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No Record of Weapons Purchase by School Shooter; 10 Killed in Texas School Shooting; Suspect in School Shooting Named; Passenger Jet Crashes in Cuba; Witness Describes Shooting, Suspect; New Details on School Shooting Suspect. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired May 18, 2018 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: In some ways, that's not surprising because, from what we understand, there's a good chance that the alleged shooter isn't 18 years old, and so wouldn't legally be allowed to purchase a gun on their own. That being said, people can receive guns as gifts.
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It could have been a parent. It could have been a gift.
RAMSEY: He could have bought it off the street. That's not exactly hard to do, unfortunately. So they'll find all that out. All this has to happen. Once you get a case like this, you start working it backwards because there are a lot of questions now that have to be answered and they will be answered at some point in time. But right now, they're definitely tending to those individuals that could be directly involved in making sure they get as much information as they possibly can.
HILL: And it is so important that there are, in this case, two people to talk to, even just now. There will be many others, of course, who are interviewed.
We know we're waiting on this new conference --
RAMSEY: At least two. You don't know -- yes, at least two. You don't know whether or not there could be others that are involved. That's all part of what they have to go through.
We were talking about the community and how important it is to deal with the community here because, Jonathan, as you were pointing out, we are dealing with multiple crime scenes. We're also dealing with an expanding crime scene because we learned about these other devices. When you're trying to mitigate the fear and to maintain control just in this community, what do they need to hear?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, what they need to hear in the upcoming press conference is that law enforcement is working in a unified capacity to, you know, mitigate any vulnerabilities to the community. They want to hear that, you know, the investigation is moving forward. They want to hear that, you know, that -- try to get some sort of motive. We're starting to get there. When you start looking at, from where we were this morning, we now have two suspects, we know this isn't a lone-wolf attack, we know it's coordinated, we know it's premeditated, by the fact that they built those devices.
HILL: Devices, right.
WACKROW: We know it's premeditation. So A lot of things we can eliminate from the factors here. It just opens the door to a lot of unanswered questions, though.
HILL: It absolutely does.
Stay with us. Our coverage will continue. Any moment, we're expecting a news conference with the Texas governor. We'll bring that to you live.
We're also following more breaking news. A passenger jet with more than 100 people on board crashes in Cuba. We have video from that scene just coming into us here at CNN. Stay with us.
[14:36:34] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
HILL: We are covering this shooting out of Santa Fe, Texas, at Santa Fe High School, a school of 1,400 students in a town of 13,000. Ten people are dead, nine of them are students, one is a teacher. Multiple people are injured.
I want to get straight to our Rosa Flores, who is there on the ground in Santa Fe at the scene. She has the very latest for us -- Rosa?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, this school turned into a crime scene.
FLORES: So sorry about that. Erica, this school has turned into a crime scene. You take a look behind me, it is a very active scene right now. Authorities telling us they have found explosive devices both on and off campus. And they are working to make sure that this community is safe here.
Now, a lot of information is coming into our CNN NEWSROOM at the moment. We know that the suspect has been arrested and that there's a second individual that has been questioned and is being questioned. He has been -- said that he is an accomplice. We're still waiting to learn more information about that.
You can see there's a lot of activity right now here on this scene from the Department of public safety, a big trailer. We've seen a lot of these vehicles, both from local, state and federal agencies.
About the injuries, we know that 10 individuals are dead, including nine students and a teacher. And we've also learned about injuries. At least 12 people are injured. Two of those are law enforcement personnel.
Right now we're seeing a lot of activity right now, state troopers and other unmarked vehicles leaving the scene. It's unclear where they're going. But, Erica, we do know there are multiple crime scenes as we learn from authorities that they have found explosives not just on campus but also off campus. So it's unclear exactly how many crime scenes are here.
As we've discussed before, this is the end of the school year. Usually, a time of celebration and, instead, at this moment, these families are having to plan funerals -- Erica?
HILL: Rosa Flores with the latest for us there.
I want to bring you information coming into us, into CNN, from law enforcement sources. We can now put a name with the suspect, 17-year- old Dimitrios Pagourtzis. We're told that's the name of the suspect who is in custody. We're told by law enforcement that he was injured but is speaking with law enforcement. We should also point out, there's a second person in custody, 18 years old, believed to be a possible accomplice according to law enforcement sources. Not the shooter, though, but a possible accomplice.
I want to bring back Josh, Charles and Jonathan as we look at all of this.
Jonathan, you and I were just talking in the break about this. It is really important not only that the alleged shooter is still alive because of the information, but the fact that there's this other suspect in custody, who has been described as a possible accomplice. This could be two times the number of red flags --
HILL: -- that can really give us a lot of information.
[14:39:50] WACKROW: As we were just discussing, these two individuals can't wake up this morning, build a bunch of bombs, grab some guns and go to the school. They've been working on this and thinking about this for some time. During that entire time period, there are some red flags. Who did they talk to? What did they look at online? Who did they talk to online? Did they expand their circle of influence? Were they talking about this type of attack with friends, with co-workers? This is the challenge for law enforcement right now.
As just reported, there's multiple crime scenes. Each crime scene has multiple work streams. We're looking at physical searches, interview process and digital forensics. Combining all of that will lead to ascertaining what exactly the motive was.
Yes, we have the suspect and accomplice in police custody. Whatever they're saying, it has to be verified. We can't take it at face value. It can't be taken as truth. If they say there are bombs over here, that could be leading into some kind of booby-trap for police and bomb technicians. Again, very systematic. Law enforcement has to take this -- they're moving quickly but they have to be very methodical on how they approach every bit of information that they receive.
HILL: It interesting, too, and I know, Charles, I want to preface this by saying, it doesn't change the way law enforcement does its job. That being said, there's such a thirst, in this day and age, and we all have this expectation of instantaneous information. Does that complicate a situation like this when you know that not just the community who is living there wants the information to know when they can feel safe again, but just the community at large who wants answers. Does that add pressure to you if you're there in the field?
RAMSEY: Well, it does add some pressure. But the reality is there's always going to be some information in an investigation that is not going to be made public. But you want to as quickly as possible reassure the public that, one, you don't have another shooter out there someplace, that you don't believe there's other bombs planted somewhere else. As soon as you're able to confidently say that, and right now might not be the time to do that, you want to do as much as you can to try to set the public at ease. But there's always going to be some information you're simply not going to be able to make public. This is a criminal investigation taking place.
Josh, as we're waiting to hear from the governor obviously, we may get more information in terms of where the investigation stands, even what we know at this hour. It is, for all intents and purposed, this is actually moving very quickly in terms of what we're learning.
When it comes to the local level though, Josh, you say hearing from those local officials is also incredibly important right now.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. It's going to be key. If you think about what is in the public interest here, there are two aspects, the first being is there a continuing threat to the public. And that's something that folks locally there will want to know. But even more broader than that, not just in Texas but throughout the country people are going to want answers to how do we stop this from happening again.
The way that you develop those ideas and plans is determine what happened here? What took place and was there some aspect of this that the public could have assisted in preventing? That's something that is in the public interest for the entire community.
As we watch this press conference, as it spins up here, it's important the public not just hear from law enforcement officers. Obviously, they want that tactical, investigative view of what's going on. But it's going to be very important to hear from elected officials. These are the people who will provide that sense of calm and input. These are our leaders, in charge of running our government. Here, in this situation, we're going to hear from Governor Abbott. I remember from my time in the Texas legislature, and he was the attorney general, the Supreme Court justice, now the governor, and he's very much someone who knows law enforcement and was known as a sober, calming presence. I think we'll see that here. And having an understanding of law enforcement that he has, he knows what the public wants to hear, so I hope we get answers to a lot of these questions.
HILL: We will bring that to you live as it happens.
Before we do that, we are also following this breaking news. A fireball scene over a rural area in Cuba after a plane crashed while taking off from the capital, Havana. The 737 had 104 people on board and a foreign crew.
CNN's Patrick Oppmann joining us now from Havana for the latest.
People have been seen on stretchers. Any more indication in terms of casualties and injuries?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Those numbers are coming in right now, Erica. Miraculously, three people have survived this crash, according to the Cuban government, and are in critical condition at hospital right now. We say miraculously because, according to witnesses, as the plane was taking off, about 500, 600 miles east of where I am, it went into a wooded area just past Havana's terminal one.
That's where this huge fireball was seen erupting from this wooded area and a thick plume of smoke. Our cameraman at the airport says, two hours later, you can still see smoke rising from the area. We have seen Cuban TV images of people being taken out in the stretches. We don't know the fate of all 104 passengers. We're told as well there were nine crew aboard.
Cuba's president is at the scene of the crash. And he says there's a high number of victims but still no exact number for the death toll of a very, very serious and shocking plane crash that took place here in the Cuban capital just a few hours ago.
[14:45:30] HILL: Patrick Oppmann, with the latest for us there from Havana. Patrick, thank you.
We'll continue to follow that story, as well as developments out of Santa Fe, Texas. We are waiting on that press conference with Governor Abbott.
We are also learning more about the suspect here, a 17-year-old, and his social media. That's next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
HILL: Our coverage continues out of Santa Fe, Texas.
I want to bring in 15-year-old Mateo Twilly, a student at Santa Fe High School, and joins us now with more.
First of all, Mateo, how are you doing?
MATEO TWILLY, STUDENT (via telephone): I'm doing all right.
HILL: Are you home now?
TWILLY: Yes, I'm home with my family.
HILL: What did you see? What did you experience this morning?
TWILLY: Oh, at about 7:40, the fire alarm went off, so we all went outside. And then we all went back to the field that's on the side of the school, and then we heard two shots. So the teachers told us to run, so we ran to the car wash. It's pretty terrifying.
[14:49:56] HILL: I would imagine. Obviously, fire drills, sometimes they're planned, sometimes they're not. Did the teachers seem surprised at all when the alarm went off?
TWILLY: Yes, because we had testing that day. So nobody expected it.
HILL: As you're running, what's going through your mind?
TWILLY: Well, at first, I thought the shots were just like the trash cans closing because it kind of what they sounded like. Everyone started panicking and I started panicking, too, as we were running.
HILL: When did you realize what had happened?
TWILLY: Whatever we got to the street, some people told us that it's like a real thing and, yes.
HILL: Probably still trying to wrap your head around a lot of that, I would imagine. I also understand that you know the suspect here.
TWILLY: I've talked to him once or twice. Yes.
HILL: Did you have classes with him?
TWILLY: I had my advisory class, which is after third period with him, yes.
HILL: Did anything ever stand out to you about him?
TWILLY: I mean, I don't know. He was really quiet. And he wore like a trench coat almost every day.
HILL: You said he was really quiet. Do you know anybody who was friendly with him?
TWILLY: That was family with him?
HILL: That was friendly with him.
TWILLY: My brother was his friend, I think.
HILL: As you're trying to process all this, how much are you talking to some of your other friends? I know you're home with your family now, which is so important. Have you been able to get in touch with all of your friends from school?
TWILLY: Yes. Once I was there at the car wash, I started texting everyone, making sure they were all right. Yes.
HILL: Yes. I know you're 15. This is a lot for somebody to process at my age, let alone being 15. I know your mom gave you permission to talk with us. What was that first conversation like with your mom, though, this morning after everything happened?
TWILLY: She said she was there for me if I wanted to talk about anything. Yes.
TWILLY: Yes. I'm sure all she wants to do is hold you close and put her arms around you.
Mateo, we appreciate you taking some time for us. I know this is a tough day for you and for so many people there in your community. Thank you.
TWILLY: No problem.
HILL: Drew Griffin is with us now as well.
Drew, I understand you have some new details on this 17-year-old suspect.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Erica, it is not the type of details we usually get at this point, even early on in an investigation.
The suspect, who we are naming Dimitrios Pagourtzis -- and I should say that that is how he pronounced his name on his Facebook page -- really does not have the kind of background that we've seen, social media background, with other similar-type shootings.
We can tell you that he did post some photos of himself. He looks like a normal kid, normal teen-ager. But what we found was on April 30th, so this is just about less than a month ago, he posted an image of a custom black T-shirt, and on that T-shirt it says, "Born to kill." We did hear some description of the suspect that matched that he might have been wearing that T-shirt during this shooting. And also on that same day April 30th, he posted a black duster jacket with Nazi, Communist, Fascist symbols on it. But otherwise, the Facebook page, which is now down, really did not have any kind of glaring information that would stand out like we've seen in other cases.
This kid said that he was looking forward to perhaps joining the U.S. Marine Corps, that he was going to start in 2019. The U.S. Marine Corps has no record of that.
We know from past newspaper columns that he played on the high school football team, and at least in one game was a standout player on the freshman high school football team. Honor roll at his junior high, but not a whole lot of was in, otherwise, on this 17-year-old now, who we are now naming as the suspect in this.
[14:55:00] HILL: But that does help us to start painting at least a small picture.
Drew, appreciate it, as always.
Also with us is Cheryl Dorsey, former LAPD.
Cheryl, as we look at this and, as Drew is pointing out, maybe not some the red flags we're used to seeing. One thing that is consistent, any time we're dealing with a school shooting here, or a shooter, there's not always a list of boxes we can check to say we missed these three things and next time we'll look exclusively for these three points. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way.
CHERYL DORSEY, FORMER LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: You know, it's very difficult to act on what someone might do or try to figure out what's in someone's head. There's always redesign, we'll find out what those red flags were after the fact. But as a parent -- and I'm not blaming the parents of this young man -- but certainly where were these items that he used today being stored? Were they in the home? We have a responsibility as parents to pay particular attention to what our children are doing.
I understand when they get 16 and 17, they think they're grown and they don't want us looking over their shoulder, but I think it's important that we understand that that's what we need to do. And we need to make sure that our kids are in the good space. And we need to be aware and cognizant of things that may be a little different today about the way our children are behaving and ask questions and inquire about what's going on in their lives so that we can prevent these kinds of tragedies.
HILL: You bring up such a great point because it's something that parents, I, as a parent, too, that we struggle with. There's a lot out there that there's no handbook for. Social media being one of those things. Your kids having access to a phone that they have on them at all times. In a lot of schools, that's how they get assignments. So they need to have that phone with them. It's tough to navigate as a parent. How much of this is the parent, how much is in coordination with the school? Have we figured out that formula yet?
DORSEY: I think it's a little bit of both, but I would put the onus on the parent. We're with our children more often than most. We're in the home with them, in those private spaces that they like to call their own. I think we should not be so tentative about being a little intrusive. I certainly would enter my sons' rooms on a regular basis and there was nothing that would be in my House that I wouldn't look at or question them about.
So we need to pay particular attention and particularly for those parents who seem to be gun enthusiasts, and I'm not one of them, but if that's your thing, you need to make sure you're properly and adequately locking and securing those kinds of instruments, weapons, that your children don't have access and free will to get to them. HILL: That's another thing we've been trying -- obviously, you don't
have all the answers as to yet, Jonathan, to bring you back in here. We don't have all the answers as to where the guns came from or who these guns belonged to, but that will be a very important piece of this puzzle.
WACKROW: Absolutely. We want to look at no only the weapons, we want to look at the pathway he took to build explosives, where did he get the information, where did he get the materials. All of this is going to point to influencers. If he had friends that had access to weapons. Did he get them from them? Did someone show him how to build explosives. As these facts comes out, it will build a picture to motive.
I want to take a step back, though, to talk about the social media aspect of it. Often times, when investigators are looking at the social media, the challenge that law enforcement has today is the identity that the individual took on social media.
WACKROW: So we may be looking at, you know, what we see as his name. With all these different closed environment apps that are point to point or just a small social circle, that makes it much more difficult. That's why digital forensics in this case are very important to really dig into his computer, his entire digital footprint.
HILL: Right. Even though there was one Facebook profile taken down with his name, there could be another one on another social media app with a different name --
HILL: -- or is harder to find. You're right.
Jonathan, Cheryl, appreciate it.
Stay with us. I'm Erica Hill.
Jake Tapper continues our special coverage right here on CNN.
[14:59:17] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm Jake Tapper. You're watching CNN special coverage on another deadly shooting. This time, in Texas. We now know that 10 people have been killed, nine of them students and one of them a teacher, after a gunman, a student, opened fire at Santa Fe High School just outside of Houston.
Right now, we're learning more information about the suspect. Investigator say the suspect is a 17-year-old student, currently injured and in custody. He's talking to authorities. We're also just learning that a second individual is in custody. This individual is 18 years old and is believed to be a possible accomplice, though not the shooter.
All of this as officials say explosives were found at the school and off campus. Right now, investigators are searching a trailer where they believe those devices were assembled.
I want you to take a listen to some of the student and parents from earlier describing the terrifying moments of chaos that broke out just after classes started this morning at Santa Fe High School.