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Nashville Police Department: Female Shooter Kills 3 Children, 3 Adults at School. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 27, 2023 - 15:30   ET



ABENE CLAYTON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We had the same conversation around a shooter not fitting the typical mold when we were talking about Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park. Both of those shooters were older Asian men.

And I think that seeing this situation be a woman is something that is yes shocking, but we don't know if it doesn't fit these profiles yet. We don't know enough about this person. We don't know their motivations. We don't know if there are resentments and you know things that should have been flagged on a background check that we talk about after it is a younger white man.

How could we have known this person who's going to do this? How could we -- you know, how could we have stopped them from getting access to a gun? These are questions we're going to have to ask in this situation again.

So while statistically it is not common for a woman to do this. It wasn't coming for, you know, older Asian men to do it. It's not necessarily -- I think we're learning that the things that lead to these horrific incidents transcend race and age and have more to do with mental health, of course, and with access to firearms. But while it's shocking, we don't know if it's not in line with what we've seen before, just yet because we don't know enough about the individual.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: As you're speaking. We're looking at new photos that we're getting in from outside of the covenant school there. The children on school busses surrounded by police. This one gets me all the time, children and walking arm and arm and see just how young they are being escorted out of the school and for safety drills.

These are images that typically we see where children are going on field trips are being walked to the bus, but not being walked out of a shooting event at their own school.

And of course, they are the fortunate ones, Abene, because as we know we've lost three students, three faculty members. And we look at the statistics again, 129 shootings this year alone. We talked about Michigan State just a few weeks ago, where some of the students there had survived another recent shooting in Michigan.

What is your reporting, telling you about the prevalence and it looks like the increased trend that we're seeing of school shootings?

CLAYTON: You know, it's something that is, of course, hard to report on because it's so devastating. But also because school shootings, children being exposed to violence on campus, it happens in so many different formats.

I feel like the ones that capture the public's attention the most are these, you know, very public. Of course, the death toll is high. It's elementary school. Sounds like -- we don't know yet -- but it sounds like it's young kids, and at the same time we have shootings that happened after football games.

There are armed robberies that happened near schools all the time, so it's really difficult to contend with how ubiquitous gun violence and violence exposure is to like our youngest and most vulnerable, especially in the places where they're supposed to be the safest. You know, it's difficult to think about, and I hear the emotion in your voice, Bianna, and I'm feeling a lot of the same things.

It's it seems like there is -- there are a few places that you can truly say, OK, my kids are going to be good here. Like OK, I can send my sibling here and they'll be all right. Because if it's not someone coming into the school and a lot of the most underserved communities where we see these things happen regularly and it goes unaddressed. Kids are walking past vigils. You know, they're coming to school and having to talk about what happened most recently in their neighborhoods.

And then on days like this, you know, my coverage ends up shifting from these long term stories to these immediate, horrible things that just put everything in context in a way that is, striking and devastating all at once. And in a way that I feel like we continue to respond to, you know, we talk about the -- I saw Andrew McCabe earlier talking about this very precise police response. We know that so many departments have these conversations after Uvalde, about like, how do we make sure we don't make these mistakes.

But when you really think about it, all they can do is respond. They can only get there after the shots are fired. And at that point it's unfortunately, too late. If you're talking about the trauma that is inflicted on students and teachers and families like it's really hard to contend with.

I don't want to ramble on you all's television show, but it's a lot and just the images of the children and to know what they're going to deal with in the coming months and years. It's too much to think about. We're not built for it.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yes, and especially as we look at this image, as we noted earlier, powerful image of young children interlocking hands being led away from horrifying scene by officials. You have to wonder what life will be like for those kids when they grow up in light of what they have survived.

[15:35:00] Abene, I'm curious to get your perspective because you hinted at the idea of prevention being something that could possibly, you know, or rather taking action on legislation could be something that might prevent these acts in the future.

And so often when you hear the counter argument from folks that are opposed to any kind of gun reform legislation, they argue that if you look at places where there are very strict gun laws in place, they still have a high incidence of gun violence. Does the data bear that out? What does the data reveal about passing legislation against say, for example, assault style weapons?

CLAYTON: That is something that is always top of mind. I think something that I always like to keep track of is how well these things are implemented. You know when we talk -- about after a mass shooting after something high profile, the question is always, how did this person get the gun?

We saw with Colorado Springs recently. This -- the individual who shot up the club, he should have been flagged by all accounts is someone who a emergency risk protection order, gun violence, restraining order should have been used on. But in addition to the political strife around these laws, sometimes people simply don't educate their constituents on the options that they have if they feel that someone is a danger to themselves or others.

So you know, we just came off of President Biden announcing these executive orders that are meant to strengthen the policies that were in the bipartisan, Safer Communities Act, and when I was asked a question about, you know, what is he going to do for mass shootings and assault rifles?

My answer is always these things are only as good as their implementation among people who are selling guns out of a store. People who are selling guns to, you know, on an individual basis, whether background checks are being done. And whether local police and sheriff's offices are one, in support of this sort of legislation.

And two, are already taking advantage of what is available to stop not only high profile mass shootings, but the everyday incidents of gun violence that just compound trauma on trauma and continue to go unaddressed.

So whenever I hear things about legislation, I hesitate to be pessimistic because I think it's something that needs to be done. But I always wonder what is this going to do to change people's immediate circumstances that are contributing to kind of every day and community gun violence. And then what is going to do to -- I guess to provide long term support and care to people who are affected.

I really think we don't look enough at those two lanes and we stay so focused on like, isn't assault weapons ban going to happen? What is Congress doing? I think that sometimes our -- where we're looking isn't exactly where the problem is, and where the most potential for solutions lie. Because we know it's going to be -- excuse me -- it's going to be a

stalemate every single time. And I just worry that we're putting a lot of our energy in places where, you know, it can be better served like I said, contributing to long term support and bolstering gun violence prevention efforts that communities have already, you know, come up with and have been fighting tooth and nail to have funded sustainably. And we haven't seen it happen yet.

GOLODRYGA: Abene, we're really tight on time. But while you're here, I'm just curious. Do you speak to students in your reporting? What do they tell you about this issue and about the fact that this is something that they face as their reality every single day?

CLAYTON: It's funny because I actually shifted focus from this mass shooting to work on a long term story about gun violence exposure near schools in the most underserved areas in my hometown of Richmond, California.

And I talked to teams all the time, mainly about community violence and how they feel about, you know, the role that social media plays and how they fear for themselves and their friends when they're going to and from school.

And at the same time, these are the same folks in the lockdown generation, you know. So while they're dealing with things outside, they go into school, and they're hearing about another shooting and maybe a suburban place, but it's among students who look and have the same experiences of them.

So I think the kids are doing their best. When I talked to them. They always sound like they really want adults and us older generations to get it together. But I would be lying if I didn't say there's a lot of hurt and trauma that's evident in the way they speak and kind of the pessimism that I hear from them.

So I talked to young folks as much as I can, especially those who are most impacted by the gun violence that isn't always talked about, you know, on places like CNN and is relegated to like a local crime coverage.


And they are nonetheless affected by those shootings and are just similarly devastated when things like this happen, especially at an elementary school. So it's -- it's a really difficult day all around, and it's going to be a really tough next few days to come. And unfortunately, I don't know that I can say I won't be back to talk about the same topic.

SANCHEZ: As you noted, it happens all too frequently, but we're grateful to get your perspective. Abene Clayton thank you so much for the time.

There's still much more ahead on our coverage of the deadly school shooting out of Nashville. As we take a look at these heartbreaking new images of the moments these students were evacuating The Covenant School. Stay with CNN NEWSROOM we'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: Nashville police say the families of all six victims killed by a female shooter today have been notified and police believe the 28-year-old attacker actually attended at some point, the school. It is a small private school inside a church. The teachers roughly 200 students with 40 to 50 staff.

GOLODRYGA: The first call came in at 10:13 a.m. local time, and police say teams cleared the first floor of the building, heard gunshots and then found the shooter as she was opening fire. They say by 10:27 a.m. they had shot and killed her.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is back with us. And Dianne, police now know and have identified the victims, but they are not releasing their names, and they're not releasing the ages notably of those killed as well.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and that's especially poignant because this school, a small private Christian school inside Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville serves preschool through sixth grader. So regardless, those three children who were killed are very likely young. Now three staff members also killed, according to police.

Investigators still trying to put together exactly what happened here. They say that a 28-year-old woman from the Nashville area gained entry through a side door. They're still trying to figure out how she forced her way into the school. Because they say all of the doors were locked. Police say that she made her way to an upper level and that the shooting took place in a lobby type area, not a classroom area.

And again, they had a team of responders who showed up. Two of them, they said, engaged -- in their words -- with the shooter and then she was killed less than 15 minutes after they received that first call.

Now identifying that 28-year-old woman, the shooter, they said in part, they used a vehicle that they found near the scene that they were able to try and link to that person. They were still trying to figure out why she may have targeted the school. The chief of Metro Nashville Police, saying that they believe that she may have been a former student.

But again, this is a pre-K through sixth grade students. She's a 28 year old woman. There's quite a bit of time in between there when she may have attended that school, looking into all of this at this point.

Now Police say they do have video from the school that they are currently going over. They also note that she was armed, they say within their words, to assault style rifles and a handgun. Again, trying to speak with people trying to go over what happened at this point, and you know, we've talked about this video of first responders and staff trying to escort those little children out. The fire department, noting that they're going to make sure there's

resources. Because even if the children didn't see it, everything they've experienced today. Has been beyond traumatic for that entire community. Just like you said, 200 students there, very small, close knit church.

GOLODRYGA: Yes and all those children surrounded by police officers there. Dianne Gallagher, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Back with us now our CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey and Andy McCabe, thank you both for sticking with us. Andy, I'm curious from your perspective in this investigation, as officials review some of the footage that Dianne was talking about, what exactly might they be looking for? What is it that they're trying to review? What details are they trying to gather in watching that footage?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well Boris, we only have to remind folks to think back to how essential the interior video recordings from the school shooting in Uvalde were in that situation. It was helpful to understand better the law enforcement response. Here there don't appear to be at this point any serious questions about the law enforcement response.

But the interior videos are going to give you that same sort of very intimate look at the shooter entering the location, moving, you know, from her point of entry and that side door through whatever hallways and up with whatever stairs she needed to go to get to where she was ultimately confronted.

It could give you an idea as to her sense of purpose. Whether she was going -- whether she appeared to be going to a specific place to engage in a certain room or with certain people or if she was just kind of wandering, you know, room to room, trying doors and essentially going wherever she could opportunistically gain access.


So there's all kinds of things that are going to be very relevant to the investigators as they watch her movements into the building. Whether or not she struggled with a locked door. Whether or not she had some sort of access -- privileged access like a key card or something like that. And then how she moved through the building and, of course, where she ultimately ended up.

GOLODRYGA: You mentioned Uvalde, that of course, will go down in history as a case study of a horrific response and failure by law enforcement to a school shooting. As we're getting more details here, it appears that everything worked orderly and the police arrived within just 14 minutes of being notified.

And in sort of a sick way, it is reassuring to see such a large police presence around those children. Just letting them know at least right now, at this point, after everything they witnessed, they are indeed safe. Chief. Let me ask you in terms of how other schools in the area

respond. This is something that the police chief in Nashville they are well trained for and prepared for. Do you think there will be a change in the security around other schools and perhaps other private church affiliated schools?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, I think that all schools will assess their current security. Whether or not they keep their doors locked. Do they have cameras? Do they have a school resource officer? All those kinds of things.

I think the biggest mistake you could possibly make is to think that it can't happen at your school or your location because I think we've seen now that it can happen anywhere at any particular time. So you know, I would imagine there is a lot of thought being given into that as we speak, and that's going to continue. But that doesn't mean it's not going to happen again, you know?

You know, when you think about the number of firearms we have in our in our -- in our country, particularly assault weapons. And Andy mentioned it earlier, so did Ms. Clayton. You know, when 911 is called, it's after the fact. This first shot has been fired already and these weapons, assault weapons in particular, they're absolutely devastating, and they can kill in huge numbers in a very short period of time, seconds, literally seconds.

And so the police response in this case was very good. It was very quick. There's no question about it. I'm sure they saved more lives. But the bottom line is there will be loss of life if you have a situation like this. You know, it is just absolutely devastating with these assault type weapons can do to the human body.

And a lot people just don't understand that. I think the president is right. There needs to be a ban on these weapons. There needs to be an effort to try to get the ones that are already out there. These serve no purpose in a civilian setting.

None whatsoever, and I just don't understand why we keep, you know, messing around with this and just continue to, you know, think that somehow it's going to change. It's not going to happen again. 129 so far this year. I guarantee you that there will be double if not triple that number by the end of the year. It's unfortunate. But it's just a fact. It's not going to stop on its own.

SANCHEZ: Chief Charles Ramsey, Andrew McCabe, we have to leave the conversation there. Thank you both so much.

We are anticipating we will hear from Nashville police close to the top of the hour. We have much more of our coverage coming up in just moments stay with us.



We're getting Congressional reactions to today's deadly shooting at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee. Where police say a 28-year-old woman shot and killed three children and three adults before being shot and killed by responding officers.

CNN chief Congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins us now live. Manu, what are you hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Senate Democrats want to renew action on the measures that have been stalled for many years to really extended the assault weapons ban that had expired more than a decade ago. As well as to expand background checks on gun purchases. Something that also has been difficult to get through Congress even with all Democratic control.

But just moments ago, the Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, who's also the number two Democrat, renewed calls for legislative action.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL) MAJORITY WHIP: The fact that this is a daily occurrence in America is unconscionable. I urge my colleagues to come together on a bipartisan basis. We can't say that we've solved this problem or even address it seriously when incidents like the one that happened today in Nashville, Tennessee, continue in America. We need to ...


RAJU: So I just caught up with Dick Durbin after he gave that speech, and I asked him whether or not his committee would act on expanding background checks on commercial sales and private transfer -- something known as universal background checks. He said, I'm a realist. And he has not made a decision yet about whether to do that, just because of the math here.

In order to get legislation through the United States Senate, you need to have 60 votes to overcome a likely filibuster attempt. There are 51 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, meaning nine Republicans would need to break ranks. Something that is very unlikely. They couldn't do that last Congress and they did pass gun related legislation.


They left out the expansion of universal background checks and the reinstating the assault weapons ban. But nevertheless still calls to do that, even though the political realities here say it's probably not going to happen -- guys.

GOLODRYGA: Manu Raju another mass shooting another shooting at a school in America. Another tragic day in America. Our coverage of the school shooting in Nashville will continue. "THE LEAD" starts right now.