Return to Transcripts main page


Shooting at Florida High School. Aired 4:30-4:45p ET

Aired February 14, 2018 - 16:30   ET



CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Cause to us really rethink how we deal with guns, guns in the hands of people that should not have them, then this certainly won't either. It is a shame, but it won't.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Chief Ramsey, stay right there.

I want to bring in a student at the school right now. Joining us by phone, Kayden Hanafi.

Kayden, you evacuated. How are you?

KAYDEN HANAFI, STUDENT: I'm perfect right now. I'm being driven away from the school right now.

TAPPER: You are with other students who were evacuated as well?

HANAFI: HANAFI: Yes. I'm with a couple of other people. We're driven being by my mom.

I'm with four other people, so six people in total in the car.

TAPPER: You're a freshman?

HANAFI: Yes. I'm a freshman.

TAPPER: What did you see? What happened?

HANAFI: Well, obviously, I wasn't in the building where the shooting happened.

But we were very close, like literally one building away, literally a stairwell away. So, we were first told to evacuate over the intercom. So we were leaving the building. And we came upon a stairwell that led to the other building over a bit of concrete pavement.

And I heard two gunshots. And a lot of people were running out of that building. And the intercom spoke again and told us to -- code red, which is a lockdown.

TAPPER: And what did you do then?

HANAFI: We returned to our building, our building and our room. We locked the door and we stood around. Most people thought it was firecrackers, because it was just -- it was on the third floor, I think. Or that's what a lot of people have been saying, or second floor.

So I thought it was someone -- it's Valentine's Day, so maybe, as a celebration, they set off firecrackers and a teacher who didn't see maybe called in an alarm.

But then we started -- CBS and all the local news stations started updating and talking about a situation. It went past the time school ends, so people thought something was up. But we didn't know it was a shooting until we were told and until reports -- or I think they said like there are an estimated six people dead and 20 injured.

And when people saw that, they thought it was a shooting. So...

TAPPER: Yes, we know that there are, according to the Broward sheriff, 14 people who were shot and been taken to hospitals. We don't know whether they're dead or injured.

And the fire chief did tell "The Miami Herald" that one person has been killed. A horrible day.

HANAFI: We saw -- I saw at least two people under tarps in front of the building that the shooting occurred.

TAPPER: You saw two people under those blankets that they put people under after they have been killed?

HANAFI: It was yellow. So -- and they weren't moving and they weren't receiving attention. So, I think they were dead.

TAPPER: Could you tell if they were students or adults?

HANAFI: One was an adult, for sure. He was wearing a bit more formal attire, like stuff that teachers wear. And the other one, I think, was a female student.

TAPPER: That's horrible. I'm sorry you had to see that.

HANAFI: It's -- it's fine.

TAPPER: Your mom must be pretty happy that she has you in the car.

HANAFI: Yes, very much so. It is really a blessing to still be alive.

TAPPER: Kayden, we're glad you're OK. Thanks for calling us.

HANAFI: Thank you.

TAPPER: I mean, you know, the new normal in America, where this happens every few weeks.

There have been, I think read somewhere, 18 individuals -- 18 -- I'm sorry -- incidents of school shootings just since January 1, 2018. Obviously, some of them had fatalities. Some of them did not, but people bringing guns to schools.

We're looking at images right now from WPTV in Parkland, Florida, a lot of people, parents and children, hugging each other.

What's going through your head, Josh Campbell, as you watch all this?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, Jake, as I watch these images, they're gut-wrenching.

I hearken back to, I was in Orlando following the shooting of...


CAMPBELL: ... shooting, meeting with victim family members.

And they talk about the state of the unknown, just how distressing that is. You can imagine as you watch these images that some parents right now just don't know what's going on, which obviously compounds their grief and anxiety.

And then something else, as we're sitting there listening to the student talk about the events that were unfolding inside the school, you can imagine the state of chaos when you have a code red lockdown order going out at the same time a fire alarm is being pulled.

Do you stay? Do you go?

TAPPER: Right.

CAMPBELL: Got to be just a complete state of chaos.

TAPPER: And you heard that student, Kayden Hanafi, talking about they thought it was firecrackers. They didn't know. They weren't aware until on their texts they saw local news reports about what it was.


In the top right of your screen, if you're watching, there is an ambulance, and my understanding is they put the young man, the young white man in a maroon shirt that we saw police detaining earlier.

We do not know if it is the suspect. But we know that the suspect is in custody. We saw police put that individual in that ambulance. And that ambulance is now being taken somewhere. And local police helicopters, this one with WPLG, are obviously following.

Our affiliate has a live interview with a family that was just reunited. We're going to listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not use what was used.

And we heard the police yelling. They were banging on the doors.

QUESTION: At this point, you didn't know if the shooter was at your door or not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we didn't know. But there was someone banging at our door. And we didn't know like who it was.

QUESTION: You said that right, before all this happened, the fire alarm was pulled, so everybody was running out of their classrooms kind of. Explain the moment and the chaos in that moment.


Everyone was kind of really confused, because we thought it was another fire drill, or like the fake fire drill that they like doing. And they never do this around this time because everyone is getting ready to leave. And they wouldn't do it around the other two periods, because that's when there's A lunch and B lunch. And that would mess up everything.

They would usually only do it during the first period.

QUESTION: So, you thought it was strange, that there was a fire alarm being pulled? And you said there was some confusion, a teacher telling you to run back in the classroom when you heard the shots?


That was my history teacher, Mr. Stewart (ph). He told us to go back inside. And we were really confused and did not who know to listen to, because we heard Mr. Porter, I think a teacher said...

QUESTION: The principal.


They were telling us to evacuate. And we didn't know like if he had a gun up to his head. That's what people were saying.

QUESTION: When all this was going to, and you're hiding in the classroom, what was going through your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really hope this isn't real. And I hope that all my friends are OK. And I hope everyone I know and everyone at the school will be OK and no one will get hurt. And I was kind of freaking out.

But I was trying to stay calm and not cry.

QUESTION: And you were talking to your dad on the phone. You were texting with your dad. Tell me what were you telling him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was saying, I'm OK. And I'll tell him like updates of what we hear through the classroom, because the parents who were outside, like up close, were saying what they saw.

QUESTION: The moments where you finally were let out of the classroom an hour-and-a-half later, what did you see when you were walking down the hallway being escorted by police?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw broken glass from a door. I think that was police to get in. And I saw some bodies. And that wasn't good. QUESTION: People that you recognized?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. There was my friend's teacher.

TAPPER: We're going -- she's starting to talk about individuals there, and -- so we're going to let that interview breathe elsewhere.

Tom Fuentes, if you would, when Chief Ramsey referred to this as an active crime scene, what are they looking for? Obviously, just do they trace every bullet, every incident of violence?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, trace every bullet. Try to trace the path of the shooter. Had he been in school all day with guns in backpack? Did he come in later in the day? What were his movements? Was he alone? Which part of the buildings was he in? All of that.

If could I add, going back to what Chief Ramsey said, I was on the air here the day of Sandy hook. And Wolf Blitzer on "SIT ROOM" asked me, well, this will surely change everything, dozens of young children massacred.

And I said the same thing Chief Ramsey said then. I said, no, Wolf, I don't think anything will change. I don't think any laws will change. Everybody will be the same when this is all over with. And that's pretty much what we still have.

TAPPER: Law enforcement has not exactly been active in terms of pressing Congress to change laws.

I remember law enforcement used to be much more active in the 1990s when it came to pushing for further restrictions to make sure that guns don't get into the wrong hands, but I have not seen law enforcement officials pressing in the last 10 or 15 years. Why is that?

FUENTES: Well, I think they've just gotten to the point of it's not leading to any change. And why?

When I was a street cop 40 years ago, in the mid-'70s, you had police associations saying, something needs to change. Our officers are outgunned on the streets. They're carrying revolvers. The bad guys are carrying MAC-10 automatic weapons. And that needs to stop.

And we still hear that. We still hear the concerns about complaints that we have the militarization of the police. No, we have the militarization of the general public in this country, and the police have to go against -- up against that. Almost every day of the week, we hear of these situations.


And in schools, it's not possible to secure a school. As Sara mentioned, you have outdoor hallways. That means that every individual classroom is an entrance and an exit from the building.

So, there could be 100 entrances and exits to the safe areas of that school. You can't put a guard at every one of them. You are not going to be able to keep that school locked down from early in the morning, when some school activities start before the general classes start, to late in the evening, when the sports teams are practicing or there are concerts or other events going on in that school.

And those schools may be open six, seven days a week, with the athletic competitions and other community groups using the facilities. So the idea that we can just lock that school down or put enough security guards or magnetometers or any of that, that isn't going to change.

So, as long as we have mentally ill people running around with automatic weapons, semiautomatic weapons, we're going to face this.

TAPPER: Just to point it out, obviously, we still don't know how the suspect in this horrific instance got the firearm. And obviously we will be reporting on that more.

I want to bring in Cedric Alexander.

Cedric, as you are watching these images coming in from Parkland, Florida, what is going through your mind about what they're dealing with down there as a law enforcement matter?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, DEPUTY MAYOR, ROCHESTER, NEW YORK: Well, here again, I think you heard it from both my friends and colleagues there.

That is a huge and, from what we can tell from where we sit, from the television, that's a huge crime scene. And certainly, from the police, from the time they got the call, from the time that they stepped onto that campus, entered into that building, it had to be chaotic for them.

They had to know right away, a lot of messages coming through them via radio and from persons on the scene, a lot of information being transferred from one place to another. So, for them, it had to be hugely chaotic. They know that many students had to barricade themselves inside classrooms.

In addition, we know that we had children that were fleeing the campus, trying to get away. And officers were continuing to respond. They're continuing to gather information into that crime scene.

Fortunately, this subject was placed into custody. But this investigation is now just beginning. Who is the subject? What was the reason for this event occurring today? How did he gain access to a weapon?

A lot of questions have to be answered here, Jake. So this is truly just the beginning of the investigation that, as the days go by, we will learn more of what occurred on.

But my heart and prayers go out to these families, to these students, on this day, and in particularly on this Valentine's Day. This is so sad, so tragic, and we're seeing this much too often in this country.

TAPPER: I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem, formerly of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama.

And, Juliette, right now, there are a number of families who are being reunited with their children. It's a staging point. I think it's in Coral Springs, not far from the school.

Tell us about that process.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, there's actually three processes going on.

There's going to be an investigation. Who is the assailant? What did he know? There's the triage, the health triage. We have at least over a dozen people who are requiring medical care.

And then there's family unification. It's a relatively sort of new piece in crisis management in cases like this that just is now focused on, which is, if you can get family members with their kids quickly, they leave, they go home. They're accounted for.

It is just a key part of sort of the sort of deep breath that everyone needs right now in Florida, because, of course, this is going to be a couple days until the school is back to normal. And so that is going to be staging areas.

You're hearing a lot about Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart, if it close by the high school, is very involved with emergency management training. The chief and everyone knows that they're sort of an integral part of hurricanes and other sort of planning.

So there are probably different places -- or there are different places around the school. Parents are being told to go there. They don't want to come near the school, but you can't stop a parent from getting their child.

So they need to get family unification going. It is a lot of kids. It's a couple thousand kids, so it will take a while. We have had some parents on air clearly texting with their kids and not able to get to them, so, just a key part of this crisis management phase, outside of the law enforcement phase.

TAPPER: And, Juliette, the sheriff is now tweeting -- quote -- "Parent, please wait to go to the family staging area until everything is clear."

KAYYEM: Right.

TAPPER: What is that suggesting to you?

KAYYEM: That's odd, because why is it a family staging area?

They've got to get -- and so I don't know why that would have been out. You set up a family staging area that is outside the perimeter of the investigation to ensure that parents can get to their kids.

Otherwise, you are going to have kids texting, meet me there, dad, meet me there, mom. You actually -- the school needs to account for these kids.

And so maybe part of it is, they're staging -- I would surmise, from past experience, they might be staging the kids, taking attendance, right? That's key because you got to know who's there and who might be at the hospital and then allowing them to find their parents. They got to -- they got to pick up the pace now because this is when parents start to panic. People do stupid things. They show up at crime scenes and kids are terrified. All they want to do is go home so we have to get them home. We got to get them home.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: CHIEF Ramsey, I know you wanted to weigh in.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER POLICE COMMISSIONER, PHILADELPHIA: Well, I just wanted to make mention of something that you said earlier around you know, police chiefs and pushing to get better gun laws. There has been some movement. The major City Chiefs Association certainly, there's a bill now pending before Congress, a concealed carry bill, a Reciprocity Act, I think it's called, where you can -- if you have a permit in one state, you have to honor it in all other states. And we know about the variance in gun laws. So there has been some pushback. The problem is it just falls on deaf ears. So we all -- I mean, all of society needs to be able to get engaged. I'm not anti-gun but we've got to stop this nonsense. I mean, this is going to continue. It is not going to get fixed on its own.

And maybe we won't stop it entirely but we have to put ourselves in a position where at least we're trying. And right now we're not even trying and that's the shame. Look at the trauma that these kids are going through. When you interview that young person there, you can hear it in their voice. I mean, how do you deal with that and get beyond the schools? Think about the youngsters that lived in many of these neighborhoods plagued with gun violence and the trauma they go through. I mean, if we don't care about ourselves as adults, at least care about the kids and let's do what we can to keep them safe.

TAPPER: A Washington researcher suggesting that since Columbine in 1999, so almost 20 years ago, 150,000 American school children have gone through some sort of school shooting situation like this. Not saying that they've been killed or wounded necessarily but they've experienced and gone through this trauma and it is hard -- it is hard to not believe that the adults of America are not failing the children of America by not doing more to prevent guns from getting into the hands of the mentally ill and those who are violent and would carry out such a horrific act.

RAMSEY: Jake, they have been wounded. It is the invisible wounds, the trauma, that kids go through when they have to witness something like that, when they hear about it happening in other schools. I mean, you know, you may not like school because you don't like reading, writing and arithmetic, but you'd never thought about getting killed when you're in school, at least not when I came up, but now that a legitimate threat. We have to not only have fire drills, now we have to have active shooter drills. I mean, you said this is the new normal I don't accept that it's normal. It is not normal. And the minute we accept it as being normal, we just set the stage for this stuff on continue. It's not going to stop. TAPPER: No, I agree with you. I don't think I called it the new normal but all I mean to say is like we see this now happening every couple of weeks and it's horrifying that this is what our children are going through. I want to bring in a panic right now -- I mean, I'm sorry, a teacher right now on the phone, Melissa Falkowski. First of all, Melissa, how are you doing?


TAPPER: So you were -- you were teaching when this happened? Tell us what you know.

FALKOWSKI: I was. It was the end of the school day and the fire alarm went off and we went to evacuate, you know as if it was a fire drill. And then we got 15, 20 steps out of the classroom and we were (INAUDIBLE) we ran back inside to the classroom and got down on the floor and then we moved into the closet and we were hidden in the closet.

TAPPER: You teach freshmen? You teach first-year students?

FALKOWSKI: I teach a lot of grades. I teach all grades because I teach electives. I teach newspaper and English.

TAPPER: Were you -- were you in the freshman building when this happened? I understand that's where this happened.

FALKOWSKI: No, but I have a lot of friends who teach out there. I was across campus in the 200 Building at the time.

TAPPER: Sources are telling us that they know of at least two fatalities. We talked to a student, Kayden (INAUDIBLE) earlier who said that you know, that those two fatalities were visible under tarps as students left the building.

FALKOWSKI: Yes, a friend of mine teaches in the freshman building and she said that as she was leaving, that there were bodies on the floor. So I don't -- I don't know who it is and I don't know why but -- I mean, this is -- this is the type of situation that we just had a training about this, you know, not -- nearly about six weeks ago about how to deal with this situation. If we haven't have that training, it could have been you know, a lot worst. In fact, A lot of us probably thought that this was the drill that we were supposed to have, you know, this semester to practice, and it wasn't. It was a (INAUDIBLE) instead.

[16:50:11] TAPPER: Melissa, I hate to even ask this question but your friend who said that he or she saw bodies, did he say -- did he or she say how many bodies she saw?

FALKOWSKI: She said she saw three.

TAPPER: She saw three?

FALKOWSKI: Yes. TAPPER: Law enforcement sources are saying that this -- the shooter was a student, suspected to be a student, a current student of the school. Obviously, we don't want to mention any names. That's up for law enforcement but do you know anything about --

FALKOWSKI: No. I don't know -- I don't know anything about who it might be or why. I just know this is like the worst nightmare scenario that you hope never happens to you. And all this you know, I was listening in earlier to the -- some of the commentators and it really speaks to those of us especially who work in schools, who worked with children, and our society's inability to solve this problem. It is totally unacceptable.

TAPPER: Well, it is pretty clear that we're failing our kids here. And I don't -- you know, I'm not saying that the solution is one thing or another but obviously this does not happen in other countries the way it happens here.

FALKOWSKI: Society failed those people today.

TAPPER: How are the kids you were teaching? How are they doing?

FALKOWSKI: They're doing OK. They're holding it together you know, a little bit more stressful and harder you know, when we were in the closet and you know, they were crying and panicking and now we're outside (INAUDIBLE) so you know, it's a lot calmer.

TAPPER: How old were the students you're teaching?

FALKOWSKI: 16, 17, I have a lot of Freshmen in my newspaper class, you know, 14 or 15.

TAPPER: How many students did you have to take back to the classroom and put in the closet?

FALKOWSKI: I managed to put 19 kids in the closet with me.

TAPPER: How long did you have to be there?

FALKOWSKI: Less than a minute.

TAPPER: Oh, less than a minute and then you were cleared quickly?

FALKOWSKI: No .we were in closet for probably 40 minutes.

TAPPER: Oh, 40 minutes, OK.

FALKOWSKI: We were locked in the closet until SWAT came and got us and took us somewhere else, and then took us somewhere else. Now we're you know, standing out on the street and kids are, you know, finding their parents.

TAPPER: Those kids are lucky to have you. It must have been horrible experience.

FALKOWSKI: Yes. It was -- it was horrible. TAPPER: And then as a teacher, you have to put on a brave face.


TAPPER: Yes, when no doubt you were pretty scared.

FALKOWSKI: I think I have to -- I really have to go now. I have students and they're getting stuff and I'm responsible for them so --

TAPPER: Melissa, thank God for you and those kids are lucky they have you and thanks for talking to us.

FALKOWSKI: OK, thank you.

TAPPER: Like I said, this is just -- the stories we're hearing now and the stories we report and you know, 20 years ago, this would be shocking and stunning and -- but now this happens in every day in America these days. Yes, Tom Fuentes.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, Jake, you mentioned about the school being a crime scene but you have potentially two additional crime scenes. The vehicle that that person took to the school, if he took a car or how he got there and then secondly, that person's residence. If they've identified the shooter and have identified then the shooter's residence, you would have a crime scene search there. Are there more explosives or explosives or other items there, literature, his computers, other things that might you know, reveal more information. Also, in Sandy Hook, the shooter in Sandy Hook had shot and killed his mother at the residence, then went to the school and began to massacre there so that's another thing. Is the shooter's family safe? Are they accounted for?

TAPPER: I want to play sound from another student who is reunited with his mom and we just got this more local (INAUDIBLE) with. Let's listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just different when he hits home, you know. You read about it, you -- when it happens, you know the places, but when it's your backyard when it's your child that's hiding. It's just a little different, you know? It's a very sad day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, I'm still in shock. I don't know whether it will hit me tonight or tomorrow. Like I said, to me, it still almost feels like a drill. You know, it's just surreal to see like my mom and my aunt just crying, you know, waiting for me.


TAPPER: A reunion, reuniting a boy and his -- and his mother and his aunt at the school outside in Parkland, Florida, in Broward County. Josh, you wanted to weigh in.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, Jake, I mean, just piggybacking what you and Tom were saying about the how we've become desensitized. This (INAUDIBLE) happen more and more and it just becomes so common place. And I think of two things. We're just saying there listening to Miss Falkowski talk about six weeks ago they received active shooter training which is incredible. I mean, and the FBI has really increased the number of trainings provided to entities like this as well as law enforcement. So the fact that we need to increase training is you know, that's troubling. But then secondly, and Tom, you know, as we sit here and watch law enforcement, we see a sea of red and blue uniforms. The fact that you have a seamless fusion of law enforcement working together, it's something you want but sadly, it's also evidence that we've had too much practice.

[16:55: 38] TAPPER: And these are the images from at the top of the hour when what looks like a young man was detained by police. We do not know who this young man is. We don't know if this individual is the shooter. Certainly, it happens on crime scenes that there are cases of mistaken identity or individuals who are detained because they might have information, we don't know. This individual was also later put into an ambulance and taken away and there were local T.V. news choppers following that ambulance. We don't know who this is but local law enforcement is saying that the individual -- shooter is a student at this school. And Charles Ramsey, if I can bring you back, is it usually the case that at a school shooting, the shooter is a student at that school?

RAMSEY: I don't know if it is usually the case or not. Certainly, there are numerous cases where that is the situation. Sometimes it's a former student, sometimes it's someone who is mentally ill who decides that's what they want to do. Yes, I guess it varies. But the bottom line is somebody probably knew something. As it relates to this young man, maybe through social media or something that wasn't quite right and whether or not that was brought to the attention of the adults in the school or anyone else, I don't know. More will unfold over time. Now that we know who this individual is, we'll start to learn a little bit more. But you know, whether or not it's usual, I would have to take a look at all those shootings in order to be able to say that. But I would say it's not uncommon. The first thing I would -- I would think is that it's probably a student or a former student.

TAPPER: And when it is a student, in your experience, Chief Ramsey, usually, have there been some sort of warning signs whether, on social media or -- hold on one second, we're going to listen to the police briefing on the situation.


TAPPER: Oh, we're having audio problems. I'm sorry. Chief Ramsey, I'm going to -- I'm going to bring you back because we're having some sort of audio problems with that -- with that -- is it usually the case that there have been some sort of warning signs? There's the audio, sorry.


SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY: The FBI and our (INAUDIBLE) people will begin processing this horrific scene as soon as the buildings are cleared. Right now the buildings are not safe to be cleared. We're asking that you put out on the news ASAP that any parent who is looking for their child, to please go immediately to the Marriott within the Heron Bay Complex. Our deputies and other police officers are transporting these young students over to Heron Bay to be reunited with their parents. So that's where we want parents to go. I want to thank the Mayor, Commissioner (INAUDIBLE) and Mr. (INAUDIBLE) for being here to support the Broward Sheriff's office and to be with me at this terrible time. The last thing I want to say is this is a terrible day for Parkland, Broward County, the state of Florida and the United States. My very own triplets went to that school and graduated from Stoneman Douglas. They played football and lacrosse at that school. So it's just catastrophic. There really are no words. And we will keep you updated. I have spoken to Governor Scott who, he's out of state. He's on his way over here. I have spoken to President Trump and he's offered the full power of the United States of America to help us get through this. Any questions? I can't hear you.


ISRAEL: He was found off campus. I don't exactly know where. I believe he was found in the city of Coral Springs by a Coconut Beach -- Coconut Creek police officer. That's unconfirmed. Right now there's so much --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he an outsider?

ISRAEL: From what I understand, there was a time where he did attend the school. I don't know why he left. I don't know when he left.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he was not a current --

ISRAEL: That is correct. He was not a current student.


ISRAEL: I wasn't there. But I was told that there was no confrontation. He was -- can you hear me?


ISRAEL: He was taken into arrest without incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anyone else (INAUDIBLE)



ISRAEL: I believe he was approximately 18 years old.