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School Shooting Suspect Faces Murder and Terrorism Charges; Stacey Abrams Will Again Run to be Georgia Governor; Drug Users Turn to Fentanyl Test Strips to Prevent Overdose. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired December 02, 2021 - 11:30   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, there could be some last-minute drama for a brief government shutdown if any of these Republican senators insists of (INAUDIBLE). Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: It's good to see you, Manu. Let's see what happens in the next few hours. I really appreciate it.

I also want to turn now to Michigan where the 15-year-old student accused of opening fire on his classmates in Oxford, Michigan, is now facing murder and terrorism charges. And more charges could be coming potentially against his parents.

A fourth student at Oxford High School has died now from that shooting, and authorities say that there is no question in their mind that the attack was premeditated.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live in Oxford, Michigan, with much more on this. What is the very latest you're hearing, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, Kate, certainly the investigators here and prosecutors indicating yesterday that they are working towards bringing charges against the parents, potentially. That is something that they are working on, and that would be extremely significant.

This morning, the sheriff revealing new information, key details about meetings that a teacher had with the parent, also some new details about some of the concerns the teachers had. Take a listen.


SHERIFF MICHAEL BOUCHARD, OAKLAND COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: The day of the shooting, a different teacher in a different classroom saw some behavior that they felt was concerning, and they brought the child down to an office, had a meeting with school officials, called in the parents, and ultimately it was determined that he could go back in to class. And so that's obviously part of our investigation.


PROKUPECZ: And so the question, obviously, is why did the school allow him to go back to class? What did the parents know? That is something that investigators are working on. We also don't have much more information about what the behavioral issues were, what the teachers were concerned about. Investigators say they need to save that information for the trial, and they do not want that information getting out. But, obviously, a lot of questions that parents here certainly are going to be asking, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Thank you, Shimon. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, it could be a battle royale for the governor's mansion in Georgia as Stacey Abrams announces she's launching her second campaign, her second bid for governor of Georgia. We're going to go there, next.



BOLDUAN: Now, to a political story with national implications. Democratic powerhouse Stacey Abrams has launched another run for governor of Georgia. Abrams could face a rematch with incumbent Governor Brian Kemp. But, first, he needs to get through what could be a real battle in the Republican primary.

The 2018 contest between Kemp and Abrams was one of the most expensive in U.S. history. It was also a nail-biter and got ugly. Abrams lost by less than 2 percent of the vote and she also never formally conceded the race and sued over allegations of voter suppression.

Joining me right now for more on what this could look like, Patricia Murphy, Political Reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It's good to see you, Patricia.

What is this rematch going to look like if it becomes one?

PATRICIA MURPHY, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Well, we don't know exactly what it will look like because, as you said, former Senator David Perdue is actively considering a challenge to Governor Brian Kemp. That is because Donald Trump has seemed to have made it his life's work to defeat Brian Kemp here in Georgia, even though he is a sitting Republican governor.

So, we would have typically a rematch that would look like the battle of the titans, hundreds of millions of dollars spent against the campaigns by each campaign. I think it would be the highest profile governor's race in the country regardless of what happens because Stacey Abrams has had her own profile race enormously.

Georgia has become a battleground state with the flips of the Senate seats in 2020 and the White House in 2020 as well. And then we've got Governor Kemp, who is a sitting, otherwise, popular Republican governor. But with Donald Trump out there saying that Stacey Abrams would be a better governor than Brian Kemp, we've got a really hot race on our hands, and we don't know who exactly is going to end up in it.

BOLDUAN: And I think what you're perfectly describing is we really can't state how much things have changed since the 2018 contest between Kemp and Abrams, right? Because Georgia is really becoming the center of the political universe this cycle, one reason being what you pointed out, which is the Trump factor in all of this and how Trump's completely soured on Governor Kemp. And now you have on top of that add in the new voting law that's been put in place giving the Republican-controlled legislature more control over elections.

MURPHY: That's exactly right. Republicans had a really fabulous story to tell after the Virginia election because Glenn Youngkin was able to really stay at arm's length with Donald Trump. He could get those Trump supporters without really having to deeply offend independent voters and even some moderate Republicans. That's just going to be the case here in Georgia.

So, while Republicans would love to be running against Joe Biden, they are thrilled to be running against Stacey Abrams, but they may not be able to have the conversation until they figure out who is going to be their nominee for governor.


It's just an extraordinary situation and one we really did not expect to find ourselves in, but that's where we are.

BOLDUAN: Yes, no kidding. And one thing that Abrams is already going to be facing is -- well, the Republican Governors' Association is laying the groundwork as well as the Republican secretary of state calling Abrams out for never formally conceding her loss to Kemp in 2018. The secretary of state of Georgia was just on CNN this morning and definitely made a point to say this. Listen to this, Patricia.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, after the 2018 race, she never conceded and we ended up with at least nine lawsuits in my first day of office from her allied groups. I would hope this time, whatever the results will be, that she'll have the common grace to accept the results.


BOLDUAN: Look, as you've laid out, there is a million factors that are going to be going into this race no matter how it shapes out. But how do you think that -- how much of a factor do you think that issue is going to play into this race?

MURPHY: It's definitely going to be a Republican talking point. And it's entirely true that Stacey Abrams never did concede that race. She said she's not going to concede a race that she doesn't have full confidence in. One thing that's different from what Donald Trump did in 2020 here in Georgia is that she never did seek to overturn those election results. She moved on. She said the Governor Kemp is the governor.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has never stopped since 2020 saying that this was a rigged election, that he won in Georgia. He said it last night at a fundraiser for Herschel Walker, who is going to be running here in Georgia as a U.S. Senate candidate. So, it really is -- I wouldn't say they are exactly the same situations. They're certainly not. But it will be a Republican talking point. And it will be more Trump inserting himself in this election, as he already has.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's going to be something to watch, that's for sure, just this race, in general. It's good to see you, Patricia, thank you.

MURPHY: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: So, as overdose deaths soar to record highs in the United States, the data points to one culprit above all, fentanyl. And there is a new trend among some users as they fight to stay alive. That's next.



BOLDUAN: Here's a provocative question, should the country be helping to make illegal drug use safer? CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a closer look at users who are starting to test their drugs to try and avoid deadly overdoses.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Tanya, who didn't want us to use her last name, has been using heroin off and on for more than 20 years. Lately, she says, each time feels like a real gamble.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put it in the cup, yes, and then you just pour it onto the dope. I use the end to stir it up.

GUPTA: What you're watching is Tanya testing for the presence of the deadliest drug in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it just takes a small amount and just dip it in.

GUPTA: Between April 2020 and May 2021, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States. It's the most ever for a 12- month period. But dig deeper and you will see that this tragic story is almost entirely about fentanyl.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People dying. What's scary is it is the smallest amount of the fentanyl. It's such a tiny amount that we have seen people go out.

GUPTA: When you say go out, I mean --


GUPTA: The reason, fentanyl is faster acting and more powerful than heroin. And not just a little bit, up to 50 times more potent. And because it is significantly cheaper to produce, it is an attractive cutting agent. That means dealers will mix it in, giving a small amount of heroin a bigger punch, juicing up fake prescription pills. Nowadays, fentanyl is mixed with just about any drug.

The problem is this, if someone isn't expecting fentanyl, they can easily overdose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it's instant. I mean, as soon as they hit, most of the time the rig is still in their arm. If not, they're tied off or something. It happens fast.

GUPTA: From alive to dead, within seconds.

Louise Vincent has heard too many of these stories as well. She's executive director of the North Carolina Urban Survivors Union, and has dedicated her life to harm reduction, trying to make the use of drugs safer, like Naloxone or Narcan, which can rescue someone from an overdose, as you are watching in this extraordinary video, even better, though, preventing the overdose in the first place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a little test strip. They're really easy to use them.

GUPTA: Why are people testing them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drug users care about their health because people don't want to die, because people don't want to be sick.


Contrary to what everyone says, people that use drugs are human beings and they want the same thing that every other human being wants.

GUPTA: Giving users a chance to use safely has a long history of controversy. Is it saving lives or enabling even more drug usage? In the 1980s and '90s, it was often a debate about needle exchanges. More recently, it's been about consumption sites or safe spaces to use, like this bathroom in New York. And lately, it's about fentanyl test strips.

Researchers will tell you that the evidence shows harm reduction works.

The question that will always come up is does this actually save lives? Does this prevent deaths? Do we know that?

JON ZIBBELL, RTI INTERNATIONAL: We don't know that yet. But what we are seeing is that people are using more safely. They're more aware of what's going on.

GUPTA: Jon Zibbell studies the impact of fentanyl test strips.

ZIBBELL: What our study found is that people with a positive test result after they tested their drug were five times more likely to change their behavior.

GUPTA: Like using less of the drug, doing a test shot ahead of time, or maybe using with someone else who can watch them.

Tanya credits the fentanyl strips for keeping her from overdosing as the drug supply has become progressively more and more dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I use it more now than I did two years ago. We're at greater risk for having unknown substances put into the drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With COVID came a treacherous, treacherous drug supply.

GUPTA: And with that, technology has had to keep up as well. It's why Louise and her team are now working with Nabarun Dasgupta from the University of North Carolina to utilize infrared spectroscopy. It's a tool from the world forensics that can help distinguish components in the drug.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a rare to find a sample of heroin that's a heroin. We may call it heroin, we may refer to it as heroin, but it usually isn't, sometimes fentanyl analogs (ph), mannitol, like other cutting agents, and then sometimes very dangerous chemicals.

NABARUN DASGUPTA, EPIDEMIOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA CHAPEL HILL: What we've seen more recently, especially during COVID, is big supply chain disruptions of the established cartels. And so you have a lot more experimentation, a lot more -- a lot of new chemicals, synthesis methods that are being used to manufacture the same end product that's all being called heroin or fentanyl, but what actually in them has really changed.

GUPTA: These machines may represent the future, but for now, they are costly. Just a handful of groups like Louise's around the country even have access to them, which is why fentanyl test strips are so important right now.

What do you see there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's your one line. You see where it's turning to purple?

GUPTA: So what does one line mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's positive. And if another one is there, it's a negative.

GUPTA: So, this has fentanyl in it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. This is fentanyl.


GUPTA (on camera): I can tell you these strips, they only cost about a dollar apiece. You can even buy them on Amazon. But here's the thing, some states still consider them drug paraphernalia. So, even though you can buy them quite openly, they're maybe considered illegal in some places. That's the nature of harm reduction, Kate. But keep in mind again, 100,000 died of drug overdoses, the most of them opioids and fentanyl. This is one way to save lives.

BOLDUAN: It's fascinating, really, really eye-opening, Sanjay. Thank you so much for that reporting. It's great to see you.

GUPTA: You too.

BOLDUAN: And an important note, everyone. Sanjay is launching a new series called, Chasing Life, with real and tangible strategies to lead a healthy life. And this will be a regular feature on the show regularly. We're very excited about that. Sanjay starts with a focus today on anger.


GUPTA: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, host of CNN's Chasing Life podcast.

Anger, it's an emotion we have all felt, and I think we all know it's not good for us. Physically, when we are angry, our bodies release adrenaline and the stress hormone known as cortisol. Over time, anger can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, even digestive issues or insomnia.

So, how should we deal with anger? Well, personally, I like to go for a run. But some experts tell me that's not really a great idea. Why? Because you should think of anger as a flame, and the goal is to turn down that flame, something like running can keep arousal levels high. Even venting to a friend can also feed that flame.


Instead, think about trying one of these things. Take a deep breath. Change your body language. Distract yourself or do something that produces positive emotions, like giving someone a hug.

Dealing with anger isn't easy, but we can all practice turning down the heat when that feeling strikes. You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.


BOLDUAN: Chasing life. Sanjay, thank you so much for that. We're going to have many more of that from Sanjay.

It's great to see you all. Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Inside Politics with John King begins after a break.