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America Under Assault; Walmart Employee Says He Helped Dozens Of People Hide In Shipping Containers; Bar Manager In Dayton Shares Experience During Shooting. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 14:00   ET


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And their primary argument is that because the Constitution specifically sets forth the qualifications for President and Vice President, that neither California nor any other state can add on to those qualifications.

So, they're battling this now, in California filing this lawsuit. We expected it would be challenged on constitutional grounds. But of course, the President's lawyers are also battling against releasing his tax returns on multiple other fronts.

We have a lawsuit involving New York State and one of their recently enacted laws, and then of course, just battling against any tax returns being released at all that relate to the President or his accountants or his family.

So really, this is a multifaceted effort, Brooke, us to stop any release of these from the President. Brooke?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Understand. We'll see where it goes. Jessica, thank you very much.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, I'm Anderson Cooper in El Paso, Texas for CNN's Special Coverage: "America Under Assault," Special Coverage of the mass shootings that have once again brought Americans face-to- face with the combination of gun violence and hate.

There's a lot to talk about in this hour. In this Texas border town, the motive is clear. A 21-year-old man drove 10 to 11 hours, fueled by anger towards Latinos and Hispanics, leaving 22 dead at this Walmart store behind me.

Mexico's Foreign Minister calling it a terrorist attack and there was no doubt that the shooter was targeting Mexicans.

Venezuela has issued a travel warning citing quote, "Violent acts and hate crimes in the U.S." More from here in a moment.

BALDWIN: We will come back to you, Anderson. Thank you. I'm Brooke Baldwin, here in Dayton, Ohio, where CNN has gotten its hands on exclusive video from Sunday's mass shooting right here in what they call the Oregon District.

The surveillance camera capturing the moment as the gunman rushes out of an alley and opens fire in the area. It's packed with thousands of people, right? It's a Saturday night. This is a popular place to hang out and you can see them running in every direction.

Sixty hours after this mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people and injured dozens others. The motive, the why -- still remains a mystery. But this is what we know.

There were multiple red flags. During a search of the shooter's home, law enforcement sources tell CNN that investigators uncovered writings showing his desire to kill and it is believed the shooter was heading straight into one of the most popular and crowded bars here in Dayton Saturday night -- Ned Peppers, right there.

Police shot and killed the shooter at the bar's front door and I learned today in an exclusive interview with one of the managers, one of the guys behind the bar that night, Dane Thomas that this bar staff is a family, that they quickly went from being victims to first responders helping save lives before paramedics could even arrive.

The doorman even grabbing the gun from the shooter to stop the bloodshed at the front door.


DANE THOMAS, OPERATIONS MANAGER, NED PEPPERS BAR: When we first realized that it was gunshots going off, I was down at the opposite end of the bar down here. BALDWIN: Okay.

THOMAS: At that given time, I started running towards the front of the bar. My first thought was getting all of the people that are behind the bar down, our bartenders down, get our floodlights open. People need to see what they're doing.

BALDWIN: So you're shouting -- are you shouting, "Get down."

THOMAS: "Get down" and pushing people to the ground that did not realize what was going on yet.

BALDWIN: How do you -- you just heard it. You just knew.

THOMAS: I frequently practice at shooting ranges.


THOMAS: You know what the sound is. You know how -- you know that. You know the smell of it, you know? And then when the barrage of gunfire start happening from the police. That's when I realized that, "Oh, it's at our front door step."

BALDWIN: It's at your front doorstep, which is a feet from where we are now. So, you're telling everyone to get down? You start running toward the front of the house. And where are you basically here when you see the doorman?

THOMAS: Yes. After he had grabbed the gun at this point, I cut around this corner here with another one of our people to help take that gun from him. He was emotionally -- obviously, very emotional at that point. And --

BALDWIN: Was that right here or did you go outside?

THOMAS: That was in the vestibule area.

BALDWIN: So, in this door area, you see the doorman about where?

THOMAS: The doorman was standing right here in this spot and --

BALDWIN: Holding the gun?

THOMAS: Yes. And the shooter is outside the door. And then it is a sea of police, a literal sea of police around, all guns pointed at him. At that point, he was still moving slightly. So, they just wanted to make sure that nothing else was going to happen.

[14:05:06] BALDWIN: So you see the doorman understandably is upset. You knowing how to handle, you grab the gun safely with someone else and what did you do?

THOMAS: The other employee took the gun downstairs and put it in a safe spot. While another one after the situation, after he quickly realized that it was under control came and he was assigned to stay with the front door guy. Just to keep, you know, calm him down, block him, walk him around, and keep him as under control as you could keep somebody that has just seen that and did that.

BALDWIN: What did he say to you? Why did he want to grab that gun?

THOMAS: He was on the radio as it was happening up front, letting us all know what was going on. He after, of course, grabbed the gun, stopped chatter -- radio chatter -- and as soon as he came back and turned around, his first words to me was, "I'm sorry, I couldn't stop it. I couldn't do more."

BALDWIN: So, he being out front and on a radio, saw it happening down the street coming to your front door.

THOMAS: Yes. And he let us know from the guy sitting next to him to the guys that are at the back gates, the back doors and what was going on. And they knew what to do at that point.

BALDWIN: And he wanted to gun because he wanted to stop it.


BALDWIN: And how is he doing today?

THOMAS: He's okay. He is awake now, and he is still in the hospital accepting visitors. A couple of us went there last night. I cannot do the other scheduling.

BALDWIN: So you saw him last night.

THOMAS: I personally did not, a number of our staff went to go visit him last night. BALDWIN: What did they say? How is he? Shaken up still?

THOMAS: He was shaken up, but he was very happy to see friends, people that he knew.


BALDWIN: Shaken up and happy to see friends. I'm so grateful to Dane and Ned Peppers for letting us in and sharing part of their story.

There's so much more to it, including the other people who were at the bar -- behind the bar -- right, including the story of a second hero who was a former Army Ranger who had served both in Iraq and Afghanistan who sadly knew exactly what to do.

And so he jumped into action and was able to help out until, Anderson, those paramedics arrived on the scene. So more of my interview with Dane coming up in just a little bit.

COOPER: I mean, you know it's so fascinating, you know and so heartwarming that, you know, a business it becomes a family and that people respond to each other like family in the worst of times.

Brooke, we will have more from you there. In El Paso here, we're learning more about many of the heroes who saved people from certain death from the shooter's rampage.

One of them is Gilbert Serna, a Walmart employee who says he helped dozens of people hide in shipping containers. Listen.


GILBERT SERNA, WALMART EMPLOYEE: I opened the shipping containers that are in the back of the store. And I threw the customers in there, and that was -- also at the fire of it, waiting for more customers to come in -- to come out of the store. They were just scared.

And in there, "Get in the trailers. Get in the trailers." And they followed direction and they all got in.

There's an image that I don't want to talk about. But there's an image that I can't release -- that I can get off my head. It's -- sorry, I just need to know that the individuals are OK.


COOPER: Nicole Chavez was born and raised here in El Paso. She's a writer. You spoke with -- you spoke with him. He is working at -- he works at the Walmart behind us. And what's fascinating to me is, you grew up here. This was actually the first Walmart you ever went to because you were born in Juarez. Right?


COOPER: So talk to me about this Walmart. CHAVEZ: Well, you know, when you walk into this Walmart, it's like

you mostly hear like people speak in Spanish. You know people are like just super like welcoming to anybody here, like if speak Spanish, English -- Spanglish, too, and it's a -- and then you also like on the aisle, you see, you know, mixed kinds of products, you know, like mac and cheese, like hot dogs. It's this like melting pot.

But you also have, there's this interesting mix of not only people that come every day from across the border in Juarez, and so you have Juarez, but also from four hours away, or like even, you know, other states in Mexico that they just come every month for shopping.

You know, they come like to go like floating or --

COOPER: It's widely known that this Walmart, this is sort of the first stop that somebody who is coming over from Mexico to do some shopping would probably stop at.

[14:10:05] CHAVEZ: Yes, like -- let's say like, you're crossing here, you're spending like, I don't know, at least an hour, you know on the border crossing.

You're like, you have all your family, you are, you know, like, basically like so hot and then this is like just less than three miles. So, it's like, "Oh, let's go to Walmart. Let's get an ice cream from there. A cold drink." Because it's just right here, you know.

COOPER: And so given that it's a melting pot, the fact the fact that this is where the killer struck, it -- I mean, it particularly resonates and particularly hurts many of the people in this community.

CHAVEZ: Yes, because it's -- it's not only like you have a lot of you know people from out of the city, but also, there are Walmart employees here. They have lived here for, you know, 25 years.

You know, and also like, it sells -- in this specific location, it is so central. It is close to the border, yes. But it's very central to the city.

So, yes, I spoke to a woman that she was here just to pick up you know, cream for her coffee, you know, and some back to school supplies.

COOPER: Nicole Chavez, appreciate your work. Thank you very much. We're going to have a lot more in the wake of this shooting driven by hate, by white nationalism, by white supremacy.

The community of El Paso is experiencing overwhelming acts of generosity. One local funeral home announced they will offer free services for the victim. Perches Funeral Home tell CNN that at least three families have reached out to them.

There's also been an enormous outpouring for the children of the victims. A GoFundMe for the Anchondo family has raised more than $70,000.00 Jordan Anchondo, a young mother who was killed shielding her two-month-old son who survived. Her husband, Andre, was also killed leaving behind three children in all.

CNN's Sara Sidner spoke with the grieving relatives, a short time ago. Listen.


ASHLEY JAMROWSKI, SISTER: It's her and Andre were like my heart. It's like I lost a part of me.

MISTI JAMROWSKI, MOTHER OF VICTIM: We pray a lot. And we have a lot of family and friends. The church is broken. Like you go to call, you forget that she's not there.

We forgive him. We honestly forgive him. We pray for him. We hope that he finds God because God teaches you to be loving.


COOPER: My next guest is focused on how business and civic leaders in El Paso can help the families here are the victims and the survivors of the shooting.

Dan Olivas is the co-founder and Advocacy Chairman of Community en Accion. Thank you so much for being with us, Dan. Talk to me about what you're doing and how you're trying to help.

DAN OLIVAS, CO-FOUNDER AND ADVOCACY CHAIRMAN, COMMUNITY EN ACCION: Sure. First of all, before I start, I want to thank the first responders for the amazing job that they have done.

This community is a community that is filled with love, with welcomeness, and nothing is going to change that. We won't be defined by what happened, but by how we handle it.

COOPER: I've heard that time and time again, people saying, "We will not be defined by this."

OLIVAS: Absolutely. It is a generous community. And our organization, which is a group of Hispanic-American business leaders that have banded together to form the organization, to do good in the community, to focus on education, economic development, arts, and in our history, and in our heritage.

Children are very important to us. In this situation, we have come together to put together a scholarship fund for the victims' children, and we really focusing on anybody that was left orphaned, but that is --

COOPER: Is that so something people can donate to?

OLIVAS: Yes, they can.

COOPER: How do people find out about it?

OLIVAS: They can go to -- they can contact me directly. And my number is area code (915)-584-5430 or (915)-241-0735. COOPER: And the organization's name?

OLIVAS: The organization CommUNITY en ACCION or Community in Action, CEA. They have a website. You can go to their website.

COOPER: So you're trying to raise money to -- for a fund for scholarships.

OLIVAS: That's correct.

COOPER: For the kids of the --

OLIVAS: That is exactly right. And we are seeding the fund and we will start the funding with about $10,000.00 or more. And then we hope for that to grow as we move forward.

COOPER: What kind of responses are you getting so far? What kind of -- what are you hearing from people?

OLIVAS: You know, it's amazing. I think one of the most pervasive things that I hear is that we don't want to politicize this. This is not a time to try to get on political sides. It's about the families, it is about our families, our neighbors who have really been impacted, and they've been impacted. Our community has been impacted.

[14:15:13] OLIVAS: And we are determined to make sure that they understand that their burdens are not being carried by them alone. But the community is here to support that. And not just initially, but forever. Yes.

COOPER: So Dan, I appreciate all you're doing.

OLIVAS: You bet. Thank you.

COOPER: Take care, Dan Olivas. Still ahead, we have more from Brooke in Dayton and Brooke's exclusive interview with the bar staff in Dayton, where the shooting that took place, plus I'll be joined live by 2020 presidential candidate, Jay Inslee. He has just released a plan to stop what he calls an epidemic of white nationalist gun violence.


[14:20:31] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching a Special CNN live coverage here. I'm Brooke Baldwin in Dayton, Anderson cooper is in El Paso and here in Dayton, we just shared the first part of my exclusive interview with Dane Thomas.

He's one of the managers at Ned Peppers Bar which is right there, and it was at the front door step, really, essentially at this bar where police took this gunman down.

Dane heard the gunshots. Dane rushed to the front of the bar. And he talked about the doorman. He talked about how the doorman wanted to save lives and grabbed the gun. Right?

He also talked to me about a former Army Ranger who is on staff at the bar, who was also critical, late Saturday night in saving lives.


BALDWIN: Did you see the gunman down on the ground?


BALDWIN: What did you see?

THOMAS: He was on the ground. There was some slight movements, some slight action.

BALDWIN: He was alive.

THOMAS: He was still alive. He had taken his last breath or did take his last breath and then you just see the cops or police all surrounding him with guns pointed out, waiting.

BALDWIN: What were you thinking in that moment?

THOMAS: I was hoping that everybody was okay. I had not seen what had gone on down the road yet. I didn't see the people on the ground yet. I had just seen him on our doorstep.

BALDWIN: What did you do next?

THOMAS: I walked to the middle of the bar here and started telling people that they need our staff to stay down, to hold in position. Make sure our guys are out back that nobody is getting trampled at that time, in which we did -- the back -- the guys in the back establishment we're helping people up and helping them to safety at that time.

I went next door to our sister bar and made sure that they were doing the same thing. They were holding in position and everybody had cleared out.

They were also taking in victims, gunshot victims on that side and holding them off the side as well. Putting them in the back patio area of that establishment.

BALDWIN: You mentioned to me, you guys have a U.S. veteran employee of Ned Peppers, who --

THOMAS: He is an Army Ranger.

BALDWIN: An Army Ranger. Tell me what he did and how you helped him.

THOMAS: He is an Army Ranger. I spoke to him last night more. He has gone through medical training, I believe he called it Field Combat Warfare Medical Experience Training.

BALDWIN: He knew what to do. Bottom line.

THOMAS: He knew what to do. He knew what to do with gunshot victims. He said blood is nothing that's new to him and that he has had experience. He had a tour in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He immediately went out front and started assisting the two people that were directly in front of our business with CPR, calling up that he needs tourniquets, taking off t-shirts, bar t-shirts that we have and making tourniquets out of them.

BALDWIN: And you were running and helping grab bar t-shirts and towels.

THOMAS: And towels, yes.

BALDWIN: To give to him to apply pressure.

THOMAS: Literally every towel that we had, every t-shirt that we had, we were chucking that out there that they were making makeshift tourniquets with that until the police that were experienced in the same thing could come over and take over.

Looking down the street, you saw customers, patrons, our staff, doing everything they can to save as many people as they could, whether it was wrapping them up, applying pressure to wounds, holding hands and telling people it's all going to be okay, you're going to make it. That's immediately what I saw.

BALDWIN: So you were the victims turned into first responders here at Ned Peppers.

THOMAS: None of us want to think of ourselves as heroes, a lot of us think that we're just the people that were there at that time trying to do the right thing to the best of our abilities.

BALDWIN: When do you hope to reopen and what do you want that to look like?

[14:25:09] THOMAS: A number of our partners down here, we were on a text message yesterday morning talking about what we're going to do yesterday, and we came to the conclusion that we would open our doors up for anybody who wanted to come in and grieve.

A lot of people will not feel comfortable going to some place that they might have never been before, a counselor's office or the convention center to meet with people that can help them talk this through. They want to come to some place that they're familiar with, someplace that they're at normally, you know, as soon as the bell hits at 5:00 p.m., and talk to people that they know about it.

BALDWIN: So you've had people come through here and sit at this bar and grieve in the last 24 hours?

THOMAS: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: People who've known people, or people who -- can you give me an example of what kind of people and what they've said?

THOMAS: The best way I could describe it with opening our doors yesterday for grievance is a family reunion. It was people that I haven't seen down here in years that came down and wanted to talk to us and they knew -- you know, a lot of us have been here for years and years. They wanted to check in and they wanted to hug it out.

I don't think I've ever hugged so many people in my life in the past 24 hours. But that's what occurred.


BALDWIN: He said he is just, you know, so humbled by all the people who've reached out to him who he hasn't talked to in over a decade.

And I just want to of course, thank Ned Peppers. I thank Austin, the owner for connecting me to Dane. I know they're not really allowing members of the media in this bar here. But I'm grateful that they allowed me in to tell their story, because they were quick to make sure this wasn't any worse. And again, police 30 seconds later took this guy down.

Still ahead here in Dayton, I will talk to the young man who is being praised for what we see here in this surveillance video. He jumped to the ground, shield his girlfriend from the gunfire as it was ringing out here in Dayton.