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Suspect in the Marjory Douglas High School Shooting was Formally Submitted. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 15, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, sir. You are charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. I have something very important to tell you. You are charged with some very serious crimes. You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right at any time during this hearing, whatever you say can and will be used against you in the prosecution of this case.
State, how would you like to proceed today? Are you seeking to hold the defendant no bond and a finding of.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, your honor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. You may proceed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your honor, the state is relying on the sworn affidavit that the court has been provided as to the 17 counts of first-degree murder and the contents of the sworn affidavit by detectives, citing the actions of the defendant in going to Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on February 14th, 2018, with a premeditated design in that he went loaded with an AR-15 rifle. He had additional ammunition with him during and shot 17 individuals who later died as a result of the gun shot wounds. And then he fled the scene. So the state is seeking a no bond hold on the defendant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Defense?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your honor, the defense has no arguments at this time. We will defer until further court proceedings. We were totally invoke his right to remain silent and that notification relates to any law enforcement agencies that are involved in this case, both at a state and federal level.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I have reviewed the probable cause affidavit. Mr. Cruz, filed in your case. And I find probable cause. I the proof the client a proof of guilt to be evident or the presumption great. Therefore, Mr. Cruz, you are gong to be held without bond until further order of the court. This order is without prejudice for you to file a motion to set bond with your signed division judge and request a hearing under state v. Arthur.
Does anybody know? Has he been assigned a division judge yet? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, your honor. He has been assigned judge
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. All right. Thank you very much.
Sir, you are going to be held no bond.
All right. Let's go back to -- we have to wait for them to bring him back.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And there you had it. Mere seconds of taking a look at the man who has been charged, facing 17 counts of premeditated murder about the school shooting that we were talking about 24 hours ago today.
I'm Brooke Baldwin here, live in Parkland, Florida.
And let's just start with what we just saw. Paul Callan is one of our CNN legal analysts. And he joins me now live.
So just, Paul, I mean, that was mighty quick in front of the magistrate, being held without bond. Walk us through what we just saw.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, no surprises here. This is the first appearance in a murder case. And in a murder case, you appear first before this kind of a local magistrate, who really focuses only on the issue of whether bail should be granted. And she analyzed really two things in looking at the case, whether there was probable cause that he committed the crime, and the prosecutor indicated there's a very strong showing of probable cause since they have witnesses he shot 17 people and that it was premeditated because of his use of the AR-15.
BALDWIN: Shot and killed 17 people. Shot many more people. I just want to be exact.
CALLAN: Yes. And you know, that's an interesting observation, Brooke. Because I was surprised that the prosecutor only referred to the murder counts, which were 17. Yes, there are lots of other victims in this shooting. And she indicated that because it's a charge of premeditated murder that - and with a strong presumption of guilt that no bond would be allowed.
So, that's it. And under Florida law he will appear in front of another judge, whom she mentioned at the end at a later date. And there will be a determination to whether will be a preliminary hearing where we will see more evidence or whether this will be a grand jury presentation.
BALDWIN: OK. Paul Callan, thank you so much for that.
And if you are just joining us, appreciate you. If you are just joining us, since the nation lost victims as young as six in Sandy Hook elementary school today, I stand at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high. Seventeen people were murdered here, 14 others wounded and four still in critical condition.
There is pain, there is grief. But just as palpable is the frustration that this uniquely American torment mass murder by a single shooter has happened again.
Earlier today, we heard from President Trump who tried to console the nation, speaking directly to young people in this country, saying he is seeking solutions but with no mention of gun laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:05:08] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation's governors and attorney generals. We are making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority. It is not enough to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: This is the suspected gunman who we just saw there in court in front of the magistrate. But I really briefly -- he did send out red flags and not just one, but two, multiple, unequivocal signs of trouble online. And officials said the FBI actually knew about two alleged threats from this particular suspect, a former student who by the way, had been expelled from Douglas high school. One threat involve this 2017 You Tube post where he wrote, apparently, and just quoting him, I'm going to be a professional school shooter. And you see the post list his name, which I am not standing here today repeating or saying out loud but I will say a short time ago the FBI said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT LEAKY, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN-CHARGE: No other information was included with that comment, which would indicate a time, location or true identity of the person who made the comment. The FBI conducted database reviews, checks, but was unable to further identify the person who actually made the comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: As we learn more about what exactly happened here, the high school remains closed. Its students Are coming to grips or starting to try to come to grips with exactly what and who has been lost. I want you to listen to this freshman talk about this slain teacher she believes actually saved her life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELSEY FRIEND, SURVIVOR OF PARKLAND SHOOTING MASSACRE: He still will forever be my hero. I won't forget the actions that he took for me and fellow students in the classroom. And if his family is watching this, please know that your son or your brother was an amazing person and I am alive today because of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: As I mentioned, the suspected shooter was in court today.
CNN's Brian Todd is outside the Broward County courthouse in Ft. Lauderdale.
And you have, Brian, new details about the suspect's ties to extremism. What have you learned?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brooke. The anti-defamation league says that a spokesperson for a Florida based white supremacist group, a group called the republic of Florida that a spokesperson for that group says the suspect has ties to that group. The spokesperson, again, for this group, called Republic of Florida, telling the anti- defamation league that the suspect conducted some training exercises, took part in some training exercises with that group. But the spokesperson saying that the group did not expect or ask or order him to commit any kind of a crime like the one we saw yesterday.
So, that's kind of another piece of the background that we are learning about this suspect in this case, the anti-defamation league, talking about his ties, his possible ties to a Florida white supremacist group.
And again, Brooke, talking about his appearance here in court today, we knew it was going to be very brief. We knew that the judge would talk to him about the charges against him. This was not going to be an arraignment. And arraignment won't come for some weeks, we are told. And that the judge -- we spoke to a local -- very prominent, local defense attorney, Mark O'Mara who has handled several cases in this courtroom before. He said that he expected -- this is before the hearing. He said he expected the judge to either limit or not allow the suspect to speak at all. And that seems to be what came to pass. He said that the judge may or may not have asked him how he intended to plead in this case but he may, that the judge may not ask him that because the judge really wanted to limit him to either saying something very few words or no words at all. And the judge elected to not have him say any words at all.
We were expecting the judge to appoint an interim defense attorney for him, possibly a public defender. And there was an attorney sitting next to him or standing next to him as he stood there in an orange jump suit and shackles in the courtroom, a very brief court appearance. He is being held without bond until further notice - Brooke.
BALDWIN: All right. Brian, thank you so much. If you get more, let us know.
Meantime, did you know that Parkland, Florida, right here, was actually ranked the number one safest city in all of Florida for 2017? The number one ranking, coming from a prominent trade group specializing in home safety. Now students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high are dealing with just horrifying trauma.
With me now, a survivor Connor Dietrich, a junior at the school. Connor, thank you so much for coming out. I am so sorry. But sorry
doesn't begin to cover it. How are you feeling? How Are you holding up?
[14:10:10] CONNOR DIETRICH, SURVIVED SHOOTING AT MARJORY DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I mean, it's really hard. You know, people I see every day, I can't see them anymore. My team captain from my swim and dive team, he didn't make it.
BALDWIN: You lost friends?
DIETRICH: I lost many friends. His brother is in the hospital. People like I see every single day of my life, I'm never going to see again.
BALDWIN: Do you want to talk about them at all?
DIETRICH: I mean, Nick, who was my swim team captain, he was a friend to everyone in our team. (INAUDIBLE). He was there for you. He was cheering you on. He was making sure you needed - you had everything you need at your (INAUDIBLE). He just cared so much about everyone on our team. And it's awful that this happened to him. He didn't deserve it.
BALDWIN: Do you think it's hit you fully?
DIETRICH: No. I mean, I spent a lot of time like in the classroom. And I was sitting there. I was in shock. In the hallway I was in Chicago like - and then I got out of the school yesterday and I just broke down. I didn't feel like I even had to cry. Like it just happened.
BALDWIN: Of course.
DIETRICH: And I found my mom and dad and I'm like I had never been so happy to hug them in my entire life. I was so excited --.
BALDWIN: I'm sure they felt the exact same.
Let's go back though a second. So you were in a classroom.
DIETRICH: At first I wasn't in a classroom. When he pulled the fire alarm, I went running around, trying to find out where I was supposed to be and got locked out of my classroom with a couple of other kids. And we can't get in a classroom. We were all stuck in the hallway kind of just running. We didn't know where he was. We can't hear the gunshots anymore.
BALDWIN: How did you know there was a he? So you heard shots?
DIETRICH: Yes, we did the shots.
BALDWIN: And did you think instantly oh, my God, those are gun shots or did you think it was balloons popping as one student told me? And how would you even know what it would sound like? DIETRICH: I thought it was a drill because they told us you will have
police officers whoa re going to be firing blanks like scare us, get us like, you know, trained for this. So no one took it seriously until I heard like screaming, the worst screaming you will ever hear. It was awful like major heart stop beating and --.
BALDWIN: That's when you knew?
DIETRICH: Yes. It hit me really hard at that time. Everyone in the hallway was crying. We finally got a teacher to let us into a room.
BALDWIN: And what did you do, hunker down?
DIETRICH: We sat in the corner. We had all the lights off, kids were crying, calling their parents. We had to tell a couple of kids to be quiet because it was like it get loud when everyone is calling their mon crying. We were watching the news. We are trying to figure out what's going on. It was awful.
BALDWIN: You were having to quiet people's cries because you were worried that the shooter would hear?
BALDWIN: Your parents, you mentioned you were thrilled to give them hugs. You were in a very unique position because, Connor, your parents are police officers.
BALDWIN: So not only were they, of course, hearing about, you know, the shooting at Douglas high school, but they are thinking of you. How are they doing?
DIETRICH: Well, they actually drove all the way over here from Ft. Lauderdale really fast. They got here fast. I texted them. They were on their way as soon as they got word from me. And y dad was actually the one who went up with the SWAT team and got me out of my classroom, walked me over to my mom. She was standing there, you know, full uniform with all her protection and everything. And it's overwhelming to see that many cops but I grew up like, you know, around all those people. So everyone else might have been a little scared by them. But I mean, I was so excited to see them because I knew they were there to help.
BALDWIN: It was home for you.
BALDWIN: And tell me about that hug. Tell me about seeing your parents.
DIETRICH: I never hugged my mom so hard and for so long in my entire life. And we were like both in tears. I was so excited to see her. I really thought like I was saying my good-byes over text message to everyone I loved because I was in the hallway. BALDWIN: No, you were not.
BALDWIN: You were telling people good-bye?
DIETRICH: I was saying I love you and whatever happens I appreciate everything you did and just making sure they knew that I love the with all my heart.
BALDWIN: Connor! You thought you were going to not walk out of that school?
DIETRICH: Yes. I was in that hallway. It wasn't even more than five minutes but the gunshots stopped and my building was right next to where he was. All he had to do was walk up the stairs and would have found all of us.
BALDWIN: You eventually got out because SAWT came and got you?
BALDWIN: Wow! One of my producers told me that you actually -- did you know of the shooter or you knew his ex-girlfriend, who had expressed worries?
DIETRICH: When I was a freshman. I don't remember the girl's name. I just remember being in a situation, sitting in our class and she was talking about this guy who would not leave her alone and who was threatening her and it was Nick, it was the kid who did it. And I didn't think anything of it at the time. I didn't know him or anything. But I kept hearing more and more of how he was sketchy and he shouldn't -- you know, he is a danger to a lot of people. And apparently he was posting things that a lot of students see. We were all really blindsided by this. And he doesn't go here no anymore. He was last person they expected to do it.
BALDWIN: He was expelled?
BALDWIN: From -- was he fighting? Why was he expelled?
DIETRICH: From what I heard he was fighting his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend.
BALDWIN: OK. You know, how old are you?
DIETRICH: I'm 17.
BALDWIN: You are 17. You should not be standing here with me having this conversation about losing friends at 17 years of age. No one in this country should. And when I listen to the President earlier today, I don't know if you a chance to listen to the President's message to the country, you know. He spoke directly to young people like you and he said we need to secure our schools and keep young people safe. He talked in a tweet about, you know, mental illness of the shooter. But not once mentioned guns, gun laws. Do you have anything to say?
[14:15:16] DIETRICH: I mean, I don't think the gun itself killed everyone. I think he pulled the trigger. I don't think he should have ever had the ability to get the guns he had. There should have been much more background checks and --.
BALDWIN: He passed it. He passed the background check, from what I understand it.
DIETRICH: I mean, I don't know what they could have done to prevent this. I just feel like they need to go further in depth.
BALDWIN: Who is the "they," Congress?
DIETRICH: Everyone needs to make sure this doesn't happen again, everything we can.
BALDWIN: Connor Dietrich, thank you so much. I'm glad you are OK.
DIETRICH: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you.
Moments from now, we are expecting a news conference with the Broward County sheriff's office, by the way. So we should get more information perhaps a little more on the timeline as the sheriff alluded to earlier this morning.
Also more on the mini red flags surrounding the shooting suspect, including the trail he left on social media.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. And you are watching CNN special coverage live from Parkland, Florida.
[14:20:38] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in Parkland, Florida where authorities believe a suspect accused of the mass shooting here at this high school pulled the fire alarm, forcing students out of the classroom and then, they say, that is when he moved in.
I want to play some video for you. But just a warning, what you are about to hear and see is disturbing.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
BALDWIN: The Broward County sheriff says the man behind that terror you just heard was expelled from the high school here in Parkland. He was adopted. His it adoptive father died more than ten years ago and his adoptive mother passed away just three months ago, apparently due to complications from the flu.
The 19-year-old man bought his AR-15 style weapon legally. He passed his background check. And he not only had multiple rounds but reportedly he had a gas mask as well as smoke grenades on him when they caught him.
With me now, Parkland mayor Christine Hunschofsky and CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, who used to lead the police forces both in Philadelphia and Washington. Also with us CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero.
Chief, just to you first on the FBI, right. Apparently they were warned not just once, but twice. We keep talking about this You Tube video where the shooter posted a comment saying essentially I want to be a professional school shooter. Hearing the FBI earlier today, they said they, you know, they actually followed up with the person, you know, who posted the You Tube video, talked to that person but couldn't quite get an accurate I.D. on this individual as he posted this comment and then just -- how does that work when you are law enforcement, when people Are doing all the right things and they let it go?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that is something that certainly is going to have to be looked into, to find out exactly what information did they have and what did they do with the information? Did they even pass it on to local authorities? Because perhaps they didn't have, you know, time.
BALDWIN: They didn't. The local law enforcement is saying it was not passed along.
RAMSEY: Well, that's a question. I mean, it should be. It should be passed on. That's not uncommon, to get information from the FBI. Usually it's through your joint terrorism task force where you get that kind of information to follow up on. But why that wasn't done, I have absolutely no idea.
BALDWIN: Carrie, same question to you. And I mean, again, you know, FBI, (INAUDIBLE) especially here what they have ahead of them. But again, how can you not get an accurate I.D. on someone when he is posting, using his own name?
CARRIE CORDERO, FORMER COUNSEL TO ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Brooke, it does brings a lot of questions. Obviously, there is going to be an after action report. But it is legit. And no one wants to criticize law enforcement when they are in the moment of responding to a major event like this.
BALDWIN: Of course not.
CORDERO: But there are legitimate questions about what they knew about the individual and whether they took the -- all the steps that were available to them. The FBI can conduct what's called a threat assessment. And there are legitimate questions about whether they took all of the investigative steps that are available to them under a threat assessment to do everything that they could to identify someone like this. And if they didn't, then that information needs to be brought to light and there needs to be further on training to make sure that everyone in the law enforcement chain understands what information they can gather and what information they are allowed to share.
BALDWIN: But, like I said, I mean, at least the FBI followed up with the individual who posted the You Tube to which the shooter commented. Not only, you know, rang this person but went and found this person face to face and had a conversation. And I mean, again, the comment on this you tube post was, I want to become a professional school shooter. At what point, you know, when law enforcement, in general, runs into brick walls, do they just say, well, can't find him?
CORDERO: Well, so there is - you know, it would be a lead. And so, there is some specific questions that need to be asked about this. Did the office, the field office that took the original tip, did they pass that to the appropriate field office in South Florida? What did the office in South Florida do with it? They can do public records checks. They can go out and do interviews, you know. What steps did they take to try to interview the individual, according to the posting that's been shared on CNN of what the social media post was. It used his true name, the assailant.
So did they identified him? Did they go out and interview anybody? Did they do all of the database checks that are available to them under their guidelines that Are appropriate to do? And these are all questions that need to be asked and should be asked.
[14:25:21] BALDWIN: OK. Mayor Hunschofsky, forgive my frustration. I'm sick of talking about these school shootings. And it's a matter of, it seems, that people rung the right alarm bells. These kids went through, you know, the proper drills and still, you know, this happened. I want to focus, though, on those who lost their lives, those who are still sitting in the hospital. You spent a bit of your, what, evening, morning talking to parents and folks in this community. Can you just tell me a couple of stories?
MAYOR CHRISTINE HUNSCHOFSKY. PARKLAND, FLORIDA: Yes. It's very devastating. I mean, the worst fear as a parent is for something to happen to your child. And it's just been heart wrenching to see the parents dealing with this right now. And something - they are dealing with something that if you look around at our city it's something you would never expect in our city. We are a very close-knit city, very family oriented, lots of volunteering going on in our city. This is not the city you would expect this to happen in.
BALDWIN: Without naming names, you know, could you just tell me an anecdote of someone who you did speak with, a parent, a student? What, you know, what really stuck with you today?
HUNSCHOFSKY: One thing that really stock with me is how long it took for them to be notified.
BALDWIN: Same parents?
HUNSCHOFSKY: The parents, yes. It was a long process. They were still at 1:30, 2:00 a.m., waiting to be notified. And my heart broke for them. As if this wasn't difficult enough to go through. I don't know how they even held it together, to be honest. And I will never forget that waiting.
BALDWIN: I think of first responders, you know, people who saw things they will never be able to un-see, you know. You know how that goes. On this shooter, and I'm not saying his name, but he is talking to investigators.
BALDWIN: Is that a good sign? Does that mean he is cooperating or not necessarily?
RAMSEY: Well, I mean, it's a good sign, obviously, but you still have to verify everything he tells you. Because one of the things you are going to want to know is if anybody else knew of his plans. Did he have any assistance at all? And so, you have to verify everything to make sure he is not trying to cover for somebody, everything he is saying is 100 percent accurate. That may be the case. I don't know at this point in time. But certainly, these are skilled interrogators. So they will be able to get to the bottom of it to find out whether he was telling the truth or not.
BALDWIN: OK. Charles Ramsey, Mrs. Mayor, thank you very much. Carrie Cordero, thank you as well.
Coming up next here from Parkland, we are going to talk to the mother who joined me on the phone yesterday afternoon when this was all unfolding live. Remember, she was talking about her daughter who was in that classroom and then she was waiting for her to walk through that back door. We are going to talk to that mom coming up next.
And, any moment now, speaking of first responders, they will be holding a news conference. And we, of course, will take it live.
You are watching CNN. We will be right back.
Hang on a second. I'm being told they may begin momentarily on the news conference of the first responders. We are going to stay on this.
And Chief Ramsey, as we look at these pictures here, let's talk a little bit. I mean, I remember being -- instantly think of Pulse nightclub where I talked to the fire chief there, who described what his guys and gals saw, went through. I mean, no amount of years ever prepares you for what you're about to see and do.
RAMSEY: Right. Well, there Are a lot of people who are traumatized when you have an incident like that. And that includes the first responders. You know, I was a policeman for 47 years and went to a lot of homicide scenes. But going to the scene of a school, 17 dead, children, teachers. That's going to get to you.
BALDWIN: Forgive me. They are beginning. Let's dip in. MICHAEL LEONARD, COCONUT CREEK, FLORIDA POLICE: Spelling of my name
is M-I-C-H-A-E-L. Last name L-E-O-N-A-R-D. City of Coconut Creek, the neighboring city right next to Coral Springs, Parkland.
Just to give you a little insight as to what happened at my day, I was at police department headquarters in Coconut Creek when the call came out. I decided to come over and help in any way that I could. When I arrived to the area, there was a heavy presence of officers, emergency personnel and I decided to expand my search for this individual that was still on the loose. We had been given information via the radio as to what he had been wearing. This information was provided to the radio dispatch.