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Texas High School on Lockdown after Shooting; Police and ATF on Scene Doing "Methodical Search" of School; Police: Worst Part is Not Knowing your Kids are Safe; Police: Active Shooter Situation at Texas High School; Police: At Least Four Victims in TX High School Shooting. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 06, 2021 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello everybody. I'm John King in Washington. We begin the hour with Breaking News High School Arlington, Texas in the Dallas Fort Worth area now on lockdown. You see the pictures right there law enforcement investigating reports of an active shooter situation.

You're looking at live aerials now this is Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas. Police on the scene doing what the Police Department says on his Twitter account is a methodical search. ATF officials also on the scene assisting Arlington police saying students will be bused to a parent unification point once the school is "Completely Secured".

CNN's Brynn Gingras is following the story for us; let's get the very latest from her. Brynn, what do we know?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes John, we're still trying to learn a lot of information and being careful obviously what we put out there because we don't clearly have an idea of what is happening inside that high school Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas.

As you pointed out, the Arlington Police Department is taking the lead on this investigation. They tweeted not too long ago that there was an active shooter situation and that the extent of injuries was unknown at that point.

In the meantime, just within the last few minutes, we've learned more federal partners have arrived there on the scene to assist that department as well as other local departments in that outside Dallas area, including, as you mentioned, the ATF and the FBI, located in Dallas.

So as you're seeing there on your screen, on the left side, there are police, I'm sorry, rather school buses that are going into the parking lot of that school, we know that a parent reunification area has been set up, we're told that students will be exiting the school and then being able to meet up back with their parents school buses, likely transporting them to that area.

So as my colleague Josh Campbell pointed out within the last hour, that that's possibly again, a good sign that they're bringing more resources to that area to help these students who we understand are still currently under a lockdown situation hopefully get out of that school. So again, we're unclear of the exact threat at this moment.

But we know that there are a number of law enforcement agencies on the scene, a number of law enforcement officials inside the school trying to go from classroom to classroom to help these parents, rather students and teachers inside and it's worth pointing out that this is a very large high school outside of Dallas 75 acres that building covers so there's a lot of work to do inside.

And hopefully we all pray soon we'll see some safe students coming out and hopefully be reunited with their parents very soon. Who you can imagine is just extremely worried at this point.

KING: About 1900 students attend the Timberview High School Brynn Gingras. You make an important point you're seeing the pictures right here, these live areas. You see the school buses, they were brought in a short time ago, Josh Campbell our law enforcement was saying he didn't think police would do that bring more people more things into the area if I didn't believe it was a semi safe situation.

But the key word at the moment is unclear Brynn Gingras in the sense of we know it was about an hour and 40 minutes ago 9:20 am local time. So that's an hour and 43 minutes ago, this call first came in and the police tweet says they are at the scene of a shooting.

But we have no details about whether actual gunshots were fired, whether we know anything about injuries or the like. So far, that's all we have the police saying they are at the scene of a shooting, correct?

GINGRAS: That's absolutely correct. And the fact that we're seeing those federal agencies sort of assist, obviously it tells us more that this isn't just a false alarm, right? There's something that has happened. We just need to understand exactly what that is.

But it does appear just by the images right now that we're seeing, as Josh also pointed out, and you're saying again, is that hopefully it is under control maybe at this point as far as no immediate threat. But certainly these are all like just speculation.

We're still trying to kind of get in touch with all these law enforcement agencies on the ground that we'll have more information. Also quickly to point out to you John, we know that the Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, he was scheduled for a press conference coming up in an hour or so on a different topic no doubt obviously he's getting information about what's happening here as well.

KING: It's a very important point. We'll watch we know state officials and federal authorities everyone looking at this will try to get the information as we get it Brynn Gingras come back to us if you get new reporting.

As we watch these pictures on the scene, some of them watch the top of your screen some of the moments ago some of them are live aerials coming in to us. Let's bring into our conversation CNN National Security Intelligence and Terrorism Analyst Juliette Kayyem.

Juliet, we've had this conversation too many times before. I just want to begin by urging our viewers you know that we're going to be cautious here. But we do have Brynn made a very important point. We do have a state, local and federal law enforcement authorities at the scene of what are sprawling campus 75 acres. This school has 416,000 square feet inside that school building. You see the authorities going in.


KING: Walk us through what happens in a situation like this as they go room to room trying to figure out what's happening?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. So three things are happening simultaneously unfortunately we've had a lot of practice in this country with school shootings. And once again just to reiterate with you John it does appear that at least this is does not seem to be an active threat right now because people are heading they're bringing in people in buses.

So that's the good news we don't know much and it'd be good to start to hear about from the police formally about what they're seeing inside. So the three things are happening of course as students have been trained. We have children been trained to run or hide in that order, right?

You try to run a big facility so my guess is that they probably have a lockdown system and so what you're starting to see now is the second piece which is called immediate action, rapid deployment. This is learned after Columbine.

In Columbine, the police held back thinking that was safer for the kids it's not. You rushing every resource armed police officers who are going to stop the shootings, right? It's a dangerous situation. So you saw that happen second and then the third is what's happening because every parent who has a kid there is freaking out right now, right?

You have family unification, your family communication, get the parents with their kids and get them away from that facility. So that's why it looks quite active at the pictures we're seeing even though we don't know what happened inside.

And we have this unfortunately down with a lot of practice. We have this down to a little bit of a you know, it's way too familiar for people like me looking at this but that's what - that's what we're seeing right now.

KING: It is what we're seeing at the moment. Juliette stay with us. I want to bring it again as we watch these pictures and check on the top of your screen if you're watching at home. Some of the pictures are live aerials coming in from our affiliate, CWFA there's some of them will say moments ago if it is tape of the scene.

Josh Campbell, our Lauren - our CNN Security Correspondent joins us as well. And Josh, again, we're waiting for more information. In the meantime, we are left to report what we see with our own eyes.

And you made an important point a few moments ago, the police have said that they are setting up a reunification center after they said that in a tweet, we saw these buses brought into the scene to a trained law enforcement officer as you were before you moved into the journalism sphere, that tells you that police maybe do not have this completely wrapped up.

But they are in a position of mindset of feeling secure enough to bring additional resources and additional people into what would be harm's way if this situation were not under control.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You have different buckets of personnel there. You have the law enforcement officers who obviously will go in toward the sound of gunfire, the pointy ends of the spear.

You have medical personnel who will come some of them tactical medics will stage in closer to an area if there are actual injuries. But everyone else the school bus drivers, the other administrative staff, they won't be bringing those into a hot active situation.

So again, that gives us a little bit to analyze their data point that the fact that we now see these buses moving in, it appears as though the emergent phase is over. But I'll tell you that sadly, you know, we've covered so many of these one thing that we have to continue to point out is that although we see these images, so many of these active shooter incidents are over in seconds sometimes.

And so the time it takes to actually get personnel there law enforcement to get members of the news media, this affiliate helicopter that's bringing us these live images. We don't know in the immediate aftermath what had transpired and whether emergency vehicles actually came quickly and took people away.

We do see a line there of ambulances Fire Department apparatus as well. They don't appear to be loading patients and bringing people out which of course is a good thing. But obviously we're going to wait for official word from law enforcement officers to get a sense of what exactly is transpiring in the building.

Our colleague Brynn Gingras brought up a good point a second ago, and that is the amount of resources that come in. You know, we know that law enforcement will deploy from different agencies. But the fact that you continue to see agencies like the FBI like the ATF and others, still sending personnel there sadly tells us this is more than a small deal.

This was obviously reported as a suspected shooting at the beginning. It's now being described by authorities as an actual shooting. As we watch these images, we know inside the building, you have a lot of agonized students, a lot of agonize educators, and obviously a lot of agonized parents that are waiting for that official word and uncovering so many of these cases that is often the most difficult thing not knowing waiting for official word. Of course, authorities know that they have to come out quickly as quickly as they can to get that information out. And that's what we're waiting on right now John.

KING: And as we wait, Josh, you just made an important point about the uncertainty first the risk for the first responders but then the uncertainty the anguish for the parents. One parent telling local reporters just moments ago his two children are now out of that school building Timberview High School but the parents saying they had been texting him from inside he says all he and other parents want is more information.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does just not know you just want to know your kids are safe and when nobody can tell you that it's stressful.



KING: Juliette this parent saying his two kids are out. Again the detailed protocols that now unfortunately every school district large and small in America goes through. If this parent can report that his kids are out does that tell you anything about the larger situation?

KAYYEM: It doesn't because it depends on where the kids are? So run is number one I always tell my kids you know if you can you run and so some of these kids may have been outside they hear shooting and they run they get off the facility.

There will be have probably been some lockdown going on as well some alarm or system says there's an active shooter especially a big High School will probably have a hopefully have a sophisticated response plan just given the nature of school shootings in this country.

And you would have some number of students who are locked down or just in their classrooms just waiting for the all clear. So when the police are entering now and they say they're going door to door that is essentially they're going into each classroom.

Some of them will have been under lockdown ensuring that everyone in there or no one in there is armed and that everyone is safe and then releasing them. You just - you now it's sort of the waiting to sort of let people leave in a non-chaotic manner and then get them with their family.

So that's going to take a little bit more time than any parent would ever want ever. And so that's sort of what's happening now. So you're going to have a combination of student reactions. And that's why, you know, when Josh and I hear things when you when someone says something, we sort of have a sense of what's going on.

So when they say they're going door to door, that is more likely than not that there was a lockdown procedure. They are now entering each classroom and then releasing the students and that sort of organized fashion.

KING: To that point and the challenge of it let's bring into join the conversation our CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey. He was the Commissioner of Police in Philadelphia and the Chief here in the District of Columbia as well.

Chief Ramsey 1900 students a 75 acre campus 416,000 square feet of learning space inside the sprawling High School in Arlington, Texas in the Dallas Fort Worth area. When you talk about a lockdown, and you talk about as Juliette was just discussing going door to door to canvass this school to see if the threat has been neutralized. The logistical challenge here in a risky situation sounds enormous.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it is enormous. And they're going to have to take their time and I understand the frustration of many parents, I would be frustrated as well. But they still have a lot of work to do inside.

And it's not as easy as just, you know, letting all the kids out to get on buses. I mean, depending on what it looks like inside, you have to determine which is the best way to get them out so if you do have a crime scene there, you don't have people disturbing it?

And so there are a lot of things and a lot of discussion probably taking place now, in order to make sure that this is done properly. But in the meantime, hopefully parents are able to at least text or somehow reach their children. But there is going to be that period of time where there's going to be a high level of anxiety and unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do about it.

KING: Yes, and you can watch these pictures here from our affiliate WFAA, these are high school students walking out of that school single file. Chief Ramsey again, that would not be happening if the authorities on the scene were not confident that at least that side of the campus is completely secured?

RAMSEY: That side of the campus and plus that if there is a scene to be held in there. It's not in that part because that's where the kids are walking out. So yes, I believe whatever it is that took place they don't believe is no - is any longer an active threat.

But that doesn't mean you stop searching or stop going through the building. You have to continue to do that. But they probably are very certain that the active threat is no longer present. Otherwise, you wouldn't have the civilians going into the building. You wouldn't have the kids coming out. Everybody would still be hunkered down

KING: We're told the police briefing should happen momentarily. Again, for those of you who might not have been with us at the top of the hour, you're looking at Timberview High School this is Arlington, Texas, in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

This is a sprawling High School of 1900 students an active shooter reported at the school about an hour and a half ago. And you see students now filing out which our law enforcement analysts in your own eyes tell you should be a positive sign the police feel that this situation is more secure to allow students to leave the building.

I want to bring in our correspondent Brynn Gingras has been following this for us. And Brynn the pictures now more encouraging but we're still waiting for definitive word about exactly what happened inside Timberview High School?

GINGRAS: Yes, I'm just watching all those students come out John, and I'm taking a sigh of relief and I don't even have a child who goes there. So I'm sure there are a lot of parents who are happy to see the fact that their kids at least some of them are coming out safe and heading toward those buses which we understand will then bring them to a different location to be reunited with their parents.

But as you mentioned, we still don't know a lot of what's going on particularly about exactly what happened? We knew was an active shooter situation at this point. Obviously as everyone has just commented on the panel it does seem like it is not an immediate threat anymore.


GINGRAS: But we don't even know anything about was there one person shooter? Was there multiple shooters? We're still trying to ask all those questions to law enforcement. And no doubt those are questions we're going to be asking there on the ground in Arlington, Texas when that news conference gets started.

However, as we've been talking about multiple law enforcement agencies are there on the scene, the FBI, the ATF, multiple local police departments, including Arlington, Texas PD, who is taking the lead on this investigation so far, but yes, I'm encouraging signs seeing those students start to leave.

We've been seeing those school buses coming to the building. And hopefully, we'll learn more about this information and about what's going on inside and we pray it's just not a horrible scene inside that school right now.

KING: Right. And as we wait for the information again, we're told the police briefing should be coming momentarily. We will of course, carry that live. Juliette Kayyem back again, we're being very careful because we do not have complete information. We do not - we do not even have reports of actual gunfire.

We just have police tweets saying they are reporting to the scene of an active shooter situation. So that is what we know but our eyes tell us as you watch students come out of the building in single file.

If you're looking at those pictures, as I noted, the sprawling nature of this site, 75 acres including, you know, 1500, parking spots, parking spots for students and staff in that facility, there is no way police would allow students to walk into that parking lot if they had not already secured correct?

KAYYEM: That's right. So this is you know, this is the nature of us rightfully being cognizant of shootings. We're now all back in school, too. So I mean, in a weird way, this sort of post COVID world in which we're attuned to the risks, the other risks that our children have, that they didn't have, because a lot of them were home for a year.

And so what we originally saw was what we should have seen, which is what you know, this immediate action, rapid response, which is just get as much law enforcement get as many law enforcement in the building as possible because you just want to neutralize the threat in any way you can.

There's no longer sitting back part of that has to do with what we learned from Columbine, the other is just the nature of weaponry today. You don't have 10 minutes, right another - some of the guns, you know, they probably did not know what if, if or what the gun was.

So the fact that there is a major police presence at the get go is exactly right. You want that and then you start to pull them back. So now the pictures I'm seeing are, you know, the relief of the ratcheting down a little bit. We are going to hear from the police officers. I think something to learn from this is we need more communicate.

We still have this very traditional we're going to wait for law enforcement and there, you know, in their press conference. I think his police department should be using social media and others to begin to notify as sooner than they can get their act together.

KING: Juliette, I need to interrupt you to listen to - Juliette, I'm sorry to interrupt. We need to listen to the police briefing here as we wait for them to speak. Mayor Jim Ross, just telling CNN that at least two people have been shot and the shooter is not in custody that was just moment ago, let's listen.


ASSISTANT CHIEF KEVIN KOLBYE, ARLINGTON, TEXAS POLICE: First of all, I want to thank all the agencies that we have that responded to this. We have course Grand Prairie Police Department, Mansfield Police Department, Mansfield Independent School District, we've got all types of federal agencies that are here, ATF, FBI helping us in this situation.

So anytime, that you have an incident like this that comes out as an active shooter, particularly in a school, all of law enforcement really comes together and cooperates and make sure that we have a unified effort to neutralize or to stop any type of threat, particularly in these schools or in our children.

So now I just want to kind of brief you and give you the facts as we know it. So about 9:15 this morning, we got a call that there was a shooting on the second floor of Timberview High School. Several other phone calls came in at the same time.

I can tell you that there were four victims. One was minor injuries who refused treatment. Three individuals were taken to the hospital. Currently, we have multiple agencies doing a methodical search at the school. We're trying to make sure that all our children are safe as they are locked down.

And we're going to try to do an orderly fashion to bring them out of the school to ensure that they are brought to their parents. OK. Once the search is completed, we'll make sure that all the students are transported on a bus on the south side of the school to the - Independent School District center a performing arts at 1110 Debbie lane.


Prior to the students leaving the building in an orderly controlled fashion, we've got police officers that will take photographs of their identification. So we make sure that we've got all the students accounted for in an orderly fashion.

Now this incident is tragic it is if we take very serious in law enforcement, we do have a suspect who's identified. OK. Well, we believe happened preliminary is that there was a fight between a student and another individual in a class and a gun was used. And there are four victims.

I'm here to identify a person of interest right now is Timothy George Simpkins. It's S-I-M-P-K-I-N-S; he is a black male, 18 years of age. We have a car that he is currently driving; we believe his riding is a 2018 Silver Dodge Charger, license plate. P as in Paul f as in Frank, why is in Yankee 6-2-6-0.

We currently have multiple agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Task Force that is looking for this individual. Again, this is a collaborative effort between state, local and federal agencies to bring this person to justice.

CHIEF TRACY AARON, ARLINGTON, TEXAS POLICE: So I'm Tracy Aaron, the Chief Police in Mansfield. I want to say thank you to all the agencies, it's not just helping just this incident but our other entire sister agencies here close.

You know, Mansfield responded to this and same as all of the other agencies. And I have to assure you that that the departments are doing a great job here, in bringing all this to a close. What you're going to see now is that, that, that there's going to be continued searches for our suspect?

Chief has already told us what that looks like. We asked for our citizens' help to continue to, to search for that person and call in any leads that you may have. You should know at this point that this person is considered to be armed and dangerous. And I would suggest that you call 911 as soon as you see that person or you see that suspect vehicle.

We are continually making those searches throughout the state as it turns out. Be having the victims in your thoughts and prayers, to please lift those folks up in your prayers. Some of those are already in surgery. So be thinking about those be thinking about our suspect and their family. We need to - we need to bring this to a safe resolution. And that's what our goal is. Thank you very much for being here. And thank you for your help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Daniel - Grand Prairie Police Department. I'd like to echo the Chiefs comments with our thoughts and prayers to the families. I want you to know that the Grand Prairie Police Department's role today is strictly in a support role. Although we believe the suspect is currently at large, you'll see the Grand Prairie SWAT team and the SWAT teams of our other agencies clearing the school to make sure there are no other additional dangers.

The Grand Prairie Police Department is also actively involved in the search for the suspect partnering with the United States Marshal Service and the Fugitive Task Force. And they are out as we speak looking for the suspect.

As mentioned, this is a very large, collaborative effort. And our goal is to make sure that all of the students here, not just come out safe, but feel safe. So we're working toward that end, as we speak, you should see very shortly, a large contingent of students coming out orderly loading onto the buses and moving to the location already indicated.

Our recommendation that parents go to that location that the Chief Kolbye mentioned the address, rather than coming to the school, coming to the school here would just make things more difficult. So again, please go to the pickup location. Thank you very much.

KOLBYE: We'll take any questions. But again, I just want to re- emphasize that this is not a random act of violence. This is not somebody attacking our schools. This is a student we believe right now preliminary that it was a student that got into a fight and drew a weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --weapon inside the school?

KOLBYE: I do not. We had two Mansfield Independent School District Police Officers that housed in this school. They were here and they were on scene immediately to render our safety to our students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there metal detectors at the school?

KOLBYE: I don't have that information.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you talk about the victims and being hospitalized. Can you confirm what they hospitalized with gunshot wounds?

KOLBYE: I can tell you that yes. That I believe two of the victims were received gunshot wounds, to their severity. I don't have that information right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And where they teachers, students? KOLBYE: We believe that three of the victims were students. One was an older person that may be a teacher.


KOLBYTE: There was a report of a pregnant woman who was one of the four victims that may have failed during the shooting, but received medical treatment from our EMS here on scene and was released, that person is not in the hospital based upon the information that I have right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --specifically when the kids inside of the building he would seem to be that you have a certain level of competence, the danger, should there be any is not here correctly realize there's a lot of logistics involved in searching? Can you speak to your level of competence is no continued correct for the students in this building?

KOLBYE: Yes, I have a high confidence right now that the shooter is not on the premises. I have a high confidence there was only one shooter at this school. We want to continue to make sure that we lock down our students and make sure that they are safe.

We have Grand Prairie Police Department, Mansfield Police Department, Arlington Police Department and other SWAT teams that are methodically going through each of these rooms and releasing these children's to make sure that we're safe.

We want to make sure that we get identification from each of these students. We want to make sure that they don't have any weapons on them themselves. So it's just a customary practice that we will do to make sure that everybody's safe before we get them out on the buses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chief - COVID mentioned this too, since 18 years of age. He was in that classroom as a student fighting with someone else with that weapon is your understanding at this point?

KOLBYE: There was a video that I viewed and he was in a classroom to what his student whether he was a student or not? I don't have that information right now. We are going to release his photograph after this press conference. And we are currently actively looking for him now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasn't he able to escape the school because of the chaotic situation?

KOLBYE: I don't have those facts. But I do know that there's video. We're trying to review the video to where he came out of? Based upon the perimeter information you came out on the south side. There was a vehicle that was identified. I will tell you that one of the callers that called in immediately identified him as a suspect in this shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone was able to render aid to those victims before EMS got on scene?

KOLBYE: I do not. But again I want to stress that we had two Mansfield Independent Police Officers on scene and they immediately responded to the threat situation and I'm sure that they tried to minimize any type of injuries with those individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I go back to that phone call a second? Was that - essentially warning that this was about to happen?

KOLBYE: No sir. It was not a call. That was a warning. This was a call after the shooting happened. We got multiple 911 calls and one caller identified the person of interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Other students in the room at the time what was it like it's an empty classroom?

KOLBYE: Based on the video I saw there were other students in the classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you say video are you talking about surveillance video or possibly video captured by other students or teachers?

KOLBYE: The video that I saw looked like it was captured on a cell phone by other students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that video including the shooting within itself or is a fight in and of itself? As we've seen, at least whether those videos?

KOLBYE: The video included the fight. I did not see a video that captured the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry just one more time. Could we get the name of the suspect of the victims right now?

KOLBYE: The victims? Victims I don't have. The suspect is on Twitter right now. And we'll release the photograph of the suspect here momentarily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --video - chat video which you won't get video and hey, you guys want that video?

KOLBYE: Yes. Any video that's taken of the incident, we would ask any citizen or any student to make sure that they contact Mansfield Police Department or the Arlington Police Department with any video that they have. I will let you know that the Arlington Police Department will handle the criminal investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And one more question about the suspect. Is he anyone that is known to your agencies?

KOLBYE: I don't have that information.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any more advice for the general public since you said he's armed and dangerous for the public at large?

KOLBYE: Yes, I would say if anybody comes across this individual please do not make contact with him that they identify the car, make sure that you call 911. Have appropriate police response and let us bring this situation to conclusion for the sanctity safety of the public.

And again our hearts go out to those who are injured today and all the students that went through a traumatic incident at this --