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THE SITUATION ROOM
Five Dead in Shooting at Maryland Newspaper; Interview With Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 28, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're following breaking news on the deadly shooting at a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland.
Police now say at least five people were killed at the office of "The Capital Gazette" newspaper. There were multiple injuries as well. We're told the suspect is in custody. He has not yet been identified, at least not yet publicly identified.
But he is being questioned right now.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's on the scene for us in Annapolis.
Update our viewers, Brian, on what else you're learning.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we learned just a short time ago, confirming five people killed in this shooting, four of them, their bodies were found on the floor of the newsroom of "The Capital Gazette."
A fifth person, a woman, according to local officials, was airlifted out to a local trauma center, where she died. They do have the shooter in custody. He is not identified by name. We're told that authorities do have a name, but they are not prepared to share that at this time.
But he is described as a white adult male. Officials said that he used a long gun in the shooting. We have a law enforcement source who says that it was a shotgun. Again, we're told that law enforcement got here very, very quickly after the shooting, within 60 to 90 seconds, and were able essentially to interrupt this attack.
But officials say, Wolf, that they did not exchange gunfire with the suspect. They did get here, and according to local police, the police and sheriff's deputies who arrived on scene, again, within 60 to 90 seconds, they entered the building immediately and somehow were able to interrupt the shooting.
Officials telling us this could have been worse had they not gotten here so quickly. Again, the shooter, they are not giving an identification. The shooter did apparently not have any I.D. on him when he was apprehended. He is in custody now. He is not forthcoming with information, according to what we heard from the county commissioner, Steve Schuh, and other officials.
Wolf, so this investigation still very early, in the fluid stages. They are trying to get information out of this suspect. They have not gotten much, if any yet, on the motive for this shooting. We can also tell you that 170 people were inside the building, according to officials, when the shooting started.
They were able to get all of them out, all of the survivors out safely. And then police entered the building immediately and went through it. From a tactical standpoint, they say that this building is cleared. They do not believe they have any more suspects, any more possible danger to others inside this building.
But they do say that they did recover what they believe to be an explosive device. And according to the local police chief, that was -- quote -- "taken care of."
There's not much other information on that explosive device, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, that was taken care of.
And we also are told that the suspect is a white adult male. He had a long gun, but no shots were exchanged when he was apprehended with local police.
Brian, we're going to get back to you.
Phil Mudd, lots of questions raised right now. What's going through your mind as you listen to all the initial information coming in?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Well, you gave me a lot of clues from that interview you just had with the county executive.
And that is, the first question I have is, how much of a problem do we have on our hands here? Based on that interview, I'm looking at someone who was hiding under a desk, as I said a moment ago, wasn't prepared to get out, wasn't prepared for a standoff with law enforcement.
Remembering, Wolf, back to Las Vegas, when you had someone who was so well prepared to kill so many people, this guy had a weapon that wasn't the kind we have seen in other mass shootings. He didn't seem to have a plan for the explosive device. It's not even clear how sophisticated that device was.
You have got one basic question here, in addition to I.D., and who the shooter was, obviously, going into this. How sophisticated was this operation? And it doesn't appear to have been so sophisticated. That takes one question potentially off the table. Do we have something big here or not?
And it sounds like, based on the information we're getting in the past five to 10 minutes, maybe not so sophisticated.
And, apparently, Josh Campbell, according to the county executive, he was hiding underneath a desk when he was apprehended. Maybe he was hoping they would think he was one of the victims.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, it's hard to read too much into that, Wolf, because we don't know yet if perhaps he had run out of ammunition, if he was hiding or he just simply realized that there was no way he was going to be able to make it out without being arrested.
So, I think we will learn those details as they come out. Obviously, with the evacuation of the building, if some witness looked at that person and said, hey, that was the shooter in a crowd, then obviously police would respond very quickly.
It will be interesting to see, Wolf -- and obviously we have heard reports that the subject as of yet has not been cooperative with law enforcement officers.
No two interviews, no two interrogations are the same. You have to what we call norm someone out, determine what's making them tick and how cooperative they are going to be. But it will be curious to see is, is this someone who was acting on a grievance that police could then get him to talk about, if he was perhaps proud that he was going to go and right some perceived wrong that he had?
Then that's one thing. That's one way to get someone else to talk. The other way is if the subject really finally sees that the walls are closing in on him and there's nowhere else that he is going to be able to go, maybe talking to the police is the only way to perhaps ensure -- I doubt this guy is going to ever see freedom again, but at least try to determine the circumstances surrounding his imprisonment.
Or there are different things that prosecutors and law enforcement officers can do in order to engage in some type of negotiation. Again, at the end of the day, they want to determine why did this person do what he did.
And then the last thing, Wolf, that we have been talking about for a long time is, who was in this person's orbit who may have known something, who may have seen something? Obviously, law enforcement officers after any of these types of incidents, whenever we FID someone, fully I.D. them, we will be going back through their own holdings to determine, is this someone that we knew that we perhaps were tipped off with in the past? We don't know that that's the case yet. But that will be part of this very long-term investigation.
BLITZER: It certainly will be.
Shawn Turner, what does it say to you that he apparently is not cooperating, not talking, not sharing his identity? Although we heard from the county executive they believe they know who this guy is.
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Which is very positive that they are starting to get information about who this is.
What it tells me is that this individual -- it is sounding increasingly like he went in with some sort of grievance, as Josh was pointing out, and that whatever that grievance is, is something that he is not ready to talk about.
But it's also extremely concerning because, as I said, the longer that we go without knowing who this individual is, the more concern we have about whether or not there's someone else in his orbit who may be contributing to or interested in performing some sort of act like this.
One of the things I think is really interesting is that when we talk about planning and how sophisticated this was, we got to think about intent. This individual went in not only with a weapon, but also with some sort of incendiary device.
And so what that tells me is that he was thinking beyond just killing people with the long gun that he had. He had some plan beyond that. We don't know what that plan was at this point. But the fact that he didn't get to use that device and the fact that he decided to -- that he was going to hide under a desk and potentially walk out with innocent victims tells us that, as Phil and others have pointed out, that this was not a very well-thought-out plan.
BLITZER: Evan, the fact that the police say it was a long gun, they will be able to get a lot of information from identifying the nature of that long gun, as well as the so-called backpack that seemed to have had some sort of explosive device.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
I think one of the things that happens and would be happening at this moment, Wolf, is that the local authorities there would be checking with the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives. They are the one that would do the trace to see whether or not they have any recent history on this firearm.
If it's a shotgun, as we have been told the initial word was, then perhaps they might have to go back. Depends on how old it is. They might have to go through their archives. They have a group of people in West Virginia who spend their time going through paper records to find the original purchase records of these firearms.
Because of our gun laws in this country and the restrictions on even the ATF doing their job, it's a very laborious process for them to be able to actually trace the origins of these firearms. It's not just looking -- plugging it into a computer, necessarily. This is something that actually take some time.
So we don't know how long ago this firearm was bought, but you can bet that, within the next few hours, the ATF will be able to figure out when this firearm was bought, by whom, and then to see whether or not that person may have sold it to someone who sold it to someone, and then it got into the hands of the shooter.
We don't know exactly how many rounds this person was able to fire off. I think the prosecutor was trying to describe how many shots were fired. But we don't know exactly how many -- how much preparation he had.
We do know that he arrived there clearly with the intent to attack this one location. He arrived at the newsroom, shot through the front glass doors of the newsroom. And now we have five people dead as a result of it.
At this point, I think, Wolf, everything relies on the investigation, and the investigators being able to convince or persuade this man to provide some information, some explanation of what exactly occurred here.
How long has he been thinking about this? Why exactly -- why here, why now, why today? And I think that'll tell us a lot about what is happening.
Obviously, watching the emotional response from these people in this newsroom was really just heartbreaking to watch. A lot of us, Wolf, you and I grew up in newspapers, came up through newspapers.
So this really speaks to a lot of us, the emotion that you see coming out of these people who, journalists, you are vulnerable. You put yourself out there. And you are supposed to be reachable and accessible to the public.
And I think that's what happened here today. This man was able to get to a place that is naturally a soft target, because it is a community newsroom.
BLITZER: It's so worrisome. It's an awful situation.
We don't know much about the suspect, other than what the police told us, a white adult male. He is in custody. We heard from the county executive, Steve Schuh, he is really not cooperating, although they do suspect they have his I.D.
I want to bring in our senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter.
Brian, this is a local community newspaper. It's been around for more than 100 years. The police officers investigating this case are the same officers that the reporters at this newspaper would interview on a regular basis, almost every day.
So we don't know the motive, but it's so worrisome.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: That's a great and painful point, Wolf, these reporters interact with the police officers there. They know the authorities.
Now, sadly, they are the story today. Wolf, you know, I'm a Maryland native. I'm thinking back to the days as a student journalist in Annapolis. And a lot days, when you would be at the statehouse, you would be covering a meeting or event, these reporters would be the only ones there. They would be the only journalists there.
We have seen cutbacks in statehouses across the country, in state capitals across the country. But these newspapers in particular weathered those storms and continued reporting, despite rounds of layoffs and cutbacks. This newspaper actually is several within the parent company. There are several papers that are printed.
One is "The Capital." Another is "The Maryland Gazette." They have several papers around the area. And these editors, these reporters serve those outlets, covering, like I said, the statehouse, but also local and regional news, and doing it in ways that most of the journalists were not.
These are areas that are not getting lots of news media attention. But to Evan's point earlier about the openness of the newsroom, certainly the address, the building, the headquarters is well-known among readers. The newspaper's address was printed right there in the paper. Readers knew they could stop by, drop off an advertisement, drop off a letter to the editor, things like that.
And, today, that was exploited by this sick individual. Like you said, we don't know if this was a targeted killing. We also don't know how many of the five dead are journalists. But no matter what, this is one of the deadliest days for journalists in America in many years. We know that four bodies were found in the newspaper office today.
BLITZER: Yes, very scary.
And I want to read some of the tweets from one of the journalists who was in that newsroom, Phil Davis, covers business, politics, also some crime for "The Capital Gazette" newspaper.
Let me read these tweets that he started at 3:41 p.m.
He tweeted this: "I will tweet when I can while I wait to be interviewed by police."
At 3:42 p.m.: "A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead."
At 3:45 p.m.: "Gunmen shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees. Can't say much more and don't want to declare anyone dead, but it's bad."
At 3:46 p.m.: "There's nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you're under your desk and then hear the gunmen reload."
4:10 p.m.: "I'm currently waiting to be interviewed by police. So, I'm safe and no longer at the office."
4:19 p.m.: "OK, I was not tweeting from under my desk. I was already safe when I started tweeting."
It's so -- it's so painful. You can hear the tension, the anger, the frustration, the fear in those tweets.
STELTER: And Phil Davis, that report you're quoting from, he also spoke with "The Baltimore Sun," the paper's parent company, a little later.
He said to "The Sun" that the newsroom looks like a war zone now, looks like a war zone inside that, what is a relatively small newsroom there in Annapolis. This is a team of a few dozen, a couple dozen or few dozen reporters, editors, columnists, people that want to help their community and inform people about what's going on.
Of course, the context here, Wolf, although we don't know if this newsroom was targeted, we do know that threats against journalists have been on the rise in recent years. We know that physical attacks and assaults against journalists have also been on the rise in recent years, according the Committee to Protect Journalists, who've been tracking this data.
Now, those kinds of assaults are usually at campaign events and things like that. To see a local newsroom targeted like this, there is not precedent for this in modern history. I have been looking back through decades of records of journalists being targeted.
This is very uncommon. And so as we wait for details about the motive here, we need to find out if this was a workplace dispute, or if this was a disgruntled reader, or if this was something else altogether.
We know for sure it's one of the worst days for journalism in the U.S. in recent history.
BLITZER: It certainly is. And we will find out fairly soon, I suspect, the motive of this individual, a lot more information about this shooter as well.
The White House says President Trump has been briefed on the shooting.
I want to go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president was asked about the shooting as he returned to the White House just a little while ago. He was in North Dakota and Wisconsin.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. He was.
And we should point out the president about an hour ago or so, he did put out a tweet on this, saying that he has been briefed about the shooting out in Annapolis, Maryland. We can put that tweet up on screen.
It basically says that he has been briefed on the situation at "The Capital Gazette" in Annapolis Maryland: "thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families." And he also extends his thanks to the first-responders who were on the scene.
But, Wolf, as he arrived here back at the White House from his trip out to North Dakota and Wisconsin, he was peppered with questions about the shooting in Annapolis. He had no comment to reporters here. You can hear some of the questions. Here is how it played out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Any words about the dead in Annapolis, Mr. President?
QUESTION: Can you talk about the active shooter in Annapolis?
QUESTION: ... shooting in Annapolis?
QUESTION: Would you please talk to us about the dead reporters in Annapolis?
QUESTION: Mr. President...
QUESTION: Do you have any words of condolence for the families, Mr. President?
QUESTION: Why are you walking away?
QUESTION: Why won't you come and talk to us about that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: So, Wolf, you can see that the president did not answer any of those questions.
One question that you heard from one reporter there made a reference to -- quote -- "enemy of the people."
We should point out we don't obviously know what the motivation was behind the shooting out in Annapolis. But the White House is getting questions about whether the president's rhetoric is getting out of hand.
On Air Force One earlier this afternoon, in a gaggle with reporters, Lindsay Walters, who is a spokeswoman for the president, was asked about the rhetoric about the media. And she said violence is never tolerated in any form, no matter whom it is against.
And so the White House is saying at this point obviously they don't tolerate violence of any kind, particularly that when it's directed at journalists.
One thing we should also point out, Wolf -- and I think this is a very good quote from Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was nearly killed in a shooting when she was at an event several years ago.
She was asked -- or I shouldn't say she was asked. But she did put out a statement on what happened in Annapolis earlier today.
And, Wolf, these are the words from Gabby Giffords: "Reporters shouldn't have to hide from gunfire while doing their jobs. A summer intern in the newsroom shouldn't have to tweet for help."
Wolf, obviously, when we don't know the motive behind the shooting, we don't want to jump to conclusions, but I think no matter how this turns out, no matter what we find out in terms of the motivation of the shooter, obviously, Gabby Giffords is right on the money there when she says that reporters should not have to hide from shooters when they go to work -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, so many questions that need to be answered. This investigation clearly only beginning.
Jim Acosta, we will get back to you.
Joining us right now, Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes. It's in his district where this occurred today.
Our deepest, deepest condolences, Congressman, to all the victims and their families. I know it's a tough situation.
Can you update on the latest information you are getting?
REP. JOHN SARBANES (D), MARYLAND: Well, I think the latest news, Wolf, is what you have got, which is that there were five fatalities.
There are three that were injured that are at Anne Arundel Medical Center, which is right close by, top-tier health care institution. They will get the best care possible there.
I think what we want to commend people for is how quick the response was from law enforcement. It was not only timely, within about a minute, but it was also very, very coordinated. So they were able to get the scenes under control, take custody of the shooter quickly, and at that point all the attention shifts to making sure that the victims are being attended to, that the families are getting information that they need.
And that -- at this stage, that's the first order of business.
BLITZER: Does it look, Congressman, like this newspaper was specifically targeted?
SARBANES: I don't think there's any way to know that at this point, Wolf. We don't -- we don't have any sense of the motive of the shooter. So
I don't want to speculate about that. And I think, as I said, once the shooter is taken into custody, at that point, all attention, all resources ought to shift for the foreseeable future towards making sure that the families are getting good information.
There's a reunification center that's been set up nearby, so that families can be reunified, reunited there. And that's where our attention should be right now.
BLITZER: Do you know, Congressman, if the victims, the five people who were killed and the others who were injured, some of them severely injured, did they all work for the newspaper?
SARBANES: I don't know that for sure, Wolf.
I do know that the incident happened in a place where there were employees of the newspaper. So, as the identity becomes clear of those who were who were killed and those who were injured, we will have a better sense of that.
This is a small town newspaper, "The Capital Gazette." It's very close to the community. These reporters know people in the community. They report on the community. They do feature articles.
And so the ripple effects when these people are targeted in the newsroom, that's going to go out in many different directions. It's going to take obviously this community some time to recover. But that's where the emphasis should be.
BLITZER: Do you know, Congressman, if the families, the next of kin, have already been notified about the five people who were shot and killed?
SARBANES: I do not know that, no.
BLITZER: What can you tell us about the injuries, those who were who were injured, who were wounded in this shooting spree?
SARBANES: I believe that at least one of the people who was injured was taken to shock trauma, where you have a kind of emergency trauma response to the wound that's been inflicted.
And then others were taken close by. And when I say close by, I mean, we're talking a quarter-mile away, to Anne Arundel Medical Center, which is a first-class health care institution. They will be getting very good care there.
Obviously, we -- our hearts go out to them. We hope they pull through with a full recovery. And as I said, we're going to be thinking about what's happened to these families and doing everything we can to make sure that the community is recovering and that these families feel supported.
BLITZER: Yes, that's so, so important.
We know that local, state and federal authorities, they're on the scene. They're investigating. I know you have been speaking to the FBI, ATF. What are you hearing from them?
SARBANES: Well, again, we're going to get -- we're going to get the story kind of knitted together over time.
The important thing, as you mention, is you have got every law enforcement resource really that you need to have as part of the team. They're working together. They've been working together from the beginning, not just law enforcement, but very quickly, in the wake of getting the scene locked down, in terms of taking custody of the shooter, the Anne Arundel County crisis response team was in place.
They were deploying counselors who could help with the families that were coming here and needing more information. So if you want to look at kind of a test book response to a tragedy like this, I think the law enforcement professionals have really stepped up and the first- responders in a way that's an example to us all.
BLITZER: And we are so grateful to them for all that they do under these awful, awful circumstances.
Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland, thanks so much for joining us.
We would like to stay in close touch with you.
SARBANES: Thank you, Wolf, for your interest.
BLITZER: And please convey our deepest, deepest condolences to the families of these victims.
Evan Perez, you're working your sources. You are getting some more information.
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, we just got some new audio from Anne Arundel Fire EMS.
This portrays the initial heroic response from the police and fire officials there in Anne Arundel County. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Respond, Capital Gazette, 888 Bestgate Road, cross street of Monticello Drive and Commercial Park Drive, for a shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Myself and the medical director are responding to the active shooter at 888 Bestgate with tag team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the police notes, several shots have been fired, a possible shotgun, at least 10 shots heard.
(END AUDIO CLIP) PEREZ: Wolf, you could hear him say that there at least 10 shots heard. That's what we heard as well from -- our sources were telling us that the initial report that came in from us some of the people inside the newsroom out was that they were -- they heard about 10 shots.
So you can hear that from the audio there from the initial response. And what the authorities there have been describing is just a heroic response that to get into that building and respond to that within 60 seconds, within 60 to 90 seconds, which is an incredibly fast response.
And it appears that might have made all the difference here. We have five people who -- five fatalities who have -- people who've been killed in this thing. But clearly it could have been a lot worse if the police had not been able to respond so quickly with 10 shots that were heard from the people there at the scene.
BLITZER: Shawn, they -- the police said this suspect had a long gun.
Describe what that is, what kind of ammunition, how many rounds are available.
So, a long gun, there lots of different types of long guns. But basically what we have here is we have a rifle-style gun that is not a rapid-fire weapon. It needs to be reloaded. But this the type of guy that you would typically have to use two hands out to aim.
With regard to rounds, you have a couple -- a few different type of rounds. You have the kind of scatter rounds. That's small pellets that I referred to as birdshot that is less dangerous.
Then you have buckshot with pellets that are a little bit larger. There's also a lead shot that's a very destructive shot. So, a long gun is just a form of gun. There could have been multiple different types that he could have had.
But Evan is absolutely right. The amazing response by law enforcement there, it really made a huge difference here. Even if this young person ran out of ammunition, there still could have been further loss of life, because this incident was wrapped up so rapidly.
People who were injured were able to get medical care. And so several of those individuals, it's fair to assume, had their lives saved because this wrapped up so rapidly.
Also, the case that -- the fact that this person never got the opportunity to use that incendiary device that he had also means that law enforcement were able to save a lot of lives by getting there so quickly.
BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point. And, Phil Mudd, we were told, the police, they did find the shooter hiding underneath a desk, and that there were no -- there was no gunfire exchanged between police officers and the shooter when he was apprehended.
What does that say to you?
MUDD: Well, we're blowing through one step here that we have to think about for a moment.
A lot of people looking at this situation are asking a simple question, same question you and I are asking. What's motive? The question you have before that is, in a lot of these cases, whether you're looking at the federal level or the local level, a lot of threat cases I have witnessed involve what we call in the business EDPs, emotionally disturbed persons, who when you talk to them might have access to a weapon or thoughts about using a weapon, but when you think about motive or rationale, don't really think through it clearly.
So my first question for this individual, does he even have a motive we can discern?
One other quick comment. There's comments that -- there's talk about interrogations and interviews and comments that this individual isn't cooperating. That's different than saying he's not speaking.
I would be interested in whether he's mumbling, whether he's screaming, whether he's saying things that are incoherent. What's his body language? Are there suggestions in the body language that give us indications about his mental health, his mental state?
So motive comes second. The first is, is this person even in a mental state that gets him beyond EDP, emotionally disturbed person? We don't know that yet, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, we don't know a lot right now. But we're going to know a lot more fairly soon.
Rene Marsh has been talking to some of the witnesses to this shooting. She's joining us from Annapolis right now.
What are you hearing, Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, three gunshots, that is what one witness told me that he heard.
This witness was not inside of the newsroom, but he described the newsroom being housed in a larger building, where there are other offices, like doctor's offices. He happened to be inside the doctor's office with his mother when he said he heard those three gunshots.
And then all of a sudden, they got to the ground, and they saw police filling in. We are just outside of what has been designated the family reunification center. The purpose of this is just to have a central place where people can come and catch up with their family members if they're having difficulty finding them.
When we were inside, we ended up bumping into four witnesses who happened to be in the building. Here's what one witness told us she saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we came down the elevator, as soon the doors opened, the cops swarmed the elevator and told us, get on the ground. Put your hands up.
And they searched us and then they immediately rushed out the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it was scary. You open up -- right, you open up the door and there's guys with guns pointing at you. So, yes, it was very scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: All right.
And, again, we spoke to a few other witnesses, all of them still visibly shaken after this. One woman telling us -- and I could literally still see her hand shaking as she was talking to me -- she said that she was running out of the office building when she was passing a woman who was on the ground.
She wasn't clear -- it wasn't clear that this woman had passed, whether she was alive and just was in pain. All of that was unclear.
But, again, these are the sights and these are the sounds in the moments following that shooting at that newsroom here in Maryland. All of them still just hard to believe that they witnessed what they did.
And we do know, according to the folks who are showing up here at their -- at the reunification center, that many of the people who were actually in the newsroom are actually giving interviews to police at this hour -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And those interviews will be very, very significant.
Rene Marsh on the scene for us. We will get back to you.
Evan, when they say, the local authorities, it could have been much worse, they point out that more than 170 people were escorted out of that building where the shooting took place.
And you could see them walking out with their hands up in the air. A hundred and seventy people, at least 170 people got out.
PEREZ: Right. A hundred and seventy people got out, Wolf. And there are a number of other people inside that newsroom who, if he had had more time, if he had had -- we don't know how much ammunition he had. Perhaps if he had more, there would be a more deadly scene. Obviously, this is plenty horrific for the people who had to suffer through this.
But it does tell us that -- you know, a few things about this -- about this shooter. Look, in this country, it's not that hard to obtain a semiautomatic firearm, something, too, that he could -- perhaps not in Maryland, but he could certainly go to a nearby state and obtain a lot of these things, presumably. So it's really not that difficult if he wanted to, and if he had planned this for some time, that he could have had a much higher death toll.
So really, I think we have to all thank our lucky stars here today that we're only talking about five -- five fatalities. Obviously, for the people who are affected, this is horrific enough.
But you heard from the police there -- because we have so much practice with these types of scenes. You keep hearing from police that this was not as big a mass casualty event as, perhaps, they had feared initially. And that really tells us about what -- the kind of things that police are dealing with around this country in the last few years. So yes, absolutely, this could have been a much worse scene.
But the fact remains, we still don't know a lot about the suspect. We don't have an identification yet. We're told that, when police first arrested him, he didn't have any identification. He was initially very uncooperative. Didn't even tell them who he was, what his name was.
They tried, at first, to try to run his hands or his fingers through a fingerprint reading machine at the scene. And there were no hits that came back. So, you know, we don't know what that means. We don't know whether that means he's never had any arrests in his past or no immigration records, nothing that would have had a record in the database system. We don't know exactly what that means.
But it appears that they had some initial missteps in trying to get to identify who this person was. It appears, from the Twitter feed of the Anne Arundel Police Department that they have now -- and from the prosecutor you interviewed just a few minutes ago on our air, that they now know who they're dealing with. They've now identified him. And we'll see whether or not he becomes a little more cooperative and explains why he did this: why today, why here, why now?
BLITZER: Yes, they do suspect -- we heard from the county executive, Anne Arundel County executive Steve Schuh. He was with us just a little while ago, saying they do believe they know the identity of this suspect.
You know, Phil Mudd, they told us only the suspect is a white adult male and had a long gun. How do you conceal a long gun?
MUDD: Well, I'm thinking it's summertime in Maryland. You don't. That's one of the questions I'd have going in. This looks to me like a heavily-trafficked area. I'm thinking, this
individual is not carrying a long arm around Annapolis, Maryland, for ten blocks. He got out of a car or got dropped off from a car somewhere in the near vicinity.
So when law enforcement was just telling us a short time ago that they've got -- they're going to cordon off the entire area, that's not only because it's a crime scene. I would think you're going to talk to people who are passing through that area, saying either, "Did you see someone who was curiously overdressed in summertime, because he's concealing a weapon? Or did you see somebody who was carrying a weapon on the street a block or two around?"
And then, of course, the next question is, where was he coming from, and is that a clue? He got out of a car, and then game on. We've got something like a license plate.
BLITZER: Yes. And they do suspect they have his identity. So we'll presumably get that fairly soon.
Brian Todd is on the scene for us in Annapolis right now.
Brian, I know you're checking with all the sources over there. Give us an update.
TODD: Right, Wolf. Sources and witnesses describing a dramatic scene as police interrupted the shooting, essentially.
One witness, Daria McMiller (ph), she's an employee at a nearby building that was on lockdown. She says she saw police officers running toward the building very quickly. They arrived very quickly. Some of them were still in their civilian clothes as they ran toward the building, she says, and pulled on their bulletproof vests as they ran toward the building.
She says she was very impressed with their response. And that is a consistent account tonight, Wolf, that we are getting from city officials, from police, from witnesses: that the police were very responsive, very, very quickly. They got here within 60 seconds of when the shooting started.
You heard the county executive, Stephen Schuh, say to you earlier, Wolf, that they got in there and searched the building and engaged the suspect without exchanging gunfire with him. He was found hiding, apparently, under a desk, according to the county executive.
But again, witnesses telling us that the police response was just very, very impressive. They were running in there, some of them in their civilian clothes, pulling on their Kevlar vests, as they got into that building very quickly.
[18:35:06] Another piece of news that we heard from the acting police chief, Bill Krampf, was that they found an explosive device inside the building. They quickly, quote, "took care of" that device. It's unclear what the nature that was device was or what -- how it may have been intended to be used in that building. But they did find an explosive device.
The building is now cleared from a tactical standpoint. That means, really, no more threats to anyone inside the building. But they're still searching it, of course. It's an active evidence scene, Wolf. They're processing that.
And as we've been reporting all evening, Wolf, the suspect identified as an adult white male but no name yet given. Is not cooperating with authorities. At least, he was not early on. We hope to get more information on that very shortly.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure we'll get a lot more information.
Shawn Turner, the fact that he's not cooperating, that he didn't have any I.D., that says a lot.
TURNER: It does say a lot. And that kind of gets us to what Phil and some others were talking about with regard to motive.
Look, we're at a point in this investigation where we are going to see something happen soon here. Because the longer the law enforcement officials go without knowing who this individual is, the more concerned they become about whether or not this individual was acting alone.
So what I think that -- certainly, now that we're several hours into this, what we're going to start to see is, if they're not getting any information out of this individual so that they can go and look at his universe of friends and associates and make a determination that he is acting alone, if we're not getting that, then we're going to start to see them put out information so that they can get help from the public to determine who this individual is.
It's also the case that, at this point in the investigation, I would expect that law enforcement are starting to hear from people who are having -- who have tips, who may have some idea who this individual is. People who can speak to the fact that there may have been someone acting strangely or someone who had a particular beef with the -- with "The Capital Gazette."
So we are at a point in this investigation where I think it's going to be very soon when we're going to start to see some additional information coming out.
BLITZER: All of us who live in this area, we've been to Annapolis. It's really a beautiful town. You know, right over there. And it's just heartbreaking to see what's going on right now in Annapolis. It's in Anne Arundel County in Maryland. And just a little while ago, I spoke to the Anne Arundel County executive, Steve Schuh.
STEPHEN SCHUH, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY EXECUTIVE: The shooter is in our custody and currently being interrogated.
BLITZER: Can you tell us if -- if you know who this individual is? I take it he had no identification, no I.D. on him?
SCHUH: He has not been particularly cooperative. We -- law enforcement does have a name. We're not able to confirm it at this time, I'm sorry to say.
As best as we can tell, there was no exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the shooter. He had already put his gun down and surrendered without incident.
He -- he was trying to evade law enforcement. He was hiding in the building, and we found him.
BLITZER: Do you know where he was hiding?
SCHUH: My understanding is that he was found under a desk.
BLITZER: He was found underneath a desk. With his long gun still on him?
SCHUH: My understanding is that the weapon was on the ground and not in his immediate proximity.
BLITZER: Was he in the newsroom of the newspaper?
SCHUH: I'm sorry? Could you repeat that?
BLITZER: Was he actually in the newsroom of the "Capital Gazette" newspaper?
SCHUH: We're not confirming that. He was in the office building which houses the "Capital Gazette" newspaper. We have not revealed the names, the identities of the victims. Four of them died on the scene in the building, in the offices. One was evacuated to University of Maryland Shock Trauma and was treated there but, unfortunately, despite immense effort, the individual did not survive and has --
BLITZER: Steve Schuh, the Anne Arundel County executive.
Phil Mudd, what does it say to you that they captured this guy as he was hiding underneath a desk at that newspaper?
MUDD: It tells me a lot about what his mental state was going into the operation. If you look at some of the operations we've seen, let's go back to Broward County, months ago. We had a similar situation with a youth who had done so little. He thought about it a lot. He was sort of separated from the school. He had a history of violence. But he did not appear to have planned how to get out of the school. Remember, he left with other students and was captured in the neighborhood.
This tells me this individual was not sitting around for a month or two -- especially with co-conspirators, which is what I'm still worried about here -- figuring out not only how do I confront law enforcement but, potentially, how do I escape? How does anybody think that they're going to get out of that building if they're hiding under a desk? He didn't think about this a lot in advance, I would say.
BLITZER: How -- you know, he's not cooperating, but they're talking to him. Local authorities, I assume, federal authorities are there. This is a local, state and federal investigation right now. Walk us through, Phil, how they go about convincing this individual to cooperate and start talking.
MUDD: Well, there's a couple ways you're going to do that. The first is you might try to build rapport with him. "Look, we understand your grievances. We want to talk through those."
[18:40:10] I mean, obviously, initially, you've got to figure out whether -- what his mental state is and whether he's even prepared to talk.
Eventually, you will talk to his lawyer when he gets assigned a lawyer and deal with difficult issues that go down the path at some point -- could be -- I don't know Maryland laws, but to death penalty. If you don't talk, son, there's a potential that you're going to have to go to the death penalty.
So everything from trying to build rapport with somebody who might want to get grievances off his chest, to figuring out the extent of the case and saying, if you don't cooperate, life could get even uglier.
BLITZER: Josh Campbell, you used to work at the FBI. Walk us through what they're doing right now.
CAMPBELL: Yes, Wolf, this is going to be a long-term investigation. Obviously, we talked about things that we see right now on our screen, and that is law enforcement officers that are now outside. We see the tactical command post vehicles that are arriving. Each one of them will have some certain level of expertise that's in them.
Again, we heard earlier from the press conference that there was some type of device that was rendered safe. So one of those vehicles, obviously, would be the bomb technicians who bring that level of expertise. Everyone will have something to bring to the table.
And there will be -- tapping into those resources from other agencies. So we talked a lot about this weapon, this long gun that was used. Obviously, our partners in the ATF are extremely skilled at, you know, quickly looking at a weapon, finding, you know, the serial number, finding the different, you know, characteristics of it and trying to track that back.
And the reason that's especially important in a situation like this is because, as we've learned, the subject didn't have I.D. on him, isn't being cooperative with police. That's making it harder for them to fully identify him. If they're able to look at what he brought to the fight, if they're able to look at that device and then somehow track that back to him, then that will go a long way in order to, you know, gather that information. And the last thing, Wolf, is you know, witness testimony, these
interviews that are no doubt being done right now. Obviously, these people have been, you know, traumatized by this very chaotic and dangerous situation. But you'll have a surge of officers there that are conducting those interviews, gathering that information, determine who saw what. Did they recognize who this person was? That will help in that identification process, Wolf.
BLITZER: Shimon Prokupecz is on the scene for us in Annapolis right now. You are getting more information. Shimon, what else are you learning?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. You know, the county executive who was on our air here, I just was talking to him over on the side here. There really is no motive yet. They don't know exactly, according to him, the police here don't know exactly what the motive is here yet. They're still working to piece that together.
Obviously, one of the things they are trying to determine is was this person somehow upset over something that the paper was covering? Was there a story written? Was there an op-ed written recently that perhaps may have triggered this event? That is something that they're still trying to piece together.
As he said earlier, and it seems to still be the case, the shooter here is not cooperating with police. He described him as being not very cooperative. So they've been able to get perhaps some information. But really, what they're -- the heart of what they're trying to find out here, the motive. That seems to be still a big mystery, something that the police investigators are trying to put together.
BLITZER: Yes. Lots of questions to unfold. We're going to get back to you, Shimon.
Evan, as we're watching all of this unfold, you know, my heart goes out to the families, who are presumably being notified right now that a loved one may have been killed.
PEREZ: Right. Exactly, Wolf. And look, we have been talking about this newsroom. So I think everybody inside that newsroom, it's a small newspaper, so they're really like a small family, really, like an extended family. And of course, the family members of those people are now getting phone calls that they're not coming home, the ones that were -- perished in this thing. That's a tough thing the newsroom will go through in the coming days and in the coming weeks.
This is a very small newsroom, as we've talked about before. And that's why, perhaps, it was attacked. And that's why this was about to -- this shooter was able to access this newsroom in such an easy fashion.
Obviously, the police responded very quickly, which made, it appears, all the difference in the world. But look, this shooter, it appears, from talking to the county
executives, did not have any intention to -- didn't have a plan -- an escape plan, perhaps. He was hiding under a desk. Apparently, had dropped the firearm. The firearm was recovered by the police away from him, which is why there was no exchange of gunfire. He didn't go down in a blaze of glory, which is perhaps maybe what he was initially thinking about.
But certainly, when he got on the scene, he did not -- that's not exactly what happened. He fired off these shots. Stopped for some reason. We don't know why. And then cowered under a desk while the police came in and arrested him.
So we'll know in short order, when they bring charges against him, at least five murder charges in Maryland, what the police have been able to determine from these interviews. I would presume that they're going to -- they're going to find a way to charge him, perhaps tonight or tomorrow, in the local courts there.
BLITZER: Yes, the shooting took place at the "Capital Gazette" newspaper right in the newspaper headquarters in Annapolis.
And, Brian, you're getting some more information from the newspaper?
STELTER: Yes, this is the Website of the newspaper. We can put it on screen, to give you a sense of this astonishing feat. They are having to cover the worst day in this newspaper's history, the worst day in this staffs' lives, some of their colleagues have apparently been gunned down today and they are still reporting the news on their Website. They are using resources from their parent company "The Baltimore Sun", which is, of course, about 45 minutes up the road in Baltimore.
Both papers working hard to try to get to the bottom of what's happened here and figure out what we are discussing, what the motive here was, what this gunman's relation to the newspaper was, if any at all. Those details still unknown.
But we do have some new word from staffers, some of the surviving staff members who say they are working on tomorrow's newspaper. I am amazed to see this, to hear this. But Joshua McKerrow, a reporter for "The Sun", says he is working with his colleagues at the Capitol to work on tonight's edition, to get it to the printing press tonight, to get it out tomorrow morning.
We are also hearing from other reporters who are using words like devastated and in shock to describe the emotions they are going through.
Reporter Danielle Oh (ph), for example, saying, the "Capital", we are not a big newsroom. She says, there are 20 news staffers, a few more in the advertising department. We are close. We are family. I am devastated. PEREZ: What Brian was just talking about really just brings me a lot
of emotion, because I was at "The Wall Street Journal" after 9/11. The newsroom was destroyed when those buildings fell. Obviously, it's the scale of that event. It's vastly different from this.
But to hear these staffers with all the emotion that they're going through, with all the trauma that they have seen, working to put out a newspaper to inform their community is amazing.
BLITZER: We don't know the motive of the shooter. If the shooter was going after the journalists there, if there was some other reason for -- as sick as it might be, why this individual went there with a long gun and started killing people. That's key question investigators, Sean, are now trying to figure out.
TURNER: It is. But, you know, Wolf, I have to say, just an amazing amount of resilience for the staff to go forward putting a paper out tomorrow. Just amazing to see that.
But you are right, we don't know the motive. And as we think about what could have possibly caused this individual to do this, a couple of key points that we have made. First of all, when we talk about how this was not well-planned, that necessarily means that it's likely there was something that happened in the last 24 or 48 hours that caused this individual to snap and to say that now is the time that I'm going to get a gun and I'm going to go and do something.
So, as investigators are trying to get information out of this individual and talking to people at the "Gazette," the other thing is that they're going to be looking at is they're going to be looking at the reporting in the "Capital Gazette" over the last several days to look to see if there was something there that may have gotten this individual riled up. Were they getting calls into "The Capital Gazette" from someone who was particularly upset about something that was being reported?
So, looking at this from absolutely every single angle, we will at some point get to a motive. It may not be extremely clear. It may not be very fast. But we will understand why this individual did this. And, you know, whether it was directed at specifically the "Capital Gazette" or more largely directed at the news media, certainly a terrible day in this industry.
BLITZER: Yes, awful, awful indeed. And we'll figure out -- we will find out the motive I suspect fairly soon.
Josh Campbell, talk a little bit about what we're not seeing on the screen as this investigation is unfolding right now. We're seeing a lot of activity outside. But off camera, there's a ton of information -- ton of activity going on.
CAMPBELL: That's right. So much we're not seeing, Wolf. Obviously, there's the ongoing interrogation of the subject. And, you know, the length of that, the circumstances surrounding that interview will largely be based, you know, on the subject's willingness to cooperate. So, we talked, you know, earlier about it appears as of right now or last reporting we had that he was wasn't providing information. That could change at any time. If police are finally able to convince him that, look, it's in your best interest to talk to us and to explain what's going, that's going on behind the scenes.
With respect to motive -- this is a large part of the investigation. People ask us, why focus so much on this immediately after a situation like this? So, obviously, all of us look at circumstances. The first goal is to, you know, determine that there's no additional threat and that there's -- to protect life, so there's not additional loss. We're past that now.
The reason why we look at that motive is three reasons. First of which the investigation at hand. Obviously, law enforcement officers want to know what they're dealing with and there aren't additional threats out there. The second thing being that, obviously, this is in the public interest. This is something that, you know, we all want to know and, you know, people in our communities, we want to know that if there are these threats out there, that they are mitigated.
[18:50:07] And then the last thing is that law enforcement officers learned from every one of these situations and these, you know, best practices and, you know, characteristics of these shooters will go in to these profiles that they build, because the goal again to ensure that something like this never happens again. So, you have to look at every factor that's in play in order to determine law enforcement officers that are out there protecting our cities, our communities have the best information available.
The last thing, Wolf, I'll say is, you know, with respect to motive, we have to prepare ourselves for being disappointed with what caused this, because so often -- this is so tragic, but we'll look at a motive and try to attack rational, you know, characteristics to an irrational act. So, at the end of the day, if and when we find out why this person decided to do that, we may look at that and say, you know, this makes absolutely no sense. It's just a tragedy, Wolf.
I want to bring Samantha Vinograd into this as well. You know, we heard, out of abundance of caution, police in New York are increasing security at various news organizations right now. I suspect, Sam, that's going on elsewhere as well.
SAMANATHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It definitely should be. This should be standard operating procedure based on the fact that we don't know what this individual's motives were, we don't know, for example, if he was in touch with other individuals who may have been correct directing attacks or motivated to pursue attacks against other newsrooms, for example.
And the fact is, Wolf, that it's abundantly clear today that gun violence is a real threat to journalists and to Americans. And we've seen the president spend the past few weeks chasing fake threats, like threats from legal immigrants, threats from Muslim refugees, when we have real issues related to gun violence on our hands.
BLITZER: It's a serious, serious situation.
Everybody, stand by. We're following breaking news, five people killed, others injured in a shooting incident at a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland. We're getting new information.
Let's take a quick break. We'll be right back.
[18:56:25] BLITZER: We're standing by for another briefing on the shooting in Annapolis, Maryland. That briefing coming up later tonight. A very deadly shooting, five killed, others injured.
We do have a recording of the police radio scanner conversations at the time of the shootings. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO AUDO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 888 Bestgate Road, Suite 104, the person is still shooting. The person is still shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need one person to help me carry a victim out, need one in the lobby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got about four bodies inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we have a clothing description?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the suspect inside the office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's inside the "Gazette" office, the main office where all the victims were. We got him.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: I want to bring in CNN's Chris Cuomo, the anchor of "CUOMO PRIME TIME."
Unfortunately, Chris, you and I, we've covered a lot of these kind of shooting incidents over the years and our hearts of course go out to the families of the victims. So, so sad. You're going to follow this story later tonight?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "CUOMO PRIME TIME": Yes, we will. There's something about it that's all too familiar and then there's this big question mark as well here about what the motive was. Was this really about targeting a newsroom? You heard there on the recording that all the victims came from the "Gazette" office.
Some of the officials early on were unsure because there are lots of different offices within this complex, this building where the shooter was. There is a familiarity that is somewhat heartbreaking, Wolf, that we have a society that is just deciding to accept this type of violence. That there is no real outcry that ever manifests itself in anything happening. We're talking to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other lawmakers about this tonight. There's nothing meaningful on the federal level being done about these. The familiarity is a little haunting and painful. The question mark is what the motive was of this shooter, whether or not it was targeting media, if so, what does that mean, what is it reflective of, what can we do about it?
BLITZER: If it was, we don't know what the motive was, but if it was targeting the media, there have been a lot of warning signs out there in recent weeks and months that maybe news organizations should step up their security.
CUOMO: Look, I mean, you know, we take it very seriously here at CNN. You know, one of the arguments that we often have about school shootings are, why aren't they as secure as the buildings where the lawmakers are and where you and I work? Why? Why -- isn't it worth the money?
That's something you could do that avoids this absurd gun debate that we get into every once in a while in this country that nothing comes about. But you could secure situations. Here there was a glass door involved that was fired through. Apparently, obviously, that's not the safest mechanism. There are some societal arguments. But certainly you could make places harder targets.
I think it's important for people to know no matter how pernicious, no matter how wicked this man's motive and specific targeting turned out to have been, it's irrelevant to how the job is going to be done. If anything, it would probably up the resolve of journalists because it's just a reminder of how important the job is and how high the stakes are.
BLITZER: You can imagine how tough it is for those reporters over at the "Capital Gazette" in Annapolis. They're actually reporting on what's going on, they're going to be putting out a newspaper tonight, tomorrow morning, how painful that must be.
CUOMO: You know, I bet you if the minds and hearts in that newsroom are geared towards doing it right, because that's what the injured and the gone would have wanted for them. You know, this is a different profession that we're in. People do it out of passion as much as they do out of some sense of a job.
BLITZER: We'll be watching you and our continuing coverage will continue.
"CUOMO PRIME TIME," 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight.
Erin Burnett picks our breaking news coverage right now.