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Eyewitness to Las Vegas Shooting Shares Story; Las Vegas Shooting; Police Response to Shooting; White House Preparing Shooting Response; Trump to Address Nation; Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired October 2, 2017 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: What you went through is something that no one should ever have to go through. Extremely traumatic and it takes incredible strength not just to get through it, but to be able to talk about it like you are this morning and look back at this event.
Just, again, you're OK. Is everyone that you were there with OK this morning?
BRENDON O'NEILL (ph), EYEWITNESS (via telephone): Yes, my buddy is good. Other friends that we were -- we got broken up, because we all just like -- were just bolting and just -- yes. My close friends are good at the moment. So I'm just really thankful and glad to be here and able to talk to you guys.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are as well, Brendon (ph). I understand that you helped a girl who was shot in the head, is that right?
O'NEILL: Yes. So we were running and this girl is down on her knees next to her friend and she's like, help me, help me, help me, she's shot, she's shot, she's shot. And we stopped and we checked it out and it was like -- she wasn't responding. She wasn't moving. So a couple people around helped pick her up. My buddy helped get her into this police car that was just like a bunker for people just hiding behind it. Yes.
BERMAN: Brendon O'Neill, again, a photographer who was on stage, lived through this ordeal. Brendon, again, thank you so much for being with us. Thank you for what you did or tried to do to all those in need as you were getting yourself to safety during this event. The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. And more than 50 people killed, 400 at least injured.
We're getting new details, new developments. We're waiting to hear from the president. Stay with us.
[09:36:25] BERMAN: All right, the breaking news is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. A gunman opened fire during a packed country music concert in Las Vegas. It happened around 10:00 p.m. local time. At least 50 people were killed. At this point, more than 400 believed to be injured, many of them in critical condition. HARLOW: We know at this hour the gunman is dead. We know he was
shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. He has been identified by authorities as 64-year-old Stephen Craig Paddock. He has been described as a white man from Mesquite, Nevada. That is about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Police estimate about 22,000 people were in that crowd for that concert when those bullets started raining down. Country music singer Jason Aldean was performing at the time. We also know that two off duty Las Vegas police officers that were at the concert were killed. Two on duty officers were injured as well.
Let's bring in our law enforcement experts. CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow, James Gagliano and Charles Ramsey.
James, to you. The fact that this is someone, a local, with at least 10 guns believed to be in this hotel room, maybe holed up in the hotel room since September 28th, what does it tell you?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Poppy, we look at the age and he's a little bit further removed on the spectrum. Most of the time when you have these mass shooting, it's somebody in their late 20s, 30s, early 40s. The methodology that he employed -- I mean, first of all, it's a local resident. He knew who was going to be there. He probably requested that hotel room so he'd have a good view. And he turned the concert into basically a killing field.
As I listened to the chilling sounds of the automatic weaponry, I have never heard that unless on the range or overseas. I've never heard something like that in a situation like an American city where he had to have -- now police have confirmed ten different rifles there. I'm guessing each one of them were loaded up with either a drum or 30- round magazine and he had had to have one in each arm and just keep firing to maintained that sustained rate of fire.
BERMAN: Look, that's what war sounds like. I mean for people who want to know what war sounds like, it's that. It's automatic fire like that going on and on and on, sustained for minutes.
Jonathan, we were talking, you know, it took an arsenal to do what he did. Ten rifles, ten guns at least. And we were talking, obviously he didn't take it into the concert, right? He knew he couldn't get it into the concert. There was security there. He took it into the hotel. You suggested golf bags. Something that anyone might have in Las Vegas.
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, you know, to get these weapons in, you know, it's hiding in plain sight essentially. You can put them in golf bags. You know, James was saying earlier that you could break these weapons down and put them into a small duffel bag. I mean so getting the weapons systems and the ammunition, think about it, the weapon is one thing, the ammunition, you know, is multiple trips into a hotel and then setting it all up inside. I mean so when we say, you know, he was held up, you know, I question, you know, was anybody from the hotel in that room, you know, housekeeping, et cetera, since the 28th.
HARLOW: Right. Right. WACKROW: I mean did anything -- anyone observe any anomalies in his behavior? I mean whenever you take a situation like this, there's pre- attack indicators. Sometimes they're not always obvious, but they're there. The investigation is going to start revealing his actions prior to this event. Were there any mention on social media? What was his behavior like? What was his behavior at work like, and his relationship? All those things are going to start coming into focus just to paint a picture of his motive.
HARLOW: Right. But the authorities do say, Charles, no, in their words, derogatory past events. Looks like this guy didn't have a record other than a few citations that were handled in the court system. So nothing that alerted them to him.
[09:40:03] We have seen soft targets, concerts attacked before, obviously. The Bataclan in Paris in 2015, the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last year where 49 people were murdered. This is another soft target, but attacked in a different way. Attacked from above. A complete ambush, Charles, where you have people holed in. I mean they are inside of the confines of this concert.
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, this is quite different from what we've experienced before. And, believe me, this is going to be a topic of discussion among law enforcement groups around the country. Because you have a situation like this, obviously they had -- the concert venue itself secured. But who would have thought that someone would be firing from the Mandalay Bay Hotel, you know, a block or so away right down on a crowd like that. So now we have to rethink security.
BERMAN: You know, and we heard from the undersheriff of Las Vegas who told us that in Las Vegas terms, this concert is actually a small event for Las Vegas. They're used to having tens and tens of thousands of people. And they do security on the strip well. They are prepared for this type of event.
I should also note, we did just learn that the president, again, will address the country. We're now told that will happen at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
BERMAN: We will bring that to you live when it happens.
The investigation right now, James, what's going on? They have a dead suspect believed to have taken his own life. They have his guns. They're in his residences. What threads are they pulling on?
GAGLIANO: There's a number of things. And the first thing, John, is obviously from law enforcement, we want to stop the loss of life. So that's the tactical response. And they did an amazing job with a dynamic entry and whether or not the suspect killed himself or was killed by police, that took the suspect and more danger off the table.
Now you've got to go back and you've got to harvest forensic evidence. Digital exhaust. The subject probably had a cell phone, probably had a laptop. The vehicles that were -- that the person of interest, who was initially a person of interest, that was traveling in. Any of the video harvesting that they can do.
The Vegas Strip is one of the -- just like New York City, one of the most covered by cameras area that you have. They're going through and doing that. And the last thing, human intelligence. Interviewing everybody who was at the concert or anybody that might have come in contact with the subject.
HARLOW: And they're still asking for any video that anyone might have. I mean they are asking, call it in, bring it to us, et cetera.
But they did pretty quickly this morning rule out any other shooters, they believe. How would they be able to do that?
WACKROW: Well, I mean, that's something that the law enforcement agency will have to, you know, explain how they came up with that determination. But you have to think about at the genesis of this incident, you know, it's very dynamic. It's -- you know, things are happening very quickly. Kudos to the police department for going in and put the initial threat down. But there's always a thought in the back of law enforcement's mind, is there a second attack. Is there -- is this -- was this a diversionary tactic from above that is, you know --
GAGLIANO: Masking --
WACKROW: Masking a second attack on the ground.
BERMAN: And, again, there were reports coming in all night. If you had -- you know, if you were up all night, not only were you learning about this attack, but you were hearing from other hotels where these were these reports.
BERMAN: They ended up being wrong reports --
BERMAN: Incorrect of other attacks, and people have to be aware of that.
Charles Ramsey, let's talk about the police work, what we know. Told by law enforcement earlier this morning that they observed the gunfire. Law enforcement on the ground at the concert observed the gunfire coming from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, and then got other officers who then went up and conducted this explosive breach of the room. Explain to me that process and the speed with which they were able to carry that out.
RAMSEY: Well, the speed, I mean, it was absolutely remarkable that they could react as quickly as they did. But no doubt people on the ground saw muzzle flashes. And whenever you look at a tall building, you can't really tell exactly what floor. But they could give pretty good direction. And I would imagine other residents in the hotel on that floor heard the gunfire and were able to really zero in on the exact room for the officers to be able to make that entry.
But, I mean, again, I'm just amazed at how fast they were able to respond. But the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is one of the best in the country and -- because they do have so many things going on constantly in Las Vegas, I'm sure they have a SWAT team standing by all the time for whatever may take place. So I'm not surprised that they had the personnel there. But the fact that they were able to pinpoint it so quickly and they could make that dynamic entry. Now I don't know obviously if he killed himself before the breach or immediately after. But in any event, they were able to make their entry and get him into custody.
HARLOW: It is remarkable, James, what we heard the audio at the top of the show from the officers who were about to breach this door. I mean 10 to 15 minutes at least of constant firing. You heard one of our first guests saying it seemed like the shooting would never stop.
[09:45:14] But the fact that that SWAT team was able to get up there that fast to determine a hotel across the street on the 32nd floor, in this window. Those hotels are so big, so complex, and they were whispering and saying, all right, here's how we have to go in here. We have to be quiet. We don't know if he is still alive. Walk us through what that process is like.
GAGLIANO: Well, first of all, you have to sort through the fog of war, because initial reports are always erroneous. I mean, John, you pointed it out, people are posting things. They're trying to do the right thing. We think there were shots from this building, that building. And then the sheriff comes out and says, no, that's inaccurate. There was one person there.
For the SWAT team, now Vegas is a place -- Las Vegas is a place that has a decent police presence. There's a lot of places there that would be likely targets. So they have a decent police presence there uniformed at all times. But to get a SWAT team, and not just any SWAT team because most SWAT --
HARLOW: With explosives.
GAGLIANO: With the explosive breaching capabilities where they could explosively breach that door and make entry, that's what we call a dynamic entry. And on a dynamic entry, four things have to happen, speed, surprise, violence of action and that breach has to go. And in this instance, why wouldn't you just wait and surround -- because you're trying to mitigate more shooting. So in that you've got to -- you've got to move quicker. You can't do a law enforcement clear, which is slow and methodical.
BERMAN: As horrific as this is, 50 dead and more than 400 injured, if they hadn't broken down that door, blown out that door and gotten in that room, it is a certainty that more people would have been killed.
Guys, standby, if you will, because joining us right now by the phone is Jen Salazar (ph), who was in the middle of this attack with her 14- year-old daughter. Jen, how are both of you doing this morning?
JEN SALAZAR, EYEWITNESS TO SHOOTING (via telephone): We're doing fine. We're actually -- we're from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and we are actually headed back home right now.
HARLOW: We are so glad you're fine. Your daughter is fine. You're heading home now.
SALAZAR: Thank you.
HARLOW: I know you ran out with her. You were sort of yelling at anyone in a car, in a truck, help us, help us get out of here.
SALAZAR: Yes. Yes.
HARLOW: What can you say about what it was like as a mother with your teenage daughter and you take a special trip and then this?
SALAZAR: Terrifying. Yes, I'm so sorry. Yes, it was horrific. You know, they -- you don't know what you're going to do in a situation until you're put in it. And I just -- I really -- I just tried to keep as calm as I can just to get us out of there safely. And when we reached -- when we did reach the parking lot finally, I saw these two women, and I said, please, you know, please, please, can you help us? Can you please get us out of here. And thank God, you know, they were nice. They were so wonderful. They were our godsend. They saved us tonight.
BERMAN: So many stories of people stepping up. And I'm sure that your daughter and you both took care of each other in this.
BERMAN: How did you try -- how did you try to keep things calm and get to safety quickly?
SALAZAR: Well, at first, you know, we heard the first shots go off. And we -- everybody around us even, you know, we all thought they were fireworks or something. And then the automatic -- he started shooting the automatic weapon, and that's when we knew. So I just -- I had to focus, you know, gather my thoughts real quick and just focus and say, OK, we need to get out of here safely. What are we going to do? So everybody hit the ground and that's what we did. I was on my daughter and, you know, she was crying and this man that was laying next to me (INAUDIBLE) --
BERMAN: I think we're losing Jen Salazar --
BERMAN: Who is understandably trying to get home to Albuquerque. Was in Las Vegas with her daughter at this concert. A country music festival. A wonderful country music festival. The fourth year they've done this. Twenty-two thousand fans in there. And it was supposed to be a wonderful weekend. Obviously, a tragic, tragic end. But now Jen Salazar going home with her daughter.
HARLOW: With her daughter.
Again, the headline, if you're just joining us waking up this morning, across America the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Fifty people at least have been murdered by this gunman with at least ten rifles and other what it sounds like automatic weapons. Also 400 plus people injured, transported to the hospital. We'll have much more of the breaking news ahead. The president will address the nation in less than an hour. Stay with us.
[09:54:04] BERMAN: All right, this is new video just into CNN. That's the Mandalay Bay Hotel right there. And you can see the window on 32nd floor that was blown out. That is where the gunman opened fire. That is where he shot from, killing at least 50 people, injuring more than 400 at this country music concert down on the street below.
You can see as the camera pulls out there how high up it is and how far down his targets were. Those windows don't open, we're told, by the way.
BERMAN: So he either broke it out with a chair or something or shot it out before he began his killing. But that was a remarkable shot right there to see that window blown out in the Mandalay Bay Hotel.
HARLOW: Shooting across the street indiscriminately down on 22,000 concertgoers last night.
Let's bring in CNN national security analyst, former White House national security adviser, Lisa Monaco.
As the White House is preparing -- the president is preparing to give remarks at 10:30 Eastern Time, in just about half an hour.
[09:55:00] You were in the room, you were in the White House, as President Obama was dealing with similar tragedies. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, 49 people killed. The church shooting in Charleston.
What is happening in the White House right now for the response?
LISA MONACO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I'm sure that they're already offering as much assistance as possible to the local officials in Las Vegas and they're going to be thinking through, what does the president say and what is the message to the country?
When I was in the White House, as the homeland security adviser, the focus, of course, is trying to make clear that you're providing as much assistance as possible, offering condolences, sympathy, reassurance that the resources of the federal government will be there for the people of Las Vegas. BERMAN: And one of the things that's interesting in this case is, we
don't appear to have any information on this gunman. Law enforcement says they have no record of him, other than a traffic citation. I think we have this view of the White House that you guys are omniscient. You know everything going on. Does the lack of information reach all the way to the top in these cases?
MONACO: It does. And very -- the initial hours, as we're still in now after this event, the information is going to be spotty. The law enforcement, we understand, is now getting into the residence of this individual in Mesquite, Nevada, some hour away from Las Vegas. They're going to be executing search warrants, discovering what was in his social media, what may have triggered this.
HARLOW: This is someone that as far as police can tell now, and it is early hours, they had -- he had no real record. I mean a few citations handled in the courts. Nothing, in their words, derogatory that would make him stand out.
MONACO: Right. Right. So they -- it sounds like he's unknown to law enforcement for any past acts of violence or any past run-ins with law enforcement except for this one citation that they're referencing. So really it's going to be critical to understand what is in his home. They're going to be talking to his companion that we've heard about this morning, to understand what was going on in the hours and the days before this horrible tragedy happened.
BERMAN: This woman appears to be out of the country.
BERMAN: They did contact her. She was a person of interest. They don't believe she was involved in any way with the shooting now. But certainly they might be able to find out some information from her.
Lisa, stand by, if you will.
I want to go to the White House. Our Jeff Zeleny is there.
We're expecting to hear from the president in about 30 minutes, Jeff. Tell us what's been going on this morning at the White House and what we expect to hear from the president of the United States?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, that is right. At about 10:30 this morning Eastern Time, the president is scheduled to address this horrific shooting from the Diplomatic Reception Room. This is the second time the president has stood in the Diplomatic Reception Room to address a shooting. Of course the first one was earlier this year, the congressional baseball game shooting. But this, of course, the gravity and magnitude of this, so much more in terms of loss of life.
Now, we do know the president was briefed by his advisors, his chief of staff, earlier this morning. Right now the president and his advisors are working on this speech he will give. Of course at any moment like this, it falls to the president to be a leader and a comforter, if you will.
Of course, President Obama, as Lisa Monaco was just saying there, had speech after speech after speech after all of these tragic shootings. Of course, this is the biggest and most severe facing this president. But as of now, he'll be speaking about a half hour or so. I'm also told by the White House that he is still largely keeping his schedule going forward, still planning, as of now, to go to Puerto Rico tomorrow. And, of course, though, the Las Vegas shooting is front and center on his mind, on everyone's mind here at the White House. He'll be speaking again at 10:30.
HARLOW: All right. Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thank you so much.
Again, half an hour until the president addresses the nation. You will see it live here.
Lisa Monaco back with us, former White House national security adviser.
The president has crises on -- in two parts of America that are very far apart, separated by thousands of miles. The crisis of people reeling in Puerto Rico from the aftermath of Maria and people reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history in Las Vegas. The tone today from the president, the words from the president, what would you like to hear?
MONACO: I'd like to hear a message of unity and resolve. That this type of violence that has become all too common in this country needs to stop. And a message of really unity is what we ought to be hearing from the president.
BERMAN: And it is what we heard after Steve Scalise and those other folks were shot at the Republican baseball practice. One other, you know, note about that is that was also a gunman who was older than 60 years old.
HARLOW: It is.
BERMAN: The only two times that I can think of in this type of instance where you did have someone that old carrying that out.
Lisa Monaco, please, stand by, if you will. It's almost the top of the hour. We want to re-set because we're getting new information in by the minute here.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BERMAN: And good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow. We're glad you're with us. You are watching CNN's continuous live coverage of the massacre on the Las Vegas Strip.
[10:00:00] At least 50 Americans dead, over 400 hurt. It is now the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. In just a little while, later this hour, President Trump will address the nation. Of course, you will see that live right here first