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AT THIS HOUR
Fifty Dead, 400 Plus Injured In Las Vegas Massacre; Mesquite Police: We've Had No Contact With Paddock. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired October 2, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you all for being with us. David Chalian, thanks to you, and everyone, who is with us navigating these last two hours. We appreciate it. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Kate Bolduan picks up our coverage right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks guys. Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. Welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We are going to continue CNN's breaking news coverage and the heartbreaking tragedy in Las Vegas.
Americans are waking up this morning to a horror story playing out in front of them of historic proportions. The deadliest mass shooting in American history. The sites, the sounds, of relentless gunfire and fear. The images and videos that have been coming in overnight and throughout date are graphic and disturbing.
BOLDUAN: The numbers, they're just simply shocking. At least 50 people are dead and more than 400 people injured after a gunman on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Casino opened fire on the strip below where thousands and thousands of people were enjoying something so quintessentially American, an outdoor music festival.
Police say the gunman, a 64-year-old man from Mesquite, Nevada, killed himself as officers stormed his hotel room. Witnesses say the shooting lasted around 15 minutes. You can imagine it felt like hours and years to those having to endure it. Here's one person describing the ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENDON O'NEAL, SHOOTING WITNESS (via telephone): Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. So loud. Like super loud. And then the next thing you know, the sound is completely off for the musicians and all you hear is like this heavy machine gun just going off and you just hear people screaming.
And so, we like -- we're just like so confused. We thought this was some technical difficulty. Now it's something more. Someone yelled a gun and people are screaming. We're exiting off stage. And we're going around the stage towards the right and people are just like climbing all over the fences trying to get out. And people are just screaming again and then you just hear pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. It was like -- I mean it sounded like 50 plus rounds were just going off. And people for like the left and right of us are like down on the pavement like we made it, so like we went towards like the parking lot and we -- we were able to like hide behind this cop car.
I remember just getting around this cop car and just hearing bullets just whizzing and just like bouncing like -- oh, like on the ground nearby. These girls were like just screaming and crying and they were just like covered in blood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: One thing we don't know yet, is why. What could, whatever would motivate someone to do something like this? At this point, authorities say they have not found a link between the shooter and terrorism overseas or they're not calling it domestic terror at this point.
His home in Mesquite, about 80 miles away, is being searched for any clues and you can be sure they will be searching it for quite some time. Police said he had a citation in his past that was handled by the court system, but really, not a long history with run-ins with law enforcement.
Whatever the motive, it is no consolation that the loved ones of those people killed or the survivors who are sitting in hospital beds right now trying to recover from gunshot wounds.
Moments ago, President Trump spoke to the nation about this national tragedy. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you. My fellow Americans, we are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief. Last night a gunman opened fire on a large crowd at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. He brutally murdered more than 50 people and wounded hundreds more. It was an act of pure evil. The FBI --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:05:09] BOLDUAN: The president also added he will be heading to Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with law enforcement, first responders, and the families of those impacted, so many families impacted, thousands and thousands were in the crowd there.
Over the next hour, we will have many of their stories coming from witnesses to -- from witnesses to survivors of this massacre and from investigators trying to figure out how and why this horrific act ever happened.
Let's go right now, though, to CNN's Jean Casarez in Las Vegas at the scene of the shooting. Jean, you have been up all night. You saw the ambulances coming and going as this played out in real time. What are you seeing there?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And right now, it is crime processing time. As you just said, law enforcement and the FBI, they are not classifying this mass casualty event because they want to know the intent of the shooter, why did he do what he did and so search warrants are being executed at this moment.
Behind me at the Mandalay Bay, at the room on the 32nd floor where law enforcement says he had ten rifles, we have also heard in excess of ten rifles, also a search warrant executed at his home to try to find out the motive.
This is what we do know. We do know that across the street, across the Las Vegas Boulevard, across the strip, where he apparently intended to shoot, was a crowd of 22,000 country music fans that were listening to Jason Aldean, one of the largest country music stars.
We know that there was a lot of law enforcement that were off duty. We know the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department had at least two people there, the Los Angeles Fire Department had at least seven people there. Some of their members were shot.
We know a Las Vegas police officer off duty was shot in that audience. Another one was also transported to the hospital. So, we know that it was a crowd of specific types of people listening to that music, but it all started at 10:08 last night.
The weather was warm. It's Las Vegas. It's cold today. It was warm last night. The strip was buzzing. It was lots of people on a Sunday night and it was the 32nd floor, all of a sudden, people started hearing those shots.
And the missing link, as the president said, very quickly, law enforcement made it to the 32nd floor, it was SWAT, SWAT breached the room. They went in. Very close in time to when those shots rang out.
How did they know it was the 32nd floor? We may learn that as facts come out but they did. The shooter, they believed had shot himself before they came in, but it was very close in time. But the fact is, that 406 people have been taken to area hospitals through the night.
I would see the ambulances come in and then they would leave, one by one, and I would be able to see because the lights were on inside the ambulance and I would see the emergency medical responders treating each and every person that they were taking out to the trauma centers here in Las Vegas.
This city was paralyzed through the night. Interstate 15, which is the gateway from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, up to Salt Lake City, it was closed. The airport, two dozen flights were diverted.
Over to my left is the runway. It's all very close together and the strip is the place to be in Las Vegas and that's where everyone was and so many victims injured and even perished last night
BOLDUAN: And a large section of it right now, a massive crime scene now. Jean, thank you so much. We'll be coming back to you throughout the show.
The shooting started as Jean was mentioning while country music star, Jason Aldean, performing on stage for those 22,000 fans. He was closing out the festival, the big headliner and finishing his set. People in the audience ran or dove for cover against -- to get behind anything as they were still simply trying to figure out what was happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay on top -- I know. I have to stay on top of you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get trampled if we don't go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get trampled if we don't go. Let's go. We're going to get trampled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:10:09] BOLDUAN: It is hard to wrap your mind around thinking that is rally but it is. My next guest actually shot that video, Vincent Sager, he was standing near the stage when the shooting began and had the presence of mind to take that video. Vincent is on the phone. Can you hear me right now, Vincent?
VINCENT SAGER, WITNESS (via telephone): Yes, I can hear you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for getting on the phone. I can only imagine what hearing that again is like for you and we see and hear a little bit of what you saw and heard. Can you walk us through?
SAGER: That made my hair stand back up on my arms just hearing it. I mean, as you were saying earlier, Jason Aldean was in the middle of set just getting going and we were stage right in the front, closest to the Las Vegas boulevard, and, you know, you start -- you hear first a couple shots and your mind thinks you don't know what that is, maybe it's -- this is Vegas.
Pyrotechnics, Aldean, fireworks, and then the rattling you heard in the video first. And you're thinking OK, now it's a malfunction. You're not getting it. Then what made you click, put that mind in everybody to something is not right is when Jason Aldean stopped. He ran.
And then somebody just started running saying oh, my gosh, he's shot, he's shot. People in front of us that were getting shot and you were seeing, as you were hearing, the shots going off, you were hearing just them hit the ground and you were running. You don't know what's going on.
We were right there on Las Vegas Boulevard. There's that wall. You don't know -- that's the thing you're hearing everyone saying -- no one did not know he was up there. We didn't know where the shooter was. He could have been on the ground. We were hearing on the ground.
I was waiting for someone to jump over the wall and start shooting and so we, you know, started exiting because the main exit to exit the festival was unfortunately right in front of Mandalay Bay. People exited out of the front, you were exiting right in front of harm's way.
Now you have 22,000 people trying to keep calm and, you know, (inaudible) individuals trying to keep everybody calm to exit out but the panic is real and you have people running. A guy in front of us who got shot in his back and still running and we're trying to stay calm.
As soon as you get to one area, somebody screams. At this point, there's other people playing like that telephone game where there's a shooter over here now and you don't know. You're running and running one way and people are running towards you. You don't know where to go.
People were scared and confused and -- it was terrifying. I didn't believe -- you don't believe you are a part of now what's going down as the largest massive shooting on our grounds. You don't think you would be a part of it.
And when you're there, like I wanted to -- it's hard to say you weren't scared because you have adrenaline going through you, everything is settling, I made it home and laying here with my dog I'm more scared now than gunshots at my feet.
BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask. First and foremost, adrenaline and pure survival instinct. Now --
SAGER: It's like that adrenaline. If a son is under a car you can lift the car up. You have that instinct to start getting people out.
BOLDUAN: Now as the sun comes up and you're seeing -- seeing and hearing all of the stories and thinking back to it, can you make any sense of what you just lived through?
SAGER: I can't. I can't at all. I mean, as a fan of country music and just like how you guys said, your mind is thinking like OK, is this a terrorist attack going on and you're thinking, oh, my gosh, this might be, you know, unfortunately whatever a terrorist attack and then think this is a country festival and the president and everything going on, people who voted for Trump are not going to say this, but probably country music fans.
Attack on the country and your mind -- my mind is just going a mile a minute thinking everything. Then you hear OK there's a bomb. You're hearing everybody saying different things. Of course, we're all proven there was no bombs or extra shooters. At this point, you don't know this. You're getting messages and what not and different information from people. At this point, you don't know what's going on. You're just -- and you're trapped. We were literally just trapped. We couldn't go anywhere.
BOLDUAN: It was an ambush. It was -- it was an ambush at an open-air festival in the middle of Las Vegas. When you mentioned the president, he spoke just a short time ago, I don't know if you had a chance to hear it --
SAGER: Yes, I was listening.
BOLDUAN: Did his words bring you any comfort?
SAGERE: I mean, it's -- I mean, it's heartfelt. You really can't -- you can't really express how he did or how to express something like this the way -- no better than he did. He did it very well.
[11:15:08] And the fact that he said, you know, Vegas is almost you can say a second, third home to him, his name is on a building here, for him he knows the effect. For him to come here right away, it's what you want to see the actions done. So, I definitely -- I give him credit for what he -- for what he said and how he handled it. Now it's a matter of us, what are we going to do?
BOLDUAN: Yes, so many questions. Investigation just getting started. But most importantly, at least we're speaking to you and you are OK, at least physically. Vincent, thank you so much for coming on. I'm so sorry you had to live through something like this.
SAGER: I appreciate it. Thank you. Like I said more prayers and thoughts goes out to everyone who unfortunately was not able to make it out safe. But I mean, Metro, Las Vegas Metro, the whole entire staff and Route 91 and Harvest Fest the way they handled everything was top-notch professionalism. Even the staff of Route 91, wasn't employees, come work at the event and here's a couple hundred bucks. Route 91 and Metro they deserve all the credit for how they acted.
BOLDUAN: Vincent, thank you so much.
All right. So, police say they believe the shooter acted alone. He's been identified as a 64-year-old white man who lives in Mesquite, Nevada. Authorities say that there are no links to international terror groups but they don't yet know, of course, the motive for the massacre.
The why, the how in God's name why, would someone do this. The shooter's brother lives in Orlando and spoke to reporters there about the shock at hearing the news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC PADDOCK, BROTHER OF LAS VEGAS SHOOTER: He was my brother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. PADDOCK: It's like an asteroid fell out of the sky. We have no -- he hasn't -- you know, don't know how to go through -- now it's last time I talked to him was he texted me to ask how my mom was after we didn't have power for five days in the neighborhood. He had no machine guns when I moved him from Melbourne to Mesquite. Find out who gave him -- who he bought the machine guns from. Once again, it's -- there's no blame and, you know, it's just -- he bought the machine guns and he did this. I mean --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Even his own brother at a loss for words how this all happened. Investigators executed a search warrant at the shooter's home in Mesquite a short time ago. Mesquite police briefed reporters about their investigation.
CNN's Kyung Lah was there for that briefing and joining me now. Kyung, what's the very latest there?
KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police here tell us the Mesquite Police Department telling us that the search warrant has been executed, that they are very slowly and methodically going through this house.
When they initially approached this house, Kate, in the early morning hours, there was concern what they might find given the amount of carnage and violence that they saw in Vegas. So, what they did was they evacuated the immediate neighbors around this house.
They used a robot to gain entry, but then what they found was a very normal ordinary house, and it has simply added to the confusion by the police department. Here's what we heard from the public information officer of the Mesquite Police Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's unique for us is that the gunman, the shooter, and the person with him, we, the Mesquite Police Department, have not had any contacts with these people in the past. We haven't had any traffic stops, any law enforcement contacts, no arrests or nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: He did add that they did find some ammunition in the home, but other than that they didn't really find anything out of the ordinary and in talking to some of the people who live here, they also say, this is about the last place that they would expect someone to do this, especially given the profile of this man.
He's 64 years old, living in a 55 plus retirement community, almost zero crime here. There appears to be nothing wrong here in this planned community if you talk to the people who live here. This is a place where you can drive golf carts down the street, where people walk their dogs. They are having an extraordinarily difficult time trying to reconcile this place with the 64-year-old man checking into the Mandalay Bay, going to the 32nd floor, days ahead of time, and then planning something like this. Shooting the windows out of a hotel room.
For them, this is something that is absolutely unthinkable, given the profile of this man. So, what they are hoping to learn, Kate, they are hoping to figure out exactly what would -- this sort of a man to do this -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. Kyung, thank you so much. Kyung there in Mesquite. We will get back there as more news comes. Press conferences could be popping up throughout the hour. We will bring you the information and those moments live, bring you the most updated information as those pop up.
[11:20:09] Right now, let me bring in Cedric alexander, a former police chief of Rochester, New York, Jonathan Wackrow is a CNN law enforcement analyst and former Secret Service agent under President Obama, David Katz, a former DEA special agent, former firearms instructor at the FBI Training Academy and Tom Verni, a former detective for the New York Police Department.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it. David, the question of why is what lingers now. The death toll can still rise. The number of injured could still rise.
We are still in the hours, even though it's moving closer to 12 hours since this horrific incident, but why is lingering around all of this. We don't know why. How does law enforcement get closer to figuring out the why?
DAVID KATZ, FORMER DEA SPECIAL AGENT: The usual thing, they're going to go into is take his computer, his blackberry, cell phone, smartphone, whatever he has, and going to look anything he's done on social media, any e-mails, spoke to, people who know him well. Apparently, his neighbors think he's a quiet, regular guy.
He will have contact with other people who know him to a greater extent. Maybe political contacts, the woman he's involved with does. At this point, they're not saying anything, but there clearly is a motive and it probably isn't he doesn't like country music.
BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right. You have to assume, Jonathan, this was planned well in advance. You have to assume that, correct me if I'm wrong, you have to assume he would request a hotel room that faces this concert?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: This is not a crime of opportunity. This was premeditated. He thought about this. The room placement, the weapons systems he's going to use, the target, the concert. So, what, to your point, there's investigative process going on right now.
What they're going to start looking for is, preattack indicators. What was he doing? Social media is a great source. Talking to neighbors. There has to be some sort of catalyst that set this individual off to create such a -- or act out such a horrific act.
BOLDUAN: There has to be something. His brother seems to have absolutely no clue. That's always the thing, Tom, always -- that seems to be the -- there are two themes that seem to be reoccurring. The poor victims who get caught in this, everyone thinks it's fireworks at first because they cannot believe they are living through something like this and in the aftermath the family never seems to know.
TOM VERNI, FORMER DETECTIVE, NEW YORK POLICE: No. I've been to Mandalay Bay. I've been to Vegas a number of times and stayed at Mandalay Bay a few times actually. I'm actually somewhat of a country music fan. So, had I been in Vegas, I could have been at that concert. My condolences to the family and friends caught in this horrific attack.
You know, as we talked about before, there's usually -- there's got to be something. Otherwise people will not be able to make sense of this, right. If this is just something people just don't go and do on a whim, right.
BOLDUAN: Especially with in excess of 10 weapons.
VERNI: Exactly. I don't know if they thought that he was an ice hockey player coming in there with big bags carrying rifles. I don't know what they thought that he was carrying.
BOLDUAN: That's the thing about Vegas. You go in with a lot of tennis rackets, golf bags, you know.
VERNI: That's a lot of weight.
BOLDUAN: A lot of weight.
VERNI: Ten rifles is a considerable amount of weight and get someone's attention. Some -- why do you have bags feel like they have metal in them.
WACKROW: It goes to the point that, you know, this is premeditated. It's reported that he was staying at the hotel since the 28th.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Thursday.
WACKROW: Making multiple runs to a car. I mean, rifles are one thing. Think about the ammunition. The rate of fire of this attack, the amount of ammunition he had to have stockpiled in that room. It will be interesting to see after the fact what happens with the investigation from Mandalay Bay. Did housekeeping go into the room. What do these preattack behavior --
BOLDUAN: I have a couple weapons questions I want to get to. Cedric, let me bring you in on this. If you're a police chief in any major American city, wake up to seeing this scene overnight, what are you thinking? What do you need to do differently now?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, let me say my condolences to those who lost their lives last night and the 406 people reportedly injured, still a lot of triaging being done, it's very painful for all of us, but I can tell you, myself and many of my colleagues across this country who have been chiefs, it is shocking. It is disturbing.
It certainly brings about a lot of questions as to why this would occur. And most of all we're being right now at this point, quite frankly, very speculative in terms of what occurred, what motivated this, what was the motive behind it, politically influenced, someone having some mental health issues.
Because regardless of what forced him to do this, there's clearly something very wrong with what's going on inside his head.
[11:25:03] But I think at this point of this investigation, as the investigators pull this information together and they begin to crystallize it, it will make more sense to all of us as to what occurred last night.
One of the questions my colleagues there talking about just a moment ago, how did he get this amount of weaponry into his room. He could have done it a little bit at a time, could have done it in concert with other persons. We don't know.
But what we do know is that there's an ongoing investigation and I think within some reasonable amount of time, we'll have a much clearer understanding as to what motivated this and what all led up to this. This is just absolutely horrific and very painful for all of us as Americans today.
BOLDUAN: And Jonathan, you've spent a lot of time advising folks on security situations.
BOLDUAN: Is this something that -- I mean, is this something you offer advice for?
WACKROW: I've spent the last year talking to different trade organizations, the Convention Industry Council, the -- different groups, Meeting Planners International. This was the example that I constantly gave around tragic, dynamic situations that can occur at events and it comes down to, you know, planning.
Planning for every type of contingency. What I think is interesting in this, with this attack, is that the basic elements are run, hide, flight, follow. You saw that. Once people recognized there with was a threat they dispersed. What's different is that the attacker was elevated.
WACKROW: So we're not talking about a horizontal plane anymore. We're talking about an elevated shooter. People were running and doing the right thing trying to hide they actually were exposing themselves more. It's a real game changer I think to have this type of attack.
KATZ: I'm involved in active shooter response, to 20 years? Private industry. Little different but similar. The issue here is number one, you do -- you try to avoid but you're in a crowd. Your ability to evacuate the scene is very, very limited.
BOLDUAN: And an open-air festival where there are very few places to hide.
KATZ: No cover. The third, you either confront or fight. You got a who is on the 32nd floor. There is no fight. This is the worst, the worst of all possible circumstances. And the venue could have done nothing because they're going to do the usual stuff. Screen people, they're going to check and see if they're armed or not but you can't take -- the elevated issue outside their control.
BOLDUAN: David, real quick, important things that we need to -- that you want to know about the weapons right now. Why does it matter?
KATZ: How does he get a fully automated weapon? That was. Rate of fire just off -- it's hard to say, but talking about probably a submachine hand gun firing between 700 and 800 rounds a minute. That's illegal to purchase unless you have a (inaudible). How does he get that weapon? He had multiples. I'm sure the ATF will track that down first and foremost.
BOLDUAN: First and foremost no kidding. We've got a lot to come this hour. Unfortunately, we're all sitting here together talking about something like this today. If you can stick with me, I really appreciate it.
Coming up, we're going to hear from more eyewitnesses on the ground who were there amongst the 22,000 festival goers enjoying a beautiful night in Vegas for a concert when these shots came raining down on them and turned the concert into the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Also, ahead for us, the Las Vegas police they're set to be giving another news update. They have done a very good job of keeping everyone updated into the morning. We're looking forward to getting another update from them very soon and bring that to you. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There was a sound like it was pyro misfiring. Why is there pyrotechnics going off now?
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