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CNN Live Event/Special
State Senator: Texas Rangers Say 18 Children, Two Adults Killed in Elementary School Shooting; Texas Dept. Of Public Safety: 18 Children, One Adult Killed; School Police Chief: 18-Year-Old Gunman Also Dead, Acted Alone; Pres. Biden Addresses The Nation On The TX School Shooting; Biden On TX School Shooting: "It's Time To Turn This Pain Into Action." Aired 8-9p ET
Aired May 24, 2022 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: You and the horror you've gone through that you're reliving tonight could have that hope. I hope you're right. And I appreciate your time and thank you so much for speaking to me tonight.
FRED GUTTENBERG, DAUGHTER DIED IN PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: And thanks very much to all of you who have joined us to cover this sorrow.
Let's pass it off now to Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
If you are joining us tonight, you have probably heard the sickening news: 18 schoolchildren are dead tonight in the small town of Uvalde, Texas. According to a State Senator who is citing a police briefing, 18 families now, plus the family of two adults who are with them now have a lifetime of gatherings to face in which the comfort of closeness will always be tempered by absence, by the absence of a son or a daughter.
You can see the flags at half-staff at the White House.
In just a few moments, President Biden just back from the Far East will speak to the country about the 18 children and two adults murdered this day at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. They'll talk about them and their deaths at the hands of gunman who himself is now dead.
We want to go for the latest on what is happening, the latest from what we have learned from what happened at Robb Elementary. CNN's Ed Lavandera begins our coverage tonight from Dallas.
Ed, what is -- what's the latest information you have?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Anderson. Well, law enforcement officials continue to work the scene. Local
School District officials have not confirmed what is being widely reported by state officials that 18 children at Robb Elementary, were gunned down today, as well as three adults and the shooter is dead.
School officials have gone out of their way several times today to tell the community that this gunman acted alone, that the person, that that suspect is now dead and no longer a threat. But it is too late for what this community is dealing with and grieving with.
The Governor of Texas says that around noon, Central Time, this lone gunman walked -- drove up to the school, abandoned his car and then went inside with a firearm and perhaps a rifle. It's not exactly clear what kind of weaponry was used. But it was definitely enough to inflict unspeakable carnage.
Many of the victims were taken to two area hospitals. One there, Uvalde, another one in San Antonio. We understand that there's a 66- year-old woman who is in critical condition, another young child there at this hospital in San Antonio, who is also in critical condition. So the death toll here could continue to change in the hours ahead. We pray that those victims will be okay.
But right now, law enforcement continues to work the scene there at the school and try to get to the bottom of what the motive might have been behind all of this, and we do know that the shooter is an 18- year-old male from the city of Uvalde, perhaps a Uvalde high school student.
And Anderson, all of this comes at what is supposed to be a festive time. There are just a couple of days left in the school year for Robb Elementary and the School District. The High School was supposed to have its graduation ceremonies this weekend.
Essentially the School District in one of the brief statements that they've made here this afternoon, Anderson, saying that the school year is over. Everything has been canceled for the remainder of this school year and graduation ceremonies are up in the air. All of this happening as there are families right now as we speak, trying to figure out if their loved one, if their children are the victims of today's a grotesque shooting, and that is what is unfolding there in the city of Uvalde, a small town of nearly 20,000 people or so just west of San Antonio -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ed, there are a lot of questions I want to ask you. I know there is a lot you won't have answers to and that's okay. I just want to be upfront with viewers that this is still very early. Authorities have just given a press conference in which they said very little. Obviously, they have -- one of the things they pointed out is that they are still notifying family members or still, I am not even sure they have begun the process of notifying family members.
So we just want to be very, very cautious in our reporting.
Ed, what do we know about what family members know? Have family members begun to be notified? LAVANDERA: We have seen some indications that some people have
learned of the fate of their loved ones -- of these children. But you know, this is still from what we can tell, a very much an active scene, and whether or not the bodies have even been able to be removed from the school is unclear at this point.
Obviously, the amount of work and investigative work that authorities have to do there at that at that school, at Robb Elementary, you can imagine how long and painstaking that will be.
So that is a process that is ongoing. We do know that there was a reunification center set up at a nearby Civic Center, that that is where parents were instructed to go to be able to reunite with students.
We saw buses of students, video of buses of students being taken away from the school, presumably to that Civic Center, and school officials also say that tomorrow morning, Robb Elementary school staff will be instructed to show up there.
There will be grief counselors on hand to help community members through this situation and all of that taking place at that nearby Civic Center.
COOPER: We should also point that often in situations like this, early reports that police get that eyewitnesses say are often proved to be inaccurate. People see things in a shooting like this, they sometimes see multiple people when there's really only one.
So again, we're being cautious in what we are reporting.
Ed, is it clear what time this began? And how long it actually went on for? We know from past active shooter situations, often, though the person may not be killed until later on, that often, most of the victims occur within the first four to six minutes of an incident like this. Is it clear how long the shooter was on the scene there?
LAVANDERA: We have not been given or heard any reporting on an exact timeline, but it was -- it all started around Noon Central Time, one o'clock Eastern. And we do -- and as some of my colleagues are reporting that this apparently started with the gunman shooting his grandmother at a nearby home and then moving toward the school.
And it is there that at some point, after presumably that this gunman inflicted the carnage that he inflicted inside the school, there were a number of law enforcement officers that showed up there at the scene. One of them was a Customs and Border Protection Officer, and that is not uncommon. Uvalde is a town relatively close to the U.S.- Mexico border.
So the presence of Federal law enforcement agencies is not surprising in any way. It is actually very, very common. So the fact that a CBP officer might have been one of the first people to respond to this is not out of the ordinary. We are told that that CBP agent suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
That it did not penetrate and that that is not life threatening, but that kind of gives you an indication of what was needed -- what needed to happen there in those initial chaotic moments as law enforcement was responding to the scene.
But the exact amount of time that this shooter was inside that school, inflicting the carnage that he was inflicting is not clear at this point -- Anderson.
COOPER: Obviously, a lot has been learned since Columbine, as we know, the FBI has done studies on all the active shooter situations, the mass shootings that have taken place, and that has changed law enforcement tactics so that the first officers on the scene no matter what agency they are from, their job is to go in as quickly as possible and try to stop the shooter.
So it's very common when you have, you talked about the Border Patrol agent, it is very common, any law enforcement officer from any agency will respond to something like this and whoever is there on scene first will usually go in together when the Navy Yard shooting occurred in Washington, D.C. There were Navy personnel as well as Bicycle Police officers and others who were the first ones in.
Is it clear to you how quickly police were able to get on the scene? Because that's also another critical thing, you know, in every kind of situation like this.
LAVANDERA: Right. It sounds like it was relatively quickly, but obviously not fast enough to prevent what has happened here. I don't want to go beyond that, really, because we haven't really gotten any indication as to exactly, you know, how quickly agents were able to respond to that scene.
But you know, Uvalde is a small town, presumably, law enforcement was relatively nearby.
COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate it. We'll continue to check in with you over the next two hours.
On the phone right now is Sergeant Erick Estrada from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Sergeant Estrada, I appreciate you talking to us tonight. What can you tell us about what has occurred here?
SGT. ERICK ESTRADA, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY (via phone): Well, sir, so first of all, our condolences to the families that were affected because of this shooting, but I do want to state that there were two different incidents.
This the first incident was involving the suspect at their grandmother's residence where he shot the grandmother and then the grandmother was airlifted and then the second incident that came in was actually involving, they called it in as an epic crash and a man with a firearm outside the school premises. There were several law enforcement that engaged the suspect, but he
was able to make entry into the school where he did go into several classrooms and unfortunately he did fire his firearm inside the school premises.
But then he was met with another tactical law enforcement agency, which ultimately were able to bring him down, and the suspect is deceased. Unfortunately, there is confirmation right now that there are 18 deceased children or students and there are two deceased adults. They didn't tell me if they were female or male, but there are two adult victims.
COOPER: And Sergeant, do you have any information about how many others are wounded?
ESTRADA: No, they told me right now, everything is preliminary. So they did tell me there are other several children that did get injured and those are in nearby hospitals right now. So there were other several other people injured.
COOPER: Sergeant Estrada, I just want to ask you a couple of questions just to -- and I know there are some things you can't comment on, and I certainly respect that. The two deceased adults, I'm assuming that does not include the shooter. Correct?
ESTRADA: So from what we have right now, yes, one of them is the suspect, and then the other one is another adult. They didn't specify whether it was a male or a female, but it is two adults deceased.
COOPER: There was also a law enforcement officer, I believe, if I heard our correspondent correctly was shot. Do you know his condition or her condition?
ESTRADA: Right now we don't have any conditions, but as the confirmed deceased, we only have to as of now. We are honoring other -- we are taking up with other law enforcement agencies that were affected by this shooting, just to make sure that the officers are okay. But as of now, we don't have any additional deceased people that that were inside the premises.
COOPER: Sergeant Estrada, you mentioned and it was because of the phone call, I'm not sure I heard it correctly, that prior to his entering the school, did you say that, was your term an epic crash?
ESTRADA: Yes. So he did, the suspect did crash near a ditch here nearby the school. That's where he exited his vehicle, with I believe, it was a rifle and that is when he attempted to enter the school where he was engaged by law enforcement and unfortunately, he was able to enter the premises.
And then from there, that's when he went on and entered several classrooms and started shooting his firearm.
COOPER: Do you know, was he being pursued by law enforcement? Is that what precipitated the crash?
ESTRADA: No, as of now, there is no vehicle pursuit that got reported on our log, on any other law enforcement log, but it is of course preliminary, and as of now, it just got reported as a vehicle crash nearby the school.
COOPER: I understand that. You also said that the law enforcement engaged him prior to his entering the school. Is it clear to you, were they aware he was trying to enter the school? Was he engaging with them after the crash, and then he ran into the school? Again, I know it's preliminary, and you may not have that information.
ESTRADA: Right, so what got reported was a call a man of a gun that had crashed nearby the Robb Elementary School, and then he was observed exiting the vehicle with a long rifle and a backpack. He also had a -- he also had body armor with him. That's whenever the, I believe the ISD Police officers engaged him.
Then there was a second call where he entered through the south doors of Robb Elementary School, he entered and that's when he started with his gunfire inside the premises.
COOPER: You said ISD, I'm sorry, what does that stand for?
ESTRADA: So that's their school district police officers.
COOPER: Got it. So those would have been people who were on scene already at the school.
ESTRADA: That's correct.
COOPER: Okay. Do you have any idea how many ISD officers were assigned to this school?
ESTRADA: So no, I don't have that specific.
COOPER: And again, I'm sorry for being so specific, I'm just trying to get for our viewers as much as we can understand. You said he had body armor with him. Do you know if he was wearing the body armor?
ESTRADA: Yes, he was.
COOPER: Okay. Do you know if that was just a tactical vest he was wearing? Was there a helmet? Were there other forms of armor on him?
ESTRADA: So at least what they confirmed to me was that he was wearing body armor and that he was carrying some sort of rifle. We do have several agencies here that are assisting us with the investigation and that includes ATF, FBI, and we also have our Texas Rangers out here and we're trying to figure out, you know, the details of the incident.
COOPER: Do you have any idea how long or when law enforcement -- other law enforcement units came to the scene? I assume the ISD units were there already? Do you know how quickly other units responded?
ESTRADA: No, sir, I don't have that exact time. But I do have when the initial call came in, it was around 11:30.
COOPER: Eleven thirty, and that call, do you know who called that in?
ESTRADA: No, I don't.
COOPER: Do you know what kind of rifle it was?
ESTRADA: No, I don't have the rifle and that's why we have ATF right now and they're doing that part of the investigation. But we will have further information once the investigation starts revealing more details of the incident.
COOPER: Have all the families of the victims been notified at this time?
ESTRADA: I know, we've been in contact with several families. We've also been in contact with some of the local officials here and other local agencies. So we're trying to take care of all that. But some notifications have been made already.
COOPER: Do you know the suspect who is deceased? Was this person known to law enforcement? Do you know at this stage?
ESTRADA: No, I don't know his history.
COOPER: And do you have any sense of clearly, motive is something you wouldn't know or wouldn't even be able to comment on the stage? Was there any history of police calls to his grandmother's house? Is that something you would know at this stage?
ESTRADA: No, sir, I don't. But pretty much all the information that we have gathered as of now. We are going to be having further details further down the road.
COOPER: Okay. Well, Sergeant Estrada, I appreciate your patience with my questions and I appreciate all your efforts today and I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances. Thank you so much.
ESTRADA: Yes, sir. Thank you.
COOPER: We are obviously following events. There are obviously a lot of details that we have just learned from Sergeant Estrada. I want to bring in Juliette Kayyem and Andrew McCabe, formerly of the FBI, a CNN senior law enforcement analyst, work formerly with the FBI; also Charles Ramsey, former police chief of Washington, D.C. joining us as well. And Juliette Kayyem is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security and a CNN national security analyst.
Andrew, first of all, I'm wondering, just your reaction to Sergeant Estrada's details there.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, well, Anderson, it's a remarkable amount of detail that we got from the Sergeant. It just shows you how much left there is for us to understand as this investigation continues.
The details about the -- I guess, he referred to it as an epic crash in front of the school, but not exactly at the school, right? He described it as being in or near a ditch or a drainage ditch just raises all kinds of questions about what started that -- what led to him driving a vehicle in such a manner that it got out of control that he crashed in a ditch? Was he actually even intending to go to the school when he set out from the attack on his grandmother earlier in the day?
So these are -- there are a lot of facts that we just don't know here. I'm quite confident that the investigators are coursing through all these things as we speak. And we'll certainly know more as the days go on.
But I think the best course is for us to kind of not jump to any conclusions about any of this right now.
COOPER: Yes, certainly. And I mean, a lot of the details were very helpful that Sergeant Estrada was able to provide. Chief Ramsey, I'm wondering what stood out from what the sergeant was saying.
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, just like Andy, I mean, it's a lot of information. But this will be coming out in bits and pieces as time goes on. We'll know more and more. I think Andy raised a very good point. And that is, we don't even know if this was the intended target, this particular school or was there someplace else he had in mind?
I mean, these are questions that we just have that haven't been answered yet, but more information will be coming out.
I think right now, it's important that we wait until we started getting official comments being made, so that we really are basing it on facts. I'm sure they're executing search warrants. They're going through his social media, and all kinds of things right now just trying to piece things together to figure out exactly why he did what he did and what may have been a red flag that could have been a warning even before today's events.
COOPER: Yes, Juliette?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I want to just talk about what's going on now because there's been sort of a lack of information because I think it's important to be graphic. I think, the word shooting can sound sanitary since we're dealing with them so often.
There are 18 young children killed by a rifle that is meant to destroy, to maim. They are not carrying identification very likely that young that young of age, and they might not be recognizable. There are a lot of them, there are 18 of them.
The police know which parents remain who have not been reunified with their children, so they know who the parents are. But now each parent has to identify a child that may be unrecognizable without identification. And I think it's important to be direct about and specific and detailed, however horrifying this moment is for these families, because that's what these families are going through.
And we will look to the motive and we'll look to obviously guns and gun control, but we can't get sanitized to the horror of what's happening right now. That's what the delay is, is there's children who are unrecognizable. But only a parent, their parent can identify them. And that's, you know, that's this moment right now.
COOPER: And Juliette, on a scene like this, I mean, and I know this only because we've covered other school shootings as well. It's very likely these children are still where they fell, and will be for some time as this crime scene, as it is now has to be documented and gone over.
KAYYEM: Right. So we know from Sandy -- look I mean, look, we have history here. It's not like this is new. We know from Sandy Hook that the parents that remained into the evening we are told that their children had not survived. And they only knew this because you didn't have family unification.
In other words, those were the parents whose children had not survived. Remember, these are also very young children at Sandy Hook, some unidentifiable. We don't know now, in Texas, where the shooting exactly occurred, was it a single classroom? Was at multiple classrooms?
We have, I think, a teacher already dead, so the teacher was not able to identify. And that's essentially what's happening right now. So, I was surprised how little information came out at the press conference earlier. We have the basic numbers, but part of that is, I mean, I'm going to be graphic here, they've got, you know, 18 little bodies that are destroyed by really heavy artillery, and the only person who knows is a parent, you know, and that's -- you know, that's today.
COOPER: Juliette Kayyem, Andrew McCabe, Charles Ramsey, let's go now to CNN's Phil Mattingly, who is at the White House where the President is expected to speak now at 8:30, in just about eight minutes. What are you hearing?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think anger, stunned. You know, what words can you find to describe something that is so horrific, so grievous, and yet is so almost repetitive to some degree over the course of the last several years? I think that, more than anything else is But the President has spent the last several hours attempting to do -- find those words.
He has been regularly briefed by top aides about the investigation, what's been happening on the ground in Texas. He has made calls to public officials, including Texas Governor, Greg Abbott.
But primarily he has been focused on the remarks he's going to make.
Anderson, it's worth pointing out the decision to hold remarks to the nation in primetime, just as he is returning from a 14-hour flight in a multiday, multi-country trip to Asia underscores an urgency of the moment that I think probably gives a window into the President's intent tonight: It will be to address the grief, it will be to show and try and I think disperse the empathy that he is known for, most certainly.
And certainly highlight the victims and the horror of what transpired, but also to try and shake the country to some degree away from what we've seen. And I think what's been very frustrating to White House officials in particular over the course of the President's time in office, where this just happens again and again.
It becomes formulaic, the President gives remarks, often visits where the shootings occur. The flags go to half-staff. There are a couple of days of legislative discussion on Capitol Hill, and then everybody moves on.
I think part of the reason for these remarks tonight is to try and change that dynamic, whether it succeeds, obviously, we've seen this play out many times over the course of the last several years' past President, it won't, but the President making very clear tonight with these remarks that he is taking a different tack to this.
Now what he actually says officials have made clear, he has been working through this since he was on the plane when he first heard about this, was being briefed about this as well. He has been working on it since he got back to the White House about an hour ago.
As you noted, the speech has been delayed a little bit, but I think trying to find that balance between addressing the horror and the grief and also addressing what comes next will be a large portion of what you hear tonight.
COOPER: Phil Mattingly, thank you. As we wait to hear from the President, we're joined now by Nicole Hockley. Her son, Dylan, was one of the students killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, almost 10 years ago.
Nicole, thank you for being with us. I'm sorry, it's -- we're talking about this. I am sorry this has happened. The parallels, obviously to Sandy Hook are clear. For what parents are going through tonight, can you just talk a little bit about this time when it was your child and you were waiting, what that process, that unspeakable process was like?
NICOLE HOCKLEY, LOST SON, DYLAN IN SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SHOOTING: For me, and I'm kind of re-experiencing it very much today, it's just absolute shock and denying, because no one would ever expect to send their child to school and have them murdered in their classroom, it is just not -- we are becoming too immune to this as a country, but this is not the way it's supposed to be.
So I know, for myself for several days, I was in absolute shock. And, you know, for the several hours before being told that if my child wasn't with me, that meant that they weren't coming back until finding out later that evening that he had been identified according to his clothes, and the police came to say that, yes, based on the photo that I gave them that it was Dylan, who was one of the dead.
So it's the shock and the trauma and just the sheer inability to have your brain accept that this is reality. So, I would expect that that could be very much what some of the parents are experiencing right now for those that have been told. And for those that are still waiting to find out, you can't even begin to imagine the horror that's going through their minds and hearts right now.
COOPER: And we are seeing photos of your beautiful son, Dylan, and it is -- you have dedicated your life -- you are working with schools and other organizations to teach the warning signs of people who are at risk of harming themselves or others. What is the first thing you tell people you work with to look for?
HOCKLEY: I tell them to just be open to seeing any at risk sign of someone who could be going into crisis, self-harm or harm to others and that can be anything from bullying and extreme isolation at one end to more overt threats of violence and having means in which to act on that violence that what I really teach is that this gun violence that we're experiencing on a daily basis, in schools, and communities, in grocery stores and movie theaters across the country, this is not an inevitable part of our life.
There are actions that we can take to prevent it if we have the courage and the perseverance to lean in and take those actions and not just be apathetic and accept that this is the way it is. I mean, people said that after Sandy Hook with 26-year-olds and seven- year-olds dying and six educators that that would be rock bottom, and yet, here we are, again, almost 10 years later with another elementary school and the thousands of mass shootings that have happened in between.
I don't know how much more our country can take and why we keep going through that same cycle over and over again of thoughts and prayers and lack of action.
COOPER: If you're comfortable or okay with it, can you tell us a little bit about Dylan, what he was like?
HOCKLEY: I don't know if I can.
COOPER: Okay, I understand. I am -- I really appreciate your strength and just being able to talk about this and being here today. Is there any advice for parents who are now entering another world of pain and loss? Is there any -- what do you tell parents at this stage?
HOCKLEY: When I think they're able to receive messages, I mean, certainly I'm there for any one of them as is any member of my organization and lots of other people that would be willing to be there for them and help whatever way they need.
But generally speaking, it all comes down to acknowledging that everyone's journey through this is very individual and unique and to respect that and the choices that people make and that there's no way you can really fathom the dark path that's ahead of you, but you will find a way through it back into hope and life and to even joy.
So embrace those that are there to support you and love you. Allow them to support and love you and honor what you lost by allowing that love to show in whatever way you choose to.
COOPER: I think it's hard for anybody at a time like this, to imagine that they can ever find joy again, but you say it's possible.
HOCKLEY: It's possible. Sure as heck isn't easy. But, you know, I have a surviving son, who I love with my whole life. He brings me joy. Even doing something to honor Dylan to prevent other families from feeling this as many as I can that I wouldn't say that brings me joy, but it certainly brings me purpose.
COOPER: Can you tell people the name of your organization so that they can look it up if they'd like to take part?
HOCKLEY: Sure. I helped launch an organization called Sandy Hook Promise. And we focus on legislation, but we mostly focus on teaching youth and empowering youth to know the signs and to take action before violence occurs. Because sadly, and this is what we'll wait to hear from this shooting as the investigation proceeds. There are almost always signs these acts are preventable if we know what to look for, and how to take action. And that's what we teach in schools across the country.
COOPER: Nicole Hockley, thank you so much.
HOCKLEY: Thank you.
COOPER: We wait to hear from the President who's expected to speak any minute now. He was supposed to start around 8:30, it's now 8:30, almost 8:32. We'll bring you the President's remarks obviously live. We're joined here in New York by our chief political analyst Gloria Borgia and also CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President, President Obama.
Obviously, presidents have had to make speeches like this far too many times. What are your thoughts?
GLORIA BORGER, CNNCHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, after listening to Nicole Hockley, there's not much more to say. And I don't know how the President can sort of get beyond that. You can talk about gun control, you can talk about how ridiculous it is. The Congress hasn't done anything in the last 10 years since Sandy Hook. But the absolute waste of humanity that we seem to put up with in this country, and don't do anything about it, whether it's the mental health part of it, or it's the expanding background checks on guns, which the public supports.
I just, it's, it's kind of hard to fathom that that mother had to go through that. And other parents 10 years later are going through what she went through and the families that Parkland, had to go through the same thing. And we kind of have this process. And as, and it seems to be to me that all we do is kind of repeat it, and nothing gets done. And I -- you don't want to be hopeless about it. Or cynical about it, because you see people suffering and you want to do something about it. But I'm not sure what Joe Biden can do to reassure people that he can help anymore.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, you know, Phil Mattingly said, the President was stung, you can be horrified. You can be heartbroken. But you can't be stunned anymore. Because this has become a fact of life in America more frequent all the time. And the challenge for him in making the speech, he will bring real heartfelt empathy because he does have those feelings, and he will bring the sympathies of the country. What he can't do is persuade people who have seen the scene so many times that we're going to take action. And that I think creates an enormous amount of cynicism, about politics in generally, in general.
And I don't really -- I'm with Gloria, it's hard to overcome that he could challenge the Congress to take this up again, I think they have a pretty good sense that that's not going to happen.
And so, you know, we as a country have to decide. I was thinking about these parents waiting for their kids, that who were never going to come and praying that desperately that their little child is going to walk through that door and the child never walks through that door. And this scene is being repeated again and again, not just children, obviously, but in this case, so tragic. And like, what do you say to these people? What do politicians say to these people? And, you know, what we need is political courage in this country, and people have to decide that they're that these children's lives may be more valuable than another term in Congress. And, you know, that is unusual. But, you know, one hopes that at least a few consciences are pricked by what happened today.
COOPER: You also think about your time but think about the parents, these your parents now 18 parents who are 19, who, you know, personally dealt who was killed who have now entered completely unchartered territory in their life. And I, you know, I'm in touch with a number of families who have lost children and have lost loved ones in mass shootings, and their lives are never the same. I mean, over -- you know, it is never it is they have suddenly entered a whole other realm. And there are lots of other people who are already in that world, who can reach out and help them and want to just as you heard (INAUDIBLE) --
AXELROD: I have friends who have -- I've, sadly, a number of friends not because of gun violence, but for other reasons have lost their children. And it is something, you know, friends who go, they go to their grave site every single day, and they never stop. The thing that she talked about that was so moving was her and her son, because it's not just the child who is killed, but also the sibling, you know, who sees the grief of their parents, who misses their sibling. You know, their lives have changed forever, as well. It's a whole family tragedy that no one ever recovers.
BORGER: And let me just say this about Biden, I mean, don't forget, he was involved in the '90s, and passing the assault weapons ban, which then did not get renewed. And, you know, this from working with Barack Obama that he would -- after Newtown, he was trying to -- he was put in charge of trying to get expanded background checks, and those kinds of things put in place, and that failed. So Biden will admit, and has admitted that he was a failure, and trying to get this done. And of course, he will try and use this, to push something through Congress. But we know where Congress is right now. Just look on Twitter, everybody's backing into their own corner.
What she did, what Nicole did was, let us know what it feels like. And if any member of Congress is watching that, and listening to her, and then listening to these other parents, if they get to speak, maybe they could look at it through a different lens and find out, well, gee, maybe there's a way we could agree on expanded background checks, which by the way, nine out of 10 Americans says OK, why can't they do that?
COOPER: Sorry, I just want to know -- I'm sorry go ahead.
AXELROD: No, you do wonder what the President himself is thinking because he knows what it's like to lose a child. He's lived with that grief for much of his life. And you get the sense when each of these things happens that that there must be some trauma for him relived. And so, you know, he brings that to this as well.
But to call him a failure is a little unfair, because he --
BORGER: He tried, he tried.
AXELROD: -- you know, there are members of Congress who are implacable on this issue, who simply won't vote for any gunners.
COOPER: I want to check in with Phil Mattingly, who is standing by at the White House. Phil, if you could just give us an update on when the President may speak or what the White House is saying.
MATTINGLY: We expect him to be shortly obviously, he's been delayed originally scheduled for 8:15, then sometime after 8:30 the pool, which is going to be watching the President and reporting on him from the Roosevelt Room has headed in which usually means things are starting to move into the process. Look, the President is often delayed on issues. But I think this one in particular, you guys are hitting so many salient points in terms of how do you strike the balance with these remarks.
Again, as someone who has lost a daughter, the President can empathize and lost a son as well. President can empathize with what the parents are dealing with, how do you make sure to embrace them, to recognize that, to attempt, to address those families and their grief? How do you attempt to address a country that is looking at this happening again and again, and is completely fed up disenchanted? And in disbelief. And how do you address lawmakers? If you believe that legislation is a necessity, as the President does, and you want to make a push on that. But this time is different?
I think that, you know, and David will remember this quite well. The nature of the Obama administration in the wake of Sandy Hook, one in the near term, which was just still horror and sadness from administration officials when the shooting actually occurred, when the murders actually occurred. But even more so when the legislative effort failed, a legislative effort that then Vice President Biden ran point on, never seen public officials more crestfallen or dispiriting.
And I think the idea, you keep in mind when the President speaks tonight, that he was deeply involved in that, he was deeply involved in that loss. He was deeply involved. And I think a moment where nobody could believe that nothing could get done, and how does that inform both tonight's remarks, but also his approach in the days and weeks ahead.
And so, trying to strike that balance as they're still getting information about an investigation that that's underway, will be such a key issue to watch tonight. But I do want to reiterate something that I said earlier, Anderson, the fact that this is happening tonight, the fact that it's happening in primetime and address after a very lengthy foreign trip, no hesitation. There's an urgency here. It may not shift the dynamic, but to some degree, you feel like there's some intent there to at least try even though that's failed quite often in the past.
COOPER: We're told that the President will be speaking in less than a minute. And I just want to quickly go over the details that we learned really just about 20 or so minutes ago from Sergeant Estrada in Texas, that the 18 children, one adult have been killed. Also, the gunman himself has also been killed.
Here's the President is now entering the room along with the First Lady. Let's listen in.
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Good evening fellow Americans. I had hoped when I became President, I would not have to do this again.
Another massacre, Uvalde, Texas. An elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. And how many scores of little children who witnessed what happened see their friends die as if they're on a battlefield, for God's sake. They'll live with it the rest of their lives. There's a lot we don't know yet, but there's a lot we do know. There are parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them. Parents who will never be the same.
To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There's a hollowness in your chest, and you feel like you're being sucked into it and never going to be able to get out. It's suffocating. And it's never quite the same. And it's a feeling shared by the siblings, and the grandparents, and their family members, and the community that's left behind. Scripture says, Jill and I have talked about this in different contexts, in other contexts, the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. So many crushed spirits.
So, tonight, I ask the nation to pray for them, to give the parents and siblings the strength in the darkness they feel right now. As a nation, we have to ask, when in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God's name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done? It's been 340 -- 3,448 days, 10 years since I stood up at a high school in Connecticut -- a grade school in Connecticut, where another gunman massacred 26 people, including 20 first graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, there have been over 900 incidents of gunfires reported on school grounds. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Santa Fe High School in Texas, Oxford High School in Michigan. The list goes on and on. And the list grows when it includes mass shootings at places like movie theaters, houses of worship, and, as we saw just 10 days ago, at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don't tell me we can't have an impact on this carnage. I spent my career as a senator and as Vice President working to pass commonsense gun laws. We can't and won't prevent every tragedy. But we know they work and have a positive impact. When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled. The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong. What in God's name do you need an assault weapon for except to kill someone? Deer aren't running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God's sake. It's just sick. And the gun manufacturers have spent two decades aggressively marketing assault weapons which make them the most and largest profit.
For God's sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry. Here's what else I know, most Americans support commonsense laws -- commonsense gun laws. I just got off my trip from Asia, meeting with Asian leaders, and I learned of this while I was on the aircraft. And what struck me on that 17-hour flight -- what struck me was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God's name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies?
It's time to turn this pain into action. For every parent, for every citizen in this country, we have to make it clear to every elected official in this country, it's time to act. It's time for those who obstruct or delay or block the commonsense gun laws, we need to let you know that we will not forget. We can do so much more. We have to do more. Our prayer tonight is for those parents, lying in bed and trying to figure out, will I be able to sleep again? What do I say to my other children? What happens tomorrow?
May God bless the loss of innocent life on this sad day. And may the Lord be near the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit, because they're going to need a lot of help and a lot of our prayers.
God love you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you going to Texas, sir?
COOPER: The President saying may God bless the loss of innocent life on this day.
Gloria Borger, and David Axelrod, joins me here in New York.
David did you expected from the President?
AXELROD: Well, it was what we were talking about right before he spoke, he speaks from a place that perhaps no other president, you know, in modern times could speak from because of the things that he has suffered. And I think parents who have lost their children heard in him, their own feelings, their own devastation, their own sense of, of hopelessness --
COOPER: Not just losing his adult son, Beau, but his --
AXELROD: But his daughter just didn't just a small child in a car crash. And anyone who knows him knows how much he carries those experiences with him. And I think that so came through and so did his righteous anger about the fact that in all these years through all these tragedies, we still fail to act and he did what I think is the only thing he can do, which is to try and use the bully a pulpit of the presidency to exhort people, to action that they haven't been willing to take before. But I think the anger was genuine. And it was rooted in his own experience.
And, you know, we'll see. We will see if it produces anything different. The fact is, if, you know, if there were a bill on the floor of the United States Senate tomorrow, would it get 60 votes necessary? I doubt it. I think you'll see a lot of hope, a lot of prayers and thoughts in statements from the governor of Texas and from the senators from Texas, and from many others who have opposed these laws, sensible laws, like universal background checks. But will they go beyond thoughts and prayers and actually take action?
It's striking to me. Just one other point, Gloria, I'm sorry. It's striking to me that this young man was able to purchase assault weapons apparently, in the state of Texas. But you can't drink there until you're 21. I mean, think about that. Pretty extraordinary.
BORGER: Yes. And I think, you know, the President knows that there's gun legislation that's passed the House that is sitting in the Senate right now on expanding background checks. But what he decided to do tonight, was really very different. He knows personally, what it's like to have your life change in an instant, overnight. And I'm talking about the death of his young daughter and his first wife in a car crash, just as he was elected to the Senate. In an instant, life was different. So he knows what those parents are feeling tonight. He knows what those Sandy Hook parents are feeling. And he worked in the Obama administration. He was not successful. But he worked to try and pass a whole host of gun legislation and Barack Obama, and Joe Biden were disappointed that they could not get it done.
So what you heard tonight was his empathy for those parents whose life has changed, but also anger. I mean, he said, I'm sick and tired of it. Don't tell me we can't have an impact. And, you know, he said, this is just sick. It's just sick. What's going on in this country? You rarely hear that from a President of the United States. When do you hear that?
COOPER: Gloria, David, thank you.
We're joined now by somebody who knows a mass shooting personally. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland was the school back in Florida 2018, 17 students and faculty died, then. Cameron Kasky, was a student at the school at the time. He's an advocate against gun violence. He joins me now.
Cameron, first of all, you heard what the President had to say. I'm wondering what your thoughts are?
CAMERON KASKY, SURVIVOR OF 2018 MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HS IN FLORIDA: Well, it's interesting, I hear a lot of people talking about Joe Biden's personal life and the horrible personal loss he's endured, that obviously makes him a compassionate leader. But what is Joe Biden's personal life have to do with the fact that there's currently a product right now that is being marketed to Americans, by Republican senators and congressmen and by Mr. Joe Manchin, who's a Democrat, you've got these guns that are being sold to Americans and sewn into the American narrative as if they stand for freedom.
And Joe Biden goes up there, he talks about how horrible it is to lose a family member, which of course, seeing that kind of empathy from a leader is certainly something we weren't seeing from 2016 to 2020. But Joe Biden is the President of the United States, there is a weapon that has been unleashed upon the United States, the creator of which has said is not meant for civilian use. And he talks about how sad it is, offer some thoughts and prayers, and says that it's bad that mass violence happens. And it's great that he thinks that it's bad. But I can tell you that gun control organizers, people who believe in gun safety, common sense gun safety laws around the country, we're waiting to hear the words executive order. And instead, we heard the words essentially thoughts and prayers.
COOPER: When something -- when a shooting occurs like this, particularly in a school, I mean, as somebody who has experienced this firsthand and has thought a lot about this. Does it take you back to that in your own life? Are you do you pay attention to it? Do you prefer not to pay attention to it? KASKY: You know, it's something that the victims of many other shootings had said to my friends and I when we were meeting with them, we met with victims of a lot of the mass shootings that had occurred around the United States. And they said sometimes it'll get you sometimes it won't. So, to the victims of all the shootings this week, which by the way to the audience of this show, I dare you to name one victim of the Albuquerque shooting that of the shooting. You can't keep up anymore. People cannot keep up with the shootings that are happening in this country. There's a new one every single day and that's on good day, because on the bad days there's quite a few.
So, the way that people respond to this the way the victims respond to this it's tough because as soon as you start to feel like things could possibly be normal for a day, you get a call from a former co-worker of yours saying, hey, I hope you're doing well. And those intentions are great. And when people check in on you, it's great. But like you said, it does bring you back. And it doesn't make you feel. And that's a complicated thing as well. Because, you know, the longer the time passes, revisiting the trauma of a shooting, it's revisiting a lot of different types of trauma, because especially when you're young, and in the schools, this happens during the formative years of your life.
So these students are going to be going back into school soon. And they are going to live lives that have childhoods and early adulthood that are completely informed by this tragedy. And what from what I've seen with Parkland, and with all these other horrible shootings, it changes people forever.
COOPER: Yes. Cameron Kasky, I appreciate your time tonight.
COOPER: Just ahead, we're going to have more on the investigation. And reaction to President Biden. And just to give you a quick reminder of what we have heard thus far, we talked to Sergeant Estrada earlier in the program, 18 children we know have been killed, one adult from the school as well. The shooter killed by law enforcement on the scene. There are others who are wounded, we don't have an exact number. Some parents were told by police have been notified that their child is deceased. We don't know if all the parents involved have as of yet been notified.
This gunman, according to the police, shot and killed his grandmother earlier in the day. Then there was a crash. According to police, what they described or what was described to police or they described as an epic crash. His car hit a ditch by this school. There were at least we know some school or at least one school safety officer security officer on the scene. The gunman was seen with what was described as a rifle by the police. I don't know the exact make of it. As well as wearing body armor, I don't know the exact type of it. And a backpack heading toward the trying to enter the school. According to the law enforcement officer, we talked to a school security guard engaged with the gunman, he was still able to enter the school. And then it was said wherever he proceeded to kill 18 children and at least one adult and wound to others. We don't know if that was in one classroom, or the exact location of those killings or the timeline of those killings.
According to Sergeant Estrada tactical units, then were able to kill the gunman. We don't know how long that took or how long it took for units to respond on the scene. And obviously, there is an investigation that is still going on.
We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.