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At This Hour

Texas Killer Sent Ominous Instagram Messages Hours Before Massacre; Congressional Leadership Press Baby Formula Manufacturers, Regulators; Sandy Hook Families Demand Action After Texas School Shooting. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 25, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: And the right and then I find that they actually their offices and they never actually talked to each other.

Do you commit to actually reaching out to those Republicans to try and have that conversation?

REP. COLIN ALLRED, (D-TX): Absolutely. I'm, you know, happy to do it, of course, and you know we -- I have some folks that have worked very closely with on the, for example, veterans issues here you know in my area, who I'm you know thinking of right now, who may be candidates to talk to you about, you know, where can we begin to break this ice?

Now, of course, in -- the House has passed legislation, and you know, I'm a member of the House and so what we're talking about, ultimately, is also what can get through the Senate and what can get 60 votes in the Senate.

But maybe if we can get enough support for action in the House, that would pressure 10 Republican senators to join us in doing the right thing.

But you know, what was said earlier and I'm thinking earlier segment about how our inability to act on this is a reflection of how broken our politics is, is absolutely true.

You know if we can't protect kids in elementary schools, then I don't know what we're doing.

BOLDUAN: No, and if as whole numbers show if society says that it wants to see changes when it comes to gun safety, but the elected officials representing society refused to do so, what does that say?

That is a question that really needs to sit on everyone today and going forward. Thank you, Congressman, for coming in.

Coming up for us. We were expecting a press conference from Texas officials in two hours for updates and possibly many updates and more details on what happened in this horrific, horrific massacre at this school.

CNN is just also learning about really troubling messages that the shooter, the killer, the gunman sent hours before this massacre took place. CNN's special coverage continues after this break.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman live in Uvalde, Texas. This is the Robb Elementary School where 19 fourth-graders, young children, and two teachers were murdered by an 18-year-old gunman.

All of the victims we now know were inside one 4-grade classroom where the shooter had barricaded himself, the children no older than 10 years old.

Authorities say the killer also shot his own grandmother at her home this happened before and then crashed his vehicle into a ditch near the school before going into the school to carry out the massacre.

This is now the deadliest school shooting in the United States in nearly a decade. Officials have identified the 18-year-old shooter.

Police say he had one rifle in his possession when he went into the school. He was also wearing a tactical vest, not clear if there was any armor actually in it.

And he was killed we are told by law enforcement. We will be hearing from officials in Texas at a press conference a couple of hours from now.

Joining me now though is CNN Shimon Prokupecz. And, Shimon, we are getting new information just in to CNN about some ominous foreboding messages on Instagram from the shooter.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And this, according to the Instagram post, and people we've talked to, this post was hours before the shooting and it was to a woman who he didn't know of randomly chose someone very bizarre, and tagged her in the photo.

Remember that Instagram post had the photos of the two weapons that he had and he wrote to her and just said I got a little secret. Out of the blue, she says this happened.

CNN was able to speak to her. She said just happened out of the blue. She doesn't know him. This is completely random.

She then says she's exchanging messages with him and she writes to him what your guns got to do with me. And he basically says be grateful I tagged you, I'm about to, he doesn't explain himself, and then he writes, I got a little secret.

So, this is some indications of something going on some perhaps form of planning of something to happen but what we don't know, certainly law enforcement is very interested in this and this is something that they are reviewing, trying to get a sense of what was going on here.

BERMAN: So this is a real clue that does point toward intentionality for something. PROKUPECZ: Correct.

BERMAN: I got a little secret I'm about to, dot, dot, dot. He doesn't say what.


BERMAN: I guess law enforcement at this point, not telling us whether they suspect that maybe just was to shoot at his grandmother, whether it was a bigger plan, but it does indicate perhaps a plan for something.

PROKUPECZ: Right, and keep in mind, this all happens -- coincides with the fact that he just purchased these weapons, law enforcement saying that this was all the weapons were purchased as soon as he turned 18.

Legally, that's when he was allowed to purchase these weapons. And then something is going on here. And he posts these messages.

And just randomly pick someone out of the blue and tags or so. We don't know exactly what's going on here but certainly troubling, concerning, and something that law enforcement is reviewing.

And there are TikTok messages but you know, John, other than this, there really isn't a big social media presence with this -- with this gunman.

And certainly, that's something that law enforcement is they've been going through all this stuff like you know when we saw the shooter in Buffalo and all of that social media and we see other shooters, there's nothing like that with this individual at least as much as law enforcement has told us.

BERMAN: At least not that we know of yet. Again, though this may be the first clue toward a little something. Perhaps we will hear more about this.

Again, we're waiting for a news conference take place a couple of hours from now here. We are expecting more details. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you. We'll let you get back to your reporting.

We seem to be learning more every few minutes. So, coming up. This massacre here is especially hard for parents who have lost their children in other mass shootings.

We're going to speak to the father of a Sandy Hook victim ahead.



BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We're going to be heading back to Texas shortly as we're also getting ready for a new update that will be coming from Texas officials about the massacre that took place at Robb Elementary School. We'll be getting you back there shortly. We're also watching Capitol Hill right now as baby formula makers, and the agency responsible for regulating them, both are facing questions this morning from Congress.

Lawmakers are trying to find out what went wrong to lead the country to this crisis state of a nationwide baby formula shortage.

CNN's Jacqueline Howard is watching -- has been watching this hearing. She joins us now. Jacqueline, what have you heard so far?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Kate, just moments ago, we heard lawmakers and FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf talked about how we got to this point.

And some comments that stood out to me, number one, they discussed how three companies manufacture 95 percent of the U.S. market when it comes to baby formula.


HOWARD: We should have a list of the manufacturers here. Abbott is -- makes up 42 percent of the market, and there's also the two other companies as well.

And as we know with this baby formula shortage, we will hear from some of the manufacturers as part of this hearing.

But as we look at how we got to this point, as we look at the timeline, there was already a shortage connected with the COVID-19 pandemic but then, a voluntary recall from Abbott really exacerbated the shortage in place.

And that's how we got to where we are.

In 2019, there was a Cronobacter detected at an Abbott facility. Since then, there were reports of contaminated formula tied to illnesses and deaths.

And then we see here just this year, there was an FDA inspection, and here's what FDA commissioner Dr. Califf, had to say about that inspection. Have a listen.


DR. ROBERT CALIFF, FDA COMMISSIONER: Frankly, the inspection results were shocking, standing water, cracks in the key equipment that present the potential for bacterial contamination to persist, particularly in the presence of moisture.


HOWARD: So, those were comments made just moments ago. And again, Kate, we plan to stay across this and see what other information comes out of this hearing today. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much, Jacqueline. Appreciate it. Coming up next for us, we are going to return to our breaking news, the horror that has hit another American city and another classroom full of young children.

We're going to speak to one parent who knows exactly what the families of Uvalde, Texas are going through right now.




KIM HAMMOND, LIVES NEAR ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, WITNESSED RESPONSE: When Sandy -- when Sandy Hook happened, you know, I think the whole nation took it hard because these were little kids, you know.

And who is going to kill little kids like this on purpose? And then to have it happen again, Don, it's just -- what the hell are we doing?


BOLDUAN: Unbelievable, unimaginable, shocking. This tragedy is none of those things. It should be, but it isn't anymore. It's entirely believable, conceivable and within the realm of possibility.

No one knows that more than the parents who have gone through this very thing like the parents of the 20 children and six adults who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut 10 years ago.

Mark Barden is one of those parents. His seven-year-old son, Daniel, was murdered that day. He was in first grade. Mark is the co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, and he joins me now.

Mark, when you see this news, when you see the -- when you see it all, how does it affect you now 10 years after losing your Daniel? I mean, he'd be what, 16 years old now?

MARK BARDEN, FATHER OF MURDERED SANDY HOOK STUDENT DANIEL BARDEN: That's right, Kate. Our Daniel would -- this is almost 10 years now for us and it's -- and it's daily, we constantly are absorbing the impact of Daniel's murder.

He was shot to death in his first-grade classroom. And that's not something that happened to us nearly 10 years ago. That's our new life now. And that's -- that will define our existence.

But what else defines my existence is the work that I do with Sandy Hook Promise in preventing other families from having to live this life.

And the first thing that we think about when we hear this news is those families and what they are going through.

And now -- and I'll tell you, last night, my wife Jackie and I were just sitting at home quietly trying to understand the news that we are hearing. And she just turned to me and said this is their Friday. This was

there Friday night. And I knew exactly what she was talking about.

She was referencing the hour Friday night of December 14, 2012, when our house was filled with family and we had to tell our surviving older siblings, Daniel's older siblings, James and Natalie what had happened.

And I don't wish that on any other human being. And our hearts are broken, and our hearts go out to these families today and from now on.

BOLDUAN: You mentioned Daniel's siblings, I was thinking about them today because you can be sure that many of these children at Robb Elementary, they have siblings too.

And we often talk about parents being hit by this tragedy but how are James and Natalie doing today with this?

BARDEN: Thank you for asking, Kate. This is -- this is challenging for them. You know, they're on the same pathway.

They are -- they've been living this last almost 10 years without their little -- their little buddy, their little brother Daniel, and he was violently ripped away from them.

And the siblings of the impacted families at Robb will also now be on this -- on this pathway, on this journey.

And I guess all I can say, all I can offer for me personally, is that if there's ever a time that any of these families would find any comfort from talking to me or my family that I would absolutely extend that offer to them.

BOLDUAN: I was going to ask you about that because one -- there are so many children that we were to learn their names and faces, but four of the children we know their names and we have their faces.

And Angel Garza, he's the father of Amerie jo Garza. He posted on Facebook, only great part because I'm already losing it. But he said -- he just said. Please don't take a second for granted.

Hug your family. Tell them you love them. And he says that I love you Amerie jo. If you could speak to him, what would you say today?

BARDEN: I would say there's no wrong way to go through this process and just to do whatever works for you and to allow the people that want to help you -- to help you and to immerse yourself in the love of your family and let those that want to be around you, be around you and let them -- let them help you and take time for yourself.


BARDEN: For me, we were very fortunate that we had our warm and loving family surrounding us and our wonderful community surrounding us. And we were very fortunate to have all that love and support. And I hope these families can feel some of that too. And once again,

if there's any role that I can play going forward to talk to you, to cry with, I'm here. I'm here for you.

BOLDUAN: How do you find the resolve? Another father of another child killed in another shooting in Parkland, he said that the whole -- when this happens, the whole meaning of life is gone. How do you get from that place to where you are now?

BARDEN: One minute at a time, Kate. And I sort of refocus my energy, I guess.

Or tried to focus my energy on being as loving and supportive a husband to my wife, Jackie, and a father to James and Natalie to try to help them through this to the best of my ability.

You know I'm kind of just focused my energy on that. And I will tell you, it was hit or miss.

And I remember clearly when, in the days after -- in the aftermath, I remember Jackie and I laying on the floor in the kitchen just in a -- in a pile just sobbing and weeping and just not really wanting to go on. I mean, we have to say to each other we just want to die.

And James and Natalie came from somewhere in the house and they piled on to us and wrap their arms around us and cried with us and said it's going to be OK. So our 10-year-old and our 12-year-old were the ones that were kind of helping us.

And so, it's what I say when I -- when you speak to these parents, you just have to -- you have to immerse yourself in the love that's available and help each other through one minute to the next.

And that's what I'm still doing to this day is one minute to the next. And doing the work that I do with Sandy Hook Promise to prevent this pain from visiting other families and it's the best way I can think of to honor my little Daniel.

BOLDUAN: I mean, I'm sorry, I'm embarrassed, I like -- can't pull it together. And you're the one who's lived this and your strength is all inspiring, Mark. Um, can you talk to me about Sandy Hook Promise and how you --


BOLDUAN: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

BARDEN: I'm just -- I was just saying don't feel embarrassed or don't feel ashamed. And as I said, my advice to the families, you know, there's no wrong way to process this. This affects us all.

This affects all of us. We need to remember that the students who were in that school and the staff that were in that school, the surviving siblings and parents and children of these victims, the members of the community, there's concentric circles of the impact that extend far beyond, you know, the victims. And we need to be aware of that as well. And that's a real thing.

And so your reaction is just a human reaction. You're empathizing and feeling this. And I guess that's what I would ask folks is to take that anguish and that outrage that you feel now and hold on to it.

Let it last. Let it -- let it activate you beyond the news cycle. And roll up your sleeves and do something. And if you're already doing something, see if you can do more and have conversations and get other folks engaged.

This doesn't have to happen. This doesn't have to be inevitable. It doesn't have to be the way we live. There are solutions. We can prevent this from happening. We just need everybody on board to do it.

BOLDUAN: Mark Barden, Sandy Hook Promise, you're doing beautiful things in this horrible world. But there are still -- there is still beauty and light to be seen and you are part of it. Thank you so much.

BARDEN: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Let's end today, remembering the faces of the children and the teachers at Reed -- at Robb Elementary School as we close today, who we know so far.

There's so much more to learn. CNN's special coverage continues after this.