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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Twenty One Crosses In Front Of Robb Elementary To Honor The Victims; Remembering Fourth Grade Teacher, Eva Mireles; President Biden, First Lady To Visit Uvalde On Sunday; Family Grieves 11-Year- Old Layla Salazar; On The Front Lines With Ukrainian Troops. Aired 8- 9p ET
Aired May 26, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JESSIE RODRIGUEZ, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM, ANNABELL GUADALUPE RODRIGUEZ: Now, we're all scarred here. I believe the officers at that point should have went in and took control, not let this man finish off with them one at a time.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Jessie Rodriguez, we wish you peace and strength in the days ahead. Again, we were so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your time tonight.
AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Twenty one crosses stand in front of Robb Elementary School tonight, 19 for the boys and girls killed there on Tuesday, two for their teachers, Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia who died trying to protect them.
We learned much more today about how this tragedy unfolded.
[VIDEO CLIP PLAYS]
COOPER: That said, we still don't have -- what we don't have as a full picture of why the response seemed to take so long that a number of anguished parents on the scene were reduced to begging police to take action while others demanded they be allowed to go in themselves to rescue their children.
Also, as of earlier today, the bodies of all 19 kids have all been released to funeral homes, and we learn more of their names.
So we want to start tonight by telling you a little bit about them. Eliana Garcia who was known as Ellie was about to turn 10. She loved basketball, cheerleading and the movie "Encanto," according to her grandparents who say that she dreamed of one day becoming a teacher herself.
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez was 10 years old and on the Honor Roll. Her family says she was in the same classroom as her cousin, Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares. Jacklyn had just celebrated her First Communion and was 10 years old as well. Her father who was one of the parents who wanted to try to get into the schools says it comforts him to think she would have been someone to help her friends in need.
Tess Marie Mata also 10 had been saving up for a trip to Disney World. Her sister, Faith says she loved TikTok dances, Ariana Grande, and the Houston Astros.
Eliahana Cruz Torres also called "Elijah" was 10 years old. According to "The Dallas Morning News" she was supposed to play her last softball game of the season on Tuesday and was waiting to hear if she made the all-star team.
Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo's cousin tells "The Washington Post" that she put a smile on everyone's face. He says her family is devastated. Nevaeh, too was 10.
Makenna Lee Elrod, also 10, loved softball, gymnastics, and spending time with her family and says she was a natural leader who loves school.
Jailah Nicole Silguero was 10 years old. Her mom says that Jailah enjoyed dancing and making TikTok videos.
Layla Salazar also loved TikTok and dancing according to her parents. They spoke with our Gary Tuchman about her favorite things to do and the places that she loved. Layla was 11.
But later tonight, we're going to hear from a close friend of one of the fallen teachers, someone who also tried to help rescue kids from the school. First though, CNN's Jason Carroll on what we learned today about the shooting itself.
So Jason, do we know anything more about the timeline of what happened?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We do, we do. We're getting more clarity, Anderson about what happened between those key moments between 11:28 and 11:44 AM on that day. You're going to hear more about that in just a moment.
But with a number of people in this community, particularly those parents, who are out here urging these authorities to move in quicker, what they are still waiting for are more answers as to why it took so long to take the gunman down.
CARROLL (voice over): 11:21 AM, Tuesday, "I just shot my grandma in her head." The gunman wrote to a girl he met online. It was the start of a shooting spree that would leave 19 students and two teachers dead.
Seconds later he wrote, "Ima go shoot up in an elementary school right now."
The gunman took off in his 66-year-old grandmother's truck, leaving her fighting for her life.
STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: She was able to run across the street to a neighbor and get help.
CARROLL (voice over): The shooter drove less than a mile crashing into a ditch at 11:28 AM. Two minutes later, investigators say a 9-1-1 call reported the wreck and the gunman walking toward Robb Elementary School with a long rifle. His weapons legally purchased just days before.
May 17, he bought a rifle at a sporting goods store. The next day, 375 rounds of ammunition, and on May 20th, another rifle from the same store.
It was those guns he had with him on Tuesday.
VICTOR ESCALON, SOUTH TEXAS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: He jumps out the passenger side of the truck makes these two witnesses at the funeral home across the street from where he was at. He engages and fires towards them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he was like he came to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he was like --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hitting the dirt on the floor and just --
CARROLL (on camera): The bullets were hitting close -- bullets from where?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess he was -- I guess he was coming from the school this way.
CARROLL (voice over): The gunman climbed that fence at the school and started shooting at the building according to Texas investigators.
They now say earlier information, a school resource officer engaged the shooter outside is wrong.
At 11:40 AM, the gunman walked in an unlocked door firing.
ESCALON: He walked an approximate 20 feet, 30 feet. He makes a right, he walks into the hallway. He makes a right, walks another 20 feet, turns left into a school room, into a classroom that has doors open in the middle.
CARROLL (voice over): There in those connected classrooms, authorities say the gunman barricaded himself and killed the students and the teachers and wounded 17 people. One of the victims, 10-year- old, Amerie Jo Garza tried to call police on her cell phone, a birthday present two weeks ago.
ANGEL GARZA, FATHER OF AMERIE JO GARZA: I got confirmation from two of the students in her classroom that she was just trying to call the authorities. And I guess, he just shot her.
CARROLL (voice over): As the gunman sporadically shot through the wall, police wait for reinforcements and evacuate other students.
ESCALON: Officers were there, the initial officers, they received gunfire. They don't make entry initially because of the gunfire they were receiving.
CARROLL (voice over): Parents outside the school are distraught, demanding police immediately storm the building or let them.
VICTOR LUNA, FATHER AND GRANDFATHER: I told one of the officers myself, if they didn't want to go in there, then let me borrow a gun and a vest and I'll go in there myself to handle it up, and they told me no.
CARROLL (voice over): Around 1:00 PM, one hour and 20 minutes after the gunman went inside, law enforcement forced their way into the classroom and a Customs and Border Protection agent killed the gunman.
CHIEF RAUL ORTIZ, U.S. BORDER PATROL: They came up with a plan. They entered that classroom and they took care of the situation as quickly as they possibly could.
CARROLL (voice over): But it was still too late for so many.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Jason, we also learned more about before the shooter entered the school.
CARROLL: Right. That's right. You heard a little part of it there from Derrick Gonzalez (ph) and Julio Luna. They heard the gunshots. They were working at a tire shop, Anderson, very close to where I'm standing right now, rushed over here to this funeral home and then they were met by gunfire.
They took cover for a short period of time, and then after that, still made their way over here to the school where they were out here with a number of parents also urging authorities to move in as quickly as they could.
And when I asked them, you know why after taking that gunfire did you still come over to the school and it was Derrick Gonzalez who told me he said well, my aunt is a fourth grade teacher here at the school. She survived. But then he also told me that his cousin is Amerie Garza, she was that fourth grader who you heard about there who tried to call police from the classroom. She did not make it. That was his cousin -- Anderson.
COOPER: So Jason, I just want to be clear, because again, we still don't know if all the kids were killed right away, and therefore police felt they didn't need to go into that room, given they were taking fire.
But just to be clear, they did basically wait until tactical units were able to come and that's when the Border Patrol tactical unit and some other people finally went in. But there were -- I mean, they did not breach that room. They did not go into that room until the tactical unit. They waited for the tactical unit. Is that right?
CARROLL: That is correct. And if you listened to what Lieutenant Chris Olivarez had to say a little bit earlier, he talked about some of the reasoning behind that, Anderson, basically saying that they weren't specifically sure where the gunman was in the classroom, and so that may have played some sort of a role into why they were hesitating in terms of taking him out and shooting him. So perhaps that was one of the reasons why.
But again, we're still waiting for more clarification.
COOPER: All right, Jason Carroll, appreciate it.
More now on the timeline, specifically why it went on for as long as it did and how responders used that time, CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has been trying to get answers. It's not easy. He joins us now. What else did authorities say in this press conference today -- Shimon.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So there, you know, you were just talking with Jason about this gap, this one hour where the police are waiting for the Border Patrol to arrive on scene. This is the tactical team and we keep getting information from police here, even up to this moment.
You know, you just heard Jason talking, police official saying, well, we weren't sure where he was. They knew where he was because they knew where the gunshots were coming from. They claimed they know that the door was barricaded. They won't say how they knew the door was barricaded, but they had information.
It is just consistent kind of bad information that we're getting from authorities here. You know, in the press conference today, I confronted the Director here, who was taking questions about the issue where was he barricaded? How was he barricaded? Take a listen to that exchange -- Anderson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROKUPECZ: You guys have said that he was barricaded. Can you explain to us how he was barricaded and why you guys could not breach that door?
ESCALON: So I have taken all your questions in consideration. We will be doing updates, we will be doing that to answer those questions.
PROKUPECZ: Right now, you should be able to answer that question now, sir.
ESCALON: What is your name?
PROKUPECZ: Shimon Prokupecz from CNN.
ESCALON: Shimon, I hear you. PROKUPECZ: Because we've been given a lot of bad information. So why
don't you clear all of this up now and explain to us how it is that your officers were in there for an hour? Yes, rescuing people, but yet no one was able to get inside that room?
ESCALON: Shimon, we will circle back with you. We want to answer all your questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, Shimon, the truth is, they have -- I mean, you said it. They've been giving bad information and look, maybe they don't have experience giving press conferences or stuff. But if you don't have experience, then you shouldn't be doing it because these parents deserve to know exactly what happened, minute by minute to their children.
And you know, the first press conference, their language that the police used, I mean, I've read the transcripts of it very carefully. It was incredibly imprecise, almost purposely so to avoid saying certain things about this timeline, which we've now learned and pieced together.
But we shouldn't be piecing this together, they should just be upfront. And, you know, obviously, everybody knows it is a chaotic situation. Everybody on the scene was doing what they thought was their best, but parents deserve answers.
PROKUPECZ: One hundred percent, in the end, Anderson, that's what this is really about. This has affected so many people in this community, so many people in the country, across the world. Kids should feel safe to come to school. Doors should be locked.
It's sad that schools have to be fortified in such a way. And you know, the whole issue of guns, correct. But police officers' schools are supposed to have extra layers of security, sadly, because of what this country has been dealing with.
So the police officers should have responded. Arguments are being made from the families, from other people, they should have had a better response. But the fact that they may not be experienced, no, the Department of Public Safety here, DPS is the largest law enforcement agency here in Texas. They work with the Texas Rangers, seasoned investigators.
So I don't think that's what it is. It's confusing as to what's going on here. But certainly you do raise the issue that, is this intentional? The idea that there is this one hour gap between the time that he enters, gets in this classroom, and how long it takes the Customs and Border Patrol folks to get here. That's a big issue that they still, Anderson, have not been able to explain.
COOPER: Yes. Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate it. Thank you.
Perspective now in what do you just heard, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey, former Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Police Chief. Chief Ramsey, you and I have covered a lot of these situations and you and I have talked endlessly about what the standard police practice now is, which is in training across the country.
I would think in police forces large and I am not sure, if small, but you don't wait for a tactical team. First officers on the scene, whoever they are, whatever units they're from, even if they're not from the same department, you form a team and you go in. What questions do you still have about this timeline?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, my question is why that didn't happen? I mean, you know, an hour is just too long. I am sorry. I mean, I don't know all the facts and circumstances. I wasn't there. But I know, an hour is too long.
You had an active shooter, you have an elementary school, which means you've got small kids there. You know, for an hour before a tactical team actually makes entry. They've got a lot of explaining to do when it comes to that.
Now, I don't know the level of training that they've had, or the kind of equipment that they have. Clearly, you can see long guns on some of the officers who were holding back the crowd, so I know they have the right weaponry. So why they didn't form teams? Why they didn't make entry? I really don't know.
COOPER: And again, you know, they have an incredibly difficult job. They all want to do it well. But I don't understand, you know, you've been the Chief of Police, to put police officers out there answering questions, when in fact, they're really not giving any answers and are using language, which is at best, vague. It just leads to more confusion and that's what we still have, a lot of confusion.
RAMSEY: Well, their own credibility gets eroded when that sort of thing starts to happen. And you know, when I first started watching this today, it occurred in the first press conference, obviously the first few first press conference or so, not a lot of information. You don't have a lot of information.
And a very good friend of mine, the late John Timoney always said that, that when you get to the scene, that first information you get is not going to be the final information that you wind up with after your investigation takes place, you have to be very careful.
But as time has moved on, they should have a lot more answers than they have. And then the information they're putting out is just wrong. You know, the gunman was engaged before he went into the school. Now, we find out he wasn't engaged at all. The impression was that, you know, there was immediate entry, then it was 30 minutes. Now, it's an hour before entry was made.
And so these things just erode the credibility of the agency as they're trying to put information out. And you said it earlier, maybe they don't have the experience in doing press conferences. Well, then guess what? Don't do them or bring someone in like the FBI that does have experience that knows how to do these things and let them handle it.
COOPER: When you have to wait for a tactical team, my understanding, I mean, tactical teams aren't just sitting around and I'm not sure how it works with Customs and Border Protection. But in general, in many states, they're not just all sitting around in a room waiting to be called. They are in different places. They've got to all get to the location, you know, get the gear on, get the plan, and it takes time.
That's one of the reasons why. You know, in Columbine, they waited for a tactical team. They formed a perimeter and then waited. That's not something that's done now.
RAMSEY: Well, since Columbine, I mean, the training changed. I mean, you look at Columbine, you look at Virginia Tech, you look at all the different shootings that we have. We learned from each one. And the current active shooter training is you do not wait.
I mean, you know, whether it's two people, optimally four people, but if it's two people, you go in, and you neutralize the threat. In other words, if he is in there shooting and killing, you kill him before he can kill anybody else, period.
COOPER: Yes, I took part in the New York Police Department, just for a story I was going for "60 Minutes." They let me go, run through for a couple hours some of their active shooter training with -- I was with a team with two or three other police officers. And one of the things they said in that is, even if there are wounded people laying, you know, and they run through mock drills and you're in a classroom, you're in a courtroom, you're in different kinds of scenarios, and all of them were even if there's wounded people laying in the hallway, that is not your priority as a police officer, your priority is stop the gunman, because you've got to stop them from killing more people.
RAMSEY: Absolutely. Absolutely. And when you first go through the training, that's hard to do. People that are there, there are wounded, you want to attend to them, but you cannot do that because every second matters, and you've got to find the gunman and you've got to take him out. I mean, there's just no other way of putting it. I'm sorry.
And so I can't explain an hour. I don't think they're going to be able to explain an hour quite frankly. Now, they did a good job of evacuating other people. That's fine. But you've got injured people. They're literally bleeding to death while you're waiting and that's why it is so important that you have to get in there.
COOPER: Yes. Dave Saunders in Columbine, a teacher there bled to death waiting for the police to get in.
Chief Ramsey, I appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up next, remembering a teacher, Eva Mireles. My conversation with a close family friend who was also one of the responders on the scene who was there helping break windows trying to get other kids out.
Later, details on the President's upcoming visit to the town and Parkland survivor, David Hogg and what he'd like to see happen now.
COOPER: I want to read you a portion of something that Adalynn Ruiz posted on social media yesterday morning. Her mother was Eva Mireles, one of two Teachers killed Tuesday at Robb Elementary. Here is some of that message she wrote to her mom: "Mom," she writes, "I have no words to describe how I feel right now, tomorrow and for the rest of my life. I never thought that I would be here writing this type of post for you."
"Mom, you are a hero. I keep telling myself that this isn't real. I just want to hear your voice. I want to hear you talking to our dogs with that silly voice you make so high that wakes everyone up in the morning. I want to hear you say, 'Nanis, Wake up already, man,' because I keep snoozing my alarm. I want to hug you one last time. And I want to feel the calluses on your hands because you were not only a teacher during the day, but the most hardworking cross fitter in the afternoon."
"I want to be able to get out of work and expect your call at 4:30 every day because that's the first thing you would do as soon as you got out."
Adalynn goes on to say: "My beautiful Mom, thank you for the funniest memories. Thank you for the best times in my life. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for being the best mom anyone could ask for you. You are so known by many now and I'm so happy that people know your name and that beautiful face of yours and they know what a hero looks like."
Joining us now family friend, Juan Maldonado, a spokesperson for the family. Juan, I appreciate you being with us. I'm so sorry for your loss and for the family's loss. Can you just tell us a little bit about Eva? I know she was a close, close friend of yours. What kind of a person was she?
JUAN MALDONADO, SPOKESPERSON FOR THE RUIZ AND MIRELES FAMILY: Well, as I hold up this picture here, she climbed the highest mountain in Texas, Guadalupe peak, which is this little -- her favorite picture.
COOPER: That's great.
MALDONADO: Up to this day.
COOPER: I love that she brought two flags.
MALDONADO: Yes. She did it. She did it. But Eva is loved by her family. She was a great mother, a great daughter, a great wife. She loved her mom in Eagle Pass, her sisters. She just loved all her family and her friends. But most importantly, she was a dedicated school teacher for the Uvalde Independent School District.
COOPER: She had been teaching for a long time and there must be generations of people, I mean, people from a long period of time who know her and feel -- I mean I still know my teachers from -- I just went to my kindergarten teacher's retirement party and I'm 55 years old. There must be so many people out there whose lives were changed by her.
MALDONADO: I'm sure, like I said, she was just an outstanding person, a dedicated teacher. She loved her children. Her work came before anything else. And like her daughter stated, as soon as she got done with work, she would take her bag and go to CrossFit and do her workout. I guess, it was a stress reliever. She would go out there work and she had many hobbies.
She loved to CrossFit. She loved hiking, and there was not a party until Eva got there. Eva lit up the whole room. She loved to karaoke, she loved to sing. Her favorite song, and right now, she is shining like a diamond. She loved that song "Diamonds" by Rihanna. And that would not go without that song. She had to have that song and she needed to sing that song.
And now, she is the diamond.
COOPER: I know you and her husband both responded to the scene. How did you learn about what was happening?
MALDONADO: Well, sir, I can tell you that her husband, Ruben and her had a conversation, and I could tell you that she shared a phrase with him and, other than that I can -- we did respond there, but unfortunately the outcome was not what we wanted.
COOPER: What happens now? I mean, something like this, it's so life changing. It's hard to imagine getting through the next couple of minutes, let alone the next week or two.
MALDONADO: Well, we've got to take this day by day. And you know, we believe in God and let faith heal us each day and give us strength to get through each day.
Ruben and Adalynn have great support, they have their family with them. Ruben has a tremendous amount of support, so does Adalynn, and their friends are there for them. Eva was like my sister, I mean, I cannot -- I find how much her and I communicate, heck, I talked to Eva more than I talked to Ruben and that's a fact, you know, because you know, her and I, we share the same thing. We're very straightforward. And we know we kind of think the same.
But life will be different for them, probably different for all of us. But like I tell them, she will always be here in spirit. She will always be there for them. And I told to Ruben I said, Eva will be on your back. She she's going to be on you. She's going to be haunting you. You know, Eva is not going to go away.
I mean, one thing I did want to mention, Eva loved her dogs. Her Kain (ph) was her favorite dog she had. She was a dog lover and everything -- everything got dropped for Kain. Something happened, you know, she was somewhere, she had to drop what she was doing, everybody had to drop her stuff and take her home so she could let Kain out for a potty break or that was her. Kain was her hurricane and communicated very well.
COOPER: Wow. She just sounds like a wonderful, wonderful mom and woman and I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us in your grief.
MALDONADO: Oh, yes. I'd like to say, you know, I mean, she grew up being a wonderful mom. She traveled a lot with the family, with all of us, as a soccer mom and our daughters grew up together, traveling -- traveling soccer team. So we spent a lot of time together on weekends and this past weekend, we had a great time. You know, celebrating, you know, an accomplishment.
So we're out there and she'll be missed. She will not be forgotten. We all love her. And the family will always, you know, we will always be there for the family.
COOPER: I wish you the best. Take care.
MALDONADO: Thank you, sir.
COOPER: Coming up, new details on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's meeting with Texas Senator John Cornyn on gun violence, and I'll talk to David Hogg who was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida when a gunman killed 17 people. He's been advocating for gun reform since then.
COOPER: President Biden, and the First Lady will visit Uvalde Texas this Sunday. Their visit comes as the White House is urging Congress to take action following the shooting deaths of 19 children and the two teachers Robb Elementary.
Joining me now senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly. Do we know what's planned for President Biden when he travels to the Uvalde?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Anderson, White House officials say the President will meet with faith leaders, he will meet with community leaders but the focal point of the visit will be private meetings with the families of the 21 victims murdered in Uvalde, Texas. To meet with him to listen to them, to grieve with them, and to some degree show some support in the most horrific of moments for them. He will also likely call once again for Congress to act on new gun restrictions.
Now this comes as a bipartisan group of senators, Anderson has started initial meetings to see if they can reach some type of agreement. Now White House officials I've spoken to here are very skeptical about the prospects of that. Senate aides I've spoken to in both parties. So the White House is not deeply engaged at this point. To some degree, they want to give some space to the early stage talks. The other recognizing that this has happened so many times in the past, these negotiations have started so many times in the past, they have never resulted in anything. We'll have to see how that plays out.
But one thing is certain as these negotiations continue to move forward to some degree, the President's focus on Sunday, more than anything else will be with those families, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Phil Mattingly, thanks.
On Capitol Hill today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN he directed Texas Senator John Cornyn to engage with Democrats on a quote bipartisan solution on gun violence. McConnell didn't specify what the details of legislation might be, but signaled he wanted Cornyn to be the one to negotiate.
My next guest has been meeting with lawmakers to push for gun reforms and see survived the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, David Hogg joins us now. He's co- founder of March For Our Lives.
David, appreciate you being with us. As you know, Senator Manchin called today's bipartisan meeting on gun reform encouraging said that the atmosphere feels different than it did in the days after Sandy Hook. I saw a tweet that you sent out, you said this time is going to be different. What makes you think that?
DAVID HOGG, CO-FOUNDER, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Yes, we're talking about this. And the fact of the matter is, I think we're all sick and tired of this, I think the movement is stronger than it ever has been. When we started in 2018, we struggled even in the beginning to get a lot of Democrats to talk about things like background checks, and things like that. So we work to get as many people as you could on our side as possible. And I can tell you, I've been working behind the scenes with Republicans a lot of the time, former congressman, like Joe Walsh, and others to figure out, you know, we don't agree on everything, but we need to figure out what we can do, even if it just saves one life.
You know, Anderson, I'm not crazy. There are 400 million guns in this country, there is no single policy that is ever going to eradicate gun violence. But we need to focus on a reduction, even if it's a small step in the right direction, because we got to do anything to help save these kids lives, because the future of our country is dying with them. And I'm very encouraged by some of the things that I've been hearing that I can't really dive into details about, but trust me, I do think this time will be different. And I'm a very cynical person.
COOPER: What do you want to see change? I mean, what do you think can get past?
HOGG: I think what we can get past are things that we've seen passed in other Republican states in the wake of Florida. I mean, we worked with Republican state legislature and Governor Rick Scott, to actually pass legislation that has saved lives. Under the guidance of Governor Rick Scott and others, and this has happened with other senators, you know, to and other Republican governors. They have passed gun violence prevention legislation. In Florida, we raised the age to 21, it's important to know how many of these gunmen are under 21 when these things happen, right.
On top of that, we also passed Extremist Protection Orders that enabled somebody to have their guns taken away through due process if they're a risk to themselves or others. In Florida alone, we use the law that we created in Parkland to disarm somebody who threatened to kill my own mother. And it worked through a court order with due process. And I think because of that Republicans have done this stuff. And they've won elections. You know, Governor Rick Scott signed that law in -- he signed the bill into law, and he got elected to the Senate.
And Anderson, I think the reality is, we are not nearly as divided as we think we are. I've talked with NRA members, I've talked with many people who don't agree with me, but we actually do all agree on what really counts, which is that gun violence should not be continuing in the United States. And that's why we're calling for a march on -- second March For Our Lives on June 11th. For gun owners, for Republicans, for Democrats, for non-gun owners, for everybody who agrees, ultimately, that we need to do something about gun violence and demand Congress act, even if it's in a small way around something like background checks or red flag laws.
So if people are interested in joining us in that march, they need to text March to 954-954. Once again, that's March to 954-954. Because we got to keep this out there and keep the pressure on Congress.
COOPER: Do you think the NRA still has the influence over politicians that it had in 2018?
HOGG: No, and that's part of the reason why I'm also hopeful is because the NRA is at the weakest position they've ever been in American history. And it's because young people, older people, Democrats, Republicans marched with us in 2018. And we as March For Our Lives help file a complaint with New York Attorney General Tish James to investigate the NRs corrupt spending. It's important to note that NRA members are not the enemy here. It's the NRA Board. And they are two very different things. I've talked with NRA members and we agree on a lot of stuff, even things like background checks, a lot of the time that doesn't mean all of them, but many of them do. Most Americans do.
And Anderson that's why I'm here. I'm not here to debate these things. We know what we disagree on. As Democrats and Republicans, we need to come together as Americans and address the fact that the future of our country is dying. I don't care if you don't agree with me on every policy or the gun violence prevention movement on every policy. Reality is I think we can all agree that something needs to be done to address three things, how somebody gets a gun, why they feel the need to pick up a gun and how we enforce these laws.
COOPER: David Hogg, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
HOGG: Thank you, Anderson. COOPER: Up next, more on another young life taken Layla Salazar an 11- year-old fourth grader. Family said to them she was there everything.
COOPER: Tonight, want to tell you more about one of the students who was killed in Tuesday's tragedy. We spoke briefly about her the top of the hour. Our Gary Tuchman tonight has more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to Layla.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The girl wearing the gray shirt is 11-year-old fourth grader, Layla Salazar, about to win this race at last month's Robb Elementary School Field Day. Her family was there. But today they mourn. Her parents, two brothers and grandparents have lost their little girl.
VINCENT SALAZAR III, LAYLA SALAZAR'S FATHER: She loved to run. Her favorite thing was you know, Tik Tok, you know, doing little Tik Tok dances and --
MELINDA ALEJANDRO, LAYLA SALAZAR'S MOTHER: She do's everything.
V. SALAZAR: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She like to draw, she like to dance.
ALEJANDRO: She was just a tomboy slash to go anything. She knew how to climb or choose your public climate tree and jump off of it.
V. SALAZAR: She loved the river, we used to go to.
ALEJANDRO: She was an active person.
V. SALAZAR: She loved to swim.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Your husband was telling me, your telling me that she loves Guns N' Roses song, Sweet Child O' Mine.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): Which I love too.
V. SALAZAR: Yes.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): But you played that for.
V. SALAZAR: Yes.
V. SALAZAR: Yes, we played that every time in the morning -- ALEJANDRO: Every morning to go to school.
V. SALAZAR: -- we took her to school, we sang it together.
TUCHMAN (on-camera): And what an appropriate song.
V. SALAZAR: Yes.
TUCHMAN (ph): Because she was a sweet child.
V. SALAZAR: Just hurts now.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Earlier this month on Mother's Day, Layla took to Tik Tok.
LAYLA SALAZAR, VICTIM: Hey guys. Today is Mother's Day. OK. And if you haven't say Happy Mother's Day to your mom, what are you doing go see it right now. And I just want to wish all the moms out there, Happy Mother's Day even though you're not my mom. And I also want to say I hope you -- I hope all the moms out there had an awesome, blessed day.
ALEJANDRO: This is my only Princess She's my everything, she like we went together everywhere. She was like stuck on me like glue. She had her own bedroom. She always laid with me. She always -- it's just we did everything together, everything, we had so much plans for her --
V. SALAZAR: Quick trip to the park. She like to feed the ducks.
ALEJANDRO: Every single thing, the dogs a lot.
V. SALAZAR: She was so excited about her last few days at school.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Everyone in this family doted on Laya, particularly her grandparents.
VINCENT SALAZAR JR., LAYLA SALAZAR'S GRANDFATHER: She's our world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was our world.
V. SALAZAR JR.: But now we're facing that. Even though we can't speak up our hearts are shattered.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): There was a sense of disbelief among these family members that this happened. How can Layla no longer be here? How can they cope with never seen her again?
V. SALAZAR: That's most thing that's the hardest is that I'm her father and I wasn't there. I wasn't there to protect her.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): For now, this family leans on each other for support.
(on-camera): And I hope you know that so many of us, not just us who are here with you right now in your yard. But around this country and around the world are thinking of you. Does that give you strength?
V. SALAZAR: It helps.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It helps.
V. SALAZAR: It helps to know that so many people care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: Gary joins us now from a makeshift memorial that's been set up in downtown, Uvalde.
There are a lot of people looks like they're still going out to this memorial today. It looks like it's just been growing.
TUCHMAN: Yes, very busy. Anderson. It's interesting, this a very small city, only 16,000 People live here, this county 26,000. But one of the reasons it's so crowded is because people are coming from other parts of Texas. And outside the state also, 21 crosses for each of the people who were killed with hearts on a cross and people are leaving stuffed animals and leaving flowers. And they're riding on the crosses. And Layla, cross the girl you just met in the story. Her grandmother wrote, I will love you forever rest in peace. And then one refrain from school wrote, you are so pretty.
This is so terribly sad. But it's also very reassuring to see so many wonderful nice people in this city and at this memorial. Anderson.
COOPER: Gary, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, we take you to the frontlines the war in Ukraine. See what Ukrainian troops are facing in the trenches with the Russian enemy nearby.
COOPER: Ukrainian troops trying to drive back Russia's invasion could soon beginning advanced American battlefield rocket systems. According to multiple officials. Ukraine's government says they're badly needed.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more now from the frontlines.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Putin would leave little of what he claimed to liberate. An artillery jewel has been raging for days, torching around the vital Russian held town of (INAUDIBLE). Up on high in a position we were asked not to reveal, these Ukrainian troops dug in and buoyant, have a clearer view of the damage below, but also the enemy.
(on-camera): So that the Russians are just a kilometer on the brow of this hill in that direction.
(voice-over): This unit only here two days, but say they have already destroyed a Russian tank. Yes, they play to the cameras, but it's pretty clear up here their morale is sky high.
WALSH (voice-over): They are exposed but ready. Keen to show off actually gleeful at the international menu of weapons they've been sent. Almost a silly amount. This Swedish anti-tank munitions menu, and of course a British NLAW. Then from out of the grass, a German one which they particularly like a Polish grenade, no training on them just practical use they joke, giving them the widest experience of anti-tank weapons in Europe.
WALSH (voice-over): Grading [ph] also what the Russians left thermal optics, and a Soviet era anti-tank weapon that they wind up like a telephone.Yet still, the Russians persist. Even as the prisoners these troops have taken have revealed how young the soldiers they're fighting are.
WALSH (voice-over): In the village below, the endless shelling is flushing the remaining life out.
WALSH (voice-over): This woman said telling me her name would make no difference.
WALSH (voice-over): They really don't know where they'll go or what, if anything, they can come back to just that life has no space left here.
COOPER: And Nick joins us now from Kramatorsk. Russia saw several advances today understand. What have you learned?
WALSH: Yes, I mean, it's important to point out why you see happy faces there on the hills above (INAUDIBLE) to the north of where I'm standing here around Kramatorsk, Slavyansk. And particularly the small town of Lyman which fell today to Russian forces, things are absolutely not good. And a marked change in tone from Ukrainian officials frankly who are slowly beginning to accept that they are losing ground here and that is evident in the speed of Russian advances often in small, lesser populated areas. Yes, but with the broader targets of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk very much in their sights here.
[20:55:25] You can hear the air raid siren here in Kramatorsk. Because first daylight is coming that's omnipresent on the outskirts of Slavyansk today, we heard consistent shelling and in (INAUDIBLE), another target where there's a lot of Ukrainian military the moment digging in, sought unbelievable destruction, about nine enormous craters from strategic bombers dropping their load on towns around there.
So, a lot of Russian motion here, a lot of concerns Ukrainian rhetoric, and an acceptance from one presidential adviser frankly that there is perhaps finally a talent is transition getting Russia in the right place here. Will they continue this advanced that pace on clear outside weaponry clearly playing a role? But absolutely, I'm surprised at how we're seeing things moving so fast here in Russia's favor, Anderson.
COOPER: Well. Nick, appreciate it. Thank you for the update.
We're going to -- we hope you tune in this weekend when we bring you the war diary of Ukrainian mom. Excuse me. It's the story of the war told through the eyes of Olena Gnes, who you might recognize from her many appearances on this program. What you may not realize that she has been documenting her life and the life of her three young children and husband in a very personal and poignant video diary old during this war. It's the war as she has seen it sheltering in a basement every night with her three kids there.
We're calling it a "MOTHER'S DIARY OF WAR," it airs Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. It is her story in her words and videos. Again, Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. I really hope you watch it.
Up next, more from Texas and the tribute to the victims outside Robb Elementary.
COOPER: CNN's coverage of the tragedy in Texas continues with Laura Coates in "CNN TONIGHT." Laura.