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The Lead with Jake Tapper

T.X. Gov.: 14 Children And a Teacher Dead In Elementary School Shooting. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 24, 2022 - 17:00   ET



ANTHONY BARKSDALE, FORMER BALTIMORE POLICE OFFICER: So, I believe that law enforcement is going to do what they had to do over and over again in this country. And hopefully, we can figure this out as a nation.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Andrew McCabe, the governor of Texas, says that the shooter is now deceased. Take us through the investigation right now. I assume that they're trying to figure out what connected this mass murderer, this terrorist to the school, what possible motive he may have had? Did he have any connection to the school, et cetera? What are detectives doing right now?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Sure. So, I mean, first, you cannot investigate your way out of this tragedy. It is as horrific as it seems. But there are -- there's a big job on hand for all the investigators to understand what led to this. What was the shooters motivation? What was his connection to the school?

I say his, and I'm assuming it's a male that we're talking about. You know, they'll go back first and look -- and speak to friends, relatives, family members, people who knew him in whatever school he's attended. They'll go back and look very closely at any sort of social media presence that the shooter maintained, whether he posted any statements about his intense, about his purpose and his motivation.

And even if not about those things, specifically, they'll try to come up with some sort of a character sketch, if you will, as to what was in this person's mind and the days and weeks leading up to this. So look at his browsing history, they'll look at all of his contacts, on e-mail, on text, on social media, on his telephone, if in fact he had one, he probably does. So it's, it is a massive effort to try to paint as rich a picture as you possibly can of this likely deeply disturbed person who committed a horrific act.

It's important for us as a society to understand more and more about what leads people to these horrible acts, because we have them so frequently or forced into a position of trying to understand better where these things might happen, because we know they're going to happen again.

TAPPER: If you're just tuning in here at the top of the hour, it's a rough story to report. But there has been another mass shooting in the United States, this one in Uvalde, Texas, which is west of San Antonio in the southern part of Texas, an elementary school was targeted. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has said that 14 elementary school children have been killed in addition to a teacher. So that's at least 15 dead as of now.

It's also possible since the gunman was using a firearm, that there are others who are wounded, who are fighting for their lives right now. We're told the shooter is 18 years old.

I want to go back -- and we're also told the shooter has -- is deceased. Let me go back to Ed Lavandera right now who's reporting on all of this for us from Texas. Tell us more, Ed, about what you're learning.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as we've mentioned, the gunman is believed to be an 18-year-old man from Uvalde. And the governor also adding some details kind of the moments that led up to the shooting. And according to the governor that the suspect, the 18-year-old suspect abandoned his vehicle just outside of Robb Elementary, then went in with a handgun and may have also had a rifle and began shooting.

So, it sounds like there might have been multiple weapons used in this attack on the children there in that school. That is obviously something that investigators will be looking for and examining closely. But these initial details suggest that the shooter here this afternoon drove up to the school and then entered with a handgun and possibly a rifle, Jake.

TAPPER: A handgun and a rifle. Ed Lavandera, thank you so much. Continue to keep us abreast as you learn more.

Let's continue discussing this horrible, horrible incident with our panel, Andrew McCabe and Anthony Barksdale are with us, former FBI Deputy Director, former Police Commissioner of Baltimore. I'm also joined by former Department of Homeland Security Official Juliette Kayyem.

And Juliette, right now, we've been discussing what cruel and insane motive might have led this 18-year-old to commit this act of violence. This is not though -- this is the worst school shooting that this country has seen, I believe since Sandy Hook in 2012. But since then there have been other shootings just as deadly. What goes through your mind as a national security official when you hear about these shootings?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, FMR. ASST. SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: So, I mean, elementary schools -- I know about parkland, we tend to think of them as differently as sort of more open for obvious reasons, are harder to secure, there tends not to be school security on. So this was just essentially the ultimate soft target, which is -- which was these children.


And the numbers that were -- you think you're over it and then you're not. The numbers that we're hearing now is changing a lot of people's lives today. And we'll wait for more details on the culprit.

Obviously, families are getting unify or unified. I'm noting that the school district is still trying to get kids with their parents, they've stopped transportation services as they should, they just simply don't know what's going on.

From an investigation standpoint, I'm going to do what the facts tell me now. So I've got demographics, first of all, an 80 percent Hispanic school district. So the most important thing for the federal government to do right now is to say there will be no immigration enforcement during this period in that area. It is -- it has a large immigration population.

You want parents with their kids, you don't want people hiding right now. And we need to make that clear ASAP because of the political issues in Texas.

Secondly, it's not too far after Buffalo, a young killer. And so, you're going to want to just know what the -- you want to know whether you're in a copycat scenario and what that may be telling you whether he's -- the killer is dead so we'll be able to investigate his signatures, whether he knew someone at elementary school or whether this was something motivated bigger. And I said this is where the -- you know, this is just where the investigation is going to go at this stage.

And then third is obviously weapons and guns and how quickly he was able to kill children who were just ultimately so vulnerable. There's just no -- this is the thing is like, you're going to -- you know, there's just no defense at this stage. No capability of anyone defending themselves at the stage when you can kill this quickly. And -- so then even if you say, well, we need to arm or have more armed people at school district, you know, these are happening so fast, and even the most sophisticated response system is not going to save children's.

So, one thing to look at is what was the speed by which he was able to kill. How did he get access to this gun? Why, the debate again, it's not too soon? Why weapons that killed this quickly, why are they out there? And that's sort of where it is right now.

So I'm looking at demographics. I'm looking at copycat and I'm looking at weapons right now. And you know, and that's what investigators who are trying to take the emotion out of what today means for families, but for our country and for every parent, they're trying to take that out of the calculation right now.

TAPPER: And let me correct something I said earlier, I misspoke. I said that this is the deadliest school shooting since 2012, since Sandy Hook, that is incorrect. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, 17 were killed three teachers and 14 students, my apologies. The numbers are all run in your head because there's so many mass shootings in the United States. It's sometimes difficult to keep them all straight off the cuff.

Andrew McCabe, we should note, there is no other country in the world that has mass shootings like this, at this rate, at this number, and continually schools are targeted. And I cannot help but think, as I've said before, the adults of this country are failing the children of this country, failing to keep them safe.

MCCABE: Well, that's undeniable, Jake. I mean, you know, as far as comparing the rates of firearm violence in this country, like there's no other country even close to us, we are ahead of places like Yemen, you know, places that are -- countries that are wracked by civil war. So, that it's inexplicable on any other terms.

And if history is any guide, the slaughter of 14 innocent children and their school two days before the end of the school year for them, and if all day, we will do nothing about it. We continue to fail the people of this country by not addressing this in a legitimate way to do something about how come 18-year olds or young people or middle aged people or however old they are, keeps showing up in places like schools or grocery stores or synagogues or churches or fill in the blank and slaughtering, you know, large groups of innocent people. It's just doesn't happen anyplace else on Earth, and yet we seem to do nothing about it.

TAPPER: And there have been modest provisions put forward, New York for example, Commissioner Barksdale, has a red flag law that would allow teachers or family members or roommates to petition a judge if somebody is exhibiting dangerous behavior and should not be able to purchase a firearm. And in fact with the Buffalo shooter, police were called to interview the shooter, the murderer, who -- because he had he had written something in a school essay about murder suicide. And he was able to talk his way out of it and nobody at the school and nobody in his family and nobody else in his peer group reached out to a judge. And he was able to purchase an AR-15 style semi-automatic weapon and kill 10 innocent people in Buffalo.


So, there are minor attempts to fix this problem. But even those are not utilized when they could be, Commissioner Barksdale.

BARKSDALE: Absolutely. And it's -- it has to be addressed. We absolutely saw the Buffalo shooter circumvent red flag laws, we didn't have those who knew him or come -- or had conversations with them come forward. So, there's work to be done.

I do not feel like law enforcement is at this -- in some cases doing enough. When an individual self identifies, they can't fall through the cracks. If they need to set up various systems where -- if someone does need mental health or has mental health issues, that that becomes part of a background check or there's some communication that stops that individual from purchasing a weapon.

So you know, and it's a thing that it -- unlike some may think, it can be done. We just have to really get to work and sort this out because this pace is here and it's not going away.

TAPPER: Juliette Kayyem, former Department of Homeland Security Official, there's some sound from Texas Governor Abbott bringing the public the horrific news.

And if you're just tuning in here at the quarter the hour, there has been yet another mass shooting in the United States. This one targeting an elementary school, the deadliest school shooting since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was targeted in 2018. There were 17 killed in that incident. This is, as of now, we know of 15 dead, one teacher and 14 elementary school children. I want to play the sound from Governor Abbott.



GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): It's believed that he abandoned his vehicle and entered into the Robb Elementary School in New Valley with a handgun and he may have also had a rifle. But that has not yet confirmed according to my most recent report. He shot and killed horrifically and comprehensively 14 students, and killed a teacher.

It is believed that responding officers killed him. It appears that two responding officers were struck by rounds, but have no serious injuries.


TAPPER: So, again, as is always the case when it comes to shooting incidents like this, not all of the information that we get off the bat is correct information, has a way of evolving especially in such a dangerous, high profile and intense situation. But what we're hearing right now, Juliette Kayyem, is that it may be that the police shot and killed the shooter. Although again, we do not know.

KAYYEM: We do not know. Right. So original reports had in custody and then now that it's shot. So there was, at least according to the governor, there was some sort of firefight. So you were able to get at least two police officers there in time whether they -- were he was in the killings, we don't know at this stage. And so what they're, you know, it was this one classroom in particular with one teacher, and what would that mean in terms of the investigation? What was a particular classroom chosen or why this school specifically?

Were their ties to the school? Was this school targeted for other reasons? This is where the investigation is going to go. So if earlier -- so we -- so, where does the investigation go in terms of him, in terms of the killer?

Well, they know who he is. They know where he lives. They know they're going to be able to get onto all of his social media, electronics, phone calls, who he was speaking to, who he may have been hinting to.

And then of course, there's his family and or friends if there's any friends. What did his family suspect? Is there a mental illness in the past? All of this will, you know, say to you, Jake, like this will start to look familiar, right?

[17:15:08] I mean this is like the crazy thing is like the crazy thing. It's like I could, you know, just -- I'll tell you -- I mean, I've said this 100 times before to you like, I mean, this is how the investigation is going to unfold. And there'll be something unique about him, and maybe some explanation, and probably my guess is someone may have known. But in the end, we are, as everyone has been saying, the only country that deals with this on a pretty regular basis, we are almost 10 years from Sandy Hook.

And while high schools, I'm not minimizing high schools or something, you know, something, you know, sort of beyond explanation, right. I mean, not that any of them are explainable, but just these kids, they're not drilling, they can't be protected, they can't run. These are young children. And here we are almost a decade later from the last massive school shooting at an elementary school as compared to the high schools that we're getting used to.

So this investigation is really going to go to motive at this stage. And then, of course, what's happening to the families.

I want to say one more time, though, and it's important. Again, I don't know motives, we don't know motives, I'm just telling you demographics. It is a predominantly Hispanic population with a large immigration -- immigrant community out near -- relatively near San Antonio. We need the federal government to say right now, everyone is essentially safe harbor right now in terms of immigration status. We need people to come forward not to be fearful of immigration status, get their kids, get their family members, because what happens in incidents like this is when we're going to have a strong police presence, a strong federal presence. We know this.

A lot of people do not react, especially if their status is unknown, do not react to police presence as you are -- or you are, I may. And we want to make sure that they know, despite all the politics that are going on in Texas right now, it's the federal government that's in charge of immigration enforcement and people are safe. Get your kids, get your families together, do not hide. And I -- the White House just needs to say that right now. This should not be delayed.

TAPPER: We have a police press conference that we're going to listen into about this horrific elementary school shooting. Let's take a listen.

KAYYEM: Thanks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- school in Uvalde, Texas. School that has children that are in second, third and fourth grade. I can confirm right now that we have several injuries, adults and students and we do have some deaths.

The suspect is deceased at this point. DPS is assisting with the investigation. And at this point, the investigation is leading to tell us that the suspect did act alone during this heinous crime.

Families are being notified, and we are providing services to them as the district should.

As far as the rest of the district is concerned, safety measures were taken to make sure that we had a safe release for the rest of the district for -- throughout our city Uvalde. And we had numerous law enforcement officers and agencies that assisted with the safety release for those students.

We do want to keep all their families in our prayers, I hope you do as well. And we also want to respect the privacy of the family. (INAUDIBLE) is still being worked on. And again, we'll notify the parents and the families as soon as we have some news for them.

Thank you so much.


TAPPER: All right. So that was the law enforcement giving updates. And it does appear as though from what we just heard that there are families that have not yet, at least possibly, not yet been notified that their children -- child has been killed in this horrific act of violence.

Andrew McCabe, this is a moment that we're going to hear a lot of politicians talk about. Thoughts and prayers, it's become sadly something of a cliche at this point because there are a lot of people in this country who think that there should be much more done to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who would use them like this. And that will be something that will be discussed in the days and weeks ahead.

Right now, there are 14 families of children and the family of a teacher mourning and a community that has been shocked and traumatized.

MCCABE: No doubt, Jake. This is -- you know, there are -- everyone connected with this will be affected by it, no one more so than families themselves. Obviously, it's unspeakable. And I can't even imagine what those folks have gone through or for those who maybe haven't even been notified yet.

I mean, of course you know people are at work while their children are at school. There are people at work assuming that their children are safe in school. And some of those folks might find out that that was not the case.


I think, you know, we are way, way past the time for thoughts and prayers. It's a nice sentiment, but that's not what anyone needs. We need to know that when we send our children to school that they're not going to get shot. And actually, at this point, no one really anywhere in this country can be sure of that.

I think there is, you know, study after study shows overwhelming support in this country by people on all sides of the political divide for better common sense, more effective laws around gun control in the possession and purchase of firearms. But we are unable to get laws like that passed in this country because of the incredible effectiveness of the special interest groups and their influence on members of Congress and our representatives on the Hill.

So, that's where democracy essentially has failed. If the population wants one thing and can't get it done because a small group of industry and special interest groups don't want that to happen, they've succeeded in their effort to thwart the will of the public in this respect, which is catastrophic, clearly.

TAPPER: Let's go to Phil Mattingly at the White House.

And Phil, President Biden, on his way back from Asia, this is the kind of news that no president wants to hear. It was news that greatly affected President Obama in 2012, the Sandy Hook shooting, it was news that I'm sure greatly affected President Trump during the Parkland shooting. What can you tell us about President Biden in this shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it's news that President Biden has said multiple times he's had to address to deal with and attempt to reconcile too many times over the course of his time as president.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, just tweeted that the President who is, as you noted, aboard Air Force One on his way back from Japan has been briefed on the horrific news of the elementary school shooting in Texas and will continue to be briefed regularly as information becomes available. His prayers are with the families impacted by this awful event. And he does plan to speak to reporters when he returns to the White House. We expect that in about three hours, Jake.

And it's notable, you mentioned the President has spoken about this issue many times in his time in office, there's been so much gun violence that he's seen his legislative efforts have fallen short for the United States Senate. But he also noted President Obama during the shooting back in Sandy Hook, keep in mind President -- then Vice President Biden was his point person on attempting to enact gun restrictions, a effort that failed -- a failure in an event that President Biden has referred to as one of the saddest days that they had in their eight years in office. It's very much having echoes of that moment in terms of children being killed in an elementary school. Again, the President has been briefed. And Jake, when he returns to the White House, he's expected to speak to reporters about what has occurred and what he's learned in the hours leading up to that return, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks for the update.

Governor Abbott, the governor of Texas, just released a statement. Let me bring that to you. It says quote, "Texans across the state are grieving for the victims of this senseless crime and for the community of Uvalde, Sicily. And I mourn this horrific loss and we urge all Texans to come together to show our unwavering support to all who are suffering. We thank the courageous first responders who worked to finally secure Robb Elementary School. I have instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to work with local law enforcement to fully investigate this crime. The Texas Division of Emergency Management is charged with providing local officials all resources necessary to respond to this tragedy, as the state of Texas works to ensure the community has what it needs to heal," unquote.

We have more breaking news coverage of this horrific school shooting. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We are following the breaking news out of Texas and it is heartbreaking news. Fourteen students and one teacher are dead, killed after a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas just west of San Antonio. That is according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

According to Governor Abbott, the gunman is also dead. Abbott saying that the 18-year-old abandoned his vehicle and entered Robb Elementary School with a handgun. He may also have had a rifle of some sort.

I want to bring in Charles Ramsey, CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, former Philadelphia police commissioner and former chief of police here in Washington, D.C.

Chief Ramsey, thanks for joining us. First of all, I know you're a dad, what's your reaction, not as a law enforcement official, but as a dad when you hear stories like this?

CHARLES RAMSEY, FMR. PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER, FOMRER D.C. POLICE CHIEF: Well, I'm a grandfather now. So I mean, you know, you hear things like this, I got a granddaughter who is about to begin kindergarten. So I mean, obviously this is something that we should not even be talking about. I mean, this is absolutely crazy.

And what's even crazier is the fact that nothing is going to be done about it. Absolutely nothing.

You know, I listened to the governor of Texas as the same governor that was very proud to sign legislation that he says is protecting the unborn. Well, what about the kids that are already here, Governor? What are you going to do to protect them?

What about the 14th we lost today? What about the 20 we lost the Sandy Hook? I mean, when is this going to end instead of all this chest pounding about, you know, they're passing this legislation, you know, to protect the unborn and we do nothing to protect the ones that are already here.

At some point in time, we have to all just say, that's enough. It's enough, it's got to end. And it's not going to end because our dysfunctional Congress can't get anything done. People have to rise up and say, that's enough, throw these people out of office that refuse to do anything, and really take control and save our kids. Because this is what's happening every single day on the streets of our cities, not mass shootings, one, two, three, four times. People are dropping as a result of gun violence. And so, you know, if I sound frustrated it's only because I am.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, and that's a cogent point. Because it is true that while we cover mass shootings, just because of the scale of the horror, we lose, you know, hundreds of individuals every week to gun violence, mostly to suicide, but not exclusively to suicide, about a third of the gun violence of every every week is homicide, or accidental shootings.

What, as a law enforcement official, do you think should be done about this? What can be done to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who would use them for harming individuals and not for hunting or self-defense?

RAMSEY: Well, there's a couple of things. First of all, I'm not anti- Second Amendment, but I do believe there has to be some controls and some restrictions to at least minimize the opportunity for people who should not have guns to get a hold of guns. But then if people do use guns to commit crimes, we have to do something with them. It's not just the gun, it's the people who use guns to commit crime.

And we've got a situation in our country now where we've got some prosecutors that don't even want to prosecute for illegal possession of a firearm, or for putting people on an ankle bracelet that are, you know, in jail, charged with murder or aggravated assault or something like that. I mean, we've got to look at the entire system and get serious about this because it's not going to stop on its own. It's not going to stop as a result of thoughts and prayers and candlelight vigils.

If we don't take control of this, and if we don't do something as a country, then we're going to be having this conversation over and over again. It's just a question of when and where. That's all. Just when and where.

TAPPER: If you're just tuning in, at the half hour here, 5:32, there has been another mass shooting in the United States, this one at an elementary school in Texas, in a town called Uvalde, just west of San Antonio. The governor of Texas announcing roughly an hour or so ago that the shooter, 18, is dead. And the shooter before he was killed, and it appears that he was killed by law enforcement, killed 14 elementary school children and a teacher. Law enforcement right now trying to figure out what possible connection he had to the Robb Elementary School.

Ed Lavandera is following this breaking and heartbreaking story for us live in Texas. Ed, tell us more.

LAVANDERA: Well, Jake, you know, this is supposed to be the last week of school for public school students across much of the state of Texas. So this coming in the last days of a school year, as if this wasn't already horrific enough, you know, adds another layer of desperate sadness to what we are seeing unfold there in the city of Uvalde, Texas, a small town, as you mentioned, just west of San Antonio.

We were told early on that there was cavalry of law enforcement vehicles that had shown up there at the scene, including Border Patrol and state troopers as well. The governor just a short while ago, mentioning that 14 of the victims of, the 15 victims were children. Also just a short while ago, local officials they're holding a brief update on the situation. They did not confirm the numbers that Governor Abbott has been saying only to say that there were a number of students and adults that were injured and some deaths. They did not give specific numbers there locally.

But they also did say that this Robb Elementary School with second, third and fourth graders inside the school. So that gives you some idea of the age range that we're looking at when we start learning about the victims that were killed senselessly today in Uvalde. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

Charles Ramsey is still with me. I want to bring back Andrew McCabe, the former FBI Deputy Director and Anthony Barksdale, former Ranking Baltimore Police Commissioner, as well as Juliette Kayyem, CNN National Security Analyst and a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.


Andrew, I've heard it said that after Sandy Hook, when the country decided that the slaughter of 25 and six year olds wasn't enough to prompt any serious federal action, although we should note Connecticut did pass some gun restrictions. But the larger point that after Sandy Hook when the Congress failed to do anything to pass any new legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals, that was it. That was the signal, 20 slaughtered five- year olds and six-year olds was the United States saying, that's OK, we can deal with that.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure, and I mean, that's a reasonable thing to say, right? Because clearly, it wasn't. The slaughter of 20 elementary school children in Connecticut in 2012 wasn't enough to get anything done. Nor was it enough when it happened in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, nor was it enough when it happened a few months ago in Michigan.

And, you know, the question is, will it be enough after today's slaughter in Texas? There's really very little reason to hope that it will be. There are many, many things that we could do, any number of which may or may not have had any effect on this particular tragedy. But I would propose, Jake, that much in the same way that this country came together and rallied around our responsibilities in the wake of the terrorist attacks in 911, you know, after those attacks, we didn't just do one thing that we thought might have stopped the 911 attack, we did everything that we could think of to make this country safer. And I would propose it that's the way this our country should think about this tragic wave of gun violence and innocent death. We should be doing everything that could possibly have an impact on stopping the next mass shooter. There are many ways that we could change our gun control laws. We could change the way we do background checks in this country, we can make them more effective.

We could have better controls over the sale of guns, private sales, gun shows, you know, all sorts of things that most people agree to. But for, you know, it is next to impossible, maybe it is impossible, to get our elected representatives to actually act on any of that sentiment and desire across the population.

TAPPER: So some of the news information, some of the new information trickling in right now, the police chief of the school district says that the belief is right now that this shooter is 18-year-old who is now deceased. The belief is that he acted alone.

Commissioner Barksdale, let me ask you, Governor Abbott, the governor of Texas now says that it's being reported that the suspect shot his grandmother, before he went to Robb Elementary and committed this horrific slaughter. What do you make of this as a law enforcement official?

BARKSDALE: On numerous times before people set off on a spree, often there's a first victim. And unfortunately, it sounds like this with his grandmother and that's, you know, it's just tragic all the way around. But something that can be done at this point in time is to start really focusing on where there any signs that he was going to do this. And that's going to be part of the investigation.

Was he one who had mental health issues or certain communications on the internet? So there's a lot of work to be done here. But it's going to have to be done methodically, and this is going to take a little time. But I don't know if I'm so quick to just shut down, hey, the person's alone. I don't know if we're -- I still feel it's a little immature at this point to make just clear statements about if an individual was alone or not. So --

TAPPER: Yes, no, sure.

BARKSDALE: -- a lot of work to be done.

TAPPER: Yes, no, I mean, obviously, all of the information coming in right now is early information that was a -- the police superintendent, I believe, for the school district saying that that's the belief. But who knows if that is the fact as of now, we certainly do not know.

Juliette, the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, who we should note is on the ballot today. It is election day in Texas.


TAPPER: Attorney General Paxton said moments ago, quote, people that are shooting people, that are killing kids, they're not following murder laws. They're not going to follow gun laws. I'd much rather have law abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it's not going to be the last time, unquote.

The victims, of course, 14 elementary schools children and a teacher. What is your response to Attorney General Paxton?


So I want to take his statement seriously because this is obviously the sort of winning political stance in term -- winning in the sense that we don't get changes to gun laws. And so I want to take his claim seriously. And the first is, obviously, we aren't arming elementary school kids, obviously, we don't arm them, and they were defenseless.

I can't describe enough how defenseless they were. Once he decided it was this school, there's almost nothing you can do with that. So I don't even care what kind of gun he has. There's likely no security presence there. We tend not to attend -- school districts are just prioritizing, and they tend to focus on safety and security on high schools. Maybe there's a locked door, maybe there's a locking system, but we don't know.

And so, you know, basically, it's done. Once he decides to do it, it's done. The second is the issue of arming teachers, which is clearly going to be part of this political debate in the future. So arming teachers is only going to work if there's, you know, the teacher, him or herself is able to stop the perpetrator. And that's making a huge assumption.

So instead of trying to play defense all the time, arming everyone at school, which is clearly going to lead to more deaths, rather than fewer because of accidents or things getting elevated, that's what most of the data shows, you want to play a little offense against these kinds of attacks. And that involves things that Paxton is bringing up. He's, you know, that he wants us not to talk about guns, because he wants to talk about whatever's animating this person, but that's so defensive.

I mean, think about it as a parent, like, you're just, you know, it's like -- you're just going to play defense all the time, and like cross your fingers that the teachers armed? I mean, it's just -- we don't want to do that in any other situation. So just -- I want -- because I want to take that at face value. I'm already getting a lot of hostility about, you know, on Twitter and social media, people are obviously (INAUDIBLE).

I'm just going to just address it as he intended -- as the attorney general intended it to be addressed. I just want to focus on one other thing. And we are talking about the past and who this perpetrator was, we're talking about the future and gun controls. It seems clear to me at this stage, there's a lot of family members who don't know what happened. I think that the police chief coming out after the governor is unique. You normally want this to be led by police so that it's not politicize.

And I noticed that the police chief was clear to say, you know, this is ongoing. I mean, there's like families who don't know --


KAYYEM: -- what's going on right now. And if they're immigrants or if they're immigration status, I just want to say, you know, once again, the White House should make it abundantly clear that will be no immigration enforcement related to the shooting for the foreseeable future. You need to get your kids, you need to come out --

TAPPER: Right.

KAYYEM: -- and we need to settle this for them

TAPPER: Related to immigration status, of course, absolutely. And we are told that President Biden is going to address the nation this evening from the White House at 8:15 p.m. Eastern. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut was just on the Senate floor. He was talking about this horrific event. He was emotional.

Of course, the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook that happened in 2012 happened in his home state of Connecticut. Let's play to some of what he said.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): If 14 kids dead in an elementary school in Texas right now, what are we doing? What are we doing? Just days after a shooter walked into a grocery store to gun down African-American patrons, we have another Sandy Hook on our hands.

What are we doing? There were more mass shootings than days in the year. Our kids are living in fear every single time they set foot in a classroom because they think they're going to be next. What are we doing? Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate? Why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job or putting yourself in a position of authority?

If your answer is that as the slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing. 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. What are we doing?


TAPPER: It's a very valid and cogent question. What are we doing to make this country as safe as it can be to make our children as safe as they can be? Commissioner Ramsey, what's your reaction to Senator Murphy?

RAMSEY: Well, the answer may, what are we going to do? The answer is nothing. Because that's what's historically we've done is absolutely nothing. And as Andy McCabe said, there's no reason to believe this is going to change anything. Sandy Hook didn't move the needle, this is not going to move the needle.

I mean, you've got people sitting in Congress right now, and not just in Washington, but in state houses around the country. They care more about money and care about their individual power than they care about my granddaughter, your kids and any kid, any parent who happens to be watching this program right now, that's what they care about. And that's not going to change.

We can make sensible changes in some of these laws, it's not going to stop everything. But to sit there and think that there's nothing we can do, or some politician as you just mentioned, in Texas for an example, saying, oh, we need to arm more people. I don't know if there's a state in this country has more guns than Texas. They didn't do much to stop today, did they?

You don't, you know, it's like seeing a fire saying, OK, the fire is raging, let's throw more fuel on it, because it's not burning hot enough. I mean, we've got to stop the nonsense and really come up with something sensible. We can protect the Second Amendment, but at the same time, do things to keep somebody's assault weapons, and various -- and people that should not have guns in their hands. We can do things to make it very, very difficult, do something about ghost guns.

I mean, there's a host of things that we could be doing. But we're not doing anything. It's like it's all or nothing. And we've got to get away from that and have real discussion followed by action. And because our elected officials gamble on one thing, and they're absolutely right. The American people have short memories.

We're all focused on this right now. A week from now, we'll be thinking and talking about something else. And they bank on that, that by the time November comes and you go to the polls, you forget all about this.

TAPPER: Yes. We've heard a lot of --

RAMSEY: We need to know that this was going on.

TAPPER: We've heard a lot of people talking about further restrictions on gun laws on the show today, law enforcement officials. I do also want to note, Ryan Petty is an individual whose daughter Alaina was one of 17 killed in Parkland in 2018. And he's Ryan's conservative and he came up with a thing that you can visit, it's at the or where it talks -- he talks about improving the school culture, so that there is more awareness of when kids are troubled then might turn to violence that obviously would not have had an effect on this shooting today, given the fact that the shooter was 18 and he was shooting it up an elementary school. But I do want to note that there are people out there who are trying to answer Senator Murphy's question, what are we doing? People who might not agree with further restriction on gun ownership but do want to do something and that's Ryan Petty and the memory of his daughter, Alaina.

Our breaking news coverage of the deadly school shooting in Texas is going to continue in just a moment. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We continue following this breaking and heartbreaking news out of Uvalde, Texas just to the west of San Antonio. 15 people including 14 elementary school children and a teacher were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. President Biden is expected to address the nation tonight at 8:15 p.m. Eastern.

Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly joins me now from the White House. Phil, this is the second mass shooting in fewer than two weeks of this scale. What do we expect to hear from President Biden tonight?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, I think that's what's most glaringly apparent. The President has been in a two country trip to Asia, a very important foreign policy visit for the President and that trip was bookended by two shootings, the shooting that left 10 dead in Buffalo, the shooting that we know has killed at least 14 children and a teacher today in Texas.

He left after having stopped in Buffalo to give a very powerful and emotional speech about the shooting that killed 10 there. He will be returning and almost immediately upon arriving in the White House delivering remarks from the Roosevelt Room to the nation about the shooting that transpired down in Uvalde. Texas today.

What will be most interesting will be how the President addresses things. I think it's -- what I picked up, Jake, in terms of the decision to hold remarks to make them at the Roosevelt Room not just talk to cameras when he lands on Marine One, from Marine One, is that this seems to be different than how this usually plays out. One Democratic Congressional aide I was talking to earlier said it's formulaic at this point. There's a paper statement the flags go to half-mast. There are a few days of conversations about things that can be done legislatively and then everybody seems to move on.


The President at least in the near term appears to be trying to shift that a little bit by immediately having an availability delivering remarks and a high profile primetime stage trying to draw attention to acknowledge what has transpired down in Texas. Now, Jake, the President has made no secret that he has pushed for gun restrictions over the entirety of his time in office, all of which have fallen short in the U.S. Senate. They have taken some executive action, Jake, but there will likely be another push for that tonight, whether that goes anywhere is an open question. And obviously the President is still being briefed on developments aboard Air Force One.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thank you so much.

Let's bring back CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, at the Justice Department for us, what more are you learning?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, one of the first officers that was able to respond to this cry -- this call for help from the school they're in Uvalde was a Customs and Border Protection agent. Obviously, the location of Uvalde near the Mexican border means that CBP is what certainly the largest federal law enforcement in the area. And this officer got there in time, engaged with the shooter.

And according to CBP, was injured, was shot in the head. It appears that this officer is going to be OK. This agent is going to be OK. Perhaps he was wearing some kind of protection on the head. We don't know a lot of details. But we know from the governor, from Governor Abbott that at least two officers were injured in the response here and this again, reporting from CBP, our Priscilla Alvarez got this reporting. This officer was one of the first who was able to respond to the scene.

The shooter was clearly still there, still a threat and manage to fire a shot that injured the CBP officer. Again, we don't know exact details of how the shooter was killed. But we know that officers were there and were responding to the shooting as it was happening, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. A law enforcement officer in harm's way today.

I want to bring in Congressman Mike Quigley, he's a Democrat from Illinois, specifically from Chicago, which of course, is a place where there is a lot of gun violence, mass shooting like this except split up into ones and twos all the time. Congressman Quigley, what's your reaction to the horrific news out of Texas?

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL), CO-CHAIR OF THE UKRAINE CAUCUS: I think you hit it on the head, you know, I think of my hometown of Chicago. But this is the 144 day of the year, Chicago has experienced 207 gun violence deaths already. A country 212 mass shootings.

So listen to your conversation over the last hour or so about what will get done. And the thing that struck me most in time and watching this were a few events in the aftermath of Sandy Hook watching the president of the United States, President Obama and his wife crying about this and nothing happened. But to get sort of the temperature of some of the fabric of our country, you recall the 2016 mass shooting in Orlando in the nightclub, 49 people were killed.

I went to a gun show, the following weekend in Crown Point, Indiana, just to understand the attitudes a little better, and to see if some of that was tapped down given that massacre. As I walked in, they were offering me a raffle ticket for an assault weapon, right? You can't even mourn this. You can't even imagine the pain that had gone on.

And what you were doing in almost a mocking way was raffling off an assault weapon. So, you know, and I think of the landmark case that struck down Chicago's gun control laws. Supreme Court said there was a Second Amendment right. But they also said like all rights, it was not unlimited. It specifically said that not everyone should be able to get a gun, they shouldn't be able to have it anywhere they want. And they shouldn't be able to get any kind of gun they want.

Recognizing that with certain weapons designed for a theater of war, you're really not protecting your home.


QUIGLEY: You're not hunting deer, you're hunting people. So, yes, in a couple of weeks, we'll go back and the House floor will have a moment of silence. And we'll talk about thoughts and prayers. And the Democrat controlled House, has passed gun control legislation that it will get nowhere in the Senate and nowhere with my colleagues across the aisle.

And you and I will be talking about this again sometime in the next week, two weeks, months or years to come. And another sad passage of violence in our country.

TAPPER: A depressing but realistic prediction of the future from Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois. Thank you so much for your time and thanks for your patience --

QUIGLEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: -- as well, sir, as we've been working through this breaking news coverage. Our breaking news coverage is going to continue now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I will see you in a few minutes to talk about the elections this evening. Thanks for watching.