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New Las Vegas Shooter Details; Shooter Possibly Scouted Venues; Republican-Led Bill on Bump Stocks; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired October 5, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:18] BROOK BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me here as we continue our coverage of this mass murder in Las Vegas.
We still don't know why this twice-divorced, high-betting retiree decided to commit these horrific crimes, but we now know he originally wanted to survive it. Police say he actually had an escape plan and that the letter they found inside his hotel room wasn't a suicide note. Police say the gunman stockpiled his arsenals for months and months. Fifty pounds of explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition. And that was just found in his car in the hotel parking lot.
Meantime, his girlfriend tells the FBI she had no idea of his murderous plan, but police insist he could not have possibly pulled this off alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF JOSEPH LOMBARDO, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: When you look at the weapon obtaining, the different amounts of Tannerite available, do you think this was all accomplished on his own, self-value -- face value you've got to make the assumption that he had to have some help at some point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We just heard from first responders who reveal the chilling confusion as they tried to figure out what was happening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you've ever had an opportunity to sit on a call- takers panel and listen to a citizen, another person in absolute sheer terror for their life, for their loved one, those men and women and that dispatch office did a phenomenal job. They are heroes that just sat in one building and handled the phone calls, but they're heroes because they handled that business, they got people to where they need to be, they handled the need and resource requests of us as a fire department and as chief officers looking for our help. So I have to applaud them as they did a tremendous job.
As far as the reports from those other hotels, what that does is that complicates the matter. We know we've got a lot of things going on here in the immediate area around that concert venue. But when somebody -- you get a 911 call saying we've got shots fired at Caesars Palace or we've got shots fired at a hotel as far away as Spring Mountains, that complicates our response. What is going on in our town? Is this a single event or are we now under a Mumbai-style attack where we've got multiple things going on in multiple properties? So we had to handle that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That confusion can be seen in this new video taken by a city worker showing terrified concert goers trying to escape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, get down! Get the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are shots! Run! Those are shots!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run! Don't walk!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run! Go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go! Go! Everybody go! Go!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: And this is what the scene of terror looks like today. These aerials showing everything that was left behind This area strewn with abandoned belongings. Still a crime scene.
So let's begin with Dan Simon, who is live for us there at the scene.
And, so, Dan, on top of everything we're learning, we also know this may not have been the first music festival this gunman wanted to terrorize.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Brooke. There is growing evidence that other venues, other music festivals may have been targeted. The most direct evidence we know of is that the sheriff says that the shooter booked a condo unit in another part of Las Vegas just the week prior. It overlooked the Life is Beautiful Music Festival. Why he targeted this particular music festival, the country music festival, we don't know.
It's also difficult, Brooke, we should say at this point still to ascertain a motive. The sheriff talked about the shooter's so-called secret life. What does that mean? We know that apparently he did not have many friends. He did not have a social media presence. So talking to people, figuring out what was behind all of this, we still don't know. The sheriff also, as you said, is looking into the possibility that
the shooter may have had help. Openly speculating because of the meticulous nature of the planning. He must have had some kind of help, the sheriff said. He also said that it's clear that the shooter had some kind of escape plan in mind, but he did not reveal any kind of detail.
We do know that he did fire some rounds at aviation fuel tanks. Keep in mind that the airport is essentially next door. So was he trying to create some kind of explosion? Was there a diversionary tactic that he was thinking about? We don't know, Brooke.
BALDWIN: OK. Still a lot of "we don't knows" yet.
Dan Simon, thank you so much, there near the scene.
I've got a couple of voices to help us look into the investigative and the behavior piece of this. Casey Jordan is with me, a criminal profiler, and former FBI Assistant Director Tom Fuentes.
[14:04:59] And so, Tom, let me just begin with you because I know Dan was just alluding to the Life is Beautiful Music Festival in Las Vegas. But we also now have this breaking news that we've just learned that someone with the same name as the shooter reserved a room in a hotel overlooking the Lollapalooza Music Festival in Chicago. That was back in August. The hotel says the person never actually checked into the room and they're not even sure if the person who reserved the room was that Las Vegas shooter. But, again, same name.
Tom, what's your immediate reaction that he may have been scouting other cities and other venues?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: He could have been, Brooke, scouting how many police typically cover these, what's -- you know, what's the situation at the venue itself as far as security and how many people show up and what are the avenues of entry and escape. So it could have been that.
I think the challenge there would be that transporting all of the weaponry that he had in the hotel room in Las Vegas to get it to Chicago and then up into a room that would have an adequate view to do what he intended to do, might have been quite a challenge compared to being able to do it, to drive to the venue, like he was able to in Nevada.
BALDWIN: Casey, all right, so we don't know if that was him for sure in Chicago or not.
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Right.
BALDWIN: Apparently he had scouted out this other venue in Las Vegas. So let's go with what we know.
He was in this hotel room. He had, according to the sheriff, he was planning on escaping. Left some sort of note. We don't know the contents of the note. JORDAN: Right.
BALDWIN: Other than to say it wasn't a suicide note. And the sheriff said he -- there is no way he could have acted alone. What would make them think that?
JORDAN: He must know something we don't know because there is absolutely no evidence of any of this that they have released to us. So let's give it that they may have something that we don't have. And they have the note, which I --
BALDWIN: I'm sure they have a lot we don't know.
JORDAN: I can't wait to know what's in the note. But so far it is not unfathomable that he did this all on his own. I've seen criminals do far more things. That -- the idea of getting suitcases full of guns in there over the space of three days by handing a bellhop a tip is completely within the realm of something he's capable of. He had a year of planning that went into this. He stockpiled 33 guns in the space of a year. He is a very intelligent man.
I also don't think for one second he thought he was going to get away with this. He knew that he would die. He put those cameras in the hallway so that he could massacre the police as they came to get him. But he --
BALDWIN: But did he, though? Because they thought he would escape and he had all those explosives in his car?
JORDAN: Where was he going to go?
BALDWIN: Beats me.
JORDAN: Unless a helicopter dropped out of the sky and took him out of a broken window, there is no way that he could have escaped alive. And then -- I don't think he was delusional. Again, maybe they have something in a note that would -- that supports the idea, a conspiracy with another person or an escape plan, but this would be totally out of character for this kind of crime. But, again, this was one for the textbooks.
BALDWIN: You mentioned the 33 guns that he had accrued over the course of last fall to this fall.
Tom, to you. We know that 47 firearms in total have been recovered in three different locations. He purchased rifles, and pistols, and shotguns, none of which appear to be homemade. Twelve of these rifles equipped with this bump stock attachment, making them automatic weapons. Can you explain for the -- you know, those who just aren't as familiar with firearms and this sort of device, explain what that does.
FUENTES: I'm not sure how to answer that, Brooke. I think what we're trying to do is explain the actions and the thought process of someone who is completely deranged and not thinking like we think. Someone with that degree of psychopathy who is going to kill 50 more -- or more people with that many guns, that many bullets, able to modify the guns to essentially fire fully automatic, this is not the thought processes that someone like you or I are going to easily relate to, let's say, or understand. You know, we don't know exactly what he was thinking.
BALDWIN: We don't know what he was thinking. My question was just more about this device. I -- you know, as the former assistant director of the FBI, I was just wondering, you know, for those who don't know, and for my understanding it's this device that enables you to take a semiautomatic, you know, weapon and make it virtually fully automatic.
On the behavior piece of this, Casey, and this is what I really wanted to ask you about, is, we've learned a little bit about, you know, from neighbors and this real estate, this realtor where he bought this house, cash, some 300,000 up on a hill, private, cul-de-sac, wanted to put up or did put up some mesh wall that the neighbors wanted to petition. He was all about privacy, privacy, privacy. Does that tell you anything?
JORDAN: Not really. We all know people like this. I have neighbors like this. I mean he was never --
BALDWIN: That just want to keep to themselves.
JORDAN: He was never a warm and fuzzy guy. Everyone agrees on that, the neighbors, his family, his brother. He was a guy who grew up with the legacy of that father on the FBI most wanted list. I think he always wanted to distance himself from that legacy. Didn't want people asking about his parents or his upbringing, which included a lot of hardship.
I think he spent his life trying to prove people wrong, that he could be a good, upstanding person. But I think there has to be some event -- and, Brooke, we may never know what it is. Something triggered this. Some anomic event. Maybe a terminal illness. Maybe he's in debt and we don't even know about it. But he decided to just cash it all in.
[14:10:17] This really is an unusual case, but I think we'll find out more especially from that note, especially from the girlfriend, Marilou, that will shed light on this over time.
BALDWIN: On the girlfriend, Tom, let me ask you about her, because she claims she -- you know we've heard -- we got this statement from her lawyer in L.A. She claims that she had no advanced warning of this attack. That she thought when she headed to Asia that he was just sending her away to break up with her. She says she loved him.
What other kinds of questions, other than the obvious, did you know at all -- again, she says no -- that investigators will be asking of her?
FUENTES: Well, I think the most important question here is, does she know someone else that he was in contact with who may have been a friend or, you know, someone he worked with or did real estate deals with in the past or it might be a gun shop owner. Is there someone else whose name she could provide that could shed light on what he was thinking or doing that no one else knows because he doesn't have the fingerprints on social media that many younger people do have, that would be an important question.
BALDWIN: All right, Tom Fuentes, Casey Jordan, thank you both.
JORDAN: Good to be here.
BALDWIN: Grab some water, Tom. Sorry about that.
Any moment now, amid tensions between President Trump and his secretary of state, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders will address reporters. We'll take that live for you.
You're watching CNN on this Thursday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We'll be right back.
[14:16:10] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Live pictures inside that White House Briefing Room. We're going to take the briefing as soon as it starts any moment from now. But a surprising turn today in this whole gun control debate just days after this Las Vegas massacre.
We are now being told that a Republican-led bill may be introduced today to ban bump stocks, a device used in the massacre that increases the rate at which you can pull the trigger.
So let's start with Chris Cillizza, my first voice here, CNN politics reporter and editor at large.
It is Florida Republican Carlos Curbelo who's the one introducing this legislation. He says, I think we're on the verge of a breakthrough when it comes to sensible gun policy. We have been through mass shootings, sadly, many, many, many times. Do you think this is a real possibility?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: I think it is a possibility, Brooke. I'm skeptical only because of the past. But, again, this is not the assault weapons ban, right, which sunsetted in 2004, which would be a huge measure of restricting guns, a particular kind of gun in the country. This is essentially saying, let's ban this thing that allows you to turn legally -- you can purchase legally and turn something into an automatic weapon essentially. You would think that there would be consensus for this. I always remind people, 90 percent of the public, Democrats and Republicans, favor closing any and all private sale and gun show loopholes that exist, 85 percent plus favor prohibiting mentally ill folks from buying weapons. And yet, you know, we are where we are in Congress I think largely because there is a view among gun rights supporters who see this as a slippery slope. You give an inch and the theoretical people who want to collect your guns and create a national gun registry take a mile.
Maybe this small sot of carve-out because it was unique to this mass murder, because it is something that seems to make common sense. But I would argue there are other common sense things that have considerable support among Democrats and Republicans that haven't gone anywhere. So I just -- if past is prologue, it may be a bumpier road than we think.
BALDWIN: Let me jump in. As you have been talking, I have been handed a statement from the NRA. The headline is as follows, the NRA says it believes bump fire stocks should be subject to additional regulation.
CILLIZZA: So then it will almost certainly happen. I reverse my course. I mean, look, the --
BALDWIN: I mean -- surprise.
CILLIZZA: Yes. The NRA has been very much in the past, even in the wake of these mass casualty events using guns, have been resistant to anything, any changes. But, again, as I said, remember, this is not the assault weapons ban. This is not even closing the -- what some people call loopholes, what some people don't, but the ability of some people in private sales to not have background checks. This is to say, hey, maybe we shouldn't have something that you can legally purchase that allows a gun to be turned into an automatic weapon.
So, yes, I would then say, if the NRA is saying that these things should be subject to it, it makes it much more likely that it will happen.
BALDWIN: Yes. Let me just go a little further and I've got Gloria Borger with me here on set and, Gloria, you can weigh in on this. But within this Wayne LaPierre, Chris Cox joint statement here from the NRA, they say that the NRA is calling on the ATF, and I'm quoting the NRA now, to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law. The NRA believes the device is designed to allow semi- automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations. So that's quite a development.
[14:20:00] GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is. And, look, this is a way to deal with gun control without dealing with the entire issue of gun control
BALDWIN: Forgive me. As you just sat down, here she is, Sarah Sanders.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We'll get better.
Yesterday three U.S. service members and one partner nation member were killed while providing assistance to counterterror operations. As many of you are aware, U.S. forces are in the country to provide training and security assistance to the local armed forces in their efforts to counter violent extremist organizations.
Additionally two U.S. servicemembers were injured and evacuated in stable condition to Germany. Names are being withheld at this time as part of the next-of-kin notification process.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the freedoms we hold so dear. The president also visited Las Vegas yesterday to offer his support to the incredible people there. He met with law enforcement, first responders, the medical trauma team, all of whom did incredible work under dire circumstances, and visited with survivors and their families. The president was deeply touched by the spirit of the people in Las Vegas.
In one particularly stirring moment at the hospital, the president met 28-year-old Thomas Gunderson, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg. After being shot, Thomas dragged himself behind a row of bleachers and began worrying that he may bleed out, but two young women rushed to his side. One tied a belt around his leg to stop the bleeding, and others rallied a group of men to carry him to safety. He suffered a torn muscle in his calf, making it difficult to stand.
When the president and the first lady walked into his room at the hospital, he endured the pain and rose to his feet. When asked why he did it, Thomas said, "I will never lie down when the president of this great country comes to shake my hand."
The LasVegasStrong hashtag that has swept across social media in recent days could not be more fitting.
Looking ahead to tomorrow, the vice president will be traveling to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. He will meet with survivors, local officials and first responders, and personally assess the massive recovery efforts. The federal government continues to provide much-needed personnel and supplies to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico's governor recently said, and I quote, "The president and the administration, every time we've asked them to execute, they've executed quickly." That has been and will continue to be our goal.
This unprecedented relief effort should make it very clear we will not rest or stop until all of our people are safe, secure and set on a clear path toward building the very bright future they deserve.
And with that, I will take your questions.
QUESTION: Two comments for you.
I want to start off with gun control. Does the president support legislation that would ban or regulate bump stocks?
SANDERS: Right now, our focus, as we've said over the last couple of days, has been on healing and uniting the country.
The investigation still continues to be in very early stages.
We know that both -- members of both parties and multiple organizations are planning to take a look at bump stocks and related devices. We certainly welcome that, would like to be part of that conversation. And we would like to see a clear understanding of the facts. And we'd like to see input from the victims' families, from law enforcement, from policy-makers. And we're expecting hearings and other important fact-finding efforts on that and we want to be part of that discussion, and we're certainly open to that moving forward.
QUESTION: Can you tell me (inaudible) the president's thinking?
SANDERS: I said we're certainly open to that moving forward, but we want to be part of that conversation as it takes place in the coming days and weeks.
QUESTION: Can I also ask you about DACA today? Obviously that an October 5th deadline. Is there any thinking right now about potentially extending that deadline, because so many people haven't been able to submit their renewal forms?
SANDERS: I'll keep you posted on any announcements on that front.
Right now, the president's position has been that he's called on Congress to come up with a permanent solution and a fix to this process, to have responsible immigration reform. And we'd like to see that be a part of it.
QUESTION: (inaudible) is asking for cuts in the levels of legal immigration going to be part of what the White House seeks in a DACA fix?
SANDERS: We're going to roll out the specific principles that we'd like to see in that responsible immigration reform very soon, probably in the very short future. And we'll let you know when we do that. And you can see all those details on that day when it's there.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.
A couple questions on Puerto Rico, again.
The president said that the debt in Puerto Rico is going to be wiped out. Director Mulvaney, sort of, cleared that up a little bit, saying he wasn't -- we shouldn't take the president word-for-word on that.
Can you just button it down from the podium, whether or not the president will take action or push for legislation to forgive any of the debt that Puerto Rico currently has?
SANDERS: Right now, the primary focus is to provide relief to Puerto Rico and support in the rebuilding efforts. While we're still dealing with the immediate disaster, it isn't inappropriate to focus on the difficulties that Puerto Rico was dealing with before the storm.
There's a process for how to deal with Puerto Rico's debt, and it'll have to go through that process to have a lasting recovery and growth. This is a process that was put in place and set up under Obama. And that has a board of advisers that deals with that debt. And it'll go through that process as we move forward.
SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to try and jump around, we'll come back.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.
I'm wondering if there's any concern in the White House that the president's frequent use of the term "fake news" to describe mainstream outlets muddies the water a little bit and makes it harder for citizens to identify the actual fake news that the intelligence agencies have said countries like Russia used to interfere in the last election.
SANDERS: I -- I think that the president has a great frustration with the fact that a lot of the times you have inaccurate information that's being presented as factual; a lot of the times, you have opinions that are being presented as news, and they're not.
And I think that that is a real concern, and something that certainly should be looked at.
QUESTION: Is the distinction between erroneous reports or reporting that he finds offensive, and the type of fake news that we saw pushed -- pushed during the election by Russian intelligence -- does he see a distinction there?
SANDERS: We see a problem with any stories that are inaccurate or untruthful being presented to the American people as facts.
QUESTION: Sarah, could you give us a readout on (inaudible)...
SANDERS: I'm sorry, could you say that again?
QUESTION: Could you give us a readout on the meeting with Senator Cotton?
SANDERS: The president routinely meets with senators and House members, and this wasn't anything beyond that. They talked about a number of issues.
Obviously, Senator Cotton has been somebody the president has worked with regularly since taking office. We're going to continue to do that.
If we have further information, we'll let you know.
QUESTION: (inaudible) immigration and Iran on the agenda? SANDERS: I -- I think both of those topics were discussed.
QUESTION: Beyond bump stocks, does the president have as -- as open an attitude about other methods of gun control that have long been debated, or is the White House openness, which you just described, being willing to be part of that conversation, limited to one on bump stocks?
SANDERS: The president's a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. That hasn't changed.
This is a president who wants to look at -- I think at this point in the process, I think we all need to take a step back. We had one of the most horrific tragedies that's ever taken place on U.S. soil. And before we can run out and start talking about the preventions for something like that to happen again, which we all certainly want to do, we have to determine what caused it.
We haven't gotten that far down the road. That's something that law enforcement agencies are all collaboratively working, day in and day out to do. We want to help support that effort in any way possible.
And again, I -- I think that this administration's position is extremely clear. We would look at taking any step we could to prevent something like this from happening again.
SANDERS: Blake (ph)?
QUESTION: Just to be accurate on that, a bump stock is what you're open to having a conversation about, and that's it, for the moment.
SANDERS: That's something we're certainly open to having that conversation.
At this point, again, I -- I -- I don't think that we want to go out and start having -- and making rash decisions, while we're still in an open investigation. We'd like to get more facts about what we can do, not just in this case, but this is a president who's very committed to doing every single thing he can, every single day, to protect American lives. Whether that's securing the border; whether that's defeating ISIS; whether that's containing North Korea; and whether that's looking at legislative fixes that may be necessary to help protect American lives, that's something that the president and the administration are committed to doing, and looking at, and being part of that conversation every single day, moving forward.
A lot of people talk about the -- the bump stock, so I'm going to kind of talk about something else, and that's the Iran nuclear deal.
October 15 deadline coming up, and I want to make it clear for the people that don't know, it's a little more complicated, because there's also the Review Act that Congress enacted last year. So I'm just curious, given that the president has previously said this deal was an embarrassment, does it make sense, then, to presume that he will not choose to recertify, or might he decide to strengthen sanctions and, sort of, stay in the deal that way? What's your thought?
SANDERS: The president has, as he said, made a decision on this, and he'll make that announcement at the appropriate time.
The -- the main focus that he has had has been a comprehensive strategy on how to deal with Iran. That is what he wanted his team to put in place. And then I think you will see that announced in short order. And that will be a comprehensive strategy, with a unified team behind him supporting that effort.
QUESTION: (inaudible) voices, I'm imagining, in the room on that. Even though they will move forward as one, there's been some debate. Is it fair to say that?
[14:29:56] SANDERS: The president's team has presented a united strategy that the national security team all stands behind and supports. And the president will make that announcement soon.
QUESTION: Since the briefing began, Sarah, the NRA has put out a statement as it relates to bump stocks, their position on bump stocks.