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School Shooting Aftermath; Gun Control Debate. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired February 15, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHAD LYONS, FORMER STUDENT OF SLAIN COACH: His intelligence and his caring for the kids was just remarkable.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And, Chad, I understand you had leukemia.
BALDWIN: And he helped you with that also.
LYONS: Yes, he also did.
He wrote me a few text messages. I stayed 30 days in the hospital while I was doing leukemia treatments at Broward Health North. And he guided me through them. He would send me prayers. He would send me Bible scripts and just stuff to cheer up my day, funny memes.
And he was just an amazing person to be led on and taught by. And I'm thankful enough to just even be in his presence just going through high school.
BALDWIN: Last quick question, what will you miss most about him?
LYONS: Sense of humor, man. The man was the funniest man on the planet. He was the funniest person and the most loyal person you could ever meet.
BALDWIN: Chad Lyons, thank you so much for taking time with us. I am so sorry for your loss.
LYONS: Thank you very much. And I apologize for the--
BALDWIN: We are here live in Parkland, Florida. Good afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
This is the site of the deadliest school shooting since the nation lost victims as young as 6 at Sandy Hook Elementary School back in December 2012.
Today, I stand at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High; 17 people were murdered here, 14 others wounded, with four still critical. You talked to students and teachers and just folks in this community, as we have been. 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 yet again. The suspected gunman, whose name I am not uttering, was just in court a bit ago. He sent out red flags, not just one, two red flags, but multiple unequivocal signs of trouble online.
An official says the FBI knew about two alleged threats from the suspect, a former student who had been expelled from this high school. One threat apparently involved this 2017 YouTube post where he wrote -- quote -- "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."
And you see the post there. It lists his name, his actual name. But the FBI said after multiple database searches that they just couldn't find him. Couldn't find him.
As we learn more about what happened, the high school remains closed today. And its students are coming to grips with what has happened, who has been lost.
I want everyone to just listen to this freshman high schooler talk about this teacher who was killed, a teacher she believes saved her life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELSEY FRIEND, SURVIVOR: He still will forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for 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. Thank you for bringing and having this amazing person in life and giving him the power to be stronger than I could have ever been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right.
I have Dave Briggs with me just to talk a little bit first about the shooter. We saw him for a blink at the county courthouse. He didn't speak. This was an arraignment, what, just to determine whether he would be held with or without bond?
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: With or without bond. And it was a blink of an eye.
If you just tuned in at 2:00, you missed it, because it was two minutes and 18 seconds. He came in. They said 17 counts of premeditated murder, held without bond. He was in, he was out. The defense said they have no objections.
But there's also the gun. You know now it was an AR-15 style rifle. He purchased it legally in February of 2017 from a gun shop in Broward County, passed immediately an FBI background check. No red flags there, despite mental health treatment he had undergone in the past. And, of course, you mentioned that FBI tie. That is something that
people don't yet understand, because they told the FBI, they conducted an FBI in-person interview, and even though his username was--
BALDWIN: An interview with the person who posted a video on YouTube in which he commented.
BRIGGS: That's right, in Mississippi, who was a bail bondsman and a vlogger. The FBI talked with him. He talked with CNN earlier today.
This was not relayed to authorities here because they said they could not find the shooter, even though it was spelled just exactly as this shooter spells his name.
And, lastly, the most interesting thing really catching fire online right now is a tie to a white nationalist group. They're called the Republic of Florida. It may or may not have any connection to the shooting, but he did perform paramilitary drills with this group.
They did encourage their members to use guns and knives and participate in gun violence. But they said they had no encouragement in terms of performing a school shooting. This is a largely white school here behind us.
BALDWIN: OK. Dave, thank you.
BRIGGS: Indeed. You should expect to hear from the Broward County sheriff shortly.
BALDWIN: OK, great. We will take that live as soon as that happens. Thank you so much.
Earlier today, President Trump sat in front of cameras, tried to console the nation, saying he is seeking solutions, but with no mention specifically of gun laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our administration is working closely with local authorities to investigate the shooting and learn everything we can.
We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health. Later this month, I will be meeting with the nation's governors and attorney generals, where 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: You're perfect. We're live. You're great. Just hang there with me.
My next guest is one of the students who actually hid inside a classroom for two hours while the shooting unfolded.
Addison Jost, although you say call you Addy (ph), is just 16 years old. And we should be clear. You're 16. Your parents said A-OK to stand here and talk with me on live national TV.
Thank so much for being with me.
ADDISON JOST, SURVIVOR: Of course.
BALDWIN: How are you feeling?
JOST: It hasn't set in yet.
I found out today that one of my close friends has passed. So, it's getting more and more traumatic as we go through it. But since I wasn't in the direct involvement of the shooting, you know, since I wasn't in the building where the shots were being fired, it wasn't as bad.
But seeing my friends upset and -- you know something is deeply wrong. So, I mean--
BALDWIN: You lost your girlfriend?
JOST: It was a boy, actually.
BALDWIN: You lost a guy.
JOST: A guy friend.
BALDWIN: A guy friend.
BALDWIN: And you just found out?
JOST: Yes, a little bit before coming here.
BALDWIN: What are the emotions that you're running through? Do you want to talk about your friend at all? This is the first time you have been back to the school since you were evacuated?
JOST: Yes, the first time I have been close to the school, I mean, close enough to it that I'm starting to feel the emotions again.
I can't really wrap my head around why it happened. I mean, you know, Douglas is such a versatile place. And we have a lot of different types of kids, but we have just never seen someone who would be as serious to do this. It was a big surprise, especially in this type of area.
BALDWIN: By the way, you shouldn't be able to wrap your head around this.
BALDWIN: That should not be something that you should be able to do because this never, ever, ever, ever should have happened. Let me just say that to you now.
You were in a classroom.
BALDWIN: Tell me what you saw, what you heard.
Well, the first thing we heard was the fire drill go off. Apparently, before then, there were other shots fired outside of the 1200 building, which we call the freshman building.
JOST: And we did not hear any of them, although they were very close to our building. Our building is the 1300, right next to the 1200.
So, the first thing we heard was a fire alarm. And we started to leave the room and follow procedure. And as soon as a few students and our teacher had gotten outside, we heard these gunshot-type noises, but they were very muffled.
So, we didn't believe it was a gunshot.
BALDWIN: What did you think it was at first?
JOST: We thought it was a code red drill.
BALDWIN: Code red drill.
JOST: And we had been told that we were going to be practicing and we were expecting a code red drill. So we said, OK, this is our drill. We need to go back to our spots.
JOST: And since we were already up, we didn't have our backpacks or anything. So, we just went under my teacher's desk against the wall with the door -- far from the door, and we waited.
And also we didn't have service in this building, so we started to get texts from people.
BALDWIN: Cell service. (CROSSTALK)
JOST: People were asking if we were OK. We had cell service, but we couldn't check the news. We couldn't see what was going on.
So, piece by piece, everyone was trying to figure out as much as they could. And, finally, we came to the conclusion after about 30 minutes that, OK, this is a real shooting.
BALDWIN: This is not a drill.
JOST: And people are dead. And this was -- it was just shocking, but at the same time, we were all trying to figure out, what do we do? How can we help? What happens if he comes in?
And our doors were actually being -- someone was trying to open them, our door in the classroom next to us as well.
BALDWIN: What did you hear, just rattling and someone trying to get in?
JOST: Trying to open the handle.
BALDWIN: Who was it?
JOST: We're not sure. It was fast. And it was -- that was more towards the beginning of the whole scene. I mean, after the fire drill had gone off, maybe 20 seconds later, we heard that.
I assumed that he was -- he started shooting in the courtyard area near our big staircase that we have, and then he may have come to my building first, actually, and then to the freshman building.
BALDWIN: And did I read, were you were huddled under one of your desks?
JOST: Our teacher's desk has a space. There are drawers underneath and then there's one space where the drawers stop, and we had about 19 students.
BALDWIN: Nineteen students under this desk?
JOST: Yes, and against the wall.
BALDWIN: Was anyone saying anything? Were you just trying to stay quiet?
JOST: A lot of us were trying to figure it out, because it's an AP chem class. And all the kids in that class are very and, so we were just trying to handle it the best we could, and just get to the bottom of it and see what we could do. A few girls were very quiet. One girl was very upset, kind of like worried, but a little bit skeptical that it was actually happening. I don't know. I think we were all kind of in a panic mode. And since we kind of eased into the realization that it was actually happening, that there was actually a shooter on campus and that gunshots were actually being fired, it wasn't as traumatic right away.
I'm definitely catching up on the effects now, but it wasn't like he just walked into our building and you just hear it right there and you're like, oh, my God, it's happening. It was not like that for us.
BALDWIN: What do you mean you're just catching up on the effects now?
JOST: Well, now that I can put a name and face to the victims and now that I'm finding out who is hurt, it's not so much a distant thing.
JOST: It's like, OK, this has happened at my school. It's affecting my community. This is an attack on us, and the rest of the nation, of course. But now I'm just so much more involved and it's just really hard to grasp.
BALDWIN: I want to read something that you told one of my producers, because I wanted to ask you about it.
You said, "I don't know what is going on in the world, but I just wish this would stop, but it won't."
Why did you say that?
JOST: I mean, I don't understand why everyone has started to become so vulgar and why the pop culture is becoming so much more explicit and why things like these are not a surprise.
I was not surprised that this happened, because I know things happen. There have been other shootings. This is not the first. And even after all this happened, I was in the car listening to music with my friends, and it was so surprising that almost every single song that came on, every popular song at the moment that we enjoy and listen to at home was something that kind of hit hard to us, because it would talk about death, and there was a lot of explicit things.
BALDWIN: You hear it differently now?
BALDWIN: Now that you have gone through this, you hear music differently?
JOST: Yes, of course.
BALDWIN: Just lastly, can you tell me a little bit about the guy friend of yours?
JOST: I was not -- you know, I was close with him, but we did become more distant recently.
We had a little bit of an altercation about a year ago. But I have always admired him. And he had a really outgoing personality. And he was just very outspoken. He did what he wanted. He wasn't always friendly to everyone, but he had his friends and he had his group and he was secure.
And he knew what he wanted and he just had a total grasp on his life. And for that, I really liked him. And I'm sad to see that someone like that at our school is here no longer. And it's just hard. And I feel so bad for his friends.
After we were escorted to, you know, the intersection, the edge of the intersection, I sat down with his best friend, and he was just freaking out. He said: "I haven't heard from him."
I don't want to say his name, but he called him a name, said, "I haven't heard from him."
And I said, you know, I think he's all right.
And he said, "Everyone is telling me that someone was shot in his classroom" and that he was writing a letter to his girlfriend before. I don't know if it was for Valentine's Day or because he knew something was going to happen.
But I was really -- I hoping it wouldn't be him. And it was. I don't want it to be anyone, but definitely not someone I knew well.
BALDWIN: Thank you so much.
JOST: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you for taking the time and using your voice. Thank you. I appreciate it, Addy, very, very, very much.
BALDWIN: We do have new information now just in on the warnings that were completely missed in this suspect's past, including two warnings to the FBI. We will have that for you.
Also ahead, as the president and Republicans are focusing more on mental health, mental illness angle of this story, instead of guns, gun laws specifically, we are going to take an in-depth look at the number of mass shootings in the United States, three of the 10 deadliest happening just in the last six months.
And I will be joined live by congressman and county commissioner to discuss what can be done to stop them.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. I am Brooke Baldwin. And you're watching CNN's special coverage of the latest mass shooting
in America. This time, we stand in Parkland, Florida, a city that just last year was voted the safest city in all of Florida.
I'm standing here today telling you that at least 17 people are dead. Others are in hospitals in the city, fighting for their lives.
And I wish I could tell you that this is rare, that this isn't normal. But, unfortunately, that wouldn't be the truth. In fact, it would be nowhere near.
Want to bring in CNN's Tom Foreman.
And, Tom, no matter how many mass shootings I cover, it never gets any easier, but it does start to feel common. In fact, how common is it?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. It's seeming like something we have seen far too many times before.
This is how the lineup of the 10 deadliest mass shootings has changed in the past day. Here is Florida right here. And if you will notice this, that is one of three different schools involved in these shootings. This is Virginia Tech down here.
This is Sandy Hook right here. And here's Florida. You may notice that Columbine High School, which the high watermark for quite some time, is completely off the charts now.
And when you talk about the commonality of this sort of thing, in terms of overall events, they still remain rare, but look at this. This shooting, this one, the one at the church in Texas, and the Las Vegas shooting, all of those are within the past half-year, all in the top 10 of the deadliest mass shootings out there.
What is more, if you look at school shootings in particular, in 2017, there were 48. Now, this is how we're counting them. One person being shot, at least, who is not the shooter himself, and almost always a guy. It happened on school grounds. It can include a gang shooting, that sort of thing, but it's not limited to that.
All of those are the parameters we're using here, though, 48 in 2017, eight already in 2018. And we're only in February. Now, how does that fit into the big picture of these active shooters, people who come in and start indiscriminately or seemingly indiscriminately shooting at people?
Well, that puts schools pretty high up there in terms of an area of concern. You're still more likely to run into an active shooter at a business environment. That would include shopping malls and things like that.
It's more likely to happen here. But schools, look at that, Brooke -- 24 percent, basically a quarter of all the active shooting incidents now involve schools, something that truly within my lifetime was considered almost unthinkable, that anyone would shoot at a school.
And yet you look at these numbers. Yes, it's becoming much more common than many people ever imagined, Brooke.
BALDWIN: I just still can't believe that Columbine has been bumped off that top 10 list. Just think back to how significant of a story and how tragic a loss that was at that time.
BALDWIN: Tom Foremen, thank you very much. Yes.
The Broward County sheriff is demanding lawmakers do something about those numbers.
Here is the sheriff, Steve (sic) Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, SHERIFF: What I'm asking our lawmakers to do is go back to places like Tallahassee, places like Washington, D.C., and give police the power.
If they see something on social media, if they see graphic pictures of rifles and blood and gore and guns and bombs, if they see something, horrific language, if they see a person talking about I want to grow up to be a serial killer, we need to have the power to take that person and bring them before mental health professionals at the particular time involuntarily and have them examined.
People are going to be, rightfully so, concerned about their rights, as am I, but what about the rights of these students? What about the rights of young kids who go to schools with bookbags and pencils? Don't they have the right to be protected by the United States government to the best of our ability? And that's what we will be doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Sheriff Scott Israel.
With me now, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, who was mayor for 10 years. This is the guy who knows everyone, who knows what's going on.
And your kids, you know this high school. I know this is personal for you. And I want to ask you about that in just a second.
But, first, I don't know if you have heard what this shooter's public defender has said. And if not, I'm going to tell you.
MICHAEL UDINE, BROWARD COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I have not.
BALDWIN: Because I want your reaction.
So, we know he has been denied bond this morning. And he is sad, this young man, sad, mournful. He is remorseful. He is on suicide watch and apparently he is dealing with the shock and recognizes the loss to the community.
How do you respond to that?
UDINE: It's hard for me to put into words a response to something like that, when, you know, friends and neighbors and kids of people that I know have been murdered, you know, a mere 24 hours ago, when I had family members that were hiding in this school while this was going on.
It's hard for me to process that right now.
BALDWIN: And appreciate his shock.
UDINE: And appreciate his shock.
BALDWIN: I hear you loud and clear.
UDINE: When it seems like premeditated murder to me.
BALDWIN: Which he is facing 17 counts of.
BALDWIN: What about the news we're hearing? We heard from the special agent in charge of the FBI earlier today, the fact that this YouTube video -- this man posted this YouTube video.
This shooter, again whose name I'm not saying, commented below, something to the effect of, I want to become a professional school shooter.
FBI is warned, not just once, but twice. They go and knock on the house of the person who put the YouTube video up. Nothing. They say they couldn't find the authentic identity of the man in question.
UDINE: They need to do a better job. It's that simple.
If they're getting warnings, they need to do a better job, because enough is enough. We can't -- as a community, this is just an impossible thing to fathom. And when you hear that there were warnings like that, they have to do a better job. That's their job.
BALDWIN: We are listening to sound from the sheriff, Scott Israel, who you know--
UDINE: Very well.
BALDWIN: -- quite well.
And having covered a few of these, I know that sort of the day after is really a day of mourning. We're learning details of how it happened, whose lives were lost.
And I have to say that, in this case, people, including the sheriff, uniquely animated, to borrow his words, about gun control the day after. Why do you think he is?
UDINE: This is personal. This is personal to him. He had triplets that were at this school. His triplets just graduated a couple of years ago from this school. They were with one of my children. They graduated together at this school.
This is a place where you don't expect this kind of shock. Nowhere does. But we -- what about the rights of the kids that want to go into school and want to learn and want to be safe and want to be in a safe environment? We need to do a better job.
BALDWIN: Who is the we?
UDINE: All of us collectively as society.
If someone shouldn't have a gun, they shouldn't have a gun. And we need to stand up and we need to step up and do the right thing to protect our citizens. I mean, it's common sense at this point.
And, you know, an assault rifle for somebody like this, it just doesn't make any sense. It's not necessary. We need to get something done here.
BALDWIN: Michael Udine, thank you so much.
UDINE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: I appreciate you and your voice here, standing with me in Parkland, Florida.
UDINE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, we're going to hear from the mother of a 15- year-old girl who was killed in the high school behind me, her raw, emotional plea to President Trump coming up next.