Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

No Resource Officer To Defend The Children; President Biden To Visit Uvalde This Weekend; Father's Instinct Kicks In; Relatives Rattled By The Shooting; Senator Ted Cruz No Answer To Gun Violence; Parents Rushed To Save Their Kids. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 26, 2022 - 22:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hi, Laura. Here we go with another mass shooting at a school. And it is just horrific to have to report it. But I'm going to get to it. Thank you. I'll see you tomorrow.

COATES: Thank you.

LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm here in Uvalde, Texas. And actually, until you're here, until you talk to the people in this small town, until you see them face-to-face, you don't really know. You don't really feel what it is like. I mean how can you, right?

It is a small town tonight, Uvalde is, of grief-stricken families. Parents, grandparent, neighbors all trying to understand what happened. Pretty much every one here is hurting or they know someone who is hurting no matter where I go if it's to a church or to grocery store or to a fast-food place, a convenient store. You hear people talking about someone they know is in hospital or someone who's been affected by this.

If you look behind me right now, you can see the 21 crosses with the names of 19 little kids and two teachers killed in their classroom. The place that they were supposed to be safe. And what we are learning tonight about the police response to the shooting raises some really disturbing questions. It is early an investigation but there are lots of questions here.

Police revealing that was nobody there to try to stop the gunman when he got into that school through a door that was apparently unlocked and he was inside for about an hour before he was killed. How can that happen? What happened? An hour when desperate parents were all crowded outside. They were pleading with police to go in and let them go in or let them go in themselves.

That is so hard to watch. So hard to listen, to listen to their screams. The father of one student says that he pleaded with officers to give him their gear so that he could go inside as the shooting was happening. His son did survive but 19 other children, two teachers did not survive. The White House says that the President of the United States, Joe

Biden and the first lady Jill Biden will visit Uvalde on Sunday, not even two weeks since they visited Buffalo in the wake of a racist mass shooting there.

So here we go again. We are going to begin our coverage tonight with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz and also Boris Sanchez here in Uvalde. Also joining us, CNN law enforcement analyst and former Baltimore police commissioner, Anthony Barksdale.

I'm so happy all of you there. Thank you so much. It's good to see you. I wish it was under better circumstances. I've been watching your reporting from New York. And now that I'm now here on the scene the report that you've been doing is amazing under these circumstances.

Shimon, there was a press conference today, but as we all watch, as the world watch there were -- they provided many more questions than answers to all of this.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. The one thing they did provide was a time line, a kind of a TikTok. And we have been asking them for this TikTok. Give us this timeline of how things unfolded here. And what this -- what this time line shows, it starts with this event, with this crash that occurs here outside the elementary school at 11.28 in the morning.

And then at 11.40 in the morning there you see about 12 minutes or so after the gunman walks into the school and then 11.44 that is when law enforcement first starts to make their way into the school. And then there's a gap between 11.44 and about 12.44. One hour, Don, as you were just saying where the gunman is inside this classroom.

There is an exchange of gunfire, but police seemingly make to effort to get inside. They say the door was barricaded. That was the big question today. I asked the director here of law enforcement what was the -- how was he barricaded. What that this about. Take a listen to that exchange.


PROKUPECZ: You guys have said that he was barricaded. Can you explain to us how he was barricaded and why you guys cannot breach that door?

VICTOR ESCALON, SOUTH TEXAS REGIONAL DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: So, I have taken all your question into consideration. We will be doing updates. We will be doing updates to answer those questions.


PROKUPECZ: You should be able to answer that question now, sir.


PROKUPECZ: And Don, the other thing is, you know, the police have not been doing a very good job in giving us accurate information. And that was another issue that I brought up with the director here. And we also still don't have so many answers and they are starting to clear some of it like today the fact there was no resource officer here.

All along, since Tuesday they've been saying that there was their officer that was assigned to their school was here, engaged the gunman. Today, they say, well, that never happened. The officer was never here.

LEMON: Yes, why is that? Because as you said, inaccurate or conflicting information. How can that be that there was no school resource officer? I mean, usually they are here or they're at least armed. But there was no one. How could that be?


PROKUPECZ: And that's a question we asked at the press conference. So, they -- again, we did not get answers to that.


LEMON: Also, Shimon, we are learning -- excuse me, not Shimon, Boris. We are learning what's happening outside the school. As I said in the opening of the show, there were parents outside of the school begging with police officers to go in with law enforcement to go in or give them their gears so that they could go in themselves.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was a moment of panic as you can imagine when the news spread across town that there was a shooting at Robb Elementary School. Parents rushed over here trying to help their children. But when they got here, it was in that space that lull that we've heard law enforcement officers referred to which Shimon was just describing.

When the shooter was barricaded inside and there was a crowd of law enforcement officers outside that led to some very tense moments. As you noted, there was one parent, Victor Luna who told CNN that he asked police straight out, give me a gun, give me a vest. I'll go in there myself.

The officers obviously refused. He later told our colleague Jason Carroll that police were doing their job but he doesn't believe that they were doing it fast enough. Fortunately, as you noted, Don, his son was inside, was able to get out alive. Though it took a long time and that agitated him as well.

LEMON: Boris, you said there's this corner and then if you, you know, if you go around, you can go around another way and go to another corner, which is that the other front end of the school. This is the -- this is the sort of the front, that's kiddie corner, and then there's another entrance there.

I am told by some of the residents here that when parents couldn't get answers here and they could understand that why law enforcement wouldn't allow them to go in because they didn't know the situation inside. They actually went to another entrance and someone were able to make their way closer but still not able to get in. They were trying everything they could to get their children out of that school.

SANCHEZ: As one would naturally do when you hear that there's an armed gunman entering into a school and opening fire. It was an unthinkable moment but in any scene like this, there's going to be chaos and as Shimon noted, there are a ton of questions to answer. What you don't usually see is the discrepancy when they tell you one day that there was a resource officer in the school and the very next day, they have to correct it and say actually, there wasn't one.

LEMON: Anthony, let's talk about that and talk about the situation with police. Look, we know that this is a small town. And I'm not sure if the training varies in small town. I they are standardize training for all police departments. But there is also some new information, Anthony, about the timeline today, that the shooter was inside the school for an hour. And you have these parents expressing their frustration over that. Here it is, listen to -- listen then we'll talk.


JESSIE RODRIGUEZ, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM ANNABELL GUADALUPE RODRIGUEZ: As a father, I would have just went in. I don't need nobody telling me to go in, defend an armless child. Why wait? Take it upon your job. You are officers of serving the peace and protect us.

VICTOR LUNA, FATHER OF ROBB ELEMENTARY 4TH GRADE STUDENT: I told the officer if they don't want to go in there, let me borrow a gun and a vest I'll go in there myself to handle it up. And they told me no. Like they say they were doing their job, what they could have done but they could have done it quicker before that man went in the school.


LEMON: Anthony, are they right?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Yes, they are right. Since Columbine, we've known that law enforcement has known that you don't have a second to waste when you're dealing with an active shooter. You know that's an elementary school. You are armed. Even if you don't have the same type of fire power that that 18-year- old that should never had an assault rifle had, you still go in. You engage, you make contact. You try to use cover if you're out gunned but you keep them occupied and get those kids out of there.

Police engage the teachers, get the kids out of here and you hold that ground. You bang it out with them until have your weapons arrive. Those parents were right.

LEMON: Anthony, listen, I know that there are members of law enforcement at home, the pro-law enforcement community, which most people are. They will say how can you second guess these officers. You were not at the scene. You don't know what they were up against. But there's a standard way to respond to these situations. And you believe in all of your years as law enforcement -- as a law enforcement officer that someone dropped the ball here. That police dropped the ball? BARKSDALE: I do. And I'm not going to change my view on this. I'll

tell you why, if there's doubt. For the majority of my -- the earlier portion of my career I was what's called a cover man. That meant that I was also the one who entered the door to make a shoot, don't shoot decision no matter who or what is on the other side.


So, I've lived it. It's not just criticizing these officers, this department because I'll tell you what, I also look at the top of this agency. How do officers now when Columbine occurred in 1999, how were these officers not properly equipped, Don? Where were their patrol officers? Where were their body bunkers? That should be in trunk of somebody's vehicle at this time.

We've been through too much not to learn from past failures. This is unacceptable. And one of the worst parts is, the great state of Texas came up with the model, a nationally recognized model called ALERT. Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response entry. Something close to that. Texas state came up with it. They have a whole school on this. They are right there in Texas.

And I'm sorry, it's Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training. It's right there in Texas. So, yes, I'm going to be critical. What they need, the resources they need it's right there in their state. This is a miss. And we let down all of those little kids and the teachers. I stand on what I say.

LEMON: As if this couldn't get any worse, Boris Sanchez, this is a tragedy on top of tragedy. Tonight, we are learning that the husband of one of the teachers who was killed inside of the school also dying today. Died of a heart attack.

SANCHEZ: Just a tragic turn on top of so many. Irma Garcia was a teacher at the school. We're told that she actually died trying to protect kids as she jumped in front of the gunman. Her husband, Joe Garcia, of more than 25 years was captured by cameras here at the scene yesterday leaving flowers at the memorial behind us.

We're told that he suffered medical emergency. That he was rushed to the hospital and that ultimately, he passed away. His family posting on a GoFundMe page that they believe he died of a broken heart, Don.

PROKUPECZ: And this memorial just keeps growing, Don. Even from this morning. I mean, it's beautiful to see how many people have been coming here from the community, young, older. This is such a -- you know, I've been here since really Tuesday night. This is such a close- knit community. Everybody knows each other. You know, you've been around today.

This is stunning to see. You know, because it's starting to, you know, people are really starting to come out and express their feelings and the flowers and the balloons. And you know, they have a long, a long ways to go with funerals coming and everything else.

LEMON: Since I got here this afternoon, I've seen it grow. PROKUPECZ: Yes.

LEMON: And police officers, and law enforcement they have been allowing --


PROKUPECZ: My God, incredible, yes.

LEMON: -- people in the community to go in there and only other people who live in the neighborhood here near Robb Elementary School. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you so much.

It is heartbreaking. Really heartbreaking. And there's a lot more -- thank you, Anthony. I appreciate you joining us as well. And I appreciate your candor here on CNN, and your reporting all day. Thank you so much.

There's a lot more to talk about. And we're learning a lot more about this investigation. Now we're going to find out more in the days to come of course. But let's not forget why we are here tonight. Why I am here. This all about the lives that were brutally cut short here. Nineteen children, two teachers. Their names on the white crosses.

A memorial outside the school where they died that we just showed you that we just talked about with Shimon and Boris. Their lives, their futures taken away from them. Children who might sound a lot like kids you know who love their parents, their brothers and their sisters and their classmates.

Kids who played baseball and video games and soccer. Did it all together, who loved cheerleading and basketball. Who made the honor roll and who loved to play. Two teachers who devoted their lives to children and lost their lives trying to protect them. We have to remember that this is all about them. So, let's in the lose sight of that.

I'm going to be talking over the next two hours to some of the people in this town as they look for a way forward here in the face of a tragedy that is hard to comprehend. So, we have a lot of coverage for you. We're going to introduce you to some people here in community, people who are grieving and the people who are helping on. Stay with us.



LEMON: We are back now live in Uvalde, Texas. And there are more revelations about the timeline about what exactly happened here at this massacre. Police confirming the gunman was killed about an hour after he entered the school behind me. And revealing that he was initially not confronted by anybody as he made his way in.

Joining me now to talk about this is Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, he represents Uvalde in the state legislature. And we spoke to you -- thank you so much.


LEMON: We spoke to you the other night as this all unfolding and you made your way here from San Antonio. You drove.

GUTIERREZ: Yes, sir, that's correct.

LEMON: So, listen, there are a lot of questions at this hour about what happened. You say there's still more holes that need to be filled here and there are a lot of answers that we need to get. Are we getting those answers tonight?

GUTIERREZ: You know, I've talked to the troopers, I've talked to the rangers. They've suggested that over the course of the next 24 to 36 hours we should have a full-blown report. I've tasked them to do just that and sooner.

Listen, this isn't rocket science. Everything is on video in there. And we deserve to know what happened. These parents deserve to know what happened. It's my hope that over the course of the next 12 to 24 hours we'll get some answers.

LEMON: Are you getting any answers now? Anything that satisfactory, to your satisfaction?


GUTIERREZ: Nothing that I've seen that is satisfactory. And nothing that I feel. I mean, at the end of the day, I understand that this is an active investigation. But the shooter is dead. You know, we are not talking about motive anymore. We have to figure out where there was a failure.

And if there was a failure, I think that every one of these law enforcement officers our brave men and women -- don't get me wrong, but we train these people, they give them courses in on active shooter situations, like your experts suggested, you go in. That's what you took the job on for.

And I don't know that if I had that medal inside of me to do it. I don't know what I would do in a situation. But I know there was a failure here.

LEMON: So, you think -- you know there was a failure. And I know that you are getting information, and you said to me, you know what's inside of those trailers, I mean, the crime scene trailers and what else they say is over behind us here?

GUTIERREZ: Well, these two trailers back here where law enforcement are doing their investigation look at -- looking at the videos that they have seen from the classrooms, and certainly, you know, the bit that I've had privy to is not of the carnage or anything like that but it was the initial entrance of law enforcement into the building --

LEMON: And? GUTIERREZ: -- and the standstill. The -- and so, at that point, you know, we wait an hour, an hour plus.

LEMON: You said the standstill or the standoff?

GUTIERREZ: Standoff.

LEMON: The standoff?

GUTIERREZ: The standoff.

LEMON: Did they -- did they pull back when they should have gone forward --


GUTIERREZ: Listen, again --


LEMON: -- from what you've seen?

GUTIERREZ: From what I've seen. Listen, an active shooter situation, I've asked every law enforcement officer and expert in San Antonio where I live and throughout this district, you go in. That didn't happen here.

I don't want to Monday morning quarterback this thing but at the end of the day we have to find out for the future so that this never happens again. What kind of failures happened? And I feel in this situation, standing back was not the thing to do. Your expert suggested the same thing. And that's exactly what happened here.

LEMON: Listen, I'm going to say this because I was speaking to someone recently about an air crash that happened. Right?


LEMON: And they were telling me about the planes are built with all this redundancy and they are resilient, and what have you. And someone was in an air emergency and they turned to pilot and they said, have you dealt with this before? And they said I've dealt with it a million times in training.


LEMON: But not when it actually happens.


LEMON: And there was, in this particular situation, a crash. Do you think that's what happened here? They dealt with it in training but in real life --

GUTIERREZ: Listen, I don't -- I don't fault them. We just have to figure out what happened so it doesn't happen again. LEMON: Again. And because the families and the people of this

community deserve some answers. They deserve better.

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. I want to know when our state troopers arrived, --

LEMON: Right.

GUTIERREZ: -- when the federal government arrived. The answer I got from the federal government question, which is CBP, Customs and Border Protection. The tactical team arrived, they got out of their vehicles, they run in there, and they killed the guy.


GUTIERREZ: That happened for full hour plus, after the initial engagement, if you will, of officers going into the building.

LEMON: But what does that do to find out answers, to find out, what does that do for the community? What does that do for you, for everyone?

GUTIERREZ: Listen, I came to Uvalde to comfort constituents, to let them know that state resources were here for them. To learn for myself what happened so it doesn't happen again and to talk to people about the horrors of this gun violence.

There's no way in the world that an 18-year-old kid should access a militarized weapon like it happened in this situation. I put that on people that are in power in Texas. And it's the Republican Party. They control the House. They control the Senate and they control the governor seat.

LEMON: No, no, no, Representative. Don't politicize this. This isn't the time to politicize this. You know I'm --

GUTIERREZ: I know. I get it.

LEMON: I'm -- you know what I'm doing, right?

GUTIERREZ: I get it. I get it.

LEMON: This isn't the time to talk about it. We have plenty of time to talk about this.


LEMON: These weapons not having access to them would have not stopped this. They would have gotten it somewhere else. What's your answer to that?

GUTIERREZ: Don, I have --


LEMON: It's a mental health issue. GUTIERREZ: I've sat with some shocked parents. They don't want to

talk to me. They don't want to talk to you. They are just in shock. They are destroyed. They are destroyed. And the decisions that policymakers have made over the course of the last several years have culminated in this, in this.

We can't have this happen anymore in this country, in this state. I ask for red flag bill in 2019. It went nowhere. An 18-year-old buys these guns over the counter. That's un -- it's astounding to me.

LEMON: It's always every excuse or every solution goes beyond the access and availability and proliferation of guns? Why is that? Is that because of the NRA? Is that --



GUTIERREZ: I don't know what fascination the Republicans have with the guns or with the NRA or with the money. But this is what they do session after session. And they are killing, they are killing babies in our country.

Yes, it was the sick, mentally ill young man. I get it. But at the end of the day, and yes, we certainly need to do more about mental health in our state, but at the end of the day, if he didn't have access to militarized weapons that you see in Afghanistan, this wouldn't have happened.

LEMON: Should the state Department of Safety, do you trust them to investigate themselves and to do the investigation here?

GUTIERREZ: I know my friend Joaquin Castro is asking for an FBI investigation. I support that. I know, I also know our state troopers I know they're good and honest people. I know that they are working on putting this thing together. I know they will tell us the facts as to when things happen. But I do expect that and I expect it quick.

LEMON: What do you want to hear from the president and the first lady? They are going to visit here on Sunday.

GUTIERREZ: Listen, the president -- the president needs to come here and comfort people. Because that's what he -- that's what he is here to do.

LEMON: Thank you. I'm sorry we met under these circumstances.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you for standing up. It looks like you haven't gotten any sleep. I hate to say that, but I know --


GUTIERREZ: I'm recovering from a surgery, but, yes, thank you so much. LEMON: Yes, thank you. I really appreciate it. So, again, a lot more

to talk about here, including someone -- her niece was inside the school behind me, Robb Elementary when the shooting happened. No one could reach her. And while worrying about that 8-year-old little girl, she was in lockdown herself teaching at Uvalde high school. This is my next guest story. And she's going to tell us about it right after this.



LEMON: Here is the reality. This is the reality of what's happening tonight. Families in this devastated town are planning funerals for 21 victims and the wider Uvalde community feels the intensity of the pain because this is the type of small town where everybody knows somebody who is impacted by the tragedy.

As I said earlier, I was in the grocery store you overhear people talking about it. You see the expressions on their face. It is palpable.

So, joining me is Lorena Auguste. Her niece survived be shooting. But Lorena substitutes -- she is a substitute teacher at Uvalde High School which went into lockdown on Tuesday. And some of the students in her class have family members who is were killed. And just a few years back Lorena was also a substitute at Robb elementary School.

Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.


LEMON: How are you?

AUGUSTE: I'm better than I was the original day. Yes.

LEMON: So, you're teaching at a school. You know your niece is here and what? In that sort of in the meantime as you're trying to figure this out. Terror, torture.

AUGUSTE: Fear, sadness, worry, concern, you know. Should I text my sister? Should I text my -- text, of course, text your family. Text everybody. Yes.

LEMON: But she did manage to sneak out of school and then ran to somewhere in the neighborhood to a neighbor's home.

AUGUSTE: It wasn't even -- yes, her whole class. Her teacher saved her. Her teacher saved her whole class. Yes.

LEMON: And you thought she was gone?

AUGUSTE: For a second, yes. I did.

LEMON: I can't -- I can't even imagine what was going through your mind and your sister. How is -- I'm not going to say her name. How is she doing? How is your niece doing?

AUGUSTE: She's -- she's sad about losing her friends. She's safe now but she's sad. She learned on the news that her friends that were missing are gone. They are in heaven. That's the way she understands it. They have in heaven now. She's going to miss them.

LEMON: Is your sister her mom?

AUGUSTE: She just -- she wants to be left. She's tired of seeing all the news. She just wants to be left to herself.

LEMON: You can understand that. Your school went into lockdown as well.


LEMON: Talk to me about that.

AUGUSTE: I thought it was a practice. We used to practice. We used to do run throughs before COVID because of the other shootings that are going on in other school districts two years ago. But the children immediately started texting their parents in the dark. They turn off the lights. Got them away from the window, got away from the door.

We had a closet. Hid some of them in the closet. And I said, go ahead and text your parents. And the parents corresponding quickly, very quickly.


AUGUSTE: And then they learned through their parents that there was something happening at the same time right here. That there was a shooting here and there were injuries, there were fatalities.

LEMON: Yes. I understand you told my team that some of your students found that their cousins and people that they knew, their loved ones had died in the elementary school.

AUGUSTE: Yes, that was hard.

LEMON: And that you are in lockdown. You had to console them?

AUGUSTE: Yes, of course. Yes, I had to reassure them that we were going to get through this together. I promised them, literally that I would take the bullet for them before anything happened. I told them just to stay quiet. It's a new hiding. We prayed together. We hugged each other. We stayed on the floor. We stayed on the floor for almost -- it felt like five or six hours.

LEMON: Really?

AUGUSTE: Yes, hidden.


LEMON: Lorena, listen, there's been teachers have gotten -- and you guys have such responsibility. You always have. But in the last couple of years or so, you had really been getting it, what's happening with school board meeting, what they're demanding of teachers, what they're worried about what you're teaching. And all of those (Inaudible).

And you're always protectors but even more so now. Do you think the public realizes how much your jobs have changed and the pressure they are putting on you, and how you -- maybe the biggest -- are supposed to be learning and teaching but the biggest part of your job now may be protecting those students?

AUGUSTE: Keeping them alive. Keeping them alive. Not just keeping them physically alive but mentally alive, emotionally alive. You know, so many of them are still recovering from COVID. You know, being in their houses, not being able to go out. You know, wearing a mask every day.

You know, being paranoid if I'm going to get sick or not. We're still getting over that, too. You know? Some students still wear the masks. A lot of students still wear their masks in school. You know, COVID is still here, too. It's not as severe down here but it's out there.

LEMON: Now the shooter, we're told, he wasn't enrolled, according to his grandfather. Didn't go -- maybe was enrolled but didn't go do school.

AUGUSTE: That's what I read about.


AUGUSTE: That's what I read, yes.

LEMON: But went to Uvalde high school. Did you have a relationship with him?


LEMON: Did you know him? What do you know about him?


AUGUSTE: I have never met him. I have never seen him. I don't recall him. I think maybe two of my students that day mentioned him. That they recalled who he was. That he hadn't been in school for more than six months. So, he hadn't been on campus.

LEMON: If I may be candid and share with the audience you said during the commercial break if you stop and you pause that I would have to bear with you because you were so nervous about doing this. And you're so exhausted that you kind of, rehearsed.


LEMON: What's -- talk to me about --

AUGUSTE: What I rehearsed was the emphasis of us being a community. This is not just about the students and the families that loss. This is about the survivors.

LEMON: The janitorial staff you said you want to --


AUGUSTE: The janitorial staff --

LEMON: -- who supports --

AUGUSTE: They risked their life at the high school for us. There was a time when we heard the marching, when we heard the soldiers coming in the janitors were checking, locking doors, checking on all of us. Locking themselves up. They put themselves at risk every time they step back in the hall.

The office staff, the secretaries. They were -- they stayed in the halls checking on everybody. You know, they could have been harmed at any time.

LEMON: All of you.


LEMON: Thank you, Lorena.


LEMON: I appreciate you joining us and give our regards to your sister.

AUGUSTE: Thank you.

LEMON: And your brother-in-law and your niece, of course.


LEMON: Thank you for doing what you do.

AUGUSTE: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you so much. So, obviously there's shock, there's uproar, there's anger, then nothing happens. That's the cycle that we're in now.

Congressman Colin Allred tells us if that cycle can be broken this time. That's next.



LEMON: The Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging Texas Senator John Cornyn to start working with Democrats to find a, quote, "bipartisan solution to curb gun violence." Cornyn saying today that he doesn't know if the group can get their on-background checks or other bills, but he is saying that this will hopefully provide a new greater sense of urgency.

Let's hope so. Let's hope something gets done. The Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer seeming hopeful about the talks but saying, quote, "if these negotiations do not bear fruit in the short period of time, the Senate will vote on gun safety legislation."

Let's discuss now, Texas Congressman Colin Allred is here. Congressman, thank you for joining us. I'm sorry about what's happening --

REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Thank you.

LEMON: -- and what has happened, I should say, in your state and what you are dealing with. And the whole country really.

Have you reached out to Senator Cornyn since this announcement as part of the Texas delegation?

ALLRED: I have not, but I am glad to see that this has happened. I would be interested to know exactly the instructions from Leader McConnell were. Whether they were trying to actually find a solution or whether they appear to try and find one. But you know, in case like this what's happened in our state and we've had multiple of these mass shootings in our state in recent years, I hope that Senator Cornyn is there to try and help Texans, help Americans and help us find the solution.

LEMON: I was going to ask you. Look, do you believe it's going to be a good faith effort by Cornyn, any other Republicans to negotiate with Democrats on gun legislation. It has not -- it hasn't worked before. This time do you think that there's going be a good faith effort to do it?

ALLRED: Well, let me say, I think of these school shootings as a violation of our societal norms. I mean, this is like a mass trauma, you know, similar to a terrorist attack. You know, my boys go to day care here in Dallas. Their day care is beefing up security.

The parents today were talking about the drills that the kids have go through. My 3-year-old have drills, they have to, you know, hide in place. And so, I have some colleagues who I know are also parents on the Republican side, who I know are, you know, people of goodwill, who I hope we can work together to find something.


To me, it makes sense to make sure that an 18-year-old can't walk into a gun store and buy two AR-15s and buy hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he can't buy a beer. I think that makes sense as an initial step.

But there are other areas that we know have 88, you know, 75, 90 percent of the support of Americans. Hopefully we can do something on that. And I think we have to push for it. We have to fight for. We can't just say that it hasn't worked in the past. We have to try again. LEMON: I know you're in Dallas. I know you're a Texas congressman but

let's talk about what's happening in Houston, tomorrow. The NRA annual meeting is taking place there tomorrow. The governor of the state, Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman Dan Crenshaw, they're all expected to attend. How are you feeling about them going after this tragedy?

ALLRED: Yes. Well, you know, I can't imagine having had this occur in our state and just a few days later just a few hundred miles away, you're going to an event like this in which we know they're going to be talking about, you know, cheering on the success they've had basically, in pushing more and more lethal guns into more and more folks' hands around the country and you know, getting rid of the laws in place to try to protect people.

So, I've said I think that's the wrong thing to do. But I don't expect much from someone like Senator Cruz who, you know, when we had a winter storm here that took out our power decided to go on vacation. Texans know that when we have a crisis he's not going to be there, or if he is going to there, it's just going to score his own political points. I think we know we've come to expect that.

LEMON: OK. So, I want our viewers to pay attention to this and I want you to pay attention too, because obviously you're going to have to respond to it, Congressman. This is Ted Cruz. He's being interviewed today by a reporter from Sky News. Everyone, listen to this.


UNKNOWN: Why does this only happen in your country? I really think that's what many people around the world, just, they cannot fathom, why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): You know, I'm sorry you think American exceptionalism is awful.

UNKNOWN: I think this aspect --


CRUZ: You know what?

UNKNOWN: of it.

CRUZ: You know what? You get your political agenda.

UNKNOWN: No, it's honestly --

CRUZ: God love you.

UNKNOWN: Why is America the only country that faces this kind of --


CRUZ: You know what?

UNKNOWN: -- mass shooting?

UNKNOWN: You can't answer that, can you? You can't answer that. Can you, sir? You can't answer that. Why is this --


CRUZ: Why is it that people come from all over the world to America? Because it's the freest, most prosperous, safest country on earth.


UNKNOWN: But maybe -- and maybe the freest and maybe the most --

CRUZ: And stop feeding this propaganda.


LEMON: That was an interesting display there of spin. But why do you -- what do you think of his refusal to answer the question?

ALLRED: Well, there is no answer, Don. There is no answer that he could give. You know, we're not more violent inherently than other countries. We don't have more instances of mental illness inherently than other countries. But we're only the major developed country that experiences this. Because of policies like the ones that make sure we have no restrictions on allowing an 18-year-old to walk into a gun store and buy what is basically a weapon of war and hundreds of rounds of ammunition without anything illegal having occurred.

None of that was breaking the law. And yes, America is exceptional. We're exceptional because we have been able to reform ourselves to continue to perfect our union. We have been in motion, we've been changing, we've been getting better on the issues that have held us back. And we have not been doing that on this issue --


ALLRED: -- because of an entrenched, basically extreme minority in our politics and in our lobbying having so much power of the gun lobby over those politicians.

LEMON: Congressman, thank you. I appreciate it.

ALLRED: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Look, America is exceptional, but not on this particular issue. Senator Ted Cruz and others they are out of step with the majority of the American people. They are the fringe when it comes to sensible gun legislation. Most people in this country want some movement. They want their lawmakers to work together to do something.

So, people like Senator Ted Cruz who say, why are you politicizing this. It's B.S. because they are trying to blunt criticism. They have no response to why they are not acting in the best regard for the entire American population and not just to hold onto their power and not just the money that they are getting from the NRA. Moving on now. So, you can see the elementary school behind her house.

The media trucks in front of her house. And she showed me all of that today.

I'm going to go through the neighborhood around Robb Elementary School and hear how the shooting went down from someone who heard the whole thing. It played out right in front of her. That's next.



LEMON: So, we are back now with our breaking news coverage. When I got to Uvalde today, I wanted to meet up in person with a woman, her name is Kim Hammond. She lives behind Robb Elementary School and she heard the shooting as it unfolded. She joined me on air, that was on Tuesday night, just hours after the attack, and she summed up what I know so many of us feel about these mass shootings, that take innocent lives, including children. Listen to this.


KIM HAMMOND, UVALDE RESIDENT: When Sandy Hook happened, you know, I think the whole nation took it hard because these were little kids. You know, And who is going to kill little kids like this on purpose?


And then to have it happen again, Don, it's just -- what the hell are we doing, you know? If every red-blooded American isn't just peeled right now, there is something wrong. There is something gravely wrong.


LEMON: So, there is something -- there is something wrong in our society that needs to be changed. And I wanted to continue my conversation with Kim Hammond. And I was glad that we were able to get together tonight.

Kim lives less than a block really, from the school, about a half a block from the school. This is her street. Normally it's just pretty normal, everyday street in America. Not usually filled with media, satellite trucks, news vans, crews all over.

Kim, it's a pleasure to meet you. I wish it was under better circumstances.

HOLLAND: Yes, I do as well. I do as well.

LEMON: Thank you. This is not normal for your street.

HOLLAND: No, not at all. No, it's very quiet.


HOLLAND: Normally very quiet. It's very quiet, actually. You hear the birds --


HOLLAND: -- all day and the kids playing. So.

LEMON: I didn't realize you lived so close.

HOLLAND: Yes. So, from here there is the back of the school right there. So, what I was saying --


LEMON: So, can we walk out?

HOLLAND: If you want, yes. It's a little muddy. It's pretty soft.

LEMON: That's OK. That's all right. This is and your house. You are on the patio?

HOLLAND: I was in that little room there, living room there just sitting down and having lunch.

LEMON: And you came you heard all the commotion and what?

HOLLAND: I heard what sounded like gunfire. So, I sensed it, and then maybe, I don't know, a hot dog later, maybe five minutes later, there was a helicopter right here, right up above us. I mean, the guy, the door on the helicopter was that big, so maybe 50 feet. I might be exaggerating how low it was, but it felt very low.


HOLLAND: And normally when they fly over, they're not that low. So, I was out here cursing him out, you know, why are you flying so low, are you crashing -- you know, just how my mind was working. And then I saw heads running, lots of heads running towards the school.

LEMON: Right there because you can see the school.

HOLLAND: I can see the school right there. That's where all the action was taking place. While I came out here and then I saw all this commotion here, I saw border patrol right here where a guy just walked. So, I went through the house and then I saw lots of shadows going through my house.

You know, the kids, the street is right there. You know, it's just how you pick that up.

LEMON: Right.

HOLLAND: So, then I went outside and looked up and there was -- there was -- the response was huge. It was huge, absolutely huge. What I couldn't get my brain to figure out was like, why were there civilian, you know, civilians, moms, they looked like moms with this panicked look and running. They were just like a dead sprint towards the school. That's when my brain started to say something is going on at the

school. And so I came in and got my phone and got on Facebook and that's when I went to the Uvalde Police Department Facebook page and saw that they were having a large police presence at Robb Elementary School. Elementary school. So.

LEMON: And then it all unfolded right in front of you.

HOLLAND: It just going, yes. I didn't hear anymore gunfire thankfully because at that time, maybe I don't know if I can hear it because it was probably already in the school. I'm sure he was already in the school. Because I try to look at my own timeline, and I came out here and try to video at 12.10. And that's when there was still only one helicopter, and about 12.30, there was two helicopters.



LEMON: What's the gunfire sound like?

HOLLAND: I heard, I registered two pops, just like, just like that. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. This is a very small town, very small.

LEMON: You said you have a friend.

HOLLAND: Jessie.

LEMON: What happened?

HOLLAND: His daughter died in it. I haven't been able to talk to him. We haven't been able to reach him. You know, we -- my friend group, we reached out to him, but we're just -- we're giving him space. We're just giving him space.

LEMON: When you say you had reached out to him and weren't able to get him --

HOLLAND: I reached out to him after I saw him on the news, I just said, Jessie, my gosh, I'm so sorry, if there is anything I can do to help you, you know, whatever, just let me know. And I didn't get any response from him and you know, I wasn't going to push it, like, hey, hey, hey, or anything.

And that was probably 10.30 -- 10.30 here and one o'clock in the morning when I heard my phone go off. He said thank you. And then I didn't hear from him all day. You know, and I kept watching the local news to see if they found her. You know, I texted him one more time, hey, you know, just let me know if there is anything we can do.

And three minutes to noon yesterday, he just texted me, my daughter is dead. We were actually at Dairy Queen getting something cold because it was the first time we had been able to get out of here. So, it's beyond gut-wrenching and you just want to help this -- you just want to do everything you can to help them. [22:59:56]

But the best thing I know right now, if it were me, I would just want space. I wouldn't want all of this up in my face. I would just like to get my baby buried and grieve so that these guys can start the grieving process.

LEMON: Is the world different?

HOLLAND: Absolutely.