Return to Transcripts main page


At Least 58 Dead and 517 Injured in Las Vegas Massacre; Reporting on the Latest information on the Shooter. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 2, 2017 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] PHIL MUDD, FORMER FBI SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER: -- friends family not only to determine what everyone is talking about motivation, but to determine whether somebody knew, whether someone participated and one in a million chance is there some other threat out there that we need to worry about in the coming days. Public dimension says nobody knew anything. Investigative dimension says we have a lot of Ts to cross here before we can confirm that.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: OK. The brother also said he wasn't an avid gun guy. No military background and this is the reporting we have. Evan Perez says ten or more firearms were found in this guy's hotel room. So far, investigators believe the firearms were purchased legally. The suspicion based upon initial reports is that if any of the rifles were altered in order to function as an automatic weapon. What does that tell you when you hear that constant pop, pop, pop?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Obviously, that the rate of fire is that the weapons systems were modified to be fully automatic. Now that is something that I believe was confirmed earlier that the guns were modified. The statement earlier, to your point, as this investigation continues, a different optic of this individual is going to come out. The brother is saying one thing. He's not a gun guy. Well, someone who is not a gun guy doesn't go into a hotel with 10, 12 shoulder-fired weapons with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, you know, just on a whim. This was premeditated.

BALDWIN: Been there since Thursday on the right side of the Mandalay facing the parking lot.

WACKROW: Exactly. So, there is going to be a different optic as this investigation carries forward. The true motivation of this individual is going to come out and we're going to start seeing why this happened and, you know, we owe it to the victims to provide that answer for them.

BALDWIN: I want to come back to you guys on the piece about the smoke detector. But I've got Dan Simon who is just up live for us now. He's our correspondent there on the investigation in Las Vegas and I understand you have new detail about -- he was standing from the 32nd floor shooting down 400 yards away at this music festival, shooting out this window. What are you learning?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I actually just spoke to an eyewitness who was there actually working the festival and he says given where the shooter was, they were at a completely defenseless position. There was absolutely nothing they could do given that the shooter had the bird's-eye view.

Brooke, we're learning that the shooter in addition to this large cache of weapons and ammunition, he also had a hammer with him and apparently used that to bust out the windows just prior to the shooting. Brooke, excuse me, we are on the south end of the famed Las Vegas strip. You can see that this is still roped off here by police and you can see the Mandalay Bay off in the background. And we are told that investigators are done searching the actual hotel room and they're done searching the 32nd floor of the hotel. And now the focus is on the venue itself. Authorities are there going through all of the evidence they can find and obviously of course, they have the grim task of removing all the bodies -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Dan, thank you.

Turning back to you all. Phil, so this guy now is not only walking into this Mandalay Bay hotel -- and thank goodness, we have to assume there were cameras everywhere -- with ten or so gun, rifles and a hammer and gets in this hotel room. And you know, the housekeeping staff show up at some point and they don't notice anything suspicious. And we've been to Vegas. I mean, this is one of those mega hotels that the room numbers are in the five digits. What are the questions the hotel should have been asking or should be asking?

MUDD: I'm not sure there are many. The first question they're going to ask, obviously, do you train personnel to look for unusual activity in a room? But let's ask the question about how he stored these? How long did he have them in the room? Everything's unanswered. I don't think we're going to get into a situation where you can go to a city like Las Vegas, and say in the one and 5 million chances that something like this happens in a hotel room, or one in every 50 million, let's train every person who stays on the job six months to identify behavior. It's just not reasonable. People will say it in the coming days. I don't buy it.

BALDWIN: Also, not reasonable what your job used to be, Secret Service. If this were your time, you know, president Obama in front of the Mandalay Bay, you guys would have cleared the rooms. But that's just not possible.

WACKROW: It's not possible in a public event like this. You know, the construct for the Secret Service was drastically different than a concert like this. Secret Service utilizes counter snipers that are actually looking. They're actually activity looking for this type of activity high up within the buildings. It's a game of angles. It's just not a reasonable construct for a private event to be that level of mitigation happening to a private event.

BALDWIN: Let me take everyone to the moment when the police realize when this shooting was coming from, from this hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. You can hear them shouting "breach" roll it.


OFFICER: We have site on the suspects door. I need for everyone in that hallway to be aware of it and get back. We have to pop this and see if we can get any type of response from this guy. See if he's in here or if he's actually move somewhere else.

[15:35:00] DISPATCH: Copy. All units on the 30 second-floor, SWAT has explosive breach. Everyone in the hallway needs to move back. All units move back.

OFFICER: Breach. Breach. Breach.


BALDWIN: So, they go in and apparently it was the smoke detector. It was because of the small that was coming from all of his firing. It wasn't the flashes, if there even were flashes. What does that tell you just about the sheer -- I don't know, the power of the weapons that he was using.

MUDD: I've seen some clues already and the clues, in my case, we saw one from the family member, by the way. He gave us a clue. There's texting going on. So, we know that there's a pattern of communications. Clue one, did that pattern change over time? We know that there is a large number of weapons from someone. A family member that said he didn't have an interest in weapons. Was there a change rapidly? And how many weapons he purchased? Where he purchased them? And how many rounds of ammunition he purchased? You're seeing indications in what he brought into that room that suggests to me if the family says he was never interested in this stuff, something happened over time mentally that I might be able to determine by things like texts to the family.

WACKROW: You're going to see again, I would not be surprised if he went to a range or belonged to a range. Operating these weapons systems, you don't pick it up for the first time and learn how to quickly load these weapons and deploy them. So, what I think you will see over time is very similar to what we saw in San Bernardino, people practicing, dry runs. Again, this isn't a crime of opportunity. This was very well thought out, very methodical. What we saw here with the police, Las Vegas metro. I can't say enough about them. They're just, you know, they're professionalism, think about the calm demeanor of that team leader as he was announcing breach. Breach help breach.

BALDWIN: So calm,

WACKROW: Now remember, from a law enforcement perspective, they don't know if this was the primary tact or if this is a diversionary tactic. Where there could be secondary attacks coming at ground level into that. So again, law enforcement had their head swivel. And to see that calm demeanor of the team leader from the SWAT team going in to breach that door, true professionalism by a law enforcement agency. One of the best.

BALDWIN: Bravo to them and the first responders and last question, Phil, you hit on it a second ago but -- I get a text from my 21-year- old cousin who tells me about her tight chest and she is so terrified by this. And she goes to music festivals as do thousands of Americans. Is there any way to protect us? MUDD: There is. I think if you look at this the wave of the future

is saying, do you see indicators of people like this not only from friends and family, but from social media. I think there'd be the questions about what his online profile was. A lot of questions among law enforcement about where your perimeter is in a situation like this. It wouldn't have worked in this case, but when you're looking at things like the Manchester event at the concert months ago, should the perimeters be pushed out? What kind of stuff should people be allowed to bring into places like arenas, maybe hotels. And a lot of after action coming on this one.

OK, Phil Mudd, Jonathan Wachrow, thank you all so very much.

WACKROW: Thank you.

BALDWIN: On that, flags are at half-staff at the White House there today as the country is in morning. We are mourning the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Where we stand on the investigation and more harrowing stories from survivors next.

TAYLOR BENGE, WITNESS: Every time it was raining down bullets because it would go in increments for ten seconds straight. I don't know if he was unloading a full magazine or what, but each time that happened everyone in the crowd including myself would duck down. And my sister kept throwing herself on top of me each time that happened and was just telling me how much she loves me and just doing something very noble to make sure I was OK.


BALDWIN: Welcome back. My next guest witness this mass shooting in Las Vegas in a tent very close to the Jason Aldean stage. He is Russell Bleck. He caught this video as he and his fiancee, Breanna, tried to find cover. The number of gunshots just unfathomable.




BALDWIN: Russell Bleck is with me now. Russell, you know, I can't imagine, can you just tell me -- let's begin with, that was your first-person perspective. You thought to pull your phone out and it almost look like you were crawling along the ground from their VIP tent.

RUSSELL BLECK, WITNESSED LAS VEGAS CONCERT SHOOTING (via skype): Yes, I was shooting the last song or what I thought was the last song at the Jason Aldean concert after getting a drink right at the bar I was standing at, when it all sounded like firecrackers or helicopter panting or echoing. It was weird. The gunshots were so far away it didn't sound like natural sound at all, that it came from a firearm. And then I Jess saw bodies dropping, just absolute chaos.

BALDWIN: And where was your fiancee at this time? Did you guys stay together or did you get separated?

[15:45:00] BLECK: No, I was about 50 yards away getting a drink, and Joe shooting at video. I wanted to get closer before we left. We were on our way out actually. And then my best man, thank God, my friends were there. They grabbed her and got her to safety behind the bar and took cover, while I was pinned down in the tent.

BALDWIN: So, you are in the tent. I imagine you are trying to get out of there. And to my understanding there is massive 10-foot walls surrounding the venue. So, you had to run toward the fire to get out. Is that correct?

BLECK: Yes, so the exit that we came in at, the only one that we knew of, all followed the entrance behind the tent I was in. And I could hear screaming. And we went out that way and finally took cover and pretty much dodging bullets getting over there. We saw crowds start to come back towards us, which generated a whole world of problems. And so, we thought we were out finally.

So, we had to just kind of follow the crowd along the side of the walls. They were 10-foot tall fencing. That was chain link fencing that was just connected. There was no going under it, around it, through it. All of this while being shot at. We took cover, and majority of the crowd took cover behind the bleachers. And you just hear the sound were like clinking off the bleachers, hitting us. And then you'll see the trail of bullets go away. And then you'll see dust start coming back this way again. And then everyone's like, is coming back. And like it's -- you had to wait like every -- you had a 10-second gap between the times he was reloading to try to get to safety. I mean, just terrifying. I woke up this morning after an hour-long nap, and it just doesn't seem like it actually happened. This is just crazy.

BALDWIN: I'm sure it doesn't feel real. A lot of people I talked to say it hasn't even really totally hit them. But we keep hearing the stories. People didn't know where the shooter was coming in from, so you didn't know which way to run. And then you have all these strangers who are jumping on people, trying to save lives. You said there was a lot of former military jumping into action.

BLECK: Yes, yes. People with wheelchairs being knocked over. No one could help them and stuff. You saw, thank God this was a country concert, a lot of good Americans in their that would just jump in there -- whatever training they had. I saw guys plugging bullet wounds with their fingers. Using barricades for large gurneys and stuff, trying to get people out, like two, three bodies at a time. Old men with retired military hats, you know, just stopping what they are doing, trying to stay calm, instead of running, standing there, telling people go left, go left, stay low, stay low. Like trying to give people's some sort of direction.

Not to mention the police officers, I mean, in a world where everyone is crouching and kneeling, these guys with just side arms going into fully automatic weapons running towards the danger. Every single second that those guys distracted that guy save countless lives. I mean, there was hundreds and hundreds of rounds of ammunition at those people raining at us relentlessly, just wouldn't stop.

BALDWIN: How is your fiancee this morning?

BLECK: She's not -- she's not, to be honest, not doing too good. She felt like staying home Saturday. I have to drag her out of there. And when we got home I felt her hair and found all this dried up blood. Physically she was OK. It was somebody else's. We were scared she got hit and stuff, and checked it out. It turned out it was whoever was maybe behind her. It's just a horrible scenario.

BALDWIN: At least she has you and you have her. And my gosh, makes the meaning of getting married so much more profound. Russell, our best to you and of course to her. Thank you so for your time.

BLECK: Now, thank you all.

BALDWIN: As we continue to cover the breaking news out of Las Vegas we are getting new information on the shooter's past. And what he did the days leading up to this. We will soon hear from police and first responders and how the survivors are. And what they are now finding at the scene. Standby. You are watching CNN special live coverage.


BALDWIN: Welcome back you are watching CNN. So many people, 22,000 people went to that concert in Las Vegas and they witnessed this country music festival turn into a war zone as they survived this. They are understandably in shock and in fear, but also feel blessed that they are alive to tell their stories.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a spray of it and we see Jason drop his guitar and take off running to the back. And the lights go out on the stage. We knew something was wrong. But then the guy in front of us about 10 feet up goes down. The guy to the right of him about 3 feet over goes down, and when I looked back, Ben and I both look behind us, two girls go down. And he says run. And you see the crowd running towards us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bullets starting ricocheting off the deck of the stage. And like feet from where we were standing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were pauses in it. So, every decision that you had to make was a life-threatening decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had to make split decisions and your life was on the line. And on top of that you are trying to help other people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody just started yelling get down. So, I put the baby on the ground and got on top of her. And when we heard a little break, we ran.

[15:55:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a couple of rounds, like that, and everybody started running like a stampede. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vantage point he must have had to get some of

the shots that I've seen, because there was a tent. And if it were on this side and I took cover here, there was still bodies on that side of people just lying in pools of blood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is all other people's blood. This is all blood splatter from people being dead and us having to be on top of them to get out. Everyone had to fall on top of each other, whether they were alive or not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were people hiding underneath my car for cover. Had like six people in my car. People without shoes, running, just to get away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we need your truck. We need to get people over to the hospital. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Go ahead. Put them all in the back.


BALDWIN: We now know the name of one of those who lost his life, 29- year-old Sonny Melton was a registered nurse from Tennessee. His wife Heather was with him at the Jason Aldean show. She survived. She released a statement to a national TV station and she wrote this. At this point I'm in complete disbelief and despair. Sonny was the most kind hearted loving man I have ever met. He saved my life and lost his.

A gofundme page has been set up to help the surviving victims. It is already raised nearly a million dollars. And with me now on the phone, Steve, he helped set up this gofundme page. Ad he's also chair of the Clark County Commission there in Las Vegas. So, Steve Sisolak, I am so sorry this has happened in your community, and none of us can make sense of it. How are you holding up with all of this happening and practically your back yard?

STEVE SISOLAK, CHAIRMAN, CLARK COUNTY COMMISSION: Well, you know, I appreciate you having me on. It's been a long night. I've been here with our first responders the entire night. I got over here a little after midnight. And I can say, if not for the brave men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department that death toll would be in the hundreds. We are currently at 58 or 59 deceased and 515 in the emergency rooms.

BALDWIN: It's my understanding you've been to the trauma center in town. You've talked to families. Can you just share some antidotes from them and updates on some of the victims you spoke with?

SISOLAK: The antidotes are similar to what you played in the previous tape. I talked with the widow of the Metro officer that was shot and killed. And obviously, totally distraught. And some of the other family members that had people that were wounded. And there still a surreal situation. I was on the crime scene a couple hours ago and still have not cleared all the bodies of the crime scene. You walk through there and there are wallets and purses and cell phones and bodies still deceased there. You hear the cell phones ringing family. There is family members calling looking for them I assume.

You have some of the emergency people that we've got in emergency rooms, the survivors are in a total state of shock. They don't know who they are and where they're at and what happened to them. They are just like in a trans. And as a community we have really pulled together working this out. We currently have a six to eight hour wait for blood donations. Put out a call about 1, 2:00 in the morning for blood donations. And the community has stepped up. Like you said gofundme page, well up over $900,000 to help pay for some funeral expenses and travel expenses for families. And the hatred, this one individual, this lone wolf showered down, it's been met by an outpouring of love from this community.

BALDWIN: I'm taking a deep breath and listening to you, and looking at the imagery of the cell phones of the deceased still ringing in that parking lot from loved ones trying to track them down. Steve, I have 30 seconds, what is the message that these family members -- the nation is grieving over this, what's the message for the family members?

SISOLAK: The nation is grieving, but at the same time it's showing us how resilient we are in Las Vegas and in this country. I mean, we're pulling together. I've never seen such an out pouring of love as it relates to this. We are hearing heroic stories. An individual drove a truck up and had 15 people jump into back of the pickup truck and got them out of there just in time. But this community pulls together. We take care of each other. And we'll continue to do that.

BALDWIN: Steve, thank you so very much. Our heart goes out to your community. I'm just so sorry that this has happened. I'm out of words other than sorry for you, Steve Sisolak on the phone with me with that gofundme page to help those victims. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.