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Active Shooter Scene Takes Place In Mall In El Paso, Texas; Beto O'Rourke Speaks About Active Shooter In El Paso; Police Indicate Multiple Suspects Held After Active Shooter Scene In El Paso; Police Indicate Injuries And Fatalities In El Paso Active Shooter Scene. Aired 2-3p ET.

Aired August 3, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with this breaking news. Police in El Paso, Texas, say they are responding to an active shooter situation. They're warning people to avoid the area of Hawkins and Gateway East. Our Rosa Flores is joining us right now with this. So this is a shopping mall, shopping strip. And what more do we know about whether there is one potential gunman or multiple?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have very limited information at this point, Fred. But what we do know, and this is just into our newsroom, at least one person has been injured, and this is at El Paso Walmart. Like you said, this is a shopping center. We're trying to learn more about the area. Actually, one of our producers have visited this particular shopping center in just covering the news, and she says that on a normal Saturday, on a weekend, there is a lot of people shopping at this shopping center.

We've also learned that three businesses are on lockdown, and these three businesses are reportedly around this shopping center, around this Walmart. These businesses are a Landry Seafood House, Hooters, and also Red Lobster. We're getting reports from witnesses on the scene who say that there were people running around, they could hear helicopters overhead, police responding to the scene. Of course, a very active scene and a very active situation, and police and fire officers and firefighters asking people to avoid this area because it is still an active scene.

And police of course responding. We don't know anything about the potential shooter or shooters at this time, but we're asking those questions, hoping to learn more. But again, the latest that we've learned here in the CNN Newsroom is in that at least one person been injured. We're making more phone calls, trying to get more information, Fred, and we'll get it to you.

WHITFIELD: And just looking at that aerial shot, that Google map, it's difficult to discern whether that is an enclosed mall. It certainly is a collection of a variety of stores there. You mentioned the three rather sizable restaurants that are on lockdown. Do we know anything more about this mall, whether it is open or a closed mall?

FLORES: We don't. But we're trying to learn more information about that. And in just thinking about the time of year, Fred, we're very close to start of the school year. So some of the things that could be happening at Walmart is families going to this shopping center, and others around it, to get school supplies. That of course is a huge concern. But again, the latest report that we have into our Newsroom right now is that at least one person is injured.

WHITFIELD: All right, Rosa Flores, keep us posted. Thank you so much, appreciate that.

Let's talk further, with me now, former Second Service agent Jonathan Wackrow, and former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem.

Good to see both of you. So Jonathan, you first. Give us an idea of how law enforcement approaches a situation like this.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: These are very dynamic and unpredictable situations. And when police first get report of an active shooter in the vicinity of just a general area, right now El Paso police and responding law enforcement have a very wide area of operation that they need to contain and then address the threat immediately. So they stop the active shooter.

Terminology here is key. Active shooter means that there is a suspect, or multiple suspects, that are engaged in the act of shooting a weapon and causing destruction and harm to individuals and property. So it's key here that they are still utilizing the word that it's an active scene and that there's an active shooter. So that means that law enforcement has yet to address this threat and mitigate it. So the public should heed the warning that is being put out via social media and other outlets to stay away from this area because you could be put in harm's way.

WHITFIELD: Juliette, some of the businesses are on lockdown. Help folks understand the strategy involved there when you have a lockdown situation, you still have an active shooter and people might be worried about being more vulnerable when they are asked to stay put.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So just picking up on what Jonathan said in terms of how to read at least what we know now coming out of the police, I think given the amount of time that it has been since the first tweet to now, one has to assume that there is something in terms of their inability to get the shooter or shooters. And so there is a variety of options that we tell the public.

When you are in law enforcement, one is run if that's available. But in this case it appears that because they don't know where the active shooters are, or maybe the person or people are isolated to, say, the Walmart, everyone else is much safer barricading inside, not being vulnerable to stray bullets or any sort of shootings that may occur. And that is what the police are asking them to do.

[14:05:01] The fact that the Walmart seems to be a focus of it, and Jonathan certainly knows a lot of this, you do have workplace violence issues. You also have family issues that may get a little bit violent. I don't know about the Walmart rules in El Paso, but certainly Walmart sells weaponry. And so there is just a lot of variables right now. But in terms of

protecting the vast majority of the public, you got to stay put. And if you think someone you know is in the area, just stand back for now, unfortunately.

WHITFIELD: And then Jonathan, talk about the resources. For local authorities to be able to handle and how they approach something like this, and at what point do federal authorities get involved?

WACKROW: I'm sure federal authorities are going to be immediately involved. But the first responders are the El Paso police. There are tactical units. Just prior to coming on air I did take a quick look at the El Paso website. They are very well-versed.

They have mandatory raining around active shooter protocols, as well as they've expanded into their citizens academy. So they take a public/private partnership in terms of how do they address and respond to these critical incidents of active shooter situations. So immediately the first responders on scene, the first law enforcement officer that arrives, their duty is to go in and address that threat, to try to put that threat down immediately.

That is a challenging situation right now. We are talking about a very large area, whether it's Walmart, the mall that's next door. Reports that are coming in to 911 and other sources also can lead to some sort of chaos or confusion for responding officers. So right now in the immediate action is command and control, containment, and addressing that threat.

WHITFIELD: And so our affiliate KSTM is now responding, too, that multiple victims are involved here. We don't know the extent of injuries or the status, but that many have been injured. Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke is responding to this, tweeting out "Truly heartbreak. Stay safe, El Paso. Please follow all directions of emergency personnel as we continue to get more updates." Juliette, what are your thoughts and concerns based on very thin information that we have, just that it is active?

KAYYEM: And Jonathan and I, unfortunately we were together last weekend, we'll be super careful about what we know now, and just reminding people last Sunday, the original reports were that the police had killed the shooter at the Garlic Festival. We've now learned a few days later that it was actually a suicide. So these first reports really, really tend to be -- not that they are always wrong, but they are just something that is part of the information --

WHITFIELD: And Juliette, as you are talking, we're seeing video that is just now coming in. It looks like someone's cellphone video running, moving. You can see now what appears to be one shopper running. And we don't know in which location this is, whether that's in one of the lockdown locations and these images have been sent.

Oh, now we're seeing them actually in the parking lot running. I don't have anything more to tell you about these images were obtained the story of this. But you can see it puts us there in a moment. The sheer panic of what happens after people hear gunfire or hear that there is an active shooter.

KAYYEM: Right, to run away is obviously the right response at this stage. And as Jonathan was explaining, the only priority of the police right now is to get the shooter. It is actually not to get people out of the building right now. They need to get this shooter or shooters to bring it down.

We're hearing multiple reports of injury. It means that either -- let me put this way. The fact that the El Paso police have not provided any more information says to me that this is an active shooter case and they do not have any news to provide to the public.

And these are lessons learned after Columbine and after all these active shooter cases. The best the police can do right now is just provide information to the public and the surrounding area, stay put and do not go to that area. I know it is hard for people watching who have family members in the area.

WHITFIELD: And let me ask you, Jonathan, quickly. So we've seen these image, we see the Dillard's department store. Rose Flores has reported on a Walmart being there and other big restaurant chains. So now that gives us a better idea about the size of this shopping mall.

And these are large establishments, which means that lot of people on a Saturday early in the day. Talk to me about the then approach from law enforcement to deal with something geographically so large on the map.

[14:10:00] WACKROW: So again, it goes to containment. Law enforcement has to set up a perimeter. They have to try to contain this threat, ensure that if there is an active shooter, that individual, that threat doesn't try to put their weapon down and integrate into fleeing individuals. So this is a very dynamic and challenging moment for law enforcement as they are trying to address this threat.

Complicating the matter further, as we're hearing that there are injuries, emergency medical responders are not going to go into an active shooter zone. They're not going to go into a hot zone. So that makes it much more difficult where the responding law enforcement is there, their primary mission is to put that threat down.

There is a psychological effect that law enforcement officers have to overcome, because their natural instinct is to go and address people who are injured, wounded, take care of them. They have to bypass those individuals to address the threat to ensure that they mitigate any future people from getting injured or harmed.

WHITFIELD: Boy those are hard choices to make. All right, Juliette, Jonathan, stay right there. We're going to take a short break. Of course, we're continuing to follow this breaking news out of El Paso, Texas. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone, and welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We'd like to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world.

We're following breaking news out of Texas. We're seeing image now of people frantically running out of a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas, where police say that there is an active shooter. Look and listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Run, Mika, run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up, hands up! Hands up! Let's go, let's go. Hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, let's go, let's go home. Run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: You can hear the breathing, you can hear the near panic, you can hear in the background the "hands up," and programs the one holding the phone, let's go. No, no, no, let's go, honey." That taking place right now at that Cielo Vista Mall. These are images that we just got in. They are out of El Paso, Texas. And now our affiliate KTSM is reporting that multiple people are injured. Rosa Flores is back with us. That is palpable. You felt the fear.

FLORES: With that video. And as you and I were talking during the break, because people have that instinct to take these videos, that's how we're able to be there on the scene at this moment in time. Here is what we're learning from police. We know that shots rang out at a Walmart in El Paso. At that point in time police responded to the scene.

We did know that this is an area that is a shopping center that is called the Cielo Vista mall based on the video we've seen. We have seen that it is a big establishment. We saw that there was people running by a Dillard's. Again, we're learning bits and pieces about this area and also about what police are learning from social media, from witnesses that are on the scene.

We also have learned from a manager of one of the restaurants that is nearby that there are three establishments, at least three establishments on lockdown, and that includes the Landry's, Hooter's, and Red Lobster, that there are people that are hunkered down for safety.

And of course, other people just running, as you are seeing in this video at the moment. And like you were saying, Fred, you can hear the desperation in the people running for their lives. And yet again here in America, another active shooter on this Saturday at a time when a lot of people might be going to the mall to get clothing for back to school or supplies at a Walmart for back to school.

WHITFIELD: And that it is a Saturday, early afternoon, late morning when that is typically when people flood to big shopping area, stores like this. You mentioned the Dillard's. We know that there is a Walmart there based on your reporting earlier, and the locked down restaurants. These are big restaurant chains in El Paso, Texas, central to a very sizable population. All right, Rosa, we're going to check back with you.

Someone who just happened to be in the area, General Mark Hertling, who is a frequent analyst on our air, he was there in El Paso, in fact, in the airport when he heard people responding to this breaking news, and hearing and watching people who were starting to call home. Mark Hertling, are you with me now? You are on the plane, right, about to take off.

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I am.

WHITFIELD: Describe for me what you believe people's concerns have been.

HERTLING: I am, Fred. What happened is we were sitting in the airport getting ready to board the plane. We got a text message from our children who live in El Paso. He is a soldier in the army at Fort Bliss. And they said, everything is OK. We're back home. All of us are safe.

We didn't know what they were talking about. A few minutes later, an alert message came on on the iPhone saying there was an active shooter as we were loading the plane. Well, sitting in our seat, knowing that our family was safe, we then started hearing other people on the plane calling home saying hey, are you OK.

So it's one of those kind of situations where, again, as you have reported so many peoples, these things can happen anywhere. And it's certainly happening now here in El Paso, Texas, a beautiful and very large city.

WHITFIELD: Are you familiar with the Cielo Vista mall, the shopping area?

HERTLING: I am. It's close to the airport. It is on Airway Drive. I'm not real familiar with it, but I know that it is one of the many malls that are in the El Paso area.

WHITFIELD: Is this like an open mall with these anchor stores, or is this an enclosed mall, do you recall anything like that?

[14:20:03] HERTLING: Yes, it's an anchor mal spp. But it also has a strip mall next to it. So it's a lot of open stores. Some of it are anchored inside a major building. But I think the Walmart is separate from the rest of the mall, but I'm not 100 percent sure on that. But I have passed by there is a couple times. And it is just one of the bigger shopping centers within the El Paso area.

And as you said before, a lot of people are out and about today because school starts on the 12th of August here in El Paso, so a lot of folks are thinking about that back to school shopping. WHITFIELD: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thank you so much for

calling. So glad that your family members are OK, and thanks for also helping to paint a picture of that shopping mall, again, a very popular shopping mall, a sizeable one, as the general was just describing. It is kind of both, an enclosed mall, and there are other stores nearby in the same common area shopping center. And one that many individuals and families would be in today with just a week to go before back to school. We're continuing to follow this breaking news story out of El Paso, Texas. We'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:25:00] WHITFIELD: Hello again, and welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We'd like to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. We're following breaking news out of El Paso, Texas.

And right now, you are looking at live pictures of law enforcement assembling, police reporting that there is an active shooter, a situation at the Cielo Vista shopping mall there in El Paso. This just a little more than a week ahead of back to school in that area on this Saturday where typically at these stores it would be very busy.

And now as they pull out, you see there is a Walmart there, there's a Sam's there as well. Our reporting earlier when we saw some images from someone's cellphone, you could see a Dillard's department store. This is both a strip mall as well as a shopping mall area. And all we know right now according to our affiliate, KTSM, they are reporting that there are multiple people who are injured. The extent of the injuries, we just don't know.

Again, El Paso police sending out a tweet earlier saying that they have multiple reports of multiple shooters in an active shooter situation. But of course, we want to caution you that early reports are often incomplete. There are still just bits of information that we're getting. And of course, as the investigation continues, some of the information becomes a bit more concrete.

So with me right now, former Secret Service agent Jonathan Wackrow, and former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem, both back with me now. So Jonathan, now we're looking at the images. Unclear of whether this has been a command post area that has been created. Perhaps you can see the images, too, as you see a number of officers who are walking in unison. Describe for me what you think you are seeing here on what is an active shooter situation at this shopping mall.

WACKROW: Actually, what we're seeing is actually a convergence of various different law enforcement entities. We actually just saw members of the U.S. Border Patrol who were picking up post. We see the tactical teams here. We saw El Paso Police Department right there as well.

They obviously had set up a command bus. Command and control when you have the convergence of various law enforcement entities is critical in the moment of a crisis. You want to be able to make sure that communication is accurate and timely to all the units that are involved. I

I do see some perimeter tape that has been set up. There does appear to be a more relaxed posture by law enforcement right now that could be a signal that the immediate threat has been put down. And now we switch over to assessing the damage, basically allowing medical personnel to come in, dress the wounded, set up a perimeter and switching over into a crime scene mode.

WHITFIELD: So Jonathan, what tells you relaxed posture? Is it because of the red tape, is it because of the pace of the people that you saw?

WACKROW: Right there you see law enforcement are now gathered. They are not taking up tactical positions. They are seemingly more reduced. You are allowing press to obviously set up in close proximity. So that's, again, signaling that this may, the immediate active shooter situation may have concluded. But we have yet to receive confirmation of that.

WHITFIELD: And Juliette, give me your assessment of what you're seeing.

KAYYEM: I agree with Jonathan. At least from the images what you're seeing is what's called an incident command. It's pretty rote in terms of crisis because you're going to have so many law enforcement agencies coming to the facility, some invited, some just show up, as we see. You've just got to get command and control, because you are also worried about friendly fire. Someone hears a gunshot, and it is actually law enforcement.

Second, this is the tough love part of me. I know people in El Paso are watching. You absolutely -- whoever you can't get a hold of, just you're going to have to wait it out, because the more people who come to an area even if it seems relaxed --

WHITFIELD: Juliette, let me interrupt you quickly. Former congressman now presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is speaking in Las Vegas, and he is actually talking about the shooting right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O'ROURKE, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I just, I'm thinking about El Paso. I want you to be thinking about El Paso as well. And just as I got the news, I called my wife Amy to talk to her. She is driving with my daughter Molly and to talk to her. Just a real reminder of what's most important at the end of the day for all of us. And just that any illusion that we had that progress is inevitable, or that the change that we need is going to come of its own accord, shattered in moments like these. And that is upon every single one of us.

[14:30:00] There is no luxury in this democracy of sitting this one out. Whether it is gun violence, whether it is many of the issues that we discussed today about economic inclusion and the right to organize, whether it's the ability to see a health care provider, whether it's confronting the fact that we have got kids in cages on the U.S.-Mexico border, in a democracy this is not the decision of one person, no matter how much power he may have. It is on every single one of us to make this right. And so --

WHITFIELD: You can hear it in his voice, Beto O'Rourke there, this is close to home, this is personal. He did reach out to his wife Amy and daughter to see how they are doing. This is his home area, El Paso, and he has his close connections there. And talking about how you whether you're president, in public office, you cannot sit this out. This is very real, this is happening right now.

We also have a new tweet coming in from the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, saying this, "In El Paso the Texas Department of Public Safety is assisting local law enforcement and federal authorities to bring this tragedy to the swiftest and safest possible conclusion. We thank all first responders for their courageous response and urge all area residents to remain safe."

So again, if you are just now joining us, an active shooter situation being reported by the El Paso police there at the Cielo Vista shopping center and mall. It has anchor stores there of Dillard's. You are looking at cellphone video from shoppers. And you can see their response.

If I were to stop talking, you would hear someone in the background saying "hands up," and you would hear what appears to be the person holding that phone, perhaps the mother of that young daughter, saying come on, honey, come on, as they are making their way out. You saw the Dillard's shopping center there.

And now we're getting other new images where you see people who are walking rather casually, perhaps out of the mall. Jonathan, earlier, when you saw the police officers, you were talking about their casual kind of posture. So describe for me what you think this represents right now.

WACKROW: Again, this is another signal that the immediate incident of the active shooter situation may have concluded. We have yet to receive confirmation of that here, but it seems that everyone is now, instead of -- of what we saw earlier where people were running away from the threat. Now people are systematically departing the scene.

I'm sure that law enforcement is coordinating this departure. Again, you want to make sure that any potential suspects are not embedding themselves into a crowd that are leaving. So by the fact that they are walking systemically away from Dillard's is, again, an indication that the immediate emergency may be over.

WHITFIELD: And Juliette?

KAYYEM: Two things will happen now. The first will definitely happen, which is family unification. Presumably because it is a mall or even a Walmart, people got separated. So you'll probably see some family unification information coming out. Just get people with their kids. It's the only thing that matters. This is what everyone will be focused on. And unfortunately, now we're just not confirming anything, but whether there was one injured, several injured, or any casualties, there will then have to be an Identification in that regard. So there's going to be two different pieces right now, the family unification, and then the emergency management, or even worse, coroner identification.

We don't know yet in terms of numbers, but that's generally how once the immediate threat is subsided, as Jonathan is describing, you then have the two pieces. But most important thing is family unification, get people with their kids. It's the only thing that matters. And then get them off the facility.

WHITFIELD: Right. And now grimly we are hearing from the mayor of El Paso who is warning now that there are multiple fatalities, sadly multiple fatalities from what was an active shooter situation there at the Cielo Vista shopping mall, shopping area in El Paso, Texas. Again, we don't know the status of it, but based on the demeanor that you all are reading, we do rely upon your expertise as well. According to the mayor of El Paso, however, saying that there are multiple fatalities now.

And you can see at this mall a Walmart, a Sam's Club. We saw the pictures earlier, a Dillard's, and we know that there was lockdown of three major restaurant chains. Just a sizable shopping mall. It is Texas after all, it is El Paso, Texas, a sizable city, and it is a Saturday when so many individuals and families are at the store.

All right, we're going to continue to watch the developments here, keep you abreast. We're going to take a short break for now. Thank you so much Jonathan and Juliette. We'll return to your expertise right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:38:32] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. I want to join a local report in El Paso, Texas, right now to bring you up to date on what was an active shooter situation at a shopping mall there. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- there was an active shooter. At first he didn't believe it, and then he heard the gunshots, and that made him react quickly and start running to pick up kids who were with the family, and to try to help the kids out. Of course, we have multiple crews are on the scene. We'll have those updates for you. It's still a very active scene, so you want to stay away from the Cielo Vista, Walmart area. Don't come into this area because it's very active, helicopters flying around looking for a shooter. We're reporting live from Cielo Vista, KTSM News.

WHITFIELD: All right. That was moments ago from our KTSM affiliate there in El Paso, Texas. And now according to the chief of staff of the mayor's office that there are suspects, plural, in custody. Also coming from the mayor of El Paso that there are multiple fatalities as a result of what was a shooting situation at the Cielo Vista shopping mall there in El Paso. Just over a week from when school is to begin, which means that there are a lot of families in the stores, in the shopping malls on a Saturday like this at that shopping mall, the Cielo Vista shopping mall.

[14:40:00] You had a Walmart, you had a Sam's Club, there were multiple chain restaurants that were on lockdown. Earlier we had video, cellphone video of what appeared or what sounded like a mother and her daughter running out of a Dillard's shopping store. You could see and hear the panic. You could hear the breathing. Let me stop talking and let you hear it for a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up, hands up. Let's go. Let's go, let's go. Hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go, let's go. Let's go home. Run. Run.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And you can hear the panic, the worry in their voices. And, again, we are getting some information coming from the mayor's office, from El Paso police, but we also know that many of you are probably relying on your social media accounts to learn a lot of information. We did want to caution you that sometimes some of the early reports where the incomplete information is just that, incomplete and early.

And of course, we are continuing to work to confirm a lot of information and details that are coming in. We also want to get firsthand accounts. And we're going to get that now from Juan Rodarte who was at a nearby shopping mall, because not just at this shopping mall, the Cielo Vista that was on lockdown and that was also evacuated, there was another shopping mall just roughly about two miles away, the Bassett Place mall, and that is where Juan was earlier. So I understand that you experienced being evacuated from that mall. What did you experience?

JUAN RODARTE, EVACUATED FROM MALL NEAR WHERE SHOOTING TOOK PLACE: Well, basically we were told to evacuate our store. There was quite a bit of panic. All our managers didn't know what to do. It was kind of scary. We saw people with guns. And they evacuated the whole mall. People were rushing out of the store into the parking lot.

WHITFIELD: How frightening was that for you?

RODARTE: Very scary. I was shaking. I've never experienced that in my life.

WHITFIELD: Were you by yourself? Were are you with your family, friends? Tell me what your morning has been like.

RODARTE: I was with my colleagues. I was -- we all were told to wait in the parking lot. I saw tactical units approaching, helicopters above, police cars swarming the entire mall, closing the stores, sentries at every entrance.

WHITFIELD: So there really was no moment to be in disbelief. You believed it right around as you saw this kind of activity that something very frightening was under way.

RODARTE: Correct. Yes, the sirens, the cars rushing towards the entrance, people with guns already pointed at -- ready to be used. So yes, it was scary.

WHITFIELD: Describe what the reaction was like for everybody else around you. This is a confusing time. You don't have all the answer. You could just see the activity, you know something big and frightening is happening. How were people reacting around you?

RODARTE: Families were of course very protect protective of their kids. They were getting their kids in the cars, getting them out. I was praying that nobody got injured. At the same time it was pretty scary. And look at families, and hoping nobody gets hurt.

WHITFIELD: Juan Rodarte, thank you so much.

And we are hearing from the El Paso mayor that there are fatalities. But again, we are still awaiting details. And the office is also saying that there are suspects, plural, in custody. Of course, we're trying to do our due diligence, trying to get more reporting for you. We'll have it for you right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:48:06] WHITFIELD: We continue to follow the reporting out of El Paso, Texas, where there was an active shooter, and now the chief of staff from the El Paso mayor's office is saying that there are suspects in custody. However, the mayor also saying that there are multiple fatalities. You're looking at our affiliate reporting now, some of the images that are coming in.

You can see there, there are people giving instructions to folks who were inside these very busy stores while they were on lockdown. After the reports of active shooters. Earlier, you saw cellphone video of people actually running out. You heard from our affiliate reporting talking about how law enforcement of so many jurisdictions, federal and local, who had descended upon this shopping area. And even a shopping mall roughly two miles away from this Cielo Vista shopping mall were also being evacuated out of an abundance of caution. Let's listen in now to our reporting from our affiliate KVIA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is what we know so far. Police have confirmed that there are multiple people dead after this attack. Now, we're going to hear from Sergeant Enrique Carrillo. He's with El Paso police. We have been told, again, multiple people have died, multiple people are injured.

SGT. ENRIQUE CARRILLO, EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT: You want to move over there? It will be better for sound. Get over there because I have some important information to share with you guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will do, sir.

As you guys heard right now, we are going to speaking with El Paso police, with the DEA, and with the FBI. We'll hear more information up until then. Again, there have been people and ambulances streaming out of the area. And police still have not cleared the scene. We'll bring you more after we speak with the police. We're now reporting live in Cielo Vista, ABC 7.

[14:50:15] WHITFIELD: It looked like indeed the police officer was ready to provide some new information. Of course, when he comes back to provide any kind of update, we'll of course try to take that live.

Our Shimon Prokupecz, crime and justice reporter, is with us as well. So Shimon, we only have skeleton information. We know coming from the mayor's office that there are fatalities.

We know that there are suspects in custody. We know that there were two shopping malls that were impacted even though El Paso police said that there was an active shooter situation at one of the malls, Cielo Vista. And we've seen images of Border Patrol as well as El Paso police that had descended upon. What are your sources telling you about the situation?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right, a lot of resources now heading in to the area to assist the El Paso police, obviously. This is what always happens in these situations. I think a couple points here to make, significant here, that the mayor's office has been already able to confirm that they have some suspects in custody.

There are always, and I think it is important for viewers to keep in mind that there are always initial reports, the initial reports always say there are multiple shooters. There could be other people on that mall -- in that mall who were carrying weapons, because they can carry weapons there in that state. And so that could be causing some of the confusion.

WHITFIELD: Shimon, I just want to interrupt you, because here is that officer. Let's listen.

SGT. ENRIQUE CARRILLO, EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT: -- currently is searching the area, so we need people to stay away. If you have loved ones that are unaccounted for that were at the mall, and you haven't been able to get a hold of them, there is a reunification center currently set up at MacArthur Middle School on Whitus Street just north of the mall here.

So again, the reunification center in case anybody hasn't been contacted by a loved that you think was at the mall, or at the Walmart, then that is where the place to be is. Do not come here. Do not approach because you will not be allowed to enter the perimeter, OK? So that is what I have for you guys right now, OK.

WHITFIELD: OK, again, as you heard there, there is a reunification center for anyone who thinks that their loved one was at that shopping mall, and perhaps having a hard time connecting with them now. But that reunification center has been set up at a middle school not far from the Cielo Vista shopping center. And again, these are images from earlier as it looks like employees or perhaps even shoppers are being informed that they are in the emergency information. So back to your thoughts, Shimon, about how law enforcement has been handling this.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, Fred. So you can hear there from that police officer, it doesn't seem that the police have this entirely under control here. The fact that they are moving the media back, there is still some concern, they feel it is still a dangerous situation, and they need to move people further back. That's significant. It tells us, obviously, that the police still don't have the entire situation under control. As you said, just a short time ago --

WHITFIELD: Shimon, I'm so sorry to interrupt you. We're going to go back to that officer.

CARRILLO: We're still going through the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just one scene or multiple scenes?

CARRILLO: We're searching multiple scenes. Primarily the Walmart. But we have scenes at the mall also, so the entire area.

I can't give you any other details other than what I've giving you.

(INAUDIBLE)

CARRILLO: We're going to get you all the complete and as much information as we can get you. But for right now the important thing is putting out that reunification center and making sure that nobody comes to the mall. We have plenty of people here. The scene is controlled by officers on the perimeter. We have tactical teams going on with the search in the entire area here around the mall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are people still in danger?

CARRILLO: We don't believe there is a current -- there isn't an imminent threat. There is no active shooter currently. But that's not to say that we have rendered the scene safe at this time.

(INAUDIBLE)

WHITFIELD: Shimon Prokupecz is back with us. So you heard the officer say there is no active shooter as of right now, but they are not rendering it a safe scene.

[14:55:02] PROKUPECZ: Right. That's because they still have tactical officers walking through the mall, walking through that Walmart. They are dealing with sounds like multiple scenes here, different locations. And obviously this mall, it's a mall, so it's a very large area that police need to search.

There is going to be, as we've seen, video and heard people hiding, hunkering down, afraid to walk out of some of these rooms. There are probably people in the stock rooms, in the bathrooms of all of all of these different shops and stores inside this mall.

And we yet don't know how many people were inside this mall, but it's probably in the thousands. So you have to imagine the panic as well of people that were hearing gunshot, people reacting to that. So you're going to have people who were injured as a result of that, fleeing from the scene, running for their lives, and perhaps that's how some of the folks got injured.

It does seem, as we have been told, that they have at least a suspect, a subject, possibly the shooter, the believe, in custody. They may have taken other people in for questions. And again, there is always initial -- those initial reports of multiple shooters from witnesses are almost always not exactly accurate.

They're not always correct, and therefore just as a precaution, we should just keep in mind that police, they put out everything they know at the time and as they work to confirm information. So it's good news that we hear here from the police that they believe that there is no active shooter on the loose. Nonetheless, there is still a lot of concern that there may be still some danger for follow folks there.

WHITFIELD: Certainly. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much.

And thank you. We're going to continue to stay on this and our breaking news coverage. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Wolf Blitzer picks it up from here.

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