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Don Lemon Tonight

Families Hurt And Perplexed; Time To Change The System; President Biden To Visit Victims' Families; People Hopes For A Bipartisan Gun Law; Governor Abbott Blames Mental Health; Garcia Children Now Orphaned. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 27, 2022 - 22:00   ET




STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: At 11.37 there was more gunfire, another 16 rounds was fired. At 11.37, one at 11.37. And 16 seconds at 11.38, 11.40, 11.44. At 11.51 a police sergeant, and USB agents then started to arrive. At 12.03, you know, officers get -- continue to arrive in the hallway, and there as many as 19 officers at that time in that hallway.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Officers did not enter the room until a janitor provided keys.

MCCRAW: They breached the door using keys that they were able to get from the janitor, because both doors were locked. Both of the classrooms that he shot into were locked when officers arrived. They killed the suspect at that time.

CARROLL: In that crucial time, survivors inside both classrooms made desperate calls to 911.

MCCRAW: She identified herself, whispered that she was in room 112. At 12.10, she called back, in room 12 advised there were multiple dead. At 12.13, again she called on the phone. Again at 12.16 pm, she called back and said there were eight to nine students alive.

CARROLL: Minutes later, a student called.

MCCRAW: The student child called back. She was told to stay on the line and be very quiet. She told 911 that he shot the door. At approximately 12.43 and 12.47, she asked 911 to please send the police now.

CARROLL: Alfred Garza says his daughter, Amerie, may have been one of those students who tried to call 911. She was killed during the shooting.

ALFRED GARZA, PARENT OF DECEASED STUDENT: Something has to be done now. You know, where do we go, where do we go from here? You know? You were wrong. What do we do now? That is my question. What are we going to do now?

CARROLL: The accountability that you're talking about?

GARZA: Right. Accountability. Somebody has got to -- somebody has got to be responsible.

CARROLL: Warning signs were missed.

MCCRAW: The Ramos ask his sister to help him to buy a gun. She flatly refused. That was in September of '21.

CARROLL: With social media group chats and posts as far back as last February offering red flags.

MCCRAW: He had Instagram, a four-group chat. And it was discussed that Ramos being a school shooter. That was on February 28th of 2022. On March 14th there was an Instagram posting by the subject in quotations, 10 more days. A user replied, are you going to shoot up the school or something? The subject replied, no. And stop asking dumb questions and you will see.


CARROLL: And Pamela, the governor says that he expects new laws to be passed to address what happened out here. He also says all those law enforcement officials that were involved will be investigated both by the Texas Rangers and the FBI. Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: All right, Shimon, I want to bring you in. You have been on the ground since the start reporting the story. What more are we learning about when border patrol agents entered that classroom where the gunman was?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: We're told that the gunman was hiding in a closet, almost waiting for the border patrol agents to burst through the door. And that he started firing at those agents from this closet. We're told that he kicked open the closet door and began shooting at the agents.

Once they got inside the classroom, breaking through that door after some hour delay in getting through that door. And so, the gunman, it appears, was ready for them to come in and he started firing at them, Pam.

BROWN: And Andrew, you know, it's so often in these mass shootings, we go back and we look at if there was a digital trail. And so often, there is one. In this case, several users on the social media app Yubo, tells CNN the gunman made threats to rape girls and to shoot up schools. Given threats like that, and he is buying of more than 1000 rounds of ammunition, how big where this missed red flags?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it's really hard to say, Pam. We need -- there is a lot more we need to know about that digital footprint. If he was making comments like this in publicly available posts, then it's possible some of those may have come across law enforcement's attention.

Because making these comments in private messages to one or two or small groups of people, it's unlikely that these will come to the attention of law enforcement unless one of those members of the public, or part to that conversation, stands up and speaks up and indicates to the authorities that they think there is a problem with somebody they know.


But that's exceedingly rare. It's what we need the public to do but it's very hard information to come across.

BROWN: Jason, I want to bring you in again. You know, when we heard about the developments in the press conference, there's just so much emotion all around. Right?


BROWN: But you cannot even begin to fathom what it was like for those parents. Parents who lost their child, lost a loved one, and parents whose child did survive barely. You have been talking to parents. What has their reaction been in Uvalde to today's press conference?

CARROLL: Well, I immediately, Pamela, I think of Alfred Garza who I spoke to earlier today. As you know, his 10-year-old daughter Amerie was one of those who was killed. And you know, when we broke the news to him about, you know, what had happened, about this tragic error in delay in reaching that door. You know, he said, he said, look, I thought -- law enforcement told us that they did everything that they could.

And now he is learning that that was not the case. And when we talked about the range of emotions that he was dealing with, he said, you know, he said, I'm dealing with so much grief at this point, he said anger is one of those emotions that you just simply have to set aside. He said he did not want his daughter to die in vain.

And the big point that he wanted to make and drive home was about accountability. And at this point, this is one man who is saying that he wants to know what that accountability is going to look like. That's why he is now going to be listening very closely to what the governor says, what other law enforcement officials say. He wants to know, at this point, who is going to be held accountable and how. Pamela?

BROWN: What do you think, Andrew? What do you think accountability should look like here? As we know, Shimon have been pressing on that, hasn't gotten a straight answer. What do you think, Andrew?

MCCABE: I mean, it doesn't get any more clearer than what you heard from the Department of Public Safety today. That the decision that was made to hold that team up to prevent them from going in and stopping this attack was a massive, massive wrong decision.

So, accountability certainly should start there. But it shouldn't end there. We have to continue this investigation. And understand everything that happened. And I might add, understand it from a source with more credibility than the Texas Department of Public Safety. We have been misled by that department, by multiple members of that

department all week. If I were running the FBI response and collaboration in this investigation right now, I wouldn't take anything they said at face value. I would want to verify every single finding with my own independent evidence. I expect that's what the FBI is doing now. And it will be that sort of investigation that leads to true accountability, hopefully.

BROWN: And on that note, I want to share with the viewers your exchange, Shimon, with the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety today.


PROKUPECZ: You have people who are alive, children calling 911, saying, please send the police. They are alive in the classroom. There are lives that are at risk.

MCCRAW: Hey --


PROKUPECZ: That's not protocol, is it?

MCCRAW: We are well aware of that.

PROKUPECZ: Right. But why was this decision made not to go in and rescue these children?

MCCRAW: Again, you know, the on- scene commander considered a barricaded subject and that there was time and that there were no more children at risk. Obviously, obviously, you know, based upon the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk. And it was, in fact, still an active shooter situation and not a barricaded subject.


BROWN: Shimon, have you learned more about whether these 911 calls from kids, still alive in that classroom were communicated to the unseen commander?

PROKUPECZ: It doesn't appear that that was the case. Because we did ask the officials here at that press conference -- reporters were asking that question. And we couldn't get an answer. It doesn't appear that that was the case. You know, normally, you do that in these situations, and 911 operators are communicating with police officers on the ground in the middle of these situations. And we just don't have any indication that that was done in this case.

Also, an important part of a scene like this is something that authorities will have to look into -- because that's a failure. That's another failure that communications like that should have been made to police officers here on the ground.

BROWN: But you know, Andrew, that is -- that is absolutely true. But even if it wasn't communicated to the on-site commander and the officers on the ground, are you surprised that they -- that the on- site commander made this determination? That no one was at risk inside? And that no other officers in the hallway didn't just break rank and try to break into the classroom?


MCCABE: The commander's decision that no one was at risk is unfathomable. It is -- you can't -- I can't understand that on any level. And even if he mistakenly assessed it to be a barricaded subject situation, instead of an active shooter, even in a barricaded subject situation, once you have any indication that that barricaded subject is harming the hostages, you still send the tactical team.

That being said, the idea that 19 or 17 law enforcement officers could not (Inaudible) within an hour (Inaudible) gunfire (Inaudible) and didn't defy the awful mistaken orders of their command and just go in and try to help is, it's shocking to me. I don't understand it.

BROWN: It's upsetting. It's upsetting.

MCCABE: It is.

BROWN: Jason, how is Governor Abbott explaining the different version of events that he was telling just two days ago? When he said that,


BROWN: -- thanks to their quick action, this could have been much worse.

CARROLL: Right. And that was his initial comment, as you remember. And many of us who were watching that initial press briefing saying that these law enforcement officers -- basically painting them as heroes, portraying them that way. And now we come to find out that that was not the case.

But again, you heard the governor today completely flipping on that and saying that he was misled like the rest of the people and the public. Saying he wants to get to the bottom of it. And saying that at the end of the day, that perhaps new laws would be passed in response to what happened here.

And just to bring up one more point, and talking about those 911 calls -- again, Alfred Garza believes that his daughter may have been one of those people that placed one of those 911 calls. And so, you have to wonder what parents are thinking at this point.

What if, at a certain point, these officers had moved in in five minutes? Who could have been saved? Ten minutes? Who could have been saved? Thirty minutes, who could have been saved? Forty minutes. These are some of the questions now that these parents, who are already grieving, already dealing with so much, now were second guessing and asking themselves.

BROWN: It is just agonizing. I can't stop thinking about that dad. Because he was told by her friend, after that she, his daughter was the one trying to call, was on the phone trying to call the cops in. And to think this happened. And you're right. You make the important point that, you know, how many kids could have blood out during that time?

Could have gotten, if they have gotten in, gotten that the help they needed sooner would they have survived? I mean, these are the questions you don't even want to, to have to ask. And we likely will never know the answers to them. But of course, we want to make sure this never happens again.

And Shimon, we've all covered way too many of these mass shootings. Have you ever had this much trouble getting answers to basic questions of law enforcement?

PROKUPECZ: No. So, sadly, I covered Buffalo last week, a completely different response from the Buffalo police from the authorities there. Everyone worked seamlessly, the FBI, the ATF, the Buffalo police, all working together. They answered every question. They were right on. And we never had this issue of mistrust.

We started having that issue here where we couldn't really believe what we were being told. And in many ways what we are being told is what the families are being told because they are watching. So, that's how they are learning some of this information.

And think about that. They have been given bad information now. It's so painful. I've covered other shootings and there is always this fog of war, there's always, especially in the beginning. But this many days into an incident, it should not be like this.


PROKUPECZ: And that's why, honestly, you know, it wasn't only me pushing here. All the reporters here who were pushing for information to get the truth. And finally, today, we got that.

BROWN: We got that. You have been asking the hard questions, Shimon and doing excellent work on the ground. You as well, Jason, and Andrew McCabe, thank you so much for the conversation.

President Joe Biden headed to Uvalde on Sunday. What he should say about this unspeakable tragedy.



BROWN: President Biden and the first lady will travel to Uvalde, Texas this Sunday. It will be the second time in just two weeks that the president will be addressing the families of mass shooting victims. So, what will he say to a community and nation grappling with another unspeakable loss?

Joining me now to discuss CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, he is the author of the new book, "Hearts Touched With Fire: How Great Leaders Are Made."

Hi, good evening to you, David. What does the president need to say when he's in Uvalde this weekend?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Hello, Pamela. I think the first thing that he and the White House staff need to do is to go back and investigate the Clinton years during the Oklahoma City bombing. At that point, President Clinton was in real trouble in his presidency. But the deafness he showed, the mourning that he showed, the sympathy he showed, the empathy that he showed in Oklahoma City when he went out there created a pivot in his presidency. He was a much stronger president there after those turning points that you have.

And so, I think now is for Joe Biden and company to make sure they -- they engage with the public in a similar way. But having said that, Pam, it's also true that the president has already given the talk in the last couple of nights in which she wept and essentially mourned with the families. So, I don't think you necessarily needs to make that the whole of his talk.


I think rather he needs to, without politicizing the issue, make it clear that he is going to take action and when they go back to Washington and he will bring people and really come up with solutions.

If I may say one more thing, Pam, I think it's really been very helpful this evening to know and to learn how badly screwed up the teams were in trying to save those kids, especially the commander. And there is some suggestion that people wanted to run away from the shooting. This is in Parkland, people (Inaudible).

But I think there is some -- there is some danger if we scapegoat too much. If we create a narrative that what went wrong here was the people running the show screwed it up. There is a much deeper problem here. And that's the one that drew (Inaudible) when he was on your show earlier.

And that is, that 18-year-olds simply cannot handle their kind of responsibility that goes with having a gun like this, an assault weapon like this. I thought his suggestion of going and moving the age from 18 to 25 makes a lot of sense. He said it could be done in a bipartisan way.

If that's the case, that is a much -- that is a much cleaner way, and I think the president needs to be giving some fortes to this when he goes to -- when he goes out to Texas, but not so much that he focuses on all of the grief -- certainly not on himself, but gives a sense of the country, I am the commander-in-chief. I'm going to do something about this. We are going to be tough on this. We are not walking away from it.

BROWN: Right. I mean, the reality is, David, is the White House is essentially saying look, this is on Congress. I mean, the president is demanding action. But there is little optimism that we're actually going to see meaningful change from Congress on this. I mean, is there any way out of this political impasse?

GERGEN: Sure. Look, what is leadership about if it's not to create followers for a path that may or may not be very popular? But to convince them that that's the right way to go? That has to come from the White House. The buck stops there in the Oval Office.

So, we can't simply say where does the congressional problem and walk away from it. We elect presidents to solve big problems on their watch. And that's what's required of this administration, just since it has been required of other administrations, why, you know, President Obama found it so tough and so hard because it was hard to solve. It is a hard problem to solve. But you can't pass the buck.

BROWN: And we know that vice president -- the former Vice President Biden, he was tasked with handling the, you know, Sandy Hook legislation that never came to be.


BROWN: You know, what could he do differently this time? What do you think he could learn from that experience and imply -- apply to this time as president?

GERGEN: Well, honestly, I think he probably can learn more from the last few years, you know, of working as vice president, if he focused on a lot of what happened during the Obama years. But I'm -- look, I'm not sure there is anyone answer to how to solve this problem. What I do think is the president needs to be bringing to the table a wide array of people, so that we hear from different voices on this.

And we know that public sympathy is already high for some sort of background checks and things like that, 70 or 80 percent approval for that. What the president has to do, what the White House has to do is to mobilize people. Translate that into votes on the Hill. You can't just simply say well we can't get it done because the Hill does not going to do it. That's why we have elections.

And if there's anything the Democratic Party ought to be standing for in the midterm elections beyond the abortion question, it is certainly this question of what to do about guns in the hands of 18-year-olds.

BROWN: Are you concerned, though, that the country is becoming numb to these mass shootings?


BROWN: Even in a horrific situation like this with 19 kids being killed in a school. I mean, these shootings happen so frequently. What do you think?

GERGEN: Yes, yes. I do think just as we, you know, just as we found during the Trump years, you know, we became all the lies that came out. I do think there is a question of becoming numb to this. The -- my sense of it is right now that there is an anger level which we haven't seen as clearly as it has been coming out. That people are -- people are concluding, the American people are

concluding these -- our leaders don't have what it takes to get this solved. And that is a -- you know, once you get into that posture your authority begins to erode and you can't leave very easily. That's why it's so important for the president to stand up and be tough on this. Very tough about where we are going, because we're not going to solve it with a series of man be pan be kind of solutions.


BROWN: David Gergen, thank you so much for taking time to share your insights --


GERGEN: Pamela, thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: -- and perspectives tonight.

Well, the NRA holding an annual meeting in Texas just days after the Uvalde massacre, the message at the conference, shunning gun reforms and boosting school security. That's next.




UNKNOWN: I'm looking right at you, the NRA, today. I don't want any more of my peers die in a school.



BROWN: A passionate declaration from just one of the hundreds of protesters right outside the NRA's convention today. Texas Governor Greg Abbott offered taped remarks. Former President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz each spoke in person. All of them rejecting any kind of gun reform and instead calling for security overhaul in schools.

I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who represents the district where the NRA meeting is being held.

Congresswoman, the NRA is resounding message was that evil. Not guns are to blame for the tragedies we're seeing. The Texas governor even said this. Let's take a listen.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): There are thousands of laws on the books across the country that limit the owning or using of firearms, laws that have not stopped mad men from carrying out evil acts on innocent people and peaceful communities.


BROWN: What is your response from what you heard from him today?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, Pamela, although this is a very sad occasion, I thank you for having me. I don't know whether Governor Abbott has, at any moment of his many trips to Uvalde looked into the eyes of the brokenhearted parents who now are part of a club of 19 dead children in Uvalde.

His arguments are tired, they are stale, and they are without mercy. We are not going to accept it anymore. Governor Abbott is old and dated. He carries old messages and does nothing. This state has the poorest record of gun safety regulation. We live in a nation with 400 million guns and 45 percent of the world's guns. And he is absolutely wrong.

Countries like New Zealand and France and the United Kingdom and Australia put in restrictive laws after mass murders and they came down. And what do we do? We have no universal background checks here in the United States or Texas. And so, right in my district, in the NRA convention they were selling guns without background check checks at private gun shows.

They don't care about domestic abuse. They don't care about intervention on violence -- no laws and they don't have any red flag laws. And they certainly have not banned assault weapons.

So, what I would say is that our state is a partner. And the massacres have occurred, from El Paso to the church, to now this devastating blow to America's own dignity because they have let down their people. And I, for one, will not tolerate this exhausting and poor response, which includes Donald Trump's absolutely absurd comments that what you need when you see guns is a good guy with a gun.

Well, I will tell you that this is evidence that if the perpetrator has weapons of war, and it has the unbelievable automatic weapon, it doesn't work.

BROWN: Your state seems to be ground zero for these mass shootings in many ways. And we looked at the numbers since 2009. We've seen eight massacres occur. What is it about your state that this keeps happening?

LEE: Well, Pamela, I think the people of the state are quite different from the leadership. Just like the very money hungry NRA gun lobby. It may be different from the membership that our grandmothers and grandfathers and families who say they want gun safety legislation. But the gun lobby bullies, takes money from manufacturers, and nothing gets done.

In my state, our leadership is tied to the hip of the gun lobby. And we have legislators in our state legislature, Senator Gutierrez who has offered red flag laws, defeated, who has offered gun safety laws, defeated.

Well, here is the message now. The message is that the people of the state are speaking and the people of the nation are speaking. And we are going to pass gun safety laws. And put them on the desk of the President of the United States. And Governor Abbott needs to get out of the way. And he needs to stand down. Because what a governor who cares would do is call a special session because this is a crisis that is unspeakable.

BROWN: And there are --

LEE: There are 19 dead children and two wonderful teachers.



LEE: And we cannot, we cannot be without action.

BROWN: And there could be a special session called. I don't think the governor --

LEE: Yes.

BROWN: -- put that off the table. You mentioned these background checks and the red flag laws. We know that they are part of negotiations between GOP Senator John Cornyn and Democrat Chris Murphy. Can you give us any insight into how these talks are going? What, if anything, there is common ground on?

LEE: Well, first of all, for the House of Representatives, let me celebrate the fact that we will be moving gun legislation. We are being called back. We are called back this coming week. And we will be working. And we'll have a package of gun laws. That will be done.

As it relates to the Senate, as you well know, Senator Murphy, who has been at the forefront -- and I know his work well. He has been given ten days. And Senator Cornyn has gone back. I have worked with Senator Cornyn. I hope that the backdrop of these children -- these precious children who cannot hug teddy bears anymore, or Legos, or run around the play on the field.

I hope that will be what will be he will be listening to. And not, as I said, the bullying gun lobby. If he does that, there are many compromises that, I think, can be affected. There is a 90 percent support.

And I believe a much membership of the NRA for a universal background check. And what that means is that you close the gun show loopholes. So, there might be a compromise on a waiting period to purchase the assault weapon or raising the age to 21 or I've heard 25.

Those initiatives do not violate the integrity of the Second Amendment. In fact, no gun safety laws do so. And the false arguments about the attack on the Second Amendment -- Pamela, you know that you cannot change constitutional amendments with the flick of an eye.

And so, what we need to focus on what is real. And I think Senator Cornyn, a lawyer, a former attorney general of the state, I would just ask him to listen to his -- I say -- higher angels. And that is, the deep hole pain that is in these families that will never be healed and the lives that will never result in the leaders that they could be.

That's what I'm hoping he will join in. If he can bring to Minority Leader McConnell, the fact that we've worked hard enough, that this is a fair compromise, let's put it on the floor. Then the president can be signing gun legislation within the month. And that's what we need to do.

So, they are now working. We will go back, the House, and we will work. But we will pass gun safety legislation and we will send it to the Senate. And that means the Senate can work with our legislation. And they can come up with a compromise that I think would be palatable. And will be applicable to the hurt and pain that is going on.


LEE: To do nothing, Pamela, on my watch, is absolutely unacceptable. We cannot do nothing. And as I go to Uvalde -- I can't go there and tell those families that we are doing nothing for them in the midst of their crisis and their pain.

BROWN: All right, Congresswoman, thank you so much for your time on this Friday night. We appreciate it.

LEE: Thank you so much.

BROWN: Well, Texas Governor Greg Abbott dismissing gun legislation and trying to put the focus squarely on mental health. But his actions show his priorities are elsewhere.



BROWN: Well, this is a hard fact. The Texas school gunman who killed 19 children and two teenagers -- teachers, rather, legally purchased two assault rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition for his 18th birthday. Powerful assault weapons designed to kill.

But according to Governor Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, who is a staunch opponent of gun laws, weapons are not the issue in this mass killing. Mental health is the issue.

More tonight from CNN's Nick Watt.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Governor Greg Abbott isn't talking at all about gun control. But he does talk a lot about mental health.

ABBOTT: Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period.

WATT: This at his press conference the day after those 21 murders in Uvalde.

ABBOTT: We, as a government need to find a way to target that mental health challenge and to do something about it.

WATT: Nearly five years ago, after 26 were slaughtered in a Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, he told CNN this.

ABBOTT: One of the challenges we have to deal with is not just evil but also mental health challenges.

WATT: Today, nearly five years later, mental health -- America's 2022 access to care rankings puts Texas dead last.

Governor Abbott clearly has other priorities. Just a month ago, he diverted nearly half a billion dollars of mostly COVID relief surplus funds to what he calls the disaster at the southern border while taking a political pop at President Biden's open border policies. And he said this. Texans' safety and security is our top priority. And we will continue fighting to keep our community safe.

But undocumented immigrants have substantially lower crime rates than native born citizens, states of recent academic study of Texas the most aggressive immigrant removal programs have not delivered on their crime reduction promises and are unlikely to do so in the future.


To be fair, Operation Lone Star does also target illegal drugs seeping into Texas. But in the meantime, at least 388 people have been killed in mass shootings in Texas on Governor Abbott's watch while he has rolled back gun restrictions.


WATT: So, briefly back to that, nearly half a billion dollars that was diverted down to the border, now it was taken from various departments in Texas and they were essentially reimbursed with money that was surplus COVID relief funds.

Now, the governor took more than $200 million from the Department of Health and Human Services. And that led some people to say, hang on, is he taking money away from health care? His office tells me that is, quote, "completely inaccurate." The department tells me that all of their mental health programs are, indeed, fully funded.

And in the budgets, we do see a modest uptick in mental health funding over the past couple of years. The governor's spokesperson also told me that he works very hard to increase funding and access to mental health care in Texas. But don't forget that poll. Access to mental health care, Texas rates last in the country. Pamela?

BROWN: Thank you. And it's also important to note to our viewers that the vast majority of people with mental health issues do not engage in mass shootings like this. It is pure evil. Thanks so much.

Well, Irma Garcia was one of the teachers killed in the Uvalde massacre. Her husband Joe died two days later. And family say it was due to a broken heart. Did he die of broken heart syndrome? That's next.



BROWN: A family of Uvalde school shooting victim Irma Garcia sadly facing another tragedy this week. Her husband Joe Garcia passing away just two days after his wife was killed. The couple were high school sweethearts. Together for more than 25 years. They had four children together, two sons and two daughters.

Last night, the Uvalde community wrapped their arms around now orphaned children during a mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The archdiocese of San Antonio telling CNN Joe suffered a fatal heart attack. But family members say he died of a broken heart.

For more, let's bring in Dr. Ilan Wittstein, director of John Hopkins Hospital's advanced heart failure and transplant training program.

So, doctor, this is such a tragic story. And broken heart syndrome is a real thing. What can you tell us about it?

ILAN WITTSTEIN, DIRECTOR, ADVANCED HEART FAILURE AND TRANSPLANT TRAINING PROGRAM, JOHN HOPKINS: Well, thanks for having me on. Yes, broken heart syndrome is truly a real thing. This is something that about 20 years ago in this country knew nothing about. And since that time, we've learned quite a bit about it. And what we mean when we say broken heart syndrome is that the heart muscle suddenly weakens in the setting of either acute emotional stress and sometimes physical stress. But in this case emotional and causes the heart which is a pump to be incapable of supplying the rest of the body with blood. This can result in low blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and in a worst-case scenario, death.

BROWN: So, do you think Joe Garcia died from broken heart syndrome from what you can tell?

WITTSTEIN: Yes. So, whenever someone dies when they are going through extreme grief, I think it's safe to say that it's one of three mechanisms. I mean, truly is due to the stress response system, which involves the production of chemicals like adrenaline and nor adrenaline. Those three mechanisms are either a true heart attack where a blood clot forms in one of the arteries that's supplying the heart with blood.

The second ways that these chemicals can cause instability of the heart's electrical system and cause rhythm abnormalities that are incompatible with life. And the third ways that these chemicals directly go to the heart, weaken the heart and cause it to be an ineffective pump and incapable of supplying the heart and the rest of the body with the blood it means.

So, I do think it's directly related to the emotional trauma he was going through, and likely one of these three mechanisms. BROWN: All right. Dr. Ilan Wittstein, thank you. So sad. Really just

so sad. We'll be right back.



BROWN: The Uvalde school massacre has left millions of Americans profoundly shaken. It happened as we mark the two years since the horror of George Floyd's murder and just two weeks after a gunman killed 10 innocent people at a Buffalo supermarket. The shock of these violent tragedies has many parents asking what do we say to our kids?

Well, 2014 top 10 CNN hero, Annette March-Grier, who help children in their families cope with grief share with some advice.


ANNETTE MARCH-GRIER, 2010 CNN HERO: The tragedy that we all just experienced in Texas has resulted in a traumatic event that has impacted not just Texas families. Children around the world may experience some type of stress response. It could trigger previous crises that they may have experienced.

And it's really important for adults to observe the reactions that their children may have as a result of this event. Having sleep problems and eating problems, and having anxiety and worries, they may be more clingy to their parents. They may even have a fear of going to school.

Hug your child. Ask them questions about their feelings. Don't provide more information than what they are asking. Help them to understand that things happen sometimes, and we have no answers. Keep some type of structure and routine in their lives so that they can feel safe.

We all need to learn from this experience how we can best help our young people to grow up to be healthy individuals psychologically, emotionally and physically.


And we can get through this crisis and we can get through together, supporting one another so that hopefully we can prevent something like this from ever happening again.