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Don Lemon Tonight
President Biden Pushes New COVID Strategy As Omicron Reported In More States; Facebook Sold Ads Comparing COVID Vaccines To The Holocaust; Baldwin On Movie Set Shooting: "I Didn't Pull The Trigger"; Investigators Question What School Knew About Shooting Suspect; Suspect Arrested In Shooting Death Of Jacqueline Avant. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired December 02, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): President Biden pushing his new plan to prevent a spike in COVID cases this winter. But will it be enough? As a new Omicron variant that we still know little about spreads in the United States.
Plus, Alec Baldwin speaking out on the deadly movie set shooting tonight. He is insisting that he didn't pull the trigger, and he is not to blame for cinematographer Halyna Hutchins's death.
And there are new details in the investigation of the Michigan high school shooting. The sheriff revealing two teachers reported concerning behavior from the suspected shooter hours before the attack that left four students dead and injured seven others.
We're going to get right to the coronavirus pandemic, first of all. Here's what President Biden says about the challenges ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's a plan that I think shouldn't unite us. I know COVID-19 has been very divisive in this country. It has become a political issue, which is a sad, sad commentary. It shouldn't be, but it has been.
Now, as we move into the winter and face the challenges of this new variant, this is a moment where we can put the divisiveness behind us, I hope. This is a moment we can do what we haven't been able to do enough of through this whole pandemic: Get the nation to come together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): I want to bring in now Andy Slavitt. Andy Slavitt is a former Biden White House senior adviser for COVID response. He is also the author of "Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response." Andy, good to see you in person. ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER BIDEN WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: Good to be here, Don.
LEMON: Thank you so much for joining us. President Biden is laying out his plan to fight the winter wave of COVID. He's focusing on vaccines and testing. I couldn't believe this. We've been in this pandemic for 21 months.
LEMON: And I was asking in the break, how long were we in our homes? It was kind of the lost month (ph). Is that going to make a difference, you think?
SLAVITT: Well, the difference today, Don, versus last year and much of those 21 months, is we have a large array of tools.
And what the president announced today, that we are going to have at- home tests available for free for Americans, 50 million at community health centers, and then insurance companies are going to be required to pay for those at-home tests, we are going to have boosters, we are going to have a big effort at community centers and family centers to vaccine kids, and between all of those things (INAUDIBLE) therapies on the market, it's a very different version of facing this pandemic than it was a year ago.
LEMON: So, you think that will be helpful? You think at home-testing is going to make a difference?
SLAVITT: Just think about. With an at-home test, what can you do? If you're positive, you can instantly get treated and you cannot go out and infect other people. And you can have people over. You can see your grandmother, you can see your friends, you can go to school and go to work. So, these are big differences.
Last year, we were talking about do you lockdown or do you stay open? Now, we have such a large array of tools that we don't have to have that debate at all.
LEMON: Right, including vaccines and boosters and on and on and on.
SLAVITT: But you've got to use the tools.
LEMON: You have to use the tools, right? If you have a test at home, as you said, you wouldn't have to go outside and possibly infect other people.
Listen, I want to put up this. This is the president's plans. He plans to have insurance companies reimbursed Americans for at-home COVID tests and provide free ones for the uninsured. And, as you said, have insurance companies pay for it. Why involve insurance companies with all the forms and the red tape, and you've got to distribute the test and all that.
SLAVITT: Right. I wasn't in the White House for the debate on how they're going to do this, but I'm sure they put a premium on how to do this quickly and how to make it equitable.
I mean, right now, let's face it, people who live in nice parts of Manhattan and California and others, they're using these tests, they can afford these tests. But it's really people who can't afford $10 for every test. So, what I think is going to have to happen, if I were in the White House right now, I would call the insurance company CEOs and I'd say, why don't you send these tests directly to people's homes so that -- you're going to pay for them anyway, and ask them to go ahead and do that for the rest of the emergency, and I hope they will oblige.
LEMON: I was talking to my producer and actually said, great, we have Andy Slavitt live, and I said, oh, that's really great, and as I was watching -- as I was talking to her, you are on with Jake Tapper, and you were talking about your time at the White House. You believe that you made some mistakes, underestimating the Delta variant, right?
Do you -- are you confident that the White House isn't doing the same thing, especially when it comes to Omicron?
SLAVITT: Well, look, I think, in 2020, there was nobody that said, you know what, in 2021, we're going to have an even worse variant.
SLAVITT: It's easy to have the perspective of hindsight. But everybody around the world, not just in the U.S., not just in government, I'd include myself among them, (INAUDIBLE) we were taming this thing in June, that we were not going to see a more complex variant emerge. When it did, we quickly adjusted. The president quickly adjusted.
And let's look at it. We've been able to keep our lives going. We've been able to get 99 percent of schools open. We've been able to get businesses back open. So, even despite Delta, which has been a surprise and a blow to all of us, we've been able to move the country forward.
LEMON: I want to talk to you about this new CNN analysis showing that since the vaccines have been become widely available, the risk of dying from COVID is more than 50 percent higher in states that voted for Donald Trump than in states that voted for Biden. I mean, if the administration hasn't been able to get through to these people now, how are they going to do it?
SLAVITT: You know, I beginning to wonder, Don, whether or not those folks are well led by their representatives and people in Congress -- as we know, tonight, Ted Cruz wanted to -- have a showdown to shut down the government over essentially anti-vaccine approach that he wanted to take.
And, you know, I think that what President Biden does is continually call for everyone to pull together, make this not political, just focus on saving lives, keeping businesses open, making the economy go forward, keeping schools open. And what he gets in return is, you know, Congressman Jackson from Tennessee -- I'm sorry, from Texas -- who is already calling it a hoax, and senators who are unwilling to move the country forward.
So, I think this is not true with every Republican elected leader, thankfully, but those who are misserving their constituents are putting them at great risk.
LEMON: I don't know if you've got to watch the program, especially with your time at the White House, but, you know, it was -- it didn't land well with a lot of people or some people, not a lot of people. When I said, I don't think you're going to be able to convince everyone, and I don't know if, you know, it's the people's job who are doing the right thing, to face the dire consequences of the people who are doing the wrong thing. And to put the responsibility on them and to not allow the people who are doing the right thing to do not be able to go to ball games or concerts or what have you. But the folks were not. Should they face some consequences for?
SLAVITT: Well, look, the elephant in the room here is that about 20 percent of the public really doesn't believe in science or institutions or the establishment.
LEMON: And you won't be able to convince them. They are not convincible.
SLAVITT: And we've got 81% of Americans who've at least one vaccine shot, 80 percent of adults. But the last 20 percent has a very different belief system. And so, you're absolutely right, we run up against a wall. And most of life, Don, 80 percent, you win. But in this virus, unfortunately, 80 percent is not enough.
LEMON: Okay. Because you're making a point -- just really quickly -- because even -- those 21 percentages, as you say, or the 20 percent, those -- that's the reason that the virus keeps spreading and it keeps replicating, is because it is being allowed to. They are allowing it the spread. Do you understand what I'm saying?
SLAVITT: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, we are all, I think, paying a bit of the price for the fact that we have a number of people that have been left behind. We need to look really hard at how we communicate with people, what's causing this. I think it's far bigger than the pandemic. I think it's far bigger than Donald Trump. I don't think he caused it, but I think it's something we are going to have to figure out.
LEMON: Andy, such a pleasure. Please come back. Good to see you. Thank you very much.
I want to turn now to CNN's Donie O'Sullivan who has some disturbing reporting about Facebook and anti-vaccine messaging. Here we go, Donie. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us. You found out that Facebook was selling ads, comparing vaccines to the holocaust? I mean, this is despicable. What can you tell us?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, Don, I mean, it's really messed up, what they are allowing on their platform. Take a look at these ads that Facebook accepted money for and allowed to run. One, they're showing a picture of vaccine, saying slowly and quietly, but it's a holocaust. Again, playing into this insane idea that the vaccine is a tool of killing people. Another that ran, I'm originally from America, but I currently reside in 1941 Germany.
You know, a few days ago, when a Fox News personality compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to a Nazi doctor, the angel of death, it caused outrage, right? But this stuff is not happening in a vacuum for a lot of Americans. This kind of thing is all over their Facebook feeds. And Facebook will often like to say, you know, this is about free speech, we don't want to tamp down on too much stuff, even if it's misinformation.
But this is different. These are actual ads that Facebook is taking money for and then putting into the feeds of Americans. Now, Facebook did take these ads down after CNN brought it to their attention.
O'SULLIVAN: But, again, Don, this is the sort of stuff that Facebook should be finding themselves. It's a trillion-dollar company.
LEMON: Why is it up to us to point it out to them? But, you know, at least we are doing our jobs here as journalists. I'm glad that Facebook took the holocaust ads down. But Ride the Red Wave also ran ads for a t-shirt saying that, make hanging traitors great again. I mean, what the hell is that? How is that okay?
O'SULLIVAN: It's -- it beggars belief.
O'SULLIVAN: I mean, I've been dealing with this company, with Facebook for a long time. I mean, it's only been a few months since we saw gallows outside the Capitol, people calling "hang Mike Pence." And again, this is not about free speech. It is not about charged political rhetoric. That's an ad that Facebook is taking money to run and to put into Americans Facebook feeds. And even after we asked them about it, they said that it didn't seem to break any of their rules.
LEMON: Donie, all right, there you go. Thank you, Donie.
O'SULLIVAN: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: I appreciate it. I want to bring in now CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. I mean --
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.
LEMON: Ron, come on. Come on, Ron. BROWNSTEIN: Well, first, as is often the case, Donie's reporting kind of leaves you breathless. I mean, Facebook is an incredible contributor to the strains that we are seeing in our society. It's hard to think of a company since the heyday of the tobacco cover-ups of the 40s, 50s, and 60s that has behaved more impossibly on a sustained basis. It's just remarkable to watch on a week to week, month a month, the revelations.
LEMON: Ron, the holocaust invoked again and again QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. You know, Jewish space laser lady talking about vaccine Nazis. Senator Ted Cruz calling vaccine -- I can't --
LEMON: I don't have enough time and energy. But it's just you have all of these people. Let's see. I'm just going to go over it. I hate having to say all this out.
LEMON: So, he's calling them dangerous. Chip Roy calling them tyranny. What is happening -- what is this rhetoric doing to the fabric of our country? What is it doing to the sane people?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I believe -- I wrote the Friday before the election that the 2020s will be that most dangerous and difficult decade for Americans since the 1850s, the decade before the Civil War.
And largely, for the same reason, you know, you have a faction now that is the Trump faction, it is a dominant faction in the Republican Party, who believes that Democrats and all sorts of ways from vaccine mandates to quote -- "cancel culture" are transforming America, and that therefore, any means necessary is justified to oppose that.
I mean, you know, we are living through the most sustained kind of threats or implications of violence in Congress itself since the 1850s since Carlson Sumner was caned, the Massachusetts senator, in 1856 by South Carolina House member.
We are seeing a majority of Republican voters say in polls that the traditional way of life, the American way of life, is disappearing so fast and we have to use force to save it. That is translating not only just in answers in polls but to the kind of threats. We see the public health workers and local government officials and school board members.
I mean, this is a very dangerous moment and the mainstream of the Republican Party is not doing anything to restrain these impulses, if anything, by their refusal to sanction Gosar and Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
LEMON: Is that why --
BROWNSTEIN: They are encouraging it.
LEMON: Is that why this brazen stupidity is being allowed to flourish and fester in this country? Look, when you have a former president who just defies COVID, his own COVID protocol, and goes to a debate and what have you, and then you have these other -- just whack jobs -- is it because Republicans won't hold the leadership to account or mainstream Republicans? Is this the Republican Party -- I don't know, why is this being allowed? I don't understand it.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Well, look, I mean, I think that is the single biggest factor allowing for the radicalization of American politics. That the mainstream Republicans, the roughly one quarter of the party that is not qualified as a mainstream anymore, but what we used to call the mainstream, are not holding the line, are not resisting what has been a very successful effort by Trump to break down the walls between the GOP and the most radical elements in American society.
And all of those voices in the Republican Party are operating under the implicit protection of Trump.
BROWNSTEIN: You see it in the way people like Kevin McCarthy deal with them. He is afraid to discipline them in any real way because he realizes that to do so would invite a thunderbolt from Trump. And the failure to discipline them encourages them. And the way in which Trump has kind of mainstream arguments and language and views of far-right groups encourages them.
And so, all of these -- you see rather than standing up to it, the Republican elected officials in state after state kind of going along with the big lie and passing legislation, making it tougher to vote or making it easier to interfere with the counting of votes or conspiracy theorists running for election positions.
I mean, we are kind of steadily moving toward a crisis moment where you see all of these elements of social division coming together. Biden has chosen largely to kind of, as Andy Slavitt said, to focus on where he can work with the other side rather than calling out this danger.
There is a big debate among democracy experts around the world about whether the best way to respond to growing authoritarianism is to call it out or to focus on what some call normal politics of building coalitions and delivering material goods. Biden is betting very heavily on the latter even as all of these clouds gather. It is a defining bet not only for his presidency and his party, but for the country.
LEMON: Listen, I know mainstream Republicans. They don't like it when people call their party names. But if they don't want people to associate their party with bigots, then they need to call the bigots out in their party.
If they don't want their party to be associated with authoritarianism, they need to call the people who are (INAUDIBLE) to authoritarianism out in their party. If they don't want their party to be called the party of racists, they need to call the racists out in their party and so on. They are not doing that. So, now, they have become the party of all of that as long as the leadership and the mainstream Republicans think that this is going to get them to hang on to power --
LEMON: -- then they become the party of everything that they hate people calling them. Thank you, Ron.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well said. Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you, sir.
BROWNSTEIN: All right.
LEMON (on camera): Alec Baldwin speaking out tonight about the fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust" that took the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded the director, Joel Souza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: So, you have this Colt 45. You just pulled --
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: The hammer as far back as I could without cocking the actual --
STEPHANOPOULOS: And you are holding on to the hammer.
BALDWIN: I'm holding -- I'm going to show you, how about that, does that work, do you see that, do you see that? She said, yeah, that's it. I let go of the hammer and bang, the gun goes off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Alec Baldwin speaking out tonight for the first time in a sit- down interview since the deadly shooting on the "Rust" movie set. Baldwin claims that he never pulled the trigger. Watch.
BALDWIN: In the scene I would have to cocked the gun. And I said, do you want to see that? And she said yes. So, I take the gun and I start to cock the gun, I'm not going to pull the trigger. I said, do you see that? She said, just tilt it down a little bit like that. And I cocked the gun and I go can you see that? Can you see that? Can you see that? And she says -- and I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off. I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off.
STEPHANOPOULOS: At the moment?
BALDWIN: The moment the gun went off, yeah. STEPHANOPOULOS: It wasn't in the script for the trigger to be pulled.
BALDWIN: Well, the trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger.
LEMON (on camera): Joining me now, CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson and former editor of "Hollywood Reporter" Matt Belloni. Good evening to both of you. Joey, I just want to go to you right off. More soundbites I want to play. You're shaking your head. Why?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think -- listen, I know that there is an imperative for public relations purposes. He wants to get out there and I'm sure he feels miserable as it relates to what happened here. But doing an interview in circumstances like this is fraught with difficulty.
Why? You have a sheriff's department that is undergoing and undertaking a criminal investigation. You're making major admissions here as to what you did. This is all about the handling of the weapon. And even prior to the handling of the weapon, what, if anything, did you do to assess that weapon, to evaluate it, to look at it, in addition to what the armorer did to ensure that there was no bullet in here?
When you're talking about criminality, it is not only, Don, we talk about you meant to kill someone. There are other steps. Sometimes, you kill someone not meaning to do it, but you're negligent with respect to what you do or do not do. That is a problem.
There is another thing. There are also lawsuits here. So, it's not only criminal exposure but you're facing civil exposure. It is only money, I get it, but when you go out and do an interview like this and then sit for a deposition as well, those legal things where lawyers ask you questions and everything you say is in a transcript, and then, for example, they tell you you're under oath and you lie, so it is perjury.
And so, I understand from a public relations perspective you want to get out there and, you know, you want to tell your story, but from a legal perspective, I say not, in addition to what he actually said.
LEMON: What do you mean in addition to what he --
JACKSON: He is talking about the manner in which he handled the gun, the fact that he cocked the trigger, these issues as to whether --
LEMON: He didn't say the trigger. He said he pulled --
JACKSON: Excuse me, he said he pulled the back of -- what is it?
LEMON: The hammer back.
JACKSON: The hammer back, right. So, he said he didn't pull the trigger. I don't know that that is a statement, that is sustainable, right? LEMON: So, you --
JACKSON: Is that true --
LEMON: I intended to go to Matt first to talk about the Hollywood story, but then I saw you shaking your head during the soundbite. Are you saying that he shouldn't have done this interview?
JACKSON: No, not at all. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I think that there are damaging things that are stated in addition to whether people actually believe what he is saying as to whether he pulled the trigger or not. I just -- I would not have done that, no.
LEMON (on camera): Matt, I want to go to you now because you heard his explanation. Baldwin says that he never pulled the trigger. He got very emotional when he spoke about Halyna Hutchins. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: She was someone who was loved by everyone who worked with her, liked by everyone who worked with her, and admired -- sorry. But admired by everybody who worked with her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, in response to that, Matt, and to what Joey said, maybe he felt compelled that regardless of whatever the circumstances, whatever the exposure he had, that he had to say something because he feels so awful about it. How do you think he came across in the interview because this is still an ongoing investigation, as Joey pointed out?
MATT BELLONI, FOUNDING PARTNER, PUCK NEWS: Absolutely. Baldwin is an emotional guy. He always has been. I mean, it has gotten him into trouble in the past. I think this is a guy, remember, who pulled over on the side of the road and did an interview with Paparazzi a couple weeks ago. So, he is just an impulsive guy. I think he probably said, you know what? I know there is an ongoing investigation. I know this could potentially be bad for me. I want to do it anyways.
He also has an interest here in the public sphere of getting this information out there. This is new information that we did not know, if it is true, about the fact he says he did not pull the trigger. Whether that's consequential in a legal forum is another question. But in the public forum, I think it does cause people to look at this and say, oh, okay, why did he say this? Is it true? What actually happened here?
LEMON (on camera): I think he did say in the interview that he had to do it. He did say it, because some of the things he said were just so far afield and so egregious that he wanted to respond to them. Listen, I imagine, if you took someone's life, I may say, you know what, screw it. I'm just going to say how I feel and tell the truth about it and tell what I know. Listen, Joey, Alec Baldwin made the point that he was clearly a creative -- you're talking about civil liabilities, right? He was purely a creative producer on the film. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I am a purely creative producer. My authorities as a producer are casting and script, which were actually married to the role of being a lead actor in a film.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you are not the kind of producer looking at the line item of each budget?
BALDWIN: No, no, no. There are basically two types of producers who are really in charge of production, people that raise the money and people who spend the money. My consultations or approvals were completely about casting and about the script. I don't hire anybody on the crew. I don't --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not even the cinematographer, no one?
BALDWIN: No. He will apprise me of what he is doing. And will say to me, I got Halyna Hutchins to be the DPS (ph). How do you feel about that? Are you excited? I'm very excited. She is wonderful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): He says that he wasn't the person looking at line- item budgets. He was focused on casting and script. Do you find that significant?
JACKSON: So, you are part of the team, is that right? And as part of that team, you wanted to ensure the safety of the set, correct? And you know everyone has different positions? But it is not exclusively that. As a team, you want to ensure that every piece goes right. Isn't that true?
And so, what I am saying? I'm saying that there will be questions that are asked that extend beyond the mere excuse that you are purely doing this particular segment. And in fact, beyond your producing, you were given a gun. At any time, when you were given that, did you feel that it might be appropriate to examine it?
You heard before other actors and what they do in handling guns. And you've taken and you've undertaken many roles, not only as a producer but as an actor. And you know that it is dangerous. And you know that you can't put your trust in everybody else. Is that right?
And because of that, you have to assess yourself. Did you do that, sir? Did you examine the weapon? Did you look into it? Did you determine whether it was safe before you pointed it at anybody? I just think that you cannot limit and say when you do any job, that this is all I do, and therefore, I'm responsible for nothing else. I'm sure he feels miserable, Don. Positive. You look at that interview, it is compelling. But there is a life lost here. The issue is, did you have anything to do as a result of your carelessness? Don't tell me what the limitations of your role are and what you only did. Tell me that you and everybody else should be given to the safety of everyone on that set. You didn't do it. The issue is you're civilly liable. The larger is, will the sheriff find you criminally liable? Wouldn't have been on TV doing any of that.
LEMON: There is at least one other member of the crew who is backing up Alec Baldwin's claims. We'll hear more from Alec Baldwin and more from the member of the crew, I should say, and we will talk to Joey and Matt right after this break. Don't go anywhere.
LEMON: So, I'm back now with Joey Jackson and Matt Belloni. Matt, are you surprised that Alec Baldwin did this interview?
BELLONI: I'm surprised his lawyers let him do that interview. I'm not surprised that he would want to do that interview. He's a very emotional kind of hotheaded guy. And I understand, given all the attention on this case, his desire to get his story out there and tell people what his side of the story is. I am very surprised they let him, given the ongoing investigation, given all the things that involved, the civil cases, very surprised.
LEMON: Joey, there's at least one member of the crew who is backing up Baldwin's claim that he didn't pull the trigger.
LEMON: But another one has filed a lawsuit. Alec Baldwin says that he has been told that he is highly unlikely to be charged criminally. Do you agree with that?
JACKSON: You know, it's a difficult criminal prosecution. And as I was noting before, not all crime is predicated upon I intended to do it. Sometimes, you could be so careless and so reckless in what you do that it amounts to criminality.
And so, the prosecutor has a real decision to make. But at the end of the day, you look at two things. Number one, what did he not do? And should he have had an obligation to evaluate and inspect that weapon? I don't care how many other people did it. And did you and should you have pointed it at someone?
And as it relates to someone backing up your story, I mean, am I in a position to know whether you pull the trigger? Are you really that close that you can examine and know exactly where my finger was at the very moment that the gun went off? And so, that's a credibility assessment.
LEMON: Matt, I'll give you the last word here. What do you think?
BELLONI: I really think that if I was the investigator, if I was the district attorney in New Mexico and I saw this interview, I'd say, really, someone told you that you're not going to be held criminally liable here? That's our decision whether to bring charges, not yours. I would be very annoyed if I saw this interview, and I think that's probably going to play a role going forward.
LEMON: It's sad all the way around. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate both of you.
Authorities saying two teachers flagged the suspected Michigan school shooter for concerning behavior just before the shooting. And prosecutors now say there's a strong possibility he had a gun in his backpack during a meeting with school officials before the attack. The red flags are overlooked.
LEMON: Disturbing new details about Tuesday's deadly Michigan high school shooting. CNN obtaining a photo of the gun believed to have been used in the massacre, posted to an Instagram account days before the incident. A source telling CNN the sheriff's office believes that the account belongs to the accused shooter.
That as we learn that the 15-year -old suspect's behavior was so concerning to teachers that his parents had to come to the school just hours before the attack. Prosecutors say there is a strong possibility the suspect had the gun in his backpack during that meeting. He faces charges ranging from first-degree murder to terrorism. Prosecutors have indicated that they're also considering charging his parents.
Joining me now is criminologist Casey Jordan, CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, who is the author of "Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lives We Have Been Told." So happy to have both of you here, talking about it. Good evening. What a sad, sad story.
Casey, you first. There was no indication that the suspect was bullied. Two different teachers felt behavior was concerning enough for them to elect the school. And we have this new Instagram post, believed to be the gun used in this massacre. When you look at all of these red flags, all of these in the days before this tragic shooting, what do you see here, Casey?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, we call all of these red flags a leakage. They're communications to a third party. But sometimes, that's a person. More often, that's through social media, videos, journal entries. And, of course, we have all three of those things.
We are unclear what the disturbing behavior was that caused the teachers to refer him to counseling and administrative intervention. Both on Monday and by an entirely different teacher, again, on Tuesday. That's what prompted them to call the parents.
But the thing that we did not know in all of this equation, okay, we've got the social media with him holding the gun, saying look at my new (INAUDIBLE), that he had gotten this gun just four days before. We did not know he had that gun in his backpack at the school or I can guarantee you that meeting would've gone entirely differently.
And that's why I have to bring the parents in. What went wrong? The parents bought a gun, didn't know he had it, and we are completely unaware during that meeting that he had the gun with him. They should've known where that gun was. And clearly, this child never should have had the gun.
LEMON: Wow. Areva, the prosecutor is telling us tonight that she believes there is a strong possibility that they had the gun, and for sure a strong possibility in that meeting that Casey talked about with school officials and parents. That was just before the attack. He was let back into class after that. Is anyone responsible for missing this?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, that's the question, Don, right? And that's why this prosecutor has said she has not ruled out the possibility that both of these parents, not just the father that bought the gun but the mother as well, could be facing criminal charges.
There is conduct that can be so careless and so reckless, such as having a gun in your home that's not secured, such as having ammunition in your home that's not secured. That kind of rises to the level of criminality. As prosecutor said, it's under investigation. And I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see criminal charges brought against this family.
There is some precedent, some cases where individuals have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and other kind of reckless conduct for doing something very similar, which is bringing a gun into the home and allowing it to be left in a place where it can be accessed by a teenager or a child. And at the very least, Don, we should expect to see civil claims, civil lawsuits brought by the four students.
MARTIN: Unfortunately, they lost their lives as a result of this senseless violence. And not just against his parents but potentially against the school because, as Casey and you just talked about, this kid had been flagged by two different teachers. So, it raises all kinds of questions about what the school knew, what the parents knew, and why this wasn't stopped before these four kids lost their lives.
LEMON: And Casey, what about the other students here? It wasn't just those who were killed sadly. There were many who were injured as well and the other students in the school have to deal with this as well.
JORDAN: Right. That is why the prosecutor is charging this child, this shooter with terrorism. It's symbolic, but it is important. They've made the point that currently there are hundreds of these students who survived this attack and are traumatized. They are having nightmares. They can't eat. They don't want to go back to school.
And you have to understand that this -- you know, we cannot become immune to the trauma that these kids go through. Whether a shooting happens at their school or they just have to go through the drills to prepare for it, it is becoming too commonplace. If there is any lesson here, let's not point fingers at the school. They were doing everything right. They were following protocol.
But every parent out there who owns a gun legally or illegally, I want you to go find that gun tonight, make sure it is locked up and kept away from children, because there are going to be some real lessons here if these parents are charged. We're going to start looking at parents a lot more harshly when their children do these sorts of actions.
LEMON: It is so -- do you know the hoops that I had to jump through and how old I was until my parents would even let me have a BB gun. Right? I mean, it was a fight. How are these teenagers getting AR-15- type weapons and 9 millimeters? Who does that? What has happened?
MARTIN: I think we just got to call it out, Don. First of all, kudos to your parents for putting those kinds of restrictions and limitations on you as a kid. That is what we should be seeing with respect to all parents. We shouldn't be having to ask the question, how are kids getting access to guns, particularly when we hear stories like this where the parents were the ones who bought the gun and brought it into the home. That gave access to this gun, to this 15- year-old kid.
Parents have a responsibility to protect not just their child but protect other children that their kids may come into contact with. And I hope we do see harsher penalties against parents who are not being responsible with respect to gun ownership.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I hope we see each other again under better circumstances and we're not covering something like this. Thank you. Be well.
So, with the big update to our story that we first brought to you last night, police arresting a man in the shooting death of Jacqueline Avant, the wife of music icon Clarence Avant. How they caught the suspect, next.
LEMON: Police announcing they've made an arrest in the killing of Jacqueline Avant, the wife of music icon Clarence Avant. She was killed Wednesday morning in her Beverly Hills home. The 29-year-old suspect has an extensive criminal history and is on parole.
Here is CNN's Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A deadly home invasion in Beverly Hills ends with the death of Jacqueline Avant, a beloved philanthropist and wife of music mogul Clarence Avant.
MARK STAINBROOK, CHIEF, BEVERLY HILLS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Mrs. Avant's death is an incredible loss for our community.
SIDNER (voice-over): Police say they caught suspect Aariel Maynor within hours of the killing when he shot himself in the foot after allegedly burglarizing a home in another neighborhood. The chief said multiple surveillance cameras showed Maynor's car leaving Avant's neighborhood shortly after she was killed. CNN has been unable to determine if Maynor has an attorney.
STAINBROOK: He has an extensive criminal record. He is on parole. When they arrived, they found Maynor in the backyard suffering from a gunshot wound to his foot.
SIDNER (voice-over): Jacqueline Avant was the soul of her family, a pillar in the Black community. Tell me about her.
NAJEE ALI, AVANT FAMILY FRIEND: She was an angel, the matriarch of the Avant family, but also a community servant.
MICHAEL LAWSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LOS ANGELES URBAN LEAGUE: This is one of the most gentle and loving people you will ever know.
SIDNER (voice-over): In her early years, Avant was a model for Ebony Fashion Fair. She ended up dating and marrying Clarence Avant.
JACQUELINE AVANT, WIFE OF CLARENCE AVANT: He always have a car and pick me up. And I thought who is this guy?
SIDNER (voice-over): Avant became one of the most successful men in the music industry. His life story told in a Netflix documentary "The Black Godfather," produced by their daughter Nicole, who is married to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos.
UNKNOWN: He became a mentor for us all.
SIDNER (voice-over): Avant broke barriers as an agent and manager. This year, he tearfully accepted his place into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Through it all, Jacqueline was right by his side. The two were married for 54 years. Their ultimate goal was to help Black people move forward in society.
Oprah Winfrey posted she was numbed and in shock, calling Jacqueline Avant the classiest, kindest, and most calming presence. Quincy Jones tweeted, the heaviness of my heart today is unlike any other that I have ever experienced in my life. Former President Bill Clinton called her a wonderful woman and said, she inspired admiration, respect, and affection in everyone who knew her. We are heartbroken.
SIDNER (voice-over): She will be deeply missed. Their friends tell us her husband, Clarence, was in such shock, he was unable to speak.
ALI: Mr. Avant is essentially at home speechless. This has shook his core along with the family.
SIDNER (on camera): Jacqueline Avant, killed at 81. Police say a suspected burglar and felon took the most precious thing of all, life itself.
Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.
LEMON: Thank you, Sara. Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Tonight, an exclusive interview with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen on her former company's role in the spread of COVID misinformation and disinformation.
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