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Sources: Shooter Accumulated Guns for 20+ Years; Wife of Shooting Victim Speaks; New Photos Show Guns Found in Shooter's Hotel Suite. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired October 3, 2017 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Las Vegas.

We are learning much more tonight, much of it obviously deeply disturbing about the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

We're learning about the gunman's arsenal, about how long he'd been buying weapons, about the cameras he set up inside and outside the gunner's nest he created in that VIP suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel behind me.

Now, an earlier briefing, Las Vegas sheriff said there was much more they now knew, that they'd likely be making public over the next 24 hours. Now, it's possible we may hear some of that tonight.

As we always do, we'll be bringing you obviously that press conference and also, more importantly, the stories of all those whose lives were lost.

First, we go to CNN's Alex Marquardt, for what we've been learning throughout the day.

Cameras were set up inside and outside the room.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that was some of the information we got from the sheriff earlier. He said there had been extensive preplanning and that was part of that. Those cameras set up inside and outside that hotel room up there on the 32nd floor. He said that they believe that they were for transmission and not for broadcast. Meaning that if he was inside, he could monitor anybody who might be coming to take him into custody.

And it appeared they may have worked because we know that as the police and security teams moved into that room, they took on fire from the shooter. In fact one of the security guards took a bullet to the leg. Now, we know all of the cameras had been handed over to the FBI. Obviously, if there's any sort of recording capability, that could be extremely important in this investigation.

COOPER: Is it known yet the kind of time it took? We know the first responders with the hotel security figured out where the room was, as you said one of them took a bullet. They basically cordoned off the area. They got the people evacuated from other rooms.

Do we know yet how long it took SWAT to come and actually breach the door?

MARQUARDT: Yes, an hour twenty, all told. And this is what we've been trying to figure out over the past few days. We know that on Sunday night, at 10:08 p.m., the first shots rang out. And almost immediately, there were calls put in to the authorities who very quickly realized where the shots were coming from, from up there.

But they initially assumed it was on the 50th or 60th floor. So, the security teams starting going floor to floor. We heard from the sheriff today that those bullets only rained down for nine minutes.

Then we know about that gunfire inside, and then after that gunfire, the security team and police , they were treated waited for SWAT, it wasn't until 11:20 p.m. So, an hour and 12 minutes later that they put explosives around the door, breached it, went in and that's when they found the shooter who had apparently committed suicide.

COOPER: I mean, not that any motive would make any sense, but do we know more about motives?

MARQUARDT: In short, no. That's one of the reasons that the authorities have been hesitant to call this domestic terror, because they don't know the motivation yet. The sheriff was asked again today about motive, he said that they don't have one. They will obviously be combing through all of the evidence they can fine here, at the home in Mesquite, at another home in Reno.

We do know that he's been collecting weapons for some 20 years. At last count, there were some 49 weapons. But some of the best evidence could come from his girlfriend who as we speak, coming back to the country.

COOPER: Right. What do we know about her?

MARQUARDT: Well, initially, right after the attack, she was named as a person of interest, and then the authorities said that she wasn't. Tonight, we learned from the sheriff that she still is a person of interest. However, she was not in the country at the time of the attack. She was in the Philippines, which also raises other questions because we know that the shooter sent at one point $100,000 to the Philippines. We just don't know when and to whom.

So, she's on her by the way back to the U.S. as we speak. They will be questioning her almost immediately. The sheriff said that he expects information here shortly, that information obviously be very valuable in terms of determining that motive.

COOPER: Is it known at this point when the survivors who lost loved ones, when they will be able to bring your loved ones home?

MARQUARDT: No, I mean, the authorities here are still going through the identification process. We know from the sheriff's department they are almost completely there.

COOPER: Nearly everybody's been identified? MARQUARDT: Everybody's been identified. So, presumably, as soon as

they have been identified and the evidence that has been gathered is necessary. Hopefully the families will be able to take their loved ones home and laid to rest.

COOPER: So, unbelievable. Alex, appreciate the reporting.

Again, we're expecting a press conference at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. We're, of course, going to bring that to you live with all the latest information.

We spent some of the day today with a woman named Heather Milton. She's an orthopedic surgeon from a small town called Big Sandy, Tennessee. She and her husband Sonny, who's a registered nurse, were here because they loved going to concerts. That was their thing.

Heather says that when the first firing started, Sonny grabbed her and pulled her to safety. He saved her life and he lost his own life doing it.

As you know, we don't name the killers on this broadcast. We don't show you their picture. We don't believe history should remember the name of those who took the lives of others. We don't believe that history should remember the name of the Columbine killers.

I always think it's strange that everybody can name the names of the Columbine killers, but how of the names of the victims from Columbine can you remember?

[20:05:00] Like Dave Sanders, who spent four hours on the ground bleeding to death, or from Aurora, probably remember the name of the Aurora shooter, but how many remember the name of Jessica Ghawi who was an inspiring sports writer who died there.

Sandy Hook, probably remember the name of the killer of Sandy Hook, but how many people remember the name of Grace McDonald who died there? How many remember the name of Noah Posner and all the others?

We hope that history does not remember the name of this killer. We hope that history remembers the names of all those who lost their lives.

I talked to Heather about her beloved Sonny earlier today.


COOPER: What do you want people to know about sonny?

HEATHER MELTON, WIFE OF SHOOTING VICTIM SONNY MELTON: I think I kind of answered this question a little bit. But, he was such a kind hearted, loving, caring person and people felt that as soon as they met him. There's not a person's life that he didn't touch that wouldn't say those things. He was the most selfless person that I've ever met and even until his last breath, he proved that.

COOPER: His mom said that he has an infectious smile. MELTON: Yes. Everybody remembers his smile. And all of the pictures

that are coming out I think everybody can see that. His name was Sonny but he literally was sunshine when he walked in the room and he smiled.

COOPER: Is that what you first noticed about him?

MELTON: Absolutely.

COOPER: It was?


COOPER: How'd you meet?

MELTON: Well, we met in a bar. And he just came up with that huge smile. He said the minute he saw me that I stole his heart. And it wasn't necessarily the relationship that was supposed to be. It wasn't textbook.

COOPER: How so?

MELTON: Well, I'm a lot older than he is and I had been going through a divorce and I had three children and he was young and never been married. So, a lot of people thought that that shouldn't happen, but I don't think there's anybody who's ever been around us as a couple who didn't feel how much we loved each other.

And he -- he saved me before, (INAUDIBLE), taught me what real love was. I remember looking at him on the day that he died before and said -- thanking God that I knew what real love was. And I always said, if anything ever happened with us for whatever reason, and he wasn't my husband or my lover, that I was so thankful for knowing that love. I'll cherish it forever.

COOPER: That you had that love in your life?

MELTON: Yes, I think it's so rare honestly. But there was never a minute that I doubted his love for me.

COOPER: Especially Sunday night.


COOPER: He saved your life?

MELTON: He did. And he would do it over and over again.

COOPER: Do you want to talk about that night at all?

MELTON: Yes, I mean, it's horrifically vivid. It's not an image that probably will ever be out of my mind. But we were having such a good time, and probably --

COOPER: Going to concerts was -- is your thing.

MELTON: Yes, we loved going to concerts, we did it every single month. We went to at least one concert.

COOPER: You're wearing his favorite concert shirt.

MELTON: Eric Church was his guy. And we came to Vegas to see Eric Church, and actually, we have tickets to go tomorrow night to see him in Nashville.

And we were having a great time and it was Sunday night, the last night. And he had just met Big & Rich.

COOPER: You went backstage?

MELTON: We went backstage and it was such a highlight of our day. And we went out and they performed and they sang "God Bless America". And everybody was singing at the top of their lungs and had their phones lit up.

It was just so moving and just really true. Like, we talked about what a great atmosphere we were in. There was all aged people. There were kids there. There were elderly. There were vets. You know, all races.

It was just like people there to have a good time. People were respectful of each other. It was kindness which we feel like is lacking so much in our world today. And, we had talked about even leaving early that night because it was just exhausting long day.

We both said, well we're having so much fun, like we'll just stay. And we were in the center of the stage, relatively close to the front.

[20:10:01] And I heard the fire -- some shots go off and I looked at him, and I thought -- I said to him, I think that was a gun. He said, no, I think it was probably fireworks. I mean, everybody thought that, it was so loud. And people were shoulder to shoulder, we were just packed in there.

And then we heard more, and then I saw Jason Aldean run off the stage and everybody just started running. And there was just a barrage of shots fired and rounds and rounds and it seemed like an eternity.

COOPER: Did you know what it was at that point?

MELTON: At that point, we sort of know, but you couldn't tell where it was coming from. Was it somebody on the crowd or if it was happening on the street, not even where we were? Then I started feeling the ricochets of the bullets on the ground.

COOPER: You actually felt that?

MELTON: Yes. I said to Sonny, let's get down. He said, no, we can't get down we'll get tramped. And he grabbed me from behind and we started running in a duck position.

COOPER: He was running behind you, holding you?

MELTON: Yes. And I felt him get shot in the back. We fell to the ground, and I just remember seeing people all around me on the ground. And I was trying to talk to him and he wasn't responding, and I started doing CPR on him. And people were yelling at me to get down, and I kept feeling the shots all around me.

And I was just screaming for somebody to help me. And then, finally, the shots stopped and he started bleeding from his mouth.

I knew he was probably gone but I still wanted to help. And so, luckily some amazing people, I don't even know who they are, came and helped me carry him off the field, and it was quite a distance. When we got there --

COOPER: They helped you pick him up?

MELTON: Yes. He threw him -- one man threw him over his shoulder and we ran to a field. We got to a truck with the bed open and they put him in the back of the bed with two other victims. I jumped in and the truck took off down the road. And those two men who did CPR on Sonny and another man all the way to the hospital.

COOPER: Driving in the back of the truck?

MELTON: Just blaring down the road with the horns honking and cops were going in the other direction towards the scene. I just wanted somebody to help us.

COOPER: You were hoping someone would give you an escort or something to the hospital --

MELTON: Something, yes. I mean, I don't know if it would have made any difference, but you always have that hope that if he got integrated or got blood -- you know, he would have been OK. By the time we got to the hospital, they started coating him but they didn't very for long.

COOPER: You're a surgeon. You're used to being in the hospital scene.

MELTON: Yes. It's hard not to want to be in there trying to help them.

COOPER: Is that where they told you he had passed?

How do you -- how do you deal with this? I've talked to people in the past who say sometimes it's minute by minute, second by second?

MELTON: I mean, I think that's where you have to start, second by second. You know, I cannot imagine my life without him. I'm not really sure how you do that, because it's not something you learn in life. Like, you don't just learn to start tying your shoes and, you know, or riding a bike, you're never prepared for something like this.

I have an amazing supportive family and so does Sonny and I think that will be my crutch. But we all loved him, so this is hard for everybody, you know, and we just have to be there for each other.

COOPER: You worked together also?


COOPER: He worked in the operating room with you.

MELTON: Yes, he had in the last few months being my surgical assistant. We wanted to be together as much as possible, you know?

[20:15:01] Some people go to work to get away from their significant others.

COOPER: I know a lot of couples who don't like to work together.

MELTON: Yes, and I know that feeling, but I -- we wanted to be together. I mean, there was hardly -- I know we are newlyweds but we had been together for about five years. But I don't remember a time when we were walking where we weren't holding hands. We feel asleep holding hands.

It was -- you know, my mom talked about one time where he just walked by and he just had to touch my shoulder. We just wanted to be together.

COOPER: Did you have a chance to say good-bye to him?

MELTON: I mean, I don't know, I hope he heard me in his last breaths. I went into the trauma room and he had already passed and I kissed him and hugged him, but I was pretty quickly escorted out of there because there were more traumas coming in.

COOPER: You were saying before when we first met, that you're not thinking about the person who did this, you don't really care about.

MELTON: I don't even know his name. I don't want to know his name. I don't care what his motive was because in my mind, there's no justifiable motive, reason, belief that could account for what he did and it won't change the fact that he killed my husband and a lot of other innocent people.

I don't ever want to hear his name. I don't want to see his face. And that's a big reason why I'm talking to you, because I want to be here doing this, but I cannot let a monster like that overshadow the people that he took.

And I want everybody to know what amazing person was taken from this planet senselessly. He brought joy to so many people. He brought love to a small community. Our community is reeling with pain over this.

COOPER: Is the place you live now is the town you grew up?


COOPER: Pretty small town?

MELTON: Yes. Just over 500 people. We love it there. COOPER: Everybody must have known him at one time.

MELTON: Yes. And his family, they've been there for generations. Yes, they love him.

COOPER: Why do you think he wanted to be a nurse?

MELTON: He just had the most nurturing spirit. I have received dozens of messages from people who cared for and their families, that he made them feel so comforted and so -- he just made them feel like he cared about them and I think that was just his nature. And it could be a nursing or it could be in going to mow somebody's lawn.

He just had a way of caring for people and just an amazing bedside manner. He would have made an amazing doctor but he just like to care for people. It is the field that I was in also and so it was what we talked about and I think that kind of gave him a little bit of interest in doing that.

COOPER: Almost sounds like had he been able to get you to safety, seems like he's the kind of guy that would have gone back to help other people.

MELTON: Yes, we actually talked about that, when we said if he was one of the people who had survived and gotten me out, he would have been running -- those people running back in. I have no doubt in my mind. He sacrificed his life for me. I think he'd do it for other people he didn't even know. I just feel that he is -- he always puts people above himself for other people.

COOPER: It's also a situation like this, to see people reaching out to, you know the guy who put him over the shoulder and ran, the guy who drove the truck.


COOPER: It gives you hope.

MELTON: Right. And I was -- yes, I mean there was one good people, there was one bad person there that night. And I don't know the names of those people, but I was in that emergency room by myself, I'm not from here, I had only come here with him. But the people there embraced me and those two men who were giving him CPR stayed by my side the entire night.

And, they said that Sonny will always be part of their life. But in the chaos of everything that was going on, you know, I don't remember their names.

[20:20:01] I barely what was happening around me. But I'm grateful for people like that. And there were a lot of people there like that, that night saving other people and putting their own safety, you know, beyond, behind what they were doing for other people.

COOPER: Yes. Heather, I wish you continued strength and peace in the days ahead. Thank you. MELTON: Thank you.


COOPER: Sonny Melton was just 29 years old. He will be remembered as will all the others who lost their lives.

We'll be right back.

We're going to have a press conference starting at 9:00 from authorities with all the latest. We'll have that.

We'll have President Trump's visit to San Juan today and all the other news here from Las Vegas.


COOPER: As I said we are anticipating a press conference from authorities here in Las Vegas coming up.

When authorities said they found 23 weapons in the hotel suite of the killer, we are now getting actually some first images of it. These are pictures from Britain's "Daily Mail" alongside what the paper says is the killer's body. You see two long guns, both on bipods, surrounded by shell casings.

Another photo shows two weapons, the one on the left apparently with a modified stock that allows nearly automatic firing. You can see on the background, one high capacity magazine after another. They're actually stock up against the post, and again, shell casings everywhere. And to the right of the post, a hammer perhaps used to break the windows. Two windows were broken.

One more photo looking just to the left, even more weaponries and furniture set up as some sort of a make-shift barricade. The back wall pockmarked with bullet holes. These are, of course, not the only items found, either in the hotel rooms, or elsewhere.

We have more now on all of the investigations from our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin who joins us now.

So, Drew, how did the shooter come by so many weapons, do we know?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: You know, as Alex reported to you earlier, Anderson, he had been acquiring these weapons legally for years. We can also tell you, it may become as a shock, because he had no records and because he had a lot of money, he had everything he needed to acquire what he needed to make these weapons, automatic, legally.


[20:25:09] GRIFFIN (voice-over): The difference between a semiautomatic one shot at a time assault rifle and this fully automatic assault rifle is stunning.

(on camera): Holy smokes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ninety rounds in seconds.

GRIFFIN: Nine-point-four-three seconds, 90 rounds, that is unbelievable.

(voice-over): Polk County, Florida Sheriff Grady Judd says this kind of fire is not only available, but what you see here, these legal 100- round canisters were taken right off his street from drug dealers.

(on camera): So, this is 290 rounds right here?

GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA SHERIFF: Yes, and can shoot these as quick as you can pull the trigger one time.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): The massive magazine is legal. The parts to turn the semiautomatic weapon into a fully automatic rifle also legal.

JUDD: This is pieces of what makes it a fully automatic firearm. Interestingly enough, you can buy this online.

GRIFFIN: And the Las Vegas shooter may have used another modification. This is a slide stock, perfectly legal after-market component. According to the manufacturer's video, it's easy to assemble on an assault rifle and the results, though technically do not make a machine gun, ask yourself if you can tell the difference.

The slide stock is legal to buy and use. Former ATF agent Sam Rabadi calls it a workaround of the gun laws, not a loophole.

That may make no sense to you, this will make even less sense. Kits you can buy online to turn a semiautomatic rifle into a fully automatic weapon. Legal to buy, yet illegal to actually use.

SAM RABADI, FORMER ATF SPECIAL AGENT: The conversion kit itself is legal, but with you use it to convert a rifle into fully automatic, obviously then makes it an illegal firearm.

GRIFFIN: Rabadi says the Las Vegas shooter may have used both and firing from a 32nd story into a huge crowd needed little training if any to kill so many.


COOPER: Drew, based on the images we have of the weapons used by the shooter, can any of the expert you've spoken to tell exactly what kind of modifications the guns were made?

GRIFFIN: Yes. I mean, you saw the picture, the one where they call it the bomb stock, the slide stock, it's the same thing, Anderson. It is that stock.

If there were any modifications made to turn a semiautomatic, fully automatic with those pieces the sheriff showed me, that would have to be done by opening up the gun. So, the forensics on the gun will tell everything, but there's no doubt from everyone I've talked to that these were automatic firing weapons. The question is how did he get and train them with no detection? Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Drew Griffin, appreciate that.

I want to bring in our law enforcement panel, panel of experts. Art Roderick, who's former assistant director of U.S. Marshal Service. Former FBI and CIA senior official Phil Mudd, and Obama White House homeland security adviser, Juliette Kayyem.

Art, when you see that, you were seeing that is just a workaround?

ART RODERICK, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: It is a workaround. He did make some modification, I saw a red dot sight look like a .223 that had the bump stock on it. It caused it to go automatic. I also looked like what looked like a .308 rifle configured in a sniper rifle position with a long regular scope that I think everybody realize that can reach out to thousands of yards, thousand, 1,500 yards.

COOPER: Phil, I mean, does it make sense to you that a guy who -- from who all I've heard did not have any military training would have the ability to do this? I mean, he's got two locations, he's got the weaponry, he's got, you know -- I mean, it seems like a pretty staked out position. The cameras?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: A lot of this doesn't make sense.

You're putting your finger on a corner of it, Anderson, that is an individual who acquired this kind of weaponry over months or years. Remember, he was also acquiring explosive material that presumably was used for some kind of improvised explosive device, for a vehicle, for a backpack.

My judgment is when I look at the explosive material he was acquiring, he was probably researching something online. Investigators must have some information, for example, by looking at his laptop about what he was researching. We must know at this point the beginning is looking at his cell phone, his laptops, about who he was calling and who he was e-mailing.

You look at all this information, what you mentioned, the weapons, what he did at the site by prepositioning cameras, the fact that he was acquiring this over time, and you draw a couple of initial conclusions. Number one, the language that's been used for the 48 hours, that he was some sort of demented maniac, I don't buy it, Anderson. This guy was thinking for sometime. He was talking to his family and his friends. He had a business environment where he participated in social life, and he was participating in conversations with people who must have been around when he was thinking this and when he was acquiring this material.

Bottom line, Anderson, there's some back story here about what he was thinking when, and whether somebody knew something about it and we should know that pretty soon.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And Juliette, I mean, the killer's girlfriend, I mean to Philip's point was said to be in the Philippines, shooter wired a $100,000 to the Philippines, unclear exactly when or to whom or why? No one accused the girlfriend of any wrong doing. There's certainly a lot of questions she could potentially answer.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, last night we were talking about this. To me the girlfriend is a missing link. I was actually pleased that the police who seemed to -- yesterday to sort to say, well, she's gone, now calling her a person of interest.

Just look at the fact, she's with him during this period that Philip just described. He is accumulating weaponry of mass casualty of the state, a bunch of weapon. She happened to leave before the events, two nights ago before the massacre, two nights ago, and he sort of protects her and he wants her to do well. So, whether she knew or he had constructive knowledge or she was afraid to go forward we do not know yet.

But I'm sort of unforgiving about the wives and the girlfriends. You know, I know we have a tendency to feel bad for them. Maybe there's some power circle in the relationship. I don't care at there stage. I mean, you bring her back. She's a person of interest. She is as close to a co-spirit as we may have at this stage and you find out what she knew.

COOPER: Art, I mean, we see -- I mean, you can see the Mandalay Bay.


COOPER: You can still see the two windows that have been broken over.


COOPER: The location of the concert was over there. How much still does one actually need to have in order to just fire into a crowd of 20 some thousand people?

RODERICK: Well, if he was picking out specific targets you would need some type of training. But the modification he made on looks like the 223, he would have to practice that a little bit. But he's firing into a mass crowd of people. I mean, you don't even have to aim he just point the weapon and shoot. And that 223 have a maximum effective range of up to 400 yards, which is exactly from the window to the middle of that particular venue. And he had the 308 which is a high-caliber -- high-powered rifle that does a lot of damage and that thing can reach a thousand yards easily.

COOPER: You know, Philip, given the sure number of security cameras in all these buildings, and all these casinos around here, by now or very soon I would imagine authorities would have a pretty good idea of, you know, how he got the weapons into the room and also the extent to which he was doing surveillance or casing, you know, the venue, trying to figure out what room he would try to get?

MUDD: Let's step back for a moment. You're correct looking at the days before he check in on the 28th of September, you should be able to look at that video and get what happened in the days before.

Let me put that into perspective for a moment, Anderson. I also want to know for example, what his credit card says. Did he ever check into that hotel before? Did he get gas anywhere in that neighborhood? Does he have Google searches about Mandalay?

Look at this three dimensionally, I want to know over time again when he acquired the weapons, did that correspondent at all to his trip into this trip in Las Vegas? When he was communicating with his family, when he texted his brother, when did those communication patterns changed.

The bottom line is, Anderson you're talking about what happened in the past few days and what those security cameras say. I want a three dimensional picture of a time line going back three years that suggest to me whether there were changes in that time line. And when I interview friends, family members and that girlfriend, whether they saw any changes by the time he checked in on 28th September. We ought to know that soon.

COOPER: Philip Mudd, I appreciate it. Juliette Kayyem, Art Roderick as well, thanks very much.

When we come back, the incredible story of an Iraq war vet at the concert, how he took a truck, and used it to save lives. Bringing people to the hospital.


[20:37:40] COOPER: In the midst of this terrific act of violence, every day people stepped up in really extraordinary way, as one of them was Iraq war veteran Taylor Winston. He saved lives by loading victims into a stolen truck, driving them to the hospital. Taylor joins us now.

You were there with your girlfriend. Did you know right away what was going on?

TAYLOR WINSTON, STOLE TRUCK TO DRIVE VICTIMS TO HOSPITAL: No we did not. The first round of shots kind of sounded like fireworks, as everyone described. We didn't really think much of it, pretty common at festivals. Not that particular sound but fireworks in general. And then, the second round -- rounds that were shot I started get concerned and looking around because there are a little familiar and definitely didn't sound like fireworks. And I had just gotten there. I wasn't drinking or intoxicated so I was pretty aware. And then, it sunk in when Jason ran off the stage. And I got serious.

COOPER: Allow did you get a truck?

WINSTON: After the initial scared and frantic, honestly I was terrified. You know, I can't defend myself when someone's shooting at us with fully automatic weapons.

COOPER: Right, and no idea where is coming from? WINSTON: Where is coming from and -- so we were terrified. And we started running and I was telling people keep their head down. And just get to fence. Get out of here. And eventually I got a bunch of people over the fence, helping them and Jen, who was with me, she helped get people over the fence too. And she had a broken back at that time. So -- yes, we just got over the fence and our friend was still in the inside and he told us to leave. He wants to grab a few more friends and then sorry to leave them but anyway we have to keep moving and I spotted the empty lot or the dirt lot across the street, and there was a lot of white washed trucks and typically festivals will have multiple employees sharing a truck. And it's not common for keys to be in of them. And I just kind of crossed my fingers and hope that was the case. And found one with them and --

COOPER: You had keys in --

WINSTON: I had keys in and they were keys to the vehicle and once we're in it, we decided to go help get everyone out of there. And we started driving back towards the venue --

COOPER: So you were basically just loading people into the back of the truck?

WINSTON: Yes, so shots were still firing, we had a couple friends that we know, Kasie (ph) is one of them to help set up a makeshift hospital kind on the side, on the backside away from the gunfire. And they're pulling people out of the venue, and we pulled up to that and they started loading us up to the most critically injured and --

WINSTON: And at this point were shots still going on?

[20:40:02] WINSTON: They were still going at that time. The first loading, and it was still quite scary but we just need to have to get to the hospital immediately. And no ambulances were immediately available. They were staging and --

COOPER: The ambulance still staging so they weren't already direct responding?

WINSTON: Correct, no nothing. I mean, there were far too many casualties for anyone to really even handle. It is the hardest parts of leaving everyone behind that. I couldn't fit in who were still critically injured.

COOPER: Right, because you can only put so many people?

WINSTON: Yes and -- so we took the first round and dropped them off. We had help at the hospital, get them all out and get them into the hospital and once we were cleared we just said, let's go back for more.

COOPER: You went back?

WINSTON: We went back for a second trip and filled it to the brim of essentially these bodies of some, you know, barely breathing and had people applying pressure and trying to help them survive and make it to the hospital. And we got everyone there and --

COOPER: I mean, you're a marine, obviously that training must have the presence of mind in the midst of something like this, it's a difficult thing.

WINSTON: I think a lot of my training helped in the event and helped keep a cool head. But end of the day we just knew we had a mission to get as many people to safety and to help as possible. Because every minute someone's life could be bleeding out and it's just incredibly horrific and tragic to see everyone like that.

COOPER: Have you talked to any of the people who were able to get to the hospital? I mean --

WINSTON: I had one friend who reached out and said I saved her sister's life. She is one of the people I didn't really recognize but recognize me. Things I didn't recognized faces I just looked for injuries and people most critical that needed to go. Since then, couples of girls have reached out via social media, who have found me and recognized it was the truck that we had taken them in. And they were thankful and they wanted to meet up later this evening to say thanks.

COOPER: How long was the drive? I mean, you must have been driving probably fast?

WINSTON: I was driving pretty fast but still keeping it safe, I didn't want to injury more people than very even injured but we come to stoplights and we had people waving in the back, and honking horns and slashing lights and people got out of the way. And we safely got through red light intersection and took about 10 minutes still and when you're dying that's a long time.

COOPER: Taylor I appreciate you. Thank you for talking to me.

WINSTON: Well, thank you.


WINSTON: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: Incredible. Director of Trauma Services at the Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center here in Las Vegas, which received more than 200 patients after mass shootings. We'll talk to him next.

And we're also waiting for the press conference coming up at the top of the hour from authorities.


[20:46:15] COOPER: Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center here in Las Vegas received more than 200 patients as a result of Sunday night's attack.

Joining me now on the phone is Dr. Christopher Fisher. He's a surgeon and Director of Trauma Services at that facility. Dr. Fisher, you were treating people as they were coming in on Sunday night. What was that like? I mean, the sheer volume of people coming in?

DR. CHRISTOPHER FISHER, DIRECTOR OF TRAUMA SERVICES, SUNRISE HOSPITAL & MEDICAL CENTER (via telephone): That's correct. I got there probably about 20 minutes after we started receiving our first patient. And I just never seen anything like it. I've been treating trauma patients for about 15 years, but the sheer volume of what we saw and really -- I mean, no civilian trauma center has seen anything like that, ever.

COOPER: Have you done drills for things like this? I mean, how can one prepare for something like this? Obviously you have incredible experience, but as you said it's like nothing you've seen.

FISHER: We do, we actively do drills several times through the years. We have a disaster plan and mass casualty plan. That's part of our requirement of being a trauma center to be prepared for that and meet that preparation, that training amongst our staff I think made an enormous difference.

COOPER: You know, usually an E.R. will get advance notice from an ambulance about, you know the -- what patients are coming in. There were people coming in from trucks that people were just driving in, did you have advance sort of warning of the condition of many of these individuals or was just as soon as they showed up you had to sort of triage?

FISHER: We had to show triage people as soon as they got there. You know, we maybe had 10 to 15-minute warning that there was a mass casualty event but then the patients started pouring in. And just took them as they came.

COOPER: Any sense of how many of those who were shot at your hospital are still there?

FISHER: Yes, so, you know current numbers up to date is, we still have 59 patients admitted, 31 of those are still in critical condition.

COOPER: Dr. Fisher, it's just incredible what you and all the trauma specialists were able to do. The doctors and nurses, everybody pitching in like that. We really appreciate you talking to us, Dr. Fisher thank you so much.

FISHER: Thank you.

FISHER: We have much more from Las Vegas ahead.

We also want to update you on another place where Americans are suffering. We're talking about in Puerto Rico, nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria. The death toll now in Puerto Rico has risen. It's now risen to 34, less than 70 percent of the island has power. The President was there for a few hours today. He said he heard no criticisms, it's only thank you. We will check with our reporters on the ground, next.


[20:52:10] COOPER: We're going to have much more from here in Las Vegas, including a police news conference with new details on the investigation. That should be happening in about 10 minutes from now.

But first, I want to turn to Puerto Rico where the death toll after Hurricane Maria has now risen to 34. That was announced today. Tomorrow it's going to be two weeks since the storm. Less than 70 percent of the islands have electricity. Less than half of the people who live there have drinking water.

Our reporters on the ground refining enormous challenges from medical care to communication to getting food and supplies to the places that need it most to getting people off the island.

Today President Trump spent about four and a half hours in Puerto Rico, sticking pretty close to San Juan. His team as well, himself, saying this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you're throwing our budget a little out of whack, because we spend a lot of money on Puerto Rico, and that's fine. We saved a lot of lives. If you look at the -- every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous -- hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody's ever seen anything like this, what is your death count as of this moment? 17?


TRUMP: Sixteen people certified. Sixteen people versus in the thousands, you can be very proud all of our people, all of our people working together, 16 versus literally thousands of people.


COOPER: The governor of Puerto Rico sitting next to the President as he called Katrina, a real catastrophe. The governor praised President Trump today in his words, not playing politics. I should say the President praised the governor for not playing politics. The governor announced that this evening that I said, the death toll has risen to 34.

The President also spent sometime at a church in a suburb of San Juan, giving out food and throwing rolls of paper towels to the crowd. There he is doing that. Afterward on Air Force One he called it a "terrific visit" and said he heard only thank-yous.

We want to put the folks back of course on the situation on the ground right now throughout Puerto Rico. And what people are there going through. I want to get the latest from two of our reporters on the ground, Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Boris Sanchez who join me now.

So Sanjay, the increase in the death toll tonight are 34, it just underscores the fact that the crisis isn't over. And I'm wondering are those people -- is that just as more information has coming from some of these areas that were cut off, that's why the death toll is rising or isn't people who have died after the storm?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it is both. And both are pretty tragic. I mean, if you think about it, nearly two weeks out, we're still just now making contact with some of these clinics and hospitals on this island. I mean, you know, they've been essentially cut off and we're just now getting information. They're just now giving some of these revised death tolls but also, there are -- there's a situation, Anderson, of preventable deaths.

[20:55:07] People who were not directly affected by the hurricane, but who have chronic illness, who have been cut off not able to get their medications, not able to get basic things to keep them alive and that is just tragic. I mean, you know, you heard so much self- congratulation today. It was surprising maybe even a little bit shocking considering how much still ongoing here.

There are still hospitals that are having a very hard time communicating. There are still hospitals that have very limited fuel that cannot accept new patients because they have no consistent care. There's still people who are trapped in their homes, trapped in shelters, unable to get the care that they need. And that in some ways is the most tragic part of it all because they can be saved. Their deaths can be prevented, but that's not necessarily happening, and that's very -- I think, very frustrating, certainly as reporters, but I think also for the doctors, nurses, the medical teams here on the ground. That has to be addressed.

COOPER: Boris, the President on Air Force One after the trip said, "We've only heard thank yous" from the people of Puerto Rico. I'm wondering how that squares with what you're hearing on the ground.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, not many people that I've spoken to today following the President's trip expressed that kind of ambivalent gratitude toward the President. They were aware of the fact that he spent about four and a half hours here. That's about as much time as many of them had to spend in line the past few days for things like water, food, or gas.

I actually spoke to one person who told me there's something wrong with him when he talks about Katrina -- Hurricane Katrina comparing the death toll there to the death toll here and saying that Puerto Rico got the budget out of whack, seeming to reiterate some of his tweets from his weekend where he said they want everything done for them, and claiming there would have to be difficult decisions ahead when it comes to helping Puerto Rico because of the economic situation here.

I'm not sure exactly who the President spoke with, but I can tell you that some of the things that I've heard about President Trump from Puerto Rican residents since we've been here, I cannot repeat to you on television, Anderson.

COOPER: Sanjay, the President just now that we've been on the air just tweeted out and told, great progress is being made. When I was there over the weekend, a number of first responders took me aside and said what they're seeing at the ground level that there was a lot of -- they had a lot of frustration over a lack of organization, a lot of them said they've been sitting around waiting for days to finally get some sort of a remission to go out and help. I just mentioned firefighters who finally kind of took it upon themselves to hand out food in Aguadilla on Saturday, the kind of requisition supplies on their own. That got a truck from American Red Cross, and we're just doing it.

But that was the first time they've been able to actually hand out food and they've been there for almost a week. I'm wondering what are you seeing on the ground? Is -- I mean, obviously day after day I would assume there's a lot of forward momentum. What are you seeing on the ground?

GUPTA: It's a really challenging story and challenging question because there are some people who are doing incredibly good work and who've been here from the beginning. There was this real rush I think in some cases to get some of these supplies onto the island. The frustration, I think, then is everything that's come after that. You have life-saving supplies but can't get them to the people who need them.

It almost in some ways makes it worse, right, because they're there, and these are sometimes just nickel antibiotics, and you can't give it to the people who need it over here. And there's a lot of reasons for that, bad communications, there's been obviously shortages of fuel and drivers as you well know, but it's incredibly frustrating.

One of the hospitals I visited yesterday just outside the Ciales. This is in the central part of the island. It's a hospital that's caring for some 200 patients right now. They have patients in the ICU. They are all on generator power so -- and the generators were working when I was there, but they have no idea at it generators are going to continue to work. They have no idea if they're going to continue to get fuel at least twice. They had to move patients out of the ICU into a different part of the hospital.

Would you take new patients in a situation like that, would you continue to care for patients who are critically ill, not knowing if your hospital can even still be up in running if you're going to get fuel, if you're going to get supplies of water, if you're going to get the medications that you need? I don't understand and I don't know if Boris, if you experienced this.

There are 70 hospitals. We still have many sat phones in all these hospitals. I mean, we have sat phones. There are hospitals out there that can't communicate with FEMA. I mean, FEMA is in some ways, they have lots of supplies on the ground, lots of resources. If you can't communicate with the hospitals, they can't communicate with you, how is that going to work? And I realize it's difficult, but again it's been 12 days now and it hasn't happened.

COOPER: Yes. Sanjay Gupta and Boris Sanchez, I appreciate your reporting. We'll continue to check in with you in the hours ahead.

In just a few moments here in Las Vegas, authorities are expected to brief reporters and the public on the progress they have made, the latest on the investigation since thousands of shots rained down behind me.