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EARLY START

Orlando Hit By Worst Terror Attack Since 9/11; 50 Killed, 53 Hospitalized After Gunman Stormed Pulse Nightclub; Shooter's Ex-Wife Says He Was Angry, Unstable, Undiagnosed "Bipolar"; President Obama Calls Orlando Shooting An "Act Of Hate"; Victims Of Orlando Massacre Honored At Tony Awards. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 13, 2016 - 05:30   ET

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


[05:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE LEINONEN, SON MISSING IN ORLANDO SHOOTING: But, it's sad. He's unaccounted for right now, so I don't know if he's still in the club, if he's dead, if he's shot in here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. Fifty people killed, 53 more injured in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. A gunman storming into an Orlando gay club. Three hours of terror before he was killed, after claiming ties to ISIS. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans in New York.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman, live in Orlando this morning. I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world.

I'm standing in front of a huge crime scene right now. Behind me you can see the Pulse nightclub where there are still law enforcement vehicles parked out there -- command and control vehicles. They are working this crime scene trying to uncover whatever they can inside that club.

That club is now the site of the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since September 11th. The site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Fifty people killed inside that building, 53 more wounded, a full one-third of the people inside that club. There were 300 to 350 -- a full one-third either killed or wounded in what was simply three hours of sheer terror.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, it was just one after another, after another, after another, and it could have lasted a whole song. I mean -- because after everybody was out the shootings were still going and the cops were yelling go, go, clear the area, clear the area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were running everywhere and gunshots were going off and people were ducking. I hid behind a palm tree, actually -- like a palm tree, and it was going off like one after another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Fewer than half of those killed inside the nightclub have been identified this morning. We are getting new information this morning about the gunman. This, as you're looking at pictures right now of investigators who have been searching his home trying to find out what they can.

CNN's covering every angle of this story this morning. I want to begin with CNN's Boris Sanchez, who has been here since the very beginning as shots were still being fired here at this active crime scene. Boris, what's the latest this morning?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we're getting a clearer picture of the timeline -- how all of this broke down. It all started at 2:00 a.m. on Latin night, one of the most popular nights for Pulse nightclub. The house was packed. There were more than 300 people inside celebrating, having a good time when, again, at about 2:00 in the morning this gunman trying to get inside.

He had an encounter with an off-duty police officer that was working security outside of the club. He was able to get inside with an assault rifle and a handgun and very quickly it turned into a hostage situation. A witness told me that he heard loud popping. That he couldn't really tell whether or not it was part of the show, part of the music, or if something worse was happening.

And he realized that this was quickly turning into a nightmare when people all around him starting hitting the ground. He, himself, took to the floor and crawled out of the club. He was very fortunate to survive.

And just like him, we're hearing other stories of survival this morning. There was one story about a woman who went into a bathroom and hid beneath the bodies of victims to try to disguise herself from the shooter. We're also learning that some of the club performers were able to escape through an air conditioning vent that police were able to open when they removed an air conditioner.

At some point the shooter, during this three-hour standoff, called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. He also mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers. Officials said -- they clarified yesterday that they were not necessarily negotiating with him but, rather, communicating with him. Soon after that communication ceased and right after 5:00 a.m., as we were reporting on the hostage situation, we heard a tremendous explosion and then right after, gunfire. I want to play for you what we heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(Explosion, gunshots)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Orlando police revealed to us that the explosion we heard was actually a distractionary device that they detonated in order to distract the shooter -- to catch him off guard. Shortly after that they were able to break into the club, freeing some 30 people that were caught in the room and that's when they exchanged gunfire with the shooter.

[05:35:00] He did hit one police officer in the helmet. That police officer very lucky to be alive. And the shooter, himself, was taken down shortly thereafter. But it was a chaotic scene. A massive crime scene out here with survivors looking for friends and family members, trying to find out what happened to their loved ones.

And as we move forward today, really, the focus has to be on those family members you mentioned, John. Fewer than half of the names of those killed in the club have been released so there's a lot of people out there anxiously awaiting, sadly, to hear terrible news about their loved ones, John.

BERMAN: And Boris, so many more in the hospital this morning fighting for their lives, as well. Boris Sanchez here at this crime scene. A couple of new pieces of information in the investigation. Authorities tell us they recovered a third gun inside the vehicle of the killer. It was a revolver. They found it inside the gun (sic).

Also, authorities have let families in the area near the gunman's home go back to their houses, even though they are continuing to search his house -- any electronic devices -- for any clues about what led up to this attack. Any possible connections to ISIS or terror groups. He did pledge allegiance to ISIS.

They are speaking to the family members of the killer. They claim he wasn't particularly religious. His ex-wife says he was abusive, and her view is he suffered from some kind of undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SITORA YUSUFIY, GUNMAN'S EX-WIFE: Instability -- emotional instability, sickness. Mentally -- he was mentally unstable and mentally ill. That's the only explanation that I could give. And he was obviously disturbed deeply and traumatized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: We want to get the latest on the investigation this morning. Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The shooting suspect, Omar Mateen, was on the FBI's radar at least twice, but the FBI says both times their interviews with him were inconclusive. According to the FBI, they first became aware of Mateen in 2013 when he made inflammatory comments, to co-workers, alleging possible terrorist ties.

Then in 2014, he came to their attention again because FBI official Ronald Hopper says Mateen had been in contact with a man named Moner Abu-Salha. Abu-Salha, according to our terrorism analysts, traveled from Florida to Syria. He received training, traveled back to the United States, then went back to Syria and staged a suicide bombing against Syrian forces, killing more than 30 people.

That attack occurred in May of 2014, but analysts say Abu-Salha did that on behalf of an al Qaeda-affiliated group, not ISIS. As we've been reporting, according to U.S. law enforcement officials, Omar Mateen called 911 more than 20 minutes into the Orlando attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and he mentioned the Boston bombers, as well.

Now again, as far as the investigations into Mateen are concerned, the FBI says the interviews with him turned out to be inconclusive. Also, on a possible motive, as we've been reporting, U.S. officials telling CNN investigators have talked to Mateen's family who indicated that he had expressed anti-gay feelings in the past. Mateen worked as a security guard for a private firm called G4S Secure Solutions for almost nine years.

Also, we spoke to two people who knew Omar Mateen at two different schools in the Port St. Lucie area -- Martin County High School and Spectrum Junior/Senior High School in Stuart, Florida. Both of those schoolmates told us Mateen's mental state seemed to change after September 11th.

They both said that Mateen said outloud that Osama Bin Laden was his uncle. It's not clear if he was saying it in a serious vein or whether anyone took him seriously. They did tell us that he got brushback from his classmates when he said that.

However, another classmate at Spectrum Junior/Senior High School told Mateen was not someone who stood out to possibly do something like this. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: CNN's Brian Todd for us. Joining us now here in Orlando to discuss the investigation, Art Roderick, CNN law enforcement analyst. A former assistant director of the U.S. Marshal's Office. Art, as we sit here this morning -- and we should say the investigation is still continuing right behind us at the Pulse nightclub -- what are the big unanswered questions to you?

ARTHUR RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think the big unanswered question here is who else is involved? Who's he been communicating with? What you're going to see is very similar to what happened in San Bernardino.

They're going to try to recreate this individual's life, going back two, three weeks, gather as much information as they can, find out who he's talking to. Go and interview every one of those individuals. Get his address book out of his computer. They're going to look at all this information and then talk to every single person that he's been in touch with.

BERMAN: They do know that he purchased the guns legally -- two guns in the last couple of weeks, perfectly legally. A third gun in his car probably legal, as well. He was a security guard, they know that.

RODERICK: Right.

BERMAN: He pledged allegiance to ISIS. They will be looking, as they piece through those electronic communications, to see if he was directed in any way. How long will that take?

[05:40:00] RODERICK: That shouldn't take very long at all. The forensics involved in getting into a computer are relatively easy for the Bureau and for other agencies. There are some encryption issues that I think we've all heard about, especially during the San Bernardino shooting.

We haven't heard if those were involved in this particular incident. But they should know fairly soon, and especially once they start targeting these individuals that he's been in contact with -- if any of those people have had associations overseas.

BERMAN: And one of the things they will find, perhaps, in there is if this was -- is sheer -- just exclusively Islamic terror or if this was an anti-gay hate crime, or to what extent it was both, and it could have been both.

RODERICK: Yes, it seems to me it's both. We have heard some family members come out and say he has some hatred toward the gay community. And then we got to, obviously -- I think they'll find, probably, in some of his social media some connectivity to the ISIS rhetoric, so we will have to wait and see.

BERMAN: He was investigated in 2013 because he was saying things that made people think he was, at least, loyal to terror groups. That would have pre-dated ISIS by a little bit there but that was a concern.

I want to talk about how police handled the situation here. At the first point of contact he went in shooting a little after 2:00. It wasn't until 5:00 that the SWAT team decided to knock down that wall and raid the place. A three-hour gap there. Why wait?

RODERICK: Well, it sounds to me like they probably thought the shooting was stopped and they might be able to negotiate with this particular individual. We've heard semantics now. Was it negotiation or just communication?

BERMAN: They say communication now.

RODERICK: They say communication. So there's going to be, obviously -- they're going to tear this whole after-action report down, look at every minute to minute what had happened here. They'll review it, they'll use it as a training scenario, they'll spread it to other law enforcement agencies around the country, and they will know what we did right, what did we do wrong.

BERMAN: This did appear different, right --

RODERICK: Yes. BERMAN: -- because he did at one point stop shooting, and did take hostages, did call 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS. If there is a template for terror events it's to go in and shoot and keep on shooting, so this was different.

RODERICK: Right. They like the numbers. They like the mass casualties. As many people as they can take out is what they want to do. In this particular instance you had a flurry of shooting in the beginning and then a long pause. He made the phone call. And then even a longer pause before they breached, went in and took him out.

BERMAN: All right, Art Roderick, thanks so much for being here this morning to help us understand what's going on in this investigation as this community tries to get some answers and tries to heal. Fewer than half of the victims from this shooting identified right now. Those families still being notified. Scars left in the gay community here, scars left in the Latino community.

That, as the investigation continues. They're looking into possible links to ISIS. Was he directed by the terror group? New information -- that's coming up next.

[05:43:15]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:47:30] BERMAN: John Berman, live in Orlando this morning just a few blocks away from the Pulse nightclub, which is still an active crime, still the site of an investigation this morning. Law enforcement --- they're pouring over the electronic devices belonging to the gunman here and trying to determine whether he might have had direct contact with ISIS, whether he was self-radicalized.

There's been no claim of responsibility on any of the online Jihadi forums -- the big ones that we check in on. But, ISIS sympathizers are praising the gunman as an Islamic State fighter.

CNN's Nic Robertson is tracking the latest developments live for us from London. The issue of inspired by or directed by, Nic, so important in this investigation.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, it's absolutely critical because it means is there a wider network, are there other people associated with him, could there be others that have been below the radar having these same communications about how to perpetrate acts.

What we do know, in the last few minutes ISIS' Al-Bayan radio station has claimed him as one -- as a soldier of the Caliphate of America. They are not saying -- ISIS is not saying here that they directed him, but they are claiming him as one of theirs, they say, because he pledged allegiance to ISIS. This is something that they know can be attractive to recruit people to their organization -- to their terror group. But this is something that they think will play well among their supporters, as well. We also know that there was a claim of responsibility from a channel related to ISIS, but the language that it used in describing gay people is not the same language that ISIS uses, which is pejorative. This outlet used must softer language so that kind of gave less credibility to that particular claim.

But right now, when you're looking at this, you do have to see that this is someone that in the middle of this adrenalin-fueled event took time out to call 911 to claim that he was pledging allegiance to ISIS. He would have known because number one, he works for a security company -- but he would have known that the FBI had been watching him a couple of years previously, maybe thought they still were, and hadn't made a claim prior to this attack.

So this is someone who appears to have gone into this knowing that they were going to claim it in the name of ISIS. ISIS, of course, in the past few weeks has called for attacks during Ramadan. It is now Ramadan. This is what ISIS has been asking its supporters to do, John.

BERMAN: Exactly what ISIS has been asking its supporters to do for some time now. Nic Robertson for us in London. Thank you so much.

[05:50:00] President Obama is calling the shooting here an act of terror. Also, an act of hate. In a brief statement to the nation on Sunday afternoon the president called the shooting especially heartbreaking for the LGBT community. And he once again called for stricter limits to access firearms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. And attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Attack on all of us. This attack, obviously, front and center in the U.S. presidential campaign. Both sides already weighing in. We're going to speak to Hillary Clinton on "NEW DAY" during the 7:00 hour. That's about an hour and a half from now. Donald Trump will be on shortly after that, so we will hear from both presidential candidates.

The Tony's -- the Tony Awards, Broadway's biggest awards honoring the victims of the massacre here. They changed the show at the last minute. It was an emotional, emotional tribute. That's next.

[05:51:15]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:55:30] ROMANS: Welcome back. The producers of the Tony Awards decided to go on with the show last night in New York with some last minute adjustments. The NYPD tripled its security presence in an abundance of caution following the Orlando terrorist attack.

Host James Corden opened the show with a tribute to the Orlando victims. I want to bring in CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter. He joins us now. Clearly, at the very last minute the Tony Award producers were changing the tone of the show --

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

ROMANS: -- changing the content of the show. Tell me, how was the tone from James Corden? And I know that the Hamilton cast -- they changed what they were doing, too. They dropped the muskets.

STELTER: That's right. They were going to be performing with muskets -- they usually do on Broadway. They decided not to have them and as some T.V. critics said last night it was more impactful to see what they were not using on stage. This was an unusual, but in some ways a powerful night.

This time yesterday they were talking about whether the Tony's should go on at all. But in some ways this is an ultimate demonstration of having the show go on, as CBS CEO Les Moonves said to us on the red carpet. The Broadway community wanted the show to go on and CBS did, as well.

And here's what the host, James Corden, said at the very beginning of the broadcast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CORDEN, HOST, TONY AWARDS: To all of those affected by this atrocity, all we can say is you are not own your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theater is a place where every race, creed, sexuality, and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved. Hate will never win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Now, on the red carpet -- when they crossed the red carpet at the Beacon Theater here in New York, there were many people wearing ribbons in commemoration of the victims. Also some protestors from the group Everytown. That's Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun violence group that came out. They wanted to show that they were visible in the hours after the attack in Orlando. They were wearing orange for Orlando, they said. Not making a lot of noise but wanting to be visible, along with all the fans that were there to see the Broadway starts.

ROMANS: There's always a struggle when you have something like this. Just such a horrific event dominating the news, dominating the American psyche. Does the show go on? In this case it did, with a different tone, but it did. All right, Brian Stelter, thank you so much.

STELTER: Thanks.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning. All right, the worst mass shooting in American history. "NEW DAY" picks up the story right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. We are live from Orlando, Florida. This city and the nation reeling after the worst mass shooting in U.S. history took place here at a popular gay nightclub. The names of 50 lives cut short. They're beginning to emerge. Fifty-three other people were wounded here.

So many questions about the terrorist who carried out this senseless attack. Investigators are confirming that he was known to the FBI and he pledged his allegiance to ISIS in a call to police during the massacre.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right now, we are learning more as this goes on. As it is in all of these situations some early information changes. Numbers will change but certain images remain the same. One that really brings it home -- investigators walking the scene reporting hearing cell phone after cell phone going off inside. Families, loved ones desperate to reach those trapped there. Desperate for that voice on the other side, and in too many cases it never came.

There's no question that we see this community, the nation, the world coming together around what happened in Orlando, but it's also a time for leadership. And we have, on NEW DAY this morning, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump joining us live to say what this means and what needs to be done.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Boris Sanchez -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Chris, good morning to you. You know, this was supposed to be a fun night. This started out as being Latin night at one of Orlando's most popular gay nightclubs. People were having fun, socializing, drinking, and dancing. And then at 2:00 a.m., all of it changed. Now, 24 hours later, we're getting a clearer picture of sheer terror.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: A massive investigation into the terrorist responsible for carrying out the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

(Gunshots)

Inside the popular gay nightclub, chaos as clubgoers were confused by the sounds they heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first it sounded like was part of the show. Once people started screaming and shots just keep ringing out, you know that it's not a show anymore.