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ABC "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript

Interview

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STEPHANOPOULOS: And Governor Hickenlooper, I heard you describe Mr. Holmes as a kind of terrorist. What did you mean by that?

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, COLORADO: I think that if you look, his intent maybe wasn't political, but what he was, was, I mean, clearly, deranged, twisted, demonic in some way, and he wanted to create fear, intense fear. He wanted to create terror.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the minds of the people in that theater, and of course across the community. Mayor Hogan, how is the community coping with all this as the loss sinks in?

HOGAN: Well, I think we're going to be starting that grieving process. We'll then start the healing process. Certainly the vigil tonight will help. There have been other vigils the past couple of nights that have been organized by others, and they are needed, they are desperately needed. You know, that -- I can see that building out of my office. It's not more than five blocks away, and I see it every day. I know I'm going to relive part of this for months. Families are, the community is. So -- but we've got to start that process. We can't -- we can't let this guy win. We have to start healing, and we have to start creating a better Aurora today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Governor, you talked about the response plan that was put in place that probably saved many lives. As the mayor said earlier, it's a miracle the killing here wasn't even worse.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, it's amazing. I mean, the state is heart-broken, and I think the country is heart-broken, and yet you look at the response, the first responders and Chief Oates of Aurora police has talked about this, and when they got these people to hospital, they had police there within a couple of minutes, they had ambulances within three minutes, and they had 500, 600 doctors and nurses and medical personnel all coming into these hospitals, to seven different hospitals. Between that and the heroism of people that really did stand in front of lie on top of others to protect and save them, it, you know, I don't even know how to express it, except to say that it was -- for all the despair and anguish, there are these shining lights of caring people helping. One of the guys actually was talking about how when he was a kid, his mother always said, you know, whenever you see a disaster on TV, look for the caring people, and there always are so many caring people that are trying to give comfort. In a way, that kind of helps lift spirits.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Governor, I know you and members of your cabinet spent a lot of time at area hospitals yesterday, meeting with the injured and the families of the victims.

HICKENLOOPER: Well, we had our cabinet we sent out on Friday morning, so that at every hospital, we had to call those -- act as ombudsmen, answer questions. So many people in that situation, loved ones end up in different hospitals, they don't know the condition of their boyfriend or girlfriend or their spouse or their child, so a cabinet member, so yes, sort of like the secretary of human services, you know, seeing that people were there, and they knew the right channel so they could get that information in real time back to people, which -- the mayor and I went around yesterday and visited a number of families and victims, and I heard a number of times how grateful people were for that support.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Mayor, what kind of stories are you hearing from those who were injured and the other victims?

HOGAN: Well, certainly concern about their family. We saw some people yesterday who are still terribly injured and may not make it. Everybody's concerned about their family, but as the governor said, they understand the community cares. Our victim services people are getting out into the various hospitals, were contacting not only those who are still in the hospital, but those who are injured and are not hospitalized. It's just an impossible situation to understand, and we're still trying to -- we are still trying to deal with all of it. You see people who were hurt very badly at 2:00 in the morning and are sitting up in their bed talking. You see other people who just simply aren't moving and are still facing serious, serious surgery. So it's just a terrible situation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It certainly is, but as you can imagine, Governor, the debate over whether this could have been prevented has already began. You probably heard the comments of Mayor Bloomberg of New York, who made headlines on Friday with his calls for tougher gun laws. Other people, several in your state, saying that perhaps if someone else in that theater had a gun, the killer could have been stopped. Does it make you think at this point that you need to take another look at Colorado's gun laws?

HICKENLOOPER: You know, I'm sure that that is going to happen, but I look at this, this wasn't a Colorado problem, this is a human problem, right? And how we can have such a warped individual and no one around him be aware? You know, I worry that if we got rid all of the guns -- and certainly we have so many guns in this country, we do have a lot more than gun violence than many other countries -- but even if you didn't have access to guns, this guy was diabolical. Right? He would have found explosives, he would have found something else, some sort of poisonous gas, he would have done something to create this horror.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right. And Mayor, to pick up on a point the governor just made right there, no one in the community seems to have had any, any inkling at all that there was something terribly wrong with this young man?

HOGAN: Absolutely not. He appeared to everyone to be very normal, an intelligent guy. He was a student, came here a couple of years ago from California. He was taking classes at the University of Colorado Medical Center. He just, by every standard, appeared normal. Clearly there's something wrong here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he have friends?

HOGAN: There was something wrong with this individual.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did he make connections? Had he put down any roots in the community?

HOGAN: He had friends. He had made connections. He had people he went drinking with on Friday nights. And all the comments to date are normal guy. Just something very seriously wrong here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Boy, it's just so hard to wrap your mind around what could make someone like that snap, Governor?

HICKENLOOPER: It's inconceivable. But I think, I think ultimately, I mean, we'll get the experts and they'll -- I mean, he's alive. We're going to study the -- try to figure out what went wrong, but in the meantime -- and I think Mayor Hogan and his team have incredible at this -- the key is to bring out the natural resilience in the people not just of Aurora but of Colorado and the country. You know, part of what he as a terrorist was trying to do is make people scared of even going to the movies, right? You know, a number of -- my chief of staff, her daughter is in her early 20s, and she took a whole gang of kids last night to go see Batman, just as a political statement that they weren't going to give in to this. And I think that is part of what we have to do as a country is come together and lift up the victims and their families, but at the same time say, you know, this country is defined by freedom and the pursuit of happiness, and we're not going to let this guy ruin our lives.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, Mayor Hogan, what do you hope to hear from President Obama today, and how do you want your town to respond?

HOGAN: Well, I think the president coming in is a wonderful gesture. He's coming in, really, to have private conversations with the families. I think that's totally appropriate. You know, as the governor's indicated before, he certainly could have come to the vigil, but that would have made the focus on the president, not on the community, and he was well aware of that.

I'm not so sure it's message to the community other than him coming here. It's more a message to the families and to the victims, and I think that's totally appropriate. I thank him for doing so. I wish he -- that were not part of what he had to do this day, but it certainly means a lot to Aurora to know that the president cares.

I talked with him on Friday. Personal conversation. Told him I deeply appreciated that phone call. We have had numerous other contacts literally from around the world. We know people care. We know in this time of instantaneous communication that people know what's going on. And there are still feelings for all of us as part of humankind.

And the city will go on. We'll get better. We're -- we're a great place. But, we need a little bit of time to grieve, and then start to heal, and it's just good to know that others care.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Gentlemen, we are grieving with you. Our condolences to you, your families, everyone in your communities. Thanks for joining us this morning.

HICKENLOOPER: OK.

HOGAN: Thank you.

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