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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Official: 19 Officers Were In The Hall But Did Not Breach Classroom; One Tragedy Becomes Two; Survivor: Gunman Told Teacher Good Night Then Shot Her; Survivor Says "Almost All" Of His Friends Died In The Shooting; NRA Convention Begins In Texas, Days After School Massacre; Uvalde Funeral Homes Announces Funeral Plans For Several Victims Of Robb Elementary Shooting; "A Mother's Diary Of War" Airs Sunday At 8PM. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 27, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Former President, take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB PHILADELPHIA, BOY WHO TOUCHED BARACK OBAMA'S HAIR: Hello.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is that Jacob?
PHILADELPHIA: It is.
OBAMA: It's Brock Obama, man. Do you remember me?
PHILADELPHIA: Yes, I remember you telling me that your hair is going to be gray next time.
OBAMA: And I was not lying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, next, Jacob is heading to the University of Memphis, where he plans to study Political Science, something a little more uplifting to end your week.
AC 360 starts right now.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Good evening, Anderson is off tonight.
I want to begin by reading you a line from the active shooter training manual for the State of Texas. It reads, quote: "Officers' first priority is to move in and confront the attacker." Now, today, these 21 crosses speak louder than words can, that on Tuesday, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, this first priority for every single law enforcement officer in the state did not come first.
The awful truth, which was confirmed today is that police officers waited to storm a classroom while children were hiding inside and calling 9-1-1 for help that would not come, for as long as an hour. Now, we often hear police officers talk about split-second decisions.
This time, the decision to go into a classroom and confront the shooter took 3,600 of those seconds, a full hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: However, the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision, it was a wrong decision. Period. There is no excuse for that.
But again, I wasn't there, but I'm just telling you from what we know and we believe there should have been an entry at that as soon as you can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: That's Steven McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety with the bottom line, a far different one for what we've been hearing, frankly, all week long.
Also, apparently far different from what the Governor had been told.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Short answer, yes, I was misled. I am livid about what happened. I was on this very stage two days ago. And I was telling the public information that had been told to me in a room just a few yards behind where we're located right now.
There are people who deserve answers the most, and those are the families whose lives have been destroyed. They need answers that are accurate. And it is inexcusable that they may have suffered from any inaccurate information whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: They don't just need them, they deserve the accurate answers. And this is the Governor by the way, who just two days ago based, he says on the information he was given, told the public that this could have been a lot worse.
Well, tonight, frankly, it's hard to see how it could be any worse than what we've already seen. And we're of course going to bring you much more on the search for those answers and for the accountability in just a moment. But first though, I just want to tell you all a little bit about the last five victims that we have learned about.
Miranda Mathis was just 11 years old. A family friend says that she was bright and fun and spunky and that her best friend was her brother who was also at the school.
Maite Rodriguez dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Her mother says that she was sweet and charismatic and loving and funny and silly and ambitious, and her mother's best friend. Maite was just 10 years old. We don't know very much yet about Rojelio Torres, who was also just 10
years old except for a social media post that no mother should ever have to make. She wrote: "Rest in peace to my son, Rojelio Torres. We love you and miss you."
Alithia Ramirez wanted to be an artist. She was just 10, and Wednesday morning her father posted a photo of her in angel wings.
Jayce Luevanos' grandfather says that he was happy and so loved. "Jayce was our baby," he said. Jayce Luevanos, just 10 years old.
More now on all that we learned today about the police response and shortcomings of it. CNN's Jason Carroll starts us off.
ABBOTT: I was misled. I am livid about what happened.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, Texas Governor Greg Abbott aiming his ire at law enforcement.
ABBOTT: My expectation is that the law enforcement leaders that are leading the investigations which includes the Texas Rangers and the FBI, they get to the bottom of every fact with absolute certainty.
CARROLL (voice over): After damning new admissions from Texas authorities.
MCCRAW: It was the wrong decision, period.
CARROLL (voice over): The incident commander making the decision not to immediately enter the classroom the gunman was in.
MCCRAW: A decision was made that this was a barricaded subject. The situation, there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject at that point.
CARROLL (voice over): Officials explained how the shooter got into the school.
MCCRAW: Well, we knew the shooter entered, Ramos, was propped open by a teacher.
CARROLL (voice over): Investigators clarifying the timeline as police arrived.
MCCRAW: The three initial police officers that arrived went directly to the door and two receive grazing wounds at that time from the suspect while the door was closed. 11:37, there was more gunfire, another 16 rounds was fired. 11:37, one at 11:37 and 16 seconds, 11:38, 11:40, 11:44, and 11:51, a police sergeant and USB agents started to arrive. At 12:03, the officers continued to arrive in the hallway and there were as many as 19 officers at that time in that hallway.
CARROLL (voice over): Officers did not enter the room until a janitor provided keys.
MCCRAW: They breached the door using keys that they're able to get from the janitor. Because both doors were locked, though both of the classrooms that he shot into were locked when officers arrived. They killed the suspect at that time.
CARROLL (voice over): In that crucial time, survivors inside both classrooms, made desperate calls to 9-1-1.
MCCRAW: She identified herself, whispered, she's in room 112. At 12:10, she called back in room 12, advised there are multiple dead. 12:13, again, she called on the phone; again at 12:16, she has called back and said there was eight to nine students alive.
CARROLL (voice over): Minutes later, a student called.
MCCRAW: Student child called back, was told to stay on the line and be very quiet. She told 9-1-1 he shut the door. At approximate 12:43 and 12:47, she asked 9-1-1 to police in the police now.
CARROLL (voice over): Alfred Garza says his daughter Amerie may have been one of those students who tried to call 9-1-1. She was killed during the shooting.
ALFRED GARZA, FATHER OF DECEASED VICTIM: Something's got to be done now. You know, what are we going? Where do we go from here? You know, you were wrong. What do we do now? You know, it is my question, what are we going to do?
CARROLL (on camera): The accountability you're talking about.
GARZA: The accountability, you know. Somebody's got to be responsible.
CARROLL (voice over): Warning signs missed.
MCCRAW: That Ramos asked his sister to help him buy him a gun. She flatly refused. That was in September of '21.
CARROLL (voice over): With social media group chats and posts as far back as last February, offering red flags.
MCCRAW: He had Instagram, a four-group chat, and it was discussed that Ramos being a school shooter. That was on February 28th of 2022. On March 14th, there was an Instagram posting by the subject in quotations, "10 more days." User replied, "Are you going to shoot up a school or something?" The subject replied, "No. And stop asking dumb questions and you will see."
COATES: It's unbelievable to hear the timeline as it is laid out. Jason, I want to come back to what you talked about in your report
with regard to accountability. You heard one of the fathers say something has to be done. What do you know about investigations into why the police made this unbelievable and fateful decision not to try to break into the classroom? Not to go inside yet?
CARROLL: Well, that's going to be a key part of this going forward. What was in this incident commander's head when he made that fatal decision? You know, the Governor says that as a result of what happened here, he is expected new laws to be put into place.
And in addition to that, he was also talking about who they're going to be looking at. He said both the FBI and Texas Rangers are going to be investigating everyone who was involved with what happened here at the school.
But again, when you bring up Alfred Garza, I mean, he is looking for accountability. And at the end of the day, he is watching, listening to what all these officials are saying. And he's saying to himself, what at the end of the day is that accountability going to look like -- Laura.
COATES: Jason Carroll, thank you so much. It's a poignant question and one we're all asking frankly.
Let's go next to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz also in Uvalde, also asking tough questions about the police response. We're hearing you shouting at these conferences and asking the questions we all want to know.
Shimon, what more can you tell us about the incident commander who made this decision to hold police outside of the classroom, in the hallway?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Laura, and so he is the Police Chief for the School District. So there are several schools in this area. It's called the Consolidated Independent School District, and he is the chief. There are four officers assigned to him and a detective. It's a small department of six people.
His name is Peter Arredondo. He has about 30 years of experience. He worked in another school district. Interestingly enough, he recently won a seat on the City Council here just a short time ago, and he is supposed to get sworn in, according to local reports to that seat next Tuesday. So that's going to certainly be interesting to see how that works out and what the next steps there are.
We have not been able to speak to him. Certainly, we've been trying to talk to him. He was not here at the press conference. But according to the Department of Public Safety, the Director, he was in charge of this scene. It was ultimately his decision on whether these officers were going to breach that door and stop the gunman.
COATES: Shimon, when you say you haven't spoken to him, are you saying that he is refusing to speak to people? Or is he being shielded from talking to people? We just have not had a clear reason as to why he has not been forthright and speaking yet.
PROKUPECZ: Right. No, we've actually been trying to -- we've been reaching out to him. We've been to his home, to try and get some response from him because this is an important part of this investigation now. His thinking of these decisions that he made clearly wrong decisions that everyone now agrees and is saying so, why did he make these decisions? And who's going to hold him accountable? That still remains to be seen.
COATES: Speaking of that, as we've heard, I mean, there's the shifting stories from law enforcement. It had Texas Governor Greg Abbott, totally frustrated at his press conference today. What more can you tell us about that?
PROKUPECZ: Well, that's interesting because it is the Department of Public Safety. The Director today, Steven McCraw who came out and sort of had to admit this mistake, this wrong decision. It wasn't his department that made it. It was, as I said, it was the School Police Chief that made that decision. But they have been leading this investigation. They are the ones that have been speaking publicly.
And quite honestly, it is their officers that have been providing a lot of the bad information that we have received, from the fact that whether or not there was a police officer, the school resource officer was on scene, other information contradicting yesterday refusing to answer what was going on in that hour when officers were inside the school. Of course, we learned today that they didn't do anything.
So now what happens is, who is going to hold this investigation on the tactics? The reaction by the police? We don't know. It may just be the DPS and the Texas Rangers. A lot of people asking for an independent investigation. We'll see if that happens -- Laura.
COATES: That would be curious, outside of the jurisdiction, the idea of having some other independent entity actually looking at it to figure out and really which comes in, as you know, Shimon, when there's a fundamental distrust or a lack of credibility in the process and the public's perception.
Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much.
I want to get some perspective now from CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe.
Andrew, it's very tough to hear some of what we've heard today and I want to know what questions you must have about the timeline that authorities gave even today. And let me say, every time I speak to you, it's a different timeline we have, a different either kernel of truth, or nugget of disbelief that we all are experiencing.
And so I want to know, what is it tell you that as many as -- and I can't even believe this number -- as many as 19 officers stayed in a hallway while kids were calling 9-1-1 from inside the classroom who were actually begging for help.
What is your reaction when you hear that? ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Laura, it's
maybe the most tragically monumentally bad law enforcement decision I've ever witnessed, and I've seen some pretty bad ones over the years. But I'll tell you, and then and people are very rightly thinking about accountability and wanting to learn more from this incident commander who we've heard about, but haven't been able to speak to.
But I have to tell you that as a career law enforcement officer, as a former SWAT team member, you know, it boggles my mind that you had 19 officers holed up in that hallway for an hour.
Now, admittedly following some horrendous decision making from their leadership, but nevertheless, every one of those officers according to the Texas Active Shooter Response for School Based Law Enforcement Guidelines, each one of those law enforcement officers would be trained on active shooter protocol, I cannot understand how some of them didn't decide on their own to move forward and try to mount some sort of response to this horrific incident. It's just -- it's mind blowing.
COATES: I mean, it's unbelievable to think about the idea that there was not one among them, as far as we know right now, who was willing to essentially go around whatever they're being told, and tried to breach that perimeter in some way.
And I want to know, because we're hearing about the 9-1-1 calls and about the children who made call after call after call trying to get help. And in most situations, would those 19 officers who were in the hallway had been aware that these calls are being made, I mean, I wonder, what was the level of communication that they may have been receiving while they're inside?
It is obvious that we're talking about this, in many respects, in hindsight, and in retrospect, but what would they have known theoretically, on the scene while it was happening.
MCCABE: In a well-developed and well-executed incident response, you would have that sort of intelligence from the crime scene that is absolutely vital to the tactical officers, to the negotiators, to anybody who is on set. So as that information is coming into your 9-1- 1 operators, it goes immediately to the incident command post, and gets forwarded on to the tactical leaders on the ground, so they understand how many people are alive or thought to be dead, where's the shooter located in the room.
They use all of that information to understand how to best make entry into that room and stop that problem. So here, we see, it is just one more of the very many failures among a long list of failures in the responses to this incident, any one of which had gone the other way, we might be in a much better position today. So it's just incredibly tragic.
COATES: And I had the FBI is, quote, "working alongside but independent of" unquote, Texas law enforcement. Explain what that really means in terms of being able to undergo an investigation and carry it out. What does this mean? Are they having their own investigation? What happened and what does it mean to be truly independent? Are they relying on correspondence and sort of a collaborative effort here? Or is it totally separate, an oversight function?
MCCABE: You know, the FBI is there to provide specific support to this investigative effort. But that to me reads like a very carefully, carefully written press statement. I think what they're trying to explain is that in the investigative work that they are doing, they are doing that under their own authority. They're doing that according to their own standards and analyzing the results of that investigation, independent of their, I'm sure, sharing it with the Department of Public Safety, but they are drawing their own conclusions from what they see, which is certainly I hope the case.
COATES: I hope so, too. I hope we get some transparency and we get to the truth and for the parents, it does not continue to trickle out when they're in the middle, -- while at they are at the beginning of a very long process of grief.
Andrew McCabe, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
And up next, an 11-year-old girl -- 11 years old -- talks about the horror that she saw and heard inside her own classroom, and how she managed to survive.
Also how one tragedy became two? These beautiful people you're seeing on the screen, the story of Irma and Joe Garcia, her killing and then his death two days later.
COATES: You know, if years of mass shootings have taught us anything, it's that these tragedies leaves such emotional wreckage in their wake. It takes an awful toll on the survivors.
Irma Garcia was one of two teachers who were killed at Robb Elementary. Just two days later, her husband Joe died of a heart attack, leaving behind their four children without parents.
CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us now. Boris, it's unbelievable what we're hearing. What more can you tell us about Irma and Joe Garcia?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, they were high school sweethearts. We spoke to members of the community who have known them for a long time and they say that they were the light of each other's lives.
Irma in her biography on the school website wrote about how much she enjoyed barbecuing with Joe. Now, we heard from family members that her final moments were actually spent lunging at the gunman trying to defend her students, and the news was apparently too much for Joe. Family members say that he suffered a fatal heart attack on Thursday.
They believe that he died of a broken heart. And as you noted, they leave behind four kids, two young men and two young women -- Laura.
COATES: Boris, it is heartbreaking to hear what you just described and to see the pictures and to hear about the idea of just two days after her own death. I mean, you've spoken to people in the community who knew them so well. Tell me more about what they're sharing with you?
SANCHEZ: Yes, one of them was actually the priest of the church that they attended. He said that Joe and Irma were fixtures in the community, that they attended all sorts of church events. He actually was with the kids shortly after Joe died and here's what he said about consoling them and sharing his message with their family and with the community as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FATHER EDUARDO MORALES, SACRED HEAT UVALDE: I did share with them that it was okay to be angry. If it was being angry with God, being angry with the perp or being angry with just the world and other people, it was okay, but not to let anger turn into hate because we have so much hate in this world already and we can't let the bad of this world be stronger than the good of this world and their parents had so much good in them, and that they would continue to live through them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Father Eduardo Morales also told me that the last time he saw Irma was during Sunday service, he greeted her as she was walking in, obviously not knowing that it was the last time he was going to see her.
COATES: It is unbelievable. It is devastating. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much for sharing their story. There'll be others to share.
Before the break, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe called the decision not to storm the classroom on Tuesday, mind boggling.
Right now, we want to tell you a little of what it was like for the students who were inside of those classrooms. This account comes from Miah Cerrillo, 11 years old. She is one of the students who called 9- 1-1 and she talked about her ordeal with CNN's, Nora Neus, who joins us now from Uvalde.
Nora, what did this 11-year-old child tell you?
NORA NEUS, CNN PRODUCER: Miah told me that when the gunman came into her classroom, the first thing he did was look her teacher right in the eyes, say "Good night," and then shot and killed her. And then Miah says things happen pretty fast. He started open firing in the classroom, shot and killed her other teacher, shot a lot of Miah's classmates and friends, some bullet fragments hit Miah herself on her shoulders and her back, the back of her head.
And then the gunman went into an adjoining classroom where she could hear more gunshots, more screams, and then heard music. But it seems she said that the gunman put on a sad music, and she thought she was going to die.
COATES: I can't imagine that this is an 11-year-old having to relate this and think about what she's experiencing. Was she able to share what it was like inside the classroom after the shooting, but before the police rescued them?
NEUS: She was and it's disturbing. She said she was scared the gunman was going to come back and kill her. And so her friend was laying dead next to her and she put her hands on her body and in her blood and then smeared that blood all over her own body so that she can play dead if the gunman came back.
And then one of her friends was shot, injured, but alive still and was screaming of the pain. And they were scared the gunman would come back and so Miah and a friend put their hands over this little girl's mouth and tried to muffle her screams until the police came. And they lay like that until the police entered the classroom.
And Miah was saying at the time she thought the police just hadn't showed up yet. You know, help was not there yet. But that after the fact, she overheard the grownups talking about how the police actually had been outside and chose not to come in and Miah telling me this was just so emotional and saying, "Why didn't they come and get us? Why didn't come save us? I don't understand, why didn't they come get us?" And I think that's the question we all have right now.
COATES: It absolutely is. And what is the reason we are not hearing from her directly? I understand that she was very scared to come on, but also wanted other children possibly to understand how they could save themselves in a situation like this.
NEUS: Exactly. Yes, she was so traumatized at what happened in that classroom that she refused to speak to any men. She didn't want any men around. She also was so scared that someone, another shooter would come and find her, that she didn't want to speak to any cameras.
So I spoke to her alone, just me and her and her parents. But she said she really wanted to do this interview, because she wanted to tell people what it was really like to live through a school shooting so that maybe other kids wouldn't have this happen to them.
It just was incredible for an 11-year-old who's just been through such a trauma.
COATES: And never should have had to happen. Nora Neus, thank you so much.
So the question really is, what do these children and all the families impacted by this tragedy, what are they supposed to do now?
Up next, well, I will speak with an expert on childhood traumatic stress. She helped implement services for survivors and families after the Sandy Hook shooting.
COATES: As we showed you before the break, Tuesday shooting can be deeply traumatic for the survivors. Students had to hide while hearing gunshots some of the students lost their friends and their classmates and one of those students is 10-year-old Jayden Perez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's on your heart today Jayden?
JAYDEN PEREZ, ROBB ELEMENTARY SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Still sad about some of the -- some of my friends that died.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who are your friends that died?
PEREZ: Jayce, Makenna, Tess, Annabell, basically, almost some of them. Basically almost all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want people to know?
PEREZ: Is that just like, oh, like stay together, because you never know whenever you can lose someone close to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear the gunfire?
PEREZ: Yes. What they said on the news is that it's -- it was like a rifle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where were you hiding in your classroom?
PEREZ: Well, we hang our backpacks and then like those like one, two, three, four, five, five of us hiding there and the rest under a table. But that didn't stop one of my friends getting hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: My next guest works with students who have survived a school shooting. She helped established treatments and services after 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Joining me now is the director of Terrorism and Disaster Programs at UCLA Duke National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Dr. Melissa Brymer. Thank you for being here.
You just heard Jayden Perez, who was just one of so many impacted his community in these first days, these first weeks, what kind of resources and support are they going to need?
DR. MELISSA BRYMER, DIRECTOR OF TERRORISM & DISASTER PROGRAMS, UCLA DUKE NATIONAL CENTER FOR CHILD TRAUMATIC STRESS: So I think it's important that we give them space, we give them comfort. Some kids may want to talk as much as Jayden, some may have a little bit more difficulty talking. So we want to give them the space that they need, the support. And when they talk to us about some of their reactions, Jayden talked about hearing the gunshots, sometimes we're going to have to help him regulate his body when he hears sounds similar to that. We also need to think about -- sorry, go ahead Laura.
COATES: When you said regulated, I mean I'm thinking about at your work with the community in Newtown, Connecticut, after Sandy Hook tragedy and thinking about the ways in which there's the short term, and there's the long term, the regulation of the bodies, the management of emotions, and then the long term prospects. I mean, these kids are awfully young right now, but it doesn't stop there from being long term and short term consequences, right?
BRYMER: Absolutely. So right now, we do want to see what are some of those short term consequences? So we know someone who heard gunshots, they will startle. So we have Fourth of July coming up. So how can we prep these kids on how to manage when they hear fireworks right now, and we need to map those that had more exposure and saw light was in life threats, might have lost a loved one and make sure that we set up those treatments, both in the school and in the community so that we make sure that there there's those treatments available for both trauma and grief.
COATES: You know, we often use those terms interchangeably, but the way you just delineated the two. Tell us what's the difference between grief and trauma and how they ought to be treated differently.
BRYMER: I'm really glad you asked me that. So my talk about trauma, trauma, we have treatments so that we can recover from them. Grief, we learn to adjust, we learned to make meaning of our lives. But we never forget about that loved one that was so important in our lives. So we do know that there's different pathways between recovery between trauma and grief. This community has built going on so we need to make sure we spent spend as much time on the trauma as we deal with the grief.
COATES: Well, lastly, what is the message to the families who are dealing with the unimaginable right now? Can you tell them anything?
BRYMER: You know, the experiences from Newtown. Thinking about one step at a time, knowing that they have, are surrounded by community by love, and that they might not know that journey right now. But they'll find that pathway that helps them that gives them that strength. And we're going to learn a lot from them about how we can cope and in the worst of times.
COATES: Dr. Melissa Brymer, thank you so much. It's important to hear those words.
Up next, just a few hours drive from Uvalde, the NRA convention gets underway in Houston. We'll take you there and you will hear what Texas Senator Ted Cruz and the former president said about this latest mass shooting, when "360" continues.
COATES: Just three days after a gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers in Robb Elementary School with an AR-15 style rifle. The National Rifle Association opened its annual convention just a few hours away in Houston. Some speakers and performers they did drop out but the meeting it went on.
More from CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Houston.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the nation's bitter divide over guns, a tale of two America's on vivid display in Houston. Outside the convention of the National Rifle Association protesters of all ages pleading for an end to the string of deadly shooting massacres.
Inside the hall, thousands gathering in support of the Second Amendment and praising the politicians who say guns are not the root cause of the evil slaughter.
DONALD TRUMP (R) FMR PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: And unlike some I didn't disappoint you by not showing up.
ZELENY (voice-over): As several Republican leaders backed away from attending the NRA meeting, former President Donald Trump came to voice his support for a group under siege in the wake of this week's Texas school shooting. He read a list of victims with a tolling bell between each name. Trump took the stage to Lee Greenwoods classic God Bless The USA. Even though Greenwood chose to stay away and not perform at the NRA out of respect for the families.
The school massacre in Uvalde, only three days and 300 miles away from the NRA convention in downtown Houston. Despite outcry as a protest, the show went on, with Trump leading the charge to change the subject.
TRUMP: If the United States has $40 billion to send to Ukraine, we should be able to do whatever it takes to keep our children safe at home.
ZELENY (voice-over): Texas Senator Ted Cruz rejected any new gun control measures, renewing his call to fortify schools with armed police officers or retired service members.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): We must not react to evil and tragedy by abandoning the Constitution or infringing on the rights of our law abiding citizens.
ZELENY (voice-over): His fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn declined to attend the NRA meeting and has pledged to have at least an open dialogue with Democratic senators searching for solutions to the country's epidemic of gun violence.
Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, now a Democratic candidate for governor said it was time for all Americans to unite behind the solution. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX) GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You are not our enemies. We are not yours. We extend our hands open and unarmed, in a gesture of peace and fellowship, to welcome you, to join us, to make sure that this no longer happens in this country.
ZELENY (voice-over): While a majority of Americans support some form of tighter gun restrictions, the view of longtime NRA member Elizabeth Tom underscores the sentiment that echoed throughout many conversations here.
ELIZABETH TOM, NRA MEMBER: I know this may be somewhat controversial and I certainly don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but if any of those teachers had been armed this might have ended a lot quicker.
ZELENY: So as this convention heads into the weekend here, gun manufacturers from across the country have arrived to set up their stands, they're selling their weaponry and ammunition. But Laura one company is not here that's Daniel Defense. That is the Georgia Company that manufactured the gun used in the Uvalde shooting. In their exhibitors booth in this convention hall behind me, it was replaced by a popcorn stand and a soda machine. No guns for sale there, but they're certainly worth throughout this big exposition Hall. Laura.
COATES: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.
Up next, "360's" Gary Tuchman gives us a look at the memorial for the victims in downtown Uvalde. This as the community prepares to hold funerals for some who were killed.
COATES: Uvalde funeral homes are beginning to release funeral plans for several of the victims. At least nine visitation and funeral services have been announced. Some will begin early next week. The shock and grief in Uvalde, Texas is immeasurable, because the size of the city several people who live there know someone who was killed or hurt. City has that location for people to mourn together and support each other.
CNN's Gary Tuchman is there and has more. Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, here in downtown Uvalde a makeshift memorial has been set up. This memorial is so sad but yet, it's so necessary. The city is very small and only has about 15,000 people but thousands of people have been in this memorial site over the last two days. You can see the crosses, there are 21 crosses that are here, nineteen are for the children who were killed, two for the teachers.
Will give you an example of what is taking place at each of the crosses. They have the child's name Maranda Mathis, flowers, candles, stuffed animals and hearts on a cross is where people write messages. For example here it says, we love you Maranda forever and my heart, Coach Watson. You are loved and will never be forgotten. And then here Makenna Elrod, also flowers and candles and stuffed animals. I love you. We love you. You are loved and will never be forgotten. We could see some of the handwriting is children's handwriting. We love you so much. And then we back up we come here, Rojelio Torres. Rojelio has an adventure force motorcycle right here. One of the toys he obviously loved and flowers, the stuffed animals that he had in his home, and messages also, our hearts are with you. You were a good friend. You were loved and will never be forgotten.
And then we talk about the teachers right over here. This is Eva Mireles, one of the fourth grade teachers who was killed, lots of flowers, lots of balloons and a very similar message we see all throughout. You are a hero. I love you. Our hearts are with you. Thank you for being such a hero.
You know what's happening here is so tragic and it's hard to stay unemotional about it. And so many people who show up here are friends and family members. It's just tragic watching them. They need support. Fortunately, so many people are showing up from the city from the state from outside Texas to offer that support. Laura.
COATES: Gary Tuchman, thank you so much.
Up next, the war in Ukraine through a mother's eyes as she take shelter with her three young children.
COATES: I want to tell you all about something that Anderson and the team here have been working on. It's a picture of the war in Ukraine as seen through the eyes of a mother and Kyiv with three young children. Her name is Olena Gnes. When the bombs started falling she started to keep a video diary of what she her husband and kids were experiencing. Take a look.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): In the morning against all odds, Kyiv is still in Ukrainian control.
ONES GNES, UKRAINIAN MOTHER SHELTERING AT A BASEMENT: So the latest update is that we are alive. I am alive. This is (INAUDIBLE), she's sleeping on the floor. Yes some other people in the shelter. Woke up, it's already morning. It's like more than 7 o'clock in the morning. (INAUDIBLE) sleeping on a small sofa here. It's very important that we survived this night. Now the day has come you know at night everything looks much more scary for people. So as you can see, even many people left the bomb shelter right now because it's more than 7 o'clock in the morning.
COOPER (voice-over): Many in Kyiv are leaving. Long lines of cars clogged the roads heading west. Train stations around the country filled with families trying to get out. Olena decides she and the kids will stay.
GNES: I feel safe here. The chances for us to die here in Kyiv are equal to the chances for us to die on the road somewhere. And another thing I want my children to be alive of course, that was physically and spiritually. I wanted them to be strong, I want to be free.
COOPER (voice-over): Olena's husband Sergey (ph) bring supplies for his family, has volunteered to fight despite having no military training.
COOPER (voice-over): He leaves quickly to rejoin his unit
COATES: That's from "A MOTHER'S DIARY OF WAR" and it airs Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
The news continues. Let's hand it over to Pamela Brown and "DON LEMON TONIGHT."