Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Updates from Connecticut Elementary Shooting; 20 Reported Killed, 10 Children

Aired December 14, 2012 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: There's still a lot of unanswered questions about those who were injured. We have reports, local reports, of multiple fatalities. We need to clear that up and find just whether or not that involved students.

We know that there are at least a couple of students who have been injured and taken to local hospitals, a teacher who was shot in the foot, a child who was -- has an injury to the face and another child who has an injury to a hand. Those three, who have been taken to Danbury Hospital.

We also know from an eyewitness who was inside of the school at the time of the shooting that the vice principal was shot in the foot and came crawling back to the office.

This is just unbelievable as we hear more of these details and we'll be getting more information from a local news conference that's going to take place very shortly.

We also heard just a few moments ago from a little girl who was inside of the school when the shooting started.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... third grade, Alexis. You told me that you were sitting in class this morning and you saw a lot of police.

Tell me how you found out what was going on.

ALEXIS WASIK, WITNESS: Well, we found, like, there was all these people, and we found out was because it was, like, right near the window in our classroom.

And, like, we saw, like, police officers and we heard them on the roof and in our building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was everybody crying, scared, wanting their parents to come get them?

WASIK: Yeah, they are. And then some people were even like -- they kind of felt they got a stomach ache.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you hear any gunshots or anything like that?

WASIK: Well, police officers, like, they were there, kind of, because there's police officers, like, right out the door, like, trying to find the guy.


MALVEAUX: Want to go to News 12 -- our affiliate, News 12 in Connecticut for the -- for this aerial shot and some of the details that they're getting.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... we have helicopters that are flying above my house, continuously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell us what happened at just shortly at 9:30 this morning. Were you in your home or were you -- what were you doing at the time? How did you know something was wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm on the phone.

OK. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's OK. Go ahead. Anyway, can you ask that again. I got sidetracked here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. No, no problem.

At about 9:30 this morning when this was all -- you know, emergency responders were getting word of this, what was happening at your house? How did you know there was a problem?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was taking the dogs out to go to the bathroom and I thought I heard a noise and they started going crazy, so I put them back in the house because I was on my way to the gym.

When I was getting in my car, I heard sirens going off, continuously, car after car after car. Some of them were flying up past my house and coming back around again and going to the school. This house is three houses away from the school, three houses away from the firehouse.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, then I seen a bunch of children with a couple of adults running up the road, going towards Treadwell Park, which is up from us.

And then, as I was getting back in my car again, because I'm trying to figure out what's going, I seen five children running up through our back fields.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, in other words, through your backyard, children are running?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, because our backyard is adjacent, the further field is adjacent to the end of the school property.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, were they just running by themselves? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I didn't see any adults. I tried to get them to stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should point out these are kids, kindergarten through fourth grade. These are young children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, little children running through your backyard.

It's our understanding what we're reading on the wires and from various sources that the children were told to immediately get out of the building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yep. And by God, those poor little guy were running.

But I want to say they were in fourth grade because they weren't tiny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to interrupt. We have a report. This is from ABC News, the network news, that they have confirmed through federal and local officials more than a dozen people, including children, were shot and killed in this school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we're not -- we have not gotten that number at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing like this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing like that. We've gotten reports of the school principal and of the school psychologist and of the apparent shooter, but this escalates this particular horrific event even further.

Did you -- I mean, after you saw the children running through your backyard, Colleen (ph), what else did you see from that point?



MALVEAUX: I want to bring by phone a security expert, retired Nassau County, New York, police officer Lou Palumbo.

And, first of all, can you explain to us, why we're hearing conflicting reports, so many different reports from those who are injured and those who are killed from various affiliates and networks and people who are on the ground?

I assume it's still a very fluid and chaotic situation.

LOU PALUMBO, FORMER NASSAU COUNTY, NEW YORK, POLICE OFFICER (via telephone): Well, the problem, Suzanne, is the fact that you have people at the site, investigators, conducting different tasks. In other words, some people are in there trying to make an accounting for who's been shot. Other people are interviewing people. You know, any time you have any type of incident, even something far more simple than this, it's difficult to get the same stories straight out of two people. This is nothing that's inconsistent.

The problem, simply stated, is they're putting the pieces of this together as we speak and that's what has some inconsistencies in reporting.

MALVEAUX: With all of your years of experience, what is taking place on the ground now? What are they trying to do? What are the priorities? What is most important?

PALUMBO (via telephone): Well, the priority right now is to identify anybody that's been injured to get them treated. What they're doing and they do this in a somewhat simultaneous fashion is they respond. They build out a perimeter. They employ containment. They start to conduct an investigation. They have to facilitate entry.

They have to identify who the shooter is, determine if there are explosives. Try to tie in whether or not that this could possibly occur in another school, which is why the school districts have been closed, you know, the area closed.

I mean, there's a number of tasks that they're doing, but the most important one is trying to give aid to those injured or possibly fatalities.

MALVEAUX: Is it important -- we've heard various reports from people inside the building that there's still children in the building. We've heard that children have been evacuated. We heart that there adults that are still in the building, that the body of the shooter is in a classroom.

What is -- should these children have been moved? Should people be out of the building or is it just best at this point for everybody to stay put inside of the school?

PALUMBO (via telephone): I think the most important thing is that everyone follow the instructions of the law enforcement agency that's in charge. There are reasons that children may or may not be moved. This is a crime scene, as we all know. They're right now trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Some of the children that are being detained at the school, they may not be able to have some type of facilitation to get them off the property and into what they would consider to be a safe environment. You know, you can't second-guess what they're doing there at this point. You know, what you have to realize is this is an immense undertaking and it's particularly sensitive because it involves our children.

So, they're trying to make as few mistakes as possible and it's impossible not to make some, but there's a method to the madness. But, most of all, this is now a crime scene. They've got to conduct interviews. They've got to determine how many shots were fired and where these shots were directed. They're trying to recover any casings, examine walls and other materials that may have projectiles lodged in them. They're trying to determine what firearms were used. You know, it's a rather broad undertaking.

MALVEAUX: All right, Lou Palumbo, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

We're going to have many more details after a quick break.


MALVEAUX: Following a breaking news story. Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a school shooting that took place this morning. The first calls getting in about 9:30, local time.

And what we are watching here, this is a News 12 Connecticut, one of our affiliates. This is raw reporting. You see some of the aerial shots there, overlooking the school.

We can confirm -- CNN can independently confirm that the shooter, the gunman, is dead and at least two employees of the school have been killed.

I want to dip into the raw coverage from our affiliate. We can't confirm the raw, live reporting that they are doing, but we certainly want to get a good look on the ground and get a sense of what they're learning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... it seems as if that scene has quieted down now.

That is the vehicle that they seem to be interested in, that black Honda. It's taped off. It was taped off very early on in this whole incident and you can see a police dog taken over to the car.

They're checking -- now, this is footage from earlier today. That's why I know what's going on a little ahead of time, but they're clearly looking for a scent, and there is a report from another television station in Connecticut that two gunmen ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... were involved and one was led away in handcuffs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, that report -- so, the early reports of two gunmen and then now with -- the ABC affiliate reporting that that other second gunman taken away in handcuffs.

At this point, all the information we've received is that the shooter, the fatality, was an adult. There are no reports of ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But then there are additional reports from other stations, other news organizations saying as many as 20 children may have been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm talking about the gunman, though, being ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. This has gotten so much worse as we've been covering it since we've been on a couple of hours.


MALVEAUX: All right, let's go to Jay Carney at the White House briefing. He's now talking about the shooting.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... respond to and begin to investigate this incident.

And, as I said, the president will receive regular updates as the day progresses.

We'll take your questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay, one follow-up on that. Can you relay to us any of the president's reactions or thoughts? Obviously, these shootings, all of them are tragic. We're hearing some particularly heinous numbers and the fact that children were involved.

CARNEY: I would rather not relay reactions at this point because I don't have any confirmation to give to you about what exactly has happened there or potential victims.

So, at this point, I'd rather just inform you that the president has been informed about the shooting, was informed at 10:30 and is being given regular updates as more information is available.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any thoughts on whether we will hear from him today?

CARNEY: You know, we'll just have to keep you updated as more information becomes available.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two other topics. In the ABC News interview, the president was asked about the legalization of marijuana in a couple of states where voters have sounded off on that and essentially said that it's not a high priority for him, no pun intended, I guess, to go after recreational users.

But, obviously, this is a serious issue, states rights versus federal rights. And I'm wondering if there's any concern ....

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... property. They were looking for, apparently, another shooter. We don't know how many people were involved.


MALVEAUX: You just heard President Obama has been informed of the shooting by his staff. Happened at about 10:30 or so this morning.

It is typical that in a scene like this, a situation, that the president would be informed rather quickly, that he would be getting regular updates from his staff and, at some point, depending on just how serious the situation is, he said certainly the president would release a statement and even perhaps come out publicly to address what has taken place in things of this nature, a national tragedy of this nature.

I want to dip back into News 12 Connecticut, our affiliate, to listen to some of the things that they're learning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, NEWS 12 CONNECTICUT: Shot in the leg or foot, taken to Danbury Hospital. The shooter, for the most part, has been confirmed. The apparent shooter dead. An adult. Two handguns. Two 9 millimeter guns recovered. Students sent running from this school. We heard Colleen Poundstone (ph), who lives just three houses away, saying children were running in the fields, which essentially is her backyard. One little boy saying, I just want to go home.

Such a disturbing scene, but unfolding so quickly this morning. But as those students were making their way to the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department, which was -- is not very far from the school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, NEWS 12 CONNECTICUT: No. it's a -- and you've been seeing it. We'll point it out again. It's right -- just to the right of that facility, which is the school, is the volunteer fire department, which is where all the kids were led, those that didn't --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flee on their own. They were marched over there in line. We actually had a picture earlier of that, of the kids arms on each other's shoulders walking in a line. That's where they were taken and that's where parents had been going to meet their kids, take them home.

We thought everything had going fairly smoothly. And, you know, one --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked like a quiet scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. As this story unfolded, it sounded as if the shooter was shot. Then possibly one other person. And now this horrible mounting death toll involving so many children and adults. It does give one pause.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, yes, but federal authorities, as we heard earlier from the assistant chief -- fire chief now. But now emergency responders are so carefully choreographed today. And so he -- though he said my knowledge on this is limited, but I will tell you that FBI and Secret Service will be involved in this. And at what point I'm not clear that --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the FBI has been on the scene. They were called in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, the local authorities, though, hand this over. And maybe ATF as well are part of this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. There have been SWAT teams. We've seen them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police dogs. And --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is an unconfirmed report that an entire classroom of kids is unaccounted for outside the school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But that may be the kids fleeing through the woods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who ran on their own.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the sad, I think, probably one of the realities from something like this is Connecticut school children now will be taking on a whole new kind of -- it won't be just the fire drill from this point forward. A sad reality, but it very much may be part of their school year, training for an evacuation in the event of something as horrific as this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CBS News -- this is the network -- reporting 27 dead. Twenty-seven dead. Columbine had, what was it, 15 the producer just said? Fifteen including the shooter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this -- which would mean this will take us to the worst school shooting --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the history of the United States. On a quiet Friday, very pretty, chilly, late fall day. You know, most people go into their Friday morning with, you know, somewhat more light-hearted thinking, here we are, a weekend, a holiday weekend, shopping, Santa Claus, you know, the final night of Hanukkah and coming up this weekend. And then to have a horrific shooting like this take place with such young children.

MALVEAUX: CNN cannot independently confirm what some of -- what you've been hearing on the affiliates and they have gotten second-hand as well what they are hearing in terms of the death toll.

I want to bring in our own Susan Candiotti, who has been following and talking to law enforcement officials on the very latest. What -- I understand we've lost the connection. We're going to get back to Susan in just a moment. Let's go -- let's dip back into our affiliate, News 12.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Chopper 12 will be back live any minute now, because I'm guessing they fueled up at the Danbury Airport, which is very nearby there. And in just about 10 minutes, we will have for you live the news conference from a park not that far.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think -- that woman we spoke with was afraid the kids were --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Colleen Poundstone (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were going to run up to that park.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She wanted them on the road, because just running through the woods, especially when there are emergency police. We saw a photograph earlier of police combing through the woods -- or standing through, you know, in that area. You know, she was the wife of a military man and had many briefings on terrorism preparedness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On terrorism -- yes.


MALVEAUX: Want to bring in our Susan Candiotti, who's been speaking with law enforcement officials.

Susan, what have we learned this morning?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Suzanne, some heartbreaking news now from a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation that close to 20 people have been killed at this school shooting. And among them, at least 10 are children, Suzanne. This is new information coming to us from a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation.

We do know that the suspected shooter's body was discovered in a classroom, but we do not know how the suspected shooter died, whether it was by his own hand or by police or in some other way. That information we're still waiting for.

And there is a news conference, as you know, coming up to be held by the Connecticut State Police. We know that the governor's office has been monitoring this situation throughout. And they are in close contact with police as well. But this is, of course, terrible news about the identity of those who are killed, both adults and children. At least 10 of them children.

MALVEAUX: That is just devastating to hear. Susan, do we have a sense, in this press conference that is going to occur in about 10 minutes or so, whether or not that number could be even higher?

CANDIOTTI: I am hearing that that may be the case. We also have, according to another source, that the principal, the school's principal, was among those killed as well. So, yes. And as a matter of fact, here at the site, we very recently saw federal, local officials as well, law enforcement officials, with guns at their side, searching -- continuing to search the area around the school. They appear to be looking at various cars. Now, we don't know whether they are searching for someone specifically. But we do know from earlier information we had that protectively they continue to look through the area --

MALVEAUX: All right.

CANDIOTTI: Make sure that everyone connected to the shooting was found. Still, no kind of motive has been revealed at this time.

MALVEAUX: Susan, is there any sense from those who you're speaking with whether or not those who were tragically killed, if this took place in one particular part of the school? Could it have been one classroom or something where they believe the gunman went from class to class?

CANDIOTTI: We just don't know. It's too early. But, of course, those are among the details that we hope to learn, as well as who the shooter was, what the connection was, if any, between the shooter and the school. Those are among so many questions that we all have right now.

MALVEAUX: Do we have any sense of whether or not the parents of these children have been notified about their children?

CANDIOTTI: No information about that either. We do know that when a lot of the children were led out of the school, and I'm sure you've seen the pictures of them in a line with hands on each other's shoulder of the child in front of them, that one of the staging areas was a nearby firehouse. We have also seen some children and parents in the vicinity of the school also walking about, not on the school site. But, in any case, we don't -- we are sure, as they have done in so many cases prior to this, trying to get counseling available for those children just as soon as possible.

MALVEAUX: I can only imagine the fear and concern when people hear these numbers. Is there any sense of a process or some sort of way of getting information to people, to parents, and to children about the state of their loved ones in that school?

CANDIOTTI: Well, I don't know exactly what kind of process they have set up or system that they've set up here for the children. But, of course, the police were on the scene very quickly. They have been making sure that they were shepherding the children to a safe location. And I'm sure among the many things they are doing is to get as much information to the parents as is possible, but we don't have any of those details yet either. We arrived on the scene only a short time ago, so we'll try to continue to get that information for you.

MALVEAUX: Do you have any sense on the scene whether or not parents are aware of the number of people, the number of casualties, and the fact that 10 children have been killed?

CANDIOTTI: I just do not, Suzanne. This is brand-new information. So I haven't had a chance to sample any opinions or find out from anyone in the area whether that information is widely available as yet. MALVEAUX: Sure. And, Susan, finally, can you give us a sense of what it is like? We're looking at live pictures, of course. We see a lot of the emergency personnel. We have seen pictures with children. We have seen worried parents. And we see focus on this one particular vehicle that has been cordoned off. Give us a sense of what it is like there close to the school and close to those officials who will be soon speaking with us about some of the details that they've just learned.

CANDIOTTI: Well, you can imagine it's just -- you know, it's been described in the immediate aftermath as chaos. And now there is just utter sadness, there is shock that you see on the faces of people who clearly and understandably are shaken by what has happened here, not to mention, as you indicated, Suzanne, what these children, who may have witnessed this, and certainly would have heard it and have been -- were quickly hurried out of that school as soon as it was safe to do so, what they will be going through. The trauma that has been heaped upon them, as well as this community. So all of that will be played out, of course, in these few short hours.

But there is still a lot of police activity in the area as we continue to see federal, state and local law enforcement authorities walking about, not only around the school, but also some surrounding businesses around the area. They appear to be, as I said, checking cars, looking around. And you get a sense that they are checking to make sure -- and some of my sources have told me -- that the area is secure.

MALVEAUX: All right. Susan Candiotti, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Of course, we are following this breaking news story. Sandy Hook Elementary School out of Newtown, Connecticut. Not far from New York. We have just learned really devastating news that 20 people killed in this school shooting, including 10 children.

We're going to take a quick break. We're waiting for a police briefing that will happen very shortly.


MALVEAUX: Want to go directly to News 12 Connecticut, our affiliate, to learn more about the school shooting that we are falling. This at Sandy Hook Elementary School out of Newtown, Connecticut. Now confirmed 20 people killed in this school shooting. Let's listen in.