Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Survivors of 2021 Oxford High Mass Shooting Sue School Officials; Six People Hospitalize After Taxi Jumps Curb in NYC; Vaccines for Children Under 5 Could Be Available by Tomorrow; Soaring 100+ Temperatures Plague Parts of U.S. Again. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 20, 2022 - 15:30   ET



BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, the teachers having more counseling, understanding of what they need to be doing in these sort of situations. Maybe they should be checking the backpacks. All of these things they want changed. And so, that's why this lawsuit was files.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I remember that day, we were sitting here and wondering why there weren't questions asked? Why the parents weren't notified or forced to take him home after that shooting in November? I can't believe it's be seven months.

GINGRAS: I know, it's so much. Again, it has come out in all the court proceedings that we've seen with both Ethan Crumbley and his parents. So, a lot to learn.

BLACKWELL: Brynn Gingras, Thank you.

Joining me, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Scott Weidenfeller and Mason Bourgeau, one of the surviving Oxford High School students who's part of the suit and his mother Lori join me. Thank you for being with me. Mason, let me start with you, because according to the lawsuit you and others continue to suffer irreparable harm after the shooting. I mentioned to Brynn, I can't believe it has been seven months. How have the last seven months been for you?

MASON BOURGEAU, STUDENT, OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL: They've been really stressful, really. It's been a struggle with, you know, just depression and just mental, you know, it's affecting -- it's weird because I mean I knew two of these -- the kids and it's weird not knowing.

BLACKWELL: Yes, not to have them anymore. Scott, we heard a bit of the lawsuit, you say that the district officials failed to heed the constitutional obligations to safeguard the safety of the students. Explain your case.

SCOTT WEIDENFELLER, ATTORNEY, GREWAL LAW: Yes, thank you, Victor. One of the things we're seeking is Oxford's Schools had this rule that they could not detain a child and they had to return a child to class unless there was a disciplinary issue. Even though this student and in this case, Ethan was, you know, suicidal. And most of the shooters are suicidal. So, we're seeking a court order, which is kind of an extraordinary step. But we're requesting the court to intervene here to change some of these policies for the safety of these children going into the new school year. Also, for risk assessment training for school staff, for reporting and detaining kids and understanding, you know, which kids are suicidal. Most of these shooters do seem to be suicidal.

The other thing we're looking for is, you know, the Michigan Attorney General here Dana Nestle, she offered three times to do a fully transparent investigation at Oxford School, but the school board shut them down three times in a row. And so, I think all these parents are just -- at this point really frustrated. We need some change for the safety of these kids and there are some things that can be done and that's point of the lawsuit, not monetary compensation.

BLACKWELL: Lori, Scott makes an important point there, that this is not about money, this is about safety. This is about also setting some standards for families who survived these types of attacks. What do you want to come out of this lawsuit?

LORI BOURGEAU, MOTHER OF OXFORD SCHOOL STUDENT: Well, we need a lot of changes in the school. We need a lot of training. We need to feel confident that our children are safe when they're at school. There's a huge lack of threat assessment program at the school. As we know they seem to look at each individual event but need to be looking at trends. This student had weeks, months' worth of teachers saying something's not right. And when it gets down to it, they just look at one individual day, each day is separate, and that's very dangerous. It is a risky way to look at it.

BLACKWELL: Mason, we know that you had to, in the second semester, return to Oxford High School, and actually, to the classroom where you were while this was happening. Do you feel safe at school? What do you feel when you were in that room?

J. BOURGEAU: No, I don't feel safe at all. Actually, I'm surprised that they even let any of the kids that were in fifth hour go back to their fifth hour. I'm surprised that the school board hasn't changed different class rooms around so we didn't have to go into the same exact room. They really just kind of almost threw us in, they offered like a spot in the office, but they didn't really offer us any, like, changes to our classroom, kind of threw us right back in.

BLACKWELL: I know one of the things, Mason, that you're concerned about is a proper memorial for your friends, and the two others who were killed at the school that day in November. What are you hoping for?


J. BOURGEAU: I'm hoping for the school board to actually listen to us, because I mean, we've -- us as students, I don't think any other student has gone to a different school board meeting, but this school board meetings were tremendous with the amount of students input -- we just want -- to listen to and have the proper memorial put up. They offered something and we came right back at them, and I still don't think they're going to listen to us.

BLACKWELL: Scott, finally, on the lawsuit here, you mentioned that three times the school board rejected this independent investigation. Is there an explanation of why?

WEIDENFELLER: You know, the parents have been given very little information. They're now told that they -- the school board is going to do an independent investigation with a different company. But the parents still aren't being told, you know, what the time frame is, and whether it will be fully transparent. So, it's kind of perplexing when the state of Michigan was offering to do it for free for the school district, why they turned them down three times and now they're going to use school district money for this investigation. At this point the parents are just so very frustrated that they just can't seem to get the school board to be fully transparent to move forward.

BLACKWELL: Again, this lawsuit is focused on getting change and not getting money for not just the families impacted that day, but future families. As we know, unfortunately there will be these school shootings. Scott Weidenfeller, Mason Bourgeau and Lori Bourgeau, thank you.

COVID vaccinations for very young kids will start going in arms as soon as tomorrow. Details on what this means for families.



BLACKWELL: New details now on that frightening taxi crash in Midtown, Manhattan. Six people were rushed to the hospital, three of them with life threatening injuries. And CNN's Alexandra Field is at the scene where this happened. Alex, get us up to speed.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Victor, look this entire block of Broadway still shut down with police investigating what they say appears to be an accident. We are learning more about how it all unfolded. They said this was actually a pair of crashes, a taxi cap colliding with a bicyclist, then heading up on to the curb where it struck two women. Here's how police describe what happened next.


DEP. CHIEF JOHN CHELL, NYPD PATROL SERVICES BUREAU: The cabbie is making a left-hand turn on to Broadway, there's a collision with a bicyclist. After this collision, the cab slows down, continues to veer to the left, and mounts the sidewalk. At this time through video evidence the cab seems to speed up, it strikes two female victims and press them against the wall. As this occurs, a remarkable scene took place. About 15 to 20 New Yorkers attempted to pick this cab off these women.


FIELD: Police there describing that remarkable sight and certainly a stunning one for people who are walking down a busy sidewalk. This is a hotel behind me, where you can see the taxicab still sitting there. Again, a big crowd of people who were out here, many of them jumping in to help, six people ending up in the hospital, three, like you said, in critical condition, three not critical. We know the bicyclist and the taxicab driver were among those who were sent to the hospital. Police also telling us that they are talking to some of the witnesses who were out here and reviewing all the video they can find in both the crashes -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Remarkable story there, Alexandra Field for us at Midtown, thank you.

Well, the wait is finally over for parents who want to vaccinate their young children. Over the weekend, the CDC authorized Moderna and Pfizer shots for children 6 months through 5 years old. A coordinator for the White House COVID response says the vaccines could be available as soon as tomorrow, and parents with concerns should talk to their pediatrician.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE COORDINATOR: First, we know that some number of kids do end up getting sick from COVID, unfortunately. We had tens of thousands of children get hospitalized, including tens of thousands in the age group of six months or five years that became eligible. And these vaccines are exceedingly safe. And that's the biggest message that we've now -- these vaccines have been given to millions and millions of kids very, very safe.

What I would say to parents is, you know, talk to your family physician, talk to your pediatrician. Talk to the people who take care of your kids and get their advice. And that's probably the best way to move forward.


BLACKWELL: This authorization is a huge relief for a lot of parents, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to one family who is ready to make the appointments for their 2-year-old twins.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twin brothers Dean and Luke Kolodziejczak are typical 2-year-olds. They like to climb, try to outrun their parents down and dig in the dirt. But their lives started out as anything but typical, weighing just two pounds each when they were born.

JOHN KOLODZIEJCZAK, FATHER TO DEAN AND LUKE: They had respiratory issues and they had a brain bleed and some other health issues. So, they were being fed through a tube and then one of them was still on oxygen when they came home.

JENNA KOLODZIEJCZAK, MOTHER TO DEAN AND LUKE: Just watching your kids struggle and fight for their lives in the hospital and hooked up to machines, it's just something you never want to see your children go through. GUPTA (voice over): Dean and Luke spent nearly six months in the hospital before Jenna and John were finally able to welcome them home. That was December 2019.


JENNA KOLODZIEJCZAK: Then we found out about the pandemic, and it was really scary, really, really scary. We couldn't let people into our house. Friends, family couldn't come and meet the boys. They had to quarantine. They had to wear masks. They had to test.

GUPTA (voice over): Physically, socially locking down ever since the early days of the pandemic in an effort to protect their children.

JENNA KOLODZIEJCZAK: We can't control a lot when it comes to their health, but we can control exposing them to the coronavirus.

JENNA KOLODZIEJCZAK: Good job finding bugs.

GUPTA (voice over): For them, the decision is easy. They're going to be at the front of the line for the COVID-19 vaccine for little Dean and Luke.

JOHN KOLODZIEJCZAK: This is going to hopefully help ease things into a more normal state, we hope.

GUPTA (voice over): But only 18 percent of parents with children under the age of 5 feel the same way. 27 percent of parents say no way. And about half of parents fall somewhere in between.

One of the biggest reasons for hesitation is that kids aren't very likely to get sick or die from coronavirus, which is absolutely true, if you compare rates to adults. But what if you just look at kids all by themselves? Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 480 children under the age of 5 have died from COVID and over 1,500 children and teens under the age of 18 overall.

DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE COORDINATOR: When you compare COVID to other risks that children face, whether it's influenza or other infectious diseases, COVID can be quite serious. And so, the right comparison isn't the child vs. the elderly person. The right comparison is, how does COVID compare to other risks for which we vaccinate? And, in that context, it's really not a close call.

GUPTA (voice over): To give more context, before vaccines in the 1960s, approximately 440 adults and children died every year from measles, 39 people from mumps, 17 from rubella. And yet we routinely vaccinate against all these diseases.

They are called vaccine-preventable deaths, one of the biggest triumphs of modern public health. It's also true Dean and Luke were born with preexisting conditions, placing them at greater risk for severe COVID. And as many as 62 percent of all kids hospitalized with COVID had an underlying condition. But those underlying conditions are also widespread, 200,000 children with diabetes, six million with asthma and 14 million children with obesity.

Another concern of many parents is that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are new, also true. So far, though, nearly 600 million mRNA COVID vaccine shots had been administered in the United States, and side effects have been rare.

For John and Jenna, getting their boys vaccinated won't just be a relief, but a chance to live a life they felt was passing them by.

JENNA KOLODZIEJCZAK: We were at my sister's house recently for their cousin's birthday, and they wanted to go inside and play in the playroom. And we're trying to tell our kids, no. But they don't understand. And that's hard for us. It's hard for them. It's hard for our family. We've missed a lot of family holidays.

JOHN KOLODZIEJCZAK: Yes, the last six, eight months, folks have been traveling, doing things. So, it's almost we have been more detached from them because we have still been in the same bubble waiting for the boys to be able to get vaccinated.

GUPTA (voice over): Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


BLACKWELL: Well, it is only June, and we are already seeing back-to- back triple digit temperature heat waves. What's next? That's after the break.



BLACKWELL: Well, get ready again for temperatures to soar over 100 degrees. A dangerous heat wave is sweeping across the country. CNN's Jennifer Gray is tracking it all for us. So, what can we expect?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Victor, this one is starting in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest and then it's going to slowly creep to the Ohio Valley and then down to the southeast as the week goes on. But excessive heat warnings are in effect for portions of the upper Midwest in Northern Plains, heat advisories when that index could feel well over 100. This is exceptionally dangerous for people in the Northern Plains and the Upper Midwest because you have more people up there without air conditioning and then the overnight lows are also going to be warm and our bodies can't recover from that.

You can see the heat building into the Ohio Valley, the Southeast, the Deep South as the week goes on. Excessive heat today, places like Sioux Falls, the heat index 106, Omaha 104. Wichita in the triple digits as well as far as that index goes. Temperatures in the 90s all across the South. Look at that, New Orleans heat index of 103, with an actual temperature of 94. We could break more than 100 high temperature records throughout the course of the week. Most of those across the Eastern half of the U.S.

So, as we go forward, high temperatures hitting the triple digits in places like Chicago 101 on Tuesday. Hitting the triple digits in St. Louis as well tomorrow. Temperatures very hot. Dallas, 101 on Tuesday as well as Thursday. Temperatures in Nashville even hitting 100 degrees.


It looks like by the weekend those temperatures will start to moderate just a little bit, Victor, but a hot week ahead across much of the country.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jennifer Gray watching it for us. Thank you very much.

All right. Let's look ahead to what we're expecting from "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper. He, of course, will have the latest as we look ahead to the next round of hearings on Capitol Hill looking into January 6th, the insurrection and the president's role.

We'll take a quick break. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts in a moment.