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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Millions Facing Mandatory Evacuation From Florida To Georgia As Hurricane Moves "Dangerously Close" To U.S.; Hurricane Dorian Death Toll Rises To Five; Mayor Linda Hudson Of Fort Pierce, Florida Is Interviewed About The Biggest Concerns In Fort Pierce Amid Dorian Impact; Thirty-Four Feared Dead After Boat Fire, Eight Confirmed Dead; FBI: Texas Gunman Called 911 & FBI Before His Rampage; Monster Hurricane Moves Toward U.S., Trump Goes Golfing. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it seems this one was as well.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thanks very much. CNN's special breaking news coverage continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT."

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Hurricane Dorian moving dangerously closer to Florida, unleashing devastating conditions, ripping homes apart across the Bahamas. The death toll continuing to climb this hour. Also breaking, officials recovering four bodies, dozens remain missing feared dead tonight after a diving boat catches fire off the coast of California. What went so horrifically wrong? And CNN learning tonight the gunman responsible for the West Texas mass shooting called the FBI just before the attack and that's not the only call he made. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT this evening. We begin with the breaking news this hour. Hurricane Dorian, the massive deadly storm is now lashing the Florida coast. Powerful winds whipping onshore, conditions are getting worse with each passing hour and it is going to be hours upon hours and hours.

This is from moments ago, from Melbourne Beach, Florida. Mandatory evacuations are underway there. Let's just show you the storm from the International Space Station. A stunning picture, 300 miles wide. Right now winds up to 145 miles an hour.

The picture of the storm's eye, just tweeted by a U.S. astronaut onboard the space station. So that is the eye of Dorian seen from space. As that storm is essentially stationary, moving so slowly, ravaging the Bahamas which it has been doing since it came ashore there as a category five storm 30 hours ago.

It is the most powerful storm in known history to hit the Bahamas, decimating the islands. Thousands of homes and businesses are now gone. An entire island is without power tonight. It is way too early to have any sense of the death toll. And to give you an idea of just how high the storm surge was what the

United States could be looking at, you can see waves nearly reaching the second story of home. Rescue crews are just starting the grim task of searching for signs of life among the piles of debris.

And it is scenes like this that has officials in Florida pleading with people in evacuation zones who are still there to get out. They have a team of reporters standing by from Florida to the Bahamas tonight. I want to begin with Miguel Marquez who is OUTFRONT in Vero Beach, Florida.

Miguel, are people heeding the evacuation warnings?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and no. Most of the people along the coast here have evacuated along the way, but this storm has been so slow. It's creeping so slowly toward us. We've had the same wind for most of the day today.

That is south here at Vero Beach. We're on the barrier islands here. The sea has been quite rough, about the same. We've gotten some bands of winds.

But as you look north, you can see that it's sort of broken up. There's not quite as much wind and clouds on that end of it. So you do have some people who are staying sort of coming here to watch, see what's happening. Some people coming here to secure their homes before they get out.

Most people say they are going to get out, but they're waiting. They want to see what's happening here. They're watching very closely what's happening in the Bahamas right now and they're all wondering when will it make that rightward turn, when will it started to head north. And if it doesn't, if it wobbles towards shore, people are concerned about that.

Authority saying, "Look, if you don't get out tonight, by 2:00 am tonight, it will really start to come in, in a very big strength here." And if you don't get out before those winds hit 45 mile per hour, those bridges to the mainland will be closed and you will have to ride it out here on the barrier islands, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you very much. I want to go, as Miguel's pointing, they're indicating down south, just south of Miguel, Stuart, Florida, where Brian Todd is at this hour.

So Brian, as we understand it's sort of sitting there as it moves so slowly. What is happening to conditions where you are?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Conditions here, Erin, are getting worse like they are where Miguel is. Look at the storm surge here at this park in Stuart, Florida. The waves have been smacking up against the seawall here all day long. It has been getting worse.

And if you can see out here, it looks like a rain band. Another one of those outer rain bands is about to come in here at Stuart. It's been like this all day you'll get and it really hasn't let up as far as the wind.

Now, the rain has kind of come and gone, but the wind has not let up and we are told that the wind is going to get much worse in the next, say, 12 hours or so here in Stuart. What also is a concern is you've got the confluence of three large bodies of water that had the storm surge been bolstering them since, I guess, Sunday, where it was in the Bahamas.

That storm surge has been affecting the Atlantic Ocean over here, the Indian River Lagoon here and the St. Lucie River right over here.

[19:05:03]

This is the confluence of those three bodies of water all of which have seen the storm surge really get stronger and that makes the flooding danger here much worse.

In addition, we can tell you that right behind us here are barrier islands, Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island about 30,000 people, combined, live on those islands. Some of them have gotten out. They are under mandatory evacuation orders.

But as you know even under mandatory evacuation, people cannot be forced from their homes. They are concerned though that the people who did not get off these islands are not going to be able to get help once the storm starts. They believe that they're not going to be able to get first responders to them, the bridges are going to be closed.

Bridges are going to be too dangerous for first responders to pass over them and they're worried that people here in these barrier islands are going to get cut off for at least a couple of days, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Brian Todd, thank you very much. And let's get the very latest now on Dorian's path. Tom Sater, our meteorologist is tracking the storm. So Tom, you hear people saying, "Well, let's wait." Is it going to wobble? Is it going to turn? What is the forecast right now?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND WEATHER ANCHOR: Well, we're still hopeful that it's going to start to make that jog to the north now and stay off shore, but the door has not closed on that yet. The sun is setting and you can see it here in the visual imagery, another harrowing night for those in the Bahamas. About 70,000 of those northern islands, 360,000 overall, but they're without power, communications, probably without roofs.

We've heard of total decimation of homes and the inundation of heavy water and they're going to have a long night tonight. It is stationary. It's not even moving one mile per hour now.

We cover a lot of hurricanes in the CNN Weather Center, typhoons and super typhoon to the Pacific, cyclones in the Indian Ocean. I've never seen one put on the brakes like this. Keep its power after traveling, Erin, 1,700 miles from Barbados. The eye is wobbling a little bit. Overnight last night it went through what we call an eyewall

replacement cycle, it can't sustain this energy. So the eyewall opens up, another band, and then it contracts and it gets its energy back. But every time it does that, those strong winds extend outward.

So the storm actually gets broader in its strength. You could see already some rain in the Carolinas into Florida. We've had some water spouts. I wouldn't be surprised to maybe see a tornado watch tonight or tomorrow for the eastern half of Florida.

But even when you get in Freeport - I mean this is only 32 miles to the northeast of them. They have been getting a beating, but the strongest winds near the eye maybe just away from them. I'm sure this has changed the coastline and the shape of it right now.

But what we're watching now, of course, the warnings have been extended north, just south of Jacksonville and now watchers are into the Carolinas. But coming up in the second part of the show, I want to talk about the steering currents and what this means.

Every 10, 15, 20 miles is critical. We need to get that turned to the north and I think we may have something that's going to help us out and I'll share it with you in just a little bit.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. Tom is going to be back with us as we watch this. Tom, see you in a few minutes. I want to talk about Fort Pierce, one of the cities about to feel the impact of Dorian when you talk about these wide bands as Tom talked about. Linda Hudson, you see her there, the Mayor of Fort Pierce joins me now live.

Mayor, I appreciate your time. Obviously, the storm dangerously close to Florida and so enormous that you have these impacts, but so slow that you have some people saying, "Well, I just want to get a better sense of things." What is your biggest concern right now, Mayor?

MAYOR LINDA HUDSON (R), FORT PIERCE, FLORIDA: I am concerned that people will not take it seriously still, even though it looks better for us, it's still going to be a serious effect on this area. The winds are going to be high and the storm surge is going to be high and we're concerned about flooding. And we're also wanting people to stay in their homes and not leave their homes until the all clear.

BURNETT: So, obviously, you're going to get hurricane force winds as you talk about the storm surge itself could be incredibly deadly. Are you prepared right now?

HUDSON: Yes, we are prepared. And I will tell you that we've had lots of time to prepare. How many days that we had to prepare, so we feel really good about what we've done and we're experienced at this. I know you can't prepare for every eventuality, but we have a great team that has had experience with Matthew and experience with Irma, and we coordinate well within this county and we've done the best we can with what we have and we're prepared. BURNETT: So when there are people you have not evacuated and we hear

across Florida where there are going to be bridges that are going to be closing down. People are going to be stuck and they could be stuck for days. And you have a stationary storm like what's happening in the Bahamas, it could be incredibly deadly for a loss of life. What is your message to people who have not yet heeded evacuation warnings?

HUDSON: So they shelter in place. They've made that choice.

[19:10:01]

And most of them should know the dangers are. When the winds get above 45 miles per hour, first responders cannot come and rescue them. And so that message is always clear and we have 700 people in shelters right now who heeded that message and evacuated, but couldn't leave. But a lot of people left, a lot of people left Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

So the ones that are sheltering in place, they know the risks and we're all in this together.

BURNETT: All right. Mayor, thank you very much, Mayor Hudson.

HUDSON: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, Dorian pummeling the Bahamas at this hour, essentially sitting there stationary. We talked Grand Bahama, at least five are dead. The death toll though completely unknown. Homes torn apart. Officials warning conditions are not going to get better for a long time. We're going to go live to the Bahamas.

And officials revealing new details this hour about the boat that went up in flames off the coast of California with dozens of people sleeping below deck feared dead this hour. We're hearing for the first time the chilling mayday call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vessel in distress, this is Coast Guard sector Los Angeles on channel 16, what is your position and number of person on board?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:15:32]

BURNETT: Breaking tonight, some of the far outer bands of Hurricane Dorian are hitting the Florida coast already devastating. Powerful winds and high surf crashing against the shore. Dorian continuing to relentlessly batter the Bahamas as a category four hurricane.

AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer is OUTFRONT from Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Reed, so look there you are now as it is starting to hit. You've taken video moments ago just as a band was coming over you from Satellite Beach, Florida. You're saying you've seen some of the strongest winds so far, what is it like out there?

REED TIMMER, ACCUWEATHER NETWORK EXTREME METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's very hit or miss. In between these bands, you can see bright blue sky that comes down. That's that drive mid level air that's coming in and carving out the western side of the storm. But then those bands will move in and they'll mix down those very strong winds of gust 40 to 50 miles an hour even stronger than that.

We see some small branches flying by as well inside some of those bands, even some near water spouts. These storms in these outer bands certainly do have tornado potential as they come ashore, especially in the front right quadrant of this near stationary storm. That should start to drip on north very soon.

But here over the next few days, the shoreline here is going to get battered by this very high surf. Earlier we were down near Sebastian Inlet which is an area that is notorious for its historical shipwrecks there. And that area is also famous for the sea turtle nesting and very sadly, we saw many of those sea turtle nests destroyed.

You could see eggs thrown about, even very sadly some dead baby turtles. And this above normal tide is certainly taking a toll on the sea turtle nests out here. And we have seen a few people out swimming in these dangerous rip currents. Rip tides are going to be extremely dangerous over the next few days.

You can actually see a few of these behind me. They appear as these sharp arrow channels that can be very dangerous to swim in and that's why you want to heed those evacuation warnings. Stay out of the water out here for the next few days. And just because it's sunny with blue sky above these narrow bands, the conditions are likely going to rapidly deteriorate as this storm gets closer to the coast.

BURNETT: I can't believe people are in the water. That's crazy. Look, you took some video of what you call a supercell structure, Reed, I know not far off the coast, but like you were able to see it, the supercell structure. So what happens if something like this, what we see on the screen right now, your video, hit shore?

TIMMER: Well, that's a supercell storm there. That is rotating. That has a rotating updraft or a mesocyclone. You can see that very dense rain shaft there as well. That was only minutes away from approaching the shore and after that came through, we were blasted by 50 to 60-mile per hour winds.

You saw beachgoers that were running. It looks like they're running for their lives when they saw that storm approaching because they look very ominous, but they were just running to get out of the rain. But a storm like that is certainly capable of producing a very damaging water spout that can come ashore and be a tornado. I've chased well over 35 of these tropical cyclones and I've seen

several tornado damage path produced by these outer bands, even such damaging tornadoes that you see in a tornado alley or the Great Plains, very sharp long track tornadoes in these bands. And that's because the wind shear is just so strong in the vicinity of these outer bands.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Reed. We'll be checking back in with you. That's an incredible stuff. That image is very powerful. Thank you. And when you look at images like that and you see that and then all of a sudden you get hit with 60-mile an hour winds. This is why millions are under mandatory evacuation orders across the southeast.

OUTFRONT now Sheriff William Snyder from Martin County, Florida, one of the areas being evacuated. And Sheriff, I appreciate your time and we were just looking at these images of the video of the supercell. One of the ominous, ominous thing. What happens if people do not heed the evacuation orders you put out there?

WILLIAM SNYDER, SHERIFF, MARTIN COUNTY: Well, 1915 [00:04:21] meteorologist that's out there. We're just hit one of the biggest dangers we have and that is coastal flooding. We have evacuated all of our barrier islands. We have our bridges manned by sheriff's deputies to keep people off the islands.

And so the two threats for us would be people going into that water and getting trapped. And the other one, of course, is we have to protect property now that homeowners are not there on those barrier islands.

BURNETT: And you heard him talking about people going swimming. I mean, you warned that this could be an apocalyptic a hurricane. When you say that, what exactly do you mean, Sherriff?

[19:19:59]

SNYDER: Well, when we were first looking at it, I think it was Friday, it looked like we won't have a direct impact from that category five hurricane. We know that from experience. We're coastal counties. We've been through this before. At certain wind speeds and at certain flooding, we're going to have loss of life because unfortunately we beg people to leave the trailer parks, and manufactured homes and the barrier reefs many times, they don't do it. And then we have to go in and get them out.

BURNETT: And what would you say so they understand the risks that your first responders would take to try to save lives of people who did not heed those warnings?

SNYDER: Well, I can tell you here in Martin County, I was listening to your earlier guest saying that they don't go out in 45-mile an hour wind. There's no wind that keeps us from going out if there's an emergency. I have two pieces of heavy equipment, armored personnel carriers for our SWAT team. And although we don't want to do it, we carry fire rescue personnel

with us. They're specially equipped for stretchers and if you get in trouble, we'll come for you but you do put my people at risk.

BURNETT: I hope people hear that. I hope people hear that. Sherriff Snyder, thank you very much.

SNYDER: You're very welcome, Erin. God bless.

BURNETT: And next, the death toll rising in the Bahamas tonight after Dorian is slamming the islands, ripping apart thousands of homes. We're going to talk to the Coast Guard. Helicopters arriving in the area to try to begin a massive search and rescue operation.

And disturbing new details about the gunman this hour in the mass shooting in Texas. Officials just revealing that he called law enforcement before and during the rampage. What did he say?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:25:36]

BURNETT: Welcome back to a special edition of OUTFRONT this evening. Florida bracing for Hurricane Dorian. The strongest storm anywhere on the planet this year. Right now. The storm is expected to get dangerously close to the coast of Florida within just two hours.

The death toll meantime rising in the Bahamas. Extreme destruction, the words being used. Catastrophic winds have literally torn homes apart. Thousands of them gone. Widespread flooding leaving cars underwater, litter across the island. Tom Sater is OUTFRONT in the Weather Center.

So Tom, you talk about Dorian barely moving right now. So what does that mean and how rare is it?

SATER: Extremely rare. As I mentioned earlier, I mean, this has moved already 1,700 miles. And can you imagine 15, 20 years ago, Erin, if we knew we had a category four or five just 150, 200 miles off the coastline and no one's evacuating. We're relying everything on numbers, mathematical equations, loggers on these computer models.

But this thing you could out walk. It's like Harvey. And again, we're going to be starting to watch this make the turn to the north and I've got some I want to show in a moment. But first the eye, still battering, of course, Grand Bahama Island, but we are getting bands of rain.

This is going to be a multi day event as it just makes its way up the coastline. So again, Florida seen so much rain this year. They're saturated. They can't take much and they're going to get bands and bands of rain.

The models are still in pretty good agreement. We could still have a landfall, looking more maybe like the Carolinas as it slides away. But let me show you the computer models now. It looks like at its closest approach could be just 35 miles off the

coast of Cape Canaveral. The hurricane-force winds extend outward 45 miles. So again, that whole entire coastline can experience these winds not to mention the surge, 150 miles out are the tropical storm force winds.

Now, this model shows you pretty much where the strongest winds are going to be offshore. But anyone who lives in an area of yellow here, I'm going to show you. If you have a swimming pool, just throw your lawn furniture and swimming furniture around there in the pool. You don't want anything blowing around because those are tropical storm force winds.

But in orange, this is now shrinking. Instead of being in 10, 15 miles, it's just along the coastline. But that's going to knock out power, scatter power outages even inland somewhat. I would leave this coast and go about 50 miles inland and it looks like the winds could get stronger up to the Carolinas.

Erin, this is what we've been waiting for. High pressure has been blocking the storm for moving northward. As I broaden out here, notice the color of kind of this gray, this cyan kind of a brown, that is a trough. We've been waiting for the trough to move in now to start to kick this system upwards.

It's just amazing how the computer models these days are getting better and better. But again a formidable storm even in the next 24 to 48 hours still a major hurricane, dropping maybe to a category three.

BURNETT: All right. Tom, thank you very much. It's just so stunning to think that how we wait and wait and how little in some senses we know and how much we now. All right. Thank you. And now Patrick Oppmann is in Freeport in the Bahamas.

And as you hear, Tom talk about it's sitting atop of where Patrick is. We saw some video, Patrick, cars underwater, homes with roofs torn off. I know they're starting search and rescue going door to door. So you've been there, what's happening?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So I mean you continue to see the winds of Dorian lash us as it has for hours. I've never covered a hurricane that just goes on and on and on all day long. It doesn't seem to lose its strength.

We're very protected where we are right now next to a concrete building. If I were to step just over that way, I would be blown into the ocean. We're still getting hurricane-force winds and there's too many people to be rescued right now downstairs or a building.

In the last hour, a group of people came in absolutely soaked who rescued their neighbors. There was a woman had fallen and broken her hip. They carried her in. People came with their pets and they basically came because they knew this was going to be a safe place, not because this is a shelter and there was nobody there to rescue them because of these dangerous winds, because of the dangerous storm surge, because it is once again night and the storm is still not let up.

So there's an increasing sense of desperation, as people say, the water is rising in their homes, that their cars are being submerged and they cannot start them.

[19:30:00]

They cannot get through to anybody on their phones. They're not able to get information. There is no electricity where we are right now in Grand Bahama Island. There hasn't been electricity, and almost 24 hours of people's food supplies are running out.

So, Bahamians are people who know a lot about hurricanes. They have never experienced a hurricane like this. This is starting to feel more and more like the Bahamas' Katrina. It is something that they are just overwhelmed with.

There is some good news. The Coast Guard has sent a rescue chopper from the United States. And on the island of Abaco, they have begun carrying out rescues of this evening. But, obviously, much more need still out there as this hurricane continues to wreck just total hell on the islands.

BURNETT: All right. Patrick, thank you very much.

And we're going to speak to an admiral from Coast Guard about that in just a moment.

I want to go now, first, though to Chris Pannerman. He's there, a resident of Marsh Harbour, in the Bahamas.

And, Chris, look, thank you for being with me. I know you're with your wife and three year old daughter. How are things right now?

CHRIS PANNERMAN, LIVES IN MARSH HARBOUR, BAHAMAS (via telephone): Right now, we're sitting in a corner of our apartment where the roof isn't leaking, but the ceiling came down. People's roofs are off. These parks that are parked in awkward positions. There's flooding and we at the whole Marsh Harbour stretch is actually flooded.

There's businesses downtown, all of the roofs are off. I actually try to make an attempt to go and see how my nephews were doing. And the weather was so bad, I had to turn back around. There are people walking in the streets with their 3-year-olds as well.

It's just bad. This is a life-changing so much. You wouldn't believe that something like this can actually happen in life. It seems like something out of a movie. We were -- when we were trapped in a bathroom, the whole building was shaking. I was sitting against the wall and I can feel the pressure entering and pushing the wall on my back like this is -- this is not something I would wish on anybody.

BURNETT: I mean, when you describe that, and you talk about the leak in your apartment. I know part of your ceiling is partially gone in the apartment building, you have a house around the corner. I think you were talking to my producer a few moments ago, flipped upside down.

PANNERMAN: Yes.

BURNETT: Water up to the waist. And this storm is still there. I mean, you must be so frightened, Chris.

PANNERMAN: Yes, it's very frightening. I went through Francis and Jane back in 2004 and 2005, and I have memories of those storms. This is a new memory for me.

The house -- I walked past the house. There is a house that's actually upside down. So I know a lot of people because my roof is still leaking, but I can find a dry spot. There are people walking in waist deep water. We are walking trying to find people who are in need.

And the water is waist deep. There are some electrical lines in the water that we have to turn around because, you know, we don't want to take any chances out there.

BURNETT: Look, the prime minister of the Bahamas says, right now, all we know is, Chris, is five deaths in Abaco, Marsh Harbour, of course, is part of that. Based on what you've seen, do you think that this death toll is going to go higher?

PANNERMAN: Yes. I definitely think it's going to go higher, based on the water that has rise and enter into the Marsh Harbour area. People are still missing out there.

BURNETT: There are. Well, look, thank you for talking to us. Please stay safe with your wife and that little baby girl. Thanks.

PANNERMAN: Thank you very much. (INAUDIBLE)

BURNETT: I want to go to Rear Admiral Eric Jones. He is the 7th district commander for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Admiral, thank you very much for your time. I don't know if you just heard Chris there. Just the devastation is effect, a transformational effect on his life. He strongly -- he says that the death toll will go higher from what he has seen. How dangerous is it out there for your rescue crew?

REAR ADM. ERIC C. JONES, U.S. COAST GUARD SEVENTH DISTRICT COMMANDER (via telephone): Well, Erin, thank you so much for having me. And it's absolutely, you know, catastrophic conditions. Those weather, what we're seeing with the hurricane is absolutely overwhelming. We are getting our rescue crews that are in the Bahamas as close as we can to help out, but the conditions there with the hurricane stationary over Grand Bahama Island, there's no ability to get in there with any assets right now.

BURNETT: And, look, that's a terrifying thing when you hear about what he is describing. You know, our reporter was just saying the one -- the only good news, you know, when he was describing is possibly a Katrina-like event for the Bahamas, but the only good news is that the U.S. Coast Guard was going to be able to start coming in.

You know, you are really that ray of hope for some people.

[19:35:00]

What can you tell me, Admiral, about the rescues that your team can do there at this time?

JONES: Well, what we were able to do, Erin, is today early on, we were able to get the helicopter from our Clearwater air station on the west coast of Florida across to AUTEC on Andros Island. From there to leave to Nassau, and then finally approach the storm and see how close we can get.

And we were able to make it as far as Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island. And when we got there, we were able to drop off a doctor and a couple medics who could assist in a clinic there. And then we got to work on evacuating some of the injured medical cases, evacuated a total of 19 to Nassau over the course of five flights into Marsh Harbour.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, Admiral. You know, look, we wish you the luck that you're able to get in there and, of course, you know, applaud the courage of your team. Thanks.

JONES: Thank you so much for the time. And, please, this should be a reminder to folks as Dorian approaches the Florida coast, Georgia and the Carolinas to remain clear of it, to heed the warnings of your emergency response agencies.

And I would, if I have a moment just to say, our rescue coordination centers across the country are being overwhelmed by telephone calls asking to check on family and friends in the Bahamas. I really need to urge people to refrain from making those calls, because those calls are blocking actual search and rescue case reports that we need to take so that we can get them in queue and realize who we need to get to.

So, thank you for the time to speak to you tonight. And let's keep praying and thinking of those folks in the Bahamas.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Admiral. And I hope people heard you.

If you do have those calls checking on people, do not call the Coast Guard.

All right. Next, breaking news. Officials revealing new details about the deadly boat fire. Dozens now feared dead in a horrific, horrific event. We are hearing from the crew now for the first time what happened as the ship went down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday, mayday, mayday. Conception.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Also breaking, CNN learning the gunman involved in the mass shooting in Texas called the FBI and 911 before the attack and during. What he said.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:26]

BURNETT: Breaking news, officials say at least eight people are dead. More than two dozen are missing at this hour. A dive boat caught fire and sank off the coast of southern California. And it appears that people were sleeping when the fire broke out, but they were trapped below deck.

So far, only five people have been rescued. All of them were crew members. It is a horrific tragedy.

Sara Sidner is OUTFRONT with everything we know now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday, mayday, mayday. Conception.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the desperate search for survivors after a 75-foot dive boat caught fire off Santa Cruz Island.

At least four of the 34 passengers on board the conception are confirmed dead.

COAST GUARD: Vessel in distress, this is Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles on channel 16. What is your position and number of persons on board? Over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe.

COAST GUARD: The Coast Guard has received a mayday call from an unknown vessel. All mariners are requested to keep a sharp lookout, assist if possible and report any sighting to the United States Coast Guard.

SIDNER: The 34 passengers were below deck in an area used for sleeping.

COAST GUARD: Roger, are they locked inside the boat? Roger, can you get back on board and unlock the boat, unlock the door so they can get off?

SIDNER: All five crew members onboard in the main cabin escaped.

CAPTAIN MONICA ROCHESTER, COAST GUARD SECTOR COMMANDER, LOS ANGELES LONG BEACH: The crew was actually already awake and on the bridge and they jumped off.

Five people were evacuated aboard a Good Samaritan pleasure craft known as the Great Escape.

SIDNER: Authorities say the boat was burned down to the water line.

COAST GUARD: Roger, you don't have any firefighting gear at all? No fire extinguishers or anything?

SIDNER: It's believed the 34 passengers below deck may have been trapped there by the flames.

SENIOR CHIEF AARON BEMIS, UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: The fire was so intense that even after it was put out, you know, we're not able to actually embark the vessel and, you known, look for survivors.

SIDNER: The Conception is owned by Truth Aquatics, which does boat charters. According to the company's website, the Conception left Saturday on a three-day cruise and was scheduled to return this evening. The Coast Guard said the vessel is in good standing and the owner operator is cooperating with them at this time.

James Kohls' brother works on the boat, but hasn't heard if he made it off OK.

JAMES KOHLS, BROTHER IS A CREW MEMBER ON CONCEPTION: He is the galley cook and the deckhand. They do a lot of research and diving and fishing trips on it. It holds about 30 people, maybe as many as 40.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER: And now we have learned from the Coast Guard and the sheriff's office here that indeed four more bodies have been seen but not recovered. They are at the bottom of the ocean. They were able to see that at least four more people are deceased under there, and then we know that the vessel actually sank about four hours after it caught fire, the vessel also at the bottom of the ocean.

The investigation into how this happened continues -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you, Sara.

I want to go to now to Jerry Pancake, a scuba dive master. He has been on the Conception.

Jerry, tell me, you have been on this ship. What was it like and what is it like below deck where it appears so many people perhaps were trapped?

JERRY PANCAKE, SCUBA DIVEMASTER & BOAT CAPTAIN, HAS BEEN ON BOAT THAT CAUGHT FIRE: Right. Below decks is bunk space and in back of that towards the stern of the ship would be machine space that passengers wouldn't have access to that. So, the bunk area is a number of bunks upwards of -- I think on that boat, it's almost 40. They typically don't use all of those bunks, but, yes, so that would be bunk space down below.

[19:45:02] BURNETT: And as we try to understand what horrific thing happened

here. I know, obviously, the owners are cooperating. It's been a very well-respected dive company. Did they store oxygen tanks down there? Or is there anything that as you are trying to think through this could explain it?

PANCAKE: What -- you mean what happened or how it might have happened?

BURNETT: Yes.

PANCAKE: I'm not certain where the origin of the fire would be. You know, just from the sounds of it. It must have happened quite fast. It's hard to understand what kind of -- what would be down in the bunk space that would cause that kind of speed to the fire. So, I'm really not sure.

BURNETT: So, Jerry, I know the survivors we know of thus far, the crew members, it appears that they were above deck. Does that make sense to you that that is where they would be during the night hours while the passengers were sleeping?

PANCAKE: Yes. Absolutely. So, there's three levels on the boat typically. And on this one in particular, there are below decks and machine spaces where the engine is. Then above that is the galley area and the deck, the open deck of the boat itself. And then above that is the galley area and the deck field, the deck of the boat itself.

And then above that is the wheelhouse which is where you control the boat, but also the majority of the crew sleeps up there in bunks up there in the evenings. But they typically have a watchman 24 hours a day for the boat in those circumstances.

BURNETT: As I said, it appears those are the people that may be the only survivors in this horrific, horrific thing. Jerry, thank you.

PANCAKE: You're welcome. Thank you, too.

BURNETT: And next, more breaking news. The FBI has confirmed that the gunman behind this weekend's mass shooting called 911 multiple times during the rampage and also called the FBI beforehand.

Plus, President Trump not letting Hurricane Dorian disrupt his golf game. Does he care about the optics?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:51:14]

BURNETT: Breaking news, the gunman in the west Texas shooting spree made calls to 911 and the FBI before his rampage, a rampage where murdered seven people, wounding 23 more. Now, the FBI call actually came 15 minutes before the gunman was pulled over by police for a traffic violation. So, the FBI got this call but the trooper who pulled him over was not aware of the FBI call or any alert. This disturbing revelation comes as the FBI says the gunman was on a

long downward spiral.

Ryan Young is OUTFRONT. He's in Odessa tonight.

So, Ryan, we're finding out about these calls, right, to the FBI and 911. What do you know about them?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, devastating new details, Erin. Apparently, when he showed up to work, he was already in mental distress. The FBI actually says it believes that he was already in a spiral before he arrived. Once he was fired, he called 911 from that location, but did not wait for authorities. He then left, apparently called the FBI, called 911.

When the trooper walked behind the car, he had no idea what was going on. He started firing from the back window. The trooper went down, apparently he survived.

Let's not forget, we just got updated numbers: 25 people actually injured. Seven people killed. The youngest just 15, the oldest 57. From there, he started making 911 calls during the shooting and, in fact, was telling 911 he was the shooter.

All these going with this chaos. Several different people calling 911, very hard to track them during that point.

BURNETT: All right. And, look, you know, the big question, of course, is the FBI says it started its processes 15 minutes before, but that didn't get through to anyone in time. A lot of questions there, including this one, Ryan -- do you know yet how he was able to get the weapon he used, which I understand was an AR style assault rifle?

YOUNG: Look, that is something that stands out right now. From what we learned, he applied two times and was actually denied by a background check. So, right now, the ATF and FBI are working to track down this gun. Did buy it during a private sale? Did he get it from somewhere else? Or did he get it from a gun show?

These are questions they are trying to answer. Of course, this investigation centers around this gun at this point because you think about how much devastation this was able to do. And then on top of that, just think a neighbor tells CNN that they called and said to 911 that he actually threatened them with a gun. Maybe two weeks beforehand.

So, a lot of questions still -- Erin.

BURNETT: And, of course, all these red flags. Ryan, thank you.

And next, President Trump goes golfing as Hurricane Dorian threatens the United States and people are taking notice.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:58:13]

BURNETT: The breaking news on our top story tonight, Hurricane Dorian now an extremely dangerous storm, category four, about 145 miles an hour, threatening the United States with unprecedented damage.

President Trump tweeting grievances about the fire, the boat fire and the shooting in Texas, along with slamming his political enemies today as he played golf. It was his 227th day as president spent at one of his golf clubs. He was supposed to go to Poland this weekend. He cancelled last minute, saying that he had to be in the United States for the storm.

His potential 2020 challengers are taking notice, including Pete Buttigieg.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I recall, the president said he was remaining in the U.S. to deal with the emergency. Apparently, his idea of dealing with the emergency is to go golfing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT. She's at the White House tonight.

So, Kaitlan, look, the president obviously knows the optics of this are not good. He called President Obama out all the time for this. It seems that he doesn't care about the optics.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's not just one trip today. It's two trips over the Labor Day weekend that the president spent at his golf course, of course, spending about roughly four hours there today, which is opening him up to criticism from people like Pete Buttigieg who recalled what the president promised on that campaign trail, which is that he was going to be so busy working he wouldn't have time for golf.

Now, the White House is pushing back on this saying that the president was still being briefed on the hour by officials on the updates of Hurricane Dorian, even while at the golf course today for four hours.

But, Erin, the president is facing criticism for other comments he made about the storm approaching the U.S., including his surprise yesterday at the FEMA headquarters here in Washington when he said he couldn't believe that this storm is going to be a category five, saying he didn't know that was a category for these storms, and he just in general expressed surprise at the intensity of it. Even though we should note he's been through multiple other category five storms during his time in office.

BURNETT: All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much.

And thanks very much to all of you for joining us.

Our breaking news coverage continues with "AC360."