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At Least One Dead, Five Injured In California School Shooting; Former President Clinton Reacts To California School Shooting. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 14, 2019 - 14:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm Jake Tapper in Washington. That tragic school shooting just north of Los Angeles and Santa Clarita has turned deadly. A female victim has been killed according to a hospital spokesperson. She was among six victims taken to the hospital after the school shooting. Her identity has not yet been released. The gunman is believed to be a 15-year-old male student.

The LA County Sheriff's Office says that the student is in custody. And also in the hospital. A lockdown at all surrounding schools was just lifted a short time ago. We expect an update from authorities any moment now on the latest.

The shooting happened at Saugus High School just before classes were supposed to start. Students inside describe the moments they heard gunfire.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were waiting outside of the locker room because it wasn't open yet, and all of a sudden, like we just -- we were with all of our friends, we heard the gunshots and we just like let's go, like let's run, so we all like ran through the field.


TAPPER: As law enforcement headed into Saugus High, students and staff could be seen rushing out evacuating the school in a now familiar single file image.

I want to get right to CNN's Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles, just southwest of Santa Clarita. Stephanie, what do we know about the victims of this point?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one thing that we are learning Jake from a statement that was put out from the school district, where Saugus High School is, they put out a press release and in it they said in there that several of the students had been taken to the hospital.

So that points to the idea that the people that are in these hospitals, we know right now that there is one female who has died at Henry Mayo Hospital that's in Valencia, California, also up there. Two males are in critical, one male in good condition there.

Then there's another hospital, Providence Holy Cross in Mission Hills, one patient in good condition one in fair. They told us that those were students and that they were speaking, but what this does imply is that all of the people shot may have been students based on what we're seeing from the school district and the statements that they're putting out there.

Also, there's a lot of reports that there were social media posts made by this shooter as recently as yesterday about something happening. And at this point, the LA County Sheriff's Department is saying that they are going to investigate all of this.

And reminding people that if you see something like this, to say something because when stuff like this has happened before, they've been able to go in and thwart any sort of violence happening on a campus in a massive campus of some 3,000 students or so there in Santa Clarita, about 30 minutes, depending on traffic to get there from where we are in LA.

So this is some information coming out and things that we're going to look for when we hear from this presser that has been delayed and delayed, but something we really want to learn more about at this point.

TAPPER: All right, Stephanie Elam in Los Angeles. Let us now go about half an hour northwest of where you are to CNN's Nick Watt who is on the scene right outside Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, and Nick tell us the latest information you're getting there?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the actual details we are hoping to get some confirmation from this press conference which just keeps on getting pushed back, perhaps as they -- as the authorities are trying to nail down exactly what they do know at this time.

What I can tell you, 7:25 this morning, shots were heard by among other people, an off duty Sheriff's Deputy who was dropping a kid off at the school. We've heard reports from numerous students here just to say that they heard five shots in total.

We've spoken to students who were on their way to school, who were getting calls and texts from friends who were hiding inside closets within the school campus, warning their friends not to come to school.

Now, interestingly, pretty early on, authorities put out a description of the suspect saying he was a 15-year-old male wearing a black shirt, black hat, blue jeans, and that he was armed and was not detained.

They believe he was on foot. They were scared that perhaps he was running to other schools. There are two other elementary schools in this area behind me.

So over the past few hours, what they've been doing here is trying to get all of those schools locked down, get the students to safety and then eventually get those students reunited with their obviously extremely anxious parents that has been going on behind me for the past few hours.

And, you know, speaking to students here over the past 20 minutes as they've been walking past in shock, some of them crying, you know, they say yes, school shootings do happen. We've always known that this could be a reality, but it's never happened here. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard from our friends who are still stuck in school that they're hiding in closets. They're just trying to find anything --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are texting us that they are scared to die and they are hiding in closets and --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're still hiding in closets right now?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because they're not sure if the suspect --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't know if they are safe or not and they are just desperate to know any information, so we're trying to help them out the best we can, but it's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like when we got safe, we were texting all of our friends making sure they were safe and like they were like telling us like the conditions that they were in, like they were hiding. They were scared.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it was like scaring us because like, those are our friends and we didn't want anything bad happen to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You won't let go of your daughter?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very scary. We ran -- we heard the one shot and then four after, and we just started running and just -- all I heard was all of these kids running and just screaming and calling their parents and it was very sad.


WATT: So the shooter has been neutralized. We are still waiting on the exact details of how that happened. The lockdowns in all of these schools have been lifted, but of course, one female student confirmed dead and two others, at least two others we know of right now, still in critical condition. So the initial panic is over, but the shock and dread lives on here -- Jake. TAPPER: All right, Nick Watt right outside the school there, Saugus

High School in Santa Clarita, California. And it is impossible to watch that tape of children crying and talking about how their friends are still hiding in closets, and now have to the conclusion that the adults of this country are failing the children of this country.

This is not something that we all had to deal with when we were children, but we are failing the current children of this country. I want to bring into talk about this former F.B.I. agents, James Gagliano and Josh Campbell. We also have with us CNN national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, let me start with you. What do you want to hear from authorities when they finally have this press conference?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So just basically, we want to confirm the facts that we're reporting, which is, is it only one dead? What's the condition of the others? Who is a perpetrator, if they're willing to announce that yet? I assume -- I'm assuming that the delay is because they might not have reached the parents yet of the dead student, so that is sort of who is it? That's the motivation side, and why might they have done it?

And then of course, the second part is means -- how did he do it? How does a 15-year-old get a gun and whose gun is it? And the issue that we talk about every two months, Jake, about this is what is the access? And what kind of weapon it was.

I just want to add one more issue here. We talk a lot about school drills, school drilling, preparing our kids. It's a horrible thing to talk about. What we're finding now, we saw this in Virginia Beach with workplace violence, and we're seeing it now in these schools. These kids know, the perpetrators know, the security sort of positioning of these schools. These are what we call insider threats for a better word.

And so what we have going on in the educational system and the security experts like myself is a rethinking of a lot of this stuff, because if it's the kid that is the perpetrator, which we're seeing, he is going to know where to go. He is going to know the facility.

It's not like Newtown, Sandy Hook, where sort of a stranger walks in and that's a real challenge for in particular, these high schools, where you're going to get that combination of someone who may have access to guns, who also has access to the building.

The only solution is you're checking kids at every door, that's a very bad solution or we address the issue that we ought to address every single time, which is how are these kids getting access to this weaponry? And we'll say it 10 minutes after the incident because it has to be said every single time.

TAPPER: James, let me ask you, as a former F.B.I. official, what's the first thing law enforcement starts doing in a situation like this? After the suspect, of course, has been either shot or arrested? Do you talk to witnesses? Do you talk to the shooter? Do you start roping off -- I mean, roping off the crime scene? Where do you begin? JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So Jake, these things

are conducted in phases and obviously number one is to neutralize the threat, and once that's done, then you worry about preserving evidence, then you work about witness statements, then you worry about putting together the evidence to put this person or people behind bars.

Look, number one is going after the shooter. Number two, kind of to Juliette's point is making sure that there weren't any accomplices. Did anybody provide material support, or inspire or direct this person to do what they did?

Look, this is no surprise, Jake. We are three months out from Gilroy, California; El Paso, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio in similar mass shootings. Schools in this country are still considered to be soft targets.

Yes, some have armed guards, but they're still considered to be soft targets where somebody could go in and in a matter of minutes, cause this kind of havoc.

It's no surprise that this is a male, 96 percent of these shootings as the F.B.I. has determined are done by males. I believe the reason the press conference has been pushed back is that they are mining the intelligence. They are talking to this individual or they're obviously doing some evidence exploration at a house or residence or at the school.


TAPPER: And Josh Campbell, CNN has reported that the suspect is believed to be a student at this school.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, that's right. And there were a lot of questions early on, why did this person choose this particular target? And there's still a lot of unanswered questions. We don't know if his goal was to target a particular person or to go and try to cause mass loss of life.

Now, that will be answered if authorities are able to presumably interview this person, if he is willing to speak with them. If it turns out that he is either in a state of injury or deceased, then obviously that makes their job a lot more difficult.

But there are multiple investigative threads that they're looking at. They want to talk to, obviously the school administrators, people who may have known this person and just as important, and this is why this has taken so long to get these students reunited back with their families is every one of those students at that school near that area is a potential witness.

In fact, the Undersecretary -- Undersheriff rather, Tim Murakami in LA just tweeted out, asking parents to please be patient. They have to interview each student to figure out what they knew.

And again, the key information you want to glean is, you know, if the person uttered something before that he opened fire, that's obviously going to be key for investigators.

TAPPER: All right, thanks so much. Everyone stick around. We have much more in our breaking news coming up, the school shooting in Santa Clarita, California. We expect to hear from authorities at any moment. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with the breaking news -- the horrible news -- one student confirmed dead and at least five injured after a shooting at a Southern California High School. Former President Bill Clinton joins me now on the phone.

President Clinton, thanks so much for joining us. You're on your way to D.C. right now to receive an award from the Brady Center for your work on gun control, signing the Brady Bill requiring background checks, the assault weapons ban, and yet here we are with another school shooting tragedy.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): It's a terrible inappropriate event. I mean, we haven't really passed any meaningful gun safety legislation in 25 years. It was a long time ago when I was there, but we know that the background checks, well, let's just take that. We don't know the facts of this case yet.

Apparently, there's a young student at the school who is under -- in custody, but we know that the background check law, when it passed, passed at a time when Information Technology convinced the Congress not to include gun show sale, and when there were no online gun sales. So it's needed updating all this time.

And I think it's important to remember Jake, when, when that thing passed, and I signed it, it was a big priority for me. But we had 16 Republican senators and 56 Republican House Members voting for the Brady Law.

And, you know, then in '94, we had a big sharp turn to the right in the congressional elections and, you know, we never recovered from it, but there are now a number of Republicans in the House at least to worry about their suburban goals, and I think if they got any sport in the house, some of the senators might vote to modernize the background check law, too.

I think they should do the same thing with the assault weapons ban and the ammunition limit. I mean, if you look at it, we had -- if you define a mass shooting as eight or more killed, there were two during the time the assault weapons ban was in place, seven in the 10 years before, 13 in the 10 years after it expired and 13 in the last five years when the mass marketing of these things was taken off.

So you know, we ought to try to put this beyond politics and think about these kids' lives. I mean, you know, we can all talk about sympathy and we can talk about mental health, although, the mental health of Americans is no worse than that of our other major countries, but this is an opportunity for us to do something responsible and to do it together.

TAPPER: And what do you say to people who might argue, you know, with all due respect, President Clinton, Democrats supported the Brady Bill, you had control -- Democrats had control the House and the Senate in 1992 through 1994, and then you lost control of it, because at least in part, because of your support for gun control.

The argument being, you know, the voters don't want it even though obviously polling contradicts it, but the people who vote don't want it maybe. What would your argument be to somebody, obviously, there have been years where Democrats had been completely AWOL on this issue.

CLINTON: There have been and that's what happened in '94. And what happened in '94 was that our people didn't understand, I think and I didn't understand fully that a poll is meaningless on this because intensity governs it.


CLINTON: And intensity tells you whether it's a voting issue. So basically, a lot of these things -- the background check law has 70/30 or more for it. But of the 30 who were against it, 20 something percent would vote against you if you disagreed with them, and of the 70 who were for it, only 10 percent or so would vote for you ...

TAPPER: Right.

CLINTON: ... if you agreed with them, or would vote against you if you disagreed with them. But that's all change now, beginning with his last plight of shootings of kids in schools, and owing I think, to the passion and determination of the kids at Parkland in Florida and the allies in Chicago, New York and other places around the country. It is a voting issue now for our side.

If you look at these recent elections and voting this week in Virginia, we just had an election there where gun safety was an issue. It worked for us, not against this.

And there are now a lot of Republicans who represent districts with a substantial suburban population, and I think they understand that a lot of their supporters believe strongly that it's time to update this background check law and make it truly comprehensive, and the sport for that is around 90 percent. We're not going to beat anybody.

TAPPER: And we've heard President Trump say a couple times after a couple of horrific shootings, I think Parkland in 2018, and then I think this year after Dayton and El Paso, we've heard President Trump talk about doing something on background checks, expanding the background checks to cover all gun sales. Obviously, the NRA is against it.

I want you to take a listen to Attorney General Bill Barr yesterday talking about why the efforts to introduce some reforms on gun legislation have stalled. Take a listen.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Unfortunately, our discussions on the legislative aspects of this have been sidetracked because of the impeachment process on the Hill.


TAPPER: Now, there is nobody in the world who is more of an expert on the need and ability to work with Congress at the same time that they're impeaching you. And I'm wondering, what is your reaction to Barr saying, well, the House Democrats decided to impeach therefore, we can't do anything on guns.

CLINTON: Well, my answer is, look at how much we got done in 1998 and 1999. And even in '97, we have very productive actions in all three years. The only -- the really tough year we had as the Republicans won Congress was '95 to the beginning of '96 when they shut the government down twice.

But once the public render judgment on what they thought should be done, I just kept working with them. I mean, that's just an excuse.

TAPPER: So what would your message to President Trump be? What would your message to President Trump be about when he says, well, I can't work with these people, they're impeaching me.

CLINTON: My message was -- would be, look, you got hired to do a job. You don't get the days back you have lost. Every day is an opportunity to make something good happen. And I would say, they've got lawyers and staff people handling this Impeachment Inquiry, and they should just have at it.

Meanwhile, I'm going to work with the American people, that's what I would do. I mean, I think what happened is, he did indicate a couple of times he might go along with this, and then obviously the gun lobby got ahold of him and pulled him back.

But at some point, you know, denial is no longer an option. And the Congress is basically in denial of the consequences of doing nothing, or at least the people who are opposed to it.

And the easiest thing to do is they don't want to pass the assault weapons ban and the ammunition clip limit, which I strongly believe they should. If you just look at the staggering increase in mass shooting since the assault weapons ban expired.

If they don't want to do that, at least give us a clean background check law. One that works in the modern world, take advantage of our Information Technology and basically doesn't bend over backwards to make it easy for people who have no business getting these guns to get them.


TAPPER: And lastly, sir, we haven't heard from the current President after this school shooting -- these school shootings happen. It feels at least, more often than they did in the '90s, and I'm wondering for any American parent out there or child who is today scared, what your message to them would be.

CLINTON: My message is, first of all, your school should do everything they possibly can to minimize this, but they did gun safety drills in the school where the shooting occurred and that you deserve an environment which minimizes your risk.

We can minimize your risk without doing anything to the right to have an arm for hunting, sports shooting, or self-protection. Nothing, zero, nada. It doesn't affect that at all to have like, a good comprehensive background check law, and from my point of view, it does nothing to it, too -- and military style assault weapons and ammunition clips over a certain size.

When we did it, no one missed any time hunting or sports shooting, and no one complained that they couldn't really protect their homes if they didn't have, you know, an assault weapon.

But if you continue to pretend that you can deal with all of these by violations of existing law without trying to prevent it, you're going to continue to have these things happen.

And we don't know what the facts are here now. I don't know ...

TAPPER: Right.

CLINTON: ... what kind of weapon this young man used. I don't know what went on there. But I do know this. In most of these cases, if we had an aggressive preventive program that doesn't interfere with the Second Amendment right that the Supreme Court has specified, we could have prevented or minimized the damage.

I remember at one point in the '90s, when I was President, a study came out saying that if you got shot with an assault weapon, you were three times as likely to die from the one than if you just got one bullet in you from a robber, or from another kind of hand gun.

So we just need to calm down and take this out of politics and give more of our kids a better future. I mean, it doesn't make any sense and the political argument that you raised in the beginning is absolutely right. There were people who lost their careers in Congress because of that, and one reason we lost the majority in Congress in '94 was because of that, but it's not that way anymore. It's now voting issue for the people that agree with us.

So if you're just worried about the naked politics, it's at least to watch and people should in fact do what's right for the children.

TAPPER: Former President Bill Clinton, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate you calling in and congratulations on your award.

CLINTON: Thank you, Jake. Bye.

TAPPER: Bye-bye. We're waiting to hear an update from law enforcement on that school shooting any moment. We're going to bring that to you live when it comes.

Plus our other top story, the first reactions to the impeachment hearings from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That's ahead. Stay with us.