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Nashville PD: Female Shooter Kills 3 Children, 3 Adults At School; 129 Mass Shootings Across U.S. In 2023; Biden Addresses Deadly School Shooting In Nashville; Officials Give Update After Nashville School Shooting. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 14:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Jeremy Diamond, please stand by for an update after we hear from President Biden.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Well, as we've noted, since the top of the show, the school shooting in Nashville the ever-growing list of mass shootings tracked by the Gun Violence Archive.

There have been 129 of them across the U.S. in the first three months of this year alone.

SANCHEZ: And last year, the U.S. hit 100 mass shootings on March 19th. So if you're doing the math, it seems like we are on pace to surpass what we saw last year.

In 2021, a late March date as well and from 2018 to 2020. There weren't 100 mass shootings until May.

The Gun Violence Archive, which, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.

Ed Davis and Juliette Kayyem are back with us now.

And the numbers don't lie, Juliette, right? There are more mass shootings. They are becoming more frequent.

In the last few moments, we heard from State Senator Heidi Campbell, who talked about a sick gun culture in this country.

How much do you think these rising numbers are associated with the culture that is so attached and attracted to guns in our society?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Very much so. And I mean, you just - because we can compare ourselves to other countries. Other countries have mental health disorders, other countries have schools, and they don't have the kind of mass shootings we do.

I often say in response to the slogan, we just have to give good people guns, right, and then we'll solve this problem. If we - if guns were going to make us safer, we would be the safest country on earth.

We are an overly armed country with weaponry that is just not suitable for civilian society.

So we can put aside the handgun debate. Most of us who are for responsible gun legislation understand - and most people should be able to understand - the difference between a handgun and the kind of weaponry that we're likely to learn about in this case, rifles and the A.R. series.

The thing I want to make clear is, in the politics of this, it's very important that the White House - and I commend them - begin talking about this immediately.

Because what happens is we tend to focus on the shooter. And I think in this case, we will learn a lot about the shooter because it is a unique shooter. It's a 20 something female. We just don't see that in the demographics and that's going to tell us something. But we also need to look at the totality of circumstances.

And so it's not one thing. So it's it is the mental health issues in our country and the failure of people to get the support. They want strong Red Flag Laws.

It is, of course, its issues around supporting our schools supporting our teachers, making them stronger. So I like playing defense as well.

But the third piece, of course, is a kind of weaponry. You can't - you can't have the first two conversations and not have the third.

I think those gun advocates will always want to focus on the first two, and I think as a mature society, we need to have all three.

I'm not dismissing the need for better defensive measures. That's what Ed and I do, often, not just missing the need for a much better mental health system that captures people that might turn to violence.

But you cannot take guns, access to guns, access to these kinds of guns off the table to be able to solve this problem, even though it's not a perfect solution.

GOLODRYGA: Juliette, you're right to point out that the United States doesn't have a monopoly of mentally challenged and mentally ill people or people with grievances. And yet here we are. Just look at the statistics as we read coming into you.

Commissioner, we know that the shooter had to assault-type rifles and a handgun. We heard from the White House there once again, the president is reiterating his call for an assault weapons ban.

Is that something that you would support as well?

ED DAVIS, FORMER BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: Absolutely. You just can't go to these scenes and see the things that I've seen over the course of my career without thinking that this is that's part of the solution.

Mental health is a is a very serious part of it. But these weapons that are built for the battlefield should not be in the hands of civilians. And so, I absolutely support that.

I think we had an assault weapons ban here for a number of years. It worked.

And you know, when you look at what happened in New Zealand and how quickly that government responded to an incident it's just - it's just unconscionable that we can't do something similar.


SANCHEZ: And, Commissioner, staying with you, I am curious to get your perspective on the difference in perhaps logistics or the readiness response of a private school versus a public school.

We understand from national police that there was no school resource officer on site, if I remember from the press conference correctly. What do you make of that?

DAVIS: Well, we - you know, we work with both private schools and public schools in the work that I do every week. And there is a difference.

And I think it's largely due to the amount of resources. The private schools look at security as a cost center and they don't have a lot of discretionary funding at those schools. So you seem - you seem to see sort of a hesitance.

And I think it's probably built on a perception that, wait a minute, we're a religious school or private school, this this stuff doesn't happen here. The truth of the matter is it can happen anywhere.

I hate to say that, but, you know, I think that incidents like this cause a review. We have to we have to put as many safeguards in place as we can but knowing that the real solution lies with the legislative branch.

GOLODRYGA: And we should note that we're expecting an update from the Nashville Police Department in the next few minutes. So when that happens, we, of course, will bring it to you.

And, Juliette, you mentioned something earlier that this has become sort of an evergreen for experts like you. And I would say for Boris and myself as journalists asking the questions. It's just a change in in the victims in the names in the location, but a lot of the circumstances leading up to it are the same.

What's not the same is how this impacts all of these families' lives right now.

How do these parents talk to their children about what they're seeing? What happened to their classmates and what they're seeing, quite frankly, around their schools right now, which looks like a war zone?

KAYYEM: Yes. And of course, and it's not just the kids at that school. It impacts all of Nashville and then, of course, reverberate. So we have some idea, because we now have a generation that we call

Lockdown Generation. These are the post Columbine pre-K'ers, the kids who were quite young, if not even born before Columbine, who are now of age.

They have experienced lockdowns as a part of their - of their education in a way that you and I did. Isn't uh, when we were in school. And they - and they actually focus politically on guns and greater protections, much more so than their parents.

And I think it will be interesting in terms of the long term consequences of what we have done to children in terms of their experience, how they live with gun, how they think about guns there, how they think about whether they would be killed by guns, starting to have political momentum.

And that's going to be the longer term trajectory at this moment in the community.

Of course, the number-one factor is family unification. It appears that the fatality rate is now known and that there are no - no one in the hospital once again.

This is - we're used to this. These guns kill or they don't, right? That's all they do. They have a killer. They don't, because that's what they're intended for.

And so you have fatalities at the - at the school and apparently no surge of injuries at the hospital. This is - you know, this is the fate of what we're putting our kids to.

And so obviously, family unification matters. There's going to be mental health and other resources once the school districts reopen.

And then long-term help for not just the students who were there. Their siblings that will be obviously impacted by this.

And then, of course, parents. The parents, though, as we know, as any parent knows that we'll never recover. This is not something you manage. This is - you know, this is now there's a before and after in their lives. And we do this to parents now, as we've seen in the numbers every single day.

SANCHEZ: An important point of context for just the power that these weapons have that everyone that the shooter hit, ultimately, was killed and passed away.


SANCHEZ: Juliette Kayyem, Ed Davis, please stay with us.

We are expecting to hear two important things. President Biden, speaking at the White House. He's expected to make remarks about the shooting. And Nashville police are set to give an update. Just minutes from now, we're going to bring that to you live.


Again, the president expected to address the shooting from the White House just moments away. We'll bring it to you when it happens. Stay with CNN.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, welcome to the White House. Delighted to have you all here.

And who are those good-looking kids back there?


BIDEN: The kids, all four of them?

We'll stand up guys.


BIDEN: I want you to know, like you. I had two brothers,3 in our family, three brothers and one sister. My sister is smarter than all of us.


BIDEN: Not a joke. She was used to be three years younger than me. Now she's 23 years younger than me.



BIDEN: She managed every one of my campaigns for office even back when I was in high school. We went to the same university two years apart. She graduated on us. I graduated.


We had a simple rule in the family. Listen to Val. My sister, Valerie, is incredible.

So guys be nice to your sister. You're going to need her. I promise.


BIDEN: It's the same lineup. You're the oldest. Who's number two? Number two. Who is number three? Twins, you guys twins? OK?

Alright this this that wasn't our outfit. I'm so glad to see you all. Thanks for coming with mom. OK? You got to take care of your mom. Dads are much harder to raise, but you know.

(LAUGHTER) BIDEN: Before I began to speak, the reason I spend a lot of time in the kids, I just want to speak very briefly about the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

You know? Ben and I have been doing this our whole careers it seems and it's just it's sick. You know, we're still gathering the facts of what happened and why.

And we do know that, as of now, there are a number of people who are not going to - did not make it, including children. It's heartbreaking. Family's worst nightmare.

And I want to commend the police, who responded incredibly swiftly within minutes in the danger.

We're monitoring the situation really closely, Ben, as you know.

And we have to do more to stop gun violence. It's ripping our communities apart, ripping a soulless nation, at the very soul of the nation. And we have to do more to protect our schools so they aren't turned into prisons.

You know the shooter in this situation reportedly had to assault weapons and a pistol to make a 47. So I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapons ban.

It's about time that we began to make some more progress. But there's more to learn.

But I just wanted to send my condolences out to so many parents out there. I've been to so many of these sites, as known by virtually everyone.

And one of the things you folks should - I know you do know what you should focus on. You know, just like when in the military. My son was in Iraq and other places. So many members of the military coming back with Post Traumatic Stress after witnessing violence and participating.

For these children, these teachers, you should be - should be focusing on their mental health as well.

And so I'm grateful anyway. Sorry to start off that way, but I couldn't begin without acknowledging what happened.

And now I'm grateful to all of you are joining us here today.

Natalie, thank you for that introduction and for doing such an amazing thing in Detroit.

GOLODRYGA: There you heard the president address the school shooting in Nashville as he was speaking to an SBA women's business summit event.

The president calling it sick, heartbreaking, a family's worst nightmare. And once again, reiterating his call for Congress to pass the assault weapons ban.

We are also expecting the Nashville police to give us an update on the deadly school shooting any minute. When that begins, of course, we will take you there.

SANCHEZ: Back with us now, CNN's Jeremy Diamond, CNN's Emma Walker, as well as former police commissioner, Ed Davis, and security specialist, Juliette Kayyem.

Thank you all for being with us.

Jeremy, I want to start with you and get your thoughts on the president's remarks from the East Room at the White House.

He said of the school shootings that they are, quote, "ripping at the soul of this nation."

Senator Ben Cardin was also there and he referenced him at the beginning of his remarks, saying that he and the Senator had seemingly been working on this their entire careers.

Obviously, last year, there was legislation passed to limit access to weapons after what we saw unfold in Uvalde, Texas, but it just doesn't appear that right now there is much momentum on Capitol Hill for more laws that would restrict access to guns.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, that's right. But as Biden himself, he has described himself, and as the White House press secretary described him earlier, President Biden is an optimist, and he is a fighter.

And that is why you're going to continue to hear, after every single one of these shootings, President Biden swiftly reiterating his call for an assault weapons ban.

You know, you'll remember, Boris, that President Biden himself, as a U.S. Senator in the nineties, was instrumental in the passage of the last assault weapons ban, which expired under President George W. Bush's time in office.


And you did see a notable impact on shootings and on shooting deaths in the nation during the period that that law was implemented. That is something that the White House has repeatedly stressed.

And I do think, again, it is notable, especially when you think about how President Biden is reacting to the shooting now and how past presidents have reacted to them in the past.

There used to be this, you know, let's wait, let's wait before talking about legislation. Let's extend thoughts and prayers and focus on the healing process for now, before we get to any talk about what kind of legislation is needed.

It's very different with this president, and it may be partly due to him but also part of the evolving nature of this and the number of shootings that this country has gone through in the last couple of decades.

But there is an immediate response now from President Biden, from his staff and from Democrats in Congress, as well to immediately jump on what they see as the most important legislative solution. That is an assault weapons ban.

He didn't bring it up just then, but he has in the past also talked about limiting high-capacity magazines and also closing those background check loopholes.

But as you said, Boris, you know there is no sense of any kind of momentum in this currently divided Congress. But those calls from the White House will continue.

GOLODRYGA: And, Juliette Jeremy describes the president as an optimist. We all need some optimism.

But just from a realist perspective and a pragmatist perspective - actually, we're going to go now to the police commissioner and the spokesperson there in Nashville, giving us more information on the shooting investigations.


We have three adult victims and we have three children who have been identified and their families have been contacted. Right now, I will refrain from saying ages.

Is that, whenever I hope that we would never have this situation, that if we ever did, we would not wait. We would immediately go in and we would immediately engaged the person perpetrating this horrible crime. And so that's all I can say.

Right now, we have David Rausch, director of the TBI, who will come after me to address his portion. And then we have others that will say something as well.

So thank you.


Again, I want to echo what Chief has said in reference to the great support and the great team work that has been taking place here and as well as sending our heartfelt prayers to the to the families to this community of these victims.

Now I know there will be people who want to criticize us for prayers. But that's the way we do that in the south, right? We believe in prayer and we believe in the power of prayer. And so our prayers go out to these families.

The role of the TBI in this investigation is we have been asked by general fund to assist in the officer involved portion of this incident. So the incident where the officers engaged the suspect. We are assisting the metro investigation.

And the reason we've got metro doing the primary investigation is because it was a fluid scene. So there wasn't a single stop in the action. And so as they investigate the homicides, then we felt it was most appropriate for them to continue that investigation.

But we will assist, as - in our role as an independent oversight on the officer involved situation. And so that will be the role of TBI.

We, too, want to thank all of our partners. It is special. We've had this conversation unfortunately too many times in Tennessee. And that is that you wish you wouldn't have to do these types of scenes.

But when you do, you want to have the working relationships that we have in our law enforcement community here in Tennessee. It is amazing. And we've all come together as one and working very tirelessly and will continue to work together to address the situation.

It's a horrible, senseless tragedy. And we will be here working with our partners to get through it.

And next, I'd like to introduce the district attorney general for this area, Glenn Funk.

GLENN FUNK, DAVIDSON COUNTY, TN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is the ultimate crime when school children and caregivers are the victims of senseless gun violence.

I can't say anything before we first express our concerns for the victims and their families and the extended number of victims that are traumatized by today's events.


I came out on the scene today because our current operating procedure is that when an officer is involved in a shooting that the TBI comes out. And I knew that this was a unique case. And I wanted to make sure that everything was handled appropriately.

Director Rausch was out here almost at the exact same time I got here Chief Drake had already been on the scene for a while.

The three of us met and talked about how the investigation was going to be handled. We made a joint decision affirming what the two law enforcement leaders, how they wanted to proceed.

Which was that metro was going to handle the book of this, but the TBI would participate in a capacity to continue with making sure that we have transparency and everything and to make sure that any backup that NPD needs in this continued investigation would be provided.

I cannot stress enough how seamlessly that worked to have a conversation, a decision to be made quickly and appropriately as far as how the case was going to be handled from here.

Hats off to Chief Drake and to Director Rausch.

I also want to thank Chief Swann and our federal partners as well.

While I cannot comment about the ongoing nature of the investigation, I'm really impressed with the work that's being done by law enforcement.


First, let me just say, as everyone else, what a tragic day here in Nashville. So our hearts and prayers do go out to all the family members.

And also the first responders that actually made this call. As always, the fire department and officer emergency management.

Our job is to support and we were here at the beginning, and we'll be here until the end.

We just ask that everyone, again, as was stated earlier about prayer, we ask for that.

And the ongoing support that's needed from our standpoint is to give support in any area that's - that's asked for on the scene.

So again, we thank you. And from this point forward, we'll just continue on with our mission and try to bring some type of closure and resolution.

Thank you.

DRAKE: I anticipate there will be another briefing at or before four o'clock. We will entertain two or three questions at this moment before these gentlemen have to go back to the scene to continue their work.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you identified - have you - did you confirm? Did you identify the shooter in this case yet?

DRAKE: Yes, we have identified the suspect as a 28 year old female. Wait, actually a Nashvillian or lives in the natural area.

We are having ongoing investigation as it pertains to her at this time.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: - place where she lived? You have officers there?

DRAKE: We have. We have.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was she wearing body armor? DRAKE: Was she wearing body armor? I can't say that far into the

investigation. I don't remember seeing it.

But I can't say for certain if he had body armor or not.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did she have any connection to the church?

DRAKE: From my initial findings is that, at one point, she was a student at that school. But unsure what year all of that. But that's what I've been told so far.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) - can't give any social media or have examined at this point.

DRAKE: The investigations are still ongoing at this point. Our federal partners, our state partners, we're all looking into that to see exactly. This is still fluid at the time. But we're looking at everything.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did anybody pull the fire alarm? Do you know?

DRAKE: I don't remember the fire alarm going off. I was told there was kids that evacuated into a wood line, had the presence of mind to do that, and to go to a fire hall.

Once we arrived, arrived on scene, we had everyone moved to First Baptist Church Woodmont, and that way we could get parents and children reunited and then ultimately make the notification on the three kids.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do we know yet if she entered in this door that was locked?

DRAKE: There was a door that was entered. All the doors were locked to understanding. And how exactly, she got in at this point, it's still under investigation.

There is a vehicle that was nearby that gave us clues as into who she was. And so - but as stated, that investigation is still ongoing.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did the school have a school shooter protocol?


DRAKE: They did have protocol to my understanding. We had unfortunately, three kids that would tragically hurt. It could have been far, far worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, folks, we'll be back again before four o'clock. OK. Thank you.