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Hurricane Dorian Makes Landfall In Bahamas As Category 5; West Texas Mass Shooting Gunman Killed In Shootout With Police; Officials Update Investigation Of West Texas Mass Shooting. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired September 1, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I just asked you two days ago, we were given a really comprehensive briefing. And they seemed to think almost every projection was that it was going to go right through Florida and into the Gulf, actually right across Florida.
Does that not have a chance of happening now or what do you think? I mean, everything seems now it goes up north. What do you think the chances that it goes directly straight as the original predictions were?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. This is -- the swell inside this cone kind of guessed the variability of that forecast track. And what's happened at the time, once it slowed down, the forecast had to nudge to the north because now it has that influence with that trough. Teeny changes can make a big difference in the eventual movement of these storms. Literally thousands of parameters that we're trying to measure including the computer models to be able to get these tracks.
So, a small wobble, a small change, can cause that forecast track to nudge a little bit. That's why there's so much uncertainty. And we spent a lot of time talking about the actual cone because, you know, you look at the last five years, and that's the forecast, near impossible with that track. So, we try to communicate these uncertainties, and it does happen, especially when you're measuring thousands of parameters trying to get that into the models. You can get these small changes.
TRUMP: How certain are you that it'll go north?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every single computer model that we have is pulling this to the north. But the big question we have is about where that center is going to go. And that's why we're really trying to communicate the edge of that cone. That landfall literally could be right on the coast anywhere in Florida and even up the Carolinas. We could see a landfall too soon where you can have some damage right along the coast, but we're trying to communicate. Even if it's offshore.
Look at the size, I mean, that's not -- how big the storm is. Even if it's offshore, that could bring some devastating impacts even on the coast. We're trying to communicate that size and really try to focus people on this large system and not just the center.
TRUMP: Great job. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. That was the president just moments ago.
Let's check in with Meteorologist, Jennifer Gray. She's following the storm's progression from the CNN center.
So, Jennifer, millions of people, you know, anxiously awaiting to see where it might hit. We know these storms are very unpredictable but already it has hit portions of the Bahamas. Tell us what's happening.
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Already made landfall. Elbow Cay and the Abacos were just part of the Bahamas just in the last few minutes. That's been its first landfall. It will probably make several landfalls as it continues to move to the west. But its initial landfall, 185-mile-per-hour winds. This is a strong category 5 storm. And it is just crawling to the west. In fact, it will come to a screeching halt or a very, very slow pace before making that turn to the north.
It's got gusts of 220 miles per hour, and where it makes that turn, and that's just what we were talking about just right there, what the president was listening to. When it makes that turn to the north, that timing is so crucial because that will mean everything as far as the impacts go for the state of Florida and all up the coast of the U.S. So, it is going to make that turn to the north eventually. But when that happens, it will mean the difference in, say, category 5 destructive winds possibly along the coast of Florida or staying offshore, and you won't get as many of the impacts.
But the closer it is to the coast of Florida, the bigger the impacts are going to be. The hurricane force winds extend about 30 miles from the center so it could be offshore, say, 20 miles and you'll still get the hurricane-force winds. That's why it's still too early to tell exactly the impacts there. We're all going to be watching it.
We're talking about 18 to 23 feet of storm surge in the Bahamas. And this is going to sit here for several days. We're talking about catastrophic category 5 winds over the Bahamas for several days. That's absolutely unheard of for this portion of the world. So, locally, 20 inches of rain or more, 10 to 20 inches across the Abacos. That's Grand Bahama Island right there with the 20 inches of rain.
And right now, we are talking about the number six as far as pressure goes for the storm. The sixth strongest storm ever to make landfall, and this could actually move up in rank as this storm continues to grow because it is by the minute becoming more powerful, more powerful, and, in fact, dropping that pressure still while it's over the Bahamas. Here are all of the computer models. Most of them are taking it
offshore. The question is how far offshore is it going to be. Keep in mind, we've seen this cone shift over and over, over the last week or so. So it's very uncertain this could continue to shift to the west as it has been the last 24 hours.
If it does so, that's going to bring it closer to Florida. Florida is still in that cone of uncertainty. And so that means the center of the storm still has the possibility of skirting the coast, Fred. So, we're going to be watching it extremely closely.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll keep checking back with you, Jennifer. Appreciate it.
[13:05:02] All right, meantime, we talk about Dorian has already hit portions of the Bahamas, where we find our Patrick Oppmann there in Freeport, Bahamas.
So where are you in relation to the Abacos Island where the storm has already hit, Patrick?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are one of the next stops of (INAUDIBLE) trajectory of this storm. And it's expected to come near us or over us by this evening and probably stall out over this area for hours if not longer. But 80 miles west of the Abacos, and we're beginning to feel the first bands come through. Sort of tropical storm-force winds, but it continues to pick up.
The conditions continue to deteriorate, and it really is the worst- case scenario because we're in a low-lying island. We're talking about a storm surge of over 20 feet. Well, the highest point of land isn't that much higher here, so much of this island will be under water. Many of the islands will be -- around me will be completely under water if people are on the coast. You just wonder how they will ride this storm out.
It is one of the most dangerous storms I have ever covered, and it is about as bad as it gets. You know, I've covered two other category 5's. When it's all over you look out and it looks like a bomb went off. That is the power of these storms.
WHITFIELD: What about people who are living there? People who are working, people who are vacationing? What kind of measures have they been taking?
OPPMANN: Well, you know, the first time ever when I came to cover a storm -- and I've done this for a while now -- when we got on a little plane on Thursday from Miami. They would not let tourists on board the plane. They said they had no reason to come here, the hotels were closed, and they were putting their lives at risk. So, they turned away several tourists. I don't know why anybody would want to come here if you didn't have to.
And then residents were -- some were flying to other parts of the Bahamas. But, you know, the Bahamas -- most of the Bahamas has been under a hurricane warning. Florida has been under the threat of this hurricane so many people who could afford to leave just didn't know where they could go to. Most people we have talked to said while they were going to take the storm very seriously, they were going to ride it out here in their homes.
And for the people who live along the coast, it's too late to evacuate now because the winds are picking up, it is getting dangerous. And you just wonder how these people are going to get through the hours ahead. Certainly, this storm is much worse than anybody has ever gone through here because it's the most powerful storm since Hurricane Andrew.
It's the only other category 5 storm ever to hit the Bahamas since Hurricane Andrew, and Hurricane Andrew is one of the most destructive and powerful storms of all time. I actually coincidentally was on a family vacation here in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew hit.
And I just remember the absolute devastation it inflicted on the Bahamas. There were islands that didn't have a single tree left and we're all just sort of mentally preparing ourselves for what's going to come because it's going to take a long time for this storm to pass.
WHITFIELD: All right. I know everyone is bracing and praying.
Patrick Oppmann, thank you so much, in the Bahamas.
All right, CNN's Nick Valencia is in the Atlantic just outside Melbourne, Florida. So, give us an idea of what's happening there. It looks picturesque. It's this calm before the storm, which, you know, really kind of sometimes can lull people into a certain complacency. But what is happening there?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It can be deceiving. You know, it can be deceiving how picturesque it is out here, Fredricka. And you know, we've been out here for five days as you know, preparing for this storm but this is probably the most people that we've seen on the beach in those five days.
And a lot of the reason is because people wanted to check out these waves. These atypical for this time of year. Part of those group of people that came out to check out the conditions here, Jessica, Savanna, Dondi, hey, how are you guys doing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're awesome today.
VALENCIA: Well, today you're awesome. But are you worried about the future here? Are you worried about the storm coming through?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not so much. And the waves certainly did not disappoint today so we're excited to be out here and we feel we're pretty hurricane-ready.
VALENCIA: So you have actually been keeping -- you know, eye on the track of the storm and you've been ready since Wednesday. Tell us what it's like.
DONDI KUENNEN, MELBOURNE, FLORIDA, RESIDENT: We've been preparing on Wednesday. We put up the hurricane shutters, stocked up on water, filled our cars up with gas, so we're ready to go but we're not planning on leaving. We're going to stick it out. We're new to the area so that's naive, but we're here.
VALENCIA: So you guys have only been here about a year. Are you nervous at all?
SAVANNA KUENNEN, MELBOURNE, FLORIDA, RESIDENT: Not really. No. It's -- I know we're prepared. So that's fine.
VALENCIA: Well, that's good for you guys. I'm glad you guys are you're prepared. I'm glad you guys are heeding the warnings, taking advice. We appreciate that.
One of the things the National Hurricane Center says that this track can change in the last minute. There is a scenario still, Fredricka, that it could make direct landfall in Florida. It's not likely at this point but as you know, these tracks can change at the last minute. So right now the message from Emergency Management officials is keep your guard up -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right, Nick Valencia, thank you so much.
We're following two big stories. Of course, Hurricane Dorian, which is now a category 5, and then we're also the day after a mass shooting in Texas, west Texas, following that as well.
[13:10:06] A gunman opening fire in two towns on Saturday. Midland, Texas, and Odessa, Texas, leaving seven people dead and 21 injured. Police were able to track down the gunman near a movie theater, setting off an intense gunfight there. The gunman was killed in the exchange.
At any moment now, police will be holding a news conference to give us new details about the shooting. And of course, you're seeing this happen in broad daylight. So there were people who were bystanders. And many of whom took out their phones and started videotaping exactly what you see right now in complete astonishment. This ended up being a very deadly afternoon there in Midland and Odessa, Texas. Seven people killed, many others injured.
Our Ed Lavandera is joining us right now on the phone.
So, Ed, tell us about the investigation the day after? What's happening?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are hoping to learn much more. Right now we are scrambling to set up for a press briefing that is expected here just in the next few moments from law enforcement in the west Texas area of Odessa and Midland, and Texas DPS as well as the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, who has arrived here in the city of Odessa as well.
So right now, we are in the process of setting up for that and we will hopefully bring this to you live here in the next few minutes. But there are still a flurry of questions that (INAUDIBLE) but right now all we know (INAUDIBLE) officially is that there's a white male in his mid-30s that carried out this attack. And it was a shooting rampage that was spread out all across the whole city after the suspect was pulled over by police halfway between Midland and Odessa along Interstate 20.
The gunman immediately opened fire on two Texas state troopers and then started driving around the city of Odessa, firing randomly at people. So, this is an attack that set off a great deal of fear across the community. DPS troopers -- sorry sort of stumbled there, but DPS troopers are starting to give some introductory remarks about how all of this will unfold here in the next few minutes.
But, you know, as I mentioned, there are a great deal of questions left unanswered, no known motive, so this is kind of what was it that triggered the traffic stop that led to the troopers arriving and confronting this suspect. And, of course, the suspect was gunned down behind a movie theater on the northeast edge of town several hours after the rampage started. So that's where we're at right now, Fredricka. Hoping to get many more answers for you here in the coming minutes.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, we'll get back with you. Ed Lavandera, there, thank you so much. Lots of fear and sorrow not just in Midland and Odessa, Texas, but now really extending beyond those state lines, people with a lot of questions.
All right. Stay with CNN as we monitor two breaking stories this hour. We're expecting an update at any moment on the mass shooting in Odessa and Midland, Texas. We'll also bring that to you as it happens. And Hurricane Dorian strengthening to a category 5 hurricane, just making landfall in the Bahamas. Its next target the southeastern U.S. coast. We're waiting for updates from President Trump and the Florida governor as well. We're live next.
[13:16:07] WHITFIELD: All right. Live pictures right now at any moment now. We expect on the left-hand side of your screen will be a press conference in Odessa, Texas, as a result of what took place. On the right-hand side of your screen, which was a mass shooting. Seven people killed. Many others injured.
The gunman, a 30-year-old white male is all we know. We're hoping to hear more from officials there as to what provoked this gunman, his intent. We know that he was killed in this melee of gunfire yesterday, but there's still so many unanswered questions.
So, as police work to understand exactly what happened and hopefully reveal to us everything that they know, there's so many questions about what could have been done to prevent this shooting in the first place. This morning, President Trump had this to say when asked about any potential plans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're looking at a lot of different things. We're looking at a lot of different bills, ideas, concepts. It's been going on for a long while. Background checks. I will say that for the most part sadly, if you look at the last four or five, going back even five or six or seven years, for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it. So, it's a big problem. It's a mental problem. It's a big problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: But that statement comes in sharp contrast to what the president said about two weeks ago after the shooting in El Paso, Texas. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why have you backed down on background checks?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What happened to the strong appetite for background checks?
TRUMP: Well, I have an appetite for background checks. We're going to be doing background checks. We're working with Democrats. We're working with Republicans. We already have very strong background checks, but we're going to be filling in some of the loopholes as we call them at the border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk more about all of this. I'm joined now by CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Josh Campbell.
Good to see you both. All right, so, Juliette, you first. You know, President Trump making the case this morning that increased background checks, would it really make a difference after he also said, you know, in the last few weeks, meaningful background checks would, you know, be perhaps instructive. So does this signal what's next?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: What?
WHITFIELD: Or if there is a what's next?
KAYYEM: What does it signal? I think you're trying to ask me.
KAYYEM: What does it signal. It signals that there will be no background checks legislation. That President Trump has been told by the NRA -- we certainly know Mitch McConnell has no interest it, that the background checks, national and more rigorous background checks, will not occur. No one should hold their breath at this stage. It's already clear. Whatever he says publicly, we just shouldn't judge anymore.
Donald Trump -- you know, just look at what's happening. The Senate did not get back. Mitch McConnell has not been meeting with Democrats to come up with a solution. Also, President Trump, you know, did something else, which is he puts that mental argument. This is just a bunch of crazy people doing this.
So, first of all, in the United States, we don't have more crazy people than in other countries. What we do have is we have more people killing lots of people than in other countries. And his failure to sort recognize that it may be the combination of mental health, sometimes it is, sometimes it's not -- most of the time it's not, I should say, with these high-caliber guns, these rifles. We don't know what was used in Odessa yet. That's the toxic mix that has to be addressed.
But I always think that the focus on mental health is a punt by politicians. Donald Trump says he's looking at it. It's like me losing 10 pounds. Like, yes, just do it, right? I mean, you don't have to look anymore. And that's -- sort of means it won't happen. There's no further analysis needed at this stage. It's not going to happen.
WHITFIELD: So, Josh, you know, this shooting yesterday started with a traffic stop and then ended up with seven people dead. What do you want to hear from this press conference that could get under way at any moment or that you think even the public really needs to hear from officials to help people, you know, get some semblance of what happened, if there were any red flags, any of that?
[13:20:12] JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. So many questions -- yes, so many questions that we have, Fred. And I think that at the outset, we all need to be prepared for the fact that we may never know what the motive here was with the shooter. Now, that's going to come down to whether authorities are able to glean from his digital footprint, from his residence, any type of evidence indicating that possibly he had some type of antipathy towards law enforcement or again trying to get into his mindset.
But since he's deceased, his past communications will have to speak for him. And if there is not a -- something there indicating what took place, we may not know the answer which, again, just quickly is a reason why it was so important to focus on the method here. As Juliette was mentioning, the firearm, because regardless of motivation, in all of these shootings, the commonality has been the gun.
So we expect to hear from authorities, additional information. I talked to our sources there on the ground. I spoke to someone who indicated that they have positively identified the shooter. And so we'll wait to see whether they actually announce that at this upcoming press conference and any additional details that they have on the shooter. Again, everyone wants to know what were the characteristics of this person.
And then quickly, the last thing, is we still have not yet received that formal all clear from law enforcement that they don't think anyone else was involved. So I think it'll be important to hear directly from them, that way citizens of that community can rest a little bit easier. WHITFIELD: And of course, as we're talking, we're seeing the live
pictures of the room in which that -- the press conference would take place in Odessa on the other side of your screen, you're seeing, you know, the images that came from cellphones, people who were shooting what they were seeing unfold right before their eyes yesterday.
So, Juliette, you know -- you know, first we were talking, just in the past couple of weeks, El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio. Now Odessa. We heard the president also using that terminology and placing blame on mental illness.
WHITFIELD: But if there is a single factor or common threads of these most recent shootings, what would you identify them to be?
KAYYEM: There's only one through line. Only one commonality across these mass shootings and that is weapons that can kill people quickly. So, forget handguns. Just put those aside, right? And then we don't have to have that debate. The question is, from the perspective of someone who does homeland security, I want to focus on the high consequence, high likelihood events. That's what you worry about when you're in homeland security.
What's the thing that's going to harm a lot of people and is most likely to do that? And that is going to be weapons. And so the mental state of the persona, the background, the video games, person, all that stuff is irrelevant. It's what's the method that they're using.
And so to me, all this talk about background checks and red flags, I would like them, too, because anything you can do to minimize the risk is important. But until our country that bans assault weapons, things that kill quickly, which makes it impossible to stop from a first responder perspective, but also doesn't allow the community to respond in any meaningful fashion, to get away from the harm, we are not going to minimize the risk.
So take the politics out of it. From a homeland security perspective, high probability, high consequence events, and it gets you to these high capacity guns. It's just there's -- the data is clear. Take the emotions out of it. The data is clear.
WHITFIELD: And Josh, even though the gunman is dead, and like you said, still unclear whether there was an accomplice, any other people who were involved. We're talking about crime scenes that now span, you know, great distances. This was, you know, a gunman that was on the move, you know, starting with, you know, targeting law enforcement and then on the move to, just passersby.
But talk to me about the difficulties of trying to obtain as much information, evidence as possible that will help further the investigation, especially since the gunman is dead.
CAMPBELL: Yes. This is going to be a massive effort. And that we should only look to the resources that the government is bringing into that location. We're hearing from our sources yesterday that the FBI alone is bringing in forensic examiners from Dallas, from San Antonio, from El Paso, from these neighboring field offices to some to Midland to assist investigators there with processing what they're calling multiple crime scenes.
Because, as you mentioned, this was along the span of a highway and then into a populated area there, or the theater. And so, when you have someone who was just firing indiscriminately along that way, every shell casing has to be accounted for and all that evidence collected. So this is going to be a massive effort. And that's what we're going to see physically in front of us is authorities going through and doing that really concerted effort to gather all that evidence. But behind the scenes there will also be an effort underway by federal state, local law enforcement and that is again to dig into this digital footprint.
We can expect that if they haven't already --
CAMPBELL: -- that they are preparing search warrants for his digital media. It's going to be a massive effort to get to the bottom of what took place.
WHITFIELD: And we're probably under a minute before this press conference get under way, Juliette.
WHITFIELD: Is the signal that I'm getting. But talk to me perhaps about the kind of decision-making that happened -- that happened to take out the gunman especially after already, you know, so much carnage, but, you know.
[13:25:05] WHITFIELD: If he were alive, there's information that they might be able to glean. But, of course, he's an ongoing threat. Take him down.
WHITFIELD: Talk to me about how they -- that decision was made.
KAYYEM: That would have been -- yes, it's not even a decision. When you have an active shooter like this, he's already shot law enforcement officials, your only job is to stop the gunman in any way possible, and that is more likely than not going to result in death. Sometimes you see these guys surrender as we've seen in the past.
But most of the time, that's -- you know, you basically have to rid of the harm. And so the fact that he's dead would have been -- I would have anticipated at the beginning. I think the other just quick thing here is one of the challenges for law enforcement of course yesterday was that he was in two different cars. It's almost impossible to communicate to a public car -- WHITFIELD: Well, commandeering, you know, taking the postal, you
KAYYEM: Right. Right. So if you think about like a school or a Walmart or place like that, at least you can have people shelter in place. There's probably been training or a program you can shut doors. This is just a new phenomenon and one that once again gets to the capacity of guns and the guns that are used of the mobility of the shooter.
It means that one of the tools that law enforcement has to protect the public which is tell them what's going and tell them to hide they weren't able to do in the cars. And that's why you saw, I think, so many people shot. It's almost impossible to be able to communicate to people who are in cars unless you have an alert system through radio. But most people aren't listening to radio anymore.
WHITFIELD: And then, Josh, you know, it seemed as though just based on some of the chronology that has been made public, that, I mean, this is somewhat of a plan by this gunman, you know, an opportunity, you know, that, I guess, he didn't know that he was going to be stopped by police, but then having the equipment, you know, to take out target law enforcement and then take out other citizens. Does that say to you that there was a plan?
CAMPBELL: I think it's too soon to tell specifically. As you mentioned, there were all the ingredients there. You had someone who was obviously willing to engage law enforcement, who had access that firearm. But I think the one thing that's possibly different here from past shootings is the fact that -- I see the governor there coming to the microphone, is the fact that this personal was responding to a traffic stop, which I think is an interesting characteristic than we haven't seen before.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, leaving it right there for now. Let's listen in to this press conference coming out of Odessa, Texas, after as a mass shooting yesterday, seven killed, many others injured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whenever you're ready.
CHIEF MICHAEL GERKE, ODESSA POLICE DEPARTMENT: OK. Yesterday, August 31st was a Saturday. It should have been a great day, a long holiday weekend. Instead a little after 3:00 in the afternoon we had something happen that we never would wish on anyone.
The Texas Department of Public Safety made an initial traffic stop at about 3:15 on I-20 yesterday afternoon, and the trooper was shot during that traffic stop. The subject then proceeded into the city of Odessa. He had over a period of time created several more victims.
Initially it was thought that there may have been multiple shooters, and that is because at some point this subject changed vehicles. We're now confident that there was just the one actor. This is an ongoing investigation. It is active. There are still multiple crime scenes that are being worked. There are no definitive answers as to motive or reasons at this point, but we are fairly certain that the subject did act alone.
You'll notice that I'm not naming the subject, and there's a reason for that. I refuse to.
I'm not going to give him any notoriety for what he did. We'll provide that information to you, but not in this public stage.
As we stand, 22 people are injured, four of them are law enforcement. Very, very sadly, seven people have been killed, seven of our citizens.
Those seven victims have ranged in ages from 15 years to 57. Very sincerely, I say to those families, I offer my apologies and my condolences. My heart aches for all of them.
I ask the City of Odessa, the State of Texas and the nation to please lift up your hearts and send us your prayers. I thank everyone who has already done that.
There has been a tremendous outpouring. Just to the local audience, please, with your show of support, if you're going to the crime scenes and you're dropping off food and water, and that is much appreciated, but it is also hindering the investigation. So, please, if we could stop that and just bring that stuff to a central location here at UTPD, it would be great.
I also want to thank all the support we've gotten from other local and state and federal law enforcement agencies. The outpouring of resources has been amazing. The cooperation while this incident was ongoing was amazing.
Please understand this is a different type of active shooter that we were involved with because he was mobile, and that creates some very special types of issues.
So my thanks go out to our brothers and sisters in Midland with the county sheriff's office and the Midland County Sheriff's Office and the University of Texas Police Department and Ector County Independent School District Police Department. And I just -- I mean, I could sit here all day and name those local agencies, those local agencies and states (ph) that helped out, and my heart is just filled with gratitude to each and every one of those professionals.
So to close out, I would invite everyone, the community, to join us here this evening at UTPD for a prayer vigil, which will start at 7:00 p.m. Thank you.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Well, Chief, thank you.
GERKE: Thank you.
ABBOTT: We're proud of you.
As you all know, the lives of the people of Odessa, the entire Permian Basin region have been shattered over the past 24 hours. Hearts have been broken. We want people in the Permian Basin to know that all of Texans stand with you and embrace you at this time of challenge. We are here today and we'll be here every day until this community is pieced back together.
But we know that words alone are inadequate. Words must be met with action. I want to thank the police chief for his tireless efforts over the past 24 hours in the robust and heroic response that he and his fellow law enforcement agencies and officers utilized to bring the gunman down and to quickly de-escalate the challenge and to literally save lives that could have been lost had it not been for the action of the collaborative effort by law enforcement.
Along those lines, we cannot thank enough all of the first responders from all of the law enforcement agencies involved in this process to ensure that they were going to be able to do what was necessary to restore safety in this community.
As governor, I particularly want to thank the Texas Department of Public Safety for what they did. We talk about this all the time, and that is there is no such thing as a routine stop. The way all this began yesterday was with what would be categorized as a routine stop by the Texas Department of Public Safety, only for that stop to immediately escalate into gunfire by this killer with a DPS officer being injured in the process.
So I appreciate the way that the Texas Department of Public Safety steps up every single day, always prepared, knowing that their lives are on the line, any stop they make, ensuring safety in our communities across the state.
I also want to express my gratitude to the incredible healthcare providers of this region. They had to deal with probably what was their most challenging day ever, and they stepped up with collective calm and poise to make sure that they were able to heal the wounded as quickly as possible.
I want to express my deepest sorrow for the families who have lost a loved one and for all the victims who have been wounded. The hurt you feel is incalculable. But you best hold onto the hope that you can also have. We're seeing this already with the family of one of the victims. Some of you know that one of the victims is a 17-month-old child.
And moments before coming in here, I received a text from the mother of this 17-month-old. I want to read you the text of what this mother wrote.
She said, quote, thank you all for praying. This is all of our worst nightmare. But thank God she's alive and relatively well. She goes on to say that toddlers are funny because they can get shot but still want to run around and play. She says that we are thanking God for that. Her mouth is pretty bad, but will heal and can be fixed. Thankfully, it doesn't seem like her jaw was hit, just lip, teeth, and tongue.
She's having surgery tomorrow to remove the shrapnel from her chest and to fix her lip and mouth and to get a better look at her tongue. We are thanking god for healing her and appreciate continued prayers.
I want her family to know they can be assured of those prayers today, tomorrow and every day as that young child continues her pathway to healing.
Let me say this. I have been to too many of these events. As governor, the first one I went to was the shooting in downtown Dallas that killed police officers as well as others. Then there was Sutherland Springs where 26 people were killed.
Then there was Santa Fe High School where ten people were killed. And then less than a month ago, there was a shooting in El Paso. I am heartbroken by the crying of the people in the State of Texas. I'm tired of the dying of the people of the State of Texas.
Too many Texans are in mourning. Too many Texans have lost their lives. The status quo in Texas is unacceptable, and action is needed.
After the shooting at Santa Fe High School, I signed more than 15 laws to make our schools safer from shooting attacks.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting at El Paso, I spoke with the lieutenant governor and the speaker, as well as legislators. I've also worked with the victims as well as with advocacy groups. We have been working on drafting solutions that can be taken on by legislators as well as solutions that could be taken by the governor and the executive branch in Texas, solutions that address racist -- take racist hate attacks like what happened in El Paso, solutions that will address keeping our communities safer.
Now in the aftermath of this shooting and the aspects of the shooting, we must broaden our efforts to address the tragedy that has befallen Odessa, and we must do so quickly. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of criminals like the killer here in Odessa, while also ensuring that we safeguard Second Amendment rights, and we must do it fast.
Most of all, in the aftermath of what happened here in Odessa, we must replicate what we have seen in El Paso, Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe and in Dallas, and that is we must do what Texans do best. In times of tragedy, we unite. We come together. We support each other. We reinvigorate the community with the love that we have for one another. And knowing the Permian Basin the way that I do, I know that is exactly what's going to happen here in Odessa, in Midland, in the entire region.
So thank you all as a community for what you're willing do into helping each other, and thank you to the heroic law enforcement officers and first responders for everything that you've already done. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as we continue with this press conference, first, I would like add and call the other fellows (ph) who were doing a (INAUDIBLE) a lot of attention, paid attention, all of the attention on to the active shooter, seeing that we would work and to respond, as the regional director of the West Texas, having to work two active shooter scenes in a matter of 28 days is unheard of for -- in this -- especially all over West Texas region.
So when we have things like this, it's important we reach out to our partners. And we all -- you can see those behind me and those in table with me, we can't do it alone. And it's important that we continue to focus, unify and reach out actively in fighting the -- how we are going to fight the fire and we continue to do so.
I just want to give an update on our trooper who was shot yesterday. By the grace of God, he survived the shooting. He went through a couple more surgeries yesterday and the doctors left they are very optimistic that he will have a recovery -- full recovery after obviously some rehabilitation, but he will be fine.
At the onset of this call, we had troopers, as you know, that not only shot the suspect. We had many in the arena helping the Odessa P.D., and we brought in all the resources we had available, not only in law enforcement but also our non-commission side.
People in the county were working behind the scenes with the Odessa Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well, ensuring that those families that are suffering the losses are definitely educated and compensated as the law allows.
And thanks to the governor and the officers of the attorney general who make sure that all monies are made available to the families and to help them on the road to recovery. Thank you.
ABBOTT: Along those lines, I'm going to emphasize one thing. First is gratitude to the legislators from this region who can be very helpful in the effort of making sure that the victims and others get the resources they need. They're behind me, and I want to recognize the senator from this region, which is Senator Kel Seliger and the House of Representative member Brooks Landgraf, as well as regional representative senators, Senator Perry and Representative Craddick.
Thank you to all the extremely helpful in working with local families and local communities and local schools as well as the healthcare providers in providing information to us at the state level. So I urge you to be active in the next day, weeks and months to come, and working with these representatives and senators to make sure that all of your needs are raised and addressed.
With that, we'll pass it over to the federal official involved.
CHRISTOPHER COMBS, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, FBI SAN ANTONIO DIVISION: Hello. My name is Christopher Combs. I'm the FBI special agent in charge.
First, I want to commend the local law enforcement effort and the state effort here. There is no question that these are the true heroes. In the midst of a man driving down the highway shooting at people, local law enforcement and state troopers pursued him and stopped him from possibly going into a crowded movie theater and having another event of mass violence. I think that's the story of law enforcement that should be conveyed and of how heroic the chiefs, men and women are. So I want to commend them on that.
The FBI is here, as we are now, almost every other week supporting our state and local partners on an active shooter.
We are now at, every two weeks, almost every two weeks, an active shooter in this country.
Now, the FBI responds to them. All the support of our state and local partners here in Odessa, we have 130 FBI personnel support --
WHITFIELD: All right. It looks like we lost the signal right there from that press conference coming out of Odessa. You're listening to the FBI special agent in charge. You also heard from the governor. Oh, I think we've got that signal again. Let's go back.
COMBS: -- is there connection in this, at this point, I can tell you that we do not believe -- we do not believe that there is any connection to any domestic or international terrorism.
Now, we are still working through that. We're conducting searches at this exact moment in time to make sure that there is nobody else even possibly connected with this.
I support the chief's announcement. We do believe this was a single shooter. This was not a multi-shooter event.
We have worked closely in the past with the DPS and Texas Rangers. In fact, the very same team that worked at the Sutherland Springs mass shooting is the team that's here from the rangers along with the FBI team that did that crime scene as well.
So the connection between the FBI, the DPS, Odessa police is built on the unfortunate experience of working together. But we are all working together to make sure that this community is as safe as it possibly can be. And we will be here for the duration of the time that the chief needs our services.
And, unfortunately, we will then get ready to go to the next active shooter, which is an unfortunate statement to make, but it seems like that's what we do. We respond to one after another to these horrible events. And we will always be here to support our local partners and help them through these horrible tragedies that we've seen here in Texas and across the country. Thank you, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Three questions.
REPORTER: Chief, can I ask you, do you believe that the gunman was going to go to that theater eventually? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no way of absolutely knowing that, but it begs the question, why go to the theater if you're not planning on entering the theater.
And police understand that on a Saturday afternoon in Odessa, Texas, that is one of the most crowded places to be.
REPORTER: Do you know what his initial motive was at that traffic stop?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not. At this point, we do not.
REPORTER: Is there any reason to believe that this could have been a planned attack?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, the investigation is still ongoing and there's a lot of questions we just don't have answers to at this point yet.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) the shoot-out outside, moving to describe that shoot-out, how long did it last? Did he have a chance to load? Was he saying anything to the officers there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, all of that is still under investigation. And there are some videos that are out there, but I'm not going to get into that incident at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point in order, we're going to call on people to --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Raise your hand and then we'll call you.
REPORTER: There was also another crime scene you responded to. It broke out at a Stadium where an eyewitness told us that a blue pickup was shot at by police officers. And then, you know, with all the chase (INAUDIBLE) if that scene was connected to the shooting earlier today, and if not, can you still tell us what happened in that situation?
GERKE: I have no information about the incident that you're talking about.
REPORTER: What was the firearm used in the shooting that the suspect had?
GERKE: Okay. The fire arm was an AR-type weapon. As far as how he obtained it, that is still under investigation.
REPORTER: Why was he stopped in the first place? Why was he stopped in the first place?
GERKE: He was stopped for a simple traffic operation --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By DPS.
GERKE: -- failed to signal required distance. REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)?
GERKE: I'm sorry?
GERKE: He's got -- I believe there is some criminal record attached to his driver's license that I'm sure that will serve us later.
REPORTER: A question to the governor. Quite a coincidence today of launching new gun laws went into effect in Texas that a lot of people see as weakening gun laws in Texas. What do you say to people who look at that and wonder if Texas is going in the wrong direction to stopping more shootings?
ABBOTT: Well, for example, one of the laws that went into effect and some deal with issues like this, and that is laws that ensure that school marshals -- more school marshals will be able to have guns to keep schools safer. So some of these laws were enacted for the purpose of making our community safer.
REPORTER: Is Texas doing enough to restrict guns like AR-15s?
ABBOTT: Well, what we have been doing, and especially in the aftermath of the shooting in El Paso, we've been meeting daily, in part, with members of the legislature, in part with the victims, in part with members of the community, in part with federal counterparts.
And we've been hammering out on a daily basis new additional solutions that we will be working to offer up, some by the governor, some by the executive branch, some by the legislature. But these will be new and different solutions that will work to de-escalate gun violence in Texas.
REPORTER: Does it decrease the sense of urgency to have two incidents like this within a month?
REPORTER: Is the suspect from Odessa? Is the suspect from Odessa?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The suspect has an Ector County Address.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, sir.
REPORTER: So do you know if the subject would have been resisting the stop due to outstanding warrants or as a result of criminal acts as far as you know?
GERKE: As far as I know, there were no active warrants.
REPORTER: Can you walk us through the timeline (INAUDIBLE)?
GERKE: No, we can't actually because it is -- it's a very chaotic situation when these things happen, and that is all being pieced together as we speak.
REPORTER: Governor, one of the things you said is that (INAUDIBLE) the shooting that you just mentioned, Sutherland Springs, El Paso, Odessa, it's an AR-style rifle. Is it time to ban these kinds of weapons?
ABBOTT: This is the kind of thing that legislators are already talking about. It's one of the topics that was raised during the roundtable discussions that we had in El Paso.
I do want to point out -- so I do want to point out, however, that some of the shootings have not involved ARs. It's very important to understand that the shooting that took place at Santa Fe High School did not. The largest, they involved a shotgun and a handgun, as well IDed that the largest mass shooting we had in the State of Texas was at Luby's in Central Texas and involved only handguns.
So I'm telling you that we're going to -- let me just answer your question. We're going to look at every issue. There is no issue that we will not look at. And we're going to be working with legislators to find out what the best solutions are for Texas.
ABBOTT: And the people we also talked to are law enforcement officers.
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) crime scenes throughout the city.
REPORTER: Do you believe that it's each one or are they all going to be taped off to (INAUDIBLE)? So which one specifically is considered (INAUDIBLE)?
GERKE: All scenes are being processed. Again, well over 15 scenes. I mean, it takes time to process that many scenes.
REPORTER: And when someone has an AR in their car like that, is that of concern that meaning that some can actually pull a mass shooting or, you know (INAUDIBLE) something like this?
GERKE: You know, there's no way of knowing without talking to him, and we can't talk to him. But, again, he showed up at a movie theater, which would tend to show his motives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go to the last three questions (INAUDIBLE). Go ahead, ma'am.
REPORTER: Yes, sir. First of all, thank you, guys, for everything you've done. I know there is no perfect answer as far as how can you combat (INAUDIBLE) mass shootings because they're unpredictable. But we spoke with a man yesterday who was in the theater during the whole evacuation process. He was disturbed and wondering is there a reason why evacuation was initiated rather than a lockdown? And, I guess, probably you guys (INAUDIBLE). GERKE: The situation was so fluid. At that point, this person was driving from location to location to location to location. A lockdown/evacuation, two sides of the same coin, I think. You just don't have enough personnel to lock down every location in the city. You just don't. So you do the best you can with the personnel you have, and that's why we had people there at Cinergy.
And then I think, again, a lockdown/evacuation in the wake of --
REPORTER: During that time which you guys have (INAUDIBLE)?
GERKE: Absolutely, absolutely.
REPORTER: Earlier yesterday, you said that (INAUDIBLE). Was there a reason why you (INAUDIBLE) something happened earlier that day that you were tipped off on? You said something about (INAUDIBLE) that you were looking for, you know, certain (INAUDIBLE) --
GERKE: No. I think maybe you misunderstood what I was saying yesterday. What I was saying yesterday was that when the suspect was down, we had a good idea who he was at that time and that we just had not totally identified him yet. That's why we wouldn't release that until we had an absolute stone cold identification on him. That's what I was saying.
REPORTER: My question is for Christopher of the FBI. You guys have a team over in the west of Odessa right now who is applying to a home search warrant in Midland (INAUDIBLE). But we don't have an investigation (INAUDIBLE) suspect or any allegation (ph)?
COMBS: I can tell you we're executing our federally-authorized search warrant at this point in time. As we also describe, there's over 15 crime scenes, so, frankly, we're all over the place here in Odessa with DPS, the rangers, and the Odessa Police.
So I would say all day today and probably all day tomorrow, you are going to see significant police and FBI activity throughout the city.
REPORTER: And, Governor, when it comes to you saying that -- you know, that the (INAUDIBLE) I am tired people are dying, it's not like the FBI has (INAUDIBLE). What do you say to the people of Texas that you might have to make (INAUDIBLE) to have a call for action regarding to the (INAUDIBLE)? What do you say to the people to calm them down?
ABBOTT: First, from the response side at the state level, we have a sense of urgency to arrive at solutions, working together with the legislature, working together with our law enforcement officers and federal partners. And we are working quickly to hammer out some solutions, to put some solutions on the table.
Second, importantly, is the way that our law enforcement responds. They work 24/7 to make sure that their communities are as safe as possible. And you can see the dedication that they have. And they will be doing the same to replicate that effort in every community across the entire State of Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, guy, we're up.
WHITFIELD: All right. You are listening to a press conference out of Odessa, Texas there. The governor, the police chief, FBI special agent in charge,
representatives, all trying to fill in some of the blanks about what happened yesterday.
And just a few details about the gunman being stopped on a routine traffic stop by a state trooper there, they're in Midland and being stopped for a failure to signal with appropriate distance. But then that driver turned into a gunman by turning the gun on the trooper and then proceeding.
Now, the details we didn't get, too many specific details coming from the officials there. We did hear from the police chief who said he didn't want to give the notoriety by giving the name of the gunman, at least not at this juncture. But we do know from this press conference that this would end at a movie theater, where the gunman would go into the the movie theater and then taken out.
I've got back with me Juliette Kayyem and Josh Campbell. This is an interesting press conference that took place, because we heard some details that really are quite extraordinary, but then there was a deletion of a lot of information in between. And I'm not really sure what, you know, the method is here. But maybe, Juliette, you can help us understand why.
KAYYEM: Yes. For a rare moment, I'm speechless. I've never seen anything like this. This is a law enforcement press conference. It is supposed to disclose information of relevance to the public and if media who can then determine what's relevant.
We have a debate here at CNN, I get it, about whether we name a terrorist or white supremacist. That's a different debate than whether a public official who knows the name of the person, is willing to disclose it publicly before a global audience. He said he's going to get the name out later. Remember, we're 24 hours after --
WHITFIELD: That he didn't find it was appropriate at this time. But, I mean, this was --
KAYYEM: But just -- it's -- they have the guy.
WHITFIELD: -- a moment to reveal as much as --
KAYYEM: Right. This is the moment. That's not his choice. This is public information.
And, secondly, they don't disclose that it's an AR rifle until asked the question? I mean, who's the person and how did they do it? This is what the job is of public officials. Instead, it was a lot of praise.
[14:00:00] I get that. That's important. I've worked with responders all my career. I get that. It was a lot of praise, a lot of focus on the response and a lot of weird fatalism.