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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Prayer Vigil Underway For Uvalde Community; Family Remembers 10-Year-Old Jose Flores Jr.; Investigators: Gunman Inside School For 40 To 60 Minutes. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 25, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us. Our breaking news coverage continues now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

A couple miles from here at the Uvalde Fairplex, a vigil is getting underway right now for the victims of the deadliest school shooting in this country in nearly a decade. Throughout the day, we have learned more details about the horror that was inflicted on these children and their teacher and his community, but I'm just going to tell you right now, there is still a lot we do not know.

And the other thing that I want to be clear about is that we will have all the latest on the investigation and the person who did this, but as always, we're not going to show you his face, or say this person's name. If he wanted to become famous as a killer, we just don't want any part of that. History should not remember this person's name. Instead history should remember and we all should hear the names of those murdered here, the children and their teacher, they are the ones that matter.

Amerie Jo Garza matters. She was 10 years old. Her dad is going to join us just a few minutes. He says his daughter was full of life, always telling jokes, always smiling. On social media this morning, he wrote: "Please don't take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you, Amerie Jo," he said.

Xavier Lopez matters. He was 10 years old. Xavier attended a school honor roll ceremony just before he was killed. His mom telling "The Washington Post" that he could not wait to go to Middle School. That is what he was looking forward to. She said she'll never forget his smile. It would cheer anyone up, she says.

Uziyah Garcia matters. He was also 10 years old. His uncle tells us he loved video games and anything with wheels. His grandfather says that he was the sweetest little boy he had ever known, adding: "I'm not just saying that because he was my grandkid."

Jose Flores, Jr., also 10 years old, he matters. He loved baseball and video games. His father says he was an amazing big brother to his older and younger siblings. Lexi Rubio matters. She too was 10 years old. She just made the honor

roll also and received a Good Citizen Award. Her parents say she was going to be an all-star in softball. They were with her at the honors ceremony and when it was over, her mom says we told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. She says we had no idea this was goodbye. Of course, she didn't. How could she?

Eva Mireles matters. She had been teaching for 17 years. One mother whose son has autism praised the care that Miss Mireles showed him. She says, she made you feel like, and these are her words, "She was only teaching your child. She made you feel so good."

Those are the only names of those murdered yesterday that we know right now, but they all matter and tonight, we want to remember them. In a moment, as I said, we are going to be joined by the father of one child. Before that, I want to bring in CNN's Jason Carroll for the latest we know about what actually happened yesterday at the school behind us.

Jason, there is still a lot we don't know.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But there is some that we do know, some of this starting last week. That's when this 18-year-old gunman legally purchased two firearms, two semi- automatics, one on May 17th, the other on May 20th. He also purchased ammo last week. So that information coming in.

All of this, Anderson, as investigators are still trying to piece together a motive.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): These kids will never attend school again.

CARROLL (voice over): Tonight, authorities revealed new details about what unfolded as the gunman entered Robb Elementary School and opened fire on a fourth grade classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The subject was able to make it into the -- into the school as the Governor reported. He went down a hallway turned right and turned left and there were two classrooms that were adjoining and that's where the carnage began.

CARROLL (voice over): Law enforcement estimate the shooter was inside the school for 30 minutes.

ABBOTT: Border Patrol consolidated ISD officers, police, Sheriffs and DPS officers converged on that classroom and a Border Patrol officer killed the gunman.

CARROLL (voice over): At least 19 children and two adults were killed, only two days before the end of the school year. Officials say the gunman acted alone.

ABBOTT: The gunman was 18 years old and reportedly a high school dropout. Reportedly, there has been no criminal history identified yet. There was no known mental health history of the gunman.

CARROLL (voice over): The rampage began at his grandmother's home authorities revealing messages he sent just before he carried out his attacks.


ABBOTT: The first post was to the point of, he said: "I'm going to shoot my grandmother." The second post was, "I shot my grandmother." The third post, maybe less than 15 minutes before arriving at school was, "I'm going to shoot an elementary school."

CARROLL (voice over): Abbott says the gunman shot her grandmother in the face and then she contacted police, she is now fighting for her life. After leaving his grandmother's home, the gunman crashed her truck in a ditch, leaving the vehicle and walking toward the school with a long rifle and wearing tactical gear.

The gunman had legally purchased two AR platform rifles, posting an image of the guns on Instagram, sending an ominous message to one user that he had a little secret hours before the shooting.

Families throughout the community heartbroken directly impacting even the officials responding to the scene.

ABBOTT: In addition to the students and the faculty, there were three officers who were injured who all remain in good condition. One Deputy Sheriff lost a daughter in that school.


COOPER: Jason, the shooter legally purchased these weapons. What about the ammunition?

CARROLL: Ammo as well legally purchased, some 375 rounds of ammo that he purchased and we were just learning today, Anderson, as I look at some of the flowers and things that have been left at the school there, right before he entered the school, he apparently dropped a bag loaded with ammo, even before he entered the school.

COOPER: Jason Carroll, appreciate the update.

A moment ago, we told you a little bit about Amerie Jo Garza. I want to show you a social media post from her dad, Angel, yesterday. It reads: "I don't ask for much or hardly even post on here, but please, it's been seven hours and I still haven't heard anything on my love. Please, Facebook help me find my daughter."

Last night, they did learn that his daughter was one of those who had been killed. Her father, Angel joins me now. Angel, thank you so much for being with us. I'm so sorry for your loss.

You're holding a picture of your daughter. She had just won an honor roll.

ANGEL GARZA, LOST DAUGHTER IN UVALDE, TEXAS SHOOTING: Yes. Yes. COOPER: What do you want people to know about her?

GARZA: That she was just trying to do the right thing. She's just trying to call the cops. That's -- she was so scared of just strangers and things like this. Like she would lock the door when I would step out to put gas in the car, like she -- this is literally like her worst fear and she was just trying to help everyone.

COOPER: She talked of something like this.

GARZA: So I'm a Med Aid, so when I arrived on the scene, they still had kids inside. They started bringing the kids out, and I was aiding assistance.

One little girl was just covered in blood, head to toe like I thought she was injured. I asked her what was wrong. And she said she was okay. She was hysterical saying that they shot her best friend, that they killed her best friend, and she is not breathing and she was trying to call the cops, and I asked the little girl the name and she told me, she said, "Amerie."

COOPER: That's how you learned?

GARZA: She was so sweet. She was the sweetest little girl who did nothing wrong. She listened to her mom and dad.

She always brushed teeth. She did -- she was creative. She made things for us. She never got in trouble in school. Like I just want to know what she did to be a victim.

COOPER: She loved being a big sister. You have a three-year-old son named, Zane (ph).

GARZA: We have a three year old son named, Zane who asks for his sister every morning when he wakes up.

COOPER: He doesn't know at this point, I assume?

GARZA: We've informed him that his sister is now with God and that and that she will no longer be with this. And of course, he just cried. I mean, he is three years old and still is emotional for him even process.

She just turned 10. Her birthday was on the 10th, May the 10th, two weeks ago.


COOPER: Two weeks ago. You had a party for her.

GARZA: We had got -- we just gathered the family and had a dinner. She just got her phone. She had been wanting your phone for so long and we finally got it for her. She just tried to call the police.

COOPER: She tried to -- she actually tried to call? GARZA: Yes, I got confirmation from two of the students in her

classroom that she was just trying to call the authorities. And I guess, he did shoot her. How do you look at this girl and she --

Oh, my baby. I miss you, my baby. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

COOPER: Of course, it is okay. How's your wife?

GARZA: I just want to ask everybody to just keep my wife in their prayers. She, Amerie had the best mother. She did everything she could for her daughter and she is just beating herself up so bad about this and baby, it's not your fault, I promise. She just wants you to be happy.

COOPER: Is there anything else you want people to know about Amerie?

GARZA: I just want people to know that she just died trying to save her classmates. She just wanted to save everyone.

COOPER: I'm so sorry for your loss.

GARZA: Thank you.

COOPER: I wish you peace in the days ahead.

GARZA: Thank you, Mr. Cooper.

COOPER: Angel Garza, thank you.

That was Angel Garza talking about his daughter, who has died here at 10 years old.

A prayer vigil is now underway not far from here at the Uvalde County Fairplex. According to area news outlets, a vigil was also held tonight in San Antonio, the nearest big city.

From Uvalde right now, I want to bring in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz who has some additional reporting about the investigation, especially the timeline.

There's a lot about this timeline, excuse me, that we don't -- we don't know. We don't have a minute by minute account, and obviously in a case like this minutes or seconds are essential.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is extremely essential and we don't have that minute by minute account.

We know approximately when he enters the school. We know approximately when he shoots his mother. But the specific information of when each of the officers arrived, when the first officer arrived, when the CBP first arrived, those kinds of minute to minute details, we don't have, and police have yet to give that to us.

You know, what we learned today from the police here and from the Governor's Office is that the gunman was inside the school for maybe up to an hour. COOPER: Really?

PROKUPECZ: Up to an hour. They think anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes.

COOPER: Let me ask you because last night, we talked to Sergeant Estrada and again and he acknowledged and we acknowledged last night that that information is initial reports, he only had a limited information.

He had said that the gunman had been engaged in some respect by a school safety officer. Is it clear to you given the statement that was made earlier today whether the school safety officer was actually on the scene already in the school when the government arrived? Or did they arrive at the scene?

Because the way the police said at a press conference, it was -- it was unclear.

PROKUPECZ: That's been one of the questions that I've certainly I've had is how did the police get here so quickly at the same time as the gunman? So it appears that he may have showed up or he or she may have shown up after the fact that like right around the same time, but what's interesting is today we learned that the authorities here are calling it -- there was an engaged -- they engage him. That they engaged the gunman, but it's not entirely clear.

What is clear today from the Governor and from DPS is that there were no shots fired outside. There was fire fight.

COOPER: So we don't know when they -- they said they engage the gunman, but they did not shoot at the gunman.

PROKUPECZ: That's what it appears at this point from the police that they did not shoot at him while he was outside and that he went around and got in through the back of the school.

We don't understand how he got into the school through the back, if that door was left unopen, if something else, but that's how he got inside the school and then as we know, he got into that classroom, and then basically barricaded himself inside this room and the police started exchanging gunfire with him.

But he essentially was overpowering them and they couldn't get inside the classroom for probably several minutes, could be as much as 30 minutes.


They had to call CBP and CBP, the Customs and Border Patrol who apparently have a huge presence in this area, and in total about 80 officers from CBP showed up.

They were the ones that ultimately, with some of the Sheriff's officers entered the classroom.

COOPER: Right, this is the tactical unit that arrived and they were the ones who breached the classroom.

PROKUPECZ: Right about six to 10 officers on the tactical team. They had to wait for them. That is crucial time, crucial minutes in all of this that this gunman was inside this classroom, with these children, with the teachers.

COOPER: And that's why -- we were talking about that time matters so much, the FBI has done analysis of all active shooter situations, especially in schools and generally, all the killings are taking place in the first minutes of an incident like this.

And usually the first law enforcement on the scene now, since Columbine are trained, they are the ones who go in and no matter what try to stop the shooter that is the first priority. Clearly, they were not able to do that until this tactical unit came.

PROKUPECZ: Right. And you know, this is a small department. So the school has its own police department, it's probably about six people. There's a chief, there's four officers, and there's a detective. So we don't really know, the training.

You know, certainly this gunman was able to overwhelm them and that's why they had to wait for the additional resources. But as you said, you know, officers are trained in these active shooting situations, especially in schools inside buildings, you form a team and you go in as quickly as you can to try and get to the shooter to neutralize the shooter.

There were delays here, because of the fact that this shooter barricaded himself. They had to wait for extra resources.

COOPER: It's also not clear to me if these horrific killings took place immediately upon the shooter entering the classroom, or the timing of that.

PROKUPECZ: Right, and that's not something, you know, law enforcement kind of wants to talk about. You know, all of -- based on everything that we know, and the people we've talked to, it is horrific inside that classroom. And so it's not clear, but they can hear the gunshots.

You know, this continuous shooting as they are inside. It could have happened very quickly, but they could see him. There were -- he was firing at them through a window. So precious minutes, but we don't know how quickly he killed these kids.

COOPER: More to learn. Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate it. Thank you.

I want to get perspective now from CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, Shimon's reporting, I know you've heard the law enforcement analysis. I am wondering what you make of what we now know, and there is a lot we still don't know.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, yes. So first of all, Anderson, I want to be just very clear about this. No former law enforcement person, myself included, wants to sit here 24 hours later and start criticizing what local police did or didn't do responding to a crisis event, right? This is like very uncomfortable.

And we don't know what happened. We don't know the absolute tick tock of who showed up when and where they went and what they saw, and what they planned to do and how they may have been pinned down, what resources they had, what resources they needed. We will find out all of that later.

But I can tell you that the idea that law enforcement officers would hold a position in a school for 30 minutes or more, while shooting was taking place, while a barricaded gunman was shooting victims inside of a classroom. That is not consistent with the way that active shooter training is delivered in thousands of police agencies around the country.

As you have stated before, in the post Columbine, post Virginia Tech shooting world, the FBI and DHS and other partners have been very clear in the training we've deployed, spent a lot of time and effort and resources deploying training to get this message out that officers need to be appropriately equipped with long rifles to be able to fight back. And when they arrive on that scene, they run to the sound of the guns and try to get in front of that shooter before more people are killed.

So there does seem to be a dissonance here between that training and what we know so far, about the timeline of these events.

COOPER: I should also -- I do want to point out, we don't know the -- we don't have a second by second or minute by minute account, and so we don't know when these killings took place. It is possible, and again we haven't heard this level of detail from law enforcement and that's why we're asking these questions, it is very possible the killings took place immediately upon entering the classroom and that the law enforcement officers knew that and felt having this person barricade in the classroom was at least this person was static, barricaded in a classroom.


Again, I don't know -- nobody knows at this point. Law enforcement has been not specific in the details of this, whether that's for a reason or just they have got a lot of other things to deal with, obviously.

So still a lot to learn. But I hear what you're saying. The investigation now. I mean, obviously, we know how horrific it must be there. What is happening now, in terms of the investigation? What questions are law enforcement trying to answer?

MCCABE: Yes, so let's first acknowledge that you cannot overstate how arduous and disturbing it is to have to process that scene. So that's going on still to this day. We know that several of the victims, their bodies are being released to their families tonight, many others not quite yet.

So they are dealing -- our first responders are dealing with a horrific scene beyond description that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. So that continues.

The investigation around the shooting gets deeper and deeper every day. Right now you have -- now we know that the attacker was interacting with numerous people over different social media platforms in different countries. The FBI can obviously work with foreign partners to have those people interviewed and get statements from them about what they knew the attacker was saying.

The rest of his social media posts and statements are all being closely analyzed. His interactions with friends and family and associates, all those people are being interviewed and their perspectives that are being collected. We will learn more with every single one of those interviews and each piece of evidence that they uncover. They want to understand every minute of every day leading up to this event that they possibly can from his first comments about it, to purchasing the weapons and the ammunition, telling people what he was going to do. And then of course, what he actually did during the attack.

All of that is very important for the FBI to be able to understand how these horrible attacks take place to hopefully train our law enforcement partners about how to see these things coming. It's very, very tough work.

COOPER: Man, Andrew McCabe, I appreciate your joining us tonight. Thank you for that.

We want to talk more about what we know about his gunman's online postings and the text messages that he sent shortly before the shooting.

And later, the story of 10-year-old Jose Flores, Jr, the kind of son and brother this little boy was.



COOPER: A lot of the stories we've already heard so far about the 19 young victims of the killer here and the two teachers whose lives he took, it is exceedingly difficult to talk about what may have motivated him because there is no sense to any of it.

There are pieces of an apparently deeply troubled life that are now coming to light. More now from CNN's Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is the text conversation captured just moments before the 18 year old shooter would attempt to kill his grandmother, then in his words, shoot up an elementary school.

"You know what I'm going to do right now," he writes. "Tell me," is the response. "I can't since my grandpa hasn't left. I'm waiting for this dude to leave." Shortly after 11:00 AM Texas time. The suspect then complains about

his grandmother and his phone bill. "I'm waiting for this bitch. I'm going to do something to her right now. She's on with AT&T about my phone. It's annoying."

Five minutes pass, then "I just shot my grandma in her head. Ima go shoot up a elementary school right now."

That last message sent at 6:21 PM German time, which would have been 11:21 AM in Uvalde, Texas. Eleven minutes later, police received their first call of a shooting at Robb Elementary School.

The person on the receiving end of the text, a 15-year-old girl in Germany. She had never met him in person. They connected through a live streaming app called Yubo. She says the shooter told her he'd bought some ammo Monday, but she told CNN she had no idea what he was planning.

She is not the only person he was communicating with. The shooter's Instagram account showed a photo of two AR-style weapons and tagged another young woman who he messaged the morning of the shooting saying "I'm about to," but didn't finish his sentence and then "I got a lil secret."


COOPER: Drew Griffin joins us now. Is it clear what kind of relationship this 15-year-old girl in Germany had with the shooter, if any?

GRIFFIN: You know, not much, Anderson. They just started talking a couple of weeks ago on this live streaming app. It's called Yubo. I know a lot of people don't know about that, but it's a place where you can group communicate with people and from that, they began communicating by text with just each other and even FaceTime, at one point talking by phone, Anderson, but never in person. They were never even on the same continent -- Anderson.

COOPER: Drew Griffin, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, more on what we are learning about the children and the teachers killed in this tragedy including, 10-year-old son and a big brother, Jose Flores, Jr. His dad describes him as full of energy, ready to play until tonight.

More on this little boy, coming up.



COOPER: COOPER: Just want to point out we still do not know the names of all those killed in this school yesterday. But we do want to tell you as much as we can about the children and the teachers that we do know about.

Our Gary Tuchman has more now on Jose Flores Jr. He is 10 years old. His family says he was an amazing son and big brother. Take a look.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten-year-old Jose Flores Jr. had a huge smile on his face when he received this honorable certificate at school on Tuesday. Just a few hours later, the world changed. This is his mother, father and three siblings. Jose Flores Sr. went to the hospital hoping his son was the patient there. He says a nurse took them into a hospital chapel.

(on-camera): What did the nurse tell you?

JOSE FLORES SR., FATHER OF JOSE FLORES. JR.: (INAUDIBLE) I mean, as soon as they took me to the room, I already knew what it was about. She had to say much. The way she took me in there, the way she's, have a seat. We will talk to you. We got to tell you some things. I mean, I already knew what was next.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jose Jr., a loving son and big brother did not survive the gunman's rampage. Jose Sr. called his wife Cynthia.

CYNTHIA FLORES, MOTHER OF JOSE FLORES JR.: He just said my baby didn't make it.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): It seemed like a nightmare. Jose Sr. and Cynthia just couldn't comprehend their eldest child was gone. Jose Sr. asked some Texas Rangers at the hospital if he could see his son.


J. FLORES: But one of the Rangers told me, he came to me, he's like as a father, I wouldn't let you go back there and see him because he was not recognized (INAUDIBLE).

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jose Jr.'s five year old brother Jaden took us into his bedroom that he shared with his big brother. And Jose Jr.'s bed all his favorite stuffed animals from when he was a little boy. And a set of clothes that his parents say he will wear in this casket.

J. FLORES: So I didn't get to hold on no more, I didn't get to see (INAUDIBLE) funeral it might not be open casket for same reason.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Jose Jr. wanted to be a police officer when he grew up. He wanted to protect others, especially his baby brother Jace.

C. FLORES: When it was just me and him, I was -- he's so good, he's helpful. I'll be here on the house. He'll just be like my little shadow. Like he'll just be helping me and stuff like with the babies. The other thing with babies like my friends, babies. They're like he's just very good with babies. He was always nice.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): When Jace grows up, your little baby, what do you tell Jace about his brother Jose?

J. FLORES: He really loves his little brother. (INAUDIBLE) he's a little helper.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Endrea is nine months younger than Jose Jr.

(on-camera): What did you like most about your brother?

ENDREA FLORES, SISTER OF JOSE FLORES JR.: That he will always support me and he would always play with me.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Andrea and Jose Jr. were both in fourth grade in the same school. She lived through the same horror, but was in a different fourth grade classroom.

A. FLORES: There's just a bunch of contract going through windows and doors and (INAUDIBLE) and a bunch of knocking, banging.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The emotional challenges are many for this family. They've lost their son and brother. But their memories of a sweet boy who wanted to be a policeman because he wanted to protect others will live on forever.

C. FLORES: Yes. Yes.


COOPER: Gary joins us now. I mean, how do you explain to a five-year- old brother that his older brother's gone?

TUCHMAN: Yes, what the parents have told little Jaden that there was a very bad man at that school. And their sister is safe and was able to come home. But his big brother is not able to come home. And Jaden asked, what does that mean? They said you remember we told you last year your great grandmother is no longer able to come home. She's in heaven. And now your brother Jose is in heaven with your great grandmother and that gave him a lot of comfort.

But just today, not surprisingly, after we left to talk to Cynthia the mother, and she said that Jaden looked her in the eye and said when is Jose coming home?

COOPER: Gary, appreciate it. Thank you.

I want to bring in Sandy Phillips, the founder of Survivors Empowered. She knows firsthand what victims' families are going through her daughter, Jessica Redfield Godwin was killed in 2012 in a movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Now Sandy travels to mass shooting sites to help survivors through her organization. She's in Buffalo survivors from the supermarket mass shooting will head here tomorrow.

Sandy, I heard you were going to Buffalo and then this occurred. I mean, these are happening so close together. What do you say to a family member today, the day after something like this when you take them in your arms? And when you hold them? What can you possibly say?

SANDY PHILLIPS, FOUNDER, SURVIVORS EMPOWERED: Now the first thing I tell them is that I know that right now, they don't want to take another breath. They wish that they were dead instead of their child. And then I tell them that, you know, I felt the same way. And quite frankly, if I had had a hand gun in the house, I'm not sure I would still be here. But I am alive. I have found joy again I found purpose. But it's a different kind of joy and it's a different purpose than I ever expected and that your life is forever altered.

I don't joke with them. I don't I don't pretend and say (INAUDIBLE) going through and put their lives back together and discussed before is a different (INAUDIBLE) and he's here again, you know. My friend Nicole (INAUDIBLE) and I called her immediately after got her because it's a first -- the first shooting we responded (INAUDIBLE) was earlier.


COOPER: Sandy, we're having a -- we have a bad connection. We're going to try to reconnect with you and come back to you. Because we want to hear what you're saying and you're broken up right now. We're going to take a short break.

Coming up, heated moments during Governor Abbott's news conference when Beto O'Rourke showed up.

Also, I'll be joined by the U.S. Senator from Connecticut elected weeks before the Sandy Hook school shootings. He's now begging his colleagues to take action.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African-American patrons we have another Sandy Hook on our hands. What are we doing?



COOPER: Joining me live from Uvalde, Texas, where people are still trying to figure out what happened, to understand what happened if there is any understanding to be had. I want to return to rejoin Sandy Phillips, the founder of an organization Survivors Empowered.

Sandy, I'm sorry for the poor connection. Before we heard what you were saying though you're talking to -- when you when you talk to families who have just experienced the worst loss imaginable. You are there with them, sharing your experience that you learned sadly after the death the murder of your daughter Jessica.


The road ahead for families, I mean this is all unchartered territory for all of these families. And it is a different kind of death than then than others. And do you -- the Grief is a different kind of grief is that fair to say?

PHILLIPS: Oh, it's totally different. Yes. And that's why we developed the survivors toolkit that we worked on with the Giffords Organization. So they would have a toolkit to kind of rely on and be prepared for what lies ahead for them, initially, over the next few days, and then weeks and months. And eventually, if they're ready to take the next step into either activism or mindfulness, we lay that out for them as well.

So, we always recommend that initially, they get the trauma therapy, that they're going to need to treat the PTSD symptoms that they will have from this situation, and, and then go from there, you know. So we just, you know, we, we hold their hands, and their broken hearts, as long as we can and continue the road with them for the rest of their lives if they want us there.

COOPER: How do you go from tragedy to tragedy? I mean, how do you personally do that?

PHILLIPS: You know, I do prep. But Jessie was a very kind person, and she was always wanting to help other people. And when she was killed, I think we just took that armor on ourselves and said, whatever we can do to help someone else that has been presented with a tragedy like we were, then we need to be doing that. And people say, you know, well, it's so selfless. No, it's actually pretty selfish, because we get as much back from those people that we're dealing with and helping as they get from us.

So, you know, it's not enjoyable work, is hard work. It does take its toll. But we muddle through somehow.

COOPER: Your son, Jordan, who I met outside, in Aurora, Colorado, after his sister, your daughter, Jessica was killed. He's a first responder. He was at the scene here last night. And again today, how was he doing?

PHILLIPS: Yes. Jordan is a trooper, and he says he's doing fine. But I know my son well enough to know that he's not. And I know, he saw things that no human being should see. One of the things that we need to really look at is the treatment of first responders after the fact and giving them the time that they need to heal as well from what they have witnessed and had to go through.

So, we need to do a much better job of making sure that there are trauma therapists for first responders and CSIs and take the stigma away of asking for that help or receiving that help.

COOPER: Is there an end to this? I mean, you've been doing this endlessly --


COOPER: -- a week from now.

PHILLIPS: No, there's no reason to think it won't happen a week from now because we've made it so easy for it to happen anywhere to anyone at any time. So yes, it could happen again tomorrow, somewhere else in this nation. It could happen tonight somewhere in this nation. So we've allowed it to happen. We've turned our heads, we've shrugged our shoulders. Our elected officials have learned to say no, and others have learned to feign learned helplessness. So until all of them get a backbone we're stuck in this rut and it can no longer be tolerated.

So, my job is not to play -- to placate politicians or anyone else. It's to save lives. And so that's what we try to do. And then when we fail it, saving lives and we have to put the pieces of their lives back together with them and for them.

COOPER: Sandy Phillips I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us tonight. And again as always I'm sorry it's under these circumstances. Thank you.


PHILLIPS: Thank you for inviting me. Thank you.

COOPER: The heartache, the outrage, the disgust over the school shootings spilled over today here in Uvalde, Texas. Republican Governor Greg Abbott's news conference was briefly interrupted by former congressman Beto O'Rourke. O'Rourke is running against Abbott in the governor's race, this Democratic nominee.




COOPER: Tend to change day came after Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy's emotional plea in Capitol Hill in the hours after the attack.


MURPHY: What are we doing? Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job or putting yourself in a position of authority if your answer is that as this slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing. But I'm here on this floor to beg to literally get down on my hands and knees and begged my colleagues find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely.


COOPER: Senator Murphy joins me now.

I want to talk about that path if there is one in a moment. But I just want to go back to Sandy Hook you were in that firehouse I understand with parents as they waited endlessly hour after hour to hear whether or not their child was alive or not. Can you take us back there because there are 21 families here right now, who now have that information and are trying to figure out as Sandy Phillips said, how to take the next breath, how to survive the next minute.

MURPHY: Yes listen, I think it's really important for the American people to understand how grisly these scenes are. I want people to really think about what happens to the body of a nine-year-old or a seven-year-old when they get shot seven, eight, nine, 10 times by an assault rifle designed to kill soldiers on the battlefield. Some of these bodies are unrecognizable. Some of the faces are beyond recognition. None of them can have open caskets.

And in that firehouse in Sandy Hook, I was there when the parents were told that their kids were dead on the floor of that school. I remember one parent not leaving that firehouse, literally staying there until one in the morning because he was convinced maybe the authorities were wrong. Maybe his son was still out in the woods, maybe his son would show up to that firehouse in the middle of the night and he wasn't going to leave if there was a chance. I want people to understand how awful this is, how disgusting the scenes look. Because by doing nothing, again, by reelecting all the same people who do nothing, year after year, you are inviting another set of families and another set of families to go through that horror scene that happened last night in Texas that I experienced and went through with those families in Sandy Hook.

COOPER: And I got to say, I mean, I don't know how many of these I have come to but there is a sickening routine. You see the same people and everybody knows what role they have the police know what role they have and the reporters know what role they have. And the politicians know what role they have. And it's just on a -- it's just a cycle. It's just an the circus moves to the next one and sets up tents and it happens all over again.

MURPHY: Yes something's dying inside the soul of this nation. I mean, there's literally something rotting in our core right now because we are becoming so anesthetized to this. We're becoming numb to it. As you said, the exercise is now roped, it's memorized. And I understand, you know, people have good conscience they have to rationalize this somehow, they have to protect themselves so they can't be muster the energy to get outraged every single time. But we can't let that happen, we have to keep our sense of outrage because the forces of the status quo, the gun lobby, the gun industry who want these weapons of war to continue to be sold, they profit off of our malaise, they profit off of our decision to just explain this away.


So, you know, my speech on the floor yesterday was about channeling my outrage publicly to my colleagues into the country, hoping that others connect to it and show their own sense of outrage.

COOPER: So what can get done? I'm not even asking what should get done. I'm just saying what can get done?

MURPHY: So all day, I've been in conversations with Republicans and Democrats, we are going to spend next week trying to come up with a bipartisan compromise, it will be incremental, I'm going to be honest with you. What could we do, we could probably incentivize these red flag laws that take guns away from people who are exhibiting signs of dangerous behavior, maybe we can do some small expansions of background checks. What we can do when you need 10 Republican votes is certainly on the margins. But even if we save one life, two lives, it's worthwhile.

And so, I'm going to work with my Republican colleagues, as you heard me pleading on the Senate floor last night for their help. Some of them have answered my prayers, at least to sit down at the table over the next few weeks. And then we'll come back in about 10 days. See if we have a product. If we don't, Anderson we're going to have to take some votes, we're going to have to have some up or down votes on things like background checks, but hopefully we can find a path forward with Republicans.

COOPER: There's been discussion today about the so called Manchin- Toomey amendments sponsored by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator Pat Toomey, can you tell us what the amendment entails? Can it get 60 votes in the Senate?

MURPHY: So this is a pretty simple bill that's supported by 90% of the American public. All the Manchin-Toomey proposal says that every commercial gun sale in this country should have a background check attached to it. Right now, you go through a background check if you buy a gun in a gun store. But in many states, if you buy a gun online, or you buy a gun at a gun show, you don't go through a background check. And so, what happens is the criminals go online, they go to the gun shows that people that are prohibited from buying weapons, buy all their weapons there, and then they sell them illegally out of the trunk of a car in places that don't need any more weapons.

So Manchin-Toomey just says, close that loophole. And I'm going to be honest with you, we don't have Republican support for that in the Senate, we have every Democrat willing to support it. We only have a handful of Republicans. And so, it is probably impossible to pass that proposal despite the fact that if you ask the American public if they support, expanded background checks to cover all commercial sales, 90% of Americans support that.

And that is, you know, evidence of how sort of wayward the Republican Party has gone. But we might be able to do a piece of Manchin-Toomey. And so despite my frustration with the Republican Party, I'm willing to work with them to get a piece of that bill done.

COOPER: Senator Murphy, appreciate your time. Thank you.

MURPHY: Thank you.

COOPER: We begin the hour with some of the stories of the students and one of the teachers who lives were stolen yesterday. They were murdered yesterday. A short time ago, the second teacher was identified Irma Garcia is her name. She taught at Robb Elementary back here for 23 years. She was co-teaching the class just yesterday. In her biography on the school district's website, she says she loves to barbecue with her husband and listen to music. She also talks about her four children the oldest is a marine, the youngest is going into seventh grade. We remember Irma Garcia and hope to learn more about her in the days ahead.

Our coverage continues here in Uvalde. We'll be right back.