Return to Transcripts main page


Las Vegas Massacre: 59 Dead, 500+ Injured; Las Vegas Gunman's Motive Remains a Mystery. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans also responding to the shooting, but largely avoiding the gun control issue.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, wounded just months ago, attacked by someone with a gun, is saying this: I encourage people across America to stand together in solidarity and to support the Las Vegas community and all of those affected. In the face of unspeakable evil, our whole nation must respond with countless acts of kindness, warmth and generosity.

EARLY START continues right now.



SHERIFF JOSEPH LOMBARDO. CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF: We are currently standing at 527 for individuals injured and individuals that have died or passed away, 59.


ROMANS: And unimaginable human toll in the Las Vegas massacre. Also, new details emerging about the shooter, but they don't seem to answer the big question here. Why?

Good morning, and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans in New York.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Dave Briggs. It's Tuesday, October 3rd, 4:00 in the East, just after 1:00 local time here in Las Vegas.

We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

Just over 24 hours since the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The headline is not what we know at this hour, it's what we don't -- the motive. Why did 64-year-old Stephen Paddock open fire from his 32nd floor window at the Mandalay Bay behind me? He killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500 as 22,000 concertgoers ran for their lives in all directions.

Authorities have recovered an astonishing 23 guns from the shooter's hotel room, 19 more from his home in Mesquite, Nevada. We'll have more on what we know about the gunman in just a moment. But now, investigators have started piecing together how the attack

happened and how it was stopped. Officials say a team of six officers spoke with security at the Mandalay Bay, searched the hotel floor by floor until they found the gunman's room. The smoke alarm allegedly pointed them in the right direction. The shooter fired at the officers through the door forcing the SWAT team to move in.


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

OFFICER: Breach. Breach. Breach.


BRIGGS: SWAT officers moved in, finding the gunman had already killed himself. The question haunting investigators and victims this morning, their families wondering why. Why did a man described as a retired accountant with no known history of violence. No known connections to hate or terror groups suddenly arm himself with an arsenal of largely military-style weapons and open fire from a hotel window?

The answer is certainly elusive at this hour. Jean Casarez joins us now. She's been investigating Stephen Paddock.

And has anyone found any inkling as to why he committed this heinous act?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. And you know what's interesting, law enforcement said yesterday that he was not on their radar. They had had no interactions with him in any cities that he had ever lived in. No criminal background at all.

But they did say at least one of those weapons that he had altered to allow it to be an automatic weapon. And weapons he had, I think that's the shocking thing about this, because in that hotel room, which is right behind us there, the Mandalay Bay, they found 23 guns, including a handgun and many rifles, some with scopes, they believed he used numerous weapons, during the carnage that he committed at 12:08 yesterday morning.

Also in his home, there were 18 weapons, explosives, hundreds, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and electrical devices. His car, there was ammonium nitrate and fertilizer. And we don't know what was on the Reno house.

What we haven't heard about are electronic devices, computers, laptops. That can be a bevy of information right there to go to the state of mind, because they really want to understand why. They want to classify this and they can't do it until they find his state of mind, and he's not around anymore to talk to.

Here's something else. His father not only was a convicted bank robber, but he broke out of prison in 1966. He was on the run. He was on the FBI's most wanted list from 1966 through 1997.

But his brother, Eric, said that he and his brother didn't know him.

[04:05:02] They weren't close, that his brother Stephen never wanted the limelight and wouldn't do something like this. He never wanted to be photographed, sort of a quiet person. He said, my brother's the type that just sort of wanted to eat a burrito.

BRIGGS: Yes, at Taco Bell. We haven't heard much from friends. It doesn't appear there are any friends. What about this girlfriend, this roommate, Marilou Danley? Do we know anything about her?

CASAREZ: Mysterious too. Authorities finally said, we heard out of the country, we heard last night, Tokyo is where they believe she is. When she left, we don't know. They lived together. That was his girlfriend.

Why did she leave? Will she come back? Will she talk to authorities?

Someone has to know something, has to know something, because if you look at the amount of weapons and one of the guns, we know he got in April, springtime here in northern Nevada. North Las Vegas. You have to store them. You have to keep them.

BRIGGS: Yes, this is an enormous arsenal. So, she might be the focus ever this. When did she leave, why did she leave? Was she visiting family?

She's one of the few people that can speak to, as Jean spoke about there, the state of mind of Stephen Paddock. There's no trace of it, Christine. Nowhere, no digital footprint whatsoever.

ROMANS: You know, the only reason anybody care is about this guy, this coward, is because of the victims that he left behind, you know? And at some point, his name will fade away. Hopefully, there will be answers to why.

BRIGGS: Let's hope.

ROMANS: Right, to be instructive going ahead. But the people who really matter here are a special ed teacher, a new husband, a Las Vegas mother of three, local residents and visitors from near and far. The people who really matter are not the cowardly shooter but the people who were just enjoying life. They came from all walks of life. There are so many names and there are so many grieving families.

I want to bring in CNN's Scott McLean. He's at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas. He joins us live with more and the victims of this tragedy.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Christine. There are 59 victims of this tragedy. You mentioned the professions of some of them. Obviously, we're hoping and praying that that number does not change. But as you mentioned, the suspect in this case has gotten a whole heck of a lot of attention because we want to know his state of mind and why he carried out this attack.

But I also want to tell you about some of the victims of this attack as well, and we're learning more about them.

One of the victims is Rachael Parker. She was 35 years old. She's an employee of the Manhattan Beach Police Department. That's in California. She was a victim or she was shot at the concert. She died in the hospital.

Sandra Casey was 35 years old. She was a teacher in Manhattan Beach, California, a special ed teacher at a middle school for the past nine years.

Rhonda LeRocque was 42 years old. We know that she was a victim because of a Facebook post that her sister made. In it, she says that her heart is broken. She feels numb, she feels paralyzed because of her sister's death. She says she'll be turning to God for comfort just as her sister Rhonda would have wanted her to.

Bailey Schweitzer was only 20 years. She was from Bakersfield, California. According to her affiliate KBAK-TV, she was watching the concert with her mother when she was fatally shot. We also know that she was a cheerleader and a volleyball player.

And Neysa Tonks was a Las Vegas resident. She was also a mother of three kids. And Kaden, Braxton and Greyson, her employer, confirmed her death.

Now, aside from all the confirmed victims, Christine, we also know that there are some people who are still looking for their loved ones. I ran into one woman today who is trying -- who is a family friend of a man named Derek Tailor. He is 56 years old. He is from Oxnard, California, and he is missing right now. He was staying at the Paris Hotel. He never checked out. He had a flight back to California. He never got on it.

His family today, I spoke to them on the phone. They have been calling the hot line that official have set up for people to be reunited with their missing family members, especially considering the number of people who left their phones behind. And so, they haven't gotten any answers yet. One of his sons will be here tomorrow to try to piece together those answers, but you can be pretty sure that this is not the only family that is trying to get some confirmation of what happened to their loved one -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, and they're setting up some free rooms here at the Bellagio. I know Southwest Airlines is trying to help fly in some people. So, everything is being done to make these victim's families as comfortable as they can be as they search for their loved ones.

[04:10:00] Scott, thanks so much.

How do you pinpoint a motive when a man with no criminal history goes on the deadliest shooting rampage in modern American history? We'll get perspective from law enforcement when we come back.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our unity cannot be shattered by evil. Our bonds cannot be broken by violence and though we feel such great anger at the senseless murder of our fellow citizens, it is our love that defines us today -- and always will, forever.


BRIGGS: President Trump playing that role of comforter-in-chief before traveling here to Las Vegas tomorrow to directly address the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He read a subdued statement saying the nation is united in sadness, shock and grief.

His spokeswoman Sarah Sanders became emotional, describing the heroism we witnessed as the attack unfolded.


[04:15:06] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What these people did for each other says far more about who we are as Americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could. The Gospel of John reminds us there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend. The memory of those who displayed the ultimate expression of love in amidst of unimaginable act of hate will never fade.


BRIGGS: The concert massacre reigniting the gun control debate here in this country.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut who called for legislation after the Sandy Hook shooting releasing a statement saying it's time for Congress to, quote, get off its ass and do something.

Gabby Giffords, who survived an assignation attempt in 2011, says she is praying for the victims and her former congressional colleagues to find the courage to act on gun violence. Republicans also responded in the shooting, but largely avoiding the gun control issue.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise wounded just months ago in a baseball practice shooting, saying in part, I encourage people across America to stand together in solidarity and to support the Las Vegas community and all those affected. In a face of unspeakable evil, our whole nation must respond with countless acts of kindness, warmth and generosity.

One person who changed his mind quickly on gun control is a man named Caleb Keeter. He's the guitarist of the Josh Abbott Band who was on stage in Las Vegas just before the attack.

Keeter, a self-described opponent of the Second Amendment, he now says in a tweet I can't express how wrong I was. We actually have members of our crew with licenses and firearms on the bus. They were useless. Enough is enough. We need gun control. We need it right now.

Jimmy Kimmel made an emotional --


BRIGGS: -- late night plea for gun control, Christine, as this debate will continue to rage here in the United States. If now is not the time, when is it?

ROMANS: We'll play a little bit of that Jimmy Kimmel sound, 13 minutes of monologue. It's just all very compelling.

And, Dave, I mean, this happens again and again. This -- you know, you saw the president, you saw Sarah Sanders stand before the podium. If history is a guide, they will stand there again. This is just something that America deals with very uniquely American situation.

Dave, thanks.

You know, before the president heads to Las Vegas, he's set to fly to Puerto Rico today to survey the damage from Hurricane Maria. President Trump and the first lady are expected to arrive in San Juan around noon Eastern Standard Time. They will receive a briefing on relief efforts and meet with individuals hit hard by the storm. The pair will also meet with the governors of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The visit comes as the administration tries to show progress in recent days. One FEMA administrator tells CNN he saw water trucks and fuel trucks making deliveries. He also says he spotted more open highways and improved cell service and more relief in remote areas.

Still, the Army Corps of Engineers said it will be up to ten months before power is restored to some parts of that island.

Sad news to report this morning. Rock legend Tom Petty has died.


ROMANS: He passed away Monday after being rushed to a Los Angeles hospital. He was found unconscious in his Malibu home Sunday night. Petty sold more than 80 million records worldwide during a very long distinguished career working solo and with his band, the Heartbreakers. Petty turned out hits like "Free Falling", "American Girl", "I Won't Back Down". Petty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2002. He was 66 years old.

All right. That emotional late night pitch for gun control from the late night host getting deeper into the political debate. Some of what Jimmy Kimmel had to say about the shooting in his hometown, coming up.


[04:23:28] ROMANS: It has been more than 24 hours since the gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. And the search for answers so far, honestly, leading only to more questions. The gunman had no criminal record. Many of us struggling to figure out a motive for the deadliest mass murder in modern U.S. history.

I want to bring in former NYPD Sergeant Joe Giacalone to talk a little bit about this.

And you've been watching this, watching this unfold over the past 24 hours. Here is someone who is a retired accountant, someone who has 23 weapons in his hotel room, another 19 in his home. Someone who's really no social media profile, a live-in girlfriend, a family he talks to occasionally that lives in Florida. No red flags.

What do -- this is 64 years old. One FBI profiler yesterday told us this is an outlier in terms of lone wolf suspects.

JOSEPH GIACALONE,PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, certainly, I mean, he throws off the entire plan about how to try to combat these guys. I mean, the closest thing that you can come to is the guy who shot everybody at the baseball game a few months back.

Other than that, there's generally about 20 or 30 years old and they have a very high social media profile. One of the things I was, you know, looking at was hoping that we can find something so that we can, you know, say, all right, at least we have something to work on. He said this or said that or he belonged to a club or something like that.

ROMANS: People armed him say no real religious affiliation, no real political leanings. I mean, maybe this can change. It has been just 24 hours. Give me a sense, 40 guns.

[04:25:00] His brother said only he had a couple handguns, maybe a long rifle. He had a case full of guns.

Does owning 40 guns, is that a red flag?

GIACALONE: I mean, I don't know about a red flag, but it just seems to be excessive. I mean, the amount of guns that this guy had. And not only that, he also had a bullet resistant vest they found and the fertilizer, the ammonium nitrate, which was used in Oklahoma City.

ROMANS: Right.

GIACALONE: So, his plan could have been worse than what we saw. I mean, it's something that they need to figure out what happened, what made this guy tick, and what his actual intentions were. Maybe he wrote something down somewhere.

ROMANS: Yes. Well, we have to -- I know there's a computer they found in the hotel room. So, clearly, they're going over the computer.

One wonders if he's some 64-year-old sort of, you know, sniper fantasy, cowardly behind the window on the 32nd floor. What was going on in his mind? We may never know.

But for law enforcement, Times Square, any kind of big event in any of America's big cities, how does law enforcement look at this?

GIACALONE: Well, this is keeping police executives up at night. Anywhere you're going to have a big conference, or you're going to have a large group of people, this is something that now has put a wrinkle in all your plans, because this is -- you're looking at about a half mile outside of your security zone, something that -- you know, we're talking about presidential or pope kind of details where you have counter snipers.

ROMANS: Right.

GIACALONE: You don't do this for a concert. I mean, you don't -- Las Vegas police department or any of the police department isn't prepared for this. You don't have enough personnel. You don't have enough people.

And it's a real concern. If I was sitting now on a planning stage of any of these things, the first question would be, how are we going to prevent this? What do we do?

ROMANS: You're concerned also when you say something like the largest mass shooting in modern American history. You're worried about sick brains, hearing that and being enticed.

GIACALONE: Absolutely. I mean, I think -- I would hope that we just kind of tone down the largest mass shooting in history because it gives some other person out there whose mind is bent to something to strive for. That's a concern of mine. I mean, I think it should be a concern of everybody's.

ROMANS: You know, I got to tell you I've done this of about. I've been here before. We'll do it again. The president standing in front of the podium for the first time yesterday. President Obama more than a dozen times stood up and had to deal with this.

This is a uniquely American issue. Isn't it?

GIACALONE: It's an American problem for sure. I mean, we have -- there never seems to be a right time to speak about it. We're not allowed to talk about it when the event is happening. And then after the event, we never talk about it either.

So, we need to figure out exactly when we're going to talk about it. Maybe we should make an appointment and say, you know, on such and such a date, our Congress and Senate, they're going to talk about it.

ROMANS: We can't just accept this as the way it is, that every x number of months, there will people enjoying themselves will be gunned down. We can't just accept that.

GIACALONE: No, it is unacceptable and we shouldn't accept it. And, you know, as a collective people, we should demand our representatives do something about this. You know, loosening laws right now is probably not the greatest idea. We have something going through I think the Senate right now or the Congress about, you know, silencers and stuff like that. I mean, listen --

ROMANS: As a law enforcement professional, how do you feel about making it easier to new silencers?

GIACALONE: Yes, I don't think you're go going to have any cop that's going to have to tell you they want more people to get guns, especially the silencers and stuff like, especially you have the ambush attacks that we saw last year against law enforcement. I think that's the last thing that they want to see.

ROMANS: This girlfriend, this woman, the mystery woman who is apparently out of the country. What do you think investigators will be pursuing with her? And can we assume that there's an FBI team right now debriefing her?


ROMANS: They're not just going to wait for her to come home, right?

GIACALONE: Right. Yes, I think it would be silly to think that we're just going to -- you know, OK, when you're done with your vacation, come back. She's a component in this. She's lived with him. I mean, you can't live with somebody and not notice all these guns around. He might have talked about it.

They're not married, so there's no privilege there. So, they can be able to try to get some information out of here. Listen, it's an eyebrow raiser, let's put it that way.

ROMANS: One of the things is that there are some people who are, you know, is this domestic terror? Is this terror? Are there links to, you know, any foreign groups? Does it matter -- is there a reason to try to figure out how to label this?

GIACALONE: The only reason why I can think is because we're so polarized, that each group, each side, is dying to blame it on the other. I mean, it's really got to be a point where we need to come together as a collective people and just, it is what it is. It's a label. You want to put it as a label, it's very pejorative. We know that.

But from a legal standpoint, right now, it doesn't rise to the level of domestic terrorism because there's a couple of factors missing. If we can prove that for motive or whatever, I'm sure our government's going to be more than willing to label this as domestic terrorism. Until then, we need to wait and let investigators do their job.

ROMANS: The only -- you know, this guy has kind of like plain vanilla kind of background, you know, gambling is interesting but he lives in Nevada. So, you know, the video game, $100 a hand videogame gambling he did.

But it's interesting, I saw that his dad in the '60s and '70s was on the FBI's most wanted list. So, there is something here. That is the only other odd thing I saw about his background.

GIACALONE: Yes. I mean, we never want to blame people for the sins of their father, so to speak.