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At Least 13 Dead in Navy Yard Shooting

Aired September 16, 2013 - 23:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, OUTFRONT: Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. It's live 11:00 p.m. here in New York and on Washington D.C. where 34-year-old Aaron Alexis opened fire this morning at the Washington Navy yard massacring 12 innocent people and wounding eight others. Here is a story with a lot of fast moving development and here is what we know right now.

Just minutes ago, Washington police chief Cathy Lanier and Mayor Vincent Gray spoke about those who lost their lives. And I want to get straight to Joe Johns because this is the first time that we are hearing the identity of some of the names of those who lost their lives.

And I know, Joe, the Pentagon and department of defense have been careful to say we need to notify next of kin first. But I know you are getting some information on those who suffered so tragically today with that ultimate loss.


And what we do know is that these are the first names of individuals whose families have actually been notified after that terrible tragedy today at the Washington Navy yard. The names are as follows, 59-year- old Michael Arnold, 53-year-old Sylvia Frazier, 42-year-old Kathy Gaarde, 73-year-old John Roger Johnson, 50-year-old Frank Kohler, 46- year-old Kenneth Bernard Proctor and 61-year-old Vishnu Pandit.

Those are the names of the individuals who died in the shooting today whose families have actually now been identified. Authorities are still working to reach out to the other families and let them know of what has happened here before they release the names publicly.

Not a lot of information about them other than authorities tell us all are civilians or contractors. None of them were military personnel who were killed. We were also told that only one of the individuals that we know of who was killed over at the Washington Navy yard was a Washington resident at least among those names that have been released.

Back to you, Erin.

BURNETT: And Joe, obviously, I know, you know, you have said seven names. Obviously, that means we don't know five of them. And those that you just shared --

JOHNS: Four --

BURNETT: Four of them, I'm sorry. Those that you just shared, do you know where they were killed? I mean, I know, obviously, our understanding is he have gone into the atrium on the fourth floor, shot down into the cafeteria. Was that where they all were or is that not clear yet?

JOHNS: It's not clear and when you talk to the authorities about what was going on in there, we get the impression of what sounds like rolling gun battles into different parts of the building. So there may have been more than one crime scene and probably several according to the authorities, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Joe Johns.

Joe with the names of seven of those who lost their lives so horrifically today. We do not yet know the other names of the 12 who were murdered by the gunman today. But as we get that information we will share with the you of course. All of their next of kin must be notified before we can do that.

The police chief and mayor were just speaking within the past hour in the public. They also confirmed something very important that has been undisputed today. They said it was only one shooter something that has been in question. Because at one point authorities thought there could be up to three shooters.

And Jessica Yellin joins me with more on that.

Jessica, this was something, throughout the day, that created so much confusion and so many questions about how many people were involved, how many shooters there were. And now, finally and formally, laying that to rest there was just the one shooter.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. City officials say they are confident that Aaron Alexis is the sole gunman responsible for today's massacre. Here's what city Mayor Gray had to say about that earlier just a few moments ago. We will talk about it on the other side. Here's Mayor Gray.


CHIEF CATHY LANIER, WASHINGTON D.C. POLICE DEPARTMENT: We always err on the side of caution through conglomeration of witness victim interviews, some camera views. There was some potential there could have been other shooters involved and we believe that the best action for us to take was to make sure our community was safe first.


YELLIN: Well, that was the city police chief Kathy Lanier explaining why, Erin, they spent so much time today putting out the alert that there could be one, possibly two other shooters. And she said that as you heard there, there is an excess -- they could not be too cautious. But there was also surveillance footage. There were eyewitness accounts. And at one point, there was an alert for both a white male and an African male, both in their upper 50s, to 40s and 50s. And one point, one was clears, at another point, they still have not found that African male. But they said now neither of them is really under suspicion on this alert. And tomorrow the city will be open, the traffic patterns will be open. The city is not in any way on lock down. But it will be some time before the city is back to normal, Erin. The police chief saying that even though the FBI has cleared the town and they are confident that they have the shooter. As city officials, they could not be sure until they knew both these men certainly were not involved in this rampage.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Jessica.

And of course, that was a big part that Jessica was reporting of the questioning throughout the day trying to understand exactly how many people were involved. But obviously, within the past few moments, that is being confirmed by the police chief in Washington as well as by the mayor.

Now, at this hour, we have new information to report about the shooter, Aaron Alexis who used a valid contractor I.D. to enter to the fortified (ph) base this morning and killed 12 innocent people. This all began in about 8:20 a.m. eastern time this morning. We know he had three guns on him including the assault weapon, an ar-15, a semiautomatic Glock handgun and another rifle. The ar-15, of course, was used in the massacres in Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Now, also tonight, we are learning that one of the guns was purchased in recent days in northern Virginia. And in the past few hours, we have learned from his friends that Aaron Alexis was an avid player of violent video games. And we also now know, at this moment, that Alexis attended a Buddhist temple and was fluent in Thai. His friends tell us he was quiet and one of the quotes we got that he was a quote, unquote, "good person."

But developing at this hour, we know now something very important. Alexis was discharged from the Navy for a pattern of misconduct. And during his time in the Navy, he was arrested for a gun incident in Texas. And came six years after, he was arrested for an anger-filled shooting in Seattle. Still, after all that, he get discharge from the Navy. And in September passes a navy background check after that discharge. And this summer he got security clearance renewed while working for a Hewlett Packard subcontractor on a major military contract.

Obviously, this of course, something very surprising as you listen to this. We are learning much more about Alexis and what might have motivated him to kill.

Ed Lavandera is in Forth Worth, Texas where the suspect lived.

And Ed, I'm going through some of these headlines that have been coming in as the story has been developing so much as the evening goes on. You were the one speaking to people who were close to Alexis finding out about the video games, finding out about the temple, finding out about how they described him. Did they give insight to you on what could have been a motive?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the things that stood out to me in talking to a various friends here today and incidentally, this place here, the happy bowl Thai restaurant on the west side of Fort Worth, the owner -- the family that owns this place had really taken him under their wing. The owner had been roommates with Aaron Alexis up for the last three years, up until five months ago when the owner got married, Aaron Alexis had to move out.

But one of the things -- one of the friends that we talked to here, it about was that he had been in a dispute, according to him, that he called several months ago saying he had been in a dispute with his bosses at the contracting company that the naval contracting company and there was a dispute over payment or money that he felt he was owed by the company. I'm not sure if this is based on salary or it was expenses that he had been sent to do some work in Tokyo, Japan some point in the last year and the dispute had something to do with that.

Enough interest in this there were some FBI agents that came here to the restaurant and Michael Ritrovato, who was the friend who told us about this said that the FBI agents asked questions about that very episode and that phone call he got from Aaron Alexis a few months ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: His biggest frustration with the contractor over the payment, could that have led to this?

MICHAEL RITROVATO, AARON ALEXIS' FRIEND: Well, from the conversations I had with him I would say that would be a part of it just because he really felt they should have paid him when they took him to Tokyo. It was, you know, he loved to be able to travel. But when he came back he talked about how they didn't give him the money they said. And so, I would think that that could be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Like salary money wasn't paid?

RITROVATO: Right. Money he should have got paid and slow paid or something and I don't know if he ever got paid because the last conversation I had with him several months was that they did not pay him.


LAVANDERA: Erin, whether or not that turns out to play any kind of factor in this it's too early to tell. But it is interesting that's what these friends are saying. And the FBI investigators, we know, are asking question about that trying to get more details.

But, you know, all of this picture that we are trying to paint of what we may able to compile and learn about Aaron Alexis so far is very different from what his friends say, the image that they knew of him here. The owner of this restaurant met him about three or three and a half years ago at a Buddhist temple, just down the street. He said that Aaron Alexis was very interested in Thai culture, Asian culture, spoke Thai fluently. And the image that they have of him, was someone who spent a lot of times meditating and chanting at the Buddhist temple, just down the road here, very different from the image and the news that they are hearing about the incident -- Erin.

BURNETT: A Jekyll and Hyde sort of difference. And I know in a moment, we are going to talk to someone who went to that restaurant where you are and had met Aaron Alexis there, also, had that same impression you are talking about.

But what about this arrest history, Ed, that I just briefly summarized. You know, that he had a history of violence and then, of course that discharge from the Navy for a pattern of misconduct. You know, then of course passing the security clearances and working again for a contractor, which is shocking to pretty much everybody. But what have you learned about his arrest history?

LAVANDERA: Well, he was arrested in 2010 here in Fort Worth for discharging a weapon in his apartment. And we read through the arrest paperwork on that case. And the neighbor that lived above him had been in some altercations for some weeks leading up to that moment where the woman above him said he was angry and accusing her of causing too much noise. And then, all of the sudden, there was a gunshot from under her apartment and it went into her floor. In that paperwork, she told police that she was terrified of Aaron Alexis. So, you know, it's interesting to go back and read that report from three years ago and see how it plays into all this.

BURNETT: All right, Ed, thank you very much. We are going to hear a lot more about this.

Our Drew Griffin is also reporting on it. And you know, Drew, talking about this issue if it takes a regular civilian just a few moments to find this history on Google, how is it that this person could have pass security clearances and had been allowed to rejoin the Navy in the capacity of a contractor.

Well, until recently, Aaron Alexis lived in Fort Worth, Texas where he worked at the restaurant where you just saw Ed Lavandera. And earlier, I spoke to Bud Kennedy. He met Alexis at a waiter at the restaurant and I asked Bud, what his impression was of this man?


BUD KENNEDY, KNEW AARON ALEXIS (via phone): He was a quiet and unassuming waiter. I think he was working there as part of his friendship with the owner of the restaurant and while he was a reservist. This is very close to a large Navy reserve base in Fort Worth. He was a quiet and bookish kind of fellow. I was surprised when I walked out. I thought he seems more a little bit more like somebody you would see at a library than working at the waiting tables at a Thai place. BURNETT: Sort of seems like your impressions of him fit what we have heard from those, you know, as Sir Ed Lavandera was reporting talking to a roommate of his and who had been a roommate of Aaron Alexis for three years. He said he was a fluent Thai speaker, had been going to a Buddhist temple. Your image of him sort of seems to fit with that portrait of Aaron Alexis, obviously, not the one of a person who had been arrested in Seattle for a gun violation.

KENNEDY: We know him as a serious guy here. I talked to the owner of the Thai restaurant early in the afternoon and he was surprised. He said he knew that Aaron owned a gun but didn't think he would do anything like this.

BURNETT: And did you ever see him interact with other people, other co-workers or talk to you at all about this part of his life, you know, that he was working as contractor or working for the Navy? Did that ever come up?

KENNEDY: I didn't know at the time he was part of the reserve or for sake, until recently, her has been working for contractor, but he was a Navy reservist. But you know, this is a reserve base. We have a lot of reserve community here. I wouldn't surprised he would be attached to the base at the time. We didn't talk about it. There are other reporter who went to the restaurant knew he was affiliated the reserves in somehow, but thought he was mainly interested in studying Thai maybe go and work in Thai restaurant. We didn't know about this, you know, exactly, what he did in the military or how involved he was.


BURNETT: Interesting. Bud Kennedy there matching a little bit of what you heard from Ed Lavandera who had talked to friends of Aaron Alexis'. Bud Kennedy works for the Fort Worth star telegram.

Still to come, more of our live breaking news coverage of the Navy yard shooting. Aaron Alexis discharged from the Navy for that pattern of misconduct that I have talked about. So, how was he able to be hired back as a contractor? That is a Special Report next.

Plus, three of the shooting victims are being treated for their injuries tonight. We are going to go to the hospital for an update on their conditions. We are live covering this breaking story and we'll be right back.


BURNETT: Welcome back to our live coverage tonight.

Troubling questions being raised about how the suspected Washington D.C. shooter, Aaron Alexis, ended up as a military contractor in the oldest Naval facility in the country.

As we reported, Alexis was a former navy reservist. He had a troubled military career. In fact, he was discharged in 2011 because of a quote " pattern of misconduct." So then, you maybe shock to understand, he was then rehired by a contractor, a huge contractor, Hewlett Packard. And then given security clearance and passed a background check with the U.S. Navy which had discharged him from misconduct.

This seems shocking and is prompted Republican senator Susan Collins to say these developments really make her, quote, "question the kind of vetting that contractors do."

Drew griffin is OUTFRONT. He has been breaking the story.

And Drew, we are finding out tonight this wasn't the only base that Aaron Alexis had access to, right?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Let me clear up a couple of things right off the bat. He was working for a company called the Experts which was subcontracting with Hewlett Packard on a huge Hewlett Packard contract. The other thing is the clearance was done by the department of defense. It wasn't done by the contractor. So I think that the senator needs to check that out as well.

But Erin, he started this new job with hi security clearance from the government in July and since then has worked at naval facilities from North Carolina to Rhode Island, six different facilities. And this is coming from the CEO of the company, Thomas Hoshko, is that CEO's name. He is telling the latest assignment at the Navy yard in D.C. began either it last week or this week. They are still checking time cards to determine when he got on this particular part of the job at the Navy yard.

BURNETT: But, and let me just make sure we understand because obviously, when, you know, you hear this, this person was dismissed for misconduct and then cleared again, I mean, you just can't get your arms around how that could happen. Is this true that no matter where he work head had full security clearance for this kind of work that he did which was in IT?

GRIFFIN: That is exactly right. And he had two security clearances in the last year. September of last year, he was cleared to work at a defense contract in Japan. And then again a re-clearance, which took place in July.

He was given the level of secret. That's a level of clearance that is the second of three. You have confidential being the lowest, top secret being the highest. He had secret which is right in the middle. That first security clearance, again, was for the job, September 12th to January of 2013, this year. And according to the CEO, re-clearance given this past July for this new group of Navy contracts, including the one at the Navy yard.

Thomas Hoshko believes that would have started this week, again, because he told me that Alexis had just gotten a visitation level or introductory letter which allows him to go on a new base -- Erin.

BURNETT: And let me ask you that the job that I know he had as you have been reporting, Drew was, who would have cleared him? I guess, when you talk about how the two security clearances in the past year and you made it clear that clearance would have to go through the department of defense, which again has discharge him for misconduct, who would have done this clearance and screening?

GRIFFIN: It is a specific office, the department of defense central clearing office. This is a facility located in Fort Meade, Maryland. They make you fill out a very, very long form. I think we even have a picture of that form. This includes six pages of police contact, any police contact you have, this is whether or not you have been charged or anything has gone through or conviction. This is just you have got to report anything that brings you to the attention of the police. There is also a long list of any kind of mental instability you may have. Obviously, a lot of talk about your family, what kind of nationality you are, are you a born here in the United States, all those kind of security clearances. And it would have been followed up by an in-person interview.

So, you have to come to one conclusion. If anybody did their job, they knew all about his past, all about the past we are talking about, Erin, and they cleared him anyway, not once, but twice in the last year.

BURNETT: And that past, we are referring to, of course, Seattle, Texas, the violent incidents with guns, both of which would have shown up on that form and at least discussions among those close to him about a possible PTSD issue that he may have had, right? So, theoretically, they knew, I mean, would have had to know about the arrests. They knew it.

GRIFFIN: Right. Well, we knew it just from today. I didn't know who he was this morning, but now we know. In 2004 is when we have the first record of him having any problem. He didn't like the fact that some construction workers were parking near or in his driveway. So according to the Seattle police he went out and fired a gun into the tire of the car. He later told police that, you know, he had some kind of a reaction to the events of 9/11 when he lived in New York and Brooklyn three years prior. His father told police the same thing back then. That's when it started.

Then we have an incident in 2008 in DeKalb County, Georgia. He was picked up or arrested for some kind of disturbance there. We don't have all the information, but it looks like he served four days in jail. We know there was some kind of a firing in an apartment building in Fort Worth, Texas, as you say. And we know he has a military record that is probably not very complimentary.

But again, all that information should have and was required to be disclosed when he applied for the security clearance. And certainly, if there was any kind of background check of any kind of heft it would have popped up right away.

BURNETT: I mean, that just shock us. So many questions to be answered about this. The job that he was doing for Hewlett Packard and the subcontractor, The Experts, that you had been reporting on, this was part of a huge contract, correct?

GRIFFIN: Yes. This is basically refreshing computer systems in the U.S. Navy all over the place. So, that's why he was in Japan and now he is here up and down the east coast. They just reissued a portion of this contract or I should say they have -- I don't know what the term is they would use at the department of defense, but the new contract which he would have grown into and kept working on is a $3.4 billion contract. The Experts is a subcontractor on that job. Hundreds of people involved in the work just for the subcontracting. So, it's a major, major contract.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Drew Griffin.

And I want to bring in now a former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley along with a Tim Clemente, former FBI counterterrorism expert.

And let me start with you, Tim, because you and I were talking about this earlier tonight. And now, obviously, over the past few hours we have more breaking developments on exactly what we know. And you just heard Drew saying that after this discharge for a history of misconduct in the Navy, plus, an arrest record which would have been clearly known that this man was able to get the midlevel security clearance and allowed access to all these bases for the Navy. How in the world could that happened?

TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT. FBI: The way it happens is a poor background check. Initially, most people in contracting anyway, when they get into that, some of them they are given an interim clearance when it was at secret level. And that interim clearance means that the background check really hasn't been done yet, but it's in the process of being done.

So, he may have started out in an contracting world with the interim clearance and then a background check should have been done. Now, that form that you just saw, its generally an SF86 (ph) is filled out and the person, themselves, has to fill in all those details on the background. So, he has to list those arrests, he has to list the time, the place who did it and if he doesn't do them, it would takes is investigator then doing NCIC checks another criminal background check running his fingerprints and stuff like that to come up with the information that he left out. And if it had left anything substantial out, it would be an immediate denial of the clearance.

BURNETT: But you are saying that you can lie and there would be an interim period where those lies might not prevent you from having clearance until they catch them. It's what you are saying.

CLEMENTE: Yes. They might not be uncovered right away. And so, he might have the interim clearance and start working. Because all the interim clearance means is, OK, nothing on the surface immediately strikes us as preventing this guy from getting a clearance.

BURNETT: Cade, how concern should we be about this? Because this seems to be, you know, I mean, a loophole. You now, of course, you have people like the leaker, Edward Snowden, who also had security clearances that people question. I mean, how concerned should we be, though, about this particular incident and that a person like this with this background which is obviously is a problem and is so easily available even on a quick internet search could have had this kind of clearance and security?

CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL/SNIPER: Well, that's just it. If I was going to rent my home to somebody and I did a basic criminal background investigation, I would have seen the 2010 and 2004 thing pop up. So, that is a big question.

Here is another question. Now, I understand whether he was supposed to start this job today or last week, I understand he was -- the shooter was in the area, staying at a hotel less than two miles away for last two weeks. So, being somebody who used to be in the military, I guarantee you, he didn't wake up this morning and say I'm going on to this secure naval facility and start shooting people.

I guarantee if you start looking at the surveillance footage over the last two weeks, you are going to find him, at least, attempt, if not actually gain access to this facility, probably walk around and basically do a reconnaissance and see hey, here's a cafeteria, that's three floors up, that would be a great place to set up shop and start shooting. And it think that is going to come up probably here in the next 12 or 24 hours.

BURNETT: -- which is a really important point. And Drew Griffin, I know you wanted to jump in there on something Cade just said.

GRIFFIN: Yes, just to clarify. He was working in Arlington, Virginia on a similar contract in September 3rd. So, he was in the area. And what Thomas Hoshko told me was he may have gone to the Navy yard last week. They are not sure if that was actually to start work or to get some kind of additional clearance or a security clearance for that base to begin work this week. So, he was definitely in the area working first in Arlington, Virginia and then getting ready to or starting this job here at the Navy yard.

BURNETT: Well, it is interesting to see, Cade, if it does. If that video comes back and those, you know, when they check all those dates and the swipe of the I.D. card if that comes up.

What about the personal interview, Cade, that Drew also reported on? That you know, you fill out this form and all that information should be on the form and they should check it, and then you do this interview. They also didn't pick anything up in the interview about this guy. Does that surprise you?

COURTLEY: Well, it does a little bit. Because even if you are given an interim clearance just like he was initially given, I understand he was also -- it was basically resserted or he regain the clearance again months later. So, that was something huge that was missed if it was. Again, like I said, you could go on the internet and do a basic criminal background investigation on somebody that maybe, you want to rent your house to and that's going to pop up. We need to find out why it didn't.

BURNETT: Tim, is this something that is going to turn out to be part of a broader problem in the military? You have people in Congress already calling out. Susan Collins is just one of several who are saying we have a serious problem here. Do we have a serious problem with the vetting of contractors?

CLEMENTE: Obviously, we do, Erin. Not just with contractors. I mean, look at Hasan at Fort Hood. We didn't look at his background very well. He didn't have that much of a clearance, but just the personality itself that wasn't looked at. So, I think we have a problem. It's not just on the surface. We need to dig deeper.

And you know, in the FBI, our top secret clearances were required before we could start day one employment. So, there was full background check. Everything was uncovered. Other agencies like this, where you are doing IT work only at the secret level, I think there is a little bit of lackadaisical attitude there at DOD because they probably looked much more at the higher clearance and -- unless it concerns about the lower ones.

BURNETT: It become something it seems like --

Yes, final word, Cade.

COURTLEY: Just to add something quick, the type of clearance got, you need to understand that there is no psychological screening for that type of a clearance.

BURNETT: That's a pretty shocking thought too. Just pursuing you consider, how crucial that would have been?

All right, thanks very much to all of you. We appreciate that.

So, so many questions. And of course, we want you to keep giving us your feedback as you are watching this. And we are finding out all this information here live on the air.

Still to come, more of our live breaking news coverage of the Navy yard mass shooting. Three victims are still being (INAUDIBLE) for their injuries tonight. And we are going to go to the hospital for an update on their conditions as they fight for their live.

Plus a witness who was there OUTFRONT to tell us exactly how the assault occurred.

We will be back.


BURNETT: And welcome back to our live coverage of the massacre at the Washington Navy yard. The horror unfolding this morning when Aaron Alexis, according to police, a 34-year-old civilian contractor entered America's oldest and biggest military installation and opened fire. Twelve people lost their lives, eight were injured, three of them in serious conditions tonight.

Now, we have just learned as we told you seven of the names of those who lost their lives. We don't yet know the other five because next of kin must be notified before we the media and you the public can know those who lost their lives so tragically today.

Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT at the hospital with the latest on those fighting for their lives.

And what are the doctors saying about them tonight, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: They are saying good news, Erin. The police officers, the Washington, D.C. police officer who was shot in the leg and had to have major complicated surgery on his legs, he is out of surgery now. And they will be assessing him in the morning to see if they were able to save the use of his legs. His name is Scott Williams. He has been on the force over 20 years, He is a canine officer. And he had a direct confrontation with the shooter in which they exchange shots. He had major damage to his legs, bone, blood vessel damage. So, they were worried about will he keep the use f his legs. They are going to know a lot more tomorrow.

There was a woman also who was shot in the shoulder. She has been said to be in very good spirits, with her family here.

And a third woman who was shot in the head. It turns out the bullet grazed her. It didn't actually penetrate her skull. So, she did not have to have surgery. She may actually be one of the first to go home.

So, all in all, from the D.C. police officer to the two civilian women who work for the Navy, it's good news tonight here at the hospital.

BURNETT: It has been the only good news we got, Chris.

Now, as you know, Joe Johns, was just, you know, we heard from the police chief Cathy Lanier, seven of the names of those who lost their lives today. We don't yet know the other five. And do you have any sense of when we are going to find out more about who these people are who lost their lives this morning?

LAWRENCE: I think we will get more information tomorrow. I mean, as you heard some of the victims that we learned about tonight range in age from their 40s all the way to their 70s. I think we are going to get more information tomorrow. Some of it is that the Navy designated this a mass trauma, somewhat like a war zone, It was waiting a certain amount of time until they got notification to some of the victims' families. And they usually wait a certain amount of time after that. So, I think tomorrow you will get more information about the other victims in this case as we learn more not only about what happened but who it happened to.

BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Chris Lawrence, tonight at the hospital where there were some small blessings tonight.

The violence unfolded this morning. It started about 8:18 a.m. eastern time when witnesses say Aaron Alexis walked to an overlook of the Navy building on the fourth floor and opened fire there and looking down on to the cafeteria where people were getting breakfast.

Kurt Doehnert is an industrial engineer for the Navy. He was there at the time and he joins me now on the phone.

And Kurt, thank you. I can't even comprehend what kind of a day it must have been for you with the fear and the suffering and knowing people lost their lives. What happened this morning?

KURT DOEHNERT, SHOOTING WITNESS (via phone): Thank you, Erin. And it certainly was a rough day. But for those of us home safe with our loved ones, it certainly is a good day. Our thoughts and prayers are foremost with our co-workers and friend and their families who suffered a much greater in convenience today.

BURNETT: Yes, indeed. And of course, that is, I know, as you said, you do know people who lost their lives, people you worked with. You were at your desk when the gunshots started. Tell me what you heard and when you knew this was some kind of a gunshot and what you did then?

DOEHNERT: We initially heard these noises and, you know, especially in talking to people afterwards. We all kind of shared that. At first, we weren't quite sure if something was being dropped or broken and then as it became a little closer. And then, I would also like to express in addition to the first responders there were many employees who were, you know, literally sounding the alarm. One of the employees close by I heard, you know, the word "shooter" and there is another employee who is in some sort of an agent, not a first responder, but. who literally stood up on a desk, in fact, making himself a target but was shouting that there was a shooter on the floor and that for everybody to take cover and find a secure location or take cover. And I ended up with 18 of my fellow employees in a conference room. I'm right there on the fourth floor of building 197 in a conference room that we close the door and locked the door and barricaded ourselves in for about 45 minutes until the police came and evacuated us.

BURNETT: So, you were with others for about 45 minutes, I mean, that must have been an eternity. Then police knocked on the door, right, of where you were. How did you know it was police? I mean, I know in some of the case, right, someone knocks in the door, it could have been the shooter.

DOEHNERT: Right. It did seem like an eternity by all means. And I guess we were hopeful and it just -- it appeared from what I will just say the numbers, ferociousness of the knocking and the quantity of voices we heard that it was -- it was quite assuring that it was the police officers who were out there. So we of course opened the door and we're very happy to see them.

BURNETT: And Kurt, as you said, you are blessed to be home with your family tonight, your loved ones. But you knew some of those who lost their lives. We are not going to talk about the specific names of those individuals because we only know some of the names of those who were killed today by the shooter. But what can you tell us about them? Just some kind of an anecdote or something to give people a sense of these people we know so little about right now?

DOEHNERT: Just that we all are civil servants working for the department of the Navy. We are there to, you know, first and foremost for our fleet and our war fighters who are actually out there, typically fighting battles. And we are there to support them and dedicated. And they were all good people, foremost, good people and good employees and, you know, working on behalf of our nation as civil servants for department of defense.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Kurt thank you for taking the time to talk to us so late tonight. And again, we are so glad that you are OK.

Kurt Doehnert, as we said, industrial engineer for the navy who was there this morning.

OUTFRONT next, our live coverage of the navy massacre continues. What we are just learning about the weapons the shooter used during the assault weapons, plural in terms of what was found on his body.

Plus, another breaking news story we are watching tonight. A thousand people in Colorado with no food or no water because of the biblical flooding. We are going to go live to the scene in just a moment.


BURNETT: Welcome back to our special live edition of OUTFRONT. We are continuing to follow the breaking news out of Washington tonight. And we are now learning that Aaron Alexis was armed with three guns, an AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon that has been used in other recent mass shootings, among them.

Brian Todd is OUTFRONT covering this part of the story.

And then, Brian, this is a weapon which is just -- you hear the name and you think I can't believe we are hearing this name again. We have heard about this horrible weapon before.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We certainly have, Erin. The AR-15 was the weapon used by Adam Lance in the Newtown, Connecticut shootings in December of last year. It is the same weapon used by James Holmes in the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings in July of last year. Two of the most horrific shooting rampages shootings in American history.

And now, you can add at least a third such incident in which this particular weapon, the AR-15 assault rifle was used. Some characteristics of the AR-15 that we can tell you, and this for my conversation with John McGuire. He is a former navy SEAL and a sniper by training and weapons expert. What he tells us is some basic characteristics of this weapon it's a very popular model in the United States. One of the reasons is you can put a lot of accessories on it. You can put slings, scopes, different magazine holders on, you can modify the weapon very easily. It costs between 1,000 to $2,000 to purchase. It is a civilian version of the military's m-16 combat rifle. And is known for its accuracy.

John McGuire told me that it is more accurate than an ak-47 but he says you have to keep it clean to make it that accurate. If it gets a little bit or dirt or sand in it, it doesn't work very well. But if you keep that weapon clean, it is an extremely accurate rifle. He said from 100 yards, a novice with no training, with very little training could put just about every bullet in the magazine within about a two-inch area from 100 yards. So, that is how accurate that particular weapon is, Erin. BURNETT: That is stunning. Every bullet in the magazine within a two-inch area with no training, I mean, that's impossible to understand.

All right. Well, now I know, Brian, at this point, there are questions about what gun he used if he only used one gun where he got them. And I know we are still working on a lot of that. But I know that you know -- you're reporting he also had a semiautomatic Glock. Do we have any sense of what that, where he got that, what he was using that for?

TODD: Not sure where he got the semiautomatic glock pistol, Erin. We know that, from our sources that he purchased -- he legally purchased the ar-15 rifle and that according to the people we have talked to, our law enforcement sources that was the weapon that he -- the majority of the shooting with on Monday. So the ar-15 is really the weapon that everybody's talking about right now.

As for the glock, not sure where he purchased that particular weapon. We can give you a couple of characteristics of the glock. That is also known as an extremely accurate semiautomatic pistol. It is often favored by law enforcement in the United States. These two weapons, two of the more popular for purchases was in the United States, Erin.

BURNETT: Thank you very much to Brian Todd for that reporting there.

And again, the headline that you could within 100 yards a novice with almost no training would be able to put all the bullets in the magazine from ar-15 within in a two-inch space. That is horrific.

Still to come on this live special edition of OUTFRONT, we have other stories we are watching. The latest from the Colorado floods. Nearly a thousand people are in desperate need of food and water tonight. We are going to go to the scene.

Plus, on the fifth anniversary of the this country's financial collapse, President Obama comes out swinging. Will Republicans shut down the government?


BURNETT: We are continuing to follow the latest on the shooting in Washington. But we are following some other big stories tonight.

President Obama today spoke on the fifth anniversary of the financial collapse. He did speak about the shooting. But he also touted the 7.5 million jobs created, he says, thanks to his policies. He says thought that Congress has to pass a budget for the economy to actually grow and he came out swinging in response to threats from the Republicans who had promised to shut down the government if Obamacare is it no repealed.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In case there is any confusion, I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps his word and meets its obligations. This country has worked too hard and too long to dig out of a crisis just to see their elected representatives in Washington purposely cause another crisis. Let's stop the threat. Let's stop the political posturing.


BURNETT: Without a deal between Democrats and Republicans, the government is going to shut down October 1st and the United States will actually run out of money to pay its bills, and I mean, bailout Social Security checks, pay the interest on the debt, and the treasuries that you owned in your 401(k)s within a couple week after that.

But we have more breaking news on the deadly floods which continue in Colorado. We have just learned that an eighth person has been confirmed dead as a result of the flooding. Officials are warning us that number could go higher because nearly a thousand people tonight are still trap and in desperate need of help of food and water. Their communities have been cut off for days by raging flood waters. They have swallowed roads, devastated 17 counties.

Ana Cabrera is OUTFRONT tonight in Longmont, Colorado.


ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two teens in love. Two young victims of the Colorado floods. Family members tell us 19-year- old Wesley Quinlan and Wiyanna Nelson were swept away in the torrent of water.

This debris field gives you a sense of just how high and powerful the water was at the height of the storm. It was a half mile up the road from here where Nelson and Quinlan they were swept away.

Their car careened off the road and was stuck many a wall of debris. Family members say they try to escape but the water was too swift. Nelson fell first and Quinlan tried to save her. Hundreds still unaccounted for. More than a thousand people have lost their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cops and firefighters said it would be probably like two to three weeks until they build a bridge and then we can get out vehicles out.

CABRERA: Casey Courtley's (ph) home is cut off. He got out just in time. These are pictures from his neighborhood, cars buried in mud and the huge hole that was once a road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reality hasn't hit yet.

CABRERA: Casey is determined to get back home by hiking. An uphill climb fuelled by a Colorado spirit that doesn't give up.

Ana Cabrera, CNN, Boulder County, Colorado.


BURNETT: Thanks to Ana.

And thanks to all of you for joining us live on this Monday night.

Piers Morgan is next.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: This is Piers Morgan live. Welcome to our viewers in United States and around the world.