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Now, Texas State Senate Resumes School Safety Hearing; Authorities Say, Afghanistan Quake Death Toll Jumps to More Than 1,000; International Shipments of Baby Formula Begin to Hit Shelves in U.S. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 10:30   ET



LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That vote is expected to pass. However, given the fact that on Monday night, they got 14 Republicans -- or, excuse me, Tuesday night, they got 14 Republicans to support this legislation.

So, everything is moving on the right track. Of course, gun groups opposed to this legislation and that always can have an impact. But I just talked to one Democrat who told me he is very confident that given the number of Republicans who voted for this proposal last night, they are going to get this out of the U.S. Senate.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Confidence, that's something you don't often hear. Lauren Fox, thanks so much.

Well, right now, the Texas state's special hearing on school safety is back under way. Today's session will focus on mental health following the school shooting that left 19 children and 2 teachers dead last month. State lawmakers set to hear from physicians, psychiatrists, gun violence prevention advocates.

The state's top public safety official called law enforcement response a, quote, abject failure during yesterday's session.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Furious parents spoke out at a city council meeting last night demanding that embattled Uvalde School Police Chief Councilman Pete Arredondo be fired. The city's mayor assured them he is fighting for accountability.


MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN (R-UVALDE, TX): Right now, I have to answer to a bunch of bureaucrats up there that haven't been doing their damn job, but that's why we're calling them out today.

I don't have any information because they wouldn't give me any information. So, I'm just as frustrated, maybe not frustrated as the families who have lost the loved ones, but it pisses me off that I can't give answers or can't get you answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Joining me is Mike Matranga, he is a former head of security for the Texas City School District and the current CEO of security firm M6 Global Defense Group. He testified yesterday about his experience during the Texas State Senate hearing, including implementing a range of new protocols in his school district. He also mentioned he's a dad of two children, school-aged children. His wife has been a teacher for more than two decades. So, you have so much interest in protecting our schools. Thank you for your time this morning, Mike.


HARLOW: We heard the mayor right there of Uvalde also tell us there were eight agencies, eight law enforcement agencies on scene that tragic day. Listen to what the DPS Colonel Steve McCraw said.


COLONEL STEVE MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DPS: Right now, you may not be able to see it from that side, but this -- right now, you can tell that it's unlocked because when you move this, the throw goes back into it. When you twist it around, one loop, you can still move it. It seems like it's the same thing, you're opening it but you can't because it didn't move the throw. It stays. It remains in that location. And as you can see, there's no way to lock this device. Even though it's inside, you can open it and go out, okay.


HARLOW: So, there was essentially no lockdown, is what he's saying and what he's showing. You did something unique in your school district when it comes to doors and locks. Can you explain that?

MATRANGA: Yes. So, just for clarification, I'm no longer the head of security for TCISD. I'm actually a school board member and I'm a former Secret Service agent. So, I do have some experience in protection of people and individuals.

But in Texas City, one of the things that we did different than most districts, and this is where I always get back to, you have to hire the right person for the job. I've gone on record stating that people -- you cannot send a researcher or an educator to do a warrior's job. You have to have the right people.

And so the first thing that has to happen in any of these situations is you have to do an assessment of your infrastructure. But more than infrastructure, it gets down to the behavioral piece, right? And so at Texas City ISD, we had the same particular type of locks on some of our doors.

And so it starts with that initial assessment, and then building on an ecosystem of what I like to say is kind of like a pie method of every little piece comes together with infrastructure and mental health, behavioral sciences, parent involvement, and whatnot. And so it's a very proactive approach moving forward. But we put access control readers on every classroom door.

Now, I know that there're some financial restraints but there are other methods and ways that you can do this effectively without spending the money that we spend.

HARLOW: We also heard Colonel McCraw say the officers had weapons, children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. You have said indecisiveness kills.


What goes through your mind when you see and heard all those failures laid out in that way?

MATRANGA: Yes. Yesterday, I was there for the full ten-hour testimony. I watched the testimony from my seat. And, quite frankly, I'm a former United States Secret Service Counterassault Team member and I know that seconds matter.

And so it does irritate me to hear the mayor of Uvalde point the blame at DPS, stating that they should have probably or implied that they should have taken command. Well, where's the blame on his own officers or on the incident commander who made the wrong decision?

The initial conversation was that he was waiting on more assets or more resources when, in reality and what we know, is lips lie and videotape and people's eyewitness accounts don't.

HARLOW: And who, Mike, should take control? When you see so much inaction for more than an hour, I mean, they were there in three minutes. So, it should only take a few minutes after that at most to see -- they're not doing what we learned after Columbine. So, I'm going to override, I'm going to step in here, I'm going to take control. Eight different agencies, that means seven different agencies stood back and watched this failure unfold because of lack of leadership from one commander. When do you override that?

MATRANGA: I won't go as far to say who should have taken control, but what I will tell you is, like I said, seconds do matter in these instances. It's been proven by National Threat Assessment Center and other credibly institutions and agencies that specialize in this. There were nine officers in that hallway with AR-15s and pistols.

And I agree with Colonel McCraw, Director McCraw, that says that they had the capability to go in there. In the Secret Service Counterassault Team, we talk about the importance of urgency (ph) because you take an oath to defend and to protect. And you should keep that in mind, is that you are a secondary priority to those that you took that oath to protect then.

And so with nine officers in that hall with pistols and with rifles, someone should have told that ISD police chief to stand down, that he was no longer effective.

HARLOW: You also did a few things that I think are unique and important to highlight in your years leading safety in that school district. One is you talk about implementing social media monitoring. So, I wonder what that entailed and how effective do you think it was. Do you think it stopped dangerous situations? And, two, you talk about social/emotional learning, and I think people might scoff at that and say, well, how does that play in here. Do you think it did from a safety perspective?

MATRANGA: Yes, I do, absolutely. You know, there's a ton of people out there and companies that are trying to sell school districts on social/emotional learning. My caution to districts would be, be selective on who you choose.

I mean, I was selective and I built my own team with former military guys that work for us, and we were more effective as the software that we contracted out in regards to social media monitoring. And we were absolutely effective.

In regards to social/emotional learning, this is the key that I said yesterday was more troubling to me that I didn't hear a lot of people talking about. People talk about infrastructure hardening, and that's important, but we live in a very different society than we did 20 years ago.

Our kids and our young adults faced different adversities. And so we have to stop this narrative or this political divisiveness where people are trying to correlate social/emotional learning and emotional intelligence with CRT.

Social/emotional learning and emotional intelligence is absolutely crucial in today's society of learning what things are going to trigger you, how to be able to be your best advocate, and that's what that does. Here in the state of Texas, we've got one of the best guys there is, and that's Dr. Adam Saenz.

And so if I were over in a position to make decisions for the state, that would be an absolute component because the Secret Service, the FBI, have all said that if we can identify these behaviors, which are always there, and we can intervene and have resources to rectify those things, we can stop the majority of those things from happening.

HARLOW: Mike Matranga, thanks very much for what you did in your district those years and for joining us this morning on what can be done in the future.

MATRANGA: Yes, ma'am, have a good day. Take care.


SCIUTTO: Right now, search efforts still under way in Afghanistan's eastern province, this following a devastating earthquake that has killed, by current estimates, more than a thousand people already. A plea for help from the Taliban, of course, as they're in charge there now, coming up.


[10:40:00] SCIUTTO: Just devastating news coming out of Afghanistan this morning. The estimates there, 1,000 people dead, at least 1,500 injured, this after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck in the eastern part of the country overnight. This is coming from the government's emergency management services, CNN not able to independently verify those numbers. Authorities say the quake hit near the city of Khost close to the country's border with Pakistan.

HARLOW: Let's bring in our Scott McLean who has more details. Scott, what can you tell us this morning?


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Poppy. Yes, the good news is that UNICEF, the World Health Organization, other international aid groups say that they are on the ground providing aid, doing whatever it is that they can do. CNN has also reached out to the State Department to see if they plan to provide any aid.

The reality though is that anything that they might provide would almost certainly be funneled through an international aid organization because, of course, there are no official ties between -- no official relations between Washington and Kabul, which certainly complicates things ahead of one local Afghan aid organization says that the reality is that it doesn't matter what you think of the Taliban. If you want to get things done, if you want to help people in that area, you have to deal with them in some capacity.

We know, according to the Taliban, that the worst affected areas are about 100 miles due south of Kabul. These are extremely remote areas. It's along a traditional fault line. Many of the houses are built on the side of mountains or in river valleys and the head of the aid organization that I mentioned says that those areas are very prone to landslides and that is why he suggests that that is part of the reason why the death toll has quadrupled since the early estimates this morning.

The foreign ministry says that in some local -- in one particular local area, some 70 percent of the homes are completely destroyed. So, you can just imagine the kind of destruction that we're talking about here.

Remember that on top of all of this, Afghanistan has been dealing with other natural disasters, not just earthquakes but also flooding, also drought in other parts of the country, and, of course, they're in the midst of an economic crisis and widespread hunger in March. The U.N. estimated that 95 percent of households didn't have enough to eat. Jim, Poppy?

HARLOW: Scott McLean, we appreciate the update. It's tragic. Thanks very much for letting us know the latest.

After the break, getting baby formula on store shelves. We're going to hear from CEO of an Australian formula company with some news on additional shipments to the United States.



HARLOW: Well, this week, overseas baby formula is finally appearing on shelves here in the United States. This is part of Operation Fly Formula. One of the first four manufacturers to be temporarily approved by the FDA was Bubs Australia. Two of their shipments arrived over the last ten days in California and Ohio. So far, they've sent about the equivalent of 4 million bottles of formula to be sold in the U.S., some of it already on store shelves in Los Angeles.

Joining me now is the CEO and founder of Bubs Australia, Kristy Carr. Kristy, thanks very much for being here. And as I understand it, you have been speaking with HHS and have some news you can share about additional shipments?

KRISTY CARR, CEO AND FOUNDER, BUBS AUSTRALIA: Good morning, Poppy, yes, that's right. President Biden has just confirmed today that the U.S. government along with the HHS will be supporting Bubs Australia in the ninth mission of the Operation Fly Formula. And we will be bringing in another two flights, the first of which is due to land in Los Angeles this Sunday and second flight that will arrive in Philadelphia on the 5th of July.

And collectively across both of those planes, we will be carrying over 180,000 cans of Bubs infant formula, which equates to around 320,000 pounds of formula products or perhaps in language that parents and caregivers back home would relate to, 5.5 million bottles of formula.

HARLOW: So, that's good news for desperate parents. One question I have for you is once those planes land in the U.S., how long it will take to get to store shelves? Because CNN is in touch with a lot of the big retailers, Kroger, Albertson's, Walmart, and it seems like it's taken two weeks from when the first plane landed with your formula in the U.S. to actually get to the store shelves. I wonder why, why two weeks?

CARR: So, really, both the U.S. government and the infant formula manufacturers, like Bubs, are moving at the speed of safety. So, if we think back to the first day that the FDA gave the enforcement discretion to import all six of our infant formulas into the United States, within 24 days, we started to see the first products appear on shelves, which is really an incredible feat, to be able to --

HARLOW: Because they're testing them when they arrive? That's your point about speed of safety?

CARR: Yes, so, look, you can see on the screen there the first shipments coming off the plane, the trucks arranged by the U.S. government there on the tarmac. I've been there to greet the last two planes and we've had customs, border control and FDA on the tarmac to instantly review the products coming off the clearance. It's happening on the spot. It then goes through a safety measure over the next two days and is brought into our own distribution centers to be repacked into retail format, and then taken straight to the stores. So, we've actually seen the first stores start to reach our products within a week of arrival, and I think within two weeks you'll start to see our products across the country.

HARLOW: Right now, the FDA told us this is still temporary.


They're not going to green light your formulas or other foreign formulas for the long-term as of now, but you've been talking to the White House, HHS in recent days. Do you have a sense that will change for the long-term?

CARR: Yes. So, look, it was wonderful to actually visit the White House and speak with the executive office team of the president that we have been working with on many late nights and early morning Zoom calls from Australia. And, look, right now, the focus has been on being able to assist and alleviate the immediate crisis situation and get products on shelves and into the homes of American families.

But certainly at Bubs Australia, we've been in this market with our other toddler formula products for over a year and we are committed to supplying American families long-term, and that's something that we will continue to work with the authorities on pursuing.

HARLOW: Kristy Carr, thanks very much for your time and for bringing good news for parents out there.

CARR: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. Lots to keep track of today.

At This Hour with Erica Hill will start right after a quick break.