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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Ariel Castro Charged With 329 Counts In Kidnapping Case; Deadly Santa Monica College Shooting
Aired June 7, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, Ariel Castro, the man police say held three women captive for a decade, charged with more than 300 counts. We have details just now on those, some very strange things in there.
Plus, more breaking news with a gunman opening fire on a college campus. One person is dead. We'll go there live for you tonight.
And just weeks after ricin-laced letter is mailed to President Obama, police make an arrest and that arrest was of an actress from a popular television show. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good Friday evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with breaking news. Ariel Castro indicted for murder, kidnapping and rape. A grand jury today indicting Castro on 329 counts for allegedly kidnapping Michelle Knight, Gina Dejesus and Amanda Berry, and hold them captive in Cleveland home for a decade.
Among the charges, Castro faces 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, and one count of aggravated murder for purposefully causing the unlawful termination of a pregnancy. OUTFRONT tonight, Martin Savidge, he's been following this story from the start and has the very latest for us tonight.
Marty, so what more can you tell us about these charges and just to explain, you know, 139 counts of rape. Why these numbers? What else can you tell us?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tim Mcginty, who is the Cuyahoga County prosecutor held a news conference last month that I was at. He said he was going to come down hard and if he could he would try to seek murder charges and he apparently has done that in at least one case, one count, aggravated murder.
I think what is interesting is that right now these charges only cover the period of 2002 to 2007, five years. These women were held for a decade or more which implies, of course, there are many more potential charges to come. In other words, this seems to be a prosecution and indictment that is still a work in progress.
Getting back to the one count of aggravated murder, it does open up then the possibility that the prosecutor could go after the death penalty, talking to legal experts up there anticipating that this was going to happen. There is an amendment that was made to the Ohio murder statute that does include the loss of a pregnancy.
But that statute stops short of defining what a person is and as this legal expert explained to me, how do you charge somebody with murder if it isn't the murder of a person? So that could prove to be a complication. Tim Mcginty is known as a man who was elected. He was going to be tough and this is clearly an example of that -- Erin.
BURNETT: Certainly is. So it sounds like from what you're saying there could be more charges and obviously questions about that particular one of murder of the unborn fetus, which we're going to talk more about in just a moment. But Marty, has there been reaction from Ariel Castro's family? What have they said about this?
SAVIDGE: Well, I reached out, of course, to the families of the women that were held. There has been no response as yet and then I have been in contact with Ariel Castro's family. They did not know the charges were coming. No surprise there. But they did know as everyone in that area knows that there would eventually be more charges. They say that right now they believe he should be fully prosecuted. You heard that in the interview I did with the two brothers who were implicated but then later cleared by authorities.
SAVIDGE: Ariel Castro himself has been moved -- he's no longer under a suicide watch, but he is being held in isolation. And apparently his concerns have been for that 6-year-old little girl, that's the girl that Amanda Berry had while being held captive and that is a very odd thing to even contemplate that he worries about this child after horror that those women allegedly endured.
BURNETT: Obviously it is hard to imagine. Of course, they said they have proven that it's his child, bizarre and incomprehensible part of the story. Marty Savidge, thank you very much. Marty has been covering this from the beginning.
I want to bring in our CNN legal analyst and former New York City prosecutor, Paul Callan now, as well as the Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine, and Attorney General Dewine joins me on the phone. Good to talk to you again, sir.
Attorney General Dewine, let me just start with you if I may because as Marty just reporting, the indictment only covers half of the time, five years. Not ten years that the three women were held captive. So you have 329 counts. Are they going to charge for the other five years or do they need to? What happens from here?
MIKE DEWINE, OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL (via telephone): Well, I just got off the phone with Prosecutor Mcginty. You know, he is taking this thing one step at a time. They basically took a period of time as you outlined from the time that the event occurred until about the birth of the child, and then, you know, took it every month.
I think if you look at it basically one rape count per month per victim and so it's a sensible way of doing it. This is unprecedented case. Very difficult to figure out exactly, you know, do you charge for every day? Do you charge for once a month?
I think what the prosecutor has done is a very sensible approach. As you pointed out, they still have the option and will have to make the decision whether or not they will try to, you know, go for the death penalty in this case. And that's a decision that is not yet been really made and will be made at some point in the future.
BURNETT: And Paul Callan, let me ask you about that. By the way, the attorney general has answered the question that I have and I know a lot of you had in terms of getting that rape count number 139 counts of rape. They did one rape per woman per month. That's how they decided to do the charges.
Paul Callan, let me ask you, because as Attorney General Dewine says, they haven't decided whether they're going for the death penalty. But what would give them the grounds to do so is the charge of aggravated murder of the unborn child. How difficult is that going to be to prove?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's going to be very difficult. This is an unusual charge that Ohio law supports. If you terminate, willfully terminate somebody's pregnancy, it is considered murder and you can face the death penalty. Now how do you prove it though? A prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and one of the things he's going to prove is that she was actually pregnant.
Now remember, she doesn't go to a doctor. There is no pathology proving that there was a pregnancy. So you're going to have only the subjective testimony of the woman that she was pregnant. Does that prove a pregnancy beyond a reasonable doubt? I think that's going to be a hard thing to prove to legal standards.
The second thing, of course, is this issue of is a fetus a person under law? The Supreme Court has only allowed the death penalty when a person is murdered. I don't know if it would pass constitutional muster if, in fact, it's the death of a fetus leading to the charge.
BURNETT: And Attorney General Dewine, what is your view on this? You spoke to Prosecutor Mcginty, he hasn't made a decision, but obviously, if you were going to get the death penalty, this would be the way, the way to do it. So how important is that? Do you think otherwise there will be enough charges here to have him spend the rest of his life in jail?
DEWINE: I think the goal certainly at the minimum is having him spend the rest of his life in prison. You know, whenever you look at death penalty specifications and I do not disagree with what our analysts has said, but I certainly think it's a possibility. It's not out of the realm of the possibility. The prosecutor would decide to do this.
The normal procedure, you talk to the victims. You always talk to the victims' families. You talk to the police and then you look at the evidence, state of the evidence. And you think that you can prove that then you move ahead. But those are all the things that he will do, you know, in deciding whether or not to actually move ahead with this.
BURNETT: All right, well, thanks very much to both of you. We appreciate your time tonight. Obviously a developing story, crucial to see whether they decide to come up with more even charges although it seems like from the purely technical perspective of whether this man will spend the rest of his days behind bars, they would not need to do so.
Still to come, we have more breaking news tonight on this Friday. A string of incidents in Southern California including a shooting on a college campus, three people are dead and we were going to go there live.
Later, a break in the case of a letter filled with ricin that was sent to the president of the United States. And now an actress from a popular television show is under arrest, truly twisted.
And then Apple, can they dominate again? A lot might depend on what happens next week.
Later, this is not a movie scene. This is a real life missile fired into a war ship. That is not a movie, people. Is that not incredible? We'll explain.
BURNETT: Breaking news, a deadly shooting on a college campus today. Students are speaking out about the terror that erupted around the campus of Southern California Santa Monica College. A gunman there opened fire. One person was killed in that. Authorities are also investigating whether two other murders in the city today are connected to that shooting.
This all just unfolded a couple hours ago. Witnesses say a man with what appeared to be a tactical vest on got out of his car and began firing near the university library.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happened right in front of me. I mean, I was in my car and a guy on the left side of the street jumped out of a car with a big black gun and started blasting rounds at all of our cars and the buildings and the bus, maybe like 10 rounds. He jumped back in the car and went on the left, took off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard one bang. I stopped, 15 bangs. I ran, grabbed my stuff as fast as I could, I hid in a study room, and I just waited there.
BURNETT: At least six people were injured and the college quickly, of course, was put on lockdown. Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT. He is there. Miguel, what can you tell us about the suspect?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we believe that the suspect is dead. We have several witnesses here at the school who said that they saw a man in black wielding appeared to be a military style assault gun. One person described it as an AR-15, the civilian version of an M-16 assault rifle. They saw that person later dead. He was bleeding.
He was being given no assistance and it appeared that person dressed all in black including perhaps a protective vest or a bullet- proof vest and knee pads and heavy boots had expired here at the scene. One witness told us that it may have been the police that responded very quickly that were able to kill him.
They heard him arguing with the police. The big concerning thing here right now is they're not sure if the school in this area is completely safe. We've had an incredibly complex situation here happen this afternoon. We can push in if you're still on me, push into the scene that we have right now with a lot of police still moving into the area, trying to clear through this campus that holds some 30,000 students go to school here.
So it's a very, very big place, a lot of places to hide. Three different incidents across Santa Monica today, first 11:55, a house, two people shot and killed there. The house then set on fire. Witnesses say they saw a man dressed all in black come out of that house and carjack a car and shoot another person who was injured in another car.
A short time later, a city bus, a blue bus shot up. Two people injured in that bus. A short time after that, not very far from the campus here, gunman walks on to campus, students here several shots. They start running for their lives. Four people are -- were hit, two of them critically. One of those people has since expired and died in surgery.
Another one pulled out all right. The other two are not badly hurt and we believe on top of that that the gunman has been killed as well. We don't know that. We are awaiting and we hope any moment now perhaps in about 15 minutes they're saying police, fire officials from both, Santa Monica Police, the college, and the fire department here will come out and give us a full briefing on what they know at the moment.
I can tell you the helicopters are still overhead. There is still a lot of concern. I have time for one quick question for the police officer earlier. I asked if everything was safe. He said they're still looking for other shooters.
BURNETT: All right, and Miguel, I just want to ask you one question here before you go. I know you're getting ready for that press conference. Hopefully, we're going to get more information, but several witnesses say they saw a second shooter. You're saying that I know the first shooter. You believe was shot, but what about the second shooter? Was there one? Is that person still on the loose?
MARQUEZ: It is very difficult to tell. Police are certainly not taking anything for granted at the moment, but some of the -- there are variations in the description given of the shooter. Some people say he had a vest on. Others said he didn't. Others aren't describing him with knee pads on, others are.
They're describing -- some people describe him as having a single gun. Other people say they heard handguns or saw somebody with a handgun. So that is -- it is possible that there is another shooter out there. I can tell you, Erin, we seem to have a large number of very officials coming at us.
So we assume that this press conference will be starting very shortly as the helicopters are still going overhead. They're crossing through the police tape and going over to this side. I'm not entirely sure what they are doing, but it looked like they're staging and getting ready to do this press conference here shortly -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, well, as soon as they do, we'll be going to that as well. Thanks very much to Miguel. He has been reporting this story. I want to bring in Marta Fagerstroem on the phone. She witnessed the shooting on the bus. Marta, what did you see?
MARTA FAGERSTROEM, WITNESS (via telephone): I just saw a guy standing out from the bus on the left hand side with a big rifle and he started to shoot from, you know, beginning of the bus to the end of the bus. And everyone just got on the floor and screamed. I did the same.
BURNETT: It must have been absolutely terrifying. How long was he there, Marta?
FAGERSTROEM: I don't know. It was very quick. It started with the bus just standing at the red light and children waving. You know, people started to look. I still don't know why she was waving. The guy, you know, shot the bus. Because, you know, sometimes you think that, you know, someone has something hanging out from the car or you help and you wave and point or whatever, but then he, as you saw this guy with a rifle. And that was unexpected, yes.
BURNETT: Marta, thanks very much for telling us a little bit about it and, of course, so sorry you had to go through that, but glad that you ended up being all right.
Well, OUTFRONT, should the government be spying on you and your phone calls and what you search on the web and what you buy on your credit card? One of our guests says absolutely yes. They'll make the case for that.
Plus Apple's gamble to regain its dominance, you know, Apple used to be the big thing. Next week it's a very big week. See if they can get it back.
Plus, this is not a scene out of a movie. I just want to show it to you again because I cannot believe it. It even looks like it is shot as a movie but it's not. That explosion is real life. Who knew Norway was so fierce?
BURNETT: A press conference happening right now in Santa Monica where today several -- there have several deadly incidents and shootings. I want to listen in as we're trying to find out if these were all interrelated.
CHIEF JACQUELINE SEABROOKS, SANTA MONICA POLICE DEPARTMENT: -- and the Santa Monica Police Department. There was an exchange of gunfire at that time. The suspect attempted to evade the officers by running on to the college campus. As he ran on to the campus additional shots were exchanged. No officers were injured at that time.
The suspect headed toward the library, shot a woman on the campus just before entering the library. Accosted a number of patrons inside the library and attempted to shoot at them. Those individuals were able to find safety in a safe location inside the library. However, he continued to shoot at them.
The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect and he was shot and killed on the scene. The information we have indicates at this point that as many as half a dozen victims were shot and killed. Several more were injured. I've recently been informed that another victim recently died at the hospital.
I have to say again, this investigation is in the infancy. It occurred just a short four hours ago. We're still in our investigative phase. The search and securing of the college is almost complete. The search is being handled by 11 multijurisdictional, multidisciplinary meaning police and fire teams that are attempting to secure the entire footprint of Santa Monica College.
The suspect in this incident has yet to be identified, but he is described as being a male white, 25 to 30 years of age approximately, wearing all black clothing and what appears to be a ballistic vest. We have a subject of interest in custody pending our ability to affirmatively connect that subject to evidence that was found on the scene.
So what that translates to is we're not convinced 100 percent that the suspect who was killed operated in a solo or alone capacity. At this time we're not identifying any victims pending the ability to notify the next of kin. As a side note, I want to say that shooting incidents occurred within close proximity of two schools.
The schools were locked down for the safety of students and faculty. Parents seeking to reunite with those students are to go to 1600 block of 16th Street to the Santa Monica Unified School District Administrative Offices. I say that although at this point we know that the schools have been released.
But in case anyone did not hear, that's where they were to go. I'm now going to turn over the microphone to the Santa Monica City College Police Chief Albert Vazquez.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us how many incidents total today?
SEABROOKS: That is still under -- we're still investigating that. When we look at it, it is a series of consecutive incidents. It's fair to say it's more than one, as many as six. We also know that other people may come forward. Let me turn it over to Chief Vazquez and then I'll give you a few minutes and answer a few questions after all three had an opportunity to provide statements.
CHIEF ALBERT VASQUEZ, SANTA MONICA COLLEGE POLICE: My name is Al Vasquez and I'm the Santa Monica College Police chief. As Chief Seabrooks has just mentioned this is an active and ongoing investigation. This is not a school shooting and began off campus. We also want to make on behalf of the Santa Monica College our condolences known for the victims of this terrible tragedy.
Our police officers were hearing the incidents off campus, but the situation seemed to be flowing and moving toward the college. They heard shots fired near the campus and responded near the parking lot one which is on the east side of the college. They saw who they perceived to be a suspect running after through the liberal arts building toward the library.
Our officers were joined by Santa Monica City Police officers and they engaged in a -- and engaged the suspect as he entered the library. They were able to engage the suspect inside the library where he was fatally wounded. There was an additional victim on the campus who was transported to the hospital.
The college has been cleared of any additional suspect or about 90 percent certain and all classes were canceled for the day. The college will be setting up a special hotline for any of our students seeking counseling assistance during this tragic incident. And we are also going to be staffing our psychological services office to assist any of our students.
We anticipate both phone number and psych services offices to be operational soon. Of course, we still have to clear the campus. Once again, on behalf of Santa Monica College, we're sending our condolences to the victims of this tragic event and want to reassure our campus community that this began off campus and it was unfortunate that the suspect chose SMC to continue his crimes.
Finally, thank you to the wonderful allied agencies response to Santa Monica College to assist us. Now I'd like to turn it over to Scott Ferguson, the fire chief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who shot and killed him? Santa Monica College police officer?
VASQUEZ: That's under investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did your officers exchange fire with the suspect?
VASQUEZ: Yes, they did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You say he was shot and killed, was that on campus?
VASQUEZ: If we can finish the press conference with the fire chief, then we'll open it up for a few questions please. Thank you.
SGT. SCOTT FERGUSON, SANTA MONICA FIRE DEPARTMENT: My name is Scott Ferguson. I am the Santa Monica Fire Department fire chief. Like our brothers and sisters and law enforcement, we want to offer our condolences as well. This is what we know. At 11:52 this morning, the Santa Monica Fire Department responded to a report of a structure fire.
Prior to arriving, we had noticed from our police department and partners that there were shots fired and we staged appropriately. Within 5 minutes, our units were called in and encountered a well involved residential structure fire. The address is at 2036 Yorkshire. With three engines, one truck, and battalion chief, we quickly extinguished the fire.
While conducting a primary search, we found multiple victims. It was clear that they were fatalities and as such in order to preserve the crime scene, our firefighters mitigated the fire and backed out in order to preserve evidence. There were multiple victims. They were treat the by both Santa Monica Fire Department paramedics and our partners in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles.
Three went to Ronald Reagan UCLA Hospital in critical condition and has been reported, one since expired. Three victims were also with minor injuries, sent to Santa Monica Hospital. As part of a unified command structure, our fire department continues to work closely with our law enforcement partners. We were part of the initial sweep of the college campus. That's all we have at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were they shot?
FERGUSON: I can't report that because it's under investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two bodies in the house though, Scott, two bodies?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many?
VASQUEZ: Thank you very much. What we're going to do is answer a few questions. I understand you have 100 of them, but bear with us. Ask them one at a time. We're only going to take a few to try to get what you need and then we will be coming back in a couple hours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have something in Spanish? Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were they on campus? Can you clarify that?
SEABROOKS: I'm sorry, repeat the question please.
REPORTER: Can you clarify, the six people that were shot and killed, were the total on campus? Please clarify that.
SEABROOKS: No, that was on campus. That was in a series of circumstances moving through the community and culminated with the shooting on campus.
REPORTER: But six are killed?
REPORTER: Six people confirmed dead?
SEABROOKS: As many as.
REPORTER: Were any of them on campus other than the suspect?
SEABROOKS: One woman was shot on campus.
REPORTER: And she's pronounced dead?
SEABROOKS: No, we don't have that information just yet.
REPORTER: That six would include the person we believe to be the suspect?
SEABROOKS: No, that would not.
REPORTER: Six dead plus the suspect?
SEABROOKS: As many as, yes.
REPORTER: Can you clarify, the person who was detained, how -- what is his involvement in this?
SEABROOKS: That's what the investigation is going to tell us. We don't know just yet the extent of the involvement, if, in fact, there is any with respect to this person. That's why he's being detained so that we can obtain that information. And once we have it, we'll know appropriate course of action is.
REPORTER: So, how many dead at this hour?
SEABROOKS: At this hour, it appears at least a half dozen are dead and as many as two or three are injured. Information is still coming in as this is unfolding. We're still fairly early in this.
REPORTER: Are you sure there is nobody else in the school? Are you concerned about bombs?
SEABROOKS: I'm sorry, I can only take one question at a time. I'm sorry?
REPORTER: How certain are you that things are safe now? You say 90 percent. You are sure that there is nobody else out there? Are you searching for bombs? Any other devices?
SEABROOKS: We're doing a very thorough search of the school and as it stands, 90 percent of the school footprint has been searched and cleared. So, at this particular stage, I can't give an assurance because we still have a balance that is left and yet unsearched.
REPORTER: There's been a photograph from the air of a man in black on the side. You say the suspect was killed in the library though? Is this the same man?
SEABROOKS: Let me say this. The subject was shot in the library. And then because it was still an active shooter circumstance, we have to remove the suspect from the line of fire, that subject who actually fired at the officers, he is a suspect. But to move him, unfortunately expired at the scene where that body is that's being shown in the aerial photographs.
REPORTER: So we have seven deceased? Six plus the suspect?
SEABROOKS: As far as I'm aware of, yes.
REPORTER: In the series of events.
REPORTER: Can you discuss motive at this time?
SEABROOKS: No, I cannot.
REPORTER: Any indication that this is related to terrorism?
SEABROOKS: No, I wouldn't make that connection at all.
REPORTER: Can you tell us of the six people that died, where were they in the series of events?
SEABROOKS: We know that there are deceased individuals in the 2,000 block of Yorkshire.
REPORTER: How many are there?
SEABROOKS: That I can't confirm just yet because it's still evolving. There's for sure we know at least two. We know that there is someone who was shot and killed I believe at Cloverfield. Two people at 19 and Pearl. The suspect at the college and I believe that one person died at the hospital.
REPORTER: So you say as many, this number could grow? As many as six, possibly more?
SEABROOKS: Well, the condition of those who are in the hospital in critical condition could change, and as happened very recently, that number could change.
REPORTER: Were these random shootings? I mean, these random victims, I mean?
SEABROOKS: It appears those encountered on the street were random victims. Those who were identified located at the -- excuse me, not identified, but located on Yorkshire, we're not quite certain that it's random. It appears it may not be.
REPORTER: So there is another suspect of Asian origin going in patrol. It seems he was arrested getting out of college. Can you tell us why he was arrested? SEABROOKS: All I can tell you is that that is a person of interest. It was appropriate for us to detain him pending our ability to affirmatively link him with evidence we found on the scene.
REPORTER: So is President Obama informed? Do we have any reaction from the president --
SEABROOKS: I wouldn't know that, no.
REPORTER: You have not identified the suspect yet? Are you moving toward that? What is holding up identification?
SEABROOKS: Of course, we're moving toward that. The circumstances, the police department does not identify persons who are killed in such circumstances. We allow the coroner's office to affirmatively identify that person.
REPORTR: Will you say something in Spanish, if you'll be so kind?
SEABROOKS: We have to -- ma'am, we have to find someone who will be on hand to do the Spanish translation. That should be coming forth. We'll make a point to reach out to you.
REPORTER: Was the original structure a house?
SEABROOKS: It was a residence.
We have one person of interest in custody at this point.
REPORTER: We have never seen this in Santa Monica.
SEABROOKS: No, I have not.
REPORTER: Were these people shot that died?
SEABROOKS: As far as I know, yes.
REPORTER: Is your department dealing with the barricade --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the last question, too.
REPORTER: -- linked to this?
SEABROOKS: Not linked to this that I'm aware of, no.
REPORTER: Is the person of interest armed?
SEABROOKS: That I don't know.
REPORTER: Were the people in the house shot?
SEABROOKS: That I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to end the press conference right now. We'll try to have an update within two hours or before. If not before the 8:00 news hour.
OK. Thank you very much. We'll be back out. And for the Spanish community, we'll --
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, you've just been listening into the press conference there. You heard from the chief of police at the Santa Monica College, the fire chief and, of course, the chief of the Santa Monica Police, Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, a woman there you heard listening to some questions.
Our Miguel Marquez is going to be with us for a moment. But we did learn some significant new information here in this press conference. We learned that at least six people have been confirmed as dead because of the attack which in some cases could have been firing, and some cases shooting. It's unclear.
And when you count the suspect who was also killed, at least seven -- to use the words at least seven people died today, six of them murdered by the suspect.
There is, in addition, we learned from that press conference, another person of interest who is currently in custody at this time. But we didn't -- weren't able to get much more information about that.
The other thing that we were able to learn, you know, of course, that there was a house that was burned down with people inside of it. Then there were subsequent incidents and shootings that happened including one on the street. And one at the Santa Monica college campus, but what she is saying is there were more than one incident but as many as six. So, obviously, a lot more questions to be answered here tonight.
I want to bring in Miguel Marquez.
Miguel, we did find out here, of course, that as many as six were murdered today, and the shooter also bringing the total to seven. But a lot of questions here including which of these incidents were random? Which were planned? Exactly who is the shooter?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this started off with one incident and then grew to maybe two and then three and now it sounds like we had at least four incidents across the city tonight.
And actually listening to the chief, she spoke very quickly. It was as many as six incidents. Six people killed at four different locations across Santa Monica today. The house fire clearly now implicated in this. Two people we understand were shot and killed in that fire. Then, the bus and then another incident where somebody was shot and killed on a street in Santa Monica. And then it finally culminated here with police not just Santa Monica police, a regular police force but college police getting involved in a fire fight with the shooter in the library of the school.
Another person now has been arrested, a person of interest police chief called him. He is described as an Asian man who was arrested just off campus. And put into a police car. I believe that we also have video of that that we can bring to you a little later on. But it's not entirely clear whether or not that person is part of this.
If it is found that he is part of this. We certainly have video of that and can share that with our viewers.
But just a breath taking afternoon here in Santa Monica. Nearly the last day of school here at the college, and to deal with this.
It does not sound as though he was targeting the college though from what the officials here said tonight. It sounds like it started in one place and then clearly the person had some connection to the college, it seems, because he ended up here going into the library. But it doesn't sound like it was the college itself that was under attack -- Erin.
BURNETT: And, Miguel, just trying to understand more about what happened here. The police chief said that there was a person of interest, an additional person in custody. But obviously you talked about the fact that there could have been an additional suspect, an additional shooter. I heard you trying to ask the question there whether people were safe and if they are sure there is no one else out there that is a threat?
Did you feel like she really answered the question and make that clear that that person was not a threat or not?
MARQUEZ: It's not clear whether the person that was arrested is a threat or even linked to this at all. They felt there was enough to hold them on. So, they're holding him as a person of interest.
They're also clearing the school. It is a very big campus. About 30,000 students go to this school. It's a very big, sprawling area in Santa Monica. So they've gone to about 90 percent of the school, she says. So they're relatively sure, quite sure, that it is safe. But they want to get through the entire school and the area before they can make a definitive statement that the area is, in fact, safe and free of any more suspects.
BURNETT: And so, Miguel, they're trying to get more information at this time. Another crucial thing that I was wondering, I didn't hear an answer to this and I'm wondering if you did as you're reporting there and as you are learning, to more about what appears to be the first incident, that house that was burned down. It was unclear whether the people in that house were shot or perished in the fire.
But I'm clear at this point whether that was the planned attack or not.
MARQUEZ: Well, whatever it was, it sounds like it started there. That was 11:55 our time on the West Coast. And according to a neighbor, somebody across the street, it was a man and his son lived in that house. Police do say that -- we understand that there were two bodies in that house from police sources. They appeared to have been shot. The gunman then came out dressed in black with an assault style weapon, jumped into a car that he carjacked, shot somebody else in another car that wouldn't move fast enough for him. That person was not killed, was only injured, and then moved on to three, four more locations before coming here.
So whatever it was, it seems it started in that house and then moved here to the school -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you very much. Of course, as Miguel gets more information, we're going to be going back to him. As can you tell, this situation is developing very quickly, as we try to get more information.
Rona Navales joins me now. She's a student at Santa Monica, a reporter for the school newspaper.
Rona, so tell me where you were when the incident on the campus happened and what exactly did you see?
RONA NAVALES, STUDENT (via telephone): Hi, Erin. Yes, actually I just got off the bus going to my internship at (INAUDIBLE) that's located on the campus. And as soon as I was walking across the street to the scene which is where my internship is, I had my head phones in and my music is playing very loudly. And someone was yelling at me, yelling, yelling. I turned around and they say get on the bus, stand in the bus. Everyone in the bus was traumatized.
And they said there was a shooting. And those were some of the people that were actually in the library when it happened. So, they were all crying and very traumatized.
So I get out of the bus and see more of what is going on. I saw a body bag. I believe it was the body of the gunman. And then I see one victim who was wounded on Pearl Street.
BURNETT: And so you saw that. And you did see a body bag, right? I know you took a picture of as well, right, Rona?
NAVALES: Right. Right.
BURNETT: And when the people that you spoke to, your friends who were in the library, what exactly did they say that they saw? I don't know if you heard, but we were listening to a press conference and trying to understand was the shooter killed there? And also, of course, we're trying to understand was there another suspect? Was there anyone else involved? What else did your friends in the library see?
NAVALES: Well, they were escorted outside by cops. One girl, her name is Kristala (ph), said that someone was trying to unlock one of the doors from the library. And they thought they were so sure that it was the gunman trying to shoot them. But that was actually the cops who were trying to escort them out.
And as they were escorted through the front of the library, they saw the body. So, they had to crawl in order to hide in the library and they saw the body who they describe him as Caucasian male -- but others were exited through the back of the library. But a few were exited in front.
And the people that came out of the back of the library went to the math building and lock themselves in there for a while before they were escorted a few blocks away from the campus.
And, yes, there was someone else brought into custody who is Asian. I don't remember his name. But I believe he is a student at the school. He is being questioned.
BURNETT: All right. That's interesting.
All right. We do understand there was another person of interest in custody. Unclear whether who you're talking about. It's interesting that you're saying that person an Asian male was a student at the school. Thanks very much to Rona.
I want to go back to Miguel Marquez now, I know, who is joined by someone there on the scene -- Miguel.
MARQUEZ: Yes, Erin. I'm with Michael Alvarez.
You're a student here, correct?
MICHAEL ALVAREZ, STUDENT AT SANTA MONICA COLLEGE: Yes.
MARQUEZ: And you were studying in the library?
ALVAREZ: I was studying right outside the library.
MARQUEZ: What did you hear?
ALVAREZ: First what happened was, I heard this loud clanging sound. It sounded like somebody dropped a table or hit a dumpster. And immediately after it was a group of people sort of running towards the library and away from it and they kept yelling someone has a gun. Run.
That was it. They were just trying to get everybody to run.
MARQUEZ: How many shots did you hear?
ALVAREZ: It sounded like four. And then as I was running, two more.
MARQUEZ: Did you ever see the gunman?
ALVAREZ: I never bothered to look around. I just got away.
MARQUEZ: Did it ever sound like there were shots coming from more than one location?
ALVAREZ: They all sounded pretty much behind where I was. I was taking off. They sounded more like from the library general vicinity. But I think that was it. That's the only place I really heard from.
The library, if there was anything going on inside the library, the library is sound proof.
MARQUEZ: Did you see anybody afterwards? Anybody that fits the shooter's description? You didn't see anything? Where did you hide and how did you get out?
ALVAREZ: Well, I noticed a lot of people were running towards the parking lot. I decided to go towards the math complex. I just kind of warned whoever was on my way, I just told them, hey, somebody's got a gun. Somebody is firing off runs. You need to come with me. We'll find a room in here or something.
And so I ended up in the math lab where we ended up in the quiet room which, is you no he, kind of locked and inside the math lab.
MARQUEZ: OK. And then police were able to get you out? Did you let police in when they came around?
ALVAREZ: We did. It wasn't until about an hour after we were already inside. We were in the room for about an hour before they showed up.
ALVAREZ: -- escorted out.
MARQUEZ: Frightening day. Did you ever think you'd be involved with something like this?
ALVAREZ: You know, it's one of those things you don't. You hope it never happens to you. And then, you know, you realize it can happen anywhere.
MARQUEZ: Right. Michael Alvarez, thank you very much.
MARQUEZ: Nice to meet you. Another piece of the puzzle here, Erin. But clearly a very complicated situation happening across Santa Monica, southern California today. Very, very frightening. And it seems -- seems to be over for now. There will be a lot of investigation to come -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to Miguel.
And as Miguel said, it seems to be over because at this point we're trying to understand not only is there a person of interest in custody, but whether there was another suspect at large at this point.
But again, it seems to be at this point under control. And, of course, the Caucasian male that they believe was responsible for six of these murders is -- has been shot himself. So the total number of people who died in this horrific series of events today is seven.
I want to bring in right now Madie Gunther. She joins me on the phone. She's student at Santa Monica.
Madie, now, I believe you were tutoring someone right near the library when this happened, right?
MADIE GUNTHER, WITNESSED SHOOTING (via telephone): Yes. I was being tutored on Cloverfield and Pico. And at 12:05, we all of a sudden heard one gunshot. Then we looked and were confused. And then there was like seven or eight more following.
BURNETT: So you heard one gunshot. You heard seven or eight more. So, it sounded like -- it could have been, what, seven, eight, nine gun shots total you think, Madie?
GUNTHER: Yes. There were about nine or ten.
BURNETT: And at that point, what went through your head?
GUNTHER: I was very -- everyone in the class was really scared. We didn't know what was going on. At first, we all just looked at each other. Afterwards, when the -- when it started going the second one, we all knew it was a gunshot. So, we all grabbed each other and we rent -- and hid in one of the libraries, in our office building. And we were just sitting there and locked all the doors.
BURNETT: And what went through your head at that time? I don't know if you just heard our reporter talking to another colleague of yours, a student, who was saying you know, you never think this would happen to you. You're at the end of your school year.
What went through your head? Did you think this was a school shooting? I mean, what did you think?
GUNTHER: I thought they were in the bulling. So I was terrified. And I didn't really know what to think at first. It was just kind of the shock of the moment. And so I kind of just was hoping that it wasn't our school and hoping that everyone was all right.
BURNETT: And then when you were hiding, as you said, everyone ran to a part of the library to hide, at that point, Madie, what did you hear? Did it go silent? Did you hear or see anything as they eventually shot the shooter?
GUNTHER: It went silent and then all of a sudden we heard 10 cop cars and fire trucks all fly past our school. And they were all surrounding us. And just making sure they all came up and made sure we were OK. But other than that, it was quiet until the fire trucks and police.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Madie, thank you very much. We appreciate your taking the time. It must have been so terrifying for you.
GUNTHER: Thank you.
BURNETT: Now if you're just joining us, we're following breaking news in Santa Monica, California. There is a rash of incidents that left at least six people dead. The shooter responsible, we also understand, also dead. The Santa Monica police just gave a press conference on what happened today and I wanted to just give you a sense of what Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said.
Here she is just a couple moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEABROOKS: Today, at approximately 11:52 a.m., a mere four hours ago, the police department received a call of shots fired in the 2000 block of Yorkshire. That's in the eastern end of the city of Santa Monica. Responding officers encountered a structure fire and the fire department subsequently responded to put that out.
We received information at the same time of a possible carjacking that may have been related to the shots fired call. We also were receiving incoming calls regarding a series of random shootings, possibly involving an automatic firearm of some type. That was later found -- told to us to be an AR-15.
The random account encounters the suspect had as he moved west along Pico Boulevard culminated with a series of shootings. One shooting occurred in the area of 20 and Pico. Another occurred in the area of Cloverfield and Pico, then we had a shooting in the area of 20th and Pearl which is immediately adjacent to Santa Monica College.
In the area of Santa Monica College, the suspect shot at a passenger vehicle and also at a police vehicle. Not long thereafter, he was seen by responding officers from both the Santa Monica College Police Department and the Santa Monica Police Department. There was an exchange of gunfire at that time and the suspect attempted to evade the officers by running on to the college campus.
As he ran on to the campus, additional shots were exchanged. No officers were injured at that time.
The suspect headed toward the library, shot a woman on the campus just before entering the library, accosted a number of patrons inside the library and attempted to shoot at them. Those individuals were able to find safety in a safe location inside the library. However, he continued to shoot at them. The officers came in and directly engaged the suspect and he was shot and killed on the scene.
The information we have indicates at this point that as many as half a dozen victims were shot and killed and several more were injured. I have recently been informed that another victim recently died at the hospital.
I have to say again, this investigation is in its infancy, it occurred just a short four hours ago. We are still in our investigative phase. The search and securing of the college is almost complete. The search is being handled by 11 multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary -- meaning police and fire -- teams that are attempting to secure the entire footprint of Santa Monica College. The suspect in this incident has yet to be identified but he's described as being a male white, 25 to 30 years of age, approximately. He was wearing all black clothing and what appears to be a ballistic vest. We have a subject of interest in custody pending our ability to affirmatively connect that subject to evidence that was found on the scene.
So, what that translates to is we are not convinced 100 percent that the suspect who was killed operated in a solo or lone capacity.
At this time, we're not identifying any victims pending ability to notify their next of kin.
As a side note, I want to say that these shooting incidents occurred within close proximity to two area schools, John Adams Middle School and Edison School. The schools were locked down for the safety of students and faculty. Parents seeking to reunite with those students are to go to the 1600 block of 16th Street, to the Santa Monica unified school district administrative offices.
I say that although at this point, we know that the schools have been released, but in case anyone did not hear, that's where they were to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. We just listened to the chief of police of Santa Monica, Chief Seabrooks, there talking.
I want to bring in Paul Callan now, because one of the things she mentioned was the AR-15 assault rifle. People use this, obviously military version of a gun, of a stronger assault weapon.
So, let me just ask you, how hard is it to get one of those in the state of California?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States. They've got a very strict registration system. They heavily regulate what are defined as assault weapons, semiautomatic assault weapons.
So, you know, if an assault weapon was used here, it's an indication that even in a state where you have tough gun laws, these guns still come into the state. Now, whether it emanated from a California source or was brought across the border subsequent investigation will tell. But the laws are already pretty tough in California.
BURNETT: Right. Obviously, it's the toughest -- you have New York, New Jersey, California, the toughest and this still happened which is shocking to a lot of people to imagine. Of course, this is the kind of weapon we just heard was used in other shootings.
BURNETT: Colorado, for example, by James Holmes. CALLAN: It demonstrates I think that as long as we have different laws in different states about gun possession, they're going to cross borders and you're going to see them used in crimes across the country.
BURNETT: And let me ask you about what happens from here, understanding and again, I want to emphasize to everybody, it's obviously a developing situation. This is the latest we have from Chief Seabrooks, that the suspect was shot, the suspect is killed, the seventh fatality today.
There is another person of interest in custody and there has been talk of another suspect. Unclear whether that's another person or that's the person of interest in custody at this point.
But if -- what happens to that person?
CALLAN: Well, obviously we're looking at homicide charges. We're looking at very serious charges here. Maybe there's some sort of murder conspiracy.
BURNETT: Right. Even if they weren't actually the one who lit the fire or shot the gun?
CALLAN: Well, it will depend on what the link is. If they were all linked together and all involved in a common scheme or plan, that would lead to conspiracy charges. But, of course, really, until we hear more about what the person of interest has to say and, frankly, he may just be a witness and not a suspect in the case.
It's very early and you've got to be really careful about what you speculate about at this stage of such an investigation.
BURNETT: Certainly, as we learned in Boston when there were several people of interest, none of whom ended up being involved.
All right. Thank you very much. Our continuing breaking news coverage in the Santa Monica the shootings continue next with "A.C. 360."