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AC 360 LATER
Aired September 16, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Welcome to "AC360 Later." It's 10:00 here in Washington.
I'm standing in Southeast Washington just down the street from the Washington Navy Yard where at 8:20 this morning a gunman shot and killed a dozen people and wounded several more before being fatally shot himself.
There's a lot more we are learning more about the shooter, Aaron Alexis, who he was and how he committed this massacre. We are expecting a news conference at any moment. We understand there will be the latest information, new information.
We will obviously bring that news conference to you live when it happens. There you see the scene. We are waiting for those who are going to speak. We do have plenty of new information. We are learning from an FBI source that Alexis recently bought the AR-15 assault rifle that he used at a store in Northern Virginia.
In addition, we're getting new pictures of him taken by a friend of his at the Texas Thai restaurant where he once worked, where people described him as easy-going and talkative, where he was working apparently without pay and learning to speak the Thai language.
As we look at these seemingly happy snapshots, though, more is become known about how this government subcontractor and one-time Naval Reservist with a troubled record and two gun-related incidents did what he did.
As we await the press conference, chief national correspondent John King joins me now.
What are the new details we're hearing?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Number one, when you hear the account we are getting from law enforcement sources about how they believe this played out this morning it's kind of chilling.
Mr. Alexis had a government I.D. as a contractor, military I.D. He worked for H.P. and did I.T. contracting for the Navy and was allowed to drive right on to the base. Apparently, sources are telling us showed his I.D. and was waved on to the base and when he got on to the base, he parked his car.
And then they believe just methodically and calmly walked into the building carrying an AR-15 semiautomatic weapon, a rifle as well and a Glock handgun, they believe. Three weapons involved. And they believe he just proceeded methodically and went upstairs to a higher location. Looked down on the atrium and just opened fire.
COOPER: I talked to Commander Kirk Lippold, who has worked in that area and been on the base and in that building, and there was another layer of security inside that building where the gunman entered.
We don't know if that is where the shooting began or if he was able to get through that security.
KING: Those will be the profound questions.
It is still an active crime scene. It's just steps away from here and as of just an hour ago I was told some people were still in there, because before anybody could leave, the thousands of workers who were in there, they had to be interviewed on the way out. And obviously it's a crime scene as well. They are gathering evidence.
That will be one of the big questions, how on what is often described as one of the most secure sites in Washington, D.C., a military installation, number one were the force protections levels so low that because he had an I.D., he was allowed to drive in without them popping the car, without them searching the car at all?
Apparently, that was the case today. And then number two, how do you walk into this building, people carrying weapons, obviously? They will look at the surveillance video and obviously they are talking to the eyewitnesses involved and others in the building.
And there are bigger questions and more profound questions when you look at his history, a gun incident in Seattle back in '04 and then he joins the military, a gun incident in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2010, part of the reason he leaves the military. And then somehow he is still able to work even though he leaves the military after some disciplinary issues and somehow allowed to still get a job as a government contractor and still despite the fact there are the police records -- here's the Seattle record from 2004 where he fired into the tires of some contractors he was having an issue with.
He believed they were mocking him. He has this issue and his father told the Seattle Police Department he had some PTSD issues that his father said involved being in New York City on 9/11. That's what his father said. We have not been able to piece together that part of his life just yet.
COOPER: He wasn't in the military at that point. He didn't join the military until 2007.
KING: Right. Just a question of whether he was living in New York and his family is originally from Brooklyn, whether he was in New York and somehow involved or whether that was what was said or whether that is family lore. But one of the questions that is already being asked by members of Congress is if you can go on the Internet and in a matter of minutes find out he had this incident in Seattle and he had another incident in Fort Worth, both involving guns, no injuries to people -- but he shot through the floor of his apartment in Fort Worth, shot tires out of a car in Seattle.
If you can find that within minutes and in the police report you have a family member saying he has some sort of PTSD issues, then how is it, what is wrong with the government oversight that this gentleman is able to get a military level I.D. as a contractor that allows him access to an installation like that?
COOPER: Again we are awaiting this press conference where we hope to get some new information from authorities, possibly even some of the names of those who have been affected.
I want to bring in our Drew Griffin, who is also trying to flesh out details of the shooter's immediate past. He joins us now.
Drew, you have learned some new information about his security clearances and about the history of that.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that he had security clearance, surprising given the fact that John King is reporting all this history of gun violence in his past.
According to the CEO of the contractor he worked for -- this is a firm called The Experts -- it's a major defense contracting firm -- Aaron Alexis had two security clearances by the government within the last year, Anderson. He had a full clearance in September of 2012 in which he began a defense contract working in I.T. on a job in Japan for the Navy and he had a re-clearance, according to Thomas Hoshko, just this past July so he could begin this job at the Navy Yard.
And those clearances, he was given a secret level, which is the middle of three levels. You have a confidential, secret or top secret, would have included a huge questionnaire including six pages of any kind of police involvement you had, any kind of charges brought against you. And it also should have been a face-to-face interview, questions about his mental stability.
So if the government was doing its job, specifically the Department of Defense's central clearing office was doing its job, you would have to assume they knew all of this stuff about his past and gave him clearance to be on that contract anyway.
COOPER: And, John, we are still working out the timeline of his history.
Joined the military in 2007, left the military end of 2010-2011. We know because we talked to someone who owned this Thai restaurant where he was kind of volunteering that he was working there some time in 2011. It's unclear for how long. Wasn't really getting a paid a salary by them but he was also interested in the Thai language and studying Thai and also in Thailand they practice Theravada Buddhism. He apparently was interested in Buddhism and attended a local Thai wat or Thai monastery in the Fort Worth area with the owner of this restaurant. But the exact timeline of when he start working for that contractor, we're still not clear.
KING: We are still not clear about that, although Drew fills in important details there about when you talk to people today -- I want to be very clear.
When you talk to law enforcement sources, they say they are not ready to establish a motive as yet. They say one of their questions is he had some grievances about the contract work. Whether he was unsatisfied, dissatisfied with his work, whether he was mad at somebody who was his boss of some co-workers, it has something to do with the disgruntled worker. That's one of the theories they say they are exploring.
How he got from being at that restaurant to having these security clearances and being here, there are still pieces of his life we are trying to put together.
COOPER: A woman whose husband owns the restaurant that he was volunteering at told me in the 8:00 hour of 360 that he felt some anger toward, I guess, the contractor. He felt there was some disagreement over pay, a trip he had taken to Japan for the contractor.
He felt he wasn't paid sufficiently or what he was supposedly promised. Again, we don't know if that has a role in this or not.
Drew Griffin, was it you who was reporting today may have been the first day of work for this man at this facility?
GRIFFIN: That news came through me from Thomas Hoshko, the CEO of this company called The Experts.
We have some conflicting information. The Experts were working on a subcontract with Hewlett-Packard and Hewlett-Packard told us, no, we don't have any specifics, but that this was not his first day. But here's what Mr. Hoshko told me. He said he would have started today or this week based on the fact he was just issued a visit letter to attend the U.S. Navy shipyard last week.
You have to have a visit letter apparently to start a new job. It is almost like an introductory letter. We tried to get back to Mr. Hoshko and Hewlett-Packard to try to get some clarity on this. But this was a new position for Aaron Alexis.
But we don't know exactly when the start date was, although Mr. Hoshko said to me today, this evening, just a couple hours ago, that he thought it was his first day today. I might also point out that the company, Thomas Hoshko specifically, was cooperating with the FBI and in fact had to get off the phone with me because he was taking a call from the FBI at that moment.
COOPER: We also know, Peter Hamby was outside the hotel where we believe he was staying and had been staying perhaps for several weeks and seemed to have bought the gun locally at a Virginia gun store.
KING: Yes. All of our information from several of our correspondents is that AR-15 was purchased in recent days in Northern Virginia.
Again he has a military I.D. card. It's almost a fast pass to a gun purchase. There will be a debate about gun control after this incident, as there always is. But here is someone who had an I.D. and he had the security clearances. You show that at a gun shop where this is a legal weapon, whether you like that or not, it's still a legal weapon, that's fast pass to purchase one and move on.
Anyone who runs a background check on him would look at his military I.D. and run that background check and golden.
COOPER: You see in the corner of your screen there we are awaiting the news conference and we're told it will take place in just a matter of minutes.
I also want to bring former FBI Executive Assistant director Shawn Henry. Shawn, thanks for being with us.
In terms of the investigation going on right now, John King reporting there are still people on site being interviewed who were working there today. They have to basically interview everybody.
SHAWN HENRY, FORMER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT FBI DIRECTOR: Sure.
There are as many as 3,000 people on base. It's going to be a long time to go through all those people. You want to make sure you have all the eyewitness accounts. Make sure anyone who might know anything, maybe they saw this person around previously, maybe they know him from some prior history. You want to make sure you vet all of those things and run that to ground.
COOPER: There is obviously video cameras on the base. They will be looking at that very carefully.
HENRY: Sure. They will be looking at surveillance cameras on the base. They will be looking at cameras at the hotel he was staying in and perhaps even some of the stores around the area if he had been casing this area over the prior weeks.
COOPER: The essential question, was there anyone else involved in this?
All throughout the day, John King, there were reports that authorities were looking for two other people of interest and one of those was then ruled out later in the day. The FBI has determined according to our reporting that he was the sole shooter. But there is still this one person of interest out there they kind of want to check off the list.
KING: Several of our correspondents, including myself, are being told by federal sources that they believe this gentleman was acting alone. But they do want to check this out. In the initial chaos after...
COOPER: Let's begin the press conference.
VINCENT GRAY (D), MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: We will follow the same order of presentation that we did earlier. I will be followed by Chief Lanier, who will be followed by our FBI Washington director, and then Chief Chambers and Congresswoman Norton.
We don't have a great deal of new information to present to you at this point. I think we mentioned earlier that we had ruled out one of the suspects as being no longer a suspect. We continue to pursue the possibility of there being another shooter. We don't have any evidence, any indication at this stage that there was yet another shooter, even though we haven't completely ruled that out.
That was the person as you probably will recall who was identified as wearing a olive, drab uniform, somebody portrayed as being around 50 years of age, 5'10'' with graying sideburns. We have not identified that person nor do we have a lot of corroborating evidence. And maybe Valerie will take a little bit about that too when she comes up.
We don't know what the motive is at the stage. We were asked earlier if there was likely terrorism involved. We have no indication of that. We haven't ruled it out. We continue to investigate that. We know that there are 13 fatalities, including the shooter, who perished today.
We do have more information now on the decedents. Their ages are 46 years of age to 73 years of age. The families now are still in the process of being notified. Seven families have been notified. And the process continues to notify the other six. We don't know exactly when that process will be completed.
But it is continuing now as we speak. I also want to update the issue around injuries. We didn't have precise numbers earlier. We were using estimates. We now know that there are eight people who incurred one or another kind of injury. Of the eight, three were shot.
They all are -- and that includes Officer Scott Williams, who Chief Lanier and I just went to visit earlier this evening, who is doing well and is in great spirits. There were two other civilians who were shot and they are relatively minor injuries.
The other five injuries range anywhere from, you know, stress reaction to someone who fell and had a head injury, a contusion to the chest, arm abrasions and chest pain. So, again, a total of eight injuries, people who were hospitalized as a result of those.
And there is absolutely no reason to think that they won't be fine. One other point before I turn it over to Chief Lanier. We anticipate tomorrow morning that the traffic patterns will be back to normal in the city, all the bridges will be open. All of the streets in the area of the Navy Yard will be open, even as the investigation, of course, will be continuing tomorrow and the days ahead.
Again, we have been in close contact with the White House. They have been in close contact with us. And the president has reached out, his staff and the president, through them, reached out to connect with us as this process has unfolded throughout day.
So, again, this is a horrific tragedy. I want to thank all the first-responders who have done such an extraordinary job dealing with this horrific tragedy. Our, of course, police officers and the various law enforcement agencies that have done a sterling job, and I want to thank fire and emergency medical services for the work they have done today as well.
They had, obviously, many transports they had to make and they did an extraordinary job doing that. And Chief Ellerbe, where are you, Chief? I want to thank you for the work you did today in order to be able to handle that important responsibility.
So with that having been said, let me ask Chief Lanier to come up and share some things with you.
CATHY LANIER, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA POLICE CHIEF: I will pick up where the mayor left off.
I can't say enough about the first-responders, all the training and exercising and the daily interaction we have here with more than 30 law enforcement agencies of some type in the district. The teamwork as we hear story after story and having been on the scene and listening to transmissions throughout the course of the day, 24 years doing this in the city, very proud of the teamwork.
The ability to quickly pull together disparate teams of law enforcement, the heroic efforts, United States Park Police, working with Metropolitan Police Department, quickly entering the building, along with security from the Navy Yard, as well as support from partners quickly brought in for mutual aid, Maryland State, Park Police, helicopters as well as Fairfax. To see three different jurisdictions all on scene less than 45 minutes to coordinate emergency response, whether it be fire, emergency medical, support from I know at Prince George's County brought in through D.C. Fire EMS to medevac support running through United States Park Police and their medevac, just incredible work.
United States Marshals Service entering buildings with teams of MPD, also NCIS, who assisted in picking and carrying an injured police officer out of the building, story after story, we have heard from police officers and firefighters and emergency medical just terrific response and so thank you for all of the local and partners, regional partners who responded.
I will say Metro Transit as well, special recognition. They really stepped up today to help us get large numbers of victims and survivors that we needed to transport witnesses, never had to ask for any support. They are always there to provide what we needed. So we really appreciate the work of Metro Transit.
As of right now, with the last outstanding lookout that we had for the potential last person connected to the deceased shooter, that was a lookout we put out for a black male between the ages of 40 and 50 in an olive, drab uniform. Obviously, we had multiple witness accounts that we were sorting through. We have now exhausted all means that we have available to either support or discount that lookout.
And we are comfortable at this point to lift the shelter in place for the residents in the neighborhood, thank them, first of all, residents and businesses for supporting us and sheltering in place for an extended period of time. But we feel comfortable right now that we have exhausted all means to eliminate that possible last suspect.
So we do now feel comfortable that we have the single and sole person responsible for the loss of life inside of the base today. If anything changes as we continue to go forward we certainly will make that available to the public, but again we are lifting the shelter in place and we appreciate the support from our community members.
We will most likely have all of traffic closures around the area open by 5:00 a.m. for morning commute, but we will make sure that is put out to the public in advance. So, please, listen to your local news media before you come in for work in the morning. And as of right now, we have as we go through finalizing next of kin notifications -- we have identified one D.C. resident so far that are among the victims.
So, in terms of our outreach and our local community, our hearts go out to all the victims, certainly, and at least one of our victims now we have confirmed as a D.C. resident. At this point we don't have anything to support any of the victims so far identified are active duty military.
We have civilian and contractors so far that have been identified. We still have some work to do, but no active duty military have been identified amongst the victims this point.
With that, I will turn it over to the assistant director of the FBI Val Parlave and let her update you on their investigation.
VALERIE PARLAVE, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, D.C. FBI FIELD OFFICE: Good evening.
As we have stated, this continues to be a very active investigation. The FBI's evidence response teams continue to process the shooting scenes. These teams have special capabilities to include bullet trajectory analysis and crime scene mapping.
We also continue to follow every lead related to the shootings, to include piecing together the movement and activities of Aaron Alexis. While we have learned some information about his recent whereabouts we continue to work to determine where he has been and who he has talked to and what he has done. This includes the determining the origins of the weapons he used. But because this investigation still continues, we will not comment further on the weapons used in today's shooting. We can confirm, however, that Mr. Alexis had legitimate access to the Navy Yard as a result of his work as a contractor and he utilized a valid pass to gain entry to the Navy Yard.
We continue to work to identify and locate additional witnesses to today's events and any individuals who may have information about Mr. Alexis. We appreciate the information provided so far by the public and we continue to ask for any and all information related to Mr. Alexis and today's tragic events. Please report this information by calling 1-800-call-FBI. That's 1-800-225-5324.
And we again thank the public for your cooperation and we will continue to update you on this investigation as it progresses. Thank you.
CHIEF TERESA CHAMBERS, PARK POLICE: And simply from the United States park police, you heard Chief Lanier talk about team. We were part of that team this morning. We now have more a subordinate role, but we commit to her and to Assistant Director Parlave and the mayor that we will provide whatever resources available and appropriate to help complete this investigation. Thank you.
DEL. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), WASHINGTON, D.C.: Well, thank you, Mr. Mayor, for bringing us to this last report to the city and to the region.
As in the beginning, our first thoughts tonight are with the victims and their families and they will also be our first thoughts tomorrow when Congress reconvenes and I go on the floor to lead moments of silence.
But we are not going to be silent about the tragedy that occurred here today. There are many outstanding questions, I would say, and most of the questions are outstanding. For many of us in this city who have been plagued by gun violence, among them is how someone, whatever his badge, managed to get a high-powered gun into one of the most secure facilities in the District of Columbia.
I'm sure the Navy will be doing its own investigation. Tomorrow, I will be working with others to get an independent investigation of what occurred here. I'm very, very proud and very grateful for the federal and the D.C. police who responded so promptly. They have made the District of Columbia since 9/11 the most protected and the most secure city in the United States.
But we do not fool ourselves. We understand that in an open and democratic and free society, you cannot make yourselves impenetrable, especially when there are more guns than there are people in the United States today.
We take very seriously when security at one of our most secure facilities is penetrated, and where the security is breached, but we also regard the Naval Sea Systems Command as a neighbor, a part of this residential, mixed-use neighborhood, and we like it that way. I appreciate and continue to appreciate the banquet room they built so they could accommodate residents.
And I will be working with the Navy and the Naval Sea Systems Command to maintain the relationship with the neighborhood while shoring up the security here in the neighborhood and at the facility.
Thank you very much.
GRAY: All right, we will take a few questions.
PARLAVE: There's still quite a bit of work left to do inside processing the scene. I would expect them to be there for the next couple of days finishing up. It took us a while to clear the building with our tactical teams.
And they have not actually been in there that long processing the evidence on scene. So I would say 48 hours wouldn't be unreasonable.
QUESTION: Are there a lot of people still left in there in the Navy Yard?
PARLAVE: I believe most of the people who were alive have been cleared from the Navy Yard.
QUESTION: All civilians and contractors apparently were among the casualties. Do you have any belief that the shooter was intentionally avoiding shooting military personnel?
PARLAVE: We have no information right now as to motive.
QUESTION: The congresswoman was talking about bringing a high- powered weapon into the building, into the Navy Yard. Is there any sense that the suspect was able to lift any weapons off of any of the victims?
PARLAVE: That's part of the ongoing investigation and I can't comment on that.
QUESTION: There have been reports that a rental car was found near the scene that belonged to the gunman. Can you confirm?
PARLAVE: We are processing a vehicle at the scene related to the shooting.
QUESTION: Do you have any reports of other police officers injured? (OFF-MIKE)
LANIER: We do have one park police officer with injuries, not a gunshot injury, but other related injuries to the incident.
I believe we do have at least one contract, I believe contract security working with the Naval District of Washington. We will confirm that as we go forward. But I believe we have got at least one.
QUESTION: You visited with the injured officer. Can you just tell us a little bit about that meeting, about how he's doing?
PARLAVE: He is in very good spirits. His family is here, parents, brothers and sisters. He's been on the department 23, almost 24 years and in fact came on right about the time I did. So we have worked together for many, many years.
He is a canine officer. He is in very good spirits. He has got a pretty serious injury, but right now his family is here with him. And he's in good spirits. The mayor was up visiting with him as well. And he was certainly very complimentary of the partner agencies who helped to get him out of the building and D.C. Fire EMS who helped get him the medical attention that he needed.
He is just very grateful for all the other responders there that helped get him out of that building and get him to the medical attention he needed, but great police officer. I have known him for most of the 23 years and he has got a stellar record.
QUESTION: Chief, why did you think there was a second shooter and now why is that not so?
LANIER: Well, obviously, there will be more information as time goes on. But we always err on the side of caution. Through a conglomeration of witness victim interviews, some camera views, there was potential that there could have been other shooters involved and we believed that the best action for us to take was to make sure our community was safe first.
And we weeded through that information secondly. We certainly want to clear the community as quickly as possible, but we would rather err on the idea of caution. So, we did that. And we have spent the last several hours trying to go through everything possible to make sure that we were 100 percent comfortable that we had cleared all that information and get it out as quickly as possible.
So, again, sometimes, we ask for a little bit of patience from our community. But our goal is to make sure everybody is safe and that there is no additional harm. And that's our goal, no additional harm once we arrive on a scene.
GRAY: Last question. Last question.
QUESTION: At what point do you expect to start identifying the victims? Are you waiting to notify all next of kin?
There will be a press release that is put out following this event. I believe that is already completed. So those victims that have been identified, confirmed and next of kin have been notified, we will release that following this press briefing. I believe it is here with us, so we can hand that out.
And then, as additional next of kin are notified, we will put out the remainder.
GRAY: Thank you all very much.
COOPER: Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray, Police Chief Lanier, federal officials, congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
The official word, no signs of terrorism, authorities still working to establish a motive. The mayor did give the first information about who the casualties were. He said fatalities rang in age from 46 to 73 years old, notifications of next of kin under way.
Not all the next of kin have been -- excuse me -- have been notified, but, momentarily, it seems like, for those next of kin who have been notified, they are going to release the names of some of those victims, but a number of headlines.
And also joined by Shawn Henry, formerly with the FBI. The bottom line. They say it's the one shooter.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They say it's the one shooter. I think that was significant from an investigative standpoint. They have looked now and cleared the other person of interest. They believe they have just one shooter. They were publicly saying what our sources have been telling us throughout the day, the suspect had legitimate access to the Navy Yard because of his work as a contractor.
They're now reconstructing the crime scene and the FBI agent in charge of the Washington field office talked about how they can look at the trajectory of bullets and the like, try to reconstruct the scene and they confirmed in part what our sources have been telling us all day that the suspect drove onto the base. They say they are processing a vehicle on the base.
COOPER: To you, what did you take away from that, Shawn?
SHAWN HENRY: I think that -- I think that indications are now that there was one shooter but the reality of it is, it's still very early. There is still a lot of investigation to be done. There's a lot of interviews that need to be done, a lot of evidence that needs to be gone through.
Looking at bullet trajectory and looking at ballistics, looking at the time line will provide a lot fuller information. But make no doubt -- have no doubt that the joint terrorism task force and the law enforcement officers that are part of this are going to really run every single lead to ground. And it really is going to be days and maybe even a week or more before we have full truth of how many shooters there were.
COOPER: At this point they are saying no active duty military personnel were killed in this. I mean, a contractor, a lot of civilian employees and contractors on that site.
We'll give you the names of people as we get them and as we learn their stories. We obviously want to focus on the victims in all of this.
Just ahead, survivors tell their stories. What it was like minute by minute as the shots rang out. Two former naval officers shed light on the security at the Navy Yard, as well. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're live in Washington, D.C. The breaking news just moments ago. Local federal officials here speaking to reporters. One big takeaway: law enforcement putting to rest the notion of a second suspect.
Also, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray revealing some early information about the 12 people killed. The fatalities ranging in age from 46 to 73 years old. No active duty military personnel, contractors or civilians.
As for the gunman, who was also killed, no official theory yet about motive. We are, however, through other channels, learning more about who he was and what may have motivated him. There's a lot we don't know. We should point that out, out front.
Recapping, the shooter has been identified as Aaron Alexis, a private computer subcontractor, former Navy reservist with a troubled military career. These are new photos, taken back when he lived in Ft. Worth. He worked at a local Thai restaurant and apparently worshipped at a Buddhist monastery. He was studying the Thai language. We'll explore that in greater depth throughout the evening.
But first the survivors, what they said and what they heard and did in the terrifying minutes this morning.
PATRICIA WARD, WITNESS: I heard three shots. Pow, pow, pow. Thirty seconds later, I heard four more shots.
FRANK PUTZO, WITNESS: When that happened everyone said this is no drill, go, go, go. Emergency exits now. Go, go, go.
COMMANDER TIM JIRUS, WITNESS: He walked up and told me that he heard that there was a shooter in our building and we were standing here, maybe three feet away, having a conversation. And then we heard two more gunshots and he went down. And that's when I ran.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were yelling to close the doors, lock the doors. We heard a very loud gunshot very close by. And we looked up and we saw bullet holes in the wall to the conference room that we were in about a foot down from the ceiling.
TERRIE DURUM, WITNESS: He was far enough down the hall that we couldn't see his face but we saw the rifle. And he raised and aimed at us and fired, and he hit high on the wall.
TODD BRUNDIDGE, WITNESS: People were trying to get -- you know, trying to get out over the wall, to get out of the spaces. It was just crazy.
COOPER: Some of the survivors. Again, a dozen people were not so lucky. I want to bring in our Joe Johns, who has been at the press conferences and just received some of the names of the fallen.
Joe, this is the first we've actually heard of the identities.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. That's right, Anderson.
And authorities told us in this news conference just moments ago that seven families have been notified, and these apparently, are the seven families they've actually reached out to and told that their family members had actually been killed in the shootings.
The names are 59-year-old Michael Arnold; 53-year-old Sylvia Frasier; 62-year-old Kathy Gaarde; 73-year-old John Roger Johnson; 50- year-old Frank Kohler; 46-year-old Kenneth Bernard Proctor; 61-year- old Vishnu Pandit.
Now, according to the authorities, all of the individuals who were killed were either described as civilians or contractors. No military personnel apparently were shot or killed here at the Washington Navy Yard, Anderson.
The other thing that I think is a little bit interesting is the ages of them. All of the ages range from, like, 46 upward, at least among the names we've been given so far.
Back to you.
COOPER: Seven names and for those families our thoughts to go out to them and also for those five other families who are still waiting for word. That wait has just got to be excruciating. Let's hope they're able to identify the people and get word to their loved ones as quickly as possible.
Joe, I appreciate that update.
Let's get some perspective now from retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold, who's familiar with the Navy Yard and, sadly, knows what moments like this one are like. His ship, the USS Cole, was bombed by al Qaeda nearly 13 years ago.
Appreciate you being with us. To hear the names, finally, of some of those, it really brings it, obviously, all home. And it's -- it's hard to imagine. You actually know some people who served on the USS Cole, who survived the attack on the Cole who were there today.
COMMANDER KIRK LIPPOLD (RET.), U.S. NAVY: Actually, I do, Anderson. There was Jason Grable, who was my auxiliaries officer, and Bob Overturf (ph) who was my acting supply officer following the attack. But again, hearing those names brings it home in that we have lost family members and loved ones tonight that there's going to be a hole in their hearts as the families try to deal with this tragedy and then, five families, who are still waiting.
COOPER: And this Navy Yard that -- parts of it are open to the public. And when you hear that and you hear Eleanor Holmes Morton saying this is among the most secure places, that seems to be a contradiction. Can you have a place that's partially open to the public and also incredibly secure?
LIPPOLD: I think you can. First, you have to control access right at the gate as to who you allow on board. And although they allow people on, the vehicles, if you're just a civilian drives up and wants to see, for example, the Navy Museum, that vehicle gets inspected. Everyone inside of it is identified and they know who is there.
Typically you have to have an escort to get on the base. But while they can go into unsecure areas on the -- on the Navy Yard itself, to get into the buildings that is a whole different layer of security in there. It is even tighter and more restrictive. And that's why the investigation is eventually going to tell us what this gunman had to do, either to shoot his way in or bypass that security to get to a point where he has access to the building and got into the third floor and is shooting down into the crowd in the atrium.
COOPER: Our understanding is, at this point, from federal officials is that he had a valid I.D. that would have gotten him on the base. And the vehicle checks for someone with a valid I.D., that's not a mandatory vehicle check.
LIPPOLD: Typically not. If someone comes to the gate, and they show a valid I.D. and there's no reason to suspect anything, they're not demonstrating any suspicious behavior, at that point, they will allow them on the base.
There are random vehicle checks. It could have been the timing. He just missed it. But occasionally they will do checks, even if they have a valid I.D. where they ask you to pull aside in a separate area. They do a complete check with dogs and personnel to make sure that you're not bringing anything illegal onto the base, but in this case, clearly, he was able to get in with the weapons.
COOPER: This is not a forward operating base in Afghanistan, where people are walking around with their rifles with them. Somebody with a gun, that would have been a relatively rare sight on this...
LIPPOLD: It would have been an immediate trigger that something was up. Normally when they're walking around the base, the only people you see armed are the guards right at the gate, guards within certain buildings and then the random police controls around the base itself.
COOPER: Particularly, if he was a civilian, not dressed in military garb, that would have been also an alert.
LIPPOLD: Absolutely. It could have been an indicator, although you saw from all the people that were killed, the 12 who are civilians, there are a large number of civilians that do work on the base, they would depend on civilian attire. Normally, they're dressed nice. They're either in suits or khaki slacks, nice pant suit and blouse. They're not going to be walking around in levis and sweatshirts.
COOPER: Again, still so much we don't know. Commander Lippold, I appreciate you being on. Thank you very much.
Coming up, more breaking news. Drew Griffin has uncovered some new details about the killer's work history, his co-workers and when he began working at the Navy Yard.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. We have more breaking news tonight. We are learning more details about the Navy Yard shooter. Drew Griffin has the information. He joins us now. Drew, what are you hearing?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this man worked at multiple locations, Navy locations throughout the summer and early fall of this year. We have it from the CEO of the company he worked for. The company is called the experts. It's a pretty big firm, 800 people.
And according to Thomas Hoshko (ph), they have now determined that, in July when he was -- when Alexis was re-cleared to work on defense contracts, he began working in Little Creek, Virginia. Then he worked at Newport, Rhode Island, twice in August. Sherry Point, North Carolina; Stafford, Virginia; Bethesda, Maryland and Arlington, Virginia, on September 3.
Now, the question is when did he begin work at the Navy Yard? Thomas Hoshko (ph) says they are still pulling the actual time cards for Aaron Alexis. But he believes it was last week or this week that he actually started this work there.
He is a defense contractor that works, obviously, on jobs, refreshing computer systems at these various naval installations. He worked with a team of seven people. According to Thomas Hoshko (ph), nobody all summer long reported any problems with this person whatsoever.
Again, the company is cooperating with the FBI and meeting in person with the FBI investigators tomorrow. We still believe -- Mr. Hoshko (ph) believes that work began -- Mr. Alexis at the Navy Yard here last week or this week or possibly even this week. And they're still trying to get clarity on that.
COOPER: It's really fascinating to hear that -- not even the first time we're hearing that, Drew, from you, the fact that he had worked at other positions, other bases throughout the summer. So the question is why lash out at this one? Was it a question of just the first opportunity he had to the it or was this the first that something occurred that made him focus on this particular Navy yard.
And again we don't have the answer to that. But it certainly -- we're getting pieces and pieces together.
And Drew, do you have anything on that? We don't know why this yard?
GRIFFIN: We don't. I was wondering if it was -- did he have a beef with his co-workers, this team of seven? But it's not a team of seven, according to the CEO, that travels together. These are contract employees who come together much like we work, Anderson, with our photographers. We just meet random photographers in different parts of the country. This is how these contractors work with this company.
They're all skilled at doing the one job that they're assigned to do. They go in for a week at a time or so, and they do it at a specific location.
The other thing that was very interesting to me, looking at the locations and the number and the frequency of the locations, Mr. Alexis knew how to get on and off secure locations and was very comfortable doing it. And the U.S. Navy was apparently very comfortable allowing him in and out of its installations all across the Eastern Seaboard.
COOPER: We'll see what comes out of the meeting with the FBI from the company tomorrow. Drew, appreciate the update. Great reporting.
As we've been reporting, Aaron Alexis did most of his Navy Reserve duty in Ft. Worth. Ed Lavandera has been following that end of the story for us. He joins us now.
Ed, what have you been learning?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this area that we're in, standing outside the Happy Bowl Thai restaurant in Ft. Worth this is where his family that have become an adopted family, if you will, we understand Aaron Alexis considered his home. And this is where his -- an adopted family, if you will, the owners of this family -- this restaurant had taken him in. He spent a great deal of time here. If fact, he was roommates for the last three years with the owner of the restaurant until the owner got married.
But his friends do say over the course of the last several months that they had seen him withdraw. But they are still stunned in disbelief over the news that they're hearing today, that Aaron Alexis, a man that they saw come through this restaurant and help out from time to time. Newly arrived immigrants here had opened up this restaurant and would help them out from time to time.
But they do say that there were some odd tendencies, that he would spend a lot of time alone in his room playing violent video games. But despite all of that, they never saw any suggestion that he could be violent in this kind of way that we've seen today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, for me, you know, for me, he -- we have been good friends. He not -- never angry to me. I always like, you OK? You got to do this? I don't know. Be like human being, you know, sometimes probably be angry to someone some time.
LAVANDERA: But you didn't sense a deep anger?
Some of the guy ask me that why did he quit Navy? He didn't want to get up early. I ask him what the heck you quit your job, man? You are going to -- you are going to go to school for free and stuff like that, you know. I don't want to get up early, man. I just want to quit and he quit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: And Anderson, that's kind of the interesting thing there is that he was telling friends here in Ft. Worth that he didn't want to get up early. That was the reason he had left that job. And we've learned from the Department of Defense officials he was discharged because of a history of -- a bad history, a bad track record there. That's an interesting juxtaposition here with what people are trying to make sense of -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate the update. Thanks very much.
As much as we're learning about Aaron Alexis, there's still a lot we don't know. Let's just be very up front about that. The FBI as you would imagine has a fuller picture. They still want your help. That's why we continue to show his picture, say his name. If you know anything about this guy they would appreciate a call at 1-800-CALL- FBI. Again, that number, 1-800-CALL-FBI.
I want to go now to someone who might have some additional light to shed on the shooter, Michael was a friend. He joins me now.
Michael, I appreciate you being with us. You knew Aaron Alexis. What was he like? What was his personality and behavior like?
MICHAEL RITROVATO, FRIEND OF ALEXIS: Hi, Mr. Anderson, how are you? Just like the man prior to me was saying, it's really just like a family over here at this restaurant. They've taken Aaron under their wing. Aaron has just really been a part of their family, and they've done that for me as well. I'm just kind of a family handy man. I come in and I do things for them for the restaurant.
But Aaron, he was an easy-going guy. I don't know of any reason for this. But I could say he was really more like part of the family over here. And we all loved him, and we don't know why he would do something like this at all.
COOPER: I understand that he called you several months ago complaining about a contractor that he was working for. What did he say?
RITRIVATO: Yes, he did. Aaron would confide in me about a lot of things, you know, on the job here or the job, the new job that he got. He seemed real happy with the job that he got. He was really happy they were taking him different places. He liked to travel.
But he -- he just -- one of the things he said to me when he called me the first time was that, you know, he was wondering if I could help him out a little bit financially because they were slow to pay. The company did not pay him the what they said they were going to. And so he was expecting more out of that, and he didn't get that. And so he would call me and tell me about that. And you know, I tried to help him every way I could.
But like I said, he was really kind of They took him under their wing here at Happy Bowl (ph). He was really more of a family room then. He had his own room, his own place. He didn't get out of his room much. He liked to play video games.
But he just, you know...
COOPER: We also heard one report -- sorry. We also heard one report that he -- that he was an experienced shooter, that he would shoot at ranges. Did you know -- to your knowledge did he know his way around firearms?
RITROVATO: Well, I spent several nights over here after hours when it was after hours where he would -- we'd sit down and after the -- it closed. And they have pictures on the wall at the Happy Bowl of military aircraft, and he would talk about all -- he seemed like he was knowledgeable with all the military equipment. He was also knowledgeable with military rifles and handguns and stuff. At least he led us to believe he was.
But nobody ever had the idea that he would ever use them in a derogatory way. He just seemed knowledgeable. He seemed very militarily knowledgeable.
COOPER: Well, Michael, Ritrovato. I appreciate you coming on. I know it's got to be a bizarre, surreal day for you. Appreciate you talking to us. Thank you, Michael, we'll be right back.
RITROVATO: Sure. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
COOPER: It has been a very rough day here in Washington, D.C. I want to spend the last few moments of the program tonight talking about someone other than a mass murderer.
Moments ago, authorities released the names of seven of his 12 victims. Now, we don't yet know their stories. Hopefully, by tomorrow we will. But I just want to honor them by at least read their names into the record.
Michael Arnold, 59 years old, died today. Sylvia Frasier was 53. Kathy Gaarde was 62. John Roger Johnson, the oldest victim, was 73 years old. Frank Kohler was 50 years old. Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46. And Vishnu Pandit, 61 years old.
Sadly, there are more names to come. Five more families, who will in the next few hours, learn the loss of their loved ones. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them. Thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.