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29 killed in Two U.S. Mass Shootings Hours Apart. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired August 5, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN headquarters in Atlanta following breaking news. Once again Americans are faced with the brutal aftermath of gun violence but the weekend's back-to-back mass shootings just 13 hours apart were especially shocking.
20 people were killed at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, another nine died outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio. And though his motive is unknown, former classmates of the Dayton, Ohio gunman say, when he was in high school, he had a hit list of classmates he wanted to kill or hurt.
In the attack early Sunday, nine people were killed when the shooter opened fire outside a bar. People ran away so quickly their shoes were left behind. Ryan Young has details now from the scene.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A flurry of shots show the brief but deadly moments at the suspected gunman opened fire on Saturday night crowds in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Police say the gunman parked his car and walked through Dayton's Oregon district, a neighborhood known for its nightlife and began firing shots just after 1:00 a.m.
Surveillance video shows crowds running from the shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired! (INAUDIBLE) Shots fired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A3, where are you at?
YOUNG: Dayton police routinely patrolled this area on Saturday nights and they were able to respond in seconds.
NAN WHALEY (D), MAYOR OF DAYTON, OHIO: A suspect opened fire along the Oregon district who was wearing body armor and used a 223 caliber high-capacity magazine. He had additional magazines.
YOUNG: Threat was neutralized in approximately 30 seconds of the suspect firing his first shots. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dispatch, we got shots fired. We got multiple
people down. We're going to need multiple medics.
YOUNG: Two women say they were out with girlfriends.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People just started running. They started pushing us out the back door.
YOUNG: Her friend says she remembers chatting with a woman about their outfits, but the next time she saw her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was laying on the -- on the concrete deck outside of the club that we was at.
YOUNG: Robert Woodruff says he was standing several feet away from the gunman as he fired shots.
ROBERT WOODRUFF, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I thought I was about to die. To the officer, he's like standing over the top of me like and he starts shooting at the guy. So he say, everybody get out of here.
YOUNG: Despite the quick response, at least nine were killed and more than a dozen injured. One of those killed was the shooters own 22 year old sister.
GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: The officers who were involved in ending this tragedy, their professionalism, their quickness, their amazing courage, and their response undoubtedly saved many, many, many lives. We will never know how many lives were saved. The assailant was obviously very, very close to being able to kill dozens and dozens more people.
YOUNG: Ryan Young, Dayton, Ohio.
CHURCH: And in Texas, authorities are treating Saturday's El Paso shooting as domestic terrorism. The alleged shooter has been charged with capital murder. Authorities say he's from the Dallas area, and that he posted a racist and white nationalist manifesto online. It's a disturbing document that lays out his reasons for an attack. It also singles out hispanics as a target for violence.
El Paso is a border town. And of the 20 people killed, Mexico says at least seven were its citizens. CNN's Ed Lavandera has this report from El Paso.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At 10:39 Saturday morning came the first calls for help. A 21 year old white male walked into this Wal- Mart store in east El Paso and unleashed a deadly attack with an assault-style rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody in McDonald's wonders -- is wondering what happened. I'm looking to see what's going on and more people are coming in, and then I hear -- we all ran.
LAVANDERA: Thousands of shoppers including families simply thinking of their back-to-school shopping lists filled the store and parking lot where the shooting startled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was -- people were running from inside the mall to Dillard's and they were just screaming to get out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told my mother, mom, there are gunshots. We need to go. And she just froze and did not move. And I told her let's move. Get down. Get down.
LAVANDERA: Shoppers took cover, businesses went on lockdown, and first responders rushed to locate an active shooter. Within hours, El Paso Police Spokesman Robert Gomez said an arrest had been made.
[01:05:06] ROBERT GOMEZ, SPOKESMAN, EL PASO POLICE: We do have one person in custody. I can confirm that it is a white male in his 20s.
LAVANDERA: The suspect lives some 600 miles away in the town of Allen, Texas, a sprawling suburb north of Dallas. The gunman was arrested without incident just a few blocks from the Wal-Mart store. Federal sources tell CNN the shooter left an online manifesto filled with anti-immigrant views and a hatred of Hispanics.
GREG ALLEN, CHIEF, EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Right now we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree has a nexus to potential 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.
LAVANDERA: Hours after the attack, local political leaders tried to grasp the magnitude of the loss.
REP. JOE MOODY (D-TX): There are 20 families that woke up whole this morning with their loved ones, and when the Sun sets tonight here in El Paso, they'll go to bet without them.
LAVANDERA: On Sunday, El Paso's district attorney Jaime Esparza announced the gunman will face the most severe punishment.
JAIME ESPARZA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, EL PASO: The state charge is capital murder and so he is eligible for the death penalty. We will seek the death penalty.
JOHN BASH, U.S. ATTORNEY: We are treating it as a domestic terrorism case and we're going to do what we do to terrorists in this country which is deliver swift and certain justice.
CHURCH: All right, we do want to take a closer look now at the ongoing investigations into these mass shootings with CNN Law Enforcement Contributor Steve Moore. He's also a retired supervisory special agent with the FBI. Steve, good to have you with us.
STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: Now, as we just heard, the El Paso shooting is being treated as a domestic terrorism case by the FBI. The motivation behind the Dayton, Ohio shooting is not yet known. But three mass shootings in the past week, two of them within hours of each other. What does this reveal is happening in the United States right now?
MOORE: What it reveals to me is something similar to clusters suicides that we've seen for years when you get one well publicized suicide, it seems somehow to give some vulnerable people the permission to go ahead and do this.
And when you realize what's going on here, most of these people are looking at this as a life-ending situation even if they don't ultimately lose their life. This is in a way a suicide and at the same time it's a way to get recognition and some kind of validation that they never got in life.
And so what we're seeing here while certainly we have an issue that we have to deal with guns, if we don't look at the fact that we're having an epidemic here of mental illness and suicidality, then we're just sticking our head in the sand.
CHURCH: So what do you think has to be done? How do you approach this? I mean, it feels like you know we go over this every time there's a mass shooting in this country, and there's lots of questions very few answers and doesn't seem to be any effort to actually move forward and come up with some solutions?
MOORE: Well, the problem is you have dueling -- you have dueling agendas here. On one hand, you have one side who wants to focus on the weaponry. On the other side you have people who want you not to get anywhere near the weaponry and focus only on the mental health. And then you've got a third side that says oh don't look at the mental health like the ACLU. Don't let people look at anybody this mental health.
Well here's the problem. You can't do this anymore than you can say we can cure cancer with just diet. If you don't look at cancer as something where you have to look at it from every direction to hit it, then you're never going to cure it.
This is a mental health epidemic that we are going to have to really dig into and it's not going to be just one way. It's going to be multiple disciplines coming from different directions.
CHURCH: All right, so you're saying it's not any one factor, it's all of those together, but still no solutions right? I mean, the director of the FBI has ordered a new nationwide threat assessment in an effort to prevent more deadly mass attacks like this. How will that stop future attacks including copycat attacks which is what we appear to be seeing as well?
MOORE: Well, the problem is I know he's -- I been -- not his office but I've been in charge of that kind of thing in the -- in the field offices, and there's really not a lot of potential to solve all of these. Because the people who have this disease, have this illness, it's kind of like heart disease.
You know what they say the number one indicator of heart disease is sudden death. What's the number one indicator of somebody who's going to be a mass shooter? They go out and kill people. There is no precursor. And so at this point we don't know any precursors. That's what we have to do.
[01:10:25] CHURCH: Although you say that, when it comes to the Dayton, Ohio shooter, I mean, we are learning back in high school, he had a list of those he wanted to kill. He had a list of the girls that he wanted to rape. I mean there were signals. There were red flags long ago.
MOORE: Yes, absolutely, Charlotte. And those are the ones, those are the local hanging fruit that we should be able to get right away. I read an article today on that shooter that said -- and this is almost a quote. There were no previous indications of his issues of his mental illnesses except in high school coming up with a hit list.
I mean, we've got to be realistic about this. Find these precursors and you will predict someday who is going to do these things.
CHURCH: Right. That again as you pointed out, until they actually do something, it's very difficult for law enforcement to respond in any way. So what role has the U.S. president played in all of this so far, and what do you think he needs to say Monday morning when he makes that statement about these mass shootings?
MOORE: Well, he needs to knock the dust down on this -- on the people who believe that his rhetoric is causing people to go out and kill themselves. That's not happening. What's happening is they see somebody else their age who they relate to who goes out and kills a bunch of people, and they say I can do that too.
And so yes, it is the president's verbage, is his rhetoric, offensive? Yes. Is it making people go out and kill other people and killed themselves? I don't believe that's a major factor in this. Certainly, it's going to be -- you know, work somewhere into this, but a major factor, a causal factor, no I don't believe that.
CHURCH: All right, Steve Moore, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your analysis. We do appreciate it. Well, America is mourning the lives lost in the mass shootings this weekend. How the communities of El Paso and Dayton are remembering the victims? That's next.
[01:15:00] CHURCH: The community of El Paso, Texas is remembering the victims of Saturday's deadly shooting. These mourners held a vigil and took part in a march against gun violence. U.S. presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke, a native of El Paso was among the marchers.
And the community of Dayton Ohio also came together to remember the people killed in a mass shooting there. Hundreds of mourners gathered at a vigil Sunday night holding candles, singing and praying for those who lost their lives. Officials have identified the nine victims in that attack, among the dead the 22 year old sister of the shooting suspect.
And we're also getting more details on the victims from the El Paso shooting. CNN has just learned that 86 year old Angie Englisbee was among the 20 people killed there. Her family told CNN she was in the checkout line of the store where the attack happened.
Also among the victims 60 year-old Arturo Benavides. He was an Army veteran and bus driver who's remembered as caring and strong-willed. Well, as more details emerge of the shooter in El Paso, it seems he singled out Hispanics as targets due to his racist beliefs.
Our Rosa Flores asked one woman in El Paso if she shares the sentiment of others that Mexican Americans are being attacked because of their ethnicity.
CHRISTINA CARRILLO, RESIDENT, EL PASO: I do share that sentiment. I share that sentiment for my brothers and my sisters in my community, but I also share that sentiment for my brothers and sisters in our sister city in Juarez. They don't deserve this either. They're being targeted and there are blood too. There are blood line too, and they're being isolated. We're being isolated before color.
We're way passed that now. We are way -- we're years past color. We should be way past where we're at right now and this is why we're here. And I share that same sentiment. We're being attacked. And our government needs to step in. If the people here will step in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And Rosa Flores also heard from a woman who managed to escape the shooting in El Paso, Texas along with her mother and daughter.
ERIKA CONTRERAS, RESIDENT, EL PASO: We just saw that out of the blue you know you just see people like running. Like they were like turning around like this because they knew something was happening over here that we couldn't see. And at that very moment is when I heard like clapping noises and we started knowing that -- I told my mom, oh, my God, mom, it's gunshots.
We all panicked. We all started running. And all I remember is that I have my shopping cart, I had my mom, I had my daughter, I grabbed them both and I carried them out and we were trying to just get out through like the frozen section where everything was at because we saw that everybody was running in that direction and you could just see that those this guy with a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see --
CONTRERAS: We -- I didn't. All I saw was there was somebody with a gun and he was wearing things on his ears and we were just trying to get away from him, and everybody was trying to run away from him, and everybody was in chaos.
You could see there was people on the floor already that had gotten hit. My sister got to see more because she went from the money center to across the other side because they came in through the McDonald's area, and my sister says that everything that she got to see was like the most horrific thing.
And you know, right now we had to go to Wal-Mart to go and buy the rest of their supplies and I can't -- it was so ugly because we're constantly like turning around, me and my sister started sweating. We just felt like you know, it just felt really ugly being again up in Wal-Mart.
But we knew that no matter what we have to do, we have to continue. We have to continue. And I went to church this morning and you know, we're blessed to have our church that's abundant living faith, they pray for you. It's very moving. Everything that happened was just terrible but we are blessed. We are blessed because we're alive.
And I pray for all those people that died because there were so many. God has been with us. God was there.
[01:20:26] CHURCH: Remembering terrifying moments there. And in Dayton, Ohio, CNN's Randi Kaye spoke to a woman whose nephew was killed in Sunday's shooting. Donna Johnson says Thomas McNichols was a gentle giant who loved his family.
DONNA JOHNSON, NEPHEW KILLED IN DAYTON MASS SHOOTING: His name was Thomas McNichols. He was 25 years old. He was a father of four, ages two to eight. He was a gentle giant, loved his family, loved his kids. And he worked yesterday and just wanted to come out and have a nice time.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And he was in line at the bar here behind us?
JOHNSON: He was in line at Ned Peppers and got shot just waiting to get into the bar.
KAYE: One thing you were telling me -- I know you're wearing a shirt here that says love, but love was something that he had a lot to give.
JOHNSON: He had lots of love. Every time he left the house, he always say I love you. That was our thing. He never left nowhere -- whenever he said goodbye it's always I love you.
KAYE: He lived with you because he lost his mom?
KAYE: Your sister.
JOHNSON: My sister, my baby sister. And she -- he was her baby boy.
KAYE: So you looked after him for years and now this.
JOHNSON: And down this. And --
KAYE: What will you tell his children?
JOHNSON: I would tell his kids they had an amazing dad, and they know that they dad love them. He was -- he loved his -- he was a loving family man. And they -- he know that their kids -- his kids know that they loved him.
CHURCH: And President Trump says he will make an official statement in the coming hours about the mass shootings. On Sunday he offered his condolences and ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims. He also acknowledged that more can be done to address gun violence in the United States.
He is pressuring his administration to develop some type of action plan in response to the spate of deadly shootings which he may reveal in his upcoming announcement. Mr. Trump is also pointing once again to a mental illness problem in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is mental illness. These are really people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.
Hate has no place in our country and we're going to take care of it. We have to get it stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And earlier, CNN's Anderson Cooper asked the mayors of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio to weigh in on the mass shootings. El Paso's mayor says his city is suffering but they'll persevere through this tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: When you heard that this had happened, I mean, it's obviously something as a mayor you've thought about, you probably -- you plan for so long, the police force has planned for, but it's -- when it actually happens, what's your -- what initially goes through your mind? What do you initially do?
DEE MARGO (R), MAYOR OF EL PASO, TEXAS: Anderson, I've never been -- I've never had to deal with something like this. Yes, our police force plans for shooters of this type and -- but I got to tell you as mayor, I didn't plan for this person to come in from out of town. I'm convinced it never would have occurred with an El Paso.
But to come from out of town and to reap the destruction, the horrific destruction on our community with 20 deaths that he has -- that he has done. And we have 26 people still in the hospital. So yes, I'm just -- I'm not prepared. We're going to persevere, we're going to go forward. This will as I said not define us. And you know, we have -- this is -- this community is -- you're right, we're one of the safest cities in the nation, have been, will continue to be. And we're not -- we're not going into hiding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And in Dayton, Ohio, officials are still searching for a motive. The mayor says the massacre took place in a popular part of the city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHALEY: It was a great night last night in Dayton. This area is Brick Street with tons of local businesses. It's one of the places to be in our region, certainly a centerpiece of our community. It was named by the American Planning Association two years ago as the best business street building in the country, so very walkable, very connected, and a place that's very diverse and everyone feels safe and wants to be there, and a very safe place for our community overall.
So to see this and have this happen to the community last night has truly been a tragedy for the families, the people that were injured, but our entire community.
[01:25:24] CHURCH: And the shooting in El Paso is being treated as domestic terrorism. Officials are also considering hate crime charges. Ahead we speak with a reformed white supremacist about how irresponsible rhetoric plays a role in these attacks.
CHURCH: We do want to update you all on our top story. Two U.S. cities are in mourning after a pair of mass shootings this weekend. At least nine people were killed in Dayton Ohio when a gunman opened fire in a popular nightlife district. It came just thirteen hours after another shooter killed 20 people at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas.
Authorities are treating that shooting as domestic terrorism and are considering bringing hate crime charges. CNN's Sara Sidner has more on the alleged shooter.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He has very strong anti-immigration beliefs. There is a lot of hatred being spewed if indeed it turns out that this manifesto is linked directly to the suspected shooter.
And if in fact, he posted it on an online form called probably going to die 8chan. He talks in that about probably going to die today he says. But he goes down this really disturbing rabbit hole, talking about immigrants both legal and illegal immigrants. He's after anyone who has come to this country looking for a better life. He is talking about particularly Hispanic immigrants. So he's talking about brown people and wanting to get rid of brown people.
There is a lot of fear that you can see, as you read through it. It's the fear of being quote, "replaced". This is an idea that is spouted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
The haters of the world spout this a lot based on the fear that somehow the white race is going to disappear and that it is the fault of black and brown people and they want to either rid the earth of them or at least keep them out of the country in which they live.
And that goes for here in America or same kind of rhetoric is being used in Europe as well. Very disturbing stuff, very strongly anti- immigration.
He talks about job loss although what's interesting with him is, you know, this is a young man, right. And in his LinkedIn, we've looked at that and it appears that the suspect talks about being a bit lazy himself, not being motivated himself.
And so these are sort of the confusing cues that you get from some of these suspected shooters. But he is definitely virulently racist and virulently anti-immigration.
He came here -- according to police -- all the way from Allen, Texas. I used to live right near that area. He went to Plano High School, according to police. The suspected shooter drove hundreds of miles to come here because this is where the border is. This is where folks are that he deems not worthy of being in America. And so according to police he shot and killed 20 people, injured 26.
CHURCH: I'm joined now by reformed white supremacist Shannon Martinez, who is now a program manager for the Free Radicals Project. Thank you so much for being with us.
SHANNON MARTINEZ, PROGRAM MANAGER, FREE RADICALS PROJECT: Thank you so much for having me.
CHURCH: So I do want to start by trying to understand what initially motivated you to become a white supremacist. You've since renounced that, of course.
But just to understand that and why you think others are motivated to go in that direction.
MARTINEZ: I now work building prevention and disruption programs and I work with many people as they disengage from white supremacy and other violence-based ideologies. And all of this stems from grappling with trying to figure out an identity in a world, feeling like you don't have a sense of agency. That your voice doesn't really have any power in the world. And looking for a sense of belonging, looking for somewhere where you feel like you can belong and where your life has meaning. So it is this attempt to try to meet this broken and twisted need set.
CHURCH: Yes. I mean a lot of people would say that that would be reason for immigrants to rise up for that very reason. But talk to us then at what point you decided that white supremacy was not the direction you wanted to take and what do you think has to be said to trigger other people to think the same?
MARTINEZ: I have been in the movement from about the time I was 15 until just before I was 20 when I was actually taken in to a home to live with a single mom who had three young boys. And her giving me the sense of family.
And she had no reason to take me in so it gave me an experience of unconditional acceptance. She also chose rather than to see this violent hate filled creature that I had become, she chose to see instead a hurting and struggling young woman who was worth taking a chance on. And she began the process of rehumanizing me. Because not only had I dehumanized other people but that process was also something that dehumanized me.
CHURCH: Right. And FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that we are seeing an increase in these domestic terrorism attacks that are linked to white supremacy. And we understand at this point certainly the gunman in the El Paso shooting, he apparently according to authorities posted a manifesto that was racist and anti-immigration. So it's possible that he was motivated by white supremacy ideology.
Why do we think we're seeing an increase in these sorts of attacks?
[01:34:48] MARTINEZ: I think there are multiple reasons. I think one of the reasons, and this is probably a continuum for all three of the mass shootings in the last week, is that young people overwhelmingly feel afraid of the future.
They see climate catastrophe looming. They see a job future that is not very afraid, that automation is coming. And that their education that they have to pay lots of money for and go into debt for is relatively meaningless and getting them a job and any sense of security.
So we have that as a background for young people. Then they look on line, looking for meaning, looking to connect, looking to make sense of this world that they see. And mostly the only people that are talking about that in any real substantive sense are people that are on the far-right. That are alt-right, white nationalists -- those groups that are online.
Those are the people that are talking about that and giving those fears some legitimacy. So we have that. We also have a really public rhetoric that enflames lots of fears about immigration and fears about white people disappearing. And that interjects conspiracy theories along with actual science and everything is very convoluted and very mainstream dialog. And I think that people generally feel afraid and uncertain and are having a very difficult time discerning truth.
CHURCH: So you're talking about a sense of hopelessness there. How much do you think the rhetoric of the United States President Donald Trump plays into that?
CHURCH: I think it plays a very large part in emboldening the far right and white supremacists, alt-right fears. And I think even just you see in like the baby boomer generation and you see so much of their fears articulated about a world that is changing and that they don't quite understand all of what is going on and all of the changes that are coming.
I think it fans the flames of violence and polarization and exploits the fear that so many Americans have about our future and utilizes it for political gain.
CHURCH: Now President Trump has said, he said Sunday that there is no place for hate in the United States. He will be speaking again to the American public Monday morning. What do you think he needs to say to get the message out that intolerance like this and shootings like this are unacceptable in this country.
MARTINEZ: I hope that he will unequivocally denounce white supremacy and all of its forms. I also hope that there will be some measure taken to begin some serious work on reassessing our gun control policies and moving towards making some changes there just as they did in New Zealand very soon after the Christchurch shooting.
I hope that he will unequivocally say that this is not American and that shooting innocent people for political ends is not something that will be tolerated in any form. I hope that he will use the term "white supremacist", "domestic terrorism" and that he will make absolutely no bones about using that terminology.
CHURCH: In a few hours, we will find out, of course. Shannon Martinez -- thank you so much for coming in and speaking with us.
MARTINEZ: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: Well Internet infrastructure company Cloudflare says it will stop providing support for the message board 8chan. Officials believe the suspect in the El Paso shooting posted a white nationalist message on 8chan before the attack. 8chan has responded to the news on Twitter. It suggests the site could go offline over the next few days.
In other news, Hong Kong's international airport is packed with stranded travelers. Why one of the world's busiest cities is grinding to a halt. We will have that in just a moment.
[01:39:20] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: We're looking at live pictures right now. Pro democracy protesters in Hong Kong trying to shut the city down. They're holding a general strike.
Earlier demonstrators blocked subway trains and traffic routes. More than 100 flights out of Hong Kong's international airport have been cancelled. There are major gatherings planned in seven districts across the city. Some have police permission but some don't.
So let's get more now from Kristie Lu Stout who joins us live from Hong Kong. Kristie -- what is ahead for the city and how will authorities there respond to all of this?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very big question on a very big day on this ongoing summer of protests in Hong Kong with this citywide strike taking place, testing the limits of the police, of the protesters and of the over seven million people here in the territory who call Hong Kong home.
There has been travel chaos all day today. The Mass Rapid Transit system or MTR has seen its major lines either suspended or delayed. This is the commuting network that is used by five million people every day. It turned out to be utterly unreliable this day.
More travel chaos at the Hong Kong international airport, the eighth busiest airport in the world, where over 2,300 aviation workers are participating in a strike, runways are at 50 percent capacity. As you can imagine more than 100 flights have been canceled also this day.
The call for that strike to take place across seven districts across the territory of Hong Kong, including Disneyland. There is one strike taking place right now outside the Legislative Council Building, and outside the office of the Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the District of Admiralty.
That is where CNN's Ben Wedeman is standing by, monitoring the situation. He joins us now. And Ben have you seen a significant rise in the number of striking protesters there?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes Kristie. They are coming, as we speak, by the hundreds. It's hard to say how many people are here already. But I would say thousands.
[01:44:59] And many of them we have spoken to say that they are on strike. That they would normally be working on a day like this but they are out in support of this general strike.
And I asked about their reaction to Chief Executive Carrie Lam's press conference this morning. They say -- well, one woman in there described it as B.S., more graphic than that, saying that the chief executive simply did not meet the minimum demands of the protesters.
They would like as a start, as a minimum, they would like to see the extradition law which Carrie Lam has said is dead but to be completely withdrawn, as well as the formation of an independent investigative committee to look into claims of police brutality.
She did not express willing to do either of them, in fact in her opening remarks at the press conference, she warned that a continuation of these protests and a strike like this today could harm Hong Kong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Such extensive disruptions in the name of certain demands or uncooperative movement have seriously undermined Hong Kong's law order and are pushing our city, this city we all love and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN: And of course, this particular location next to the Legislative Council is particularly sensitive, keeping in mind that of course, on the 1st of July it is here that some of the protesters broke into this council and right next door is the main office of Mainland China's People's Liberation Army right on my left. So it is a very sensitive location for this protest to be held. But as we can see there are many more people coming here by the minute -- Kristie.
STOUT: Wow. Many more people coming there outside the Legislative Council Building, a sensitive area as Ben Wedeman points out there, despite the fact that it is well over 30 degrees Celsius or 91 degrees Fahrenheit here in Hong Kong. With the humidity it feels a lot hotter than that the Hong Kong Weather Observatory has issued an extreme heat warning on this day of strikes and protests.
Ben Wedeman -- we thank you for your reporting.
Let's go to our guest now. Joining us now is Nathan Law, a pro democracy leader. He's also founding chair of the Demosisto Movement. And Nathan -- thank you for joining us.
I wanted to get your reaction to that press conference by the embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and she said quote "that the protesters are trying to destroy Hong Kong", and that the protest is pushing Hong Kong into a quote "dangerous situation". How do you respond to that?
NATHAN LAW, FOUNDING CHAIR, DEMOSISTO MOVEMENT: It's definitely a shame for Carrie Lam to say these sort of things because she is basically blaming all of the things happening in Hong Kong on the protesters.
She does not reflect what she has done wrong and what responsibility she should bear. And it is quite obvious, it's nearly two months since the first (INAUDIBLE) people rally, but Carrie Lam doesn't even meet the bare minimum of demands of the people, which is to fully withdraw the bill and then set up an investigative commission on the police brutality.
I think it's a really, really humble demand.
LAW: And I think that the society has come to a consensus. STOUT: You mentioned one of the list of five demands that protesters
have is asking for the independent inquiry. Carrie Lam at the moment standing her ground, not offering any sort of concession. Just condemning the violence over the weekend.
Do you think that's just going to fuel the protest movement? Is it going to make the protest movement even stronger?
LAW: Well, definitely because what we hoped for is these officials come out and say that they are responsible and try to solve the problem instead of just condemning and put all the blame on the protesters.
So I think the arrogance t Carrie Lam has shown will definitely ignited people, and people will be more angry because of her attitude on this incident.
STOUT: And meanwhile, there are major travel disruptions at the Hong Kong International Airport, the busiest airport in the world. Carrie Lam didn't even mention this in her statement a could of hours ago.
Do you think the strike action this day. the impact that it's having on international travel, the impact that it's going to having on Hong Kong's international reputation, do you think that will force the government's hand?
[01:49:56] LAW: Well, Carrie Lam is afraid of mentioning it because it is just a reflection of how it the public or community (ph) manifests. So I think -- well, for now, the movement is still gaining huge momentum and lots of people support it and going on strike.
And we have to understand that it is an unprecedented of a strike and in such high degree and it really affects the traffic and the airport. So I think Carrie Lam knows what's going on. And she's afraid of saying and I think for Hong Kong people, we will keep going and we'll put more pressure on the government.
STOUT: Got it. You're just going to keep going, keep applying more pressure even after what's happening this day -- a day of unprecedented strike action.
Nathan Law, pro-democracy activist and founding chair of the Demosisto Movement. Thank you for joining me.
LAW: Thank you.
STOUT: And Rosemary -- we will continue to monitor the situation this day, the situation affecting international air travelers at the Hong Kong airport as well as the strike taking place now only where Ben Wedeman is at the District of Admiralty but at seven other places across Hong Kong. Six other districts -- even one happening outside the magic kingdom Disneyland.
We'll go back to you -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Kristie -- we appreciate you covering that. And we will continue to do that in the hours ahead.
We'll take a short break and have more on our breaking news when we return.
[01:51:21] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.
Before we go, we want to take a moment to remember the victims of the two mass shootings. The El Paso police say they are still in the process of notifying all the families of the 20 people killed there.
They won't officially identify any of them until that is done but we do know some names. Jordan and Andre Anchondo were both killed Saturday as they shopped for school supplies. According to their families, Jordan used her body to protect her two-month old son, Paul. Thankfully, her baby survived.
We also remember seven Mexican nationals who died in the El Paso shooting, 11 other people were also killed in that attack. We remember them as we wait for authorities to announce their names.
We also remember these nine victims in Dayton, Ohio who ranged in age from 22 to 57. We remember Lois Oglesby, Megan Betts who was the sister of the gunman, Saeed Saleh, Derrick Fudge, Logan Turner, Nicholas P. Cumer, Thomas McNichols, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, and Monica Brickhouse.
29 lives taken too soon on a tragic day in America.
And I want to thank you so very much for being with us. I'm Rosemary Church.
Another hour of breaking news is next with George Howell.
You're watching CNN.
[02:00:08] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We continue following.