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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
At Least 50 Dead in Orlando Nightclub Shooting; Man Arrested in West Hollywood with Arsenal; President Obama Addresses the Nation Regarding Orlando Shooting. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired June 12, 2016 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
We're getting new details on the breaking news, moment-by-moment, developments in what will go down as the worst mass shooting in American history.
At least 50 people are dead, at least 53 people are injured after a gunman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, at approximately 2:00 a.m. Eastern.
Police and the FBI are investigating this massacre as a possible act of terrorism. The gunman has been identified as Omar Seddique Mateen. He's 29 years old. And just into CNN. The shooter who committed this horrific act was, in fact, on the FBI's radar. He was suspected of being an ISIS sympathizer, but officials say they had no indication he was plotting to carry out an attack.
We are told President Obama has been fully briefed on the shooting. He will make remarks, he will address the nation in about a half hour from now. We will, of course, go to the White House for live coverage of that.
Meanwhile, the gunman was killed in a shootout with police and as ATF agents continue to sweep the nightclub even right now for any possible explosive devices, officials just confirmed his body was found with a handgun and an automatic rifle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALAN GRAYSON, (D) FLORIDA: All the killing that was done was with an assault rifle, with a single weapon, an assault rifle.
There's an enormous amount of havoc right now. There's blood everywhere. I spoke to somebody who was on the site, and there's an enormous amount of evidence to be collected systematically over the course of many hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Officials will have another news conference in the next hour. We'll get an update on the death toll. Hopefully we'll get more information about the gunman, this terrorist and how the shooting unfolded.
Here's what we do know so far. This all began when an officer was working security at the Pulse nightclub, was engaged at a shootout outside of the club. We now have witness video of that horrific moment. I must warn our viewers, the video is disturbing.
You will hear the shots, but it's a crucial part of understanding this story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that, they're shooting back and forth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vamanos. Vamanos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god, they're all shooting back and forth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The gunman then ran inside the building and began taking hostages. Here's how officials have pieced together the timeline from there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JOHN MINA, ORLANDO POLICE: This developed into a hostage situation, so right about a little after 5:00 this morning we made a decision to go in and rescue. We were being contacted by people in the bathroom, nearby, at least 15 people that were in a separate area. And our biggest concern was future loss of life. We wanted to save those people, so we did an entry and exchanged gunfire with the suspect, again, after some explosive devices were used as well as our BearCat was used to get through the wall. And from there, we exchanged gunfire with the suspect and he was dead at that scene.
But officers did a great job, SWAT team did a great job. There were at least 30 people who were saved during that rescue.
MAYOR BUDDY DYER, ORLANDO: It's with great sadness that I share we have not 20 but 50 casualties. In addition to the shooter, there are another 53 that are hospitalized.
Because of the scale of the crime, I've asked the governor to declare a state of emergency. We are also issuing a state of emergency for the City of Orlando so that we can bring additional resources to bear to deal with the aftermath.
DR. MICHAEL CHEATHAM, TRAUMA SURGEON, ORLANDO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: A little after 2:00 this morning, we were notified of many victims, gunshot victims. As central Florida's only level one trauma center, we immediately activated our mass casualty incident plan. We immediately brought in six trauma surgeons to respond including one pediatric trauma surgeon. We have spent the morning operating a number of victims. We continue to operate on them.
We have found many of them are critically ill as a result of their injuries. And we are in the process of trying to reunite families as we identify the names of these victims.
As has been mentioned this will take some time. And we ask for your patience, but we will reunite the families and victims as quick as we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in Victor Blackwell. He's on the scene for us. He's in Orlando. Victor, I take it you're near the hospital. What's the latest you're getting specific details from the hospital on the victims?
[13:05:09] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you that we're still waiting to get those specific details as are the relatives who have been waiting since 2:00 a.m. after the first call in about this shooting.
I'm here on South Orange at Grant, which is about three blocks away from Pulse nightclub.
You can see this massive response here, local, state, federal authorities here as well. We'll talk about that in a moment, but if my photographer can zoom in to what we're seeing here on the corner of Grant and Orange.
Two men here taking a moment of prayer. They've been here for just a couple of minutes. We've seen people come here, will place flowers here, as a memorial start for what now has the tragic distinction of being terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 and the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Let's broaden out the shot here and I'll tell you what's happening here. You mentioned just a few moments ago that ATF agents are still on scene, again, that's about three blocks down in this direction where they are still inside the Pulse nightclub making sure that aren't no more -- or there aren't devices, any improvised explosive device s there. They, of course, will be searching his vehicle.
Inside that club, as you said, is the body of the shooter, but also the bodies of many of the victims. Our Nick Valencia, just a few moments ago, in passing here, told me a lot of the families are still working to find the cell phones through technology to find out where their loved ones are.
Just a few moments ago we heard in Florida Governor Rick Scott. I want to play what he said and then talk more about what's happening here in just a moment. Let's listen to Governor Scott. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: This is clearly an act of terror. This is -- I mean, you can't imagine this would happen to our community, our state, or anywhere in our country, but for somebody who go in there and be an active shooter and take number -- any life, but that number of lives and injury that many people is clearly an act of terror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Governor Scott said this is an attack on America. And, of course, he might have meant it in the sense of a terror attack on this country, but take into consideration that this was a nightclub in a tourist city. 50 people killed, more than 50 injured.
They were very likely people from other states, other communities. And this will be a tragedy not just for Orlando, not just for the state of Florida, but there will be intimate connections and relations to
people across the country for people who came to this city on vacation and spent the night at this club. It would be no surprise to hear that we start getting reports of connections to other states, possibly other countries, as we wait for the names of those victims, more importantly instead of our waiting for the names of the victims, those families still waiting to get the names of the people either killed or
injured in this shooting last night, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Victor, I want you to stand by. Evan Perez, our justice correspondent is getting more information now. Evan, update our viewers what you're learning about this Omar Seddique Mateen, 29 years old from Ft. Pierce, which is not far from Orlando.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know that the FBI looked had looked into Mateen, into the shooter, in the past. We know that they've looked at him in connection to possible ties to Islamic extremists. Whether or not he was a sympathizer of either ISIS or one of the other Islamic extremist groups.
Now, we know that that occurred at least a couple years ago. More recently he's been working as a private security guard, a company that does -- a major company that does contracting for the federal government. It does provides security services to federal buildings so the question that will be asked in the coming hours and in the coming days is how someone who with that kind of connection, that kind of past was able to qualify for a job like that.
We know because of the fact that he had a security guard's license, he was licensed to carry firearms that when he went to purchase firearms recently, he
bought one Glock pistol that was found at the scene of the shooting. We know he bought that in the last two weeks from a gun store legally -- from a gun store in the St. Lucie County area.
Again, because it's the fact that he had the security guard's license, he was able to buy the firearm without any -- with little questions asked simply because he's qualified -- trained to use these weapons. Again, these are all parts of the investigation. Now, we don't know whether or not the FBI -- what evidence the FBI uncovered when they looked into him. We know that he wasn't the main focus of this investigation, that he was -- that he came up in the investigation and they looked into his background and asked simply because he's trained to use these weapons.
[13:10:15] BLITZER: Well, you say he was on the FBI's radar. Was her formally, officially on the FBI's terror watchlist, the federal terror watchlist?
PEREZ: We don't know that. We don't know whether or not he was placed on any watch list, again, simply because of the fact that his name came up in an investigation. And they apparently did not find enough information or enough evidence I suspect that he was not on any kind of list and he was able to keep his job as a private security guard working for a major company that provides services to the federal government. So, my suspicion is that he didn't make it to that level, Wolf.
BLITZER: He was not charged with anything, but he was being watched, is that fair?
PEREZ: He was on their radar, but it wasn't -- there are hundreds of people who come up in these investigations. And the FVI just doesn't have the manpower. Once they determine that there isn't enough there, they don't keep an eye on them after that.
They -- they're on there -- they have a file that says this person was looked into in the past, but frankly there's just hundreds and hundreds of these people in this country who come up as possible sympathizers of ISIS or other groups, Wolf, and the FBI puts higher priority on the ones they believe are more dangerous.
This one apparently did not rise to that level at the time.
BLITZER: And I take it you've also been reporting that the FBI has already -- or U.S. officials have already been speaking with his family, with Mateen's family, is that right?
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. They were able to get to his house. They got to his family's home there in St. Lucie County and the family has provided interviews in which they said that he expressed anti-gay feelings, that he was essentially hostile to gay people, but they did not indicate any ISIS ties that he had or any suspicion that he had that. Essentially that he was motivated by hatred for gay people.
BLITZER: And this was a nightclub, an LBGT -- a gay nightclub where this horrendous slaughter took place.
Stand by for a moment, Evan. We're going to get right back to you. I want to bring in CNN's Boris Sanchez. He's in Orlando at the scene of the shooting for us.
Boris, what else can you tell us about what happened inside that club? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, witnesses tell us that it was supposed to be a fun night. It was Latin night at the Pulse nightclub. It was a packed house, more than 350 people inside all enjoying themselves, drinking and dancing.
And then at 2:00 a.m. everything changed. And now, just a few hours later, we're realizing this is the worst mass shooting in American history.
Again, it all started at 2:00 a.m. Officials tell us that there was an encounter between a police officer, an offduty police officer that was working security at the door of the nightclub. And he had some kind of exchange with the gunman. At some point, they exchanged fire and the gunman ran inside and that's when it became a hostage situation.
We actually heard from one witness earlier who told us that it was so loud and disorienting between the music and that gunshots he couldn't tell exactly what was
going on until he started to notice that people around him were dropping to the ground.
Hhere's more of what he described.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER HANSEN, WITNESS: I know I was trying to enjoy my night and all you hear was banging -- not banging, just boom, boom of bullets. You think it's part of a song and when I looked behind me and I noticed that it wasn't just a song that there was bodies falling down. The guy next to me was shot, and that's when I dropped and I made sure that I had to crawl my way out, because there was no way -- it's either fight or flight and I had to flee.
And by the time I got -- I felt the cement on my elbows I knew I was OK and I crouched and my dad taught me to zigzag so I zigzagged my way just in case there was anything flying because you could still hear the bullets going off inside the club as we were out.
And then I noticed there was a gentleman on the ground who had a bullet wound in the back, so I helped assist with him. And we had to move further down towards the hospital. And all you saw was people running and screaming and there was bodies in the parking lot
where they were tagging them and it was just a scene from a horror movie. It was absolutely tragic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: A scene from a horror movie. And that was before 5:00 a.m. when we were standing outside here just a couple blocks down the street. We heard a huge explosion, later found out that Orlando police set off some distractionary explosions to distract
the suspect who was inside. That's when they went inside and exchanged gunfire with him. That's when he was taken out. We're told that officials were able to rescue about 30 people, but obviously many casualties, 50 people were found inside and officials at this point are just asking for patience.
As you heard Victor mention earlier, crews are inside the club right now not only looking at any other potential IEDs that may be inside, but also trying to recover remains and process them so that they can identify these bodies for the relatives, the loved ones, that have been dealing with an excruciatingly painful day. They're desperate for information at this point.
All of this unfolding at 2:00 a.m. We're close to almost 2:00 p.m. now and these families are still fighting for answers. So officials are asking for patience from him. They're also asking for blood donations. We've heard the call go out again and again for O positive and O negative and AB plasma type blood. We've heard that a donation center down from here is actually packed with people. So Floridians are obviously responding to the call for help and trying to aid those most in need, Wolf.
[13:15:59] BLITZER: That's so important. Critically important, life- saving indeed.
All right, Boris, thank very much. Boris Sanchez, we'll get back to you. He's in Orlando.
There's a news conference going to be happening soon in Orlando from local authorities. We'll get an update on the specifics of this investigation. A reminder, we're also about to hear from President Obama in a few moments. He's about --he's getting ready to address the nation from the White house. Chris Frates is over at the White House for us. Chris, I take it the president has been briefed by his homeland security adviser, his counterterror advisers and others, and he has decided he wants to speak to the American people.
CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORREPSONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf, we'll hear from the president in about 15 minutes. He's going to come to the White House briefing room podium. And as you point out, he's been briefed by his counter intelligence team. And he's been asked and received updates from the FBI and other federal law enforcement officials. So we'll see what the president has to say, if he has any new information for the American people when he steps up to that podium about 1:30.
But I think it's also important to put this into context. This is not the first time that this president has spoken to the nation after a mass shooting. In fact, he's done more than a dozen times during his presidency, most recently after the San Bernardino shootings in California. He came out and we heard him talk about the fact that not all Muslims, in fact the majority of Muslims find this kind of violence and terrorism abhorrent, that this is a small, minority that sympathized with ISIS. And then he often talks about what his administration is doing to catch and hunt down these kinds of lone wolves and how difficult it is before they strike.
And so I think, you know, we need to see what the president is going to do. This is the kind of event that scrambles schedules. Remember, President Obama was scheduled on Wednesday to start the presidential campaign. He was going to go to Green Bay, Wisconsin, with Hillary Clinton to kick off in earnest his involvement in the general election. There's a question about whether he'll do that.
He also was supposed to take a family vacation next weekend at Yosemite National Park. We'll see if that continues.
Everything is in flux here. In fact, even the vice president, he has also been briefed. He was supposed to come down to Miami to take a flight from Miami from
Wilmington to raise money for Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
There was going to be a Miami fundraiser for her reelection, but the vice president's office announcing, he's going to stay in Wilmington. He'll be back in D.C. on Monday.
So, we're already seeing things moving around because this is such a horrific, historic event. We're waiting to hear what the president has to say in just a few minutes. He's going to address the nation, Wolf.
BLITZER: We know he'll be in the press briefing room over there. We're showing our viewers, Chris, a live picture. After his statement, do we know if the president will also take questions from reporters who will be sitting in front of him?
FRATES: You know, we haven't received any official guidance on that. And we'll have to see if he does come out and just give a statement or whether or not he's going to answer any questions that reporters have on behalf of the American people.
At this point, we don't know, and it might just be a game-time decision there, Wolf.
BLITZER; If reporters shout a question or two, he may stay. He may not. We'll see what happens. Obviously a very, very sad day in American history right now, the worst mass shooting, a massacre in Orlando.
The president, I take it was briefed early on. This occurred at 2:00 a.m. Do know yet exactly when he was told by his aides what was going on?
FRATES: We don't know exactly when he was briefed, but we do know early this morning the White House put out a statement saying that Lisa Monaco, one of his top counterterrorism advisers had briefed the president, that the president was being updated regularly from the FBI. And, you know, that is something that is all very fluid. In fact, you know, those remarks just coming together now as information continues to come in. So, we'll see what the president knows if he knows more than what has been publicaly out there. And that's some big question that we as reporters have and certainly the American people have. What happened? When did the president know what he knew and what could have been done to prevent this I think are some big questions that we all have, Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris Frates, stand by over at the White House.
We, of course, will have live coverage of the president's address to the nation from the White House. The president will be speaking in about 10 minutes or so. He's scheduled to speak 1:30 p.m. Eastern. We'll see if he runs a little bit late. But of course we will have live coverage of that.
We're also standing by for a news conference from local police in Orlando. We'll have coverage of that. That's coming up.
Let's take a quick break. Much more right after this.
[13:24:55] BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, that's left 50 people dead and more than 50 people injured. The shooter actually called 911 surrounding the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston bombers according to a U.S. official.
Evan Perez is getting this information for us. Evan is joining us on the phone. Evan, specifically update our viewers what you've just learned.
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, we know that one reason why the FBI immediately believed this was an Islamic attack was simply because of that phone call that the shooter made. He made a call to 911 around that time of the attacks and pledged allegiance to ISIS.
Now, the investigation is still ongoing. They don't -- there's still a lot of information that is not known, because the shooter is dead. There is -- they're going to have to put a lot of this together.
But we do know that he was investigated at least in the past by the FBI. And he wasn't the focus of these investigations, but he was suspected of having ties to Islamic extremists and sympathy with Islamic extremist ideology.
We're told that those investigations concluded without any action on him, any charges brought against him. And, again, he wasn't the focus of those investigations.
He simply, his name came up as part of an ongoing investigation of other people.
Now, the question that will be asked in the next few days will -- is how someone with that past was able to still continue to work as a private security guard for a company that does a lot of work with the federal government, they have contracts to protect federal buildings. And we know that he worked for one of these major contractors down there in Ft. Pierce, Florida where he lived. Again, that's going to be the top of every official's mind simply because the fact that he had this job, this private security guard license allowed him to buy firearms with minimal questions asked. He was able to buy at least one of the firearms that was found at the scene, a Glock pistol, he was able to buy that in the last couple of weeks, legally, from a firearms dealer in the St. Lucie County area.
So, we know that that is the source of one of the firearms. And he was able to do that legally partly because he had this security guard's license that allowed him to do that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The 911 call that you've now learned, Evan, do we know specifically what he said on that call? I assume they haven't released the audio of that. They will at some point, but they have not released it yet.
PEREZ: They have not released it, Wolf, and it is part of the investigation. I suspect that it will be some time before we hear that.
I don't know what the content of that conversation was and why it went specifically it took place, we just know that it happened around the time that these attacks were going on. And obviously he was holed up in that nightclub for several hours. He was talking to investigators. He identified his name to investigators during that time as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: We have not heard any statements I take it yet from ISIS claiming responsibility, which raises the question, Evan, was this an ISIS-inspired lone wolf attack or was this an ISIS directed coordinated attack? And I think it's obviously too early to make that kind of determination.
Is that what you're hearing from your sources?
PEREZ: Yes, it is too early to make that determination, but really I mean I think you talk to officials nowadays, Wolf, and they see very little difference between the two things simply because a lot of these people who are acting on behalf of ISIS, they do it, they don't necessarily have any specific links to anybody in Syria.
As you know, ISIS is under great pressure right now, so some of their best and most active recruiters and online instigators have been killed in some of recent air strikes by the United States.
So, not necessarily that he had any kind of communication with anyone. A lot of these attacks are brought on by people who have no, necessarily, no links -- no direct links. They're simply acting because ISIS is encouraging its sympathizer to do this.
This is the holy month of Ramadan and ISIS and other groups have been out there urging their supporters to carry out attacks during this time, Wolf.
BLITZER: During this month of Ramadan. And one thing, Evan, I know you're doing more reporting, but the family members telling federal authorities in their initial conversations that Omar Seddique Mateen also had anti-gay feelings. What else can you tell us about that? This was a nightclub, this was a club, the Pulse club, which was frequented by LGBT community.
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf.
This is the first indication from the family in their interviews with the FBI, with investigators. Their suggestion is that he was acting out of hatred for gay people, that's what his motivation was.
Obviously, this is only part of the investigation, the FBI is also obviously looking at the possible ISIS ties, possible sympathetic views with regard to ISIS and Islamic extremism, but they're obviously -- they can be very related.
ISIS, as you know, has carried out killing of people it suspects of being gay in the territory it occupies. So, they're very anti-gay in their propaganda and so that's -- you know, it could be part of that as well.
[13:30:27] BLITZER: Evan Perez doing important reporting for us. Evan, we're going to get back to you. Once you get some more information, let us know.
In the meantime, I want to bring in our CNN security analyst Juliette Kayyem. Our CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen and our CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer.
This notion of a copycat attack or an ISIS-inspired attack, Peter Bergen -- you've studied this for a long time, what's your initial reaction?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, every single lethal terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11 has been carried out
by somebody who wasn't affiliated formally with any terrorist organization. That was true of the San Bernadino couple, that was true of the shooter in Ft. Hood, Texas, that was true of the Tsarnaev brothers. And so we have seen that the attacks that have taken place in this country have been lone wolf attacks. They've been inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. Sometimes a foreign terrorist organization may even try and direct, but there's no training, there's no really formal connection in these attacks.
BLITZER: And so your initial suspicion is this was a lone wolf inspired by ISIS ideology.
BERGEN: Yes. And we've only seen it again since 9/11 every attack has been carried out either by a lone wolf or by a pair -- a pair of brothers, in one case, and a couple in another case in San Bernadino. We're not seeing large groups of people as we saw in Paris or Brussels trained by ISIS or some other foreign terrorist organization carrying out these attacks.
BLITZER: And Juliet, the fact, as Evan Perez just reported, that this individual, Omar Seddique Mateen, would place a 911 call and pledge his allegiance to ISIS on
that call, what does that say to you?
JULIETT KAYYEM, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it basically says this is a guy, just picking up on what Peter said, a man who was inspired by ISIS, wanted credit to be -- to have been inspired by ISIS. And basically wanted to make himself known.
So, in this way it's is very different than Boston Marathon. Remember, they left. They did not want to get caught. They had no exit strategy.
So, this is very different in that regard, but someone who wanted his radicalization to be known in a very direct way. I mean, calling into 911 is unique for these kinds of cases.
BLITZER: It is pretty -- Bob Baer, that -- it is pretty unusual for a terrorist engaged in a massacre along these lines to actually go out and make a 911 call and announce "I a with ISIS."
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I think what we're seeing here is that he didn't want to get caught in advance by getting on a web site and claiming, you know, he was going to do this. He didn't have much time. He wanted to get in there, total surprise, wanted to claim ISIS, you know, inspiration. And this guy was a disciplined shooter as well. And I agree with Peter and Juliet, he's probably a lone wolf, but inspired by the ideology of the Islamic State. And the fact that it was against a gay club fits right in with the Islamic state's
BLITZER: Because of the hatred of homosexuals, of gays, of the LGBT community because we've seen all these reports over the years of what ISIS terrorists have done to those suspected of being homosexuals. They've thrown them off the top of buildings, they've burned them and they've killed them. This is sort of common over there if someone is suspected of being gay, right?
BAER: Exactly. I mean, it's inn fact, in all of Islam it's -- gay -- any sort of gay -- LGBT is not permitted, but particularly with the Islamic State. And they've
actively gone out and executed people they suspect of being gay.
BLITZER: Peter Bergen, you wanted to add something?
BERGEN: Yeah, we saw in the San Bernardino case, Wolf, you recall that the female in the couple, she pledged her allegiance to ISIS leader Baghdadi moments after they had completed the execution of 14 people back in December in San Bernardino.
So we've seen something analogous to this 9/11 call, but not a 911 call in the case of San Bernardino, but something where the perpetrator announces in a sort of public fashion that they're taking responsibility for ISIS.
BLITZER: And we had also heard reports -- Paul Cruickshank, our CNN terrorism analyst is joining us as well -- Paul, that in the course of this massacre he apparently was screaming some words in a foreign language, unclear what language that was during the course of the massacre.
What, if anything, are you hearing about that?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, we're not hearing a great amount of detail about that, what language it might have been in. We understand he may have been of Afghan descent or whether it was perhaps in Arabic, but we've seen
in past attacks often the attacker shouting the phrase Allahu Akbar, we saw that during the Paris -- the Paris attacks. These attackers believe that this is the final stage of their life, and that they are going to be rewarded in paradise for doing what they do.
He clearly wanted the world to feel that this was an ISIS attack, but no evidence at this point that he had any connection at all to ISIS himself, but it would appear he was inspired by the ISIS call for attacks and just a couple of weeks ago one of their senior leaders, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani (ph) called for a surge in terrorism in the United States during Ramadan. Ramadan started just a few days ago. ISIS has told their supporters if you launch attacks during Ramadan, you'll be rewarded ten-fold in the afterlife. Plenty of motivation for their supporters.
BLITZER: You know, Juliet, what's also pretty stunning if you think about it, he apparently had been on the FBI's radar in connection with two investigations, but he still managed to work for a security firm, a private contractor, that had federal contracts protecting federal buildings, and was able to go ahead and purchase weapons.
KAYYEM: That's exactly right.
So the pieces that I'm asking myself, or the questions are, did this particular company that he work for have government contracts in Florida? We do not know that
yet, because these companies are huge, they're hiring thousands of people.
The second issue is, of course, he's on -- being viewed by JTTF. He did not do anything that would have gotten him on a terror watch list, nor even if he were on that list would that have precluded him from buying weapons. We know that there is a gap between the terror watch list, as quite political, and getting weapons.
The third thing is we talk about inspired by ISIS. There's two types of inspiration at this stage, one is passive and one is active.
So, this investigation is determining is this a guy who was just absorbing a lot of stuff, a lot of information online, but never had direct contact with ISIS, you know, in back channels or might we find out that there was direct contact? It still -- these things make a difference for law enforcement purposes in determining future threats and also just to have answers for all of the victims and their families.
BLITZER: Stand by. We're getting more developments, more breaking news right now. We're learning a suspect with arsenal has been taken into custody at a Los Angeles pride festival, this according to our affiliate KABC.
Authorities took a suspect into custody in West Hollywood after discovering an arsenal in his car that included what is being described as explosive powder, assault
weapons and a camouflage outfit. The suspect told authorities that he was there for the Los Angeles pride festival, which is under way this weekend.
Los Angeles, FBI, police, others, they are telling CNN, and I'm quoting now, "we're assisting our local partners" but would not provide additional details.
A police news conference is expected shortly.
Kyung Lah is joining us on the phone right now. You're out on the scene. Update our viewers, Kyung, on what you're learning.
CHRIS CLASSEN, PRESIDENT OF L.A. PRIDE: Thank you for being here. My name id Chris Classen. I'm the president of L.A. Pride. On behalf of our board of directors, I want to send out our thoughts...
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONENT: ...that should tell us more about the suspect that they have taken into custody. Our affiliate KABC saying that this custody (sic) was taken into custody in West Hollywood. What was discovered in his vehicle, according to
KABC was explosive powder, assault weapons, and a camouflage outfit. All of this, KABC citing unnamed authorities, and the suspect telling authorities that -- where he was heading was the Los Angeles Pride Festival.
It is under way this weekend.
What we have heard from pride authorities is nothing as of yet, but we know that the response here in West Hollywood has been incredible. This has been something that is very searing for this community. There was a planned moment of silence and just to give you some of the aesthetics of what you normally see...
BLITZER: Kyung, hold on for one moment, Kyung, because they're speaking out in Los Angeles right now. This is -- let's listen in and hear what she's saying.
MAYOR LAUREN MEISTER, WEST HOLLYWOOD: Pride will go on.
As we march in the streets today under gray skies and as we take a moment of silence to grieve together before the parade begins, our hearts will be heavy but our resolve will be strong. Public safety is our number one priority and the city of West Hollywood is on heightened alert and is working very closely with the Los Angeles county sheriff's department, the L.A. county fire department, the Los Angeles police department, and the federal bureau of investigation to ensure a safe L.A. pride in West Hollywood. Thank you.
[13:40:20] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mayor Meister. And now I'd like to introduce the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti.
ERIC GARCETTI, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: Thank you.
We all wanted to be here this morning, but we did not want to be here under these circumstances. But we are here as Angelinos, as LGBTQ community and allies here in West Hollywood who I want to thank as always for hosting us. To say as Americans, we will not shrink away, we will not be stuck in our homes, we will not go back into closets, we are out here to march, to celebrate, and to mourn.
Today, we know, that we are targeted as Americans because this is a society where we love broadly and openly because we have Jews and Christians and Muslims and atheists and Buddhists marching together, because we are white, black, brown, Asian, Native American, the whole spectrum in every hue and every culture is here.
And all of our hearts today are with Orlando. We are Pulse, we are Orlando, we are Americans. We are all LGBTQ community members today. We are all part of a country that will not be beaten down. We will not go away. And today we are proud of who we are.
Today we also were informed of -- and I think it has broken the news, and I won't speak much more of the details, of an individual here we believe completely unrelated, who said he was coming to pride and who was heavily armed and apprehended by Santa Monica Police Department officials last night.
I want to thank Santa Monica Police Department for their good work and for the tip of a neighborhood person who led to that arrest.
But I want everybody here today to know we are safe, we are protected, our law enforcement officials are here. I want to especially thank our federal officials from the FBI and others who are amongst us today and working hard to make sure we are safe in Los Angeles and in this area. I've been in touch with the sheriff and I want to thank Mayor Meister and the entire leadership of West Hollywood.
This march goes on. We go on. We continue to love. And in the face of hate hold somebody today. Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Let's go back to Kyung Lah. We just heard from the mayor of Los Angeles.
Kyung, to our viewers who are just standing by just tuning in right now -- and once again we're waiting to hear the president of the United States, President Obama, about to address the nation on what happened overnight in Orlando, Florida, update our viewers on the second incident now that you're learning about in Los Angeles in West Hollywood.
LAH: Certainly this is very alarming news. But we're hearing from mayor, from Mayor Garcetti there is that Santa Monica Police Department arrested someone last night, that that person was heavily armed. It was a neighborhood person that lead to the arrest. And the words that are realy important here is that at this point authorities believe that this is, quote, "completely unrelated."
That's -- those are the two key words right now that we're hearing from Mayor Garcetti.
So we're still waiting to learn a little bit more about exactly the circumstances of this. So, right now from what we're hearing from Mayor Garcetti, Santa Monica Police Department arresting someone last night, a neighborhood person leading to that arrest, and that this appears right now to be completely unrelated to the incident in Orlando -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And according to these reports they found explosive powder, assault weapons and a camouflage outfit in the vehicle. Is that right?
LAH: These are reports for our affiliate KABC that the suspect was taken into custody in West Hollywood, that there was a significant arsenal in the vehicle, according to KABC, saying that this was explosive powder, assault weapons and a camouflage outfit found in the vehicle and that the place that the suspect was heading to was the Los Angeles pride festival. But you could hear in that news conference the defiance and the voice of the mayor, of the people who are hosting the Pride festival, that the festival will go on, that there will be a march in the streets, there will be a moment of silence in memory of what happened overnight in Orlando. And, again, we need to stress that at this point what the mayor is saying, the mayor of Los Angeles is that what has happened here in Los Angeles appears to be completely unrelated to what happened in Orlando.
But, again, a developing investigation, we're still trying to learn much more about what happened here.
BLITZER: All right, Kyung, I want you to stand by as well.
We just received a statement from the mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser, who also pointed out that the authorities -- local authorities were stepping up security in Washington. She says ahead of today's capital pride festival in Washington, D.C. I have been briefed by the local police chief Cathy Lanier about increased security measures in Washington, D.C. Today, as always, Mayor Bowser says, we will not be deterred by hate as we gather to celebrate love.
There's a gay pride festival under way in Washington, D.C. right now so security is being beefed up clearly out of an abundance of caution in Washington, D.C.
Peter Bergen, what do you make of these developments, very disturbing developments? The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, which is a gay nightclub, LGBT, services the LGBT community, in Orlando attacked brutally, the worst mass shooting in American history. Now, another incident involving gay pride out in West Hollywood in Los Angeles, the mayor of Washington, D.C. announcing they're stepping up security here.
BERGEN: Well, the fact that the Los Angeles mayor is saying what the events in Los Angeles are completely unrelated to the events in Orlando is a very good thing, because of course what one is particularly concerned about at this time is a campaign of attacks similar to what we saw in Paris where there are rolling attacks or similar to what you saw in Brussels where there were attacks over different time periods.
And so far that doesn't seem to be the case. So, that's very good news.
Now, there's a big question about who is this person in Los Angeles. What is their motivation? Were they there to attack the pride festival there for some ideological motive? I mean, we still don't know that person's motive.
BLITZER: We don't. And I'm sure we'll be getting a lot more information on the incident in West Hollywood in Los Angeles as well.
Juliet, what's your reaction when you get these indications of -- clearly there's anti-gay element out in Los Angeles, and there are concerns in Washington, D.C. as people in Washington celebrate a gay pride festival.
KAYYEM: Well, I think what you just heard from the mayor of Washington is what you're going to hear from a lot of people in the next couple hours. They are going to lean forward on public safety. They will have a very large police presence at these events not simply to protect them, but to also show the participants that law enforcement stands behind them and
wants them to be able to rally and march freely.
And so that's very important. So, this -- I think you're going to see this across the board over the next 24 hours with a lot of these events. Like Peter I take the mayor's word, mayor of Los Angeles's word that there's no relation. We have no idea who that suspect is at this stage, but it is just part of an overall atmosphere that we all woke up to this is these are
very stressful times and very stressful times and very dangerous times and so I think you're just going to see a lot of this public presence of police and law enforcement at various events, whether they are marches or sporting events, or whatever else.
BLITZER: All right, everyone stand by. There are multiple developments, the breaking news continuing. We're also about to hear from President Obama. He is getting ready to address the nation on the worst shooting attack, the massacre that occurred at this nightclub overnight in Orlando, Florida. We'll hear from the president. We'll update you on the breaking news right after this.
[13:42:25] BLITZER: We're standing by to hear from President Obama. There's live pictures coming in from the briefing room over at the White House, the West Wing of the White House. President Obama about to address the American people. Walk into that room and make a statement. We'll, of course, have live coverage once the president is there. Stand by for that. In the meantime, the breaking news we're following that in Orlando, Florida, the suspect Omar Saddique Mateen, 29-years-old, apparently made a 911 call pledging his allegiance to ISIS, also referencing the Boston Marathon massacre at the time.
Juliet Kayyem, you're up in Boston. The reference -- and there's a picture of Omar Saddique Mateen -- the reference to the Boston massacre in this 911 call that was made around the time he went into this Pulse nightclub and started slaughtering people, what does that say to you?
KAYYEM: Well, that he obviously was inspired by what two other Americans were able to do.
So he's not looking at Paris or Belgium, but at a domestic terrorism incident as a model, another soft target, another place where people go to convene. It is
different than Boston as we've been noting. The call in itself is unique. The Boston Marathon bombers wanted to get away, not get caught and actually probably plan more attacks in New York City.
This seems like someone who wanted it to be known that he was inspired at least by ISIS and also knew that he would not survive.
BLITZER: What do we know about -- Peter Bergen, you've been doing some checking about Mateen. What do we know about him? He was born in the United States. His parents were from Afghanistan? Is that right?
BERGEN: That's correct.
And in that sense he's typical of all the terrorists we've seen in the United States since 9/11.
I mean, because 9/11 was carried out by 19 Arab foreign-born terrorists, I think a lot of Americans think of terrorism is something that comes in from outside, yet every terrorist attack we've seen in the United States that's been successful has been carried out by somebody who is not affiliated with a foreign terrorist organization, who is an American citizen, or an American legal permanent resident. We saw that in the San Bernardino, we saw that in Fort Hood. We see this in this case here.
And of course that makes them very hard to stop, because they're here -- they're American citizens or they're here legally, and the fact that this guy was known to the FBI, so was Major Nidal Hasan.
BLITZER; he was the killer at Fort Hood.
BERGEN: Yeah. And he was an army major. I mean, he obviously -- it was...
BLITZER: He was on the FBI's radar at the same time even though he was allowed to keep working at Fort Hood.
BERGEN: And as Juliet knows well, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was investigated by the FBI, the Boston Marathon, the lead attacker by the FBI because of potential links to militants in Russia. In fact, it's usually very exceptional in these cases where people aren't known to the FBI. The only case I can think of, prominent case, is the San Bernardino case where the couple who carried out that massacre in San Bernadino were not known to law enforcement.
BLITZER: Paul Cruickshank, can you think of another example where an ISIS, let's say an ISIS or an extremist or an Islamist extremist terrorist went ahead and made an attack against not only the United States, but specifically targeting a gay club?
[13:55:45] CRUICKSHANK: No. I think this is the first attack, I believe, that we've seen targeting the gay community in the west that we have not seen those kind of attacks before. There's been plenty of invective, of course, from groups like ISIS against the gay community. In Syria and Iraq, they've thrown people they suspect of being gay off buildings, theyve stoned them, but we haven't seen any attacks so far in the west, specifically targeting the gay community.
We have, of course, seen attacks on nightclubs. We saw that in Bali in the wake of 9/11.
But this is sort of a new phenomenon we're now seeing.
BLITZER: And Juliet, I assume you agree, this intersection now of terror but specifically targeting a gay club?
I mean, this is -- this is -- as Paul was saying, we haven't seen this before, but obviously it's consistent in particular with ISIS of their hatred towards the LGBT community, period. I mean, there's just no other thing to say that this makes sense if he is ISIS inspired to have targeted a gay club.
And the horror that yore seeing is reflective of his intensity of killing this many people. I think it's shocking me to kill 50 people that quickly in such a short period is quite shocking and shows his intent going into that bar.
BLITZER: Yeah. It could have been even worse, Peter Bergen. There were about 350 or 400 people in that club at 2:00 a.m. It was packed at that moment. They
were obviously celebrating, having a good time and then all of a sudden a terrorist goes in with this assault rifle, a handgun, starts killing people.
We're standing by. The president of the United States is about to address the American people. I nfact, he'll be addressing the entire world. He's about to walk into the briefing room right now and make a statement. We don't know if he'll stand by and answer reporters' questions at the same time.
But Peter Bergen, as we await the president, he has unfortunately had to do this all too often? BERGEN: Yes. And not just for terrorist incidents, but also, obviously, for mass casualty shootings. He himself has said that he is -- you know, that it's very depressing. He has to constantly come out and give these kinds of statements, and as you know, Wolf, I mean, mass casualty shootings with firearms are unfortunately very common in the states in a way that is not true for many other western industrialized countries where these are very unusual phenomenon.
BLITZER: And Juliet, you used to work in the Department of Homeland Security. The president has to walk a fine line right now.
KAYYEM: Yes. He absolutely does.
So, first of all, there is an FBI investigation that's ongoing. We have to make sure nothing more is going to happen and that we find out any others who might have been involved with this. So, there's an investigation he needs to protect. So, he's not going to disclose anything that might undermine that.
But the other is he has to reassure the American public that is on edge for obvious reasons, not just because of today, but because of the threatened environment that we do need to go on. And that has been a challenge for President Bush and President Obama that in these instances...
BLITZER: All right, old on, Juliet. Here's the president.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We, as Americans, we grieve the brutal murder, horrific massacre, of dozens of innocent people.
We pray for their families who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people
of Orlando who have endured a terrible attack on their city. Although, it's still early in the
investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.
I just finished a meeting with the FBI Director Comey and my homeland security and national security advisers. The FBI is on the scene and leading the investigation in partnership with local law enforcement. I've directed that the full resources of the federal
government be made available for this investigation.