Return to Transcripts main page


New Details on Las Vegas Shooting; Las Vegas Shooting Restarts Gun Debate; Trump Heads to Puerto Rico, Then Las Vegas; Random Acts of Heroism Save Lives in Vegas. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 02:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Welcome to our viewers in the United and around the world. At this hour, I'm Erin Burnett live in Las Vegas. It has just passed 11 o'clock here in the evening.

Breaking news this hour. New details about the Las Vegas and the absolutely arsenal - arsenal is the only word for this - of what he had in his suite in the Mandalay Bay behind us.


BURNETT: This is the first of gunfire Sunday night as Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of thousands, country music fans who were there for the final night, an act of the festival. At least 59 people massacred, 527 wounded.

He was shooting from a suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. So, he was shooting down, looking down on the people. He was 64 years old, a former accountant.

He had actually checked into that suite on Thursday, stayed for several days. And he came incredibly heavily armed.


TODD FASULO, ASSISTANT SHERIFF, LOS ANGELES METROPOLITAN POLICE: We have recovered 23 firearms at Mandalay Bay and 19 firearms at his home in Mesquite.

I want to emphasize, we believe Paddock is solely responsible for this heinous act.


BURNETT: Here in Las Vegas, there have been at nine vigils so far for the victims of Sunday night's massacre, many of them just spontaneous, people gathering together, city hall, college campus, a vigil on the Vegas Strip. All of that, as you can see, happening here in Las Vegas tonight.

Martin Savidge joins me now also here in Las Vegas. And, Martin, a vigil - obviously, these vigils going on, some of them spontaneous, but you have had a chance to speak to some of the people there. What have they been telling you?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For people, it's just a way that they get together. It's a way that they grieve openly.

The mayor - that was the one that was in City Hall, but Carolyn Goodman, she said it perhaps the strongest. Our hearts are broken. The entire city's heart is broken over this. And she said this is going to change all of our lives here in the city forever.

And she didn't want to dwell too much, of course, on the horror and everything that we know has happened. She wanted to focus on the heroes that have now come more and more to the fore. And also about the people, the hundreds - and people who continue to line up to donate blood, the positive things that come out of a horrific tragedy like that.

But most people just wanted to come together. They wanted to share. They wanted to pray. They wanted to think about those who are wounded and remember those who have been lost. It was just something that naturally was almost cathartic they had to be there and they did it in many different places at many different times all across the city. And I doubt it will end tonight.

BURNETT: No, it will not. And, Martin, people are trying to understand and trying to grieve even without knowing at any point, anything right now, as to why, what motivated the shooter.

SAVIDGE: Right. And that's the thing. We all grapple with that. Whether you're in the city or whether you're far away, what in the world? Because it appears in just about every measure we have that Stephen Paddock had not just a normal life, he had a good life. He seemed to have money. He was retired. He was a pilot. He had been successful in life.

He seemed to have everything that most people want, and yet something was clearly desperately wrong. And not just that he carried out a horrific act, the planning, the methodical nature in which he carried out mass murder, and then the weapons that you already described, the 23 that were inside the hotel room, how he got them into the hotel, and then the arsenal that was remaining still at home, additional explosives, the electronic devices and thousands and thousands more rounds of ammunition.

This was not something that was a spur of the moment, and yet this is a man who didn't appear on anybody's radar, didn't have a conviction for any major criminal offenses, family members didn't see anything there, his friends and neighbors didn't see anything there.

How does all of this planning carried out in a mind in a man that from the outside looked so normal.

BURNETT: It certainly did. And yet, obviously, this was something that took a lot of planning and forethought, as you say. So many questions. Martin, thank you.

Taylor Benge was at the concert here with this sister. Once the shooting started, he saw - in your words, Taylor, it felt like people were dropping like fives (ph) were the words that you used to describe this. You actually were standing there when people all around you were being shot.

[02:05:12] TAYLOR BENGE, WITNESS: Yes, unfortunately.

BURNETT: Tell me what you saw.

BENGE: Well, at first, we were all enjoying the concert. And then, once we heard the four pops, part of me thought it was gunfire, but I didn't think anything of it because we were at a concert.

As soon as that ended, about 10 seconds later, then it was consecutive, and then you can tell it was definitely gunfire and then the artist, he ran to the back and the lights turned on. And then, five feet next to me, I see a man with a hole right under his chin. And that's one of many unfortunate victims that I saw last night.

BURNETT: And that image is one that is going to be with you for the rest of your life.

BENGE: Yes, unfortunately. And I'm blessed that I was able to make it through, especially - I wasn't able to escape right away. No one thought that it was coming from an elevated location. We all thought it was from the ground level and we thought it was multiple shooters by how much it was happening.

And with all that going on, we didn't know where it was safe, so we just hit the floor and ducked every time. And I had my sister with me and she tackled me to the ground every time there's gunfire and put herself on top of me and said I love you Taylor, I love you Taylor.

We didn't even get to hurdle over the middle part of the stage until after about six or seven rounds. So, I've never -

BURNETT: How many rounds did you hear?

BENGE: It was going on for ten minutes straight. And just with all that going on, it was very hard. And you just - I've never felt in my whole, entire life in a situation where I didn't know if I was going to make it or not.

And same for my sister. It was very noble what she did. And I gave - that's not love you can develop or buy, that's love between a family member and I'm thankful for myself that her and I made it out. But my heart goes out to everyone that was - didn't make it because there was a lot of people that I saw that unfortunately -

BURNETT: That did not where you were - in the area that you were in. And I know you were literally - it was a foot - maybe the distance between you and I, maybe slightly closer or a few inches further. That was life where you are -

BENGE: That was life and death.

BURNETT: - and it was death on the other side.

BENGE: And I actually almost invited my brother Tyler to go with me. And for all I know, that could have changed a lot of things. I might not have been standing here talking to you or I might not have - I'd have one less family member for all I know.

So, I'm just grateful that God was watching over me and I feel that it was my time. And I feel so sorry for all the people that - no one deserved what happened to them. And the fact that it will happen is just hard to make sense out of something so evil.

BURNETT: When did you realize that it wasn't pyrotechnics?

BENGE: Immediately, as soon as the lights turned on and I see that gentlemen.

BURNETT: So, you literally - when you saw someone get it, that's when you realized?

BENGE: Yes. He was one of many. And he was in his - when the initial reports came out that ten died that there is no way because there is - anyplace you found cover, there was two or three bodies to accompany it.

And no matter which way you went - and that's why a lot of people thought there was multiple shooters is because, even behind the tent, where he didn't have a vantage point, there were still bodies behind there and people were still enough - it was hard.

BURNETT: Taylor, thank you so much. You and your sister. As you said, the noble thing that she did. Thank you.

BENGE: No problem.

BURNETT: And joining me now via Skype is Nicole Ruffino. She was also at the concert here. And, Nicole, we were talking to the country singer you were with, Brian Hopkins. I know you were with him and you ended up being - running together into a freezer truck. Literally, a tiny little space and you were jammed in with so many people. Tell me about it.

NICOLE RUFFINO, WITNESS: Yes. Brian was actually standing behind my best friend, Nicole, and I. We were to the left of the stage, maybe ten rows in from the front of the stage.

We heard the gunshots and thought they were fireworks like everyone else. We turned around, looked at Brian, he grabbed both of our hands and he just said run. And we sprinted further to the left of the stage to the back.

We came upon this little area right past the tent where there was a maybe 15-foot fence. There was no way we'd be able to hop over. And at that point, we were stuck.

[02:10:02] The gate wasn't open. There were no openings to get out. And we didn't want to go backwards. So, we saw this freezer truck with the door wide open and someone saying, come inside, come inside.

So, maybe 25 to 30 of us piled in. And we hid in there for about ten minutes. And we thought it was a joke still at that point. We really didn't know what was going on or if it really was gunshots. So, Brian went to open the door of the truck and still it was going

on. And we heard more gunshots.

BURNETT: I mean, that's just - I mean, it's so terrifying. No one can even comprehend what you went through. It's interesting what you're saying that you thought even then that maybe it wasn't real.

What did you first think, Nicole, when you heard that first round of shots and even the second round, as you were running?

RUFFINO: As I was running, I made sure I had my best friend in my hand. I had Brian in the other and I was just thinking don't fall, don't fall and just keep running. I was thinking in the back of my mind I hope I don't get shot in the back.

We didn't know where the fire - gunshots were coming from. There was no way to tell. Everyone was running in different directions. So, all I could do was just hold onto them as tight as I could. I'm so glad that I was with them because Nicole kept everyone so calm and Brian is really - is the one who got us to safety. And we ended up making it out.

BURNETT: And, physically, are you and your friends OK right now, Nicole?

RUFFINO: Yes. Thankfully, me and all my friends I know that were there are all safe. I know of a couple of people that got injured, but nothing too serious.

I just feel so awful for the family that lost someone.

BURNETT: Well, thank you so much for talking to us and sharing your story and we're so glad that you are safe. Thank you.

RUFFINO: Thank you. Addison Short was shot at the concert, but made it out alive. Like we are hearing in so many stories, as you just heard there, thanks to the help of a stranger. She spoke to Anderson Cooper earlier from her hospital bed.


ADDISON SHORT, RECOVERING FROM GUNSHOT INJURY: We were in the middle of the concert and Jason Aldean came on. And he was probably two, maybe three songs in. And all we hear is just gunshots. And everyone just kind of, like, paused because no one - like, people thought it was fireworks.

And so, they kept going off. So, me and my friend turned around and started running. And she looked back and my knee gave out. And I was, like, I just got shot, I can't run. And I was like, you go, just go get somewhere safe.

And so, I like dove under this like bar to get cover. And this guy helped me wrap my foot because it was just gushing out blood everywhere. And you just kept hearing gunshots. And they just weren't stopping. And so then, we were like we have to get out of here and I couldn't get up and walk. So, this guy, like, helped me walk over to get behind another cover. And this girl grabbed me and she said you're going to be OK, you're going to be OK. And I just wanted to get a hold of my mom. She was the only person I wanted to talk to.

And this guy grabbed my foot and he wrapped it tight with a belt. And I was just, like, can you just get me out of here, like, please, I have to get out of here. And so, he just picked me up and took me over the - over his shoulder. And just ran me to a taxi and brought me here to the hospital. And it was just the scariest experience of my life.


BURNETT: Well, the massacre overwhelmed the city's hospitals. They are caring for so many patients tonight. A lot of them in critical condition. Scott McLean is there. He's actually at the University Medical Center.

And, Scott, I know that there has been an overwhelming response, right? They asked for blood donations and people literally waited for hours to answer that call.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is absolutely right, Erin. So, city officials this morning put out a call for blood, for people to show up at blood donation clinics and give.

And people in Las Vegas, they answered that call overwhelmingly. There were a handful of places where they could go.

In at least one place, there was a line at one point that was some 200 people deep. There was also a blood donation clinic here at the University Medical Clinic - or Medical Center, I should say.

It actually did turn away people just because they weren't able to fit in or to take blood from all the people who wanted to give. So, they've been asking people to donate over the next couple of days and the next couple of weeks because the demand for blood will eventually be there.

[02:15:15] At this point, though, the good news is UMC says their blood supply is well-stocked. They have what they need for the next couple of days at least. But, of course, they want people to still continue to show up and give blood.

BURNETT: Now, obviously, there are so many questions about the number of injured. Are they going to be all right? What about the people in critical care? What do you know about the survivors right now?

MCLEAN: Sure. So, there were a handful of hospitals that they would've went to. As you might imagine, the closest hospital to the Strip, Sunrise Hospital, it got the bulk of the patients, 214. They did 30 surgeries there. Sadly, 15 people died at that facility.

This one, UMC, it's equipped to take the most critically wounded patients. So, it took 104 people, 12 are still in critical condition, four have passed away.

But at one point, they actually had eight surgeries happening simultaneously. They actually had more surgeons on call available to do surgeries than they had patients who were in need of surgery at one point last night. So, they were well equipped to deal with things here.

The good news is that they've been able to release 40 people, a lot of other people that will be in the hospital for some time. They're injuries - they really run the gamut from, obviously, gunshot wounds, of some shrapnel, some people were trampled, other people hurt themselves trying to flee from this shooting.

So, some people have been released. They're going to recover quickly. Others are going to require several surgeries before they start to feel normal again, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Scott.

Well, the gunman's brother says there were no indications, none at all, that he could have carried out such an evil act as the one we saw.

Next, what we are learning about the shooter's personal life, which could be crucial here, and his family.



[02:21:08] BURNETT: Welcome back to our coverage. This is the shooting massacre here in Las Vegas. And here is what we know so far. Sixty-four-year-old Stephen Paddock had an arsenal of guns and ammunition in his hotel room.

They say that in that suite that he was staying at, at the Mandalay Bay, 23 guns, some with scopes. He had smashed two windows of his room, sort of at two different angles to expand the range of his gunfire.

At his home in Mesquite, Nevada, officials found 19 more firearms, explosives, several thousand rounds of ammunition were there.

The motive at this time is unknown. Paddock's own brother has no answers.


ERIC PADDOCK, BROTHER OF THE GUNMAN: We're - we're lost. I don't understand. It makes - there's no anything.

Not an avid gun guy at all. The fact that he had that kind of weapons is just - where the hell did he get automatic weapons? He's not - he has no military background or anything like that. I mean, when you find out about him, like I said, he's a guy who lived in a house in Mesquite, drove down and gambled in Las Vegas. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: One thing about Paddock's background, his father was a convicted bank robber who was on the FBI most wanted list from 1969 until 1977.

And joining me now, our law enforcement analysts are here in Las Vegas, Art Roderick and James Gagliano.

So, let's just start, James, with the fact - you heard the brother say, he's not a gun guy. And, clearly, what we hear from law enforcement, he wasn't on any radar, he didn't any military background.

From the two gun shops that we have heard so far, it was a few guns, nothing like the 42 at least that we now know were in his home nearby here and in that suite. How does someone accumulate 42 guns legally with nobody knowing that you have 42 guns, semi-automatics among the rifles?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: First of all, you take the family members - you've got to take what they say in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy like this in context. Sometimes, they could be trying to cover for the person.

Another thing is they are still in shock. And thirdly, a lot of times they just don't have relations. They just have lost contact.

In this instance, each of those guns is going to tell a story, right? Each gun has an indelible fingerprint on it. It's got a serial number on it.

Now, even if these were legal guns or stolen guns or guns where the serial number had been obliterated, there are means and methods in our laboratories to bring those numbers back up and track them down.

BURNETT: But in the instance that most of these, if not all of them, were acquired legally, is there any way that someone selling gun number 42, anybody anywhere would know that this person had bought that many other guns -

ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, US MARSHALL SERVICE: No, they would have to specifically look at him. That's not going to occur unless something like this happens.

Now, this guy was 64 years old. He could have started acquiring a gun or two in his 20s -

BURNETT: We don't know the time of it.

RODERICK: Right. We don't know the time frame. But this is how these large gun collections actually come about. It's a matter of purchasing them over a long period of time.

Now, if we see a bunch of purchases in a short period of time, then that's got to be looked at, especially if we're talking within a couple weeks, three weeks of this incident, he's out there purchasing a large number of firearms, then something is wrong there.

BURNETT: So far, we don't know. We know there were a few in - a couple in the spring. We know that that gun owner says he keeps track of anyone with a red flag that this person did not cause that.

Also, a lot of questions about his personal life. We don't now, right? We're finding out about divorces in the past, didn't have any children. There was a girlfriend that he had been living with, who it appears may now be in Tokyo. We don't know anything about her, what she may have known or not known, their relationship or anything.

[02:25:01] GAGLIANO: I think one of the most pressing things that I heard was stated very early. And it was the first press conference that was given by the Las Vegas sheriff. And he said, you have to understand, this is going to be a long and protracted investigation.

Yes, we mitigated the threat. The interdiction happened and the subject is down. And now, we've got to take care of the people that were wounded and hurt and we've got to start piecing together the evidence.

There is so much work to be done from tracking those weapons down to the human intelligence, interviewing all those people, all the ones that are in the physical condition to be interviewed.

And then going and harvesting all the different forensic intelligence you're going to get from the video monitors at the hotel to easy passes to, as you pointed out earlier, they found a computer going and - even if he purged everything, there are folks that can - the computer scientists can go on there and forensically harvest things that he tried to delete. They'll go to that hard drive and they will find everything he put on there.

BURNETT: And you mentioned the computer, which they found -


BURNETT: - a computer in the suite, in the Mandalay Bay. Now, we don't know what's on it, but he did have a computer in that room.

RODERICK: That's a key piece because, obviously, he was using that computer the last four days while he was in the hotel. So, that is a very key piece to be in.

Jim and I were talking before we came up here, one of the odd things about this particular shooting, and unfortunately, we've covered a lot of these, is that we don't have any motive at this point in time.

And, usually, by now, we would know why this guy did this and we don't have that.

GAGLIANO: And I think one other thing too, Erin, is sometimes we try to apply normal folks thinking to somebody who is depraved. And I'm not a psychologist, but we try to look at this and go, well, how could anybody do that. There might be a mental health aspect. To commit a crime like this that is so depraved, this type of wanton slaughter, and that's what it was, that area that he funneled off was a killing field and it was wanton slaughter.

There had to be something inside his brain that just was not right and there had to be some type of motive. And what they say sometimes, the motive could be related to the fact that he might have had aggrievance against somebody or something and then it just took some little trigger that caused, that set him off for him to go on the shooting spree.

BURNETT: Right. Some little trigger that set it out. And yet, Art, again, this raises the point that this seems to have both been meticulously planned and yet, in a sense, a spot of the moment. I mean, did he check in for four days planning - it seems he did. What made them actually go ahead and do it then, considering he had the arsenal at home, considering his car was full of explosives?

RODERICK: And he could have very well been waiting for this particular to occur.


RODERICK: And use the concert -

BURNETT: He could have planned it very specifically.

RODERICK: Planned it very specifically for this concert. So, there's a - this one is going to be studied a lot because - I hate to say it, we keep calling this the most massive killing spree in US history and it set a record, and I hate to say it, but records are set and it can be broken.

So, I just hope we don't see this type of thing continuing on like this.

GAGLIANO: There's going to be an exhaustive after-action review -

RODERICK: Exactly.

GAGLIANO: - and the best practices from this. What did the responders do that worked well and how did they mitigate further loss of life? And this is going to be studied by police departments and tactical teams across the country and across the world.

BURNETT: The first responders saved countless lives, countless lives by what they did, running into this and also by how quickly they were able to find the shooter, who certainly was prepared to kill hundreds more. Thank you both.

Well, they faced a chaotic scene, a dangerous scene. And next, we're going to talk to a paramedic who rushed in to help the panicked victims. One of those heroic first responders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:32:52] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And you are watching our breaking coverage of the deadliest mass shooting in modern-American history here in Las Vegas.

I'm Erin Burnett, live, here behind me at Mandalay Bay, where this happened. At least 59 people are dead, more than 500 others are wounded.

Tonight, a man shot down from his hotel room from the 32nd floor on thousands of people who were there at an outdoor country music festival. Police say that the shooter killed himself as they were breaking into the room. He shot at them first. His motive still unknown.

Alexander Marquardt has more


ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was during the final act of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival when shots rang out.




MARQUARDT: At 10:08 p.m. local time --



MARQUARDT: -- dozens of rounds from an automatic weapon slicing through the air, as country star, Jason Aldean, performed.



MARQUARDT: The crowd of 22,000 erupting in panic and screams as they tried to find cover from the hail of bullets.



ANDREW JONES, WITNESS: Just sounded like fireworks, almost fake at the beginning. Once everyone hit the floor, just stayed down and get out as fast as we can.

UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: Not only it was the sound but the shells that were coming down, bullets coming down on the deck of the stage. And we could actually see them bouncing off the deck of the stage. MARQUARDT: The stage and crowd were right on the Las Vegas strip,

several hundred yards from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It was there that a gunman, in a room on the 32nd floor, shattered the windows with a hammer-like device and opened fire. The whole convert venue visible from his elevated perch.

UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: It was like shooting fish in a barrel from where he was.



MARQUARDT: There was mass confusion over where the bullets were coming from. Pandemonium as concertgoers were struck and fell.

UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: That fire would last five, seven seconds, stop, then last another 10 seconds. Then it stopped for 30 seconds. Then it picks up again for another 10 to 15 seconds. It was so sporadic.


[02:35:16] MARQUARDT: Law enforcement responded to the scene and frantically tried to locate the attacker.


MARQUARDT: This video, from NBC News's Joe Fryer, who was a guest at Mandalay Bay, showing the police teams going door to door in the hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way the shooter was identified was not from the muzzle flashes, but the smoke detector in the room went off from the amount of smoke that came from firing that fully automatic weapon.

MARQUARDT: You can hear the moment in the communication between the SWAT teams and the dispatcher.

DISPATCHER: Be advised, it's automatic fire, fully automatic fire from an elevated position. Take cover.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: That is correct, fully automatic fire. I'm right below it.

DISPATCHER: Copy, all units on the 32nd floor, SWAT has explosive breach. Everyone in the hallways needs to move back. All units move back.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Breach, breach, breach.


MARQUARDT: By 11:28 p.m. local time, over an hour since the first shots were fired, SWAT teams burst into the 32nd floor hotel room where they found the gunman dead from suicide.


MARQUARDT: The sheriff says they believe the gunman carried the weapons into the hotel himself, where he had checked in three days prior.

JOE LOMBARDO, SHERIFF, CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We had no knowledge of this individual. I don't know how it could have been prevented.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Las Vegas.


BURNETT: Joining me now is Damon Schilling, a first responder to the shooting.

Damon, you got the call about a quarter after?

DAMON SCHILLING, PARAMEDIC: About a quarter after 10:00, me and my management group got a call or a page saying there were nine people shot. We wanted to confirm that, and as soon as we were trying to confirm it, we got a report that 20 people were shot. We all contacted each other and headed down to our main station, where then me and my manager, we both headed out, made sure we came out, started rendezvousing with our crews, getting them organized, letting them know they're about to go into a situation that changed their lives. We were on standby as well, both being paramedics, just in case --


BURNETT: So you all went in?

SCHILLING: We all went down. Yes, we all gathered at the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Russell.

BURNETT: How many first responders were there?

SCHILLING: That's one of the interesting things. We sent out a page, a text message to all of our employees that were off duty. We asked anybody who is able to come in, please come and help. At the end, we had 66 ambulances on scene transporting patients. White those 66 were transporting, we had another 40 sitting in reserves, waiting. And after those 41 were in reserves, we still serviced the 911 system here in the Las Vegas valley. So we were still able to meet that obligation as well.

BURNETT: And more than 100 ambulances

SCHILLING: More than 100 --

BURNETT: -- were responding right here?

SCHILLING: Yes, 106 were here at one time, all converged. This was a multicity response. We had everybody responding. The fire departments all came. Multijurisdictional. If it was able to move, it was there on that scene last night. BURNETT: And moved in so quickly.

How many lives were you able to save? I know there were some people who just obviously were alive for a short while and not able to make it in time for someone to come.

SCHILLING: I think we're going to figure that out as days go on. We hear about 527 being injured. I think that's 527 people we were able to help in some way, shape and form. It wasn't just us, but the great citizens of the city of Las Vegas that came out. People were loading people into their private vehicles, making sure they got to the hospitals. So this was a city effort. So I think the city of Las Vegas was successful in saving 527-plus.

BURNETT: It is incredible. When you think about the first responders and people rushing to the scene, more than 100 ambulances is a lot. But as you point out, there were more than 500. A lot of people did help people get in their cars, help people get others get to the hospital.

What, when you think about what you saw last night?

SCHILLING: I think to --

BURNETT: What will you never forget about?

SCHILLING: I'll never forget the look in people's faces. As they're walking down the boulevard, you could see this blank stare in their face. It hadn't hit them that they were a big part of history. When we woke up the next morning, we realized as it started to settle in that this was something the U.S. had not seen in such a magnitude. I'll never forget their faces. As we were coming back to the station, we were talking to all our crews that had run calls, and some of the calls they ran, it's just really hard as a human to have to endure something like that. People carrying loved ones up, loved ones that probably weren't going to make it through the night.

BURNETT: And they were calling?

SCHILLING: And they were calling. There was one paramedic who told us a husband approached them and he was carrying his wife in his hands. All he asked for was help. Our paramedics evaluated her and it was the hardest thing to have to look this husband in the eyes and just say, there's nothing we can do for her, sir, I'm sorry.

[02:40:03] BURNETT: They had to tell him that?

SCHILLING: They had to tell him that. It's just hard, you know?

This is our community. We serve it as first responders every day. As we responded, there was a realization these are going to be our family members and friends that we're seeing. And we flip that switch every time we run a 911 call, but it's sometimes hard to separate the professionalism from humanity and empathy. I think our crews and every first responder in the valley did that last night, and we showed that Las Vegas is a safe place to be. And when tragedy strikes, we're here. We're here in the background.

BURNETT: Thank God for you being there and for those that you work with. You did save so many lives.

Thank you.

SCHILLING: Thank you. Appreciate it.

BURNETT: We'll continue our coverage of the breaking news in a moment.

President Trump, obviously, is getting ready to leave for Puerto Rico right now, facing criticism of his response to the hurricane.


[02:45:05] BURNETT: Donald Trump says the Las Vegas massacre was "an act of pure evil." The U.S. president, vice president, and their wives leading a moment of silence on the White House South Lawn on Monday. President Trump plans to visit survivors and victims' families in Nevada on Wednesday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be going to Las Vegas on a very, very sad -- it's a sad moment for me, and for everybody, for everybody. For everybody, no matter what you are, no matter your thought process, this is a very, very sad day.


BURNETT: It has become a familiar routine. A mass shooting restarts the American national debate over gun control, and then nothing happens.

Our Sunlen Serfaty has the latest from Capitol Hill.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Expect the politics of the gun debate to be revived once again on Capitol Hill in the wake of that mass shooting in Las Vegas. Democrats are already seizing on the tragedy, renewing their calls for tougher gun control measures. And specifically, much of the criticism is surrounding right here on Capitol Hill this bill that is making its way through the House which calls for loosening gun restrictions and also making it easier to purchase silencers for guns.

This is something that former presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, picked up on in her response to the shootings, tweeting out, quote, "The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get."

And a congressional hearing on that bill had been scheduled for this past June, but it was abruptly canceled, because that was the same day that there was another shooting at that congressional baseball practice in a suburb of Washington, D.C., that left Representative Steve Scalise severely injured. As of now, there are no immediate plans to bring the bill to a House floor vote.

But that said, the White House was asked about this, and the press secretary said, "There's a time and a place to debate the politics over guns, but that now is not that time."

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


BURNETT: Before traveling here to Las Vegas, President Trump and the first lady are actually going to visit storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

John Vause is standing by in Los Angeles with more on, John, what, obviously, is a politically crucial trip for this president.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: A controversial trip, as well, Erin, as well. Thank you.

President Trump is expected to arrive in Puerto Rico in the coming hours, two weeks after the island was left devastated by Hurricane Maria, amid growing criticism of his administration's recovery efforts. But Mr. Trump has praised the government's response and accused one of his biggest critics, the mayor of San Juan, of partisan attacks. It's unclear is the two will meet face to face, but the president is expected to visit with first responders and some of the millions of residents still struggling to recover.


TRUMP: We are joined together today in sadness, shock, and grief. Last night, a gunman opened fire on a large crowd.

SARAH HUCKBEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're fully committed to the top priority for the federal government, is to protect the lives and safety for those in the affected areas and provide life sustaining services as we work together to rebuild their lives. That's going to be the focus, not just in the conversations tomorrow, but the focus we've had since this began.


VAUSE: Also, generations of fans are mourning the loss of Tom Petty, the singer/songwriter once described as a quiet, unassuming rock legend. The 66-year-old was reportedly rushed to a Los Angeles hospital Sunday night in full cardiac arrest. Just a few hours ago, a family spokesman confirmed he had died. For decades, Petty's songs for a staple of FM radio. The down-to-earth lyrics made unforgettable by his distinctive gritty voice, like "Free Falling," his most enduring hit, written and recorded in two days. Just a week ago, Tom Petty performed at the Hollywood Bowl, the last stop on his band's 40th anniversary tour, telling "The L.A. Times" he wanted to keep touring. Sadly, that live concert would be his last.



[02:53:09] BURNETT: The shooting in Las Vegas left 59 people dead, and we want to honor a few of them now as we start to learn the names of those who were killed.

20-year-old Angela Gomez graduated from Riverside Polytechnic High in California. She was a cheerleader, actress, singer. The school district said she always had a smile on her face.

Susan Smith was 53 years old, an office manager for an elementary school. She was a wife, two children, and touched so many lives. They said she always smiled and you see her there in her office smiling with the children she loved.

Rachel Parker was an employee at the Manhattan Beach Police Department. She had worked there for a decade. She was only 33 years old.

Fifty-nine are dead tonight, others in critical condition, fighting for their lives. But it was the random acts of heroism that saved so many lives.

Our Martin Savidge reports.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sonny Melton died a hero.


SAVIDGE: When shots rang out, he grabbed his wife and began to usher her to safety when he was shot in the back. "He saved my life," said his wife, adding, "I want everyone to know what a kind-hearted, loving man he was."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were short increments where there was a break between the shots.

SAVIDGE: Vanessa, an off-duty nurse, originally ran for cover, but then her training kicked in and she ran went back into the danger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a nurse and I just felt I had something to do. So I went to three different scenes and by the time I got to the third one, there was just dead bodies.

SAVIDGE: Beyond the bloodshed, she also found that heroes were all around her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was so many people, normal citizens, doctors, cops, paramedics, nurses, off-duty, everyone was communicating and working together. It was completely horrible, but it was absolutely amazing to see the people come together. [02:55:11] SAVIDGE: Mike Cronk (ph) was another of those who had

come together. His friend was shot three times in the chess.

MIKE CRONK (ph), WITNESS: Most people started scattering and they climbed the fence but I had to stay with my buddy. We got him over the fence once the fire stopped and slid him under the stage so we were safe. My first thoughts were for my buddy. I wanted to make sure he was taken care of. We were pretty much yelling at everybody to stay down, you know, that was -- that was what he needed to do.

SAVIDGE: And some heroes we may never know. Amy McCaslin (ph) and Crystal Gotturd (ph) were shielded from bullets from a man they had never met. He was shot as he held them, bleeding onto McCaslin's (ph) shirt. As the carnage continued the three kept repeating, "Everything is going to be OK" --



SAVIDGE: -- over and over. The women still don't know if the man survived. An unknown hero of an unspeakable strategy.

Martin Savage, CNN, Las Vegas.


BURNETT: I'm Erin Burnett, live in Las Vegas.

For viewers in the United States, "EARLY START" begins in a moment.

And for the rest watching us tonight, CNN NEWSROOM continues after this.