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New Day Saturday
19 Officers Waited In Hall As Kids In Class Called 911; Parents Describe The Chaotic Situation Outside Robb Elementary; Anguish Sweeps Nation After 19 Children, 2 Teacher Killed; President Biden, First Lady To Meet With Uvalde Victim's Family On Sunday; Columbine Survivor Helps Other Mass Shooting Survivors; CDC Identifies 12 Monkeypox Cases In 8 States; Soaring Gas Prices Add Up To Expensive Memorial Day. Aired 7-8a ET
Aired May 28, 2022 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to a new day. We're grateful that you are starting your weekend with us. It is Saturday, May 28th. I'm Boris Sanchez live in Uvalde, Texas,
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. Boris, I look at what's behind you and I cannot imagine the atmosphere there in Uvalde. And I feel like, I think a lot of people that I've talked to feel like the more information we get, the more disturbed we are.
SANCHEZ: That's right, Christi. The anguish in this community has been exacerbated by the discrepancies that we've gotten from law enforcement, different angles of different stories and ultimately learning that mistakes were made in a law enforcement response here. And this morning, we are learning new heart wrenching minute-by-minute details of the tragedy that unfolded at Robb Elementary School, with 21 dead: two teachers and 19 children, most of them no older than 10.
Investigators admitting that officers made mistakes including that delay, they waited to confront the gunman who opened fire inside a fourth-grade classroom. 80 minutes passed between the first 9-1-1 Call reporting there was a man outside with a gun. And the time a tactical unit finally entered that classroom where the gunman was holed up. Listen to this, as many as 19 officers were in a hallway right outside that classroom as terrified students were calling 9-1-1. They were pleading for police to go inside the room, and yet, officers waited.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. STEVE MCCRAW, TEXAS DPS DIRECTOR: For the benefit of hindsight, where I'm sitting now, that of course it was not the right decision, it was a wrong decision, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Texas Governor Greg Abbott is calling for a full accounting of what happened. He says that he was misled that he was given bad information as the situation unfolded. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): I was misled. I am livid about what happened. There are people who deserve answers the most, and those are the families whose lives have been destroyed. They need answers that are accurate. And it is inexcusable that they may have suffered from any inaccurate information whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: For more on the investigation, and what we're hearing from parents in response to the mistakes that were made, let's bring in CNN National Correspondent Jason Carroll. Jason, you've spoken to parents that say they want accountability, they are furious about this.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, one of them in particular Alfred Garza, his daughter, Amerie, she went to the school here and she was in the fourth grade. As you know, Boris, she did, she did not survive. Initially, as all of this was happening, he was wondering what was taking so long for law enforcement to move in there and to breach that door and deal with this particular shooter. Initially, he said, he was told that law enforcement did everything that they needed to do. Now, he is looking for accountability.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALFRED GARZA, FATHER OF AMERIE JO GARZA: They needed to act immediately. You know, there's, there's kids involved. You know, there's a gun involved. There's an active shooter wanting to do harm, you know, those are recipes for disaster. And as soon as you get there, somebody should have gotten off the car, jumped the fence, slammed open the door as fast as he got in there and try to change, change the outcome. Had they, had they done that, you know, maybe we would have a different result. You know, maybe we would have -- not everybody would have lived but maybe some, you know, maybe would have had less collateral damage. Maybe, you know, just, I mean just something you know, something different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe your daughter.
GARZA: Maybe. You know, maybe, you know. Maybe my daughter or you know, just, you know, half of them, even one or two of them, you know, more would have been -- I mean, it's just, it's, it's, it's really just nerve-wracking you know. I mean it's, something's got to be done now, you know, what are we going -- where do we go from here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: So, the question that a number of parents are asking again, where do we go from here? What does accountability look like? And you know, when it comes to this particular case, with Garza's daughter, he believes, Boris, that his daughter may have been one of those children that tried to call 9-1-1. And so, what a lot of these parents are asking themselves is, what if that door had been breached in five minutes? Who could have been saved? 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. So, these are some of the questions that parents are now asking themselves, second guessing themselves, which is just compounding the, the, the grief that they're already dealing with.
SANCHEZ: It is difficult to imagine what they're going through, especially learning of that gap, right, the discrepancy when these 9- 1-1 calls are going through. And they're hearing from children begging for officers to go inside. And then the decision by law enforcement outside, believing that this was a barricaded situation, as opposed to an active shooter, believing that there were no lives at risk. Apparently, we've reached out to the police chief who made the decision to delay, but we've not heard back from him. Is there any indication that he may come forward and address these questions?
CARROLL: Well, that is the big question. As you know, CNN has reached out to this man several times. A lot of people have a lot of questions for him. CNN is going to keep trying.
SANCHEZ: And given the history of the shootings, Jason, we've seen over and over again, in Columbine and Parkland, those are two that stick out in my mind where there was confusion, there was a delay, there was hesitation to go inside of one of these shootings. What indication have you gotten as to whether the training indicated that officers had to go in, versus they had to wait for SWAT? How does that jurisdiction break down?
CARROLL: From the way we understand, the training indicates they should have gone in. I mean, that is what the training showed, but this, this tactical commander who was this incident commander, who was there on the scene made the decision that he was going to wait, wait for more tactical backup to show up when all indications are showing us based on training based on everything that law enforcement officials are telling us. They should have moved in.
SANCHEZ: Jason Carroll, we appreciate you walking us through all of that. The parents of Robb Elementary School students, as you just saw, are angry at the response from officers during the shooting. Distraught parents say that they actually confronted police outside the school. You can imagine that as news of the shooting spread across town, many of them rushed over here and challenged law enforcement to go in and neutralize the gunman during that lull, that roughly half- hour period where he had stopped engaging with law enforcement. One mom says that she was even handcuffed and told that she was interfering in the investigation when she tried to talk to law enforcement. Here is one parent describing the chaotic scene and then the frustration that follow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER GAITAN, DAUGHTER WAS IN ROBB ELEMENTARY DURING SHOOTING: We knew how long it was, we knew that kids were already being released and he was already shot long before they took anybody out that room. And that is where the chaos started. And you, how do you how do you blame a parent for acting like that when it's not their fault why this happened? And they're trying their best -- so many, so many parents were out here with their own weapons ready to go into the building. I was about 10 yards from the tape. And you know, this is all -- I
think it was a state trooper that, you know, he, he kept, you know, like just picking at me and picking at me, and I'm crying, I'm getting -- like go save the kids, like you're worried about us. We, we are not doing anything. We are not trying to cross that tape. We are, you know -- it was just so sad that we couldn't do anything but stand and watch because if somebody did try to do anything, they were pulling out tasers. If you can see and one of the -- they were pulling out tasers to tase these parents because they're concerned about their family. And that is like, that's not, that's not, that, that was, that was wrong, it was very wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: We want to get insight from an expert now. Ian Moffett is with us. He's actually a Retired Chief for Miami-Dade schools. Ian, thank you so much for sharing part of your Saturday with us. Right away, I just want to get your reaction to that mom's account of what was happening outside of Robb Elementary School. What stands out to you about those interactions between police and parents outside the school?
IAN MOFFETT, RETIRED CHIEF FOR MIAMI-DADE SCHOOLS: Oh, good morning. Thank you for having me. And I can tell you just listening to those parents, it's heart-wrenching to understand that they're sitting there wanting law enforcement to go in and law enforcement did not go in. You have to realize this that when lives are in danger and bullets are flying, we need to get in there right away and stop the active assailants. Society expects it.
Listen I'm a father, I'm a son, I'm a grandfather. I know how those people feel, and I'm so sorry for what happened, and we've got to do a better job. We have to look at what transpired here and make sure this does not happen again.
SANCHEZ: So, what would, in your eyes, accountability look like?
MOFFETT: Yes, so accountability starts, obviously, with looking at the timeline of what transpired, looking at the training. What was the training for these people? How often did they do active assailant training? What was their resources capability? What was their policy? Who's on shift? Why was that officer off-campus? Why wasn't the key in the hands of the officers? Why didn't it protect -- those schools are like embassies, when bullets are flying, we need to make sure we protect those schools.
That school should have gone on lockdown. Looking at the ability of why was that door propped open. Looking at 9-1-1, was the information passed down about what was going on? You know, in Florida, we've created some great new standards after Parkland. And we need to implement those standards in Texas and across United States to make sure things like this don't occur, especially with communications and on scene information. SANCHEZ: Well, I specifically wanted to ask you about this system that you developed to deal with these scenarios. It's called RMMS. What protocols do you think would have made this shooting response different?
MOFFETT: Well, you see, the readiness in emergency management schools was developed the United State Department Education, I was part of that, I was part of their team. This deals with prevention, intervention, and enforcement, making sure that we do things before. We have to make sure we have threat assessment teams, mental health awareness training, to make sure that we stop these types of people from actually going out and committing these acts.
And then, also protecting the school protecting those critical infrastructures, making sure that we train. How you train is how you're going to respond. You need to take it seriously. We need to make sure that those schools are protected, making sure that those doors are locked. We have proper camera systems. We integrate the information that we're getting with technology such as, such as a (INAUDIBLE) law that we have in Florida.
With that information, the minute you push the button on your smartphone, that information goes directly to 9-1-1, and 9-1-1 is essentially sending that information to dispatch back down to the law enforcement, so they can go in and make the actual actions and go in and take action, what they need to do. So, the Readiness Merge Management of Schools is a holistic approach that has been developed for years to U.S. Department of Education, and I really believe that schools and communities need to take aim on this.
SANCHEZ: And Ian, I do want to get your reaction to this. The police Chief of Uvalde School District, Pedro Pete Arredondo, he made the decision to delay the entry. He hasn't directly answered questions about that decision yet. As a former police chief for schools, do you think he needs to step forward and take questions right now?
MOFFETT: Well, right now, what's happening is there's an investigation going on. This police-involved shooting. He's a subject witness, anything he say can be used towards an investigation, whether it's civil or criminal from that standpoint. So, yes, in some sense, he does need to step forward and provide some type of statement.
And obviously, he's getting counseled right now as far as maybe not to provide that statement. But accountability needs to be made. I believe the state of Texas will hold accountability like we did here in the state of Florida. With our MSD commission right after Parkland, I can tell you that this type of action would not have happened in Miami, because we are prepared. We have been prepared for years on this, this would never have happened.
SANCHEZ: And Ian, I want to get your perspective on something that I've heard repeatedly, about, perhaps reworking the architecture of schools, changing the way that schools are laid out to try to prevent shootings. What are your thoughts on that? Because it seems to me that in this country, education, given all the amount of money, the hundreds of millions of dollars that's spent on education, it's still not enough. I've spoken to people in this community that lament how teachers at the school are having to spend of their own money to provide basic things to their students. Is there an imperative to try to change the architecture of schools to prevent shootings like this? Or are there other more efficient ways to do that?
MOFFETT: Well, I believe we've got to do a balance of human capital and technology, the same point. You got to remember, the vast majority of schools United States were built, they weren't built for security or built for other, other means for entry and et cetera. So, we got to have single point of entries. That does require a lot of costs, but you've got to -- first thing you got to do, you got to do analysis and assessment of the facility, write down what the cost is. After you break down what the cost is, go out and implement those costs. Yes, schools need to have single point of entries.
We need to utilize technology such as cameras, making sure they go back to a central point where they're being monitored, use of artificial intelligence to capture that information on how to respond. Communications -- once again, I can tell you that communications back on these incidents and what's occurring is very, very important. But yes, we need to have more investment into our schools that starts with our legislatures and our tax dollars and where they go so that teachers don't have to use their own money. But obviously, schools need to be more protected.
Think at the schools like embassies, we've got to protect them. That SRO should have been there protecting that campus instead of going towards the shooting. That school should've been on lockdown, the door should have been locked, and it should have been protected on site that day.
SANCHEZ: It is a sad state of affairs in this country when the urgency for security at schools is almost as high as the urgency for basic things like books and pencils and paper. Chief Ian Moffett, we have to leave the conversation there. Thank you so much for the time.
MOFFETT: Thank you for having me this morning.
SANCHEZ: Of course, I want to bring Christ Paul back into the conversation. And Christi, one of the things that stands out in my mind for the parents, for the families in this community is how they are going to rebuild trust in officials locally when they've been told so many different things about what happened and especially learning that mistakes were made in this investigation or rather, in this response. How are they going to trust the results of an investigation when already, we've heard from Governor Abbott that even he was misled about what happened here.
PAUL: Right. Right. And I it's important, I think we've all decided collectively, it's important for these parents to understand how much we support them and, and we're with them in all of this. And with that, Boris, we want to remind people who died here, all 21 of those victims, they've been publicly identified by the city of Uvalde. And while they are grieving, family members are very graciously sharing photos and sharing memories about the people that they loved and lost. So, I want to introduce you to Rogelio Torres, who was 10 years old. His family says he was a very intelligent, hardworking, helpful person. They say Rogelio will be missed and never forgotten, obviously. Look at that smile there.
And then Xavier Lopez, he was praised for his honor roll achievement in fourth grade just hours before he was killed. His mother took this picture of him and told him how she was so proud of them and that she loved him. And think about it, she didn't know that was going to be the last moment they shared together. Xavier was days away from the end of the school year and he could not wait, they say, to finally be heading to middle school. His mom says Xavier was funny. He was never serious. And his smile would cheer anyone up. Parents, please know, families please know, that we are grieving with you.
PAUL: Well, the White House has announced, tomorrow President Biden and First Lady Joe Biden will travel to Uvalde, Texas, they're meeting with families of the 21 victims remember including 19 children who were killed in Tuesday's mass shooting at Robb Elementary school. I want to go CNN's White House Reporter Jasmine Wright, she's with the president in Wilmington, Delaware this morning. Jasmine, always good to see you. Talk to us about what will be on the president's itinerary tomorrow when he goes to Uvalde.
JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, the president is bringing a message of support. He said a few days ago that he wanted him and the First Lady to go down to show the families that the first family of the United States has a sense of their pain. And he wanted to bring a little comfort to the families and the community at large, that are really suffering this time of shock, trauma and grief.
And we know that he has a special way of communicating that because we just saw it very recently, it was less than two weeks ago that we saw the President and the First Lady ventured down to Buffalo, New York, the sight of that last mass shooting really laying flowers at the memorial. They're trying to really offer support to the families.
So, that deep sense of empathy that we know the president pulls from that real sense of loss that he has had from his son to his baby daughter, to his first wife decades ago, that is where he's really going to pull from. But the question really going into it is how also, is he going to galvanize Congress to move forward on some of these sensible gun reforms that he has really been pushing for? That could be an open question that he faces really talking to the families that want to see some more gun control around the country. Christi.
PAUL: So, when nobody's President Kamala Harris is traveling this weekend as well. She'll be attending the funeral of one of the victims in last week's buffalo supermarket shooting. What do we know about what how her time will be spent there? WRIGHT: Well, this will be the first time that the Vice President goes to Buffalo in the aftermath of that shooting where 10 people were left dead at that supermarket, and she will meet with other families of the victims as well as attend the funeral of 86-year-old, Ruth Whitfield, who was the mother of a retired fire commissioner there really shopping for groceries. So, this is going to be a time for the Vice President to show a massive amount of empathy here as well. Christi.
PAUL: Jasmine Wright, we appreciate the updates. Thank you, ma'am.
Still to come this morning. She survived the shooting at Columbine. Remember that? Well now, one Colorado woman is turning her experience into a way to help other mass shooting victims and we're going to talk to her next. Stay close.
SANCHEZ: It was once the deadliest school shooting in American history. In 1999, 11 students and one teacher were killed at Columbine High School. 23 years later, there have been so many more, it just takes too much time to list all of them. Following that massacre survivors have tried to move forward in part by helping other survivors. These kinds of shootings have become all too common place.
I want to introduce you now to Missy Mendo, she's a Columbine survivor who's involved in the Rebels Project. Its aim to provide, provide support for those who survived a mass shooting. Missy, we're grateful to have you with us this morning. Thanks for sharing part of your weekend with us. I'm wondering what goes through your mind when you learn that there's been another mass shooting, especially one at a school?
MISSY MENDO, COLUMBINE SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Thank you so much for having me. And good morning. The first things that go through my mind honestly, is shock. I think it takes each one of us survivors back to our experience. And then, the traditional motion of grief afterwards, it's the saddest thing in the world.
SANCHEZ: And Missy, the kids who survived the shooting and Uvalde, they're much younger than you were at Columbine. I'm wondering, from your experience, how that affected your life. When you think about how young these kids are 10, 11 years old, how's this going to impact them in the short and long term?
MENDO: Well, it affects everybody differently. I was about four years older than -- four or five years older than these children when this happened, and I know that it has affected me moments, days, weeks, hours. And now here 23 years later, there's still struggle with the reaction of things in my life from what had happened.
SANCHEZ: I've actually spoken to a number of Columbine survivors. I've spent time in Littleton and I've seen the ramifications of something like this. They affect people throughout their lives. And now you are a mom to a 4-year-old little girl. She's likely to start school soon. Given what you've gone through and what you've seen and what you keep seeing as these events happen over and over again, how do you feel about sending your little girl to class?
MENDO: It's terrifying. It's absolutely terrifying. My -- the irony of this particular situation was, I was filling out my paperwork for my child to enter into the school system. You know, I have familiarized myself with the school, their security protocols, what that looks like. And I also want to make it very, very clear to not project anything onto my child to try and have her have as much of a normal life as possible.
But I think every parent has, you know, a little bit of sadness and reservation when their child's first day of school happens. But as a survivor, it is amplified 10 times.
SANCHEZ: And now, I wanted to ask you about the Rebels Project. It's an organization that helps the survivors of mass shootings. Given your experience, what do you think the survivors of this shooting -- what does this community need most right now?
MENDO: That's a such a blanketed question. Each one is completely different. Each community has different niches that make them tick. And I think the most important thing is for them to stay and bond together and stick together. Do not let this divide you. Let this be a lesson in life together. Understand that everybody grieves differently.
And though you and the same person in your community have gone through the same events, it doesn't mean that you both have the same perspective or the same experiences or the same reactions. And it's really important to listen to one another and lean on one another. I would have been nothing without my community after everything had happened to me. My community is amazing.
SANCHEZ: And I imagine it also has to be frustrating for you given the lessons of Columbine, the lessons of Parkland, the lessons of so many other incidents similar to what you went through that, as a country, we seem incapable of preventing these incidents. How does that aspect of this make you feel?
MENDO: I was told 23 years ago that this was never going to happen again. And I would have never thought I would be sitting here speaking to a well-known news station about something new that had happened in our country. It's heartbreaking. I really wish that we never got new members into the Rebels Project. It's a you know, hard club to be a part of, but we love all of our members. And I wish that I never had to prove -- I wish that I never had to approve another member request.
SANCHEZ: That is heartbreaking to hear in part because given the way that we've seen these incidents unfold in the past, there's no indication that the pattern is going to break, that something is going to change at this point. Missy Mendo, we thank you so much for your time, and we appreciate what you do for so many people. Thank you.
MENDO: Thank you so much. Have a great rest of your day.
SANCHEZ: Of course, you too.
Hey, stay with CNN. We're going to keep following the latest on the investigation here in Uvalde, Texas. And we're going to bring you the stories of victims, survivors, and this entire community. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
PAUL: Well, the CDC is investigating more cases of monkey pox across the United States. This is part of a global outbreak. As of yesterday, in fact, Sacramento County, California is the latest presumptive monkeypox case to be announced. That brings the U.S. to a total of 12. The cases have been identified in Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, Washington, California, Virginia, and New York.
Dr. Aileen Marty is with us. She's a professor of infectious disease at Florida International University. Doctor, we appreciate you being here. Thank you so much. Relate to us, first and foremost, if you would please, the dangers of monkey pox here in the U.S. right now.
DR. AILEEN MARTY, PROFESSOR, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: So we should calm down because right now, the danger from monkey pox to the majority of people is virtually none. However, it is uncommon what is happening in terms of the spread of monkeypox outside of Africa. We've never seen this many cases outside of Africa, especially in such a short period of time.
In fact, from 1970 until this month, the total number of cases that had -- that had happened outside of Africa is far less than the total numbers in the world in this one month alone.
PAUL: So, when I say relay the dangers -- thank you, first of all, for letting us know that we don't need to panic by any means coming off of the last two years. People either might panic or they might not take it seriously. So, we needed to know where that falls. But what -- how do you contract it?
MARTY: So, you have to have close contact with bodily fluids in other -- in order to contract this or with the scabs and lesions. The people who are infected begin to shed virus -- they're viraemic. There's virus in their blood before they have obvious symptoms by a few hours. The first symptoms are not that obvious. They are headache. They may be backache. They may be fever.
It's much -- by the way, a lot less noticeable this prodrome period in this current outbreak than what we've seen in the past. And that's an important difference. Swollen lymph nodes are also very characteristic of monkeypox. And all -- and at that time, you're already contagious. You become much more contagious, you're shedding much more virus once the skin lesions appear. And in this outbreak, the skin lesions are appearing first in the genital areas. Traditionally, they have appeared first in the face, palms, and soles. So, that -- those are the characteristic ways in which this thing normally manifests. The incubation period is another reason why this is spreading so much, because the average incubation period is six to 12 days, but the range is five to 21 days, which means someone can travel for up to 21 days with no evidence of being ill whatsoever.
And I think that that's contributing to what's going on. And that's the reason that in multiple states we now have a contact that was someone who did not travel as we do in Florida, Colorado, California, in Utah where there are two cases each.
PAUL: And they are related to international travel, yes, as we -- as we understand it. I know that --
MARTY: No, I'm sorry. Please --
PAUL: OK, please correct me.
MARTY: Yes, only the first case is associated with travel. The second case is not in each of these states that I just said had two cases.
PAUL: Thank you.
MARTY: In the states where there's only one case, that that's a different story. Those are connected to travel.
PAUL: OK, very good to know. I so appreciate that correction. Dr. Aileen Marty, thank you for the great information. We appreciate it.
MARTY: Thank you, Christy. Good luck.
PAUL: Thank you. You as well.
So, we are all sitting here together on Memorial Day Weekend. I know that means plenty of you are hitting the roads. I know that you've noticed those high gas prices. You are feeling it. May that be enough to change your plans? That's an interesting number straight ahead. Stay close.
PAUL: So, I'm wondering if you're one of the literally millions of people who are hitting the road for Memorial Day Weekend right now. So, when you pull over to fill up the tank, you know the prices that you're going to be paying. They are skyrocketing, it feels like, doesn't it? Here's CNN's Pete Muntean.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Single dad, Eric Stevens, says he makes $110,000 a year. But even that is not enough to afford a trip to the lake. Here in Los Angeles, $6.00 a gallon gas has kept his plans in park.
ERIC STEVENS, ENCINO CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: Maybe for the affluent, they can afford it. But for me to go anywhere is minimum, a $200 decision in regards to gas. And you haven't fed your kids or done anything else.
MUNTEAN: Gas Buddy says holiday weekend gas prices are the highest they have been since 2012. But the pain goes beyond the pump. New data says hotels have jumped 42 percent compared to last year. Airfare is up six percent.
ANDREW GROSS, SPOKESMAN, AAA: This will likely be one of the most expensive Memorial Day travel periods we've ever seen.
MUNTEAN: Even still, AAA thinks Americans will not be stopped, traveling to top destinations such as Orlando, Seattle, Miami and Las Vegas. The latest projection, 34.9 million people will drive 50 miles or more over the five days around Memorial Day.
Do you think that the numbers will be all that far off from the projection?
GROSS: You know, we've never -- our projections have always been pretty accurate. But we've never been trying to project in an environment like this.
MUNTEAN: The new fear is this expensive start to summer travel could last. Gas Buddy's Patrick DeHaan thinks the average price of gas will not dip below $4.50 for months.
PATRICK DEHAAN, HEAD OF PETROLEUM ANALYSIS, GAS BUDDY: I don't really think the higher price of fuel is going to slow down many. It may slow down some but certainly there's still a very healthy appetite to hit the road this summer.
STEVENS: Are you ready for school, baby girl?
MUNTEAN: Not so for Eric Stevens who says he's choosing to pay for his daughter's daycare over a road trip.
STEVENS: Fun has been postponed for the indefinite future, especially the way things are going. While I'd like to say or hope there's an end in sight, I just don't see one.
PAUL: So, here's some perspective for you. The natural average for a gallon of regular gas right now is $4.60. That's a $0.46 cent increase in just a month. Pump prices have surged by 30 percent since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February. And the national average today is more than 50 percent higher than Memorial Day weekend last year.
You saw Patrick DeHaan in that piece. He's with us now as well. He's the head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy. Patrick, good to have you with us. First and foremost, do you believe that we've hit the price peak yet or is there an expectation this is going to surge further?
DEHAAN: Well, Christi, I don't think we've had it yet. We did see oil prices make a noticeable jump here yesterday in that the wholesale price of gasoline shot up. And so, I do think now we will continue after a little bit of a slowdown here in the last five days or so, we will likely see the national average starting to pick up steam again. That could happen as soon as this weekend.
The national average now for $4.61. It could have closer to $4.75. And as we progress beyond Memorial Day, I now peg our odds at $5.00 a gallon gasoline nationwide at 60 percent. So, that could be coming.
PAUL: So, when you say that you believe these prices are here for the next-- for months. How many months are you talking? Is this a summer surge that might start to wane a little bit in the fall or do you see this going through the end of the year?
DEHAAN: Well, I think first and foremost, it's a strong likelihood through at least the first half, maybe two-thirds of summer. We usually will start to see gasoline demand falling off as we progress to August. The risk though in August as we enter the peak of hurricane season, and any disruption this year could cause prices to go up.
So, I do think we'll see some relief towards the end of the summer barring a hurricane. But of course with above average hurricane forecast, that is a high risk. We could see prices remaining elevated basically through Labor Day.
PAUL: How is the Russia war in Ukraine driving all of this?
DEHAAN: Well, it's certainly one of the key factors. Russia, a major oil producer churning out as much as 10 million barrels a day in normal times. Now, much of that oil has been sanctioned. And so, we are dealing with a global supply and demand imbalanced due to the loss of Russian oil.
Not only that, but refineries here in the United States due to events like COVID, Hurricane Ida. We've seen a tremendous amount of refining capacity lost over the last three years. And so, going into the summer driving season, not only our oil price is up, but there's less capacity that produce things like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.
So, we're seeing even if it's very soft demand, we're seeing an inability for refineries to be able to boost inventories or boost supply. And that's kind of causing this double whammy that's going to greet us at the pump as we progress into the summer.
PAUL: Yes, I was reading that 58 percent of people say that they're going to hit the road this summer. So, the gas prices may not be deterring them so much, but is there anything that we can do to save money in the midst of all of this and still take a trip somewhere?
DEHAAN: Well, it's going to be very difficult, right? In elevated prices, there are some things you of course, can still do, but it will mean that prices are still higher than last summer. Things like slowing down a few miles an hour, driving more fuel efficiently, can very much boost your amount of miles per tank by five, even 10 percent or beyond that, depending on how much you slow down.
And we're talking about maybe going 60 miles an hour here on the highway, if you're taking a long road trip. You can shop around especially for those heading out of a state. We see state gasoline taxes vary significantly. Of course, Gas Buddy, Google Waze can help you there.
But I think really just slowing down a little bit. I tried it myself. I was able to boost my fuel efficiency by 27 to 37 miles per gallon. If Americans did that, it could save them the equivalent of anywhere from 50 to 75 cents a gallon.
PAUL: Wow. All right, Patrick DeHaan, we appreciate that information as well. Thank you so much, sir.
DEHAAN: Thanks for having me.
PAUL: Of course.
So, coming up in our next hour, our coverage of the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School for you. Families and the community there are searching for answers still this morning. And take a look at some of the pictures. Oh, my goodness. Just the balloons, the messages, the flowers that people are leaving all as lawmakers -- some lawmakers are demanding change.
Congressman Ted Deutsch is joining us to talk about the push for gun reform in Washington. Where does it really stand?