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Texas AG: 15+ Killed in Mass Shooting at EL Paso Shopping Center; Texas Gov: 20 People Dead in El Paso Shooting; Suspect Surrendered to Officers in Walmart. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 3, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: You're live here in the CNN newsroom. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world we're following very sad breaking news out of El Paso, Texas where a gunman opened fire at a shopping center.

The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton just told me moments ago at least 15, maybe 19 people are now confirmed dead. No exact numbers yet. We expect to get specific numbers fairly soon, an update from police and local hospital authorities any moment now.

Area hospitals say at least 22 people were injured in the mass shooting. There's indication there could be many more than that and a quick word of warning to our viewers. Some of you may find videos of the shooting very disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help, help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need CPR.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We see some of the victims lying on the ground in the first terrifying moments of this horrific attack. Many families were in the middle of school supply shopping. School supposed to begin in El Paso a week from Monday.

One witness described seeing the shooter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WITNESS TO SHOOTING: He's going for blood. He's going for death. He - that's his favorite thing right. He wants that blood lust he wants to fulfil. So as these people start running, you can hear the different firing. He starts pop - pop - pop - pop. He's going for the trigger finger. He's going - going - going.

But yeah that's what we heard. We heard people yelling run, shooter. Heard the gunshots. As we got close to the back, we didn't hear much of it because our channeling thought, I'm going, I'm going, I'm going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Authorities at Del Sol hospital in El Paso, we're having a news conference updating us on the victims right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But also we'd like to recognize the performance of the men and women of the El Paso fire department who were out there on the front lines. Without their terrific work, we would not have been able to do our job. We received 11 patients here at the hospital today aging from aged about 35 to 82 years old.

They are being managed in our hospital right now. Two patients are in stable condition, seven patients are in - nine patients are in critical condition. And two of - three of those patients are really in a life threatening predicament right now.

We took seven patients to the operating room today. They underwent a number of procedures by a number of different specialists and it's expected that over the course of the next several days, we will need to do ongoing procedures on many of these patients.

I thank the community of El Paso, should be very proud of the trauma system that is here on their behalf to take care of them. I'm extremely grateful for the commitment by HCA healthcare to have a level 2 trauma center here to be able to take care of patients in times like this.

And I'm very proud to be a part of that team. I'll turn it over back to David for any further questions.

DAVID SHIMP, CEO, DEL SOL HOSPITAL: Thank you Dr. Flirty. Happy to take a couple of questions.

REPORTER: Did you have any doctors or specialists or nurses that were called in or came in today?

SHIMP: I don't have exact numbers but a significant number. I mean we had a - many surgical specialists, general surgeons, trauma surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, urologists, anesthesiologists, a number of doctors that are coming in to be able to participate in the care of these patients.

We had staff from our hospital here Del Sol as well as our sister facility Las Palmas that ended up coming over as well.

REPORTER: Mr. - when I came here earlier in the day, I saw multiple police officers coming in through the doors, some special police officers with weapons and such. Is there a threat to the hospital? Is there any type of threat in the area?

SHIMP: I don't - we wanted to obviously to make sure that the hospital and grounds and everything were safe.

[19:05:00]

Just, it's a precaution that we end up taking. I don't know that there were any other threats, I frankly can't really comment on that.

REPORTER: Can you talk about the ages of the children?

SHIMP: We didn't actually end up getting any of the children here and so I can't speak to that.

REPORTER: Can someone by what stable condition means and earlier you said that there were some people who were in serious condition but stable, does that mean that they might still make it through or what does that mean?

SHIMP: Stable condition is that there is no immediate threat to life at this point. Critical condition is just that, critical.

REPORTER: (inaudible)

SHIMP: I'm not entirely certain.

REPORTER: - data gun shoot wounds. I assume bullets were removed. Could you tell what kind of chowder if there were bullets removed from any of the victims.

SHIMP: I don't know and I'm not certain.

REPORTER: Can you tell us something about the teamwork? Your team and how they all came together today to help?

SHIMP: Absolutely, the unfortunate reality is this is the world that we live in and so we prep for this, we drill for this. We ended up participating in a in a citywide, statewide mass casualty incident with drilling around active shooter. This was actually last October and it was - it was incredible participation.

This went as flawlessly as what it could. I - again, I could not be more proud of the team. We have some surgeons who are former military, some who are still active duty military who've been deployed in Afghanistan and in Iraq and their comments around the level of engagement and how this - how we're able to care for these patients was second to none.

REPORTER: How important is it to prepare and unfortunately happened but how does it help you when it happened?

SHIMP: It helps for us to be able to coordinate everything from making sure that blood products and sterile supplies that we need for operative procedures that we're able to - that we're able to have all of those and know what to do for massive transfusion for multiple cases going on at the same time.

So that's what we prep for.

REPORTER: And then (inaudible) SHIMP: Yes. And as a Level 2 trauma center again, there's requirements that we have for in house trauma teams as well as folks that are on standby and on call.

REPORTER: Are you asking for blood donations?

SHIMP: Certainly blood donations will be helpful.

REPORTER: Where?

SHIMP: I'm not - I'm not entirely certain. I believe United Blood Services and I don't know where else to necessarily go.

REPORTER: Were there any patients sent to other Medical centers?

SHIMP: Yes.

REPORTER: Other than UMC?

SHIMP: I'm not aware.

REPORTER: Did any of the patients pass away?

SHIMP: No, we're incredibly proud to say that all the patients that have been brought to us with God's good grace are still alive.

REPORTER: Anything you want to say that we didn't ask?

SHIMP: No.

REPORTER: Anything you'd like to add?

SHIMP: No, thank you and again, I could not be more proud of our team. This is truly tragic and El Paso should be incredibly proud to have a system and a team that has been able to address this the way that we have. Again, I'm - with God's good grace all these patients will end up surviving and I just couldn't be more proud.

REPORTER: What about family members? Can they come and ask for their - ?

SHIMP: We've had family members. There is a phone number 915-263-6999 for patient hotline. We have been working to be able to identify patients and family members.

REPORTER: Is it just immediate family or - family members -

SHIMP: Any family can be able to call.

REPORTER: Can you repeat the number please?

SHIMP: 915-263-6999.

REPORTER: Anything else you want to say Doctor?

REPORTER: What are your - (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Here you have the latest from the Del Sol Medical Center. 11 patients have - are there, two are in stable condition, nine, he says are in critical condition. Three of those nine are in a life threatening situations. Right now we're hoping they survive. We were also told just a little while ago by the Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton. We interviewed him. He said at least 15 people he's been told our dead, maybe 19, that number clearly could increase. Shimon Prokupecz covering the investigation for us. Shimon, we also were told from the Attorney General that the suspect is 21 year old white male is being interviewed by authorities.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER, CNN: He is and I think that's important and significant piece of detail that we're getting there from the Attorney General. It would seem then by those words that the suspect here is cooperating with investigators.

[19:10:00]

So they're going to be able to learn quite a lot of information if he is in fact answering their questions about motive, about when he decided to do this? How did he arrived to the scene? We know there was a car. He it would appear surrendered without incident, that is going to be significant because in a lot of these types of shooting Wolf as you know, these shooters don't generally surrender.

They either take their own life or they're taken down by police so that's significant. Also a lot of details, they already have a lot of information. There are these online writings that they believe is linked to him and can speak to motive. So they're pouring through that.

Perhaps they're sitting with him going over some of what he wrote there, some of his thinking so seem to have been making a lot of progress here in this investigation. The big thing now that we're all waiting for is this press conference with the Governor and the other elected officials and the authorities there.

This is now almost 7:00 hours into this so we're now waiting for those - for the authorities there, the elected officials to finally come out and brief us on exactly everything.

BLITZER: We are told there will be a news conference with the authorities at the bottom of the hour in maybe about 20 minutes or so from now. I will of course have live coverage of that. I want to speak with an eye witness but once again the Del Sol hospital, 11 patients ranging in age from 35 to 82 and at the University Medical Center of El Paso, 13 victims were brought there.

Unfortunately one of them has since died. Two of them were children, they've been transferred to the Children's Medical Center in El Paso. There are 10 others in their various stages but it shows how random the ages, how random - from children to at least one person 82 years old that this individual went in there and started shooting people randomly. PROKUPECZ: One of the things that got me was when the police - the

public information officer from El Paso was talking about the Walmart that it was at capacity. It was as we've been saying -

BLITZER: Maybe as many as 3000 shoppers were in the Walmart and 100 employees.

PROKUPECZ: Back to school shopping too. So you're going to see kids. Their parents are bringing their kids to buy supplies. It could be clothing, it could be anything. It's an exciting time for a lot of families for kids going back to school, it's an opportunity to go shopping so you had a lot of families in there.

And when you look at the video of people hiding and running, there's so many people that were there and around that area at the time, many people injured you know, we're not even at a point where we have a definitive number on the injured because some people took themselves to the hospital we're told by the police there.

So that's what they were still doing. They were still trying to gather the number of injured and the number of injured is only going to grow and like the hospital official there said, they have three people with life threatening injuries, three people were still fighting to survive, they've had surgeries.

So there's still a lot here that can happen and certainly I think for this community, it's going to be a very difficult, difficult time.

BLITZER: People are watching all over the country and they're wondering is it safe to go to the local shopping mall and do some school shopping for the kids. Stand by. Joining us on the phone right now is Tabitha Estrada. She was at the front of the Walmart when the shooting began.

Tabitha, thanks so much for joining us. First of all, how are you doing? Tabitha, unfortunately I think we've lost our connection. We'll try to reconnect. You know Shimon as we hear these stories though, people are waiting with their kids, holding hands, walking around, wanted to get some school supplies, wanted to get some clothing, some new clothes for school, it's an exciting time.

And then all of a sudden somebody comes in the store and we hear these stories. Unfortunately we hear them over and every few months, there's a horrific incident.

PROKUPECZ: Last week Sunday, people were at a food festival. You know I came in. I worked on that story as well. People were at a food festival, at the end of a food festival where someone opened fire on people and then you have this morning this is early - this is 10 AM in El Paso.

You know, I was talking to some folks who are familiar with this area. They said that Walmart is busy, like on a morning like today before school, school shopping and as we heard from the police, it was at near capacity. A 100 employees at the Walmart. So you have the workers there and the shooting according to the police

is he started shooting in the parking lot and he just went in with a rifle, highly - high powered, they believe an assault rifle. So folks that really had no chance.

I mean, he knew what he was doing. He picked that target for a reason, probably knew that security - he can overpower if there was any security, he can overpower that and just went in and what's going to be interesting is whether or not he was targeting certain individuals. That obviously something we'll find out about.

[19:15:00]

Or was he firing randomly, kids - we know there were kids inside. What that must have been like for so many of the families and so it's going to be you know, once we start hearing more and more about the victims and the witnesses that were injured here and killed, it's going to - it's going to be a tough time.

BLITZER: Ken Paxton, the Texas Attorney General just told us moments ago, somewhere between 15 and 19 people were killed but that number presumably is going to increase as we get more information. We're standing by for this news conference to come in from El Paso in the next few moments. Let's resume our special coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Following the breaking news out of El Paso, Texas where the Attorney General of Texas has just told us that at least 15, maybe 20 people are now dead as a result of this mass shooting, maybe 30 people have been injured. Some of them in a life threatening situations at local hospitals right now.

Joining us on the phone is Tabitha Estrada. She was at the front of the Walmart when the shooting began. Tabatha, first of all how are you doing?

TABITHA ESTRADA, WITNESS TO THE SHOOTING: I am doing pretty OK, thank you.

BLITZER: Tell us what you saw and what you heard and what went on.

ESTRADA: I personally didn't really see that much. I just kind of saw everyone running and screaming and like everyone staying together to wait, to get down, to find cover. A lot of people where it went inside different stores in the mall and a lot of us had to like take people into our backroom.

But it was really confusing at first because we didn't know what was going on then because there wasn't really a lot of word at that point like things had just happened.

So everyone was just running and screaming.

BLITZER: So what did you do personally? Where did you go?

[19:20:00]

ESTRADA: So I was at work so I had to pull people into the store and I had a couple of customers in my store and I had to close and lock the door and I had to pull them into the back and we just kind of had to sit there and kind of wait and see what happens.

BLITZER: So did you - what - did you follow what was going on, could you - could you hear local authorities give instructions or anything along those lines?

ESTRADA: We were in the back room for a good 15-20 minutes before we heard any of the local authorities block past. So we were in the back for a little while with no signal, not really knowing what's going on just knowing that there was people outside that were telling us to hide.

And all the stores around us were closed. And then finally we were able to get signal and we heard what was going on and we all kind of got even more scared. And then that's when we heard like the police officers walking past the backroom telling for people to like, if there's someone was in the hallway to come out with their hands out.

And at that point like we got all scared because we thought well maybe the shooter was in the back of like in the hallways of the mall. So we all kind of backed up into a corner hopefully like if he did walked past our store and tried to get in like he wouldn't see us.

BLITZER: How long were you actually hiding in the back of your store?

ESTRADA: Maybe around 30-45 minutes before they evacuated us.

BLITZER: You must have been so frightened.

ESTRADA: Yeah and I think it was even worse because I didn't want to freak out my customers so I was trying to you know reassure them that they were going to be OK too because I knew that I had family that I could turn to. But my customers were from over the border so they had it harder because they were going to have to find a way to get their family to get signal to figure out what's going on.

And I had my like my mom on the phone so she knew I was going to be OK but they didn't know they were going to be OK.

BLITZER: Did your mom call you right away or did you call your mom?

ESTRADA: I called my mom first to let her know what's happening and then after that like she called me and even drove down to that area the closest she could get. That way she could kind of try and get me when they got us out.

BLITZER: So your customers who were hiding with you obviously, they were frightened, they were from Mexico. How are they doing? Did they manage to leave OK? Did they go back? Do you have any idea what happened to them?

ESTRADA: So we got all evacuated together and the - when they evacuated us, I made sure they were OK and they said that they had called their family from Juarez to make sure that they were - you know, meet them at the border to you know, get them home.

But we got separated for a little bit and when I went back to go see if they were still there, they were gone so I assume that they had already left at that point.

BLITZER: Yes, let's hope they're OK and obviously, I'm sure they were shaken. You still must be pretty shaken by all this Tabitha.

ESTRADA: I am because it's just - it's so real for it to happen in our city is because I've never known El Paso to be a hateful place like yes, we have our problems here and there but never something of this scale happened. And for our city and our you know police forces and all the different you know, people that were there to react so swiftly and calmly, it was really calming to see that.

Like no one else was treating this like it was such a you know, like a big thing. They were handling it like they should. But it was - it was scary because last month they had active shooter sweeps at night during the mall, like practice sweeps while the mall is closed.

And you know they would let us know like Hey, if you're not out by this time, just know that they're going to be doing this like don't feel alarmed but it was always like oh, that's not going to happen like why are they doing that but here it is happening and it just it - I think everyone's hearts hurt because so many lives were lost of so many people that we know or we've seen.

BLITZER: So I just want to be precise Tabitha. You did have a drill you say a month ago involving preparation for a potential mass shooting, is that right?

ESTRADA: Yes Sir.

BLITZER: Yes and you probably thought that that was just a drill and it was never going to happen. Who would have thought it was going to happen within a month or so. Tabitha, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us and your experience with us, a horrific experience indeed. Good luck to you. Good luck to all the folks in El Paso, thank you so much.

ESTRADA: Thank you. Be safe.

BLITZER: Yes. Be safe over there as well. Charles Ramsey is still with us, our law enforcement analyst, the former Washington DC Police Chief.

[19:25:00]

CHARLES RAMSEY, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: Chief Ramsey, you hear a story like that from this young woman Tabitha Estrada. She was just at a store in the shopping mall. There were some visitors from Mexico. They were there, she was trying to protect them. You can only imagine how scared these folks were. Yes, and you could hear the trauma in her voice and that's going to be

there for a while. I mean, this stuff doesn't go away. I got a text from the Mayor of Parkland, Florida while I was doing the show and it just reminded her of what happened in Parkland and I would imagine other cities that have had these mass shootings take place.

It brings back those horrific memories as well so the trauma goes way beyond just El Paso. I mean, it affects a lot of people, no question about that and fortunately she's OK but that's something that is just absolutely horrific.

BLITZER: The Attorney General, you heard the live interview I did with Ken Paxton a little while ago. I'm just looking at the notes once again. He says that he has been hearing that between 15 and 20 people have been killed. He doesn't have a specific number, between 15 and 20 people he says that's probably accurate.

It's - that is obviously a very large number, very disturbing, maybe 30 or 40 people were shot and injured, some of them facing life threatening situations right now so that number of fatalities presumably is going to increase and it only takes a few minutes when somebody comes in with a weapon of this nature and that weapon is loaded with a lot of ammunition and goes ahead and starts killing people randomly from children to an 82 year old.

RAMSEY: Yes and again earlier, the one person you interviewed mentioned that there were anywhere from 1000 to 3000 people in the store at the time so hearing a number like 15-20 or even higher is something that you can really believe is true.

Unfortunately, hopefully no one else passes away but again it just goes to show how deadly these weapons are and they should not be in civilian hands in my opinion and certainly not in the hands of people like the individual who was involved in this shooting.

BLITZER: We're waiting for the police news conference, it's supposed to begin momentarily. We'll have live coverage of that right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:30:00]

BLITZER: These are live pictures coming in from El Paso. There's going to be a major news conference now. We see local authorities coming in it, looks like we're going to get some specific information. The governor is there, others are there as well. We're going to have live coverage of this momentarily.

There you see Governor Greg Abbott and other authorities who are going to be briefing us on the nature of this horrific mass shooting in El Paso. We were told by the Attorney General, Ken Paxton moments ago that somewhere between 15 and 20 people were probably killed.

There's not a specific number yet. We might be getting a specific right number shortly, maybe 30 or 40 people were injured in this mass shooting. A 21 year old white male suspect is now being interviewed by local authorities we're told.

We'll get presumably some more specific information on the suspect as well and the social media postings that apparently are painting specific picture of a possible motive involved in all of this. So this news conference is about to begin. I want our viewers to hear all of it so let's listen. This is the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT, TEXAS: Thank you all for joining with us here today. My name is Greg Abbott, I'm the governor of Texas and I want to let you know, Texas grieves for people at El Paso today. On a day that would have been a normal day for someone to leisurely go shopping turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of Texas.

Lives were taken who should have still be with us today. 20 innocent people from El Paso have lost their lives. And more than two dozen more are injured. We as a state, unite in support of these victims and their family members.

We want to do all we can to help them, to assist them. We pray that God can be with those who've been harmed in any way and bond up their wounds. We want to express incredible gratitude for all the law enforcement and the swift response they took to minimize the loss of life by directly confronting the shooter, getting him to disarm himself and be able to arrest him.

We could not have done this without the effective law enforcement activities at the El Paso Police Department and by the Texas Rangers, by state, federal and local law enforcement working collaboratively, the way law enforcement does work. Making sure that swift justice would be achieved.

I want the city of El Paso to know and El Paso Police Department and everybody in this entire community know that the state of Texas provides its full support for this community in their efforts to rebuild. For the country that I know has been paying a lot of attention to this, asking what they can do, I ask that you keep El Pasoans in your prayers.

We know the power of prayer and the power that you can have by using that prayer. For every mom and dad, for every son and daughter we ask that you put your arms around your family members tonight and give them a hug. And let them know how much you love them.

[19:35:00]

As I was talking with members of the Texas House of Representatives behind me right now earlier today, moments ago, they pointed out to me as they showed to me what a video taking place in this community about how people in this community were standing in lines around buildings to give blood to provide support as they pointed out El Paso is defined not by the catastrophe that struck this town.

The way El Paso is really defined is the way this community comes together and supports each other to bridge the divide of this catastrophe that's happened today toward the pathway of where El Paso will be tomorrow.

Texas and everybody in this community, we must do one thing today. One thing tomorrow and each and every day after this. We must unite. And especially I want to emphasize the importance of every man and woman, black, brown, white, whatever your race may be, now is the time for Texans to come together to support each other, to help these families in need and then make sure that El Paso is going to be able to take a step forward that it needs to take.

I've known for more than two decades a man who has a passion for El Paso and the people of this town and it's your great Mayor who will speak next.

MAYOR DEE MARGO, EL PASO, TEXAS: Thank you Governor. We appreciate your attendance here under these circumstances. This is a tough time for El Paso. Something none of us would have ever imagined. My condolence and prayer - condolences and prayers go out to all of El Paso as we mourn those who have been impacted by this tragedy.

They and I with the rest of El Paso will pray for and mourn those who we have lost. We will remember their lives and honor their memories together. Our community will not be defined by this senseless evil act of violence. We will be defined by the unity and compassion we showed in the wake of this tragedy.

United our community will heal. El Paso was too strong to be broken by cowardly act like this one. I want to assure that the El Paso community that we are safe. We are safe. Thank you to the El Paso Police Department and our law enforcement partners for their swift response and assistance.

I will now turn it over to Chief Allen for specifics.

CHIEF GREG ALLEN, EL PASO POLICE: Thank you Mayor. Active shooter call went out this morning to 911 at 10:39 AM. Police response, first officer on the scene was 10:45 AM, a six minute response time. From the shooter we have 20 confirmed fatalities and we have 26 wounded.

The ages and genders of all these people injured and killed are numerous and the age groups - the situation needless to say is a horrific one. Crime scene is being assisted by the FBI, various law enforcement agencies respond to the scene. The Sheriff's department, DPS, Border patrol, everyone that carries a badge in this town pretty much showed up to that particular scene.

But needless to say the scene is a horrific one unfortunately because of the nature of the situation. The scene will be in play for a long period. Unfortunately the cease will remain at the scene until the scene is processed properly for evidentiary purposes, to be gathered for later prosecution. The state of Texas will be the lead agency or into the prosecuting this particular individual.

[19:40:00]

It has a nexus at this pro point in time to a hate crime. The FBI will be looking into that with other federal authorities. Right now, we're looking at potential capital murder charges for this individual. I'm not going to give you his name right now. He's a 21 year old white male of Allen, Texas. And with that - I'm sorry - turn this over to Chief Augustine who's personnel responded as well.

CHIEF AUGUSTINE, TEXAS: Thank you Chief Allen. I want to highlight what the Chief and our Mayor was saying. And this incident that happened this morning, it activated the whole system and the system was successful. From the first calls that came in to 911, getting crews on the scene within that - within six minutes, we had hundreds of responder, not just from local but state and federal as they said.

As tragic as it is, luckily we had no first responders injured in today's events. But it does take a toll. I'd ask that the community keep their thoughts and prayers not only with the victims and their families who lost their lives or were injured today but with the first responders as well.

With that I'm going to turn it over to the FBI special agent in charge.

EMMERSON BUIE, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Thank you my name is Emmerson Buie. E. M. M. E. R. S. O. N. B. U. I. E. As a member of this community for the last two years, words cannot express how I feel right now because this community has embraced me with open arms. And I share the sentiments of everyone at the table as to how we all feel for the families and the victims today.

The FBI as a federal law enforcement agency responsible for a number jurisdiction has come in to assist with the other federal agencies as well as state and other local agencies just to provide support in the investigation as this murder investigation continues as well as look at other aspects of the investigation that could potentially be looked at from a federal standpoint.

The investigation is still early on. The primary concern of course is the victims, making sure they receive the care and courtesy that they deserve and as we continue to move to this investigation, we will provide updates along with our other partners.

ABBOTT: We'll take a few questions.

REPORTER: (inaudible)

ABBOTT: It would be best for the FBI to answer that question.

BUIE: Can you repeat the question?

REPORTER: (inaudible)

BUIE: First and foremost, I did not call it a crime. I say we're looking at other aspects to ensure what potential violations are out there before we can label any type of investigation, we have to ensure that the evidence and the precursors are there and they had to be reviewed to make sure that we are executing and moving in the right direction. So at this point in time we're reviewing all the evidence that we have

collected so far, we're pursuing other leads, we have mobilized additional offices for assistance in that vein and we will conduct investigation just like we have another incidents.

REPORTER: Mr. Buie, is this a terrorist investigation?

BUIE: Again no, right now it is a murder investigation. There is potential for a number of different other types of violations and we're reviewing all the evidence to make a determination as to what potentially else is out there in addition to the violations that have been stated, that the local authorities are pursuing.

And in that vein, we will assist them in that effort as we work together with state and local and other federal agencies all over the country to do and we will keep you updated as the investigation proceeds.

ALLEN: Right now, we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree it has nexus to potential hate crime. It didn't mean to step on the FBI's toes on that but we are taking this down the road of simply a murder investigation with numerous casualties and as I said the state of Texas will be the lead prosecuting agency in this.

REPORTER: What's the nature of the manifesto.

ALLEN: Well, I can't get into specifics on that right now because we have to validate for certain - certainty that this was the manifesto from this individual that we've arrested so with that in play, we still have to be aware of the fact that this person is still entitled to a fair process as far as the law.

We don't want to complicate that by making any statements right now that might be tamping the investigation.

REPORTER: Were there any Mexican citizens who were either injured or fatality?

ALLEN: Would you mind repeating that?

REPORTER: Were there any Mexican citizens who were either in fatality or casualty?

ALLEN: We are not able to ascertain that right now simply because hospitals will not release that information to us specifically.

[19:45:00]

REPORTER: Can you confirm the number of locations where the shootings occurred and the weapons were used.

ALLEN: Again those are details that we're going to keep under play right now as far as the investigation goes, we have one weapon that was put out on social media, I'm sure you're aware of that which was AK 47. We don't know if those pictures released in social media were the actual individual so right now again going back to the fair process for this individual.

You don't want to tank the investigation by a matter of fact saying things right now.

REPORTER: Chief, without any (inaudible)

ALLEN: You mind repeating that.

REPORTER: I know you can't get into too many specifics but this one individual and the fire power they had, how is that able to let them hurt this many?

ALLEN: The capability of the weapon allowed that and then his intent. And then the location where he chose was a Walmart or super mart where people are in large numbers there so if you are firing randomly at people, you can cause a lot of damage.

REPORTER: (inaudible)

ALLEN: No.

REPORTER: Chief, this will be fair there's only one suspect. There was no other suspect.

ALLEN: Again the initial information coming in was several suspects, that information was put out to the field. We had misleading information going to different locations as far as supermarkets, Costco was one location, Village was another. Everyone was responding to that. Social media somewhat influenced that.

But in the final analysis of all this, suspect was arrested at Sunmount and in Viscount which is on the west side of the Walmart out there where the initial shooting took place.

REPORTER: And was he arrested by El Paso police officers?

ALLEN: I'm sorry.

REPORTER: He was arrested by El Paso police officers?

ALLEN: Yes.

REPORTER: And I think the Governor mentioned that he disarmed himself on their command.

ALLEN: He surrendered to the approaching officers.

REPORTER: I want that he was still armed at that time?

ALLEN: I don't know that matter of factly but he surrendered to police on being seen.

REPORTER: Multiple weapons or only one?

ALLEN: Right now we only have one.

REPORTER: There was Honda Accord in that scene. Was that his vehicle?

ALLEN: If you're asking for specifics right now, right now that's still under investigation.

REPORTER: The white male with a manifesto has become an increasingly common threat in the United States it feels like. What can we do to prevent this from happening in the future.

ALLEN: That's for psychologists the answer. That's something that is definitely I think in play but that's beyond my skill sets.

REPORTER: How did the city prepare for - if they did prepare for a situation like this?

ALLEN: I only -

REPORTER: Do we train for active shooters?

ALLEN: We train for active events all the time and as I've said to my staff and to the department, we train for this not expecting that to happen but none the less we have to prepare for it to happen and we try to get the community as much as involved as we possibly can to participate in these events so that everyone is under - understanding what this potentially might cause.

REPORTER: Governor Abbott, what do plan on doing to ensure that this doesn't happen again in our community?

ABBOTT: This - responding to a situation like this, to try to make sure it doesn't happen again is a replication of what we just went through during the last legislative session. It was made a year ago when we had the horrific tragedy of the shooting at Santa Fe High School that led to three days of hearings that I conducted at the capital to get input from people who are educators, who were students, who were victims of shooting crimes as well as experts in all different kinds of fields, to help us be able to strategize the best ways to keep students safe and to prevent incidents like that from happening again.

That led to hearings that were conducted by the legislature before the session began, then additional hearings and then legislation that was passed by the state of Texas and is now law, then includes bill after bill after bill that make sure that we were doing more than ever before to keep students safe at school.

During that time we did not as far as I know, evaluate for and plan for incident like this. That said, I can tell you that perhaps the most profound and agreed upon issue that came out of all of those hearings was the need for the state and for society to do a better job of dealing with challenging mental health based issues.

[19:50:00]

We know that's a component to shooting to take place in schools. I think it's a fact. Probably is a component to any type of shooting that takes place including for example the shooting that took place in Southern Springs. Bottom line is mental health is a large contributor to any type of violence or shooting violence and the state of Texas this past session, passed a lot of legislation and provided funding for the state to better address that challenge.

REPORTER: Congresswoman Escobar, one of the things that no one is talking about right now is the hate crime nexus which appears at this point to be related to immigration. It is an issue you have devoted a lot of time to. Can you talk about that and the rhetoric around this entire issue in the last few years.

So the question about the manifesto and this emerging narrative that we're seeing throughout our country as to domestic terrorism which is you know and obviously I want to say we don't know. We have to allow the investigation to continue I respect the process very much so but without regard to this particular instance, not speaking about this particular instance, which is still under investigation.

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): But the manifesto narrative is fueled by hate and it's fueled by racism and bigotry and division. And it's - you know, I want to say the national media is watching. El Paso has historically been a very safe community. We've been safe for decades, we will continue to be safe.

This is someone who came from outside of our community to do us harm. A community that has shown nothing but generosity and kindness to the least among us. Those people arriving at America's front door and so we'll wait to see what happens with this investigation once we have a determination by law enforcement.

Then I think you will see a lot of us coming together to make some very strong statements but for now we will let the investigation continue.

ALLEN: Let me just say one thing in closing to echo what Congresswoman Escobar said. This person did not come from El Paso. It is not what we're about. We're a special community and this would not have happened from an El Pasoan, I can assure you.

ABBOTT: Now you may have - I want to thank the Governor and other elected officials who've expressed their support here and they're also - you all might want to know if there are going to be any more updates on this and I'm going to let Chief Allen close with that.

ALLEN: We'll do another press conference if we find out anything different that we can expound upon later. I want to thank you all for coming. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, so there we get the official word from authorities in the state of Texas. 20 people were killed, at least 20 people were killed. 26 people were wounded, several of them in a life threatening situations right now.

The 21 year old white male suspect did in fact according to authorities that we just heard from have some sort of manifesto with the words, with a potential connection to a hate crime, a nexus to hate crime that's what we heard from authorities.

Shimon, this is all very, very significant information that we're beginning to get but the numbers first of all are so horrendous.

PROKUPECZ: Yes and that's going to really you know, ultimately what this is about. These people who went into this shopping, back to school with their kids, it was a filled to capacity, this Walmart and we have yet to learn anything about the victim.

So that would be the story in the coming hours in the coming days but very significant here already from the police saying that they are investigating this as a possible hate crime. There's just no other way to explain this. A nexus to a hate crime is what, is how the police chief describe it.

They talked about a manifesto. We have been talking about that there were some -

BLITZER: Something posted online.

PROKUPECZ: - posted online. Obviously it's out there. People have reviewed it. That is playing a significant part in this investigation. Also interviews, interviews with the suspect, that seems to be playing a significant part in this investigation.

The FBI helping, they're sending agents to other parts of the state, perhaps the other parts of the country they're assisting. Again, significant in that, the suspect drove some 10:00 hours to this area and decided that this is where he was going to do the shooting and the police also describing that he surrendered.

[19:55:00]

He surrendered without a fight. They were able to stop him and take him into custody so there's a lot here still that we don't know but the most significant thing because I think it really changes the story in so many ways and there's going to be so many conversations is when the police come out and say that there is a nexus to a hate crime and this is being investigated as a possible hate crime. That is going to be very significant.

BLITZER: Some of those shots were just kids, children who are now at the Children's Medical Center in El Paso. One individual, 82 years old who was shot is in one of the hospitals.

PROKUPECZ: And also I just want to - he's facing - the suspect here is facing the death penalty. They're treating this as a capital crime. This the police chief there said so as we know in Texas and the death penalty so he is potentially facing the death penalty.

BLITZER: Yes, we heard from the police Chief, capital murder charges are on the line right now. Congressman Will Hurd of Texas is joining us right now. He's a Republican, former undercover officer for the CIA as well.

So Congressman, what's your reaction to this horrific shooting? REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): Well, first and foremost, you know 20 people

killed, that just your heart goes out, your heart sinks. Also you got to remember there are family members that are dealing not only with you know, knowing that their loved ones were just murdered, that there are some, that the people that are currently in the hospital in critical condition and these families are praying and worrying about whether their family member is going to make it through the night.

It's just, it's terrible in this day and age, you wonder why somebody's heart is filled with this much hate and rage to do something like this and you know like the folks were saying in the in the press conference, the city of El Paso is a warm safe a beautiful city.

The communities there are grieving but also know that local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, civil society, they're all - and state government, they are all working closely together to put together the pieces to try to understand why something like this happened.

BLITZER: At least 20 killed, 26 wounded. Those numbers could go up as we get more information. We're told Congressman, 21 year old white male from Allen, Texas is the suspect under arrest right now. That's about a 600 mile drive from Allen, Texas to El Paso Texas and that there was the so called manifesto that authorities now say have a potential to a hate crime. Tell us what's your reaction to that.

HURD: Sure and before I hit that Wolf, if any of your viewers are living in Texas or New Mexico, donate blood. This is something that is going to be needed over the next couple of days and even weeks. You can go to the Red Cross and figure out how to do that. That's critical.

But also this is a lesson for all of us across the country, if you see something on social media that suggests someone's going to do some crime, notify your local law enforcement, notify the FBI if you see something like that and if and again this is still an investigation. If this was a crime that was indeed a fueled by hatred of some sort then this is obviously an act of domestic terrorism.

That is if and we don't want to get in the way of federal law enforcement and local law enforcement doing this but if this does play out, it should be treated that way and this is a - this is a broader problem. I've been talking with a federal law enforcement all day about this - this problem.

And they've said they're overwhelmed by the number of tips and information they've been getting from citizens about stuff that they see on social media. Now that is going to have to be something that we have to deal with. I hope in the conversation around this what just happened, this horrible event is we focus on preventing people from having guns, that shouldn't have guns.

We are preventing people and whether it's young men from the suburbs that are you know, thinking that this is something that they should have to do. We have to make sure that social media companies are working with federal law enforcement and local law enforcement on this.

We got to improve information sharing and intelligence sharing from federal law enforcement to local law enforcement. This is another - and this could be an example. Again, I'm hypothesizing here Wolf, that this is an example of you know, is this a lone wolf? Is this someone that has never been on the screen or been on the attention of law enforcement? Right? We don't know that yet.