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School Shooter Kills 17 in Florida High School; Students who Survived School Shooting Recount Their Experience. Aired 8-8:30
Aired February 15, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Is there any way to reduce the risk without touching what our politicians seem to feel will kill them if they touch it?
DAVE CULLEN, AUTHOR, "COLUMBINE": Yes. There are a couple things we can do. I hate to say I'm glad in these situations, but I'm glad that this person is identified as extremely depressive right away so we can have that conversation because most people don't realize that's the main cohort we're talking about.
The Secret Service reports 78 percent of the school shooters were either -- had either attempted suicide or talked about doing it. Nearly all of them were extremely suicidally depressed. That is the main factor, the main commonality. We should be screening for depression.
Now, this person had been identified, but most have not. Most teen depression, it usually manifests in adolescents because when your brain starts changing, it's very simple to do. I don't know if you can show it on camera, it's a one-page questionnaire. My own doctor had me do this. It takes about one minute to fill out. It's just basic questions like, in the last two weeks how often have you had trouble sleeping, feel depressed, trouble with stress, and so forth. It's a great screening tool. It costs nothing. If they pass this out twice a year in home room to every kid and score it, it takes about a minute to score it, we can identify kids and get them help. You're not going to solve every kid like this one --
CUOMO: You'd be doing something. You'd been doing something that can help screen and then you have to deal with resources. But at least it would be a start.
CULLEN: A huge start.
CUOMO: Mr. Cullen, it would be great if we didn't have to keep having this conversation, but we will. And I'm happy you're part of it because we need to keep talking.
CULLEN: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: We're following a lot of news. We have the latest details from the scene of the Florida school massacre. This situation matters between the numbers of lives lost. Let's get after it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news. ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the
United States and around the world. This is New Day. It is Thursday, February 15th. Chris is in New York this morning. I'm here in Parkland, Florida. This is the scene of the latest American tragedy. This city is in mourning today over another deadly school shooting. The high school that you see behind me is now the site of the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since Sandy Hook. And of course, we all remember the horror that happened there more than five years ago.
So police say this heavily armed young man, a former student, stormed into this high school. He opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, turning this school into a warzone. The 19-year-old suspect will make his first court appearance very soon, this hour we're told. This morning prosecutors have charged him with 17 counts of premeditated murder, meaning that he went into that school knowing what he was doing, that he was going to take these 17 lives.
Police say people -- the 17 people were killed in and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. One of the victims has been identified as assistant football coach Aaron Feis. Authorities are still working to identify the rest because so many of them are students and they don't carry identification with them. So parents and students are still missing at this hour, parents, children. At least 15 other people are hospitalized still. Five of them with life-threatening injuries this morning, Chris. So obviously we're waiting for updates from the hospital on all of them as well, Chris.
CUOMO: Alisyn, thank you very much. Investigators are combing through numerous disturbing social media posts. The signs were everywhere that this was someone that needed to be watched. But it doesn't mean that he was not legally allowed to get a weapon. CNN also has learned that he was actively getting treatment at a mental health clinic. But again, that does not keep you from legally purchasing the AR-15 style rifle used in this massacre in Florida. Will something be done to stop the carnage? Will you even hear Republican lawmakers say we need to do something to stop the school shootings?
The president so far, not spoken about the massacre. Instead he tweeted in the last hours, listen to what he said. It's interesting because he gets so close to the reality and then misses it. "So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities." All true. But he misses the most important part -- none of that would have made a difference under the current laws in that state and in most of this nation. And that's where he's supposed to come in. How isn't this part of making America great again? We're the worst at this in the whole world when it comes to school shootings.
Let's begin our coverage. We have CNN's Rosa Flores live in Parkland, and you have new information which is?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, I just heard from the public information officer from the state attorney that is taking this case. And what I'm told, as of 7:45 the suspect is still being processed. And what that means is that he probably won't be facing a judge in the 8:00 document as we had heard about earlier. He will probably be added to the 1:30 docket.
I also have another tidbit of information from Jim Lewis. That the attorney who has been representing the suspect's family. He says he doesn't plan to be at the courthouse today to represent the suspect. He's expecting for the suspect to get a court-appointed attorney.
Behind me you can see this is still a very active scene as investigators are scouring through the horrors left behind. And we have to warn you some of the video you're about to see is very graphic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God!
FLORES: Terrifying moments unfolding inside this Florida high school, a gunman brandishing an AR-15 style semi-automatic weapon, opening fire, killing at least 17.
AIDAN MINOFF, FRESHMAN, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: There were tears. There was crying. Some of my classmates did not know if they were leaving the school alive.
FLORES: The chaos erupting minutes before the end of the school day when the fire alarm sounded.
SEN. BILL NELSON, (D) FLORIDA: The shooter wore a gas mask and he had smoke grenades. He went and set off the fire alarm so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall. There the carnage began.
FLORES: Students and teachers confused because only hours earlier they had done a fire drill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone thought it was a joke, and then the gunshots came about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard screaming. I heard about five, six gunshots. We thought they were fire crackers.
FLORES: Faculty quickly alerting the schools that an active shooting was underway. Some students running for their lives, others hiding under their desk, sending frantic text messages to their loved ones.
VOICE OF LISSETTE ROZENBLAT, MOM OF STUDENT IN SCHOOL DURING SHOOTING: She said at 2:38, tell them someone is hurt on the third floor of the 1200 building. We can hear him crying and praying.
FLORES: One teacher hiding with 19 students inside a closet for nearly an hour. GABRIELLA FIGUEROA, STUDENT, SURVIVED SHOOTING BY HIDING IN CLOSET: I
literally just was praying, praying, praying. It was the scariest situation of my life.
FLORES: Police desperately attempting to locate the shooter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know where the shooter is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know.
FLORES: This video shows students huddling on the floor when the SWAT team arrives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hands up. Police.
FLORES: Outside first responders rushing to help the injured while anxious parents waited to be reunited with their children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, mom, it was real, it was really real.
FLORES: Over an hour after the shooting began, police arrested the suspect in a neighboring city after he fled the scene by trying to blend into the crowd. The 19-year-old former student had been expelled for disciplinary reasons.
MINOFF: He told me how he got kicked out of to private schools, he was held back twice. He had aspiration to join the military. He enjoyed hunting. He always just seemed very quiet and strange.
FLORES: Investigators now looking for answers in the suspect's online posts. Police uncovering these disturbing images of the suspect on Instagram showing him brandishing a knife and holding what appears to be a bb gun. In another photo, a target riddled with bullet holes.
FLORES: Again, the suspect is expected to face a judge today for his first appearance. We're learning from the state attorney's office that they believe he will be added to the 1:30 p.m. document today. And again, we're expecting him to face 17 counts of premeditated murder. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Rosa, thank you very much for all that background. Joining us are two students who survived this massacre inside the school. We have Kelsey Friend. She's a freshman. And we have David Hogg. He is a senior. Guys, I know you've guys have had a trauma and a horrible night and day. Thank you very much for being here because you each have such unique stories. Kelsey, I want to start with you. You're a freshman. You were in your geography class -- actually you were in your geography class until the alarm was pulled, the fire alarm. And you went out as if to file out and evacuate for the fire alarm. Then what happened?
KELSEY FRIEND, STUDENT WHO SURVIVED MASSACRE: Everybody stopped moving, no one was going down the stairs, everybody was looking around like what's going on? Then all of a sudden, it was like a wave of kids running back upstairs screaming. Some were already crying, some were saying oh, my goodness.
CAMEROTA: Had you heard the gunshots at that point?
FRIEND: No, I did not. People said there were gunshots downstairs. I talked to my teacher and I said I'm scared, I don't know what's going on. Then we heard the gunshots.
CAMEROTA: And then you turned around and you went back to your geography classroom.
CAMEROTA: Then what happened?
FRIEND: My geography teacher unlocked the door and I had ran in thinking he was behind me, but he was not.
CAMEROTA: What happened to your teacher?
FRIEND: He unfortunately passed away in the doorway of our classroom.
CAMEROTA: Did you see him get shot?
FRIEND: I did not. I heard the gunshots and I heard the shooter walk down the hallway shooting more kids. I heard a young man crying for his mother dying. It was just hard because you don't imagine this happening to you. You see it on the news, you see it everywhere, and you think it's not going to happen to you. Until it happens, you just -- this is terrible.
CAMEROTA: Kelsey, it's unthinkable. It's unthinkable that you would have to hear your geography teacher be killed basically in front of your eyes and hear another student struggling for his life. Were you aware that -- did you see your teacher be killed or were you aware that he had been killed?
FRIEND: When we were all piled up by his desk, that was procedure for code red, to hide and do anything possible to keep us safe, my friend said Mr. Beagle, which is his name, is not moving. He was laying in the doorway, he's not moving. She said I don't know if this is real or fake. We had rumors going around the school that the police would do a fake code red with fake guns, not actual, but sounding real. And I thought at the beginning that this was just -- it was a drill, just a drill, until I saw my teacher dead on the floor.
CAMEROTA: And you were hiding on the other side of his desk?
FRIEND: I was actually hiding in front of his desk.
CAMEROTA: How do you think it's possible that this shooter didn't come in?
FRIEND: I believe that my teacher -- the reason why he was laying in the doorway is because he protected us. So the shooter probably thought there's no kids in there, because he was -- the classroom was empty. It looked empty. I believe that the shooter didn't think there was any students in there, but there was probably 15 to 20 kids in there with me.
CAMEROTA: All huddled in front of his desk.
FRIEND: Some were behind it, some were in front of it.
CAMEROTA: And how long did you stay like that?
FRIEND: If I'm going to be honest, it felt like five years, more than that. I was so scared. I wanted to go home. I wanted the cops -- my grandfather is a former state trooper -- to be there and get me home safely so I can see my family again. The first thing that came to mind is my mother.
CAMEROTA: What did you think?
FRIEND: What is my mom going to do without me? I'm her stone. I'm her first kid, and I'm the first of the family. They're going to miss me. I can't leave them.
CAMEROTA: Kelsey, you shouldn't have to be the rock as a freshman for your family because there's a hideous school shooting. You shouldn't have to see your teacher be killed. When did you realize it was safe to come out?
FRIEND: The SWAT team actually came out and got us and said it was all OK. Once we were escorted out of the classroom, I did see Mr. Beagle's body out of the corner of my eyes through the stairwell. And I did see blood, and I saw two students unfortunately curled up in balls. Going down the stairs I saw more blood, backpacks everywhere. It was like a movie scene. There was gunpowder all over the floor. It was just so real, but it felt so fake at the same time. I couldn't comprehend it until I just started screaming.
CAMEROTA: Of course it did. It's impossible for a 14-year-old mind or any mind to get around what you all endured in there, what you had to see. Our brains are not built to have to see this. Of course it goes into, this must be fake, this must be a movie. So David tell me your experience. As I understand you were in your A.P. environmental science class. This all happened in the freshman wing. You're a senior. What did you hear and see?
DAVID HOGG, STUDENT WHO SURVIVED MASSACRE: My A.P. environmental science class is about 200-ish feet away from the freshman building where this atrocity occurred. And our door was actually open, ajar, and we heard the first gunshot. My friends in the front of the room looked around and we were like, we think we heard a gunshot to our teacher. And she promptly closed the door. But immediately after she closed the door, what this sick person did is he pulled the fire alarm. He pull the fire alarm to get all the people out of the rooms, and we were part of that. We started walking out without even thinking about it twice.
And as a result, when we were walking out towards our designated fire zone, there was a flood of people running in the opposite direction, telling us to go the other way. So I started running with the herd. And we were running with the herd, we actually are running towards the freshman building and thank God for a janitor that stopped us.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What did the janitor say?
HOGG: The janitor said, guys, like you can't go this way, go this way, and they funneled us all into first the culinary cooking classroom, about like 40 students I'd say if not more, and because of those heroic actions and the actions that she took, just a split second decision, in 30 seconds, she saved my life and she saved easily 40 others there.
CAMEROTA: Because you were running towards the gunman unknowingly.
CAMEROTA: And then the janitor turned you around and you were able to go and hide.
HOGG: Yes. In a matter of 30 seconds, we were in there, locked down and away. Due to her heroic actions, I'm pretty sure that's why I'm alive today.
CAMEROTA: And meanwhile, your sister is a freshman.
CAMEROTA: So your sister was in the freshman wing along with Kelsey. What was happened?
HOGG: Well, I was extremely concerned for my sister, but we actually thought this was a drill at first. An extremely realistic one at that. And I in part thought that because of the extremely well executed response of the janitor and everybody else. But while we were in there, we soon found out this was anything but a drill. This was life or death.
CAMEROTA: And how did you find this out? From --
HOGG: Our phones. We're looking it up. Sadly, my sister -- she's a freshman and she had two of her best friends die. And that's not acceptable. That is something that we should not let happen in this country, especially when we're going to school. It's something that we really need to take a look at. The fact that this is the 18th school shooting and this is only February is a testament to where this country has come and how far. We need to dig out of this hole. We need to step out of it and take a look back and realize there's something seriously wrong here. And some of our policymakers and some people need to look in -- they need to look in the mirror and take some action because ideas are great but without action ideas stay ideas, and children die.
CAMEROTA: You obviously come at this from a different perspective. You're the news director of your student TV news station.
CAMEROTA: And so you've been thinking ability these things, you've been reporting on these things, and even in the heat of the moment, you had the presence of mind to start taping some of this and asking people questions because that's how you think.
CAMEROTA: As a journalist.
HOGG: So the reasoning behind that was that honestly I started to -- when you're in these situations, you can't really think of anything. You're kind of just frozen there, kind of like -- anyways, I was really thinking about what has my impact been, what have any of our impacts been? Like -- and I realized I hadn't really had one. I thought to myself, if I die today, I want my impact to be -- if I die, I want to tell a good story.
I want to show these people exactly what's going on when these children are facing bullets flying through classrooms. And students are dying trying to get an education. That's not OK. That's not acceptable. And we need to fix that.
CAMEROTA: You did tape-record some of this. It's so graphic, we can't play it right now. It's just so graphic. We have to do some editing around it.
CAMEROTA: But when I think about what you all saw in there and what you had to live through, do you have a message for the lawmakers? Do you have a message for Congress, for the president?
HOGG: Yes. My message to lawmakers and Congress is please take action. Ideas are great. Ideas are wonderful and they help you get re-elected and everything. But what's more important is actual action and pertinent action that results in saving thousands of children's lives. Please take action.
CAMEROTA: Do you have a sense of what kind of action that would be?
HOGG: Any action at this point, instead of just complete stagnancy and blaming the other side of the political aisle would be a step in the right direction. And working together to save these children's lives is what this country needs.
CAMEROTA: What's your message, Kelsey?
KELSEY FRIEND, STUDENT WHO SURVIVED MASSACRE: I'm just thankful for Broward County and how they have these drills for us. If I didn't have these drills, I probably would have run towards the shooter and not away from it. I probably would have ran away from it because I know it's a gun, but I probably wouldn't have known what to do because I've never been in a situation like this.
And quite frankly, I hope no child has to go through this again because this is the thing that you think will never happen until it does. And it's terrifying. I will never forget what happened to me yesterday. HOGG: And people are going to keep saying, oh, this is just another
shooting, it's never going to happen to me. What happens is when you don't take action things like this eventually will happen to you. And that's not acceptable. And that's why calling on people to stand up, talk to your congressman, talk to people and don't stop fighting because children will continue to die if we don't take a stand now.
CAMEROTA: Kelsey, can you tell us about Mr. Beagle, your geography teacher?
FRIEND: Mr. Beagle was my hero, and he will forever be my hero. I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom. And if his family is watching this, please know that your son or your brother was an amazing person and I am alive today because of him.
Thank you for bringing and having this amazing person in life and giving him the power to be stronger than I could have ever been. He will be missed by me and multiple friends. His name through me will live on and I'll make sure of it.
CAMEROTA: And you're sure that -- you feel certain that he saved your life.
FRIEND: I'm 100 percent certain. If I could see him right now and if he was still here and he got out of the hospital -- I was talking to my mom, and I'd get him a huge teddy bear to say thank you, but unfortunately I can't do that. And I will not let this shooting go down as another one because people are not understanding this is not going to stop. Just like he was saying, it's not going to stop until something happens.
HOGG: Ideas are great, but we need action.
CAMEROTA: Something has gone terribly wrong when all of us adults are looking to you 14 and 18-year-olds for wisdom and to help us figure out how to solve this. But that's where we are today.
And so, Kelsey, I don't understand. How are you as a freshman going to move on? What's goings to happen when you go back to school?
FRIEND: I don't know, but hopefully I can push through and make the remainder of this year worth it because freshman year is supposed to be fun and exciting. Unfortunately us freshmen this year and sophomores had to go through this. And seniors and juniors, everybody had to go through this, teachers. I believe this was Mr. Beagle's first year in school -- at this school. And he's no longer going to be teaching here because of this insane man.
CAMEROTA: Are you going to be able to go back into this building behind us?
HOGG: Yes, I'm not going to let this person stop me. That's what they want to do. They want to scare us. They want to make us feel unsafe. And I say no. I take a stance on my personal -- in my own personal way to say that's not OK. I don't feel afraid. I'm going to continue learning so I can prevent this from happening again. And that's what you guys as journalists are doing as well. And the fact that you're reporting on this says so much. But what we really need is action.
As we can say, yes, we're going to do all these things, thoughts and prayers. What we need more than that is action. Please, this is the 18th one this year. That's unacceptable. We're children. You guys, like, are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together, come over your politics and get something done.
CAMEROTA: David Hogg, Kelsey Friend, we're so sorry for your loss. We're so sorry that you had to endure all of this. Thank you very much for telling us the story of your wonderful teacher and everything --
FRIEND: Thank you for letting me share it. I'd do anything to keep his name alive.
CAMEROTA: You did that. Thank you both very much. Take care of yourselves.
Chris, what can you say? I mean, what can -- what more wisdom can we say than what these kids have the day after the most horrific devastating thing any of us can ever imagine, that they had to watch their teacher and fellow students die. They had to worry about their friends and their relatives. This -- it's unspeakable.
And listen, we're all with them, the idea that today we're not hearing from some of our leaders, that some of them won't come on the show, that some of them don't have ideas, that some of them think that somehow this is just the price of admission for high school. If you just, you know, sort of practice the drills and get really good at the drills, I guess that's the best we can ever hope for.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I mean, look, they're great kids. It's amazing that they survived this kind of situation. You know, everybody always likes to put better hopes on the future and they're justified when you see kids like that. I don't know how they made it through a situation like that to be so level-headed. But we're not all with them. Let's be very clear about this.
The message that young Mr. Hogg is putting out there is not one that is well received in our political culture today. The president of the United States basically just blamed this kind of situation on people not speaking out enough about it as citizens. So unfortunately all these thoughts and prayers and all of these beautiful intentions in a moment like this, they wind up going nowhere.
And, you know, those two were talking to you. But they're not talking to you. They're talking to Marco Rubio, they're talking to Governor Scott, who won't come on this morning to discuss those kinds of questions and that sense of urgency that these kids have because they just lived through something. They know what the reality is. They're not blinded by politics because they were staring at a gun. But you coaxing out their story and letting people see how hey feel
and what they think, that's powerful medicine.
[08:25:10] CAMEROTA: And you know, one more thing, Chris. The idea that politicians say it's too soon to talk about this, that's not what these kids think. They went through it. They don't think it's too soon to talk about it. They want to talk about it. So that's what we're here doing. Obviously you can see horrible trucks arriving right now to clean up what's going on in this building behind us in the aftermath of this horrible latest school shooting.
Will our leaders in Congress act? Will they do anything to stop all these senseless school shootings and murders? We have a congressman, Ted Deutch, who represents the district where this happened, next.
CAMEROTA: We're following breaking news here in Parkland, Florida. 17 people were killed in this high school shooting. You can see the high school behind. 15 others are still hospitalized. There was this massacre inside that building behind me. A 19-year-old suspect, he had gone to this school but he'd been expelled. He is expected to make his first court appearance this afternoon.
Joining us now to talk about all of this is Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch. He represents this district where this happened.
Congressman, thank you for being here. I'm so sorry for your people.
REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Thank you. Thanks, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: I don't know how to ask the question any differently. I don't know how many times I have to ask the question about why we can't stop this. Do you have any wisdom on this?
DEUTCH: Well, it's not wisdom that we need? It's action that we needed. I just -- I appreciate the interview that you just did.