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At This Hour

Harrowing Accounts From Surviving Students Of Massacre; Soaring Gas Prices Won't Deter Millions Of Holiday Travelers; Texas Shooting Massacre Raises Questions About School Safety. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 27, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: In Uvalde, Texas, we are now starting to hear from the young survivors of the massacre at Robb Elementary School, they are sharing truly horrible stories of watching friends, watching their teachers die in front of them. Some of these little children are also now asking why didn't the grownups, why didn't police get in there sooner to save them.

CNN Producer Nora Neus joins me now from Uvalde with one of their stories. Nora, you spoke with one of these fourth-graders who lived through this and her story is terrifying and -- but in -- first and foremost, there was a reason that little Miah wanted to speak with you. Can you talk to us about that?

NORA NEUS, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, so normally -- I'm John Berman's producer normally, John Berman would go and do these interviews and he was scheduled to interview Miah, and she is so traumatized by what happened inside that classroom that she doesn't want to see men that she doesn't know. She didn't want to speak to the cameras because she was scared that someone will find her and shoot her and kill her so she wanted a woman reporter and she wanted no cameras and so I interviewed her alone, and I spoke to her alone.

BOLDUAN: And why did she want her story -- why did she want to tell her story? We can understand she's traumatized, but she really did want to get her story out.

NEUS: That's the amazing thing here is she's such a strong little girl. I kept saying, you know, you don't need to do this. We don't need to do this. You do not need to tell your story right now at least you people -- let's wait and do this next week even.

But she really felt strongly about telling her story because she thought it might help prevent another one of these from happening. She said she wanted to try to tell people what it was really like to live through a mass shooting at 11 years old, and just through the most traumatic event of her life and that's her whole.


BOLDUAN: Nora, what did she see? NEUS: So she was in her classroom here at Robb Elementary and they were watching Lilo & Stitch the movie because it was one of the last days of the school year, they'd finish their lessons, they were kind of having fun and her teacher got worried that there was a shooter in the building. And so her teacher went out to the door to lock it, and the shooter was right there and so he shot out the window and the door, and it shattered and all the kids screamed, and then he kind of backed the teacher back into the classroom, according to Miah.

And Miah says from there just happened really fast. He advanced on the teacher toward her desk and looked her in the eye and said good night, and then shot and killed her.

BOLDUAN: And then this continued and continued and continued him going into the adjoining room --

NEUS: Yes, and then that was not even over.

BOLDUAN: That's when she heard the screaming of other children, and then, she tried to play dead?

NEUS: Yes. And this is really hard to hear. And it was certainly hard to hear from an 11-year-old. Her friend had been shot and killed next to her and was bleeding out and she decided to put her hands on the body of her dead friend, and then smear her friend's blood all over her body to try to play dead.

BOLDUAN: Yes. It's hard to -- it's hard to even ask anything else after that, Nora, but she kept telling you her story. What was it about music that was playing during this? I know that she brought that up too as well. What was that about? How did she talk about that?

NEUS: And that was really eerie is one word I guess. She said when the gunman went into the adjoining room and Miah heard the screams and the gunfire -- after the gunfire stopped, she started hearing music. And there was loud music playing she thought that it seemed like the shooter had put it on, that it was sad music blasting. And I said to Miah you know, can you describe it a little bit more like what did it sound like? And Miah just kept saying it was so sad. It was so sad. It sounded like I Want to Kill You music.

And so at that point, Miah is laying there in her classroom covered in her friend's blood with her friends and her two teachers dead in the classroom, listening to sad music playing and she waited -- the way the timeline looks, it looks like she waited for about an hour for police to come. She said it felt like hours and hours just based on what she'd been through.

BOLDUAN: And it did -- I mean, and now she is living with this every day.

NEUS: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Her friend -- her classmates killed, her teachers killed, and her understandably horribly traumatized from this entire experience is going to be a long road ahead. NEUS: It is.

BOLDUAN: But, Nora, thank you for your care in telling her story. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. So, the Uvalde Independent School District, they have now created a memorial fund to help the families of the victims of Robb Elementary. And we want to share with you that information so you can go -- for more information about how you can help and how you can donate to this fund, you can go to We'll be right back



BOLDUAN: We're going to be getting back to Texas shortly where we are waiting for another briefing from law enforcement to begin very soon. We'll bring that to you when it does begin. But there are also developments in Washington that we want to bring to you at this hour. CNN has learned that top White House aides have drafted an order to cancel some federal student loan debt. They're still waiting, though for President Biden to sign off or decide whether to move forward with it.

For months, the discussions have centered around how much debt to cancel and whether the borrower's income should be part of the consideration but now the conversation seems to have turned to whether canceling his debt could feed inflation. The White House has suggested that Biden's considering canceling $10,000 per borrower for those making less than $125,000 per year, much more to come on that.

But also, this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, of course, and millions are expected to be hitting the road for the holiday in the very same time, gas prices remain in record-high territory. CNN's Pete Muntean has been looking at it and he has more.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, the traffic is building and so is the expensive this Memorial Day weekend, the national average for a gallon of regular gas, according to AAA now $4.60. Even when you adjust that for inflation, this is the most expensive we have seen for gas prices since Memorial Day 2012. But it is not just gas.

Hotels are up 42 percent according to AAA, airfare up 6 percent. In fact, we're hearing from some folks who are weighing the decision to drive or fly because flying simply might be cheaper. The fact is, 34.9 million Americans are projected by AAA to hit the road, driving 50 miles or more during the five-day Memorial Day travel period.


MUNTEAN: We will see how much people actually drive. GasBuddy thinks that so many people are driving that they just don't see demand going down and that these gas prices because of that will really stick maybe staying above $4.50 a gallon for months. The gas price has gone up about 50 percent compared to last Memorial Day on average, 30 percent since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kate. BOLDUAN: Pete, thank you so much for that. Coming up for us. School safety, once again, in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, of course, after the massacre in Texas. So what this tragedy now means for schools around the country, and any new effort to stop this from happening again.



BOLDUAN: Among the questions after Tuesday's massacre, what safety measures failed here? Joining me now is Dan Domenech. He's the Executive Director of the School Superintendents Association. It's an organization representing 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and around the world.

Thank you for being here. Your statement after this massacre was we are saddened and shocked to once again find ourselves as a nation bracing with the reality of yet another school massacre. But from your unique and important position as an advocate for school -- public schools and school leaders across the country, what failed here from what we know right now?

DANIEL DOMENECH, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION: Well, what failed here is that we see a school that had already implemented a series of precautions exactly against this kind of thing. Even having a security officer there, getting the doors locked, all of these other precautions were taken by -- but here again, what we see is that an individual armed with an assault rifle with capacity magazines was able to shoot his way into that building, to get into a classroom, locked the door, and in the process, murder 22 individuals, and this is a situation, Kate, that has us angry, it has us upset.

We can go back 23 years to Columbine and we're still seeing this happen and nothing is being done to prevent this from happening. We can't turn schools into prisons. We can't possibly have a kind of protection that will in some way, shape, or form, prevent an individual that's armed the way these individuals are from coming in and shooting our children and our teachers.

BOLDUAN: But, Dan, let me ask you.

DOMENECH: So our teachers are afraid.

BOLDUAN: Of course, they are. But Dan, let me ask you. One thing that we know at least, as of now, from the police there is they now say that there was no school resource officer available is how they describe it, despite earlier saying that there was. That leads to the question, would it have made a difference? Do you think armed school resource officers are effective in protecting students from something like this?

DOMENECH: I don't believe it. Even in this case, had that been the case that a resource officer with a gun would have been able to stand up to an individual with an assault rifle. I mean, as far as I heard, there was a shootout, basically, between police and this individual as he was entering the school and he even shot a couple of police officers in the process.

So the problem here from our perspective, and this is something we've been advocating since the Sandy Hook shooting is that we have to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines at the very least. We have to institute background checks on anyone that goes to buy a gun, that an 18-year-old child could go into a gun store and purchase an assault rifle and all of these magazines and then conduct the kind of slaughter that he conducted. We're seeing this happening over and over and over again.

And arming teachers is not going to help. Teachers didn't become teachers because they want to be carrying guns. That's not going to help. It's getting rid of what is causing the slaughter in the schools and that's assault weapons that don't belong in any hands other than the military or Ukraine.

BOLDUAN: Dan, thank you for coming on. I appreciate your time. It has been a heartbreaking -- it has been a heartbreaking week after the senseless murder of 19 young children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School. We do want to close the show today by remembering them, their names, their faces, their lives, and the bright futures stolen from them.