tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC July 23, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
apparent shooting in a movie theater but happening on a day when literally the jury in colorado is considering whether or not the aurora movie theater massacre shooter, james holmes will get the death penalty for his crimes. the jury is deliberating right now on that case and there's apparently another mass shooting tonight in another american movie theater. that does it for us tonight. we will see you tomorrow. now it is more on this story with lawrence o'donnell. we continue with our breaking news that rachel has been telling you about. authorities in lafayette, louisiana, tell nbc news there's been a shooting at a movie theater there. what we know so far is police responded to a shooting at the grand 16 theet er in lafayette, louisiana earlier tonight. an ambulance service tells nbc news that eight people are injured and two are dead on arrival. state police confirmed the shooter is dead. louisiana governor bobby jindal tweeted i'm on my way to
lafayette right now. please say a prayer for the victims at the grand theater and their families. joining us is death dickinson who was at the scene. what can you tell us about what happened there tonight? >> i seen the suspect open fire in the movie theater. it's crazy over here. but two -- it seems like two are dead. we're working to confirm that for sure. >> seth, how did you hear about this? >> we just heard of people -- we heard people were coming out of the theater, clutching their purses and running and the alarms were going off and we got a tip. >> how long ago did this happen? >> must have been around 7:30,
somewhere around there. >> the theater -- it's called the grand 16. does it mean it is a 16-screen theater. one of these big multi-plex theaters? >> i believe so. the -- it seems like may have opened fire in theater 14. so yeah, that would make sense. >> theater 14. yes. is -- i assume police response is still going on there. has everyone evacuated the theater? do you know? >> yes, everyone is outside of the movie theater. we're all around the perimeter. the cops have it surrounded. >> what are you learning about how many people have been injured? >> sounds like six or seven so far. >> and apparently we do have two
confirmed dead at this point. >> uh-huh, okay. >> how -- can you gauge how quickly the response was between the time of the shooting and police officers arriving there? >> very quickly. we heard the tip. we raced over here and as soon as we got here cops were out, armed with assault rifles. they had the whole place surrounded. very quick. >> where are you now, seth? >> we are outside of the -- we're outside of the theater across the street, just watching everything. >> is there a large crowd gathered there now? >> sort of yeah. a lot of people in the theater, around the neighborhood are out here right now. >> what -- have police sealed off the area of the movie theater? >> yes, sir. they have completely sealed it off. no one goes in or comes out at
this point. >> we are joined now by jim cavanaugh, nbc law enforcement expert. jim, what is the standard procedure now on that scene? >> well, they dune active shooter response which sounds like they may have already done lawrence to get to the person or persons shooting and try to engage and stop the activity of course. that means the officers may have engaged with the shoot er and shot him, like we saw in chattanooga last week. or it could be a suicide, murder-suicide type case. we don't know. the officers -- once they get the shooter down if they can determine there are no other shooters there the protocol is does he have is any exemployees ives on him, in his vehicle or homes. if you remember james hole s in aurora, we were looking at that trial this week. he booby trapped his home, he had all kinds of devices, if
there are no other shooter the next is looking at his home car, residence and try to determine if there is conspirators or people who should be alert one shooter in town could be a confederate somewhere else who will do something we don't know the motive. everybody should be on alert when they see these things happening. like in chattanooga when he attacked the recruiting center, six miles later he went to the reserve center. if you have two actors, you can have two places. there's no indication of. that everybody should always be alert when these things happen. >> seth dickerson, if you are still with us, did you hear any gun fire there as you approached the scene? >> no. as soon as we got in there -- the theater is pretty big, pretty thick walled. so we didn't hear anything. >> was it your sense of it, seth, that all of the action was over by the time you got there? >> it sounded like it.
when we got here, the shooter was -- people were saying the shooter was still inside. >> so when you got there you had information that indicated the shooter had been subdued by that time. >> that he was still inside the theater. that's all we knew for sure. >> still inside the theater. jim cavanaugh, how long does it take for a response team like this, to be confident that in a 16-screen multi-plex theater they have the situation under control? >> exactly. great question, lawrence. that's the question facing the commanders. once they subdue the shooter like the reporters on the scene said, they have to sweep other theaters to make sure there isn't someone else in another theater holding people hostage, schott shot someone before or hiding out because they don't know how many could be involved. they will have to sweep the theater and they will do that with patrol units that engage
that shooter and s.w.a.t. team officers will come in and sweep that. it will take them a while to do that. if there is nobody else they will get them out safely and get everybody static if there is just one shooter there. >> jim we're seeing, obviously some cell phone video that's been fed to us. with will obviously -- on a situation like this, ultimately be able to harvest a great deal of that. some of that if it's the theater itself, could obviously be crucially important evidence. >> that's exactly right. you know, these modern movie theaters, we all go to them. they are great for viewing the films but sometimes when you get up to this seating there are no exits. they are at the bottom. there is no exit on the top and you have to file down the seats on the side and that maybe toward the shooter. every place is set up different but those places can be tough if
somebody has you trapped in there and you are trying to escape and holmes did that to our horror when he did that attack in aurora colorado. but for the bravery of some of the patrons there the quick response of aurora police that would have been even worse and it was horrible tough. this is another attack on a theater but we don't know the motive, it could have been domestic, somebody could be after a spouse, revenge on somebody, a lot of things could be going on there. >> seth are you familiar with the movie theaters there? >> i am. >> a lot of the theaters when there are 16 screens the screening rooms themselves tend to be smaller. how would you describe the size of the theater in the multiplex? >> pretty big theater. stadium seating. it is stacked staggered down. it is pretty big theater.
>> any indication whether this was a big attendance night there? it is a thursday night. luckily not a friday or saturday night or attendance would be considerably higher. >> looked like a lot of people. thursday is not very slow night here at the theater. especially with the new movies coming out. >> have you heard anything about the suspect in this case? >> sounds like he was an older male. that's about all we got for now. crazy. >> yeah. i'm sure it is. was that -- seth, was that a police source saying it was an older male or a witness -- >> these are witnesses. >> oh, okay. what are the -- witnesses who -- eyewitnesses who saw the shooter? you have been able to speak to some? >> yeah, but we got cut off from
them. but earlier i spoke to some people. >> can you share with us anything more that you learned from any eyewitnesses who actually saw the shooter? where did they see the shooter? >> just that he opened fire said they opened fire on them. i guess. >> you spoke to eyewitnesses who witnessed the actual shooting? >> yes. >> what did they describe to you? >> that there was a lot of blood. >> the eyewitnesses you spoke to, what did they do when the shooting broke out? >> they tried to get out of there. from what i was able to surmise they ran and --
>> seth did they say anything about the weapon itself how many shots they thought they heard. >> i haven't heard anything about the amount of shots or the weapon. >> jim cavanaugh it sounds like there are eyewitnesses available to the police right now who surely are being questioned by the police right now. >> yes. >> no exactly right lawrence. the questions you are asking the reporter, was it a long gun, handgun, what kind of arms he had. if he is deceased they should be laying there and police have a good handle on those. they will want to grab his wallet see who he is. find out about him. take the guns, trace them back. find out what is the motive here. that's the thing to stop another one. hopefully it is an isolated one, regardless of what the motive is it is horrible enough as it is.
is he acting alone anyone helping him? could be there be something else afoot? then you get to a crime scene process and caring for the wounded and families who lost someone or injured. >>. >> the latest information we have comes from lafayette spokesman says at least two victims dead at the scene including the shooter between six and eight victims transported to three local hospitals. shooting took place inside the theater. they only described the shooter as a male. they give us no age or other identifiers. seth dickerson told us that witnesses have told him it was an older male. the fbi, louisiana state police, the university police are assisting the lafayette police in the investigation. and kyle suarez of the lafayette
police has said we believe the scene is safe at this time. seth dickerson i want to go back to the description you obtained of the shooter. eyewitnesses to the shooting told you it was an older male, did they give you any sense of how old this man was? >> no. they told me 50s. >> 50s. >> i mean that's all from a dark movie theater, so -- >> sure. >> i wouldn't be sure of that. >> we all understand that this is this is first flash of information and that people are doing their best and they could see somebody there who they think is in their 50s and turns out to be much younger or conceivably older. jim cavanaugh that alone is an interesting observation that this is a male of that age.
is it -- is it just my impression from things like aurora that these kinds of shootings tend to be done by younger people? >> right. i think mass shootings, when you look at the numbers, they go across almost all age groups but you know you do see incidental and answer dotal cases like the case in florida where a retired police captain in a movie theater pulled out a pistol and killed a man. you can have a dispute arise in a theater, pistol can be pulled out, shots going off and now, of course, in this day and age we have citizens who don't want to be slaughtered and they are going to fight and that can wind up people getting shot. we don't know the scenario. we don't know if he came in to the theater shooting like james holmes. we don't know if he was a patron who got in a dispute if he came in to the theater to kill
someone over domestic robbery or revenge. but it is interesting fact that he might be an older male. it's something to put in the pocket now to see how it develops. the officers have a lot more answers than we do they know who he is. they have his identity. they probably have inklings of the motive and are starting to put together. it comes together pretty quick. they start to size it up. and start to get some directions to send major lead teams out. this will be city, county state federal investigators going out trying to put this back together. >> seth dickerson in your conversations with eyewitnesses, did any of them remember the shooter saying anything? >> no. they didn't say anything like that. i haven't heard about any words that he may have said. >> seth, what about when this happened, did this happen at the very beginning of the movie, at
the end of the movie? i'm wondering do we have a sense that the shooter might have been sitting there two hours through a movie? >> i wouldn't be able to guess that. it sounded like -- it was 7:30. so it could have been the beginning but i wouldn't be with able to tell you for sure. >> 7:30, i think it's possible that you could expect that to be around the beginning with an audience. jim cavanaugh, probably an audience just collected in the theater at that hour and with the lights dimmed, maybe watching with trailers of movies to come. at that hour, given movie exhibition schedules that's probably toward the beginning of that audience experience that everyone was going there to hope to enjoy that tonight. >> right lawrence. the reason these kinds of activities, just as you describe, you are describing
something that all americans do we all go to the movies. it's a pretty common practice. that's why these kind of shootings are, you know strike at the heart of the nation. we say what's going on? i go to the movies. when we see gangsters shooting each other, they say well, i'm not a gangster, so i'm not at risk or police officers that get hurt, say, i'm not a police officer, i don't have that high-risk occupation but when you talk about going to the movies shopping mall or work and people come in and start shooting you or are there and start shooting you as we discussed, it puts a different flavor on everything. that's why you know, we look at it and say what's going on here? is it a local incident? there are shootings every night in america that are local incidents that are domestic cases, that are fights between patrons that escalate, that a robbery attempts and sometimes even in those cases multiple people are shot. sometimes the case winds up
being a murder-suicide or a guy trying to kill his spouse and others intervene if he pulls out a gun and he kills himself. there's a lot of things this could be. we don't exactly know. it would be interesting to find out from the reporter on the ground if he knows was it a long gun or handgun or did a witness say that? did they tell was it a long gun or handgun? i'd be interested to hear. it's a different scenario if someone walks in to the front of a theater like james holmes and pull s out a long gun and starts to shoot in to the crowd. that's a different scenario. >> we are getting confirmation that the call to the police came at 7:29 p.m. central time. seth dickerson, one of the comments made by the lafayette police is that the fbi, the louisiana state police and the university police are assisting. what university would that be where their police are
assisting? >> that would be the university of louisiana at lafayette. it is about -- i'd say two miles away from here. >> so this movie theater is no doubt a magnet for the university students in that area? >> absolutely. >> yeah. >> jim cavanaugh the -- one of the reports we're getting "newsweek" at this point is reporting that the shooter committed suicide. that's from "newsweek." that's not confirmed by nbc news. but they are calling this now a murder-suicide. >> right. i wouldn't be surprised at that scenario, lawrence. and when there is one other person dead you question were they targeting the other person who was killed? is it some kind of -- like i say revenge or domestic situation where they are going after that person and there's some
intervention from patrons or may killed a person he is after and just shoot his gun wildly and then kill himself. we don't know. but if it is a suicide that wouldn't be out of character in some of these cases. >> seth dickerson, the -- did you -- when you were speaking to witnesses who saw the shooting, was it ---ed that hey already spoken to police or was it their intention to seek out the police to report to the police what they had seen? >> no. we got here early. so they may not have spoken to police yet. police are talking to them. so i'm guessing they were talked to afterwards. >> and certainly in a movie theater like that the police will have a very large number of witnesses who talk to. have the police -- have you observed any area that the police have set aside to kind of collect witnesses?
>> not specifically. it's hard -- most of the cars are blocking a lot of the view. so if there is one it would be hard to see. >> seth, how far away are you from the actual theater? >> from the parking lot just across the street. we're about, shoot, maybe 50 feet away from the theater itself. >>. >> jim cavanaugh the police will obviously be working with overnight here and picking up -- what are the kind of forensic evidence searches that will be going on within that theater tonight? >> of course the whole theater will be a crime scene roped off and you will have the two bodies there.
the medical examiner will have to to come in and look at that. first thing is complete photography. everything is photographed before it is moved. there is a crime scene processing team that will come in and photograph everything. once the photographs are taken the medical examiner will look at the bodies and approve them to be examined at the scene and then moved. in a case like this, the shell casings will be recovered, which will be on the floor, if we have semiautomatic or fully automatic weapons. if it is a revolver for example, there would be shell casings still in the gun. firearms will be recovered one or more, any other weapons that might be present. certainly his identification and the identification of the other person quickly. and send detectives immediately to the hospital to interview those who are wounded who are able to speak because they have a lot of information and then you try to round up the eyewitnesses. if someone was in that theater and they were an eyewitness
they should contact the lafayette police detective bureau and let them know who they are and that they were there and give them their name and address so they can get to this this evening or quickly in the morning so they can put the picture of everything together and then go to the tapes of in the movie theater to see when the person came in and of course go to the shooter's house, talk to his relatives, his car in this parking lot has to be swept for explosives, other guns, booby traps talk to significant others and start to put the pieces together. the question that we all have is why? why is this being done? why is this murder rampage happening? and you try to get some answers. >> we have been speaking with jim cavanaugh, nbc law enforcement expert and seth dickerson, reporter for the local newspaper there, the advertiser in lafayette, has been reporting to us from the scene. seth dickerson responded immediately after the call came out at 7:30 tonight. we are now joined by the news
director for the lafayette advertise er, kristin -- what more do we know about this case at this point? >> there's still not releasing a lot of details. as you have reported, they have confirmed two are dead, including the shooter. their ambulances are taken numerous victims to the hospital. we have confirm ed six but there maybe more than that. the latest news that we have is governor jindal is en route to the scene with the head of the state police michael edmondson. kri tin, the lafayette police department, how big of a police department is that? >> it's a decent size police department, 300, 350 officers. >> so on a typical night like
tonight with 300 officer force you may have 75 out there normally in service. >> right. >> is there any indication that the police department has been put on a full alert and everyone who's available has been called in? >> i'm not sure if everyone available has been called in. i do know they have been calling in multiple agencies. so we know that the state police, the fbi, the sheriffs office, and the university of louisiana police department are all assisting. >> do you expect -- has there been any indication from any of the officials there that there will be an opportunity for some kind of press briefing where someone can clarify what the facts are as we know them now? >> we were told by jim kraft, the chief of the lafayette police department that there
would be an update. that was -- he said in an hour and that was maybe 30 minutes ago. we expect it in about 30 minutes he's going to give some sort of press briefing. i don't know whether there will be an opportunity to ask questions at that point. >> we certainly wouldn't want them to be distracted from their important work right now. pu was with it your sense kristin, that the situation was under control enough and the facts were well known enough that it would not be too burdensome on the lafayette police to have a press briefing within the hour? >> yeah. i think that it's certainly not an active shooting situation anymore. they very quickly got the theater evacuated. i'm -- we're getting images from our photographer of the entire area being sealed off. now i'm sure they are bringing
in forensic teams. i think it is probably appropriate for them to have a press briefing. >> your reporter seth dickerson has supplied us with invaluable insights about what has happened there including his conversations with eyewitnesses who saw the shooting. have any of your other reporters or resources been able to obtain anymore statements from any eye withins? >> not anything at the moment? >> yeah, we have talked to a witness, a girl who with was in the movie with her fiance. who was sitting, you know, a few rows back from the shooter and said she heard -- about 20 minute s in to the movie she heard a loud pop. she saw a man stand up and start shooting down beneath him away from her. because she was behind him. she heard several shots.
at that point she and her fiance ran to the steps leaving her purse and shoes. she described him as a middle-aged white man. >> one of the witnesses suggested to seth the man might be in his 50s. that seems consistent. >> correct. >> did she have any sense that the shooter had a specific target in mind? >> it didn't sound like it. from what she could see, he just stood up and started shooting toward the rows of seats beneath him. >> did she hear him say anything? >> no she didn't. >> did she say anything about how long the shooting went on? >> she said she only heard a few shots because, of course they ran toward the exit as soon as they realized that there was a
gun and a shooting taking place. >> yeah. did she -- did she suggest that others around her were running in the same way that she was? >> yeah. that is what it sounded like. >> just a rush for that exit. >> just in terms of the ability to exit that theater, did she report any struggles with that? is a theater well designed for easy exit in an emergency? >> there are multiple exits and sounded like she was sitting back toward the theater so it would have been pretty easy for people to get out. >> what was her -- did her fiance have anything to add to what her observations were? >> no, we did not get a chance to speak to him. >> just spoke to her. okay. this is near university this movie theater. so is it fair to assume that on
an evening like this there would be a lot of university-aged people in that audience? >> yeah. school's not in session right now. there are probably some students here taking summer classes. there are a lot of local students that attend the university. so -- you know on any given week night there would be some college-aged students there. >> what -- in terms of lafayette and lafayette's history and what life is like in lafayette this is obviously shocking anywhere. it's devastating if it happens anywhere. talk to us about what something like this feels like in lafayette and feels like to this community. >> it feels a little surreal. because of the things they are used to seeing on the news. we don't have a lot of shootings of this magnitude.
>> no. luckily no community has a lot of shootings of this magnitude. there's no way for a community to be prepared for it. your police department there is dealing with something they have never dealt with before. what is your sense of their response to it? do they -- do they sound like they have the situation under control? >> you know, as far as i can tell they do. you know they are not talking a lot right now. hopefully we'll know more as soon as they have a briefing. >> i want to go back to jim cavanaugh, nbc law enforcement expert who's been with us from the beginning of our coverage of this. our breaking news coverage starting this hour. jim picked up some information there about this shooter, middle-aged white man, one witness saying she heard a few shots and she immediately ran out of the theater so she's not
sure how many more shots. kristin, let me come back to you for one thing. did the witness say anything about the weapon itself and about -- was it a long barrel? was it a handgun? any observations about the weapon? >> no. i don't think she had a clear view of it he was standing in front of her an holding the gun in front. >> so his back was to her. she may not have seen the weapon at all. >> jim cavanaugh what do you make about what kristin has added to our understanding of this? >> first of all it is great reporting that kristin and her team have done. >> yes, i want to stress that. "the advertiser" in lafayette with chris dickerson and kristin askelson we would know virtually nothing without them. >> they are on the facts.
you are sharing it with the msnbc audience. very significant fact that the person is in the theater in the seats and raises up and shooting. quite a different tactic than we saw from james holmes. what is afoot here? is he tar getting anyone? does he just want to shoot at anyone? is he shooting at a specific individual, or some specific people he might hate? we don't know why yet he did it. but the behavior is interesting. the detectives will want to know did he filter in to that theater, buy a ticket, have a firearm on his person and then find a seat and sit in a certain place where he would shoot neem the front row for some reason that's right now only known to him. they are breast they are interesting facts.
good detective bureau. they are going to be able to put it together and have all of the help they need to be able to find out what happened. hopefully give us good information this a press briefing. that's key to them, too. because they want to calm the fears of the community and louisiana and the country whatever this thing is. the more information they can give out, if it is really one guy and there's no prosecution going to happen on one guy, the more information they can give out the better for the police and the citizens to know that early on. >> we have just gotten a report from wvla tv. about what one witness has said. let's listen to that. >> i did hear some witnesses say that the shooter was chasing after a barefoot woman. not really -- i can't really confirm that at this point.
the lafayette police chief said he plans to release more information within the next hour or so. i have not heard anything about a motive. i have no idea why the shooting may have occurred at this point in time. >> kristin, did you hear anything like that from any of the witness statements you have heard, that the shooter was chasing a barefoot woman? seth dickerson, let me ask you you have spoken to some witnesses directly. did you hear anything from any witness about the shooter chasing after a barefoot woman? >> it sounded like he just opened fire. got up and turned around, opened fire. no one said anything about a chase but definitely wouldn't rule that out. >> we are joined now by kiefer sanders. he was actually in the theater across the hall from where the shooting took place. kiefer what did you hear? what did you see?
>> i was, like you said i cross the hall from it. the movie had just began that we were in. and the screen went black and emergency system went off saying pleetz evacuate the building to the nearest exit. we evacuated to the back of the theater. when i walked to the front i witnessed a lady who was laying on the cement and the grass who had been shot in the leg. then the cops arrived. cops were pulling up. the cop went in and they had another guy who came out who was actually in the movie theater and told me it was quiet whenever the movie was starting that the guy opened fire. they didn't have any concerns about getting out of the movie theater. just casually started firing.
>> kiefer, when you ran out, was it -- did it seem as though the shooter was still in the theater? >> yes sir. yeah. we came out the back. we weren't sure what the evacuation was for. once we got to the front, all the cops had the building surrounded and said the shooter was inside and pushed everybody back behind the barricades and went inside to get the shooter and found out he had committed suicide. >> how did you -- where did you hear he committed suicide? how did you hear that? >> i heard that, overheard the police talking. >> okay. six or seven people shot in the theater and i saw the lady lying on the ground with an apparent leg injury wound to the leg. >> did that look like a bad wound to the leg? did it look like a surface wound, possibly a grazing by the bullet?
was she in obvious severe pain? was she screaming? any pain reaction from her? >> she wasn't yelling or anything but she was just lying there with her head down in the grass, heavily breathing. had a couple of men surrounding her kind of coaching her through, waiting for the ambulance to arrive. once the ambulance got there, they carried her to the ambulance. it wasn't a severe wound i would say but it was apparent leg injury. she had blood down her leg. >> could you estimate her age that woman victim that you saw? >> probably mid-40s. >> mid-40s. yeah. >> how soon after you got out of the theater did you overhear the police saying that the shooter committed suicide? >> it was probably 15 to 20 minutes i'd say. i'm not exactly sure. we got evacuated probably at 7:30. the movie was set to start at
7:15 a. the previews had just got done. the movie was just starting and that's when the alarm went off. >> were you able to hear shots -- you were in the theater across the hall from the theater from where the shots were fired. were you able to hear shots in the theater you were in? >> no, sir, i never heard the shots. the movie just started. it was in the louder part of the movie and the alarm went off and we weren't sure what it was. they had us coming out in a, not in a panic, slowly walked out. we had a couple of people coming out later running and we knew it was something more serious. >> as you were evacuating the theater, i'm going to assume you didn't hear any shots then either. you never heard shots inside the theater or outside of the theater? >> no, sir, i never heard any shots. i was standing outside of the front of the theater whenever the police went in. probably 100 yards off. again, never heard any shots
fired. >> yeah. was the -- the woman you saw injured, you she the only person you saw who was obviously from inside the theater where the shooting took place? did you get a chance to talk to anyone who was inside the theater where the shooting took place? >> yeah. she was the only lady i saw injured, only person they had. the balance pulled off to the side and they were bringing out stretchers. and i did speak to one guy who was actually inside the theater and he said whenever the guy stood up and started shooting he just grabbed his fiance and they hurried up and ran outside of the theater. >> so the witness you spoke to did he see the gun that the shooter was using? >> no sir. he never said anything about the gun. he said it was about to begin and the guy started to shoot.
no arguments or figure. >> did he hear the shooter say anything? >> no, sir. he didn't say. >> do you know if he was behind the shooter? how did he escape being shot at himself? >> he didn't go in to full detail. he was shook up. all he said is once the guy started to shoot he heard multiple shots going off and he said he grabbed his fiance and took off out of the movie. >> i think that's -- we have already heard that story kiefer from other people who were in there. i think that's apparently exactly what the people who could do did. they went for those exits. kiefer, tell us about the inside of the theater. i'm going to assume the theater you are in was similar usually a twin to the theater that is across the hall from you. your ability to exit that theater, how well constructed is that theater for emergency
exits? >> it was good. they had emergency door down by the actual movie screen. and two entrances on each side to get out. we got out fairly quickly. it is a very nice theater. a big place. a lot of people come here. >> were you in a group of people at the theater, or just with one other person or --? >> i was with my brother and a friend. >> i assume you are all making sure you were getting out together? >> yes sir. we all went out together. >> yeah. thank you very much kiefer. it's really helpful to have an account of what occurred inside of that building and getting out. i assume you saw all of the other -- there are 16 screens at the theater. all the other theaters must have been emptying out at the same time. >> yes, sir. we exited in the back was probably at least 100 people coming out of the theater in
multiple spots just coming out of the doors. >> it's a thursday night there. i'm wondering, how full the theater was that you were in? was it half full less than half? >> a little over half full. it wasn't completely full but a lot of people at the movies right now. the theater is located right by a popular bar pizza place. it's a very populated area. >> yeah. so just want to try to get a feeling for how many were in the theater where the shooting occurred that that was maybe similar to yours, maybe a little more than half or maybe more. >> probably around -- ours was probably about 50 people, 50 to 75 people. i'm assuming it was around the same. it was in the movie "trainwreck." >> it was in the theater that was showing "trainwreck." >> yes sir.
>> that's one of the new releases. those are the movies that tend to have the larger audiences in there. >> right. >> we were in the movie -- >> it sounds like everything that could go right in this situation did go right in the sense that the theater as we are told is well designed for emergency exit and needed that emergency exiting to work tonight in all 16 theaters. >> sounds like it did work. ten people wounded. so, you know somewhere around ten shots coming out of the barrel of that gun at a minimum. sometimes you can have one bullet wound more than one person, but generally speaking you know, probably somewhere close to ten shots that we know of were fired. people are all scrambling to get out. from every witness, the reporters are talking to. that probably would have been even worse carnage here.
we don't know, the information you have uncovered here, lawrence is possibly a suicide, not confirmed by nbc but possibly a suicide. he might have shot and everybody scrambles out. some are wounded. at least one is dead. and he might have possibly commit suicide not confirmed. and then of course the officers are there within minutes and can get in there and secure while other theaters are evacuated. it's a horrible horrible scene and a horrible case and they will be there all night but it sounds like a lot of people were able to scramble out, as you say. we might have saved their own lives getting out thereof quickly. we are joined by former fbi profiler clint van sant. the only profile element that we know so far is the clearist description we have is middle-aged white man. >> there's going to be a lot
done. we do these psychological autopsies every time we have these shooting. we are just in the folds of the most recent shooting from the marines and the sailor who were killed. we are starting to go back over that individual's background. we always have two situations here. number one, of course, is we are concerned about those wounded or even worse killed and their families. number two, we try to understand why someone does something like this so perhaps we can intervene, we could stop we could do something about it. whether it's a violence in a work place scenario or in here a violence in a movie theater. just like you know, we saw james holmes do in 2012. when we see somebody act out like this it can be defiance. it can be anger. it can be revenge. there could be a number of motives and we'll try to understand that in the days and
weeks ahead. hopefully to find ways to intervene in the lives of people who might act out like this, that we could stop another terrible act in america. >> clint van zandt, what's your reaction to the information we have now from more than one eyewitness saying that the movie was getting started. and the shooter just stood up seemingly in the middle of the theater, and just started firing without saying anything and apparently without seeming to direct the fire to any individual. >> we have a lot yet still to learn on this, lawrence. we saw a situation in florida in january 2014 where a 72-year-old former police captain pulled a gun in a movie theater because he was upset over an individual
who was texting on his phone during the movie. that former police officer shot and killed a man and wounded the guy's -- wounded the victim's wife. we contrast that to something like james holmes obviously much younger and who came with a lot of fire power planning to kill too. what we may -- and realize i'm way ahead of our information right now, but taking the age of this individual in to consideration, the act that he is alleged to have committed and with some of your guests suggesting that they either know or they heard police officers say the shooter did, in fact commit suicide, if this in fact, is true, this is the type of individual many times we see -- we may call someone like this, lawrence, it may turn out that this is kind of after wound collector. this may be someone, for example, over a period of life he was offended for a number of
reasons. this is the way that he acts out. this is the final punishment against others. now, do i know that this is the case with this individual? of course i don't. i know this has been the case with dozens and dozens of people that jim cavanaugh and i have looked at, who have been mass shooters, who have participated. when you ask for a profile that's the start -- that's the kind of profile we start to put together. because we know some of these facts have been so constant over the years that if it's different than what we are talking about right now, you know, it's going to be another lesson for law enforcement and a psychological community to learn because the question is always how do we identify the person at risk who has the potential for acting out like this and how do we intervene before he takes a gun, not only in to a movie theater,
but acts out in this terrible manner? again, this could be somebody modeling the behavior that we have seen in the last few weeks. a church shooting a mall shootings, we have seen shootings in the recruiting stations. there are many people lawrence, who psychologically sit on the edge of the psychological abyss, waiting to jump over that edge. they need an example. many times a terrible example they can model their behavior from. that's another thing that law enforcement, the fbi the police, as they try to understand they will be looking at what was the final catalyst twh? why not yesterday, why not tomorrow? why did the individual a choose today to act out? ? that is part of the investigation and the psychological autopsy as one more time we as americans struggle to understand why someone commits a terrible act of violence like this. >> we just learned that federal
atf acts have arrived on the scene. jim cavanaugh, you used to be with atf. what is their role in an investigation like this? >> certainly atf's specialties are the guns, bombs, arson, tracing guns. really what happens in these big cases is they seamlessly mesh in with detectives and the fbi and state police. when we give assignments in these things and i know they were doing that this week in tennessee. you know, they will send out a team, might be an fbi atf gt a or city detective or atf act, state trooper. they are doing interviews and investigation on a broad scale. they are all acting as investigators to bring the information back to the command post. atf does specialize in guns and tracing guns and ballistic information and everything to do with weapons, bombs and arson. of course you have the -- the fbi has their explosive unit as well and state police bomb
squad. everyone has forensic maps. they put it all together to try to get to the place where clint is describing. you know, clint worked at the behavioral analysis section of the fbi. we have had profilers in there, behavior analysis great bunch of investigators fbi, atf, they put together those packages on who and why people do this. and they tell the commanders it could be this or that. they often get criticized they were wrong but in all of my years i was involved with them and i supervised some of our atf profilers that were in that unit, and the fbi agents that i worked with, they never steered you wrong on that stuff. they always gave you possibilities and let you know what the caveats were, like clint did in his description. they analyze past criminal behavior. that's what we want to look at. that's what they are going to do
here, like clint described, the psychological autopsies. they will go back and put this together. but they are way ahead of us now. they know right now, probably something about this guy. did he hate society? did he hate someone? did he hate a particular person? is it hate, is it revenge is it anger? it is going to come up. if we look at chattanooga this guy is targeting the military. there's some reason for him to target the military. of course that's starting to bubble up in that investigation. roof in charleston was pretty clear. that was just evil hate and targeted assassination in my view of pastor pinckney and those leaders a targeted assassination. he hated people and he was going to show it. sometimes we see a person like holmes whose anger, as clint can describe, his anger is sort of at society as a whole. a lot of mental issues come up in the trial.
the jury didn't want to hear that and they saw through that. they saw him as a cold-blood ed killer. even if he is mad at society doesn't mean you can be a cold-blooded killer and slaughter everyone. the motive is always of interest. it is of interest to the commanders to stop the next one, to see what's afoot to put it back together and hope fully they can give some information tonight that can maybe see why this occurred and what happened here. and then we can go back as a country, and as law enforcement to see is there anything we could have done to stop it. so many times there is little things. if there was a better secure gate at the naval reserve center in chattanooga. just a secure gate that you couldn't crash your car through, we probably wouldn't have four dead marines and a dead sailor. because the chattanooga pd was on the heels of that killer there. they were on his heels. if he could have been delayed at a secure gate, and if we could have had faster notification
from the rekrut center to the reserve center, he had to drive 6 1/2 miles. that might have taken him five to eight minutes. if we could have had faster notification. we do it in tornados. we ought to be able to have faster notification where they can lock down and secure gates. this guy could have been dead at the gate at chattanooga. there's a lot to learn from each shooting and say could it have been stopped? could we have done better? let's not make the same mistake again and maybe we can do better. sometimes it is a gun check, a secure issue sometimes it is mental health. >> clint van zandt, to the question of what can we do about shootings like this present a unique challenge to security without metal detectors that would prevent guns from entering the theaters.
it is hard to imagine how you could enhance security in movie theaters. especially when one report from an eyewitness tonight is this shooter stood up and basically in the middle of the theater, in the middle of the rows of audience seats and shot forward at people whose backs were to the shooter. this would be assassination from behind without them having any idea that someone had just stood up with a gun. the people we know to have escaped were sitting behind the shooter. you -- when you think about someone who wants to do this kind of mass murder, the movie theater is obviously a very difficult target to defend. >> what we find so much lawrence, that we look at, are the soft targets. we find these mass shooters, mass murderers, they will go in
to a soft or target-rich environment where they know there will be a lot of po tnial victims and the chance that someone in there is going to be able to defend the victims or defend themselves is going to be limited also. am i saying this guy goes in knowing that there's not going to be an off-duty police officer or atf agent who's wearing a gun in a movie theater? the chances are probably slim but he knows just like you presented, lawrence there's going to be a lot of backs an heads exposed. and when we are bunched in that close in a movie theater or another environment like that you don't have to be a good shot with a handgun or with holmes with a long gun, all you have to do is throw enough rounds out that you are going to hit people. again, if you are angry -- now we all remember the shooting that took place at virginia tech. i was there for a week covering
for nbc and msnbc. we know the shooter there moved from the dormitory to a classroom building. again, this was an angry individual. this was a younger man but this was someone who was angry at society. he was someone who, instead of looking in the mirror and saying there's my problem in the mirror, he looked across that college campus and saw po ten tshl victims and he blamed everybody for his problems in life. that may be the same type of case we have here. you know, you an i talked earlier, lawrence about a case last year where there was a targeted shooting in a movie theater and now we have seen just random shootings in movie theet ers. but what we know is whether an individual is simply experiencing significant mental health issues or whether it is someone who's been radicalized
with some type of view such as isis might present on the internet, we see these people, once they take up arms looking for a target area where there's going to be a lot of victims that they can take down and it doesn't take us 727 to crash. all it takes is a handgun. lawrence, 315 million americans, plus or minus 300 million guns. so guns are not the issue and of themselves. part of it is we have to work with human behavior and get people to understand violence is not a problem-solving method. we have to start with kids in first and second grade and take that up to like this shooter who is said to be about 50. of course you recall the shooter at the holocaust museum in washington, d.c. a few years ago. he was in his 70s. even though we look for these mass shooters to be in their