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CNN NEWSROOM

7 Victims Dead, Gunman Also Killed In Texas Shooting Rampage; Hurricane Dorian Makes Landfall In Bahamas As Category-5; Law Enforcement Officials: 36-Year-Old Seth Ator Identified As West Texas Gunman; President Asks For Prayers For The Bahamas; South Carolina Governor Declares State Of Emergency To Prepare For Hurricane. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 1, 2019 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:00]

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thirteen consecutive weekend of protest here in Hong Kong and even though the crowds are smaller the protestors are more aggressive and this shows no sign of dyeing down. Will Ripley CNN Hong Kong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST, CNN NEWSROOM: Good afternoon, thank you so much for sticking with me this Sunday. I'm Fredericka Whitfield. We're covering two big breaking news stories today Hurricane Dorian, now a category-5 storm and it making landfall in the Bahamas new details about the track in just a moment.

But first we have new information about the mass shooting in West Texas that claimed the lives of seven people yesterday. The latest victim included a 17-month-old girl who was hit by shrapnel but survived and Mary Granados she is a postal worker who was on the job delivering mail when she was shot during hijacking the gunman took her vehicle, shot and killed her frustrated officials in Texas wrapping up a press conference a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Well, I'm heartbroken by the crying of the people of 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Police say the gunman acted alone using an AR style weapon. CNN's Ryan Young is tracking these developments. So Ryan, officials updating some of the conditions leaving a lot of unanswered questions, but at least stressing that the investigation is intensifying.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Fred. And one of the things that stood out to us that I talked about executing a search warrant as we speak, so hopefully we'll get some more information about that search warrant. But something I want to zero in on as well when we were talking to some people outside of this area, just citizens, they are are scared. In fact, I had two women tell me, what do you do? How do you protect your family when something like this happens?

This was a mobile shooter when people started talking about this yesterday they had no idea of where to go. That real fear still sort of sat out there in the community. The good news is so far and in terms of what investigators are saying they believe this was a lone gunman.

So that is sort of eased some people but they want to know so much more information of course the name of the shooter has not been released yet. We're not sure what the police have been able to drill down on. And when you talk about the idea of a traffic stop turning into something like this that has been something everyone sort of been drilling down on.

You have officers pull someone over for someone not making a proper turn signal and then all of a sudden with a high-powered rifle, shots are being fired at officers, and then there is that scary part, of getting close to a movie theater.

All this sort of being in compos with the idea that this investigation is still continue. And you had exasperated members of Law Enforcement sort of talk about they'll be ready for the next one, but a lot of people pouring their heart and their prayers toward a 17-month-old who was hit during that gunfire and something the Governor brought up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABBOTT: 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 is having surgery tomorrow to remove the shrapnel from her chest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: We're talking about a child here and obviously an innocent child who was involved in this and you think about the other victims involved in this and the brave Law Enforcement Officers who responded to the call to stop the shooter.

That dramatic video that's been playing over and over all throughout the internet, people watching how this sort of broke down, this has left really a lot of people shaken. I think the most tensed moment back and forth with the Governor was people asking questions about the investigation and that weapon the AR-15. There was a little pushback there.

We're hoping in the next 30, 40 minutes or so we'll get more information from the police department. Let's forget it's not been 24 hours yet, but still we know they've identified the shooter. Hopefully we'll get some more information Fred.

But you can understand there are a lot of people who are taking a long look at this, especially after what's happened even in the last month. I think the one of the thing that stood out was that FBI officer basically saying we'll be ready for the next one. That's something that sort of terrifying to hear.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Ominous terrifying, very frightening and that police chief saying while they know the identity of that gunman, he said he wouldn't give him the notoriety. He refuses to. All right, Ryan young, thank you so much.

The question so many have, why did this happened? CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Shimon Prokupecz is with us now. Shimon, do you thing officers know the motive yet?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I don't think they know completely what sparked this. But it's apparent to me in listening to both the Head FBI guy there Chris Combs when he was talking and also the local officials, that they're not entirely ruling out the possibility that this gunman planned this entire thing.

[15:05:00]

PROKUPECZ: There was some concern clearly when they were doing - when they were speaking at the press conference that he was heading to this movie theater, Synergy Complex in Odessa to perhaps continue his shooting spree, to target more people. Just imagine what that would have been like.

There is this possible that perhaps by police stopping him, maybe they prevented a much worse attack. I think all of those questions are still in the air. A lot still needs to be answered, and I don't think they know 100 percent.

I think they're working on different theories and different possibilities, and they're not ruling any of this out, but it's very clear. When you think about how this attack took place, how this all began, those key questions, he was driving.

Police say they pulled him over because he failed to indicate that he was shifting lanes and for a turn signal. They pull him over. He has this rifle aimed through the back window, and as he's rolling away, as the police officers come out of their vehicle to approach his vehicle, he's rolling away and then opens fire on the officers.

The fact that he had this weapon so easily accessible and ready, I think that's something that's certainly adding to some concern by Law Enforcement that maybe this was all planned, and that's the big question, I think, at this point.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I mean, what an extraordinary circumstance that the instinct of the officer to pull him over for what as police officials there described was a routine traffic stop, a failure to use a signal with the appropriate distance, and that stop would have them zero in on someone who was poised do real harm to a lot of people. PROKUPECZ: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And then actually did that.

PROKUPECZ: Yes. And I think that's something that we have to consider here, and hopefully police will be able to get the answers to that. And could this stop? Could this by chance perhaps - we don't know enough yet really about this traffic stop.

But could this traffic stop have prevented a much worse situation? We have seen this happen before when Law Enforcement instincts, they see something wrong, they go in, they talk to someone, they pull someone over, and then day stop perhaps a much worse situation.

And hopefully police will be able to, the FBI through all their work and local Law Enforcement, again, the Texas Rangers - I think the FBI made a very good point there. They've spent a lot of time working with the Texas Rangers. They're very good at these investigations, so hopefully within the next few hours we can get some more answers and learn more - look. I think everyone here wants to know more about the shooter because it can help us understand perhaps motive and what was going on in this person's mind.

WHITFIELD: And that kind of information used to help prevent something else.

PROKUPECZ: Sure.

WHITFIELD: You know, involving someone else.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And that is something I think we're going to learn in a short time. I also want to note - I know a lot has been made certainly in the last hour about why didn't police identify this individual at the press conference.

Chris Combs, the Special Agent in charge of the FBI is well known in the FBI and within Law Enforcement as the guy who always insisted that - and he started a campaign, this no name campaign in terms of mass shootings.

He did not want shooters' named in mass shootings. He just felt it gives them notoriety that they shouldn't have, and that has always been the concern here. So I think that is what we saw during that press conference is, just officials not wanting to name him because they just don't want to give him the notoriety, but I think they're going to be coming with his name soon.

WHITFIELD: All right, but then there are others who say you've got to strike a balance because, you know, erasing that identity or concealing that identity could also sanitize, you know, the person, you know, and what they did, especially the heinous act like this. You've got to strike a balance somehow. All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much.

So I want to bring in Retired FBI Special Agent and Active Shooting Expert Jin Kim. So good to see you Jin. So what struck you in that press conference about what was revealed and what was not revealed?

JIN KIM, RETIRED FBI ACTIVE SHOOTER EXPERT: Fredricka, First and foremost I want to extend my deepest condolences to those people who lost their lives were affected the community. That was affected by such a tragic incident and this pandemic that we have, growing pandemic that we have in this country moving forward.

They were - they were. They gave enough information. I'm quite surprised they did not at this point reveal who the offender is. I understand no notarized campaign. I support it all together. But I think at one point it should be sooner than later, the community deserves to know who this is.

My only thought would be that they're still trying to confirm 100 percent who this offender is and everything about him before they send that information out to the public.

[15:10:00]

WHITFIELD: And is it your - is it your feeling that it is perplexing that they wouldn't? You do understand as you said. You do understand on end the issue on notoriety and that's one reason to conceal the identity, but we had another Law Enforcement Expert on earlier, Juliette Kayyem who made the point that you know there is a need to know who this person is?

So that people are clear about who it was? What the motivation was? And how that kind of knowledge helps you identify anybody else's potential out there? And it can be potentially damaging when you don't reveal enough about a gunman.

KIM: Yes, exactly. That may be the point. Right now the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspector Police are part of this investigation moving forward through a do next is being federal. Unfortunately a Postal Office worker lost her life.

On top of that, they're looking diligently at every turn right now to not only understand and try to identify but also identify any co- conspirators and or any violations that might have been had during this time. This event is not one of your typical active shooter events that we're so used to unfortunately in this country.

What has happen and what we're used to is a confined location where that offender has some type of fortified grievous toward that location or brand what they represent the people and to execute that retribution toward that and manifest it in violence.

What's scary in this and watching the coverage yesterday is when the offender went mobile, that really, really, really heightened and brought this problem to another level.

WHITFIELD: Yes. In fact, the Police Chief underscored that. He says, you know, this is a different type of active shooter because he was mobile. So help underscore the challenges, you know, for Law Enforcement to stop this and stop him in motion like this? KIM: Yes. And I'd like to really know hopefully how this all started were we can deconstruct this and understand why that's stop happened? And then you've got to think that offender made a conscious decision right there to murder two DPS officers and then take off from there.

What was going through that person's mind if he was on that escalation toward violence or the pathway toward violence, if he was en route to some plausible other into furious means or plan we don't know right now but what happened and I popularize is my hypothesis is more than likely he wanted to get away.

And that these random shootings that occurred toward these random innocent victims were maybe to complicate the scenario that Law Enforcement had to respond to, to dilute the response so maybe to increase his chances on escaping this event that he caused.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jin Kim, we appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much.

KIM: My pleasure, thanks Fredericka.

WHITFIELD: And our breaking news coverage of Hurricane Dorian continues as well. We're live in the Bahamas where the massive storm is hitting right now the latest track of the storm, the entire state of Florida also preparing to be next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:00]

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Breaking news, right now Hurricane Dorian is making landfall hitting the Bahamas and headed toward the United States with forecast showing a range of possible landfall sites from Florida to the Carolinas.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is tracking this massive storm from the CNN Weather Center. So has it changed at all? I knew you said it was very slow moving, but anything new about it?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Incredibly slow Fredricka. This is going to continue to move to the west at a snail's pace at 7 miles per hour, and it's expected to slow even more. You have to think this is excruciating to watch, it just crawl over the Bahamas like this at 185-mile-per-hour winds with gusts of 220.

This is the strongest storm to ever make landfall in the Bahamas. Right now over The Abacos Islands and it's continuing to move in that western direction now. We're waiting on that turn to the north and it may not happen for another day or so, and that's going to be crucial when you're talking impacts to state of Florida and all up and down the east coast of the United States.

We're already picking up the storm on the Miami Radar. You can see all of the lightning right there in the center of the storm, that well defined eye as it moves over the Island. What's eerie is people right here in Abacos Islands will be able to see sunlight in the middle of this storm and then the back side of it happens and you get those 185- mile-per-hour winds once again with little to know warning and so incredibly danger situation there.

20 inches of rain or more possibly in Grand Bahamas Island this is Abacos right here 10 to 20 inches of rain possible or not to mention that storm surge of possible 18 to 23 feet may be even higher. As this storm makes it's westward motion, it's going to bend to the north eventually.

But the state of Florida is still in that cone of uncertainty, meaning the center of the storm could occur anywhere inside this cone, and that's why it's so important for our friends in Florida to watch very closely with this storm before it makes that turn to the north because the hurricane-force winds extend 30 miles outside the center.

So even if it stays offshore a little bit, you could still get those hurricane-force winds, very powerful winds. Also all of that storm surge that's going to come along with it, this could basically buzz saw the entire state of Florida as it travels to the north.

That would be the worst case scenario, meaning all of those towns up and down the state even into Georgia and the Carolinas could get incredible amounts of damage. And so that's why they're making the call now, Fred, to evacuate people out of Florida. It's still several days away, but you can't wait too long with this storm because it's going to be on their doorstep in a matter of days.

WHITFIELD: Right. So many past instances have shown if you wait too late, you've got millions of people on the road at one time; you can't do it so you've got to do it in phases like this well ahead of time.

[15:20:00]

WHITFIELD: All right, Jennifer Gray thank you so much. Appreciate it. So Hurricane Dorian made landfall on Elbow Cay in the Bahamas Abaco Island. Let's get right to Correspondent Patrick Oppmann who is west of the Abacos in Freeport.

And the conditions are to deteriorating a little bit where you are, I mean but for most folks it just looks like a regular storm, but you already know it's pummeling other parts of the Bahamas?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and that's why here but the initial reports from Abaco are off catastrophic destruction of cars flipped over, of houses completely submerged under water and really just a terrible scene there is what we're hearing, and we'll certainly get hopefully more images as the day progresses, and more updates.

Again, the storm living up to the warnings that Bahamian authorities and others have been issuing all along and now it will be throughout the day begin moving to where I am and probably stall out over here Island of Grand Bahamas as a category-5 and that is just the worst case scenario to be on a low lying Island of the maximum point of land here is only about 30 feet.

There are people who live at sea level, some even below sea level, in low-lying areas in towns and some of the poor neighborhoods here. If those people have not evacuated, the rain - the storm surge there just can inundate those towns.

They may be over the roof line where many people live. Where we are is on the beach, but we're on the third story of a building here. It's high enough that we should be okay with this massive storm surge, but many other people, Fred, this is a storm that's already cost people their possessions, their belongings, and hopefully it won't take people's lives, but it is certainly has that potential. It's the most dangerous storm the Bahamas has ever had to confront.

WHITFIELD: Wow, incredible. Patrick Oppmann in Freeport thank you so much again. Patrick just reporting that roughly just 80 miles away in Abacos already reports have structures flipped over and submerged. So this storm Dorian has already hit portions of the Bahamas and possibly on the way to where you are, so be safe. Be careful, Patrick, you and your team.

Our Breaking News coverage of Hurricane Dorian continues. The entire state of Florida is under a state of emergency. We'll talk to the Mayor of Vero Beach, Treasured Coast are people taking their taking this storm seriously enough?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:25:00]

WHITFIELD: As Hurricane Dorian hits the Bahamas, the United States is preparing to be next Florida will be the first state to feel the effects with tropical storm-force winds expected to begin tomorrow. This weekend all along the Atlantic Coast, coastal communities have been boarding up, stocking up, and getting ready to hunker down.

That includes Vero Beach along Florida's Treasured Coast. Longtime residents have been through this before facing back to back Hurricanes Francis and Jean in 2004. But it's the newer residents authorities hope are really paying attention. Joining me right now, the Mayor of Vero Beach Val Sedans. Mr. Mayor, good to see you.

MAYOR VAL ZUDANS, VERO BEACH, FLORIDA: Good morning.

WHITFIELD: Okay. So what do you want the most - I guess the newest residents really to know and to adhere by?

ZUDANS: I think you will be safe if you plan for the worst and you won't be disappointed if you plan for the worst and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised. I think some of the more recent residents in our community may not fully understand how bad this could be.

If you were here in sometime over 2004 and three weeks later we had another hurricane. You know what a hurricane is like but if only experienced more recent hurricane Matthew you may not realize that. Our community has been very prepared we've excellent emergency response system.

A whole emergency protocol has been activated. I've seen the people in our community putting up their shutters for five or six days now. I think everyone has had extra time because the storm slowed down and now is the time to activate plans.

I'm a little concerned because from the reports that the hurricane is going to sit for 24 hours approximately over Grand Bahamas and then it's supposed to go north, but if it doesn't go north, if it doesn't follow the forecast, the state of Florida is going to have a direct hit on Peninsula, and that's where the problems can really come in.

WHITFIELD: Oh, yes.

ZUDANS: Yep.

WHITFIELD: I'm sorry about that. Big potential problems I mean even if there isn't a direct hit and this does seem to just turn it's way and hover along the coast, our Jennifer Gray reported that the hurricane forced winds I mean the span is about 30 miles and that could do significant damage along with the storm surge.

So you talk about preparations are under way, but for people who say don't evacuate and think the hurricane shutters are going to be enough and they've got their seven-day supplies, how concerned about those folks or that kind of approach to the storm?

ZUDANS: Well, so what we've done locally - this is bad news for us over the last 12 hours the shift to the left. Prior to that, we were expecting that this was not going to be much. Everyone has all their shutters and everything set up. You just have to activate your plans.

The city or county Indian River County where Vero Beach is located, has announced that staring 8:00 a.m. we're going to activate our emergency mandatory evacuations. A special needs shelter will open at 8:00 at 12:00 the other shelters including a pet-friendly shelter will open.

So if you were planning on going to a shelter, if it was the special needs shelter you can go at 8:00 and if otherwise you can go at noon. If you were planning on leaving town, you've got to start thinking about that. We're expecting to get tropical storm-force winds starting between 4:00 and midnight tomorrow. Once we get into that, you're running a risk when you're leaving.

[15:30:00]

ZUDANS: So people just need to follow through on the plans. They need to - and I'm confident that our local citizens understand this. It's been very clearly stated. And now's the time to start activating those plans and make plans tomorrow if you're going to be going to one of the shelters to check in, depending on what time the shelter is.

I'm very worried about the storm surge, and that's where we can get into real problems. They're talking today at our emergency meeting that it could be 4 to 7 feet on top of normally high tides right now and waves on top of that.

WHITFIELD: That's some scary stuff. ZUDANS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's big. All right, well, Vero Beach Mayor Val Zudans, we're wishing you and everyone there the very best and let's hope that this storm changes just its mind. Wouldn't it be nice if it just took a U turn just like that?

ZUDANS: Yes. We need to pray for the people of the Bahamas too. They're going through some crazy stuff. I hope that everything - everyone is all right there.

WHITFIELD: We wish the same. There are already reports of significant damage. We are wishing you the best and everybody of course. Thank you so much.

ZUDANS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: The National Hurricane Center is keeping a close watch on this massive storm now, a category-5. It's made landfall in the Bahamas. Let's check in with the Center's Director Ken Graham in Miami. So Ken, what can you tell us about what it's doing to the Bahamas right now? How significant are the reports that you're receiving thus far?

KEN GRAHAM, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Yes, what a dangerous life-threatening situation. I mean 185-mile-an-hour winds in that eye wall and just devastating when it comes to the wind but it is not just the wind here it's also the rain.

We can see some of these areas getting 30 inches of rain and the storm surge is just incredibly dangerous. Historically half of the fatalities in these tropical systems come from that storm surge. And this could be 18 feet, may be some areas see in 23 feet so a very dangerous situation.

WHITFIELD: So how are you able to ascertain what the storm is doing as it continues to just hover very slowly over very warm water? Already it seems to be through the charts, you know, on its power. How are you able to gauge whether it is intensifying from that point or if in any way it's breaking up or being compromised as it hits land there?

GRAHAM: It's such a historic storm because even right now ties for the strongest landfall in hurricane and in that Atlantic Basin history. So this is a just a dangerous situation. But this is how we do it. One is with the NOAA Satellites. We're keeping on the structure. We're looking at the eye; we're looking at outflow above the storm.

But the other part that's just so critical to us is the Hurricane Hunters. It's the Air Force and NOAA Hurricane Hunters. They're constantly running the airplane right through the center, right through the eye to give us the information that we need.

They're dropping drop sounds into storm feeding us that information and then it's so critical because it's helping us with the wind speeds and it helped us identify that the storm had higher winds today. While we're running from the storm, the men and women at the Hurricane Hunters both at NOAA and the Air Force they are going right toward it. They're heroes giving us that information.

WHITFIELD: They are doing an extraordinary work. Ken Graham, as are you than you so much from the National Hurricane Center. We appreciate it.

And we'll continue to monitor Hurricane Dorian and including and other Breaking News including what happened in West Texas seven people dead after another mass shooting Democrats voicing frustration. President Trump says it's all a mental problem where the conversation about guns in America goes from here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:35:00]

WHITFIELD: In the aftermath of this latest mass shooting in Texas, today President Trump called the shooting a very sad situation and promised that Congress is working on ways of dealing with gun violence in America, but he also downplayed background checks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: 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: All right. Let's talk. Joining me right now, a Taurean Small who as a Washington Correspondent with Spectrum News and Ron Brownstein who is a Senior Editor for "The Atlantic" and a CNN's Senior Political Analyst. Good to see you both.

All right, so Ron after listening to the President's comments today, dismissing the need for background checks. What would provoke him to flip-flop on this issue when he talked about meaningful background checks not long after El Paso?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's what we've seen before. Look gun owners and the NRA particularly it strengthen rural America are just too much a part of his base for him to break with them. I think it's always implausible that he would do so.

I mean the reality is that on background checks specifically we have a union amity in public opinion that is almost unmatched on any other issue. Consistently for years now, 90 percent of the public including roughly 90 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of gun owners have said that they support requiring all gun sales to come after a background check. But because of the concentrated opposition of organized gun owners through the NRA and the influence that they can exert particularly in smaller and more rural states, the Republican Party is just hands strung. Real quickly Fred, if you look at the 29 states were the highest share of the population owns guns.

They have 58 Senate seats right? 44 of them are Republican. Democrats have 33 of the 42 Senate seats in the 21 states with the smallest gun ownership which actually have more population than the heavy gun owning states but because of the filibuster, whatever happens in the House as long as the filibuster is there, it's very hard to imagine serious gun control getting through the Senate.

WHITFIELD: And on this West Texas mass shooting we've now just learned the name of the shooter. 36-year-old Seth Ator, A-T-O-R we don't have any more details about him. We heard from our Ed Lavandera earlier that police did have a search warrant to go to his residence to look through his possessions, try to learn more.

[15:40:00]

WHITFIELD: We did hear in that press conference earlier today from the FBI, that it did not appear as though according to the FBI that he was associated with any kind of domestic or international terror group.

So - and this also comes after the Police Chief during the press conference said that he did not want to give him notoriety. He refused to and didn't want to reveal the name. Now we do have the name. 36- year-old, Seth Ator.

So Taurean, on the politics now of this as a result of yet another mass shooting here in this country, I understand that you have been talking with Republicans in the Midwest about gun control. What are they saying to you about the approach now when people say, okay, enough prayers, and now it's time for action? What is the approach the Republicans want to take? What's the action?

TAUREAN SMALL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SPECTRUM NEWS: I think it depends on if this latest shooting will impact the climate in Washington. A lot of them are going along with the idea of wait and see just because this is a very divisive issue.

I followed around Congressman Brian Stou who ended up replacing Former House Speaker Paul Ryan when he went back for the recess and he held this impromptu mini town hall with elementary school student at a local YMCA. One of the questions brought up was owned gun where he stands on that issue?

And while he said the House will consider quite a bit of legislation on the matter, where Republicans stand right now is really focusing their efforts to attack mental health issues in this country. But I also wanted to take a look at what Senator Ron Johnson was saying about this, too, because back a few months ago he held this hearing on school safety and security.

He's the Chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and he brought in victim - the fathers of the victims in the Parkland school shooting, and that's where he said that he would be looking forward to common sense and obvious recommendations on this gun control debate.

But just two weeks ago he gaveled in and out through this performance session where he said he's not sure if the debate has changed a bit in Washington, really throwing cold water on the hopes that Congress can come together for solutions.

WHITFIELD: Ron?

BROWNSTEIN: Fred, yes I was going to jump in. Fred, now that Democrats have become the dominant party in Metro America, and are swept out in 2018 so many of the Republicans in suburban districts. There's clearly a majority in the House for gun control. The Universal Background Checks passed with only two Democrats dissenting. They're right on the brink of 218 for the assault weapon ban. I'm not sure if they want to go through passing it.

WHITFIELD: In the House.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, in the House. But as long as the filibuster is there in the Senate, as I said, the Republican dominance in the smaller states where gun ownership is most common makes it functionally impossible, I think, to get to 60 votes.

And by the way, it is the same dynamic on the other big story you're watching today. Why is this hurricane so powerful? It's so powerful because the water in the Atlantic is warmer than it used to be, and it's warmer than it used to be because the climate is changing.

And yet the same dynamic applies. You can imagine serious climate change action passing this Senate, but essentially the same states have a veto. And if you look at the states that emit the most high carbon in their economies, again, they're dominated by Republican Senators who reject the idea of action on climate change.

So I think - to me the dynamics are pretty clear. If the Democrats do regain the White house and hold the House and win the Senate, two issues that are probably going to create the most pressure on them to end the filibuster are the ones we're talking about today, gun control and climate change.

WHITFIELD: Great. And we know that Democrats are going to be many of the candidates are going to be tackling the issue of the climate crises in the upcoming CNN debates. So that is top of mind. But then one has to wonder, Taurean whether, gun control we've heard from Beto O'Rourke.

He was very candid about his thoughts on it this morning when he was on a City of the Union. In fact, do we have that sound on Beto O'Rourke? Okay. Well, he was very candid and using very colorful language to explain his level of frustration.

He did it while in front of perspective voters last night. Do you see, Taurean that other candidates are going to be - particularly Democratic candidates as fired up about the issue of gun control or trying to lead with that issue as they race for the White House?

SMALL: Yes. I think it's a pretty united front on calls for universal background checks. That's something that we've seen all candidates really bring to the table in this 2020 discussion. But they're also looking at what Congress would do?

We'll have to see where legislative priorities would be once Congress returns back to the Hill. But we know the House Democrats are looking at an assault weapons ban. Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, recently called for the Congress to return a bit sooner so they could hold some hearings on it as a precursor to the legislation.

[15:45:00]

SMALL: We know that was canceled in light of hurricane Dorian. So we'll have to see what takes priority, what takes precedent here. Dorian could lead to the priority shifting to disaster relief. We also have the budget coming up. So we'll have to see where Democrats stand on that, what will really be the driving force for legislative efforts.

WHITFIELD: All right, Taurean and Ron thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it. All right, some strong words from South Carolina's Governor coming up next the warning for his state and what he says about help already on the way because of this monster storm Dorian.

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WHITFIELD: Al right, President Trump just sent out a tweet about Hurricane Dorian. The President saying, pray for the people in the Bahamas being hit like never before category-5, almost 200-mile-per- hour winds.

As Dorian makes its West and North South Carolina - as it targets along the coast of the Southeastern portion of the United States, the Carolinas are bracing. Just moments ago, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster gave an update on how they are preparing.

[15:50:00]

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GOV. HENRY MCMASTER (R-SC): Good afternoon. As you know, out in the ocean there's quite a hurricane. Last we know is it's about 185-miles- an-hour. We do not know when it will arrive here or what - nor strength it will have when it arrives here, but we are preparing.

This is our fifth year in a row we've done this. And so we are team South Carolina is highly activated again. We've already begun the movement of people and material and equipment to the places where it needs to be. Whatever happened, we'll be ready and we'll certainly keep you informed of what is happening.

Hurricane Dorian as I say is now a category-5. That's 185-miles-an- hour. I issued a State-of-Emergency Declaration yesterday. That State- of-Emergency Declaration allows state and local emergency management officials to begin staging resources and assets along the coast.

State Law Enforcement National Guard and the First Responders have been fully mobilized. South Carolina Department of Transportation has increased the number of motorist assistant trucks on I-95 and I-26.

All the South Carolina Welcome Centers and Rest Areas are open and staffed 24-hours-a-day. DHEC is alerted all private dam owners to prepare for notification to lower water levels in advance of significant amounts of rainfall.

Department of Social Services is preparing to open their shelters across the state if and as needed and, of course, as always, we will continue to monitor the storm. Again, we're monitoring 24-hours-a-day, not only from this place but around the state. 24-hours-a-day, we're monitoring the storm, and we'll make further announcements as the time comes to make those announcements.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. That's the Governor of North Carolina Henry McMaster there updating the residents of that state to brace for Hurricane Dorian. Up next, rising tensions along the border of Lebanon and Israel what Prime Minister Netanyahu is saying about the next steps as he makes the case for war?

[15:55:00]

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WHITFIELD: Lebanon's army says more than 40 rounds of gunfire hit the outskirts of a border village near the Israeli border. Meanwhile the Israeli military is mulling over next steps after a cross-border exchange with Hezbollah Forces in Lebanon.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his army is waiting to see how Hezbollah will respond before any possible action. Netanyahu said there were no casualties from Hezbollah's strike on Sunday. Stay with us an update on hurricane Dorian up next.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

WHITFIELD: All right, hello everyone. Thanks for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield we're on top of two breaking stories at this hour. First in Texas, officials giving an update on the situation after a gunman went on a rampage Saturday afternoon.