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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Uvalde School Shooting Video Shows Students Escaping and Officers' Fumbling Response; Police: Armed Citizen Shot Gunman who Killed 3 in Indiana Mall; Zelenskyy Fires Ukrainian Top Officials for Treason. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 18, 2022 - 05:00   ET



KRISTIN FISHER, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Monday, July 18th, I'm Kristin Fisher in this week for Christine Romans. We begin this morning with chilling new body-cam video of first responders at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, showing close-up the fumbling response to an unfolding massacre. And we want to warn you that some of the video you're about to see is very disturbing.





FISHER: It includes the frantic early moments and officers smashing windows to pull children out of classrooms. But it also includes long stretches where heavily-armed officers stand around just waiting for guidance or permission to act. Early on, there is confusion about if the attacker is an office or in a classroom. And about 35 minutes after police first arrived, a dispatcher reports the horrifying truth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired, once again, plan --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, what was that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Salvador Ramos. Room 12? Where is room 12?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is in the room full of victims at this moment.


FISHER: Twelve minutes later, Uvalde school's police chief, Pete Arredondo is still trying to talk the gunman into surrendering.


hear me, please put your firearm down, sir. We don't want anybody else hurt.


ARREDONDO: I know. I know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we're doing, we're trying to get him out.


FISHER: But the classroom is not breached, and the shooter killed for another 27 minutes. The video emerging on the same day a Texas house committee released a report detailing what it condemned as a lackadaisical approach by the officers sent to rescue those children. More now from CNN's Rosa Flores.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: According to this report, there were just so many systemic, a catastrophic failures on multiple levels by law enforcement. Let me take you through this report, a portion of it. According to this report, the school Police Chief Pete Arredondo wrote the active shooter policy for the school. He wrote his name as the incident commander.

But then he didn't take the role on that ill-fated day on May 24th. According to this report, Arredondo even chose the administration office to be the command post. But again, according to this report, he didn't take that role. Now, this report goes on to say that hundreds of police officers responded, hundreds of police officers who were also trained in active shooter situations and they didn't respond adequately.

According to this report, those officers should have questioned the fact that, there was no incident commander. The fact that Arredondo was not taking that incident command post or they should have asked questions, that training, according to this report should have kicked in. I want to read from the report, it says, quote, "at Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training and they failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety."

This report goes on to say that those officers in the hallway and Arredondo waited. What were they waiting for? They were waiting for keys, they were waiting for other gear and equipment. One of the things that's very specific in this report is that, according to the U.S. Marshals, at 12:20, a shield, a rifled-protective shield was delivered to this school.

Now, we know that the shooter was not shot and killed until 12:50. Important point there. Now, according to this report, the officers on scene treated it as a barricaded subject. And this report says that these officers should have known better once that shooter started firing his weapon again.


But instead, they didn't. And yet again, this report states that those officers, their training should have kicked in at that point in time, they should have asked more questions. They -- one of them could have, this report says, taken that role of incident commander because of the training that they had. I want to continue reading from the report because it says, quote, "in particular, the locking mechanism to room 111 was widely known to be faulty, yet, it was not repaired."

Robb Elementary had a culture on non-compliance with safety policies requiring doors to be kept locked which turned out to be fatal. It goes on to say, because of these failures of facility maintenance and advanced preparation, the attacker fired most of his shots and likely murdered most of his innocent victims before any responders set foot in the building of the approximately 142 rounds the attacker fired inside the building.

It is almost certain that he rapidly fired over 100 of those rounds before any officer entered. And now we know that 19 students and two teachers died on that ill-fated day. I should add that we've reached out to Arredondo's attorney, and we have not heard back. Back to you.

FISHER: Rosa Flores, thank you so much. So, let's bring in CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Secretary and now a Harvard Professor, good morning, Juliette. And I'd like to start by just --


FISHER: Getting your read on this report that was released yesterday which was really tough to read. I can only imagine what --

KAYYEM: Yes --

FISHER: It must have been like for the families of the victims. What did you think of the report?

KAYYEM: Well, I mean, it is hard to read, the videos are hard to watch because you still -- you still can't figure out why, right? I mean, in other words, I can -- I can describe what happened that it was such a failure that no incident command was formed, there's no incident command post, there's no sharing of intelligence or communications, so they didn't know what was where or when. And I think that what is sort of remarkable is how many of them or all of them viewed it as a barricade situation rather than an active shooter one even though they're hearing the shots.

And that -- as I said, I can describe it, but I can't defend it or explain why they all would have had that sentiment. But it is -- you know, this was fundamentally a response that was flawed from the start because you set up an incident command so that you're not second- guessing all of these decisions. You just -- you know, honestly, you just go in, you get -- you eliminate the threat, and then you figure out who can we save and who have we already lost.

FISHER: Yes, and the fact that this report says there is no one person to pin the blame on, that this is --

KAYYEM: Right --

FISHER: Systemic failures, you know, for the families hoping to get some answers, this has to be incredibly frustrating.

KAYYEM: Right --

FISHER: In the report, we also learned that there were 376 law enforcement officers in total.

KAYYEM: Yes --

FISHER: Three hundred and seventy six who responded to this --

KAYYEM: Right --

FISHER: Shooting. And the report also noted that it could not definitively answer whether or not the door to the classroom was locked at the time. And this is the most shocking part because no one even tried to turn the handle. I mean, how is that --

KAYYEM: Right --

FISHER: Possible?

KAYYEM: It is because no one is thinking that they have to go in. And it is the strangest part of the -- of a report that is just so horrific. Is that -- is that they're standing there. They don't -- they think, I have to unlock a door. They've got so much weaponry. They can just pound through that door through a variety of means and yet, they don't do it. And I think that does go to the beginning flaw, which is, someone posed to be the incident commander, he doesn't do it.

And then you have all sorts of people falling into this chain of command that is fundamentally flawed. Now, I want to make just clear to viewers though, you know, one of the things that I took away from the report which I think is probably pretty clear is, while this is horrific to watch, the truth is, it's just given the weaponry that was used that the children were lost in those first minutes before any public safety entities could arrive.

And so, we also have to take a step back and realize, you know, we're asking a lot of law enforcement, they failed miserably in this conduct. But nonetheless, there wasn't much that they could have done, given what is likely occurred in that room with -- you know, in those first 3 minutes.

FISHER: Well, I should point out, this was only an initial report. The investigation --

KAYYEM: Yes --

FISHER: Continues, and hopefully, at some point, these families will get some answers, although it sounds like they'll obviously never get the answers that they -- that they --

KAYYEM: Yes --


KAYYEM: I think that's right.

FISHER: Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much.

KAYYEM: Thank you. Thank you.


FISHER: Meanwhile, in Indiana, three people are dead, two others injured after a man opened fire inside an Indianapolis area mall Sunday evening. Police say a 22-year-old armed citizen, that's how police describe him from a neighboring county shot and killed the gunman.


JIM ISON, CHIEF OF POLICE, GREENWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT: The real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop this shooter almost as soon as he began.


FISHER: The two survivors are being treated at an area hospital. Police have not said what the motive for the shooting was. Well, up next, Ukraine's president firing top officials alleging treason in the ranks. Plus, Steve Bannon standing trial just hours from now, and fallout from the fist-bump seen around the world.



FISHER: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has fired two top officials in his government, saying that he's lost faith in the leadership qualities of the prosecutor general and his state's security chief after many of their subordinates were accused of treason and collaborating with Russians.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE (through translator): Everyone who together with him was part of a criminal group that worked in the interest of the Russian federation will also be held accountable. It is about the transfer of secret information to the enemy and other facts of cooperation with the Russian special services.


FISHER: CNN's Ivan Watson joins us live from Ukraine. And Ivan, President Zelenskyy says that there are more terminations to come. How deep does this go?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what we don't entirely know. But it's serious. I mean, this is the biggest shake-up in the Ukrainian government since the Russians invaded this country at the end of February. And President Zelenskyy said in his explanation for this that more than 60 employees of both the state security bureau and also the prosecutor's office had in fact, basically switched sides, had stayed in Russian-occupied territories.

And he accused them of actively working against the Ukrainian government in this war. And that is part of why he has announced the dismissal of the head of the state security office, which is basically one of his childhood friends, a close political ally, and the head of the prosecutor's office. So we'll see where this goes from here. There have always been kind of rumors and allegations of collaborators, and this is Zelenskyy clearly trying to show that he's taken these rumors seriously.

He says that there are at least 651 criminal cases currently being investigated. By the way, Kristin, I do want to explain where I am right now. This is a reception center for displaced Ukrainians, hundreds of whom are coming every day to the city of Kryvyi Rih, and they're welcomed by this charity organization that works with the local government as well.

They have described how people are coming, in some cases on foot, from conflict zones, from Russian-occupied territory with illnesses, terrible trauma, in the case of some who have been through these Russian filtration camps being interrogated by Russia-occupying forces, for example.

People who've had to leave behind their homes, their belongings and come to another city and rely on the charity of their fellow citizens. So, for example, this is all donated clothing that people can come and take because often times, they're just arriving with the clothes on their back. On this side, you can see donated shoes as well.

And Kristin, I've been to other parts of Ukraine that have also welcomed the displaced people. So, this is an organized system to try to help fellow citizens. This city alone, since the war has accepted more than 62,000 displaced people and more are arriving every day, fleeing this awful conflict. Back to you.

FISHER: Wow! Ivan Watson, thank you so much for showing us that. Let's bring in CNN's global affairs analyst, Kimberly Dozier; she's a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs. Good morning Kimberly.


FISHER: So, how significant is this development? Zelenskyy accusing now former government officials of treason and collaborating with the Russians. And as you just heard Ivan report, I mean, one of these government officials is his childhood friend and a really close political ally. How big a deal is this? DOZIER: Yes, childhood friend, but I had one senior Ukrainian

official tell me that, that head of the SEV(ph) fled Kyiv just as the invasion began. And Zelenskyy has never forgiven him for that. And you combine that with the fact that his own reform programs had been slow go before the invasion.

Just because of the (INAUDIBLE) across the bureaucracy, and right now besides such political support that he can take this kind of actions and really clean house, due to the kind of anti-corruption basically you need out, that he always wanted to do. And one of the things that has always been a problem is throughout all the security services, Russia has had decades to ingratiate itself, get people on a payroll of bonds, and their role still -- unless they testify of them. A lot people say they don't.

FISHER: Kimberly, you recently went to Ukraine, and you have some new reporting that Ukrainians seem to be pretty torn between gratitude for U.S., western aid, but also some real anger over what they consider a condescending West-knows-best sort of attitude to their -- you know, request for more weapons. What else can you tell us about that trip and what you found?


DOZIER: Yes, I visited on assignment for "Rolling Stone", and the Ukrainians that I met, top lawmakers, top officials told me that, we're so grateful for these continuing waves of military aid that we're getting. But it is as if they're getting a jump enough to stay in the fight, but not enough to drive the Russians out of the territory they've already seized, especially for long range anti- missile systems like HIMARS that we heard so much about.

That's an acronym for high altitude missile systems, but it knocked some of that Ukrainian third -- some of that rocket artillery and rocket out of the sky before it caused the devastating attacks like we've seen in Vinnytsia just last week. However, they feel like the Biden administration is so worried that they might do too well and instigate some sort of extreme attack by Putin, like nuclear war. They're concerned however, the longer this goes on, the European part of the alliance is going to break apart first, especially with high energy prices and Winter coming.

And Biden might follow. So, they feel like if they don't do this now, they don't end the war right now and get the weapons to do it, they might end up fighting this by themselves with Russians ultimately.

FISHER: Yes, that's a great point. And also important to remember that we're now coming up on five months since this war began, and it certainly has to become, you know, increasingly difficult for the everyday Ukrainians as they look for a way out, that doesn't seem to be coming any time soon. Kimberly Dozier, thank you so much.

So she is the little world champion with a big heart. A ten-year-old Ukrainian checkers master is taking on all challengers to support her country and raise money for Ukraine's army. CNN's Alex Marquardt has the story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): At a small folding table outside a busy Kyiv shopping center, Valeria Ujova(ph) just 10 years old, quickly and methodically dismantles every opponent who sits down at her checkers board. Defeated, they drop money onto the growing pile of bills in her box next to a sign that reads, "we are helping the Ukrainian army".

What many who are playing her don't know is that, for Valeria(ph), checkers is no simple hobby. She is the world champion for her age. Taking home the trophy last Summer. "I really wanted to help our army and soldiers. And I asked my mother what I should do", she said. "My mom asked me what I'm good at. I said playing checkers."

In nine days outside this shopping center, she raised more than $700, she then presented it to the head of a foundation that buys equipment for the military, Serhey Pertula(ph), a celebrity and activist who Valeria(ph) calls her hero. He broke down in tears. She says that at first, people hesitated to play her, then as they watched her beat everyone, more and more stepped up to try their luck.

(on camera): Have you ever lost any of the games while you've been doing this?

(voice-over): "I've never lost here", she says. Word quickly spread about the young champion doing her part for her country. When this man heard from his wife Valeria(ph) was playing nearby, he quickly left work and ran over. "Valeria(ph) is already a legend here", he says. "He'd rather lose to her. She's doing a great job helping the Ukrainian army. She's probably touched the whole of Ukraine."

Other kids from her checkers club have followed Valeria's(ph) lead, Ukraine's children feel this war profoundly.

(on camera): Do you think about the war a lot or are you just trying to live your normal life?

(voice-over): "I would like to live a normal life, but during a war, it's difficult", she says. "Of course, I'm scared, there are a lot of negative feelings." The defeated ask for photos with the growing star. Valeria(ph) is poised, calm, and all too happy to oblige.

(on camera): Shall we play again?


MARQUARDT: She also obliges me. Y first --

(voice-over): With zero hesitation in her moves --

(on camera): I forgot about going backwards --


MARQUARDT (voice-over): As my pieces fly off the board. (on camera): There is nothing I can do.


MARQUARDT: Thank you for destroying me. Thank you very much for the game.


MARQUARDT: It was an honor to play with a champion.


MARQUARDT (voice-over): Alex Marquardt, CNN, Kyiv.


FISHER: And she's undefeated still. We thank Alex Marquardt for that report. Coming up, Russia's Vladimir Putin making a rare trip to the Middle East. Why the U.S. should take notice.


But first, what CNN has now learned about Secret Service texts from January 6th.


FISHER: Happening today, the trial of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon begins in Washington. He faces a charge of contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the January 6th Committee. Bannon has tried to delay his trial by exerting executive privilege, and saying the recent public hearings would prejudice the jury pool against him. But his repeated efforts were rejected last week by a federal judge, who says the trial will go ahead as planned.

CNN has also learned that Secret Service text messages from before and during the Capitol siege on January 6th, are expected to be turned over to the house select committee by Tuesday.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): They claim it was this technological change, we moved everything, we lost.