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Shooting at Connecticut Elementary School; Shooting Suspect Dead at the Scene.
Aired December 14, 2012 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are also unconfirmed reports that another shooter might be on the scene, might remain on the scene. Again, that is unconfirmed information and authorities are trying to see whether that is the case -- Ashleigh?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Any inkling, Susan, from your source whether the shooter is one of the students or an adult? Do we know anything of the nature of this attack?
CANDIOTTI: I've been trying to find out exactly how the shooter made access to the school and where the body was found. But I don't very that information yet, as well as whether there are other injuries. There are unconfirmed reports, according to the source, of multiple injuries. And we're getting some information that you've been hearing, of course, this morning. But my source doesn't have any of that confirmed at this time as to how many people might have been injured.
BANFIELD: And what about the car that seemed to have been the focus of the investigators on the scene? There's a car that is erratically parked and it's been roped off with crime tape. Any indication that that is connected to this?
CANDIOTTI: No, no details on that as of yet. We are making our way to the scene so I have no visuals as yet. I haven't been able to see for myself. So we are -- we'll get there as soon as we can. Obviously there's a large police presence on the scene. Again, repeating here that the shooter, suspected shooter in this case is dead, either taken down by police or he may have taken his own life. That remains unclear at this point.
BANFIELD: I just want to bring in as well that some of the reports have been coming in from local newspapers, some of the local affiliates, "The Newtown Bee," is reporting that -- along will multiple police and ambulance and crews, there's also multiple reports of injuries after this shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I want to just dip into our affiliate coverage for a moment and listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB CORRESPONDENT: We do not have that confirmed yet but we're still trying to determine that. The information is just going out to the parents. A lot of them are upset as they are trying to pick up their children. There is a lot of confusion and cars jammed in here and people just can't get close enough to get some solid information but that is going to be coming as they secure the scene.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: Robert, they are reporting or confirming that one gunman is dead. Is there any indication as you're out there and hearing people around you that there could be another shooter?
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB CORRESPONDENT Well, there was some information that somebody -- at least one parent saw somebody being escorted out of this wooded area right over here with police and that that person turned to a parent and said, it wasn't me. The person was described as wearing a camo-type shirt. They didn't see any type of weapon or anything like that. That person is being supposedly held in one of the police cars over here to the left. But at this point, we don't know if that person is connected. And we are still trying to determine some exact information about whether there is one gunman, two gunmen, or more, and if somebody is dead who is responsible for these shootings inside the school here.
But, again, we are just trying to get a sense of what exactly happened inside and I think that police are of course swarming the area making sure that we also saw some federal agents from the ATF armed with heavy guns trying to assist the Newtown police and, of course, the state police.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: All right, Robert, we'll check in with you in a moment.
Let's recap what we know. It's Sandy Hook elementary, 600 or so students. There was a shooting reported at 9:41 a.m. That's when a call came in to 911. Since that time, emergency resources have been swarming that school. We can confirm that at least one person has been shot at that school.
We also have Bob Orr, from CBS News, the Justice Department correspondent from CBS News. He has been reporting that the gunman is dead. Also the Associated Press reporting that as well.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR As the swarm the scene, the picture that has been making its way on our air and through the Internet, the symbol of what has been happening, we've been seeing the children led away crying, led away from their elementary school, crying as they are walking out, and adults trying to keep them safe. Now the school is going through the effort of trying to reunite the students who have been taken to the nearby firehouse with the parents who have been lining up there. The school is trying to keep parents informed there and at the same time they are asking parents not to go to the school.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: And at this point, the word is that the information will be coming out from the school. So you can imagine what kind of excruciating request that is from the school if you are a parent of a child in Newtown. They are asking that you wait for them. Buses have been canceled. No buses are running at this point.
You can see, those are SWAT officers. They have their helmet and camouflage on. They are gathering currently outside what we believe is the front door of the school, from the wider helicopter pictures we can see there.
What we do know at this point is that the entire area is in lockdown. Robert was talking about one gentleman being taken into custody at least in the sense that police wanted to talk to him. We do not know if he was involved. In fact, Robert said a parent saw the gentleman saying he was not involved. But at this point, that's what police do, they lock the entire area down and they get anyone they want to talk to and try to figure out what is going on.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: Especially when someone is on the scene like this, wearing camouflage. That would definitely raise some questions.
Our other report, Len Bestoff, who has been there at the scene was there from the very beginning when he saw that that guns were still drawn and, the last report we had from him, just a few moments ago, was saying that things were not getting better, that this is a bad scene.
The hospitals, we know, have been prepared, although we're hearing that the hospital in Bridgeport has now said that it's not expecting anyone coming to the Bridgeport Hospital.
As far as who exactly has been shot, the number of people injured, we do not know. We're still hanging on to the very ominous words of Lieutenant Paul Vance who was on his way from the state police, who --
BANFIELD: As we continue to listen in to some of the local coverage and watching from these helicopter shots as the numerous police response begins to what looks like head en mass towards one location of the school. I can tell you the headline, a source tells our Susan Candiotti that the gunman, the shooter, is dead on the scene and apparently two weapons have are been recovered. We are not clear as to whether the shooter is a child or an adult. We have unconfirmed reports that there is a second shooter. That is unconfirmed. We can tell you police were searching in the hillside behind the school in the wooded area with the canine unit as well, as parents flooded into the parking lot before the word came out that they were to stay home, stay by the phone, that it perhaps wasn't safe to be there. A witness also telling News 8 that they saw a child with a bloody face and another child with a hand injury.
And one other piece of information I want to pass your way before we head to a quick break, and that is the hospital at Yale -- Yale is in New Haven, which is about a 40-minute drive from this location. That hospital has readied itself for something called an emergency triage unit, which responds to mass casualty incidents.
We're taking a quick break and we're back right after this.
BANFIELD: So I can confirm for you some further details in this shooting that we're following in Newtown, Connecticut. The Sandy Hook Elementary School, a school that has about 600 students from kindergarten through fourth grade. Not long after school began, apparently shots rank rang out. Police were called immediately. There is one person dead on the scene, the shooter, in fact. What I can't tell you is if the shooter is a child or an adult. But two weapons, according to a source that told CNN's Susan Candiotti, were recovered at the scene as well. One of them a Glock. The other a 6R. We can confirm that two weapons, a report of perhaps another shooter before that's unconfirmed. Obviously, parents rushed to the school to get their children before police told them they needed to stay home, that this was an active investigation. Many of them with canine units were up on the hill in the brush behind the school searching for something, whether it was evidence or the reported second shooter, not clear. But a number of responders on the scene. Six ambulances, one apparently witnessed taking one of the children away.
And I can also tell you that there was a witness who told News 8, Connecticut, that she saw two children, one of the children with a bloody face and another with what appeared to be a hand injury. All of the children now evacuated to a local fire station nearby. And the entire school district in Newtown is under lockdown.
I'm joined on the telephone by the mayor of Newtown, Connecticut, Mark Boughton.
Mayor Boughton, can you hear me.
MARK BOUGHTON, MAYOR OF DANBURY, CONNECTICUT (voice-over): I'm the mayor of Danbury, Connecticut, which is the town next to --
BANFIELD: Mayor of Danbury. I apologize. And I understand that Governor Daniel Loye (ph) has been involved in communications with local officials. I don't know if you've been privy to any information that has been shared. You're about 10, 20 minute drive away in Danbury. What can you tell us?
BOUGHTON: Well, I can tell you that, first of all, obviously, our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of this terrible incident. Very tragic.
Our police are currently working closely with the Newtown Police Department. We have mutual aid agreements in place that allow us to provide assets that they may not have, along with the state police that has taken the lead on this investigation. Three of the victims are at the hospital in Danbury and they are currently being treated. I can't tell you the status to their condition. I can only tell you that it's very serious in terms of those three victims. And we --
BANFIELD: Can you tell me, Mayor Boughton, if they are children or adults? Was this a staff incident or an incident with the children?
BOUGHTON: I hate to do this to you. I know you want to get this information out. All of this is still under investigation. In terms of whether they're staff or children that are at the hospital, I can't disclose that information under HIPPA regulations, as you know. But I can tell you that --
BANFIELD: Mayor Boughton, can I interrupt you only for a moment. I apologize. We want to join one of our affiliates in progress interviewing a mother and child. This is out WTNH affiliate.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: -- recounting what is going on, joining me is the Wassick (ph) family. We have Alexis, who is in third grade.
Alexis, you told me that you were sitting in class this morning and you saw a lot of police. Tell me how you found out what was going on?
ALEXIS WASSICK (ph), STUDENT: Well, we found all of these people and we was, like, right near the window in our classroom. And we saw police officers and we heard them on the roof and in our building.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Was everybody crying, scared, wanting their parents to come get them?
ALEXIS WASSICK (ph): Yes, they were. And then some people were even like, they kind of got a stomach ache.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Did you hear any gunshots or anything like that?
ALEXIS WASSICK (ph): Well, police officers, like they were kind of because they are police officers right out the door like trying to find the guy.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Are you OK right now?
ALEXIS WASSICK (ph): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Are you sure?
ALEXIS WASSICK (ph): Uh-huh.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: How excited were you to see dad?
ALEXIS WASSICK (ph): Excited.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Dad, you look worse than her, I've got to tell you.
FATHER OF ALEXIS: Yes. Yes, I was. It was shocking. I got the call at work this morning and I can't believe a small town like this would ever have anything like this happen and to be in an elementary school. It's unheard of.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: K through 4.
FATHER OF ALEXIS: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: And you say there are 600 kids in there?
FATHER OF ALEXIS: Yes. Roughly around 600.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: What was going through your mind? You immediately think of your child.
FATHER OF ALEXIS: Yes. I was pretty shaken up. Didn't know who or what happened. I knew there were shooters in the building or a shooter. Just worried about who else is locked in the building at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Mom, what do you think about this scene in Newtown?
MOTHER OF ALEXIS: It just doesn't seem real. Like, it's not even possible. You read it in the paper or see it in the news, you're like, oh, my god, that poor family and then you have something happen so close to home, I think I'm still in shock, to be honest with you. I'm, like, let's get her cell phone activated right now.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: News 8, we have exclusive video of a suspect walking away in cuffs. Does this put you at ease at all?
FATHER OF ALEXIS: No, not at all. There's about six choppers flying low. Not yet. I'm not sure if there's -- there's probably more people in the building.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: What are the parents saying? Everybody is grouping together and talking and putting each other at ease.
FATHER OF ALEXIS: We're coping. We're still trying to find out what is going on. It's a little nerve racking. As you can tell behind us, we do have a few more cars pulling in at this time. How many shooters, how many people are injured.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: I saw a parent at the bottom of the hill, running and crying at the bottom of the hill wanting to find his child. Did you have any problem finding Alexis?
FATHER OF ALEXIS: Yes. I didn't have too much trouble. Obviously, I was running to the school. Somebody told me that the kids were evacuated -- most of the kids were evacuated to the local firehouse here. Inside the firehouse, it was obviously tough to find because it was packed. But she was there and we're grateful.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Again, it's probably a more nerve-racking scene for a parent, Keith, than the kids at this point. They were there. They are safe now. But every single parent that I've spoken to -- and there's a million of them -- are just shaken up and want answers immediately. Of course, News 8 will be here live for all of the day until we have some answers for you. I'll send it back over to you.
BANFIELD: As they wrap up that location on location, our local affiliate, WTNH, interviewing some of the parents with one of their children, Alexis. She said all she saw was a lot of police out the window and the sound of them on the roof, and what she saw, it confers with what we're reporting, that SWAT team was on the roof, as well as canine units responding, searching around the school as well.
One of the things that she mentioned that we haven't seen yet is a reported video of someone being taken away in handcuffs. We can tell that you Susan Candiotti has a source that has confirmed that the shooter is dead on the scene. Whether, in fact, there was a second person who was arrested has not yet been confirmed.
The mayor of Danbury, Mark Boughton, is on the phone with us.
In fact, I want to go back for a moment before I talk to the mayor, to WFSB for some of the live reporting.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: -- our own sources, a teacher was shot in the foot and that teacher was taken to Danbury Hospital. That is one injury that we're hearing from multiple sources. And now the Associated Press confirming that.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: We heard that both Danbury Hospital as well as Bridgeport Hospital activated their emergency stations so they could be on stand by for the possibility of multiple victims being hospitalized. We have confirmed and it's likely that same person headed to Bridgeport Hospital, we have confirmed that the Newtown volunteer ambulance transported one person that was shot in the foot to that hospital. They are on the way to Bridgeport Hospital where they will be treated. We're told that person is in stable condition.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: And we do see -- I saw a stretcher there. It was unclear what was on top of that. But we are looking at live aerial pictures from our WCBS helicopter, our sister station in New York, that is flying over Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Again, the nightmare began at 20 minutes before 10:00 on this Friday morning when they got reports of a school shooting at this elementary school that goes kindergarten through the fourth grade. The nearby firehouse, as the crows fly -- it's aerial shots. It's not far away. That's become the staging situation where parents have been showing up. I believe that's what we're looking at now. Parents have been showing up there and reuniting with their children, taking them home. And as Robert said, when he was watching them reunite, the children were quite shaken. They were led away crying and this is going to be a very, very difficult thing to explain to these young children.
UNIDENTIFIED WFSB ANCHOR: And we did see obviously a lot of that emotion and we saw from the parents as they arrived here just in this shot that we have had up for the last several minutes. We can see many parents embracing as they were arriving there at the scene.
Robert Goolston is there on the scene, as is Len Bestoff. They're there right now, among our many.
BANFIELD: WTNH interviewing some of the parent who are at the scene. Let's listen. UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: There's signing procedures. I believe the front door is locked during the day, too. I'm curious to see how these people did get into the building.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Any idea at all and anything that people are hearing?
UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: No.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: From what we've seen it's impossible to get into a school, especially an elementary school today without people checking, checking and rechecking who you are and if you're supposed to be there.
UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: Correct. I would guess they would have picked up on -- unless it's somebody they knew they let into the building.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Right. Your daughter for a third grader seems very calm right now. Do you think that this hasn't hit her yet?
UNIDENTIFIED PARENT: I don't think so. When I picked her up, though, she was really, really upset and emotional about it. We're just fortunate enough that she's here with us.
UNIDENTIFIED WTNH CORRESPONDENT: Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for bringing your daughter to speak to us.
And we, of course, Keith, will let these people know exactly what's going on as soon as we get word.
BANFIELD: OK. A couple of things to get you up to speed on. One of the affiliates, WFSB, is reporting that a teacher apparently has been shot in the foot and was taken to Danbury Hospital about 10, 15 minutes away.
The mayor of Danbury has been on the phone with us, Mark Boughton. And I think we might have lost him. We'll see if we can't get reconnected with him at one point.
But also, very, very important information, and that is that any elementary school is locked for the most part across this country. And it is next to impossible to enter an elementary school without being buzzed in or have your identity checked in some way. How did the shooter have the access to this school? That's going to be something that clearly there's going to be a lot of questions asked.
Jason Carroll with something new?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I did. One of our affiliates in New York now reporting that there are what they're reporting multiple fatalities involved in the shooting at the elementary school. No more specifics other than using that specific term, multiple fatalities.
BANFIELD: Good lord. And our Susan Candiotti has a source that confirmed to CNN that shooter -- I hesitate, gunman, because we don't know if it's a student. This school goes up to the fourth grade. The shooter is dead on the seen. And these reports that are coming in of multiple injuries is very troublesome, to say the least.
We're going to take a quick break and see what else we can get from our sources. Back in a moment.
BANFIELD: So we're continuing our breaking news. Our coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School? Newtown, Connecticut, 600 kids between kindergarten and fourth grade, and reports of a shooting at this school. After 9:40 in the morning, three victims in the hospital in serious condition. We also know that the shooter, dead on the scene, according to a source telling CNN.
Jason Carroll with information from the hospital.
CARROLL: This is from Danbury Hospital where they had received three patients. A statement from the spokesperson saying, "We're here to care for any victims and their families in any way think need us. Our hearts and prayers are extended to anyone involved in this terrible tragedy to date. Three patients have been transported to Danbury Hospital from the scene. Out of an abundance of caution and not because of a direct threat, Danbury Hospital is under lockdown. This allows us to focus on the important work at hand." Again, that coming from the spokesperson from Danbury Hospital.
BANFIELD: Possibly, those injuries the result of two weapons that were recovered from the scene by police. A source telling CNN those two weapons, a Glock and a 6R. We don't know at this time about the injuries themselves, whether they are children or whether they are staff or adults. We also don't know if the shooter that was killed on the scene by police is a child or an adult.
We do know that there was one area where a car seemed to be parked erratically and roped of with crime tape. It was a subject of some interest. The pictures we see show it is a somewhat calm situation, it seems, in the parking lot.
Six ambulances at the minimum dispatched to the scene, gurneys wheeled in the parking lot into the school. Reports of multiple injuries at the time. A staging area set up a restaurant close by called the Villa Restaurant and Pizza, where parents were asked to go. You see some parents are holding their children, but they probably left before they got the information that local police were asking them, do not come here. It wasn't a secure location. Asking them to stay by the phone instead.
And actually, SWAT teams with canine units not only on the roof of the school but also in the wooded area you see behind the parking lot, a hill behind the school, apparently, the subject of an intense search. At one point, there was a report of a second gunman being possible, not confirmed. But we have a huge police presence and a lot of emergency vehicles that responded to this scene.
And three hospitals enacting their emergency procedures, they're trauma teams getting into action, Danbury Hospital, Bridgeport Hospital, Yale, New Haven Hospital, all surrounding this area within about a 100-mile radius.
As far as the number of injured, the nature of the injuries, we're told very serious, at least the three that were in Danbury Hospital, very serious injuries. The mayor of Danbury unable to confirm for us, however, whether those three injured people are children or if they are adults. A witness, though, told a local affiliate, News 8, that she saw two children, one of them with a bloody face and the other with what appeared to be a hand injury. Other witnesses reported numerous gunshot wounds, at least, that one of these victims had suffered. There are triage facilities that were set up on this location as well.
It's just a very sad developing scene. Again, it is an elementary school, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut. The developments continue to come in. And there's a news conference scheduled for 1:00 eastern time this afternoon.
With that, I'm going to hand off the baton to my colleague, Suzanne Malveaux, to continue the coverage -- Suzanne?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Ashleigh.
Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM, and welcome to our viewers around the world as they simultaneous cast this domestically and internationally.
We were breaking news out of Connecticut. We're following this school shooting. Police telling us a number of people have been shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, about 60 miles north of New York. The first call coming into police around 9:40 local time this morning. Children were being evacuated.