind of change is possible.
CLINTON: Well, I think you have to read the entire decision. I believe law abiding, responsible Americans have a right to own guns. But I also believe with the vast majority of Americans there are common sense constitutionallypermissible steps we can take to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and terrorists while respecting the Second Amendment. That is what Justice Scalia said in Heller. Now, I have --
CLINTON: -- disagreed with some of the ways the court has applied that principle, like overturning the District of Columbia's safe storage law to prevent toddlers from accessing guns. There have been more than 23 shootings by a toddler this year alone.
So, we have to thwart through the decision. Yes, there is a right for law abiding, responsible Americans to own guns. And yes, there are reasonable common sense measures to try to keep people safe from guns. We've got to figure out the best way to move forward on that, and that's why I'm committed to doing.
CUOMO: Well, we have this conversation a lot and we look forward to hearing what those ideas are. Let me ask you one last question. Donald Trump, most likely your main opponent once you get through the convention. He says that this is proof that the war on terror is failing. That we're not strong. And that's what's resonates with the American people now because of their fear. What can you say to his argument and to tell people that you will make them safer than Donald Trump?
[07:55:00] CLINTON: Well, I think that Donald Trump's rhetoric is quite dangerous to our country. We've had a number of mass shootings. This, of course, is the worst in our history but let's not forget Sandy Hook or Aurora, Colorado. Let's not forget the 33,000 people who die with guns every year. So this is a problem that we have to look at very squarely.
Yes, we have to go after anyone who threatens us because of terrorism. We've got to prevent radicalization in the United States. We've got to give law enforcement the tools they need to root out radicalization. We have to take the fight to the terrorists, wherever they are, in order to keep ourselves safe at home.
But we also have to be conscious of the fact that a lot of folks who have no connection with terrorism are using these weapons to murder and mame people, as well. So we've got to look at this from these two perspectives. They are connected, Chris, and I'm going to be as firm and strong and single-minded in going after ISIS as anybody could be.
I was that way when it came time to bring Bin Laden to justice and I will be that way until we defeat ISIS. But I also want to save lives from gun violence more broadly, as well.
CUOMO: Sec. Clinton, thank you very much. It's an important moment for the country right now -- gay, Latino, straight, any ethnicity. The country's coming together around Orlando and looking for leadership. Thank you for joining us on NEW DAY.
CLINTON: Thanks a lot, Chris. Bye-bye.
CUOMO: All right, Secretary. Now, in our next hour we're going to hear from Donald Trump. How does he see this situation? How does he respond to what Sec. Clinton, and what is the way forward?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have a lot to talk about. Everything that Sec. Clinton just told us. We also just heard from law enforcement in their first press conference of the morning, so we want to bring in CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, as well as CNN military analyst, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling. Great to have both of you here.
So, a lot to dissect between what Hillary Clinton just said, as well as we heard from all of the law enforcementagencies involved. Jim, what has jumped out at you?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: One is this very key issue here that there were two engagements with the shooter before the final raid that killed him. One, the security guard out front. What we did not know until this press conference is that there was another time when the responders here -- SWAT team -- then went in, engaged with him again before he retreated, they say, to a back room with hostages.
That's that question we talked about earlier, Chris, which was why did they wait so long? It's always a tough one to ask. They're facing danger in there. But now we know that they did go in one more time and try to neutralize him when he retreated to a back room where he was in a confined space with hostages. That helps get us the answer to that question.
I'm also told, because I asked my producer, Jen Rizzo, to ask at the press conference this same question. She says there was also great concern about explosives. That he had an explosive device. Of course, that's a danger not just to the hostages but, of course, to the first responders.
CUOMO: Right, and obviously coming out of the Bataclan there was a sensitivity to how fast you can get in and what can you do. And one of the points that came up during that was that in America it's different. In France, they waited. In America, they don't. And then we see this situation, so it's a little confusing. We'll get to the bottom of why they did what. We did get some extra pieces.
Let me ask you -- what we just heard from Sec. Clinton. A situation like this makes you feel that you are unsafe. This is the worst number of deaths by weapon like this in our history. The most lives taken in connection to terror since 9/11. The Secretary says it is not an example that the war against terror is failing. That is unsatisfying to people's ears in moments like this.
You know what the ins and outs are of the plan. Do you believe that that's justified for people to say it's not working? Whatever you're doing militarily against terror, it's not working because this just happened.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't believe it is, Chris. I think, first of all you have to look at the battlefield which is Iraq, Syria, other places where terrorists are operating. Then you have to look at national security, homeland security, and there are a variety of ways that a terrorist can attack.
In this particular case you're looking at a guy, and I'm seeing that as the investigation continues, what we'll know about this individual. Who knew what he was doing, what he was about to do, what his thought process was? The potential for a devastating attack like that is critical to this.
There are many different pockets of enemies that we're fighting right now. There are some on the battlefield which, truthfully, are relatively easy compared to this kind of guy. And then there are some which are communicating, which you can pick up on. And then there are the ones who are lying low doing these kind of things. In order to be 100 percent correct all the time you have to be right all the time, and that's really tough.
SCIUTTO: And just to add onto that, we talk about the challenge to law enforcement. The challenge to counter terror is that you have dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people at any time in this country that have some expression of support for these groups, whether they follow them on Twitter. They might have had a communication on Facebook. The fact is you can't lock them all up.