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Police: Las Vegas Killer Meticulously Planned Attack; Remembering the Victims of Las Vegas Spree. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired October 4, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[05:58:53] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers in the United States and around the world, this is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, October 4, 3 a.m. in the morning here in Las Vegas. And Alisyn, of course, holding it down in New York.
We have new details this morning of the killer's meticulously planned attack on concertgoers. It took 58 lives. It injured more than 500. And it was planned to every last detail.
The police also releasing body camera video of first responders. You see their desperate efforts to help thousands of frightened people, making people get to safety, figuring out where the shots are coming from, all while gunfire, the likes of which we have never heard in this country, was raining down.
We're also seeing for the first time the massive weaponry used to carry out this massacre from that 32nd floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Resort. Officials have now recovered 47 firearms from three different locations. Their belief is that this was an arsenal built up over many years.
Twenty of the guns found in that hotel room were rigged. They did have an accessory on them called a bump stop. You're going to hear a lot about that, and we'll talk about why he wanted it: to make these weapons fire even faster.
Police say the killer also set up cameras in his room. There was one in the hall way to monitor people coming maybe to try to interrupt his deadly plot. The motive for this senseless attack, however, still a mystery.
The killer's girlfriend is back in the U.S. She is being interviewed by the FBI, and she is considered a person of interest.
President Trump is going to head here to Las Vegas in just a few hours to meet victims and law enforcement. So we're going to have it all covered. Let's begin with CNN's Jean Casarez.
Jean, what do we know?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Details coming out, brand-new details of planning, meticulous premeditation before the perpetrator committed so many crimes. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down! Hey, you guys, get down! Go that way! Get out of here! There are gunshots coming from over here. Go that way! Go that way!
CASAREZ (voice-over): Police releasing body camera video of the chaos that unfolded as shots rang out at an outdoor country music festival on Sunday night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go that way, go that way, go that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're shooting right at us, guys. Everybody, stay down. Stay down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's it at?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's coming out of a window.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like it's coming out of a window.
CASAREZ: These officers desperately attempting to locate the shooter, while taking cover under a hail of bullets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back! Go back!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back. Get back.
CASAREZ: This new video captures the concertgoers running in every direction as they were being fired upon. Police say the killer opened fire for 9 to 11 minutes, firing dozens of rounds in rapid succession.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor. I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised, it is automatic fire. Fully automatic fire from an elevated position. Take cover.
CASAREZ: These are pictures published by "The Daily Mail" provide a chilling look inside the killer's 32nd-floor hotel suite and the arsenal used to carry out the massacre. Military-style weapons and bullet casings littering the room.
The ATF says 47 firearms have now been recovered from the hotel suite, and two homes connected to the killer. Officials say 12 of the guns in his hotel room were rigged to fire like automatic weapons.
Police say the killer took his own life after exchanging gunfire with police, his lifeless body surrounded by some of the weapons he used to shoot out the smashed-out window behind this curtain. Police say this was a meticulously planned attack.
Authorities say the killer installed several hidden cameras, one inside the hotel suite's peephole, and two others in the hallway, including one camera on a hotel service cart to monitor approaching threats.
The killer's motive remains a mystery. His girlfriend, Marilou Danley, named a person of interest, is back in the U.S. being questioned by the FBI. Returning to Los Angeles from the Philippines Tuesday night, police say she has been cooperating with law enforcement. Her two sisters speaking exclusively to 7 Network in Australia insist that she did not know what the killer was planning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He sent her away so that he can plan what he was planning without interruptions. In that sense, I thank him for sparing my sister's life, but that wasn't to compensation for 59 people's lives.
CASAREZ: And we do know the perpetrator of these crimes actually wired $100,000 to the Philippines. We don't know when he did it. We don't know why he did it. Chris, more mystery.
CUOMO: We are hearing that there's cooperation between the Philippine authorities and the U.S., so hopefully, we can get answers on that.
Jean, thank you very much. We'll check back with you in a little bit.
All right. So there's a lot of new information to discuss. Let's try to figure out how this helps form this puzzle. We have CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano with us. We have CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd. Couldn't have better guests for this.
Let's start with what we now know about the weaponry, and then we're going to go to what we understand about this choice of venue, why this guy may have picked it.
So the bump stop, this is going to be new in the American vocabulary. Now, it's not new to gun owners. This is a legal accessory. All right? Do you see what we're highlighting on your screen right now? The stock is obviously the back part of the weapon. And let's talk about what this is, because there's a lot of pushback. Yesterday, when this came out that this was a modification to allow this to operate like an automatic weapon as opposed to semiautomatic, which means every time you pull the trigger, there's a bullet versus having repeat fire without having to manipulate the trigger the same way, there was push back: "No, this isn't a big deal. This is people attacking the gun culture again." What's your take, James?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: All of a sudden this has been thrust into our lexicon, right? Most people didn't know what a bump stop was before this horrific, horrific incident.
Here's what it is, Chris. It's a workaround. Most people, you know, in law enforcement, military, are huge proponents, huge proponents of the Second Amendment. This isn't part of the Second Amendment. This is something that works around and circumvents our laws. CUOMO: To be clear, it is legal.
GAGLIANO: It is, as the ATF special agent in charge last night said at the press conference, yes, technically it's legal. Does it meet the spirit of the law, the fact that you're not filing down a sear (ph), you're not mechanically modifying a weapon, but you're putting an aftermarket product on that allows you to lay down -- Chris, this is suppressive fire. What happened in that killing field across the street was military-style suppressive fire.
CUOMO: Suppressive fire, just so you know at home, is a hail of bullets that's not so much accurate, but it's done so that it creates risk for whoever your opponent is so that they'd rather just stay point. It's not about being pinpoint. But what they'll say is, oh, but it's not really automatic. You still have to have your hand on the trigger. What's the reality about what this did for this weapon?
GAGLIANO: Let's just put it in these terms. The United States took automatic weapon fire off of their rifles and put on a three-shot burst, because they found out the inaccuracy of soldiers in combat, they would pull the trigger. The muzzle then would start, and you're basically firing at an an area. Suppressive fire, razing fire or plunging fire.
For law enforcement, for gun enthusiasts, you're looking at direct fire. You want to shoot at a target, you want to hunt at...
CUOMO: Right. You don't need this. Let's show some more of these pictures. Because it's new information just to give you a sense of the volume, the preparation. You see them here. That's actually a bathtub that we were just showing you. You see them on the floor. It doesn't necessarily show chaos. It shows that he may have been cycling through weapons. They heat up when they're used that much. You run out of bullets at some point, no matter how extended the ammo is.
So we see them. We hear that he was wearing gloves. Why?
GAGLIANO: The heat. The heat signature of these different things on the muzzle. He was doing everything he could to prepare himself.
So let's bring in Phil Mudd on that point. This choice, and the idea of not using bump stocks, both seemed to speak to not being so concerned about who you hit, just how many, and giving this monster the best chance of firing as many bullets and hitting as many people as possible.
Phil, how does it figure for you?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: A couple things we need to think about. Let's look at the visible we know, Chris. We know he was familiar with Vegas. We know he was a gambler. As you're saying, he didn't presumably know the victims.
I'm going to make a presumption that he knew both that that event was going to happen and that he chose the hotel room to hit that event. So you look at this. A gambler goes down to the Strip and starts shooting people up. I've got to believe the motivation has something to do with what happened to him during his gambling experiences on the Strip.
But there's piece we're not seeing that should clarify that. Let me give you a couple.
No. 1, I want to know what his Google search history was. Did he actually search the event? Did he search the hotel? When did he make the reservation? I want to know questions like was the GPS enabled on his phone? Did he surveil the area beforehand? What was he thinking about in the months before?
I want his Visa card history to know whether he ever checked into that hotel before, whether he checked into another hotel, whether he was traveling at other venues on this trip to buy dinner.
There's a whole picture around that I think the authorities would already have known. The sheriff said yesterday within 48 hours we should have a bigger picture. They've got this digital picture of his life that should clarify what he was doing and why he might have chosen that venue, Chris.
Also, Phil, it seems clear at this point that he did as much as he could to give himself the best opportunity to kill as many boom as possible. He picked an elevated vantage point. He rigged the weapons to spray as many many bullets as possible. He put the cameras outside and a privacy sign to try to give himself as much time as possible. How does that all fit into just what his objective was?
MUDD: Obviously, his objective, in my judgment, was to kill as many people as possible. But there's a couple things missing here, Chris. Let me look at one in particular.
We know that he had explosive material in the car. That explosive material is commonly available. It's agricultural material. If you looked on the Internet, you could find ways to make that into something like a backpack bomb. So I'm looking at this saying not a fact but a supposition. He was thinking of other options to maximize victims. Options we've seen in suicide attacks in places like Europe.
Why did he pick this option? Why didn't he choose something like a truck bomb or a backpack bomb? I agree on maximizing casualties, but I don't know why he chose this option instead of others that he appears to have been thinking about.
[06:10:10] CUOMO: And also, James, it does appear that these weapons, according to the investigators so far, it wasn't about a bulk buy. That he'd been building them up over time. And you think that that's a window into some really long-range plot, or do you think that this guy was a gun enthusiast that then turned into something else.
GAGLIANO: Chris, it's honestly hard to tell at this juncture. As each day goes on, remember, the sheriff of Las Vegas, the first day, in fact, in the initial hours said make no doubt about it, this is going to be a protracted investigation. We're getting closer. Some of these pieces start getting put
together. You're going to have a timeline put together. We're going to know where this guy was from probably a week prior to that.
Remember, this concert was announced back in February. Was that the grievance? And was, you know, that concert the trigger event, or was it something else?
The key here is motivation. We know there was a criminal act. We know that. We know there was an actus reus. Now we've got to get into his mind and figure out what motivated him to do that. It's going to tell us, were there other co-conspirators? Was this a mentally imbalanced subject or something more to it? Was this a statement for some other political purpose?
CUOMO: That's the professor in you. In a crime, you have two components, the actus reus, which is the thing that you did. The mens rea was where your mind was, your intent in doing it.
Phil, so in terms of that mens rea, that mental component, there's a frustration for people. They seem somebody trying to kill a lot of people and doing it with horrible success, and they say this is terrorism. Not to somebody like you. Why?
MUDD: Pretty simple. Terrorism requires understanding why someone was motivated to conduct an attack. It's not just a mass murder of civilians, of innocents. It's the mass murder of people with a political intent.
For example, protesting wars overseas, protesting something like what the American government is doing in the United States.
We don't know motivation. Let's say there was a motivation related to a gambling habit on the Las Vegas Strip. That is not a political motivation. That's potentially a financial motivation. Let's say you've got a family problem that caused him to snap. Until we know motivation, until we know whether that motivation was political, don't tell me it's terrorism. Because that presumes I know why he did what he did.
CUOMO: How about the money and the movement of the girlfriend. Her sisters say they believe she was sent away. We don't know the truth of that yet, but how do those two components fit into your analysis?
MUDD: These are hugely significant. I'd discount what the sisters say. I don't care what they say. I want to know what the facts are. Look at a timeline that we'll be developing this week, including the digital trail that he left.
We know the timeline of the acquisition of the weapons, presumably looking at things like his phone and his e-mail. We know the timeline of his communication with people, including his family and his girlfriend.
If I look at his Visa card, I should know things like when he acquired that hotel room. If I look at his laptop, I might know when he started searching for things like concerts on the Las Vegas Strip.
If you put that three-dimensional timeline together, Chris, with all the data in somebody's life and you overlay the moment when he decided to send a lot of money to somebody he presumably loved, we start to get a picture of, I think, when he might have started to make decisions and even why he might have started to make those decisions if you factor in things he was looking at on Google.
CUOMO: All right. Gentlemen, thank you very much. And it is shocking, no matter what your politics are, that to this point in our understanding, this man was able to amass this kind of arsenal over a number of years and modify these weapons to make them so deadly as what you hear. And to this point we don't know that he broke any law in the set-up for the planning of this event. What he did as a criminal, what he did as a monster, is obvious.
And up next, we're going to honor the victims of the Las Vegas massacre. Fifty-eight innocent lives cut short in an in assistant. Stolen by a man and we don't know why. We're going to tell you their stories next.
[06:17:49] CUOMO: Let's be clear: what this mean did and why, they matter. They matter in terms of the investigation figuring out what this plot was about. Might lead us to avenues of how to make this less likely the next time.
But the big point of this, the reason we're so connected to it, the reason it matters, are the lives that were lost. Fifty-eight people were stolen from this world by one man. Among those victims are a beloved special ed teacher, a nurse who used his body to shield his wife, a single mother of three boys.
CNN's Sara Sidner is live at University Medical Center in Las Vegas with more. We know that there are so many who are still trying to find people here. There are families have come, there is communication going on. But what we know already is just heartbreaking.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Chris. We sat down with a family, three boys and her parents. Their mother was killed in this terrible massacre. And at this point, they're all just feeling numb, but they're all completely heartbroken that they will never be able to hold their mother again.
SIDNER (voice-over): Sonny and Heather Melton were newlyweds who loved going to concerts.
HEATHER MELTON, LOST HUSBAND IN SHOOTING SPREE: His name was Sonny, but he literally was sunshine. He walked in a room and he smiled, he was the most selfless person that I've ever met. And even until his last breath, he proved that. SIDNER: When the first shots rang out, Sonny grabbed Heather. He was
pulling her to safety when he was shot in the back. He died saving her life.
MELTON: He saved me before even this incident. He taught me what real love was.
SIDNER: Denise and Tony Burditus had been married for 32 years. They were high school sweethearts. She died in his arms. The couple was on vacation from West Virginia. They took this video in front of the festival stage just a day before the massacre.
TONY BURDITUS, LOST WIFE IN SHOOTING SPREE: I'm still thinking also of the times we've had, and I'm going to miss her greatly. And her family is going to miss her greatly.
SIDNER: Lisa Patterson was a mother of three and spent much of her time coaching the local girls' softball league and helping out in the church. She's remembered for her infectious energy and fierce love for her family.
[06:20:11] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was such an amazing person. She cared for so many people. She was so enthusiastic. She -- she was literally the best mom and she was my best friend.
SIDNER: Christopher Roybal was a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan. His co-workers at Crunch Fitness say, "We lost a son, a mentor, friend and hero."
Adrian Murfitt, a fisherman from Alaska, had been looking forward to this trip with his friends.
BRIAN MACKINNON, SURVIVED SHOOTING SPREE: I even told him, no, I couldn't go. I went to the bathroom and came back, and he showed me his phone. And he was like, "I bought you your tickets and everything. You're going."
SIDNER: Brian MacKinnon tried desperately to save his friend's life, holding Adrian in his arms until he took his last breath.
MACKINNON: I went back, sat next to him, put his hat on. Just kind of waited. I was yelling at him not to go. And he's just kind of blankly staring at me.
SIDNER: Even though she didn't know him, Heather Gooze stayed with 25-year-old Jordan McIlldoon, holding his hand until he passed away.
HEATHER GOOZE, SURVIVED SHOOTING SPREE: I didn't want him to be there alone.
SIDNER: She delivered news of his death to his girlfriend, who was separated from Jordan in the melee.
GOOZE: She broke down and she said, you know, "He's the love of my life. This can't be happening."
I go, "I promise you I will not leave him."
SIDNER: Neysa Tonks was a happy, fun-loving single mother of three boys, enjoying the concert with co-workers, her family in disbelief.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that she had passed. We know that there wasn't any hope. And that was the -- that was the worst, knowing that she had passed.
SIDNER: Her older sons didn't know how to process the pain. They literally hit a wall, their fists bearing the scars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mind's racing, and in many different ways, there's so much I could say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's moments where you're so sad, you're so angry that it happened. And you're so happy for the life that she had.
SIDNER: You know, for every one of those numbers, 58 families, they are all going through this. And everyone grieving in their own way.
That family there, the Tonks family, an incredible family trying to get through this. And they said that one of the things that was really, really difficult but important to them is to actually see her. They wanted to see her body. They needed that. They needed that to finalize all this in their minds. But they were unable to find her for hours, because there was so much chaos and so many people who had lost loved ones. They finally went to the coroner's office and were shown a picture, and that's when it hit them that this was real and that their mother was gone -- Chris.
CUOMO: Sara, thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting.
And it is important to remember, Alisyn, there are a lot of families who are still trying to connect, a lot of people involved in this. Fifty-eight people lost their lives, over 500 were injured. They're in hospitals all over the place. They went flying in disarray. A lot of them are in shock. So you know, when we those these faces, everyone of them had a family, had friends, had a life, had dreams. And it is always in every one of these that we go to, one man took so much and took so many from this place.
CAMEROTA: I mean, look, Chris, the numbers are staggering, just staggering. Look at all those faces on our screen. And every single story that we hear is crushing. I mean, all of these kids left without their mother or their parents. Or somebody left without their husband and their loved ones.
It's just -- I mean, the scope of the human loss is so much I think that a lot of people are just kind of trying to compartmentalize it. Because otherwise, it is so devastating. And so obviously, we're just going to spend the program today talking about if people are feeling resigned to this or if there's anything that our leaders can do.
So we are going to talk about all of that. Chris, we'll be back with you very shortly.
Meanwhile, President Trump is heading to Las Vegas in the next hour to meet with these victims and the heroes there. How will he address all of these questions? Does he see any answer here? A live report next.
[06:28:58] CUOMO: In about an hour, President Trump is going to leave the White House to travel once again. This time to Las Vegas.
Moral agency is such a big part of the job of being president, the leadership that you provide, the comfort, what you project in terms of priorities. So what will the president say when he comes here? What will he say to the first responders? What will he say to the people who are in shock and who are wondering about whether or not this is just a necessary part of our culture now.
CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more. You know, it's something that we don't often think about when it comes to being a president, but it has loomed so large in these early months and certainly in the wake of these storms. And now this mass murder of epic proportion here in Las Vegas.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's true, Chris. Presidents do not cherish this role. But many of them have had to do it in the past.
The president sets out bright and early this morning for Las Vegas. He's expected to grieve with the families of the victims. He's expected to even sit down and talk with some of the survivors. The president has also responded by praising the first responders.