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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
At Least 58 Dead in Las Vegas Massacre; Examining the Shooter's Background. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired October 2, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIC PADDOCK, BROTHER OF SHOOTER: I mean, he's never even drawn his gun. It makes no sense. He's never hit anybody.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And SWAT teams found Stephen Paddock dead when they finally got inside his hotel room overnight.
Police don't believe there were any other shooters and now they're interviewing everyone they can find to find out more about the gunman and his motives -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.
CNN senior national correspondent Kyung Lah is live for us right now near the killer's home in that retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada.
Kyung, are police finding anything there?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are still looking for something.
What they are trying to figure out is the why. And they're hoping to gather some of that information at this house. They have been here since the early morning, since before dawn, and this is continuing throughout the day.
The Mesquite police say they could be here well into the night. They are still blocking off this area. You can see the police cars here are only allowing residents of this one area to go in. And so far, police say earlier they did find some ammunition.
They may have found some weapons, so they're now deferring all of these questions to authorities in Las Vegas. People here, though, are describing him as an enigma, if they met him at all. And we haven't found many who have. They describe him as really just sort of unremarkable.
And that's also the message that we are getting in the Mesquite police who say they didn't know anything about him until this shooting. Here's what the police told us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINN AVERETT, MESQUITE POLICE DEPARTMENT: We haven't had any traffic stops. We haven't had any law enforcement contacts. No arrests or nothing.
LAH: To have nothing and then to have this happen. As a police officer, how do you reconcile all of that?
AVERETT: We don't know how long they have lived here, whether they have been here a while or not. That's something that is being investigated as well. But it is unique.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: And we also heard from a local gun shop today where he purchased legally one of his guns.
And that gun owner saying there was nothing unstable or unfit about him. On the surface, if anything, Jake, the only clue that we are getting as far as something wrong with his family might be what happened with his father, who at one point in the 1970s was on the FBI's most wanted list for being on the run for bank robbery -- Jake.
TAPPER: Kyung Lah in Mesquite, Nevada, thank you so much.
Moments of terror and confusion. Next, we're going to talk to one woman who was fewer than 40 feet from the stage when the shots first started being fired.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
Beyond horrific, those are the words used by country music star Jason Aldean to describe the scene at his performance last night in Las Vegas.
As of now, 58 people are dead, more than 500 were wounded.
On the phone with me right now is one of the survivors of this horrific attack, Kimberly Folle. She and her boyfriend were just feet away from the stage when the shots were first fired.
Kimberly, thanks for joining us.
First of all, we are so glad you are OK. How are you and your boyfriend doing?
KIMBERLY FOLLE, SURVIVOR: Thank you so much.
We are holding up OK so far. Still just a little shooken up, of course.
TAPPER: When did you realize what was going on? We hear that some people thought this was, you know, it was a helicopter, or fireworks or something like that. When did you realize when it was?
FOLLE: So, I was one of the first people that actually realized what was going on.
It seems like he had waited until Jason had begun another song. It was like right at the beginning when he opened fire. So, a lot of people I don't think heard it, because the music was so loud over the gunshots.
And a lot of people thought that it was fireworks. I know Jason usually does big things at his shows. I have seen him -- usually comes out with like fire and like crazy things. So people thought maybe one of his sets was malfunctioning, because it was at the beginning of his song.
But I knew right away it sounded like it was coming from the sky. And I knew. I was telling everybody around me, it's gunshots, it's gunshots, get down, get down.
And everybody around me was like, no, it's not, no, it's not. Nobody wanted to believe it at all.
TAPPER: And then what did you do?
FOLLE: I immediately ducked down.
My boyfriend and I (INAUDIBLE) get down all around me. Get down. You need to get down.
I heard -- because we were on the left side of the stage. And then a bunch of people on the right side of the stage, and the right side of the stage was the side closest to Mandalay Bay. So they were getting hit worse than my side was.
And I had looked over, and I saw a guy who was shot. And the whole crowd was screaming at the security, the paramedics, he's been shot, he's been shot, we need help, we need help.
And that's when I knew, like, I was right, it was gunshots. So I just started telling everyone, get down, get down. And then (INAUDIBLE) look, we have to run. And we were like two of the first people that started running.
TAPPER: And where did you run to?
FOLLE: There was -- I looked over to my left, and I saw there looks like it might have been an emergency exit, or something, or people broke down the fences, because that was not an exit or entrance ever this weekend until yesterday. So, looks to me maybe someone have moved a bunch of fences or
something, but people were just running out east out of the festival heading away from Mandalay Bay. So I just started running over there as fast as I could.
TAPPER: I understand you called your family at some point?
So, I -- honestly, I was terrified. I thought that I was going to die. So I was just running as fast as I could, calling everybody that I could think of to let them know what was going on, and just to say, you know, I loved them.
TAPPER: That -- I can't even imagine getting a phone call like that. Who did you call? And did you let them know that you are OK now?
I first called my mom and my dad. Then I contacted my sisters. Then I started calling friends.
But, yes, at that point, nobody had even known what was going on. I kept telling them, turn on the news, turn on the news. It has to be on there. And they are like, no, it's not, it's not. And they are freaking out because they don't know what's happening and I'm trying to -- I'm crying, I'm running, I'm out of breath.
I'm freaking out trying to explain it. So it was just a really bad situation.
TAPPER: All right.
Kimberly Folle, we are so glad that you and your boyfriend are OK. Thank you for calling in and sharing your story with us.
FOLLE: Of course. Thank you so much.
TAPPER: CNN's Tom Foreman has a terrible look at how geography may have made the shooting much worse -- Tom.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, absolutely.
We have been looking all day at the accounts of the officials and what has been said to us by various eyewitnesses. And we will tell you in just a moment how all of that may have come together to make this attack even more deadly.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back. Continuing with our coverage of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. It was absolutely unthinkable chaos after the sound of rapid gunfire interrupted Jason Aldean's performance on the Las Vegas Strip. Witnesses and law officials are still trying to piece together what exactly happened, how it happened and why. Joining me now from our virtual room is CNN's Tom Foreman. And Tom, you've been able to layout the scene. Tell us about the attack.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you look at the map, Jake, it gives you an idea of why this was so deadly. Here is the Vegas Strip that some of the people know running right through the middle of everything. The concert venue is right over here on the east side, Mandalay Bay over here, and this is the room from where this man was firing. So what he had was really overreaching view of the entire venue over here, about 400 yards away, all easily within range of his weapons.
Now, over that sort of distance, the weapons he had, what we know about them so far, he probably would have seen each bullet drop two to four feet, somewhere in there below where he was aiming. But that didn't matter. You hear the rapid-fire there? That rapid fire was being directed right toward the bulk of the people right in front of the stage like this. So it was simply a sweeping gunfire where there was no way for people to get out of the way. That's the first reason that this was such a deadly attack. Lots of people in a compact area that he could fire into. The second reason that this was such a deadly attack is fairly simple. You listen to your guest a moment ago talking about exits. There were seven official exists to the concert area. The four on the side near me were also the entrances. We've heard eyewitnesses talk all day about people trying to go back out the way they came in.
Psychologically, most people do this at times like this so they were actually moving toward the gunman, not away from him, even those who tried to flee. And the last part of this why the fatalities and injuries mounted so much is also the fact that many people did not know where this gunfire was coming from. Your last guest said she knew it was coming from above but a lot of other people all they have talked about is saying, we just didn't know which direction it was coming from. You watch the videos and see people looking all sorts of directions and ultimately many of them hunkering down where they were trying to be safe, even as she said get down, he won't be able to shoot you, unaware the whole time the gunman could see all of them out there, Jake. Those are three reasons why this attack went on so long and so many people were killed and hurt.
TAPPER: And Tom, tell us about the setup that the shooter had in his hotel room?
FOREMAN: Yes, we don't know a whole lot about it except we know that he was in there for three days ahead of time, which meant because this concert was going on -- this festival was going on all weekend, he had that whole time to look at the area to see the lay of the land there. He also had time to bring in this hammer device that people say he used to smash out the windows before he started shooting. And obviously, somewhere along the line, he brought in these ten guns authorities say they found in there. But we also know that the hotel staff told authorities they saw nothing untoward, saw no sign of any of this going on until the police burst through the door with explosive charges and found the gunman also dead apparently by his own hand inside the room. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you so much. Police say that the shooter checked himself into the hotel three days ago and that he had at least ten firearms in the hotel room. What could this tell investigators about his possible motive? That story next.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: We're back with our breaking news coverage of the massacre in Las Vegas. We have lots to discuss with our security panel, Juliet Kayyem who served in the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama. We have former Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and also with us Phil Mudd, a former FBI and CIA Counterterrorism Official. Phil, let me start with you. Right now officials are digging into the shooter's background. Thus far, they say there's no known nexus to any terrorist group. What are the important questions that need to be answered by law enforcement as this move forward?
PHILLIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Simple question, it's the air gap between what we're seeing today on T.V. and what's going on in the investigation. I want to know if somebody knew, and in particular, if somebody was a co-conspirator. For example, I want this guy's Google Search record, I want to know whether he started looking at targets, I want to know his text messaging record, I want to know his e-mail record, not only because I want to see content, what was he talking to people about in emails, but for example I want to see frequency of text messages. Were there bursts over the past week to any particular individual who -- that suggest that he was engaged with it? Let me tell you something, Jake, this guy checked in days early, he spent presumably some amount of time amassing weapons and ammunition. You're going to have to persuade me that nobody had an inkling of what was going to go on here when we had that kind of forethought in this case.
TAPPER: Juliette, the shooter checked in days ago as Phil noted, I think on Thursday, he had ten rifles in his possession, obviously quite a lot of ammunition. There's a lot of planning that must have gone into this. So what does that tell you?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. It tells me that this was not something that just got triggered because he was mad at someone. This is a long-term planning event. He was clearly staking out the area. He knew that the concert was going on because it was such an easy target. And he somehow managed, without -- just picking up on what Phil said -- without anyone knowing to acquire these ten guns or get these ten guns to get into the Mandalay, no one notices, no housekeepers, nothing in the luggage, at an area in Las Vegas that has a lot of video and a lot of videotapes.
So I'm curious about what they have in terms of surveillance and also did anyone else know? And I have to be honest with you, you know, the Las Vegas Police are sort of shutting down theories of the case. I would not do that right now. I'm not -- I don't know if this is terrorism or what. But given that we know almost nothing about what animated him, I would keep every door open at this stage until you can start to close them out with sufficient evidence. But apparently he has a girlfriend who has left the country so I'm also curious about her.
TAPPER: Chief Ramsey, take a listen to this 911 dispatch audio.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor. I can hear the automatic gunfire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Javier, is there a unit down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised, it is automatic fire. Fully automatic fire from an elevated position. Take cover.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct. It's fully automatic fire. I'm right below it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Chief, explain for our viewers who are not familiar with the difference between semi-automatic and automatic fire, what the difference is and how important that might be?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, with semi-automatic you have to pull the trigger each time to fire the weapon. With fully automatic, you deep press the trigger once and it just continues to fire. So clearly this was fully automatic. You can tell from the sound of the -- of the weapon discharging how rapid it was. No one could pull a trigger that quickly in order for it to be semi-automatic. So definitely was fully automatic.
TAPPER: And it's tougher, is it not, Chief, to purchase an automatic weapon than it is a semi-automatic weapon. In fact, some -- one theory right now is that perhaps he purchased semi-automatic weapons and then converted them to automatic.
RAMSEY: Well, that's a possibility. But that's what the FBI and ATF will be looking into. They'll trace those weapons, find out exactly where he bought them, what kind of condition they were in at the time of purchase, whether or not they were illegally converted. All of this will happen during the course of the investigation. I'm sure right now they are looking at that sort of thing.
TAPPER: Phil, when you listen to the 911 tapes and you hear the SWAT team about to go into that room, you realize how brave the first responders are. Las Vegas police getting a lot of praise for the way they responded. What do you think made it as effective as it was?
MUDD: I think when I look at this, one of the things --
RAMSEY: Well, I --
MUDD: I'm sorry, go ahead.
TAPPER: No, Phil, that's for Phil (INAUDIBLE)
RAMSEY: No, no, it's all right Phil.
MUDD: One of the things I'm thinking about is obviously you are looking at a huge area. We're talking about 400 yards. How quickly they identified the location, I think there's going to be some additional questions over time, Jake, something I haven't heard. They had difficulty identifying the room in determining what was going on here. More a question for Chief Ramsey, when I look at this saying, in the future are we going to be running drone operations where we can look into that room and potentially an armed drone operation where you do not put a first responder at risk to take that guy out? What do you do in future situation where you can't access the room safely? I think there's some open questions about that.
KAYYEM: I would agree with that that in terms of hotel security, especially security that's overlooking an open event, we are going to see likely more security as we should. And given the nature of the soft target, look, as I said on air all the time, you can't make a soft target hard, but you can make it less soft. And so what our goal is now is to look at minimizing the risk to everyone who is convening, that includes a discussion about access to weapons as well as fortifying the area that we see right here. This is -- this was unimaginable, but when, you know, a day after you think, wow, that was relatively easy on his part. And so our goal of those of us who used to be in government is, OK, what can we learn from this to now minimize the likelihood it will happen again?
TAPPER: Chief Ramsey, this must be a new nightmare for police forces and security forces all over the country. Now they have to plan for this.
RAMSEY: Well, it is. I mean these outdoor events take place in cities across America. Certainly, you look at the venue and you try to harden that as a target. But now you have to expand that out because I don't know how you would have anticipated something like this occurring quite frankly. Now if you have a Presidential visit or something like that, obviously, then you are looking at the surrounding buildings and you have counter snipers and all that. Before an event like this, you wouldn't go -- you wouldn't necessarily take those steps. And I don't know how realistic it is to think that we will be able to, you know, to do those kinds of things in the future. To an extent, yes, we got to revisit security, but I think we have to really be reasonable in just how much law enforcement is going to be able to do.
TAPPER: All right, thanks to my panel. That is it for THE LEAD now. I'm Jake Tapper, I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.