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Sheriff Names Victims of College Mass Shooting; Obama Orders Flags Fly at Half-Staff to Honor Victims; Officials: Gunman Left Behind Writings. Aired 7-8:00p ET

Aired October 2, 2015 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the Oregon campus massacre. New details tonight on the investigation breaking up this hour. The shooter's extraordinary access to weapons and what agents are finding inside the apartment he shared with his mother.

Then, inside the killer's mind, during the rampage, he handed notes to a survivor. What we're learning about those writings tonight.

And our other top story, a ship with 28 Americans aboard swept away in the middle of Hurricane Joaquin. The ship missing tonight. The chief of the search with me. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good Friday evening, I'm Erin Burnett. And OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news in the horrific mass shooting at an Oregon College. We now know the names of all nine victims who lost their lives. I want to make sure you know them, too. Rebecca Carnes, Quinn Cooper, Lucas Eibel, all three were only 18-years-old. Lucero Alcaraz was 19. Jason Johnson, 34. We don't yet have pictures of Treven Anspach who was 20, Kim Saltmarsh Dietz age 59, Lawrence Levine who was 67 or Sarena Moore, 44. But all of them were gunned down while they were in class. Survivors telling us they were asked to stand up and state their religion before the gunman opened fire. Tonight, the President ordering flags at the White House to fly half-staff in their honor. At a press conference, the President making it clear he will not stop fighting for gun reform.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The main thing I'm going to do is I'm going to talk about this. On a regular basis. And I will politicize it because our inaction is a political decision that we are making.


BURNETT: We are learning much more tonight about the shooter. We now know he had 13 guns, six of them recovered at the scene along with a massive amount of ammunition and five magazines.

Kyung Lah begins our coverage tonight. She is OUTFRONT in Roseburg, Oregon, just outside the college campus. And Kyung, we're hearing horrific stories from survivors about what actually happened inside those classrooms. KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The stories and accounts

that we're hearing are from those people, young people who were inside, just trying to get an education. The tales are chilling. They are grotesque. A man heavily armed, carrying a small arsenal of weapons, with one intent, the intent to kill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many ambulances as possible to this incident. We have upwards of 20 victims.

LAH (voice-over): The gunman came heavily armed, prepared to kill as many as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exchanging shots with him. He's in a classroom.

LAH: Investigators say the gunman brought a steel-plated flak jacket, multiple pistols and a rifle.

CELINEZ NUNEZ, ATF, SEATTLE DIVISION: Six were recovered at the school. Seven were recovered at the shooter's residence along with five magazines.

LAH: The gunman entered Anastasia Boylan classroom and opened fire. Her brother was in the next building.

KORRE BOYLAN, BROTHER OF SHOOTING SURVIVOR: My sister is laying shot and another classroom and I'm stuck in a storage room and I can't do anything.

LAH: Anastasia or Ana told her brother and father the gunman first killed the professor. Students hit the ground. The gunman asked them one by one a single, chilling question.

BOYLAN: Are you a Christian, he would ask them? And if you're a Christian, stand up. And they would stand up and he said, "Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second." And then he shot and killed them.

LAH: An online dating profile traced to the gunman listed his religious preference as doesn't like organized religion, he also described himself as not religious. Not religious but spiritual. Ana, shot in the back, bullet lodge in her spine, survived by playing dead. She then saw the gunman leave something behind.

STACY BOYLAN, FATHER OF SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Ana said that he gave somebody a box. Gave somebody a box, somebody who lived, I don't know, and said, you've got to deliver this.

LAH: Investigators tell CNN the gunman also left behind writings, referencing past mass shootings, frustrations with not having a girlfriend and racial anger toward black, the gunman family told investigators he suffered from mental health issues.

BOYLAN: I've seen this on the news before. And I've seen other people deal with this and I felt horrible for them but it was somebody else's thing. That happens to other people and now it's happened to me and my son and my family. And it shouldn't be -- this shouldn't be happening in our country.


LAH: And the reason why he spoke with us is that he wanted to share that frustration. He simply doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know how to solve this. He did come out and tell us that Ana is out of surgery. The bullet has been removed from her spine. Erin, he says that she will walk again -- Erin.

[19:05:11] BURNETT: I mean, those stories, I mean, it gives you chills when you hear the stories, the miraculous stories of recovery. She will walk again. As you know, we just read the names of the victims who will not walk again. Their lives are over. So wrongly taken from them. What more have you learned about them?

LAH: Well, we know that there are people in your community college, they look very much like anyone in your neighborhood school. We want to introduce you to a couple of them. The first person we learned about at the news conference, the family saying that they wanted to release a couple of details. This is Jason Johnson. He's 34-years-old. He's one of the older students. His mother says that she was proud of her son for enrolling in school and she felt that he had finally found his path. Quinn Cooper, just 18-years-old, another shooting victim. This was his fourth day of college. His family says he stood up for people, he was a brown belt and he loved to dance. His family echoing what so many others are echoing tonight. Nine families grieving. They say their lives, Erin, are shattered beyond repair.

BURNETT: Kyung Lah, thank you.

And tonight, there are six victims still in the hospital.

Our chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta is OUTFRONT and Mercy Medical Center. That's where they are being treated. Sanjay, obviously our hopes and prayers are with them that they will recover, that they will walk again. What do you know about their injuries and how they are doing?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's some potentially good news, Erin. We know that the three patients that are at the hospital are here behind me, one has just been discharged, something that was expected. The other two patients here still in the hospital but their conditions have been upgraded as well. So it looks good for them. We know that there were three patients that are also transferred to another hospital. We've learned some more details about them, Erin. They are all women between the ages of 18 and 34. They all had gunshot wounds to the head. Obviously very significant injuries. But also even from that hospital now, we hear that their conditions have also been upgraded. So things have improved in terms of outlook overall. Not out of the woods yet. Still a very challenging time. But certainly better than it was this morning. BURNETT: Gosh. Just pray for them and that they will recover,

their lives will be, they will be back to normal, if you can use such a word. Sanjay, thank you very much.

And now the guns. Thirteen of them, an astounding number of weapons found at the scene at the shooter's apartment.

Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT. Pamela, you've been breaking details on this part of the story. What have you learned about the guns?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've learned from ATF official Erin that all of the guns were purchased legally by the shooter or by the shooter's relative or other people. There were 14 total that were purchased. Thirteen had been recovered. They have all been traced to a federal firearms dealer. We've learned that at some point one of the guns was traded and to purchase one of the guns found at the school, we know that six were found at the school. Four at the crime scene, as you reported yesterday. And then there were two weapons reported elsewhere on campus. There were seven guns recovered at the shooter's residence. In that one-bedroom apartment that he shared with his mother. And we've learned that all of them were bought within the last three years. Again, all bought legally.

There's no information at this point exactly where or how they were bought, though. And we've also learned that he was wearing body armor that was recovered at the scene along with five magazines that were found right next to the rifle he used in the shooting. There was a lot of ammunition, we're told, Erin. Officials say, it is clear that he put a lot of preparation into what he was doing, that he was on a mission to walk in there military-style and kill as many people as he could. We know in fact that he served in the military in 2008 for a month and then he was discharged. But his neighbors report that he continued to have the fascination or interest in the military. He wore combat boots frequently as well as military uniforms and we know that he had all of these items that he used in this shooting -- Erin.

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

And after this reporting from Pamela, I want to go straight to a former U.S. Marshal Arthur Roderick. I mean, Arthur Pamela just going through this arsenal. That's the word she used. That's the right word. Let me put up this screen again that she was sharing with us. Six guns recovered at the school, five magazines, steel-plated jacket, seven weapons and additional guns at the home. I mean, this is an incredible amount of weapons, ammunition that he was able to get together. How?

ARTHUR RODERICK, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL: I mean, you know, the amount of weapons doesn't really concern me as much as obviously what he used them for. I mean, some sportsmen, some collectors could have upwards of 100 weapons. But obviously his fascination with the military brought him to this point where he used these weapons in such a manner that obviously 13 sounds like a huge number. I think the key to this is just from a purely law enforcement perspective, I would like to find out what weapons he chose out of that 13 to bring to that school. And the fact that he had a flak jacket with a metal plate in the front means he was ready to exchange gunfire with whoever responded to that scene.

[19:10:28] BURNETT: So I want to ask you about the flak jacket in just a moment. Here's what I know about what is at the school. We don't know exactly the make of the guns are but I know that five of them were pistols and one of them was a rifle, at the apartment he left four rifles, they were also pistols and a shotgun there. But one rifle at the school and four at the apartment. What does that tell you?

RODERICK: Well, you can only carry so many rifles. I think the fact that he had one rifle with him and four probably semiautomatic pistols which are obviously -- you could put out a lot of rounds out with those pistols if they have high-capacity magazines, you don't have to reload as often. But the fact that he had the flak vest to me is the key. He was, in the flak vest itself, it's not like a bulletproof vest but when you put a metal plate in it, it does make it a bulletproof vest. It can actually take the impact from a high power drives.

BURNETT: So, does that indicate to you that he wanted to survive this?

RODERICK: It seems like he wanted to get into an exchange of gunfire. Now, whether he wanted to survive this or not, I doubt it at this point. I mean, when you're ready to exchange gunfire with law enforcement and I give all kudos to the first two responders, obviously. They are heroes in this. I think they saved a lot of lives.


RODERICK: But obviously, there would be more than two that would show up. I think he knew it was the end of his life, especially if he gave somebody something to continue this bravado of him being this type of hero.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, stay with us, Art. We're going to have much more on that, what exactly he handed someone before he was killed.

OUTFRONT next, inside the mind of this mass killer. Did he choose his victims because of their religion? Much more on that part of this. And then a hero -- an army veteran ran towards the shooter to save other's lives despite massive injuries. Chris Mintz is alive tonight and I'm going to be speaking with his family.

And hurricane Joaquin storming up the coast at the same time, the worst floods in more than half a century hit the eastern seaboard. We'll going to be taking you there live.


[19:15:40] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight on the Oregon College Massacre. We now know the shooter was in fact a student at Umpqua Community College, enrolled in one of the classrooms where the shootings took place. Police are looking for a motive. They are now going through writings that the shooter handed to a survivor on the scene.

Deborah Feyerick is OUTFRONT.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As he set off on his rampage, 26-year-old Christopher Harper Mercer wanted authorities to know who he was and what he was thinking. Law enforcement officials tells CNN, the Oregon gunman left behind several writings that mentioned recent mass shootings, like the one targeting UC Santa Barbara students last year. Unlike other mass killers, the Oregon gunman vowed to confront police during his rampage, yet his earlier writings, a month before the attack, seemed to portray a different side, a side of a man struggling with mental health issues, according to his family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just silent. He really didn't speak much. He kind of seemed hesitant.

FEYERICK: Authorities believe he may have been inspired and possibly basking in the limelight of previous mass killers. An online post, believed to be his, describes the gunman who killed a Virginia reporter and her cameraman saying, "alone and unknown, people like him have nothing left to live for and the only thing left to do is lash out at a society that has abandoned them." Mercer grew up in Torrance, California. When he was 19, he served as an army recruit at Fort Jackson South Carolina. He was dismissed after just a month of basic training. The army saying, only he failed to meet army standards. Records show he moved to Winchester, Oregon, less than five miles from the Umpqua Community College. ATF officials say, he and family members bought 14 firearms during that period.

DAVID WESTLEY, FORMER NEIGHBOR: I did see him at the time walking -- or leaving his apartment or coming home with what looked like gun cases, him and his mom both. And he actually did say that he used to go shooting at some range.

FEYERICK: Officials say, he was enrolled in a class where the mass shooting took place. And belonged to the theater group, listed as a production assistant. Whether something triggered the rampage or whether it was a long time in the making, darker sides of the gunman can be seen on his very limited MySpace page which shows pictures of the IRA, the Irish Republican Army. Records also show he recently watched the BBC documentary "Surviving Sandy Hook" about the Elementary School Massacre.


FEYERICK: And, Erin, you know, when you read through his posts, there are so many contradictions and there are no real red flags, at least not leading up to the rampage that took place on that campus. Although authorities are now describing him as angry and wanting to target police officers, in one of his posts just a month ago, he actually defends police officers and says, you know, killing them, somebody who didn't hurt you, serves no purpose. So there are all these different underlying nuances and it's much more complicated but the one takeaway is this guy was ordinary. There was nothing that made him stand out. There was nothing that raised a red flag. There's nothing in what we've seen to date that would suggest that he was ready to go off.

BURNETT: All right. Deborah, thank you very much. And I want to go now to former FBI Profiler James Fitzgerald along with Casey Jordan, criminologist and Arthur Roderick back with me as well, former U.S. marshal.

Okay. Casey, let me start with you. Some of the things that we are finding. I think obviously the key word that Deb said that I want to get to is, how ordinary he was, that you did not see these red flags. We don't know much. Some of the things we know, his former neighbors in California said he lived with his divorce mother, incredibly close to her, she was fiercely protective of him they say, even from minor annoyances like cockroaches in the apartment. What do you make of the relationship with the mother?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, today we would actually graduate from the term helicopter mother and probably call her a lawnmower mother. She is the sort, he was so protective of her son -- especially if she admits that he had mental health issues.


JORDAN: So, she feels like she is his guardian, his sentinel to make sure nobody harms her child. And what she does is clear the path for his success, make excuses and, in the process, enables his abhorrent behaviors, thoughts, fantasies, maybe he rules the roost, he tells her what to do. But that dynamic, that enabling of her son to have this other world that nobody else has seen, to the outside world he looks ordinary but he was really invisible and that's why he felt completely persecuted and wants to scapegoat on to everyone else. No one noticed him. He felt like he didn't have a level playing field and he wanted to externalize that blame to others.

[19:20:30] BURNETT: And James, the shooter had told a professor at the shooting that he had been wanting to do this for years. That's what he said. Thirteen guns, body armor. So, it would look like he's planned this a long time. But you heard Deb's reporting that there was nothing even days ago in this social media post or online that indicated that this was coming. So when you put that together, how long do you think he planned this?

JAMES FITZGERALD, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, there could have been sort of a cerebral approach to this for years and years, where he's plotting and planning in the back of his mind. And he's writing some of these things in a diary or a journal. And next thing you know, he buys his first gun, his second, perhaps once again, mommy is buying it, I like what Casey said about lawnmower mother. I would say snowplow mother, push everything out of the way for this kid. So, he can make his way through life. And this is the end result of what you get. But there was definitely an amount of preplanning here, not only from a logistical and ballistic perspective but also in sizing up his targets where there would be in certain days. And I wouldn't be surprised of one of the targets was in fact very specifically aimed at just because of this person's personal life and something that happened between them.

BURNETT: Yes. And obviously we're still trying to understand whether that was in fact the case. All right. The other thing we've learned about is that he went into the army. Was discharged after one month. Obviously incredibly quickly. That would mean you would fail any kind of basic training or any basic screening. That stands out to you?

RODERICK: It does stand out to me. I mean, if we're talking about 2008, obviously he did this right out of high school. And if he was already disenfranchised in high school and he enlist in the military, and only makes it through 30 days of basic training before he's dismissed in a course we don't know exactly why, whether it was a background issue or psychological issue. But that's got to have a huge effect on somebody's ego, to be booted out of the army after 30 days. So, I mean, it could have started back then in 2008.

BURNETT: And James, what about the issue of religion here, right? I mean, no one knows exactly what to make of this, right? You heard the reporting that he described himself as nonreligious, nonreligious but spiritual. Witnesses are saying he asked -- his victims if they were Christians and when they said yes, he said, well, then you're going to see your god in a second and he shot them. What role is religion has significant in this? That he was asking their faith?

FITZGERALD: Well, if you describe yourself as spiritual, you're probably not going to take out other people for different spirituality or religious beliefs. I'm wondering if he somehow, he has an affiliation or a link somehow to the Irish Republican Army. Although they never killed random people like this. They would even warn victims sometimes beforehand they blow up a building or something. So, this guy goes about it a completely different way. I'm wondering if he's relating more to ISIS or ISIL when they're going for the Middle East, certainly in the last six months, beheading Christians and somehow he's borrowing from that now. So, this guy's mindset, his demeanor, what is edging him on seems to be all over the place and it's going to take a little while to figure out anything else.

BURNETT: It certainly is. And for those who are surprised by James mentioning of the Irish Republican Army, he talked about that on some online postings. He talked about animosity towards black men in particular. Casey, those specifics may not match what we've seen in some other shootings but a lot of others do. When you look at Newtown, you took at Adam Lanza, mental health issues --


BURNETT: Isolated, close relationship with his mother, she took him to shooting rangers, he wasn't able to connect to other people so she was his conduit.

JORDAN: Right.

BURNETT: That sounds eerily similar. But also eerily similar in a way that there's probably a lot of people who are like that, who are not going to commit mass shootings. How do you know?

JORDAN: You can't really know except that by noticing this leakage. These signs. And he had 90 percent of 30 typical personality traits that we see in campus shooters. The key is that people close to this person, the family, the friends, the classmates who see this leakage can prevent it simply by intervening and trying to befriend this person, trying to encourage them to get counseling. It's the person who feels completely isolated that gets on the internet, starts researching other mass murders, find a kinship, feels a bond with these people. It normalizes their sense of alienation to know others felt the same way they did, and then when they find out how this person solved that feeling of alienation, they think, well, if I'm going to kill myself, and might as well take as many people with me as I can so that I can bask in the limelight in infamy afterwards.

BURNETT: And so, James, what do you make of the relationship with his mother which is one of the things we do know about as well as what seems to be a frustration, sexual frustration, that he said he was still a virgin.

[19:25:05] FITZGERALD: Well, it's interesting. I worked the Unabomber case, I helped solved it with some other agents involved and when I finally got into the cabin of Ted Kaczynski, there was his personal diary and, guess what, he wrote of being a virgin and never having a real girlfriend and he was very frustrated and alienated. He wound up sending bombs to people. Those are two complete different kinds of people. One up close and one far away. I'm not comparing them anymore except in that particular linkage there. But there can be some frustration, you put a mother's relationship in there, there's all kinds of psychological factors that we're going to find out over the next few weeks and months about this guy.


FITZGERALD: And probably make a lot more sense then. But you know what, she has some responsibility here. If she's buying guns or she knows he's hoarding them, she's got a responsibility to call the authorities and I'm going to stick with that.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, I appreciate all of you for taking the time. And next, our coverage continues.

And this, an uplifting story out of this horrible tragedy. A brave student who ran to the shooter trying to stop the rampage. Chris Mintz laid on the floor wounded, he told the gunman it was his son's birthday. I'm going to speak with his family next.

Plus, 28 Americans potentially lost at sea. Their ship swept up by Hurricane Joaquin, the coast guard desperately searching for that ship right now right near the eye of a category three hurricane. We have the story.


[19:30:23] BURNETT: We're continuing to follow breaking news on the horrific mass shooting at an Oregon college tonight. We have new details about what happened in those classrooms. Survivors say the gunman asked their religion before opening fire. He went to school that day heavily armed, wearing body armor.

Officials say the shooter had 13 guns, six of which were recovered at the school and rest found at his home. Now, the death toll would have been higher but there was a hero.

When Chris Mintz heard the gunshots, he ran towards the shooter. Mintz trying to stop the gunman from killing others.

Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT with Chris' story.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College early Thursday morning, it was a scene of terror and chaos.

DISPATCHER: Somebody is outside one of the doors, shooting through the doors.

CASAREZ: The 30-year-old Chris Mintz reacted instinctively trying to save lives.

WANDA MINTZ, AUNT OF SURVIVOR WHO RUSHED GUNMAN: He tries to block the door to keep the gunman from coming in, gets shot three times, hits the floor.

CASAREZ: Even after being wounded and facing the killer, his family says Chris was thinking of his 6-year-old son.

MINTZ: Looks up at the gunman and says, "It's my son's birthday today."

CASAREZ: But that didn't stop the gunman from shooting Chris in his back, his stomach, his arms and his legs. According to his family, Chris was shot a total of seven times while trying to defend his fellow classmates.

Long before heroic actions at college, Mintz was a star at his local high school in North Carolina, number 71, defensive tackle. After graduation, joining the United States Army from 2004 to 2007, achieving the rank of specialist and being awarded a National Defense Service Medal. Now with two broken legs, his focus is on healing and spending time with his family.

ARIANA EARNHARDT, COUSIN OF SURVIVOR WHO RUSHED GUNMAN: His vital signs are okay. I mean, he's going to have to learn to walk again but he walked away with his life and that's more than some of the other people did.


BURNETT: It's an incredible story. We're going to talk to his family in just a moment, but this is going to be a long haul for them and it's going to cost a lot of money.

CASAREZ: Yes, it is. His family put up a Go Fund Me site today to raise money, not because they wanted to, but so many people had said that they wanted to donate and participate. The family asked for $10,000 at the beginning of the morning today. Look at it, right now, $340,025. And that's what's it's coming in, Erin, $25, $30, $40, because people just appreciate and want to help.

BURNETT: It's incredible, says so much about so much the generosity and the wonderful things that people are capable of. Jean, thank you.

CASAREZ: You're welcome.

BURNETT: OUTFRONT tonight, for an exclusive interview, Chris Mintz's aunt, Angela Galvan.

And, Angela, thank you so much for being with us.

In this horrible, horrible story, there's one story of heroism that so inspiring, that is your nephew. He was shot seven times. How is he doing tonight?

ANGELA GALVAN, AUNT OF SURVIVOR WHO RUSHED GUNMAN: He's in a lot of pain. He's had a lot of people want to talk to him but he's in so much pain, he's just not comfortable talking right now.

BURNETT: I spoke briefly to your brother, Chris' dad, who said that they're going to perhaps operate on his hand, he had been shot in the stomach, in the back. Do they know at all what's next for him?

GALVAN: We know that there's possibly more surgeries, but we also know that there's a lot of rehabilitation that's going to have to take place. It broke both of his legs. He was shot in both legs and they had to put rods in and so he's going to have extensive rehabilitation for that.

Also, his hand was shot. We don't know what the damage was for that. He also was hit in the back with a bullet that traveled down his side and into his hip, which they decided to leave that bullet in his hip.

So, we just know that it's going to be a lot of rehabilitation, a lot of recovery and he's suffering a lot with some pain.

BURNETT: I mean, he's suffering and he's someone who put his life on the line to save others. When he heard the gunshots, he ran but he ran towards the gunman, towards the gunman so that the gunman would stop shooting others.

I mean, you know, most people hear that and it is something almost no one can comprehend doing. He did it. Does this surprise you?

GALVAN: It doesn't surprise me at all. Chris was also shot in the abdomen, which is also dangerous. We worry about infection for that.

But it doesn't surprise me with what Chris did.

[19:35:00] Growing up, Chris was always a very active and rambunctious little boy. And he thought he was invincible. He always thought that, you know, nothing can hurt. So, the fact that he did that doesn't surprise me at all.

I'm just very pleased and blessed, our whole family is, that he survived.

BURNETT: And his father, your brother, when I was talking to him on the phone, told me that Chris was there in school to become a physical therapist, to help people who were handicapped.

GALVAN: Yes. Chris -- Chris is -- he's very physically -- you know, he does a lot of weight lifting, he eats right. He's very healthy. But I think one of the things that has turned him towards that is he has a son that has autism, and Chris is very hands on as a father and helping take care of his son, so that, I think, made him want to help people, especially mentally retardation and other things because Chris is doing that already and he's stepped up. He manned up and he's been a great father.

BURNETT: And it was his son, his 6th birthday yesterday. He told the shooter that. He told him that it was his son's 6th birthday.

Why do you think it was so important for him to say that at that moment?

GALVAN: I think he wanted -- I'm not sure if he was trying to tell him, you know, don't do this to me on this day. "It's my son's birthday."

I'm not sure if that's what he meant but that's what I would assume that he meant. You know, because somebody had said that he told him, "It's my son's birthday, man, don't do this." So, I imagine that's what it was.

But he was also one of the people that were trying to help him before the paramedics got there, said that he kept saying it over and over again, "It's my son's birthday, it's my son's birthday."

BURNETT: The love for his son.

And I know your brother is going to be leaving in the morning, your families together tonight leaving in the morning, driving across the country to stay as long as it takes to help Chris get better. But it's going to be, as you said, Angela, such a long recovery. Your family has set up a Go Fund Me page to help Chris.

What do you need?

GALVAN: Well, he's going to obviously need living expenses. He'll need help with rehabilitation. Fortunately, we have a great family, also.

BURNETT: And how is Chris' little son, who is now 6?

GALVAN: You know, since he has autism, he can't speak, so we have not spoken with him, but from what we heard from his mother, you know, he's OK. He's being taken care of. Her family has come up to help support her in this and help support Chris. So we're glad for that.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Angela, we are glad for your family that Chris is alive. We hope that his recovery, that the pain lessens and we'll be thinking of you and your brother.

GALVAN: Thank you so much. We are grateful that he's alive, of course, but we want to let everybody know that we're thinking of the other victims and also the ones that were not fortunate to be able to go home.

BURNETT: Thank you.

And OUTFRONT next, a missing ship. There is a frantic search at this hour for a ship sailing through Hurricane Joaquin, 28 Americans on board. A captain with the coast guard leaving the rescue operations my guest, next.

Plus, historic flooding heading for the east coast as Joaquin and another storm collide.


BURNETT: Breaking news, a desperate search underway right now for 33 people. They are missing. The cargo ship they were on sailed straight into the path of Hurricane Joaquin, a dangerous storm that is strengthened significantly since they sailed in. It's a category 3 right now, packing winds of 125 miles an hour. The ship has 28 Americans on board and was last heard from yesterday. The crew frantically radioing for help saying their ship had lost power and was taking on water. The crew frantically radioing for help, saying their ship, which is called El Ferro had lost power and was taking on water.

Captain Mark Fedor with the United States Coast Guard is OUTFRONT.

Captain Fedor, thank you for coming on with us.

We know that 33 people, 28 Americans obviously desperately trying to get help. You're searching for them. What is the latest?

MARK FEDOR, U.S. COAST GUARD (via telephone): The latest today is today, we tried to get our aircraft as close as possible to the last known position of the vessel, but we were unable to do that because of the strength of the hurricane, and it just hasn't been moving as quickly as we thought it might. So, we were pushing it as close as we could. Normal hurricane hunters aircraft fly about 20,000 feet. We pushed our C-130 aircraft down to 2,000 feet to get the possible chance of identifying the vessel or any survivors' life craft but we haven't been able to locate the vessel yet.

BURNETT: Oh, my gosh, 2,000 feet, just the danger your crew took on to do that. I mean, the guess the question, do you have to be asking yourself, that we're all asking, how long could someone survive if they had a life jacket on, if they were as best prepared as they could be in this kind of a hurricane, a category 3? How long could they survive?

FEDOR: Well, our hope is that they are on the vessel still and maybe they have just lost communication, lost all power and that's why we're not able to communicate with them. And also, it's very difficult to see. We're using a pretty sophisticated surface search radar from this aircraft but there's so much wind, thunderstorms and sea spray that it's just difficult to see. So, our hope is that they are either on the vessels or on life rafts that we can identify them there.

BURNETT: And do you think if they were on life rafts with waves, I mean, what sorts of waves and heights are you looking at that they would be enduring right now?

FEDOR: We -- the sea state is estimated to be between 20 and 30 feet. If they were in the life rafts, we would hope to be able to identify them. That's our hope, tomorrow morning at first sunrise, we're going to have more aircraft out there searching because that storm is starting to move north now and we think we can get to that last known position tomorrow morning.

[19:45:01] BURNETT: And are you confident you're searching in the right area?

FEDOR: We are confident we're several searching in the right area. We are using the last known position the last time they communicated with their shipping agent. We know they are disabled, so really they're just moving along with the force of the storm. So, we know we are in the general area.

BURNETT: All right. Captain Fedor, thank you very much. We hope that tomorrow morning, you're going to have very good news for those families and men stranded on board. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray is OUTFRONT.

Jennifer, you just heard Captain Fedor talk about 20 to 30 feet of waves this crew could be enduring if they are indeed on life rafts if they are in the water.

What could the conditions be like that they are seeing?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have to remember, it was downgraded to a category 3 today. They've been in category 4 conditions and not only for the missing people on the vessel, but also what the captain was just saying what they are having to go through to search. These are very dangerous conditions. We've had winds of 130, 135-mile-per-hour sustained winds with gusts up to 150.

So, very dangerous conditions and also the waves of 25 to 30 feet and depending on exactly where they were, they could have been right around the eye wall of that storm, the strongest portion of that storm for a very long time. The storm has been sitting right on top of the Bahamas for more than 36 hours. And so, it has been battering the islands, especially the central portions of the Bahamas right at their last known position -- Erin.

BURNETT: And as Captain Fedor said and you just alluded to it, Jennifer, it slowed down, so it's not moving. I mean, they would have had to endure this for such a long period of time.

He says he is hoping to establish contact with them tomorrow morning, hoping that they are alive and the weather will be better then. When do you think the weather will start to improve?

GRAY: Well, hopefully they are still close to this last known position, because that's now on the south side of this storm. Hopefully, they are not being carried with the storm and drifting all around because then it just makes conditions worse, because then you're back in those hurricane-type environment.

But if they have managed to stay on the south side, maybe even managed to get on one of the islands to where they are somewhat safer, then that would be a good thing, because as the storm continues to move north and it is now, moving at 7 miles per hour, it's going to pick up speed over the next 24 hours and finally push away from the Bahamas as it steadily weakens. So, by tomorrow morning, especially this south side of the island, that is where we are going to start finally seeing clearing and they will be able to get out there and fly a lot safer than they have been over the last 24 hours.

BURNETT: All right. Jennifer Gray, thank you very much. The Coast Guard usually flies at 10,000 feet all the way down to 2,000, desperately trying to find these 33 missing men on the ship, 28 Americans.

And next, officials making preparations for, quote, "the heaviest rain that we have ever seen", it could be the worst flooding in more than a century. Tens and millions from Georgia to New York bracing tonight.


[19:52:11] BURNETT: Tonight, Hurricane Joaquin barreling through the Bahamas with winds of 125 miles an hour. It's a massive storm, a category three hurricane at this movement, and could cause a disaster among a soaked East Coast. Four states declared states of emergency, officials warning of historic life-threatening flash flooding. Flood watches now extending all the way up the coast to New York.

OUTFRONT tonight, North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory.

And, Governor McCrory, thank you for taking the time. I know you're in the midst of disaster preparations. You declared a state of emergency. Some of your state could get a foot of rain in just hours this weekend, massive flooding, heavy winds.

How bad do you think it will be?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA (via telephone): Well, the good news is the European model is right. It's the first time I've rooted for the European model regarding a hurricane watch, which is going to hopefully save us more serious problems.

But we're already having some problems on the outer banks, which really connects our outer banks. It's closed right now from flooding. That's 150 mile long road, we hope to get it reopened by tomorrow. It's an area that washes out because islands are so narrow and we hope we don't have any more of that. This basically stops the Ocracoke island evacuation, although much of that was done yesterday. But it could have been worse had the hurricane hit closer into North Carolina.

The biggest issue for us is this rain and floods going all the way from the coast overall most 600 miles across the state to the mountains. Very similar to the snowstorms of this past winter where we had snowstorms covering the state at one time, so it's difficult to term where to put our supplies and needed rescue units if something does happen.

BURNETT: And, Governor, how are you preparing for something in terms of this flooding? My understanding is the weather could last for days, some of the worst of it still to come, but you could have the rain itself literally coming, you know, a foot or so in hours. I mean, how do you prepare for that?

MCCRORY: Well, you first of all, God is going to win this and then all you can do is react, but we have swift water rescue teams stationed throughout the state, especially up in the mountains now in the Asheville area where the French broad river which is going to be getting high and we hope it stays within the banks. Our estimates two hours ago is they think it will stay in the banks along with several rivers in the Piedmont center area of our state, and we also have the National Guard, working with city and local officials on these operations and we have the National Guard, also.

So, it's going to be team work and I'm also, you know, if need be in South Carolina, they are going to be facing major flooding from the mountains from North Carolina going down into the lower state of South Carolina. So, this is major change that's occurred in the last 24 hours.

[19:55:02] BURNETT: All right. Governor McCrory, I appreciate your time. We wish you luck and everyone in your state. Hopefully they can deal with that and not have something horrible happen like Sandy in the mid-Atlantic.

We'll be right back.


BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us on this Friday night.

"AC360" starts right now.