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EARLY START

Las Vegas Massacre: 59 Dead, 500+ Injured; What Drove the Las Vegas Gunman to Kill?. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: But it's interesting, I saw that his dad in the '60s and '70s was on the FBI's most wanted list.

[04:30:02] So, there is something here. That is the only other odd thing I saw about his background.

JOSEPH GIACALONE, PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Yes. I mean, we never want to blame people for the sins of their father, so to speak. So, I mean, that may or may not be any issue with this.

But something along the line had to change this guy's mind about what he wanted to do. And that's where law enforcement has to figure out what made him finally decide to do this. I know people use the word snap or whatever -- whatever it is, let's figure it out, because there are warning signs, we might be able to tell people say, if you see this, you know, let somebody know, because this could be a problem.

ROMANS: It looks so premeditated, not like a snap. Three days in there, bringing all those guns -- I mean, I don't know how you get that many guns into a hotel room without being spotted.

Joe Giacalone, come back again in a few minutes. We'll talk more about this case and the investigation as it proceeds here.

EARLY START continues right now.

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

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ROMANS: So many questions and unimaginable heartbreak after the worst shooting in modern American history, new details emerging about the Las Vegas shooter. But nothing really seems to answer the big question here. Why?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans in New York.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs live in Las Vegas, 1:31 here local time.

We are just over 24 hours since the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The headline 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 here behind me?

He killed at least 59 people, injured more than 500, as 22,000 panicked concert-goers ran for their lives. 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 this 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 reportedly helped them locate the exact room. Smoke from the weapons, of course.

The shooter fired at the officers through the door, forcing the SWAT team to move in.

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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.

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BRIGGS: SWAT officers moved in, finding the gunman had already killed himself. The question haunting investigators and, of course, the victim's families this morning is why? Why did a man described as a retired accountant with no known history of violence, no known affiliations with hate groups or terror groups, suddenly armed himself with an arsenal of largely military style weapons and open fire from a hotel window?

The answer proving elusive at this hour.

Jean Casarez joins us live here on the scene in Vegas.

You were here right away from the beginning of this attack. What do we know about 64-year-old Stephen Paddock?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know that he's 64, lives in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada. His brother describes him as 62 inches tall, so a large man.

But the way his brother described him is anything but what the reality is. His brother says that he loved video poker, that it was a job to him but it was fun to him. He loved getting the free drinks, he loved getting the shrimp, he would sit there.

He said that his brother just like nothing more than to take a cruise, and to eat burritos. That he would send his mother, just boxes of -- you know, big boxes of cookies. I mean, that's just like the perfect son. That's the perfect brother.

So, what's missing here? There's something more to the picture. You know, when you look at the amount of weapons, Christine was just mentioning it in that last segment, 23 weapons were found in the hotel room. And early on, police said they thought he brought the weapons in himself. They're combing through surveillance video right now.

BRIGGS: Rounds and rounds of ammunition as well. And when you talk about 23 weapons, all the ammunition and 19 more at the home, thousands of dollars. Is there any sense of how he made his living, how he had the money to buy all these weapons?

CASAREZ: He was an accountant. We know he had real estate. But how he made all that money, through accounting, through real estate, through video poker.

[04:35:02] You know, another interesting aspect of this, there have been search warrants executed on the hotel room that is behind us, on the home in Mesquite, in Reno, Nevada, the property. We don't know the full inventory. We've heard some details of things that were found in a room, such as the guns and explosives and electrical devices and ammonium nitrate in the car, and fertilizer.

We don't know the complete inventory. We don't know if that will be made public. But that could provide some hints and maybe they have a pathway now to discover more of why of his state of mind.

BRIGGS: We've heard almost nothing about friends of the shooter. What about this girlfriend? What do we know about her?

CASAREZ: Well, she's in Tokyo. So, she left the country and authorities really are going to want to talk with her. We have FBI overseas. We have FBI in Tokyo.

So, whether they are sending someone from here or someone there, they obviously are going to ask her a lot of questions and hopefully, she will talk to them.

BRIGGS: Indeed.

Marilou Danley, initially, reports that she was in the Philippines seeing family. Jean points out she's now in Tokyo and that, Christine, has to be the focused in terms of getting some background about this character, some inclination as to why she left the country, did she know about this massive stockpile of ammunition, and weapons and what did she think he was using them for?

ROMANS: Yes, it's remarkable. I'm sure authorities are going to have so many questions for her to sort of fill out the picture of this dead shooter.

All right. Dave, you know, the victims here are the most important, the most important spotlight, a special ed teacher, husband, a Las Vegas mother of three, local residents, visitors from near and far. They are the names that matter in in mass shooting. They came from all walks of life.

There are so many of them, 59 of them leaving behind 59 grieving families. CNN's Scott McLean is at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. He joins us live with more of the victims of this tragedy -- Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Christine.

So much attention has been on the suspect in this case because people want to get a sense of what his motivation was for carrying out this horrendous crime.

As for the 59 victims, we know what their motivation was for being at that concert. They simply just wanted to enjoy some country music with their friends and really enjoy themselves. And they all leave behind people, family and friends. And we want to show you who some of these people were.

And so, one of the victims is Jennifer Irvine. She's from San Diego. She was an attorney, a black belt in taekwondo. She practiced hot yoga. She was also an avid snowboarder.

Another victim, his name was Sonny Melton, just 29 years, a registered nurse from Tennessee. His wife was one of the survivors of the shooting.

Jenny Parks, another victim, 35 years old, a kindergarten teacher from California. Her husband was also wounded. And her school district said that she was, quote, truly one of the most loving people you could ever hope to meet.

Susan Smith was just 53 years old. She was a mother and an office manager from California. She was married with two adult children.

And Angela or Angie Gomez was just 20 years old from Riverside, California. We know that she was one of the victims because, or at least according to the Riverside Unified School District, her employer who said she was fun loving, had a great sense of humor, and always had a smile on her face.

We should also not lose sight of the fact that there are a lot of people still recovering in hospitals, some of them have a long fight ahead of them. Just at UMC alone, there are 12 victims still in critical condition.

And others will still have a long way to go for recovery. I spoke to the family of one woman named Taylor Bard (ph), just 22 years old. She was shot in the arm. She lost a lot of blood on the way to the hospital. She still has movement in her hand but not a lot of feeling. She's going to require probably two, maybe three more surgeries in order to really repair some of the nerve damage that was done.

And one more thing to mention, Dave, that's that officials appeal to people in Las Vegas for blood. The response, absolutely overwhelming to the point where a blood clinic today or yesterday I should say was actually turning people away.

BRIGGS: It's an incredible outpouring of generosity. Thank you, Scott.

I flew in with officials from the American Red Cross. They were stunned at how many people lined up at 2:00 a.m. when the shooting took place at 10:00 p.m. They didn't even open to donate until 7:00 a.m., people here in Vegas doing what they can.

We should also mention the Bellagio Hotel trying to get free rooms for the victims' families that are coming to town.

[04:40:01] Allegiant Airlines based here in Las Vegas trying to do their part as well to get the victims' families here, still searching for answers, many of them wondering where their loved ones are.

Aside from the more than 40 guns, authorities have very little to work with as they search for a motive in this awful attack. We'll get some perspective from law enforcement next on EARLY START.

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ROMANS: More than 24 hours since the gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, no clear picture why. The gunman had no criminal record, leaving authorities to struggle to figure out a motive for the deadliest mass murder in modern U.S. history.

I want to bring a back a former NYPD sergeant Joe Giacalone.

You know, we were talking about the social media issue here as well, after -- during this event all kinds of false rumors, conspiracy theories spreading, and there's still actually out there.

[04:45:05] You look at crisis response page for Facebook had fake information, wrong information at the top. Google, it had a top news, you know, a chat thread that was also erroneous. This is a problem for investigators.

GIACALONE: Well, certainly, it's a problem for law enforcement trying to keep people calm, too. I mean, when these rumors start, it can cause more even panic. So, you know, every police department, if they haven't done so already, and, you know, we don't realize it, but most police departments are small, like fewer than 20 people. So, they should have somebody dedicated solely to the social media aspect and be able to cull through all this information.

And when you find something that's false or rumor, get out there in front of it. Now, Las Vegas did that. Their Twitter feed was hot and heavy. They were getting on air saying there's nothing going on here. So they did an excellent job.

But like everything else, you can find all of it. I mean, I'm looking through the Twitter feed this morning on the way here and some of the things that people say is outrageous.

ROMANS: It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous and outrageous. Really what we're trying to do is figure out what drove this man to do this, so that we can try to understand it so it can be prevented.

When you look at the profile of him, 64 years old, older than most shooters, gunned to the teeth, you know, gunned up to the teeth both in that hotel room and outside of that hotel room, but no real criminal record.

GIACALONE: No criminal record, but that doesn't mean that, you know, he didn't do anything wrong in his life. Just means he didn't get caught, right? So, that probably a lot of people in the United States.

But, the reason why we need to figure out what happened here is because we need to see how we can prevent it if there's anything that would let us know ahead of time or tip us off, would tip anybody off. I mean, a lot of times, you have these things and we haven't heard it yet, well he did mention this or did mention that, you know?

And now, people start to put two and two together. We're not seeing that yet. We need to figure out what friends he hung around with, if he had any friends. People might find him as a recluse, who knows yet? We need to figure out what exactly happened because it's important for investigators going forward and police departments to identify like that.

ROMANS: There was a woman he lived with that's out of the country at the moment. We can assume investigators have followed her wherever she is and trying to debrief her.

GIACALONE: I don't think she's out on the street. I think she's in a police facility. If you notice there aren't any camera pictures of her, or photos or anything like that. So, I believe she's with law enforcement right now.

ROMANS: Speaking of pictures, there's been -- Las Vegas is probably the most photographed place in the world. I mean, you are followed everywhere you go. We can assume they're going through hours and hours of video footage, trying to figure out how he got those guns into the room.

GIACALONE: Yes, video surveillance plays a key role now in every investigation and we know that probably, Las Vegas is probably the most surveilled place. We think New York City is. But with all those casinos and all that money, I would probably say Las Vegas.

So, yes, they're going to have a lot of video evidence. We also have cell phone records that we're going to be looking at, Internet records. These are what I refer to as the forensic horseman so to speak.

ROMANS: Right.

GIACALONE: And they're going to be looking into these things. And there's going to be hours of footage. It's not very exciting to watch video footage and you have to do it step by step.

ROMANS: Hopefully, they've got a lot of help from a lot of different law enforcement.

You know, Dave, we were talking about also the concern about calling this the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. There are other sick minds out there. There will be more shootings, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, indeed there will be, unfortunately.

Joe, a couple of questions for you. And one is you've seen this video over and over again and some law enforcement and analysts have said that doesn't sound like the weapon that they reported they found in his room. There's some report that it may have been modified with a bump stock or with a trigger rigging.

What do you hear when you see that video? What type of modification could be made, and is that something you can purchase over the Internet?

GIACALONE: Well, you can buy anything over the internet. We know that. They're going to have to find out that, too.

But there's a lot of gun clubs, and a lot of different things. There's a big gun show coming up in Las Vegas, so we have to figure out exactly what happened with that.

But we have a serious issue with these you type of firearms that can be rigged to be able to be a -- from a semiautomatic to a full automatic. I've heard full automatic guns. I mean, you -- believe me, I mean, that was on fully automatic.

So, I'm no the an expert as firearms, so I'm not going to know what the difference is in how they actually go about doing it, but we do know that you can get the kits and people can do it for you or you can do it yourself. And if you go on the Internet, you can plan to do anything.

BRIGGS: You are an expert in law enforcement response, and President Trump called it miraculous, the speed that law enforcement responded to this incident. There are some that dispute that notion. Some that suggest there was actually 72 minutes and NBC News reports from the time the shots opened to the time they penetrated the room on the 32nd floor, the Mandalay Bay behind me. Why would it take so long?

GIACALONE: Well, they have to figure out exactly where this was coming from.

[04:50:00] I mean, even the people on the ground even watching the videos, nobody knew where the fire was coming from. They're saying now that a fire alarm actually cued them in on to something. It's Las Vegas at 10:00 at night, probably nobody in h the hotel rooms. So, they're all out in the streets. So, nobody was making phone calls and saying, hey, I get a lot of, you know, noise from the guy next door, or I don't know what's going on.

So, I mean, listen I know people say 72 minutes sounds like a long time, but you have to get people in place. You have -- they had to have the explosives put in. They were probably there a lot earlier than people know. But like everything else, these things do take time to do this because you want to make sure that the rooms are clear.

You're setting off explosives. You don't want to injure anybody innocent in this. And, listen, if you do something wrong, too, people are going to ask you a million question and say, why didn't you wait, why didn't you do this?

So, in law enforcement, there's always -- you know, you're not moving fast enough and then when something goes wrong, what did you do.

BRIGGS: It does sound as though that smoke alarm was pivotal in finding exactly where the room was. Those generate an awful of smoke.

Joe, thank you.

Ahead, President Trump forced to fill a role no president ever wants but every president must.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Families of the victims, we are praying for you and we are here for you.

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BRIGGS: President Trump travels here to Las Vegas tomorrow. More of his response to this awful shooting, next on EARLY START.

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[04:55:30] TRUMP: 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.

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ROMANS: President Trump heading to Las Vegas tomorrow to directly address the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He read that subdued statement, saying the nation is united in sadness, shock and grief and his spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, she became emotional, describing the heroism we witnessed as the attack unfolded.

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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 the midst of unimaginable act of hate will never fade.

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ROMANS: The concert massacre is reigniting the gun violence debate. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut releasing a statement,

saying it is a time for, quote, Congress to, quote, get off its ass and do something.

Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt, a mass shooting in 2011, she says she is praying for the victims and for her former congressional colleagues to find courage to act on gun violence. Republicans also responding to the shooting, but largely avoiding the issue of how to address gun violence.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise wounded in a gun attack just months ago said 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.

Another emotional heartfelt plea from late night host Jimmy Kimmel last night reacting to the tragic shooting in Las Vegas where he grew up.

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JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST OF JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE: Here we are again in the aftermath of another terrible inexplicable shocking and painful tragedy, this time in Las Vegas which happens to be my home town.

This morning, we got children without parents, and fathers without sons, mothers without daughters, we lost two police officers, we lost a nurse from Tennessee. A special ed teacher from local school here in Manhattan beach.

And it's a kind of thing that it makes you want to throw up or give up. It's too much to even process. Of the course, there's something we can do about it. There are a lot of things we can do about it.

But we don't, which is interesting because when someone with a beard attacks us, we tapped phones, we invoked travel bans, we build walls, we take every possible precaution to make sure it doesn't happen again. But when an American buys a gun and kills other Americans, then there's nothing we can do about that.

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ROMANS: An emotional, Dave, Jimmy Kimmel. You know, this is -- this is an exercise Americans go through far too frequently. There is always a political fight on the back end that just fades away.

Immediately, people are using that terrible phrase "gun control". What we're talking about here is gun violence, gun murders. We're talking about something that affects so many different families, yet, our leaders can't seem to have a grownup discussion about it.

BRIGGS: Yes. You know, many online are blasting Jimmy Kimmel for getting in the middle of another political debate, stick to comedy. Well, it carries an inherent risk for Jimmy Kimmel to go out on a limb to make strong statements that you have to applaud his courage in expressing his opinions, and just so the misinformation is not spread, these guns were purchased through legal avenues, a statement from "Guns and Guitars" said he passed, Stephen Paddock, all required background checks. There was no indication to believe he was unstable or unfit at any time.

Christine?

ROMANS: Remarkable. We're showing pictures of some of the victims again. They are people who matter here, not, you know, the weak, twisted.

BRIGGS: No question.

ROMANS: Weak, twisted and failed human being who did this.

Dave, we'll come back in just a second.

EARLY START continues right now.

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