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Shooting at California Festival; 2020 Candidates Stand on Gun Policies; Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting Briefing. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 29, 2019 - 13:00   ET



[13:00:02] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, three dead in California by a gunman opening fire on a crowd at a festival. A six-year-old boy among the victims. Police took down the shooter, but a second suspect may be on the loose.

And racism as a political strategy. Aides close to the presidency see the politics of hate as a winning message.

Plus, President Trump nominates a staunch loyalist to be in charge of America's biggest secrets.

And just before the CNN debate, Kamala Harris, who's delivered mixed messages on health care, finally unveils her plan, and her rivals pounce.

But first, more on our breaking news. Another deadly mass shooting in America. This time it's in the small town of Gilroy, California, at a popular food festival. Any moment now we are expecting to get an update from officials who are on the hunt for a possible second suspect.

Looking at live pictures here as we await that.

So far here's what we know. Police have identified the shooter as 19- year-old Santino William Legan. He is believed to be responsible for killing three people and wounding 12 others before police shot and killed him. Authorities say Legan snuck into the festival with an assault-style rifle after cutting a hole through a fence and he then opened fire into the crowd randomly, sending visitors into a frenzy running for their lives.

So far only one of the victims killed has been identified and his name is Stephen Romero. He was just six years old.


MARIBEL ROMERO, GRANDMOTHER OF SIX-YEAR-OLD VICTIM: They just took him. It was -- this is really hard. There's no words to describe because he was such a happy kid, you know? I don't think that this is fair. I just wish that they caught -- that they get the people who did it.

We need -- we need to know that they got this person and that there's justice.


KEILAR: Sara Sidner joining us now live from Gilroy with more.

Tell us, Sara, what else you're hearing about this shooter and the search for a possible second suspect.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Police have been pretty quiet on this second potential suspect in this. They have certainly not named that person as someone who was also a shooter, but saying that perhaps this person was helping in some way. We have heard no new information on that yet. We are, of course, waiting for that press conference to see if there is something new there.

As for the suspect himself that police shot and killed, within one minute they say of him opening fire on the crowds, sending this place of joy and happiness and family time into chaos, within one minute, though, this shooter was able to kill three people and injure up to 12 people. We now understand that there are still seven people at one of the main hospitals here, one person in critical condition. The ages ranging from 12 to 69.

We are also learning a bit more about the suspect. The suspect, we have seen some of his social media posts. And in those social media posts, he makes a reference to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Clearly he is from this area, well familiar with this wonderful event that is very family oriented, Sunday being family day, which is why dozens of families, everyone from grandparents to their grandchildren all here enjoying themselves. We have now seen some of those posts that he has made and in one of them he mentions there being a high fire danger, potentially a reference to firing a gun, and he references a white supremacist book that is extremely racist and extremely misogynistic as well. So there are some small details giving you some insight into who this person was.

We were also able to talk to one of the witnesses here whose friends were all with him. He was here, just like everyone else, trying to raise money for a charity. That's something that this festival does every year. And said that they had to throw a table up and get behind it as bullets were flying by. This has scarred many, many people in the Gilroy area.

KEILAR: All right, Sara.

And we're awaiting information, live information coming from officials there. So you're going to stand by for us as we await that. We're going to bring that to our viewers as soon as it begins.

2020 Democratic candidates are reacting to this shooting now. Many of them have expressed their condolences on Twitter and they have turned the conversation to their positions on gun violence ahead of this week's CNN debates where no doubt this will be something that they are trying to discuss.

California Senator Kamala Harris, one of those sort of talking about this issue. She was, of course, California's attorney general.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It just keeps happening in our country. And these families are right now in deep pain. And so I just want to express my sorrow to them. I want to thank the first responders.

It's just tragic. There's no other way to describe it.


[13:05:03] KEILAR: CNN's Jessica Dean is joining us now.

Jessica, tell us where the candidates stand on the issue of gun control and gun rights.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this is something that all of these candidates have talked about. Some of them have very specific detailed policies on their website. Others plan to roll those out in due time. Others talking about this at different stops along the campaign trail.

So first let's focus on who's for banning assault-style weapons. Here you see a number of the candidates, all of these people for that ban on assault-style weapons.

I want to draw you attention here to Andrew Yang with the question mark because he's proposed a tiered system. He hasn't explicitly called for a ban, but he hasn't explicitly called to not support a ban. So he's somewhere in the middle and focuses on that tiered system which kind of sets him apart from the rest of the field.

Also, Jay Inslee, he talks about how back in 1994, when he was a member of the House, he voted for an assault weapons ban, and that's what ultimately led him to lose his seat. So he knows what those tough votes are like and he talks about that he would do it again.

A second issue that we looked into, background checks. Where do these candidates stand on background checks for gun purchases? You'll see across the board here -- and, again, we were focusing on the candidates who have been profiled by our CNN policy tracker. That's why you see a couple of question marks there. These people have all been profiled by our CNN policy tracker.

Kamala Harris, in this situation, has talked about using executive action to ensure these background checks happen should she become president of the United States. Said, if Congress won't act, she will.

And, Brianna, you can count that they're going to talk more and more about gun control. It's an issue so many of them have a lot of strong feelings about.

KEILAR: And very timely today.

Jessica Dean, thank you.

Two nights, two CNN debates and for some 2020 candidates it is their last chance to break ahead of the pack. On the eve of tomorrow's first CNN debate in Detroit, candidates are rolling out some of their key policy plans.

In Detroit this morning, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announcing the details of what he's calling his community climate justice plan. This calls on corporate polluters to invest in minority communities most impacted by climate change and pollution.

And in Ohio, Elizabeth Warren unveil her new sweeping trade policy proposal. It is aimed at defending American jobs by negotiating to raise global labor and environmental standards. Countries would have to meet preconditions regarding human rights and religious freedoms to be able to forge trade deals with the U.S.

Senator Kamala Harris unveiled her version of a Medicare for all plan this morning after months of mixed messages on where she stands on the issue of health care. Harris' plan would put the U.S. on a path toward a government-provided health care system, but it stops short of completely eliminating private insurance.

During a campaign stop, Harris talked about how she's going to be handling the next debate.


QUESTION: What is your mission in this debate specifically? I mean going off of your health care answer there --


My mother raised me to be polite and I intend to be polite. I will express differences and articulate them and certainly point out where we have differences of opinion because I believe that Democrats and the American voter have a right to know that. But there's no reason you can't be polite.


KEILAR: We will be revisiting this important policy discussion in just a moment.

But let's go Gilroy, California, where officials are updating us on that shooting there at the Garlic Festival.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we're here to talk with officials in the city of Gilroy regarding this event.

First to speak will be Mayor Roland Velasco of the city of Gilroy.

MAYOR ROLAND VELASCO, GILROY, CALIFORNIA: Thank you all for being here this morning. You know, one of my greatest honors in life was being elected mayor of

this great community. And I could tell you that the people of Gilroy are strong, we're resilient, and during the course (INAUDIBLE) this investigation as law enforcement continues to research and investigate it, the Gilroy community will mourn, but we will get through it.

On behalf of the community and the Gilroy city council, I'm speaking to you today to provide a brief update on where we're at. Later on the agenda, you'll get additional information from our public safety personnel.

As you know, yesterday afternoon the city of Gilroy endured a tragedy that a very long night -- a very long night cannot erase. Mass gun violence is an epidemic in the United States, and yet one never imagines such a thing can happen here in our beautiful community. It's beyond sad when -- or to see wonderful and a charitable event, like the Gilroy Garlic Festival, that donates tens of thousands of dollars each year to local non-profits, to have an event like this happen.

[13:10:27] As I said before, we are resilient and we will get through this.

This morning, our prayers are with the families of those injured and killed in this senseless shooting. We stand with you and we will be providing whatever assistance we can in the days and weeks ahead.

This morning, as we learn more about what occurred yesterday, I wish to commend the bravery of our law enforcement personnel, who, in the middle of a chaotic situation, acted quickly and professionally to engage the shooter and to end the threat before more people could be injured or killed. And the chief will talk a little bit more about that.

It takes remarkable bravery to run to a shooting when the natural reaction for all of us is to run away. We are so proud of our law enforcement who undoubtedly saved many lives by putting their own lives in danger.

Now, I also want to mention our fantastic fire department. I happened to be in the triage area when the victims started to come in. And I can tell you that our fire personnel, paramedics, EMTs, were there quickly, triaging, prioritizing, stabilizing each of the patients and then getting them ready to transport out.

Today and over the next few days I, along with the Gilroy city council, will be meeting and working with community leaders to assess a situation we now face in Gilroy in the wake of this shooting. We intend to come out of this horrible event in a stronger and obviously a closer community.

Again, thank you for being here. Let me turn it back over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

Next to speak will be Fire Chief Jeff Clapp.


As the mayor said, first of all, I'd like to thank our firefighters for responding heroically to this event. This is something that we train for. In fact, had an active shooter training with our colleagues in the police department about a year ago. We were actually planning another one because of another unfortunate event just north of us in Morgan Hill, also involving an active shooter.

Luckily that we were at an event so we had six total fire department personnel on scene when this shooting occurred, two on an engine in the park, two on bike teams and two that were in an ambulance inside the park. So we were able to respond quickly to the situation when the shooting occurred. We had 12 EMS public and private personnel also on scene, an EMT contract and a public ambulance company there as well.

The initial dispatch occurred at 17:42 hours. We sent four engines. And, for note, we only had three engines in the city of Gilroy, so we sent all of our resources, as well as our south county neighbors. Two additional battalion chiefs and then requested 16 local mutual aid engines to respond down here as well.

Our Gilroy battalion chief assumed command at 17:45 hours, along with the first arriving fire engine that was dispatched from outside of the Garlic Festival event. We had a total of six ground ambulances and two supervisors from the county. We had three air ambulances and we did a total of 16 -- there were 16 total transports, 13 of which were done by the fire department and the EMS agency. Three of those, again, were air ambulances and eight ground ambulances.

And I will leave it to the police department to talk about the actual state of the deceased in this event.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next to speak to you, Police Chief Scot Smithee.

[13:15:12] CHIEF SCOT SMITHEE, GILROY, CALIFORNIA, POLICE: So I'll reiterate what I said at the press conference last night. And I've got a few additional details and then we will also be planning an additional update because I plan on having more information now that daylight is here and we're getting fresh resources in. So we'll try to put something together for you for later this afternoon. We've got the date and time established already.

And as most of you know, the Gilroy Garlic Festival is an event that we put on every year. And we typically host between 80,000 and 100,000 people to our festival. It takes several thousand people a day volunteering to make this festival work. And so at the time that the incident occurred, you know, it was near the end of the final day. It was last night, Sunday. Questions that were asked, you know, regarding the security and the way that we manage and monitor it from a law enforcement and public safety perspective is that we have police personnel on site the entire time of the festival. We actually create a police compound where we have a command center, a booking area, you know, all the things that you would need to run a major operation like this. The officers are deployed throughout the park and they're assigned to different regions of the park. So they're spread out. We don't have officers all in one spot.

When this call came in, the shots being fired, the closest team of officers responded immediately. They were there and engaging the suspect in less than a minute.

The suspect was armed with an assault-type rifle and he -- as soon as he saw the officers, he engaged the officers and fired at the officers with that rifle. And I had three officers that engaged the suspect. And despite the fact that they were outgunned with their handguns against a rifle, those three officers were able to fatally wound that suspect and the event ended very quickly.

And, of course, then we had the aftermath of dealing with the victims and the EMS side of things.

We put out a call for help. We had over 20 agencies, federal, state, county and local agencies from all over that responded. people down into our park. And it was just incredible to see the cooperation and how quickly they put this together and how quickly they were able to render aid to people.

I can't tell you how proud I am of the officers for being able to engage this guy as quickly as they did because we had thousands of people there in a very small area. And, you know, it could have gone so much worse so -- so fast. And so I'm really proud that they got there as quickly as they did and that they were successful in -- in taking the threat out of the equation.

We do have three people deceased, confirmed deceased. We have one who is a six-year-old, a six-year-old male victim. We also had a 13-year- old female victim. And then we had another male victim in his 20s.

We don't have a motive for the shooting as yet. We did have reports of a potential second suspect. We don't have any confirmation that any second suspect did any shooting. But we certainly are investigating all leads to try to determine who that potential second suspect is and what exactly that person's role was.

We found out, you know, some of the federal agencies helping us out, we found out that the rifle that this suspect used was an SKS. It was an AK-47-type assault rifle. It was purchased legally in the state of Nevada on July the 9th of this year. And reports have been going out of potential suspect. And I will confirm that the suspect is the person that several news media have been inquiring about, Santino William Legan, who was 19 years old. I -- and I say that name with some hesitation because I don't believe that somebody like this deserves the notoriety or the recognition, but I also understand that you all, you know, want to have some confirmation of that.

[13:20:27] I think the last thing I'll say before I turn it over, I want to thank all of the agencies and all of the people that came to help. I don't even know how many people, but there was a lot. I -- and when we put out the call for help, they came.

Because it's such a large crime scene, the FBI has come in and offered some assistance and we have accepted that assistance because of the size of the area that we need to cover.

And so before we open it up for questions, I'm going to have them come up and talk a little bit about their role and how they're helping us with this case and then I'll come back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next to speak with you, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Craig Fair.


My name is Craig Fair. I'm the deputy special agent in charge of the San Francisco division of the FBI.

First off, I'd like to express my condolences to the city of Gilroy and to the family, friends and victims of this absolutely heinous act.

The FBI's principle role is assisting the city and police department of Gilroy in the investigation. Our preeminent and principle concern at this point is motivation, ideological leanings, was he affiliated with anyone or any group. That still has to be ruled out and still has to be determined at this point. And we are supporting the Gilroy Police Department in making those determinations.

Our evidence recovery team, it's a sizeable team. We have about 30 individuals out there right now collecting evidence. As we find evidence, as we flag it, as we mark it and map it, we're determining that the crime scene is much more expansive than what we originally thought and it amounts to many, many, many acres. We appreciate the public's patience as we process this. It's done very slowly. It's done very methodically and it's done for a reason should we have to use that evidence in prosecution later on.

I'd also like to thank the first responders, as the mayor cited, in their heroism, the FBI personnel who worked tirelessly throughout the evening and will do so for the next several days, our partnership with the Gilroy Police Department and the city of Gilroy as we move through this crisis, and members of the general public who are offering, continue to send in tips, photos, and assist with the investigation.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will now take a few questions. I ask that you direct your questions to me and we will put them to the correct person.

I saw that hand go up first.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Probably for the chief, but you talked about potential of another suspect. Do you believe there's somebody else out there or is there the potential that that was -- those were erroneous reports and that they thought they saw somebody who might not do (ph) that (ph)?

SMITHEE: You know, we really don't know. We've gotten multiple reports that there may have been another person with him, that they ran this way or they ran that way. But different people give different versions. So we just -- we really don't know at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw this hand go up next.

QUESTION: Will you be able to identify the victims at this point?

SMITHEE: We -- we are not identifying the victims at this point. Typically that's something that we leave up to the county coroner's office to make sure that all their notifications are done before that's released.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman in the jacket.

QUESTION: Actually, two questions for you. Had your officers not acted quicker, would there have been more bloodshed? And were those officers wearing body cameras?

SMITHEE: So the answer to the first question is, there absolutely would have been more bloodshed, I believe. With the number of people and the small area that they were in, I think it's very, very fortunate that they were able to engage him as quickly as they did.

And then the second part of the question is, we do -- our officers do wear body cameras. Which -- who was at the moment that this happened and whose had them on or what -- I don't have that information yet, but we will get that as we move forward in the investigation.

[13:25:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman with the mustache.

QUESTION: Chief, could you give us a rough idea, sort of a laundry list of the type of evidence you are trying to gather? Because I know you want to try to find out what the motivation was. What type of things are you and other law enforcement agencies trying to gather to help try to figure out what triggered all of this?

SMITHEE: Well, there's a number of different aspects of an investigation like this. And we have partners from all different agencies. So, you know, whether it's information concerning the suspect, whether it's information concerning this potential second person, there's a very, very large crime scene that needs to be processed diligently. There's all kinds of background information that we need to process. It's going to be a very prolonged and complicated process for us.

QUESTION: Can you give us, though, as a follow-up, can you give us some idea of things you're looking at? I'm guessing maybe computers, the types of people you're talking to, to try to learn more about him?

SMITHEE: Yes, I -- I am not comfortable at this point because I don't have enough of a detail of that level of briefing to comment on that. I may be able to do that later today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman with the blue shirt under the TV set.

QUESTION: I don't know if it's too early, but at this point have you spotted any red flags in his social media and is there any indication of (INAUDIBLE) being involved?

SMITHEE: I am not ready to comment on that yet. I don't have that level of detail either.

QUESTION: Are you familiar with him? I mean we were told he was from Gilroy. Did he have a record or anything along those lines? And, also, is he the one who purchased the gun legally from Nevada?

SMITHEE: As far as his local background, again, I'm not ready to comment on that. I -- my understanding that he is the one that purchased the weapon in Nevada.

QUESTION: It's -- we have seen that he had moved to Nevada. Can you confirm if he was living to Nevada? Do you know what brought him there? And then how -- how long had he been back in California before this incident happened?

SMITHEE: I don't have that information yet. I think he was living with family members, but he's from -- originally from Gilroy. I don't yet know how long he was in Nevada or how long he had been back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One last question.

QUESTION: Many people had to rush away, obviously, from the fairgrounds. What are you telling people who are maybe wanting to return? And then, second question is, since this is an ongoing investigation, how secure is the fairgrounds and the surrounding area?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief, would you like to address that?

SMITHEE: Yes. Well, I would say that it's very secure. We have quite a large number of personnel out establishing a perimeter around the area because we have to do the evidence processing.

There are people that -- who were at the festival that literally ran away and left their belongings. And we have vehicles and there's vendor tents and whatnot. We can't allow them back in until we've finished with the evidence processing portion of this. So we have a team that's set up to help assist those people to provide some support until we can get them back to their belongings.

QUESTION: Chief, can you talk about the victims? They were so young. You have three people under the age of 22, children. We talked a lot about the suspect here, but can you speak to at all these young lives being lost (INAUDIBLE)?

SMITHEE: Well, I think any time a life is lost, it's a tragedy. But when it's young people, it's even worse. And, you know, it's just -- it's very difficult. I -- I don't know that there's -- I don't know what, if any, association there is. It seems that this was a random act. But, again, we've got a long way to go before we can come to a determination what his -- what his motivation was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that's all the questions -- that's all the questions we're going to take for now. I did make a commitment to the Spanish-speaking stations that I would

give an interview outside in Spanish. So if you folks would like to set up outside, I will take care of that.

Any other questions, we will take later. There will be future conferences that we've put together.

KEILAR: All right, you're listening to officials there in Gilroy, California, updating us on what they know after this shooting at the Garlic Festival there.

So what we learned included -- we knew that there had been a six-year- old male victim. There was also a 13-year-old female victim among the three who were killed. We just learned that from the Gilroy police chief.

I want to bring in CNN's Sara Sidner. She is at the scene now.

[13:29:53] We don't know the motive. They say they're going to be looking at ideological leanings. Is there some affiliation with a group. That's what the FBI deputy agent in charge said that they're going to be looking at. They're assisting the Gilroy Police, Sara.