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Deadly Mass Shooting At Very Crowded Walmart Store In El Paso, Texas; El Paso Police Report Multiple Fatalities In Mass Shooting At Shopping Center. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 3, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're following breaking news, very sad breaking news. A deadly mass shooting at a very crowded Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, there are many casualties. Many people were taken to local hospitals. Several people are dead. The exact number of fatalities has not yet been made public, but there're multiple fatalities.

We're about to show you some very disturbing video, disturbing because it shows victims of the shooting lying on the ground in a Walmart parking lot in the terrifying first moments of this mass shooting rampage.




BLITZER: That was outside the Walmart store. We're told that there may have been as many as 3,000 shoppers inside, anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000, and 100 employees. That was outside the Walmart. Watch what was going on inside.

That was ten gunshots. And only a few seconds, there were many, many more gunshots. Once again, at least 23 people were taken to area hospitals. All of their conditions are not known yet. There are fatalities, unfortunately, multiple fatalities. Officials are not yet saying exactly how many people were killed. We expect to find out fairly soon.

As for who suddenly opened fire on this Walmart store and why, police and federal government sources are now telling CNN they have one person in custody. They identified that person as a 21-year-old white male, Patrick Crusius. El Paso, Texas police say they have taken -- he was taken into custody without incident, meaning he was not shot. Police officers did not fire a shot when they arrested this individual.

Let's get some from our CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, who is following all the breaking details for us. What else are you learning, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right. So as you said, Wolf, he is 21 years old. What's really interesting is that he is from Allen, Texas, which is about ten hours away from where the shooting occurred. You can see it there on your map. So he would have had to -- there was a car on the scene police are searching, so, presumably, that was his car. So he would have had driven quite some time to get to this area.

The other significant piece of information we've learned from sources is that they are examining writings, online writings, that they believe is connected to him that is something that he posted. They have not yet confirmed it for their investigation.

But they do believe that he is linked to those writings, and that could speak to motive here. And that is something that the investigators there, the FBI along with the local, now are going through and they are trying to see if that is the motive in all of this, what he post in these writings lead to this attack was that something that motivated him.

So that has coupled significant pieces of information. He is in custody. They have him. He was not injured, it appears, in this shooting, so they are able to speak to him. And we don't know if he is cooperating with investigators, providing any kind of information. But now, certainly, the investigation --

BLITZER: Hold on one second. Hold on. This is the University Medical Center news conference on the condition of the victims there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- neutralized. You can see as well as other hospitals and (INAUDIBLE) multiple victims. And, specifically, you see (INAUDIBLE) victims (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: We're going to try to fix the audio and the video quality of that news conference and we're going to get back it in a moment. We are told there are at least 13 people who were taken to the University Medical Center, 11 victims taken to the other local hospital, the Del Sol Hospital in the El Paso area, Shimon.

And, you know, in fact, I want to bring in on the phone right now David Shimp.


He's the Chief Executive Officer of the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, which received multiple victims from the shooting that occurred at that Walmart in El Paso. The victims there, I'm told, ranged in age from 35 to 82 years old. David, thank you so much for joining us.

How are you and your folks over there, the doctors, the nurses, the medical personnel doing, first of all, right now because this is such an awful mass murder?

DAVID SHIMP, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DEL SOL MEDICAL CENTER: Well, I have been incredibly proud of the way that the entire team has responded. We drill for these types of things. We've prep for these types of things. And as unthinkable as what this is, I could not be more proud of the way that the entire medical center has responded. BLITZER: So tell us the number of patients that have been brought to you their condition.

SHIMP: We've had 11 victims, again, ranging from 35 years old to 82 years old that ended up being transported here to Del Sol. Two patients are in stable condition. Nine are are in critical condition right now.

BLITZER: Are the nine in critical condition in surgery?

SHIMP: I believe one of them is in surgery right now. Several others are in our intensive care unit.

BLITZER: Of the 11 victims, are all of them injured as a result of gunshots?

SHIMP: I am not entirely certain. We are still trying to sift through all of this.

BLITZER: For viewers who don't necessarily understand, talk a little bit about what it means, the nature of the conditions they're in. How much of a life threatening situation is going on at your hospital?

SHIMP: Well, those patients that are in critical condition, it is critical. And those are life threatening situations.

BLITZER: So we can describe them as life threatening. Do you have enough medical personnel on hand? Do you have enough blood, for example, because I know there is a call for blood donations?

SHIMP: Yes. It's been an incredible outpouring of not just the Del Sol staff but the entire El Paso medical community. We've had a number of physicians from all sorts of specialties to be able to come and participate and be caring for these patients. And we've had a significant number of staff being able to come in, not just from our hospital but sister facility as well, Las Palmas Medical Center. And this is -- it really has been an incredible, incredible outpouring of support and phenomenal caregivers doing just an exceptional job taking care of these people.

BLITZER: Earlier I spoke, you know, David, with someone from the University Medical Center of El Paso where there are 13 victims who were brought. Unfortunately, one of them has passed away, two of the victims, children, taken to the children's hospital in El Paso. I take it there were no children brought to Del Sol.

SHIMP: No, we are not a pediatric facility. We are a level two trauma center that can end up taking care of people but El Paso Children's is the appropriate place for those children to be taken.

BLITZER: Do you train for a mass shooting along these lines?

SHIMP: We do. Yes, we end up having a significant amount of drill and all sorts of -- kind of planning for all sorts of incidents, whether it's mass injuries, mass casualty events otherwise, but we drill for this and work very hard to make sure that in the event of the unthinkable that we are prepared for it.

BLITZER: Have you ever had anything like this before at your hospital?

SHIMP: No. Although Los Palmas, Del Sol healthcare is part of HCA and we have a number of other hospitals across the country have been involved in these types of incidents, whether it was Swedish Medical Center with the Columbine shooting, the Medical Center of Aurora with the Aurora movie theater shooting, Sunrise Medical Center out in Las Vegas for that incident. So we have -- it's been a phenomenal network unfortunately that we've had experienced with how to be able to handle these types of incidents in the past.

BLITZER: It's a tragic situation, because, unfortunately, we seem to be going through this around the country all too often. Had you ever anticipated, David, that your hospital would have to deal with a mass shooting like this?

SHIMP: Well, as a level two trauma center, we try to make sure that we are prepared for anything that could end up happen. And, again, we drill for these types of things. But, no, this is absolutely unthinkable and nothing that we ever want to think about happening.

BLITZER: An awful situation. David Shimp, thank you so much for joining us. Please thank all the medical personnel, the doctors, the nurses, everyone at your hospital for saving lives, which is what you're doing right now. We are all grateful to you and we appreciate very much what you are doing. Thank you so much.

As we continue to gather more information on the mass shooting in El Paso, we're also hearing from volunteers on the ground. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- as part of the community. We all need to come together and work with us (ph).


And there are a lot of families affected by this right now. And this is a situation that's affecting our whole city. So if people are available, they're available to bring water, they need beverages inside. They need beverages for all of the people coming off of the busses. We need beverages for all the police, the law enforcement. So if anybody can lend a helping hand --


BLITZER: All right. And just in, there's a news conference underway right now. I want to go there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need a higher level of care. And I would tell you, we do prepare for these kinds of events but never to this extent. But we have surgeons and every specialty on site 24/7 a day. I can tell you, when I went down there, we had as many as 40 or 50 people standing by, physicians, nurses, everyone ready to provide care and waiting on anybody coming in.

I want to thank the Judge Samaniego and Commissioner Stout for being on site and being able to work with us as well and many other organizations that were able to assist us. This was one where everybody really came together. I appreciate a lot with the level of expertise. The surgeons are amazing. And our associates both at El Paso Children's and University Medical Center came here and all have worked tirelessly to make sure that we provide the best possible care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if you want to do something that can really be of value, please consider donating blood. But do not come to the hospitals to donate. Contact Red Cross or United Blood Services. Because there will be requirements for more blood transfusions in the next few days. So please go to UBS or speak with them, because it's just not today or tomorrow, it's going to be weeks ahead. Summer is a time we are always short on blood transfusions. So please help us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, ladies and gentlemen (ph).

REPORTER: And one last question. We saw a young girl getting wheeled in a couple of hours ago. We know kids are involved. Can you speak also specifically to the aspect of the children who we understand got some mild injuries and maybe hear from the shooting, Can you speak at all at how they're doing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really can't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really can't at this point.

REPORTER: But you did get multiple from the scene or from --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We only received two children.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming. We do appreciate you helping us cover this event. And let's say a prayer for the families and all of the victims involved. Take care.

BLITZER: Spokespeople from the University of Medical Center of El Paso, where 13 victims of the mass shooting were brought there. One, unfortunately, has passed away. Two of them are children and were moved and transported over to the Children's Hospital for specific care in El Paso. The others are getting, some of them are in life threatening situation, lots of care right now. Let's hope they all survive.

I want to bring back our police and law enforcement experts joining us right now. Juliette Kayyem is our National Security Analyst. Charles Ramsey is former Police Commissioner in Philadelphia, also the former Police Chief here in Washington, D.C. Shimon Prokupecz is with us as well.

Chief Ramsey, we're still waiting for the specific number of fatalities. We're told multiple fatalities. That number could be very, very large. We know that there are at least 20 -- maybe 25 people who were injured in this mass shooting. And we're bracing for some really horrific news.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I'm sure that when they have a major press conference with the elected officials and so forth, maybe they'll be able to provide some actual numbers, although you won't know identities for a while because you have to notify next of kin.

I mean, there are a lot of moving pieces whenever you have something like this that has to happen behind the scenes. And I know that people kind of want to know. But at the same time, we need to be patient. They will give it out as soon as they can. So I think that's where we are right now.

Hopefully we start seeing some high level public officials soon. Again, Sergeant Gomez Has done a good job under the circumstances. That's not a knock against him at all. But I think it puts people more at ease when they start to hear from mayors, governors, police chiefs and sheriffs and so forth. So they need to get out there.

BLITZER: Yes. And we're told we will hear from them fairly soon.

Juliette Kayyem, you know, we've been mentioning repeatedly how unfortunately often this is occurring here in the United States. And everybody always says immediately afterwards, we've got to do something to stop this, but then it happens a few weeks or months later and not much is being done. What, from your perspective, as a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security can be done immediately to deal with this crisis in America?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, look, there are no immediate solutions but there are two that I think you can get consensus off. You have to look at the motivation and the means. So let's start with the means.

There is a level of weaponry in this country that kills people very quickly.


It does not allow them to protect themselves and it does not give time to law enforcement to protect the community under harm. We have seen -- we saw a picture of this gun. It is not a handgun. We are not talking about handguns, so gun proponents, don't worry about that. We are talking about weapons that can kill lots of people very quickly. That is a uniquely American phenomenon and we can addressed because we've addressed it in the past. Some states prohibit some of this weaponry, others do not, so we have this hodgepodge.

On the motivation side, you know, I'm just going to quote the FBI Director, Chris Wray, who testified, I think, about the same time as Mueller. So a lot of people missed the testimony about the rise of radicalization in the U.S. of whites, right? So in other words, that is the greatest radicalization happening in the United States. We know in this case it was a white male of an age. We are already reporting on statements he's made online that are radicalized, that are about hatred. We don't know the specifics of it so I'll be careful. But nonetheless, we can do better about the platforms that allow this hatred to stew. We can get neighbors and friends and others engaged to know that if they see radicalization, that's the same thing then if it were Islamic radicalization that you see something and you say something.

And then third, we have to begin to shame this in the public space again. There is too many both sides (ph) I'm going on. And I just think, you know, one of the things that we've learned overtime with ideologies, including terrorism, is they don't go away. They just become shamed and isolated. And it's time that, as communities, we do that much more forcefully than we have.

BLITZER: Shimon, we know it's a 21-year-old white male from Allen, Texas, which you've correctly pointed out, is, what, 600 miles from El Paso, Texas.

PROKUPECZ: That is quite the distance to travel to do something like this. And I think that's going to be significant piece of information for investigators. And now they have to go out to where he is from and learn more about him. So I'm sure the FBI out there, they have sent agents to go and figure out. They're going to start to build a history about him and exactly what was going on in his life and how all of that potentially led to this.

The online writings that we've been talking about, that's obviously going to be very significant here if they can definitively link it to him, it's going to be in his own words, explaining certain thinking, explaining his motivation, his rationale and perhaps will tell investigators why he went on this shooting rampage and looks like killed so many people and injured so many.

And for this community, for El Paso, this is going to be some tough, tough, tough days ahead. Because even there, they know this is bad. You saw the people there lining up to give blood. They're at capacity now. They're telling people, well, we'll take appointments. So people want to do good. They want to help now. And it's tough for this community. And there's going to be a lot of difficult days ahead.

And certainly the FBI here and the local law enforcement, they're going to work together. They're going to go through that crime scene and they're going to build this out.

There's going to be a case now that's going to have to be prosecuted. This alleged shooter is in custody. There's going to -- he's going to have to go court. He's going to have to appear before a judge and hear charges against him. So we will get to see him and through that process. And it's going to limit how much investigators are going to be able to tell us also.

We still want to know a lot of things. We still -- there're still a lot of information that they have not provided. But it's going to severely limit them as to how much they can talk about now that he is in custody and they are going to charge him and he's going to have to go to court.

BLITZER: Yes. We saw people waiting in line to donate blood and then somebody volunteers, bring some pizza along. All those folks are waiting several hours in line to donate blood that potentially could save someone's life.

Our special coverage will continue right after this.



BLITZER: We have breaking news on today's mass shooting near a shopping center in El Paso, Texas. Facebook is working with law enforcement following today's shooting in El Paso. A spokesman for the company said a Facebook and Instagram account under the suspect's name was removed by the social media network.

Three sources telling CNN the suspected gunman has been identified as Patrick Crusius, 21 years old of Allen, Texas. And investigators are reviewing those online writings posted only days ago that may indicate a motive. Authorities say multiple people were gunned down when a gunman open fired at a Walmart and near the Cielo Vista shopping mall. Nearly two dozen were rushed to area hospitals.

People in El Paso are right now stepping up o help in this time of crisis after police say blood donations are urgently needed. These are some of the scenes from one local blood donation center. And as you can see, the lobby is simply packed. Citizens show up to help out where they can. At this location, there is a two-hour wait to give blood.

Joining us on the phone right now is James Dugger, Southwest Division President of the Vitalant Blood Bank.

James, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks so much to what you're doing. Do you have enough blood already or do you need more?

JAMES DUGGER, SOUTHWEST DIVISION PRESIDENT, VITALANT BLOOD BANK: Well, so far, our available support for local hospital, there're about 240 units of blood that's been shipped right now. It has come down but we'll need to resupply that stock as we move to the next few days.

BLITZER: So you want people to continue to stand in line tonight or just come back in the morning? What are you asking?

DUGGER: Well, appointments are strongly encouraged. We can book you out. You can call 877-258-4825 and go to

BLITZER: Slow down for a moment and repeat that information for viewers in the El Paso area who may be are watching.

DUGGER: They can call -- we would like everybody to make appointments or strongly encourage that over the next several days that we'll be able to accommodate everybody a little bit better. So they can make an appointment by calling 877-258-4825 or they can go to to schedule that appointment.


BLITZER: And I assume that you need specific, you know, types of blood because there are so many people that have been shot and so many people who are in local hospitals right now.

DUGGER: Type O blood is always in demand in these types situations because it can be transfused to all blood types, AB positive as well.

BLITZER: And it looks like the wonderful people of El Paso are really responding to try to save lives. And we're showing our viewers some of the long lines that have been going on. These are wonderful people who totally appreciate how important blood donations are. And I assume this is happening all over town, right?

DUGGER: They are and both of our east side center on Zaragoza Road and also our west side center on Mesa Hills Drive. Our blood donors are just an amazing group of people, very dedicated, willing to help.

BLITZER: Do you train for this kind of mass shooting?

DUGGER: We have. We worked with city officials on emergency trauma situations. I don't know if we ever actually prepared for something at this scale. We can always be caught by surprise in active shooter drills as well. We're also prepared for it.

BLITZER: I assume you're a local resident of El Paso. Tell us how you're feeling. Tell us how you're reacting to this mass shooting.

DUGGER: Well, any time you have something of this scale, words are hard to -- it's hard to describe the feelings about such a senseless tragedy, so much senseless death. It's -- fortunately, our team is safe and our hearts and prayers go out to the folks who are dealing with this crisis personally.

BLITZER: What was the first thing you did when you had heard about the shooting earlier today?

DUGGER: Well, we (INAUDIBLE). We made sure our staffs and their families were taken care and then accounted for. And then we gathered to talk about how we're going to support our local hospitals. We made immediate contact with those area hospitals to meet their needs as best we could and we started to mobilize our approach to handle a very large donor influx that we started to expect.

BLITZER: Well, on behalf of all of our viewers, thank you so much, James Dugger, for what you and your team are doing. We really appreciate it.

Once again, if people want to donate blood, where should they call or and where should they go?

DUGGER: We have two donor sites that are going to have extended hours tomorrow from 8:00 to 5:00. And the let's say our east side center is at 1338 North Zaragoza Road and our Mesa Hills is our west side facility at 424 South Mesa Hills Drive. They can call 877-258-4825 to make an appointment or go to

BLITZER: Thank you so much for what you're doing because you're saving lives and we are really grateful.

We're going to continue our special coverage right after this.



BLITZER: Let's get to the very latest now. Today's breaking news, the awful breaking news, the deadly mass shooting near a shopping center in El Paso, Texas. Facebook is now working with law enforcement following the rampage in El Paso.

Spokesperson for the company said a Facebook and Instagram account under the suspect's name was removed by the social media network. And three sources telling CNN the suspected gunman has been identified as Patrick Crusius, 21 years old of Allen, Texas. Police say he's a white male.

Investigators are reviewing an online writing posted only days ago that may, may indicate a motive. Authority say multiple people were gunned down when a gunman opened fire at a Wal-Mart near the Cielo Vista shopping mall. Nearly two dozen people were rushed to area hospitals.

We're also hearing from lots of folks, including Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke who is from El Paso. He represented that city in Congress. It's part of the 16th congressional district. He also temporarily served as its mayor and sat on the El Paso city council. Just a little while ago, Beto O'Rourke reacted to this shooting that happened in his hometown.


REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At this point, the area has still not been cleared. It's still considered active. We know that there's a lot of injury, a lot of suffering in El Paso right now. I'm incredibly sad and it is very hard to think about this.

But I'll tell you, El Paso is the strongest place in the world. This community is going to come together. I'm going back there right now to be with my family and to be with my hometown. And I want to thank El Paso police department and the first responders that they're there right now and we're going back to be with them.

And I've spoken to the mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo, I've spoken to Congresswoman Escobar, I've spoken to Sheriff Wiles, they're all doing everything that they can and we're still learning information about this situation. And so I just asked for everyone's strength for El Paso right now, everyone's resolve to make

sure that this does not continue to happen in this country. And we'll be sharing more as I learned more going forward. I thank

you all for being here today. Thanks.


BLITZER: And, of course, he did, there's so many others - he was in Las Vegas. He immediately, as soon as he heard about the shooting, called his wife in El Paso to make sure his wife and the kids were all OK and they're OK. Joining us now is Julian Castro, the former San Antonio Mayor.

[18:35:05] He's a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Our hearts go out to everyone in Texas, especially in El Paso right now. As an American and as a Texan, what was your reaction? What is your reaction, first of all, to this horrific attack?

JULIAN CASTRO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course we're praying for the families of the victims and for the entire community in El Paso. I thought that Representative O'Rourke said that very well and has been very eloquent about what a beautiful community El Paso is.

Of course, we also know that we need to act in this country and we see too many of these types of shootings over and over and over again. And we know very well what we do in America that we need universal background checks, so that people that shouldn't have their hands on a weapon, don't get their hands on a weapon. We need red flags laws that identify people that present a threat to themselves or to other people and we get guns out of their hands.

We need to limit the capacity of magazines, so somebody can't walk into an establishment like this and fire off 20 rounds, 25 rounds, however many rounds at a time and we need a renewed assault weapons ban. These weapons that shooters like this are using are weapons of war that don't belong on the street of America.

And Wolf, I would just say I know there are some people that don't want to talk about this right now, but we have to talk about because it happens all of the time is that this is in Texas. This is in a state with one of the highest percentage of gun ownership in the United States that has concealed carry and open carry. And so this shooter knew that of the thousands people where he was going, that there are people that are carrying weapons on them and their security there.

And that did not stop him from doing what he did. More guns are not the answer. We need to limit who gets guns, take them out of the hands of people that shouldn't have them and then also get these weapons of war off of the street. That's what we need to do.

BLITZER: As you know your Governor, the Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, he recently signed bills that will make it easy for so called open carry rights. That means those who legally own guns will have an easier time carrying their weapons inside churches, schools, apartment buildings among other places. Do you have any background on those bills and what they will mean for your state now that they are the law?

CASTRO: It's unfortunate because about a year and a half ago, we had an incident in Sutherland Springs, Texas where a person went into a church murdered, I think, it was 26 people. Today, it's 19 people. This is in Texas that already has some of the most lax gun laws in the United States.

And if you think about it, I would just ask people to think about just physically what happens here. It doesn't matter how many guns you have in that situation because it's the element of surprise that is the problem. If somebody goes in with an AR-15 and they have a high capacity magazine, they're going to be able to get off so many shots before anybody can do anything. Even if they have a hand on them or even if they had another AR-15 on them, that's not the answer.

The answer is to make sure that those guns never get into the hands of people like that in the first place, that those particular types of weapons like an AR-15 or not on the street. And we do a better job of educating folks on responsible gun ownership, of enforcing laws against straw man purchases so that you don't have people buying guns for other people.

There are a whole bunch of things that we can actually do that would address this issue and drive down the number of these mass shootings dramatically. But more guns is not the answer and what happened today is just one more example of how wrong Governor Abbott and some of these folks that think that guns are the answer, how wrong they are.

BLITZER: I have to tell you, Mr. Secretary, there are so many of these mass shootings here in the United States and we, of course, here at CNN all the news organizations we report them and we report them in detail. And then we hear politicians start talking along the lines of what you're saying and then within few days everybody seems to move on, forget about it.

Legislatures whether here in Washington or around the country, they don't do much about it, why is that?

[18:40:03] CASTRO: Because you have too many of them that are still in Congress that are afraid of losing an election because the National Rifle Association over the years has scared them into believing that. But the good news, Wolf, is that the activism of the Parkland high school students have launched demand which has a lot of members all over the country now is changing at least on the Democratic side, the willingness of more and more people running for office to take on the NRA.

There are people that ran in 2018 they're openly and very proudly embracing gun violence prevention and all of the common sense gun reform that we need to make and they're winning. People are seeing that that's what Americans do want. Americans understand, I mean, there's like 90 percent approval for universal background checks. Americans understand that we need to do something about this, then more and more politicians, especially on the Democratic also agree with that. So even though that has added up yet to legislation that has been

signed by a president, that day is getting closer and closer. And in addition to all of the things that that are helpful today to the victims and their families like donating blood and other items that they may need. I hope that people will continue to press their legislators. Republican and Democrat, but especially Republicans, who have been so obstinate on this.

BLITZER: We just got a statement in a tweet from your Governor Greg Abbott and I want to put it up on the screen and I'll read it to our viewers. Here's the statement, "Now in the beautiful city of El Paso. Texans grieve today for the people of this wonderful place. We unite in support of all the victims. We thank first responders for their swift action. We ask God to bind up the wounds of all who have been harmed." What's your message to the Governor of Texas, Mr. Secretary?

CASTRO: My message to Governor Abbott would be to be brave enough to go against the NRA, to take real action to limit the ability of weapons like this to get on the streets and to make sure that guns don't get into the hands of people who shouldn't have them. To have some real courage and until that everything else is just off. Everything else is just politicking, basically, to go on Twitter and seem like you really care when you have the power along with the state legislature to make sure that incidents like this don't happen again. It's just empty talk.

BLITZER: Julian Castro, thank you so much for joining us. Our hearts go out to all the families in El Paso and around Texas. Certainly, around the country who are grieving right now. And unfortunately, the news that we anticipate having to report fairly soon is going to make matters even more painful. Julian Castro, thank you so much.

CASTRO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to take another quick break. Much more of our special coverage right after this.


[18:46:52] BLITZER: A mass shooting in El Paso, Texas at a Wal-Mart has left multiple people dead. We're getting specific numbers but we have not yet been able to report those numbers. More than two dozen people have been injured taken to local hospitals. One of those individuals has unfortunately since passed away.

The former vice president, the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden has been speaking about this mass shooting in El Paso.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: From Dallas, Texas walked into a Wal-Mart in El Paso and killed, I don't know how many exactly (inaudible), I'm getting this on the fly like everybody else, I believe killed 20 individuals including a child. And from the picture they've showed me on the internet as I was coming out on a computer (inaudible) it looked like he was carrying a semi automatic weapon with a clip that had multiple rounds in it and he is in custody and we don't know much more detail.

But I can say without fear of contradiction, enough is enough is enough and it's been enough for the five years. Ladies and gentlemen, I had a terrible opportunity and responsibility to meet every single family member of those innocent children who were murdered up in Sandy Hook, down at the Pulse Night Club also the high school in Florida. And in the looks on those parents' faces, it has been so gruesome some of these things that up in Sandy Hook, I actually spent time with the law enforcement, a state troopers asking for help, they needed some mental health help.

They were having great difficulty dealing with the pictures of bodies of children stacked up. This is a sickness. This is well beyond anything that we should be tolerating. And folks, I'm not going to go into it now, but the fact is we can beat the NRA and we can beat the gun manufacturers, I did it, I did it and I say I (inaudible) became the law that I in fact was able to eliminate assault weapons. It was only for (inaudible) only for 10 years and be renewed in 10 years.

Eliminate the number of bullets that could be in a clip, the thing that goes into a gun, because you remember what happened in Columbine some limitations up to a hundred rounds. I come from a state that not unlike yours it was, at the time, one of the highest percentage of gun owners in the country because a lot of hunting in my state in Delmarva Peninsula, Florida, wild fowl.

And folks, even the NRA members know better. Even the NRA members know we need universal background checks, the majority of them.

When after those events that I just referenced (inaudible) next meeting put together a proposal to do what we do by executive order. There are 33 executive orders put in place by this guy, excuse me, our president, the president has just ripped apart. Folks, there's answers to this. We can do this. In fact, the world is changing and the country is changing --

BLITZER: All right. The former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential frontrunner right now speaking out on this horrific mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. Joining us on the phone right now is the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxson. Attorney General, thank you so much for joining us. Our deepest, deepest condolences to all of the families who are suffering right now in the El Paso area. Can you tell us what officials in El Paso are telling you about the situation there right now?

KEN PAXTON, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, the last I heard they were still interviewing the shooter and there was just one shooter. Obviously, it's helpful that he's still alive to try to understand what he was doing, why he's doing it, how he was doing it. We often don't have the shooter surviving and so it's horrific as this is, hopefully we can learn from the shooter so that we can prevent these things in the future.

BLITZER: Are you getting any initial information, Attorney General, about the motivation? PAXTON: They are still interviewing, so I don't have any particular

information from the interview which I think is going to be the most helpful it shedding light on what his motivation is and why he's done it.

BLITZER: Because there are a lot of reports including our reporting that there are some disturbing social media posts that have been posted from this 21-year-old white male. What, if anything, can you tell us about that?

PAXTON: Well, I'm not surprised that there are disturbing social media posts. That would surprise in any way. I think those can help shed light on why he did it. I also think this interview process is going to play out a very important way in helping us even more greatly understand why he did it?\

BLITZER: As far as you know, Attorney General, did this suspect act individually? Were there any suspects? Anyone knew about what he was plotting?

PAXTON: As far as what I know right now, it was it was just him. There weren't any other shooters. That doesn't mean that law enforcement, the interview going on right now won't find that he was acting with somebody else. We don't know. And we won't know for sure until they've assessed, first of all, whether he's telling the truth and, two; what he's told them.

BLITZER: The suspect is 21 years old, as we said, a white male from Allen, Texas. That's what about 600 miles, maybe a nine or 10-hour drive to El Paso. What do you gather from that?

PAXTON: Well, I think that is accurate information and, yes, it is pretty far. It's in a different time zone. El Paso is pretty far west. It's actually west of Denver and closer to L.A. than it is, I think, Dallas. So, yes, he went a long way to commit this crime and I think that's another thing we may find out from these interviews why he was willing to go all the way to El Paso to do this.

BLITZER: We know about 23, maybe 24 individuals were shot and injured in our local hospitals right now in the El Paso area. We're also told by authorities. There are multiple fatalities. Can you share with us, Attorney General, how many people were killed?

PAXTON: That number keeps changing. I hate to pin down a certain number, but I think it was definitely a large number, at least what I'm hearing. The reports between 15 and 20 are probably accurate. But, again, we got people at the hospitals. We had a lot of chaos. Pinning those numbers down especially with people in critical care right now, I don't think we'll know the exact number till some of those people hopefully get out of the position where they may not make it.

BLITZER: But Attorney General, what you're hearing is that at least 15, maybe as many as 19 or 20 people have been killed in this mass shooting. Is that right?

PAXTON: I think it's probably somewhere in that range. That's at least the information that I'm getting.

BLITZER: Which is so disturbing. Have you gotten specific information, Attorney General, on the nature of those killed? I assume men, women and even children, is that what you're hearing as well?

PAXTON: Yes, I think it was random as far as to who this guy shot and so it was all kinds of rain scripts (ph), all kinds of ages that were shot.

BLITZER: Do you know what kind of weapon? We're told by police authorities, Sergeant Robert Gomez of the El Paso Police Department, it was a rifle. But we don't have more specific information. What can you tell us about the weapon?

[18:55:02] PAXTON: I think that information will be coming out from the local police department very soon. I don't feel comfortable disclosing that. I think that's something that they'll do when they're ready.

BLITZER: Can you share with us, was it an assault type weapon with bump stocks capable of firing a lot of rounds?

PAXTON: Well, I don't know all of the details and what details right now I think it's better for the Police Department that's in charge of the investigation to disclose specific details about what the shooter was doing.

BLITZER: What can we do because unfortunately this happens, as you know, Attorney General, all too often. What can the folks in Texas do, people all over the country who are watching or going with their kids to shopping malls to buy clothes for school when it reopen, school supplies, and they're scared right now, what needs to be done?

PAXTON: It's a tough question, Wolf. I mean, education, awareness, teaching people to be aware. In Texas, we have concealed carry laws in the past that has helped save, potentially, 10s of - maybe hundreds of people. So I think people need to just be aware and be ready to protect themselves because there's no way that law enforcement can be in every place, especially when you have a shooter that can literally fire off hundreds of rounds in a short period of time.

BLITZER: Ken Paxton is the Attorney General of the State of Texas. Good luck over there. We'll stay in very close in touch with you, Attorney General. Thanks so much for joining us.

PAXTON: Wolf, thanks. Please keep these families especially in your prayers.

BLITZER: We certainly are. We're going to take another quick break. Much more of our special coverage right after this.