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Report: 10 Dead, 10 Wounded in Texas School Shooting. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired May 18, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were a number of them found.
GOV. GREGG ABBOTT, TEXAS: Yes. It appears these explosive devices were made by the shooter. Cannot solidly confirm that yet. There's no reason to suspect any other person other than the shooter made those devices.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how many there were?
ABBOTT: We're still working on the total number. The reason why as we gather here right now, I don't have information back yet from his house or the two residences that are being explored to know how many might be in there. I haven't heard yet whether or not the car has been opened up to know how many might have been in there. That's a number we unable to ascertain at this moment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the supplies?
ABBOTT: Don't know that yet. The good news is we'll have the ability to ask those questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, we're always hear about some of the warning signs that were missed. What were some of those in this case?
ABBOTT: One of the frustrating things in the early status of this case, unlike Parkland and Sutherland Springs, there were not those type of warning signs. We have what are often categorized as red flag warnings. Here the red flags warnings were either nonexistent or imperceptible. There is on his Facebook page a t-shirt that says, "Born to Kill." but as far as investigations by law enforcement agencies, as far as arrests or confrontation with law enforcement, as far as having a criminal history, he has none. His slate is pretty clean. And so there simply were not the same type of warning signs that we've seen in so many other shootings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, are there any other individuals that are wounded and in critical condition? What about the officer that was shot?
ABBOTT: It's my understanding there are at least one, maybe two people in critical condition. I'm not at liberty to reveal the identity of those people at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks guys. We got to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, governor.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We were just listening to Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Ted Cruz and others, talking about their briefing, what they learned after meeting with law enforcement officials about this horrific shooting at Santa Fe High School just south of Houston, Texas. The governor noting that ten people have been killed, ten others are wounded. He had lots of other interesting details that we need to dive into with our experts. Let's do that right now.
Shimon Prokupecz, let's start the investigation into what happened, we learned some details about the shooter. The governor just said that he had a clean slate when it came to any sort of criminal record. He did note that the two guns used were a shotgun and a .38, both of which he thinks were taken with or without permission from his father.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Those two weapons, a shotgun and a .38 revolver owned legally by the father. The other thing that I think is important here is the government said there were no warning signs. We go through and we'll hear there were warning signs. Here the governor says there were no red flag warnings, no warning signs.
The other thing that's an important detail here is that the shooter has a journal and in his journal, he says he wanted to do this shooting. And then at the scene the governor says or at some point when law enforcement was able to talk to the shooter, he said that he didn't have the courage to commit suicide.
TAPPER: That was his intention, though.
PROKUPECZ: His intention was to commit suicide and that he didn't have the courage to do it and so he gave up. That's what the governor there said. You know, really now the key for them is finding out if there are any other explosive devices in the area that they need to be worried about. They have found a trailer where these devices were made, where these bombs were made and they're in the process of going through that.
TAPPER: A Molotov cocktail and a CO2 device. They said that they have search warrants but have not executed them because they're worried about explosives in the suspect's car and home. He mentioned two other individuals being interviewed. What can you tell us about them?
PROKUPECZ: We've been told there's one person in particular who there is interest in and that police have actually taken that person into custody. The governor said there is another person as well that they just want to check out and make sure that this person wasn't involved. We don't have really a lot more clarity, but we at least know there are another perhaps two more people that the police are questioning. And really, you know, as you said, Jake, the search of the home, they can't really start searching his home and his car because they really want to make sure that it's safe for the crime scene technicians now.
[15:35:00] You have the bomb experts that go in and then the crime scene technicians will go in and do the necessary work to start building out this criminal case. And also, important to know the governor said they have his computers and their cell phones. Think about in the hour since this shooting first happened how much information investigators have been able to develop. It's really remarkable. And it seems that they really know a lot about the shooter and perhaps even a motive here as to why this was done.
TAPPER: And also, the heart-breaking detail that the parents of the victims, nine children killed, one teacher, ten others in the hospital, we believe two of them are law enforcement and the other eight we believe are students but we're not sure, still haven't been notified, which must be heartbreaking. Let me go to Drew Griffin right now. Drew, the governor there alluding to the suspect's Facebook page and the fact there was a t-shirt, a picture of a t-shirt that said, "Born to Kill." There are also other things that are interesting, not necessarily red flags if you saw them without knowing that this person was a school shooter or a suspected school shooter, but things that would raise eyebrows.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, only in hindsight really. As I looked at this page and we started scouring through social media as soon as we got hint of a name, there was scant information of the type we would normally get in this type of shooting historically, where we've seen messages, kind of deranged posts, other things that would show a propensity for violence. On this person's page, these were both posted on the same day, April 30th, less than a month ago, it's a picture of that "Born to Kill" t-shirt, also his picture and the small pictures there you see, that's the jacket or a duster with Nazi symbolism, kind of racist, fascist kind of symbolism on it. But this was it.
The only other thing that kind of struck me was that he wore a long coat, 90 degrees and according to the lieutenant governor there, that's how he got the shotgun in. As we've heard from a couple other students, that long trench coat that he wore was part of his routine. That does seem odd, although apparently it was part of his wardrobe. But really nothing on social media. This was a normal looking kid. He had nice looking photos of himself.
He played on the freshman football team in one game, was a standout player, he was an honor student back in junior high. He even mentioned that he wanted to join the U.S. Marine corps starting in 2019, he said. We of course checked with the Marines. They have no record of him even inquiring about that. But there is nothing on his social media imprint that really stands out or kind of matches what we've seen in so many of these other shootings.
TAPPER: Drew, and that's the context that you're looking at this in the sense that you have looked at so many of these and so many of these horrific shootings and there's usually much more in terms of motive, in terms of deranged ideas, expressed in writing. But I think a lot of people right now hearing that this individual, the suspected shooter, had Nazi pins on this coat, a hammer and sickle and other things might think, well, that certainly is a red flag to me. I understand the context that you're talking about comparing him to other school shooters, maybe it's not as starkly expressed but why would an iron cross or other Nazi imagery not be considered a red flag?
GRIFFIN: Well, in hindsight it's going to be a red flag. This is a high school kid, 17 years old, who posted this one set of pictures on one day. I'm not sure anybody would have been alerted to that. Had he been posting images of neo-Nazis beating people up or some kind of postings talking about how he liked a certain kind of violence against a certain racial group, that might be a red flag. But he's just posting pictures of clothing at this point and not a lot of them, so I don't think this is going to be looked upon as a red flag warning that was missed if the true sense. Obviously in hindsight. But also keep in mind, this is only the Facebook page that we have seen that was linked to him and that Facebook took down. He could have secret names. He could have other Twitter handles we don't know about yet. We'll all just have to see.
[15:40:00] TAPPER: Thank you so much, Drew, for explaining that. I want to take a moment now to listen to one of the classmates of the suspected school shooter speaking just a short time ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got called to the office because I got written up the other day. When I was walking back, I seen the kid with the trench coat, wearing like these army boots. I walked past him, he kind of looked behind me and turned down the hallway to the art room. After that I went to the rest room, I heard the fire alarm pulled. I went outside, and I heard three gunshots. After that the teachers didn't say nothing. We heard more gunshot and I seen people running to the field. The teacher just screamed at us to run and take off. I ran through someone's yard and jumped their fence and I took two people with me and we --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You grabbed to people --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't grab them, but I helped them over the fence made sure they got over easily
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for that. What was going through your head when you realize that people were running, and people need help?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I was scared, though. I was pretty shaken. The kid that did it, I talked to him before. He just snapped. He didn't seem like he'd ever do that. He doesn't talk to many people either. He keeps to himself. He wears a trench coat every day and it's like 90 degrees. I heard that he wore a shirt today and it said, "Born to Kill." I don't know how the school can allow that. I talked to him a few times. I used to play football in ninth grade. He's nice but he's real quiet. He doesn't talk to many people. He'll be walking around with his trench coat on, head phones in, doesn't say anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he say anything to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. He looked at me kind of weird. I got released from the office at 7:30. As I was walking back to the office, I seen him, and he looked at me weird.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: A classmate of the suspected school shooter. We have news breaking right now about the suspect. Let me bring back Shimon Prokupecz. What are you learning?
PROKUPECZ: The sheriff's office releasing new information saying that the shooter has now been charged. He's charged with capital murder charges. I'll go ahead and read what the statement they put out. They've officially identified him --
TAPPER: This is a mug shot.
PROKUPECZ: He's a white male, 17 years of age, being held on capital murder with no bond. They say that additional charges may follow. So, there you go. He's now booked and as we can see, there is his photo of him and he's facing capital murder charges.
TAPPER: Let's go to Josh Campbell, who used to work at the FBI and does law enforcement analysis for us. Josh, obviously right now law enforcement in and around Santa Fe High School are concerned about the fact that there may be accomplices they're interviewing two people, but they also want to make sure that there isn't anyone else out there and in addition to that, their desire to execute search warrants on the property of the suspected shooter is complicated by the fact that he is apparently wired explosives or at least placed explosives in some of these locations.
JOSH CAMPBELL, FORMER FBI AGENT: That's right. There's a human aspect and a material aspect. First the human aspect. They're going to want to glean from these two individuals, the governor alluded to their, first being someone on the scene who they found to be suspicious to determine what did this person know, was he involved, have information. The second individual is going to be particularly of interest, not a lot of details from the governor. I suspect they might be talking about perhaps the father or family member who may have information on the device or weaponry used here.
They're going to want to at least get some sense, comfort from them that they gleaned everything from these people before they ruled them out as being accomplices. The second is going to be the devices. If the person is cooperating, the subject is cooperating with police, they're going to hope he's going to provide them that information as far as are there devices out there. Let's get a full containment of what these IEDs may be and where they may be, again before we give the all clear. So that will be information that they get from him.
We see here the trailer, which that's going to be something that law enforcement officers are going to process. That's not something they need to do particularly quickly. This is going to take time. They'll be bringing in the bomb technicians who is can do the x ray, determine what's in there and go in and preserve evidence to help them build out this case.
[15:45:00] So a lot of steps to go through. This is going to take quite some time to get a full picture of what happened.
TAPPER: Let me bring in Anthony May, a retired explosive investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. Anthony, you heard Governor Abbott talk about that to explosive devices, a CO2 device and a Molotov cocktail were found. Investigators are concerned enough they have yet to execute the search warrants on the suspected shooter's car or home property because of it. First of all, explain what a CO2 device might be.
ANTHONY MAY, RETIRED EXPLOSIVE INVESTIGATOR WITH THE ATF: A CO2 device is basically a cartridge that's used in air guns, BB guns those types of things. It is a juvenile device in nature although hazardous and can be deadly if properly used. Typically, what they'll do is they'll release the compressed air that's in the cartridge, fill that cavity with an explosive, either black powder, smokeless powder and typically insert a piece of hobby fuse, thereby making an improvised grenade, if you will.
TAPPER: How often are these devices used in moments like these? This is not the first time I've heard of somebody who goes and commits an act of mayhem with a firearm and has also wired certain areas or placed explosives in other areas to create further mayhem after the original incident has concluded.
MAY: Well, it appears to me just reviewing what we know so far that this individual is using information from as far back as Columbine and the Aurora, Colorado incident in doing this. Now, as far as law enforcement prosecuting that trailer and looking at that trailer now on the screen, there is no rush at this point with law enforcement. There's more of a danger than anything else. You can't see inside that trailer, the windows appear to be blocked. There's usually on a trailer like that and I've executed search warrants on those type of trailers along with ATF special agents and there's usually one or two ways in or out. There's a fatal funnel there and if the area is booby-trapped, which the shooter may have alluded to with the police, that's why they're taking their time. They have to formulate a plan how to prosecute that trailer properly and safely.
TAPPER: Charles Ramsey, former police chief of Philadelphia, former police chief of Washington DC, and currently a CNN law enforcement analyst, let me bring you in here and ask you a question that's actually tough for me to even think about, which is why does it take so long to notify the parents of the children that have been lost?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER POLICE CHIEF OF PHILADELPHIA, FORMER POLICE CHIEF OF WASHINGTON DC, CURRENTLY A CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the parents may not be readily accessible. I mean, people are at work, could be on vacation, could be a variety of things. It's not just parents. You try to notify as many next of kin as possible, siblings, aunts, uncles, whom ever. So sometimes it takes time. That's not unusual in homicide cases where you're not able to reach everyone who needs to be notified right away.
TAPPER: But for a school where they have a point of contact for every student, I would think it would be easier to reach a parent than for just an average adult. RAMSEY: Well, would you think so but, again, you know, phone numbers
can change, other things can come up. I don't know why it's taking so long but it not all that unusual. There could be one or two families out there that they've not been able to yet notify everyone. And then they may have reached parents and the parent say don't put anything out yet because you've got other people who need to be notified. They don't want to find out about it on the news, even though this is being very, very well covered now. You would think people would be calling in just to check on the well being of their youngster. Sometimes those things happen.
TAPPER: Appreciate it. Let me go to Rosa Flores, our correspondent on the scene. Rosa, it is no doubt very emotional there with parents who have come to the scene to try to find out what happened to their children. Other students and teachers having fled the scene. Tell us what you're witnessing there at Santa Fe High School.
ROSA FLORES. CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, a lot of very intense and traumatic moments for these students and parents as well, as a lot of the parents tried to reach out to their children and also children reaching out to their parents. You can see this is still a very active scene. Al of the students were transferred to another school to reunify with their parents.
[15:50:00] As you've been talking about on your show, there are multiple crime scenes here, not just the school you see behind me but also other areas that law enforcement still need to search, in search for those potential explosives. But as we were saying this is very intense and traumatic for a lot of the families. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard the alarms. Everybody just, you know, started leaving, following the same procedure as we did because nobody thought it would be this. Nobody thought it was a shooting. Everybody thought it was just a normal procedure, practice fire drill. And next thing you know, we just hear so many of the teachers were telling us to run, go. Run. Me and my friend Ryan Calvert ran to the forest, so we could get shelter and that is when I called my mom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't understand her. There was just noise coming out of her body and could tell she was in distress and she said she was in a field behind the school hiding. I don't know what is going on so I'm in panic. I'm in sheer panic. I called my supervisor and said I have to go and I got here, and it was a struggle because of the cops blocking everything off and I would have got to her somehow, I would have ran. And her friend got shot. It's disturbing. And she's fearful because she has to go to school tomorrow. You're not going to school tomorrow. You're not going back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was there a part of you that said, this is not real. This wouldn't happen in my school?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, there wasn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why so? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been happening everywhere. I felt --
I've always kind of felt it would happen here too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Hearts are heavy here. It is the end of the school year. A lot of these students preparing for graduation. There is a ceremony tomorrow and instead, some of the families now preparing for funerals. Jake.
TAPPER: Rosa Flores, the tragic scene at Santa Fe High School, 30 miles south of Houston. Let me bring in Juliette Kayyem, the former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, and I can't think of a harsher indictment of how the leaders of this country are failing to protect children while they go to their schools. Than what that little girl said, she's not surprised there was a school shooting at her school because they happen all over the place and she figured sooner or later it would happen at Santa Fe High School.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, THE FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: That is exactly right. And teenagers because of social media are absorbing this in ways that we often do not. We can sort of put a distinction between something far away and close by. And she's not wrong. If you look at the statistics and "The Washington Post" just reported that in 2018, a student is more likely to die in a school shooting than a service member is likely to die in the wars abroad. That is an indictment of all of us. And so, this is -- this is a unique case, though. There is a couple of factors that are just -- we still have to get our heads around.
The first is of course this was a school that had done everything right. They had armed officials on the campus, it had done active shooter training, it had every protocol that seems to work right. And this idea if a that if we train people enough, it will be OK. That is just not true.
And on the other hand, these are weapons that are not the ones often talk about in terms of gun control, these are not average weapons but not high-density weapons. And so, this is not falling uniquely or distinctly into the gun debate we often have in these discussions. And then the third factor is the IED. I think one of the problems is because we become acclimated with school shootings, we see with the assailants something we saw similar in terrorism, they have to keep upping the ante for people to pay attention, assailant and had this been successful and what he wanted to do is kill a lot of people and explode a lot of things thereby killing a lost people, and we have to be cautious that there is this ratcheting up through the copycats as we see more and more of the school shooting cases.
TAPPER: And you mentioned the issue of how this suspected shooter is thought to have been able to get firearms and it is true that very few of the laws, if any that I've heard proposed in the last five years, after any one of the mass shootings, would have any affect on this.
[15:55:00] Apparently, according to law enforcement, based on the best information they have now, he used a shotgun and he used a .38 so none of the AR-15 weapons that are debated and discussed, and he didn't buy them.
He didn't get them through the gun show loophole or online. He just took his father's guns and then as you heard, the lieutenant governor of Texas, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a big supporter of gun rights telling parents, what can you do? You can lock up your guns, so nobody could get them, especially your children.
KAYYEM: That is exactly right. And at least in this regard, I applaud the lieutenant governor, he did mention a lot about entrances and exits which doesn't make sense for a big high school given what we know. But on the gun issue, those who own guns have a responsibility, if they want to be -- I don't want to say win the debate, but they have their own responsibility. This idea they have no responsibility as gun owners is ridiculous. If you are a parent and you let your child have access or you don't have your gun under gun locks, that is bad parenting and it is -- it should make you liable in my personal opinion for criminal indictments depending on what they are.
If you are negligent and you hand a kid a gun, and that kid does something, I don't understand as a parent how you are not responsible for that. If people want to own guns have children, we need to get tougher on the laws and tougher on enforcement and in terms of lock boxes and other obligations on parents because what is happening kids may do really bad things that the parents don't know about, are using the parent's adulthood status, their ability to get guns, to kill lots of people very, very quickly.
So, if I sound a little bit like -- parents get your heads on straight, it is because those who want to protect gun ownership have a responsibility to those children in that high school today.
TAPPER: Juliette Kayyem. Thank you very much. We'll take a quick break. When we come back, the shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. We'll continue on "THE LEAD." we'll be back after this.