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Police: Female Shooter Killed Three Children, Three Adults At School; White House Briefing After Six Killed In Nashville School Shooting. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 13:30   ET



ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: In the case where you have these sorts of task forces, you have EMTs and folks associated with the fire department who actually have ballistic tactical vests.

They go in with the tactical team for the purpose of triaging and attending to victims on scene before the entire structure is has been cleared by police. It's the fastest, most tactically sound way to bring medical resources into those victims right away.

So what you have here is about as highly evolved, well trained responses you're going to get, you know, anyplace in the country. And still we have seven victims.

We have a shooter, two rifles and a handgun that is very heavily armed with lots of rounds of ammunition, undoubtedly.

There is just - you know, hard to imagine (INAUDIBLE) what few facts. We have to be a better response. And yet it's still an absolute tragedy for this community.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Yes, it's six victims, three adults, three children.

And I think Andrew's speaking to the speed of that response of - according to metropolitan police and the fire department, just there in that press conference there were no other wounded.

There was an officer who hurt their hands on some glass. But other than that, there were no wounded that we know of. Five people were transported to the hospital. We were told they were all deceased.

But as you just touched on, Andrew, not only is it exceedingly rare that a young woman carries out a mass shooting - more than 90 percent of the shootings are carried out by men.

But this young woman also had access to these extraordinarily strong firearms, assault type rifles and a handgun.

So I imagine law enforcement will be looking into not only who she is - they don't have her identification yet - but certainly how she got ahold, if she is, indeed, a minor, of these of these guns. MCCABE: That's absolutely right. And you know the gun restrictions are

different state by state, as we all know now. And whether or not she was able to legally possess those weapons, that's something for the investigators, and particularly the ATF to figure out.

But they're also going to be looking at, like, where did - if she wasn't able to purchase these things, or have them lawfully? How did she get them? Did she get them from her parents or family members or friends? And are those, any of those folks in a position to be held responsible criminally responsible for what happened here today?

I thought it was also, excuse me, really notable, Alex, that she was interdicted on the second floor of the school and in what was described as a lobby area.

So they got there fast enough to stop her before she got into a classroom. She was still in kind of an open space on the second floor, not actually in a classroom, which probably also saved many lives.

As we think back to the horrible tragedy at Uvalde in the situation where a shooter actually was able to kind of hide in a classroom with those victims.

MARQUARDT: And, you know, according to the Gun Violence Archive, we're not even in April. Yet this is just the end of March. And this was the 129th mass shooting in this country just this year.

That's of course, more than one per day. It's actually in fact, closer to 22 per day.

But, Andrew, when we see that there were no wounded, that all of the victims are now dead, does that speak to the power of these weapons? That this - that this young woman is this girl, if she's in her teens, was able to get there were no wounded. Which is just incredible in a shooting like this.

MCCABE: It is. But I think - you know, it's another - it's another characteristic of the - of commission of mass shootings by people who are armed with assault weapons.

And we don't know exactly what kind of weapons the shooter was carrying, but we know that the police described them as assault weapons.

Typically assault weapons or weapons that can fire in at least semiautomatic mode, which means you can fire, you know, as many bullets - as quickly as you can pull the trigger, that's how many rounds that you can fire.

They typically have removable magazines that enable this the gun to be loaded with, you know 10, 20 sometimes 30 bullets before being reloaded.

So that sort of technology, weapons technology, which was designed for the battlefield, is, per se, more lethal. It enables a shooter to dispense more rounds more accurately on targets, more targets more quickly. And that leaves you with more fatalities rather than people who are simply wounded.


MARQUARDT: And again, to reiterate your point, to the fact that there weren't more fatalities, given the fact that there were these two assault-style rifles, really does speak to the speed with which law enforcement responded.

Andrew, stand by.

We want to play a little bit of sound from a woman who had a family member at the scene.

Let's take a listen.


ASHBY BEASLEY (ph), MASS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: My name is Ashby Beasley (ph) from Highland Park, Illinois. I was actually in town just on vacation.

But I'm a mass shooting survivor. My son and I survived a mass shooting in Highland Park where there was a shooting at a parade that we were at. We ran for our lives.

And this is just unacceptable. It's only in America can somebody survive a mass shooting and then go on vacation, to visit another person that they have met through, you know, fighting for gun safety and find themselves in another involved like near another mass shooting.


BEASLEY (ph): Like only, you know what I mean, like, only in America does this happen where we keep seeing this again and again and again? Only in America does her son survived a mass shooting and then you know, end up in a lockdown school because there is another mass shooting.

This is an epidemic. Gun violence is an epidemic and it needs it needs to be resolved.


BEASLEY (ph): It needs to be addressed.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: When you hear about it happening at his school again, what goes through your head?

BEASLEY (ph): I mean for me, the statistics start running. Like, it's likely this gun was purchased legally. It's likely it was not stored properly in a child - I heard that it might have been a child or sixth grader.

And I mean just how preventable this is how preventable these incidences are, how we should pass gun safety legislation and lock up weapons. And, you know, put background checks, require background checks on every single gun purchase, ban assault weapons.

And until we do those things, this is going to continue.


MARQUARDT: And, Andrew, it's not just horribly routine that the school shootings, the shootings are happening over and over again, that they're happening over and over at schools.

But as we heard there, we now have people in America - and this is not the first time we've heard this - who have experienced more than one mass shooting.

That woman was at Highland Park. She's now she's now a witness to the shooting in Nashville.

I mean, we have a growing number of the population here in the United States that have witnessed more than one mass shooting and not a long period of time.

MCCABE: Yes, you're right. And that woman was absolutely right when she repeatedly said "only in America only in America," this does not happen anyplace else on earth with the frequency and lethality that it happens here in America.

And the driving reason behind that, Alex, is because we have twice as many guns, twice as many guns in the hands of civilians as the second- highest gun, you know, possessing country on earth. We have 120 guns for every 100 people in this country.

It is the easy and largely poorly regulated access to firearms that provides the opportunity for people with grievances, with complaints, with mental health challenges, what have you, to lash out in a way that wrecks this kind of violence on society.

And it happens at schools. It happens at places of worship. It happens in hospitals, places of medical care. No place is immune from this sort of violence in America. It happens all over the place.

We're not instinctively more violent than other countries. We just have many, many, many more guns.

MARQUARDT: And what drove this young woman, this - someone who maybe a teenager, to carry out the shooting obviously will be at the center of this investigation.

Again, law enforcement there in Nashville saying that they have not yet identified her. They don't know who she is. Obviously don't know what drove her to do this.

We do know from the FBI field office in Nashville that they do have a role in this investigation, but they are deferring to the local authorities.

And we just heard, in that press conference, local officials saying that they will offer more details later on throughout the course of the day when they have them.

But, Andrew, the FBI, now that we know that they are involved, what specifically would be their role in this event investigation at this early stage?

MCCABE: It's primarily in two lanes. It could be two lanes.

One is assisting with the actual processing of this crime scene. The FBI has extensive resources teams that are specially trained to be able to respond to places like this to collect the sort of evidence that we need to properly document and understand how this happened, you know, detail by detail.


The second way that the FBI predominantly helps is by assisting with the investigation of the shooter themselves.

And this is going to be everything From helping to draft and execute search warrants at the shooter's residents, maybe at their place of work.

Identifying and interviewing family members, associates, friends, colleagues, whatever that might be, for whatever understanding that might shed on why this person did this.

And then, of course, executing lawful, process, legal process like search warrants and subpoenas and things like that to collect information about this person's online life.

The sorts of things they may have posted on social media or the things they were looking at on social media or search history from their electronic devices, things like that, that will all help to understand why this person did this.

And that will go into the library of understanding that is growing every day about what motivates mass shooters. We can get - we can no more and more about them, but it's getting harder and harder to stop them before they kill people in the way that people in Nashville have experienced today.

MARQUARDT: Of course, so many just learning about this horrific shooting earlier today that has left at least six victims dead in Nashville.

I expect we will be hearing from all kinds of people in the coming hours and days.

But we have just heard from the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden. She reacted at an event here in Washington, D.C.

Let's take a listen.

JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I hate to say what I'm going to say next because, you know, you're so enthusiastic. It was so much energy and hope and I feel it. But while you've been in this room, I don't know whether you've been

on your phones, but we just learned about another shooting in Tennessee. A school shooting. And I am truly without words. Our children deserve better.


BIDEN: And we stand, all of us, we stand with Nashville in prayer.


MARQUARDT: "Our children deserve prayer." The first lady, Dr. Jill Biden saying there. Of course, the first lady, an educator herself, you could see the anguish and the sadness on her face.

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

Andrew, you were just laying out what the FBI would be doing right now in great detail. They obviously have a lot on their plate.

But in terms of the speed, how quickly do you think they will be able to accomplish that? How quickly do you think that, whether it's federal or local, law enforcement will be able to figure out the identity of the shooter considering that she is dead?

MCCABE: You know, Alex, say, under normal circumstances, you would know the identity of the shooter pretty quickly, within a few hours of the actual attack taking place.

There could be a little bit more challenging here if it is, in fact, a young person, someone in their teens, as the local police representative indicated. You know, you can take one of the ways you understand who the shooter is, or identify a shooter by taking their fingerprints.

If you're a teenager, it's less likely, not possible, but less likely that you would have been fingerprinted in the past. So those records might not be there to identify you.

But I expect, certainly, by the end of the day today they'll have an understanding of who this person is.

And that will lead directly to the execution of search warrants at her at her residence and any other location they can associate with her to look for that sort of evidence that we discussed a few minutes ago that might shed some light on her motivation and why she did this.

MARQUARDT: All right Andrew, stay with me.

We're going to take a quick break.


If you're just joining us, just to recap, at least six victims in a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee. We will be taking a quick break and be right back with more breaking news from CNN. Stay with us.


MARQUARDT: We're following the breaking news out of Nashville, Tennessee. At this hour. Three children and three adults have been killed at the covenant school, which is a private Christian school in Nashville.

Now officials say that the shooter was a young woman, possibly in her teens, and that she was killed in a confrontation with police.

According to law enforcement, there were no other wounded. Three children and three adults were killed.

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

Andrew, we can expect to hear again an argument for training teachers, arming teachers, for more guns in schools. What do you say to that?

MCCABE: Well, you know, I think, first, we need to look at what happened here, Alex. There are many indications that this was an incredibly professional, well-trained response. They got there in minutes.


It was a large tactical team, five member team that entered the building. They had medical support services integrated in that team from the fire department who are trained and equipped to do so.

You know, there's obviously a lot more we'd like to know. But at this point, all indications are this was the ideal law enforcement response. And still you have seven people dead.

The sad fact is, you will never be faster than the shooter. You are always behind the shooter. You're - the best you can do is limit the damage.

And the idea that, OK, let's flood the zone with civilians carrying firearms, civilians who aren't trained to the level of law enforcement, who are no more prepared than your average agents, to the idea that have a violent person walked through the door one day, it's fiction to think that that's going to change this situation.

The way we need to start thinking is about prevention. How is it that these troubled, violent people are able to become so heavily armed and walk into schools?

It's just - until we start thinking about the problem through the lens of prevention, we're always going to be behind the issue and cleaning up the mess.

MARQUARDT: An ideal law enforcement response. You say that resulted still in the deaths of six people, including three young people.

So in your mind, Andrew, there is no law enforcement response to this? This is a political and a legislative question?

MCCABE: Yes. You know, we tend to think of every issue like this, certainly any issue that involves violence as a law enforcement problem. The problem with that thinking is there is no perfect law enforcement solution.

We can keep getting better, our folks can be better trained. They can be faster on scene. But they're always going to be behind the attacker.

So we have to - that's - this is a problem that law enforcement alone cannot solve for this country.

We have to start thinking differently about how we regulate our access to firearms. What we do with people who we think are truly in trouble and in danger of engaging in activity like this? It's not something that law enforcement can do on their own.

MARQUARDT: When you see an incident like this, how worried do you get that there may be others quickly on its heels, copycat attacks, that kind of thing?

MCCABE: So that's - you know, for me, that's kind of a vestige of the many years that I spent in counterterrorism work. And any time you have an attack that looked, -and I am not suggesting that this attack looks that way or is any in any way connected to terrorism.

But in the terrorism context, you're always worried about another operative, another a follow-on attack or something like that. So, yes, when I hear about these things, I instinctively wonder if there could be another act of violence that's coordinated in.

It's almost never happens in the run-of-the-mill, day to day mass shootings that we experience in this country. But it is why a tactical team, after eliminating the threat in the way they did in this school, they can't just dropped their guard and immediately start, you know, thinking about tending to the victims.

They have to proceed to clear the entire space. They've got to go room to room to understand if there's another threat and also to find additional victims and casualties.

MARQUARDT: We are getting word that we may be having maybe getting more comments from officials in just a few moments.

Andrew, I think both you and I had the same reaction when we heard from them last time. Absolute surprise, stunning really That this attacker was a girl, a young woman, possibly in her teens, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Is that question of her identity, the biggest one that you have right now?

MCCABE: Well, it certainly is. Like who is this person? Everything else that follows, all the other questions that will have really come from that. Like once we understand who she is, we can better understand what her

connection is to the school and what brought her to this place today to engage in this attack.

MARQUARDT: And it is relatively uncommon, is it not, that these kinds of things these shootings take place at private schools? Doesn't that raise more questions?

MCCABE: You know, it does, Alex. But I think schools figure so prominently in the locations, the chosen locations for mass shootings that I think you can really - I don't I don't have the data on this, but it would be interesting to see how they are represented proportionately in that universe of -

MARQUARDT: Andrew one second.

The White House is speaking.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: - officials about what is known so far.


We want to express the president's appreciation for the first responders and prayers for all the families affected by this shooting.

While we don't know yet all the details in this latest tragic shooting, we know that, too often, our schools and communities are being devastated by gun violence.

Schools should be safe spaces for our kids to grow and learn and for our educators to teach.

As you all know, President Biden has taken more action than any president in history on gun safety from nearly two dozens, two dozen actions.

Including the executive order he just signed last month, or this this month, pardon me, to the bipartisan, bipartisan Safer Communities Act legislation he signed into law after the tragedies in Uvalde and Buffalo.

He also believe it's not enough. We must do more. And he wants Congress to act because enough is enough.

In his State of the Union, the president called on Congress to do something to stop the epidemic of gun violence, tearing families apart, tearing communities apart.

How many more children have to be murdered before Republicans in Congress will step up and act to pass the assault weapons ban, to close loopholes in our background check system, or to require the safe storage of guns?

We need to do something. Once again, the president calls on Congress to do something before another child is senselessly killed in a preventable act of gun violence. Again, we need to do something.

I also wanted to say a few words about the deadly tornadoes that tore through Mississippi on Friday night. As the president said in a statement over the weekend -

MARQUARDT: The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking there at the White House podium in the briefing room, asking very bluntly, how many more children need to be murdered before something is done?

She listed the various things that President Joe Biden has done to try to enforce guns and safety efforts and gun regulations.

She brought up there, Andrew McCabe, the assault weapons ban. This is something that President Biden has been very vocal about.

The fact of the matter is, however, Congress is divided. Democrats control the Senate, Republicans control the House, so it is very difficult to get any kind of substantive legislation through.

However, Andy, if there were an assault weapons ban, knowing that this young woman this teenager, had two assault-style weapons on her, how effective at preventing these deaths do you think that could have been?

MCCABE: Well, it's hard to say with great clarity how any potential legislation might have affected this individual situation, especially not knowing how this young woman came into possession of these two assault rifles, rifles and a handgun.

However, what we can do is look back at the period in which we had an assault weapons ban, and it's undeniably clear that these sort of mass shootings declined during that period that we had an assault weapons ban in place.

Now that ben was not perfect. I know from personal experience, working as a street FBI agent in New York City and trying to prosecute people for gun crimes, it was not the easiest statute to work with.

But when you look across the country in general, during that period, you had a decline of mass shootings. And so I think, putting the prospect of an assault weapons ban back on the table, you know, it's is something logical and sound, aspirational likely for the administration to do.

Because, you've mentioned the political reality we live in today is - probably doesn't make that even remotely possible. But, the numbers would tell you that it would likely be a good thing to do.

MARQUARDT: Andrew, we only have a minute left. But - and I hesitated to leave on a sad note. But it is, of course, an incredibly sad day.

So on that, what is we've just learned just being told that the shooter was in fact, not a teenager, but a 28 year old Nashville woman. So she was 28 years old, went into the covenant school just a few hours ago and shot and killed at least three adults and three children. She herself was shot.

Andrew, we only have 30 seconds left. Any reaction to this news that she was not a teenager, but 28 years old?


MCCABE: It doesn't affect the tragedy in any way, Alex. It's still an absolutely horrific thing that's happened.

It may shed light on how she came and in possession of those weapons. Much easier for a 28-year-old to purchase firearms that it is for a teenager.