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Erin Burnett Outfront

Fifty Killed, 53 Wounded in Orlando Nightclub Shooting; Learning More About Omar Mateen; Orlando Killer's Ex-Wife Speaks Out; Interview with Rep. Alan Grayson. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 12, 2016 - 20:00   ET




[20:00:42] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was dark, we don't know who's -- what's going on. We're falling, people are running and glasses are getting dropped. I'm getting covered in blood from other people.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I've been warned (ph) up to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Around 1:30 in the morning, we lost her inside the club. She just had another baby three months ago. The family is devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one can tell me where my son is, if f he's been shot, if he is dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't heard anything, no, like dead body, if he's alive or is he breathing.

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are making it clear, anyone who attacks our LGBT community, anyone who attacks anyone in our states will be gone after to the fullest extent of the law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, as a gay community, we are a resilient people that we will have people lined up behind those blood banks. We're going to show what the good heart of humanity is.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN breaking news live in Orlando, Florida. I'm Erin Burnett and just down the street from the Pulse nightclub. It is behind me a couple of blocks down this way where you can see those police cars blocking the street. It is still an active crime scene at this hour. It is a crime scene because 53 people tonight are fighting for their lives in hospitals right where we are. 50 people died there in the hours between midnight and dawn this morning.

All of them killed by a heavily armed man. He walked into the club at 2:00 in the morning and opened fire. The club is called Pulse, it's a gay nightclub that the tale is very important to the reason the shooter decided to go there and start killing. We're going to have more on that in just a moment as we are starting to learn why he did this horrific, horrific thing. 50 people killed, more than 50 people wounded, most of them are still in hospitals, as i said, here in greater Orlando.

Officials have been adding to a growing list of names of victims who died there. The names are being released as soon as proper notifications have been given to the family. So far, the names of seven victims have been named public, only seven out of 50. That is the crime scene they are dealing with tonight.

We also know the name of the killer. He is 29 years old. His name is Omar Mateen. He was born in the United States in New York, his parents came to America. They were from Afghanistan. Mateen is dead. He was killed by Orlando police officers when they stormed into the club after a hostage situation to where he had started shooting then he took hostages. Hours went by and then there was this gun battle as they went to free the hostages, they killed him.

We are learning more and more about the gunman and what may have motivated him as we continue our live coverage. Flags are flying half-staff across the nation today and that is an order from president Obama who came out speaking to the nation calling the nightclub shooting an act of terror and an act of hate. Just a few moments ago I talked to the D.J., the D.J. who was there last night about what happened when he first heard the shots ring out.


REY RIVERA, PULSE NIHGTCLUB D.J.: Two people went underneath my DJ booth. It was a guy and a girl. The guy, he took off and the girl was down there panicking, so I kind of told her she needed to be quiet and as soon as there was a breaking of shots then I kind of just pushed her and said, "Come on, let's go." and we ran out the door and the cops was having us go around the corner where there was no bullets or anything.


BURNETT: And Drew Griffin is now outside the suspect's home in Fort Pierce which, Drew of course is about just under two hours from here. So he got in his car. He drove through the night to come here to this nightclub to commit his horrific crime. What are police looking for at his home?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're going to be looking for in the investigation here in any kind of electronic communications, certainly any planning that was done, anything this person may have written down and certainly, though there's no indication, anything that may link him to another person, another cell or a directive may be coming from overseas that is generic fodder for any kind of investigation. But in addition to that, they're also looking for any danger that still may be here which is why much of the apartment or condo community in back of me remains evacuated and has been all day as police and investigators and the FBI scour this condominium for not only the evidence, but any potential danger that is still here. And Erin, we just learned in the last few minutes something that is going to be troubling for anyone of the Islamic faith and anyone of any faith.

[20:05:07] We can confirm now that this suspect was at Friday prayers just about 10 minutes from where we are and attended mosques since it was 2003. And the imam there who talked to my colleague Pablo Sandoval said, "It was just unbelievable that this would have happened." and during prayers tonight in English said, "We have to stop this killing and this bloodshed." The suspect has long ties to the community here, has long ties to the Islamic community and a very, very long employment history. And everybody is scratching their heads or in trying to figure out why, why this could have happened? Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Drew Griffin, thank you very much with that crucial detail attending mosque just days ago. A mosque that he's attended since 2003 as to points one thing that we are learning about this individual. He was not someone who had sort of just recently joined the community or been a part of the community had been at that mosque since 2003. Had been here in Florida, had been working at his job for nearly nine years with the same employer. Just moments ago, his ex-wife held a press conference along with her fiance, the marriage a troubled one with allegations of severe domestic abuse. She now lives in Colorado in Boulder. They just spoke at this press conference and I want to play it for you now.


SITORA YUSUFIY, ORLANDO SHOOTER'S EX-WIFE: I was woken up by my parents saying, Sitora, wake up, Sitora, wake up. And I thought something horrible happened. I'm like, oh my god, what happen? I called them and the first thing that they told me was your ex-husband was involved in a mass shooting and, you know, reporters are at our house and calling us and they will probably be at your house, too. So I was devastated, shocked. I started shaking and crying because more than anything I was so, so deeply hurt and heartbroken for the people that lost their loved ones and the families that are now suffering. The people that are being -- that are wounded, that are healing. And it's everything that I stand for to not have that to -- for humanity to be in harmony, for people to not have to go through that and to be in some way affiliated at one point in my life to somebody that caused such a tragedy was -- it shook me off the ground.


Yeah. Really difficult and it will take a while to process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the hardest part about it?


YUSUFIY: My sympathy, what I feel for the people, what I feel for the souls that are transitioning. For the people that are wounded, for their families that are probably left in questions and heartbroken wondering why this happened, why somebody would do this, that's my biggest concern. And I pray for their healing. I pray for their -- just piece -- to find their peace.


Of course, the work that I do, that me and my fiance do in the world is we bring people together and we open them up to harmony of religion, of race, of homosexuality, of orientation or whatever it may be.


YUSUFIY: Acceptance of ...

DIAS: For each other.

YUSUFIY: ... of everyone of humanity and each other to live in harmony with our earth. So for us, this is the most tragic thing that can happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was he like as a husband?

YUSUFIY: In the beginning he was a normal being that cared about family, loved to joke, loved to have fun, but then a few months after we were married I saw his instability, and I saw that he was bipolar and he would get mad out of nowhere. That's when I started worrying about my safety and then after a few months he started abusing me physically, very often and not allowing me to speak to my family, keeping me hostage from them. And I tried to see the good in him even then, but my family was very tuned into what I was going through and decided to visit me and rescue me out of that situation.


Instability -- emotional instability, sickness, mentally. He was mentally unstable and mentally ill. That's the only explanation that I could give and he was obviously disturbed, deeply and traumatized.


I'm not sure about that, but I know that he had a history of steroids. I don't know if that caused it. I'm sure it had something to do with it, you know. But ...


You know, he would -- when he would get in his tempers, he would express hate toward things, toward everything. So in that respect, you know, yeah, but it was at the moments when you would see his emotional instability and turning totally different.


[20:10:09] Yeah. I -- actually my family literally rescued me. The night that they were there they had to pull me out of his arms and find an emergency flight. I left all my belongings and made a police report. And, you know, because we were in a distance, I was in Jersey and he was in Florida, the divorce took a year and a half to finalize because we were doing it from a distance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever see him support terrorism in any way?

YUSUFIY: Not while I was with him. No.


He did follow religion. He did practice and, you know, he had his faith.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean this kind of Islam?


DIAS: That has nothing to do with it.

YUSUFIY: I don't follow any one particular religion. Like I said, the work we do is for people to accept each other. So I believe in Christianity, in Judaism, in Islam, in Hinduism, and I follow and I'm guided by all these faiths.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you haven't had -- you haven't seen him or talked to him since you (inaudible) that right?

YUSUFIY: I had cut him off. I had blocked everything. My family actually warned him that if he would try to contact me, they would go to the authorities. And so, I have blocked him totally and we did not have contact with him for years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you have any contact with any of his family member something like that?

YUSUFIY: No, for seven years, there was no contact, seven, eight years. So we did not -- yeah until this news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you live with him?

YUSUFIY: We were -- I was with him for about four months. I stayed with him and then my family rescued me. And then after then, we started to process that divorce.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you remember ...


YUSUFIY: Well, yeah. He was very short tempered and he would often get into fight and arguments with his parents, you know, but because I guess I was the only one in his life, most of the violence was towards me at that time. So ...


... my family, my guidance, my ancestors that came to my dreams and made me, like, open my eyes and follow their guidance and told me to get out. And then my family being there and coming to visit me and making sure for themselves if I'm okay and then when they saw that I was not, they immediately got me out of that situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he have firearms when you were with him?

YUSUFIY: He did own a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he practice much in here and ...


YUSUFIY: He wanted to be a police officer. So he trained with his friends who were police officers and he had a license to have a gun in Florida. You're allowed to do that. So he didn't practice anything in front of me, but I'm sure he went to shooting ranges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He uses it one time?

YUSUFIY: Yeah. That i saw.


YUSUFIY: It was the -- one of those old silver ...

DIAS: Pistol.

YUSUFIY: ...pistol, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got a picture of him, he had immediate NYPD t-shirt on.

YUSUFIY: Right, like I said, he wanted to be a police officer. He was really -- he applied to the police academy. And he worked as a correctional officer or something at the Juvenile Detention Center. But he was working up in gaining experience to become an officer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you remember what the name of that facility was?

YUSUFIY: I'm not sure, but I believe it was in Fort Pierce, a Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Pierce.

DIAS: I think that's going to tell him ...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wonder if you fight him recently and have those ...

YUSUFIY: No, I don't know any of that information. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And many of you ...


... any of his friends at the time, like anything sort of radical or anything about them that you know remember?

YUSUFIY: No, I don't. It was -- there was no sign of any of this at all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you meet him?

YUSUFIY: Online.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he ever express feelings? Did you ever have drinks with him (ph)?


YUSUFIY: A few times, yeah.


YUSUFIY: I personally, not a person that remembers anything negative about anybody. You know, I don't hold that. If anything, I do everything to kill my ego every day and kill anything negative that I remember. So, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you did feel like he even has -- you had that sense that he (inaudible) him.

DIAS: Her (ph) and her family, and I have felt that from the beginning that he was an imbalanced person, you know. I hear the media like really trying to make this about ISIS or ISLAM or this or that, but there is just about imbalanced. It's about society, you know. It's about parenting. It's about accepting each other, you know. It's not about differences and wars. I mean it's about us looking at ourselves and see how can we be different to help people, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're thinking, it's more of the kind of mental illness now.

DIAS: Yeah, it is definitely a mental illness, you know. And I feel for his family too, because, you know, sometimes people may be Todd (ph) as radicals or fundamentalists.

[20:15:08] But, you know, like from what -- the things I see from his father and what he said, you know, no one ever expected that he would do this. No one ever expected because even the things that she told me about him from the beginning, you know, I thought he was a man that was very confused and very troubled, you know, and abused women. Like there are so many all over the world, whether they're be, Christians, Muslims even Buddhists even Gandhi hit in there (ph), you know. And that's not about that, you know, and that's what I really pray. And I ask, you know, for everyone to just forgive everybody else, too, you know. This is not about our differences. It's about us helping each other to live in a more harmonious way where we can accept each other, so we people don't feel so (ph) like they can't fit in. And they're so different that they may be brought to something like this, you know. So that's what I ask you as the media, because we have a responsibility, you know, because this is a very delicate matter. Let's not make this about another reason to invade Afghanistan or something.

That's not what this is about. This is about us making peace with each other and first with ourselves and our children and our families and our wives, and our mothers and our fathers. And then now, I just ask it all to you, understand that or we have had a long, long day especially Sitora, you know. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you spell your names for us to little approach them out and pronounce, no I'm just ...


YUSUFIY: Sitora. Sitora. S-i-t-o-r-a.


BURNETT: You've been listening to a press conference in Boulder, Colorado. The woman that you are hearing is the ex-wife of the shooter, Omar Mateen and her current fiance. She was talking about their relationship. Basically, that she said they were only together about four months. They have not talked in about seven years, but during that time she says at first, they'd started normal, but then he started getting mad out of nowhere. He would beat her. She was worried about her safety, didn't allow her to speak to her family.

She believes he's mentally unstable and mentally ill. Her fiance seconding that and also saying that they believe this is mental illness and not something else. I've got my panel here, General Mark Hertling. I've got Tom Fuentes with me and Peter Bergen all joining me.

Tom Fuentes when you hear that and you hear this story, you heard her talking about how she was beaten in some sort of a -- but we don't know exactly what kind of marriage this was, to what degree it might have been arrange but certainly something it seems along those lines. We're here talking about how he physically abused her but she believed he was mentally unstable and that this is mental illness.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Erin, it could be, but, you know, again if she was only with him a short period of time and it was more than seven years ago the time of radicalization and other issues kicking in with Mateen probably are very recent and she would have no way to know that. So I sympathize with her, and know that she went through a terrible ordeal with him, but that doesn't tell us, you know, what happened in the seven years since they were together. BURNETT: And Peter Bergen, of course, when you look at those seven years, you now must take what she is saying about his character and his person that she knew and put that together with what our Drew Griffin was reporting. That he was attending the same mosque since 2003 and then recent times, he was going three to four times a week and had been there as recently as just two days ago. They said he was sort of a quiet member of the Islamic community there at that mosque, but obviously, a very active one.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Let me -- I have been told in the sense that, you know, you can be a terrible husband and be an angry husband and be someone, you abuses your wife that doesn't necessarily mean that you're mentally ill. And in fact, what we know about this guy doesn't suggest mental illness. He kept a job for almost nine years at the same place. He was, as you say, a regular mosque there in the community. This is not the kind of narrative that we're not hearing, you know, but -- that this is a guy with serious mental illness. So among final point here is that typically terrorists are not mentally ill. Because, if you are mentally ill, you can't carry out the kind of attack we saw carefully planned in Orlando.


BERGEN: There symbol of weapons, get the training is just doesn't -- that's not typical for terrorists to be mentally ill.


BURNETT: And I am back here in Orlando, just a couple of blocks away from the Pulse nightclub which is behind us. General Mark Hertling is with me along with our Pamela Brown, our justice reporter. And general Hertling, what I wanted to ask you is in the press conference with his very emotional ex-wife. They met online and did not know each for a very long. It was a troubled marriage. He had beaten her. That's what she talked about.


BURNETT: And then now, we're finding out in the seven years since they spoke because they have not spoken in seven years, he was regularly attending a mosque. You hear Drew Griffin reporting three to four times a week recently as recently as two days ago. So when she and her known fiance say, "This is mental illness." Is this mental illness? I mean this guy planned this.


BURNETT: This guy came here. This -- and put this together.

HERTLING: I don't think so. It takes a bit of skill to do this. But it also shows how you can have all these different categories of someone who would attack. Are they a radical Islamist? Are they part of a hate group? Are they just crazy? All of these things in order to know your enemy and counter him, you have to figure out what is driving the person? What is the ideology? What's the driver? And we don't know that yet with this guy.

BURNETT: And Pamela, they don't know. And now it's literally we're piecing this together. Some things that Peter Bergen is pointing out, don't really add up to a normal profile, right? You have somebody who had a job for nearly nine years. Somebody who belonged to the same mosque since 2003, doing something that doesn't really fit that profile.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, in fact, right now, law enforcement officials are looking at the hybrid scenario whether this was a combination of a hate crime where he was targeting the gay community combined with international terrorism. That is really -- what can investigation is focused on the sources I've said -- I've spoken to and said that this point, it's not cut and dry, but it's still very early. They still have to pull items from his home, look through all of those electronics. It takes a lot of time.

But what is under scrutiny right now of course is that at one point, he was on the FBIs radar back in 2013 for making allegedly making some inflammatory remarks and made his coworkers believe that he was tied to radical Islam. There was an investigation that ensued. He was interviewed twice, the FBI didn't find any wrong doing and actually closed the case. And then the next year, they looked into whether he had a substantive relationship with the American suicide bomber. They found that he didn't, and so they closed that case, as well. For the FBI to close a case, they've really believed that there was nothing there. I mean if they had any ingrained (ph) in ...

HERTLING: They talked about (inaudible) and keep driving.

BROWN: ... and you could talk about that, they will keep going. They will keep driving it. And so, I think that that is telling and his family seems to be more ...


... of anti-gay views than any ...


... sort of terrorist group according to what we've learned from those interviews. So there's still a lot to learn here.



BURNETT: And so many questions general because when you look at the fact that they say, if he was able to buy these guns in just the past few days.


BURNETT: Right? And you think well, if you had been the subject of the FBI investigation, two FBI investigations and to your involvement with ISIS, how could you be allowed to go and do that? HERTLING: You wouldn't and that's the part.

BURNETT: Well obviously, he was off the list or -- and Tom Fuentes is saying that it wouldn't (ph) even have been a red flag.

HERTLING: Right. And Tom is exactly right. When you have an active investigation as long as there's information coming on, you keep going after. You keep going down that rabbit hole. You want -- yeah, if you're an agent or analyst, you want the guy. You want to get him. And guys, when you give it up, it's just because there's nothing there and evidently there was nothing there with this guy.


BROWN: You have to move on the other priorities. I mean especially right now with the ISIS threat, there's 900-plus ISIS investigations.

HERTLING: Exactly.

BROWN: This guy was very low on the totem pole. There was nothing as a of recent. As far as we know at this, raising a red flag with this suspect, but again, they're going back to look to see, if something was miss, if any red flags were missed.

BURNETT: Which, of course ...

BROWN: We don't yet know with this now.

BURNETT: ...but if there were general, that is perhaps one of the most terrifying things about this.

HERTLING: This is the ...

BURNETT: This guy wasn't -- that he did this and nobody perhaps could have caught it.

HERTLING: ... and it gets back to the point, we have got to be right 100 percent of the time. We have to pick the right target. We've got to analyze at the right way in order to counter terrorism. And sometimes, you don't get it right 100 percent at the time and a guy like this will sneak through. That's the hard part about counter terrorist operations. You've got to always have it right.

BURNETT: All right, well thanks very much to both of you here with me in Orlando. We'll going to take a brief break. We'll be right back.


[20:30:27] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: U.S Congressman Alan Grayson represents Central Florida including Orlando, parts of Orlando where we are tonight. Just hours after the shooting, he tweeted, "Words cannot express the horror, pain, and sadness that we feel about this terrible loss".

Congressman Grayson joins me now here in Orlando. You know, Senator Nelson was with me just a few moments ago. You woke up this morning and you saw this. You were awoken I'm sure, in the early hours in the morning when it happens.

REP. ALAN GRAYSON, D-FLORIDA: The staff woke me up, yes.

BURNETT: I mean, could you even comprehend what you were being told?

GRAYSON: No, but I think in retrospect it's shocking to me. The most shocking on me is there's that one human being with one weapon can kill 50 people in a matter of two or three minutes and that's disturbing to me.

It is way too easy in America today to kill lots of people very quickly and we have to think hard about whether we're going to allow that. The weapon that was used today was a weapon that was illegal for 10 years in America. And when the so sold weapons been last, it became legal and is now legal in 44 states.

One of those states where it's illegal is Connecticut. Connecticut went through the Sandy Hook tragedy where a couple of dozen children were killed very quickly. Until today, the second worst mass shooting in history and now sadly the third worst. And I hope that in the same way that the people of Connecticut stepped up and made sure that could never happen again, I hope that we'll do the same.

BURNETT: And what do you understand at this time from what you're being told? What happened? How did he choose this nightclub? Why did he choose this nightclub? Why did he drive two hours to do this here?

Just on that issue, putting aside for a moment that we don't yet know what mix this was of terror and hate.

GRAYSON: Well, the simple answer is that it was homophobia. It was a hate crime according to his own father. His father said that -- he earlier today, if I understand the report correctly, that he saw two men kissing recently. He got very upset by that, so he went and killed 50 of them.

And that is the saddest thing imaginable. That is so deeply disturbed and demented that it's hard describe -- it's hard to believe that it's even part of human nature.

BURNETT: You're right about that and it's certainly of a hate crime.

Do you think it is also Islamic terrorism when you think about the fact that he had two investigations by the FBI. Both of which by the way they resolved. They didn't see any reasons to keep following or asking questions of him, but those, they did exist. They were both relating to his relationship possibly with ISIS. They saw him as a sympathizer and of course he called in the early hours of this morning and pledged allegiance to ISIS about 20 minutes into the shooting. Was this also Islamic radicalism?

GRAYSON: Well, it was terrorism in the literal sense because it was meant to terrorize people and not just the 50 people who died and not just the 53 people injured, but basically everybody who's part of the LGBT community. He wanted to inflict terror on them and make them afraid to go to a place like this down the block, made them afraid to live their lives in peace. But we are the land of the free and the home of the brave, OK. We're not so easily shaken.

BURNETT: So what happens now from here, in terms of your understanding of this investigation, are they getting the information that they need right now?

GRAYSON: Yes. I just spoke to the FBI about this a few moments ago. What's happening is they're doing a very thorough investigation in every conceivable respect. They're checking his phone records. They're checking his computer. They're checking all his personal items, seeing if he left a note behind explaining what he intended

Also, above all, checking to make sure that he acted alone. The police early this morning described this is a lone wolf attack. All of the evidence up to this point and suggested that's probably the case. But we have to make sure of that for the sake of people's safety.

BURNETT: That's right. And in terms of that, at this time, are they still thinking that he was operating completely alone? Obviously, you had these reports of somebody with an arsenal car full of weapon at the Los Angeles gay pride parade. They were able to apprehend that person before anything horrific could possibly happen?

No links between the two at this time, but is it possible that there could have been some sort of coordination or someone else involved in this?

GRAYSON: Well, anything is possible but there's no evidence of it. At this point there's no evidence that anything other than he acted on the basis of his ideology, but not on the basis of coordination with anyone else.

His ideology of hatred, specifically hatred for gays, hatred of the west and so on. And that's a terrible, terrible shame to think that so many innocent people had to lose their lives

That's one of the hallmarks of terrorism. This idea that that everybody as considered to be "combatants", no distinction between innocent people like these victims and everyone else.

BURNETT: You know, Congressman, the Imam and his mosque is devastated as are others in the Muslim community that he interacted with. But this was a young man that we understand was going to mosque. The same mosque since 2003 in recent years very regularly, three, four times a week, he had been there as recently as two days ago.


[20:35:08] BURNETT: Is this something that somebody could have noticed, could have seen coming? That there was the risk of this person doing something horrific in that community? GRAYSON: Yes, but we're limited by the constitution. You know, there's no preventive detention in the United States. You can't lock people up for their thoughts or what you think they might do.

We also can't discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or any other in this, other than your actions. And the fact is that, his actions did not give the FBI enough to work with, in order to lock him up or even keep him on the watch list.

He was very clever in what he did. He didn't give any clues, any hints and therefore he got away with it. But the fact of, the fact of the matter is that, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, inevitably, there will be tragedies like this as long as people like him have hatred in their hearts.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Grayson, thank you very much, I appreciate your time.

GRAYSON: If I may just say this one thing further.


GRAYSON: If he were who he were or who he was and he was not able to buy a weapon that shoots off 700 rounds in a minute, a lot of those people would still be alive. That's exactly right. If somebody like him had nothing worst to deal with than a glock pistol which was his other weapon today, he might have killed three or four people and not 50.

It's way too easy to kill people in America today and we have to think long and hard about what to do about that.

BURNETT: You're right about that. And thank you very much.

GRAYSON: Thank you.

BURNETT: Well, the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub, just a few blocks behind where we are standing right now lasted for a terrifying three hours. There was all that shooting in the first few minutes and then there were hostages that had been taken for hours.

Police were trying desperately during that time to negotiate with the shooter. At other times they were exchanging gun fire. All why some of the survivors were staying as still and silent as possible desperately waiting for help to arrive.

Some, something that we heard when we were in Paris, actually having to hide under those who had already died to try to survive themselves. The horrific story continues.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DJ was playing a typical set that incorporated what we thought was gunshots as part of the music -- four shots, bop, bop, bop, bop. No one put two and two together until the fifth and six between 10 and 20. That's when everything really started to getting real. We went out, we jetted and tried to just saving ourselves and saving as many people as we could just to get out of there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got a text message from my daughter and my two nieces, please come and get us. Please come and get us now. They're shooting. They're shooting.

UNIDENITIFIED MALE: See that they count, how many shots do you think there were?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, more than 20 or 30. I know it was just one after another, after another, after everybody was out, and people -- the shootings were still going and the cops were yelling, "Go! go! Clear the area, clear the area!"

UNIENTIFIED FEMALE: My son hasn't been heard from. So I don't know if he was left in the club, if he got shot or if he's being worked on here. They won't let us know. They're not letting us know any names of anybody.



[20:42:03] BURNETT: Welcome back to our breaking news coverage. I'm Erin Burnett live in Orlando, Florida, tonight.

Just behind me, just a few blocks back Pulse Nightclub, that is the mainstay of the Orlando's LGBT community. It is of course the scene now of the worst mass shooting in modern American history and the worst terror attack on American soil since 9/11.

This attack is an act of terror. It is also an act of hate. At least 50 people were killed, slaughtered in the early hours of this morning. Fifty-three others wounded and they -- most of them are in hospitals near where we are right now in surgery, fighting for their lives tonight.

A witness captured just a small portion of the shooter's standoff with police. Let me play it for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that, they're shooting back and forth. Look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. They're all shooting back and forth.


BURNETT: One survivor said she hid in the bathroom, covering herself with dead bodies until police arrived. A horrific thing to imagine, something that no one who was there can truly comprehend something that we heard happened at the Bataclan Nightclub in Paris.

Others state say that they climbed out through a window after police removed an air conditioner. They would enable to climb out and jump out into the street.

So far only seven of the 50 people killed have actually been identified. And that means family members and friends are desperately gathering outside of hospitals, trying to hold on to hope that their missing loved ones are being treated inside and are alive.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I've been spreading his picture on the media just in case he's hurt and a nurse see it and recognize him, but you just do that by default. I know he ...


BURNETT: The shooter identified as a 29-year-old man, Omar Mir Saddiqui Mateen. Police say he called 911 about 20 minutes into the attack. In that call, he pledged allegiance to ISIS and also mentioned about the Boston Marathon bombings.

Now, this is happening as police in California believe, they're now saying that they hoarded a similar threat today. A man with weapons and explosive materials that could be used in pipe bombs was arrested on his way to the Los Angeles gay pride festival.

Somebody actually noticed him and called police for prowling around. Thank God they did. Police came, they found his car and they found that arsenal

Let's get to Jessica Schneider. Jessica, as we try to piece together what happened in the early hours of this morning at this nightclub here in Orlando. What is the latest that you understand about the minute by minute, the time line of what happened in that club?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erin, first of all, you know, the -- this club was packed. The club's just behind me about a block away. There were 350 people inside this club. It was Saturday night. It was the club's most popular night, it was Latin night.

And what we know about the time line is that at 2:00 in the morning that gunman entered the club, went to the door. The first person he encountered was an off-duty police officer. That officer serving as security. He got past the officer and then went into the club. That's when the shooting began and that's when he began taking hostages.

[20:45:15] For three tense hours he was moving around the club in two different areas, taking hostages and shooting people.

We've actually seen some text messages from people who were frantically texting their loved ones asking for help. One we saw was someone in a bathroom texting their mother saying, "Mommy, mommy, call police, we need help in here". Now for three hours that was going on. Finally, at 5:00 in the morning that's when police moved in. They actually used an armored vehicle to bust down one of the walls, that's when they took some of those hostages out and that's when they eventually shot and killed that gunman.

Now, in the hours that have passed we've been hearing some incredible harrowing and frightening stories from the witnesses or the people, actually the victims who were inside the club. One person we heard from, a source of the rush (ph) of club's owner actually says that one of the people was inside a bathroom and she was forced to cover herself with dead bodies in order to stay safe. She did survive.

There was a bartender who hid under the glass bar and then when police came around they said, "If anyone's alive here please raise your hand". We also heard about performers who were in a back dressing room. They huddled together to stay safe then when police came, the police actually took out an air-conditioning unit and then got those people out that way.

We have heard from the owner of Pulse Nightclub and in part, the owner said, "I want to express my profound sadness and condolences to all who have lost loved ones".

Of course, just a terrifying point of time for all these people, and now people just trying to deal with all of this immense grief. Erin?

BURNETT: Jessica Schneider, thank you so much. And of course, the immense grief as police when they finally had that armored vehicle and broke through that door, there were about 30 people that were able of our understanding at this time to then be able to run free. People who had endured hours of being a hostage somehow managed to survive.

The gunman's ex-wife has also just spoken out just a short time ago from Colorado. And she gave a very disturbing description of the man that she knew in a very brief and very troubled marriage.

Ahead, much more about the background of the gunman behind the Orlando shooting.


[20:51:17] BURNETT: As people in the United States here in Orlando and around the world are desperately trying to come to terms with what just happened, trying to understand how a human being could do something so deeply inhuman.

At the center of the shooting is the man, the gunman, 29-year old Omar Mateen. Police shot and dead as they rushed into the nightclub. They had been trying to negotiate with him on and off for several hours, he had hostages. About 20 minutes into his attack though after he had done the initial shooting, he called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS, he also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombing during that call.

Here's what we know about Mateen. Born in New York, his parents were from Afghanistan. That's the basics that we know then they moved here to Florida. He lived here working as a security guard.

Now he had worked as a security guard for nearly nine years. In fact his nine-year anniversary with the company he worked for would be this September. And because of his position as a security guard he was able to legally purchase his firearms. A law enforcement telling us that those purchases of the weapons used in the nightclub shooting happened within just the past few days.

Now we don't know much more about him. We do know that he was a part of an Islamic community here attending mosque regularly since 2003, three to four times a week and as recently as two days ago.

The FBI, though, did know about him. They had interviewed him in two different occasions, 2013 and 2014. Both of which were related to his sympathies for ISIS. In one case to a man to a man from United States who went to Syria to become a suicide bomber for ISIS.

Tom Foreman joins me now from Washington. And Tom, we're starting to get bits and pieces coming together about this individual. But still yielding a very confusing picture as to how much of this was driven by terror, how much of this was driven by hate.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. It's not clear at all yet, Erin. Sitora Yusufiy just talked to reporters from her home in Colorado. She talked about how she had been married to him for about four months back in 2009. But then she saw the marriage soured and she says her family, "rescued me" and then started the process of divorce.

She said her family had to pull her out of his arms and that he did exhibit anger issues. She said Mateen seemed normal in the beginning of the marriage but then a few months in she said he became unstable. She said while they were married he actually wanted to be a police officer. Erin.

BURNETT: And the big question here is when you hear her just speaking out moments ago, Tom. You know, she also talked about their relationship was very short. They had met, obviously, online. But she continued to talk about how the relationship very quickly turned violent. But she believes that this is mental illness, that he's mentally unstable.

FOREMAN: Well -- and there are things in his past which of course law enforcement has to look at to consider whether or not that's part of the issue. According to the FBI, they first became aware of Mateen in 2013 when he made inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible terrorist ties.

The FBI said today they thoroughly investigated the matter and was unable to verify the substance of the allegations. Then in 2014, he came to their attention again because, as the FBI said, Mateen had been in contact with an American citizen who became a suicide bomber.

In total, he was interviewed three times by the FBI, in both investigations. In the second investigation regarding the suicide bomber, the FBI said today the contact was minimal and did not constitute a substantive relationship. Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much. As we try to pull together these small threads we are getting about who the man who committed this horrific crime was. We're going take a brief break we'll be right back live from Orlando as our special coverage continues.


[20:57:15] BURNETT: All right. We are live in Orlando. I'm here back with General Mark Hertling. And general, as we are just starting to learn little pieces about this individual, the question is right now from the FBI.

Are they going to be able to glean enough from what they're going to have, right? Which is going to be his cell phone primarily, right? They're looking at a social media postings and other things to where a lot of people, right, but in that cell phone device itself?

LT.GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, if the FBI has information on the cell phone they'll be able to get a lot out of it. There are so many things in this though, Erin. I mean you talked about the potential for radical Islamist terrorism, hate-filled, diatribes against the gay community. Perhaps some mental illness that the way he associated with people around him, his parents and what they're doing, too. All of these things are going to provide a wealth of information over the next couple of weeks of what we can get about this guy.

BURNETT: It is impossible to imagine, though, and I'm not saying it's not true, but it feels impossible to imagine when you think about what just happened that nobody would have known. That there would have been no signs that this person was about to do something so huge and so evil.

You know, we talked about a lone wolf, but for someone to really be able to do all these with no signs at all where no one around them would have said something is wrong? I mean, all we've heard is that the father say, he saw two gay men kissing and that bothered him.


BURNETT: That's it?

HERTLING: It's incomprehensible. I mean, I would suggest he probably had come here to recon this location ...

BURNETT: To scope it out.

HERTLING: ... to scope it out. To find others that might support him. I don't know who those might be.

BURNETT: Or if he had some sort of a link to this club or something why did he pick this club? HERTLING: Exactly. A 150 miles away from where he's living. It's just a lot of it just doesn't make sense but I think as we start pulling the threads over the next couple of days we'll find more and more. And it's going to be critical to give us more insight into terrorism and hate crimes.

BURNETT: Right. And also the big question of course is, nobody said anything.


BURNETT: But it's hard to say at what point you would say something.


BURNETT: I mean this is some -- a man who was regularly attending mosque. And his imam says he had no idea that anything was a mess. Certainly if you're talking about the Islamic radical aspect.

HERTLING: You would think so. And as one of your report said, he went back to the mosque a few years ago. He's been there ...


HERTLING: ... for a while. So you would think he would be talking about these kinds of things to someone, whether it was a friend or a compatriot or his imam. And that's the hard part that we got to figure out.

BURNETT: Certainly is and the question is, who were or was that someone or is that someone All right General Hertling, thank you very much. I appreciate your time and now let's hand it off to Don Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right Erin Burnett, thank you very much. We appreciate it. This is our breaking news tonight, the worst terror attack in U.S. History.

Good evening, everyone our breaking news tonight, the worst terror attack in U.S. history since 9/11.

This is CNN Tonight I'm Don Lemon in Orlando.

Here is what we know right now, right at the moment 50 dead 53 injured at the Pulse Night --