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Interview with Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Retired Admiral James Stavridis; Texas School Shooting Massacre. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 25, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR.
Here's what's coming up.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen?
AMANPOUR (voice-over): How much more of this will America bear after the latest gun massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Texas? I ask Ryan
Busse, the former firearms executive now fighting the NRA, and activist Tom Mauser, who lost his son in the 1999 Columbine school shooting.
Then: President Zelenskyy says Russia is leveling massive military might now against the Donbass. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James
Stavridis on where the war is heading and risking it all in conflict.
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": We saw that he had dreams at one point, but, being poor and black in America, it was much more difficult for
him to achieve those dreams.
AMANPOUR: Remembering George Floyd. Two years on, his death still reverberates through America. Reporter Toluse Olorunnipa tells us more
about his life and struggle for racial justice.
AMANPOUR: Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
How many children will die before action is taken? Why does this happen only in America? They are always the same questions after a mass shooting,
like the one at a school in Texas that killed 19 children and their two teachers.
Tonight, we remember first and foremost those victims, 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza, Xavier Lopez, also 10, fourth grader Uziyah Garcia, from the same
class, Jose Flores Jr., teacher Eva Mireles, five of the 21 who were murdered. Many are still being formally identified.
And President Joe Biden delivered a deeply pained response. He himself understands what it's like to lose a young child.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There's a hollowness in your chest, and
you feel like you're being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out. It's suffocating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Deeply personal for him.
And this time, of course, it was children. Ten days ago, it was black Americans, when an 18-year-old self-avowed racist killed 10 people in
Buffalo, New York.
And the statistics are staggering. In the 10 years since Sandy Hook, there have been over 900 shootings on school grounds in the United States. And
consider this for one moment. There have been more mass shootings there this year than actual days. Gun violence affects every facet of American
life. It happens everywhere, at school, at the grocery store, in church, on the street.
But, as one report asks, while the shooting in Uvalde breaks hearts, will it change minds?
Joining me is Ryan Busse, a former firearms executive who's now battling against the industry, and gun control advocate Tom Mauser, who lost his own
son Daniel in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
Tom Mauser, I expect that, for you, every time this happens, it triggers a horrible memory and a horrible response. So we're deeply sorry.
But how do parents like you and those who are so bereaved now process this?
TOM MAUSER, FATHER OF COLUMBINE VICTIM: It's really difficult.
I had a really sleepless night last night thinking about what those parents are going through, those parents, even those whose children survived. They
were waiting, waiting, waiting for information to know if they were going to be one of the victims.
And thinking about the children that were in those classrooms. Their lives are changed. They're going to be going through trauma for some time.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask -- yes.
MAUSER: It's really difficult to process the fact that we still have this happening.
And we talk about it when it happens, and then we do nothing.
AMANPOUR: Yes. I mean, that's the terrible, horrible point. And, of course, overseas where I am and beyond, people just cannot understand it,
ordinary people and leaders, politicians, people who've had their own instances, much fewer than the United States, but, nonetheless, some mass
shootings, where they have taken immediate legislation and laws, and it hasn't come back.
So, let me ask you, Ryan Busse, because you're intimately familiar with this. So to the question, why in America, and when will this ever change,
what do you say?
RYAN BUSSE, AUTHOR, "GUNFIGHT: MY BATTLE AGAINST THE INDUSTRY THAT RADICALIZED AMERICA": Well, Christiane, first off, it's good to be on with
Tom. I just gave him a big hug about a week ago.
I like to tell people -- I wish I didn't have to tell them this, but I think -- I hear a lot of -- I get a lot of questions and I hear a lot of
statements insinuating that we have something that's broken in the United States, that something is deeply fractured, that this isn't working right.
And I don't believe that that's the case at all. The truth is that I think we have a system that is working just exactly how it's designed. I don't
know how we expect to do what is the equivalent of lobbing lighted matches into a room with gasoline day after day after day after day, and think that
there will not be an explosion. There's going to be an explosion.
And we are seeing the explosions. And we have known that this is coming. One thing that I want to highlight is that the tactical gear that was worn
by the Buffalo shooter and by the shooter in Uvalde, these sorts of items, vest, helmets, hat, these sorts of tactical -- this tactical gear, was not
even allowed to be displayed in the firearms industry's own trade shows as late as 15 years ago.
In other words, the industry itself knew that this stuff was incendiary for a complex democracy, that lobbing it into the populace would create
disastrous outcomes. And here we are living with disastrous outcomes, intertwined with all sorts of hatred and racism and fearful politics.
So we're tossing matches and gasoline into confined spaces. And we should not be shocked. Nobody -- anybody that says they're stunned or shocked
about this, we should stop that. This is the logical outcome of what we're doing.
AMANPOUR: So that's really chilling. I mean, my mind is focused on what you just said at the beginning of your statement, that this is exactly how
the system is designed to work.
It's chilling. It's chilling for people who've lost their children, like Tom.
So I want to play for you, Tom, an anguished statement by Senator Chris Murphy in the -- on Capitol Hill yesterday. This is what he told his fellow
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): What are we doing? Why are you here, if not to solve a problem as existential as this?
This isn't inevitable. These kids weren't unlucky. This only happens in this country, and nowhere else. Nowhere else do little kids go to school
thinking that they might be shot that day. Nowhere else do parents have to talk to their kids, as I have had to do, about why they got locked into a
bathroom and told to be quiet for five minutes just in case a bad man entered that building?
Nowhere else does that happen, except here in the United States of America. And it is a choice. It is our choice to let it continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, the senator backing up what Ryan just said, that this is how the system is designed to work in America.
Tom, again, it -- you and your fellow grieving family members must have done a lot of lobbying, must have done a lot of attempting to persuade your
congresspeople, your representatives to actually take sensible gun laws which the majority of American people agree with.
What's it actually like to talk to them and to have them, I don't know, either lie to your face or say it's not possible?
MAUSER: Well, first of all, you have to understand that, at the state level, things have happened. We did change Colorado laws. A number of
states have changed their laws.
The problem is that guns cross state lines just as easy as an automobile does. So, that's why we need a number of laws that are uniform across the
country. And, in Washington, nothing happens, nothing. It is a complete stalemate.
And it's largely because of one industry, one industry. And the NRA does the bidding for that industry. I think it's important to point out that,
after Columbine, the NRA -- it's very ironic. After Columbine, the NRA had its national convention in Denver 10 days later. They cut off most of that
convention, especially the trade show, because they did not want people seeing what was in that trade show.
Now, this weekend, three days, four days after this horrific shooting, the NRA is going to be meeting in Houston. And I think it's a pretty safe bet -
- I think Ryan would agree -- that they're not going to allow the media into that trade show, where they see the kind of equipment that Ryan is
AMANPOUR: Well, Tom, let me put this to Ryan then, because, again, that is just -- is staggering to even think that this is going to happen in the
state where we just had this massacre of children.
Ryan, you have told "The New York Times" recently that -- quote -- "The AR- 15 to most people in the firearms industry, it's a statement. It's a middle finger."
So talk to me about that middle finger. Why does the firearms industry want to flip a middle finger at America, at its children, at the world? Why?
BUSSE: It's a really twisted -- it's a good question, but it -- the answer provides a really twisted window into our culture.
About the time that Tom describes, after the 1999 shooting in Columbine, the NRA figured out that cranking up incendiary, hateful, racist, frankly,
middle fingers to the rest of the country could energize a certain segment of people to become so incendiary, that they're just held right below the
And those sorts of people will do irrational things. They will vote in irrational ways, which we have seen in elections recently. The firearms
industry joined forces with the NRA very purposely then, and especially as President Obama started to lead in the polls in 2007, because the exact
same things that drive this kind of incredibly divisive, incendiary politics that the NRA now has let across this country and handed off to
President Trump, those exact same things drive firearm sales.
So the reason that the AR-15 is this symbol that's so contrary to what responsible gun owners believe, because responsible gun owners believe that
guns are serious things that need to be treated with an exceptional amount of responsibility, and waiting around guns like middle fingers is not
But when you have this intertwined hatred, fear and racism, politics and guns, then you have these symbolic things that drive both politics and gun
sales. And that's why the radicalization the right, as I assert -- I wrote a book about this called "Gunfight," but it's all about how this has
happened to our country.
I'm really kind of tired -- probably Tom is too -- like getting the questions, like, gosh, how does this happen? Like, as Senator Murphy says,
it happened purposefully, right? There's a system to this. And it's this wrapping of incendiary politics along with guns.
And then you have AR-15s as symbols, as middle fingers.
AMANPOUR: OK, so let's just state again that all the polls show that the majority of American, some -- it depends on what questions you ask. But the
majority of Americans believe that gun laws should be made stricter, and there should be background checks, and there should be sensible gun
So I have been listening, and my team and I, we have been talking about this, and this -- every time it happens, we talk to the same people.
There's the prayers. There's the -- we ask the similar questions. And we were just looking at some blog posts by those who look at the historical
movement in the United States.
And we know that back in the -- I guess it was the '70s or the '80s, and correct me if I'm wrong, Ryan, that the NRA started to shift this gun issue
from hunting and sports, where it was logically meant to be, over into the political -- into the political field, and at the same time started to
conflate -- and let me read this -- "The unfettered right to own and carry weapons has come to symbolize the Republican Party's ideology of individual
liberty. Lawmakers and activists have not been able to overcome Republican insistence on gun rights, despite these mass shootings."
That's from Heather Cox Richardson.
So it's a pathology wrapped up in this idea of special American liberty. Is that right, Ryan and Tom?
Tom, let me ask you what you make of it, as somebody who's lost a child to this.
MAUSER: Oh, absolutely. It sells well.
And, also, keep in mind that, when that change happened in the NRA, also, the incidence of hunting, the number of hunters, unfortunately, has gone
down in this country. There's been a trend because we have been urbanizing. They saw a need to find new markets. That's what it's all about. It's
progressively finding new markets, whether it's recruiting women, whether it's recruiting people who like to shoot out -- the AR-15s out on ranges.
Whatever particular market they're going for, they're always reaching for a new market. And the NRA is more than happy to do that in their magazines to
support that gun industry. And -- yes, and that includes those who see this as a fundamental right, that this cannot be tampered with at all, with no
It gets people fired up, and it gets them buying more guns. And, indeed, we have seen gun sales rising in this country.
MAUSER: And despite the fact that same gun lobby is the one saying that more guns will make us safer.
Well, clearly, that is not the case.
AMANPOUR: Ryan, when you were back in the firearms industry, and now as you lobby against this pathology, as some call it, how much help does the
NRA, the firearms industry, the political action group that supports this stuff get from what one might call useful idiots in the press, the Tucker
Carlsons, the people who just carry on sort of defending this and suggesting that anybody who wants to be sensible about gun control is some
kind of radical?
How -- what's your experience with that? And even the governor of Texas, Abbott, he once said after the last one that they were going to make it
less possible, and then, finally, he allows permitless carry, carrying a weapon without a permit. It's just all double-talk and constant ginning up
in the media as well, right?
BUSSE: It really is.
It's -- and you ask how important it is. It's incredibly important. And the through line of my book is that this was -- all of this stuff was developed
by the NRA and the firearms industry and then handed off to the political right and Trump.
But if you -- any question that people ask themselves about the firearms industry, just ask that about the political right and Trumpism. Like, how
important are talking heads? How important is this big culture war? How -- like, it -- this -- it's not important. It is what this is all about.
I think that, for many in the NRA, and the NRA leadership, it's not even really about guns. This is -- guns happen to be the thing that will gin up
the populace to such a degree that, again, they will do irrational things and vote in irrational ways.
And you don't -- that can never happen without a Tucker Carlson, without a Rush Limbaugh, without a Greg Abbott, without -- I could go -- without a
Ron Johnson, without -- I could keep going on and on and on here, right? Like, they're, ultimately, ultimately, critical to all this. It falls
And it's a small slice of gun owners. They need them to be really, really loud, because they have to drown out everybody else who may not be so
insanely ginned up about it.
AMANPOUR: Look, I know you mentioned Trumpism. And it probably got worse, but it certainly way predates Trump.
I mean, this has been going on for a long, long time, I just read a statistic by "The Washington Post," which did an in-depth numbers crunch.
And they found, in the last 10 years, that more than 300,000 American children have been affected by this, not killed, but affected by it in one
way or another.
So, Tom, I mean, we're having this discussion. We know where the problem is. What does somebody like you do, an activist like you do now? Where do
you see any exit from this terrible situation?
MAUSER: You know, I think the main thing for me is reaching those people in the middle.
The fact is that Americans do support their basic fundamental right to bear arms, but they also -- majority clearly understands the need for
restrictions on that. They understand that. But they're pulled by people who are telling them that, oh, this is all about confiscation. This is all
We have to reach more of those people in the middle, many of them gun owners, really to -- we have to challenge them to challenge the statements
and the cliches and the arguments of the gun lobby and convince them that they're -- even if you're an NRA member, they're not representing you, and
they're not representing even gun owners.
Let's face it. The NRA has, what, about four or five million members. That's about 1 percent of the population. And yet we know that a number of
those NRA members really aren't crazy about what the leadership is doing. They belong because they're into sports shooting or something else, and
need that membership.
So, they're such a small percentage of the population, and yet they're considered one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington. The AARP has 35
million members, the NRA five, and yet many people consider the NRA more powerful than the AARP.
We have to change that. And you change that by reaching out to people and having conversations. I like to do more presentations to people who are in
the middle, not just preaching to the choir and people on my side of the issue, but reaching those people in the middle. And that's not easy to do.
AMANPOUR: No, it's not. It's not, particularly in the polarized atmosphere that you all live in, and increasingly in the world.
I mean, Ryan, just very quickly, just to follow up on what Tom said, how do you think now -- is it about reaching the people in the middle? And let's
not forget that this is all in the context of this incredible polarization on everything, whether it's women's rights, whether it's vaccines and
masks. Whatever it might be, everything is polarized.
Where do you see an off-ramp?
BUSSE: I think Tom is exactly right.
I think we have to reach out to these people. I think gun owners have to step up and solve this. My wife, who's the hero in my book and my life,
tells me: "This isn't my problem. This is you guys' problem. You have to stand up and do it."
And so I'm -- as an example, I'm working with Gabby Giffords now and her organization to form up a responsible gun owners for safety organization,
so that these people have a voice. I know they're out there. Tom knows they're out there. But we have to drown out the vitriolic, loud voices that
have taken over the debate.
BUSSE: And we have to give them a new voice. So I'm working on that.
Well, good. Good luck to you both, Ryan Busse and Tom Mauser. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.
And condolences are pouring in for the victims of this tragedy from every corner of the globe, including from Ukraine and President Zelenskyy, while
the battle for his country rages on.
Russia is turning his remaining mind on the Donbass region, he says, one official there describing it as an insane number of Russian troops and
artillery fire. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin has made a rare, slightly -- well, a rare visit to wounded soldiers in a Moscow hospital.
Let's get the latest analysis from the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis. He's also the author of "To Risk It All."
Welcome. Welcome to the program, Admiral.
Can I first start by asking you that -- I mean, in the context of this war in Ukraine, where the world, at least the West, NATO, is actually fighting
with real guns for real freedom, what do you think when you see what just happened in your country, and many people wrapping this up in the notion of
ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: I think, as a military officer, a four-star admiral, someone who has devoted
his life to the profession of arms, first, it sickens me to see these weapons of war available to any 18-year-old.
And in the United States, you can't legally buy a beer until you're 21 years old anywhere in the country, and yet we allow 18-year-olds to go out
and purchase long guns. We have got it upside down. And we are reaping the consequences of our extremely poor policy decisions. We have wandered into
a dark forest here. We have got a lot of work to do.
And my second impression, Christiane, is really quite simple. It's that, if we are going to solve problems in the world, and we purport to be a leader
as a nation, we can't have our house in such awful disorder. In other words, this is hurting us not only at home, where it breaks our hearts, but
it hurts us in the world, as others look at the United States and question our ability to lead in any context following events like this again and
again and again.
AMANPOUR: And yet you will probably agree that your country, your president has actually led a remarkable coalition, a remarkable
mobilization, along with all the NATO countries, to confront this very terrible threat to all of our freedoms and democracies.
I just want to know, just from your perspective, how well is it going from NATO's point of view, and now, with the reports of a massively uptick --
massive uptick in Russian artillery and troop numbers in the east, how do you assess the battlefield right now?
STAVRIDIS: Well, first of all, as we all know, this is a footrace for logistics.
And logistics is not the glamorous part of war. The idea of getting ammunition weapons, food, fuel, communications, medical support and getting
it to the right place at the right time is crucial, if you're going to succeed.
So far, Russia has been very poor at this, whereas Ukraine, with the help of all of us, as you correctly point out, Christiane, has been winning that
Here's what worries me now. Because Putin's plan A failed spectacularly, but, to his advantage, he can now concentrate those forces, it makes
logistics much, much easier. So you're seeing Russia take advantage of these now shortened logistics battle lines to improve their position on the
That ought to concern us. And it means that NATO and the West, our job is to redouble our efforts to win that logistic footrace. I always say about
President Zelenskyy, who truly is risking at all, the title of the book I just published, I say about him, give him the tools, he will do the job,
much like Winston Churchill said about Great Britain in the run-up to World War II
We're in a race. We have got to continue sprinting.
AMANPOUR: OK, so let's drill down on that title of your book, because, as you know, NATO, for a while at least at the beginning, and certainly before
the invasion, was worried about risking it all in Ukraine, worried about what that might incur.
Do you think that those worries were, I don't want to say misplaced, but sort of put the brakes on an early deployment of help for Ukraine? Does --
it materially -- did it have a material effect?
STAVRIDIS: I think it did.
And I believe that we were too timid in the beginning. And I think that there are still some very specific things, such as providing relatively
high-end fighter and attack aircraft. The MiG-29s, for example, that the Poles offered two months ago, we should have jumped on that. We should be
giving more anti-ship cruise missiles, because, frankly, an entire theater of war, apart from the land, is the Black Sea and the choke hold that we're
allowing Vladimir Putin to place on the economy of Ukraine and on grain that the world badly needs.
So, yes, you're right. NATO was, in my view, too timid. I think we have rectified that. The horrific events of Bucha had a very clarifying effect
on NATO in that regard. And, frankly, the fact that both Finland and Sweden are now applying for membership is a pretty good example of the alliance
not only holding together in this moment, but even attracting, if you will, new recruits.
AMANPOUR: And not just any new recruits, those with very, very professional and capable militaries. So that's that's -- that goes a lot --
a long way, I guess, for NATO and for this effort.
STAVRIDIS: Yes. Yes.
Just -- just...
STAVRIDIS: To make a point on that, I commanded both Finnish and Swedish troops. They deployed alongside us.
They are superb...
STAVRIDIS: ... highly motivated, technologically advanced, great hearts. They will be fine additions to NATO.
AMANPOUR: So, in terms of getting the right weapons at the right time, as you know, it's pretty much a huge artillery fight now in the east.
Apparently, the Russians have a big advantage in that domain.
And NATO, certainly the United States, has pledged 90 howitzers, which is starting to be used. Again, does that take a while to get in place? Does it
take a while to train up? Are they the most important pieces of artillery to deploy right now?
STAVRIDIS: I think they are, because their mobility.
These are self-propelled. It simply means they can drive around themselves without being towed to and from. And these are critical, because they allow
real mobility on that battlefield. And we can get more of them in place. And, oh, by the way, we were just talking about Finland. The Finns have
more artillery than any other army in Europe.
So, see paragraph one about why Finland will be a good addition to this effort. But it's really not any single weapon, Christiane. It's the flow of
all of this, coupled with intelligence cybersecurity overwatch, which has been quite effective thus far, ammunition to resupply the weapon systems we
Fortunately, we can use the system you and I are using right now, go over the Internet, use Zoom to teach, to help maintain these systems. We're
using all of those technologies. I think that the weight of this is still on the side of the Ukrainians...
STAVRIDIS: ... despite some advances we're seeing from the Russians.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you about that because it said right now, both from the Ukrainians and others that a key town, Coleman (ph), in the east
may be on the verge of falling. It said that the Russians want to get as far up as Kramatorsk. They already pretty much have Mariupol, right, with
the surrender of the Ukrainian forces there. That's a lot of territory.
What do you think Vladimir Putin's best shot is right now? And conversely, what should the Ukrainians do? President Zelenskyy has talked about wanting
to have negotiations but only with Putin, to look at him face to face, in - - you know, in the eyes. Look each other in the eyes and discuss this. Where does it -- where does the space for negotiation emerge?
STAVRIDIS: It is a lot of territory but, you know, life is compared to what. And 90 days ago, many thought that Vladimir Putin would be in control
of the entire country, quite comfortably by now. So, I would say, plan A, which was to dominate this vast nation has failed and failed completely.
That's what I mean when I say the Ukrainians are doing quite well.
On the other hand, Russia has carved out this land bridge that they have coveted for many years, stretching from the Roedean (ph) of Mother Russia
down through the doomed City of Mariupol, which is effectively dust by now, all the way down to Crimea. That's what Putin wants to hold onto. I think
he will consolidate, grind out a little bit more, and that's the point where we discover -- or he discovers that war is not only hell. As one
famous American civil war generals said, war is hell. It's also expensive. And that is going to start to bite Putin. He will be looking for a
negotiation as the year draws on.
On the other side of the coin, those are decisions for Ukrainians to make. Whether they want to enter negotiations, whether it's appropriate, our job
is to give them options by giving them the weapons to hold the Russians where they are now.
AMANPOUR: So, given what you've just said, you know, there was a huge hullabaloo raised by Henry Kissinger who suggested that, in fact, the
Ukrainians should except, for the moment, status quo antes, in other words, go back to what was the lay of the land on February 23rd with the Russians
have in Crimea and that part of the Donbas region.
Does that make sense to you? Do you think that that's an achievable -- well, do you think that that would work from either side? Would they accept
that at least now?
STAVRIDIS: First and foremost, we ought to recognize that this is going to have to be settled --
AMANPOUR: For a second, please. Admiral, standby for a second because now we have to go to Texas where the governor, Greg Abbott, is holding a news
conference about that school shooting.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Families are broken apart. Hearts are forever shattered.
All Texans are grieving with the people of Uvalde. And people are rightfully angry about what has happened. Events like this, they tear at
the fabric of the community. Our job is to ensure that the community is not going to be ripped apart.
All Texans must come together and support the families who have been affected by this horrific tragedy. What they need now more than ever is our
love. What they need is uplifting from all of their fellow Texans and all of our fellow Americans.
And let me emphasize something that I know you all know, but the reality is, as horrible as what happened, it could have been worse. The reason it
was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do.
They showed amazing courage by running towards gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives. And it is a fact that, because of their
quick response, getting on the scene, being able to respond to the gunman and eliminate the gunman, they were able to save lives. Unfortunately, not
But I want to make sure that everybody knows all of the law enforcement agencies and groups that are involved and were involved in this process.
The Texas Rangers are leading the investigation and they are supported by the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol, the Texas Department
of Public Safety Criminal Investigative Division, DPS Aircraft, DPS Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division, DPS Crime and Victim Support.
They're also supported by the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the FBI as well as multiple federal partners, including the DEA, ATF, HSI and
And then, of course, the valiant local officials, the Uvalde Sheriff's Department, the Uvalde Police Department, the Uvalde Independent School
District Police, Uvalde County Constables, Uvalde mayor, the county judge, Uvalde district attorney's office, local public works and surrounding
police department. And the San Antonio Police and Fire Department also.
Let me walk you through some of the facts of what has happened. There has been a lot of things that have been said. Some are correct. Some are
Let me tell you the best information that we have at this time, understanding, very importantly, that this is an ongoing investigation and
ongoing investigations often reveal new information as those investigations progress.
The first thing that happened was that the gunman shot his grandmother in the face. She then contacted police. The gunman fled. And as he was
fleeing, he had an accident just outside the elementary school and he ran into the school.
Officers with the Consolidated Independent School District approached the gunman and engaged with the gunman at that time. The gunman then entered a
back door and went down two short hallways into a classroom on the left- hand side.
The gun room -- entered into the classroom. The classroom was connected internally to another classroom. Border Patrol Consolidated ISD officers,
police, sheriffs and DPS converged on that classroom. A Border Patrol officer killed the gunman.
As I said, Texas Rangers are leading the investigation, joined by federal, state and local law enforcement officials.
At this time we know that 19 children, 19 children have lost their lives. Two faculty members lost their lives. In addition to that, there are 17
people who are injured but their injuries are not life-threatening.
All family members of all these students and faculty members have been contacted and informed about the circumstance. The officials are working
with parents to ensure their parents will be able to see their children.
Parents should contact Victim Services at the County Fairplex. We know that there are parents still striving to make a connection. All parents are
welcome and urged to contact Victim Services at the County Fairplex.
The gunman was 18-years-old and reportedly a high school dropout. Reportedly, there has been no criminal history identified yet. He may have
had a juvenile record but that is yet to be determined. There was no known mental health history of the gunman.
He used one weapon, which was an A.R.-15 using 223 rounds.
There was no meaningful forewarning of this crime other than what I am about to tell you.
As of this time, the only information that was known in advance was posted by the gunman on Facebook approximately 30 minutes before reaching the
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 the school was, "I'm going to shoot an elementary school."
I mentioned that during the shootout that took place at the school, 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.
Before coming out here, we had a long discussion with law enforcement at all levels. We had a discussion with community leaders, elected officials.
And I asked the sheriff and others an open-ended question and got the same answer from the sheriff as well as from the mayor of Uvalde. The question
was, what is the problem here? And they were straight forward and emphatic.
They said, we have a mental -- we have a problem with mental health illness in this community. And then they elaborated on the magnitude of the mental
health challenges that they are facing in the community and the need for more mental health support in this region.
I want to make sure everybody understands the mental health services that are available at this time, with me making one clarifying point in advance
that I will redouble in the aftermath.
Whenever anything is shocking and extraordinary and disturbing, as this event is, occurs, there's an urgent need for everybody affected to access
I cannot be more emphatic than saying with great urgency everybody in this community, I mean everybody, the victims, the families, family members,
friends, the law enforcement involved, but the entire community is in utter shock about this.
Some physical wounds that were sustained by the officers, they're going to heal in the coming days. The mental and emotional wounds are far harder to
see and last far longer.
The state of Texas, working with federal and local officials and agencies, we're going to be here for a long, long time.
And one key point that we will focus on is making sure that everybody in this community has the access they need for as long as they need it to
address what the mental and emotional health care needs that they .
And I'll list various agencies and make sure these are made available to the public.
The mental health services currently available are from Victim Services from across the area from federal, state and local levels, including the
Family Resource Center at the Uvalde County Fairplex.
Schools have crisis teams at the Uvalde Civic Center. They provide wrap- around services for families who are affected.
The Texas Child Mental Health Consortium, created by the state legislature in 2019, is available to assist. The Blue Bonnet Children's Advocacy Center
is available to provide services for children.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is on site and will be available for ongoing provision of services. The Texas Education Agency is
providing supplemental counseling services.
The Texas Department of Public Safety Council is providing counseling services for law enforcement. The FBI is also bringing in mental health
services for law enforcement.
It could not be over emphasized the importance of law enforcement officers, all of them, seeking out and obtaining this mental health counseling.
The district attorney's Office for Victim Services has a phone number available for all victims. And the entire community, in a way, is a victim
And I was provided their number to give out to you publicly. This is the number for the district attorney's Office for Victim Services. The number
And at this time, I will pass the mic to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
BETO O'ROURKE, (D), TEXAS GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: (INAUDIBLE)
LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): Excuse me, excuse me. Excuse me.
MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN (R-UVALDE, TX): Sit down.
PATRICK: You are out of line and an embarrassment.
MCLAUGHLIN: Sit down. Get out --
O'ROURKE: The time to stop the next shooting is now, and you are doing nothing.
MCLAUGHLIN: No. You need to get his ass out of here. This isn't the place.
MCLAUGHLIN: Call the police over.
O'ROURKE: This was totally predictable when you --
MCLAUGHLIN: Sir, you're out of line. Sir, you are out of line.
MCLAUGHLIN: Sire, you are out of line. Please leave this auditorium.
MCLAUGHLIN: I can't believe you are a sick son of a bitch who would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.
O'ROURKE: This is on you.
MCLAUGHLIN: It's on assholes like you. Why don't you get out here?
ABBOTT: There are family members -- there are family members who are crying as we speak. There are family members whose hearts are broken. There's no
words that anybody shouting can come up here and do anything to heal those broken hearts.
We all, every Texan, every American has a responsibility. Where we need to focus not on ourselves and our agendas. We need to focus on the healing and
hope that we can provide to those who have suffered unconscionable damage to their lives and loss of life.
We need all Texans to, in this one moment in time, put aside the personal agendas. Think of somebody other than ourselves! Think about the people
who are hurt! And help those who have been hurt!
And this time, the Lieutenant Governor will speak.
PATRICK: I was just about to say that there will be plenty of time to discuss and analyze what happened yesterday and do everything that we can
within our power to hopefully prevent it from happening again.
But now is a time, people watching around the world in this country and this state, to focus on these families as the governor just said. Right
now, we need to future our arms around the families of these victims, the students and the teachers.
This is not a partisan issue. This is not a political issue. This is an unimaginable moment that will impact the lives of those who lost their
children and those who survived, the adults, teachers, men and women of law enforcement who were there.
We are better than this as a country. We are better than this.
These types of crimes, when you see children killed, go to the very core of all of us who have or grandchildren. We can't imagine the pain that these
families are going through. We saw it four years ago in Santa Fe.
So can we not be a nation that can stand together for at least a day or a week or a month? My gosh. To put these families first and everything else
second? My gosh.
You know, we live in a time -- I said this yesterday -- when people at each other's throats everywhere we turn, whether it's on the Internet or an
Oscar stage or two coaches arguing or in the political world or the media world.
Who are we as an American people? Who are we?
We all have to do our part. All do our part to make us a better people and a better nation.
Evil will always walk among us. And in times like this -- I've seen it. The governor has seen it. The speaker has seen it. The Senators have seen it.
The attorneys generals have seen it -- in these other shootings - Sutherland Springs, El Paso, Odessa, Santa Fe.
It's God that brings a community together. It's God that heals a community. It's God that heals a shattered and broken heart.
And if we don't turn back as a nation to understanding what we were founded upon and what we were taught by our parents and what we believe in, then
these situations will only get worse and happen more often.
So no matter what your thoughts are today, pray for these families. Pray for this community. Give us wisdom. Give us wisdom.
Right now, let's focus on the families. They deserve that. They need our love. They need our prayers.
Thank you, Governor.
ABBOTT: And now the speaker of the House, Dade Phelan.
STATE REP. DADE PHELAN (R-TX) & HOUSE SPEAKER: Thank you, Governor. I appreciate it.
Mayor, I'm sorry you had to witness that outburst.
Now is not the time to politicize pain and suffering. This time of year should be the happiest time in a child's life. Summertime, getting out of
school, enjoying your family and friends.
And instead, this community is faced with an unspeakable tragedy of which there are no words. There are no words to ease the pain and suffering and
the anger in this community.
I do want to reiterate what the governor said about the mental health of this community. This will take many, many years of pain and suffering and
And your mental health is like any other health. It must be treated. It must be diagnosed. It must be talked about.
And the legislature, when we reconvene, we'll have a long, very robust discussion about mental health, like we always have, and will continue to
support mental health in the state and especially rural mental health.
Like the sheriff said and like the mayor said, every community has mental health needs, and they must be addressed. This crisis is another
reiteration of the mental health crisis we have in this state.
I also want to thank the law enforcement for their work, DPS, Border Patrol, sheriffs, police officers, both locally in the school district.
I believe one school district's police officer lost his wife in the shooting, was there on the scene. And the governor mentioned sheriff's
deputy losing a child in that building as well. Just unspeakable tragedies for this whole community.
And the mental health of our law enforcement is crucial in these times. And it's OK for them to say something's wrong as well.
I do my deer hunting here in Uvalde County. It's a beautiful community with beautiful people. And all we can say is how tragic this is and the support,
the state will show and will continue to show.
And we just appreciate your resiliency. And let us know how we can help here in the state of Texas.
ABBOTT: And now the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw.
STEVE MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Thank you, Governor.
On behalf of the sheriff and chiefs of police and the departments been asked to go through a timeline of the facts as we know, the investigation
right now. It's preliminary. This information -- we'll provide out as much information as we can.
First, as already reported, Salvador Ramos was responsible for the horrific attack and killing of 19 school-aged children and two adults. He was 18
years, as previously reported. He was a dropout of the school.
He had no criminal history that we've been able to find or detect at this particular point. He lived with his grandmother, who is 66 years old.
On March 17th, Ramos purchased a semiautomatic rifle at a local sporting goods store. On March 18th, he purchased 375 rounds of ammunition for that
rifle. On March 20th, he purchased another semiautomatic rifle at this same local store.
The FBI has been able to find information on his Facebook account that the governor provided you information on, that approximately 11:00 he
announced, you know, on Facebook, a post, a message that he was going to shoot his grandmother.
He shot his grandmother. He re-reported that he had shot her. And after that, he reported that he was going to a school to attack it. He didn't
identify the specific school. He did say elementary at that point in time. But the timeline is anywhere from 11:00 to 11:30.
His mother reported him to the police department, when she was able to run across the street to a neighbor and get help. And she was medevacked to San
Antonio in critical condition at this point but she's still alive.
The subject, Ramos, at that point in time, used her vehicle, his grandmother's vehicle. He was living at their residence since March of
2022. Used her vehicle to drive approximately 0.29 miles which is a block and a half away from the school, Robb Elementary School.
He crashed the vehicle at that point in time. He exited. He exited with a backpack. He took a rifle with him. One rifle, a Daniel Defense, that he
had previously purchased, as mentioned.
He went towards the west side of the campus, which is a backdoor. As he was approaching, as the governor mentioned earlier, there was a brave
Consolidated Independent School District resource officer that approached him, engaged him, and at that time gunfire was not exchanged.
But the subject was able to make it into the school, as the governor reported. He went down a hallway, turned right, then turned left, and there
were two classrooms that were adjoining. And that's where the carnage began.
As he was shooting, when the shooting began, we had Uvalde police officers arrive on scene, along with the Consolidated Independent School District
officers, immediately breached. Because we know, to an officer, every second is a life.
They breached it and engaged the active shooter and continued to keep him pinned down in that location.
You know, afterwards, until a tactical team could be put together, comprised of Border Patrol agents on the front end, some members of their
unit, which is a SWAT team for Border Patrol. Also there was a Uvalde County deputy that -- and to two Uvalde police officers.
They breached the classroom door. They went in. They engaged Ramos and killed him at the scene.
That covers it, Governor.
One thing I'd like to say, though -- and you hit the nail on the head -- is that the profession of law enforcement -- and it is a profession -- what
looks right and how we measure ourselves is the absence of crime and disorder.
Obviously, this is a situation we failed in the sense that we didn't prevent this mass attack. But I can tell you those officers that arrived on
the scene and put their lives in danger, they saved other kids. They kept him pinned down. And we're very proud of that.
At the same time, we're always looking to get better and look at anything that might have been out there. We have yet to find a clue, whether it's
social media or other indicators that might have given us any type of idea that he was about to do something like this that gives us an opportunity to
Because as we know, the overriding priority of you, certainly the legislature in Texas and the people of Texas, is that it's all about
prevention, you know, prevent the next mass attack.
And thank you for your leadership.
And Speaker and Lieutenant Governor, thank you.
ABBOTT: Thank you.
And now the superintendent for the Consolidated Independent School District, Hal Harold.
HAL HAROLD, SUPERINTENDENT, UVALDE CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Thank you, Governor.
Thank you for being here today and thank you for your support. Appreciate your team coming and speaking to us and providing the services and
resources that you have.
As superintendent, I could never imagine a day like yesterday. End of school, award ceremonies, the time of a second-, third-, or fourth-grader's
life at that point.
It was a senseless and tragic event in this magnitude. Our community is -- it's heartbreaking. It really is.