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Trump to Visit El Paso; Calls Grow in Congress for Legislation; First Responders on Dayton Shooting; El Paso Democrats Ask Trump to Cancel Visit. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: And thank you all so much for joining me. And thank you, Erica, for being on the ground for us all throughout these two hours. We really appreciate it.

Anderson Cooper and Brooke Baldwin, they pick up our special coverage right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Kate, we will take it. Thank you so much.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, live again today here in Dayton, Ohio, where we are learning more about the man who killed nine people, including his own sister in a mass shooting that happened along this street and ended just across the roadway. The gunman left a twisted trail on social media, while friends say he showed an interest in violence.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And I'm Anderson Cooper in El Paso, Texas, a city that is vowing not to let a deadly anti-Latino attack perpetrated by a white supremacist define it. At a vigil for a 15- year-old student who was one of the victims, Democratic presidential candidate and El Paso native, Beto O'Rourke, praised the resilience of this town.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In the face of intolerance and hatred and violence, this community is coming together and displaying an extraordinary strength that I don't think that this country or the world has ever known.


COOPER: Tomorrow, President Trump, whose use of the word "invasion" to describe immigrants, echoes the words written by the El Paso gunman in a racist online rant basically. The president is planning to visit the city in the wake of this massacre. In an open letter to the president, the chairwoman of the local Democratic Party asked him not to come, writing in part, and I quote, a visit from you will only result in our community's inability to begin the long journey of healing and prolong the heartbreak and anger that all of us are feeling right now.

She spoke to CNN about why she feels a visit from the president is not a good idea.


ILIANA HOLGUIN, CHAIRWOMAN, EL PASO COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: We've all read his tweets. We've all heard his statements in his rallies. We know that he doesn't care about communities like ours. El Paso has been ground zero for all of the cruel, inhumane immigration policies that he has sought to enact during his administration.

If he were to come and he were to sincerely apologize and he were to sincerely commit to finding a solution, then things would be very different. But the problem is that most people here in El Paso don't think that that's actually what's going to happen tomorrow.


COOPER: And CNN's Rosa Flores joins me now.

I mean there is a lot of conversation about that planned presidential visit.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there is. I've talked to people at the memorial here behind us, Anderson, and there's mixed emotions because people have difficulty reconciling the president's words, like the word "invasion" that you just referred to, and also the president's policies, because at the end of the day we're standing in El Paso, Texas. It's a border town. This community has seen and suffered child separation. The remain in Mexico policy, just about a mile or so from where we're standing, there are hundreds --

COOPER: Right, Mexico is just right over there.

FLORES: Yes, hundreds of Central Americans who are waiting to seek asylum. They're in Mexico instead of waiting in the United States. They would have, you know, in prior administrations, waiting to seek asylum, waiting to see if the United States is going to open their arms to them.

So there's a lot -- there's a lot of conflicting pain in people here in El Paso. Some of them say that it's the president's duty to be here because he is the commander in chief.

COOPER: Right.

FLORES: And others say that it might not help them heal.


FLORES: So it's unclear what his presence will do. Take a listen.


KARLA CUBURU, EL PASO RESIDENT: Is his responsibility to show up when something like this happens in a city when there's any type of tragedy? I think it is part of his responsibility as a leader of the United States. However, I -- seeing his recent commentaries and his responses to this tragedy, I don't think he has -- it's really coming from him, from, you know, the goodness of his heart. You know, I'm hoping for the best. I would hate for any more violent

acts to happen with his visit, but I do appreciate that he is coming down.


FLORES: You know, Anderson, because this is so anti-Latino, one of the things that really resonates with me from talking to a lot of the Mexican-American who live in this community is that for the very first time in El Paso, Texas, these Mexican-Americans feel that they're targeted. They feel afraid because of the color of their skin.

COOPER: It's really -- it's really unfortunate that there is this divide because in a situation like this, you know, it -- communities come together as the El Paso community has. But the president traditionally is, no, not just commander in chief, but, you know, consoler in chief. And so the fact that the very question of him coming here is sort of -- people are conflicted about it, I mean it's just a -- it's a sad statement of where things are at.

[13:05:11] Let's talk about the investigation, though. What's going on, what's the latest that we've learned?

FLORES: You know, investigators are very tight-lipped. They're not releasing a lot of information, as they normally do. But we do know, of course, that the gunman is from -- the alleged gunman, I should say, is from Allen, Texas. That he drove 10, 11 hours to get to this location. That he purchased the gun legally.

That when he got to El Paso, he apparently got lost and then hungry and ended up at this Walmart.

But I've got to tell you, Anderson, we're talking to people from El Paso, they really think that there must be more to that story. They don't quite buy the story from authorities right now because they say that he must have done research because this Walmart is very symbolic. It's the closest one to Mexico. On any given day, you probably see the license plates in this parking lot and you'd see Texas license plates and you'd see Mexican license plates.

COOPER: Oh, people come over from Mexico specifically to shop at this -- this is the Walmart they would shop at?

FLORES: This is the Walmart they would go to. I'm not from El Paso, but I'm from the Rio Grande Valley. A very similar community. And that's what you see. You see people from the United States who have friends and family in Mexico and vice versa.

COOPER: The other new piece of information, which I just heard today, is that the gunman actually gave himself up, was in his vehicle, drove and presented himself to a motorcycle police officer who was on sort of outer perimeter duty.

FLORES: Which raises so many questions as well. And so many questions that we're trying to get answers to because, as you know, after Parkland and in the failure that happened in Broward County, there's been a lot of attention about police response.


FLORES: And police officers in an active shooter situation rushing toward the building to stop the threat.

COOPER: Right, that's the -- that's the strategy now. What used -- it used to be form a perimeter and wait for SWAT. Now it's first officers who were there, whose ever there get together and go in to stop the shooter.

FLORES: Exactly. And so the only thing that we know about the timeline is that officers responded six minutes in. But what happened before?

COOPER: Right, the first officer showed up in six minutes. We don't know then if that officer went in or if a number of officers went in or what exactly -- there's still a lot to be learned about kind of the timeline of this. And all of that, of course, is going to be studied both by local authorities and by the FBI.

Rosa Flores, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

After these two mass shootings, which happened over the weekend, the one in El Paso here and in Dayton, Ohio, there is pressure mounting for Congress to try to do something. Right now there are growing calls from both Democrats and some Republicans as well for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene the Senate and take action this week on long-stalled gun control legislation. Legislation that had already passed the House, but it is stalled there.

Sunlen Serfaty is joining me now.

So talk to me about where things stand on Capitol Hill.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Anderson, the Democratic strategy, as you outlined at the beginning, is really to keep the pressure focused square on Mitch McConnell. They want him to cancel the summer recess -- the month-long summer recess. They want to get senators back here into D.C. and they want the Senate -- they're trying to force the Senate to vote on the two measures that the House passed back in February of this year that have, of course, sat in the Senate without any action at all, and that's the background checks for nearly all gun purchases and also the so-called Charleston loophole, which would prevent people from buying guns if their background check is not yet complete.

And we heard this echoed from not only the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today, but Congressman Pete King in New York. They said, yes, we are potentially open to some of the narrower measures that some Republicans are talking about, like the red-flag laws, but that they believe that the priority right now should be the House-passed bills.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Walmart was in El Paso, but it really could be anywhere in America, even here, as long as easy access to weapons of war remain the unaddressed crisis. And today Peter King, a Republican, myself, a Democrat, are here to say enough is enough. We are call on Leader McConnell to bring the bill that passed the House, that Peter King bravely sponsored, to the floor of the Senate ASAP.

REP. PETER KING (R-NY): This should not be in any way a partisan issue, even though too often it becomes that. The fact is that, as Chuck said, all this legislation does is basically say that people who are criminals and people who are going to judge -- mental patients that have mental issues and people who are spousal abusers or guilty of domestic violence will not be able to purchase a gun.


SERFATY: Now, this week, Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate is prepared to do their part. He has encouraged his committee chairs to have talks in a bipartisan fashion to figure out what legislation could potentially move forward. And we know we've heard from Senator Lindsey Graham saying he will propose those red-flag laws.

[13:10:11] But at this point it is still very unclear in the Senate what the next step is. No potential action on the floor. They are still on summer recess and no indication, Anderson, yet that they will be called back early.

COOPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Up next, we have a lot more from here in El Paso, as well as Dayton. And, in fact, when we come back, we'll be with Brooke in Dayton for an exclusive interview, first responders speaking out about the horrifying moments, responding to the massacre.


[13:15:34] BALDWIN: Welcome back to CNN's special live coverage. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Dayton, Ohio.

CNN has gotten its hands on some exclusive video from Sunday's mass shooting here. A surveillance camera capturing the moments as the gunman comes out of the alley and then opens fire.

And it was a Saturday night, right? This area is incredibly popular in Dayton. It was packed with thousands of people. And you can see them running in all kinds of directions.

Here we are two days now since this horrific, horrific event. And the shooter's motive still remains a mystery. But one thing is clear, there were signs, multiple red flags indicating that he was troubled. During a search of the shooter's home, law enforcement sources tell CNN investigators actually uncovered writings showing that he expressed a desire to kill people.

We've talked about his reputation in high school and how he had this kill list for boys and a rape list for girls. His former girlfriend says he suffered from mental illness.


ADELIA JOHNSON, EX-GIRLFRIEND OF DAYTON SHOOTER: This isn't about race. This isn't about religion. It's none of those things. This is a man who was in pain and didn't get the help that he needed.

People go every day being perfectly fine with having mental illness, me included. And he just -- he got the short end of the stick, no support system.


BALDWIN: So the shooting here in Dayton happening just out of an alleyway out of the camera shot along this street in front of Ned Pepper's is where they took him down at the bar's front door. It lasted for all of 30 seconds. But in 30 seconds the shooter managed to kill nine people before the Dayton Police rushed in and took him out, potentially saving hundreds of others.

And other first responders who rushed to the scene also made a massive difference in saving lives. And I spent my morning actually at one of the firehouses here in Dayton talking to the district fire chief for Dayton Fire. This is the first day back on the job for many of these men and women, firefighters, paramedics, and they talked to me about what they saw and why this is obviously so close to home.


BALDWIN: How long have you been a firefighter?

DISTRICT CHIEF ADAM LANDIS, DAYTON FIRE: I've been a fireman for 22 years. I've been here with the city for almost 19.

BALDWIN: Why did you get into it in the first place?

LANDIS: Probably the same reason most -- most firemen get in the job is to help people. And that's what we do.

BALDWIN: To help people?


BALDWIN: So tell me about the call that came in early Sunday morning.

LANDIS: We got dispatched on a report of a shooting, quickly upgraded to a potential mass casualty event. And Dayton Fire Department, with the Dayton Police Department responded. We also ended up involving a lot of the surrounding departments, the mutual aid companies that we use who did an outstanding job of providing a lot of resources.

BALDWIN: In all your years as a fireman, have you ever responded to something like this?

LANDIS: Not with this many people, no. Each member that responded to that had a role to play and a key role. I equate it to a football team, is everybody has to hit their marks. Everybody has to get their blocks. Nobody can drop the ball. And that's exactly what everybody did. Everybody hit their marks and did an outstanding job.

BALDWIN: You were there to save lives. And so how do you go about doing that?

LANDIS: Well, we have triage and we get through -- we triage individuals and determine how we're going to remove them and get them to a treatment area and transport them to the local hospitals. Everybody that we have in the organization from top down played a key role and did an outstanding job. We had, I think, just about everybody in the city that responded that night.

BALDWIN: Just about everybody?

LANDIS: Right. And, again, we had many, many outside jurisdictions that responded as well. I can't say enough about the surrounding departments and the assistance that they have provided for this incident, but they do it on a daily basis, they help us out. So it's -- that's what mutual aid's for and they did an outstanding job.

BALDWIN: How proud are you of this fire department?

LANDIS: Extremely. And we've talked about that, you know, that, you know, we'll call a spade a spade. And if somebody makes a mistake, you know, we oftentimes point it out because we want to improve. And I tell you what, and I told them, I was proud of everybody there. Just like I mentioned earlier, you know, everybody hit their marks. The training that's been conducted over the last several years in preparation for events like this, it hit all -- it all paid off. The guys did extremely well. They did just like they were trained to do. And -- I'm very proud. I'm very proud.

[13:20:13] BALDWIN: Tell me about this community.

LANDIS: So you've seen what this community's about. You've seen how everybody's coming together. You've seen the support that everybody's showing. And, again, not just -- not just the city of Dayton, but the region, the surrounding area. The phone calls and assistance that a lot of folks have been receiving. I know headquarters has been getting a lot of calls from throughout the country, areas that have had incidents like this in the past and know the issues that headquarters and the city is dealing with and offering support and offering assistance. They've been there. They know what it's like. And they're able to help everybody pull through that.


BALDWIN: So, of course, I want to thank the chief. And there was so much more. We talked to so many others who were back on the job. And we're going to save that for a piece that's going to air on Friday.

But, Anderson, to you in El Paso. You know, sadly, you and I have -- we've covered, you know, tragedies like these, but I am always just so overwhelmed. You know, when you go talk to these, you know, police officers or folks in the firehouse and it's always such modesty. You know, this wasn't us, it was police or, you know, we're just doing our jobs. And I'm struck every single time at how humble and extraordinary these men and women are.

COOPER: Yes. And, I mean, in Dayton, the response time was just extraordinary. And as we've all said before, it could have been so much worse had they not been able to respond so quickly, under 30 seconds is incredible.

Brooke, we'll come back to you shortly.

I want to -- I want to bring in J.J. Martinez, director of communications for the El Paso Democrats, a group that wrote the open letter asking President Trump not to visit the city tomorrow.

Thanks very much for being with us.

So why send this letter asking the president not to come?

J.J. MARTINEZ, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, EL PASO COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I'd like to echo the words of Congresswoman Escobar who said, Trump has to take back his rhetoric. He has to apologize for all of the stuff that he has said about Latinos, about Mexicans, about my community here. And as you can see, Anderson, that is not El Paso. That is not the border. What he says about immigrants, about people who are coming here just to get a better life for themselves, for their children, that's not the border, that's not El Paso.

COOPER: For some people who -- obviously there are people in El Paso who like President Trump and want him to come and there are others who may not like his rhetoric but feel he is the commander in chief, he is -- you know, and has a right to visit. To those people, what do you say?

MARTINEZ: I think most importantly we need to stand together as El Pasoans first. So of course we understand that he's the president. He's the duly elected president of the United States. But first and foremost, we need to make sure that these families are healing. We need to make sure that El Paso, as you see behind us, Anderson, is coming together to support one another. And part of that is also ensuring that the victims -- the families of the victims feel safe, that they feel that they're being listened to, that there's somebody who genuinely has cared about them.

So it is a little hard to have a president who says so much angry rhetoric about El Paso, about the border, and then for him to come in and try and visit with, you know, our community. So to those people, of course, we need to put our differences aside for a moment and come together as a community as El Pasoans. I think that is more important than the president.

COOPER: And you think a visit by the president where he meets first responders, he meets -- perhaps goes to a hospital, meets victims, meets victims' families, you see that as just inherently divisive?

MARTINEZ: I think so. This president, since day one, has continued to call Mexicans rapists, Hispanics, breeders, and he has continued this, you know, even in the -- even in the middle of a shooting here in this beautiful city. You know, we heard him say at his rally, you know, laughing about shooting people who are trying to come across. And that is no way a president, any president, should address not only his base but should address the nation in general. He needs to understand that he needs to be a rallying figure, a unifying voice, and he's just not doing that right now.

COOPER: Did you ever think that this would happen here in El Paso? I mean, obviously, look, we've seen this happen everywhere. We know it can happen anywhere. But it's different when it happens where you live.

MARTINEZ: As you know, El Paso has been one of the safest cities. And you don't think it will happen to your community until it happens. And no city in this country should have to feel the pain that El Paso, that Dayton have felt.

But it's the reality of this country.


MARTINEZ: And it's on all of us, myself, and I think this community understands that it's time for a change. A long overdue change.

So I know El Paso's going to overcome this. El Paso is going to come together and we're going to rise above this terrible tragedy. You've seen the best of people coming out and helping. You know, we didn't have -- we had way more blood. We couldn't hold people in our -- in our blood facilities. We had more food donated. So the best of El Paso is coming out and we will rise above this.

[13:25:02] COOPER: Yes.

J.J., appreciate it. Thank you very much.

MARTINEZ: Thank you.

COOPER: J.J. Martinez.

We have a lot more from here in El Paso. There is so much ongoing every day in what is happening here. The reality of anti-immigrant hate, we're going to look at that coming up. We're going to talk to a man who's been afraid for years that an attack like this would happen here. He'll explain why.

We'll be right back.


[13:30:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN FERREIRA, SOCCER COACH OF SHOOTING VICTIM JAVIER RODRIGUEZ: I was asked today, what message would he say to us?