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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Mass Shooting in San Bernardino, Suspects On Loose. Aired 4- 4:30p ET

Aired December 2, 2015 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:03]

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SGT. VICKI CERVANTES, SAN BERNARDINO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's a local park, parks and rec.

And they have a facility there that we will be able to take people in and, again, sort through and hopefully get everybody reunited.

QUESTION: As far as hospitals receiving patients, what sort of numbers do you have there?

CERVANTES: I don't have any numbers on that. I know multiple ambulances have left through here, but I don't have a count.

QUESTION: There was also talk of explosives in the building. What do we know about that?

CERVANTES: I don't have any information on that at this point.

QUESTION: OK. So, what would you like to share with the public? We know we want people to stay away, but family members are, of course, very, very concerned. And they want to come here and find out status of the loved ones.

CERVANTES: Just avoid the area. I know the natural instinct is to come here, but we can't let them in. It's still an active scene. And until it's safe in there, we can't let anybody in. And we're getting all the people, all the victims out of there, so if they're not out already, in the near future, they won't even be here.

We're doing the best we can. And we will get everybody, you know, united and hopefully everybody can make phone calls and know that their loved ones are OK.

QUESTION: We have seen federal law enforcement on the scene. They were racing down to freeway to get to this spot as we were coming here from Orange County. What sort of assistance have you asked for from the federal government?

CERVANTES: I don't think we have specifically asked for anybody's assistance. The way the world of law enforcement works, when one of us needs help, everybody that has a radio comes in to assist. And I think that's what's happened here today, is all our local agencies have come in here to assist us in hopes to capture these shooters and get everybody back to their families.

QUESTION: The description was a dark-colored SUV. Is this based on a witness who saw people fleeing? And were there multiple vehicles? What can you tell us about the suspects?

CERVANTES: That was just a witness. I don't know if it was only one or multiple. That was just the information that I was given.

QUESTION: A short time ago, within the last, say, three or four minutes, we saw a line of law enforcement racing out of the area lights and sirens going. Any indication as to what that is all about? Are there possible locations where people are hiding out?

CERVANTES: I don't know what that was about. It could be, but I have no idea. The law enforcement side of it, they're very active, again, on the scene. And any information that they're getting, they're going to follow up on.

QUESTION: Sergeant, I appreciate your time. Again, lots of family members here in the area waiting...

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to continue with this breaking news story. You're looking at live pictures from San Bernardino, California. That's about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. And that's where the fire department, paramedics, triage units, the bomb squad are on the scene specifically at 1300 South Waterman Avenue.

They're responding to reports of a shooting with as many as potentially 20 victims. SWAT teams have surrounded the Inland Regional Center building. More than 700 people work at this facility. The county sheriff said there are anywhere from one to three possible suspects. We just heard from Sergeant Vicki Cervantes of the San Bernardino Police Department there.

And you heard her say that there are reports that witnesses telling police there were three shooters wielding long guns, long rifles, fleeing the scene in a dark-colored SUV.

Let's go right now to CNN's Evan Perez, who has the latest.

Evan, you're getting new information from your sources. What can you tell us?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.

This all began around 11:00 a.m. local time is what we are told from talking to officials and from witnesses at the scene. We did talk to Lavinia Johnson, who is the executive of the Inland Regional Center.

And here's what she told us. Somewhere around 11:00 a.m., someone pulled the fire alarm. The fire alarm went off in the building. This is a three-building complex. People of course tried to evacuate the building thinking that it was a fire. Shortly thereafter, they were told actually, no, do not leave the building because there's an active shooter situation.

It appears that the shooting began -- whatever the shooting was, was concentrated on one of these three buildings that is part of this complex. And this building is not part of the development agency that is Inland Regional hospital -- Center, rather.

It is some kind of conference facility, Jake, a facility that is rented out for events. And Inland Regional is a facility that helps developmentally disabled people with various needs. And so it appears that this shooting was concentrated in this separate conference facility that is rented out.

We do not know what was going on at that facility today. We do not know whether it was, you know, related to the center. Lavinia Johnson could not tell us that.

[16:05:03]

But, right now, what is happening is that they're being evacuated to a nearby area where they're still waiting to get a briefing from police. The police responded to this and have put out a look out for a black SUV carrying up to three possible suspects who might have been responsible for this shooting.

There's also a report that the police are trying to get in, access to all parts of the building. They're still searching to see whether or not there might be indications that perhaps one of the shooters might be in the building still. Again, this is not confirmed. This is all information that very -- information that is just still coming in, Jake, at this point.

But right now, we do know nearby jurisdictions are looking for this black SUV because it is believed that the people who carried out this shooting are still at large, are still dangerous. And we know that law enforcement from the FBI, the ATF, the Marshals Service, all the regional jurisdictions are looking for these possible suspects, Jake.

TAPPER: Evan Perez, thanks.

That's a good moment to note for our viewers the usual caveats that happen when there's a breaking news scene such as this. And this event happened just roughly two hours ago. A lot of information that we're just getting in is early. A lot of early reports, including those coming from law enforcement, don't necessarily turn out to be accurate. We are going to do our best to bring you the most accurate, nail down information as we can.

But this scene is a crime scene. And it's still being evacuated right now.

That said, let's go now to Kyung Lah, who's on the scene in San Bernardino.

Kyung, what can you tell us?

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police have pushed the press about a block away from this particular center. We are hearing that as you just reported, Jake, that they're still in the process of evacuating the building, of going room by room.

What you can see here is a number of ambulances, a lot of police cars. They are still trying to interview a number of people who were inside the building, hundreds of people inside. Meanwhile, the police here tell us -- the San Bernardino Police Department says that those multiple suspects, she used that word, multiple suspects, that they were indeed wearing some type of military gear.

She wouldn't specify that it was body armor. But the description they're putting out in the press, multiple suspects that they're seeking wearing some sort of military gear.

With me is Brandon Hunt.

You are an employee at the IRC. You weren't inside the building when all of this happened. You happened to be outside running an errand.

BRANDON HUNT, EMPLOYEE: Yes.

LAH: But tell me what you're hearing from the people who were inside.

HUNT: What I'm hearing is there was -- we had an event. It was hosted in our auditorium. And I guess the shooting happened in there.

From what I have heard, fortunately, no IRC employees were killed, but it's still unfortunate for everyone else that was there at the time. Other than -- the only thing I know about the outside event was it was for a banquet for county personnel. And the parking lot was full. I would assume there was at least 100 people inside.

LAH: And so your understanding is that everything happened in the auditorium?

HUNT: That's my understanding. I have heard of people going in and out of the other buildings. People -- employees were locked in offices and closets just to try to stay safe.

LAH: And tell me about the IRC. How many people were inside the building?

HUNT: There was probably about 550 employees inside the building, give or take 20 or 30. From what I have heard, most have gotten out. I think there might still be some inside, but I'm unsure as of right now.

LAH: Tell me about some people who work there, especially the ones who are trying to help people with developmental disabilities.

HUNT: It's just -- it's an unfortunate situation. These people are -- you know, give their heart and soul to this agency just to help other people.

And the audacity of people to come out here and just want to shoot it up is -- it's insane. LAH: Brandon, thank you. He's still trying to get connected with

some of his...

TAPPER: I think we lost Kyung Lah. We will go back when her signal is back.

Let's go now to Doug Saunders. He's a reporter with "The San Bernardino Sun-Times."

He's at the police barricade directly across the street from the shooting, has been there for much of the day.

Doug, you just heard, I hope, this individual who works at the facility saying that there was a banquet where county personnel were participating. I don't know if you know anything about that or anything else from your vantage point, but please tell us what you know.

DOUG SAUNDERS, "THE SAN BERNARDINO SUN-TIMES": So what I know is, when I was -- when this first started, I heard it going down on the police scanners. And I immediately rushed down here.

Took me about five minutes to get here. I was here before there was a perimeter set up. And SWAT came from -- every agency that could be seen were arriving on scene. They flooded the building. They went in from different entry points.

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They started bringing people out with their arms up, hands in the air. They filed them in a safe manner down the street. And they are actively searching the building now. So, there are three buildings they have to search. So this will take some time.

TAPPER: Do you know anything about a banquet for county personnel that was taking place at one of these facilities?

SAUNDERS: No. I don't know anything about that.

TAPPER: How many people would be inside this time of day? I guess it was around 11:00 a.m. local when the shooting took place.

SAUNDERS: Well, it's a county building. So I would say it would vary. Right now, they're going in with canines. Hold on.

So, yes, they're going in with canines now. I have no idea how many people would be inside.

TAPPER: Did you see -- I'm assuming that by the time you arrived, if in fact these reports that three shooters left in an SUV, that this is before you arrived on the scene.

SAUNDERS: Yes. That would have been before I arrived on the scene.

When I arrived on the scene, I heard no gunshots at all. It's really -- it's pretty much a controlled, chaotic situation. TAPPER: Have you talked to any witnesses?

(CROSSTALK)

SAUNDERS: I have not. When I got here, people were hunkered down, and I was kind of pushed into a warehouse. And I'm here with one warehouse worker.

TAPPER: OK. Doug Saunders, thank you so much. We appreciate it. Stay safe.

We have more information coming in just now. A source at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center telling CNN that that facility has received eight victims from the shooting. Arrowhead is one of two trauma centers in the area. A spokesperson from the other trauma center in the area, Loma Linda University Medical Center, said that four adult patients have been transported there.

Doctors expect at least three more patients to come in.

Let me turn to my colleague chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto.

Jim, obviously, it's very early. Law enforcement looking at everything going on here. And you remarked, as that one witness, said that there was a county banquet, banquet for county personnel taking place in one of these buildings, that that could be a very significant. What are you hearing?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, speaking to both counterterrorism officials and law enforcement, they don't know what the motive is.

But what's drawing their attention are a couple of things, the possibility of multiple shooters, the use of long rifles, possibly AK- 47-type weapons, automatic weapons, the fact as well that they got away. This suggests planning, a pre-planned operation, not an act of passion. No one's using the word terrorism yet because they frankly don't know the motive.

But all those things indicate planning and preparation. And that's something to keep in mind. As you and I both noted, when that witness said this was a meeting of county personnel, that's a different kind of target, assuming that was the target, this banquet, than a center for disabled children.

But early on, people were wondering, OK, why would that possibly have been the target? Again, we don't know, but that's a different kind of target, because that could be conceived as a government target. Again, it's early. No one's using the word of terrorism, but what's drawing the attention of law enforcement and other officials are all these signs of pre-planning.

TAPPER: All right.

Let's go back to Kyung Lah, our reporter on the scene there in San Bernardino, California. We have the signal back up.

Kyung, tell us what you know.

LAH: It's still quite a chaotic situation even a block away, as witnesses are starting to talk to each other and especially as family members are beginning to arrive here still trying to connect with loved ones who are inside the building. I have just spoken with Marco Saguilare (ph).

Your wife, Elaine (ph), was inside when all this happened. Can you tell me what she's told you?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far, she's OK. She's outside already. She said they were barricaded in her office and they heard a lot of gunshots, crying. When SWAT got her out, escorted her out of her office, she said that there were bodies that they had to go through to get out. She doesn't know if they were deceased or if they had just been shot, but she said a lot of shooting.

LAH: She calls you. Is that how...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She texted me. I was at work and she said there's a guy that -- there's a shooting. There's a guy shooting. There's a shooter.

So I just texted back and told her, just stay in the office, don't freak out. And then I called 911 and I got here as soon as I could.

LAH: And how long before you found out that she was OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably like 15 minutes, 15, 20 minutes. Kind of -- I couldn't get ahold of her. Kind of scary, yes.

LAH: And has she told you about some of her friends? Are all of her friends OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far. My sister-in-law works there too. She's out OK too. Everyone in her unit is OK. But she doesn't know. She doesn't know.

[16:15:00] LAH: You mentioned bodies, did she explain to you how many people were hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. She said everything was kind of freaked out. She said she just -- because she said when they heard the knock on the door in their office for hands up, she didn't know if that was the shooters or if that was the police.

LAH: You're still really shaken up. I mean, I can see it in your eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, yes. I mean, it's scary. You don't know what to think. When I got the text, I mean, what do you do? I got here as fast as I could. But I was stopped, you know, by the police officers.

LAH: And do you know how long it will be before she's able to come out here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said they are interviewing everyone now one by one trying to find out what everyone saw. But I have no idea. No. She said there was a bomb threat in the building right now.

LAH: She's also worried about this bomb threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but they're all out by the golf course. They're OK. But she was saying that there was word that there was a bomb in the building.

LAH: Thank you very much. I hope you see your wife safe and sound very, very soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

LAH: So, that type of story we're hearing quite a bit out here, Jake, as family members are still trying to figure out if their relatives are OK. And if they've connected with them, just counting the minutes until they can see them again, Jake.

TAPPER: Kyung Lah, thank you so much. We'll continue to come back to you throughout this hour and the day.

Just a note on the bomb that the husband of one of the people inside the building was just talking about, our latest information is that police found a package of some sort that they deemed suspicious, but it is not confirmed that there is a bomb or any sort of explosive device present at all. Just something they're not sure what it is.

But this is obviously a harrowing time. A father earlier telling reporters that his daughter was texting him, "shooting at my work, people shot, pray for us, I'm locked in my office."

It's obviously a terrifying ordeal. Let's talk about this with some people who know about situation such as this. We have here onset Ron Hosko, he's a former assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigations division. CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes and Art Roderick, former assistant director of the U.S. marshals office.

This fire alarm that was pulled, what can you tell us about that? Is that abnormal and unusual situation?

RON HOSKO, FORMER ASST. DIR., FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION: It is unusual because we're talking about how this seemingly was planned pretty well. They came in, did a hit and got away. When you talk about active shooter protocols and some of the training and we had an earlier witness talk about how started going through active shooter training is that one of the protocols is shelter in place, get behind a locked door and secure yourself into the facility until law enforcement comes around.

When somebody pulls that fire alarm, that changes the protocol scenario. And has everybody evacuate out of the building, which unfortunately gives the shooters quite a few more targets to shoot at.

TAPPER: Wow, terrifying.

Tom, what strikes you about this? I mean, I think there's so many obviously we see too many of these mass shootings all the time in this country. And they're all horrifying in their own way, but this one is so at least right now wrapped in such a shroud of mystery in terms of what happened in the fact it does seem so professional.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: What strikes me, Jake, is you have multiple people in some type of tactical gear, military style gear with long weapons, military style type assault rifles going into a facility and attacking a government function.

If it's county employees having some type of a banquet there, that takes on more of a domestic militia group, an anti-government domestic militia group wanting to attack the government than it does international terrorism where they're usually on suicide mission. And it's separate because of the multiple people that it would be hard to have three psychotic individuals simultaneously coordinate this attack, like you have in many of these other shooting situations.

So, to me, this takes on some type of a planned attack with multiple people that don't like the government. That sounds more like some type of militia group.

TAPPER: Some sort of militia group, based on the very, very early information we have.

FUENTES: Based on no information.

TAPPER: Based on no information.

FUENTES: Yes.

TAPPER: Let me ask you, when we hear that there's a be on the look out, that law enforcement has told individuals in California, law enforcement individuals, to be on the look out for a dark SUV that may be tied to this shooting, that there are three shooters in some sort of body armor with three long guns. How on earth does law enforcement even begin to tackle such a thing in such an enormous state with so many SUVs on the road?

HOSKO: Well, that is a tremendous concern. It takes me back to the D.C. sniper when we were all looking for a white truck. And actually the snipers weren't using a white truck at all. How do you track something and be on the look out for something that's ubiquitous in our society like a black SUV?

Police should be alert to that sort of thing. And they're going to have to pay attention to particulars that separate a particular SUV from all others.

[16:20:01] Are there multiple occupants? Is this report even true? Could this be in fact law enforcement first responders tactical guys that came in, heard a radio call and are redeploying to another area because they think that's a hot spot?

TAPPER: Right.

HOSKO: And so, could this be a mistake in observation? Are there in fact three people involved? And is this controlled chaos we've heard about actually controlled or is it just chaos right now?

TAPPER: And, Tom, as I said a few minutes ago and can't be said enough, a lot of information in these types of situations including that information coming from law enforcement, coming from government authorities is not actually ultimately proven correct.

And I remember when we were covering the Navy yard shooter. I remember Chief Lanier (ph), a very respected member in law enforcement, coming out saying they were looking for three shooters. There was only one shooter but there had been reports of other people spotted. We do not know that actually there were three shooters although certainly that is what law enforcement keeps saying.

FUENTES: I agree with Ron. In this situation a description of a vehicle leaving and a number of armed people getting in that vehicle and leaving that easily could be law enforcement and be a mistake. The more important witness descriptions will be people that were in that room that say multiple people came in that room wearing body armor and opening fire, that's a whole different situation because you're not seeing people fleeing who may be innocents or maybe law enforcement, but who came in that room and started shooting more than one person and if witnesses, credible witnesses, say that, that's what adds credence to the fact that it was a multiple person attack.

TAPPER: Art, one of the things also that's going on is hundreds and hundreds of people and we see some of them right now on the TV screen are leaving the facility. Many of them left initially with their hands up in the air and after being medically checked out, they're being interviewed by police.

Let me come back to you in one second because we're joined on the phone right now by the mayor of San Bernardino, Carey Davis.

Mayor Davis, our thoughts and prayers are with your town, with the people of your county.

What can you tell us as of now? What do you know happened?

MAYOR CAREY DAVIS, SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Well, of course that information will be released by the police department I believe in the next 20 to 30 minutes they're scheduling a press conference. So I will not interrupt that process.

But we are on heightened alert throughout the city. I want to express our appreciation to the media and your cooperation during this emergency. We appreciate of course the quick response by our police department, our fire and surrounding agencies that have aided us during this tragic incident, and as you mentioned our thoughts and prayers out to those on behalf of the victims and families. We continue to ask the public to stay clear of the area to allow

safety personnel to do their jobs so that they don't interfere and make matters worse. And information has been released, as you're seeing regarding the victims and where they are congregating.

So, those are -- that's about as much as I can say until P.D. is comfortable releasing more information as they plan to do in the next 30 minutes.

TAPPER: Well, we just got a statement, Mr. Mayor, from the San Bernardino police department confirming multiple casualties and confirmed fatalities. Can you tell us anything about -- well, first of all, for those listening we've heard a lot of reports be on the look out for a dark SUV that possibly has three gunmen. There are obviously many, many people watching us right now. Should people be on the look out for a dark SUV? Is that actually something that police want help finding?

DAVIS: Your information is as accurate as what I could give you. We are on heightened alert across the city, as I reported. And any more than that, I cannot comment.

TAPPER: Can you tell us anything in terms of whether the individuals targeted during this horrific event were participating in a banquet? We heard from one individual who works in this facility that there was a banquet for county personnel.

DAVIS: I do not have that specific detail of information. And you may very well be correct, but I cannot confirm that.

TAPPER: Can you tell us about the many people with disabilities who are helped and who regularly go to the Inland Regional Center, which is also in this facility, were in of them targeted in any way? Have they managed to escape unharmed? What can you tell us about them?

DAVIS: I do not know. I know that that facility is a training facility and there are a number of events that go on there on a regular basis. I'm not specifically familiar with what was taking place today.

TAPPER: Are the shooters believed to have left the facility by now?

[16:25:03] DAVIS: That certainly would be improper for me to make any communications about that.

TAPPER: OK. Well, I don't want to belabor anything if you can't -- is there anything else you can tell us that you feel comfortable telling us, Mr. Mayor?

DAVIS: No, I do appreciate the cooperation of the media and following any instructions that PD or law enforcement. So please adhere to any admonishments that they give you.

TAPPER: All right, sir. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. And we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

Let's go right now to chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, we saw paramedics earlier doing triage in the street, trauma centers have told CNN that victims are coming in as we speak. Bring us into this process. What are emergency personnel doing right now to prepare for the victims and also as they come in?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): There is sort of several different phases to this, Jake. And as you've pointed out, this has become a more common sort of part of training. First of all for the first responders, paramedics, everyone who goes on to the scene, typically in years past, they would sort of be in what are known as cold areas. Areas where they were more secure.

But you find now that you have to be able to take care of victims on the scene. You can't wait too long. So, you see some of that happening where they'll go into areas, they'll create triage scenes on close to where the scene is to try and take care of patients as quickly as possible.

Two reasons for that, one is that people need care as quickly as possible from these types of injuries. And two is that you have to find out where they're going to go. There's a couple of good size hospitals in the area. Loma Linda is a level one trauma center. Arrowhead is a level two trauma center.

We just heard, I think you heard as well, Jake, they took eight patients, we know into Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. It's about six miles away.

But that hospital itself, Jake, is on lockdown. So that complicates the situation as well. You have to secure the hospital as many miles away as it is at the same time they're trying to take care of patients. So these are the various phases -- in a way as news comes out about this sort of incident.

TAPPER: And, Sanjay, obviously when emergency medical personnel head into a situation such as this, many of them do not know and the assumption has to be that they're heading into a situation with an active shooter.

GUPTA: Yes. And I will tell you, Jake, even since I was in my own training we didn't -- there was no training specifically that I went through where you are dealing with going into a situation with an active shooter. But that is happening more and more. This sort of training going in where they themselves are going into a situation where they may get protection from police officers, other law enforcement people on the ground there.

But again, the idea of sort of standing by until a situation is completely secure is sometimes not an option, as we're seeing here. It's an unusual situation. It's a dangerous situation. But it's become a more common situation.

And first responders -- I mean, they're literally at times risking their own lives trying to save the lives of others. They're getting more and more trained to do that. But that is the sort of training that often happens.

TAPPER: If you're just joining us, obviously CNN is reporting on a shooting at a facility in San Bernardino, which is about 30 miles or so east of Los Angeles. Right now, law enforcement says their best information as of right now is anywhere from one to three individuals, some witnesses say they were wearing body armor. Some witnesses say they had long rifles, committed some sort of heinous act. We're still getting information in bits and pieces as it comes in.

There are multiple casualties, confirmed fatalities. Local trauma centers are taking in individuals who are survivors of this horrific shooting. And right now, there's a be on the look out for a dark SUV in which witnesses say three individuals escaped wearing body armor after committing this shooting.

You're looking at live pictures from San Bernardino. This is a three- building complex. Initial reports are the shooting took place in perhaps the most southern of the three. But we're still getting all the information.

Let's bring in Tom Foreman right now to try to explain to us the lay of the land, tell us about the area, the for a minute and the Inland Regional Center which serves many members of the disabled community in the area.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. You're talking about a town first of all it's about an hour to the east of Los Angeles. And if we go into a wider shot of the area, this is where it all happened. But you have to look at some of the details of that to understand why it goes further.