Return to Transcripts main page


Twenty Nine People Killed in El Paso Wal-Mart and Dayton, Ohio; FBI Director Orders New Threat Assessments; President Trump to Address Mass Shootings at 10:00 a.m. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 5, 2019 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: Here in El Paso, Texas, Monday, August 5th, and this morning, we're talking about these twin horrors that happened this weekend 1,400 miles apart. Twenty nine people killed in 13 hours, mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton, Ohio.

Let's start here in El Paso. Police say 21-year-old Patrick Crusius shot and killed 20 people, injured 29 others at a Wal-Mart on Saturday morning. After the mass killing, the suspected gunman, they say just walked to the police and surrendered.

Officials say the shooter posted a 2,300 word manifesto on the message board 8chan. It is filled with racist, hatred and white supremacist language aimed at immigrants and Latinos.


GREG ALLEN, CHIEF OF POLICE, EL PASO: Right now, we have a manifesto from this individual that indicates to some degree, he has a nexus to potential hate crime. The FBI will be looking into that with other federal authorities. But right now, we're looking at potential capital murder charges for this individual.


BLACKWELL: The suspect is being held without bond. Now, the Justice Department says the case appears to meet the definition of domestic terrorism, and it says it is seriously considering federal hate crimes and firearms charges, and those could bring the death penalty.

We'll talk more about the case a little later. But now, let's talk with Rosa Flores who's with me now. You've been in this community, talking with the people who are reconciling what happened here on Saturday with the community they know is safe. You were at the reunification center. Tell us about that.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's just a few blocks from here, actually, it's very near here, it's at an elementary school that was turned into a reunification center. So, people go there to find out if their loved one is alive or dead.

That's where they're getting the news. People also go there to try to find out information about how they can help, how they can volunteer, how they can get their cars that are now part of a crime scene, questions like that. But the emotion there, Victor, is palpable.

You see people sobbing, embracing, walking away. We talked to -- tried to talk to a lot of people, you know, asking if they wanted to share their stories or tell us about their loved ones that perished. And most of them said they didn't, they didn't want to tell their story.

BLACKWELL: Understandably.

FLORES: Very understandably.


FLORES: But this one woman, Erika Contreras, 29 years of age, she said that she wanted to tell us about what she experienced, and she was at this Wal-Mart at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday with her 7-year-old daughter and her 70-year-old mother when those shots rang out.

She says that at first she thought it was clapping, but then realized what was going on because she said she saw a lot of people running towards her because she was towards the exit, towards the back exit. So, she said, she grabbed her 7-year-old daughter, her 70-year-old mother and she ran out. This morning she's counting her blessings, take a listen.


ERIKA CONTRERAS, SHOPPING AT WAL-MART DURING SHOOTING: We all panicked, we all started running, and all I remember is that I had my shopping cart, I had my mom, I had my daughter. I grabbed them both and I carried them out. And we were just trying to 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 there's this guy with a gun -- everything that happened was just terrible. But we are blessed. We are blessed because we're alive.


FLORES: And very understandable she's very concerned about her daughter, her daughter couldn't stop crying. That elementary school where the reunification center is, that's where the 7-year-old girl is going to start second grade year in the next few days. The mom says that the school told her, the principal was there at the reunification center, and told her that the council was going be available for those children.

BLACKWELL: And there are still plenty of people still waiting for confirmation of the whereabouts of their loved ones and their neighbors and their co-workers and friends --

FLORES: It's unthinkable.

BLACKWELL: Such a tight-knit community, it goes beyond the individual families. Rosa Flores, thank you so much. We're also learning more about some of the 20 victims here in El Paso. The first Jordan and Andre Enchando(ph), they're parents of three young children. They were shopping for school supplies when the gunman started shooting.

And Jordan died at the hospital after using her body to protect her 2- month-old son. Her husband is also died, the baby survived. Leo Campos, Maribel Hernandez, they dropped their dog off at the Groomer and they went shopping at that Wal-Mart too.

Now, some of the other victims have also been identified including Angie Englesbee(ph), she was 86 years old, Arturo Benavides was 60 years old. And Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs has now identified at least 7 victims who were Mexican citizens. They are Sarah Esther Regalado, Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, Jorge Calvillo Garcia, Elsa Mendoza de la Mora, Gloria Irma Marquez, Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe and Ivan Filiberto Manzano.

[05:05:00] We'll talk more about the victims here throughout the morning. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: All right, Victor, 13 hours after the shooting at the Wal-Mart in El Paso, another shooting in Dayton, Ohio. We have the new video of the moment early Sunday morning when a gunman wearing a mask and a bullet-proof vest started shooting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh --, dude, what the --, what the --.


ROMANS: As always, the question on everyone's mind is why? But Dayton's police chief is refusing to speculate on motive.


RICHARD BIEHL, CHIEF OF POLICE, DAYTON, OHIO: There is far too much information we have to review before we can even begin a conversation of possible motive. And I will not talk about any potential slice of evidence as value or not at this time. It's just way too early.


ROMANS: CNN's Ryan Young is in Dayton, and he filed this report.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Christine, a lot of heartache and pain in this community of Dayton, Ohio. In fact, there's a growing candlelight vigil that's just behind me. But what we do know from officers is around 1:05 Sunday morning, they had to respond to a call of shots being fired.

When they arrived here, within 30 seconds, they were able to take down the shooter, Connor Betts. Now, through this video that you'll be able to see -- you can officers responding, they responded very quickly. But in that short period of time, Connor Betts according to police was able to shoot and kill nine people, wounding 27 others. But the police chief says if he was able to make it inside the club,

this could have been so much worse, but officers were able to make that stop very quickly. But for one family member who we talked to, he's so heart-broken and full of pain because he lost two family members in one fatal shooting.


DAMON DAVENPORT, COUSIN OF THOMAS MCNICHOLS: My cousins did not deserve to lose their life. They had children, hard working people. All they were doing was enjoying the night in the town and they're dead. Never to come home again, never to see their family again. They're gone.

And I want the president to hear this. Donald Trump, I want you to hear this, you need to be here right now. You need to.


YOUNG: And the city of Dayton really responded. On Sunday, we saw the heartache and pain here in the middle of the street as thousands really showed up to really show their pain for this community as they had a candle light vigil.

Now, since then police have not been talking about a motive just yet because they are still investigating this crime, trying to figure out exactly what happened. One of the strange spots about the shooting is that apparently, the shooter even shot his own sister when he opened fire on the night club behind me. Victor and Christine?

ROMANS: Thank you for that, Ryan. Now, the names of the nine victims who died in the Dayton massacre have now been released. They are 27- year-old Lois Oglesby; she was a nurse in nursing school and a mother of two including a newborn. Also killed Sunday, 38-year-old Saeed Saleh, 57-year-old Derrick Fudge and Logan Turner who was celebrating his 30th birthday with friends.

Thomas McNichols was a 25-year-old father of four, Beatrice Warren Curtis and Monica Brickhouse were best friends and like sisters according to those who knew them. Twenty five-year-old Nicholas Cumer was a grad student at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania. And finally Megan Betts, the shooter's 22-year-old sister also killed in the massacre, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Well, joining us now, retired FBI supervisory agent -- special agent James Gagliano; CNN law enforcement analyst. James, good morning to you.


BLACKWELL: Let's start here with the breaking news just a few minutes old, 8chan, this message board to which investigators say the El Paso shooter posted this manifesto as it's being called, has been dropped by the host site, Cloudflare. Is this scouring for potential threats goes on from the FBI, is that necessarily good news for investigators who are looking for potential threats? GAGLIANO: Well, Victor, as we find with all crime, you know, it's

almost like a sense of playing whack-a-mole where wherever law enforcement focuses, the bad guys always take the least path of least resistance and they always move to another platform.

This is great news that, that platform is basically being shut down, but it does not mean that they will not find another media platform from which to share this hateful rhetoric. And look, for the FBI and for the rest of law enforcement, especially Department of Homeland Security, it's just -- it's a matter of resources. How do you monitor all the dark nether regions of the internet where all of this hateful ideology exists?

[05:10:00] And then number two, even if you do, it's a very difficult line to draw between what is allowed as satire or what is protective free speech or where somebody is just blowing off steam and speaking in wild hyperbole in what actually is going to move to someone taking action. And Victor, that's a really difficult thing for law enforcement.

BLACKWELL: Yes, let's talk more broadly about this threat assessment that FBI Director Chris Wray has ordered. What does that look like across the country?

GAGLIANO: Well, absolutely, what end up happening is the FBI has 56 field divisions inside the United States and then they field the cadre of agents across 64 different countries in their -- in their home country embassies. What they'll do is they'll be looking right now at this emergent threat, and make no doubt about it, that's what this is.

The FBI director testified in front of Congress, I believe it was back in April and specifically stated when asked about white supremacy and white nationalism, how he put this into contest in the national terrorism realm for domestic terrorism. And he described the white nationalism threat as persistent and pervasive.

So, what he's going to ask all the different divisions to do, scour their databases, talk to all their sources, make sure that we have our resources placed in the right place. And Victor, lastly, I'm going to compare this to a military strategy.

We're going to call this the surge, meaning any place where this thing is proliferating, this stain on our country, he's going to send additional agents, he's going to send additional resources there to make sure that we get to the bottom of it and try to get out in front of the next one.

BLACKWELL: Now, the president is scheduled to speak to the nation at 10:00 Eastern this morning. And the reporting is that the White House staff has been working to announce something, the president wants to announce something, but it won't be about likely gun violence or gun control or white supremacy.

From a law enforcement perspective, what do you want to hear from the president this morning? GAGLIANO: Well, I mean, look, from the law enforcement perspective, I

mean, we worked for Democratic presidential administrations, we worked for Republican ones. FBI agents as well as the rest of law enforcement writ large has to do their job.

They've got to do it as dispassionately as possible, and that's hard to do as I listen to you read out the names, the list of names of people that passed away. And look, Victor, I worked south of the border for two years in Mexico City, so I know the country well.

And the saddest thing about this was last night, hearing that Phil Alberto Manzano(ph), a man that lived in the city of Juarez, which is one of Mexico's most violent cities travels 11 miles was shot in El Paso, one of the United States safest cities, and is killed in a senseless act of gun violence.

And look, the president has got to set the right tone today, he has got to make sure that the country understands that resources under the FBI director and under the Department of Justice and the Attorney General will be sent to the right --


GAGLIANO: Place to make sure they get in front of this.

BLACKWELL: All right, James Gagliano, CNN law enforcement analyst, thank you so much for being with us this morning. And as we said, President Trump set to address the nation in just a few hours. New reporting on what's happening behind the scenes at the White House. That's next.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back, 17 minutes after the hour. President Trump is set to address the nation about the shootings in Dayton and El Paso. He'll speak from the White House at 10 O'clock Eastern this morning. And we may have had a preview in his remarks to reporters on Sunday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hate has no place in our country, and we're going to take care of it. We have done much more than most administrations, and it does -- it's just really not talked about very much, but we've done actually a lot, but perhaps more has to be done.


BLACKWELL: CNN has learned administration officials, they worked through the weekend, developing proposals to respond to the shootings. And sources tell us the president wants to announce something this morning, but it does not appear the options will include proposals on gun safety or white nationalism. More now from the White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins with us. Kaitlan, good morning. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine and

Victor. The president addressed these shootings for the first time on camera as he was leaving his golf club in New Jersey on Sunday, where he told reporters that he was praising law enforcement, that he felt that hate had no place in this country.

But one phrase that people noticed the president didn't use was white nationalism or white supremacy. Even though we know that the federal authorities have said they are investigating the shooting in El Paso as domestic terrorism. Instead, the president said that he had spoken with the Attorney General Bill Barr and the FBI Director Christopher Wray, and he said he believes that in part, this is a mental health issue.


TRUMP: This is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are really people that are very seriously mentally ill.


COLLINS: Now, the president said he believes this is an issue tied to mental health, but that is as Democratic presidential candidates including Beto O'Rourke are tying shootings like the one in El Paso directly to the president's rhetoric.

But Beto O'Rourke telling Jake Tapper he believes the president is a white nationalist, and that some of the things he said do contribute to the shootings like the one you saw at that Wal-Mart in Texas. Now, the president is expected to address the nation today at 10:00 a.m. And we have heard from sources that here inside the White House and at the Justice Department, they do feel some kind of pressure to put new proposals forward.

But the question is what those proposals are going to look like because we know that in shootings in the past, the president has favored things like universal background checks, raising ages to buy certain kinds of guns, only to later back off those stances after he spoke with members of the NRA leadership.

[05:20:00] So, right now, it's still an open question of what it is that the president is going to say. Christine and Victor.

ROMANS: All right, Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you for that. Wal-Mart has twice been a gun crime scene in less than a week, twice. Now, the mega retailer is under renewed pressure to stop selling guns. CNN Business is next.


ROMANS: All right, 24 minutes past the hour. Wal-Mart has a unique role in the country's gun violence epidemic. It both sells guns and has been the scene of gun violence. As the country's biggest retailer, it is a major seller of firearms. [05:25:00] In the past week, it has been the scene of two shootings.

After Saturday's shooting in El Paso, Wal-Mart tweeted "the company is in shock and praying for the victims and community and our associates as well as the first responders." Now, that message eliciting demands Wal-Mart get out of the gun business.

Wal-Mart has tweaked its gun sales policies after other high profile shootings, said it stopped selling semi-automatic assault style rifles in 2015. It raised its minimum gun purchasing age to 21 last year after the Parkland shooting.

Now, major retailers have become more involved in the fight against gun violence. Dick's Sporting Goods stopped selling guns at 100 of its stores after the Parkland shooting, the killer who shot up that high school bought his gun legally at Dick's.

It also raised the age for purchasing weapons from 18 to 21, and other stores still sell them. For now, Wal-Mart's policies remain the same, a spokesman said "we continue to be devastated by the loss of lives and right now our focus is on supporting our associates, our customers and the El Paso community."

President Trump addresses the nation later this morning after 29 people were killed in two separate mass shootings. We've got the latest from El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, next.