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FBI Says Dayton Shooter Was Exploring Violent Ideologies, No Indication of a Racial Motivation for Attack; El Paso Gunman's Family: "Influenced By Beliefs That We Do Not Accept Or Condone"; Democrats Demand Action On Gun Laws; Interview With Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), New York City, Presidential Candidate, On Gun Control Legislation; Senate GOP Scrambles For Legislative Response After Dual Massacres In Texas And Ohio; Police And Witnesses Say El Paso Shooter Targeted Latinos. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's just three -- 28 other innocent lives were stolen in those two tragedies and our hearts are with their families and their friends. May their memories be a blessing.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Happening now, breaking news; violent ideologies: the FBI just revealed the gunman, who killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, was exploring, specific violent ideologies before the attack.

An FBI special agent in charge also said there is no indication Sunday morning's rampage was racially motivated. But with the gunman dead, big questions remain.

What was his motive?

Apprehended: dramatic new details of how the suspect in the El Paso mass shooting gave himself up. There is a direct account from the officer who made the arrest and horrifying stories to the witness of the shooting.

Welcoming Trump? As the president plans tomorrow's visit to both Dayton and El Paso, some city officials and citizens are asking him to stay home. And the White House is dodging questions about the impact of the president's rhetoric.

Can he be consoler in chief?

And wounded city: police and witnesses say the El Paso gunman intentionally targeted Hispanics. It now ranks as one of the worst terror attacks on Latinos in modern U.S. history.

What are El Paso citizens saying? How can they heal?

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news in the wake of the mass shootings that left at least 31 people dead. In Dayton, the FBI just announced there is evidence that the gunman was exploring specific violent ideologies before the attack. An FBI special agent just told reporters there is no indication of a racial motivation for the attack.

And investigators still aren't sure why he opened fire Sunday morning in a very popular entertainment district.

In El Paso, police reveal the gunman drove up to a motorcycle officer after the attack, got out of his car with his hands up and turned himself in. Police and witnesses say the gunman specifically targeted Latinos during the attack.

President Trump stayed out of sight today although he will visit both Dayton and El Paso tomorrow. White House officials are dodging questions on the impact of the president's rhetoric. The presidential spokesperson told reporters, we have to blame the people who pulled the trigger.

We'll speak with New York mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio and our correspondents and analysts are standing by with full coverage of all of the breaking news. CNN's resources are especially focusing in on Dayton, El Paso and the White House.

Let's start with CNN's Brynn Gingras in Dayton.

Brynn, the FBI announced the gunman was exploring what they described as violent ideologies.

What else are you learning?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Wolf. And that is why the FBI is -- and part of the reason they're involved now -- because of the violent ideologies that they say the gunman was interested in and he followed.

Now they won't point to specifics but we do know from the investigation that Connor Betts was obsessed with mass shootings. He researched them and told people that he wanted to commit one. He even showed from an ex-girlfriend a video of a mass shooting to her on one of their first dates. So we know that.

As you said, investigators were able to rule out the fact about the motive. We don't have the big picture but we know it wasn't racially motivated and we also know from investigators that Connor Betts was not on their radar. This as we are getting exclusive video into CNN of the streets here behind me, the chaos that broke out when Betts went on his shooting rampage.


GINGRAS (voice-over): Tonight new terrifying video from inside of a local bar. The shooter right at its doorstep. These grainy images show the moment a gunman emerges from a dark alley, a dark figure seen in this exclusive surveillance video, hunched over a high-powered gun, taken from the crowded patio of a Dayton restaurant as the shooting rampage began.

Another camera shows the chaos amid the hail of bullets, one man jumping to the ground to shield his girlfriend from gunfire. As investigators search for a motive...

TODD WICKERHAM, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: We have uncovered evidence throughout the course of our investigation that the shooter was exploring violent ideologies.

And based upon this evidence, we're initiating an FBI investigation side-by-side with the Dayton police homicide investigation to make sure we get to the bottom and we explore everything and we have to try to understand the best we can why this horrific attack happened.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Red flags are emerging around the deceased gunman, Connor Betts. A former girlfriend said she saw signs of trouble firsthand.


ADELIA JOHNSON, BETTS' FORMER GIRLFRIEND: This is a man who is in pain and didn't get the help that he needed.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Betts was also a member of a misogynistic heavy metal band known for songs about sexual violence.

CHRIS SHAW, DAYTON CITY COMMISSIONER: It sounds like there were some missed opportunities but it speaks to the lack of mental health services in our communities. It is problematic.

GINGRAS (voice-over): Until a motive becomes clear, state officials under pressure to act. Governor Mike DeWine proposing a new law that would allow courts to temporarily take guns away from people who could act out.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We have to empower people to get help for family or loved ones who may be a danger to themselves or a danger to others.

GINGRAS (voice-over): The governor did not propose any gun restrictions that would limit high-powered weapons, like the one Betts used to cause so much destruction.

DION GREEN, VICTIM'S SON: I just kept saying I love you, get up. Get up.

GINGRAS (voice-over): On what should have been a night of fun, Dion Green didn't realize his father had been hit until he held him in his arms as he took his last breath.

GREEN: Soon as I get closer on to him, I grab him and get behind his head. And I see the blood just coming from both sides of his head. And I just lost it and then I just grabbed on to my dad until somebody could pull me off.

GINGRAS (voice-over): He then encountered an injured woman nearby he would later come to believe was the gunman's sister.

GREEN: She was like, "Can you call the police? I've been shot."

And so I'm calling the police and trying to pay attention to my dad and trying to check on her, this turns out to be his sister.


GINGRAS: We know that authorities are looking at digital evidence as part of this investigation. We've also learned that they don't believe that Betts was influenced by the El Paso shootings. But authorities say they have three questions they are trying to answer right now, Wolf.

The first one is what more about the ideology may have influenced Betts to carry out this attack?

And number two is who, if anyone, knew of his intentions to do this?

And the third question is the big one that everyone is asking, why?

What is the big picture motive?

Why did he do this, the killing of nine people and injuring several others here in Dayton, Ohio?

BLITZER: Brynn, thank you, in Dayton.

Let's go to Brian Todd in El Paso, at the corner where the suspect surrendered to police.

So what is the latest you're getting about the investigation?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. We have a dramatic new illustration of the gunman's path in the moments just after the shooting. I'll show you the sign. You see the sign in the distance. That is the sign for the Walmart. That is the front of the building.

Now we have new information that the gunman was able to get in his car and drive all the way up here, it's almost a half-mile to the corner of Sunmount Drive and Viscount Boulevard. And this is where he was apprehended by police. We have details about his capture and new witness accounts of the chaos inside of the store.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight dramatic new information on the apprehension of the suspected Walmart killer. El Paso police tell CNN Patrick Crusius drove up to a nearby corner, where a police motorcycle officer was securing the parameter. He got out of a Honda Civic, put his hands up and told the officer he was the shooter, according to police.

The officer, having no time to call for back-up, immediately handcuffed the suspect. Then Texas Rangers contained the scene. Tonight, witnesses to the shooting are giving new accounts to CNN of the chaos inside of the store moments earlier.

KIANNA LONG, WITNESS: People were running inside, just screaming. And I was just -- I just started running toward the back where the police were holding open the doors. And they told us to leave the building and go into the containers in the back and then hide in there, just in case the gunman came outside, that he wouldn't know we were back there.

TODD (voice-over): Daniel Flores, an employee of the store, got a horrifying glimpse of the killer as he eyed his victims.

DANIEL FLORES, WITNESS: He was just there to kill, like whoever crosses his path, he was going to kill. There was no remorse, there was nothing. There was nothing. Like there was just -- pure hate.

TODD (voice-over): A veteran FBI SWAT team leader said the shooter had the advantage over police because of the layout of the Walmart.

JAMES GAGLIANO, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Each row, the rows cascade against each other. They go perpendicular to each other. You have got different sections, you have got plants on one side and electronics on the other and some of the Super Walmarts have a grocery store.

People could hide in there if there are bad guys or aggressors, they could hide there.

TODD (voice-over): We're also learning how the alleged shooter made his way to the Walmart, where he killed 22 people soon after allegedly posting an anti-Hispanic hate-filled screed online.

CHIEF GREG ALLEN, EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT: He took about 10 to 11 hours traveling from Allen, Texas, to El Paso. As soon as he got here, he was lost in a neighborhood. After that, he found his way to the Walmart because we understand he was hungry.

TODD (voice-over): The shooter, who is in custody and being held without bail, has been unemployed for five months. He also bought his high-powered rifle legally.

ALLEN: As he cooperated from the beginning, none of this had to be in any way coerced from him or threats or anything like that. He volunteered --


ALLEN: -- most of the evidence that we're able to utilize at this time. TODD (voice-over): Daniel Flores, who has devoted his career to serving those Walmart customers, still can't get his mind around the killer's apparent motive to target Latinos.

FLORES: He was looking for someone that looks like me. That is like the biggest issue. It's like he was targeting me.


TODD: And just moments ago, the family of the alleged shooter, Patrick Crusius, issued a statement.

It reads in part, "Patrick's actions were apparently influenced and informed by people we do not know and from ideas and beliefs that we do not accept or condone in any way.

"He was raised in a family that taught love, kindness, respect and tolerance, rejecting all forms of racism, prejudice, hatred and violence. There will never be a moment for the rest of our lives when we will forget each and every victim of this senseless tragedy."

There are other parts to the statement, Wolf; that is the operative part. Patrick Crusius' family coming out and saying they had nothing to do in their minds, at least, their psyches, with anything that happened here.

BLITZER: Brian Todd in El Paso, thank you very much.

President Trump, by the way, will visit both Dayton and El Paso tomorrow. Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Jim, the Trump team is dodging questions, at least for now, about the impact of the president's own rhetoric.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Wolf. President Trump is laying low today and steering clear of the cameras as he prepares to head to Ohio and Texas tomorrow to check in on those communities devastated by last weekend's massacre.

Aides to Mr. Trump say he will make the trip, despite some lawmakers in those states saying the president and his offensive rhetoric are not welcome.


ACOSTA (voice-over): With the president staying out of sight, his aides are responding to leaders in the shell-shocked cities of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, who question whether Mr. Trump should just remain at the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your reaction to lawmakers in Dayton and El Paso (INAUDIBLE) is not welcome (INAUDIBLE)?

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: Right. The president is the president of all of the people. ACOSTA (voice-over): Dayton's mayor is encouraging her residents to speak out against the president...

MAYOR NAN WHALEY, DAYTON, OHIO: Look, I know that, you know, he's made this bed and he's got to lie in it, you know. He hasn't -- you know, his rhetoric has been painful for many in our community. And I think people should stand up and say they're not happy if they're not happy that he's coming.

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- while former El Paso congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is telling Mr. Trump, don't come.

BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is the most racist president we've had since perhaps Andrew Johnson, in another age and another century. And he is responsible for the hatred and the violence that we're seeing right now.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president was glued to support of segments on FOX News tweeting, "I am the least racist person."

But the president is facing plenty of new questions about the connections between his slurs against migrants and the El Paso gunman's manifesto, adopting Mr. Trump's use of the term "invasion"...

TRUMP: This is an invasion.

This is an invasion.

We have a country that is being invaded.

ACOSTA (voice-over): -- something his campaign did as well on Facebook, as noted by "The New York Times."

The White House is rejecting any notion the president is to blame for the violence.

GIDLEY: It is not the politician's fault when someone acts out their evil intention. You have to blame the people here who pulled the trigger.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president jumped into the debate on Twitter, asking, "Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after the Sandy Hook school shooting?"

That was in response to a statement tweeted out by former president Barack Obama, who said, "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred."

The Department of Homeland Security is calling for more funding to guard against white supremacist violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it now our top domestic terrorist threat?

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I think that is the information we have from the FBI over the last two years. The number of their investigations are racially motivated and, within that category, the majority are white supremacist extremist motivated.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Democrats are calling on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to bring lawmakers back to Washington to vote on new gun control measures after protesters gathered outside of his home this week.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know what he's waiting for and I don't know what Republicans in the Senate are waiting for. They should be calling on Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back to vote on this legislation today.


ACOSTA: White House officials say the president was in meetings with aides today, preparing for tomorrow's trip to Ohio and Texas, looking at a wide range of policies potentially aimed at preventing mass shootings.

But we talked to a Republican source just a short while ago, who said the White House sent out talking points to surrogates earlier today that mainly touted the president's actions on guns in the past.

There is no indication at this point that there is a groundswell of support inside the White House for new gun control measures in the aftermath of those shootings.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House for us, thank you.

With us now, the public information officer for the El Paso Police Department, Sergeant Robert Gomez.

Sergeant Gomez, thank you so much for joining us.


BLITZER: So what is the latest?

What can you --


BLITZER: -- tell us about the current state of your investigation?

GOMEZ: What I can say about the current state of the investigation is it is ongoing. We're working closely with the FBI, detectives, Department of Public Safety and continuing the investigation to bring conclusion or give answers to the public. The only thing I can say is that it is ongoing and it's moving forward.

BLITZER: You heard our correspondent, Brian Todd, who's there with you in El Paso and he just reported how the suspect actually drove up to one of your police officers and turned himself in.

Can you walk us through how that unfolded?

GOMEZ: Unfortunately, I don't have all of the details about exactly how he was apprehended. I can confirm that he did surrender to the El Paso Police Department, a motorcycle officer. But I don't have his path or what transpired and I really can't comment on that as of right now.

That investigation or this investigation is very important to us. And our main priority is a conviction and making sure that all of our efforts go toward that purpose.

BLITZER: I know he's been answering all of the questions you and your colleagues have been asking. He's cooperating.

Did he tell you why he decided to give himself up?

GOMEZ: I don't know his motives for giving himself up. He is cooperating with investigators, the last word that I received. But at this time, we really don't know what his true motives are. It might be months before we have a clear picture before we have clear answers to exactly why this occurred.

BLITZER: And as you point out, he is cooperating but he's apparently not remorseful.

Has he admitted, for example, to writing what is being described as that hateful document, that so-called manifesto, that was posted only about 20 minutes before the shooting began?

GOMEZ: You know, our chief of police asked that every time -- every day since this incident occurred. And for all indications from investigators, there is no indication of remorse. That I can say.

BLITZER: No indication of remorse.

But can you confirm that he did, in fact, write that hateful screed?

GOMEZ: Everything points to that at this time. But I can't get a definite answer. There is still a lot of avenues that have to be taken before we can actually confirm that that manifesto is attributed to the shooter. It is part of the investigation. It is way too early to definitively say. But everything points to it.

But I can't confirm right now; again, our accuracy on this investigation, our journey to prosecution and ensure that this person is prosecuted fully and justly and is the most important thing in our minds as we continue forward.

BLITZER: I want to move on to other issues, Sergeant, but can you at least confirm that he still stands by that hateful ideology that was written down?

GOMEZ: Again, I don't know a lot of information about his interviews. I do know that he wasn't remorseful. I would assume that he stands by his ideologies, if that is true and that manifesto is directly linked to him. BLITZER: I want to get your thoughts on President Trump's visit to your beautiful city tomorrow. Some El Paso Democrats, as you know, they are publicly calling on the president not to come to El Paso tomorrow.

He's coming to El Paso, he's going to Dayton as well.

Is it appropriate, do you believe -- and I suspect you might not want to answer this question -- but is it appropriate for the president to come to El Paso at this very, very delicate moment?

GOMEZ: I do believe that it is important that the president come to El Paso. I think it is important that all leaders, local, federal, state, come together and remember the victims that lost their lives in this tragedy. I think it is a time that leaders need to come together and put aside their politics and work towards the victims.

The El Paso Police Department is working towards the investigation in order to bring closure to these victims and justice. And I think it is important that all leaders, federal, local, come together and put their issues aside and work through it. So I would agree it that it is something good for the community.

BLITZER: Let's hope it certainly does console and help. As you know, this was clearly a terror attack on the Latino community in El Paso.

Do you have any message to the country, Sergeant Gomez, about how to fight this kind of hatred?

GOMEZ: You know, I don't have the answer on how to fight this kind of hatred. That is something that is beyond my expertise or -- what I can express is that this is not El Paso.


GOMEZ: This is one individual that had an agenda and had wanted to do harm to people.

And as long as that is something that people want to do, we will stand here and protect our community as much as possible.

But I want to first and foremost say this is not El Paso. El Paso is a loving, caring city and we need to continue to support each other through this tragedy.

BLITZER: How is the community doing, Sergeant Gomez?

GOMEZ: They're doing very well. I've lived in El Paso my whole life and El Paso is like no other city that I've ever lived in or visited. The hospitality, the community that this city has is unbelievable and it's very hard for people to understand, unless they come and visit. They're doing well. They're supporting each other.

We're working with the community and they are working with us. And that is all that any police department or civic organization or city can expect. And we're doing -- as good as we can do. BLITZER: That is encouraging to hear that. Please send our love to all of the folks in El Paso. I know and I totally agree, I've been there, it is a wonderful city. Sergeant Gomez of the El Paso Police Department, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for what you're doing.

GOMEZ: Thank you, sir. Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Up next, I'll speak with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. He's also running for the Democratic presidential nomination and he has strong thoughts on what is going on.

What would he do about the nation's epidemic of gun violence if he were in the White House?

There you see him. We'll speak to him when we come back.





BLITZER: In the wake of mass shootings that left 31 people dead in El Paso and Dayton, we're seeing renewed calls from Democrats for an overhaul of the nation's gun laws. Joining us now, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mayor de Blasio, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: There are a lot of disturbing developments unfolding today. Officials now say, for example, the Dayton gunman was obsessed with mass shootings.

And the shooting, by the way, a week earlier in Gilroy, California, is also now being investigated as another incident of domestic terrorism.

In Gilroy, the FBI now said they found a list of nationwide organizations that may have been potential targets, including religious, government and political institutions, federal buildings, courthouses and the Garlic Festival.

What does all of this say, these three mass murders in the last few days, what does this say about our country?

DE BLASIO: Wolf, it says something very dangerous is going on. And it comes from someplace. Let's be blunt about this. Go back three or four years; we were not having this in this kind of way, one after another. This is directly related to the divisive racist rhetoric of Donald Trump. It is as simple as that. (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: As you know, over the last many years, there have been a lot of mass gun shootings in the United States.

DE BLASIO: Right. But, Wolf, the difference here is exactly what you just laid out. Increasingly what we're seeing is the shootings are motivated by white nationalism, by white supremacy, by an ideology, which has its chief spokesperson in the White House.

And it has to be very clear, when Trump the next day gave his platitudes and acted like we should all love each other after he's done so much to tear us apart, my message is he broke it, he owns it. He created this reality.

I understand other people pull the trigger. That is not the point. He normalized hate in America. And it is going to take the people to undo it. We'll all have to work together to undo it. This is not who we are as America.

BLITZER: Let's talk about gun control legislation.

What is your top priority?

DE BLASIO: I think right now this Congress needs to come back. This is a moment that must be addressed. I think if they don't come back, there will be tremendous anger among their constituents.

I think Mitch McConnell has to finally live up to his constitutional role. He is being called Massacre Mitch right now for a reason because he literally is refusing to allow pieces of legislation to the floor, even though they have bipartisan support, legislation that would actually start to reduce these dangers to our children, to our seniors, who is dying in these massacres, these hate-inspired massacres.

Look at the ones we've been through and look what happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, seniors, children, families being massacred because assault rifles are so easy to get and because there is no background checks and because there's no waiting period.

The Congress of the United States could address this right now in August. You're actually starting to see some bipartisanship coming from some people.

And I give Congressman Pete King credit for speaking up. We need more Republicans to speak up. But unless Mitch McConnell likes that phrase, Massacre Mitch, he has got to bring the Senate back and bring this legislation to the floor.

BLITZER: Do you agree with Beto O'Rourke, who is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination and other El Paso Democrats, that the president should not visit that city tomorrow?

[17:30:00] DE BLASIO: I respect what Representative O'Rourke is saying and he's going through pain with his community and I know it is an honest feeling but I have an alternative view of this.

I think Donald Trump should have to go see what he created. I think he should have to go see the suffering that he has wrought by bringing racism and division right into the Oval Office.

Let's just remember, he started his campaign, the first day, attacking Mexican-Americans. The very first day. And that horrible series of quotes that we just saw earlier on your broadcast, the use of the word invasion, telling the American people that folks who don't look like the majority of Americans, are, quote, unquote, invading, which is madness.

There are people of all colors and all backgrounds and all faiths in this country. That's been true since the founding of the republic. That's what the founding fathers understood. You see it in the constitution. It's right there. That's the kind of country we were meant to be.

But Donald Trump has tried to explicitly tell White Americans that folks who don't look like them are a danger. And is it any surprise that some people are picking up a gun and using it when the person who is supposed to be the ultimate voice of American nationhood is aiding and abetting domestic terrorism? That's what's happening right now in America.

BLITZER: A few of your Democratic rivals, including Beto O'Rourke, by the way, have described President Trump as a White supremacist. Do you agree?

DE BLASIO: Unquestionably. He is someone who, again, first days of campaign, attacked Mexicans; has, of late, attacked one after another African-American leader as if it's a sport for him. He attacks immigrants all the time, but then he praises immigrants from European countries as being the kind of people who would contribute. It couldn't be clearer.

And look, at this point, there's no more faking for Donald Trump. Everyone understands that this is a guy who actually is using racism and division for his political ends. He's part of a long tradition of right-wing populist White supremacists who have tried to divide people for political power.

But this is a country that won't accept that anymore. And you're going to see a revulsion, including among independents and Republicans, I don't have a doubt in my mind. The fact that his words have now led to this kind of action, this is not America. This is not what we all signed up for.

There is plenty of Americans -- I would dare say including even some people who voted for Donald Trump -- who are going to say this is absolutely unacceptable. And before him, no, we did not see one after another after another. This was not the way our country was before Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanks so much for joining us.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, we have more on the latest developments out of Dayton, Ohio, the gunman and what police are now -- and the FBI are now describing as his violent ideologies. Authorities believe he was exploring those violent ideologies before his attack.


BLITZER: The breaking news. We're learning new details right now about the gunman in the Dayton, Ohio massacre and the so-called violent ideologies, authorities now say, he was exploring before the shooting. Our experts are here with analysis.

Evan Perez, violent ideologies, what does this development tell you?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, these are extremist ideologies that he has -- apparently was consuming. We heard from the investigators early in this case that they found that he seemed to be consumed and obsessed with violence. I think the girlfriend has given an interview in which she said he showed her videos of mass shootings on their first date, which is the oddest thing I've ever heard.

But what this tells us, Wolf, is that, you know, what the FBI and the Dayton police found in their searches gives them reason to believe that there is something deeper here that they want to make sure that they could get -- they could try to figure out whether there is some parts of the Internet that he's been consuming this and whether this is driving not only this shooting but others as well.

BLITZER: Well, others as well. The Gilroy, California, the FBI now says they're investigating that as domestic terrorism because they found a list of organizations -- religious organizations, political organizations, federal buildings, courthouses -- that this individual who did this shooting had accumulated presumably as potential targets.

PEREZ: Right, exactly. And look, I think El Paso is the game-changer in all of this. And I -- and you saw that the FBI, over the weekend, say that one of the things they're doing is essentially using some of the resources from the counter-terrorism, their agents who would investigate counter-terrorism. And they're using some of the same tactics that they used to investigate the radicalization of people who are trying to follow ISIS.

And I think that's what you're going to see. You're going to see perhaps a call to people to say if you see something, if you see someone who is disturbed, you got to say something. We spent a lot of time, Wolf, talking to Muslim families, saying if you see somebody who is being radicalized, you got to say something to the FBI. It's the same thing that families all over the country really should do.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The -- you know, this is all true and the FBI is engaged in a good-faith effort. And I am glad they're doing it, but let's keep something in mind.

The legal system has a hard enough time figuring out what happened in the past, much less figuring out what's going to happen in the future. I mean, the notion that we can sort of go on the Internet or see what video games people are watching and figure out who is going to be a mass killer is a myth.

[17:40:05] You know, Dave Cullen wrote a brilliant book about Columbine, and there's a line in that book that I always remember, which is, there is no profile. There is no one profile that predicts what's going to happen and who's going to do terrible things, and I just think that's worth keeping in mind as we think about these FBI efforts.

BLITZER: Yes. Bianna, give us your thoughts on the President who -- I assume he wants to be consoler-in-chief when he goes to El Paso and Dayton tomorrow. Give us your thoughts on what's likely to happen.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, wouldn't you think that the President would feel pain knowing that we're having this conversation as to whether or not he should come to a city that's been so aggrieved now by this mass shooting?

Anybody else would take a moment to think, why is that? Why is it that there is now a debate? Why is it that the Mayor of El Paso had to twist himself into a pretzel yesterday, trying to justify why he agreed to invite and accept the President to visit the city? This is the President of the United States.

We've always wondered what would happen when it came to whether or not Donald Trump could step up to the mantle of being consoler-in-chief. We remember the images of him tossing out the paper towels in Puerto Rico, and yet there's always this hope, this optimism, that maybe next time will be different. And we have yet to see that next time.

You would think, in a certain world, one president would reach out to another president, a former president who is from that very state, George W. Bush, to come together for a ceremony. You think back to 2016 when five police officers in Dallas were killed, nine others injured, and you had President Obama and President Bush there consoling the nation.

We've always come together to heal. The process that's been missing, obviously, is the prevention, what's the next step to make sure this isn't happening again and again as it is in this country and this country alone.

And now, it seems like we don't have either step. We're missing the consoler and we're missing, obviously, the steps that need to be taken to make sure this comes to an end. And I -- by that, I mean legislation.

BLITZER: Manu Raju is with us. He usually covers Congress. What are you hearing about the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues, what they're planning on doing?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're searching for a legislative response. Mitch McConnell has been under enormous pressure from House Democrats and others to bring up the legislation that passed overwhelmingly in the House earlier this year, the Universal Background Checks Bill.

That's a bill that he does not support and the President did not support, and I am told that McConnell is not going to bring forward any bill that the President doesn't support or doesn't have support from a wide array of members in his own conference.

So, behind the scenes, he's talking about other things they could do to deal with the aftermath of these shootings. He had a conference call yesterday with his committee chairmen to try to figure out a way forward.

Among the things now under consideration, I am told, are dealing with some of the mental health issues that the President laid out, talking about the so-called red flag legislation to, essentially, empower states to deny access to guns to people who could be at risk to public safety.

But also look into what the President also raises, a specter of yesterday, dealing with violent video games. That's one thing that Republicans are considering as well to see if there's any legislative path on the way forward.

So, they may come up with a variety of efforts to push ahead but not going to do what the Democrats want, which is universal backgrounds checks. And certainly not going to come back early this August to deal with any of these issues because they simply are rejecting what they're calling for.

TOOBIN: Short answer, they won't do anything that the National Rifle Association doesn't want them to do. I mean, you know, they can play ludicrous games about video games and, you know, nonsense about -- you know, that this is a cause for these horrible murders, but remember who is really in charge of the Republican Party on this issue. It's the National Rifle Association.

PEREZ: I mean, look, one of the issues is that there is no easy fix to -- even, for example, the assault weapons ban, right? We found, and law enforcement will tell you this, that if you ban a specific kind of firearm, what happens is manufacturers will simply change a couple of specifics, and then it doesn't specify.

And for example, the Dayton shooter used an A.R.-15 pistol, which looks a hell of a lot like a rifle, right? Under all of these assault weapons bans proposals, that Dayton shooter's weapon would not be covered.

So, again, it's very difficult when you have an industry that -- you know, they're innovating, they're changing things very rapidly. And I'm not sure how you write a law that covers all of that.


RAJU: And, Wolf, Democrats are divided about how to deal with the assault weapons ban, too. Some are pushing Pelosi -- Nancy Pelosi to move forward on that soon, even bring back the House this session in August to deal with that, but she has pushed back, said focus on the universal background checks.

BLITZER: Let me get -- let Bianna to weigh in. Go ahead, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: I will just say the irony is that the one person who could really move this conversation forward with regards to legislation, serious gun legislation, is a Republican president right now, is President Trump.

[17:45:05] Any time a Democrat is an incumbent, you see gun purchases go up because many Americans are fearful, of course, of this president perhaps coming and taking your guns away. We saw that with President Obama, for sure. So, if anything were to happen, it would have to come from this president.

We saw after the Parkland shooting, he perhaps mentioned something that he'd be open to and there was optimism. That never came to fruition after one lunch that he apparently had with the NRA.

This country was able to combat cigarette use in this country, and it only took a couple of decades. The fact that we have yet to move the needle when it comes to any sort of significant gun legislation in 25 years is really telling.

BLITZER: Everybody, stick around. There's a lot more news we're following. Police and witnesses now say the shooter in El Paso intentionally and methodically targeted Hispanics during his rampage. We have more on the community reaction when we come back.


BLITZER: El Paso police as well as eyewitnesses at Saturday's mass shooting say the gunman specifically targeted Latinos. Eight Mexican citizens are among the 22 dead, and multiple reports rank the El Paso shootings as the worst domestic terror attack on Hispanics in modern U.S. history.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has been talking to people in El Paso. Ed's joining us now live. Ed, what are they telling you?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. We know El Paso often goes by the nickname El Chuco. And it means different things to different people, but it really has come to symbolize a bond of -- among many residents here that share an experience of growing up here in this dusty outpost in far West Texas.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): More than a hundred years ago, El Paso streetcars crossed back and forth between Mexico and Texas. Today, the vintage trolleys circle the heart of the city. And as passengers stare out the window at the borderland streetscape, they reflect on the horror that rattled their hometown.

Twenty-year-old Clarissa Boone lives in Mexico and crosses the border to attend the University of Texas in El Paso. She says the Walmart shooting has cast an eerie feeling over both the cities of El Paso and Juarez.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you feel protected in El Paso from racism?

CLARISSA BOONE, STUDENT AND ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF, THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO: Yes, because I know that we are a lot of Hispanics here, and we are always like a big community.

LAVANDERA (on camera): So, you never had to face that?

[17:50:00] BOONE: No, I mean, people here are very supportive, very nice. And to have that coming here is, like, I don't know.

MIKE PATINO, OWNER, ROCK HOUSE CAFE AND GALLERY: Let's band together El Paso strong, and we all have a big corazon. It means a big heart.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Big heart.

PATINO: Big heart.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Mike Patino is a retired combat veteran turned artist and community activist. He owns the Rock House Gallery in one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city. He describes El Paso as a modern-day Ellis Island.

LAVANDERA (on camera): How do you make sense of what's going on?

PATINO: It's horrific to just understand that something like this could actually happen here. We've never been under siege this bad by a local, homemade terrorist.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The wound left on this city by the massacre of 22 people by a White supremacist has unleashed a wave of intense emotions. This parking lot corner by the Walmart has become a place for thousands to share in their grief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- but I wanted to pay my respects to the people who passed away at my Walmart. You know, it's hitting hard. It's hitting home.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): As we rode the El Paso streetcar talking with 37-year-old Rene Fierro, he felt a sense of optimism that the horrific shooting will not change the core spirit of the place he was born and raised.

RENE FIERRO, RESIDENT OF EL PASO, TEXAS: We have a very strong sense of family values.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Does this shatter that sense of security that you have here?

FIERRO: No, I don't think so. We're a -- we're a safe community because the majority of the people, they have that respect for one another. They don't cross those boundaries.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, the one thing you hear over and over from

people around here is that it wasn't one of us that did this. It was this sense of someone coming from the outside to inflict this carnage and this pain. And they know that, at the end of the day, as time passes and the healing begins, that it wasn't one of their own that inflicted this much pain and heartache -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in El Paso for us. Ed, thanks for that report.

Just ahead, an exclusive new eyewitness account to the massacre in Dayton, Ohio, where victims became first responders right after the attack. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Breaking news, authorities now say the gunman who slaughtered nine people in Dayton, Ohio was exploring violent ideologies before the massacre. Police brought down the shooter before he was able to continue the killing inside a very crowded bar. A manager at the bar tells our Brooke Baldwin that victims of the attack quickly became first responders.


DANE THOMAS, OPERATIONS MANAGER, NED PEPPERS BAR: He immediately went out front and started assisting the two people that are directly in front of our business with CPR, calling out that he needs tourniquets, taking off T-shirts -- bar T-shirts that we have and making tourniquets out of them, coming in --

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And you were running and helping grab bar T-shirts and towels.

THOMAS: And towels, yes.

BALDWIN: To give to him to apply pressure.

THOMAS: Literally, every towel that we had, every T-shirt that we had, we were chucking that out there. That they were making makeshift tourniquets with that until the police who are experienced in the same thing could come over and take over.

[17:54:55] Looking down the street, you saw customers, patrons, our staff, doing everything they can to save as many people as they could. Whether it was wrapping them up, applying pressure to wounds, holding hands, telling people it's going to be OK, you're going to make it. That's immediately what I saw.

BALDWIN: So, you were the victims turned into first responders here at Ned Peppers?

THOMAS: None of us want to think of ourselves as heroes. A lot of us think that we're just the people that were there at the time trying to do the right thing to the best of our abilities.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Coming up, we're getting new reaction to the El Paso

massacre from the family of the alleged gunman. We're going to bring you that information when we come back.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. New evidence. Authorities now say the gunman behind the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio was exploring violent ideologies. What are they learning about his motive as the Feds are now taking the lead in the investigation?

[17:59:56] Pure hate. We're getting new accounts of the El Paso shooting massacre as witnesses describe the gunman's cold-blooded stare and police reveal new details of his surrender. What more might he be telling investigators tonight?