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EARLY START

Las Vegas Massacre: 59 Dead, 500+ Injured; What Drove the Las Vegas Gunman to Kill?; Trump: Nation United in "Sadness, Shock and Grief". Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


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[05:00:08] 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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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Investigators trying to crack this motive. What drew this shooter to the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Hotel, what drove him to kill all of these people. The big question this morning is still why?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans here in New York where it's exactly 5:00 a.m. in the East.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Tuesday, October 3rd. It is 2:00 a.m. local time here in Las Vegas. We welcome all of our viewers in the U.S. and around the world.

You wonder, this city of Las Vegas, will it ever be known for the glitz and glamour and the tables and the slot machines and the live entertainment, or will it be the backdrop to the worst mass shooting in modern American history?

It's just been just over 24 hours since, and the head line is not what we know at this hour, it's what we don't know. The motive. Why did 64-year-old Stephen Paddock open fire from his 32nd window at the Mandalay Bay here behind me?

He killed at least 59 people, injured more than 500 as 22,000 panicked concertgoers ran for their lives in all directions, unsure of what was happening. Authorities have recovered an astonishing 23 guns from the shooter's hotel room here, 19 more from his home in Mesquite, Nevada.

We'll have more on what we know about the gunman in just a few moments.

Now, investigators have started piecing together how the attack happened. How it was stopped. Officials say a team of six officers spoke with security at the Mandalay Bay and searched the hotel floor by floor until they found the gunman's room. We understand the smoke alarm gave a strong indication of where the shooter might be, smoke- generated from the firing of these weapons. 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 victims' families this morning is why. Why would a man described as a retired accountant with no known history of violence, no real affiliation with hate groups or terror groups, suddenly arm himself with an arsenal of largely military style weapons and open fire from a hotel window? The answer is impossible at this hour.

Jean Casarez has been studying this gunman, Stephen Paddock, and has what few answers investigators have this morning.

What do we know?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you know it's investigators priority because this man is dead. But they want answers to be able to classify what happened and to let the victims and families know why this happened, so they can have some answers.

You know, he had purchased a home in Melbourne, Florida. He sold it in 2015. But Don and Sharon Judy (ph) were his neighbors. They call him a gentle giant, but they said they only visited the home about six times, half a dozen times in two years. Sometimes his girlfriend with come with him, sometimes not.

He usually stayed inside. Didn't come out. But he left the key with Don and he said, you know, watch over the house for me. So, apparently, they went in and saw it was very simple, a couple of sofas, but they left two computers there at all times.

And they said they were up most of the night because they always played video poker. That's the first time we've heard the word computer.

We don't know the inventory of everything law enforcement has found.

BRIGGS: Yes.

CASAREZ: But they kept two computers in Florida. And, obviously, if you played video poker, you know, a computer is involved. That could have a wealth of knowledge.

But here's what we do know. That hotel right behind us right there on the 32nd floor, there were 23 weapons that law enforcement says he brought himself after checking in last Thursday. He was there, Dave, for four days before this happened. And then, in his home, there was 18 additional weapons and explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition, electrical devices.

They're still looking at those, and in his car, fertilizer, ammonium nitrate, the planning, the premeditation that went on had to have been a long time. And who knew about that? You can't hide all of that.

BRIGGS: Such a chaotic scene here at casinos. It's hard to imagine getting 23 assault-type weapons up to a hotel room but I guess over the course of a few days, one at a time.

[05:05:03] What do we know about friends or this girlfriend?

CASAREZ: Friends. And you mentioned it, Dave. We haven't heard from any friends. We hear about neighbors that knew him, his mother. Five to six years ago, she said he's a bad one when talking about her son to some neighbors, what she meant by that we don't know.

His brother Eric said he would send his mother cookies, big boxes of cookies, which seems like the perfect son. Eric, his brother, is really the one that's spoken out the most.

BRIGGS: Yes.

CASAREZ: Saying that this is not my brother. This is no one I ever knew.

But the reality is also that his father was a convicted bank robber on the FBI's most wanted list after he broke out of prison in 1966. Now, Eric says that maybe Stephen knew the father a little better than he did because Stephen was a year older. But the father, he said, was not in their lives.

BRIGGS: And the brother, Jean mentioned there, he at one point told a network that his brother boasted in a text message of winning some $250,000 on poker. Perhaps that was how he was making the money to buy these weapons.

But all attention in likelihood, Christine, focused on his girlfriend, Marilou Danley. Was she a girlfriend? Was she just a companion, a roommate? Out of the country at the time of the shooting.

Initial reports say she's in the Philippines meeting family. Jean told us she is in Tokyo.

ROMANS: And one would assume law enforcement are meeting with her if they had not already.

All right. Dave, thank you so much.

Again the mystery over the shooter and his motives, but the most important people here are the victims, special ed teacher, a new husband, a Las Vegas mother of three, local residents and visitors from near and far.

It is the victims of the mass shooting who matter. They came from all walks of life. There are so many names, 59 grieving families.

CNN's Scott McLean is at University Medical Center in Las Vegas. He joins me now more with the victims of this tragedy -- Scott.

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

Police, they're learning more about the suspect and what made him tick. At the same time we're also learning more about the 59 victims. As you said, they come from all walks of life, but they all had a couple things in common. They all leave behind family and friends and they were also simply just out to enjoy a concert on a Sunday night. That was it.

And so, I'll tell you about some of them. Rachael Parker, just 33 years old. She was a Manhattan Beach police employee in h California. She was a records employee shot at the concert. She died in hospital.

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

Rhonda LeRocque was 42. We know that she was a victim because of a post that her sister made on Facebook saying her heart is broken, she feels numb, she feels paralyzed. She is turning to God for comfort, something she says her sister Rhonda would have wanted her to do.

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

And Neysa Tonks, she was a resident of Las Vegas, a mother of three kids. Kaden, Braxton and Greyson, we know of her death because of her employer confirmed it.

We also know there are people looking for their loved ones actively at this point trying to figure out whether they are in area hospitals and just haven't made contact or whether they are among those who have died.

I ran into one woman, her name is Shona Lyon (ph), and she's the family friend of Derek Taylor (ph) who is missing. He's 56 years old. He's a father, he's a grandfather from California. He was scheduled to return to California, but he missed his flight staying at the Paris Hotel. He never checked out of that hotel.

His family, I spoke to them on the phone, spent their day today calling every hospital in Las Vegas. Calling the hot line that officials have set up to try to reunite people but still no luck. They're obviously hoping that he's still alive -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, just one of many questions as we continue to investigate what happened here and how many of these victims still have tough times to get through. Scott, thank you. One of those questions, as we move forward is how you pinpoint a

motive when a man with no criminal history goes on the deadliest shooting rampage in modern American history. We'll get some perspective from law enforcement officials, next.

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[05:14:06] ROMANS: More than 24 hours since a gunman opened fire from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, no clear picture of why. The gunman had no criminal record, leaving authorities struggling to figure out a motive for the deadliest mass murder in modern U.S. history.

I want to bring in Cedric Alexander, past president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and former NYPD sergeant, Joe Giacalone.

Thanks to both of you.

Cedric, let me ask you first here. When you're hearing these developments about the shooter, so many guns, 23 in the room, 19 back at his home, retired accountant, gambler for fun. What do you make of this profile?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think what's going to be important here in this case, what we have is bits and pieces of information about this subject. But, as this investigation continues, what is going to be important for us to learn is really who is he? What has been his history beyond that of what his family or neighbors may know of him?

There's clearly a dark side to this gentleman, but only until they dig deep into his history, his past will we know anything. Has he been struggling with some mental illness that's just been not diagnosed? Or we don't know. There's so much to be -- so much yet to be explored. All we got is bits and pieces, and everything until then is just speculative.

ROMANS: I agree with you that there definitely is more there that we have not seen, and that law enforcement will unveil. Joe, let me ask you, this is sort of a game changer in terms of the method here, breaking through a window on the 32nd floor and shooting all of those people. One of the headlines in the papers this morning called it a kill box.

How does law enforcement look at this now? This is a new tactic.

JOSEPH GIACALONE, LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINER/FORMER NYPD SERGEANT: Well, if this new tactic is going to unfortunately make them scrap all their plans and they're going to have to redo them all now because whatever you thought was safe in a specific zone, you're going to have now have to extend that security zone, which now puts a strain on personnel and finances and everything else.

So, we're talking about presidential or pope type treatment when you have these outdoor venues now. I mean, that's what basically we're going to be looking at. ROMANS: And you look at the volume of people who can be hurt or

killed with an automatic weapon or in this case, many automatic weapons.

Cedric, what do you think? I mean, do you think local law enforcement are scrapping their plans? Think of a Times Square in New York, or think of any kind of a holiday parade. This changes the game.

ALEXANDER: Well, certainly for us, here in Rochester, New York, where I'm deputy mayor and I had a conversation with the mayor about this yesterday. Beginning today and actually beginning a couple of months ago, we had begun to think about how do we increase, advance, expand our security profile when we have large outside events such as what we have here in Rochester.

So, for all of us, we're going to have to begin to look at not the basic fundamental things we've been teaching people over the years. We have to continue with that. If you see something, say something, but from a security posture, we're going to have to expand how we secure events where you have large populations of people attending, and in many cities where you're going to have buildings that are going to be elevated. And someone is able to get into those buildings and get into a position, as we saw this subject did.

So there's going to have to be a lot of discussion and we're going to have to expand the way we think about providing security to keep people safe.

ROMANS: Joe, I'm thinking of, you know, Times Square, I'm thinking of New Year's Eve, I'm thinking of pride parade, I'm thinking of every kind of thing that happens in this condensed island of Manhattan, and then Chicago does the same thing, and L.A. does the same thing, and Seattle. So, what is the first line of defense then? Is it, you know, checking who is renting every hotel room?

GIACALONE: Yes, I mean that's impossible. I mean, you talk about in New York City where we have tall residential buildings. So, people live there. So, they're not going in and out. I mean, it's a problem. I mean, New York City has a problem tonight. You have the first playoff game in the Bronx at Yankee Stadium.

So, they didn't have a lot of time to plan this but I'm sure that they were up all night trying to do this.

ROMANS: You told me you were worried about copycats too. You say than we say the largest shooting, in -- you know, mass in modern American history, you hear something tempt to go a twisted individual.

GIACALONE: Absolutely. I'm very concerned about that because there's somebody out there saying I'm going to top that now. And we don't want this. We want to tone it down a little bit.

You know, listen, it's a very important aspect that we need to discuss but we have to also be careful about inciting other people to try this. ROMANS: Cedric, can I ask you quickly where you weigh in on how to

label this event? There are some who want to call it domestic terrorism or looking to find some label for this carnage. Where are you?

ALEXANDER: Well, here I am with this. Certainly, you're going to get into the politics of how this should be described or defined. But at the end of the day, we got 59 people dead, we got over 500 people severely injured.

And what we really should be focused on at this point is determining who this individual is and what was his motivation behind these killings and this maiming of people. That is what's clearly important here. We cannot get away -- we cannot or we should not, I should say, get into this whole political piece of defining this as a terrorist or non-terrorist attack.

I'll tell you what? You ask those victims who was out there that night, they were terrorized. There was absolutely no question about that.

But I think what's important is we need to find out who this individual is and was, I should say, so we can make some determination in helping us develop a security profile going forward, to try to at least minimize or hopefully, negate something like this ever happening again on U.S. soil.

[05:20:03] ROMANS: Cedric, if -- what would you be advice to someone a young family wanting to go to a concert or event or a ball game? Is it the onus really on people to avoid crowded spaces? I mean, is there really a way to keep people safe?

ALEXANDER: Look, we're Americans, and we live in a free democracy. I'm going to encourage every American to go out and enjoy yourself with your family, with your friends, as you always have. We cannot allow anyone to deter us from doing that, foreign or domestic. We can't. We're Americans in this country.

And when terror or anything strikes, we're going to stick together as we saw people did the other night, regardless of where we're from or who we are. But the important thing is, is that we all have a responsibility to help each other, and to try to keep each other safe as much as we can, to be eyes and ears. We should always be alert, regardless.

But we certainly are going to have to look at developing new security profiles and protocols going forward. But I tell every American, go out. We're going to continue to be Americans and we're not going to be fearful and allow people to take away what is very fundamental to us as Americans, regardless of who they are.

ROMANS: All right. Hear, hear. Cedric Alexander, past president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, deputy mayor of Rochester, nice to see you. And, Joe Giacalone, law enforcement trainer, former NYPD sergeant, thank you so much for both of you for your perspective this morning. President Trump forced to fill a role no president wants, but every

president must.

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

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ROMANS: President heads to Vegas tomorrow. More of his response, next.

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[05:25:07] 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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BRIGGS: President Trump playing the role there of comforter in chief before traveling here to Las Vegas tomorrow to directly address the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. In a subdued statement from the White House, he said the nation was united in sadness, shock and grief.

Now, the conversation inevitably turns to guns and some Democrats are quickly pouncing.

Let's bring in Sarah Westwood, chief White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner".

Sarah, good morning to you.

Reaction from all over the political spectrum, in particular, let's talk about Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut who called for gun legislation after the Sandy Hook shooting and Gabby Giffords. Let's play some of that and we'll get your reaction on the other side.

OK. We do not have that sound.

But you have seen the statements from Chris Murphy, from Gabby Giffords saying now is the time to do something about gun control. Of course, Republicans argue the opposite. Now is not the time.

Is there ever a good time to have this conversation in this political environment?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, I think President Trump is inevitably going to have to have that conversation sometime this week in the coming days, in response to the Las Vegas shooting. President Trump's response yesterday did earn bipartisan praise because even his critics admitted that, you know, he rose to the somber moment, that it was a well-received day of solemnity from the White House, but obviously, that's not going to last once we find out what drove this shooter to do this, how he was able to obtain so many guns, precisely what kinds of weapons he had, that's going to frame the debate and the White House will lose that excuse of not wanting to discuss the case until all the facts are in.

But we're not even really sure what kind of discussion we're having right now in the absence of so many facts about this specific shooter. So, while there were some Democrats like Senator Murphy who wanted to engage in a kind of philosophical debate about gun control beyond just talking about the concept of tightening regulations on guns, we don't really know yet what kinds of policies would have stopped this specific shooter from getting his hands on guns.

BRIGGS: You bring up a good point. Senator Chris Murphy saying time for Congress to get off its ass and do something. But as some of the gun shops here pointed out, the shooter passed the background checks and at no time did he ever seem unfit or unstable, according to their analysis.

Let's talk about President Trump's reaction, playing that role of comforter-in-chief. What did you think of the way he reacted and how did it differ from some of the tragedy's we've seen in the recent past?

WESTWOOD: Well, again, I think president Trump's response was fairly well-received across the aisle, even his usual detractors were saying that his speech was fit for the moment. That he did play that unifying role of comforter in chief, notably, he stayed off Twitter yesterday. There were no barbs being fired off against his political opponents. That's something that typically he does to take away from moments of victory that he has to take away from serious moments. His Twitter use has been a point of contention in his response to the Puerto Rico humanitarian crisis, with some folks saying that he wasn't taking it seriously enough.

He demonstrated during this response to this Las Vegas shooting that staying off Twitter, that staying on message and leaving the moment to unfold as solemnly as possible was something that helped him. So, I do think that his response was appropriate, and I think that most of Washington agreed.

BRIGGS: Yes, tweet storm over the weekend in particular aimed at Puerto Rico and attacking that mayor of San Juan. How pivotal are the next two days for the president as he visits Puerto Rico today and then comes to Las Vegas tomorrow and what does he need to do?

WESTWOOD: Well, it's absolutely crucial that he demonstrates his engagement with the Puerto Rican crisis when he goes to the island today. He's been criticized from being detached from the crisis. He's been criticized for ignoring the plight of the Puerto Ricans, for not marshaling the government's resources quickly enough to help the people there.

He has to demonstrate that he does care about the Puerto Rican crisis, particularly because he demonstrated so much engagement with the crisis in Houston after Hurricane Harvey and in Miami after Hurricane Irma. So, he has to show the people of Puerto Rico that he has an equal level of concern for their plight. And then in Las Vegas, obviously, he has to show empathy for the victims of the shooting.