Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

GOP Tax Plans Eliminates Many Deductions; FBI and Police on Scene Texas Church Shooting; Multiple People Shot Inside Texas Church; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired November 5, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(0:00:00.2)

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This is Fareed Zakaria back here on GPS. Thanks for all of the guests who joined me on the show today and thank you for being part of my program this week. I'll see you next week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Happening now in the "Newsroom."

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are in the midst of having very major discussions on many subjects including North Korea and trade.

WHITFIELD (voice-cover): Trump's whirlwind Asia trip kicking off with a strong message to North Korea. U.S. and japan stand together.

Plus, fighting words from former interim DNC chair, Donna Brazile.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER INTERIM DNC CHAIRMAN: For those who are telling me to shut up, they told Hillary that a couple months ago. You know what I tell them? Go to hell. I'm going to tell my story.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): And can congress come together on tax reform?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's strong and it would an extremely damaging effect on my constituents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you right now, it's a work in progress.

NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This is a moment of truth for America. Are we going deeply into debt to get tax cuts to the high end at the expense of working families in America?

WHITFIELD (voice-over): "CNN Newsroom" starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "CNN Breaking News."

WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with this breaking news. Multiple people have been shot at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that is east of San Antonio.

CNN's Kaylee Hartung has more on the story. Kaylee.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, we have spoken with official who say FBI and first responders are on the scene of what I'm told is an active site here in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This is about 30 miles east of San Antonio.

And I just spoke with a witness, a woman, a cashier at a -- at a gas station just across the street. She told me right around 11:30 Central Time in Sutherland Springs, she heard what she estimated to be 20 shots fired. She says that's when church would be underway for their Sunday service at First Baptist Church there.

And customers in her store were calling 911. Among those getting the police's attention. She told me that police responded to the scene very quickly. She said she's seen four helicopters take off with victims inside multiple ambulances responding. But again, the FBI and first responders are on the scene. You see a feed here from our affiliate case at out of San Antonio in Sutherland Springs, Texas on the scene here as we hope to learn more about what transpired there this morning.

Again, this is in a town about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. I'm told this is a very small community. The church is the center point of this community. This First Baptist Church is nestled in a neighborhood. I'm told it's the only food pantry in town. And there are a lot of lower income disabled older folks in that neighborhood as well.

The witness I spoke with, Kerry Mathula (ph) said this is going to be very difficult for this small community to process. Friends, neighbors, this is a church where anybody in the neighborhood would have known someone who could have possibly been inside.

We'll be standing by as we learn more, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And you said active scene. What are investigators saying, if anything, about the alleged shooter or shooters?

HARTUNG: We don't know anything at this point about the shooter. If it was one or multiple. But from the account of that witness I spoke to who was just 50 yards away from the Church inside the gas station where she works, she said she heard what she estimated to be 20 shots fired in very short time period.

She also told me that those people right there in the area, in the proximity of the church felt comfortable with where the situation was, with how quickly police responded. There wasn't any sort of chase or pursuit of the suspect by her eyewitness account of the outside of the church. So they feel comfortable that a suspect has been apprehended, but we have no confirmation that that is the case.

Again, as when I spoke with officials on the scene, they said this is an active scene and ongoing investigation. They were not ready to share any firm numbers with us or a status of the suspect here. WHITFIELD: All right. Kaylee Hartung, keep us posted as you learn any more information. Thanks so much.

I want to bring in now CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick.

So, Art, what can you tell us about how local and potentially federal investigators would descend on this scene to begin their investigations?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): This is definitely an instance where federal law enforcement would be right there. It's only 30 miles from San Antonio.

Multiple task forces, this federal task operate has operate in that area. This is a potential possibility, nothing's been confirmed, but potential for hate crimes. FBI is there. You'll have ATF there because you're dealing with weapons charges and you also have the U.S. marshal's task force there. In case there's a potential

(0:05:00.3)

RODERICK: -- individual and mine have got away. And then there's the whole conspiracy issue.

It's only 30 miles from San Antonio, so you've got lot of resources that had pour into that area. And we already heard the reports that there's four choppers up and they will respond very, very heavily in this particular instance to any incident like this, especially at a -- at a church during church services.

WHITFIELD: Choppers in the air, federal authorities, local working to get there. Is this a situation in which you would see that roads leading into this community or even highways nearby would be shut down temporarily?

RODERICK: Absolutely. They have Texas department of public safety is an excellent organization. I wouldn't be surprised if the Texas Rangers were absolutely involved in this from the very beginning. And you'll have the state police shutting down roads and highways if an individual is still on the loose. And it sounds like there's a very good possibility if they might have someone in custody already which would be absolutely fantastic. We're just hoping that the -- that the fatality and injury toll is not that high. It's very sad day.

WHITFIELD: And hearing accounts from eyewitness such as the person that Kaylee was talking to, someone had a store nearby. How important will the role of these witness whether it'd be they heard something, not necessarily saw something, how will that help investigators piece things together?

RODERICK: Yes, that's very key. Also any video from the area, we've got convenience stores there. Generally they have good security video that's up and maybe even the church might have security video.

What troubles me is the amount from the witness statements, the amount of rounds that were fired in a very short period of time indicates somebody very well could have possibly reloaded a weapon which is obviously quite disturbing.

But I'm feeling they have that pretty much sorted out at this point in time. But when we're talking about a semi-automatic weapon, a hand gun, a rifle, we don't know any of that information yet.

WHITFIELD: And then Kaylee is still with me now. You had a chance to talk with somebody at the nearby gas station. It sounded as though that eyewitness was very willing to tell you what she heard.

What about other people in the store or gas station? Were there many people there?

HARTUNG: She said they had customers inside the gas station at the time of this -- she says it all happened so quickly. They were processing the information of course as it was happening. By her accounts, she said it sounded like it was a semi-automatic weapon based on the sound she could hear, the ricochet she described. And the impact that she heard. She thought it was a semi-automatic weapon. But again, not someone who saw this event with their own eyes. Just based on what she could hear from a gas station 50 yards away from this church.

But she was saying that people inside the store, her customers were calling 911. There were multiple people trying to call 911. She said at one point to which police quickly responded. When I asked this woman if I could call her back a little bit later in the day to see what more she learned, she said, "I'm going home. I've got to take care of myself now." I think it's been incredibly jarring experience to hear those shots and not know where they're coming from or where they're directed at and then once they realized they were at the church.

As she said, it's just such a small community. Friends and neighbors all-around you. She didn't know who of her friends were inside the church at that time, but knew undoubtedly that she'd know someone inside.

WHITFIELD: And that feeling of disbelief at this point. So, Art, besides the obvious of going inside the church, how authorities go about trying to determine whether there was one person responsible for this or multiple.

RODERICK: Well, it sounds like we probably got a lot of witnesses here. So the witnesses will obviously tell right away what's on and how many people were there. How many hand guns, was it hand gun, was it rifle?

But I think in this particular point in time, they probably have a pretty good idea. Is this individual known to the churchgoers? Is this somebody who just came in? I mean, we've heard obviously horrendous stories about some of these church shootings in the past. But I think probably at this point in time, that there's still an individual loose. Then they are probably shutting down highways, shutting down the roadways looking for a particular individual in a specific vehicle.

But the law enforcement response in any of these types of situations is going to be massive.

(0:10:00.7)

WHITFIELD: And I wonder, Art, determining whether the shooting began inside or always contained inside or outside how much that will determine the investigative phase in terms of knowing the motivation behind the shooter or shooters. If there was some sort of contact with individuals outside.

Give us an idea of how the investigation unravels.

RODERICK: Yes. They're going to -- they're going to go ahead. I mean, you've got a pretty good sized crime scene here, so you've got two things going on. Right now, you have a manhunt and you have a crime scene investigation going on. So they're going to find every single bullet that was shot. They are going to find every single casing that was expelled from the weapon. They're going to look at all these incidences and find out what witnesses are saying about what this individual said or what this individual did.

And we don't even know, you're right. We don't even know if it was inside the church or outside the church. But there seems to be a lot of witnesses here, specifically at that gas station. The individuals were calling 911. It would be -- it would be nice to hear some of those 911 calls because generally that gives you a very good concept of what's going on at the particular scene.

WHITFIELD: And Kaylee, is -- this is a small town as you described. Is this one of several churches in the community or is this singularly the place where most people in the community would descend?

HARTUNG: Not singularly, but a community where churches like this one are the center point of so much of the community's organization and interaction with one another. This church in particular, I was told is nestled in the neighborhood. What it is known for, it's the only food pantry in town so it's a church that is well-known to the members of this community.

WHITFIELD: So meaning an invite. It has an open door policy, invites a lot of people and whether you're a member of the church or not, you are in need - you might come to that church.

HARTUNG: Absolutely. And as I was told, in this particular area of Sutherland Springs, you have a lot of lower income folks, some disabled older folks. But they're a dedicated community here to First Baptist Church.

And it was described to me by the witness I spoke with, this happened around 11:30. So it was during the church service. If you can imagine this church full of its congregation.

WHITFIELD: So, Art, Sutherland Springs, a fairly small community but just 30 minutes or so outside of San Antonio. Presumably their law enforcement presence might be -- might nearer of that at the community being and it's small and intimate.

So what automatically San Antonio and surrounding jurisdictions assist in something like this.

RODERICK: Absolutely. There's always a mutual aid town pack that everybody has in San Marin (ph). I'm sure you've got all kinds of people rolling in there.

The interesting thing that is they've got to come up with a motive as soon as possible here to figure out what exactly occurred here. Is there impossibility of this happening in any other location in that area?

So, as usual, here in very beginning of these types of incidences, we don't have all the information and a lot of times the information is incorrect. But hopefully law enforcement has somebody in custody already.

WHITFIELD: Art Roderick, Kaylee Hartung, thanks to both of you. We'll check back with you as we learn more information. We'll have more of our coverage of this shooting taking place in or outside near this church. Sutherland Springs, Texas outside of San Antonio. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(0:15:00.6)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We continue to follow breaking news out of Texas where multiple people had been shot at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas that's east of San Antonio.

We understand according to eyewitness accounts, talking to our Kaylee Hartung, that at least one woman at a nearby gas station says she recalls hearing about 20 shots being fired. Unclear how many people may have been hit. It's considered an active crime scene right now. Investigators from local authorities at nearby San Antonio and even federal authorities from the FBI and ATF and U.S. marshals all descending on the scene looking into various angles of what transpired. That's taking place 11:30 Central Time.

Also with us law enforcement analyst, Art Roderick. So, Art, explain to us the importance of federal and local authorities working together here. You've touched upon so many different directions in which they'd be looking from hate crimes, firearms crimes, et cetera.

RODERICK: Yes. There's also the fugitive aspect. We have yet to confirm whether there's somebody in custody, which I mean is the key here. But we will have s-- you will have state, Local County, Texas DPS, Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, U.S. marshals, FBI. Everybody that's available will be rolling out on any type of incident like this. So custody is the key part because we're going to figure out what the motive is here. Is this a hate crime? Is this --

(0:20:00.5)

RODERICK: -- possibly something else? And I don't even think we should go there yet. But this did happen in a church. It's very sad day. Everybody was at mass and you hear 20 rounds going off. I mean, eyewitness testimony sometimes I find not exactly 100 percent correct, but this sounds -- this particular one witness sounds pretty much reliable. And when you're talking about 20 rounds going off, are we talking about a semi-automatic hand gun, a semi-automatic rifle or possibly a fully automatic weapon of some type.

WHITFIELD: Kaylee Hartung also reporting that it really is the only food pantry in town at this First Baptist Church. Presumably it had a real open door policy. A lot of folks will come there for various needs as well as for worship.

Really we also reported that at least four helicopters were seen in the area. Now, we also understand that the -- at nearby Medical center, the Conley Memorial Medical Center in Floresville, Texas is treating patients from this church shooting incident, according to the hospital spokesperson saying this I'm quoting now at this time, we are still accepting and accessing victims.

So, what does that tell you, Art, in terms of whether they've been able to transport everyone or whether they are also looking for other means in which to transport victims who may still be on the scene.

RODERICK: Yes. It sounds like to me you've got a mass casualty event here, when you start talking about trauma centers and transporting multiple people. So I mean, this is not looking very good.

But let's see what we -- what we get information-wise for the PD. I'm sure they'll be holding a press conference here very shortly and let everybody know what's going on.

But once you start activating trauma centers and transporting multiple people to the hospital, it doesn't look good at all.

WHITFIELD: Yes. We know multiple people being transported. We don't know one shooter, more than one. We don't even have a number in terms of victims here. But when they look at this church, Art, and we know it's a small community, it appears as though it's a very small church which now and tells you about the proximity between alleged shooter/shooters and victims. This space is very tight.

RODERICK: Right. And this is -- it sounds like it's a community church.

So could this be some other type of attack other than a hate crime or sort of a domestic situation? I think it will beyond the domestic situation, because generally when you have the domestic scenario, it's one or two people have been shot, but this sounds like multiple individuals and the FBI responding so quickly. We are talking about a religious center, a church. It sounds like it's the center of the community here that I'm sure the FBIs already looking in that possible hate crime here sometime

WHITFIELD: So, Art, clearly, the priority is attending to the victims, finding the shooter or shooters, but a talk just how the FBI, ATFs state and local authorities do work together rather quickly to get the investigation underway to find motivation, the pattern of prior to this shooting. All of those details.

RODERICK: Absolutely. You've got multiple things going on at this particular point in time. You've got medical people responding, you've got triage going on to figure out who's wounded or hurt the most, but then you also have a crime scene at that particular church.

But then it sounds like we've got a manhunt going on here that involves -- it's going to involve a lot bigger area. And that's where you get the federal agencies coming in to assist because of jurisdictional issues. So with this type of scenario, you'll have the marshals coming in, FBI. ATF looking at the gun issue trying to figure out who and what individuals committed this particular horrible time on --

WHITFIELD: And then there is canvassing the community, canvassing the area to talk to people.

Our Kaylee Hartung spoke with a woman at a gas station, but investigators are on the ground trying to talk to as many people as possible. Piecing together what they heard, what they may have seen at the time of the shooting. Just prior to and even immediately after, right?

RODERICK: No, exactly.

(0:25:00.5)

RODERICK: This is going to be a wide net that has to be spread and they got us figure out as many witnesses as possible. They have to talk to try to figure out what exactly occurred here. Where there is individual came from, individual or individuals.

We haven't even heard that they've narrowed that down yet and of course we're in this early stages in this investigation and there's a lot going on right now, I can tell you, from the law enforcement perspective.

So as we move through the next hour to I'm sure we'll get a lot more information coming out and I'm sure somebody's going to have a press conference here very quickly to let us know what's going on.

WHITFIELD: And investigating a place of worship, a shooting taking place like this at a place of worship is unique and into itself. How do authorities approach this perhaps differently and they might another locality where shooting has occurred?

Roderick: Well, unfortunately, we're dealing with places of worship where we have, you know, unfortunately have to deal with these types of incidences before at churches and other religious places.

It's a lot more -- it's difficult to handle these types of investigations, people are obviously traumatized. When you have that many rounds going off and that many people injured, you try to get the best information you can for law enforcement to be able to pursue the individuals or individual who did this, and that's what's happening right now. There'll be -- there'll be post-traumatic people coming in after which to handle the victims and the -- and the family members. But right now, we have a public safety issue and they've got to get this information out as best they can to get these individual or individuals in custody.

Whitfield: All right. Art Roderick. Thank you so much. We'll take a short break for now. We're continuing to watch all the developments surrounding a shooting at a First Baptist Church there in Sutherland Springs, Texas outside of San Antonio. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:28]

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. We are following the breaking news out of Texas. First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas outside of San Antonio, there has been a shooting at 11:30 Central Time. Now sources are telling us that the shooter is dead. Unclear whether police shot the shooter or whether this was a self-inflicted wound. Still unclear.

But there are multiple victims, many of whom have been transported to nearby hospitals and we understand from authorities there are still many others being tended to. The Connelly Memorial Medical Center in nearby Floresville, Texas is treating patients from that church shooting, according to a hospital spokesperson.

She said they are still accepting and assessing victims, but still unclear of the exact number. Also unclear, the identity of this alleged shooter.

Kaylee Hartung has been talking to people there on the ground. You've spoken to at least one eyewitness who described what was heard. What more do you know?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've spoke with the Guadalupe County Sheriff's Office now, and they confirm that the single shooter is dead. There was a brief pursuit following the shooting and the suspect was apprehended in Guadalupe County, which is just north of Wilson County where Sutherland Springs is.

But in that brief pursuit and chase, the suspect was apprehended and again, unclear if deputies were responsible for shooting him or if his death was self-inflicted. The shooter is dead, and this investigation continues as there are so many questions as to what led to this tragic event today.

WHITFIELD: Tell us more about what you learned about the community, this church and the importance of this church to the community.

HARTUNG: Sutherland Springs is a very tight knit community. Small friends and neighbors surrounding you. Churches are the center point of this community. First Baptist Church, in particular, is the only food pantry in town. The doors are open to anyone in need of help any time day or night. One witness I spoke to who was a cashier at a gas station just across the street. She said it was her understanding this was in the middle of the church service when the shooting occurred when she heard what she estimated to be 20 shots fired in very quick succession around 11:30 local time this morning in Sutherland Springs.

This church actually records each of its services and posts them to a YouTube channel for other members of the community and congregation to view at their leisure. As I looked at the video from last week's service and scrubbed through a couple from weeks before, you can see the size of that church.

It's not a very large building, but a very -- you just see the community feel. These people know each other. They are parts of each other's lives and we hear that multiple shots were fired and the number of dead or wounded is unclear, it's just hard to wrap your mind around. What an experience this was for all those inside who knew and loved each other.

WHITFIELD: These are live pictures that we are seeing right now of the centerpiece. The church is in the midst of a residential community, a fairly small intimate community. You can see commerce nearby as well as this street in which people live.

HARTUNG: A highway right there. It will be very interesting to learn how this chase ensued and how far I'm told it was not far at all that this chase led officers to the encounter with the suspect, very quickly coming to an end after police responded to the scene.

WHITFIELD: So, then is that implying that the shooter was in a vehicle and led this chase as opposed to a foot chase when we talk about these neighboring counties, Wilson and you know, Guadalupe County or is this a distance that is so close that this person could be on foot, running or was this a vehicular chase? Any way of knowing?

HARTUNG: I don't have the information to confirm either way. You have to imagine it was vehicular if you are able to cross county lines, especially considering how quickly that subject was apprehended in that manner. Anything on foot would be hard to imagine by the conversations I've had.

[14:35:03] WHITFIELD: We understand there have been multiple victims. We have not been given a concrete number. Earlier, we did report there were four helicopters that were seen in the general vicinity. Obviously, this live shot you are seeing right now via helicopter, the activity you can see of law enforcement and several variations.

We know ATF and FBI and marshals on the ground as well as local authorities, state law enforcement as well. Reinforcements coming from nearby San Antonio. It's difficult to assess, you know, how widespread this investigation has become and whether there are other victims who might still be in the church who have yet to be transported.

HARTUNG: That church, a small building and as it was explained to me by witnesses who could hear the gunshots with those shots being fired in quick succession and police responding so quickly as you mentioned, in close proximity to San Antonia. You have the resources of state, federal, and local government coming together quickly to assess this scene and to better understand what transpired here.

With that witness saying who I spoke to about an hour ago, she had already seen four helicopters land and take off with victims inside. Ambulances responding while we don't yet have a number of those injured or killed, it's reassuring to see such a quick and large-scale response.

WHITFIELD: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has released a statement about the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Twitter. The full statement is right here saying, quote, "Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response. More details from DPS coming soon."

This coming from the governor's office by way of their Twitter account. Presumably people in this community are trying to assess what happened and figure out if they knew this gunman. This is an intimate community.

An open-door policy at the church, as you mentioned, Kaylee, it being the only food pantry in town. Certainly, Sutherland Springs right now shaken to the core. We will take a short break and continue our digging and reporting about this shooting taking place inside the church. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:41:43]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We are following breaking news out of Sutherland Springs, Texas. A shooting taking place at the First Baptist Church. Multiple people have been shot. We understand from authorities there on the ground that the gunman is dead.

Unclear whether that's from a self-inflicted wound or whether police took him down. We do understand that there was some sort of chase from Wilson County, which is where the First Baptist Church is into nearby Guadalupe County.

Albert Gomez Jr. is the Wilson County commissioner and with me on the line right now. Mr. Gomez, what are you learning about what transpired here?

ALBERT GOMEZ JR, WILSON COUNTY, TEXAS COMMISSIONER (via telephone): Right now, I just talked to an EMS spokesman and they are looking close to 27 deceased and over 24 injured, but that's a number that keeps changing. We still don't know the correct number of the deceased.

WHITFIELD: CNN is not able to verify this.

GOMEZ: There are injuries also. WHITFIELD: Yes. CNN is unable to verify those numbers. We too are trying to get the official numbers, but based on what you are learning, you are conveying that to us. Where are you right now? Can you describe what you are seeing?

GOMEZ: Probably a half block from the scene. I can see the church.

WHITFIELD: What's your understanding about the circumstances as to how the gunman was taken down or whether this was self-inflicted?

GOMEZ: The gunman took off and they were in a pursuit going into Guadalupe County. That's all I know. I think they said he was deceased. I don't know if he shot himself or he was shot.

WHITFIELD: Was the gunman on foot or do you understand to be in a vehicle?

GOMEZ: No, in a vehicle.

WHITFIELD: OK. Tell me about this church, First Baptist Church. Fairly intimate community here. Tell me about the church and the parishioners and what is usually an 11:00 a.m. service Central Time.

GOMEZ: Yes. I mean, it's a small community and a small church. It's a real nice quiet community. I mean, you never expect something like this. We just don't know all the details on what expired that guy to start (inaudible) the people who started there?

WHITFIELD: And how did you hear of this shooting? Were you nearby?

GOMEZ: Yes, I got a call and they told me that there was a big scene going on with a lot of children and a pursuit. So, I called the Sheriff's Department and the sheriff told me that he was on his way over here. That's all the details right now. All the details are sketchy and I'm trying to determine what's going on.

WHITFIELD: Yes, absolutely.

GOMEZ: I think we have the FBI here and everybody.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So, I understand the ATF, FBI, and U.S. marshals, and local authorities all there. Are you able to see the activity of the church? Are you able to see victims being transported?

[14:45:00] GOMEZ: No, all the victims are inside the church. There is nobody outside that I can see.

WHITFIELD: So, it's your understanding based on information that we have learned and perhaps your information matches ours that there were about four helicopters that did pick up injured victims.

GOMEZ: Yes.

WHITFIELD: But you have not seen any activity since the time that you have been there.

GOMEZ: I think they really removed all the injured. There is still EMS here, but they removed the injured already.

WHITFIELD: This is a horribly sad day for Sutherland Springs.

GOMEZ: It is a tragic day. Real tragic.

WHITFIELD: Tell me what you are thinking and feeling.

GOMEZ: My heart is broken. I mean, we never think where it can happen. It doesn't matter where you are at. In a small community, real quiet and everything, look at this what can happen. It's sad. It breaks my heart.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Small tight community, is this a community you would describe most people know each other?

GOMEZ: Yes. Nothing but family here. Everybody knows each other. Yes.

WHITFIELD: Is it your feeling that -- do you know anything about the gunman?

GOMEZ: Not right now. I mean, it's hard. I know that they were talking about some families that are workers. They are deceased in there. That's all I can give you right now.

WHITFIELD: And you mentioned that you learned from an EMS person, Emergency Medical Services person nearby about the count of those injured and dead. Is that person still nearby, near you?

GOMEZ: No, she went back over there.

WHITFIELD: Have you learned about the gunman in terms of whether it was a familiar face?

GOMEZ: Nothing at all. I have not even spoken to the church. I'm trying to get all that information.

WHITFIELD: I mean, you are a county commissioner there. What about your access to the church to be able to comfort or have up close encounters with anyone there associated with the church?

GOMEZ: Not yet. We can't get too close to the scene. They got it all blocked off. We are not allowed in until they let us know.

WHITFIELD: Terrible situation.

GOMEZ: Real terrible.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Albert Gomez, give me an idea of what you believe this does to a community so tight knit, one in which everyone knows one another. It is still very fresh happening just within the last couple of hours or so. Is there a way of determining or detecting from your neighbors, people who are nervous or frightened and apprehensive and worried? How would you describe how people are feeling right now? GOMEZ: Well, right now, I mean, it just happened. People are just getting out of church. It's a Sunday and people go to church everywhere. It's going to hit home. Hit everywhere. I don't know. We have never dealt with something like this so big. It's going to be hard for the community and the whole town to deal with something like this. We have to come and sit down with the elected officials and try to determine which way it will go.

WHITFIELD: Do you mind recalling to me one more time, your conversation with the EMS personnel when you first came to the scene what they told you?

GOMEZ: They just told me a number of 27 deceased and over 24 injured. That was the latest. Not confirmed yet, but that's what she told me.

WHITFIELD: Horrible situation. We understand church service generally starts at 11:00 a.m. there at First Baptist Church. It was 11:30 a.m. according to authorities and eyewitnesses when the first shots were fired. Now we have a very tragic scene.

So many people have been transported to nearby hospitals, but still unclear the official numbers coming from authorities. You as a commissioner had that access there who is telling you about these very sad, tragic horrific numbers, possibly 27 dead and 24 injured. Albert Gomez Jr., Wilson County commissioner, thank you so much for your time. Our hearts go out to you and all your neighbors there.

GOMEZ: OK. Thank You. Bye-bye.

WHITFIELD: We will have much more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:54:13]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We are reporting on a horrible situation out of Texas. Sutherland Springs, Texas at the First Baptist Church there. Authorities on the scene of a church shooting there. Multiple people have been shot. Unclear an exact number coming from authorities.

We know from authorities that many people have been transported to nearby hospitals. We spoke to Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gomez, who talked to an EMS authority saying dozens killed and dozens injured.

But again, CNN unable to verify the numbers. Also coming from the mayor of San Antonio, which is just about 30 minutes away from Sutherland Springs, tweeting out sad day in South Texas and pray for our neighbors, hug your loved ones.

[14:55:01] That following the Texas Governor Greg Abbott also tweeting out, "Our prayers are with all who were harmed by this evil act. Our thanks to law enforcement for their response. More details from DPS soon." We do understand from authorities the shooter is dead. There was a chase going from Wilson County, which is where the First Baptist Church is in a nearby Guadalupe County where authorities have taken down the gunman. We are awaiting more information. The identity of this gunman for starters.

Our Kaylee Hartung has been talking to a number of sources and law enforcement analyst, Art Roderick is also with us. Kaylee, let me begin with you. You have spoken to a number of people, at least who has been descriptive about what she heard at about 11:30 Central Time. Church service begins at that service at 11:00 a.m. What did she tell you and what is she conveying now?

HARTUNG: Well, the witness I spoke with who is a cashier at the gas station about 50 yards from First Baptist Church in Sutherland Spring. She told me around 11:30 local this morning. That would have been in the middle of First Baptist Church service.

She heard what she estimated to be 20 shots fired. She said it sounded like a semi-automatic weapon and the shots were fired in a very short period of time. She had customers inside her gas station. People began to call 911 and police responded very quickly to the scene.

We then learned that there was a brief chase, a pursuit of that suspect that went into the neighboring Guadalupe County. I'm told the county line, if you go up Highway 539 is about to 10 miles. A vehicular pursuit that ended very quickly. We do not know if the shooter was killed at the hand of police or a self-inflicted shot that he took.

The situation seemingly under control as we are now in that phase where you see responders on site. You see the ambulances right there. That witness told me she heard four helicopters on the scene and ambulances continue to service the area.

WHITFIELD: All right. We will continue to try to get as much information as we can about the ongoing situation at Sutherland Springs, Texas. Thanks so much, Kaylee. We will take a short break for now and we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)