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Inside Politics

Dick Cheney Admitted to Hospital After Suffering Chest Pains; Teenage Gunman Kills Two, Wounds 13 in School Shooting

Aired March 5, 2001 - 5:00 p.m. ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We are waiting for news conferences scheduled this hour on two breaking stories: the hospitalization of Vice President Dick Cheney and today's school shooting in southern California.

Vice President Cheney checked himself into George Washington University Medical Center this afternoon after complaining of chest discomfort twice in recent days. CNN's Bob Franken is at the hospital with more -- Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we're hearing, he will undergo -- if he has not already done so -- a catheterization, which is the replacing of a tube in to the circulatory system -- they are looking for blockages. Of course, this is the fourth time -- this is a long-time problem for Vice President Cheney.

He has had four heart attacks. The first one at age 37 back in 1978. He has been treated here at George Washington Medical Center over that period of time. So it will be -- if you can call it routine -- it would be part of routine under this kind of circumstance that he would come to George Washington. Told by the White House that he, in fact, walked in under his own power.

The White House has gone to great pains to say, this is a non emergency procedure. That is a matter of in fact. The EKG that they did at the White House showed that it was no different than the one conducted last Thursday. So, as I say, they are downplaying it.

Now, as for the news conference. The medical team is planning a news conference. There was early word that it could be within the next couple of minutes, but now we're being told it's being delayed. They're trying to get a better handle on how the vice president's condition is. But he is presented by everybody at the White House as not being in an emergency situation, but we'll get an update in a few minutes -- Judy

WOODRUFF: And Bob, when did all this -- when was all this first made public today?

FRANKEN: Well, it happened probably within the last hour 1/2. The word spread, the -- Marry Matalin, who is with the vice president -- put out a statement describing this as a non emergency procedure as I said, just a precautionary procedure. So, it's been the last hour 1/2 or so.

WOODRUFF: Bob, at the hospital, the scene is a lot of reporters waiting there?

FRANKEN: Oh yes. Right across the street where we're kept in a little circle has become a media village very quickly of course. The hospital across the street, but we're kept out by various security people. Of course, there you see secret service vans every once in a while. A couple just pulled away.

But it looks really quite routine if you look across the street. But not if you look at this group of us standing here waiting for word.

WOODRUFF: Just to update our audience; it was just in late November around Thanksgiving when we were told the vice president had what they said was a mild heart attack. They later described it as somewhat more serious than that. But it was at that point that the so-called stent was placed in one of the arteries around the vice president's heart.

FRANKEN: Right. And, of course, ever since that point, everybody has paid such close attention to his health. Wolf Blitzer asked him yesterday on his "LATE EDITION" program how his health was. And the vice president responded that it was fine. But now we are told that he experienced brief periods of discomfort, and decided -- actually his doctors said, come on down here, we need to check it out. So, this is where he is now.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken standing by at the hospital.

Now, let's get some reaction from President Bush and the White House. And let's go to CNN's Major Garrett -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, a couple of things worth pointing out. Though the news media has learned about this about an hour and a half ago as Bob Franken just said, this is not a mystery to the president. He first learned about it this morning when Vice President Cheney told President Bush that he was feeling discomfort and was going to get it checked out.

CNN has learned the vice president felt that first pain of discomfort Saturday while working out at the vice president's residence. Felt discomfort on Saturday, came into work today, attended meetings and told the president this morning sometime -- we don't know exactly what time or where and what meeting -- but he did tell the president he was experiencing discomfort and having it checked out.

The president was asked about this at a East Room ceremony that celebrated the national championships of two Oklahoma University athletic teams. Here's what he had to say in very brief comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Is the vice president taken to the hospital? We're hearing reports the vice president is in the hospital? Can you confirm that?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Precautionary measures.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: Precautionary measures: that's the word from the president of the United States. And as Bob Franken pointed out, every effort is being made here at the White House to downplay the seriousness -- the gravity of this situation. But, clearly, the health of Vice President Cheney is a top issue at the White House and not incidentally for the rest of country, not just because he's vice president but because he is a very unusual vice president, at least in this administration.

He is a key player in this administration. The president's lead representative on Capitol Hill. He has an office on the House of Representatives and the Senate, which underscores the importance he plays for the Bush administration and all of its dealings with Congress.

He is also the point man on several key issues with Cabinet secretaries, recently named to head up the president's working group on energy, and energy prices, which is an issue the White House has, early on, identified as one that could in fact cause it problems as energy prices and shortages of energy supply continue. The vice president was put in charge of all coordinating all administration policy on that. So, each and every step of the way as the president pushes his agenda in Congress or confronts new and important issues, he turns to the vice president -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Major, just to clarify again. You said, you've learned the vice president had his first episode on Saturday while he was working out at the vice president's residence?

GARRETT: That is correct. That is the information we have obtained. Yes, indeed. He experienced at the vice president's residence while doing some working out. We don't know when or what he was doing -- what type of physical exercise, but that he did experience some discomfort. We have no definition of exactly how discomforted in fact the vice president was. How much pain he was in. But he did feel some on Saturday. And that's what we have learned.

He came in to work today on Monday. Again, apparently felt some further discomfort, advised the president of it, went to be checked out, which is all in accordance with what his doctors have asked him to do. As a patient with a history of cardiac problems, he is always advised not only to eat well and exercise when he can, but to report any signs of discomfort so it can be dealt with in the earliest possible means so as to avoid a catastrophic situation.

WOODRUFF: And Major, we know that there is a doctor on duty at the White House all the time. When this happened this morning, then presumably that is when the second EKG was done?

GARRETT: That's correct. As the statement from Mary Matalin, the counsel to the vice president, points out, the vice president had obtained an EKG at the White House on Thursday from that staff physician who is always on staff here. And he had one again today, again, trying to confirm what was the status of his heart.

As the statement from Mary Matalin, counsel of the vice president, points out, both of those EKGs were normal, indicative, at least, from the White House perspective, that this is not an emergency situation but merely a precautionary one, one the vice president is checking on in accordance with his own doctor's wishes.

WOODRUFF: Major, why the EKG last Thursday; is this something they do routinely or weekly at the White House?

GARRETT: That's a good question. I don't have an answer for you to that, Judy. We're trying to find out the answer. It may be something the vice president does on a somewhat regular basis. We just don't know at this point.

WOODRUFF: All right, Major Garrett at the White House. And we'll come back to you, of course. To get a better understanding of the vice president's condition and his history of heart trouble, let's bring in CNN's medical correspondent Rhonda Rowland -- Rhonda.

RHONDA ROWLAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we've been hearing about these two EKGs -- these are tests also known as exercise stress tests. They were normal. And what we understand is this kind of test was used to pick up if there is an acute event if somebody is actually having a heart attack. This kind of test can't pick up something more subtle like a narrowing, and that's why Doctor Zen (ph) would go ahead and order up an angiograam or a cardiac catheterization, which we hear the vice president will have or has had.

And that can look for a narrowing in the artery. This is a very common procedure. It's done every day in hundreds of doctors offices across the country. Patients are lightly sedated, a thin catheter is threaded from the groin up to the heart. Then doctors can see if there's a blockage. What you are looking at right there is a balloon that has opened an artery and then a mesh stent is put in place. This is a tiny device that's placed in arteries to keep them propped open. And this is the vice that the vice president had inserted last November.

Now, a doctor I spoke to who has been following the case -- he has not treated the vice president -- he's not that close, but following it. He predicts that this discomfort is due to restenosis. That is a technical name for re-narrowing of the artery that was open. This happens in about 25 to 40 percent of cases. This is not unusual at all.

If that is indeed the case, what doctors can do, is reopen that artery again. They could put in another tiny mesh devices called a stent. Otherwise, what they could decide to do, is to treat the vice president with anticoagulant drugs -- these are blood thinners -- such as Heparin. So, again, this is very common. We don't know yet for sure what's going on, but typically, if a patient has had the kind of heart history the vice president has had, these are some of the situations that could be taking place, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. CNN's Rhonda Rowland, thanks very much.

And joining me here in the studio, here in Washington, Dr. Jay Masel with Cardiology Associates.

You work with the Washington Hospital Center and with a number of other hospitals here in the Washington area.

Dr. Masel, I understand you have not yourself treated the vice president. Is that correct?

DR. JAY MASEL, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: That's correct.

WOODRUFF: From what we're hearing, what is your sense of what has gone on? To -- they're describing it as brief episodes of chest discomfort, an EKG today -- checking himself in to the hospital for catheterization. What does that say to you?

MASEL: Yes. I think what we've been hearing to this point, as routine in the management of coronary artery disease, I think I would echo. And it is not uncommon at all for reevaluations to be necessary in patients with coronary disease.

In Mr. Cheney's case, I think what prompted today's events are a change in his pattern of pain. His complaints of chest pain are the first sign that a problem has developed in the coronary arteries. At this point, we don't quite know exactly what that is.

Has a new blockage developed? Has a stenosis or a blockage in the stent that was placed earlier developed? And, frankly, the only way to determine that would be by imaging the vessels directly via the angiogram procedure.

WOODRUFF: Going in today and doing the procedure that we're told they are doing today.

MASEL: Exactly.

WOODRUFF: Now, we just heard Rhonda Rowland say that a physician she had spoken with said it sounds to him like it's what he called restenosis, which happens, he said, in a quarter of the cases to 40 percent of the cases. What exactly is that?

MASEL: Well, what was placed in Thanksgiving was a stent. And that is a device which acts as a scaffolding within the coronary artery to hold the vessel open or the blockage open. And there is a process...

WOODRUFF: Dr. Masel, I'm going to have to interrupt because in southern California, law enforcement authorities talking about the school shooting outside San Diego. Two students dead, a 15-year-old arrested. Let's listen.

SHERIFF WILLIAM KOLENDER, SAN DIEGO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: ... but it has, and now we have to deal with it. I was very proud of the people from our sheriff's department and everyone who assisted in the tactical operation at the beginning of this. California Highway Patrol, La Mesa Police, El Cajon Police, the school staff, school security, and everybody pulled together to do what we can to assist everybody in attempting to resolve the situation.

We have moved from a tactical situation to an investigative one. At approximately 9:20 we received a call that there was an assault on the school grounds at Santana High School. The deputies were there almost immediately, in addition to the deputy who will be coming up in a moment, there was officer Bob Clark from the San Diego Police Department who was there to register his child at the school with his wife.

They saw some people lying on the ground, and were told where the suspect was. They entered the bathroom and arrested the suspect, who is in custody now and who used a revolver. He wounded 15 people. Two of them were adults, the remainder were juveniles, and two of the juveniles are deceased.

The school is counseling the parents, the other children. We are handling the law enforcement people who were there. This is a very traumatic experience and a sad one for everyone -- for all of us that have been involved.

I'm going to ask our deputy Ali Perez, who is with Officer Bob Clark, to come up first and to tell you what happened and what he saw. Deputy?

DEPUTY ALI PEREZ, SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Hello.

This is kind of difficult on where to begin, and to explain it rationally. I'm the one up here in front of you and I, first of all, would like to give credit to my four other beat partners who were one step right behind me. And it's very important that -- that everyone realizes this was a team and this is a group effort, and not so much an individual effort.

And from my perspective, when I got there, if -- as soon as the call came out, I was across town with one of my beat partners, and we got to Santana as quickly as we could. And as soon as I got there, jumped out of my patrol car with one of my beat partners, Jack Smith, right there.

And we ran into the building. And you just can't imagine -- it's very difficult to describe what was being seen. It was just kids -- they were just running in every different direction. Staff and students, and they were screaming.

And my main concern was who is in the school? Who is shooting, and how many?

And so as I'm running into the school and children are running out of the school, that was my first concern. And even though the children were -- and the students were very scared and nervous, like myself, they were able to point me to the direction of the suspect and where he was shooting from.

Myself and my beat partners ran up to the rest room area of 200 building in -- inside the school. And fortunately for me, there was an off-duty San Diego P.D. officer there, Bob Clark, who was there a minute and a half before I was, two minutes before I was. And the principal pointed him out as being off duty.

And it was -- if you'll just give me a second. There are so many things going on at once, it's very overwhelming.

And -- and as I'm running towards the bathroom area, I see Officer Clark and I recognized his badge as a police officer badge. And there's kids, some of them standing in fear, some of them running, some of them walking, and, you know, my -- my main interest was how many kids can we get out of there safely. So, of course, I'm directing the children: Get out, get out, get out, get out.

And in the courtyard as the kids start passing me by, there's -- there's three staff members behind the food cart, if you will. And I'm giving them directions: Get out, get out, get out, and I don't realize that one of them has been shot. And he's crawling, you know, and he can't -- he's not moving his legs. And I'm like, "No, no, stay where you are. Stay behind cover." You know, don't move. I didn't realize that he was shot.

At that point, one of my other partners, Deputy Burn, had come around. It's hard to explain without some graphs here -- rounded the corner from the bathroom. Myself, Deputy Smith, of course, Officer Clark, we were at the corner. My partner, Pat Burn, was over here, ended up getting eyes on the suspect. Giving him -- you know, giving him instructions: Drop your weapon, drop your weapon, drop your weapon.

As soon as we heard that, we realized we had the suspect contained. All three of us rounded the corner and when we found him, he was inside the bathroom with -- in a kneeling position with his hands out like this. He had the butt of the gun sitting like this, and he drops it and he surrendered.

Now, when we made entry, my partner, Jack Smith got the gun out of his hand's reach. Officer Clark, at that point, started giving the suspect verbal directions to get down on the ground and lay down flat, which we were able to get him, pull him out of the bathroom, and handcuff him.

Our secondary concern was that there was somebody else inside there shooting. And -- and so as we were communicating with our partners, check for additional suspects, if there's a second shooter, the young man on the ground turned to me and he looked around and he said, "It's only me."

And at that point, you know, it lightened the load a little bit, but we still weren't sure, and we still had a lot of work to do, and we still had to evacuate students. And we took the young man into custody. And -- and thankfully we did it as quick as humanly possible, , without any injury to myself or to my partners.

And like I said, it was a total team effort, and I had my partners there right next to me. You know, it was just that fast.

QUESTION: Could you spell your first and last name please?

PEREZ: My name is Ali Perez, A-L-I P-E-R-E-Z.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can you say that again?

PEREZ: It's Ali Perez, A-L-I P-E-R-E-Z.

ROBERT CLARK, SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: My name is Robert Clark. I work for the San Diego Police Department. And this morning, my wife and I were -- went to the high school to register our daughter for this next school year. And as we drove into the lot, I noticed -- the car clock was about 9:22 in the morning, and there was a fair amount of students out in the front lot, just standing out there. I didn't really -- didn't pick up anything being wrong at that point. We commented it was, you know, odd that they were standing outside.

So we went and parked at the north end of the campus, in the parking lot, walked back and heading toward the office, and noticed the facial expressions and the demeanor of the faculty members, you know, strange and concerned. So I asked one of them what's the problem, what's going on. And he said there's been some shots fired.

So I identified myself as an officer and asked, you know, where it was coming from, and started working my way, you know, down the breezeway to the 200 building for the security, and you know, getting information from the other people that were there. Where -- where's the suspect? What's he armed with?

As I'm walking around, probably at the north end of the 200 building, some lockers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) breezeway, and off to my left out in the open I see a person down. It looks like they're being assisted by a cart. You know, some guys are maybe towing him out of the area with a cart.

And I said, "Have you been shot?" And he said yes, he had.

So I set up in the corner of the bathroom. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's kind of hard, like my partner said, it's kind of hard to explain without diagrams. But I really didn't have a good view of the doorway to the bathroom. I really -- I'd be quite exposed to try and do that at that point.

But I stood up at the perimeter right there at the corner, and it wasn't, you know, very long after that I heard the sirens of the deputies arriving. And like my partner said, the suspect gave up, was taken into custody. And Jack Smith and I, a deputy, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the suspect was in custody, we went into the bathroom and found two students had been shot. One was -- they're both in the back end of the rest room area where the stalls are. One was conscious, talking, was concerned, said he had been shot and needed help, and gave us an account of his physical status. He was able to move everything (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

And then there's another student who was unresponsive. And I don't know what his condition is at this point. We assisted with first aid and CPR, and the medics transported both of them. That's all I have.

If you have any questions, I can answer.

KOLENDER: Now, I'd like to introduce Lieutenant Jerry Lewis, who is the head of the San Diego Sheriff Department's homicide detail, and after Lieutenant Lewis will be Paul Pfingst, who is the district attorney for the city -- county of San Diego.

LIEUTENANT JERRY LEWIS, HOMICIDE DETAIL, SAN DIEGO SHERIFF DEPARTMENT: As Sheriff Kolender alluded to, we just stopped tactics and we're into the investigative mode at this time. We do have homicide investigators, with the assistance from the other agencies in San Diego County, interviewing dozens of people who witnessed this incident. We also have the task of interviewing 13 victims who were also shot.

We have -- what information we have at this point, the weapon used was a 22 caliber revolver, 8- to 9-shot. It appears the suspect loaded -- reloaded at least one time during the incident. We do not know a lot about the suspect at this time. I'm not going to release his name.

We know he's been involved -- enrolled in the school, so he was a student at the school. He was a 15-year-old white male juvenile.

As Deputy Perez alluded to, the suspect gave up without any argument or without any fight. He is currently in custody, and he will be interviewed by the homicide team.

I will answer questions later on when people from the panel get through talking.

QUESTION: Could you give us your name again, sir?

LEWIS: Lieutenant Jerry Lewis, J-E-R-R-Y, L-E-W-I-S.

PAUL PFINGST, SAN DIEGO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: My name is Paul Pfingst, P-F-I-N-G-S-T. I'm the district attorney of San Diego County.

This is a sad day for Santee, it's a sad day for San Diego County.

When I came to work this morning, I was directed to Santana High. I was told that there was a shooting and students were down. As I was driving to the school with members of my staff, we saw parents and children walking down the street sobbing, in tears, some talking on telephones. Children seemed dazed. The parents in some cases were more upset than the children, and these were the children that had not been injured.

The sheriff and I have had an opportunity to speak with the mother of one of the deceased victims. As you might guess, she kept asking why. She wanted to know why, and we could provide obviously no answer.

According to the laws of the state of California, because this case involves multiple murders -- what we call special circumstances -- a recently passed proposition that we call proposition 21 requires that this case be prosecuted in adult court and that the suspect be treated as an adult.

Because of proposition 21, the arraignment will be on Wednesday. The arraignment must be done within 48 hour, and the suspect will be arraigned within that statutory time.

The suspect is facing charges of murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and various gun possession charges. The case has been assigned to my chief deputy, District Attorney Kristen Anton (ph), who is out doing the investigation and working, putting the case together, as we speak.

I know on your minds is an overriding question, the same question that deceased mother had: Why? The suspect has made statements. I will not share the contents of the statements with you at this time. But there is no real answer.

I'm not sure in any real way we will ever know why. More -- you will learn more about the evidence in this case on Wednesday. The case will be at our juvenile courthouse, even though it is an adult court. I expect the arraignment to be at our juvenile courthouse unless circumstances then appear that make that impractical because of the number of people who are interested in the case.

I will leave that at this time. Obviously on the date of arraignment, we'll have more to say.

But in the effort to give you as much information as possible, we also have the principal of Santana here today. Karen, do you want to come on up here? And she is the next speaker.

Let me add one other thing: There is an enormous amount of grief in this community. It's every parent's worst nightmare to hear on your radio or hear from a friend that at their child's school there has been shooting. We are doing as much as we can to make sure that the parents of the deceased victims and the injured victims receives as much care as we can possibly give them.

Both the sheriff and my office have victim witness assistance programs. We've contacted the state of California to ensure that any financial consequences that arise from the shooting will be taken care of immediately and the families will not have to be put through anymore of an ordeal.

To the families and the community who are anxious or upset and wonder whether or not schools are safe, the sheriff and our board of supervisors have taken some steps to ensure that in this district that there will be additional police presence and deputy sheriff presence for the remainder of the week to answer questions that students or parents may have. But the sheriff will talk about that later on.

We have, in San Diego County, a very aggressive anti-violence program inside our schools. We have initiated with our board of supervisors training for 18,000 to 20,000 young people in anti- violence techniques. I'm not sure that Santana reached that point yet, but throughout the county. So we have been one of those communities that has responded in trying to make sure that something like this could not happen here.

So we were all saddened and on behalf of the entire law enforcement community, we feel so bad for the victims, children, the parents, certainly the deceased and their relatives.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Madam, could you give us your complete name?

KAREN DEGISCHER, SANTANA HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: My name is Karen Degischer, spelled D-E-G-I-S-C-H-E-R, and as principal of Santana High School, you might realize that this is probably my worst nightmare. My heart goes out to the parents and the families of those students that lost their lives today. And to those that are injured, my thoughts and prayers are with them as well. And I can't help but think about what this has done to our community.

At Santana High School I've been a teacher, an assistant principal and now a principal. I've worked in the school for 14 years. The school is, has always been prepared for disasters but not of this magnitude. We have a safe school plan that's in place. Our teachers know what to do in the event of an emergency. Our campus supervisors are trained. I've even been through SWAT training with the sheriff's department in how to handle a hostage situation.

So in terms of a response, I believe that our faculty and our students did well considering the circumstances. It was mentioned by the police officer that when he arrived at our school that there were many students out front and one of the reasons is that we have two start times in the morning. So this incident occurred in between classes.

It's our procedure that in the event of this type of a situation that the students, to the extent as possible in this type of emergency, are swept into classrooms and supervised by teachers and that did occur.

In terms of proactive things that are done to let our students know to talk to us when there are areas of concern, students come to the administration frequently and talk to us about things that are bothering them. That's the kind of climate we have at the school.

That's what we expect at our school.

We have a large group of parents in a group called I Care and they help the school with school safety issues. And I just feel like we, we were prepared to respond. We had things in place for good communication and yet we don't know why this happened.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the school going to be closed tomorrow?

DEGISCHER: The school will be closed tomorrow for our students and the Sonrise Church on Magnolia will be open to our students and their families for counseling. There will be counselors from various agencies that will be coming in to assist our students and their families.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is the name of the church?

DEGISCHER: The Sonrise Church. It's located on Magnolia Avenue.

KOLENDER: It's spelled S-O-N-R-I-S-E.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How does your school go on now?

DEGISCHER: We have a very close tight knit community and staff. The law enforcement, the city officials, the school personnel, we all know each other very well, the parents. I see this as something that we will do together and that we will get through it. We were already very close before this incident and that's what it's going to take. I have no answers other than we have a community here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: More than one of the children that I've interviewed since I've been here has talked about while they didn't know why it happened, but perhaps it had something to do with racial tension or they mentioned general tensions at the school (unintelligible). A couple of kids said racial tension. Could you tell us anything about this?

DEGISCHER: At this point in time there's an investigation going on and I don't have any information that would lead me to believe the motive at this point.

KOLENDER: The gentleman with her is Granger Ward (ph), who is the superintendent of the Grossmont School District. I can tell you that there were not, to our knowledge, any minorities that were involved in any way with this incident. It was not a racial incident at all.

It's my pleasure now to ask to step up the supervisor from this area for the county, Dianne Jacob. And then after her will be the Mayor of Santee.

DIANNE JACOB, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Thank you, Sheriff. And I'm as shocked and dismayed as all of us at what occurred this morning. But I have seen some things happen that could only happen in East County. The quick response by the sheriff's department, the coordinated effort by all of the law enforcement agencies working with the school district and the city officials is second to none.

We have a close knit community in East County and in Santee and we're not going to let the shots that were fired this morning sever the heart of this community. We will go on and we will be stronger as a result of it.

My reason for being here today is to support the law enforcement efforts as well as the city, most importantly to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the families of the two that lost their lives and strong prayers for those who were injured in this unfortunate tragedy. But also to offer whatever resources, any and all resources that the County of San Diego can provide to the sheriff's department, the district attorney, to the school district in order to make certain that any additional efforts that are needed that the superintendent determines, such as putting a deputy in each school, if that's what has to be done, I am willing to offer the resources of the county to help the school district in whatever efforts they will want to take in the days that follow.

Also, I think one of the best things that we can all do at this point in time is to put our arms around all of the students at Santana High School. These are good students. By and large these are good students. They're bright students. They're hard working students. They need our support. They need our collective arms around them now along with their families to provide the support that they need in the next few days and weeks and months.

I just know I'm here to help and support in any way. Just let me know how I can do that and what you need from the county. We have counselors that will be working with the school district, counselors coming from the county and there may be other resources necessary.

Thank you very much, all of you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Name again, please.

JACOB: Dianne Jacob, D-I-A-N-N-E, Jacob, J-A-C-O-B. I am a member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors that represents the Second District, the East County area, in which this high school was located.

KOLENDER: I don't know if this is appropriate, but I'll just mention that I was the chief of police at the time of the massacre in San Ysidro in 1984 and I saw the horror that happened today happen in San Ysidro and it took a lot of people like this, of the community to come together to help ease those wounds.

It has been a long time since that occurred and surely the wounds have not been healed by those who were, in fact, the parents and the relatives of those victims.

This is a very, very difficult thing and we're all going to do the best that we can to see to it that these people can go on with their lives in the best possible way.

Before I introduce the Mayor, Mayor Voepel, I want to point out that there are people here also from the state and federal government. Randy Jones is here. He is from the attorney, United States attorney's office. He's at the end of the table. And he deals with gun violence as it relates to federal regulation. He will not be speaking, but I want you to know that he, too, has offered his help in this area.

Mayor Voepel?

MAYOR RANDY VOEPEL, SANTEE, CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Sheriff.

My name is Randy Voepel. That's Vas in Victor, O-E, Pas in Paul, E-L.

I've been Mayor of Santee for nine weeks and if I was mayor for 900 years it would not prepare me for this moment. I want to tell you that Santee is a town of 58,000 souls. We're a town of Little Leagues. We're a town of soccer. We're a town of community meetings. We're a town of meetings on Fourth of July where we have music in our parks and we're all roasting hot dogs.

This town has one of the lowest crime rates in southern California. We're proud of our city. We work together, as you've heard before. We all know each other.

And this is one of our children. This is one of our children of tragedy.

I must tell you that this could happen in any town in America if it can happen in a town such as Santee. We are America.

I'm asking for everyone in this room and everyone that's within sight, we need your prayers. We need you to help us with our grief. This town will work together. We will very much come together.

We're setting up counseling teams and resource centers. We have every resource that we can possibly ever want with all these fine folks here supporting our town.

But the one thing, the one thing that will never be fixed will be the broken hearts in our town. Never. But we will press on. We will do the right things.

I want all of our parents of these students and also loved ones to know that you're not alone, that you have a giant collective support of all of us.

We will be having prayer services at various churches tonight led by the Santee Ministerial Council. One of the main prayer services will be at Sonrise, plus various other churches.

We are also working with all of our resource officers. I might add that in Santee, we're one of the cities that hired our most excellent sheriff's deputies. We have a sheriff's deputy assigned to each high school and five of the elementary schools. So we've had people on campus that are law enforcement. We know many of the children by sight. Once again, these are our children. At this moment I would like everyone to just for a moment think of the loss, think of the hurt and think that we'll be brave and that we will press on and that all of the people in this town will work together. We need your prayers.

At this time I would like to ask Fire Chief Bob Pfohl to step up and give us some more information.

Chief?

CHIEF BOB PFOHL, SANTEE FIRE DEPARTMENT: Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

My name is Bob Pfohl. The spelling, P-F-O-H-L.

And as the Mayor said, I am the fire chief and the fire department is also responsible for emergency medical response in this community. And this was a very, very difficult response for us, but first and foremost I cannot tell you how proud I am of our response. We have run a permit program in this community since the county adopted paramedics for over 25 years.

We responded with medic units with two paramedics on it and many of our engine companies that responded also had one paramedic on it, which was quite helpful.

When we arrived on scene, we got the initial call at 9:22. We were rolling at 9:23 and the first units were on scene at 9:28.

We immediately established the incident command system, which we normally use at fires. It was quite helpful in a large medical disaster like we had.

Division Chief Jim Covington (ph) was in charge of my medical division. Division Chief Howard Graham (ph) was operations officer and W. Chief Phil Davis (ph) was our liaison with law enforcement.

We cannot do, we cannot handle these types of calls without the help of our numbers. We utilized a total of nine engine companies, one rescue unit and 10 ambulances to transport patients. Two of the resources used were air ambulance. We used one for transport. We did transport a total of 15 victims related to the incident.

I'm very proud to say that we were able to work with law enforcement very well to locate the victims. The school staff was extremely cooperative. The very first minutes, as you can imagine, were very hectic for our efforts to try to locate the victims. We were concerned about the safety of the paramedics and firefighters. We worked closely with law enforcement to make sure that the scene was secure for us. School staff helped us.

We established a triage area. All the patients were brought to one location and then we rotated them on to ambulances and transported them as quickly as possible to area hospitals.

We also activated the county's medical disaster plan, NXD, and that allowed us to have all hospitals' availability. We had access to the availability of all hospitals so we rotated the patients and transported them to the most appropriate hospital.

Again, I'm extremely proud of our firefighters and paramedics. Many of them live in this community. There was a number of them on duty on this call, including our first responding captain, our first arriving captain, who's, who has children at this high school. And even within the back of their minds knowing that they possibly could encounter a patient that was related to them, they just performed at the highest level I can imagine.

We have taken all those companies and we've given them the opportunity for a debriefing and any type of counseling and support, again, as this was a difficult call for them.

Thank you very much.

KOLENDER: Thank you, Chief. Your folks did a great job.

Assemblywoman Charlene Zindel (ph) is here. She'd like to make a few comments. And afterwards, Ron Reina, who is the public information officer for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, will moderate any questions you may have.

Thank you.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN CHARLENE ZINDEL: Thank you, Sheriff Kolender.

The state legislature, your senator, Jim Batten (ph), joins me today in offering our condolences to the families, the victims, to the community. We stand ready to support you in any way we can and our staffs will be there to support as well.

I want to thank very much the law enforcement, Sheriff, your officers and all the acts of heroism our fire department and emergency services, the school district, the City of Santana, everybody came together to make sure that there were not worse consequences.

Again, my heart goes out to all of the victims. You have our thoughts and prayers.

RON REENA, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Questions for any of the principals? One at a time. Yes, sir, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I want to get Officer Clark back up here.

REENA: Officer Clark? Is he still here? Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I have a question for you. When you first finished, I guess, came across or came into contact with (AUDIO GAP).

REENA: The question is when Officer Clark arrived on the scene, because he's off today, was he armed?

CLARK: Yes, I was.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could you tell us what happened? Did you draw your gun on him?

CLARK: Yes, I did. I initially responded. I sat up at the corner. I also had to be aware of the fact that I am in civilian clothes and I have sheriff's deputies responding to this scene, shots being fired. They don't know who the suspect is. So I had to be, you know, very judicious when I pulled my weapon for my safety, obviously.

It was the deputy across the courtyard spotted the suspect and gave him initial challenges. And then the three of us that were kind of tucked around the corner of the bathroom then moved around to where we could put eyes on the suspect and yes, we did draw down on him and he did comply with our commands and we pulled him out of the bathroom and he was handcuffed and taken into custody.

REENA: Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you spoken at all to any guardians or parents of the suspect?

REENA: The question is has -- who, Officer Clark? Have I spoken? No.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Has anybody? Has anybody made contact with the parents?

REENA: Has anybody made contact with the parents is the question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Of the suspect.

REENA: Oh, of the suspect.

CLARK: The suspect. I don't know that one. Randy?

VOEPEL: Yes. But we will not pass out that information.

CLARK: Yes, but we will not discuss it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who said there is no minorities involved and I want to know any females?

REENA: Any female victims, you mean?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could you give us a rundown on the 13 survivors' injuries...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: ... where they're at?

VOEPEL: I will pass out their names. I cannot tell each and everyone's age, but people that are going to pass out -- their ages are 14 to 18. I do not know their specific injuries at this time. I don't, I know we have them on our office, but I don't have them with me.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are they all hospitalized (unintelligible)?

KOLENDER: Some of them have been treated. I don't know if they're still at the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know how many will be released?

(CROSSTALK)

KOLENDER: OK, he's asking about the release of the people who are in the hospital. Some have been released. Some are still in the hospital. The conditions, I don't believe, are known at this time other than we think that...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know how many are serious and how many are critical?

KOLENDER: Randy, how many are serious and how many are critical?

VOEPEL: We do not know that information as yet. I am going to give you the 13 names of the injured victims at this time. Again, I reiterate their ages are 14 to 18. We will confirm that up at our next press briefing, which will be at 5:00 P.M. at this location. I will have ages at this time.

Scott Marshal, MARSHALL. Travis Gallegos, G-A-L-L-E-G-O-S. Melissa McNulty, M-C-N-U-L-T-Y. Trevor Edwards, E-D-W-A-R-D-S. Ray Serrato, S-E-R-R-A-T-O. Heather Cruz, C-R-U-Z. Barry Gibson, G-I-B- S-O-N. James Jackson, J-A-C-K-S-O-N. Tristen Salladay, S-A-L-L-A-D- A-Y. Matthew Heier, H-E-I-E-R. Kirschner Gordon, G-O-R-D-O-N.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could you spell that?

VOEPEL: Kirschner, K-I-R-S-C-H-N-E-R.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What was the last name?

VOEPEL: Gordon, G-O-R-D-O-N. And the two deceased persons are Brian Zuckor, Z-U-C-K-O-R.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Brian?

VOEPEL: Brian.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Brian or Ryan?

VOEPEL: B-R-I-A-N. Randy Gordon. Brian was 14. Randy is 15.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know if Randy is any relation to Kirschner Gordon?

VOEPEL: At this time I do not know.

(CROSSTALK) VOEPEL: The same family? I'm being informed it is the same family.

Other questions?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A question for the Lieutenant, if we can. We've heard from Deputy Perez and Officer Clark following the shooting. Can you run down for us what actually happened, to the best of our knowledge at this point, as far as where the shooting began and if they were targeted? What happened?

VOEPEL: My homicide investigators are at the scene right now. That's what we're trying to determine. We will interview all witnesses, all victims at the school and we will piece together what happened. You asked me a question that I will know at a later time but I do not know that answer to that question at this point.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: The San Diego County Sheriff, William Kolender, and others involved, as you can hear, describing as best they can at this point what happened a few hours ago, actually earlier this morning, in the suburbs of San Diego, in Santee, California, when a 15-year-old student at Santana High School opened fire with a handgun, a revolver, shot and wounded 13 people, killed two others. The two who were dead were students aged 14 and 15; 11 other students plus two adults. Twenty-two caliber revolver.

All we know about the suspect, we don't have a name, is that he's 15 years old and a white male student at the school. He will be charged with murder. He'll be charged as an adult and the hearing will be held on Wednesday.

We'll be back in a moment. We'll go back to California for more on today's tragic shootings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Continuing our live coverage of the aftermath of the school shooting in Southern California, let's go to Frank Buckley, who is near Santana High School in Santee, California in the San Diego suburbs.

Frank, we've just been listening to a news conference by law enforcement and other officials in that area. What else can you tell us?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we got the sense of the chaotic nature of those moments after the shooting took place. Deputies were on scene within three minutes, but clearly, they weren't able to prevent the shootings that did take place.

Two people, two students killed, 13 additional people, including two adults, were wounded.

You did hear from the principal speaking to the nature of the problem that educators across the U.S. are facing, and that is that they are prepared to respond to disaster kinds of situations, but they don't know exactly what to do to prevent something like this from happening.

The principal saying that she even attended a SWAT training situation to see exactly how to deal with hostage negotiation in the past and clearly that didn't help here. She said we were prepared to respond, and yet we don't know why this happened.

And One of mothers of the one of the two students that were killed repeatedly asking investigators why, why, why? I can tell you at this moment that the police are setting up a command post of sorts here right on the campus grounds here. There is the criminal investigation that will now take place, and we're told that this young man will be tried as an a adult now under California law under the recently-passed Proposition 21, and he will be arraigned by Wednesday -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Frank Buckley there near Santana High School in the suburbs of San Diego. And Frank, I would just add to what you said, we heard the mayor of Santana -- I'm sorry, of Santee saying in this town of 58,000 people, he said if it could happen here, he said it could happen anywhere in America. We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Two important stories we are following this afternoon. In addition to the shooting in Southern California, two students dead at a hospital, shot by another student. In addition, Vice President Cheney back in the hospital.

Less than four months after his latest heart attack, the vice president checked himself into a hospital in Washington this afternoon because of discomfort in his chest. He was due to undergo a procedure described by the White House as precautionary.

CNN's Bob Franken is at the Capitol and our John King is at the White House. First to you, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The procedure is a catheterization, where a device, a very, very thin, slim sliver is put through the circulatory system. They are looking for any signs of a blockage.

We are told that after he called his cardiologist, who by the way, is Dr. Jonathan Reiner, to report that he had been having some discomfort, the doctor said you'd better get yourself back in here right now because as you pointed out, last November 22nd, the then- vice president-to-be was brought to the hospital. It turned out he had a mild heart attack.

As you said, it was his fourth. His first one occurred when he was 37 years of age. That was 23 years ago. That is to say 1978. He has had a bypass. Cardiologists will tell you that over time, sometimes they will deteriorate. But of course, we have no idea whether that's factor here.

The White House has gone to great pains to say that this is not an emergency procedure, although, of course, there is sort of an information blackout right now while they conduct the tests that they're going to conduct on the vice president. We will tell you that a news conference that originally had been scheduled to occur about an hour ago, it hasn't happened yet. We have no actual reason why, no indication that it has anything to do with the treatment or the tests that are being given of the vice president. Among those who's expected at the news conference is his cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reiner -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken, we want you to stand by. And now let's go to the White House to John King.

John, what you have learned there about the circumstances surrounding today's episode with the vice president?

JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, let us start by saying we're told by senior administration officials that Vice President Cheney's staff, as we speak, on the phone with the doctors over at the hospital and we're told by two sources that that catheterization procedure was indeed started. What we don't know is if it is finished, if the care is finished.

But we do know the vice president's senior aides at this moment on a conference call with the doctors over at the hospital. As Bob Franken noted, so far the White House saying very little. The only public comments by the administration this piece of paper released by Mary Matalin, the top adviser to the vice president, simply saying that he suffered two episodes of chest discomfort and contacted his doctors and then went in for this procedure, again, a repeat catheterization.

This afternoon, here at the White House, reporters tried to ask President Bush what he knew about all of this, but the president had very little to offer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Has the vice president been taken to the hospital? We've been hearing reports the vice president is in the hospital.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Precautionary measures.

QUESTION: Precautionary.

QUESTION: What's the ailment, sir?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The vice president is 60 years old. Again, of course, right after the campaign he had a catheterization and a stent put into his arteries. He's had a history of heart trouble, which of course raises concerns. Aides say of late, that he has been doing a better job keeping to the diet prescribed to him by his doctors, exercising as well. he just recently moved into the vice president's official residence on Massachusetts Avenue and we're told among the items on his agenda, just yesterday, of course, he was on the Sunday shows, including "LATE EDITION" here on CNN.

Also, yesterday we're he attended a birthday party for the Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan. He was up very late last night. Aides said he was having trouble sleeping and again twice he had pains in his chest, described now by the White house as mild. But obviously, given his history, the doctors decided it was best that he come in and obviously they decided as well to do another catheterization to take a look around to see just how significant any damage might be -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John, how active a schedule has the vice president been keeping recently?

KING: A very active schedule, most of it here in Washington. He's been doing some media interviews with local stations around the country as part of his effort to promote the president's budget and tax-cut plan the morning after the president's speech. Of course, he was in the Capitol seated behind the president last Tuesday when the president gave his big budget speech to the Congress.

The next day, he was here in Washington giving a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers, one the pro-business groups the vice president has been focusing much of his attention on as he tries to build up support not just in the Congress, but also among the interest groups and mostly Republican Party constituency groups here in town.

We are told, though, he does try to leave the office, keep a regular schedule and again we are told of late, he has been much better. Aides were very critical of him, remember, during the transition, after the episode right after the campaign, saying he was working too hard and not sticking to his diet. Aides say he has been better of late, but obviously, after these two recent episodes of discomfort, we're told the second was Saturday after exercising at the vice president's residence, his doctors suggested he come in and be checked again -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, and now, John, quickly back to Bob Franken at George Washington Hospital. Bob, what are they telling you? How is information being released at the hospital.

FRANKEN: Very grudgingly, as matter of fact. They are not even confirming here that the catheterization is going on. We have been finding it out from a variety of different people. I did talk to couple of Secret Service agents who said I should expect to be here quite a few hours. A catheterization normally requires some sort of anesthetization, a sedative which could very easily mean in the minds of many who we've talked to that the vice president might be spending the night. WOODRUFF: All right, Bob Franken at George Washington Hospital, John King at the White House. We're continuing our coverage in the aftermath of the vice president experiencing chest discomfort and then checking -- being checked in to GW Hospital here in Washington. We're also, of course, following that school shooting in Southern California where two students were left dead, 13 others wounded. The shootings by a 15-year-old student. We'll be back in a moment with more of our live coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Continuing our coverage now both of the school shooting in southern California and of Vice President Cheney, who checked himself into a hospital here in Washington this afternoon after two episodes, in his words, of experiencing chest discomfort.

We want to bring in CNN's Wolf Blitzer at this point. Wolf, you're here with me in the studio. You interviewed the vice president yesterday on your program -- Sunday program. How did he seem to you?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He seemed fine. He seemed normal. He seemed in a very good mood. In fact, we spent some time talking about his health off camera.

This is someone that I've covered now for many years, going back to the early '90s when he was the defense secretary. I was then CNN's Pentagon correspondent, so I've seen him over the years many times. And he seemed very upbeat. And at the end of the interview -- it was a rather long interview -- he had, earlier in the day, done an interview with Bob Schieffer on CBS "Face The Nation," so this was the second round of questioning that he had gone through. At the end of interview I asked him how he was feeling. Let me play for our viewers what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel great. The -- I am well-behaved. They've taken control of my food supply. So we're trying to do all those things you need to do to be a responsible individual with a history of coronary artery disease and somebody who's 60 years old. So far, so good.

BLITZER: No pizza at midnight.

CHENEY: No pizza at midnight. I'm not a big pizza eater anyway, but lots of fruits and vegetables.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I had asked him that question, Judy, because about 10 days earlier I had interviewed his wife, Lynne Cheney, over at the American Enterprise Institute where she's busy writing her own book on education. And I asked her, also, how Dick Cheney was doing. Let's listen to what she said:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is he doing what the doctors want him to do? Lose a little weight, exercise, eat less fatty foods, all those kinds of important things?

LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: He is. It's been easier since the campaign has been over to -- you know, when you're out in the campaign and you're busy, and it's the end of the day and you're starving and you don't have time to think about what to eat, it's just too easy to eat a pizza or something. But our lives are much more regulated now. And we've had a lot of chicken and a lot of fish.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And he said that he was looking forward to going later in the day to a birthday party for the federal reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan. So you actually were at that party, so you saw him even later than I did. How did he look to you?

WOODRUFF: I did see him, Wolf. I saw him over period of about three hours, in fact. And then -- I sat with him at a dinner table -- about eight of us at the table -- I sat across from him, and he looked himself. I did notice that he was quiet, I thought, a little bit quieter than usual. He didn't speak a great deal.

And I also noticed, observant reporter that I am, that he wasn't eating very much. I looked at -- because the main course was some fish, and he wasn't eating it. He wasn't drinking any alcoholic beverages. I noticed him sipping water, and that was it.

So I took note of that, but, you know, you could make something of that or you might not. In this instance, there was no way -- I would say there was certainly no definitive evidence of that.

BLITZER: And I didn't have any impression at all, either on camera or off camera, that he was going through any sort of chest pains.

WOODRUFF: All right. Wolf Blitzer. And separately joining us, joining Wolf and me here in the studio, a "Los Angeles Times" correspondent Ron Brownstein.

Ron, what is the significance of this? The vice president has yet another episode related to his heart?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES" CORRESPONDENT: There's probably significance on several levels. First is the practical level, that Dick Cheney seems to be the indispensable man in this administration.

As Major said way back in the first hour, he is involved on so many different fronts. He's critical to Bush's efforts in dealing with Congress and dealing with energy and foreign policy. And if indeed there are reasons that he has to scale back his activities, which they're not saying at this point, but if that comes to be a situation, that is going to be a practical problem for the administration: replacing the work that he does.

The other issue, of course, will be: how much information are they really providing to the public and are they giving the full story. If, in fact, on Sunday when he was saying that he felt great, he had already felt the discomfort on Saturday. There was the question last November when the -- when the heart attack -- the mild heart attack, the other problem that he had occurred about what Bush said in the morning, what information was revealed. I think there's going to be more pressure on the White House to be more forthcoming about what exactly is going on with his health.

WOODRUFF: Well, that's right. They changed -- at first, they said it was a very slight incident, and then as the day went on, we got more information from people around the vice president.

Ron, why -- you said it would make a big difference for this administration. I mean, clearly, a vice president always plays an important role. But what is so different about this vice president and the role he plays for this president?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it's the breadth of activities that he's been involved in, whether it was staffing the cabinet or dealing with liaison with Congress. I mean, often, we've come into a tradition of vice presidents being more important, but usually within a designated sphere. His sphere seems to be just about the entire range of concerns of the administration. And he -- you know, someone who is playing on many fronts right now and is playing a critical role.

WOODRUFF: It was noted -- and just, on your other point, Ron, it was noted that when some information was put out about Vice President Cheney's health, not all the information was put out. For example, for those who follow the care of the heart, triglyceride levels were not -- the so-called LDL, HDL cholesterol levels were not released...

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, well, they've created a situation...

WOODRUFF: Questions raised. Why not?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, well -- I think, you know, probably the first reaction of many reporters when they saw the statement from Mary Matalin was that this is not the last word.

I mean, that -- that is basically, you know, going back to the previous episode, even going back to last summer when there was a great deal of difficulty in getting information on his status when he was initially appointed -- what kind of procedures they went through to check his health initially.

So these are going to be questions about how forthcoming the White House has been on this. And they probably have created a situation in which there's going to be an initial reaction of doubt among many reporters to their words, their reassurances. WOODRUFF: And just a recap for our audience. We were told just a few moments ago by our White House correspondent John King that the catheterization procedure -- again, the threading of a tube that goes into the circulatory system, goes into the heart -- and this is a diagram of what it looks like.

In effect, we're told this is the one way they can get a picture of whether that stent, that tiny metal mesh device that was placed in the artery of the vice president last November, whether that's still there and still functioning.

Again, John King reporting the procedure had started. We're not sure if it has ended yet.

Ron, let me ask you now about this other terrible story that we're following today: the shooting at a school in southern California. A 15-year-old boy arrested and charged with shooting 15 individuals, killing two of them, 14- and 15-year-old students.

The president of the United States commented on that in the Oval Office today when he was meeting with Congressional leaders. Let's listen to what President Bush had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say how saddened we all are to know that two students lost their lives in southern California, others have been injured in a disgraceful act of cowardice. When America teaches her children right from wrong and teaches values to respect life -- values that respect life in our country, our country will be better off.

Our hearts go out and our prayers go out to the parents and the teachers and the children whose lives have been completely turned upside down right now.

QUESTION: What can the president do to stop, if anything, to stop children from shooting children?

BUSH: All of us, all adults in society can teach children right from wrong. Can explain there is a -- that life is precious. All of us must be mindful of -- of, you know the fact that some people may decide to act out their aggressions and their pain and hurt on somebody else, and be (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

We don't know enough of the facts right now as to what took place. But I do know that first things are first, and that is our prayers go with the families who lost a child today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Ron Brownstein, we know tragically that former President Clinton certainly had to deal over course of his eight years in the White House with several incidents like these school shootings. What might be different from a policy standpoint about the response of this administration from the previous one, if any? BROWNSTEIN: Well, I was struck how similar his comments were to the president's comments were to his reaction to Columbine. You know, Democrats and even many Republicans tend to see these kinds of incidents as a spur to a policy response. If you are a liberal Democrat, you focus on gun control. More centrist might add, gun control and attacking Hollywood or the media for projecting violent images.

Bush, both times, tend to see it as something outside of politics, something decided more around the kitchen table and the church and the synagogue, rather than something that really can be dealt with at all in a policy response.

The administration after Columbine made a big gun control push, the gun control -- the gun show loophole, issues like that. Bush has an agenda on some of those points, though not nearly as far as Democrats want to go, but he does not see a policy lever in his heart, I think, to get at these kinds of things. He sees them as sort of symbolic responses to something that is largely outside of the realm of policy, and that puts him apart from many Democrats.

WOODRUFF: But certainly, it does raise a question -- when 15- year-old can get hold of a single gun and wound 13 and kill two others, once again, doesn't it have to raise questions about the availability of guns?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, this was -- the Columbine tragedy -- and maybe the most tragic thing about this shooting is that it's not nearly -- doesn't seem to be nearly as shocking as Columbine. Almost as we are becoming, you know, numbed to the sight of something like this going on in an American school.

But Columbine really gave the big push toward a series of gun control measures -- yet even that, Judy, was not strong enough. It got stuck in a congressional committee and never came out.

And the -- you know, the way the gun control issue has played in the last few elections, particularly in this election, where Democrats were devastated in rural areas -- there is a lot of reluctance in the party to move back into that fight, and I suspect that with Bush in the White House not beating the drum, you won't see nearly as big a push, although there will be some, on the gun control front, as you did after Columbine.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

Well, we will continue with our coverage of both of these stories -- the shooting in Southern California and with the story of Vice President Dick Cheney checking himself into the hospital for a repeat cardiac catheterization after two episodes of chest discomfort.

Ten minutes from now, we are told there will be a news conference at George Washington University hospital. We are going to take a break. When we come back, we will get ready for that news conference.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: These are live pictures from George Washington University hospital here in the District of Columbia, just less than a mile from the White House, where in just a matter of a few hours ago, Vice President Dick Cheney checked himself in after reporting that he had suffered two episodes in the last few days of chest discomfort.

The 60-year-old vice president has had four heart attacks since the age of 37. Most recently, in late November, he underwent a procedure, in which they put a so-called stent, which is a small metal device, into one of the major arteries of the vice president, and we were told today by doctors who are not treating him, but doctors who are familiar with this sort of situation, that perhaps what is happened here, is that the vice president has experienced some tightening -- tightening feelings in the chest area.

The White House, we should stress, is describing this all as a non-emergency precautionary measure. A repeat cardiac catheterization that we know has been under way, we don't know if it is concluded yet. We are expecting a news conference from the hospital in just a few minutes.

And while we are waiting for that news conference to get under way, we want to turn now to the other major story that we are following this day: in Southern California at a high school in the suburbs of San Diego in the town of Santee, our Frank Buckley is there at Santana high school, where 15-year-old gunman today opened fire on 15 other individuals. Two of them are dead, 13 injured -- Frank.

BUCKLEY: Judy, investigators telling us within the hour that we now know that the two victims who were killed -- one is a 15-year-old boy, another a 14-year-old boy. We also heard from the first deputies who were on scene as they described a chaotic scene that they encountered, with students running out. They arrived within three minutes of the first 911 call.

Students were running out, and faculty members were trying to protect the children. There were some -- at least one shooting victim that the deputies encountered. They found the suspect inside one the restrooms. He was holding a revolver, according to these deputies. They told him to drop it. He did drop the weapon. At that point, they took him into custody.

Deputies wanted to make sure there wasn't at least another suspect. At that point, the 15-year-old boy who they took into custody allegedly said to them, "It's only me."

One of the educators -- one of the principals of this school here, talking about what educators across the U.S. have encountered -- that is that, yes, we are prepared to respond, but we don't know why these kinds of things happen. And the mayor of this community also talking about how this happened in their community.

WOODRUFF: All right. Frank Buckley, again, at Santana high school in the suburbs of San Diego. Thank you, Frank, and I know we will be coming back to you a little bit later. We are going to take a break. We are still waiting for that news conference at George Washington hospital here in Washington, where Vice President Cheney has undergone a cardiac procedure. We'll be right back.

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