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Nashville Mourns After 3 Children, 3 Adults Killed At Christian School; GOP Lawmakers Resist Call For Gun Reform After Nashville Killings; Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-TN) Discusses About The Mass Shooting In Nashville And The Victims; Protesters, Police Clash In Paris Amid Pension Reform Battle. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 28, 2023 - 15:00   ET


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Listen to the owner of this house behind me, Sherry Bennett (ph), about how she endured the storm.


SHERRY BENNET: I was right there, when that window came in.

VAN DAM: You rode off the tornado here?

BENNET: Yes, I was there when it hit and the glass just - what woke me up was glass just flying everywhere, everything falling. I couldn't get out the door. There was a picture behind the door and I couldn't get out the door and I managed to get out there and then one of the neighbors came and got the debris out from - in front of the door.


VAN DAM: Sherry (ph) said that God protected her as the glass fell around her within her bed, but I want you to see the roof that is no longer there as this opened up and revealed the tornado and the twister above her during that terrifying moment Sunday morning. Boris, back to you.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: That damage just highlights the destruction of those powerful tornadoes.

Derek Van Dam, thank you

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: It is the top of the hour. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Boris Sanchez.

GOLODRYGA: And I'm Bianna Golodryga.

America's children have been failed once again. In just over 24 hours later enormous transparency of how another school shooting unfolded yesterday in Nashville. Metro Nashville Police have released stunning videos of the 14 minutes between the initial 911 call and the takedown of the suspect, identified as 28-year-old, Audrey Hale.

Surveillance video from the school shows the shooter's first movements firing through the glass doors as a way to enter. SANCHEZ: Police today provided the public with this gut wrenching

body cam video from two of the officers who were part of the team who encountered and neutralize the shooter. Hale had just gotten down three nine-year-old kids and three staff members. A warning for our viewers, what you're about to see is disturbing and it starts with officers entering the Covenant School after receiving the very first call that came in at 10:13 am. Let's watch it.






Metro Police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door. On me, on me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know where he is.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bathroom, bathroom, small bathroom.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Door, door, with me, with me ...



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's check this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open - I got it, I got it.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) the door, right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's move right, cover - cover left, cover left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take this with you, take this. No, that's locked. Take this door. Take this door. Take it. I think he's upstairs. It sounds like he's upstairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go, let's go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) fired.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pushing the LPBO (ph). Pushing the LPBO.

(End VT)

SANCHEZ: Moments after that exchange of gunfire, the body cam footage shows the shooter lifeless on the ground.

GOLODRYGA: CNN's Carlos Suarez is live in Nashville today.

And Carlos, the Metro Police also revealed new details about the shooter and the number of weapons that the shooter possessed.


Tell us more about what we learned.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Bianna and Boris. The Chief of Police here in Nashville said that the 28-year-old shooter was being treated for a "emotional disorder." It is a treatment that according to the Chief of Police, law enforcement was not aware. But the treatment - the condition was severe enough that according to the Police Chief, the shooters' parents felt that the shooter should not have any guns.

In fact, it was under - they were under the impression rather that the 28-year-old had sold one gun, but we now know according to a law enforcement officials out here that the 28-year-old shooter, the attacker in this had legally purchased seven guns.

We're talking about three that were used at the school shooting, two that were removed from the family's home yesterday after a search warrant was executed, one that they believe was sold and the other what we're told that one is still missing. The Chief of Police gave an update on the investigation here earlier today. Here's what he said.


CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, METROPOLITAN NASHVILLE POLICE: We've determined that Audrey bought seven firearms from five different local gun stores here legally. They were legally purchased. Three of those weapons were used yesterday, but the parents felt that she should not own weapons.

They were under the impression that was - when she sold the one weapon that she did not own anymore. As it turned out, she had been hiding several weapons within the house.


SUAREZ: And in the last hour, CNN has been able to confirm with law enforcement officials here in Nashville that a nearby mall was mentioned in some of the writings and the statements that were left behind by the 28-year-old shooter. We're told that a mall was mentioned in some of these writings.

Now, there is a location - a mall just up the street from where we are. It is just a few minutes walk, a few minutes drive. We're told that a - the mall was mentioned in some of these writings and some of the statements. However, law enforcement officials did not want to confirm the exact location of this small Boris and Bianna?

SANCHEZ: Yes, Carlos, investigators are still piecing together a possible motive saying that it's unclear exactly why the shooter chose the school even though they were at one point a student there. Carlos, we also want to focus on those that were killed yesterday beginning with the three kids all of them nine years old.

SUAREZ: Yes, that's right. The three kids - the three nine-year-olds that died in this shooting, we know their names. We're talking about Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs whose father, Chad Scruggs, is the lead pastor at the Covenant Presbyterian Church. She was the second child that died in the shooting as well as William Kinney. He was also nine years old.

The three other victims that died in the shooting all work for the school. We know Cynthia Peak was 61 years old. She was a beloved substitute teacher here at the school. Katherine Koonce was 60 years old. She was the head of the school here and in fact we were told earlier this afternoon that it appears that Koonce died in some sort of confrontation with the 28-year-old shooter. It appears that surveillance video captured Koonce as well as the shooter in a hallway there. And then the last person that died was 61-year-old Mike Hill. He was a custodian and it's believed he was the first one that died in the shooting, because according to police, Hill was near the front entrance of the school when the 28-year-old shooter first got entrance into the building.

SANCHEZ: Yes. The chief essentially confirming reporting that the shooter targeted the school but did not target any specific individuals, just started shooting indiscriminately.

Carlos Suarez from Nashville, thank you so much for that report.

Moment ago, President Biden repeated his plea with Congress to act on gun reform after once again, the nation is mourning the death of more children because of gun violence.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never thought when I started my public life that guns would be the number one killer of children in America. Guns: number one. It's sick.

And, overwhelmingly, a majority of gun owners agree: We have to do something. Not just everybody; the gun owners agree.

There's a moral price to pay for inaction.


GOLODRYGA: He's right, it is sick. It is sick that that is the number one cause of death in 2023 in this country of children.

But before the President said that, some Republican lawmakers today revealed that they're once again not budging on gun laws.


CNN Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox is here with the story.

So Lauren, I can't say this is a surprise to hear that they're not budging, but what exactly are you hearing from Republican lawmakers in terms of why?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes. I've asked Republicans over and over again today, if they see any future of gun legislation passing in Congress. This, of course, comes after there was a modest proposal that passed out of the House and Senate last year.

What I've heard resoundingly from Republicans today, is that no, there is no appetite to pass additional legislation, including that assault weapons ban that the President has repeatedly called for in moments after these mass shootings. In fact, here's one Republican, Tim Burchett talking a little bit more about why he's opposed to more gun laws.


REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): We've got evil in this country and everybody needs to tone down the rhetoric a little bit, because all that does is jam it up in both sides, and then they point the finger and nothing happens, because nothing - if you think Washington is going to fix this problem, you're wrong. They're not going to fix this problem. They are the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't concern you that other countries don't have this level of gun violence?

BURCHETT: Other countries don't have our freedom either. It's the United States of America. My father fought for this country. My mama flew an airplane. My mama lost a brother fighting the Nazis. Dad fought the Japanese. We've got incredible freedom in this country. And when people abused that freedom, that's what happens.


FOX: And I talked to one of the leading Republican negotiators in that bipartisan gun-compromised last year, Sen. Thom Tillis told me that at this point, he thinks that lawmakers should work together to make sure that the implementation of the law that they passed in the summer of 2022 is the focus rather than try to pass additional legislation.

But, of course, Democrats continuing to call for an assault weapons ban as well as other gun reform measures in order to prevent these future tragedies, Bianna?

GOLODRYGA: it is just difficult to accept that gun violence is the number one death of children in this country and that is the price we pay for freedom. It doesn't make sense. It shouldn't be a binary choice.

Lauren Fox, thank you.

Well, joining us now is Bryanna Fox, a former FBI agent who is now an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, Jonathan Wackrow, who was a Secret Service agent. Welcome both of you.

Jonathan, let me begin with you and get you to weigh in on that horrific and chilling video of the law enforcement, those brave officers rushing into the school going room by room, juxtaposed against the walls of a beautiful preschool and drawings and little backpacks you see these armed men going in and doing what they were trained to do. What is your reaction to what you saw on the video released?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Listen, first, let's set the stage. I mean, as they were going in, we all watch the video. Everyone's anxiety starts to rise, right? But not for those law enforcement officers. Why? Because their training, tactics and experience took over.

They went in. They knew that the call for service was that there was an active shooter. They rapidly mobilized and entered into the building to go after the assailant, hastily searching each and every room along the way, until they heard the sound of gunfire, which allowed them to figure out what part of the building, the assailant was in They went to that and then they neutralize the threat. This was a textbook operation by law enforcement that was executed

flawlessly. They did a phenomenal job, the time to response, the way that they address the threat and neutralize it actually saved more lives. Time is essential in these situations and everything that they did was appropriate.

SANCHEZ: And Bryanna, over to you. One of the things we heard from the Chief of Police in Nashville earlier today was that the suspect purchased seven weapons from five local gun stores, all of them legally. They were under the supervision of a doctor for emotional distress.

The suspect's parents apparently did not believe that they should own a weapon. We don't have details on the extent of why but I think that signals something in and of itself. It seems like any system that's in place to try to prevent somebody who shouldn't have a weapon should have prevented this from happening, but it didn't.

BRYANNA FOX, FORMER FBI AGENT: Absolutely. And I constantly say people point at mental health issues or emotional distress as the cause of these types of mass shootings. Everybody across the globe has mental distress and mental health issues. Only in the United States do we see people easily able to access guns, purchase them, purchase multiple and then be able to use them so quickly.


I think the last gun was purchased just 10 days ago. That means in 10 days this - the shooter was able to buy these illegally. And that says there's something wrong with our system. And whether or not the family should have called the police or had done something. That's a different story. But the fact that the suspect was able to walk into a store and buy one so easily really says there's something going on here in the United States that's different from the rest of the planet.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, you're absolutely right. The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly of people who are suffering from mental issues.

Jonathan, short of legislative action and from what we know now about the response time in the video that you saw, was there anything that could have been done to prevent the death of four innocent people? Six innocent people I should say.

WACKROW: Well, yes. I mean, great question. We have to take incidents like this and we need to get better on identifying what are the red flags. And time and time again, there's been a hundred and, what, 29 mass shootings this year, we seen this pattern.

And the Secret Service and FBI, they've looked at patterns of mass shootings in the past that have identified these few red flags. One of which is concerning communication. We know that this suspect had writings, had basically telegraph the fact that there was going to be some sort of action through Instagram messages to a friend, whether it was suicidal ideation or stating directly that they wanted to die by suicide. Those are concerning communications. Oftentimes social media can be

used as an outlet for rage and we have to be able to identify that better. The second part of this was there was a significant amount of planning and preparation put into this attack.

Everything from pre-attack surveillance to mapping the target location, identifying the easiest pathway in. And three is the targeting. They targeted a soft location, right? So we're hearing in the reporting earlier that there was a mall that was potentially targeted as well as this school, houses of worship. They're all soft targets.

What is my point here?

My point is we have to understand what are these red flags, what are these warning signs that we need to get smarter about. And then two, how do we alert the right authorities at the right time to prevent these tragedies from happening.

SANCHEZ: And as we saw in this case, the shooter apparently did send a note to a former classmate whether anything could have been prevented there is unknowable. But nevertheless, you see it often in these cases that they do show signs that something is going to happen.

Bryanna Fox, Jonathan Wackrow, we have to leave the conversation there. Thank you so much.

Joining us now is State senator, Heidi Campbell. She represents the area where the shooting occurred. State Senator, thank you so much for being with us. Yesterday, when we spoke with you, you mentioned that you knew families that were close to the school and you knew parents that had children there as well. Now that we know the names of the victims, have you heard from them? How are they holding up?

SEN. HEIDI CAMPBELL (D-TN): I haven't heard from them and certainly would not want to intrude. They're dealing with the most horrific possible aftermath that I could imagine. So I have not reached out to them. We did hold some vigils in our city last night. And our community has been very supportive. And I know that they know that whenever they want to reach out we're all available.

GOLODRYGA: Can I ask you to comment on the actions of those law enforcement officers who went into the school bravely as we just saw on their body cam footage and went in classroom by classroom, textbook is what we're hearing from law enforcement experts into how they conducted that operation and ultimately taking down the shooter. Just what went through your mind when you saw that knowing that they very well likely prevented other deaths?

CAMPBELL: I could not be more proud of our police force. They did an amazing job and handled this perfectly. And I'll also say one thing that hasn't been discussed is how well they dealt with the aftermath. I was in the church all day yesterday while we were reuniting children with their families, and it's a very difficult thing to do for so many reasons. And they did a beautiful job of making sure that there were counselors available and that the children were being reunited safely with their families and that every child was accounted for.

SANCHEZ: Senator, I wanted to revisit something we talked about yesterday as well, this executive order that Gov. Bill Lee signed in 2022 following what happened in Uvalde. It was an executive order designed to prevent the very thing that we saw yesterday. It was meant to harden schools in the case of a potential shooting, but it didn't include any new restrictions on guns.


I'm wondering if you have spoken to fellow legislators, perhaps somebody at the governor's office about revisiting laws to restrict access to weapons.

CAMPBELL: Let's just be honest about this. We do all these acrobatic maneuvers to try and get around the idea that really inevitably the common denominator here are guns. And we can do all of these things to try and make shootings a little bit safer. But in the final analysis, we've had 367 shootings, school shootings since Columbine happens.

And I don't know what it says about a society, when we're not willing to defend our nine-year-old children from getting gunned down on a regular school day. This is insane. And we need common sense gun reform. And inevitably, listening to some of your guests who think this is about freedom, I would say that we have the freedom to - we should have the freedom to send our kids to school without having to worry about them getting shot. That's the freedom that we need to have in our country.

And I guess it's not going to happen until we vote for individuals who will pass common sense gun reform. And that is the power that we have. The power that we have at this point is in the voting booth, because it's clear that our legislators in Congress are intractable.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, that was Representative - Republican Representative Tim Burchett, who you're referring to from your state of Tennessee who said this is the price you pay for freedom and "we're not going to fix it." He said that earlier as well.

State Senator Heidi Campbell, thank you for your time and thank you for being there for your community when they need you most.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, massive protests across France over controversial changes to the national retirement age. We're live in Paris just ahead.

SANCHEZ: And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backing down at least for now after facing major backlash over his judicial reform plans. We have details next.


[15:26:23] GOLODRYGA: ... what is the 10th straight day of massive protests

across France over President Macron's controversial plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

SANCHEZ: Hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out across the country. We even saw protesters in Paris setting fires. And as you're seeing on your screen right now, clashing with police officers.

CNN's Sam Kiley is live on the streets of Paris for us. Sam, what is the situation like right now?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that tannoy announcement from the police that you just heard there, Boris, as you were coming to me is an announcement from the police that as far as they're concerned, the legal protest period is now over. Therefore, if people remain on the streets, demonstrating that is, and I have to say there's only a small ramp of people left here, very heavily outnumbered by the police and the French gendarmerie, then they risk arrest. That is what essentially the police are saying.

But the police have also reduced their own numbers at a peak here. There were five and a half thousand were being deployed, 13,000 around the country. The size of the demonstration here is down than what it was last Thursday, according to the interior ministry, down from about 120,000 to about 73,000.

There was quite a lot of back and forth earlier on today in the late afternoon, early evening with clashes, with the burning of rubbish and garbage. With protesters throwing bottles and rocks at the police and the police responding with charges and tear gas.

A number of arrests have been made. We've seen quite a few arrests, but relative restraint on both sides, particularly by the standards of clashes over the weekend at a very violent environmental protests outside of Paris, not connected with the ongoing demonstrations against President Macron's plans to raise the pension age by two years to 64.

Now, that is going to go ahead, Boris and Bianna, that is almost definitely going to End up on the books in France. So the only way that this can be turned around is by forcing a U-turn on the Macron administration. To do that, the hardliners and the opposition believe you need to see a lot more of these street protests. The unions have tried to have dialogue. They've allowed dialogue with the government, the government says fine, but they are not going to discuss - the government is not going to discuss changing that retirement age or backing down on that very key issue.

So there is what the French would call an ampars (ph). There is nowhere particularly to go apart from more of these demonstrations, but some of the energy is going out of the strikes across the country because many of these strikes have been going on and off since mid January. And the strikers themselves or workers are running out of money, they need wages in their pocket.

So here in Paris, for example, garbage collection is going to happen tomorrow for the first time in many weeks - in many of the main districts in Paris, back to you.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, perhaps reality is setting in, day 10 now of these protests. As you noted, Sam, that these changes in legislation will go through President Macron not budging. Thank you so much for your reporting.

SANCHEZ: We want to get to some news just into the CNN Newsroom. An update from Manhattan on that New York grand jury that's looking into former President Donald Trump's alleged role in that hush money scheme.

GOLODRYGA: CNN's Kara Scannell joins us now. So what more are you learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Boris and Bianna, sources tell my colleague, Lauren del Valle, that the grand jury hearing, this testimony about the hush money probe will not be meeting again this week.