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Seven Dead in Nashville School Shooting. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 13:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: hello. I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington. Thank you so much for joining us today.

We are following some fast-moving stories at this hour. Any minute now, we expect to hear from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as an unprecedented wave of protests and strikes consuming is Israel, leaving it on the brink of a shutdown, the mass demonstrations in opposition to his proposed judicial reforms. We will be bringing you the latest.

But, first, we have breaking news out of Nashville, Tennessee. Police there saying an active shooter is dead at a private Christian elementary school. We are learning that multiple patients, law enforcement says, multiple patients are being treated.

CNN's Amara Walker has been tracking this fast-developing story.

Amara, another horrific shooting in America. What are you learning?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, listen, it's always heartbreaking, but it's starting to feel routine, unfortunately, right, because we're constantly, feels like, reporting about a school shooting in this country.

We don't have much. But, as you said, multiple patients is what we are getting from Nashville Fire. We are expecting local law enforcement to give the media an update on the situation, as we are told it is an active scene.

Some new information we are learning is that the FBI -- this is according to CNN's Nick Valencia -- the FBI has deployed agents to assist in this active shooter investigation. The gunman is dead, as you said. Apparently, he or she had engaged with police. We don't know the circumstances surrounding that, but, again, the most important thing, and I'm sure the thing that most people care about, are these victims.

We don't know the extent of their injuries. We don't know if they're students, staff, faculty, but we are learning right now that three children have died as a result of the shooting. We are getting this. Is this from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center? This is the information that we're getting right now. The Nashville

Medical Center has confirmed that three children have died, Alex, just heartbreaking. We don't know how old they are, but clearly they were the victims of what was a shooting event inside their small school. This is the Covenant School, a private Christian school, Alex, for pre-K through sixth graders.

The Web site says that the average enrollment is a around 200, and the teacher -- student-to-teacher ratio is about 8-1. So this goes to show that this has to be a very tight-knit, small community. And right now there is an area for parents to go to try to reunify with their children, and that also has to be a terrifying situation for parents showing up, giving their names of their children to police, and waiting for information on whether their children or not were victims in this shooting event.

So, again, three children tragically have died as a result of the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes. Amara and I just learned that news as she was speaking right after the top of the hour.

We do know that this attack at this private school, as Amara was saying, happened just a few hours ago. We have been waiting for more details. We have just gotten the tragic breaking news that three young students from this school in Nashville, Tennessee, have been killed, as Amara just noted.

This is a school that has pre-K through sixth grade. So those children, we do not know their ages right now. But they could be very young, three children and the gunman killed after this school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, just a short time ago.

Amara, we know that you will stay on top of all of the details that are coming in to CNN, and we will be back with you very soon.

But, in the meantime, I want to bring in CNN law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, thank you for joining us.

You have been on with me, with so many of our colleagues so many times in the wake of these shootings. I do want to start with this news that three of the victims are young students from this school, again, the school pre pre-K through sixth graders. What is your first reaction when you hear that this was at this private school with young students and that three of the victims are young children?


Alex, well, I mean, it's -- my first reaction is horror and shock. And when the day comes that we don't react that way to this all-too-common news, we're in serious trouble, but we're heading a little closer to that every day. This is -- it's a little more than 10 years since Sandy Hook, if we remember how that tragedy impacted the nation.


Yet here we are, 10 years later. We have had Uvalde. We have had so many other school shootings. And, really, the situation is -- has not changed much in terms of the sort of security and protection we're able to present to our most vulnerable population, our own children.

We have raised a generation of young people who have gone to school knowing that they could get shot at school and killed on any given day. It could happen really anywhere in America.

So, I -- my heart goes out to the parents of the victims, the parents of the other students who've had to now live through this and will certainly grapple with handling it, and also to the first responders,to those men and women who rushed to the scene, who mitigated the threat and who now have to deal with just a horrific, horrific crime scene that has to be forensically processed in order to support an investigation, so we can answer some of the many questions about what happened here.

MARQUARDT: And, Andrew, we are getting word that Nashville Metro Police Department will be giving a briefing in just 15 minutes' time. Of course, we will be bringing that to everybody live.

In the meantime, Andrew, when you look at this, and you see that this is a private school, it is just an elementary school, from a law enforcement perspective, is there anything that you can glean or that you might immediately think about in terms of the identity of the shooter, who that person may be, who we should remind our viewers is dead?

MCCABE: Sure,.

So, obviously, we don't know who that person is yet. But you kind of enter this problem with the presumption that shooter had some sort of connection to the school. Could have been -- could have been a student. We have had -- we had a 6-year-old in Virginia just in January who brought a gun to school and shot his teacher.

Could be someone who was on staff or on faculty. Could be someone who's related to a student or a staff or faculty member. But there will -- there's likely some connection between the shooter and the school. How they ever landed at this their plan for what they were going to do today, that's for the investigators to try to determine.

And to do that, they will be doing all the same things they do after every one of these mass shootings. It'll be really tearing into that person's life as much as they can to understand what they may have been going through, what they may have written or said or posted on social media, what they might have told friends or family members, things that people around them may have observed in the lead-up to this situation, because, quite frankly, Alex, we have to get better at trying to figure out who these people are.

Because we have so few other recourses to better protect our children and our society and our safe spaces, spaces that are supposed to be safe across this country. MARQUARDT: All right, Andrew McCabe, stay with me.

We are learning more. We have just heard from the daughter of one of the teachers at this school in Nashville speaking about when she learned about this horrible shooting earlier today. Let's take a listen.


AVERY MYRICK, DAUGHTER OF TEACHER: My dad just woke me up this morning and told me that my mom said there was a shooter at the school. And then I texted her. And I said, just, like what was going on? She said she was hiding in the closet and that there was shooting all over, and that they had potentially tried to get into her room.

And really scary, really sad. Just praying for all the families out there.


MARQUARDT: Andrew, as we noted, we are going to hear from law enforcement in just a few minutes.

What are you hoping to learn? What would you be asking them?

MCCABE: Well, I think everyone's hoping to learn a little bit more about the shooter here. Who is this person? What's their connection to the school? Why did they end up here today? They might not have the answers to all those questions yet. But that's certainly foremost in people's minds, and then about the victims.

I mean, we understand that there are three innocent children who've been killed. And the shooter himself, of course, his or herself, is also dead. And how is the local community preparing to support this group of victims, family members, and parents and fellow students who are going to have a really tough, tough, tough experience to try to navigate over the next days and months and years, really?

And, Alex, it will be very routine. you will see police officers and first responders say the same sorts of things we have seen time and time again in pretty much every state around the country. And it seems to be happening at a greater rate this year. So we need to be prepared for it.

MARQUARDT: Horribly routine. You're absolutely right that many of the things that we will be hearing we have certainly heard many times before.

Andrew, have you seen any shift in the conversation from a law enforce just meant perspective -- or -- sorry -- from a legislative perspective from the laws that we're implementing in this country or not? Is there any reason to think that the country has reacted in any way to this rash, this plague of mass shootings, particularly in schools?

[13:10:18] MCCABE: Well, Alex, there are definitely some folks on the Hill in our national government who are dedicated to trying to make a difference, at least in terms of availability of firearms.

And we have made some progress on that in the last year, although I have to say those accomplishments are very minor, compared to the size and scope of this problem. If you look back across the trajectory of this, if you go back to Sandy Hook a little over 10 years ago, the fact is, we really haven't done the things that we could do to be more responsible about how we control access to firearms.

Nobody's -- nobody's saying getting rid of firearms or any of that sort of stuff. We have a Second Amendment in this country that protects that right for people. But there are many ways we could administer that more responsibly, by doing background checks in a more complete and better fashion, by keeping guns out of the hands of children and people who are really struggling with issues that might lead them to a place to resort to violence.

And on those major issues, major points, Alex, we see very, very little progress.

MARQUARDT: And, Andrew, we are getting yet another tragic update. In addition to the three children who were killed, we're also getting reports that two adults have also been killed, so five victims so far in the shooting, plus the shooter.

So that is a death toll of six so far. We don't know, I'm told, whether the two adults include the shooter, but the total death toll so far, Andrew is five. Would you expect it -- I imagine there is an expectation that this death toll could continue to rise, and that we may learn -- learn have more who are killed in this upcoming press conference.

MCCABE: It's absolutely possible, Alex.

As Chief Ramsey mentioned just a little while ago, one of the very first things that law enforcement has to do after they address the immediate threat, which they appear to have done here by taking out the shooter, is, they have to conduct a very thorough search of the entire grounds to see how many victims they have, see how many injured folks they need to send off to the hospital, that sort of thing.

And as that work continues, it's always possible to find additional victims, additional casualties and fatalities. So we may hear and see those numbers change as we get more from the local authorities.

MARQUARDT: And, again, we are hearing from Vanderbilt Medical Center that the death toll is at least five, three children, two adults killed at this private school at a church in Nashville, Tennessee.

Andrew, explain to me -- obviously, we have all kinds of law enforcement on the scene. What would the federal role be ATF, FBI, how they would be assisting the local police and the local authorities?

MCCABE: So, Alex, these -- this process of federal support to state and local law enforcement agencies is very well worn. It's -- we have the authority at the federal level to step in and assist with local investigative efforts, specifically in response to shooting incidents and mass shootings.

The FBI typically provides investigative resources that will help -- help with search warrants that have to be executed at the shooter's residence or place of work or on their vehicle, things like that. They will certainly offer to support with forensic examination services at the crime scene itself. So, these crime scenes are always mapped out in excruciating detail to understand exactly how the shooting took place.

So there's all sorts of resources that the federal government can bring to police agencies. Now, Nashville is a pretty -- it's a good- sized city with a strong and professional police force. So they may not need as much help as someplace like Uvalde, Texas, for example.

On the other hand, our ATF -- our ATF colleagues also have (AUDIO GAP) increased capabilities. They will be able to go back and see the history of whatever firearms were used in this attack, understand whether or not they were purchased legally, how did they end up in the hands of that shooter on this day.

And that's important to understand if there are other people that the prosecutors might try to hold accountable. We have seen that in places like Michigan, where the parents of a young -- of a young man who shot several people at his high school in Oakland, Michigan, those -- his parents are now being held responsible for essentially providing him with the weapon that he used.


So there's a lot of things that the federal government can do to help, but, absolutely, the local police force, their investigators, their detectives are really leading the charge in terms of responding to this event and now, of course, taking care of those folks in the community who are going to need a lot of help.

MARQUARDT: Well, certainly, law enforcement will be looking to find out as much as they can about this shooter, who we do understand has been killed, three children, two adults.

Sorry. I'm being told by the -- we are expecting -- we're going to be right back. We are expecting a press conference from the Metropolitan Police in Nashville in just moments.

We will be taking this quick break and be back right after this with more breaking news.


MARQUARDT: All right, we are now listening into a press conference by Tennessee -- Nashville's Metropolitan Police Department. Take a listen.


... shot coming from the second level. They immediately went to the gunfire.

When the officers got to the second level, they saw a shooter, a female, who was firing. The officers engaged her. She was fatally shot by responding police officers.


There was a five-member team who was on the -- that that was on the second floor at that time. Two individuals from that five-member team opened fire on the shooter. We know at this point that this shooter is a female. She appears to be in her teens, although her identification has not been confirmed at this juncture.

We know that she was armed with at least two assault-type rifles and a handgun. We are efforting now to identify her. She entered the school through a side entrance and traversed her way from the first floor to the second floor firing multiple shots. We now know that there are three students who were fatally wounded, as well as three adults, inside the school.

We are working to identify those victims. Including the shooter, a total of seven persons were killed as a result of this morning's incident at the school. By 10:27, the shooter was deceased. The officers had engaged the shooter by 10:27, and she was deceased. Again, I said the first call came in at 10:13 this morning.

We will have more details to give you later in the morning. Chief Drake will be here in a bit.

Now Kendra Loney from Nashville Fire.

KENDRA LONEY, NASHVILLE FIRE DEPARTMENT: Fire department crews are dispatched for active shooter incidents as well for medical support, but also for an RTF response, which is a rescue task force response, to go in alongside of MNPD response.

Our crews are right there on the scene to provide medical aid to any survivors, but also be there for victims so that we could try lifesaving efforts in this case. So, we went in as soon as it was safe for our responders to do so to try to provide lifesaving efforts for those that were impacted by this incident and this tragedy.

Our crews were able to be on scene to pull out those that had viable signs of life, those that were still showing the option for -- to be saved. And we did make transport of three individuals and -- three children and then two adults that were taken from the scene.

Our crews then set up a reunification unit. That reunification unit is at 2100 Woodmont Boulevard. That's where parents can go to be reunited with their children. All of the remaining students were able to be escorted out of the building with faculty and staff. We're not sure about the processes that they had in place, but we were on scene to help them mitigate anyone from seeing exactly what else was going on. But we're sure that they heard the chaos that was surrounding this. So

we do have mental health specialists and professionals that are at that reunification site for both the students and the families that are going to be affected by this today.

Our OEM units were able to provide buses to make transport from the Covenant School to the reunification site. We had one bus that carried 74 students and faculty staff members to the unification -- reunification site and an additional bus that had 34 students on them.

So all of those persons were carried. It was difficult for us to kind of identify who was just there as part of staff or the church vs. who was there for the school, because it's all housed in one building. But at this time, we were able to get that number of persons transported out of the building and into that reunification site.

So that is where parents can go to be reunited with their students. There is a hot line being set up for parents to call. But, right now, that is where they should go, 2100 Woodmont Boulevard, which is Woodmont Baptist Church.

Additionally, we do have a debriefing site set up for on-staff -- or personnel who are working this incident. And there are mental health professional setup there for them as well. There was one police officer that was injured with a hand injury as a result of making an attack on this incident.

But, other than that, there have been no additional injuries to first responders or personnel responding to this. And, as Don mentioned earlier, we will have further updates coming later on in the afternoon.

AARON: So, on a typical day, there would be about 209 students inside the school and approximately 40 to 50 staff members, about 42 staff members.


I will take just a couple of questions before we go back.


QUESTION: ... clear, so the seven dead, and then nature of injuries, how many injured, do you know, that maybe are being treated still or injuries?

I know first responders weren't, but...

AARON: An officer had a wound from cut glass. That is the only other injury that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Do we know if the injuries to students, are they critical or do you know the condition?

AARON: The three students are deceased. The three students who were shot are deceased. Three staff members who were shot are deceased. That's a total of six victims. And then you have the shooter, who was

engaged by two of our police officers, part of a five-member team, and she is deceased, for a total of seven individuals. There are no other gunshot victims, nonlethal, that I'm aware of a present.


QUESTION: Do you know how many people were shot -- do you know how many people were shot before the police engaged the shooter?


QUESTION: Do you know if they shot anyone after they engaged the shooter? Do you know if the shooter was able to shoot anyone else?

QUESTION: Did the shooter have any connection to the school that we know of?

AARON: We do not know who she is at this juncture. We're trying to identify her.

She does appear to be in her teens, again, with two assault-type rifles and at least one pistol.


AARON: No, I'm not.

QUESTION: Was there an SRO or an SSO working in the school?

AARON: No, this is a church that operates a private school.

There was no Metro Police personnel assigned to that building at any time.

QUESTION: Ron, do you know if either of the two adults that were shot maybe confronted the gun...

AARON: You said two?

QUESTION: Yes, the adults that were shot...

AARON: No, there are a total of three adults.

QUESTION: Three adults.

AARON: Three adults who have been fatally wounded.

QUESTION: OK, one of them being the shooter?


QUESTION: No. So, three total.

(CROSSTALK) AARON: So, let me go over this again. You have a total of six victims, three students who are deceased and three adult staff members from the school who are deceased.

The shooter herself makes seven.

QUESTION: Do you know if one of the three adults maybe confronted her?

AARON: I do not.


AARON: There is video from the school that we are viewing now to try to learn exactly how all of this happened.

QUESTION: Can you say where the victims were located? Were they in a hallway, in a classroom?

AARON: I cannot at this juncture.

As you know, five of the six were transported. So we will get that information later in the day.

QUESTION: Did police engage with the shooter inside a classroom or in the hallway? Do we know the location?

AARON: It is an upper level part of the school?

It's kind of a lobby-type area. It was not in a classroom, per se.

All right, we will be back shortly with more detail. We will tweet out -- give you a 15-minute or so notice before the next one, OK?


MARQUARDT: All right, that press conference in Nashville wrapping up.

We are learning more details, many details confirmed. Many questions still remain. The Metropolitan Police Department there in Nashville saying that the shooter was a young woman, a female, who was possibly in her teens. They also confirmed the death toll, three children, three adults, and the shooter, for a total of seven.

I want to bring back in our senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe.

Andrew, I think certainly what stuck out most to me in that press conference was that the shooter was a woman who was possibly in her teens. What do you make of that?

MCCABE: It's exceedingly rare.

Mass shootings are committed overwhelmingly by males. It's not -- it's happened before that we have had females engaged in mass shootings. But, as I said, Alex, it's unbelievably rare and, in this case, I would say made even more rare by the fact that she's potentially a teenager.

But I guess we need more -- more facts on that. I was also struck, Alex, by the timing here. So they received their first call, the police did, at 10:13, and the shooter was dead by 10:27. So that means you had a very, very fast tactical response by law enforcement.

They had a five-person team that entered the building, went immediately to the sound of the gunfire to the second floor, where the gun was being shot, and engaged that shooter and eliminated her. We also know that they responded with what the fire department referred to as an RTF, a rescue task force.

And what that tells us is that the police department and the fire department have done extensive training to understand how to respond to mass shootings together. In the case where you have these sorts of task forces, you have EMTs and folks associated with the fire department who actually have tac -- ballistic tactical vests.