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Students Suing School District over Shooting that Killed Four; 2 Americans Reportedly Held in Russian-Backed Separatist Region; World Swimming Bans Transgender Women from Women's Events. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 20, 2022 - 13:30   ET




ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Students from a Michigan high school where a deadly mass shooting took place last month are suing the school district saying it failed to keep them safe.


Four students were killed last November when a gunman, a 15-year-old sophomore, opened fire.

Prosecutors say there were red flags before this shooting, including a drawing depicting violence spotted on the alleged shooter's desk at school that included a bullet with the words "blood everywhere" on it.

That prompted a meeting with the student and his parents, the school counselor and other school officials. But afterwards, school administrators let him return to class. And just short time later, he allegedly opened fire with a gun that had been in his backpack.

Survivors of the school shooting at Oxford High School are now suing. And they allege that school officials acted with deliberate indifference.

Their lawsuit says, in part, "Although plaintiffs survived the shooting, they have suffered irreparable harm. Every day since the tragedy that took place on November 30th, 2021, students at Oxford High School, including plaintiffs, have entered through the school doors assuming they'll have to defend themselves should another violent attack ensue."

They're asking for a transparent third-party investigation into what they say was a lack of action regarding the events and warning signings leading up to the shooting. And they want policy changes before the new year begins.

With us now is Griffin Jones, a student at Oxford High School, and part of the lawsuit. And his mother, Andrea Jones, is with us as well.

Thank you both for being here.

First, I should note you're not asking for any money in this lawsuit. Griffin, explain why you feel a lawsuit is necessary.

GRIFFIN JONES, OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Because we've asked, like, so many times, just for an investigation. We want to feel safe, and they aren't helping the students at all.

And it's not about money at all. It's just about what's right. Like, it's just -- we shouldn't have to feel how we do every day at that school. We just shouldn't have to. We shouldn't even have to have a lawsuit.

CABRERA: So what kind of response have you received when you've talked to school officials about your concerns?

GRIFFIN JONES: They just tell us they're working on something, and that there's a three-year plan. But they don't tell us what.

And that's if they respond. I've sent a bunch of emails. I've had meetings, and I never get a response. The most I get is we'll get in touch with you and they never do.

CABRERA: In the lawsuit, it says students continue to suffer irreparable harm. What does that look like for you?

GRIFFIN JONES: I mean, it's kind of different for everyone. But for myself, it's like some days I can try to get through the day and act like nothing happened to make myself feel better.

But, like, some days I don't even -- like, why would I want to go to school when I just, like, feel like if something happens again, I could be -- it could be me. It could be my friends. It could be anyone.

If something was to happen again, like, people were to get hurt, they'd haven't put in really anything to keep us safe.

CABRERA: What's it like to hear that, Mom?

ANDREA JONES, MOTHER OF GRIFFIN JONES: It's really difficult. And like you said, everybody is in a different spot. We have kids that have been back since the return date.

Some that haven't made it back. And some that are trying but have a hard time making it through the day or week. We have a lot of students that get picked up, particularly around fifth hour daily.

We're in the same hallway where the crime occurred, and that's a huge trigger for these kids. We, we have new carpet and paint, and we have closed the room off. But ultimately, they're at the scene of the crime every day. That's difficult for them.

It's particularly difficult when we have a situation where there's a new threat to the school or there's a medical issue that involves police or ambulance to come to the school. It's very triggering for the kids.

CABRERA: Andrea, what specific changes to school policy do you want to see as a parent?

ANDREA JONES: First and foremost, the thing we need most is transparency and accountability. And that starts with the third-party investigation. An unbiassed third party investigation.

Our attorney general for the state of Michigan has offered three separate times to complete an investigation in which our school board declined and offered three separate times.

She has also offered a gun detection dog to us for a year free with the handler in the school. They declined that offer was well.

We need policy changes in how the counselors and the admin are dealing with students with mental health issues as well as proper training and when it's OK to search a backpack and when to include the resource officer.


Because in our situation, our resource officer was never notified even though there were two prior meetings with our counseling office.

CABRERA: Griffin, what would make you feel safe to go back to school?

GRIFFIN JONES: The gun detection dog would really help, metal detectors, more security guards. They have security guards right now, but it's just -- it's just -- it's not -- it's not -- it doesn't help us feel safe.

To me, I feel like it's just another person in the hallway that just looks us up and down. It's not really anything. It doesn't -- you know, I don't feel safe with that.

CABRERA: Well, I'm sorry you're in that position to fear going to school.

I'm a mom, too. I can't imagine being in your shoes, Andrea, and just wanting to protect your children, your child here.

Griffin Jones and Andrea Jones, thank you both so much for joining us.

And CNN has also reached out to school officials for comment, and we have not received a response.

New details on two Americans who joined the fight against Russia. Captured. Reportedly beaten. What's next for them? We'll discuss.



CABRERA: Welcome back. We're following the headlines out of Ukraine where President Zelenskyy says he expects Russia to intensify its attacks ahead of the European Union's decision on whether to accept Ukraine as a new member. This, as we are learning more about two captured American volunteer

fighters. They are reportedly being held in the Donetsk region. This is an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists who allegedly use firing squads to execute condemned prisoners.

Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is with us.

Barbara, videos of the Americans, which CNN decided not to show, were released over the weekend. What can you tell us about them?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Ana, this is a nearly hour- long video released on YouTube by a pro-Russian Serbian nationalist channel of both American volunteer fighters, both of them, of course, former U.S. military, one Army, one Marine, Alexander Drueke and Andy Winn.

Now, when they are being interviewed, you do hear a voice behind the camera making a reference to "here in Donetsk." And so that is seen as a clue to where the men might be being held in eastern Ukraine. And what kind of fighters are in that region of Donetsk is being very closely looked at.

Drueke is asked, at one point, if he has any objections to his treatment. He referenced that he's been beaten. We're not showing any of the video because it's propaganda. Both men are speaking under duress. They are being held against their will.

What are the next steps is very difficult to determine. They are not part of a regular armed force. They were volunteers when they went. The U.S. has always cautioned Americans not to go to fight to Ukraine. It's too dangerous.

But both of them very heart felt in their interest in trying to help Ukraine against the Russians.

This is an area in eastern Ukraine where fighting continues and is very heavy, and the Russians are really pushing against Ukraine forces, which are very much trying to defend their territory there.

So it's just very difficult to see what the next steps will be, whether there's even anyone there that the U.S. or Ukrainian or Red Cross authorities can talk to about the fate of the men -- Ana?

CABRERA: Barbara Starr, thank you. We'll continue to follow their story.


A controversial ban kicks in today. Swimming's world governing body now barring any transgender women from competing in a league's women's events. More on that ahead.



A decision by the governing body for world swimming could now have major implications in the broader world of sports.

FINA, the international swimming federation, has voted to restrict transgender athletes from participating in elite women's competitions.

Now, the decision means swimmer such as American Lia Thomas will not about allowed to compete in world championships or the Olympics.

CNN sports anchor, Andy Scholes, joins us with more on this decision and what it means.

Andy, how did FINA come to the decision? And how does Lia Thomas play into the debate?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Ana, Lia Thomas who swam at the University of Pennsylvania, she's been at the center of the debate since she switched from the men's team to the women's team in 2021 for her senior year and won a women's national championship back in March.

According to the new ruling by swimming's governing body, FINA, Thomas is not going to be allowed to compete in the women's division internationally. And that means no U.S. championships, no Olympics.

And in the ruling, FINA bans transgender women from elite female competitions altogether. And reveals plans to established a new open category for transgender athletes.

Now, the decision follows a report from a FINA scientific panel, which concluded that male to female transgender athletes will only be eligible to compete in the women's category if they transition before the age of 12 or before they reach stage TWO on the puberty Tanner (ph) scale of physical development.

Now, 71 percent of 152 national swimming federations voted in favor of the decision after hearing the findings of the report from a transgender task force that was comprised of leading medical, legal and sports figures.


And this policy, it goes into effect immediately.


HUSAIN AL-MUSALIAM, FINA PRESIDENT: It is a policy that is based on science. It is a policy that we need to introduce in order to protect the competitive fairness of our -- of our event.


SCHOLES: Yes, Lia Thomas reacted to the decision, telling ESPN, quote, "The new FINA release is deeply upsetting, it's discriminatory, and will only serve to harm all women."

Ana, FINA the first governing body to release this sort of policy. After that, FIFA and world athletics, the governing body for track and field, announcing they're going to reviewing their trans-policy. We'll be hearing from them in the near future.

CABRERA: OK, Andy Scholes, thank you.

That does it for our day today. Thank you for spending part of your day with us.

The news continues right after this.