Return to Transcripts main page


Virginia Beach Deadly Mass Shooting; Tariff Set By President Trump; Trump Weighs in on Race for British Prime Minister Ahead of State Visit; Pelosi Interrupted by "Impeach" Chants at California Democrat Convention; Democrat 2020 Candidates Talk Gun Control Following Virginia Beach Mass Shooting; The Arkansas River Bursts Through a Levee Inundating Arkansas Amid Widespread Floods in the Midwest; Heartbeat Abortion Law Puts Georgia's New Multi-Billion Dollar Film Industry at Stake. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 1, 2019 - 17:00   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: -- Beach, Virginia are dealing with the reality that 12 members of their community are gone. Twelve families ripped apart after the deadliest mass shooting in the United States so far this year.

At this hour, police are not commenting on what may have led a long-- time city employee to open fire inside a municipal building near the close of business Friday. Here is what we do know. He was heavily armed. Two .45-caliber handguns purchased legally, extended capacity magazines and a suppressor to muffle the sound of gunfire as he made his way through the building, leaving victims behind on all three floors as well as a victim outside in a car.

And, tonight, we see the faces of the innocent. Eleven were dedicated city employees, the 12th a contractor who was in the building just wrapping up some business before the weekend.


MAYOR BOBBY DYER, VIRGINIA BEACH, VIRGINIA: Let me just say this. We will not be defined by this horror. We will go forward. We are a city of resiliency and resolve. The true character of our city is going to rest with our public, our citizens and our neighbors that we share borders with.


DEAN: CNN's Erica Hill leads our team coverage now from Virginia Beach. Erica, what's the latest on this investigation?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: So, Jessica, what we know at this hour is police are still not saying much about the suspected shooter's motive, if they even know it. And, again, that's often a difficult thing to know, certainly in just the 24 hours since this happened, and because he was shot. What we do know is his name, but we are not repeating it.

We also know the city department where he worked for 15 years. He was 40 years old. We also are learning a little bit more from co-workers and neighbors who described him as a nice guy, who are shocked at what they are learning about just what happened in the building behind me 24 hours ago.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is with me as well. The suspected shooter, as we know, are dead. Twelve people were killed; 11 of them were fellow employees here in this building. Bits and pieces, though, about this gunman are coming out. And specifically, there have been some talk had he been fired. He was not fired. We know that.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Officials have come out and said absolutely he was not fired. That information that has been out there and that we heard that he was disgruntled but not fired.

There was also a conversation that he had with a colleague in the restroom before all of this took place. The colleague saying it was a perfectly normal conversation. He was brushing his teeth. He went to the restroom. As they were washing up and finishing, asked him how -- what he was doing for the weekend. He said, not much. Wished him a good day. He said the same. And that was the end of it. Everything seemed perfectly normal.

According to this individual, that was minutes before the shooter then presumably, possibly went to his car, which we may have seen taken from this scene just a short time ago. And then, shot somebody in the parking lot. Went into the building. Went all through three floors. Individuals were shot, injured and killed on all of those floors.

We know that he had the .45-caliber pistols, lots of high-capacity magazines. We know he had a rifle. There was an extended gun battle with detectives. We're in a -- sort of a government campus here. The police station is very close by. Two senior detectives rushed into that building. You cannot say enough that these guys probably saved many, many lives rushing into that building. And they were able to engage him, eventually injured him, began working on him to try to save his life amazingly enough. He expired there.

An ATF agent tells us a little more about the weapons he had on him.


ASHAN BENEDICT, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, ATF: Working with Virginia Beach police department, state police and our partners with the FBI we identified two weapons used in the shooting yesterday. Both weapons are .45-caliber pistols. One was purchased in 2016. One was purchased in 2018. Both pistols were purchased by the shooter and all indications are they were purchased legally.


HILL: All indications, purchased legally. Now, as we mentioned, 12 people lost their lives, four people were injured. You were over at the hospital earlier today and spoke with one of the attending physicians. What were you told about those moments when they were being brought in?

MARQUEZ: So, they heard about this first on police scanners. They were alerted that this might be happening.

And then, as it started to unfold -- this is what they train for and they hope never to have to cover this thing. The attending physician, one of two on in the E.R. yesterday, saying that it was managed chaos. That people were calling in. People were coming in from different floors. Everybody setting up, basically, a triage outside and getting people in.

Two of the individuals that arrived died sadly. One was dead by the time they arrived. The other died shortly thereafter. Multiple gunshot wounds on both of those individuals. Three others in critical care right now.

The attending physician said that, at one point during the day, it was -- it was so chaotic and so insane. She just said, we had to say, shhh, and bring a little quiet. And then, just make everybody focus and concentrate on the job at hand.

[17:05:01] They believe one is out of surgery today. Another may go into surgery for a second time this afternoon and possibly a third time next week. Another is -- seems like their injuries are bad but will survive perfectly fine. Another is at a different hospital in critical care.

HILL: all right. Hopefully the updates that continue to come out will be positive ones as we learn about them.

MARQUEZ: Yes. You got it.

HILL: Miguel, thank you.

The people who survived the horrific shooting on Friday, who saw it as it was unfolding, who were trying to save themselves to save life, they either ran for their lives or they tried to hide in their offices. Hear them describe those moments.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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's almost like an out-of-body experience. And you're just -- you're just terrified because all you can hear are the gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard -- we heard what sounded like somebody fell down the stairs. We go to the corridor and there was a -- there was a lady on the stair, unconscious, blood on -- blood on her face, blood on the stairway, blood on -- we didn't know what happened. One of the other co-workers went upstairs to find out something else. And she came back down saying, get out of the building. Some guy has a gun. Somebody's been shot. And, at that point, we all left. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard shooting. We heard shooting but we

didn't think it was that close -- 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.


HILL: Joining me now, Virginia's attorney general, Mark Herring. As we look at this, it is -- speaking to the mayor a short time ago and I know you just spoke with the mayor as well. It was clear that folks are, understandably, still in shock at this moment. Where are you right now? Where is your head at?

MARK HERRING, ATTORNEY GENERAL, VIRGINIA: Well, it's devastating and beyond heartbreaking to know that Virginia Beach has now become the latest community in America to suffer the pain of a mass shooting. Virginia Beach is a beautiful community. It's strong. It's tight knit. It's vibrant.

And now, we are all weeping over the loss, the senseless loss of life. And we have to do everything we can to support the families of the victims, to support the survivors, to support the whole community, because, in a mass shooting, it is a trauma that reverberates throughout the community.

And it's also saddening to know that this is not the only place in Virginia where it's happened. Virginia Tech, 12 years ago, had a horrific mass shooting there. And, you know, politicians in Washington and in Virginia all said the right things. That we have to do something. That, you know, we won't forget. And yet, 12 years later, this is happening again. Nothing has changed.

HILL: Well, that's a frustration for a lot of people. I know you put out a tweet, and I do want to read it, we'll put it up on the screen, noting America has had mass shootings at. And you go on to list some schools, colleges, churches, synagogues, mosques, movie theater, concert, night clubs, shopping malls, offices, government buildings, saying the status quo should horrify us. People deserve to be safe and feel safe. Hash tag, guncontrolnow.

There is a real question, though. These are the four weapons that we know of, that we heard about from the ATF, by all accounts obtained legally. We're still learning, obviously, about the ammunition and where that was -- that was obtained. But, again, if they're obtained legally, what is it that you feel that you can do? What is it you feel you can change in the state of Virginia? Is there anything that would have changed this outcome?

HERRING: Well, again, my heart goes out to the survivors and to the families of the victims. But there are things that we can do to make our community safer. It is incredibly easy in Virginia to buy firearms and ammunition in unlimited quantities.

There are things like red flag laws that if somebody is having a dangerous mental health crisis, that those around them, if there is a risk of danger can notify the authorities so that the community and the families can be protected. There are laws that could be done to prohibit high-capacity magazines. There was a proposal, in this past legislative session, to do just that. And it was defeated in a party line vote with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing it.

So, there are things that we can do to have our community safer, and we need to do them. Other countries have, you know, disgruntled employees, have domestic abusers, have troubled students.

But, yet, in this country, we give them easy access to guns. And the result is a country where a whole generation of young people are growing up with the fear that -- of these mass shootings. That when they go to church or to the movies or to a concert that they could be shot and killed.

HILL: And then, young children are having active shooter drills. I have covered too many of these shootings. I know you've had to talk about too many of them. But when we look at the realities, as you point out, this does become a partisan issue. What do you think you can change about that? I know you are trying to engage the faith community. You're trying to get them to write letters to manufacturers.

[17:10:05] But where do you think you can maybe find a piece of common ground so we can have a conversation about what it means to responsibly own a gun in this country? Because no one's found it yet.

HERRING: Well, we have to keep working at it because these tragedies, these mass shootings continue. But not just the mass shootings, but also ones that happen every single day in communities all across the country. And so, we need to have these conversations. We need to have some real change. We've talked about it too long. It's time for action.

HILL: In terms of the investigation, what are some of the questions that you have? Everybody wants to know motive when these things happen, as we know. That's much easier to ask for than it is to get, especially when the perpetrator is no longer alive. But what are some of the questions you have now 24 hours in, in terms of the investigation?

HERRING: Well, we heard earlier this afternoon at a press briefing where Chief Cervera and federal investigators gave everybody an update. I know everyone wants to know more about what the motive was, but that's going to take time. I know the investigators are going to be meticulous in the work that they do, and that's what they do. I know that they will release information when they feel like they can.

HILL: I know you said, and you say on your Web site, that you really have a strong record of fighting the NRA, of fighting the gun lobby. Does this change anything for you, though, in what you see yourself doing moving forward?

HERRING: Well, it just means that we have to redouble our efforts and get real meaningful change passed in Virginia. It is --

HILL: You've got to find that place to have the conversation.

HERRING: Well, --

HILL: Yes.

HERRING: -- we need to be having it. We said we were going to have it after the Virginia Tech tragedy and that shooting. And, yet, here we are 12 years later.

HILL: All right. We'll be watching to see where that conversation goes. Thanks for joining us today. Appreciate it.

HERRING: Thanks for having me.

HILL: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring joining us. Just ahead, what we are learning about the accused gunman, including what his parents have to say. Plus, what police found after a search of his home. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.



HILL: Just one day after a deadly workplace shooting right behind me in the building that you see here in Virginia Beach. So many people are trying to learn more about what happened, what may have motivated the killing of 12 people inside that building.

Police have confirmed the suspected gunman was a 15-year employee of the city's Public Utilities Department. A 40 year old. He had not been fired from his job. We've heard some of the audio from police officers when that shooting came to an end. I want to play some of that for you now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear the air. We have the suspect behind a barricaded door. Stay off the radio. We need a key card access right now to the second story, north end of the building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE), I have one of the co-workers who's got the key.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm coming from the south side. I got a key card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming down the stairwell with multiple alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have him on the other side, 504. He's on the ground. Clear the air.


HILL: CNN's Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz joining us now. So, when we listen to that, we need a key to get to him on the other side of the door, that's one of the things that's been brought up and why the chief, just a short time ago, -- SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: That's Right.

HILL: -- a couple of hours ago, said, listen, we want to make it very clear. He had not been fired. He had a key card. He had access to all of these areas. And that's part of why we saw what we saw in terms of --

PROKUPECZ: Right. He was able to get into certain parts of the building with this key card and target certain people in certain areas of the building. Getting inside, as the chief had said, it's an open building. It's an open government building. People come there. Civilians come there to do work. And so, they can come in freely.

So, coming in, going in there, you can go in freely. Now, getting into some of these rooms, you needed a key card. And on that police scanner traffic, you heard the officers asking for a key card. Because they were able to locate him, right. There was a running gun battle. But some of -- at one point, it sounded like they lost him. And they were able to determine where he was by gunfire and find him in the building going floor to floor. And they found him in the -- in that office area of the building.

The other thing in the scanner audio. They were able to identify him fairly quickly. They knew who the suspect was very early on in the shooting. After the four officers respond, within minutes, police are saying his name on their scanner. So, they knew exactly who they were looking for. Clearly, we're still waiting for the motive here.

HILL: Right.

PROKUPECZ: I don't think it's as clear cut. There's still a lot of questions here.

HILL: It's still early, too. And we should point out, this is -- this is now 25 hours. I mean, you know, it's 5:17.


HILL: This happened at 4:00 yesterday afternoon. So, it is early, in terms of motive.

It's also interesting that in the hours after this happened, there was some chatter about, well, maybe he was fired. Again, he was not, as we confirmed. Maybe he was a disgruntled employee. What I find interesting is we haven't really heard people saying that, co-workers. We have heard co-workers speaking to CNN saying, you know, actually he was a -- he was a good guy. I never had any reason to suspect anything was wrong. One even -- you know, he had this lovely exchange with him earlier in the day and they wished each other to have a good weekend.

PROKUPECZ: Right. That's what's so puzzling, right. We were just talking about that. You would expect to hear from someone, hey, something was off. Something was going on at work. He was angry about something. Co-workers may have noticed something. We had no indication that there were any red flags. No one brought anything to the attention of authorities or people here inside the building, at least not that police have told us yet.

HILL: Right.

PROKUPECZ: And, you know, in talking to city officials and law enforcement officials, initially, there was some information that he was disgruntled. That maybe he was fired. But now, it's not entirely clear what is going on here.


PROKUPECZ: And I think there's going to be more than one thing, perhaps, ultimately, --

HILL: Right.

PROKUPECZ: -- that caused him to snap. And maybe they don't get to the motive here. That does happen.

HILL: It happens and it happens a lot, especially when the person is no longer around.

PROKUPECZ: It happened in the Las Vegas shooting.

HILL: It did, exactly, which we both covered.

Just really quickly before I let you go, too. One of the things you and I have been talking about this afternoon is there's the timeline of what happened yesterday. But the timeline also leading up to that shooting, that's going to offer a lot of details, in terms of, perhaps, when the ammunition was bought. Even when these guns --

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

HILL: -- that were purchased legally in 2016 and 2018, they'll be looking for what was happening around that time in his life.

PROKUPECZ: That's going to be very important for them. And when did he buy the magazines, these extended magazines? These clips that were able to carry more bullets, when did he buy those? That, they're going to know through computer work and where he purchased it. That, they probably already have a good idea. That will tell them if there was some planning into this. And so, you have to go back and look who he was talking to.

HILL: Yes.

[17:20:00] PROKUPECZ: Was there something that set him off? A personal relationship. Was there something else going on in his life that caused him to feel this way, this angry, to come in here and kill all of these people.

But that's part of what the FBI is doing also.

HILL: Right.

PROKUPECZ: They're going way back. Yes, they're going through the crime scene with the ATF. The local authorities, the local police and the FBI are going to try to put together some kind of scenario, go through a timeline.

HILL: To paint a picture.

PROKUPECZ: To paint a picture of why, what happened here. It's very important for them to answer that question.

HILL: It is. It's important for them as part of their investigation. And it's important for the families of the victims and for the survivors as well.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

HILL: Shimon, appreciate it. Thank you.


HILL: Our live continue -- our live coverage, rather, will continue from here in Virginia Beach. But, right now, I want to send it back to my colleague, Jessica Dean, in New York who's coming -- covering some of the other stories today -- Jess.

DEAN: All right, Erica, thanks to you and our crew there.

Coming up, new CNN reporting on how the president defied his closest advisers when it came to tariffs. You're live in the CNN Newsroom.


[17:25:08] DEAN: If you were surprised by President Trump's decision to place tariffs on all Mexican imports, you're not alone. Republican lawmakers were completely blindsided and so were some White House officials.

CNN has learned the president's top two economic advisers were telling him not to impose those tariffs. And his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, even called him from overseas urging him not to move forward. Instead, the president sided with aides who assured him the tariffs would be a great way to get Mexico's attention on illegal immigration.

So, now, here we are. A five percent tariff set to go into effect on June 10th. You see there, it gradually increases to 25 percent, unless Mexico takes unspecified steps to stop illegal immigration.

Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst Michael Shear. He is a White House correspondent for "The New York Times". And, Michael, is it clear how much planning went into this decision to impose tariffs on Mexico?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean I think there is -- there's two parts to the planning. I think there was some thought ahead of time and discussion ahead of time, our reporting suggests, by the president and some of his aides about the general idea of doing this. But as to the actual decision to move ahead, it seems like it was very abrupt.

There had been -- the president had been, sort of, talking generally about wanting to do something like this. And then, one day last week, on Thursday or Wednesday night said, OK, I want to do it. And all of the aides were, sort of, taken aback and said, well, you know -- or at least some of the aides said, you know, sir, are you sure you want to do this?

As you mentioned, our reporting suggests as well that Jared Kushner called in to say, you know, look, you know, let's wait on this. This is something you want to think about some more. And the president was having none of it. He wanted to move ahead quickly.

So, the decision -- once the president made the decision, it was very abrupt.

DEAN: And do you get the sense at all there are some big-name Republicans that are pushing back on this idea of tariffs on Mexico? Do you get the sense at all he is malleable, the president, that he might bow to that pressure, or does he seem pretty head strong in this?

SHEAR: Well, I -- look, I think, in some ways, this is the ultimate, kind of, desperate bluff. The president has been just frustrated for months and months about the increasing numbers of illegal immigrants that are crossing the border. Many of them migrants from Central America who are trying to claim asylum in the United States. He -- that -- his anger has just been building and building. And nothing that the administration has tried has even made a dent in the problem.

So, at one level, I think he's, sort of, throwing anything he can against the wall. And I think he will do -- I don't think there's any indication that necessarily anybody could talk him out of it.

On the other hand, I do think that he uses it as a bluff. In the sense that if they can get Mexico -- if the threat can get Mexico to, for example, arrest mass numbers of migrants that are in Mexico before they come to the United States, and there was some sense that the numbers were slowing down, you know, I think he might back off, at that point. Because he could claim victory. He could basically say, see, it worked.

DEAN: Yes. All right. I want to talk about, also, his upcoming state visit to the U.K. Because he's leaving tomorrow. And ahead of that, he's already making some controversial remarks. So, first, we have this that he said about the duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, Meghan, who is now the duchess of Sussex --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've given her a different name. She can't make it because she has maternity leave. Are you sorry not to see her? Because she wasn't so nice about you during the campaign. I don't know if you saw that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't -- I didn't know that, no. I didn't know that.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I hope she's OK. I did not know that, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said she'd move to Canada if you got elected. Turned out she moved to Britain.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, that will be good. There are a lot of people moving here, so what can I say? No, I didn't know she was that she was nasty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it good having an American princess (INAUDIBLE)?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's -- I think it is nice. And I'm sure she'll do excellently. She'll be -- she'll be very good. She'll be very good. I hope she does.


DEAN: Now, the president's meeting face-to-face with the royal family, including Meghan Markle's husband, Prince Harry. The royal family, of course, does not get involved in anything political, but can things get potentially awkward here?

SHEAR: I suppose. I mean, you know, diplomacy is taken up to another notch, when it involves the royals. On the other hand, I have to say that -- you know, that was about as mild -- from Donald Trump using the word, nasty, was about as mild as I've ever seen Donald Trump. He praised her. He said she's going to do excellent as a princess. He seemed to go out of his way to, sort of, avoid criticizing her. And he was sort of goaded into it, it seems to me.

And so, if -- look, I can't speak for the royals. But my guess is, probably, that the royals are going to, you know, sort of put that to the side.

DEAN: Right.

SHEAR: And it seems to me, it probably won't cause that big a problem.

DEAN: Yes, very big on the protocol and acting like everybody can move on.


DEAN: Now, the president also wading in on the struggle to find a new prime minister. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the players. I know the different players. But I think Boris would do a very good job. I think it would be -- I think it would be excellent. I like him very much, but I haven't gotten to any point where -- you know, it's early in that process. We haven't discussed that.


[17:30:05] DEAN: And you hear him, there, kind of backing Boris Johnson?

Is it appropriate for him to weigh in on this, on another country's election, especially as he is about to go over there?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, this is one of those norms that previous presidents probably would have avoided doing, right. You sort of -- there's an unwritten expectation that when you're traveling to another country you don't sort of meddle in their elections.

On the other hand, this is a norm the president busted long ago. I was with the president the first time he went to England and it was right before the Brexit vote and he weighed in, in a way that everybody said, oh, my gosh, like this is totally inappropriate for the president to do. You know, and then he just keeps doing it.

So, again, I mean, I think, my guess is that it won't be brought up in a very public way. Nobody will sort of wag their finger at the president and say, you shouldn't have said that. But there will probably be some grumbling among British politicians, who are like, look, keep your opinions to yourself.

DEAN: All right. Well, I guess we will all find out.

Michael Shear, thanks for being with us.

SHEAR: Sure.

DEAN: Still to come, the 2020 candidates barnstorming California, but they have Virginia on their mind after the latest deadly mass shooting.

We will be back after a quick break.


DEAN: Right now, in California, a slew of presidential hopefuls descended on the state's annual Democratic convention. While the focus has mainly been on who will rise as the best candidate to take on the president, all eyes shifted earlier to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


[17:35:09] REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Why is it that the president won't defend our democracy from this foreign threat. What is the president covering up?


PELOSI: The Mueller report revealed that the president --


DEAN: You hear the crowd reacting there.

CNN senior national correspondent, Kyung Lah, joins us now.

Kyung, the crowd was chanting "impeach" to the one person steadily steering her party away from that very move.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and you can hear it there in the videotape. But on the floor, it was very loud. Essentially, every time Speaker Pelosi paused or took a breath, especially when she was talking about Trump, you would hear the word loudly "impeach" from all sections of the floor as she was talking.

So Speaker Pelosi, well-used to the rough-and-tumble of progressive politic goes of her home city, took it in stride saying, it is good to be home -- Jessica?

DEAN: Also, of course, a lot of the candidates there have the Virginia Beach shooting on their mind. How are they responding to the latest mass shooting out there?

LAH: Yes, we are not hearing too much on the stage, per se, as they speak one after the other, but we are hearing them talk to reporters. This is something that is very much taking a forefront of discussions today.

Here is a little bit of what they've told us.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): What can you say? It is a terrible tragedy and it is -- you know, it speaks to the need for this country finally to do what the American people want, and that is common sense gun safety legislation. And that is making sure that people who should not own guns do not own guns and doing everything we can to make this country and our schools safer.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot tolerate being the only developed nation where this is routine. We know it is not the last time this is going to happen, and Washington's failure to act is costing lives.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I sat across from President Trump after Parkland while he was telling us, oh, yes, let's get universal background checks done, let's get all of this stuff done. He never did it. He met with the NRA the next day and turned on it. So it is time to get this done.

I come from a proud hunting state. I look at all of these proposals and I say, does this hurt my Uncle Dick in the deer stand? They don't. That's why the vast majority of Americans support these sensible gun measures.

JAY INSLEE, (D), WASHINGTON GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, this is a pain that is felt all across America, not just Virginia. For those folks who said we should not talk about gun safety in the wake of this tragedy, that's just wrong. This is exactly the time we need to talk about gun safety.

BETO O'ROURKE, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We, as a country, must change and ensure that we take action. Just incredibly saddened at the loss of life and the continuing tragedy we are seeing in this country.


LAH: There's remarkable uniformity in what all of the candidates are saying. And something else, Jessica, that is really remarkable is that they're all talking about it. It has become a major issue on the Democratic side, the issue of gun violence and the lack of action in Washington -- Jessica?

DEAN: More to come on that.

Kyung Lah, thanks so much for that report.

Coming up, flooding fears down south. The Arkansas River burst through a levee, prompting evacuations there. We will go live to the region, next.


[17:42:28] DEAN: Record flooding is inundating America's heartland with upward of eight million people under flood warnings along the Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri Rivers. Ten states are now facing threats from rising water levels.

And one of the hardest hit is Arkansas. Many roads there under water, hundreds of homes saturated after the Arkansas River breached a major levee.

CNN's Natasha Chen joins me from Darnell, Arkansas.

Natasha, you just surveyed the devastation from helicopter. What did you see from that vantage point?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, it is really breathtaking because water is covering everything and it is a common sight along the Arkansas River. You see barricades everywhere, telling us not to go past.

This is actually supposed to be a park where people tell me they've come on Sundays after church to eat lunch. And between those two tree lines there there's suppose it to be a play area, a swing set that we can't even see the top of. If we pan to the right a little bit, you will see some light poles

here. Now, those light poles are supposed to shine down on basketball courts, and we can't even see the top of those hoops.

So this is how high the river has come. It took about a week to get to this point.

And we spoke to Senator Tom Cotton today, who was coming to observe some of the devastation. Here is what he had to say about how historic and unprecedented this is.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): You can see the volume of water flowing through this dam, the immense flooding of this historic flood. Just south of Darnell, we had a levee breach, unfortunately, which may flood some of southern Darnell, coming through the bayou in the back. It gives you a sense of the disaster we have had in the Arkansas valley.


CHEN: We saw that levee breach from above when we took the helicopter tour today. That breach is now larger than it was just a day ago. It is now about 300-feet wide. That is near a wildlife refuge south of Darnell. Local officials are concerned about the south part of the city being inundated. We are seeing Blackhawk helicopters even dropping large sandbags to try to plug holes.

All the flooding we saw from above, that is all usually farmland. That is crops right there that are ruined for, what I'm told, could be three to five years. Now, these are soybean crops, corn, rice. And these farmers are going to need to place a lot of insurance claims here.

The pilot who flew us on the tour today, he said he typically sprays chemicals over the crops so he is also out of a job here. He will have to spray in other states.

So a lot of people here are scrambling to figure out how to mitigate this disaster, not just in the short term but also the long term.

[17:45:10] And, Jessica, what we're being told is this water could take a very long time to recede. It could be several weeks before anyone notices exactly what the damage is. And only at that point can federal assistance, FEMA staff, come in and really help these people out.

DEAN: Right. And there's more rain in the forecast, right? So what are people doing to brace for that?

CHEN: That's right. Yes. And you can see there's not a cloud in the sky here in Arkansas. But a lot of the storm events are happening in Oklahoma. And that water is what has come down this way because there's just nowhere for the water to go. So they are definitely watching out for more rain and hoping it doesn't come here. DEAN: My home state of Arkansas. I wish them all the best.

Natasha Chen, thanks for your reporting. We appreciate it.

CHEN: Thank you.

DEAN: Coming up, leaving Ya'llywood? The new law putting Georgia's new multi-billion-dollar film industry at stake.


DEAN: In the United States, domestic violence is a leading cause of injury to women. And many of these women have pets they love and don't want to leave behind if they flee the abuse. Yet, only 3 percent of domestic violence shelters will accept animals.

This week's "CNN Hero" came up with a groundbreaking solution that is keeping women and their pets together. Meet Staci Alonso.



[17:50:00] STACI ALONSO, CNN HERO: Noah's Animal House is built right on the campus of the women's shelters.


ALONSO: So that women fleeing an abusive relationship don't have to choose between leaving and leaving their pets behind.


ALONSO: We have had clients from 21 states. They're driving thousands of miles. That tells you the need and that tells you the power of the relationship between the woman and the pet. When you watch the woman come through the doors and then they see their pet.


ALONSO: And everything is right in the world for a little while.


DEAN: Nothing like the love of those pets. To nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," you can go to CNN

Right now, virtually everyone, every Hollywood studio is expressing reservations about doing business in Georgia if that state's new anti- abortion law takes effect.

The state, nicknamed Ya'llywood, is considered the epicenter for TV and movie productions in the south. Just to give you an idea, anything from "Stranger Things" to "The Walking Dead," to the Marvel super-heroes movies all shot there. But Disney, Netflix, CBS; Showtime, NBCUniversal, AMC; Sony, Viacom,

and Warner Media, the parent company of CNN, are all considering withdrawing from the state. All of those companies would be giving up generous tax incentive it's they pull out, citing the concerns of predominantly liberal stars and producers.

And it's all over a new law that would make abortions illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Brian Stelter is CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

Brian, thanks so much for joining us.


DEAN: This law went into effect at the beginning of May but we're now kind of seeing this fever pitch from Hollywood. Why now?

STELTER: I think these major studios, at first, were not sure how to handle this situation. They've been waiting to see what happens in the courts. These heartbeat laws are designed to the Supreme Court.

DEAN: Right.

STELTER: Reexamination of abortion rights will go on for months and months.

But we saw earlier this week, Netflix, one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, take a strong position on this issue and say it will be hard for us to remain in Georgia producing TV shows and movies if this take effect.

After Netflix spoke out, all the other companies did as well. It shows the power of Netflix, by the way, in the whole new world.

DEAN: Right.

STELTER: What's going on here, we are seeing economic pressure, not an economic boycott yet. These companies don't want to leave Georgia. The tax breaks are very generous. Makes it a lot cheaper to make big, expensive movies.

But they are seeing what their stars and producers are saying. That's what this is about. If you're an A-list Hollywood actor, you can produce a movie or TV show anywhere in the world. Generally, Hollywood types tend to be liberals. They're not going to want to associate themselves and spend months in these red states.

This is an example of blue and red states drifting further apart. Can't get further divided. This is one of those examples.

DEAN: If you're watching, and maybe there's people who say it's just Hollywood, they're always going to give us these liberal opinions, why should I listen to what a movie star says or producer. But this is a lot of money for the Georgia economy.


DEAN: We're talking real dollars and sense.

STELTER: This is partly just about culture power. Certainly, the left has more culture power and the right has more political power in these states.

But this is also fundamentally about the finances. You see here statistics from local authorities there trying to get more production into the state. More than $2.7 billion in spending as a result of these productions.

AMC, for example, has been making "The Walking Dead" in Georgia for many years.

DEAN: Right.

STELTER: They're talking about saying that they will re-evaluate that.

When you have a show based in a state or a location for many years, it's benefiting the local economy.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of local staffers caught in the middle when it comes to an issue like this. Same thing with North Carolina with the bathroom bills a few years back. Often time, it's local staffers that are affected by these political currents going on.

DEAN: Quickly, before we go, what comes next? What do you think comes next?

STELTER: I don't think these companies want to leave because the finances are beneficial in some of these southern states where these bills have been passed.

Next is this court fight. It very well could take months. We could see these bills take effect in January if they were not rejected by the court system.

DEAN: Right.

STELTER: These companies, these big media companies, they don't necessarily want to have to do this but they're listening to not audience -- not their audience, but their customers, their colleagues, major Hollywood stars and producers, who can choose to work anywhere.


STELTER: That's what it comes down to. They have the leverage in this case.

DEAN: Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks. DEAN: We will see you on "RELIABLE SOURCES" tomorrow.

STELTER: Yes, thank you.

DEAN: And a reminder, you can catch Brian on his show, "RELIABLE SOURCES," tomorrow morning at 11:00.

On tomorrow's brand-new episode of "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones, see what happens when a former sheriff and the man incarcerated for trying to kill him meet face to face. Here's a preview of that.


[17:55:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took a lot to get there because the hate from police is real, you know what I mean, even for me. I felt sorry for what I did. It was kind of hard for me to understand, how could I have could I have empathy for somebody that's an officer.

UNIDENTIFIED FORMER SHERIFF: Is Jason somebody who is capable of empathy? I don't know. I would love to say I'm like a super mind reader, that I'm capable of looking at somebody's soul. None of us can do that.


DEAN: Be sure to tune in. "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones airs tomorrow night, at 9:00, right here on CNN.

I'm Jessica Dean, in New York. I will see you right back here at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

My colleague, S.E. Cupp, continues our coverage of today's news right after a quick break.


[18:00:52] S.E. CUPP, CNN HOST, S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED: Welcome to "UNFILTERED." Here's tonight's headline. It happened again. Twelve people are dead, four injured, three of whom are in intensive care after a man opened fire in the Virginia Beach municipal center on Friday. It marks the worst mass shooting of 2019 in America.