Return to Transcripts main page


Witnesses Describes Las Vegas Shooting; Trump Raises Eyebrows in Puerto Rico Talking Cost of Relief; First Look at Guns Used in Las Vegas Shooting. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] DANIEL MCDONALD, WITNESS: And my buddy, Sheldon, comes to wash me down. And I just, finally, everything just came to me and I was like, how can someone be so evil?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know if we'll ever know the why. I never wanted to sit here with you. You guys.

MCDONALD: I'm sorry. Again --


BALDWIN: No, do not apologize. It is just listening to this and understanding and feeling it, it's hard for all of us. But it's especially hard for you.


REIGHLYNN PARSLEY, WITNESS: Like, we grew up with these guys and we were on the other side of the stage and knew we were over there.


TAYLER BRUNNER, WITNESS: All people could think about was, where is Daniel? I waited two hours for his phone call. The moment I got it, I dropped to the floor and said, thank God, he's OK. And he said he helped people and I was like, of course he did. That's the man he is.

PARSLEY: Of course, he did.

BALDWIN: Of course, he did.

MCDONALD: I'm just thankful all of our friends, a miracle that all our friends are safe. We had so many friends from high school --


MCDONALD: -- and people we have known, it's just a miracle none of us got hit. And to all the families that are mourning, the loved ones, I'm sorry.

BALDWIN: We're all sorry. We're all profoundly sorry.

Marty, what are you thinking? MARTY TALBOT, WITNESS: It was -- it was tough. I was standing next

to Daniel at the concert, and when the shots happened, I thought initially they were fireworks. But then I realized there was no flashes, no bright lights or anything, so I didn't know what it was. And everybody around me fell down and I started looking around and hear somebody said, they are shooting. And I turned to look. And when I turned back around, Daniel was gone, I couldn't find him. We had other friends in front that disappeared, too. Don't know where they went. At this time, I decided to turn around and start trying to head toward an exit. So once -- there were people everywhere, so I started to step over people. And there was a couple that was in front of me, moving. And the girl, she got hit with the bullet in front of me. And the guy she was with picked her up and they kept walking. And at that time, I kind of -- sobered up, because I was drinking. At that time, I sobered up and I started looking around and realizing what was going on. And there was -- there was a girl laying on the floor, and she was bleeding from her side. So I picked her up and threw her over my shoulder and headed to an exit. There were people around me just going down. And the shots were just nonstop, just going. And I got up to the exit and there were cop cars there. And I sat her down next to the cop car and the cop started to talk to her. From there, I was trying to call and get ahold of my friends. And it was just -- it's hard. Like Daniel said, if you weren't there, it is hard for -- for you weren't there, it's have to compensate and understand how it was. I'm just glad everybody was OK.

BALDWIN: I can't even begin to imagine. And the picture of the four of you holding hands -- wow.

PARSLEY: We grew up together. Like, this is something we have always done together. This is -

BRUNNER: Years together.

PARSLEY: -- like, years of country music together. And in that moment of knowing that they were on that side and not knowing what was going on is the hardest thing, that was the hardest thing to think about. Like, what if one of them was, like, we knew so many people there. And every time you go to a country concert, everybody you meet becomes family. Country is countrywide. Like, you find friends everywhere. And every person you meet there becomes a friend, becomes a family. And for someone to do this to our family --


BRUNNER: It is evil.

PARSLEY: It is pure evil. All we were doing is having a great time drinking, listening to music and enjoying life. And why?

BRUNER: That is all we want to know.


PARSLEY: Why? MCDONALD: It is just a surreal feeling, like, you know, you don't know how to explain it. You don't think anything like that would happen at a country festival.

BRUNNER: You never think it is going to be you.

MCDONALD: You know?

TALBOT: One of our buddies, Richard, he was up closer to the stage with some of the girls, and when everything started happening, he said he started throwing the girl over the barrier and telling them to get under the stage. He got them out of the way. And I'm thankful for that.

Once I got out to the street, I started trying to call around. And I got ahold of Sheldon, was in the room. They were fine. That's when I started to call my friends. I met up with them. We ended up being stuck at Top Golf, behind the MGM Grand. We were stuck in there until 2:30, at least. I mean, there was people everywhere. It was -- it was insane.

[14:35:07] BALDWIN: You had each other. But you had each other. And I just -- I really have no words. I have never experienced anything like this. I have interviewed far too many gun victims, gun survivors, people touched by gun violence in this country. It is a club that is growing. And I am just profoundly sorry that all of you have now joined.

Reighlynn, Tayler, Daniel, Marty, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your stories. This is so tough.

We'll be back in a moment.

MCDONALD: Thank you. Thanks for having us.


[14:40:09] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We're here live in Las Vegas. The Mandalay Bay behind us. You probably knew what the Mandalay Bay was before, but now it is the site of the deadliest shooting in American history.

And we are learning more about this shooting being different than others. And there are more ways as time goes on.

Yes, the headline is that there are more people who lost their lives than ever before. There are more injured than we have ever seen before.

But there is also more ammunition and more weaponry than we have ever seen before. To this point, the police have identified a cache of 42 weapons. The assumption is, well, that must have been illegal. It is not illegal to amass weapons. It's about how it's done and over time.

But the last component, time, is a thread in understanding this particular murder. This was not about a snap decision. This was not about somebody just in the moment losing it. No, this was planned for days, weeks, months.

And now we have pictures of our first looks inside the rooms, that are over my shoulder, the two windows that are blown out. But what about inside the windows? This is the carpet of the room and these are the weapons.

Now, these are relevant for two things. One, we see the kind of weaponry involved. And also to answer one of the points of curiosity about, how did he get all these guns in there? He was moving them for days. These are not huge pieces of equipment. They are just very, very powerful, especially when modified the way we believe this man modified them, and we believe it now in looking at the two particular weapons on the ground. We know that the number of weapons, that they were platforms and positioned. And what resulted was also this kind of plot to just rain bullets down on these thousands of people below. Everyone who tells the story tells the story of the uncharacteristic wave of the gunfire, the kind I have never heard or seen before in this country. It is something that usually is just about the poorly trained on battlefields a half a world away. But this man brought that type of pain, that kind of evil to bare right behind us. That's one clue into how he did this. The bigger mystery is why he did it. But we are still just trying to understand.

And we'll bring in senior correspondent, Tom Foreman, for this.

Understanding just what happened that night. We have had a lot of people talk to us about this, and you're not going to have consistency on the little points, the timeline. The local officials have not put one out yet. And that is going to make a difference to the investigation. It is also a really helpful way for us to understand what these people endured. Because another unique characteristic of this particular mass murderer is duration. This wasn't one guy running through one clip, one moment. It took a long time, Tom. And you're doing the hard work of having us understand that duration and where our gaps in understanding remain to be at this point. What can you tell us?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Chris. The truth is many of these events do happen in a very short period of time. This was not the case here.

If you look at when the shooting began here, 10:08 p.m. That was the first step here. That's when the windows were smashed out up here. The place behind you that we showed you a moment before, that's when the shots started raining down here, some 400 to 500 yards onto the concert area down in here. And, yes, because the type of weapons he was using, he was simply short of sweeping the area with gunfire here. Because it was a massive gathering here, and that was an effective way to hit a lot of people this that area. And we saw that in the video of people reacting, where they couldn't really tell where everything was happening. This is one of the reasons why this went on so long. He was shooting from an unexpected location. Many people do not think to look up when this sort of thing happens. They tend to look around them. Many eye witnesses said they did that here. So even though the shooting was coming through here, as panic set in here, people did not know to look there. And he was somewhat barricaded there. So let's go back to that time there. 10:08 p.m., we know there were

emergency calls to the police. By the time the police figured out it was at the hotel and made their way over there, it was somewhere around 10:20 to 10:24. This gets really murky because we don't know the details. But we know that the police were working their way up through floors of the hotel based on what they were told by witnesses outside and people inside trying to narrow it down and figure out where it was. And they did locate the room sometime around 10:24. And then a little bit after that, we don't know precisely when, they tried to make their first attempt to get into the room. So we have left that blank, but sometime between 10:25 and 10:30, it looks like. And what happened when they tried to do that? Well, they said they approached the room, they received gunfire, one of the officers was actually hit. They backed off and SWAT responded.

[14:45:17] But I want you to remember this time, this 10:20 to 10:24. Remember, it started at 10:08. We are now up to 10:20 and 10:24, somewhere in here. Remember that time as we move forward. After that first attempt was repulsed, after they were pushed back, then the SWAT team was called in. And by 11:20, the SWAT team was blowing the door to that room. They are blowing the door open. 11:20, remember what we were talking about a little while ago? 10:20, 10:24, 10:30, with the first attempt. This is much later. In fact, it is so much later when they go in to find out that the suspect is dead inside the room. So if you look at the overall timeline, from the first shooting to the time that they know that the suspect is dead, a huge amount of time. 10:08 to 11:20, one hour and 12 minutes.

But even as people will scrutinize the police response, because that's what people do after something like this, it is important to bear in mind when they located that room and started putting pressure on the room and he started shooting back at him, by almost all accounts, his shooting out the window stopped at that point. So, yes, 10 to 15 minutes of shooting out the window is a horrendous amount of time. A tremendous amount of gunfire rained down on people in that amount of time. But that would suggest that really this is sort of the active part of him being a shooter aiming at people outside. And because of the law enforcement response, it would appear that this other hour we're talking about here, we're not sure if he was already dead in the room at that point. If he had already taken his own life. But we know for most of that time, he was no longer shooting out the window.

So this undeniably, terrible thing, Chris, to have that amount of gunfire rained down from weapons like this, which can empty a clip in seven or 10 seconds, putting 30 shots down at a pop and more with a bigger clip, even more. That gives you an idea of the time and we'll get more refinement as we move forward -- Chris?

CUOMO: That is very helpful, Tom.

And it is also instructive to remind people, this is a murderer who did everything he could to make sure there was as much pain and bullets flying as possible. So any window that the first responders were able to create where that wasn't happening was a gift in this situation. And to a man so far, every expert we have asked who have done this

work themselves, say this time should not be seen as a delay by the authorities. Dealing with that massive humanity, all the multiple reports that were wrong, and for those speculating online, that there were other shooters, that's false, there's no proof of it. And it is the speculation that leads to ugliness nobody needs right now.

Everybody involved in the investigation says they got the guy, but there were multiple reports, had to get up there. And then he had the equivalent of an arsenal on the other side of the door and blew through it. He hit one of them and they persevered to waited to have their numbers and went in.

Brooke, this is a situation with unknown is always a breeding ground for agendas and ugliness and toxicity. Yes, we have seen great respect for the people who survived this. But just like time was a factor that night, time is a factor in getting a solid reckoning going forward. And you're going to hear about people who are exaggerating what we know. And that is why what Tom just laid out for us, the known and unknown, very important for people to know. Because they are going to hear a lot of stuff that is just not true.

BALDWIN: We'll come back to Las Vegas in a second.

We're going to talk Puerto Rico here. President Trump is on the ground. This is a moment, after landing, when he tells people that they have thrown our -- meaning the U.S. -- budget a little out of whack. More from the president in Puerto Rico. Chris Cillizza, Chris Cuomo, joining me next.


[14:53:12] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We'll take you back to Vegas momentarily and talk about that mass murder and give you updates on so many people who have been affected.

But let's talk about the president of the United States. He will be in Las Vegas tomorrow. But at the moment, the president and the first lady are there watching Puerto Rico, getting a firsthand look at the recovery efforts. He's also meeting with a number of the hurricane victims. He sat in on a briefing just a short while ago praising local and federal officials, touting the U.S. government's response.

But he also raised some eyebrows talking about, among other things, the cost of the disaster and the death toll.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you are throwing our budget a little out of whack. We spent a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that's fine. We saved a lot of lives. If you look at -- every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe, like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, you look at what happened here with really a storm that was totally overbearing, and nobody has seen anything like this -- what is your death count? 17?


TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands.


BALDWIN: Let's start there. I have Chris Cillizza standing by. And Chris Cuomo who flew from Puerto Rico to Las Vegas where he is today.

Chris Cillizza, you first. Your reaction to that?

[14:54:53] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: It's mind boggling for a president that does mind bogglingly bad things, political speaking, every day. He has to know that everyone wrote about it, every talked about it on television. We know he reads and watches a lot of TV. He has today and tomorrow he wants to show the ability he can be empathetic. In Charlottesville, he demonstrated the lack of empathy in the on the "both sides do it-ism" on the white supremacy and Neo-Nazis.

The clip you played is pretty damning, Brooke. Using death counts as a talking point for how successful he's been and making a joke about how this will run over the budget. There's so much in that. There's 13 minutes of video and audio there. He talks about how the weather is usually so great in Puerto Rico. You know, there's video of him sort of throwing food out, like he's sort of a dime-store Santa Claus to people. I mean, this is -- even for Donald Trump, who is a breaker of political convention, who is, I think, defining the presidency downward in many ways, I hesitate to say a new low, but this is another low. And I would urge folks, if they have the time to watch the 13 minutes, we have it on, watch all of it, and you can hear and see for yourselves what I'm talking about.

BALDWIN: We have yet to be able to turn around the food and toilet paper tossing of which you mention. We'll work on getting that for people to see for themselves.

But, Chris Cuomo, you were just there. The president has yet to hit Puerto Rico soil, leaving D.C., he gave himself an A-plus grade. He is there, meeting with the victims and military and the mayor, who he had the back-and-forth with and called her a political ingrate. What do you think about how he's doing?

CUOMO: Well, I think that the less time that is spent on analyzing the president's performance, the better in this context. And the reason, that is in no way to take away from Cillizza's analysis. It's needed. That's part of what we do. I'm saying in specific to Puerto Rico. There are people who don't matter what the president does, they back him, they hope for better, OK. But what happens with what we call with the president's moral agency. It's a fancy term that means something very real and very simple. The president is our best way to connect to situations where we are not present and we may not understand our relationship to it. So because of the way the president has dealt with Puerto Rico, so far, initially, by not dealing with it, and then eventually by making it into another example of the media not being fair to him and this local politician not being fair. As a result, do we have the level of connection to the need and the despair on that island that is required? The answer has to be no. And the reason the answer has to be no is because there is a slight division in the American perspective on how bad it is in Puerto Rico, and whether or not it is their fault. Because of their amount of debt or of not being as well organized a machine as they assume America to be in the main with the continuous 48 states. But if you walk there for five minutes - and we went 15 minutes from San Juan by design because we wanted to make sure we were somewhere where that certainly got everything it needed -- the president will see it's not the case. And it's not the case in a big way. That's not because the first responders don't care. It's not because they are not working their asses off. We know they are. It's because of the need and the logistics and the number of people are making it possible to get it done. The president will see if he goes anywhere. And hopefully, at least in his own mind, it will put aside the idea of what it means to be criticized, and he'll realize the urgency of having to help them more than has been done to this point.


CILLIZZA: Yes, Brooke, just to quickly --


CILLIZZA: -- add to Chris' point, I think what you take from President Trump's press conference or speech today, me, me, me, me, me. I'm getting good grades. Here's someone to talk about how good of a job I was doing. This person said I was doing a good job in private, can they say it in public? There's very little about sort of the -- to Chris' point, about the very real struggle happening, a 15- minute drive from where Donald Trump is giving these remarks. And I think that is the problem.

When presidents go to these places, the goal is to shine both a national and international light on, look at this people of America or people of the world, these are our fellow human beings. In this case, our fellow citizens. This is a real crisis that we need to not forget about, that we need to stay focused on. These are people fighting for their lives. When you turn it into a, not very many people died, this was not a real catastrophe like Katrina, you do a disservice to the real power that the presidency still possesses. It is not the bully pulpit it once was, but it can shine a light where a president wants to. And, unfortunately, for Donald Trump's presidency, he's so often, as he did today, turns --