Return to Transcripts main page
Virginia Beach Mass Shooting Leaves 12 Dead, 4 Injured; U.S. and Mexican Officials Set to Meet In Washington; 2020 Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Weigh in on the Virginia Beach Tragedy; Standing Room Only at Border Holding Facility as Illegal Immigration Spikes. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired June 1, 2019 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DAN HANSEN, CITY MANAGER OF VIRGINIA BEACH: We want you to know who they were, so in the days and weeks to come, you will learn what they meant to all of us, to their families, to their friends, and to their coworkers. They leave a void that we will never be able to fill.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: And these are the faces of that we focus on. Eleven of these 12 were dedicated employees murdered at their workplace. They have years and years of service to their community. One was a contractor coming in for a permit. President Trump is offering his condolences to the victims of the shooting.
He tweeted earlier that he spoke to Governor Ralph Northam about this shooting and offering federal resources to aid in the investigation. Let's check in now with CNN's Brian Todd. You were earlier at the press conference and the city manager was there, the police chief. They are heartbroken. This is so personal because these public servants were their colleagues, family and friends.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Colleagues, family and friends Fredricka and what's interesting is if you look at this Tide Water area of Virginia it's essentially four cities and together the four cities being Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Williamsburg if put that in there, it's the equivalent of a large metropolitan area but each individual town is small enough so that something like this does hit home in that way. They all know nobody. We spoke to the Mayor of Virginia Beach, Bobby Dyer, a short time ago and he talked about losing his personal friend Herbert Snelling, nicknamed Bert, who was the contractor who just happened to be here getting -- renewing that license and renewing that permit when he was killed. Take a listen to what the mayor had to say about losing his friend.
BOBBY DYER, MAYOR OF VIRGINIA BEACH: ... a personal friend. He was -- he did a lot of carpentry work in my house. He was a contractor and he was in the building getting a permit and I found out about it on social media about midnight last night and it rocked my foundation.
(END VIDEO) TODD: That is Mayor Bobby Dyer talking about losing his friend
Herbert "Bert" Snelling who was a contractor and known Bert Snelling for about five years. Bert Snelling had done some work on the mayor's home and he is just heartbroken that he has lost his friend and he knew, of course, many who worked in that building Fredricka, as you would imagine. He's the mayor of this town. He knows so many people and for him you can see it in his face and hear it in his voice. He is really having a tough time pros processing this. We have to just quickly talk about again what we learned about kind of what happened in a possible motive. Police still not able to tell us what the motive was, whether this man had made threats to his fellow employees, whether he had had any conflicts with those fellow employees. We hope to learn a little bit more about that later.
WHITFIELD: Not further defining what does disgruntled worker mean, that's just kind of the blanket.
TODD: Right, exactly.
WHITFIELD: You know just to give people some perspective here we are on what is a campus of more than 20 buildings, municipal buildings. Building 2 is the one directly behind us which is where that shooting took place. We are still waiting for details from authorities about exactly how everything played out. You see the police tape. That constitutes this is still a working crime scene. How much of the activity took place outside and how much of it inside. I do recall hearing from the police chief and mayor talking about this is a public building.
WHITFIELD: And while this gunman had a badge and employees have their IDs that allow them to be in all of these buildings, these are public building, this is for the public. So entry, for citizens, it's open.
TODD: And you do find yourself asking what about all of those rules was he aware of? He probably had a real knowledge of those rules and of, you know, what people enforce and don't enforce here and the layout of the building, of course. He knew it very, very well. Luckily the police also knew it and they were able to intercept him through the sound of gunfire getting up there and intercepting him. But carnage on three floors, he left victims on three floors. He knew new of the building to get to that many people that quickly.
WHITFIELD: This is a public works building.
TODD: That's right.
WHITFIELD: Also on this campus you have court, you've got public school system, fire, police, I mean it's all right here. This does constitute kind of like downtown, you know, city life without it being such because it really is very kind of suburban and very neighborhood like. brain Todd, thank you very much. We will check back with you. Appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: All right so for the workers in the city building behind me when the shooting started, the minutes surely felt like hours. So many today are just thankful to be alive. They are sharing more about those terrifying moments when they first realized that there was a shooting under way.
MEGAN BANTON, WITNESS: We were all just terrified. We almost kind of felt like it wasn't real that we were in a dream. You know you hear this all the time on the news but you don't think it's ever going to happen to you and then when it actually happens, it's just - it was like an out of body experience and you're just terrified because all you can hear are the gunshots.
EDWARD WEEDEN, WITNESS: We heard this sound out on the stairs. We go through the corridor and there was a lady on the stairs unconscious, blood on the stairway.
We didn't know what happened. When the other coworkers went upstairs to find out something else, she came back down saying get out of the building, some guy has a gun. She was shot and at that point we all left.
BANTON: We heard shooting. We heard shooting but we didn't think it was that close like in proximity of the building so I just thank God that they were able to alert us in time because if it had been 10 minutes more, we all would have been outside so that's what I'm grateful for today.
WHITFIELD: I want to bring in now Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Governor, thank you so much for being with me. I understand that you are near a hospital where people are being treated. What do you do with this information that we are hearing?
RALPH NORTHAM, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Yes.
WHITFIELD: Very sketchy, you know information in terms of details about what motivated this gunman. We know in detail 4 public servants are dead and their service to this community range, you know, from 11 months to 40 years.
NORTHAM: Yes. Yes. Thank you Fredricka. I'm at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. I was able to come by and say hello and thank you to the caregivers here. I'm a physician. I served during Desert Storm taking care of wounded soldiers and taking care of children all my life and I just wanted to be here to thank the doctors, the nurses and the staff for just taking such wonderful care of these victims. Also was able to spend some time with the family and one of the patients so I wanted to be here to say thank you.
WHITFIELD: So Governor Northam, this is, yet another, horrible deadly shooting. This time, a workplace, you know? A public building and people are trying to figure out when does it end? Why does it happen in the first place? What are the answers that you need in order to figure out how to prevent, how to comfort, how to grapple with what just happened?
NORTHAM: Well, it's a horrific tragedy and these tragedies are becoming all too familiar, and so we as a society, certainly me as governor, our legislators, need to have a discussion on, you know, what causes these tragedies and what we can do collectively to keep this from happening again. But today, we are here for the families; 12 precious lives were lost yesterday. These were individuals that came to work yesterday morning for the City of Virginia Beach intending to go home to their families and that didn't happen.
Now there is a tremendous void and we need to all work together to make sure we take care of these families and give them the support they need and certainly four individuals are being cared for in our local hospitals and we want to do everything we can to have a positive outcome for them.
WHITFIELD: And as a leader, you would rely, largely, on your own gut and your instincts. What does your gut, what does your instincts say should be done? What is the next step? I mean you said there should be a discussion. But discussions can...
WHITFIELD: ...sometimes lead to nothing or it can lead to something. But what is your gut and your instincts say needs to happen to address what is unfolding across America. Not just here at Virginia Beach; This is the latest example, but across the U.S. What does your gut say needs to be done?
NORTHAM: Well, Frederica, we lost 12 lives yesterday. If you look at the Commonwealth of Virginia, we lost over 900 lives the past year to gun violence and gun-related accidents. Again, actions speak much louder than words so I will make decisions in the upcoming days but we need to look at our laws. Are they safe? Do they keep people protected in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
We have introduced legislation each year, Fredricka, for the last few years and it has been defeated but things like this continue to happen. We can't be desensitized to these tragedies and it's time for us to take action. As the leader of Virginia, as the governor, I plan to do that.
WHITFIELD: The president tweeted earlier federal assistance would be available, is being made available, and how will that assist your state and how will that assist Virginia Beach? What do you see in terms of your greatest need in which federal government could step in?
NORTHAM: Thank you. This is all hands on deck and I spoke with our president last night. He offered his condolences and full support at the national level. Obviously we are offering full support at the state level. We have local officials that have been on the job but just everybody is in this together. Again, it's a horrific tragedy and we want to make sure today to deal with these families and make sure that we help them through this horrific tragedy. WHITFIELD: And Governor, describe your emotions. Are you feeling frustrated? Are you feeling pained by this? How does this hit you personally when you hear of a - and all we have for now is a 40-year- old disgruntled current worker who is armed, who comes into the workplace, you know, wrecks terror here -- brings terror and leaves in its wake 12 people who are dead.
NORTHAM: Frederica, we all grieve for these families. As a physician, there is nothing more difficult than dealing with the loss of a loved one so it does hit me personally. And also as the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, we certainly don't want tragedies like this to define Virginia. We are a strong commonwealth. We are faithful people. We believe in working together and, together, we will get through this.
WHITFIELD: Governor Ralph Northam, thank you so much and of course our condolences going out to everyone impacted and affected.
Still ahead, more on this horrific workplace shooting. Virginia Beach is just beginning to mourn this tragedy. We are back with more right after this.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield live in Virginia Beach, a city reeling from a mass shooting inside the government building behind me that cut the lives of 12. Just in the past hour, residents gathered for an emotional prayer vigil to honor the victims and they sang songs. They are trying to begin the healing process as investigators continue to search for answers into what exactly drove this suspect to open fire on his own colleagues and coworkers and then, of course get in the midst of a gun battle with police officers. Community leaders say this deadly rampage has shattered their sense of safety.
BOBBY DYER, MAYOR OF VIRGINIA BEACH: There's still a sense of shock, disbelief. You know? Why did this happen? I guess the big question is why. You know this rocked the foundation of Virginia Beach. You know we are the safest city of a city our size in this country with a magnificent police, fire, EMS, and sheriff. This rocked our foundation.
WHITFIELD: With me now is former Secret Service agent under President Obama and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Jonathan Wackrow. So Jonathan, talk to us where the police are in this investigation. Yes, it's still an active crime scene. You've got the yellow tape up behind building 2. This is one of more than 20 buildings on this campus of municipal buildings. Police have identified the suspect. They've told us that he was a current employee with public utilities as an engineer. He was 40 years old. He had a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun and attached to that a sound suppressor and also had a rifle. They went to his place of residence they found a greater arsenal. So knowing all of this, this is what authorities have revealed to us thus far. What is your feeling about what they know if its totality about the motivation of this individual? What was really at the root of, you know, what sparked this individual? And then what and how did it all transpire here?
JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, listen there's a lot to unpack here. We are still less than 24 hours out from when this tragic event had occurred. There is a lot of different work streams that investigators are working on right now. I mean where you are, there is a massive crime scene behind you, multiple floors, there was a tremendous amount of victims, so all of that. There is a ton of, you know, items of evidentiary value at that location. The police are at the residence. They are searching through not only his car but also going to go back and look through social media, they're going to look through - you know conduct interviews of friends and family and try to ascertain what exactly was the motivation for this horrific, horrific attack?
So typically, for targeted acts of violence like this, they are always rooted in some sort of grievance especially in a workplace violence situation. What we'd like to know is was he targeting one individual and everyone else was collateral damage, or was he attacking the establishment? A lot of unanswered questions here.
WHITFIELD: You know authorities did say it was indiscriminate shooting, I mean that was how authorities describe it. There was indiscriminate shooting but you still believe there could be a target that this gunman had?
WACKROW: It's - it's always a possibility. Listen. We don't know what the trigger was for him to, you know, transcend from just being known as a disgruntled employee to a violent hostile actor. There was something - there was some catalyst that made this individual transcend along that behavioral continuum into this violent act. We have to understand what that was. Was it a possible suspension? Was he potentially getting fired? Was there some other workplace conflict that we are just not aware of right now?
The police will understand all of that real soon through their investigative process, but we also want to take a look way back and understand were there missed warning signs along the way where there were behavioral issues that potentially went unnoticed that it could have been a leading indicator of, you know, future, you know, violent acts. Those are the things we actually need to address, you know, collectively. At the end of the day, Fred, we have a shared fate in solving these mass shootings situations. It's not just left to law enforcement. It's not left to just one entity. We have to come together collectively even as the governor had indicated just a few moments ago to bring forth a comprehensive solution to the mass shooting situations in our country.
WHITFIELD: A common thread after mass shootings, we talk about security access, but we're talking about an employee with a badge -- current employee, 15 years of experience under his belt. We heard from authorities underscore these are public access buildings. You've got a court house here. You've got public Badge and 15 years of experience under his belt.
We heard from authorities underscore these are public access buildings. You got a courthouse here; you've got public school administrative offices here, fire, police, et cetera. What will be potentially entertained as they now try to address security adding another layer after and during this investigation of what motivated this suspect?
WACKROW: We are talking about the issues of workplace violence. There isn't just a physical security measure that you can take. It's really three elements. It's people, process and technology co-joined to identify threats in advance of, you know, them transcending into a violent act. So, you know, we need to start taking a look at developing very comprehensive workplace violence, you know, prevention policies and procedures, bring awareness, create a culture of security awareness. Allow people, employees to have a pathway to report anomalous behavior before we get to a point where someone hits the point of, you know, becoming a violent hostile actor.
WHITFIELD: Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much for your expertise, as always.
WACKROW: Thanks a lot.
WHITFIELD: Coming up, another deadly shooting in an American city, leaving this nation, once again, asking -- so what really can be done? How do we stop these tragedies from happening over and over again? More on that coming up.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Virginia Beach, the site of a mass shooting at a government building, the one behind me claiming the lives of 12 people. These tragedies, unfortunately becoming an all too familiar occurrence. With me now is Shannon Watts. She is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and author of the book, "Fight Like a Mother." Shannon, thank you so much for being with us, and sadly under such circumstances.
So we don't yet know the motive for this mass shooting. Only that authorities have said it's a disgruntled city employee at a public service worker here at the building behind me. The suspect did have weapons, higher capacity magazines and a suppressor to muzzle or silence the sound of the gun. So let me ask you about what you're hearing, the details of the arsenal that this individual had and what does this say to you?
SHANNON WATTS, FOUNDER OF MOMS DEMAND ACTION: Well first of all, this is a horrific tragedy that is playing out yet again in our country. But every nation is home to people who are unstable or disgruntled. Only America gives those people easy access to arsenals, high-capacity magazines, silencers, and bulk ammunition. This is the problem in this country. We are hearing so many people wax poetic about what could have possibly caused this?
We know what causes this in America. We have the data that shows us that states with stronger gun laws have fewer gun deaths. In fact, states that have high capacity magazine limits have almost half as many mass shooting as states like Virginia that don't have those restrictions. We heard people saying they weren't sure if the gunfire was inside or outside because probably he had a silencer. So we know what the problem is in America. We need to fix it.
WHITFIELD: But this is not a case of access to something that was illegal, these higher capacity magazines found at the scene, they are legal in Virginia. The pressure that you have been trying to put -- some of the pressure you've been trying to apply have been on lawmakers. Is it your view that that is the answer in this case if your argument is that these higher capacity magazines should not be made available? The suppressors should not be made available? Are you relying on lawmakers in which to promote some sort of change, to make these things less accessible and not legal?
WATTS: Yes, we are putting pressure on lawmakers to restore the responsibilities that go along with gun rights. For example, limiting high capacity magazine to ten rounds, making sure the NRA is not successful in its attempts to deregulate silencers completely which is what they are trying to do. It's so important to remember that we are winning. We hear so often that this is hopeless and it's not.
People are waiting for this cathartic moment in Congress yet, just last year, we passed stronger gun laws in 20 states, nine of which were signed by republican governors. We are making huge strides just in the six years since Sandy Hook and that will point Congress and the president eventually in the right direction. But I just want everyone out there that is listening to us to know we are winning on this issue and that this will get solved. It will take several election cycles but it is happening.
WHITFIELD: So you feel it is realistic to promote the kind of change that you're looking for, even if it means it's a matter of years? Because, sadly, after so many of these shootings, whether it's outside of Philadelphia or in Pittsburgh, or whether it's Newtown or, you know, whether it's Las Vegas, there is a push of, okay, there has got to be change. This is not America. All of the jargon can I repeat, yet another shooting takes place. Talk to me about the frustration of the discussions, the discussions to say there will be change, but then another shooting takes place.
WATTS: What's frustrating to me is that we don't look at this holistically. We don't look at the fact that so many laws have been passed in the six years since Moms Demand Action started right after Sandy Hook. We now have background checks required in 20 states on every gun sale. We've passed red flag laws in 15 states. We've passed laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers in 28 states. Corporations are getting on board. All of this change is happening on the ground and we are also playing defense. The gun lobby was not able to pass its priority legislation the first two years of Donald Trump's presidency despite giving him nearly $30 million.
All of those wins is because we have a national grassroots movement now that can go toe to toe with the gun lobby and that took years for us to build. It doesn't happen overnight but it is happening.
WHITFIELD: Shannon Watts, thank you so much with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We will be right back.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Boris Sanchez in Washington. We will get you back to Virginia Beach with Fredricka Whitfield in just a moment but we want to update you on other stories we're following right now. U.S. and Mexican officials are expected to meet in Washington next week in the wake of President Trump's threats to slap Mexico with tariffs. The tariffs would begin on June 10 if Mexico does not increase immigration enforcement at the southern border.
Today Mexico's president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also known as AMLO said plans were already in place to address the flow of migrants. This as a Trump Administration official tells CNN that Trump ignored his son-in-law, Jared Kushner's advice against issuing this threat. CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood joins us now live from the North Lawn. Sarah, Kushner is not the only administration official that the president is disregarding in this decision. What more can you tell us?
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right Boris. Aides and advisers were divided over the president's decision to impose these rapidly escalating tariffs on all imports from Mexico. Joining Kushner in opposition was U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and they had a few concerns with this move. On the one hand they were worried about the effects on the stock market. Those concerns did come to fruition after the president announced it we did see a stock market slide. And they were also worried on the effects to the president's renegotiated NAFTA deal, the U.S./Mexico/Canada agreement, or the USMCA, which the president is about to start pushing through Congress.
That was always going to be a heavy lift especially in a democratically controlled House. There were concerns among the president's advisers this could only become more difficult. And then on the other hand, the president had some advisers who were in support of this move. Sources tell CNN that included trade adviser Peter Navarro, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. They pushed for the president to do this because of the out of control migrant situation on the southern border.
We should note that the president did leave the criteria for Mexico complying with this demand pretty open-ended. He just said he wanted Mexico to help alleviate the flow of undocumented migrants over the southern border so we don't know a lot about what the president's end goal is in this situation and of course there are those complications for USMCA which has really roiled republicans here in Congress. The president doesn't have a lot of supporters on Capitol Hill in favor of this move just as the president is starting to push to get his renegotiated NAFTA deal, potentially a big legacy item for him, through Congress. This just really complicates things more Boris.
SANCHEZ: Yes, you're right Sarah. The criteria for Mexico to avoid these tariffs is still unclear. Sarah Westwood reporting from the White House, thank you so much.
We are digging deeper on these threats. We're joined now by Sabrina Siddiqui. She's a White House correspondent for the "Guardian U.S." and Karoun Demirjian, she's a Congressial reporter for "The Washington Post." Both of course are CNN political analyst. Thank you so much both of you for joining us. Sabrina, I want to start with you. This is kind of absurd, isn't it? The president punishing Mexico for immigration, something that Mexico may not necessarily be equipped to handle and he's doing it at a time when he's trying to get a trade deal that he just spent two years working on ratified. Does this make sense, the timing of this?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well it certainly doesn't make sense and as Sarah pointed out in her report, this came against the counsel of the president's own advisers. When you step back and look the way that he has approached immigration, he often moves towards these very abrupt moves and tactics that are more designed to perhaps chin up support with his base, that he is being tough on Mexico. You remember he was also threatening to close down the U.S./Mexico border without much thought for whether that policy will actually work, as well as what the economic consequences might be.
Mexico is the third largest trading partner to the United States. This is going to hurt some of the people who voted, in fact, for this president. I think that really what this speaks to is a frustration that he has with his own inability to solve the crisis at the border and, again, imperiling the prospects of getting that renegotiated NAFTA deal through Congress this summer.
SANCHEZ: Yes, despite that record-shattering government shutdown and other efforts he really hasn't been able to get Congress to give him money for his border wall. He thinks that the solution to the problem. Karoun do you - we've reported about Jared Kushner traveling in the Middle East attempting to dissuade President Trump from making these threats. Is Jared Kushner right on this that this could potentially hurt the ratification of the USMCA?
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Any time you play fast and loose with the terms of how trading is working, it actually affects other trade deals you might try to conclude. So of course it does both domestically and in terms of the deal that they shook hands on with Canada and Mexico maybe is not going to be something they'd actually want to abide by anymore. But, yes, it's going to be problematic for the people in Congress that have to actually vote to ratify this because of the point Sabrina was making about the actual constituents in the United States are going to be economically disadvantaged by this. It's going to be also problematic for - and this is going to affect Mexico's economy too which has implications both for the trade deal, also for the immigration flows you create a less stable situation in Mexico, you're potentially going to encourage more people to try to cross the border.
And generally speaking, you can't kind of siphon off one of these issues and say, "Well it's OK because the USMCA is just sitting over there and it's fine; we're not going to worry about it." Changing the balance of what the trade agreement with Mexico changes the calculation for everybody involved and people are going to take that into consideration even if the president is trying to operate in a universe in which they don't.
SANCHEZ: Right. Now I want you to listen to some sound from Sarah Sanders because there have been lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who have said that this isn't right, the president can't do this. She says it's well within his purview. Listen to what Sarah Sanders is saying.
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has the legal authority to do this through IEAPA(ph). In fact, that gives him much broader authority than he has taken on this front. This is a measured response to the authority that he has. There's case law that supports it from precedent where this has been done in the past. Again, the president is going to fulfill his duty; it would be nice if Congress would fulfill theirs.
SANCHEZ: Koroun, does Congress have a way to stop the president from pursuing these tariffs?
DEMIRJIAN: It would take some more bipartisan unification than exists in Congress right now for them to do that. If they decided to make any sort of a move that could kind of supersede what the president is trying to do or actually could make a move that address the immigration side of the equation is also an option for them.
Unfortunately, right now, you've got too much discord in Congress to even have people rally fully around the USMCA to actually take further steps in terms of regulating trade or regulating immigration which frankly seems like it's the compulsion that would, you know, make the president back off of this. You're asking for something that they have not really been able to do for years upon years upon years. So, is there a possibility they could take some sort of a move that would placate the president in this regard? Yes, but the likelihood that they actually do that, pretty low.
SANCHEZ: Low. And Sabrina, go ahead.
SIDDIQUI: And last year the republican-led Senate did pass a resolution that would have curtailed the president's authority on tariffs but it was nonbinding so more of a symbolic gesture to say to the president that we disagree with you imposing tariffs on some of our closest allies which he did also did of course with Canada as well as countries in Europe. The question is whether or not they would pass something, send something to his desk that is, in fact, binding. He would be compelled to comply with - you know it's hard to see republicans escalating with this president. They've been reluctant to do so before but there has been widespread criticism from members of his own party with respect to these latest tariffs and I think it does go back to this idea that, you know, the president is trying to solve this crisis or this chaos at the border by sewing more chaos at the border and it's not going to be resolved by any of these punitive measures which in fact as Karoun pointed out will actually really constrain Mexico in an even greater capacity.
DEMIRJIAN: As Sabrina was saying, to get any of this done, you have to have something that actually has teeth. The president will actually sign or you need enough members of Congress to override a veto. How much is the president going to stick to his guns on this? We don't know bit right now Congress doesn't either to be able to make sort of decisions.
SANCHEZ: Right. Well Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to meet with his foreign counterpart - his Mexican counterpart on Wednesday. We'll see what comes of that. Sabrina Siddiqui and Karoun Demirjian, ladies thank you so much for joining us this Saturday.
Still ahead, investigators working to determine why a gunman opened fire on his coworkers in Virginia Beach. Democratic presidential candidates are also weighing in on the shooting and we will hear from them next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back as we continue to follow the breaking news here in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where a mass shooting took place at a workplace. Twelve people killed and already, this morning, we have seen people who have arrived here at building 2, this is where the shooting took place yesterday, and people are now leaving flowers, they're leaving flags.
Some people are coming expressing their sentiments about loved ones and friends, colleagues who were in the midst of it all, who were either eyewitness to it and they are, of course, also expressing their own concerns and their own fears and their own sadness about what transpired. And then outside of Virginia Beach, 2020 democrats are also reacting to the shootings using words like heartsick and furious and many of the candidates are in California this weekend and that is where we find CNN's Kyung Lah.
So Kyung, people are there for the California State Democratic Party convention. How is the Virginia Beach shooting coming up in conversation? How are these candidates or democratic leaders addressing it?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what you're seeing is this about to begin. This convention is a gathering of the state delegates, a lot of the Democratic Party leaders, the movers and shakers. This is the largest gathering in the state but also for the first time in this cycle we are seeing the largest gathering of these 2020 candidates, 15 of them are here. This is normally a very festive, raucous convention. It is that certainly but it's starting off on a bit of a somber note as these candidates are pulling reporters aside and talking and reflecting on what's happened in Virginia Beach. Here's a listen to a couple of them.
BETO O'ROURKE, 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Just horrifying. And in the face of this, we, as a country, must change and ensure that we take action.
PETE BUTTIGIEG, 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot tolerate being the only developed nation where this is retained. We know it's not the last time it's going to happen and Washington's failure to act is costing lives.
LAH: Now there is reaction across the board from many of the 2020 candidates and there was surprising uniformity in their response that they were shocked and horrified but they were also calling on Congress to act, saying there has to be a shift in this country to try to prevent more of these mass shootings.
This delegation, this event, this convention over this weekend is also very much about politics and the 2020 candidates are trying to pitch themselves to this delegate-rich state when California moved up the primary calendar to Super Tuesday it certainly gave this state much more heft.
So what you're seeing here for example when Kamala Harris arrived, there was an extremely warm greeting for her. She was greeted by locals, people here who know this home state Senator who started her political career here and holding up placards and chanting her name. So they are going to try to capitalize -- the campaign that is try to capitalize on her home state advantage and try to underscore that she is the best in the campaign's viewpoint of servicing this state's interest in Washington.
But you're going to hear this repeatedly Fredricka throughout the weekend, these various democrats saying that they want to win California. Fredricka.
KYUNG LAH, thank you so much there in San Francisco. And we'll be back from Virginia Beach next.
Sanchez: Standing room only. That is how a new report is describing conditions at El Paso border patrol processing facility. The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General says the Texas facility is dangerously overcrowded and unsanitary with, quote, "detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room and gain breathing space." The number of migrants coming across the U.S./Mexico border is skyrocketing. The El Paso facility has maximum capacity 125 but get this, logs have indicated nearly 900 detainees are packed inside. CNN's Paolo Sandoval is in El Paso with more on the deteriorating conditions in this processing facility. Paolo, what have you learned?
PAOLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These are certainly stunning things we have seen in this report here Boris, but, at the same time, it shouldn't be surprising. We are heard from the interim Head of the Department of Homeland Security testify before Congress just over a week ago flagging these kind of conditions. We've also heard from the chief border patrol agent who on CNN has spoken out publicly about these conditions that are very difficult to manage right now for border patrol agents who have been tasked with dealing with the increasing numbers, well over 100,000 apprehensions in April alone.
That number will likely be much higher for this month Boris. Again, we have seen this coming. What is important, though, is that this is essentially an independent watchdog that is providing more of a light here. What's interesting, not only does it really show these egregious conditions for the detained families, but also it notes that border patrol managers, really some of the high ranking officials at these facilities are genuinely concerned about the health and safety of their agents as well. They report low morale and even some of those agents, Boris, who are planning to retire soon, they are essentially moving it up so it certainly is a very difficult situation here on the ground for not those who are detained, but also for those who are doing the detaining.
SANCHEZ: Really stunning and unsettling images. Quite the story, Paolo Sandoval, thank you very much for that report from El Paso.
Still ahead, more on the deadly mass shooting in Virginia Beach, a community still in shock. We're learning new details about the victim and the suspect. We'll take you live to Virginia Beach right after a quick break.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Hello again, I'm Fredrika Whitfield live in Virginia Beach for CNN special coverage of a deadly workplace shooting. It's an all too familiar scene.