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Jason Aldean Cancels Concerts for Week "Out of Respect for Victims"; Donations Pour in GoFundMe Account to Help Shooting Victims; Remembering Shooting Victim Sonny Melton; Trump Speaks After Meeting Doctors, Victim, Families; Trump: Rex Tillerson Report a "Phony Report". Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired October 4, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Sure. I think a lot of people that I'm talking to feel the same way. And I think for a lot of these people they are eventually talking to professionals.
On the Jason Aldean piece, so had you ever met him? You finally got to meet him at the meet and greet before the show, right?
KATIE TOUPAL, MINNEAPOLIS COUNTRY MUSIC DEEJAY: Right. That was -- I had met him briefly, quickly a few years ago but I got to meet him before the show, and anytime you can meet an artist you love just to say hi it's just -- it's a dream come true. It's an amazing experience for any fan. Even if you are in the business. It's just a great experience for anyone. So I did get to see him and his wife, Brittany. She was backstage there too. Just a few hours --
BALDWIN: Eight months pregnant, by the way. I don't think a lot of people realize Jason Aldean's wife was backstage eight months pregnant. You saw her.
TOUPAL: I saw her back there. She had a cute little black jump outfit on and a denim jacket. She looked beautiful. And she was just loving watching her husband do what he loves. And I couldn't get them out of my mind either when I was there and all this chaos was going on. I was just like, is she OK? Is their baby OK?
BALDWIN: Right. I've heard so much about -- people talk about country music like a family. Right? It's this big old country music, countrywide family. For people who aren't part of that, tell me about that. Why so many people are feeling so connected because of this.
TOUPAL: Country music is -- we're just -- we're very loyal. We know the stories. We can relate to any story that any singer's trying to tell you. And you go out to all these shows, and there are festivals and you talk to people. And we all talk about how each song affects us. And it's usually differently. So we all become friends about that because we bond over all the special stories and all the music. And that's what concerts are supposed to be like, especially country concerts. You never imagine something bad happening there because you're all friends. Even here in Minneapolis, I go to all the concerts, and I recognize people just because it's a country music community. You bond over how you relate to all the stories that are told in this music. And that really stood out, seeing everybody help people as they were trying to get out. Everyone putting people in their trucks to rush them to the hospital before the ambulances could get there. People lifting people up and carrying them out there have. That really stood out to me too as a part of our country community.
BALDWIN: I'm talking to this Marine veteran next hour who, you know, went into action, found a truck with keys and took two trucks full of people to the hospital that night.
But on country music, you haven't been at work. You go back to work, you'll be on the air tonight. And listen --
TOUPAL: I will be.
BALDWIN: -- as part of the conversation on the investigation and the why, another piece is about gun control. And I'm sure you've seen this, Katie, but the Josh Abbott, band guitarist, Caleb Keeler, wrote about this on Facebook, that it actually caused him to change his mind on gun control. This is what he wrote: "I cannot express how wrong I was. We actually had members of our crew with licenses and legal firearms on the bus. They were useless. We couldn't touch them for fear police might think we were part of the massacre and shoot us. Enough is enough. We need gun control right now. My biggest regret is I stubbornly didn't realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it."
Is this something -- will this be part of the conversation you'll have tonight? How are people feeling about that?
TOUPAL: I won't bring up the gun control issue when I'm on the air. When I'm going to do on the air tonight is talk about -- and just thank my listeners for all the support. As far as the gun control thing, I do think they need to be a little bit more careful about who -- why does anybody need that big of a rifle. Why can't it just be a handgun? If you're going to have one it should just be a small one. So if there's anything I have to say about that, it should just be a small handgun if you're going to have one. Nobody needs to have that kind of an assault rifle. And if they do why do they need it?
BALDWIN: Do you think minds are changing? I know you won't talk gun control specifically tonight and that's for you to choose. But do you think minds are changing within the country music family at all?
TOUPAL: I do think some people will take a second look at it, for sure, especially after so many tragedies, and the biggest one we've seen in our time happening on Sunday night.
BALDWIN: Katie Toupal, thank you so much.
TOUPAL: I definitely hope some people will take a second look.
BALDWIN: Thank you so much. Good luck tonight on the air. Stay strong. People need voices like yours.
TOUPAL: Thank you. BALDWIN: Ahead here --
TOUPAL: Thank you.
[14:34:30] BALDWIN: -- what did she know? The gunman's girlfriend being questioned at the FBI field office in Los Angeles right this very moment.
Also ahead, we're watching some pictures from the president and the first lady's visit. They are there in Las Vegas right now.
Stay with me. You're watching CNN's special live coverage.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, donations have been pouring in to help the victims of the rampage here in Las Vegas. More than $8.5 million raised so far by the Las Vegas victims' GoFundMe account. This outpouring of generosity and hope comes in the wake obviously of the deadliest U.S. shooting here in modern history. Celebrities like Mike Tyson, Kid Rock, just some of the names opening their wallets to help.
Joining me now is the fundraiser's creator, Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission, which oversees the strip.
Steve, thanks very much for being with us.
You donated $10,000 of your own money to start this fundraiser after spending time. I know Clark County's only level one trauma center. Tell me about that experience, first of all.
[14:39:35] STEVE SISOLAK, CHAIRMAN, CLARK COUNTY COMMISSION (via telephone): It's been a very difficult time for our entire community. I did visit the crime scene. Unfortunately, I saw wanted to see or hoped to see and never want to see again. A widow of our first responder that lost his life. It's been -- the security folks have done an absolutely remarkable job. They got in that room in a matter of minutes. But for their swift action we could have lost thousands of lives. There was that much ammunition, that many rounds up in that room that could have been fired. We're thankful for that. The outpouring of support has been tremendous. Our initial need was for blood. And I worked with Sheriff Lombardo. We put out a call and our blood centers were inundated. There was a ten-hour wait to donate blood. We said what do we do next? We thought we could start a go fund me account, which I did make an initial contribution to. We thought we'd raise, you know, $50,000 or $100,000. It just took off through the generosity now of over 68,000 people that have contributed, anything from $5 on up. So it's greatly appreciated. This outpouring has been tremendous.
COOPER: Yes. I think it's so important what you're doing because a lot of people don't -- there's funeral expenses to pay for. There's travel expenses. A lot of the people who survive, a lot of people wounded, a lot of people waiting to get their loved ones returned to them so they can take them home. You know, they need places to stay. There's all these expenses. What do you hope this money is going to be used for?
SISOLAK: We're hoping we're going to partner with the national center for victims of crime to help handle some of these expenses. I haven't gotten much sleep in the last 72 hours. My phone rang at 12:30 this morning. We had the first request for some funeral expenses. I've had three or four since then. The need is absolutely tremendous. There's families that are -- haven't claimed their loved ones yet and they're going to need to be transported. We're going to have funeral parlors that stepped up and donated funeral services, willing to donate their facilities. Everybody is working. But people are going to need airline tickets. They need accommodations. And we're looking at multiple surgeries for many years to come for a lot of these individuals. Some very severe injuries. There's going to be ongoing medical care for these folks. There's a lot of kids that lost moms and dads. And they're going to need some help. We want to do whatever we can to somewhat ease the pain. I can't say enough about everybody that delivered donuts and water and sandwiches and pizzas to our first responders. And like I said, the donations have just been really heartwarming. And I've said this before, but the hate that that individual rained down on the Las Vegas strip was met with an enormous outpouring of love in this community.
COOPER: It sure has. The ripple effects of this, it goes on for years, it goes on for a lifetime for many survivors, for many as you said kids who've lost a parent. I mean, that family changes forever from here on out and in ways that in some cases people don't even realize at this stage. That money can help not only in the immediate term but obviously also down the road in the future in terms of education expenses. I'm contributing as well. I just hope a lot of people all around the world do as well, Steve.
SISOLAK: And we do appreciate you helping to spread the word. But this has touched everybody in this community. Everybody knows somebody who's a first responder or is a victim and needs we don't think about and we can't even imagine at this time. But they're dealing with their grief, these families. And we're doing what we can to help provide some resources moving forward. And I can't say enough about the first responders. I mean, the MGM International folks and our SWAT team saved so many lives, and it could have been so much worse than it is. But Las Vegas is strong. We take care of our own. And we will get through this.
COOPER: Yes. Those first responders who got up to that room and turned this from a situation where the gunman was focused on those thousands of people down on the ground and then at least it became a barricade situation and he stopped firing into that crowd. If he continued to fire into that crowd those first responders hadn't got there, those first officers, that first hotel security guard hadn't gotten there when they did, this sick person could have continued shooting into the crowd.
Steve, again, I appreciate what you're doing.
COOPER: And we'll continue to follow this. I'm sorry, go ahead, Steve.
SISOLAK: I really appreciate you helping us to spread the word. And like I said, thanks to all of our doctors and nurses and paramedics and everybody that was there, fire department and metro and security people at Mandalay. Like I said, one of their officers did get shot in the leg by the suspect when he approached the door. And quite frankly, that's how they identified the room. And then they got to go through the door and flash bang in there and he took his own life. They did save like, I said, thousands. We ask for your prayers and continued support.
[14:44:49] COOPER: Well, Steve, stay strong. I appreciate all you're doing.
Thank you very much.
We're going to continue, obviously, our coverage. We're learning more about the victims of Sunday's shooting.
Obviously, also, the president and first lady, Melania Trump, are here in Las Vegas. We're also learning more about, as I said, a lot of the people who lost their lives. You're going to learn about a 29-year- old man named Sonny Melton, who was a Tennessee nurse. He was shot while shielding his wife from the gunfire, helping her get out. I sat down with Heather Melton yesterday. And I just -- I want you to hear what she has to say about the love of her life.
[14:50:01] COOPER: They were partners in life and at work, where someone else's life was often in their hands. I sat down with orthopedic surgeon whose husband was killed in the slaughter of 58 people here in Las Vegas on Sunday night, Sonny Melton's wife, Heather, a surgical nurse. They loved music. They often went to concerts around the country. That was the thing they loved to do together. Heather didn't really want to sit down in front of a camera. She didn't want to be interviewed, of course. But what she didn't want even more was for this killer's name to be lifted up over the names of his many victims including her husband, Sonny.
COOPER: What do you want people to know about Sonny?
HEATHER MELTON, WIFE OF SHOOTING VICTIM SONNY MELTON: I think I kind of answered this question a little bit. But he was such a kind- hearted, loving, caring person. And people felt that as soon as they met him. There's not a person's life that he didn't touch that wouldn't say those same things. He was the most selfless person that I've ever met. And even until his last breath he proved that.
COOPER: His mom said that he has an infectious smile.
MELTON: Yes. Everybody remembers his smile. And all the pictures that are coming out, I think everybody can say that. His name was Sonny, but he literally was sunshine. When he walked in a room and he smiled.
COOPER: Is that what you first noticed about him?
COOPER: It was?
COOPER: How did you meet him?
MELTON: Well, we met in a bar. And he just came up with that huge smile. And he said the minute he saw me that I stole his heart. And it wasn't necessarily a relationship that was supposed to be. It wasn't textbook.
COOPER: How so?
MELTON: Well, I'm a lot older than he is. And I had been going through a divorce, and I had three children and he was young and never been married. So a lot of people thought that that shouldn't happen. But I don't think there's anybody who's ever been around us as a couple who didn't feel how much we loved each other. And he -- he saved me before. He taught me what real love was. I remember looking at him on the day that he died before and thanking god that I knew what real love was. And I always said if anything ever happened with us for whatever reason and he wasn't my husband or my lover that I was so thankful for knowing that love. I'll cherish it forever.
COOPER: That you'd had that love in your life?
MELTON: Yes. I think it's so rare, honestly. But there was never a minute that I doubted his love for me.
COOPER: Especially Sunday night.
COOPER: He saved your life?
MELTON: He did. And he would do it over and over again.
COOPER: Do you want to talk about that night at all?
MELTON: Yes. I mean, it's --
COOPER: That was Heather Melton talking about Sonny Melton.
This is what's happening right now. President Trump, first lady, Melania Trump, coming in front of cameras after meeting with doctors, survivors. Let's listen.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the most amazing people. We met patients that were absolutely terribly wounded. And the doctors, the nurses, all of the people of the hospital have done a job that's indescribable. And they were full the night that it happened before it happened.
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Correct.
TRUMP: And they found room for many people.
How many people came in?
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: We had 100 come in and we admitted 50.
TRUMP: What I saw today is just an incredible tribute to professionalism. And what they have done is incredible. And you never want to see it again. That I can tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Absolutely.
TRUMP: And the patients, the bravery. Some were very, very badly wounded. And they were badly wounded because they refused to leave. They wanted to help others because they saw people going down all over. And it's an incredible thing to see. There's tremendous bravery. The police department, incredible. The people themselves incredible. People leaving ambulances to have somebody else go because they thought they were hurt even more so.
The professionalism of the doctors and the medical staffs at this hospital and at other hospitals. You're saying how the coordination you had with other hospitals.
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: The community covered everything. They did a perfect job.
TRUMP: John, say a few words to the press.
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: We couldn't be more proud of the community response. Every hospital took serious patients. Everybody took care of them well. And we've exercised our disaster plan in Las Vegas, and it was rolled out flawlessly.
[14:55:06] TRUMP: I have to tell you, it makes you very proud to be an American when you see the job that they've done and people that would not be around today are up there and they'll be leaving the hospital in a week or two weeks or five weeks and in some cases even in a few days.
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: A few hours.
TRUMP: One in a few hours. And you would never have believed it.
So I just want to congratulate everybody. It's incredible. Incredible what you've done. We met quite a few people. And believe me, they're very lucky to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What message do you have for them, Mr. President? TRUMP: Well, I think the only message I can say is that we're with
you, 100 percent. We are -- in fact, I invited a lot of them over to the white house. I said if you're ever in Washington come on over to the Oval Office.
And they're all saying we want to do it, how do we do it?
And believe me, I'll be there for them.
But the message I have is we have a great country and we are there for you. And they're there for us.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) -- gun violence problem?
TRUMP: We're not going to talk about that today. We won't talk about that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION).
TRUMP: Not yet. We're looking. I can tell you it's a very sick man. He was a very demented person. We haven't seen that yet. But you will know very soon if we find something. We're looking very, very hard. I'm actually going over to the police department, who likewise, Doctor, has been incredible.
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Unbelievable.
TRUMP: The fact that they were able to locate that zone and get in there, they say 11 minutes, whatever it was, they kept him busy and he stopped firing because he knew they were coming into that door at some point. I think they did an incredible job.
The professionalism has just been amazing.
So I want to thank you all.
And we're now going over to the police headquarters.
And, Doctors, thank you very much. We appreciate it very much. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, any response to Rex Tillerson's comments?
TRUMP: Yes, I'm very honored by his comments. It was fake news. It was a totally phony story.
Thank you very much. It was made up. If was made up by NVC. They just made it up.
Thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
TRUMP: Total confidence in Rex. I have total confidence.
Thank you very much, everybody.
COOPER: President Trump, first lady, Melania Trump, meeting with doctors, nurses, meeting with survivors, who are still hospitalized on this day, talking about the stories that he heard from people, who in the president's words, "Chose not to go into an ambulance because they felt there were other people who were injured worse than they were." Getting out of an ambulance to allow room for others.
Jim Acosta is standing by with us as well. He's obviously traveling with the president.
Jim, you know, we've seen, unfortunately, presidents make these kinds of appearances before in other situations, in other shootings. It's one of the jobs of the president.
Toward the end there, he was also asked about a report that Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, at one point, had I believed it was over the summer, had called him a moron. The president says that it's -- it was not true, that it's a phony report.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. The president and the first lady doing what is expected of a president and first lady in these types of instances. They're expected to be the consoler-in-chief. The president trying to play that role at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, the hospital that was turned into a battlefield hospital after the mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip Sunday night.
You heard the president say in just the last several minutes, and I think it's interesting because the president is indicating what he believes to be the mental state of the gunman. He at one point, described the killer as sick and demented. That is a bit more than - obviously, anybody who carries out something like this is not well in their head. But obviously, the president is giving a little bit more information, a bit more of a characterization of the mental state of this gunman than what law enforcement officials have been giving to reporters in the last few days.
The president was also asked, as you heard there, and you just mentioned this, Anderson, what is going on with Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state. Earlier this morning, the secretary of state went out in front of the cameras in Washington. This was a bit of a flash melodrama in the nation's capital. Had to respond to reports he had called the president a moron, that he, at one point, thought about or talked about stepping out of his position as secretary of state. The president there, just in the last several minutes, saying that he has confidence in Rex Tillerson. And so it does appear, at least for the moment, that this may have been patched up. We'll have to see in the days and weeks to come. Being a cabinet member in this administration does not always sound like it's a lasting proposition. And that may, indeed, be the case for Rex Tillerson. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out. But the president, at least for today, trying to put out some of the flames on that.
But from here, Anderson, we do expect the president to leave the hospital. Any moment, he's going to be meeting with first responders just down the street from us with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. We do expect him to make some more remarks there, so we'll wait to see what the president has to say there before he heads back to Washington.