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Delta, United Join List of Companies Cutting Ties with NRA; Four Broward Sheriff Deputies Waited Outside the School; Manafort Faces new Charges, Gates Signs Plea Deal; Florida Governor Demands Major Gun Law Changes; Tipline Caller Warned FBI About Shooter In January. Aired 11-12p
Aired February 24, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:39] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. It's 11:00 on the East Coast. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C. Thanks so much for being with me.
Major companies now in the center of the national gun debate. This morning two airlines, Delta and United, are adding their names to a growing list of companies cutting ties with the National Rifle Association. Intense customer backlash following Florida's school shooting has led to a variety of other corporations to do the same.
CNN's Polo Sandoval joining me, live right now. So Polo -- what can you tell us?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- especially with those two major airlines that are announcing their plans to sever ties with the gun organization.
Let's start with United Airlines. They took to Twitter early this morning to make their position clear here. I want to read you the tweet that the major airline posted earlier this morning. United saying that it is "notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from the Web site".
It is a very similar message to what was posted a few hours later by Delta Airlines saying that it is in fact also reaching out to the National Rifle Association and also letting them know quote, "we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their Web site."
Again that is Delta and United -- two major airlines in only a couple hours announcing their plans. And they are added to a list of several other companies. Let's put that graphic back up again so you can see some of the other major corporations that have announced very similar plans as well. It includes major car rental companies including Avis, Budget, Hertz; also their competition over at Enterprise Holdings which includes brands that you're very familiar with like Enterprise, Alamo, National Car Rental. And also First National Bank of Omaha said that quote, "customer feedback" has prompted them to not renew their contract with the NRA and that they will no longer be issuing the Visa NRA credit card.
Interesting here though, Fred -- these companies have not actually elaborated saying exactly why or when they have made this decision. But when you read between the lines here, they certainly have been under some extreme pressure by some gun safety advocates to cut their ties with this gun organization.
In the meantime though, the NRA has not responded to this specific move by these major companies -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval -- keep us posted when and if they do.
All right. Joining me right now to discuss -- CNN's political commentator and assistant editor to the "Washington Post", David Swerdlick.
All right. So how significant is this to sever ties from the NRA?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Fred -- I think it is significant.
You know, these companies, these big corporations that have customers, that have corporate brands that they want to protect, they can read poll numbers. They see that this week polls came out that show that most Americans favor a variety of gun control measures, some more strongly than others.
For instance, you had in our "Washington Post" poll 77 percent of Americans say Congress is not doing enough on gun control. In one Quinnipiac poll this week, 97 percent of Americans said they favor background checks.
Background checks, closing gun show loopholes -- these are all things that are gaining traction as the reaction to Parkland, Florida grows. But you have the NRA pushing this thing of arming teachers which doesn't poll nearly well. Most people don't favor it.
And so these corporations can see that and they can see how people are frustrated. They want to do something.
WHITFIELD: So I wonder what was the breaking point. Was it the shooting one week ago? Or was it some of the dialogue coming out of the CPAC with the NRA spokesperson as well as the executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's language? Even the President's choice of words -- might all of that have contributed to this?
SWERDLICK: Yes. I would say it's all of those things -- Fred. And look, let's be clear. Let's give these corporations credit for being good corporate citizens. But also at the end of the day these are hard, cold, business decisions that's they're making. And they can see all the data out there. We've had shootings in the past. But this shooting for a variety of reasons has had a continued level of public outrage and shock. This has stayed in the news the way that maybe some other mass school shootings or other mass shootings hasn't.
[11:04:59] And it is also, as you pointed out, Fred -- yes, you know, yesterday at the CPAC convention, the NRA president Wayne LaPierre made these really caustic remarks which he's done in the past. But maybe in the past they haven't gotten as much attention or, you know, the cable networks haven't carried it live.
Then he was followed up by Dana Loesch who is also one of their spokespeople who also made some very caustic remarks. President Trump made these very caustic remarks. And that all adds up to people saying, hey look, we understand there is a Second Amendment. But maybe we don't want our brands associated with all that's going on right now.
WHITFIELD: All right. David Swerdlick -- thank so much.
SWERDLICK: Thanks -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: We'll have you back.
All right. There are also troubling new questions now being raised today about the immediate response to the Parkland, Florida shooting. Sources telling CNN it wasn't just one Broward County sheriff's deputy who did not enter the building as the shooting unfolded. We now know that three other Broward County deputies were also outside the school and had not rushed in when Coral Springs police officers arrived.
The Broward County sheriff's office is investigating these claims. This as we're learning chilling new details about many warning signs before the massacre.
Here is CNN's Randy Kaye.
RANDY KAYE, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: While the gunman was inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killing people at random, a trained Broward County sheriff's deputy did nothing.
SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: Devastated. Sick to my stomach. There are no words.
KAYE: The Broward County sheriff revealing the stunning news that one deputy, Scot Peterson who was armed and in uniform, clearly knew there was an active shooter but stayed in his position outside Building 12.
The sheriff says video shows the deputy doing nothing for more than four minutes while the bullets flew inside. The shooting lasted about six minutes. Deputy Peterson has since resigned.
When reporters asked what he should have done --
ISRAEL: Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.
KAYE: And new information that Peterson wasn't the only sheriff's deputy who failed to act. Now Coral Springs police sources tell CNN that three other Broward County sheriff's deputies also remained outside, pistols drawn but hiding behind their vehicles. It's unclear if the shooter was still there when they arrived but not one of them had gone into the school. It was the Coral Springs officers who were the first to go in.
Meanwhile, during the shooting, another key misstep -- turns out the surveillance video security teams were watching in hopes of locating the 19-year-old gunman in the school had been rewound. The 20-minute video delay led authorities to believe the gunman was still in the building when in reality he was long gone.
CHIEF TONY PUSTIZZI, CORAL SPRINGS FLORIDA POLICE: The delay does -- never put us in a situation where any kids' lives were in danger.
KAYE: Long before the shooting, there were warning signs that went nowhere. Even the FBI missed a major red flag.
CNN has reviewed a transcript from a January 5th call this year -- s tipster close to the Parkland shooter warning the FBI that the teen was quote, "going to explode". The female tipster spoke of his social media posts about guns and his violence in school saying she feared him getting into a school and just shooting the place up.
The FBI has admitted that proper protocols weren't followed on a key tip about the suspect just weeks before the attack.
DAVID BOWDICH, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: There was a mistake made. We know that. But it is our job to make sure that we do everything in our power to ensure that does not happen again.
KAYE: Also, the Broward County sheriff now revealing their office had received 18 calls related to the suspect over the past decade. In a 2016 call, officers got a tip that he planned to shoot up an unknown school. Police records show the responding deputy passed the information on to a school resource officer.
In another call last November, police records show a caller warned the teen was collecting guns, suggesting he could be a school shooter in the making. Officers simply referred it to the Palm Beach Sheriff's Department for review.
Also last year, a family in Palm Beach County alerted police that the suspect had put a gun up to someone's head. The suspect himself called 911 about the incident.
NIKOLAS CRUZ, FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTER: I kind of got mad and I started punching walls and stuff and then a kid (EXPLETIVE DELETED) came at me and threw me on the ground.
KAYE: Police responded and were told at the scene it had all been worked out.
Randy Kaye, CNN -- Parkland, Florida.
WHITFIELD: CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes is with me now. So Tom -- one would believe that trained police officers would recognize the sound of an AR-15, you know, style weapon and know that they might be outgunned. The Broward County sheriff seemed to indicate his deputies didn't follow protocol. Just listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[11:09:59] ISRAEL: When we in law enforcement arrive at an active shooter, we go in and address the target. And that's what should have been done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So what can be the explanation? Not knowing what to do? Freezing? Waiting for other orders? What do you think happened?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No. But what explanation in this case because police officers since 1999 Columbine have been taught no waiting and especially if you hear shots in progress -- get in there, find the shooter and stop him whatever it takes.
You don't wait for backup. You don't wait for a SWAT team to come and put gear on and, you know, do that kind of assault by a team. You just get in there and stop it.
And why they didn't -- in this case the school resource officer himself originally that we heard about and then the other three deputies. And apparently this controversy didn't come to light until the Coral Gables police officers that arrived went right in with the shooting and noticed that Broward County deputies didn't go in with them.
Then they came back and complained to their chief of police who then apparently had an argument with Sheriff Israel about, you know, my guys went in, why didn't yours? And apparently that's where this became public after the police departments argued about different protocols going into that building.
WHITFIELD: So as a former local police officer, formerly with the FBI, how does that make you feel to hear, see witness accounts that there were officers there who could have intervened but didn't?
FUENTES: Horrible. Horrible. You don't want to ever hear that. I mean I was a police firearms instructor and FBI firearms instructor, SWAT team member and SWAT Instructor and all of that. And when you hear that officers needed to go into the danger zone and do their job and don't, that's just a terrible situation.
And all of the times that we've heard after 9/11, all of the times of bravery of first responders saying when others are running from the danger, they're running to the sound of the gunfire. And then you have a situation like this and it doesn't happen. And I really don't know what the excuse is for it.
WHITFIELD: Police officers, security there armed. And now there are suggestions whether it be from the President, even the NRA is advocating the idea of arming police. You heard the President say, you know, people who are adept to using a firearm.
Where is your level of comfort on the idea of people in school, working in school whether it's instructors, coaches, whatever capacity, being adept to that kind of training?
FUENTES: We don't have time for me to list all the reasons why I don't think that would work. But I'll start with the first comment, "adept". I mentioned I was a firearms instructor at state level and federal level. And during the thousands of hours of firearms training that officers and agents go through, a large part of that training is when not to shoot. We used to call it shoot-don't shoot decision making, having the judgment of it.
If there is a bad guy in front of you but 100 innocent people behind him, do you pull the trigger knowing you might kill the innocent? And in a school situation, if you take this one where the fire alarm is pulled, the halls are full of kids that are innocent and faculty and then you have this, if a teacher has a gun pulled out, are they likely to kill a student by accident?
And then the fact that they have the gun come out when the uniformed police arrive and do what they're supposed to do, run in, they're liable to get killed because all the police are going to see is someone waving a gun around and they're coming into an active shooter situation. So, you know, that adds to the danger.
And then one of the things that people don't talk about, a lot of these schools -- Sandy Hook had an all-female faculty from principal to teachers. And for a woman, where are you going to hide that gun during the day? You can't put it in your desk drawer, somebody might steal it and you can't get to it.
You're not going to have it in a safe in the principal's office, you can't get to it. On your person, hiding it -- if you wear a dress, if you wear a skirt, are you going to have to wear a jacket every day with a belt and a holster the way a detective, you know, on duty would do?
It's not a real practical solution even for a variety of reasons much less being adept is more than just pulling the trigger and making the bullet go down range.
WHITFIELD: Right. And the comfort level, all of that. You know, so many teachers have arms open. They want to hug their kids. I remember that from my school teachers. And certainly that would present a real problem of where exactly to put the gun if it comes to that.
FUENTES: Oh, yes. The kids are going to be "hey, Miss Jones, are you packing?" I mean it's just not a good situation for it.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll have you back. Tom Fuentes -- thank you so much. Appreciate it.
FUENTES: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. From the gun debate to the other major cloud hanging over the White House: the Russia investigation. A former top Trump campaign official pleads guilty to two criminal charges making him the third known associate working with the special counsel. Details on that, next.
[11:14:47] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: Special counsel Robert Mueller is clamping down on two of President Trump's former campaign officials as part of his Russia investigation. The special counsel filing new charges against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and they include money laundering, foreign lobbying violations and making false statements.
Those charges coming down just hours after another campaign official and long-time Manafort business partner Rick Gates pleaded guilty to two criminal charges. President Trump though is maintaining his silence on this situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, any concerns about Rick Gates?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any concerns about Rick Gates?
TRUMP: I would. Yes, I would. We will be there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: Great place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any concern about Rick Gates cutting a deal with Mueller, Mr. President?
TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin. He is a former federal prosecutor and a former special assistant to Mueller at the Justice Department. Good to see you.
So Mueller has reportedly flipped Gates, pleading guilty. He was thinking about his family, his future -- the dynamics there. How worried does Manafort need to be?
[11:20:04] MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think very worried. There are two indictments against Manafort -- one in D.C. and one in Virginia. The one in Virginia which carries about 30 years were Manafort convicted of all counts is really a tax and failure to report foreign bank accounts account. We know from the pleadings that Gates submitted in his plea that he and Manafort were hand in hand in that tax scheme.
So now you have records and you have a witness. And there is really no defense. It's did you file the taxes or did you not file the taxes? Did you report the bank accounts or did you not report the bank accounts?
And then you have to deal with intent. And the person who can say yes, we did that purposefully was Gates because they did it together. So Gates can convict Manafort in Virginia in my estimation.
And then you even have to worry about the D.C. case which is a little bet more complicated because it's international money laundering conspiracy stuff.
WHITFIELD: So if you're Manafort, is it too late for you to try to strike a deal?
ZELDIN: No. Because I think that Mueller really wants to hear from Manafort. I don't know what Mueller thinks Manafort can offer, whether it's the so-called collusion or whether it's just knowledge of the counterintelligence work.
It may not involve the President or anybody in his inner circle. But remember Mueller indicted the 13 Russians. That was counter intelligence. That is part of this mandate. Maybe he thinks that Manafort who has been working in Russia since 2005 may be able to shed light on that.
So there's a lot that I think that Mueller wants to get from Manafort irrespective of who the target of that cooperation is to round out what he is doing.
WHITFIELD: And isn't a primary objective for Mueller and team to see how high, how far it goes? You've got these plea deals. You've got charges with the objective to see if there is more.
We haven't heard from the President similar to, you know, prior occasions when we have heard from him. Is the White House or is the President worried?
ZELDIN: Well, they -- I don't know is the answer. It depends on what Manafort and Gates have to say with respect to them. You think of the Mueller mandate as counter intelligence, collusion -- matters which may have arisen out of it which is sort of the Manafort indictments, financial crimes, and obstruction.
Manafort is central to all of those. He was at the June 9th meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr. He has now financial crimes knowledge perhaps if the President had similar dealings with Russians back in the mid-2000s, Manafort may know about that.
There is the counter intelligence part of it. Manafort and Roger Stone and Carter Page all may have information about Russian efforts to interfere. So there is a lot of all roads leading to Rome, you know, sense with Manafort. And I think that's why Mueller wants him so much.
WHITFIELD: Except for that June meeting, Manafort being present at that June meeting, the President has said a lot of this behavior was well before my campaign transitioned, my administration came along. Is that a great enough separation?
ZELDIN: It depends. It might be if this is all there is to this. This is Manafort and Gates engaged in financial crime, untethered to the campaign, untethered to Trump's personal business, then the President is correct.
If, however this is sort of a preparation or the predicate for what then became the collusive relationship, then it's not untethered, it is very much the basis for understanding how did this collusive arrangement get under way? Did Manafort introduce Trump people to the Russians?
WHITFIELD: And the intent behind?
ZELDIN: And the intent in their dealings.
WHITFIELD: -- meeting.
ZELDIN: We're speculating a bit. But this is what I think is at the heart of what Mueller wants to find out.
WHITFIELD: And still the tip of the iceberg in your view?
ZELDIN: Yes. Yes. I think we're a long way from done.
WHITFIELD: All right. Michael Zeldin -- good to see you. Thank you so much.
ZELDIN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Live pictures, we want to take your right now -- out of North Carolina where the procession for the late Reverend Billy Graham is now underway. You see right there his body is being moved from Asheville to Charlotte, North Carolina where thousands are expected to pay their respects in the coming days
You see people who have pulled up on the side of the road paying their respects, standing, saluting as the procession passes by. And then Graham will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda right here in the nation's capital beginning Wednesday. He is only the fourth civilian to lie in honor under the Capitol. Rosa Parks was the last to lie in honor. Graham's private funeral will be Friday.
[11:24:57] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: In the wake of that school shooting in Parkland, Florida that took the lives of 17 students and staff members, Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott has offered up sweeping proposals to help keep schools safe and prevent young adults and the mentally ill from getting their hands on firearms.
The governor's $500 million plan would raise the minimum age to buy a firearm to 21 years old. And it also calls for one school officer for every thousand students and provides more money for school metal detectors, bullet proof glass and steel doors. The proposal also calls for more mental health counselors and a ban on bump stocks.
[11:30:05] To pay for his half-billion dollar plan, Governor Scott says the state might need to abandon tax cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: The goal of this plan of action is to make massive changes and protecting our schools. Provide significantly more resources for mental health, and to do everything we to keep guns out of the hands of those dealing with mental problems or threatening harm to themselves or others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me now via Skype to discuss this is first term Florida State Representative Randy Fine. Thank you so much for being with me. So, do you support the governor's plan to spend $500 million to help make schools safer even if it means the state won't be able to cut taxes?
RANDY FINE (R), FLORIDA STATE HOUSE: Well, we're very fortunate. Thanks for having me on. We're very fortunate that in Florida the economy is booming. I think we got a wide array of options for how to pay for this. Tax cuts could be an option. Remember, projects could be an option and fortunately we spend about $3 billion less than we bring in. We don't do things in Florida like they do them in Washington.
WHITFIELD: And so, do you agree with the governor's proposal about even raising the minimum age of buying a firearm in Florida to 21?
FINE: Look, I think the most important thing for us to do is to recognize that this was not a failure of law that caused these kids to be killed. This was a failure of government. And what most important is we need to understand that we are our own first responders.
The most important thing for me to see in this bill is that anyone, any teacher, any worker in a school who goes through specialized training has the ability to protect themselves and students if something like they haver happens again.
WHITFIELD: OK. So, I'm hearing a couple things there. Yes, you would agree to schools or teachers being armed to help protect if that's what I'm understanding you to say. But you're also saying it's not a failure of law, a failure of government. Are you talking to the response of first responders? What do you mean by that? FINE: The FBI knew. DCF knew. The local governments knew. We had sheriffs outside of the school who didn't go in to protect those kids. I mean, that is where we have to focus our responsibility. We have everything we needed to know to stop this murderer in advance and it didn't happen and so we can get past --
WHITFIELD: You think it's a good idea to legislate a better response? What is the response from the legislature knowing about all of those, you know, mistakes or fallacies?
FINE: I'm not even sure we know what they all are yet. One of the things I'm most enthusiastic about in this package is Speaker Richard Corcoran's (ph) determination for us to have a 9/11 commission to figure out what happened.
But the sheriff in Broward County had time to come on your town hall and pontificate about these issues, but it wasn't until after that that he told us that the people who worked for him didn't do their jobs.
We need to spend less time jockeying around on issues of gun control and more time figuring out how we're going to make sure this never happens again.
WHITFIELD: OK. What you are proposing to help make sure this never happens again?
FINE: Well, I think we need to make sure we hold those accountable who made mistakes. The governor and others have called for the FBI director to resign. I agree that's an appropriate thing to do. We also need to make sure we have appropriate mental health checks. We need to make sure we harden schools.
We need to make sure that people that have come to the government and the government knows of an issue cannot get these kinds of firearms or weapons of any kind. We need to have better safety nets to catch people with issues like Nikolas Cruz.
WHITFIELD: When you say harden schools that's similar to language the president used as well as NRA's Wayne LaPierre, you mean teachers, administrators are able to pack weapons?
FINE: In the school that my children go to, there's one way for guests to come in and one way for guests to go out. You sign in and you sign out. People just can't wander the campus as appears to have happened here. That's the sort of thing. I've been working on the hardening issues for a while.
I got money into the budget to protect schools last year. This is an issue that we have got to make sure no one can walk into a school that is not supposed to be there as happened in this case.
WHITFIELD: You were mentioning the firing of the FBI Chief Wray. Would you also be calling for because of the missed signals or lack of response from the Broward officers who were outside of the school? Are you calling for the resignation or firing of Broward sheriffs or the head of their law enforcement?
FINE: I think that's something that should be looked into because I find it hard to believe that when he was on your town hall, he didn't know about these issues that took place. I find it a mighty coincidence that it was only the day after your town hall that the failure of his department became public.
[11:35:06] That was known. I'm assuming it was known immediately that this happened. I don't know why we had to wait a week to find this out.
WHITFIELD: Florida State Representative Randy Fine, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.
FINE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Coming up, a call to the FBI tip line reported troubling behavior, dreams to become a professional school shooter. Details on the multiple signals missed that may have prevented the mass shooting leaving 17 dead.
WHITFIELD: All right. Live pictures right now. You see people embracing, lining the streets here as they await the motorcade of the late Reverend Billy Graham. This is in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The journey began in Asheville, North Carolina and it's on its way to Charlotte, North Carolina.
[11:40:01] People have come out to pay their respects for the beloved pastor and his body will also lie in state in Washington at the Capitol Building this week.
From strangers on social media to family members, there had been numerous warnings about the Parkland, Florida, shooter dating back more than a year and now we're learning that a woman close to the shooter called the FBI tipline last month with a warning about a young man who was armed and a threat.
CNN's Martin Savidge has the latest on the warning signs and new questions about the actions of armed deputies during the shooting.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The call to an FBI tip line about Nikolas Cruz could not have been more clear, warning that Cruz is, quote, "going to explode." CNN's reviewed the transcript of the January 5th, 2018 call informing the agency about the Parkland, Florida, shooter.
The unidentified woman spoke of Cruz's Instagram feed. She talked of his post about guns and was, quote, "afraid something is going to happen." The caller also talked about Cruz's history of violence in school and said she worried about him, quote, "getting into a school and just shooting the place up." Forty days later, Cruz did just that. The FBI admits it failed to follow up on the tip. The missed call is just one of a growing list of failures by authorities that could have prevented tragedy if only they had been handled differently.
They include the case of School Resource Officer Scott Peterson seen here in 2015 speaking about his job.
SCOTT PETERSON, STONEMAN DOUGLAS SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER: We're all here for the same goal, to protect our kids.
SAVIDGE: Peterson resigned and retired rather than face his suspension without pay and a pending internal investigation into what he did or didn't do at the time of the high school shooting.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says for at least 4 minutes as the attack was going on, school surveillance video shows Peterson just standing behind the building rather than entering to engage the gunman.
Some angry parents have suggested Peterson was more worried about retirement than protecting students. Something the officer seemed to joke about in 2015.
PETERSON: I'm almost on my way out. I'm 30 years.
SAVIDGE: But Peterson is not the only sheriff's deputy accused of not reacting properly. Sources telling CNN say some Coral Springs officers were shocked to see deputies standing outside the school shooting site even as they rushed in.
But at a news conference today, the Coral Springs Police Department refused to talk about those accusations instead, first responders talked about what they did.
OFFICER TIM BURDEN, CORAL SPRINGS FIRST RESPONDER: Immediately I grabbed my rifle and I start running.
SAVIDGE: Officer Tim Burden is believed to be the first Coral Springs officer to arrive on scene. Charging alone toward the building.
BURDEN: I thought I was going to encounter the shooter as soon as I made that left hand turn in the parking lot if he was trying to escape or get away.
SAVIDGE: Instead, Burden found only silence. The first Coral Springs officer to arrive heard no gunfire. But Officer Jeff Heinrich did hear gunfire, in fact, he heard it all. Recounting the moment the shooting began.
SGT. JEFF HEINRICH, CORAL SPRINGS FIRST RESPONDER: I hear what I now know to be five or six gun shots. At first, I honestly thought there were fireworks.
SAVIDGE: Heinrich was off duty and without his weapon, volunteering at the high school watering the baseball field. Moments later, more gunfire. He knew it was real and he knew his wife a teacher and his son a student were both inside.
HEINRICH: Kids started to run. Kids started to scream. That time I heard round of probably about another five or six shots.
SAVIDGE: Wearing shorts and a t-shirt, Heinrich ran in the direction of gunfire first attending to a gravely wound student and then there's other officers arrived, grabbing a spare gun.
HEINRICH: I got his gun, the secondary weapon and we systematically cleared back towards the 12 building.
SAVIDGE: There is yet to be any official police timeline that will tell us exactly who responded first from what department and where they went when they got on scene. That report will be critical and expected possibly as early as next week.
In the meantime, though, it is very clear that this is a community still very much deeply in grief, and the shock is affecting not just the civilians, but the first responders as well. Martin Savidge, CNN, Parkland.
WHITFIELD: And those details alarming enough, but how about before that? I want to talk it over with Tom Fuentes, a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former assistant director of the FBI, and Casey Jordan is a criminologist and behavioral analyst. Good to see you both.
So, Casey, you first. You know, it is bad enough to hear one layer of see something, say something, fell through the cracks prior to this horrible day. But now multiple failures after warnings to federal and local police, not one but four armed security or police were there, and did not intervene right away. So, how is this leaving you to feel this morning knowing about all these gaps?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: I think it's very important that we look at the failures and the gaps that happened and the reaction, but I also need to point out that this shooting should not have happened.
[11:45:11] And if it hadn't happened, then we wouldn't be finger pointing at the police and the first responders right now. So, we need to get back to the origin of the event which of course, we keep saying we need to talk about mental health and guns, and we do, but talk is cheap.
We've been talking for 20 years since Columbine and we haven't seen anything change. So, before we put the cart before the horse, let's talk very specific policy analysis about what's going to change especially regarding access to firearms by people under the age of 21.
Is that going to change? And what services are going to be improved for mental health particularly during the teenage years and then, third, how can we empower the FBI and other law enforcement so that when leakage happens, and the signs are there, what power did they have to investigate, intervene, and stop it before it happens? WHITFIELD: So Tom, you know, let me play part of a 911 call that a parent made about a fight that Nikolas Cruz had been in with her son. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DISPATCHER: 911, how can I help you?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Yes. There was a fight in my house with a kid and my son.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Punching him and that's when he left the house, but I need somebody here because I'm afraid he comes back, and he has a lot of weapons.
DISPATCHER: What kind of weapons ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Let me ask my son. What kind of weapons did he get? That he's going to get?
UNIDENTIFIED SON: A Remington.
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: A Remington.
DISPATCHER: OK, and who did this?
UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Nikolas Cruz. It's not the first time he's pointed a gun at somebody's head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, this is now -- this exemplifies kind of the thought that Casey was talking about. How does law enforcement become empowered with doing something when you get a call like this or if there are other ways in which a person has exhibited some mental instability or irresponsibility with weapons, firearms, erratic behavior?
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, Fredricka, this goes back so many years. The police had encounters with him going back to when he was 9 years old, the school district. Mentally health professionals even that weak.
The state's mental health authority said he is low risk. So, you have all of these systemic failures across the board, law enforcement, school, the mental health authorities because really there is no authority to address him.
The police, you know, if they responded to this call and the family doesn't want to press charges, what can they do? Can they take his guns away? No. Can they take his freedom away and lock him up and institutionalize him? No. We don't want to stigmatize him and do all that thing. They can't put him in jail. There is not enough there. WHITFIELD: This is laying the groundwork for a certain level of frustration. Does that lead to the missed signals or dismissed signals?
FUENTES: Dismissed. The signals are there. The police knew it, the school knew it, the mental health professionals knew it. Neighbors knew it, family knew it, but who had the authority to actually take this guy off the street and take away his guns?
Because even with or without the guns, he would have access to butcher knives in the family kitchen. He possibly would have access to the family car to run people over. So, you know, he would have other mechanisms of inflicting death on other people.
Obviously, the most efficient way was with an assault rifle and that's, you know, is its own issue. But go back to the original issue, his mental health all his life.
WHITFIELD: It had already been established. He was in the midst of getting some treatment as far as we know reportedly.
FUENTES: Yes. Everybody knew but nobody could do anything about it. Why is that? What authority do the police need since they're the first responders, they're going to be the people going to the family disturbance call. They're going to be the people going to the school that the superintendent can't handle him, and the teachers can't handle him. So, what can the police physically do with him?
WHITFIELD: It's very frustrating. It's a difficult predicament, more than that, you know, Casey, because it sounds like we're talking about either something has to be legislated or is it an issue of personal responsibility to try to act or engage when you see that there is trouble?
I mean, what are the answers? Is there something that can be, you know, legislated or is this, you know, human beings being more compassionate and coming up with something?
JORDAN: I hate to break it down to just dangerousness, the definition of who is dangerous to themselves or to others need to be taken more seriously and interpreted more narrowly.
WHITFIELD: By whom?
JORDAN: More broadly because think about --
WHITFIELD: By whom though? I mean, by the court and everyone saying someone need to do something, but who is the someone --
[11:50:00] JORDAN: Civil commitment is so hard. It comes down to reports by social services and the police all going before a hearing board or a judge and saying this person to be civilly committed for mental health in a facility.
That actually needs to be an easier thing to happen based on our interpretation of dangerousness because all the signs were that Nikolas Cruz was dangerous. But for Tom Fuentes, keep in mind that in Toronto, Canada, I really like this, when the police respond to any kind of domestic call or a call like this, they take with them a psychologist or certified social worker who is a mental health expert, who can help the police assess whether or not this person really should get some mental health help.
The police are not always well trained in this. This tandem reaction to any threat of violence is a really good first start. Fund the mental health experts to accompany the police on these calls so when a kid is pointing a gun at the head of another kid, we can actually get him the services he needs. Yes, I understand --
WHITFIELD: I was going to say, we're talking resources now.
JORDAN: Yes, it always comes down to that, Fredricka.
FUENTES: Not to mention, in this case, he went to mental health professionals for analysis, and they rate him low risk. So, that's going to be the first thing that comes up in the proceeding. He's low risk, let him out. This guy is going to be back on street before the police officers are back in their district.
WHITFIELD: So troubling. We'll leave it right there. Tom, Casey, thank you so much for both of you. Your expertise, appreciate it. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: Bringing politics to the field and the court has become par for the course in this administration. It's something Steph Curry knows all too well. Our Van Jones sat down with the Warriors star guard to ask what it's like as an athlete to be at the center of a political storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: The president of the United States tweeted about you. How does that feel?
STEPH CURRY, GOLDEN WARRIORS: It was surreal at the beginning for a lot of different reasons. Going into that particular day, right before our training camp started and obviously there was a lot of talk about after we won a championship last year, if we go to the White House or not. Us as a team, we had a process about how we come to that decision.
Guys had different ideas, beliefs. We're going to have a meeting that day to talk about it as a group. It's not just about Stephen Curry going to the White House, are the Warriors going? We wanted to make that decision as a group because we won the championship as a group.
We know what the honor is of going to the White House. Before we even had an opportunity, obviously I voiced, you know, my side of the argument. I don't want to go. He kind of, you know, took that power away from us and didn't allow us to have that process to come together as a group. The president, after he suggested that he might not want to go --
JONES: Invitation withdrawn in a tweet.
CURRY: And obviously, I think that was a rallying point not just for our team, but for the entire NBA, the sports world in general I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Catch Van's full conversation with Steph Curry tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN. We've got more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. Stay with us.