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Former Student Kills 3 Children, 3 Adults at Private Christian School; TN Dem Calls on Lawmakers to Take Action on Gun Control; Fire at Migrant Detention Center Near U.S. Mexican Border Kills 39. Aired 10-10:30 am ET

Aired March 28, 2023 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto. Sad news to report this morning, right now, we are waiting for the release of police body camera video taken as officers confronted a shooter who killed six people, including three children at a private Christian school in Nashville. Three of those victims just nine years old. One of them, Hallie Scruggs, you can see a picture there from 2019. Just a little girl, the daughter of the lead pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church, a church affiliated with the school. The other two children have been identified, Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney. Among the adult victims, 61-year-old Cynthia Peak. The other two were school employees, 60-year-old Katherine Koonce, head of school, Mike Hill, he worked as a custodian. All of them lost their lives yesterday.

Since the shooting, a memorial outside the school has been growing, something we've seen so many times. This morning, it's been adorned with balloons, stuffed animals, across as well decorated with flowers.

The school has released a statement saying, in part, our community is heartbroken. We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of that terror that shattered our school and our church.

A woman who survived the Highland Park mass shooting in Illinois just last year, she was visiting Nashville. Yesterday, she jumped in at the end of a police news conference to speak out against gun violence. It was quite a moment. Here's what she had to say.


ASHBEY BEASLEY, HIGHLAND PART MASS SHOOTING SURVIVOR: How is this still happening? How are our children still dying? And why are we failing them?


SCIUTTO: Well, we've got team coverage of this horrible tragedy this morning. CNN's Carlos Suarez, he's in Nashville with the latest on the investigation. CNN's Manu Raju, he's on Capitol Hill speaking to lawmakers about what, if anything follows. Let's begin in Nashville. Carlos, tell us what more we're learning about this attack. I mean, the number of weapons involved, just mind boggling.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. We're talking about at least three weapons that were used in this shooting, Jim. We are expected to get a look at some of this body cam video from some of the officers that showed up to this school shooting.

Now, overnight, we learned of a message that the 28-year-old attacker sent a former basketball teammate, Averianna Patton says she received this direct message on Instagram in the minutes before the shooting.

It reads, "One day this will make sense. I've left behind more than enough evidence behind, but something bad is about to happen."

Now, Patton says that she received this DM from the attacker again in the minutes before the shooting took place. She goes on to call 911 police to let them know about this message around the time the shooting takes place. But according to her, officers do not show up to her house until about 3:30 in the afternoon, several hours after this shooting had taken place. Patton was on CNN This Morning and described her reaction to this entire thing.


AVERIANNA PATTON, RECEIVED MESSAGES FROM SHOOTER BEFORE ATTACK: I just couldn't believe it. Like -- and then the fact to know that I, you know, I tried to reach out, you know, not even knowing that it was her, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know where she was. You know, what she was dealing with. I don't know, like.


SUAREZ: All right, so let's go ahead and take a look at the timeline of this shooting that happened here yesterday. At around 9:57 is when we're told that Patton receives this direct message from the 28-year- old attack. At around 10:10 in the morning, the shooter enters the school. We've seen the surveillance video of the shooter making -- getting inside of this school building. At around 10:13 in the morning, the first 911 call is made. And then around 10:27, so about 14 minutes after that's, when we're told five officers made it into this school building, two of them engaged the 28-year-old shooter, killing that attacker on the second floor.

The shooter here has been identified by police as 28-year-old Audrey Hale. We're told that Hale lived with parents and that she rather previously attended this school here. According to authorities, Hale had a number of writings and statements left behind in her car detailing exactly what was going to take place. Apparently there were maps that Hale had used essentially outlining how Hale was going to get inside of this school, including all of the entry areas. Jim?


SCIUTTO: She shot her way in. Carlos Suarez, thanks so much. Well, gun violence is, "ripping the soul of the nation." Those words

from President Biden yesterday as he spoke about the shooting in Nashville. He repeated his calls for gun reform, including an assault weapons ban.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: 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 two assault weapons and a pistol two AK- 47s. So I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapons ban. It's about time that we began to make some more progress.


SCIUTTO: Well, despite this latest mass shooting in Nashville, and there have been at least 130 mass shootings so far this year in this country, top congressional Republicans say they do not see any possibility or any need for new legislation. CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill. And Manu, you spoke to John Cornyn yesterday. He was a key negotiator on the most recent piece of gun legislation. He said doesn't see them moving in the next couple of years.

Now Biden's team will say and MJ Lee highlighted this point last hour, that, well, we've said that before and sometimes members of Congress are moved. What's your read of the situation right now?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is a different situation than in the last Congress in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting. Democrats having control of both chambers of Congress and a bipartisan will to get something done even if Democrat had control of both chambers. It requires bipartisan support to get something out of the United States Senate. We need 60 votes to overcome any filibuster attempt.

Last Congress, there are 50 Democrats. They did get the support of Republican senators for a more modest bill. It did not go as far as what the President wanted. It did not ban assault weapons. It did not enhance background checks to the extent that the Democrats want so called universal background checks. It had other measures, such as providing funding for schools to harden their safety, as well as providing money for so called state red flag laws and also dealing with how juveniles are treated in the background check system.

But nevertheless, right now, that call to reinstate the ban on semiautomatic rifles, democrats are making that call. But in talking to Republicans today, they are making very clear they're not going anywhere near that issue.


REP. BYRON DONALDS, (R) FLORIDA: So, Second Amendment here in the United States, people are allowed to possess firearms. Need is in the eye of the beholder. I don't question why you need a blue suit, but you got one. And I know we're talking about something very, very different, but the Second Amendment allows American citizens to possess firearms.

RAJU: Why not limit to AR-15? Why not put a ban on that?

DONALDS: If you're going to talk about the AR-15, you're talking politics now. Let's not get into politics. Let's not get into emotion, because emotion feels good, but emotion doesn't solve problems.

RAJU: Why not ban AR-15s?

REP. ANDY OGLES, (R) TENNESSEE: Why not talk about the real issue facing this country in regards to the shooting, which would be mental health?


RAJU: Now, that last Congressman was Andy Ogles, who represents the district in Nashville where this shooting took place, calling for more mental health funding. Mental health funding, of course, was part of that last bipartisan bill that passed the House and Senate last year. Just 14 Republicans in the House voted for it last year, opposed by the Republican leadership. And also Republican leaders in the House who controlled the chamber now are signaling no appetite to moving forward on tougher gun controls. Jim Jordan, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told me it's all about the Second Amendment when I asked him about moving forward at any ban, on semiautomatic weapons. Jim.

SCIUTTO: This shooter had two AR style rifles. Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Leaders on the state and local levels expressed their disbelief at heartbreak following the shooting at Covenant Christian School. But the leader of Tennessee's Democratic House Caucus made an emotional plea on the State House floor, saying that children of Tennessee, they need action, not words.


STATE REP. JOHN RAY CLEMMONS (D-TN): Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you, please look yourself in the mirror and ask if we are doing everything that we possibly can to prevent this and other tragedies from taking place.

My children were in school less than a mile down the road. Ladies and gentlemen, this can happen anywhere. It happened here today. But unless we take action, it's going to happen again.



SCIUTTO: Well, joining me now is Tennessee state Representative John Ray Clemmons. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

CLEMMONS: Thank you for having me, Jim. SCIUTTO: I got to say your words reverberated with me. I'm a father. I was thinking exactly the same thing, whether you're a mile away or several hundred miles away. Where will it happen again? You made that plea and sad fact is we've seen pleased like that before in the wake of things like this and the reality doesn't move. Did any Republican colleagues of yours come up to you and say, you know what, you made a point there, let's talk?

CLEMMONS: Well, you know, Jim, they did. And several came over to me, expressed their sympathy. But, you know, like you, as a father, I'm absolutely heartbroken as a legislator and a leader in this community. I'm angry that we haven't taken action. And I've had colleagues come over, like I said, and express sympathy and heartfelt emotion. But again, those are just words. What the people of Tennessee need, what the people of this country need is action.

SCIUTTO: What you have happening in Tennessee actually is action in the opposite direction. You got bills introduced by your Republican colleagues to loosen, not tighten gun restrictions. Is there any sign at least the loosening, gets put off?

CLEMMONS: Well, we'll continue to fight that battle. We've been fighting this for years. This is my 9th year in the state legislature and every single year a new piece of legislation comes forward that would shock the conscience of most people. You know, what we need is gun sense, not cow-telling to radical special interest groups who donate large amounts of money and control the narrative in legislators across this country.

You know, we've been banning books up here, not guns. We've been doing everything. We make it harder to vote and to buy an AK. You can buy an AK out of a -- out of a trunk of a car in a Kroger parking lot in Tennessee. You know, we've allowed permitless carry in Tennessee, and our governor had the goal to sign that bill in a Beretta manufacturing plant here in Tennessee.

I mean, that's the climate in which I serve. That's the uphill battle that I'm fighting and helping lead in the state of Tennessee. But, you know, what I need is the people of Tennessee, and I believe a vast majority of Tennesseans, want gun sense legislation.

They don't think that allowing anyone to carry a handgun or an AK in public without a permit or without any training, you know, that they bought out of the trunk of a car in a parking lot. They don't need to be carrying those to Little League baseball games or in front of school buildings, which is allowed. We need real action, not just in D.C. but in every state house across this country. And that's what we're trying to do.

SCIUTTO: You note public support there, National polls show the same thing that the vast majority of people do support stricter gun legislation.

You went to the side of the shooting. You watch parents waiting for word about their children. We use the term reunification center for this. And listen, I mean, I better call it a sort of terrified center, right? I can only imagine how the parents were reacting. How do they handle this? What do they say to you? Do they ask you for the kind of action you're talking about?

CLEMMONS: Well, I wasn't inside the reunification center as they call it, which is absolutely devastating to think about, that our schoolchildren and parents have to be notified of a reunification location in advance. And that's the -- you know, again, that's the climate in which we're living. But, you know, I hear from parents all the time. One of my good friends lost her son in the Waffle House shooting here in Antioch, Tennessee in my district a few years ago. You know, we've had tragedies like this all over the country.

And again, we hear words, but no actions. And I continue to hear from groups doing the good work. Moms Demand Action in Tennessee is doing incredible work. Advocates are doing incredible work, spreading the word about what can be done, should be done. What bills should not be passed, and which bills should not even be discussed with any seriousness in state legislatures such as mine.

And so, we've got a lot of people. What I need is more voices. I need more people up here in the halls of this Capitol. I need more people up here surrounding this building. You know, they'll come up here a lot of times if there's a tax proposal or something like that, but about our children. This is about our community. We need the people of Tennessee to stand up, speak up, and let these legislators know that they're going to be held accountable for not taking action.


SCIUTTO: Yeah. Well, Tennessee Representative John Ray Clemmons, we appreciate your candor on this issue. Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

CLEMMONS: Thank you, Jim. I sincerely appreciate your focus on this.

SCIUTTO: That poor community.

Well, still to come this hour, at least 39 people are dead after a fire ripped through a migrant detention center in Mexico, just near the U.S. border. We're live -- we're going to live we're going to be live with what we've learned about what the cause was.

And a textbook case of mismanagement, that's what a top federal regulator plans to tell a Senate committee about the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. The latest on a hearing into the banking sector turmoil.

And Philadelphia says that residents can drink the tap water at least through tomorrow night. The data behind that decision, the timing coming up later this hour.



SCIUTTO: Tragic story out of Mexico. Authorities say at least 39 people have died in a fire at a migrant detention center. A horrible scene unfolding now on Ciudad Juarez. CNN National Correspondent Ed Lavandera joins us now with more. Ed, authorities say this may have started with a protest. Do we know how this happened?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is just coming into us now. The President of Mexico says that the fire at the National Migration Institute, which is a detention center for migrants there on the Mexican side of the border, and this is just across from El Paso, Texas, says that migrants at the detention center were protesting the news that they had just found out they were going to be deported from Mexico.

And according to the President of Mexico, they set mattresses on fire inside that migration detention center. And then from there it spread out of control, as you mentioned, killing at least 39 people, dozens others injured as well. The investigation as to what led up to all of this is still ongoing. We are told this happened last night, but a dramatic and horrific scene there as so many people have lost their lives. But this comes after months and months of frustration for many migrants, many from Venezuela and South America, who have been essentially stuck there on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border as they've tried for months and months to request asylum.

The whole process has been extremely difficult for many of these migrants. So essentially many of them have told us over the last few months, just sitting there, waiting in limbo. So that really kind of speaks to the frustration and the anxiety that so many of those migrants are enduring there in that border city of Juarez. But at least 39 people killed in this latest incident. And it is a tragic scene there, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Tragic say the least. Ed Lavandera, thanks so much for the details.

Back here in this country right now, the nation's top banking regulators, they're appearing before Congress. The issue topping everyone's mind how the U.S. banking system is doing following two dramatic bank failures earlier this month, a Federal Reserve official is expected to tell lawmakers it all came down to bad leadership.

CNN's Matt Egan joins us now. Matt, bad leadership. So they're blaming this on -- not on the regulators, but on the leaders of those banks involved?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yeah, Jim. Well, we can expect a lot of finger pointing today. You know, some lawmakers, they are blaming the regulators, basically saying that they were asleep at the wheel in the months and years before these two major bank failures. Some of the progressives, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, they blamed some of the deregulation of the Trump -- the Trump era, specifically that bipartisan 2018 rollback of Dodd-Frank. And yes, the regulators for their part, they are pointing the finger at bank leadership.

Michael Barr, the top banking regulator at the Federal Reserve, in his prepared remarks, he says that Silicon Valley Bank really mismanaged this by failing to brace their balance sheet for soaring interest rates. And then when they did finally act, they spooked their customers so much that there was this epic run on the bank. Barr summed it up this way, he said, "SVB's failure is textbook case of mismanagement."

I think the truth though, is that it's probably not one thing that caused these bank failures. It was probably a confluence of events, including soaring interest rates. But Jim, it is critical that they get to the bottom of what happened here.

SCIUTTO: I mean, listen to these -- these regulations supposed to catch that kind of stuff. We're also getting some consumer confidence data that's on the positive side of the ledger.

EGAN: Yeah, Jim. This is a surprise because this consumer confidence survey was being taken during the middle of this banking crisis. The survey date wrapped up March 20. So that was ten days after the collapse of Silicon Valley banks. So economists were expecting consumer confidence to go down, it actually went up slightly in March. That is encouraging.

Consumers, they marked down their view on the current situation in the economy, but they upgraded their short-term outlook. And this is important because the better consumers are feeling about the economy, the more likely they are to spend.


EGAN: And, you know, at the end of the day, consumer spending is the main driver of this economy. So it is certainly encouraging to see the fact that consumer confidence held up despite this banking crisis.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, those consumers kept the economy going in so many tough times. Matt Egan, thanks so much.


Well, in the wake of the Nashville shooting and so many others can barely keep up. Parents across the U.S. have to speak to their kids about gun violence.

Coming up next, the Nashville -- Nashville Police Chief shares the conversation he had with his own family about it as the nation grapples once again with deadly gun violence.



SCIUTTO: As the Nashville community and the country mourn the three children, three adults killed by a shooter.