Guests: Tanner Coon, Jennifer Seeger, James Fox, Mayor Michael Nutter, Eugene Robinson, Jonathan Alter, Dr. Gail Saltz
THOMAS ROBERTS, GUEST HOST: Good evening. I`m Thomas Roberts, in for
Ed Schultz tonight.
Unspeakable tragedy has left a Colorado community reeling and a nation
in mourning. It`s one of the deadliest mass shootings in the nation`s
history. Tonight, 12 people are dead, scores injured. The chaos erupted
earlier this morning in a Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, when a gunman
opened fire in a packed theater showing the latest Batman movie.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Team 6, we`ve to another person outside shot in
the leg, a female. I got people running out of the theater. They are
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need rescue inside the auditorium, multiple
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christine, I got seven down in theater nine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a child victim I need rescue the back door
theater nine, now. We have one we cannot move in theater nine. Get an
ambulance crew in here as soon as they were available.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may have a number of people dead inside the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re in a mass casualty situation at this time.
(END AUDIO CLIPS)
ROBERTS: Authorities say 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes bought a
ticket to the midnight opening of "The Dark Knight Rises," entered the
theater as part of the crowd. Witnesses have said that as the theater went
dark, Holmes was seen on his cell phone exiting through the emergency door.
A federal law enforcement official believes Holmes then put on the bullet
proof gear, returned through the exit door, which had been propped open,
In all, 71 people were shot. At this hour, 12 people are dead. Ten
of those victims died inside the theater. Two others died later at area
hospitals, survivors are now speaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just grabbed my daughter and just got her out
as fast as I could. Just ran out. I didn`t turn around, I didn`t look
behind me. I just got out and there was a moment where my daughter tripped
and I pulled her up and was dragging her. I was thinking, we just got to
get out. I just got to get out the doors. And even if I just fall dead,
just get my kids out of here. It was so horrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Police found Holmes near his car parked in the back of that
theater. Aurora police chief Dan Oates says police are confident that
Holmes acted alone and that he used an AR-15 assault rifle, a Remington 870
12-gauge shotgun, and a 40 caliber Glock hand gun. Another 40 caliber
Glock hand gun was found inside Holmes` car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN OATES, AURORA POLICE CHIEF: We believe as part of this assault,
Mr. Holmes set off two devices to distract the crowd. They ignited in some
form and released some sort of irritant or smoke. The suspect was dressed
all in black. He was wearing a ballistic helmet, a tactical ballistic
vest, ballistic leggings, a throat protector, and a groin protector and a
gas mask. And black tactical gloves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Law enforcement official tells NBC News that Holmes` hair
was dyed red when he was arrested this morning. Holmes told police that he
was the joker. All of his guns were legally purchased within the last few
months. The first one bought in May. Holmes purchased these guns from two
national chains, Bass Pro Shop and Gander Mountain Guns.
The 24-year-old Holmes was a PhD candidate studying neuroscience at
the University of Colorado until he dropped out last month. Holmes also
told police this morning that his apartment was rigged with explosives, but
now is not cooperating with authorities and has retained legal counsel.
Police have called in bomb technicians to that house there, the
apartment of Mr. Holmes to evaluate the scene, have evacuated the buildings
in that area.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OATES: Our investigation determined that his apartment is booby-
trapped, with various incendiary and chemical devices and apparent trip
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: As police continue their investigation, President Obama has
ordered the flag to be flown at half staff at all public buildings and
military posts for the next five days. The president also called the mayor
of Aurora earlier, as well as the police Chief Oates, pledging full support
from federal authorities and met with his senior advisers to discuss the
President Obama addressed the tragedy earlier in Florida, cutting the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are going to be
other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: President Obama canceled campaign events and fund-raisers
for the day. His opponents did the same them. Mitt Romney addressed the
situation earlier from New Hampshire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ann and I join the president
and first lady and all Americans in offering our deepest condolences for
those whose lives were shattered in a few moments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Both campaigns have pulled ads off the air for now in
Colorado. In the meantime, police presence is being ramped up at movie
theaters across the country for people who would be going out to attend the
opening premiere of the new Batman movie.
We`re going to turn to NBC News` Chris Jansing, also the host of
"JANSING & COMPANY" right here on MSNBC. She is in Colorado tonight.
And, Chris, I understand you have new information on the alleged
suspect`s apartment, the one which is booby-trapped.
ROBERTS: I want to apologize. We`re having technical difficulties
with Chris` audio right now. We`re going to work to get you back on the
line to get the latest information.
Again, Chris Jansing reporting from Aurora, Colorado. We apologize
for the technical difficulties.
But there`s new information from the scene, the apartment roughly
three miles away from the movie theater where the shooting happens. The
technicians have been on the scene all morning long, all night long, trying
to figure out what they can do to disarm the sophisticated devises that
they found inside Holmes` apartment.
Again, Holmes is the one who tipped police off to the fact the
apartment was booby-trapped in the first place. And now is not cooperating
with investigators, has retained his own legal counsel.
We`re going to bring in now to our conversation Tanner Coon, a witness
and survivor of the Colorado shooting.
Tanner, it`s good to have you back with me. I know we had a chance to
speak earlier today. As we have heard your story, just recount for
everybody where you were in the theater as we`re getting a better idea of
what happened early this morning.
TANNER COON, WITNESS TO COLORADO SHOOTING (via telephone): I was the
fourth row from the very back. I saw -- the first thing I saw was the
canister thrown, with smoke trailing. I saw the first gunshot flash.
And you know, up to that point, I thought there were kids throwing
smoke bombs and lighting off a firecracker. Then I heard more gunshots and
I realized they were gunshots, and that`s when I told my friends that we
needed to get down on the floor. And so, that`s what we did, we got down
behind the seats in front of us on the floor.
And the guy shot off about 20 rounds, 20, 30 rounds, and just
consistent shots, and then there was a pause. I looked up, saw him, a
glimpse of his silhouette, and then he started shooting again. And so I
took -- ducked my head again, and then once the shooting was stopped,
people started running up the stairs toward the exit. And I was on the
opposite side of the exit, so I got up, noticed a man on one of the side
seats who was sitting there, still, while everyone else was running up, and
he was kind of sitting there, kind of slouched over, so I assumed he must
have been hurt or maybe he was dead.
And then I noticed that everyone who ran up to the top of the
auditorium was either in the first or the second row. So I decided to take
the third row to the exit so that would be easiest for me, and basically
right behind where I was sitting, I slipped and fell on some blood. And I
landed on a woman, and I told the woman, come on, get up.
I shook her, and I said, we have to get out of here. She did not
move. She did not respond or anything. So, I assumed she was dead. I
went to the exit doors. And waited for my friends, and managed to get our
way out of the lobby from there.
ROBERTS: Tanner, so much new information has come out since the
breaking news happened, again, this all happened after the midnight showing
where the gunman came back into the theater roughly 20 minutes into the
movie itself. And now, authorities are saying there`s the potential that
Holmes was a moviegoer in there with you in the beginning.
Did you notice anyone fitting Holmes` description on the phone,
leaving through one of the exits of the movie theater?
COON: No, I was talking to my friend and I was further up in the
seats, so I did not happen to notice that.
ROBERTS: When the person came back in, the person, the gunman, you
say you thought that this was just somebody pulling a prank, maybe a
publicity stunt, somebody to drum up some type of attention for the movie
itself, being that this was a highly anticipated premiere.
When did it click in for you that this was not a stunt and that you
needed to get out of there? What -- do you remember the exact second that
you realized that this was serious? Someone was trying to take people out
inside the theater.
COON: Yes, well, the moment it dawned on me was about three shots
after the first shot, like, they were really consecutive, really
consistent. I realized that was -- it was gunshots. That`s when it really
hit me that this was a real situation.
ROBERTS: Tanner, have you had an opportunity to speak with the
friends that you were with? I think you were with a 12-year-old, was part
of -- was one of your friends` brothers, younger brothers, that was with
you. How are you friends, the people you were with? How are they doing
TANNER: They`re doing better. The 12-year-old, he felt much better
just being with his family after a while. He`s doing fine. And his
brother is coping well, too. So, they`re doing fine.
ROBERTS: Tanner Coon, thanks so much for joining us. Tanner is just
one of the many people able to survive that shooting massacre taking place
inside the Century 16 theater there in Aurora, Colorado. Tanner, thanks.
I want to turn back now to NBC News` Chris Jansing.
Chris, I understand you had new information about the apartment, the
booby-trapped apartment of Holmes.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Yes, there`s some good news in that of the
five buildings in that immediate area, police have just announced in the
last few minutes, Thomas, that they`re going to allow people in those other
four buildings, obviously, not James Holmes` apartment building, but the
other back briefly to get medicine and baby items. But they have a
tremendous dilemma in his apartment building and they say it could be hours
or even days before they figure out how to approach it.
Now, you reported at the top of the hour that when they looked into
his apartment, they could see these incendiary and chemical devices. This
is according to someone who lived in the apartment before Holmes, a one-
bedroom apartment. He estimates it`s about 850 square feet. The police
say they can see fireworks, they can see these soda cans, these one these
liter bottles that have liquid in them.
And the question is, is this real? There also is ammo in containers.
Here`s the reason they think that they have to approach this with the
abundance of caution. First of all, Holmes has shown he has absolutely
(AUDIO GAP). Apparently, he has given statements to other people, to
witnesses -- we don`t know what they are. And NBC News has also been told
there are some purchases that he made, and again, we don`t know what the
purchases are. But that would lead investigators to believe that they have
a very dangerous situation on their hands.
The first obvious thing, Thomas, would be to bring in sniffer dogs to
see if some of the things, for example, in those bottles were indeed what
they thought they were. Just seeing the fireworks would immediately get
the dogs go, so that`s not a way to approach it.
The very last resort that they would do would be to somehow detonate
it, to blow it up, Thomas.
ROBERTS: Chris, have you been hearing now that you`re on the ground
there, that there was loud music coming from the apartment or music on some
sort of timer that was used to entice people to come to the apartment?
JANSING: There are multiple -- yes, Thomas, in that apartment build,
they said here is a guy who is quiet, who keeps his shades drawn, who
didn`t talk very much to people, and suddenly, right at midnight last
night, this techno music goes blasting. And one of the people who actually
called the non-emergency number to police to complain said that when
nothing happened, but it continued to blast, she went upstairs and knocked
on the door, and no one came to the door. And she tried the knob, and she
said it seemed to be open, but she decided not to go in.
Obviously, if that is a true booby-trap situation, that was a split
second decision that saved her life.
ROBERTS: Chris, back to the movie theater where police had been
investigating that crime scene for the entire day, but there is word
tonight that the deceased, the victims, are now properly being moved out of
the theater. Correct?
JANSING: Yes, 10 were pronounced dead actually in the theater,
Thomas. And they are finally being removed from there. Obviously, it`s
been an active crime scene.
There has been no list released of the victims. Officials say not all
of them have even been identified yet and of those who have been
identified, not all the families have been contacted or notified.
There has been a lot of reporting on Jessica Ghawi, she also 24 years
old like James Holmes. She was an aspiring sportscaster.
We also know of the many people taken to area hospitals, quite a few
have been released. For example, at the Medical Center of Aurora, 18
brought in, seven admitted, two are in critical condition.
And then this is a very big military area, the military is the largest
employer in Aurora. Five of them went to the movie theater together.
Three were unharmed. One was injured, but one is missing, and his fellow
military members believe that he is among the victims, Thomas.
ROBERTS: Chris, while we`re waiting for formal charges to be
announced and as you say, it`s still an active crime scene and the
investigation continued, there has been movement about a court appearance
for Holmes, correct?
JANSING: Yes, he`s going to be in court on Monday morning. Up until
this point, he has not been cooperating. I think you referred to it at the
top of the hour, that he now does have a lawyer. But so much new
information is coming in about his background. He`s being called a
brilliant science student. We do know that he was an honors student when
he was an undergraduate in California.
Why he dropped out of the PhD program here in Colorado in
neuroscience, neither the university is saying, nor have we heard from any
of his friends or perhaps fellow students who could say why. But he was
studying neuroscience for a PhD and had been incorrectly reported earlier
he was in a med program, studying to be a doctor. But he was studying for
his doctorate and dropped out of it.
By high school friends considered very, very smart. Again, quiet,
Same thing we have heard about people who have known him since he has
moved to Colorado. But we will see him for the first time since this
incident in court on Monday morning, Thomas.
ROBERTS: Chris Jansing reporting from Aurora, Colorado -- Chris,
thank you so much.
ROBERTS: We want to bring in now, Jennifer Seeger to the
conversation. Another eyewitness, also another survivor from inside the
movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Jennifer, I understand from having heard some of your conversations
earlier today, how extremely close you were to the gunman, to Holmes
himself, and that the gun, one of his guns was actually pointed at you.
JENNIFER SEEGER, WITNESS TO COLORADO SHOOTING (via telephone): Yes,
you know, when he came in, I was literally in the second front row, and he
literally was on my right. He`s about four to five feet away from me.
And, you know, at first, I thought he was kind of an entertainer, I
thought he was an actor or something. So did everybody else. But then he
threw out a gas can. And it let off this tear gas. Then he shot his first
fire to the ceiling, and everybody knew that he wasn`t joking around, and
it was not an entertaining purpose, and he was out there to kill somebody.
ROBERTS: Jennifer, with you being so close to the front, did you
notice someone fitting Holmes` description, someone that police is saying
now had this red orange dyed hair looking like a Joker character from one
of the earlier Batman movies. Did you notice a man like that in the crowd
with you and to leave through the exit door on a cell phone?
SEEGER: No, sir, I obviously didn`t. It was way too chaotic. As far
as what he looked like, he was covered from head to toe. He was covered
from head to toe.
He had a gas mask on, I couldn`t see his face. He was in full riot
gear. He looked like he was from a SWAT team, as far as I could tell. So,
I couldn`t see what he was in.
And if he had taken off his mask and ran out, I really wouldn`t have
known the difference, honestly, because there were so many people
chaotically running around and screaming and making noise. I mean, he
could have slipped out at any point.
ROBERTS: But even on the way in into the theater after you purchased
your ticket and started to get your seats, hearing all this about a
description, someone with this fiery orange-red hair, no one like that
caught your eye before the lights went down?
SEEGER: No, I actually came in a little late. I was running a little
late because my friend -- I originally wasn`t the one who bought the
tickets, and it was for another person. They had to change their
arrangements, so I was a last-minute person.
Lucky me. I ended up in that situation as far as I go.
So when I was walking in, I didn`t see anybody with that description
as far as the hair and the Joker face.
ROBERTS: Jennifer, I know you also have in your history, EMS
training, and instinctually, you tried to help people at first before
realizing that you needed to get out for your own safety. Do you know
about the conditions of any of the people that you were trying to help?
SEEGER: I do not, actually. The second I stepped out the door, there
was just a blank in information as far as who was hurt and who wasn`t hurt,
and who went where to what hospital. And what their names were, what
condition they`re in.
That is kind of something that they haven`t yet disclosed. And it
would be really hard for me to be able to find the gentleman in general
that I was trying to see as far as that goes. If I did find them, I would
hope he would be OK and that he wouldn`t be in further critical condition
as far as him having a bullet in his back.
I honestly, I have no idea, but it`s been on my mind this entire day,
to be honest. Just worrying about all of those people that have, you know,
been injured or critical or have died. And for the families that also have
dealt with those grieving have lost for their loved ones.
ROBERTS: Jennifer Seeger -- Jennifer, thanks. We appreciate the
opportunity to speak to you tonight.
Coming up, trying to understand how something like this can happen. A
criminologist joins us to take a closer look at the 24-year-old suspect.
That and much more. Stay with us right here on THE ED SHOW.
ROBERTS: This Colorado massacre has raised the same question in
everyone`s mind. How is it possible for anyone to do such a thing?
Criminologist James Fox joins me next.
And then later, the presidential campaigns pause to reflect while
others ask, what will it take for our country to take a real and honest
look at modern-day gun control? That and much more. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: It sounded like madness to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty, 30 shots went off. I looked up for a
second, caught a glimpse of him and he started shooting again. And, you
know, it`s just sporadic shooting, shooting wherever he could. I mean, it
was just horrific.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: This is our special coverage of the mass shootings that took
place in Aurora, Colorado. Thanks for staying with us.
We`re learning more about the young man suspected of killing 12 people
and wounding 59 others in the movie theater.
Police say they picked up 24-year-old James Holmes in that movie
theater parking lot without incident. He was an honor student in high
school in San Diego and got a bachelor`s in neuroscience two years ago.
Holmes was a grad student at the University of Colorado at Denver before
leaving voluntarily last month. He was in the process of completely
withdrawing from the university.
Police say Holmes was heavily armed, dressed in black protective gear,
including a ballistic helmet, throat and groin protection, and a gas mask.
A law enforcement official tells NBC News that James Holmes did have
red or orange hair when he was arrested this morning and that he told
police that he was the Joker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OATES: We are not looking for any other suspects. We`re confident
that he acted alone. However, we will do a thorough investigation to be
absolutely sure that that is the case. But at this time, we`re confident
that he acted alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: We turn now to criminologist James Fox of Northeastern
University, also author of "Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass
It`s great to have you with us tonight to help understand the mindset
of someone like Holmes, the gunman that police picked up in the back of
this movie theater.
When we hear about the background of this person and knowing what we
hear about reports from people inside the movie theater, I think a lot of
people are left scratching their head. There`s something that doesn`t add
up here. Where does this honor student, someone going after their PhD in
neuroscience, end up being this maniac that storms into a movie theater
trying to kill everyone he can?
JAMES FOX, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, despite his being an honor student
previously, he has withdrawn from school. He did withdraw from school.
Things weren`t quite going well for him.
And what`s true about mass murders is they tend to be people who have
failed, who are unhappy, who are unsuccessful, who don`t have lots of
support in their lives. After all, if life is good for you, you don`t
commit this kind of crime.
They deliberately make the decision to commit mass murder. These are
not individuals who just suddenly snap and go berserk and shoot anything
that moves. They are well planned executions to get even.
ROBERTS: This is --
FOX: A person like this would blame others, blame society for his
failures and society is the one who has to pay.
ROBERTS: You make a great point about the planning that goes into
this. And not to, you know, so many of us daily go through struggles and
failures and things where we feel as if we have embarrassed or shamed
ourselves. Certainly, we don`t resort to this type of manic behavior.
But when we talk about the assembly needed to go into a plan like this
-- the research, the gear that he had on, the equipment, the machinery that
he had, and also the sophisticated, James, the sophisticated booby-trapping
that he did of his apartment, when you try to break down that mindset and
especially with someone who has put together a book like you have, what is
the possible motive for someone to do something like this?
I mean, that`s the basis we`re trying to figure out here, the motive
that somebody feels the need to take this many lives in such a heinous and
FOX: Well, it could be a combination of someone who needs and wants
to feel powerful, wants to be in control. Someone who perhaps wants a
certain degree of celebrity.
As well as revenge, getting even with society. Things have not gone
well for him. And other people are going to share his pain as well.
But what`s clear about the level of planning is that mass killers are
quite determined. Though he might try to put road blocks in their way,
restrictions on gun sales, for example, they will get a gun no matter what
road blocks we put in front of them.
So, those who suggest that tighter gun control would prevent this kind
of crime, it wouldn`t. Tighter gun control might be a good idea for other
kinds of homicides, the spontaneous case of conflict that turns violent and
deadly, but not this kind of killer who will do whatever it takes to kill.
And by the way, those who support the idea of concealed weapons and
others having guns at their disposal to intervene in a case like this, that
wouldn`t help it as well because we`re talking about a very chaotic
situation where it`s very difficult in the chaos to determine the bad guy
with the gun versus the good guys with their guns.
ROBERTS: Real quickly, though, James, he said in referenced the fact
he was the Joker to police. Is this setting up the potential for this
person to be criminally insane?
FOX: I don`t think that he`s planning that far in advance, and
indeed, it`s unlikely to be successful. Someone who is criminally insane,
who is that out of touch with reality that they don`t know what they`re
doing is unable to execute this kind of well-planned assault. This takes
someone who is clear thinking, who is clear-headed -- evil, perhaps, but
clear-headed. Not someone who doesn`t understand right from wrong and
doesn`t know what they`re doing.
ROBERTS: James Fox -- James, thanks for joining us tonight. We
appreciate your insight.
Coming up, the remarks of President Obama and Governor Romney. That`s
coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sister`s a fighter, and she had great
intuition. She was actually in Toronto last month at the mall shooting and
left the food court three minutes prior because she had a bad feeling. So
she`s -- she`s dodged some events. And she`s listened to her heart.
But I want people to remember that heart and remember the good things
that she`s done, remember the smile and what her possibilities, what her
perspective, what she could have done in the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That was the brother of shooting victim Jessica Ghawi
talking about the loss of his 24-year-old sister. Following the deadly
Colorado shooting, President Obama and Governor Romney canceled all
campaign events today. Both made brief statements addressing the horrific
situation in Colorado. Here`s just a portion of President Obama`s remarks
from Ft. Myers, Florida, earlier this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We may never understand
what leads anyone to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such
violence, such evil is senseless. It`s beyond reason.
But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the
life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we
lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers.
They were husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters,
friends and neighbors.
They had hopes for the future. And they had dreams that were not yet
fulfilled. If there`s anything to take away from this tragedy, it`s the
reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is
precious. And what matters, at the end of the day, is not the small
It`s not the trivial things which so often consume us and our daily
lives. Ultimately, it`s how we choose to treat one another. It`s what we
do on a daily basis to give our lives meaning and to give our lives
purpose. That`s what matters.
At the end of the day, what we`ll remember will be those we loved and
what we did for others. That`s why we`re here.
I`m sure that many of you who are parents here had the same reaction
that I did when I heard this news. My daughters go to the movies. What if
Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every
day? Michelle and I will be fortunate to hug our girls a little tighter
tonight. I`m sure you`ll do the same with your children.
But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them
and let them know we will be there for them as a nation. There are going
to be other days for politics. This, I think, is a day for prayer and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: It was a short time after that that Governor Romney
addressed the tragedy in Colorado from New Hampshire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning, Colorado lost
youthful voices which would have brightened their homes, enriched their
schools, and brought joy to their families. Our prayer is that the
comforter might bring the peace to their souls that surpasses our
The Apostle Paul explained, "blessed be God who comforteth us in all
of our tribulations that we may be able to comfort them which are in any
What we do now is how evil is overcome. We`re seeing that great power
today in the goodness and compassion of a wounded community. Grieving and
worried families in Aurora are surrounded with love today, and not just by
those who are with them and holding them in their arms. They can also know
that they`re being lifted up in prayer by people in every part of our great
Now and in the hard days to come, may every one of them feel the
sympathy of our whole nation and the comfort of a living God. Today is a
moment to grieve and to remember, to reach out, and to help, to appreciate
our blessings in life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Both President Obama and Governor Romney have also pulled
political ads running in the state of Colorado. They have pulled those ads
until further notice.
Up next, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Jonathan Alter and Eugene
Robinson will address of the more difficult questions now raised by this
tragedy. We`re back with much more after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN OATES, AURORA POLICE CHIEF: I imagine I will be asked how many
rounds were fired. My answer is we have no capability right now of
calculating that number. There were many, many rounds fired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: That was police chief in Aurora, Chief Oates there trying to
describe the scene after the shooting massacre in Aurora. Police say the
suspect was carrying an AR-15 Assault Rifle with what`s described as a high
capacity ammunition magazine, a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun and two 40-
NBC News has learned Holmes bought a pistol and the shotgun at Bass
Pro Shops in Denver. He got the assault rifle at the Gander Mountain Chain
Store. None of those guns are registered. In fact, Colorado state law
actually prohibits gun registration, but you do have to get a permit to
carry a concealed weapon.
Keep in mind, though, this shooting happened only 15 miles away from
Columbine, the high school where 12 students and a teacher were gunned down
in 1999. So will last night`s massacre inspire changes in gun laws?
We want to bring in now Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, MSNBC
political analyst and "Bloomberg View" columnist Jonathan Alter, and
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the "Washington Post" and MSNBC
political analyst Eugene Robinson.
Gentlemen, it`s great to have you here. Mayor, I want to start with
you because a lot of people are going to say it`s completely insensitive to
have a conversation about gun control in the country right now on the heels
of what we saw today. Other people are going to say we need to have this
conversation right away to make changes.
Politically speaking, do you think that something like this, the
tragedy that we`re seeing in Aurora, is going to spark the dialogue to
change where we are, especially with the assault weapons ban and the fact
that it was allowed to lapse? Do you think that`s going to bring new
attention back to that?
MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER (D), PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: Again, let me
first say that we need to maintain our focuses, no matter what else anybody
else wants to talk about or doesn`t want to talk about. Let us continue to
maintain our focus on the fact that we have experienced a national tragedy.
It`s less than 24 hours that we lost 12 Americans, 59 people shot or
And we should never, ever take a moment away from keeping that as the
focal point in this matter. And my heartfelt sympathies go out to all of
those families, especially those who lost loved ones last night.
There should be a debate. There should be an appropriate debate at
the appropriate time. To still talk about not just what happened in
Aurora, as tragic as that it, and you mentioned in your intro about
Columbine, the reality is that this kind of murder and mayhem,
unfortunately_ takes place on the streets of many American cities on almost
a daily basis.
The difference here, of course, is it was very concentrated, a large
number of people in a short period of time. You think about the fire power
that this individual had, and whether the guns are registered or not, we`ll
sort through all of those details. But murder on the streets, violence on
the streets of cities all across America is what we need to keep in mind,
not just at a time of great national tragedy.
We continue to pray for those and that they recover, but give comfort
to those who lost loved ones. There should be a serious discussion and
debate, not a hysterical one, not one that is so polarized that you can`t
have a legitimate discussion. People want to be safe in America. And
that`s what we need to stay focused.
ROBERTS: Eugene, is it going to take debate or is it going to take
deaths to change the laws in this country?
EUGENE ROBINSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I don`t know what will change
the laws of this country, frankly, Thomas. We have had this debate before.
We talked after Columbine. We talked after the Virginia Tech carnage,
which I covered as a columnist for the Post. We talked after the Giffords
shooting. And we will talk again.
But I have to say, I am pessimistic that we`re going to make progress,
or what I would consider progress on -- towards sensible gun control, an
assault weapons ban. That seems to be a no-brainer to me. But I don`t
think that the conditions are there to move toward that.
And the other big issue that I, frankly, am also pessimistic about us
making progress on is mental health. We don`t know if this person was
legally insane. I kind of doubt he was. But clearly he was deranged.
Clearly he was troubled. And that`s a constant theme in these shootings as
well. But we don`t seem to make progress there either.
ROBERTS: Jonathan, should you be able to buy assault weaponry in
chain stores where they sell fishing rods and you can get assault magazine
JONATHAN ALTER, "BLOOMBERG VIEW": No, it`s ridiculous. Where does it
end? Should you be able to buy a machine gun? Should you be able to buy a
grenade launcher? At a certain point, common sense has to take over.
I agree with Mayor Nutter that the first thing we need to do as a
nation is to show our compassion for the people in Aurora and what that
community is going through. But I think after that period, we shouldn`t
give up on trying to have a vigorous national debate. We shouldn`t give
the National Rifle Association a veto power on what we talk about in this
It`s almost like they can gag a national conversation because of their
political power. The first step is not to assume we`re going to get a new
assault weapons ban, which, by the way, for 10 years that AR-15 that this
killer used was illegal in the United States and extremely -- not that easy
to get. You could get knock-off versions, but it did, by some accounts,
reduce the use of assault weapons in crimes by more than 60 percent.
So the idea that that assault weapons ban was not effective in
reducing these sorts of rampages is not true.
ROBERTS: Mayor --
ALTER: We actually could get there. I just want to make my point
clear, Thomas, for a second. We could have changes in the law, but before
that, we have to get changes in the conversation. And that is achievable
in the next few weeks if we focus on it.
ROBERTS: As Jonathan says, mayor, how do you get the Genie back in
the bottle? He makes such a great point about the assault weapons ban and
what was illegal that is now legal and we`re seeing showing up on crime
scenes like the Aurora massacre. How do we change the conversation to have
a common sense conversation, so people can throw their hands up in the air
and you`re stepping all over my Constitutional rights. But there`s no need
to have assault weapons on the streets?
NUTTER: There`s no reason for any civilian person to have an assault
weapon. It should only be law enforcement and the military. There`s
really nothing that the civilian can do with that. It`s not like it`s a
hunting weapon. There is nothing -- there`s virtually nothing left if you
were to hit -- whatever your thing is. People, you know, go hunting
There`s nothing there. So that is a starting point. Only military
and the -- and law enforcement personnel. I think, you know, one of the
issues for me is the American public, I would think, would like to be at
least as safe as the members of Congress are when they`re at their job.
You can`t walk into the Capitol with any kind of weapon. Of course not.
Well then, why are you allowed to walk down many of the streets of
America, especially those who should not have weapons in the first place?
ROBERTS: Mayor Michael Nutter, Jonathan Alter, Eugene Robinson,
gentlemen, thanks for joining me tonight. I appreciate it.
Coming up, the director of "the Dark Knight Rises" weighing in with
his thoughts today about this senseless act. We`re back with much more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: This is a safe city and a safe
state and a safe country. We need to recognize that we can`t allow people
that are aberrations of nature to take away the joys and freedoms that we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Welcome back, everybody. That was Colorado Governor John
Hickenlooper reminding the public that you can`t let one tragic incident
shape your life. Movie theater security already stepped up around the
country in the wake of what happened in Aurora. Theater employees are
searching patrons` bags. And there`s this heightened police presence.
AMC theaters has also implemented new security measures. For more now
on this type of mental anguish that a lot of people are going to be facing
this weekend, Dr. Gail Saltz, a practicing psychiatrist, joins me. Gail,
it`s good to have you here. As people are digesting all of this, taking it
in and thinking about what it will be like to be in that movie theater,
certain people are just going to cool their jets, not want to go to the
movies for a while.
What is your recommendation for how parents, people need to be having
talks with their kids to understand the feelings they`re having?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: People need to realize that it`s normal
to be anxious in the aftermath and to identify with the victims in the
community. But that should be temporary. Really, what you need to be
explaining to your children is what an aberration this is. This is so
And the odds are so unlikely that they have to put it into that kind
of perspective. More anxious kids will be more worried about this. You
may need to give them other coping skills, distractions, and so on. And
for goodness sake, keep them away from the television because for children,
watching this over and over again is like it occurring over and over again.
ROBERTS: I think the same thing could be said for adults having to
live through this over and over again.
SALTZ: Absolutely, the more anxious the adult or if you have had any
recent experience that has already made you anxious or concerned, any kind
of violent encounter, you`re more likely to be susceptible to that, and
then you have to be aware of that, and try to keep yourself away from as
much of the material as you can in a certain kind of way.
But you do want to be honest with children. You want to answer their
questions. You want to let them express their feelings. If your child
goes on to develop some symptoms of anxiety, you also then want to think
about if they need help.
ROBERTS: Speaking of anxiety, and certain movie theaters and chains
saying that they are going to be searching bags and that they`re going to
be adding more security, does that lessen the anxiety or heighten it?
SALTZ: I think that people recognize that that`s probably not really
going to keep them safe, right? We can`t do that with all of our malls,
all our post offices, all places that something like this has ever
occurred. And it`s probably not logical. But in the short term, I think
it does make people feel more comfortable. That`s because what everybody
is concerned about is copycats.
Unfortunately, the more we talk about the shooter, the more we`re
concerned about the copycats. We really should be focusing more on the
victims and the families, and not glorifying the shorter, because that
increases the odds of a copycat. So the short term protections I think do
make people feel better, but we will have to return to our normal.
ROBERTS: Returning to normal for parents that do want to have this
tough, heartfelt conversation with their kids because they may be planning
on going to the movies, maybe not to see this movie this weekend, but
something else, what do you recommend, the steps that parents need to take
to aleve (ph) kids` fears?
SALTZ: I think ask your child first what is on their mind, because
they should lead the conversation. You don`t want to fill them in with a
lot of details if they`re not asking about it and they don`t know about it.
But if they do, be honest with them. Be up front. Reassure them that this
is really, really rare, that you feel safe, that it essentially really is
And if they are still concerned about it later, you`re going to
address it with them.
ROBERTS: Dr. Gail Saltz. Gail, thanks for your time tonight. I
ROBERTS: That`s THE ED SHOW for this evening. I`m Thomas Roberts in
for Ed tonight. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Melissa
Harris-Perry sitting in. Melissa, good evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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