Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Shootings in California; Ariel Castro Indicted; One Dead, Several Shot at Santa Monica Community College; Obama: 'Nobody is Listening' to Calls; Ariel Castro Indicted on 329 Counts
Aired June 7, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Also happening now, breaking news: deadly shootings at multiple locations in Southern California. We're standing by for police to reveal new information. Santa Monica college is in lockdown right now, after a shot rang out in the school library. We're following all the angles to this developing story.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's begin with the breaking news in Southern California, deadly shootings at a college campus, at a home and gunshots also fired on a bus. We're standing by for two news conferences, all this happening while President Obama himself was in Santa Monica for a political fund-raiser, just a 10-minute drive away.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is joining us live from Santa Monica right now.
For viewers who are just tuning in, Miguel, update them on what we know. And I want to just reiterate, we're standing by for a briefing from local police authorities on new information coming in. But update our viewers on the latest information.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sadly, this happened again, this time Santa Monica College, where a gunman walked onto campus, and the best we can put together, he was dressed in black, appeared to have all sort of military type gear on and using an AR-16, or assault type weapon.
AR-16 is the civilian version of the M-16, began shooting. Many people heard a couple of shots. Others that we talked to heard multiple shots at -- dozens and dozens of shots around the campus. We're also tracking two other events that appear that may be related. One is a city bus. A Santa Monica blue bus was shot up not very far from the campus here. Nobody was killed in that incident.
And then a house was set on fire, and two people were shot and killed, were found in that house. That was set on fire. That is also not very far from the campus. We do know that one shooter is either dead or in custody. We also know that four people have been taken to the hospital, to UCLA Medical Center here, two of them in critical condition. It sounds like all of the victims are female as well.
I want to bring in Beth Topping who works for KCRW, the radio station that is based here in Santa Monica College.
BETH TOPPING, WITNESS: Right.
MARQUEZ: You walked out of your office, and saw what?
TOPPING: I heard a couple of gunshots, and someone came running into our office and told us that someone had a gun and to get out. So I instinctively ran into the hallway, and when I got out there, I saw a gentleman dressed in all black.
He looked very official to me. I thought maybe he was SWAT. He was in some paramilitary gear. And he was sort of walking casually down the hallway and had a rifle across his chest. I was waiting for some instruction from him as to where to go, or what to do, and he didn't say anything. He was just walking towards me.
And so I ran with a colleague down the hall. And when we got to the outside door, he was still walking in our direction. And I paused to look back at him.
MARQUEZ: My God, that sounds like a horror film. At what point did you realize this person not here to help, he was a threat?
TOPPING: I just had a gut instinct because he wasn't telling us anything. And he had a gun and he was coming towards and so I had a really weird feeling about it and decided to run.
MARQUEZ: You say he was dressed in -- the gear he was dressed in, he had gears, kneepads? What did he have on?
TOPPING: Yes, he was backlit a little bit, so I couldn't see a lot of detail. As far as I could tell, it was all black. I could see the outline of the knee guards and that he was wearing combat boots. And he looked like a large guy. I don't know if that's because of what he was wearing.
MARQUEZ: Did he appear to have a protective vest on, some sort of a pullover vest?
TOPPING: It looked like it. I wouldn't have identified it as such. But he was just head-to-toe in the black garb.
MARQUEZ: Did you see anything in his hands, maybe a handgun or...
TOPPING: Well, he had a rifle that he was holding on to.
MARQUEZ: There was a rifle slung around his back and a rifle he was -- held onto?
TOPPING: I didn't see anything on his back.
MARQUEZ: I see.
TOPPING: I just saw him holding the rifle, looked like he was holding it with two hands and it was draped across his chest.
MARQUEZ: Oh, I see.
And then later as you were -- because then you went down and you hid in the radio station?
MARQUEZ: And then when you came out, you did see somebody that fit that description and he was down, yes?
TOPPING: Right. Right. Yes.
They took us out of the building, and as we were walking towards Pearl Street, it appeared that there was a dead body there on the sidewalk. And it matched the description of the guy that I saw.
MARQUEZ: That you saw?
TOPPING: Yes, based on what he was wearing, because I couldn't get a clear look at his face.
MARQUEZ: How can you be sure that he was dead?
TOPPING: Well, he was laying there still. I thought I saw some blood. He didn't look like he was receiving any medical attention.
MARQUEZ: I see.
TOPPING: So I assumed he was dead.
MARQUEZ: Did you hear or see any other shooter on campus?
TOPPING: I did not.
MARQUEZ: You have probably covered these working for a news radio station, or at least dealt with them before. We have seen them all over the country. What is it like to be in the middle of one?
TOPPING: It's terrifying. There was a lot of panic.
I realized that I don't really know what to do in those kind of situations, because I instinctively ran and I probably shouldn't have. There was a lot of adrenaline, a lot of confusion. And then afterwards, once we started keeping it all together, it was very upsetting.
MARQUEZ: And he never brought the gun down to bear on you, even though you saw him twice?
MARQUEZ: And you were well within range?
TOPPING: I was well within range. He was coming right towards us. The whole time, he had his gun close to his chest, and he never pointed it at us. And the reason it felt so strange is because he was just walking down the hallway so casually. He wasn't raging. He wasn't in a chaotic state at all.
MARQUEZ: Did he say anything?
MARQUEZ: How are you so cool, calm and collected right now?
TOPPING: I don't know. I'm a little shocked, I think.
MARQUEZ: My God. That is quite a bit to go through. Thank you very, very much.
TOPPING: Thank you.
MARQUEZ: Very nice to meet you.
TOPPING: Thank you.
MARQUEZ: Good luck. Have a better weekend.
TOPPING: Thank you. I will. Appreciate it.
MARQUEZ: My God, to hear the stories that people are telling coming out of this, it is still not clear that we are safe, because we saw the helicopters up overhead. Police so far have only said they have been checking for the possibility of another shooter. We have heard students tell us that all of their belongings are where they left them, that police are treating everything as though it might be explosive.
So it's a very chaotic situation here at Santa Monica College. The worst does seem to be over. But until we get official word, which I understand, Wolf, has been pushed back 15 minutes to 6:30 Eastern time, 3:30 local, until we get official world, though, it's going to be hard for anybody to rest easy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We're told, Miguel, that we're standing by for two news conferences, one from the police department on the campus over there where you are at Santa Monica Community College. That will be taking place, we're told, fairly soon. It is a fluid situation, obviously. They said originally 6:15 p.m. Eastern time, 3:15 out on the West Coast, but that may be changing.
UCLA Medical Center also scheduling a news conference around the same time, that's where three of the victims are right now. Two are listed, as you point out, in critical condition, one in serious condition. We will get an update from the physicians over there, from the doctors at the UCLA Medical Center.
So you see we have got two news conferences coming up that we're watching right now. Are people still milling around, or are they in lockdown situation where you are, Miguel?
MARQUEZ: Yes, let me show you what's going on here now, Wolf. If you can just -- if you can see the blue buses down there, those are Santa Monica blue buses. Now, those are being used to transport people who saw -- some witnesses. There are a few people still off to the right there. Police are still questioning them, getting their information. The blue buses were brought in to possibly transport them to other -- to another location. But it's just not been possible given how much of a police presence there is right now.
Those blue buses are also the type of blue bus that would have been shot up earlier right near the school. It's the Santa Monica city public transportation system essentially. We understand that somebody dressed all in black and with a military assault weapon shot up a bus. Nobody was seriously injured in that shooting, thankfully, but then the shooting a short time later here on campus. Certainly those two shootings seem to be connected.
The house is a little more of a question mark. There was a house fire. Two people were found dead inside of that, also gunshot victims. But it's not clear whether or not the person who was at that house -- doesn't seem to match the description that we have so far of the shooter here.
Every indication I have here at Santa Monica College is that there was one shooter, at least the person dressed the exact same way, and that that person appears to have been shot and probably killed. But we are still awaiting confirmation on that, Wolf.
BLITZER: And that individual dressed in what the local authorities are calling black fatigue, all black. So, clearly, all these eyewitnesses who saw someone with an assault type weapon dressed in all black, and now we just heard that that individual was on the ground, not moving. So we assume the shooter is dead, right?
MARQUEZ: Yes, I mean, the best indication is that they were on the ground, they saw blood and that nobody was attending to them, that there was no medical attention being given. So one can draw the conclusion that they were probably dead.
The big question out there, though, still is whether there was more than one shooter. Beth, who I just spoke to, had the best description that I have heard so far, that he was in not only black BDUs, or military type pants and shirt, but also had the big kneepads that one would need if you were going into someplace where you would be ducking down and firing behind walls and that sort of stuff.
He also had heavy combat boots on, apparently. The shocking thing about what she says is that she walks down the hall, sees the guy coming at her with a gun, lazily walking down the hall, didn't ever bring it down to bear on her. She almost went to him thinking instinctively that this was a police officer because he had so much military or police-like gear on. When he didn't say anything, her blood, I'm sure, ran cold.
And then she took off. She looks back again, and sees him still walking down the hall, but not going after her. It's not clear who this person's target was. We do know that three of the victims, perhaps all four of the victims, the two that are in critical, one is in good condition, one is in fair, all those victims are women, which -- whether or not he was looking for somebody in particular on that bus, in the school, is not clear.
We do hope to have a lot more information coming up in either five minutes, as Santa Monica police have said, or in 20 minutes, because I think they have just updated the time that that press conference will occur -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will stand by for both of these press conferences, one from the campus with the local police, also one from the hospital, UCLA Medical Center, with an update of the condition of the individuals who were brought to the hospital earlier. They said two in critical condition, one in serious condition.
We will have live coverage obviously of all of that.
There's other breaking news we're following right now. We will take a quick break. When we come back, we will update you. There's some shocking information coming out of Philadelphia on the collapse of that building. Six people were killed the other day. We're just learning some very, very disturbing information. Stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The other breaking news we're following right now, the deadly building collapse in Philadelphia, new and very disturbing information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, has been following this story for us.
What a horrific story. What are we learning now, Susan?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, Wolf, that one of the things witnesses were talking about just before that collapse was watching the movement of that crane.
Well, now we are learning from a source at City Hall that in fact who has knowledge of this investigation that blood tests taken on that crane operator revealed that he had both marijuana and pain medication in his blood system. Now, this is very important information, of course, as investigators take a look at, try to figure out what went wrong, what led up to that wall to collapse onto a building, that Salvation Army thrift store, and wound up crushing and killing six people and injuring at least a dozen others, Wolf.
BLITZER: You were just in Philadelphia. It's pretty shocking to see the rubble that was that just came down, and the tragedy, of course, so many people were killed and injured as a result of that, and now this information coming in. I'm sure it's going to shock a lot of folks in Philadelphia and way beyond.
CANDIOTTI: Oh, that's right. And there's so much more work to be done. Now, the district attorney's office is not saying officially whether they are going to be prosecuting anyone in this case. But, of course, it's a sure bet that, as they gather all this additional evidence, that it very well could lead to charges in this case, of course, among other things, not only looking at the crane operator, but taking a very close look at both the people who ran the demolition company, the contractor that was hired to take down this building.
And as we already know, a lawsuit has already been filed as of yesterday. And now not one, but two plaintiffs are involved in filing a lawsuit against the contractor that was in charge of this demolition job. They are already alleging that there were unsafe conditions there.
And other eyewitnesses have reported that they saw unsafe conditions at that site, both before and as a consequence of what happened at that collapse. So we will now wait to see whether any charges will be filed in connection with this case. Certainly a lawsuit, civil lawsuit has been filed. And all of the wreckage that you see at the scene will be preserved, so that everyone can examine it.
Obviously, both police officials, the fire marshal's office, OSHA is involved, as well as the civil plaintiffs in this case.
BLITZER: Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia told me the other day there will be multiple, multiple investigations. They want to learn what happened to make sure it never, ever happens again.
All right, Susan, thanks very much.
Other breaking news we're following from Cleveland right now.
Ariel Castro, the man accused of holding three young women hostage in his house for a decade, has just been indicted on 329 counts.
Brian Todd is joining us now with more information.
Brian, pretty shocking, every time you hear this, but now these formal counts have been revealed.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. They're really going after Ariel Castro.
And a little more detail now from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy McGinty, as he announces thee 329 counts of the indictment against Ariel Castro, Timothy McGinty saying this is the first major step in the investigation.
And important here -- I know that you and Jeffrey Toobin were talking about this a minute ago. He said this covers the period from August of 2002, when the first of the three women discovered in that house last month disappeared, until February of 2007, August of 2002 to February of 2007. That is only five years of this entire ordeal. It's left than half of it.
You have got six more years, from 2007 to 2013, that these charges do not cover. And the prosecutor is saying, this is the first major step in the criminal justice process. He says, our investigation continues. We will present our findings to the grand jury.
Ariel Castro, according to the prosecutor, will be arraigned on these charges next week, and a trial judge will be assigned. To break down these 329 counts very quickly again for you, one act of aggravated murder. This is according to the prosecutor and the Cuyahoga County grand jury, one act of aggravated murder for purposely and with prior calculation and design causing the unlawful termination of another's pregnancy.
That's the aggravated murder charge. Also, 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual imposition, three counts of felonious assault, one count of possession of criminal tools, and the prosecutors saying they are going to review on whether this is eligible for the death penalty. The aggravated murder count, as you heard Jeff Toobin say, could be the precipitating charge for a possible death penalty conviction.
BLITZER: And if there are other aggravated murder charges and counts leveled, that would obviously reinforce that possibility of the death sentence being available.
All right, Brian, thanks very much.
We're standing by for news conferences coming out of Santa Monica, California, deadly fire, deadly shooting, multiple deaths. We're hearing from the police and a local hospital in just a moment.
BLITZER: We're standing by for two news conferences out of Santa Monica, one from the UCLA Medical Center, where three people who were shot remain, two of them in critical condition, one in serious condition. We will get an update from the physicians, from the doctors at UCLA Medical Center. That's coming up momentarily.
It looks like they're getting ready to speak to reporters. Also, another news conference from the Santa Monica Police Department on the shooting incident that occurred on the campus of the Santa Monica Community College. We expect that one to take place. We're anxiously awaiting word whether there was one shooter, two shooters. There's a lot of information that we still don't know. But we're watching all of this.
In the meantime, let's get a quick check of some of the other top stories we're following in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. We will get to those news conferences shortly.
Sources say an arrest has been made in connection with the allegedly ricin-tainted letters mailed to President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last month. Investigators now believe Texas actress Shannon Rogers Richardson, also known as Shannon Rogers Guess, mailed the letters from Shreveport, Louisiana. She had a minor role in the television series "The Walking Dead." There are some pictures. Flash flood watches, meanwhile, are in effect from Georgia all the way up to Maine, as Tropical Storm Andrea makes its way up the East Coast. The powerful winds that pounded Florida have subsided. But meteorologists are warning not to take this storm lightly. Washington, D.C., the area where I am right now, could get up to six inches of rain. And New York could get one to two inches an hour heading into Saturday. We will watch the weather as well.
Coming up, we're going back live to Santa Monica, California. We will hear from an eyewitness. We're awaiting two news conferences.
In the meantime, though, let's go back to Miguel Marquez. He's got some more information. He's there on the campus of Santa Monica Community College.
Miguel, what do you have?
MARQUEZ: Yes, Wolf, we're going to hear from the police chief of Santa Monica, the city of Santa Monica, the police chief of the college here, and a fire official with Santa Monica shortly. They're saying between 6:30...
BLITZER: Hold on, Miguel. It looks like the doctor there from the UCLA Medical Center is together with the team. They're about ready to begin.
Let's listen in, hear what they say. They have got some preliminary words from a spokesperson. But there is the physician in white. And we will hear the condition of these individuals who were shot on the campus of this community college. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
DR. MARSHALL MORGAN, UCLA MEDICAL CENTER: My name is Marshall Morgan. I'm the chief of emergency medical here at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. And I have a statement that I want to make on behalf of the institution.
QUESTION: Can you speak as loud as possible?
MORGAN: All right, I will do my best.
All right, first of all, our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and all the people who were involved in this in a negative way. I can report that we received three patients. Two of those patients arrived in critical condition. One of them has died. The other is still in the operating room, as far as I know. We received a third patient who was in serious condition, and now appears to be doing quite well.
I should point out that these patients were brought here because we are a level one trauma center. We drill for things like this. And we're quite good at it. And our system worked very well today. The hospital will be reaching out to the relatives of any patients that we have received and all of the patients that we have received, so that there is not much point in people calling in, because we will be calling out to the families of the people who were seen here.
The hospital emergency department and the hospital at Santa Monica, the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital, also received three patients, all of them relatively minor. All of them are doing well. In case -- you know, many people are moved to try to donate blood in a situation like this. I can tell you that our medical center currently has enough blood in the blood bank to get us through this and the weekend.
But we will need to replenish our blood supply, and if people wish to donate next week, Monday or Tuesday, that would be a great help to us in keeping our blood bank ready for whatever comes next.
And that's about it for me. Thank you.
QUESTION: Can you just go over again, Doctor, the three patients brought to you from that shooting.
QUESTION: One died?
MORGAN: Three patients.
Yes, two were very seriously -- were critically injured. One has died. One remains in the operating room and is still very critical. And one of them had relatively minor injuries. We put that person's condition as serious. It's still serious, but she is doing well.
QUESTION: Can you tell us about the injuries to the others?
MORGAN: I really -- you know, they were firearm injuries. I don't want to go into any more than that.
MORGAN: All of our patients were female, three women, yes.
MORGAN: UCLA Santa Monica received three patients. They all had relatively minor injuries, and all of them are doing well.
QUESTION: What were ages, the approximate ages of the women brought in?
MORGAN: That's a good question, because I don't know for sure. I know that one of those people -- they were middle-aged people, as far as I know, 30s, 40s, 50s.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) woman in the operating room?
MORGAN: I really cannot. I know that she's in the operating room being treated for her injuries. She was shot.
QUESTION: Can you tell us where she was shot?
MORGAN: My understanding is that she has head injuries.
QUESTION: And the people at Santa Monica, they were also shot?
One of them received wounds that may have been shrapnel, may have been a gunshot wound. The other people were not shot, but were otherwise injured during the whole incident.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) woman is expected to be OK, the one that's out of surgery?
QUESTION: There's one still in...
MORGAN: There's who's come out of surgery and is doing well. That was the one I described as being in serious condition when she got here.
QUESTION: And then the other one that is in surgery, you said (OFF- MIKE)
MORGAN: No. We received three patients. Of those three, two had critical injuries. One of those persons has died. And the other, to the best of my knowledge, is still in the operating room.
QUESTION: And the one who died (INAUDIBLE) where were the injuries?
MORGAN: They were primarily abdominal, as I understand it.
MORGAN: I'm sorry. What was your question, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where the injuries were (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MORGAN: They were abdominal injuries, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know we're going over and over it, but we have to be sure. Can you again tell us the condition of the three patients (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
MORGAN: My understanding of those patients is that one of them was brought by ambulance, because of injuries that appeared to be due to shrapnel. The other two patients walked in, and they were injured in other ways, with minor injuries, but they were not injured by gunfire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you give us the sex of those patients? Are they female or male?
MORGAN: Again, I don't know that for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry, so the Santa Monica UCLA, two of them walked in and one was taken by ambulance?
MORGAN: That's correct. And...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
MORGAN: My name is Marshall Morgan. And Mr. -- yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. Of the three that were in Santa Monica, how many were shot by gunfire?
MORGAN: Well, one of them had injuries that may have been shrapnel from gunfire.
BLITZER: All right. So we're just getting a recap now from Dr. Marshall Morgan of the UCLA Medical Center.
Just for those who are just tuning in, three people were brought to the UCLA Medical Center, all women. Two were in critical condition. One of those in critical condition is now dead. The other individual still in critical condition, still in surgery. A third person in serious condition, doing well, according to Dr. Morgan.
Three other people were shot, were taken to the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. They are all doing well. We don't know if these are three additional women. We'll get more information on that.
One incident, the shooting incident on the campus of Santa Monica Community College. There's been another shooting at a nearby home, two individuals dead. We have no idea if that is at all connected to the shooting incident at the nearby Santa Monica Community College. But we're watching this very closely.
We're also watching what happened in one of those big Blue Buses in Santa Monica. That's where Miguel Marquez is joining us from right now. Two people were shot -- They're in good condition -- on this bus.
So Miguel, we now know one fatality from among the victims. Do we still believe, at least one of the suspects, if there were more than one, has -- we know is in custody, but do we know if that individual has been shot?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every indication we have from several witnesses, Wolf, is that that person was shot and killed. The big question is whether or not there was more than one shooter out there.
We are also getting a bit more information, maybe another data point on how all this played out. It sounds like this was a bit of a complex situation with all three locations related to the same individual. Our producer, Traci Tamura, spoke to an eyewitness across the street, from the house that was shot up, at 11:55 today Pacific Time. Two people were shot and killed in that house. That house then set on fire.
That eyewitness told our producer, Traci, that a person dressed all in black fatigues seemingly brandishing an assault type weapon, came out of the house, stopped a car in order to car jack it, jumped in that car, tried to get another car to go around them. When they wouldn't move, he shot the person in that car, another woman in that car. She was injured and shot in the shoulder, not killed, fortunately.
And then it seems that we had the Blue Bus incident where people were injured in that, but not killed. The Blue Bus, the Santa Monica City public transportation.
And then what happened here at Santa Monica College, with several people shot. And a gunman described, again, all in black fatigues, possibly wearing a vest, that had heavy boots on, and knee pads. This was somebody who had clearly planned this out and had clearly come to do this.
And I want to chat now with Priscilla Morales, who was in the library. You heard the shots. How close were they? How many shots did you hear?
PATRICIA MORALES, WITNESS: I heard three shots. And they were right outside of the location to where I was. I was on the second floor. It happened down the stairs on the first floor.
MARQUEZ: You were studying with your friends. What was the situation like in there?
MORALES: Well, we were studying and we just seeing people outside running. And then we're like, what's going on? And then a few minutes later we hear the school alarm go off. And then we're like OK. So we grabbed our stuff and we leave.
As we open the door, all we see is like -- we hear three gunshots. Like one right after another after another one. And then we see, like, the shock of the light. The light, you know, when you shoot something.
MARQUEZ: So he was -- he was feet away from you?
MORALES: Yes, he was.
MARQUEZ: Did you feel the gunshots, as well?
MARQUEZ: You were very close.
MORALES: Yes, we were. It was really bad.
MARQUEZ: You never saw him? MORALES: We saw him after we got out. We saw him, and he was like dead. If that was him. The cops said it was him.
MARQUEZ: They said it was him, and he appeared to be dead?
MARQUEZ: Did you -- did you fear for your life?
MORALES: Yes. I was worried. I was so scared. I literally thought I was going to die. At the point where the cops were trying to come inside where we were, I thought that was going to be him, like, ready to shoot.
MARQUEZ: You weren't sure whether to trust the police at that time?
MARQUEZ: And how are you doing now?
MORALES: I feel better now. I mean...
MARQUEZ: You seem amazingly cool, calm and collected.
MORALES: Yes. Well, after a couple hours, yes. But in the beginning, it was so bad I couldn't even talk. It was really, really bad.
MARQUEZ: Did you hear the person say anything?
MORALES: He was arguing with the cops. The cops were telling him to drop it. He said, "I won't drop it." He was Yelling.
MARQUEZ: So he was in that close of a -- the police response, then, must have been almost immediate?
MORALES: Yes, it was. It was less than ten minutes. It was brief.
MARQUEZ: Did he -- did he seem to be trying to get into the library?
MORALES: I think he was like -- the shots were in the library. I don't know if he was trying to get in the library, or what was going on, but the shots we heard -- because we saw the light. And that's when we went back inside the room that we were in.
MARQUEZ: A study room that's inside the library, is that correct?
MARQUEZ: And what was he saying to the police exactly?
MORALES: We couldn't hear that much. Because at the time there were helicopters and stuff going on around us, dogs in there. We didn't really hear what was going on.
MARQUEZ: But he was Yelling at the police? MORALES: Yes.
MARQUEZ: You could hear the police?
MORALES: I just heard, drop it. And he apparently didn't want to drop it.
MARQUEZ: So you don't know if the shots were being fired by police or from him?
MORALES: Yes, we were locked inside a room, like on the floor.
MARQUEZ: And then too afraid to open the door for the police until they did come around?
MORALES: Yes. They didn't -- they actually had to struggle their way inside. And we wouldn't open the door because we didn't know who it was. And then once they saw us, they told us to get on the floor and have our hands up in the air. And they had, like, rifles and stuff like that. They told us to crawl downstairs, so we can get out.
And as we were evacuating the room, they were telling us to put our head down. Because I guess they didn't want to see us. They didn't want us to see what was around. But by the time we were going out, we saw a man, like laying down, like he was dead. He was wearing all black. Like gloves, black gloves and everything.
MARQUEZ: So protective on his hands, on his knees.
MARQUEZ: Did he seem to have a protective vest on, a bulletproof vest?
MORALES: Yes, I thought it was the cop, but it wasn't.
MARQUEZ: Oh, my gosh. That is -- are you all right?
MORALES: Yes. Luckily, yes, I am.
MARQUEZ: You're feeling all right?
MARQUEZ: OK. Thank you very much.
Wolf, I also want to show you what is going on here. We expect at any moment to hear from several police and authorities and agencies here in Santa Monica. You can see the number of police down the way here, next to those Blue Buses. Those are also a lot of the witnesses that the police are trying to get through down there.
The Blue Buses that you're seeing is not the Blue Bus that was shot up, but buses that were brought in for some of the witnesses, to move them about if they need them. But the Blue Bus that was shot up would be very similar to those that you see down there, because that's what they use here in Santa Monica.
Helicopters still overhead. Police, we spoke very, very briefly to police -- somebody with Santa Monica Police just a short time ago. I got one quick question as to whether or not they believe everything is safe, and the only thing he would say is, they are still going through the school looking for other suspects -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by.
We're hoping to get this news conference from local police momentarily, a complete update on what's going on. We'll, of course, have live coverage of that.
Joining us on the phone right now, though, is Reid Orson, and a witness to what happened in the house in Santa Monica, off the campus. Two individuals dead. One woman injured, apparently shot.
Where were you, Reid? What did you see? What was going on?
REID ROSSON, EYEWITNESS (via phone): I was in the house when I heard the first shot. And I ran outside into my yard and called 911. And as I was on the phone with 911, there were additional shots. And I could see smoke coming from the neighbor's house across the street. I ran into the front yard, realized that the woman had been shot.
The lady who lived next door to us had seen all of the stuff happen, had seen the man come out. We saw the man in the car with the woman, when he had taken the car, and they sped off down the street. And then, you know, we realized this woman had been shot and the house was on fire, and we tried to help everyone. It all happened very fast.
BLITZER: And you called 911, is that right?
BLITZER: And what happened then?
ROSSON: While I was on the phone with 911, we heard more shots. And I saw the smoke. Then I ran into the front yard. I saw the car drive away with the man in the passenger seat, come out of the house. And there was a woman driving. And another woman had been shot, and her car was up on the sidewalk.
BLITZER: At what point -- this is video we're showing our viewers. Reid, this is video that you've shared with us. At what point did you get your camera out there and start taking these pictures?
ROSSON: About ten seconds after I came into the front yard, someone was helping the woman who had been shot. And we got the hose out, and then I started taking video.
BLITZER: Tell us about your neighborhood. Is this a crime-infested neighborhood, a relatively quiet neighborhood? What kind of neighborhood is it?
ROSSON: It's a very quiet neighborhood. BLITZER: So this is extraordinary, unusual what happened?
ROSSON: Yes, it is very unusual. I have never seen anything like this.
BLITZER: Do you have any indication, Reid, to believe what happened at this house in your neighborhood has any connection whatsoever with the shooting incident over at the campus of the Santa Monica Community College?
ROSSON: We think that it might, because we saw him drive off in that direction. But obviously, none of us followed him, so we don't know if it's the same person.
BLITZER: And do you know who lived in this house?
ROSSON: I don't. I only knew that there was an elderly man who lived there, that I had seen coming and going. But I never actually saw him or knew his name.
BLITZER: A lot of mystery still there in the neighborhood. Mystery on the campus. Hopefully, we'll get some of this cleared up momentarily when there's a news conference with local police.
Reid Rosson, thank you very much for joining us.
We also just heard from the hospital on the victims from the Santa Monica shootings on the college campus there, as well as this fire. We're awaiting word from the police on what they know about the suspect or suspects. Stay with CNN for all the latest breaking news out of California.
Plus, we're also getting details on millions of American phone calls. And records of e-mails, texts, video chats, much more from overseas. How is President Obama defending the secret widespread government surveillance program called Prism.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news out of California, Southern California, Santa Monica to be specific. A shooting incident on the campus of Santa Monica Community College. Also a shooting incident and a fire at a nearby house that may or may not be connected. A third shooting incident on a local transit bus. You're looking at live pictures.
We're standing by. A news conference from local police expected momentarily. We'll update you on what we know. We know at least one person shot is now dead at the UCLA Medical Center. Another person in critical condition is in surgery. A third person is in serious condition, but we're told, doing well.
Stand by. All the latest information coming up.
In the meantime, we want to check some other important news that we're following today, including this. President Obama insisting his administration is striking the right balance between fighting terrorists and defending your privacy. Today he fiercely defended classified surveillance programs that aren't secret anymore.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
Update our viewers, Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Today President Obama complimented the American people for having a grown-up conversation about government eavesdropping that made clear the criticism over his programs will not stop him from using them.
YELLIN (voice-over): President Obama unapologetic about revelations of high-tech government snooping.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My assessment, and my team's assessment, was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks.
YELLIN: He says the government's just gathering phone numbers and duration of calls. And insists the program to capture Internet messages as they flow through the U.S. targets only foreigners.
But it's opened him up to criticism and jokes President Bush faced when the surveillance programs first came to light in 2006. Remember this?
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: If anybody needs anything else at their tables, just speak slowly and clearly into your table numbers. Someone from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail.
YELLIN: There are similarities. Bush then...
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.
YELLIN: Obama today.
OBAMA: If the intelligence community then actually wants to listen to a phone call, they've got to go back to a federal judge.
YELLIN: No wonder the left-leaning "Huffington Post" mocked him as President George W. Obama.
In a 14-minute Q&A, President Obama repeated 20 times that his surveillance program is subject to oversight by Congress and the courts.
OBAMA: These programs are subject to congressional oversight. And congressional reauthorization and congressional debate.
That's also why we set up congressional oversight.
We've got congressional oversight and judicial oversight. YELLIN: But all that is discussed behind closed doors, never subject to public debate until now.
PROF. JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: It's prevented effort after effort to get these surveillance programs reviewed by the court.
KAYE: It should come as no surprise that President Obama supports these surveillance programs, even though he said this during the 2008 campaign...
OBAMA: There should always be somebody who's watching the watchers.
YELLIN: He voted to reauthorize government eavesdropping in 2008 and signed an update to it last year.
It's more than a little ironic all this is coming to light just as the president prepares to meet with the leader of China and press him on that country's Internet attacks.
YELLIN: And Wolf, President Obama will be meeting with Chinese president Xi beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. They're expected to discuss, among other topics, China's cyber-attacks on American corporations, which have led to the theft of many millions, some say hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of American intellectual property -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And Jessica is with the president in Palm Springs, California, right now. The president was earlier in Santa Monica. Jessica, that was totally coincidental, the shooting incident on the campus of this community college. The president was ten minutes away at a political event.
The only impact on him was he drove his -- in a motorcade to the LAX Airport as opposed to choppering, because of this incident, this shooting incident?
YELLIN: That's right. And the president totally unharmed, has now arrived here in Palm Springs. He is fine. It was a minor inconvenience for him, no doubt. A much greater inconvenience to the people there in Santa Monica.
I know that area well. I grew up and spent some 20 years living not far from there. The national public radio is based there, right near that location where the shooting happened. And a very close community. And no doubt, suffering right now.
BLITZER: Yes. Our hearts go out to all those folks there.
We're awaiting, Jessica, a news conference. Local police in Santa Monica, they're going to go to those microphones over there, we're told momentarily and update us on what's going on.
Stand by. Our live coverage will continue right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: The shooting incident on the campus of Santa Monica College. There's been another shooting incident at a house not very far away.
Joining us on the phone right now is Jerry Cunningham, an eyewitness to what happened in that house. There were shots fired, I think, Jerry. And then smoke. Tell our viewers what you saw. Because I'm told you actually saw the alleged shooter? Is that right?
JERRY CUNNINGHAM, EYEWITNESS (via phone): I did. I heard six gun shots, and my son had just left the house. And I went running outside thinking somebody was shooting my son. And there was a gunman in the middle of the street. He looked like he just come from the gate of the house across the street. He was dressed in, like, full flak gear, black from, you know, neck to toes and ammunition belts, and at first I thought was a paintball gun in his hand. And then I realized it didn't have one of those little things on the top and that this was, like, a real assault weapon that he was brandishing about.
And he kind of glanced up at me. And then he -- there were two cars at the intersection at the corner. And he walked over to the first car and told her to pull over. And then he waved the second car through. And the woman just hesitated just to go through. And she kind of slowed down and he was standing, you know, within two feet of the car and he just fired -- I think he fired three shots directly into her in the car. Just no thought whatsoever. I mean, you could tell it was just methodical.
BLITZER: Yes. It's interesting -- it's interesting, Jerry, that the person -- you saw the shooter, the alleged shooter, was dressed in all black, black fatigues. And we heard from several eyewitnesses on the campus and the community college that the alleged shooter there was also dressed in all black. So we're wondering if this was the same individual in both of these incidents.
CUNNINGHAM: Well, I believe it was. He took -- he carjacked a woman, and he headed south from my house toward how you would go to the college.
BLITZER: So we'll see -- we'll see what happens on that front. Jerry, thanks very much.
I quickly want to go to Martin Savidge, because the other breaking news story we're following out of Cleveland, Ariel Castro, the man accused of holding three women hostage for a decade in his home for a decade now has been indicted on 329 counts.
You got some more details, Martin. What are you learning?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand that this indictment actually is 142 pages, Wolf, that you say was returned by the Cuyahoga County grand jury. Among the charges there, 139 counts of rape and 177 counts of kidnapping.
But, of course, the most serious is the one count now of aggravated murder, and that is pertaining to the allegation that Michelle Knight made that she was pregnant during the time she was held and then beaten by Ariel Castro and forced to actually miscarry the child.
So it was said by Tim McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, he was going to try to seek murder charges. He even has been investigating the death penalty. The reaction from the attorney for Castro in the Cleveland area at least to the local media there is to say that at least that attorney is grateful the death penalty has not been applied as yet as far as a possible penalty.
However, that is likely to come, Wolf. Tim McGinty, the county prosecutor, does not mess around. He made that quite plain to me when he initially took on this case.
BLITZER: A lot of people have said, Martin -- and you've covered this from the beginning -- the only question now, as far as Ariel Castro is concerned, will he spend the rest of his life in prison or will he get the death sentence? We don't know the answer to that at this point, but we do know that, as of today, he faces 329 counts, including as you point out, one act of aggravated murder for purposely and, with prior calculation and design, causing the unlawful termination of another's pregnancy. We'll stay on top of this story.
Staying on top of the breaking news out of Santa Monica, California.
Much more coming up here on CNN. Don't leave. But that's it for me, at least for now. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right after this.