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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
French TV: Sources Say 60 Dead, 100 Injured in Attack; 73 Dead, 100 Injured as Truck Plows into Crowd in Nice; French TV: Police Found Explosives, Firearms in Truck; Official: 73 Dead in France Attack After Truck Plows Into Crowd. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired July 14, 2016 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:13] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. We are following breaking news out of France. An attack that has left at least 60 dead. Those numbers are climbing by the moment here. Sixty dead. At the latest, we understand, at least 100 more injured according to sources. A French official tonight calling this a major attack. A box truck plowing into a crowd of people in the resort city of Nice on the French Riviera.
Panic in the street, the crowd was celebrating the French holiday of Bastille Day. An eyewitness telling CNN that the driver accelerated as he hit the crowd. And another eyewitness saying that after the crowd was hit, the man got out of the truck and then opened fire on the pedestrians with a gun. A photographer captured the terrible scene. I want to warn you the image we're about to show you is extremely disturbing. It shows you the extent of the horror that is happening in France right now.
Those are bodies strewn across the street of some of the people that this man killed and murdered in this heinous attack. Authorities right now warning residents to stay in their homes. Officials say the driver of that truck was shot and killed at this time and that is the latest that we know. This is an extremely developing story at this moment. President Obama has been briefed about the ongoing situation. The President of France has return to the Paris. Nice is located in the South of France about 250 miles south of the capital.
Becky Anderson is live there. And Becky, what are officials saying right now about this heinous attack?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were thousands of people in the Promenade Des Anglais, to our viewers who have been to Nice the South of France. So, they will know that is the main drag along the beach in what is a very busy city in the south of celebrating Bastille Day, this being the 14th of July, celebrating more than 230-odd years since the revolution. Many people on the streets and this carnage happening, it's remarkable really that we're even reporting on this.
Affiliates now suggesting as you point out as many as 60 dead and more than 100 injured. The French president and the French Prime Minister are on their way back to Paris for a crisis meeting at the interior ministry. And as you rightly pointed out, Erin, this is the result of a lorry. A lorry driving some 100, 150 meter along the Promenade Des Anglais plowing as one eyewitness have suggested, through the thousands in the crowd, striking those in its midst and the driver of that lorry then opening fire with an assault rifle.
We do understand from our sources that driver of the truck was shot and killed. It is still unclear whether there is anybody else involved in what they are calling an attack. And I have to say that early reports suggested that police sources here describing this as appearing to be a terror attack, but lately in the past, what? Thirty minutes or so, this being described as an attack. Not necessarily using the words of terror, but it is certainly being described as an attack.
And if one considers that this is now, what? An hour into a very, very chaotic and tragic situation, it's very unclear from authorities exactly what came to pass and who the assailant -- the assailant was who was involved in this, but we do know, as our affiliates are reporting that more than 60 dead at this point and a more than 100 injured on the Promenade Des Anglais in a very busy part, a very busy city in the South of France, this the 14th of July -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Becky. As the story is developing, I want to go to someone who was there.
Eric Dratell, an American lawyer visiting Nice with his wife. Eric, I am so sorry you were there. I know your wife was injured as people were trying to run. What did you see?
ERIC DRATELL, WITNESS (on the phone): We were having dinner at a restaurant which is about three meters below the Promenade, at beach level of the Promenade (INAUDIBLE) fireworks. And we were --
BURNETT: All right. You know, we're losing -- go ahead.
DRATELL: Yes. All of a sudden we heard, pop, pop, pop -- I don't know how many and incredibly, my wife recognized it as gun fire.
[19:05:22] BURNETT: All right. We are having a little bit of interruption here on that line. We're going to try to get Eric back. Obviously, as you all can imagine given the chaotic nature on the scene on the ground in Nice, it is incredibly difficult even with cell phones, to get the cell phone connections because of the emergency crews trying to deal with this situation. As we said, the death toll climbing right now 60 and it has been going up right now. At least 100 others injured.
Jim Sciutto has been covering the story since the beginning. Jim has had a chance to talk to a witness who was only about 15 feet away when this truck driver came in in this horrible attack. And Jim, what were you able to learn?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. I spoke to an American pilot who was in the midst of the crowd, he was 15 feet away he said as this truck plowed into the crowd and sadly, he described just how intentional this was. He told me that the truck driver was mowing bodies over and accelerating as he was hitting these people in the streets. I spoke to another witness who said that these streets were blocked off. There were no vehicles meant to be there. These were pedestrian avenues at the peak of the fireworks for what is in effect France's July 4th celebration, Bastille Day.
But what witnessed would say that this driver intentionally broke through those cordons and then intentionally accelerated as he was driving through the crowd there. Again, accelerating as he hit people, clearly intentional. I spoke to other witnesses who then heard gun fire after that -- those initial crashes through the crowd. But what was not clear from their perspective was the gun fire coming from the truck and police.
We now know that police fired on and killed this driver in the cab of that truck after this horrible thing happened. And speaking to the witnesses, as well, they just described the sound as the truck was going through there and the panic. Just a sad day for the people who were there and a sad day for France.
BURNETT: Jim, we now understand here, the numbers, as I said, tragically have been going higher. Seventy three now dead in this -- in this terror attack. I'm obviously, we're not using the word terror yet, certainly it was terror by any measure of definition of what the term means. But in terms of the motive I know we do not yet know at this point authorities are though clearly using that word attack. What more are they able to figure out, Jim, from what happened here in terms of the motive.
SCIUTTO: They're not concluding anything yet, but let's look at precedent here, Erin. First of all, a truck is a deadly weapon, a car is a deadly weapon and we know the Islamists groups have encouraging their followers to use cars and the trucks as deadly weapons. You have the ISIS spokesman Al Adnani saying recently, run them over in his words. And we have seen attacks like this. We've seen them in Canada, we've seen them in Israel. In fact we've seen them in France before, several times before, but not to this degree. Not with this level of carnage.
Obviously, this is a bigger vehicle, a truck and nearly a tractor trailer size, immense crowds packed together there making it an even more deadly weapon than it would be. Whether this is Islamist or terrorist, it appears very much to be intentional so an act of mass murder at a minimum.
BURNETT: All right. Jim is going to stay with us.
And I do want everyone to understand here the death toll now going up to 73. Thirty two people were massacred in Brussels. One hundred and thirty in Paris. This is now 73 people in this attack. At least 100 injured. Seventy three dead now formally according to French television.
Tony Molina is an American from San Diego, he was there, he saw this happened and he joins me on the phone. Tony, we are very glad that you are all right, that you are here and able to talk about this. Can you tell me what you saw?
TONY MOLINA, WITNESS (on the phone): Sure. Basically, we had a large fireworks show tonight. We overlook an area of the beach where there was a lot of people sitting to watch the show. We are watching it ourselves and when it ended, the streets were just flooded, basically. There is a large boardwalk in front of us here that's -- that was just filled with people and basically about five minutes after the show we had stepped inside and we just started hearing what sounded like thumps and people yelling and screaming.
So my son and I ran out to the balcony to see what was going on, and this was, unfortunately, it was a time right when this white panel truck was going right across the area in front of us, and it was zig- zagging. I'd say it was going about 25 to 30 miles an hour as it did so and just plummeting through. It looked like it was hitting several people. I can tell you right now even as I look out in front of our area I still see about ten covered bodies that they haven't even begun processing yet.
BURNETT: I mean, it's just horrible. You're saying, you now even can see that there are bodies they have been able to cover, but they haven't yet been able to move them or take them to the morgue or anything, Tony.
[19:10:20] MOLINA: Yes. It was -- it was -- I think it was a shock for everybody down there. In fact, you know, all day long we've seen several law enforcement, military all through this whole area of the Promenade Des Anglais. And, but at this particular time I think they had either cleared to other locations or were doing some other sort of traffic enforcement or something because there was only a couple out here in this area in front of our place. And they, I mean, everyone was just shocked because the bodies that were hit -- they were just laying there and everyone was kind of running off in different direction, and I think I saw -- I can't tell if it was an officer or not, depending, you know, based on the uniform that I saw from this distance, but you know, he just looked confused, as well. And I can only imagine what he was going through at the time.
BURNETT: So, Tony, when you were watching this and you say what you describe as a white panel truck and you say it was zig-zagging, was it -- could you tell, was it accelerating? I mean, certainly they're now using the word attack and it's clear this was purposeful, but what did you see from the way it was moving, the way it was aiming? What did you see?
MOLINA: Yes. My first thought was my gosh, this must be a drunk driver. I didn't think it was an act of terror initially. I just came out and saw people yelling and this truck driving kind of erratically, but as we watched it unfold it was never -- it never, you know, came to a stop or anything. It just kept kind of zig-zagging. I wouldn't say it was accelerating, per se, but it kept a fairly continuous speed as it kind of went through this crowd here.
BURNETT: And -- and you were -- you are there right now with your 14- year-old son, right? Both were together during this? MOLINA: Yes. Yes, well, my -- me, my wife and my son are here. We
had all stepped inside after the fireworks, and I think my wife had walked back to the bedroom so my son and I were sitting here in the room that's right next to the patio and that's when, you know, we heard the noise and both my son and I just walked out. And I wish he hadn't have seen it, but basically we both came out and watched this truck basically go through people.
BURNETT: And did you see the shooting? And we're trying to understand at this point who was shooting at whom. You know, one eyewitness said the driver was shooting and someone else said maybe not the driver. The driver was only shot out. Were you able to see anything to indicate that, Tony?
MOLINA: No. We could hear the shooting, but just to give you an idea of where we're at, one of the famous landmarks here is the Negresco Hotel. We are just west of that, closer in the direction of the airport here. So we are just west of that, probably about 70 yards from that hotel and the panel truck had continued on. So the area when it went in front of us was actually on the boardwalk. So the sidewalk area where everyone should feel safe to walk, and it just continued on that until it got to the front of the Negresco where there is a kind of pergola (ph) and it turned from there and went on to the street at that point.
MOLINA: But the streets at that time were still flooded with people, with pedestrians. So it continued on past the Negresco Hotel and we lost sight of it at that point due to all the trees that are kind of lined in the middle of the roadway and then we just heard gunshots several seconds later. So, I couldn't tell you from where I'm at where that even ended up.
BURNETT: And Tony, before you go, and I know it's exhausting for you to have to relive what you're watching and you're still looking down there at people who have died who are still not taken to where they need to go, how long did this happen? When you started to see that truck driving, the white panel truck, how long did it drive before this stopped? How far did it go?
MOLINA: I would say from where we're at it probably continued another maybe half a mile and it had to have come from at least a half mile from the other direction, at least.
BURNETT: Well, Tony, I very much appreciate your time. Thank you so much for calling -- calling in and speaking to us. Tony, as we said, American from San Diego visiting Nice with his family.
I want to go to our Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. And Evan, you just heard what he said from his perspective looking at this as a witness, it seemed that that truck drove at least from where we could see and it already started hitting people at least half a mile zig- zagging, going he thought, it seemed 25 to 30 miles an hour and as we hear about this horror and chaos, he's saying there are at least ten people that he can see from his room right now, they are covered, people who were murdered in this horrible attack. What are you learning?
[19:15:20] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, one of the things that U.S. officials are doing is they're keeping an eye on social media especially of these extremists online who are celebrating what happened in Nice. We've already seen some of those tweets and other postings on social media. It's not clear whether or not this is an ISIS attack or some other group, but certainly ISIS is the first suspect, the first group that comes to mind certainly for U.S. officials as they watch this.
And obviously France has a tremendous problem. We know obviously with the terrorist attack in Paris and also the Charlie Hebdo attack. But also just this month, just last week was the completion of the month- long Euro 2016 Soccer Tournament during which time there was this very heightened concern about a terrorist attack in France. They managed to get through without any major incidents, but certainly Bastille Day, very symbolic day, was a day that was of big concern, and if you hear from some of the witnesses that we've talked to, they say that they saw very heavily armed police there.
This was a promenade that was cordoned off so this truck would have had to go through some kind of barricade perhaps to be able to get into this promenade and mow down these people. Obviously the death toll is very high right now. U.S. officials are working to see if there's any information that they can collect. There is a lot of collection though, of communications that happens especially in that region that the U.S. intelligence agencies are now going through, Erin, just in case that there might be any clues as to what might have been coming and perhaps someone might have said something saying that they were about to carry out an attack. These are the types of things that the U.S. analysts are doing and they'll going to spend their whole night doing tonight -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much.
Evan staying with us as he's on the phone with his sources. He'll be back with us momentarily. I want to bring now in our intelligence security analyst, CIA operative Bob Baer. CNN law enforcement analyst, former assistant director for investigations with the U.S. Marshals Art Roderick also with me.
Bob Baer, Bastille Day, this is the July Fourth of France, biggest holidays of the year. We now know at least 73 people have been slaughtered in this attack. Is there any doubt in your mind this was a terror attack?
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Oh, I think almost definitely. It's rare these personal attacks occur in Paris, especially what considers the 14th of July, a machine gun was used, mass slaughter, France was under high alert and the head of the Bataclan attack is loose, you know? So many things that suggest the Islamic State. You know, we're going to find out later from the French, but right now if I had to make a guess it would be the Islamic State.
BURNETT: And Art, I want to show everyone what we have just gotten in here. We're going to show you. It is graphic and it is disturbing, but we were just hearing a witness talk about this who saw this. This is the truck actually plowing through the crowd. You can see how many people are there and you can see how crowded and densely packed those streets are and that truck going through. Tony Molina just described that, a witness, that truck going 25, 30 miles an hour and it makes you sort of choke up to watch how fast it seems to be going through this crowd of people. Art, what is your sense of what you think just happened here?
ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR INVESTIGATIONS, U.S. MARSHALS: Well, I agree with Bob. I mean, I know the French government hasn't officially come out and called it a terror attack, but it seems like all of the earmarks are there. The thing that struck me when I first heard about it is that this particular attack doesn't seem to be that very sophisticated as we saw with "Charlie Hebdo." As we saw with the Paris attacks. As we saw with the Belgium attacks and what I mean by that is, there wasn't multiple people involved that we know of right now.
I mean, we have one driver of a vehicle that was neutralized, but you know, we do have an automatic weapon, it appears, but we don't have other conspirators that were with him in the vehicle. There's no explosives. This could have been either inspired or directed. I'm thinking more along the lines of a lone wolf-type incident who just had a target of opportunity here and when you see that van moving through there, that's like a small tank and we saw the photos of the bullet holes in the front of it and what it took to stop that vehicle before the individual got out and engaged with police.
BURNETT: Yes. And Paul Cruickshank is also with me, our terror analyst. Paul, you and I have obviously been together in Paris and Brussels. When you hear how art describes this as a small tank driving through that crowd that it took so many bullets for them to stop it. Obviously, as you see this truck moving here, this shows someone with clear intent. There is no question here that this is a drunk driver or anything like that. That at this point seems to be a ridiculous proposition.
[19:20:04] PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST (on the phone): Clear intent, Erin, mowing people down, plowing through them with this truck for distance up through according to some reports, two kilometers according, along this boardwalk. The French police responding by killing the truck driver clearly believing that this was not just a runaway truck, but an actual attack that was taking place and one of the top leaders of ISIS, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani has called on ISIS followers in the west and also in France to run people over with their car.
He first made that call in September 2014 and just a few weeks later there was an attack in Canada, in Quebec where an extremist who was inspired by ISIS rammed his car into a Canadian soldier killing one in a terrible attack in Canada, but this on a much larger scale. The symbolism of the day, the fact that this is the French National Day, July 14th, Bastille Day, makes one think that this could well be terrorism as well as all of the details we're hearing from eyewitnesses pouring in this evening.
BURNETT: All right. All of you, please stay with me as we're standing by here and getting more information.
Jimmy Ghazal joins me right now on the phone. He is on vacation with his family. In Nice, he was with his family, his wife and children, watching the fireworks. And please, Jimmy, what did you see happen?
JIMMY GHAZAL, WITNESS (on the phone): Well, after the fireworks were done, you know, people were just gathered on the sidewalks and just watching live bands and it was quite, it was like music and everything was really good. And then we heard like loud voices and loud noises and voices and people screaming and then chattered gun fire. And then people started running in different directions, and then I saw a big white truck going through the pedestrian designated area because they are blocked so that cars wouldn't go through. And then, you know, more gun fire and more people were screaming and running in different directions.
BURNETT: And Jimmy, as you saw that truck, we just had someone who is saying it seems like it was moving very quickly and obviously with intent. It was going fast. What did you see?
GHAZAL: Well, it seemed to me like it was moving in a steady speed not very quickly but you know, just -- it just cut through the barricades and over the roadblock and it kept going through, you know, for a good, you know, kilometer or two kilometers or so. Just, you know, non-stop kind of speed moving forward. And it was a really big truck. It was a, you know, like a garbage truck.
BURNETT: A big truck. And I know you and your family, thank goodness are OK. Jimmy, I know you and your wife were in separate locations when this happened and you have obviously been able to locate them and then everyone is safe in your family. But we are hearing right now that this death toll keeps climbing. It is 73.
BURNETT: It is going higher and there are still bodies on the streets. What did you see as that truck was going through the crowd? I mean, what was happening as people were trying to run away from it in that street where they were so tightly packed?
GHAZAL: You know, from my location, I wasn't seeing the truck actually running over people, you know? We could not even assume that was happening and we're assuming that the truck was passing by and shooting at people. We were trying to shelter ourselves and my wife and kids were actually going -- my wife was taking the kids to sleep. She was actually nearer to the location where the truck started hitting the people. So we were separated for a good one minute before the whole thing started and she was right there with the kids and they were -- they started running, you know, towards the narrower streets inside.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Jimmy, thank you very much. I am so glad for you and your wife. I know you are so grateful to have your children to be safe tonight. Thank you.
GHAZAL: Of course. Of course. And our thoughts are with the people who have lost their lives, you know and their families. I hope the injured, you know, recover well.
[19:25:10] BURNETT: Yes. And I do want everyone to understand we do have some new breaking news coming in at this moment. As I said, 73 people now confirmed dead but we have now learned much more about this attack. It started, the occupant of the truck actually started shooting into the crowd. That started first and then the truck drove about two kilometers along the pavement of that main boulevard that they were on in the pedestrian area driving along, hitting people on the way.
That death toll now 73, 100 injured and they can tell us now what is inside that white paneled truck. We understand firearms, explosives and grenades all found inside the truck. And obviously, that is a very significant development here in this, I think, fair to call this now a terror attack in France.
Bob Baer back with me, Art Roderick, Paul Cruikshank. Bob Baer, this edition of development makes this pretty clear.
BAER: It's pretty clear, and I think it's organized, as well. I mean, you don't buy explosives in France on the black market easily. You need a network. You need to know what you're doing, same way with an automatic weapon. This attack for me was well planned on the Promenade of Des Anglais as packed with people and you get the most, you know, most people killed with an attack like this and of course, that is the intent of the Islamic State as killed as many people in the west as they can, and the French, again, have been on high alert. They've been unable to roll up all these networks that were involved in Paris and Brussels. So this didn't come as a surprise to the French and the other thing, I have to say, is protecting against these attacks with a truck are almost impossible.
BAER: You take Fifth Avenue, same thing. Anywhere in the world, it's almost impossible and the Islamic State, as we know, is a particularly bloody, awful organization that doesn't have any sensible, political goals.
BURNETT: And Evan Perez with this breaking news, I know as you're learning more here, they are reporting what they found inside this truck and there appears to be some sort of an arsenal.
PEREZ: It could have been even more deadly than it already was, Erin. And I'm talking to officials here in the United States and obviously one of the first things they are trying to figure out is who could be behind this and what we always find and certainly at this stage, we don't know the name of the attacker at this point, they're still trying to get some of that information from their French colleagues. But we've seen this time and time again and almost always these attackers are known to French authorities. They are on some kind of radar. They've had some kind of contact previously.
A lot of them, it's very difficult for the French to keep tabs on the numbers of people that we're talking about, they're having very big extremist problem and we're talking about the South of France which we think of it as vacation land, but it is also home to a very large population with a very large problem that they have with extremists. Some of whom have traveled to Syria and Iraq and have now come back, and they're obviously listening to the encouragement of ISIS which is telling them that they need to carry out attacks.
We just know, just in the last couple of days, the French government announced that they were going to send back an aircraft carrier which has been used to try to conduct some of the operations and some of the attacks that they've been carrying out, the coalition has been carrying out against ISIS in Syria. So, we know that there is a lot of anger among ISIS supporters about that and the fact that the French are still carrying out and still assisting in some of these attacks on Syria -- Erin.
BURNETT: And you know, Art, with this breaking news. This time line significant when you hear witnesses talking about, this was a heavy police presence, this was cordoned off and yet the timeline that we're learning according to the regional president telling the BFMTV, our affiliate saying, the occupant of the truck started this by shooting into the crowd and then was able to drive at least two kilometers through this crowd killing people, that this was all able to happen. I mean, obviously, this could have been significantly worse. We're finding out that there were firearms, that there were explosives, that there were grenades in the back of that truck. But nonetheless, this did go on for a period of time before they were able to stop this driver with gun fire.
RODERICK: Exactly. I mean, now that we know that there's explosives in the back as Bob had mentioned. Now, we can track, where those explosives came from and the hand grenades. It's just very, very, very luck that this individual was not able to explode, to ignite those explosives in the back of the van because that would have been, the death toll would have been in the hundreds if not the thousands at this particular point in time. The clearance for that particular vehicle, and we don't know how much was in the back of that van and that was a pretty big vehicle and if it was filled, that would have left quite a crater and a lot more, a lot higher body count.
[19:30:06] BURNETT: Well, Bob Baer, in a sense it also seems that police when they shot the truck, they shot in the front, they were able to disable the driver and stop it from moving. But had the shots, more of them gone awry and hit the back, obviously, it seems that there could have been an explosion caused even by that.
BAER: It depends on the explosive. If it was a homemade explosive, very unstable, it could have gone off. If it was a military explosive, it wouldn't have.
You know, by the way, the French are very good. The police are good. I know they've come under criticism, and they were expecting this. But again, this was inevitable.
And, you know, where are -- who are these people getting all of these explosives and especially grenades? Are they coming from Libya? I mean, you cannot buy these in Europe, period. I mean, somebody smuggling them in and how, what are the networks out there, how well- armed are they and Europe is in full panic at this point.
BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me. I just want to break in right now and go to Jim Sciutto with more breaking news.
Jim, what are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Erin, I've been speaking to eyewitnesses for some time now and what they had described as it was happening was just how long this driver was able to drive through that crowd. When I say long, not just in time, but in distance.
SCIUTTO: It appears for more than a mile, and that obviously allowed him to kill so many people and one way witnesses telling me they're seeing that right now is that that they see ambulances now spread along that waterfront there for more than a mile taking care of the injured, sadly, and taking care of the dead, as well, and that's something that's going to be part of this investigation. How did this driver manage to get through cordons that were intended to keep cars, all cars and drivers off this street, which have become a pedestrian avenue? And then, two, how did the driver manage to drive for so long through there without being successfully challenged?
BURNETT: And that is the crucial question.
And, Bob Baer, let me bring you in on that. Jim's reporting here that it was more than a mile. We had a witness say a similar thing that it was a mile that this truck was able to drive, and he described at a fairly high speed, 25 to 30 miles an hour, others said it was a little bit slower. But still, you are talking about quite some time and it started with gunshots before the driving even.
BAER: Exact -- what that tells me is special forces tactics, speed, surprise, maximum violence, the initiation attack, and everyone is thrown off guard so quickly, and even the police, and then you just run through people. And it's not like the police were aware it was even coming. Even if they had cops in the crowd, they don't have automatic weapons and trucks are particularly lethal. They started in Beirut in the early '80s.
BURNETT: So, this sounds like what you're saying and Paul Cruickshank has talked about how ISIS has told people, whether inspired by ISIS or ISIS operatives to use cars to run people over. It sounds like what you're saying this is more than just someone who was inspired to do that. It sounds like you're saying this person had some sort of training or preparation it appears from what we're seeing now?
BAER: It does, and we're going to learn more and I could be absolutely wrong about this, but if it's a normal psychopath, they'll just run a couple of people over in the street or whatever, like in Canada. But this person was well-prepared. He was steeled to do this.
It's not easy to attack somebody with a truck and kill so many people. You have to have planning and, of course, I go back to all the explosives. That requires an organization. Even if it was a lone attack, or I would still bet at this point, the Islamic State, some sort of cell was behind it.
BURNETT: And Paul Cruickshank, let me just bring you in here in terms of the preparation here. Again, the graphic footage that we have just received to give people a sense of what happened on the streets of Nice in southern France, a truck which we now have footage of driving through at what appears to be -- when you watch the video, a very fast speed just as you can see it go right by.
You hear Bob Baer saying, when you look at it going a mile and going through this crowd that this is somebody that appears to have had some sort of training?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST (via telephone): There appears probably to be some kind of network behind this and I agree with Bob on that on the fact that you had firearms, explosives, grenades found in the back of the truck. Difficult for just one individual to find all these things suggestive of some kind of network behind him, and, of course, that raises the possibility of more attacks from whatever network may have been responsible for this.
No claim of responsibility yet from any terrorist group. ISIS has been silent, but a lot of its supporters have erupted on social media in celebration as you might obviously expect.
[19:35:07] This part of France, there is, actually, a very beautiful, touristy part of France. They've actually had a radicalization problem in this area of the French Riviera. We've seen some plots in the last couple of years. So, this has sort of been a long time coming.
BURNETT: All right. I just want to make sure everyone understands exactly where we stand right now with this reporting with the breaking news coming in and just a moment ago. That we now understand that this began according to the president of the region here in France with the driver of this truck opening fire and then driving through the crowd by all accounts now it seems to have been two kilometers, somewhere close to about a mile, going through and at the end when they were able to stop the truck by shooting at the driver from the front of the truck as you can see from the bullet holes.
They then inside this white truck found firearms, explosives, and grenades. This is the very latest that we understand right now. The driver of that truck has been shot dead. The death toll right now, 73, at least 100 injured -- a death toll that has been climbing over the past hour.
Ryan Hubbs is an American who lives in London and is in Nice visiting on vacation.
Ryan, what did you see?
RYAN HUBBS, WITNESS (via telephone): Well, I was having dinner across the street from the waterfront where this happened and, you know, the firework his gone on in celebration of the French holiday and everything was at a standstill and then a truck -- we saw a truck come by on the other side of the road at a pretty high rate of speed and it looked like probably, you know, 20, 30 miles an hour, and about that time you started to see people running, screaming, rushing away from the waterfront where everything was happening.
And it was initially it sounded like maybe there were bangs coming from the truck and initially thought perhaps that was gun fire, but I think in retrospect it was probably the sound of the truck actually hitting civilians that were out on the waterway, on the waterfront.
BURNETT: I mean, Ryan, how long did it take for you to realize that this was purposeful? That something was going horribly wrong?
HUBBS: Well, it was pretty obvious immediately that something was going pretty horribly wrong, but in terms of it being purposeful and after a few minutes, I went back across the street to the waterfront to see what had happened and if there was anything we can do to help. And at that point, it became obvious that this wasn't something that just happened close to where we were, but was actually -- it had gone on for -- as far as you could really see up the beach front and there were numerous, numerous bodies and casualties of people that had been covered up, indicating that they were gone, and walked just up the waterfront to see what was happening and if there was anything that could be done to help.
And it was the same scene, really, as far as you can see up the beach with people that have been killed lying there and emergency services were doing everything they could and were overstretched to deal with this. There were people doing whatever they could and trying to cope, but it was a very traumatic situation for everybody.
We ran into people that had lost multiple family members that were there in shock and not knowing what to do, and really, just waiting for the authorities to come, and they did, but it was the scale of it was such that it just took a long time for things to really -- to really be handled. So --
BURNETT: You said you ran into people who lost family members and it is impossible to imagine you're celebrating, you're going through what's a joyful moment of fireworks and something like this happened, it's impossible to comprehend for anybody trying to understand this.
When you saw that truck, Ryan, was it driving -- did you see the driver at all? Did you have any glimpse of him, or what he was doing, or how he looked, or was it too far away?
HUBBS: You know, it wasn't that far away. It was probably, I don't know, 20 yards away, but it just happened very quickly and everyone's attention was on the fireworks, on the goings on there, and it was a little -- you know, it kind of registered kind of quickly and then by the time you had gotten a sense of what had happened, the truck was further down the road.
So, no, I didn't get any sort of glimpse of the driver of the truck.
BURNETT: Ryan, thank you for talking to us and --
BURNETT: -- thank goodness that you are family is all right and thank you again for talking to us. I know you're in a state of shock and fear yourself. So --
[19:40:01] Becky Anderson is back with me now.
As we said the breaking news that we are now reporting was that the occupant of the truck started shooting and then driving for about, over a mile, about two kilometers. Now, we had two witnesses here in this past hour, telling us, driving somewhere between 20 and 30 miles an hour. The French opening a formal counts of terror investigation, obviously, in terms of the impact of this and what it did. It was an act of terror. The question now is, who caused it? Who perpetrated it? What the motive was?
And, Becky, there is now a formal investigation. Is there -- is there new information that they have at this point?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, that's right. You are right to point out that this is clearly a terror investigation and we are being told this is being investigated as murder, or attempted murder, and we are hearing from state radio here that we cannot as yet confirm this that the death toll may have risen to as many as 80, and more than a hundred dead. So, clearly, an incredibly chaotic and tragic situation.
You are right to point out that at present, this investigation is in the very early stages, and it is unclear as to exactly who the perpetrator was, what his motivation might have been. But this truck, it seems, was full of various equipment including explosives and guns.
We have heard that the perpetrator of the attack on the Promenade des Anglais, the main drag in nice in the southern city was shot and killed by authorities having driven, as you rightly point out some two kilometers through thousands of people in the crowd who were celebrating Bastille Day. It is unclear as of yet whether anybody else was likely to have been involved this in this action at present. Authorities only telling us this one perpetrator was shot and killed, nothing more on who he was or who she was, or indeed what their motivation might have been.
BURNETT: All right. Becky, thank you very much.
In the chaos here, we have been talking to eyewitnesses who are telling us they are still right now desperately trying to help the injured on the street, trying to getting injured to hospitals and people who were killed in this attack. Still right now on the street, one witness talking about taking the white table cloths from the tables in a restaurant and they were running out on the streets to cover those bodies out of respect.
That is the scene of chaos and terror in Nice right now.
Evan Perez, he's been speaking to his law enforcement sources, has some new details for us at this moment. What are you learning, Evan?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Erin, given the fact that the French authorities are treating this as a terrorism investigation, it's a terrorism -- a case of terrorism, that is the going theory as well for U.S. authorities. Obviously, there is a lot they don't know. There's still very limited information as to what happened.
It does appear from the information that they've been able to get from their French colleagues that there was only one attacker. But the French have been doing a lot of raids, have been doing arrests, there was a lot of concern during the past month of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, that there might be a terrorist attack. ISIS had threatened that they would carry out an attack this time. They managed to emerge from that period with really no major incidents.
And so, one of the things that happened in the last few days, you heard from the French government in the last few days that they were going to relax some of these emergency laws and, you know, you were there after the recent attacks there last year, that they had put in place these new laws, these temporary laws to especially extend the time of arrests for some of these terror suspects. They were so many of them that they are trying to keep an eye on in France. And so, one of the things they were doing is they were going to relax those laws. There were a lot of criticism in France about those laws, Erin.
So, it appears that they were relaxing a little bit. They thought they'd gotten over the worse. Certainly, U.S. officials had been warning that they were expecting something big to happen somewhere in Europe, probably France, and probably a couple of other places before the summer was over.
BURNETT: And yet, the scale of what we're seeing here, how this happened and how this has transpired is unprecedented, Jim Sciutto, and we're also looking at a death toll now that is climbing and now 73.
SCIUTTO: Erin, we have seen mass casualty attacks with automatic weapons, just think as we saw in Istanbul recently. We've seen mass casualty attacks with explosives or a combination of the two, as you saw in Istanbul and France and elsewhere. We have seen individual attacks with vehicles before, but we've never seen a mass casualty attack like this with a driven vehicle. Not a truck bomb, not a car bomb, just a simple vehicle, granted a large one, driven into a crowd and causing so much death with that death toll rising.
[19:45:02] That part is unprecedented. The scale and the kind of weapon creating this sort of scale, it's another, sadly, weapon in the arsenal. We don't know what kind of group is behind this, but it is a terrorism investigation and whatever kind of terrorist is a new weapon in the arsenal of terrorists and that's, sadly, concerning.
BURNETT: And, Bob Baer, you know, we talk about -- as Jim is pointing this out so correctly, a new weapon and yet something that is not new at all. I mean, it's a truck. It was just a truck. Yes, it was loaded with explosives, but the explosives didn't even go off. This was just driving. BAER: Well, they're making sure that they cause casualties. By the
way, they watched in Israel the damage done to the Israelis, just cars driving through crowds and killing people and it's driven Israeli politics far to the right and put the population at risk as well as knives.
So, if they can't get the gun, they move to trucks and they keep on switching tactics. The main thing for them is getting people that are determined to do things like this and there are a lot in France. I mean, the French, by the way, have really cracked down over the last year. I mean, they've been profiling, going after people and making raids, putting tons of people on things, listening to the phone, but these people are very disciplined and they do not talk on the phone and that's why they can get through and attack something like Nice.
BURNETT: So, Paul, what do you think the intent was, though, here, trying to understand because obviously it's a massive tragedy and it's a massive casualty event at this time? It could, though, have been even more people dying when you think about the back of this truck and it was full of firearms, explosives and grenades.
So, what was the plan here? Right now, we only know of one person, the driver who likely knew how this was going to end as he was driving through the crowd with heavily armed police. So, what was the plan with firearms, the explosives and the grenades in the back of this truck?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, a lot would have been investigated, Erin. It's very early at this point. But the fact that there were these firearms, explosives, the grenades suggest that an even bigger attack might have been planned and for some reason was not able to be carried out.
At the moment, we believe there was just one perpetrator, but it's the very early stages at the moment. It's a very confused situation and not clear if there may have been another person involved. We're just hearing about one person at this point, but the fact they have arsenal of weapons and explosives suggest probably a network behind this in some way, shape or form, very difficult for one individual to source a weapons arsenal like this and that will give French authorities great concern tonight that there could be follow-on attacks or that there could be others inspired by what they saw that took place over the last several hours.
All of the intelligence in France pointing towards ISIS ratcheting up its attack plans against the country. About 1,000 French nationals traveled to Syria and join with the group, more than 250 are back in France, and they're having to monitor 11,000 individuals in France because of their suspected ties to violence, extremism. This is an unprecedented problem and these sort of things, I'm afraid, are the new normal.
BURNETT: Well, of course, it's an impossible thing to do to monitor that many people full time. It's just not possible.
Art, when you hear what we understand now. You hear Paul saying there is real concern and there could be a network here and it sounds like there may be. Yet, at this point, we don't know anything about that. We know only about the driver, but when you hear about what's in the back of that truck, the firearms, the explosives and the grenades, none of which were used, what do you think?
ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I agree. There's definitely a network behind the explosives and if they're military- grade explosives then the French will be able to figure out where they came from. What's really scary about this, as horrible as it is to have 70-plus people dead, right now, it appears that although there was a lot of back planning, this was committed by a single individual that was able to go out there and kill 73 people, which is a very high kill rate when you consider what happened in Paris, when you consider what happened in Belgium, when you consider what happened to "Charlie Hebdo."
That's a lot of people for one person to kill the way he did just driving through that crowd for over a mile.
BURNETT: I mean, and Bob, that's something in Paris, the horrific attack, 130 people dead and there was a network and a group of men involved in carrying that out on that night in Paris, in Brussels, 32 people. But we also know that there were multiple people involved, right? They were taking those carts through the airport, there were multiple people. But here, you are seeing one person so far that we actually, physically saw.
[19:50:03] BAER: Well, exactly, Erin, that's so bad for the French is they've got -- you know, they've got a large population that's sympathetic to the Islamic State. A lot of converts from Christianity have joined the Islamic State. It's a problem they can't get a hold of and what really worries me is this is going to turn European politics very far to the front, La Pen, the rightest, you know --
BURNETT: Yes, on the far right fringe.
BAER: The candidate there for the presidency, the far right. This is going to boost them. It's going to boost Brexit. It's going to boost the Germans and the rest of it, because it can happen anywhere in Europe, but again, I go back to these weapons.
Are they coming across boats from Libya? Are they coming from Turkey? We simply don't know and what I'm saying is the Islamic State, I'm not saying this was -- this is the Islamic State attack. We're going to find out soon enough.
But that they can keep on going and they have this bottomless, you know, well of adherence, and that's what scares the Europeans.
BURNETT: All right.
And I want to go now, we have -- this is going to be some audio. It's very disturbing. I what everyone to understand, though, as you try to understand what happened here in Nice tonight. These are from social media images. We have blurred the bodies of the people that have been struck as we
could, but we want you to hear -- to hear -- to listen to what you're going to hear right now.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
BURNETT: I want to go to Evan Perez right now.
Evan, you have some very significant breaking news from the FBI.
PEREZ: Well, Erin, I was simply going to mention, the FBI has been warning about this type of tactic. It's not something that we've seen in the United States to this level, this level obviously of a death toll, but the U.S. has been on guard for these specific types of attacks. They -- it was a bulletin that they put out a couple of years ago to law enforcement, warning about the possibility of terrorists using these types of attacks here in the United States.
There have been a couple of incidents here in North Carolina and in California. Fortunately, for the U.S., they've not been this level of death toll. But this is something that obviously, there's a lot of security measures that are taken.
Here in Washington, for instance, you can't get very close to the capitol. There are barriers placed specifically because of the concern about trucks being driven into the Capitol or other significant buildings. Obviously, soft targets like a crowd gathered for a celebration.
This is a boulevard that is normally open to traffic and it's closed off simply because it's Bastille Day and it's very, very difficult to try to defend against something like this when you have a temporary measure and some barriers to try to prevent cars and trucks from getting into this boulevard. But obviously, no match for somebody intent on doing what they did tonight.
BURNETT: And let me go back to you, Paul Cruickshank. This is a method they had been warning about. But I think as you see here on a time when France is on high alert.
And I know they've been trying to ratchet some of that back on high alert on the equivalent of Bastille Day, the equivalent of July Fourth, in France. They had armed police. They have cordoned off streets. This still happened and in many ways what is so terrifying about it is it seems almost impossible to prevent something like this.
CRUICKSHANK: Impossible to prevent. This is sort of a soft target, if it wasn't on this particular promenade it could be on another one somewhere else in the country. ISIS are telling their fighters who they're dispatching back to Europe, telling their followers to kill as many people as they can.
Their goal in these attacks is to kill as many people as possible, to injure as many people as possible. They want all of this to be in the global headlines for as long as possible. If this is indeed ISIS, I think we can expect some kind of claim of responsibility fairly soon, but we just don't know at this point whether this is some kind of inspired attack, inspired by the ideology of a terrorist group, or by somebody who managed to get to Syria and Iraq.
The fact that there are all these weapons and grenades and explosives found suggests perhaps some kind of network could have been behind this and that takes you a little bit away from an is-inspired attack and a little bit further on the direction of an ISIS-directed attack. But this is very, very early stages in the investigation.
[19:55:02] BURNETT: All right. Stay with me.
I want to bring in now Alban Mikoczy with France 2, the broadcaster there. He is right there on the scene in Nice.
And, Alban, what are you seeing right now?
ALBAN MIKOCZY, REPORTER, FRANCE 24 (via telephone): Right now, this is only police and they had to go to the hospital, because there is nobody here now.
And more than 40,000 people coming for the fireworks, it was one of the most important moments of the summer session in the French Riviera. And it's happened at the end of the fireworks when the crowd is very massive with a lot of tourists coming from, for example, from the United States or from England and everybody shut out and everybody ran in different directions.
At the end, the van is stopped by the police and the police killed the man.
BURNETT: And in terms of what you understand right now, I know you're saying 40,000 people came there. Do they understand at this point? Are they sure how many people were killed in this attack?
MIKOCZY: Maybe it's too early. The department of (INAUDIBLE) authority say there is more than 60 people dead and that more than 100 is different injury. I'm sorry for my English, different injury.
But I can say, at those moments, I can say with how many people will stay on the floor.
BURNETT: All right. Alban, thank you very much.
MIKOCZY: Thank you very much.
BURNETT: Alban, as we said, reporting for France TV.
Paul Cruickshank, the big key there that I think he was able to add is to give people a sense of the scale. We've had several Americans calling into the show this hour who were in nice, who were there on vacation, he's talking about 40,000 people who were at these fireworks display.
CRUICKSHANK: A huge fireworks display. This is a big national celebration in France every year. There was a military parade in Paris. There was some concern that that could be a target today from intelligence officials and France is very heavily involved in the war against ISIS.
But by launching this attack in a very crowded area, they were able to maximize the casualties and that's exactly what terrorist groups have been calling on their followers to do in the west. In the autumn of 2010, al Qaeda in Yemen released an issue of its magazine, "Inspire" magazine, talking about how to maximize carnage that attackers in the West, in the United States or France should pick up as much speed as possible, and to launch their attacks in areas where there were the biggest number of pedestrians possible.
They also called on their followers, if they had access to firearms, to carry them with them in their attacks, so that they could also carry out shootings during the attacks. A lot of what we're hearing sound like the details of this attack in the south of France is very, very similar to what al Qaeda were urging their followers to do.
CRUICKSHANK: Back in 2010. But ISIS also urging the same kind of attacks.
BURNETT: All right. Paul Cruickshank, thank you.
And more breaking news right now. President Obama has just released a statement and I want to read it to you.
"On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms on what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and other loved ones of those killed. We wished a full recovery for the many wounded."
The president of the United States calling this a terror attack.
Also, Donald trump responding to the news of the attack in France, saying, "In light of the horrible attack in Nice, France, I have postponed tomorrow's news conference concerning my vice presidential announcement."
Trump had offered the job today to the Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Pence accepted. There was going to be a formal announcement tomorrow. Obviously, that has been postponed.
The latest that we understand right now, obviously, is that this started with shooting and driving for over a mile through a crowd. Seventy-three dead as of the latest that we understand right now, more than 100 injured in this terror attack in Nice, France. The president of the United States coming out very firmly and calling it a terror attack.
We're going to hand our breaking coverage on right now to Anderson Cooper.