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THE SITUATION ROOM

Texas Gunman Called FBI, 911 Before and During Shooting Rampage; Israel, Hezbollah Exchange Border Fire in Worst Clash in Years; Dive Boat Horror; Hurricane Dorian Batters Bahamas; Interview With Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 2, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:03]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: deadly force. Hurricane Dorian ravages the Bahamas, striking as one of the most powerful storms on record, and still pummeling the islands more than 36 hours later.

Tonight, millions of Americans are under evacuation orders, as the storm aims for the Southeastern United States.

Dangerously close, that's the forecast for Dorian's trek towards Florida. We have a new timeline on when the life-threatening hurricane conditions are expected. Even slight shifts in this monstrous storm could make it even more perilous.

Dive boat horror. As many as 34 people may be dead after a fire engulfs and sinks a diving boat just 20 yards off California, sleeping tourists trapped by the overnight inferno.

And the killer's motive. We're learning more about a mass shooter who went on a weekend rampage in Texas, leaving seven dead and 23 wounded. Why did he respond to a routine traffic stop by randomly opening fire with an assault-style weapon?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the catastrophic hurricane set to turn its power on the Southeastern United States.

A just-released forecast shows Dorian is packing 145-mile-an-hour winds as it threatens Florida and continues to hammer the Bahamas, causing unprecedented damage there and leaving at least five people dead.

Now a Category 4 storm, Dorian is on track to move dangerously close to Florida's East Coast tomorrow. Hurricane warnings were just extended farther north in Florida. Millions of residents now are under mandatory evacuation orders from Florida into South Carolina, as the region braces for hurricane-force winds and life-threatening storm surges.

Our correspondents, experts, and other guests are standing by, as we bring you this CNN SITUATION ROOM special report on Hurricane Dorian.

First, let's go to CNN Brian Todd in Stuart, Florida, for us.

Brian, give us an update right now on conditions and hurricane preparations.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf.

The storm surge here is getting stronger tonight, as it will be for the next 24 hours, these low-lying areas behind me more and more vulnerable to flooding tonight, as this area braces for the storm that has just shredded the Bahamas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Tonight, as Florida braces for Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas are taking a direct hit, Grand Bahama Island bearing the brunt of more than 150-mile-per-hour winds and rain.

For more than 36 hours, the life-threatening storm has been pummeling the Bahamas, some Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, residents trapped in homes that have been destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't go outside. We're still stuck inside. We need help. Please, someone, please come help us.

TODD: Here in Florida, more than 10 coastal counties are under a mandatory evacuation.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): And it's important that residents heed those calls. You know, get out now while you have time, while there's fuel available, and you will be safe on the roads.

TODD: With the storm approaching, medically dependent and special needs residents have to be moved, too. Residents from more than 90 Florida assisted living facilities, hospitals, and nursing homes have already been relocated, according to the governor.

Along the barrier islands, which could get the brunt of the storm as it hits, concerns that those who don't heed the mandatory evacuation orders could be cut off.

MICHELE JONES, MARTIN COUNTY, FLORIDA, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR: It's going to be difficult for us to get out to the barrier islands after the storm. We have a lot of partnership with the sheriff's office and our fire rescue, where we're able to bring assets out to them.

But it's going to take some time. This is a slow-moving storm, so we're concerned that those folks might get isolated for a time, until Dorian passes and it's safe for our first responders to get back out there to them. TODD: Residents in the town of Stuart are particularly vulnerable to

storm surge and flooding. Many live in low-lying neighborhoods near two rivers and a canal.

Kris Garrigus is closing up his house right by a canal and getting out.

KRIS GARRIGUS, FLORIDA RESIDENT: Flooding is the main concern, for sure. I mean, they release Lake Okeechobee, and then it comes up, and then, if this thing hits on high tide, we're screwed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, tonight, as officials try to get people off these barrier islands behind me -- some 30,000 people live on two barrier islands right in this area -- they're trying to get them off of these islands tonight, but they're telling them to drive tens of miles and don't drive hundreds of miles.

They are still concerned that too many people are going to get out on the road. Their inclination is going to be to drive north. They're worried that they're going to get stuck with the storm as it moves north; they are going to get stuck in it as they move -- Wolf.

[18:05:00]

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you -- Brian Todd on the scene for us.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

BLITZER: Let's go to another city in the hurricane warning zone.

Our national correspondent, Miguel Marquez, is in Vero Beach, Florida, for us.

Miguel, residents, I take it, are bracing for Dorian's powerful winds and those life-threatening storm surges.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are.

And the big question for people here is, when is it going to take that right-hand turn and start moving north? Nobody really knows. There is a lot of concern. Buildings are boarded up all along the beach here. Most people have left, but a lot of people are still holding out, because this storm is moving so slowly.

This is the Atlantic right now. It has been pretty much steady winds all day long. Some rain has been coming in, but the wind has really started to pick up over the last couple of hours, not by a lot, but very slowly and surely. This is an area that is under mandatory evacuation orders.

This is also an area that is under a hurricane warning. So people are preparing for the worst. There are a lot of people still on the islands, waiting to see what happens, but those bridges that would take people to the mainland, they are still open until the wind hits 45 miles per hour. And then authorities are going to shut them off.

So, people are sort of coming here, securing their homes, seeing what's going on here. But most of them are planning to get out and get to the shore.

One big concern that people have is not just the wind, but those tides, what they call a king tide here. The position of the moon and Earth are such that you will have the highest tides of the year at the same time that the storm surge comes in.

So, water and wind could really be deadly here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Miguel, thank you, Miguel Marquez also on the scene for us.

[18:10:02]

Tonight, at least five people are dead in the Bahamas, as Hurricane Dorian keeps thrashing the island nation.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is in Freeport for us right now.

Patrick, Dorian first hit as a Category 5, and it's still very, very powerful tonight.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's still a Category 4.

And we are still getting battered here, nearly 48 hours after Dorian first hit the Bahamas. It's been a full day of this here in Grand Bahama, Wolf, and I have never experienced anything like it, where you still have the strength and ferocity of a storm that has stalled out over us.

And if I were not in this protected area right now, if I tried to walk out into the street, I would get blown into the ocean. We are still seeing very strong winds, hurricane-strength winds, ripping through here. And that is really complicating the rescue work.

Even though people have been under the gun all day long, emergency rescue workers have not been able to get to them because of this wind, because of the storm surge. So we are hearing about people that are waiting on the roofs for rescue, people who have had to cut a hole to get out of their house, people whose homes have gotten completely flooded, and have no chance of rescue at this moment, just because it is so dangerous to try and move around on this island with Dorian overhead.

Some good news, though -- the Coast Guard has sent a rescue helicopter to Nassau. It is in the Abacos tonight. Remember, that was the island that was first hit, absolutely devastated. And they have begun rescuing people in the Abacos.

So, a little bit of good news in an island that absolutely needs them. The Bahamas is devastated tonight. They have never seen a hurricane like this one, like Dorian before -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it's an awful, awful situation in the Bahamas.

Of course, Patrick, we will stay in close touch with you.

Let's get some perspective now from the mayor of Vero Beach, Florida, Val Zudans, who's joining us right now.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.

I understand parts of your city are under mandatory evacuation orders. Are people complying with those orders?

VAL ZUDANS, MAYOR OF VERO BEACH, FLORIDA: Thank you, Wolf.

Yes, they are. We actually have very good community. They're listening to everything that's being recommended for the most part. And we're ready. There's a little bit of cabin fever. We have been ready for several days. And when it got slowed down, I think people were kind of thinking it wasn't coming.

But now they know. The winds have really, really picked up today. And I'm just happy, in my town, that people are listening, they're getting out of town. We're running out of time here, because we're -- once we get to tropical-storm-force sustained winds, which will be later tonight, you won't be able to leave the island, and you're stuck for the duration.

It's not safe to go out on the roads at that point. So I'm very hopeful that everyone made their plans. And I think they have. And I hope everyone just stays safe.

BLITZER: But are you worried, Mayor, that some people are just counting on this hurricane missing them and they're staying put?

ZUDANS: I think that, unfortunately, when you have near misses, like we did with Irma and with Matthew, some of the people are just going to assume it's going to be the same thing. And you never know.

I'm a little worried that it just stalled in the Bahamas. You don't know for sure exactly what's going to happen. If it goes to the West, we will get hurricane-force winds up to 110 miles an hour. And so, it's -- I worry about that. I worry about the storm surge.

We're having particularly high tides, king tides, this time of year. And so it can be significant. But, for the most part, I think people are listening. We have an incredible emergency response team for our police departments, all of our local police departments and our firefighters and emergency responders.

So I'm confident that people have listened and they're going to be safe.

And I just want to remind people, we only have about 24 hours left. Once we get those tropical-storm-force winds, it will probably only be for about 24 hours, and then we're done. And then we start the recovery. BLITZER: So, just to be realistic -- and I want you to elaborate a

little bit, Mayor -- what sort of conditions do you expect over the next two or three or four days?

ZUDANS: It really -- it really depends on what happens as the storm comes off the Bahamas. If it goes on the current track, we're going to see tropical-storm-force winds, for sure, up to 24 hours.

If it turns to the left and goes closer to the coast and there's a direct hit on the coast, we will have up to 110, which is a level 2 category winds here. Storm surge, as they have said, if you're getting a direct hit, is four to seven feet, on top of three-foot king tide, with waves on top of that.

And so that can be devastating. Most people who die in a hurricane is because of storm surge. And just be careful. Be safe. There -- you -- there still is a couple of hours where you can potentially go to a shelter, if you're getting nervous and you want to do that.

[18:15:02]

Otherwise, you have got to stick to the plans you were -- that you had, because, once the winds go up, it's not safe to be on the roads. They will not let you go over the bridge. And you don't want to be out on the road either in the middle of a storm.

So we're getting near the very end. I think people have prepared, and I hope that they stick to their plans and everyone is safe.

BLITZER: Critical, life -- potential lifesaving information from Mayor Val Zudans, joining us from Vero Beach, Florida.

Mayor, good luck to you. Good luck to all the folks there. Good luck to everyone in Florida and, indeed, in the Southeast Coast of the United States.

We're going to have a lot more breaking news just ahead on this SITUATION ROOM special report. The danger from Hurricane Dorian is escalating tonight, as the storm grows closer and closer to the United States.

And we're also getting word that multiple deaths have been confirmed in that fiery dive boat disaster off California.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:20:46]

BLITZER: We're following all the breaking news on the Hurricane Dorian disaster.

The Category 4 storm is aiming at Florida tonight, as it keeps thrashing the Bahamas with 145-mile-an-hour winds.

Also breaking, 34 people are presumed dead after a fire that sank a commercial diving boat just off the coast of California. CNN's Nick Watt is near the scene for us.

Nick, I understand some bodies have been recovered?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have, Wolf.

Now, we know that five people, crew members who were preparing for the morning dives, they managed to jump off the ship; 34 more people were sleeping in bunk beds down below decks. Four bodies, as you say, have been found.

And, Wolf, as each hour passes, it seems more and more likely that, of those 34 people sleeping below, that not even one of them escaped with their life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WATT (voice-over): A mayday call just before 3:30 a.m.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! Conception, Platts Harbor, north side, Santa Cruz.

WATT: Thirty miles from the mainland just north of Los Angeles, first responders beaten back by the inferno.

SENIOR CHIEF AARON BEMIS, U.S. COAST GUARD: It keeps being extinguished and re-flashing, possibly due to the amount of fuel on board. Unsure why.

WATT: Five crew members escaped.

CAPT. MONICA ROCHESTER, U.S. COAST GUARD: The crew was actually already awake and on the bridge, and they jumped off. Five people were evacuated aboard a good samaritan pleasure craft known as the Great Escape.

WATT: One brought ashore on a stretcher rushed to the hospital, one limping, an injured ankle, two shoeless and shocked; 34 others were below decks. Four bodies have been found, 30 more still unaccounted for. We're told there are numerous fatalities.

Listen to the dispatcher on that mayday call, asking questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger. Are they locked inside the boat?

Roger. Can you get back on board and unlock the boat -- unlock the doors, so they can get off?

WATT: We cannot hear the answers, and the Coast Guard has said the boat was in compliance. It bears repeating, 30 still missing.

PETTY OFFICER MARK BARNEY, U.S. COAST GUARD: We are combing the shoreline. We have vessels, two vessels from the Coast Guard Station Channel Island Harbor. We have Coast Guard helicopter air crews. So, we are throwing everything that we have in the nearby area to search for these missing 34 people.

WATT: The boat sank in 64 feet of water just 20 yards from the shore of Santa Cruz Island. The Conception, a 75-foot dive boat, seen here in video on a previous trip, had left Santa Barbara Saturday morning, the cause of that fire that destroyed her still unknown.

The NTSB is en route, and the Coast Guard is working with the vessel's owner, but the priority right now, the fight, with hope fading, to find any more survivors.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WATT: And the Santa Barbara sheriff has taken over from the Coast Guard as the lead agency on this, which is not a great sign.

And they are going to be holding a press conference in just about a half-hour from now. But, Wolf, I have got to say, we're not expecting any good news out of that.

BLITZER: A totally, totally devastating, awful story, indeed.

All right, Nick, thank you very much for that report.

The breaking news continues next. We're going to get the new forecast just out for Hurricane Dorian, as millions of Americans now brace for a catastrophic storm.

Plus, disturbing new details emerging right now on the Texas gunman and the phone calls he made to authorities before his rampage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:29:00]

BLITZER: The breaking news this hour, Hurricane Dorian threatening the United States tonight as a Category 4 storm, with winds of 145 miles an hour.

We're also learning of deaths from Dorian, at least four people now confirmed killed in the Bahamas.

Our meteorologist, Jennifer Gray, has a new forecast just out from the National Hurricane Center.

Jennifer, this storm is threatening millions of Americans.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It really is, all up and down the Southeast Coast, especially Florida. That's the million-dollar question, is, how close is it going to get to Florida?

The closer it is, the more impacts you're going to have with the wind, the storm surge, the rain. Right now, it's not moving at all, stationary. That was the biggest nugget out of the 5:00 p.m. advisory, winds of 145 miles per hour, gusts of 170, still getting the worst winds right around Grand Bahama Island. As this gradually will start to pull away tomorrow, conditions will

slowly improve there, but that only means that conditions will worsen in Florida. We are going to continue to see these rain bands. Winds will continue, especially once those showers pass.

That's when the winds will gust up a little bit and then maybe die down temporarily.

But overall, we'll start to see that general wind pattern pick up. It should pick up forward speed by tomorrow. 125-mile-per-hour winds, it should slowly start to decrease in intensity, but that doesn't mean your impacts are going to lessen. We're going to see a lot of storm surge, wind and rain all up and down the Florida Coast. And with its closest approach, wherever that is, that's going to be where the biggest impacts are going to be, and possibly the most damage.

As we go forward in time, places like Charleston, the outer banks, need to keep a close watch on this. Those are very vulnerable places. We could see Category 2 conditions by the end of the week along the South Carolina and North Carolina coasts.

And with this storm, so close to Florida, these are your current wind gusts, 28 miles per hour, which doesn't seem like a lot, but once this storm gets closer to you, the winds are going to pick up. And you could possibly feel hurricane-force winds across the State of Florida, even west of I-95, as we go forward in time, all depending on how close this storm gets to you.

So the hurricane watches and warnings are in place. Hurricane watches all up and down the South Carolina coast, Georgia on into Florida, the hurricane warnings in place. Those have been up. And then there's your storm surge, four To seven feet across much of Florida. Those barrier islands that are only accessible by bridges are really the most vulnerable spots in Florida.

But even if you move far enough west, make sure that where you are is a sturdy structure that can withstand hurricane-force winds and you are also safe from four to seven feet of storm surge. That's very, very important.

Two to four feet, of course, in Palm Beach County, and then the rain, we're forecasting anywhere from four to six inches, possibly ten inches along that coast. And, Wolf, it's all really dependent upon how close this storm gets to Florida. All of these numbers could go up if that storm veers a little bit farther to the west.

BLITZER: Yes, still a lot of uncertainty in the Bahamas. I should point out, five people now confirmed were killed in this storm. Jennifer, we'll check back with you shortly.

Let's get some more on the breaking news right now. Joining us, Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida, he's the former governor of Florida. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Wolf, you know, you can rebuild your house but you can't rebuild your life. And as Jennifer said, you know, we don't know for sure exactly where this storm is going to go and we're already talking, even if it stays off the coast of four to seven feet of storm surge. I mean, that is deadly. If that's coming into your house, you're not going to survive seven feet of storm surge.

So I want everybody to continue to watch, follow the local law enforcement and others that are telling you whether you need to evacuate. But thank you for doing this to keep people informed.

BLITZER: Well, thank you for what you're doing as well.

We still see the tracking of this storm, where it will hit. What sort of preparations are you making at the state level right now, you and your colleagues?

SCOTT: Well, I was with the president. I talked to him last week. I was with him at Camp David for a briefing in the afternoon, with him at FEMA. So FEMA is out there along with a lot of federal agencies. They're doing it. They've been talking to our sheriffs and emergency management teams around the state. The governor has called up the National Guard.

So everybody is doing right now, I think, people are trying to get ready, but you have got to do your part. If you need to evacuate, evacuate now. If they close the bridge because the wind comes up, you're not going to get off of these islands. The water is going to come up first before the wind is going to come up. And even if that all works, you might be out of power for a week. So have seven days of water, seven days of food, get your medicines around, do all of these things to take care of yourself, because during the middle of the storm, the first responders can't help you.

BLITZER: Well, when you look at the awful images coming in from the Bahamas and the preliminary numbers coming out of the Bahamas, including the death toll, what are your top concerns right now, Senator?

SCOTT: Well, my top concerns are, people look at that track right in the middle and they don't look at the cone and don't understand that the National Hurricane Center, I was there again today, I've had briefings all day, they're doing their best. But these storms are an act of God. There is no perfect path. Two-thirds the time, the storm goes outside that cone of uncertainty, so you have got to take this very seriously and take care of yourself.

We've got tourists here, we have a lot of people moving here. Just think about -- the first thing we heard out of Bahamas, it was a seven or eight-year-old boy lost his life. You don't want to lose your family, you don't lose a pet. And you've got people in your neighborhood, they probably need help. So be part of solving all of these problems.

BLITZER: But as you know, there are Floridians, and this is normal, they're always hoping the storm turns away [18:35:00] from Florida, from their area in Florida. They're deciding to stay put rather than evacuate, even though they've been ordered to evacuate. What's your message to them?

SCOTT: Wolf, let me tell you about the story of a lady down just south of Tallahassee, I think it was three or four years ago with Irma. She thought, oh, six feet of storm surge would be fine. When three feet came in, she said, I'm not going to survive this. And she got out of her house and she would have died, but there was one last high water vehicle leaving and picked her up, or she would have passed away because she got six feet of storm surge through her house, she wouldn't have survived it.

And so I tell people -- I can tell people story after story, because as governor, I got to talk to a lot of people, and don't take a chance. The water is probably the most likely thing to kill you, storm surge, flooding, be careful. Don't drive into standing water. We're going to get rain. So just be careful and take it seriously and take care of your family, take care of your pets, take care of people you know on your street or your neighborhood that are disabled that might need more help. Take care of each other.

Floridians do that, and I'm sure they do it in every other state too.

BLITZER: We're told, Senator, that more than 70 nursing homes, assisted living facilities in your state have been evacuated right now. Can you assure us that the rest of those facilities are safe? We always are worried about the elderly in Florida.

SCOTT: You know, if you are responsible for somebody else, if you're running a hospital or a nursing home or a skilled nursing, then you need to make sure you have the backup power, you make sure you're not in an area with storm surge, you're very comfortable that you can survive this. If not, you do the right thing and evacuate. That's my expectations of every nursing home.

But you as a person, you should be taking charge and asking your nursing home or skilled nursing facility, do you have the backup generation? Do you have the backup power? You know, are we in an evacuation area? And if you are, take charge and make sure they do the right thing to take care of you.

BLITZER: As I remember, all of us remember what happened in Hollywood, Florida, that nursing home lost power.

SCOTT: It makes you mad. It makes you --

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

SCOTT: Well, Wolf, what were they doing? It makes you mad. That was -- of all our nursing homes and skilled nursing, there was one place in the state, and they decided with a hospital across the street, they did not evacuate. And then we had those individuals that passed away there. That's wrong.

BLITZER: Yes, it was awful indeed. And I hope all the lessons from now have been learned throughout the state.

What about Florida's undocumented population? Will they be safe from immigration enforcement, for example, if they go to shelters?

SCOTT: Well, Wolf, I've never heard anybody during the storms I've had with shelters that that's ever been an issue. No one's ever asked me that, but I've never heard that to be an issue. That shouldn't be an issue. We're at a time where we are saving individual's lives. It doesn't matter whether wherever they're from, we are there to take care of them.

And I know it's going to be important for us to also take care of the people in the Bahamas, who -- I mean, they just have been devastated. So I'm sure that our shelters, they're doing the right thing and taking care of people.

BLITZER: That's very encouraging. I only asked the question because some undocumented immigrants have raised the possibility they may be afraid to go to a shelter. But it's very encouraging to hear what you just had to say.

Senator Scott, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck to all the folks in Florida.

SCOTT: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Our Situation Room special report on Hurricane Dorian will continue. We'll have an urgent -- we have more on the urgent preparations underway right now from Florida all the way up not only through Georgia and the Carolinas, but through Virginia as well.

And as the storm looms, President Trump goes golfing and tweeting. We're going to hear what the White House is saying tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: We have breaking news tonight. The danger from Hurricane Dorian increasing by the hour, as the Category 4 storm looms off the Florida Coast with winds of 145 miles an hour. While millions evacuate under states of emergency, President Trump went golfing today.

Our Senior White House Correspondent, Pamela Brown, has the latest for us. Pamela, the White House says the president is being briefed hourly on the hurricane. What are you hearing?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. That's what the White House is saying. Despite the fact that he has spent most of his day today at his golf course in Sterling, Virginia, the White House says he is still being briefed on Hurricane Dorian, as it pummels the Bahamas and threatens the United States.

But what's interesting here, Wolf, is, of course, this is a president who has criticized past presidents, including President Obama, about spending too much time on the golf course, saying that there's too much government work to do at the time and that it costs taxpayers too much money. And so it is worth noting that this is how the president chose to spend his day on this Labor Day, golfing at his golf property.

He has spent many days as president golfing on his golf property. And he has also spent a good portion of his day tweeting, Wolf, about issues having nothing to do with Hurricane Dorian, targeting James Comey once again and the media, [18:45:00] though he has sent out several warnings over Twitter. In fact, one of the warnings about the hurricane that he sent out prompted a tweet from the National Weather Service in Birmingham, because the president had said that the hurricane was expected to hit Alabama hard.

[18:45:04]

Well, then the National Weather Service had to correct him and say, no, that's incorrect, that it's not supposed to hit Alabama.

Now, as we know, Wolf, the president went to FEMA headquarters yesterday to get a briefing and he said he was stunned, essentially, that a category 5 hurricane even existed, which is certainly notable, because, Wolf, there have been four category 5 hurricanes since President Trump has been in office. And he has made five such remarks that he didn't even know a category 5 hurricane existed since 2017.

So, if any president should have intimate knowledge of a category 5 hurricane, it's President Trump -- Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN's Pamela Brown at the White House for us. Thank you.

And there's more breaking news just ahead. Our SITUATION ROOM special report on Hurricane Dorian continues with new details of the deaths and the devastation the storm has already unleashed.

Plus, investigators reveal new information about the latest Texas shooting rampage, including the gunman's own calls to 911.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:50:51]

BLITZER: Our breaking news coverage of Hurricane Dorian continues in a moment. But there is also breaking news in the West Texas shooting rampage that left seven people dead and almost two dozen injured. Investigators now say the gunman made multiple calls to police and the FBI.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Odessa, Texas, for us right now.

Ed, some very disturbing new details emerging tonight.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are indeed, Wolf.

Investigators say that on Saturday, the suspect made at least four different phone calls to law enforcement agencies, two of those phone calls were before the shooting rampage happened. And investigators say that actually while the shooting was happening, he was calling 911 multiple times to describe himself as the person who was doing it. Dispatchers in the meantime were frantically trying to figure out what exactly they were talking about.

But investigators say that Seth Ator was fired from his job as truck driver earlier in the day, and called 911 from that office. But by the time they'd arrived there, police arrived there, he was already gone. He was later pulled over by DPS state troopers and that's when the shooting rampage started.

But FBI investigators who have been combing through the gunman's home say the firing from the job wasn't what sent him on the rampage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER COMBS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: He showed up to work in a very distressed mental state. So, it's not because he got fired, right? This does not happen because he was fired, which other active shooters have occurred. When he showed up to work, he was already enraged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, there is also serious questions being raised tonight about where exactly this gunman obtained the assault-style rifle weapon that was used in this shooting spree. Investigators now say that at some point, the gunman failed a background check, but still somehow managed to obtain this firearm. Investigators say they are aggressively trying to pursue where he obtained it from.

But, of course, in the debate around gun control right now, this really raises a lot of serious questions about what exactly was in the background check, why did he fail it initially and how he was able to obtain a firearm of this magnitude. So, a lot of serious questions revolving around there.

And then, late this afternoon, the city of Odessa put out the final list of the victims, seven victims at all, with the full names. One of them was a 35-year-old man from El Paso which is as we all know has dealt with a tragic shooting of its own.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Yes, very sad indeed.

Ed Lavandera on the scene for us, thank you.

And stay with us. There is more breaking news just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:58:09]

BLITZER: Our breaking news coverage of Hurricane Dorian continues in a moment.

But we're also following another breaking story. Israel and Hezbollah exchanging fire over the Lebanese border in the most serious clash in more than four years. CNN's Oren Liebermann is joining us from Jerusalem tonight.

Oren, these hostilities come about two weeks before the Israeli election. What's the latest?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly do. All morning, we were on the border with Israel and Lebanon. And we heard drones overhead as the Israeli military, IDF, remained on high alert and the border itself was tense.

But still a very different story today than what we saw yesterday. It was about 4:15 p.m. local time that Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy in Lebanon, and especially in southern Lebanon, fired a series of anti- tank missiles at Israeli military positions, including a battalion headquarters and the military vehicle not far away.

Hezbollah put out video of firing the missiles and a boast about it late this evening. In response, Israel says it fired something like 100 artillery shells at the position from which those anti-tank missiles were fired, as well as using what the military says was very limited use of helicopter strikes to respond to those anti-tank missiles.

Israel says no injuries or casualties in those strikes. But just as quickly as this started, it was over. Within two hours of the those anti-tank missiles starting, Israel lifted restrictions and that is a very strong indication that at least for now Israel believes this is over. That doesn't mean this all happened all that quickly.

Israel had been expecting a response for the last week and a half or so after Israel struck Syria, killing Hezbollah operatives in Syria. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah had vowed to respond and because of that, the IDF was on high alert. That response came.

Wolf, you pointed out this is the most violent exchange we have seen in years. That would go back to early 2015 when we saw a very similar exchange. That, too, was limited in its scope and its depth. But it seems this one was, as well.

BLITZER: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thanks very much.

CNN's special breaking news coverage continues right now with "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT".

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