Return to Transcripts main page
Hurricane Dorian Still In Bahamas; States Close To Dorian Evacuate Residents; New Forecasts On Hurricane Dorian; Millions Of People Under Mandatory Evacuation Orders In Florida; Sister Of Texas Shooting Victim Speaks Out. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 2, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
And we do have breaking news for you this hour. Brand new forecast for Hurricane Dorian. This extremely powerful monster storm pounding the Bahamas, where it's already killed at least five people. And it is threatening the U.S. right now.
Millions of people under mandatory evacuation orders in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Thousands of flights canceled with more likely tomorrow. And our correspondents, they are out across the storm zone for us tonight.
Let's get right, though, to our meteorologist, Mr. Tom Sater. He's in the CNN weather center with a brand-new forecast for Dorian. Tom, hello to you. What does the forecast show?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hello. Well, some good news, some bad news. The bad news is it remains stationary. The system has taken 24 hours to move even halfway across Grand Bahama Island. The good news, if we have any, winds are down to 130 miles per hour. That's just one- mile-per-hour away from category three status, and the gusts are down to 160.
I can't believe I even said that, down to 160. I mean that's still crazy. It's better than 200 miles per hour. I mean, few people who have ever walked this earth have gone through the hell that they're going through in the Bahamas in the last couple of days.
The eye has been wobbling, Don, five miles to the north, back to the south five miles, now to the west. It's about 100 miles just east of West Palm. The other part of this good news is we've got a new track out here. Even though the warnings will remain in place and for good reason and the watch is up to Georgia and the Carolinas, when we look at the track now, the bulk of the kind of consensus here is the same.
Keeping it offshore, still question marks when you get closer to North Carolina, and we'll handle that in the next couple of days. It's still going to take a while to move up toward, say, off the coast of Melbourne. But it goes quickly, I think, tomorrow to a category three and will remain that way.
But notice the cone of uncertainty has now left the coast of Florida. It is slightly off. That means with this cone of uncertainty, that that eye could be anywhere within that cone. But this is the first time in a long, long time that it has left the Florida coastline, and it is staying away from Georgia.
However, that cone of uncertainty continues to slide to South Carolina and North Carolina. That doesn't mean we won't have our problems with storm surge, batting rainfall. We're going to have that sea waves moving in and crushing and causing that coastal erosion. We most likely could have a tornado watch tomorrow. We had a couple of waterspouts today.
But the big thing we've been waiting for is the steering currents. High pressure blocking it is breaking down, and look at this color, this light color here, kind of a yellow-green. That is a trough that is moving across the Southeastern U.S.
And when we get in closer here, you're going to see a little bit of a dip right here. And that is what we have been waiting for, Don, that trough to start to lift this system. Unfortunately, I think it's going to remain for another 12 hours right where it is, and that is devastating all by itself. Unbelievable.
LEMON: Tom Sater, our meteorologist. Tom, thank you. We'll get back to you. Eleven counties in Florida under mandatory evacuation orders tonight.
CNN's Brian Todd is in one of them for us now. He joins us now from Stewart, Florida. Brian, you're in an area where three bodies of water coverage there. What are people saying about the storm surge?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, they're saying that it's getting stronger. We can feel it getting stronger here. The surge has been intensifying over the past couple of hours in our location to the point where with the water coming down and the wind, one of our key pieces of equipment failed, our live view, so we're on a different piece of equipment now to transfer, to transmit to you live from this location.
The surge has gotten worse over the past couple of hours and as you mentioned, we're at the convergence of three bodies of water, the Atlantic Ocean, the St. Lucie River, and the Indian River lagoon, all of which has been affected by the storm surge building up off the Bahamas with this storm.
So, the waters have gotten choppier and much more rough. They were kind of slapping against the seawall about three or four hours ago. Now they're crashing against the seawall. So, this area right around me could see some flooding in the next 12 hours.
We also mentioned that we're not far from some barrier islands here that were under mandatory evacuation orders, Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island. About 30,000 people total live on both of those islands. They were asked very strongly to get off those islands, mandatory evacuations. But you can't force people out of their homes.
So, a lot of them chose to stay, and now they could be stranded for a couple of days because of these winds. They're going to close the bridges down. First responders are not going to be able to get to them if they're in trouble, Don.
Also, on Hutchinson Island, they've cut off the water to try to preserve the infrastructure. So not only are those people potentially isolated for at least maybe a day or so, they've got no running water.
So, unless they have a lot of water in their bathtubs, which you're always advised to do in these situations, they could be in a bit of a predicament over the next day and a half or so.
LEMON: Listen, Brian, thank you very much. Brian is there. It's a very busy time for our correspondents. We'll get back to Brian. I want to get to our Randi Kaye now. She is on Singer Island in Palm Beach County. Randi, you're in an evacuation zone in West Palm Beach. How are things there now?
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: They are getting worse actually, it seems, Don. We were out in the elements for much of the day. We're taking a little bit of shelter right now, but you can probably see behind me the rains are still pretty heavy. The trees, the palm trees there behind me have been blowing like crazy.
But we are on Singer Island. It's a barrier island in West Palm Beach area. It was evacuated as of yesterday afternoon. There was a mandatory evacuation under way. Some people stayed, including us, so we could bring you the conditions here. We're staying in a building where there are still people who have decided to stay and ride it out.
But this is an area that's about a four-mile stretch. The ocean today was angry. That's really the best way to describe it. We saw waves that you would normally see in the Pacific, certainly not here on Singer Island. The waves were huge, and normally it's a very calm ocean. People go snorkeling. It's usually crystal clear, bright blue.
It was nothing like that today. The sand was kicking up. There were police on the beach making sure that nobody was going in the water. They didn't want anyone on the beach at all, so they spent the day kicking people off the beach.
We're only about 20 minutes from Palm Beach International Airport. That airport, Don, tonight remains closed. Schools here in this area remain closed, and it is just continuing to -- even though the storm is moving off the coast as Tom was saying, we are continuing to see these periods of rain. Then it would stop.
The sun came out a few times today. The winds would die down, and then they would kick up. It's just sort of an ebb and flow as this day has gone on, Don.
LEMON: As it goes, Randi Kaye, thank you very much. I want to get now to Vero Beach. That's where we'll find our colleague Miguel Marquez.
Miguel, hello to you. Have people listened to the evacuation order and left town?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes and no. We're about 60, 70 miles north of where Randi is, and most people -- we drove down the barrier islands today, and most of the shops, most of the stores -- I mean look at town. It's just -- it's creepy. This storm is creepy.
The conditions here were much worse for most of the day now, and now it just feels like a light breeze on sort of a nice summer evening. What was expected to happen today has not, and it's been sort of put off.
Most people have gotten off the barrier islands, but there are a lot of people who are remaining, sticking it out. They believe that the storm is going to move north. Everyone here watching what's happening in the Bahamas, though, and waiting for that storm to move north as they expect, hoping that they're not going to end up in a difficult situation because those bridges at some point -- it looked like it was going to be around 2:00 a.m.
Now it looks like it will be quite later, at some point will close down and you will no longer be able to get off this area, this area under mandatory evacuation order and hurricane warning.
LEMON: Miguel Marquez in Vero Beach. Miguel, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
Residents in Fort Pierce facing the threat of a possible devastating storm. CNN's Leyla Santiago is there for us. Leyla, the storm surge may reach four to seven feet where you are. How concerned are the residents there?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's actually one of the things that was brought up today in the last presser, in the last update that county officials gave, that very statistic of four to seven, what they are expecting in terms of the storm surge.
As you can see around me, the winds have really picked up since the last time we spoke, Don, and already you were noting how you could hear it and see it then. I just checked in with county officials. They say not much has changed in the last hour from their perspective. They still have about 700 people in the shelters.
They're expecting things to really pick up here tomorrow afternoon, but in the meantime, county officials, residents, everyone near here are just monitoring this storm that has really delayed quite a bit and not having much movement.
I spoke to folks today. They were not only concerned about the possibility of winds but also, to your point, the flooding, the storm surge. The ground is already wet, and so they really can't handle much that could come its way.
So, we are still here continuing to monitor in an area that is under mandatory evacuation. They have sheriff's deputy at the end of the bridge not allowing anyone to come in that may just want to see what's going on, Don.
LEMON: All right, Leyla Santiago, Leyla, thank you. I appreciate your reporting. All of our correspondents, be safe out there also. If you hear the sound of my voice, heed the warnings. Hunker down or leave, whatever your officials are telling you to do.
Hurricane Dorian kills at least five people in the Bahamas. Next, I'm going to talk to a storm chaser following this monster hurricane.
LEMON: The effects of monster Hurricane Dorian being felt in Florida tonight, outer bands of the storm starting to lash the state's east coast.
Hurricane chaser Mike Theiss is in Satellite Beach, Florida. He is following the storm for us. Mike, I appreciate you joining us. What are you seeing? Have things started to pick up there?
MIKE THEISS, PHOTOGRAPHER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Yes, they have, Don. Throughout the day today we've had feeder bands coming through and swirling down the beach, bringing embedded supercells and possibility of waterspouts.
So today I was kind of on patrol for waterspouts, and the winds picked up as the day went. Some of these squall lines that came through would bring the winds up to maybe 35 or 40 miles per hour with really heavy, heavy rains.
LEMON: Interesting. So, the conditions that you're expecting to see in Florida tonight and into tomorrow, what are they?
THEISS: Well, as it progresses overnight and as the hurricane inches a little bit closer and closer, I suspect the winds will gradually increase. The squall lines will pick up, and we may see hurricane conditions along the coastline if that center does get close to the coast.
LEMON: Yes. And it's going to last for a while, as you said. It's expected to sit where it is now for 10 more hours at least. So, this is going to be continuous wind, continuous wind and rain and probably rain off and on. You're on a barrier island, though. Just how dangerous would a storm surge be there?
THEISS: Well, it would be very dangerous. And that's why the locals have asked everybody to evacuate, because it is a low-lying area. And we're going to have really bad beach erosion. We're going to have those waves and that storm surge action.
So, the last place anybody wants to be is on a barrier island in those conditions. So, as the day goes, that is what tomorrow is going to look like.
But what is very important is where that center goes. If it stays well enough offshore, the surge may not be too bad. But if it gets a little bit close, we're going to have higher surge with the wind. Regardless we're going to have really bad conditions all the way up the Florida east coast, all the way up to the Carolinas.
LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned that because I spoke to someone earlier in the Bahamas, and she was, you know, hoping that someone would rescue her. She said she was far inland, didn't think that the flooding and the surge would get that close to her and actually come in contact with it. Some people are worried about the storm surge on the other side of the bay and more inland. Should they be worried about that?
THEISS: Absolutely. Again, it depends on the actual wind direction, but you definitely need to be prepared for any kind of water rise, any kind of storm surge, and that's why the local officials have the maps. They have these drawn out of where this will happen. And that's why they section it into zones, and they evacuate people in zones because they want people out of harm's way.
LEMON: All right, Mike Theiss. Thank you very much. I want you to be safe, and we'll get back to you as well.
We're getting a lot more information in. You know, millions of people here in the United States, in Florida under mandatory evacuation orders tonight as the first outer bands of wind and rain from Hurricane Dorian are moving into Florida.
I'm joined now by Edward Ciampi, he is the commissioner of Martin County. Ed, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us. What are the current conditions like where you are, and what are you expecting Dorian, if Dorian continues to crawl up the east coast?
EDWARD CIAMPI, COMMISSIONER, MARTIN COUNTY: My pleasure.
You know it's been an interesting storm for us. We're used to storms here in Martin County, and especially in Florida. This one has been interesting because it has taken so long to get here. I think it's allowed some people sadly to let their guards down.
But when you look at what's happened in the Bahamas, I think it's a sad reminder that we can't -- we can't rest on these things. We can't start to think that maybe it's just going to pass us by. You know, our hearts go out.
The Bahamas is not that far off the Coast of Martin County here in Florida, and when you hear about the tragedies there, it's a reminder for us to really focus our attention on our fire rescue, on our public safety.
Our employees at the county have done a remarkable job. We have over 1,300 residents in shelters. We have six shelters open. We have a special needs shelter, first time ever a pet-friendly shelter as well for those folks that would not normally evacuate because they didn't have anywhere to go with their pets.
You know, we're out here. It's windy. The rain's coming and going, but we've had a lot of rain recently. The ground is saturated. We've got to worry about trees blowing over in these heavy winds in the ground that's already saturated. But it's something to be taken serious no doubt.
LEMON: Ed, let me ask you for any residents who are still at home, maybe rethinking their decision, is it too late? What message do you have for them?
CIAMPI: I think Martin County residents, we've had a couple. In 2004, both Hurricane Francis and Gene made landfall here. A lot of our longer time residents understand how serious and dangerous these storms can be. Some new folks that have moved here from other areas, they hear the warnings. They're not sure, you know.
Everyone's quick to get to the supermarkets and to the home improvement stores and the gas stations. But when the storm takes a while to come and then it's not as severe weather-wise right this minute, I think people start to get a little complacent. We're hoping that they won't.
We've evacuated our barrier islands. We've sent people to more safer locations. Even after a while, once the winds kick up, our fire rescue and our sheriff's deputies, we can't put them in harm's way.
So, folks that refuse to evacuate during the course of the storm are primarily on their own. We do have some heavy equipment that we might be able to reach some very severe cases. But overall, if you've decided to stay in a mandatory evacuation zone, we're not going to jeopardize our first responders to come out and get you if you have an emergency.
It's a sad fact, but we've given plenty of warnings.
LEMON: In any storm this size, Ed, flooding obviously a big concern. And Dorian is just really crawling along. Is that storm surge what concerns you the most of everything, even more than wind and rain?
CIAMPI: You know, yes, it is because we have a very interesting community here. We're on the ocean, and then we have the intercoastal. But we also have a St. Lucie River Inlet, the St. Lucie Inlet and the St. Lucie River system, the south fork and the north fork.
CIAMPI: So, a lot of our residents, any other time of year are very fortunate to live along the water. But in a situation like we're going through now, storm surge even inland is a very big concern for us.
LEMON: All right.
CIAMPI: We have a lot of low, you know, more historic homes that are lower levels, and storms and flooding is a big concern.
LEMON: Well, Ed --
CIAMPI: And here comes the rain.
LEMON: Ed, yes, right on cue. Ed, thank you. Ed Ciampi, we appreciate it. You stay safe. We'll be right back.
LEMON: The newest forecast for Hurricane Dorian is out. Let's get right to the National Hurricane Center. Mr. Ed Rappaport has the details for us.
Ed, good evening to you. Give us the latest track. Is there still a lot of people in harm's way there?
ED RAPPAPORT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: Yes, there are. Unfortunately, the track at the moment is zero. This hurricane is still not moving. It's been roughly stationary for the last almost 18 to 24 hours.
This is an eight-hour loop in satellite. You can see the eye just hasn't moved. These are the northwestern Bahamas, and here's the coast of Florida. We take a look a little bit more closely. You can see on the radar here's the center of the eye. Here's Grand Bahama Island.
Here's Freeport being hammered, has been for the last 18 to 24 hours with hurricane-force winds and they'll probably get another six to 12 hours of hurricane-force winds before the hurricane starts to move away towards the northwest.
LEMON: All right. But you're confident, Ed, you're fairly confident it's going to start to move towards -- before it just slams right into the coast, right?
RAPPAPORT: That's right. It is a little disconcerting and nerve- racking, I'm sure, for the folks in Florida. We've had a hurricane draw a bead on us and approach the coast over the last day or so.
But it has slowed as expected, and now we expect the direction to change and begin a northwest motion either later tonight or during the day tomorrow and take the hurricane on a course that will be parallel to the Southeastern United States with the center just offshore.
It's not offshore enough, though, to give us any peace of mind because the hurricane-force winds extend out about almost to the coast. Tropical storm force winds will come across the coast. Any deviation to the left will bring even stronger hurricane-force winds ashore.
And unfortunately, we're looking at a storm surge as well. That's the water that's going to be driven ashore by those onshore winds. Four feet of storm surge, inundation along the coast. But could be as much as seven feet if again the hurricane is a little closer to the coast or gets larger than what we're forecasting.
LEMON: Ed Rappaport at the National Hurricane Center. Ed, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
RAPPAPORT: Thank you.
LEMON: Joining me now by phone is Areesha Marshall. Areesha lives in Freeport.
Areesha, thank you so much. You weren't rescued. You had to walk with your family through water to find shelter. Tell me what you went through.
AREESHA MARSHALL, RESIDENT, BAHAMAS: Hello?
LEMON: Can you hear me, Areesha?
MARSHALL: Yes, I can.
LEMON: Hi. I'm going to read your story over again and tell people what you went through. But, again, you live in Freeport. You were not rescued. You had to walk through with your family through water to find shelter. Tell us what you went through. Tell us what's going on.
MARSHALL: OK. Well, basically on the whole island, we've been home basically all day, so we were hearing like our passes on, like, all the shelters that were being closed and (Inaudible). The people, there were many residents that (Inaudible) they were evacuated.
And with all the flooding and the surge from the ocean, it started to like (Inaudible) So one of our (Inaudible) So me, my mom, my husband, and our three kids, we walked through where the water was above knee- high to get to where we needed to go to.
LEMON: Areesha, can you hear me?
MARSHALL: hello. Yes.
LEMON: Can you make your mouth is really close to the receiver, to the microphone, OK?
MARSHALL: Is this better?
LEMON: Yes, that's a lot better. Thank you so much. You were eventually picked up by a stranger, correct, to get you to some safety?
MARSHALL: Yes, sir, we were.
LEMON: Yes. You're with your mom, you're with your husband. You have three kids. One of them is four years --
MARSHALL: No. I'm with my mom, her husband.
LEMON: Her husband.
MARSHALL: And our three kids.
LEMON: Got it.
MARSHALL: Two of the kids are mine.
LEMON: Got it. OK. It's got to be incredibly tough for you, though.
MARSHALL: Yes, it is at this moment in time because we're not sure exactly what's going on elsewhere. We're basically, I would say, trapped. But we're here with other families, and we're just waiting to see what will happen, how high is the surge going to rise. Also, how much farther it's going to come. So that's all we're really dealing on.
LEMON: Yes. Areesha Marshall, we wish you the best. We're thinking about you guys there. Thank you so much for joining us.
MARSHALL: All right. No problem. Thank you very much.
LEMON: Thank you. So, some far outer bands of Hurricane are Dorian already hitting the coast of Florida. How communities in the mandatory evacuation zones are preparing, next.
LEMON: As Hurricane Dorian pounds the Bahamas, evacuation orders are in place up and down Florida's Atlantic coast, including parts of Vero Beach. Mayor Val Zudans joins me right now. Mayor, thank you so much. I know it's a very busy time for you. We appreciate you joining us. Parts of Vero Beach are under mandatory evacuation -- under mandatory evacuations, I should say. So give us an update. Are your residents complying?
MAYOR VAL ZUDANS, VERO BEACH, FLORIDA: Yes, they are. Thanks, Don, for having me on. It's eerily quiet right now. It's actually -- this is what it's like in Vero Beach most evenings about 11:30 at night. People go to bed early around here.
But it's quiet, and I think we started preparing. We took it very seriously and it was a beehive in Vero Beach six days ago. Everyone got everything ready, and then the storm kind of slowed down. So I think at this point, there's a little bit of cabin fever. We're kind of -- we're just kind of ready to get it over with. We've done everything we can to prepare.
ZUDANS: People listened and took it seriously. Everyone went -- who needed to go into shelters went into shelters today. Our bridge will be closing at midnight tonight, and so you'll no longer be able to get over the barrier island. And I think from here until it's over, people just need to stay put. You can't really leave anymore.
And I hope everyone's safe. I hope everyone made the plans. I really do think that they did. They're very conscientious. A lot of people who live here have been here for a while and have been through significant storms in the past, particularly in 04 and 05 --
LEMON: Well, let's --
ZUDANS: -- and they know how bad it can be and how dangerous it can be.
LEMON: Well, let's talk about some of the folks who have in shelters there in the facilities because there are six shelters available to residents of Vero Beach, Indian River County. How many people are taking advantage of them, mayor?
ZUDANS: Yeah. Last I heard earlier today, about 500 people in the shelters. About half of those in special needs shelters where they need special medical care and the other half in the general shelters. They had room for up to 2,500, and definitely had lots of excess space.
It's pretty much running out of time, though, to get in there. Once you get up to tropical storm force winds, which are coming at some point this evening, then it's not really safe to be out on the roads anymore.
I think people took that, and a lot of people left before we even had mandatory evacuations. If they were going out of town, they're long gone, and the local people that have needed it, I think, have gotten the help. So we're just waiting for the storm.
We're sending our prayers out to the people in the Bahamas. That's really just devastating how long they've been under hurricane conditions, the level of the water, and I just pray that we don't get anything like that.
It doesn't look like we are, but we still need to take it serious to the end. You just got to stick with it because the -- you can get fatigued with these things and it's not over. It's still going to get worse before it gets better.
LEMON: Yeah. So you guys be safe there. We appreciate you joining us, Mayor Val Zudans of Vero Beach, Florida. Thank you so much.
ZUDANS: It's my pleasure, Don.
LEMON: Absolutely. I want to bring in now Mayor Mike Bernard of Palm Beach County. Mack, excuse me. Excuse me, mayor. Mayor, I want to thank you so much. Listen, what are the conditions like where you are right now?
MAYOR MACK BERNARD, PALM BEACH, FLORIDA (via telephone): Well, right now, you know, this dangerous storm is 100 miles east of West Palm Beach. And as I already reported, it's 130 miles per hour with wind gusts running 65 miles per hour. We want to thank our residents for making their final storm preparation.
Our biggest concern right now is the storm surge because due to the intercoastal waters and also the Atlantic Ocean, we're expecting to get like anywhere to four to seven feet of storm surge. And also, we are subject to high tide. And around 12:00 midnight tonight, you know, that could be up to three feet.
So, you know, we're really concerned about that. And also we're getting the feeder bands right now in Palm Beach County and some of the winds are as high as 40 to 45 miles per hour.
LEMON: Yeah. Listen, we're looking at some satellite images, some images from space here. I mean it is just unbelievable, the size of this thing. You mentioned the storm surge. You know, you may not get hit directly by this hurricane, but that surge coming off of this hurricane can be just as deadly as if it made an impact to you.
BERNARD (via telephone): Yes, it is. It could be just as deadly. Just going back to this dangerous storm, you know, our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters from the Grand Bahamas. You know, we have so many residents in Palm Beach County that are from Bahamas that are from Palm Beach County in South Florida.
And so, you know, after this storm passes in Palm Beach County, since we have our full emergency operation in effect, you know, what we hope is that we're able to help rebuild Bahamas with their short-term and long-term needs.
LEMON: Yeah. You're recommending that residents who aren't evacuating to a shelter but they're still evacuating their homes, that they shouldn't necessarily leave the county entirely. Tell us about that.
BERNARD (via telephone): Well, that's because, you know, this storm, we knew that it was going to move north, and we didn't want our residents to, you know, get on the highway and get stuck because a couple years ago when we had Hurricane Irma, a lot of the residents, you know, they started driving north to Atlanta. And, you know, they were on the road for over 24 hours.
And knowing that this storm was going to head north, we basically told the residents it's better to go west or go south, but we wanted the residents to shelter in place, not 100 miles away. That's why we opened nine homeless -- nine shelters that are in operation. And also we have a special needs shelter.
LEMON: Yeah. Well, mayor, we appreciate you joining us. Stay safe. I'm sure we'll be checking back for an update. Mayor Mack Bernard of Palm Beach County, appreciate it.
BERNARD (via telephone): Thank you very much, Don.
LEMON: Absolutely. The mass shooting in Texas leaving seven dead, 25 injured, and tonight we're learning more about those victims. I'm going to speak to the sister of one of them, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Unfortunately, today is just like too many other days in the United States. That is because there is another community that is in mourning. They are mourning another mass shooting. This time, a shooting in Texas has left seven dead, 25 injured. Friends and neighbors are reeling right now. Families are without loved ones.
And it goes to show that those thoughts and prayers offered by leaders in Washington have done nothing to stop mass shootings across this country. Even after the massacres just last month in Dayton and El Paso, there has been no action by Congress or the president to prevent deadly gun violence in our cities and our towns.
Democratic Presidential Candidate Beto O'Rourke laid it out in very stark terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The rhetoric that we've used, the thoughts and prayers that you just referred to, it has done nothing to stop the epidemic of gun violence to protect our kids, our families, our fellow Americans in public places, at a Walmart in El Paso where 22 were killed, in Sutherland Springs in a church.
One or two a day all over this country, 100 killed daily in the United States of America. We're averaging about 300 mass shootings a year. No other country comes close. So, yes, this is (bleep).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What O'Rourke is talking about is something I have had to say too many times on this show. The odds haven't changed. I talked about those odds just hours after the deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Every single one of us is just playing the odds at this point. The odds that in a country of 325 million souls that we won't be the ones who get hit by the next bullets that start flying. We won't be the one that gets that phone call about someone you love who did.
Your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your spouse, or your parent, even a friend. Anyone you know. The phone call that changes your life. But with every deadly shooting in this country, the odds get worse and worse and worse. Are you really willing to keep playing those odds? Your life is too precious for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, the odds haven't changed since then, and they don't discriminate. This weekend, a 17-month-old little girl was injured in the shooting in Texas. Anderson Davis was in the car with her family on the way to get groceries when a gunshot hit the car. That left her with shrapnel in her chest, a hole through her bottom lip, and damage to her front teeth.
Today she is at home recovering from surgery, surgery that she should never have needed from injuries she should never have had. Just look at that smile, a brave, young girl. If only we were as brave as she is.
We owe it to her, to the others injured, to the dead, to the grieving families and communities, to be brave, brave enough to stop tragedy after tragedy in this country, because if we can't be as brave as that little girl, we can't do anything to change the odds.
Now, I want to bring in Carla Byrne. She is the sister of Joe Griffith. Joe lost his life in the shooting on Saturday. Carla, thank you so much. I'm so sorry that we're speaking under these circumstances. How are you doing?
CARLA BYRNE, SISTER OF TEXAS SHOOTING VICTIM: Um, we're just trying to be strong right now for each other. It's minute by minute, really. Thank you for asking.
LEMON: I can't even imagine. Tell me about your brother, please.
BYRNE: My brother was this wonderfully hilarious man --
BYRNE: -- who was a light in maybe a not so light world all the time. He was genuinely the funniest person I know. He could impersonate anyone. He could quote almost every movie. He was "Star Wars" obsessed. He was a father to an 11-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. He was a husband. He was a brother.
BYRNE: He was a son, an uncle, and a dear friend to many.
BYRNE: And he was taken from us too soon unnecessarily and tragically.
LEMON: You know, Carla, this shooting in some ways is very different than some of the other shootings, many of the other shootings that we have covered here. Your brother was killed sitting at a terrific light with his family. What do you know about what happened?
BYRNE: My understanding is that this man had already murdered a USPS driver and commandeered her van and was making his rounds through the town when he came to a light that my brother and his family were sitting at on the way to take family photos.
And as he stopped at this light, he looked to my brother and his family. He reached over and grabbed his AR-15. He leaned out over the side of this van and killed my brother, who they had to pull out and lay on the road to try to stop the bleeding.
And from there, he went on to continue his rampage, where he eventually was -- thank God, killed by our amazing officers in the parking lot at a movie theater here called Synergy.
LEMON: You know, I read and you said that your brother had a sense of humor, and you said before he could impersonate anyone. What kind of relationship did he have with his students?
BYRNE: He is (INAUDIBLE) with most hilarious stories about kids. I'll tell you, Don, the day before that my brother was killed, he ran into a former student who told him how much that she had touched -- that he had touched her life. And she had made -- that he had made math easier for her.
Every time she got the chance to watch (INAUDIBLE), that she would -- because she had convinced him that it was a classic. These kids loved him fiercely because he loved them fiercely, just like he loved everyone.
And the one thing I just can't express enough is that I do not want people to forget about my brother. We see this kind of thing all the time on the television, self-included. We watch the TV and we see family members of people who have been slain through gun violence.
We watch and we take a moment hopefully and we have a silent -- a moment of silence. Maybe for prayerful, you say a prayer for the family. Maybe even shed a tear. Then you go to bed and you start your day, you go to work, and you feed your children. You check your mail. You feed the dog. You do all the things because we have to, right? The world doesn't stop turning.
We got to take steps.
BYRNE: Don, I don't know what the answers are. I wish I knew. I would shout them from the mountain tops if I knew. But what I do know is the worst thing we can do is for good men to do nothing. And it's not an issue about we want to take everyone's guns. I have a gun. I have it for my home to protect my family.
It's not an issue about Republicans. It is not an issue about Democrats. This is an issue about humanity. We can't just sit idly by anymore and feel bad for people and just go on about our day.
BYRNE: We have to band together and have conversations about next steps. What can we do?
LEMON: What can we do, Carla?
BYRNE: You know, Don, I have been asking myself every day why my brother, and why do I feel convicted to speak out about this. I'm one person, just one girl in a town that most people have never even heard of. And I don't know the answer.
I think it starts with a conversation. I think it starts with a conversation between the left and the right. And forget about politics. And forget about the NRA. And forget about who's right and who's wrong because we're all human. We all have loved ones.
I ask everybody right now to look at their loved ones. Look at their spouse, look at their significant other, and look at their children, their brothers, their sisters. Look at their family members because they can be next. I have never ever thought that I would be standing here today talking to CNN, in my town, because my brother was slain. It could happen to any of us. We have to start taking action together.
LEMON: Carla, I hope people are listening and watching. And you're very brave. We are thinking about you. And I know that there's nothing that we can say to make it better but just know that a whole lot of people have you in their hearts and their thoughts.
LEMON: Thank you so much. We are so sorry.
BYRNE: Thank you. I really just appreciate the time to be heard. Thank you, Don.