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CNN Live Event/Special

President Biden Called On Congress To Do Something On Gun Laws; Not Much Details From Police; Uvalde Shooter Bought Guns Legally; Nineteen Children And Two Adults Killed In Uvalde, Texas; All Forces Respond To Uvalde Shooting; No Bipartisan Laws Over Gun Issues; Texas Police Starts Making DNA Matches To Parents. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 24, 2022 - 22:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The spokesperson said, these border patrol agents and other officers put themselves between the shooter and children on the scene to draw the shooter's attention away from potential victims and save lives.

Again, this is according to the Department of Homeland and Security spokesperson. On and off, duty border patrol agents arrived on the scene to assist for transferring students safely to their families and providing medical support, said that spokesperson as well.

CNN's coverage of the tragedy continues with Don and DON LEMON TONIGHT. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Not much to say, Anderson, except here we go again. It is a tragedy. I don't really -- I am at a loss for words. I am at a loss for words.

COOPER: Yes. It is horrific.

LEMON: Yes. Anderson, thank you very much. And I'm going to try to -- this is DON LEMON TONIGHT, by the way. I'm going to try to do this tonight as we have done so many other nights and try to do justice to the reporting on the horrific tragedy that is today. Not just for the victims, most of them children, in a school with second, third and fourth graders who lie dead tonight at the hands of a mass shooter.

Their parents are never going to -- they are never going if get them back, ever. The horror for those families as that reality guts them tonight, the horror, and for the families in Buffalo who are still grieving, for the families in Parkland who are still grieving, for the families in Sandy Hook who are still grieving, in El Paso, in Charleston, in Pittsburgh, and beyond, and so on and so on.

Just about everywhere and just every type of place that you can imagine. The worst thing that you can imagine, it just keeps happening. But we don't have to imagine. Do we? This is our sad, sad, sad heartbreaking reality here in the United States of America. And this is a night of absolutely horrible news out of Texas. Let's show it. Eighteen elementary school children, children shot to death in their

school along with one adult, reportedly a teacher, in a small Texas town in Uvalde. That toll according to the Texas Department of Safety, the gunman killed reportedly in a shootout with police.

Police say the shooter was an 18-year-old male wearing body armor who crashed a vehicle near the school. He was a high school student in Uvalde who sources say first shot his grandmother before his murderous rampage at Robb Elementary School. The grandmother was airlifted to a hospital and is reportedly still alive.

President Biden fresh off a foreign trip in what seems like a world gone mad now, now faced with madness here at home and demanding to know when America is going to stand up to this madness.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: 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 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 at 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 gunfire reported on school grounds, Marjory 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, 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.


LEMON: And it keeps happening over and over and over. We keep letting it happen. This is at least the 30th shooting at a K through 12 school this year, the 30th this year at least. That's according to a CNN count, 30, and we are not even halfway through the year.

So, we are going to report and we're going to talk about all of this tonight. But make no mistake about it. Nothing is done and nothing is ever done and we are going to be back here grieving again over another town, I'll be speechless, won't know what to say to my colleagues, to my friends, to my family, to any of you.

This is where we are right now. I want to bring in CNN's Ed Lavandera live for us in Texas to start this off with the reporting. Ed, hello to you. What are you learning from authorities at this hour?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now law enforcement, investigators are still at the scene of the school there in Uvalde, Texas, Robb Elementary School. And right now, what is happening is just the gruesome process of identifying the victims, properly identifying them and communicating that information and that dreaded news to the family members, many of them who had been directed to go straight to a civic center nearby the school.


Many of the families have been reunited with their children that were taken away. Those who survived from the school and taken to the civic center so they could be reunited with loved ones. But just as we saw 10 years ago in Sandy Hook, there was that moment where family members whose children will not be coming home are getting that news and we understand that that process continues.

And you can really get a sense of just how long this process will take because we have heard virtually nothing from local authorities there on the ground throughout the day today in Uvalde, which speaks to just the overwhelming nature of this tragedy for those -- for this small school district but also for that community as they try process exactly what has been going on.

But right now, the authorities have been telling local residents there that this is a lone gunman who acted by himself, he was killed at the scene. But right now, it's the law enforcement agents working on the process of working the crime scene, gathering evidence and also communicating to family members the dreaded news that will come to many of them in the hours ahead.

LEMON: A souple of things. Ed, what a reminder that Sandy Hook was 10 years ago and we thought that something would happen. Right? There would be changes after that. And so far, nothing, a decade later. Anything else you know about the shooter tonight?

LAVANDERA: Well, we know that the shooter is 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, that he attended the high school there in Uvalde, that he, obviously, lived in the community. At some point lived in North Dakota and moved there.

We are told and we have found these images that have been from his Instagram page that has since been taken down. But he posted three days ago, apparently, images of two assault rifles that he had recently purchased. And according to the state senator from that area of Uvalde, that one of the first things this man did when he turned 18 was go out and purchase these weapons.

They were bought legally, they were bought at a, according to the state senator, at a federally licensed firearms dealer, that he had no problems getting this weaponry. But these could very well be the weapons that were used in the shootout today and that they are also monitoring -- he was told, this state senator, told by the Texas rangers, state troopers, that they were also monitoring and looking into threats that were made over social media in recent days and warning that students should be looking out.

So those are the kinds of things that we are learning and trying to follow, follow up on right now tonight.

LEMON: And it is your understanding, is it, that the families, all the families have been notified, Ed?

LAVANDERA: I don't think -- we can't say with any certainty. We have not heard any names officially of children that have passed away or killed in the attack today. We understand that, you know, obviously, the local officials have been saying their foremost concern right now is communicating the information to the families, especially those families most directly impacted by today's tragedy. Whether or not that is complete or where they are in the process, I just can't tell you right now.

LEMON: Ed Lavandera on top of the story for us. Ed, thank you very much. We'll check back with you as Ed gets more details as they become available to us.

I want to bring in now Sergeant Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety. He joins us now by phone. Thank you for joining us, Sergeant. We appreciate it.


LEMON: I've been better. I'm sure you have, as well. So, listen, I asked Ed about the latest. Obviously, you are on top of it, you are right there. What is the latest? What can you tell us about the investigation at this hour, Sergeant?

ESTRADA: Right. Well, first of all, you know, today is a very sad and very tragic day, especially for the community members here out of Uvalde. So, our condolences go out to families of the victims. But the updated number that they gave me as of now, they told me 19 students, two adults and then we also have the shooter that was, you know, deceased.

So, we do have two different incidents that occurred. The first incident was the suspect shooter, who shot his grandmother, I believe it was at her residence, and she was airlifted and is in critical condition as of now. I'm sorry.

The second -- the second incident happened, as the report came in, of a vehicle crash and a person exiting his vehicle. No shooter with a rifle. And I believe he had a bulletproof vest as well. He came out. He was engaged by Uvalde ISD police officer who works here at the school. And then after that he was engaged by two other officers from the Uvalde Police Department.


They weren't able to stop him there so they asked for assistance where a tactical agency came in and was able to eliminate the threat and bring the suspect down. Unfortunately, before that happened the shooter did manage to make entry into the school and shoot inside the classroom.

LEMON: Look, just to clarify the numbers, Sergeant. You said that there are 19 students. Is that an additional student? Or are you including the gunman in that? ESTRADA: No, that's correct. The last updated number, the previous

number it was 18 students. Now it's up to 19 and then an additional male, actually, an additional adult. I'm sorry. They didn't specify if it was a male or female.

LEMON: Yes. So, it's two adults. So, an additional adult and additional student, right? Plus, the shooter?

ESTRADA: Yes, that's correct.

LEMON: OK. And the grandmother is still in critical condition?

ESTRADA: Yes, that was the last update they gave us.

LEMON: Are you getting any indication about motive at this point?

ESTRADA: No. We are still in the preliminary stages. We do have other agencies here. ATF. We also have FBI and other local detectives that are assisting us with the crime scene as of now. But we don't have a motive.

LEMON: OK. As far as the gunman being known to authorities or police?

ESTRADA: We don't have that information either.

LEMON: You have no -- you don't have that information. If you are just joining us, we are joined by Erick -- Sergeant Erick Estrada now from the Texas Department of Public Safety updating the numbers here. There is an additional student and additional adult included in this. It was 18, now it's 19 students and two adults. It was one earlier plus the shooter all dead in this incident.

Sergeant, we are told that the gunman crashed a vehicle, as you just mentioned, into a ditch near Robb elementary. Do you know if he was on his way to the school before the crash? Was that the intention? Or do you know at this point?

ESTRADA: We don't have the intention as to why he drove into the ditch. The vehicle did sustain major damage in there. It was disabled inside the ditch. And that's when he did make -- he exited his vehicle and that's when we received that second call of an active shooter.

LEMON: My question was, was he intending to go to the school? Did he go into the school because he crashed the vehicle?

ESTRADA: So, we don't know -- we don't if his intention was to come to the school. What we do know is that he crashed nearby the school.

LEMON: OK. What about the firearm? Can you verify when the firearm was purchased?

ESTRADA: No. So, we don't have that information. We just know it was a rifle. We do have ATF here who are conducting a different investigation as far as when the firearm was purchased and all of those details. LEMON: Can you tell us about the timeline today, Sergeant? Did law

enforcement respond to the gunman's grandmother's -- that was the first incident, responding to the house, right?

ESTRADA: That's correct. That was the first call. The second call came around -- and this is just an approximate time, around 11.30. And that was the second incident where he crashed nearby the school.

LEMON: What about the timeline? How long was this incident -- how long did it last from the time of his first call, the first call with man with a gun to the time that he was killed? Is there minutes? An hour?

ESTRADA: So, we don't have a timeline. The only thing I do have was that that second call that came in at 11.30 of a man who had a crash nearby the school.

LEMON: I asked Ed Lavandera about the families being notified. Are you still notifying families of the victims or have you -- have had trouble reaching out to loved ones or have you been able to notify everyone?

ESTRADA: So, from my understanding, I know they were making some notifications and they were picking up some students there at the civic center here in Uvalde. However, I'm not entirely sure if they have made all of the proper notifications to the families.

LEMON: Do you know -- this was a school of fourth, fifth -- fourth, third, second graders. So, you know -- was it from every single grade, the grades that the kids were from?

ESTRADA: No. They haven't -- obviously, they haven't given me identifications of the students or grade levels. But I do know that it occurred inside an elementary school.

LEMON: We are seeing reports, Sergeant, that family members are having to provide DNA samples for identification. Is that accurate?

ESTRADA: I can't confirm that. I haven't got any information on that.


LEMON: The new reporting that we have, Anderson -- just before Anderson went off air and I came on, there was new information regarding the border patrol agents and other officers who put themselves between the shooter and children to draw his attention away from potential victims. Can you tell us more about this unbelievable heroism?

ESTRADA: So, I'm not entirely sure, sir, as far as how many agencies were present here. I know I could speak for now just because there are several law enforcements. But that's still under investigation as far as who responded here. The only thing that I have on my end as far as the preliminary information is that we had an ISD officer, which is a school officer, and we had two Uvalde police officers that were involved with the incident. LEMON: So, Sergeant, again, you said it was 18 earlier. Now, it's 19

and then two adults. There are others -- there are others who are in the hospital who are injured?

ESTRADA: That's correct. So, I know there is the officers, those two officers that I mentioned, they were met with gunshots, the gunshot wounds that they received ere minor. So, they are in stable condition. As far as the other students, I know there are other students at local hospitals here in Uvalde.

LEMON: Other students. Do you know how many?

ESTRADA: No, I don't.

LEMON: And the two adults, do you know if they were teachers, staff? Not -- are they police officers, law enforcement?

ESTRADA: They didn't tell me their occupation. All they mentioned to me was that it was two adults.

LEMON: And next for the investigation, sir.

ESTRADA: I'm sorry?

LEMON: Next for your investigation, where is your investigation right now?

ESTRADA: So tight now we're trying to make all of the notifications. We are also trying to figure out how -- we're starting a log to see what's on the premises, who is entering the premises. So, there is a lot of moving pieces right now. It's very fluid. So, we're just trying to get all that in order.

LEMON: So, the grandmother you said is in critical condition. I would imagine in a condition where you cannot, she cannot be spoken to and is not conscious at this moment to be able to answer any questions, correct?

ESTRADA: That is correct, sir.

LEMON: All right. Sergeant Erick Estrada from the Texas Department of Public Safety, thank you. We appreciate you joining us this evening. Thanks for the update.

ESTRADA: Thank you.

LEMON: So that's the latest information. Another adult and another student added to the list of people who have been killed in this incident at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

I want to bring in now Uvalde resident Kim Hammond. She lives near Robb Elementary and heard the shooting happened. She captured video of the police response -- responding outside the school and in front of her home. And she joins us now.

Thank you, Kim, for joining us. We appreciate it. KIM HAMMOND, UVALDE RESIDENT: Yes, Don. Hi.

LEMON: Hi. So, you heard the update from the public information officer. Excuse me, from the public safety officer. Anything you want to say about what he said there? Now two more people have died from this.

HAMMOND: It's heartbreaking, Don. It's heartbreaking. It's you know, yes. That's a shock. When we first heard that it was 14, that was really, you know, your mind just goes to how can it be 14, you know. That's --

LEMON: What do you say, right?

HAMMOND: It's just very tragic.

LEMON: What do you say?

HAMMOND: It's very tragic and senseless.

LEMON: Let's talk about your experience.


HAMMOND: It's hard to --

LEMON: Go on. I'm sorry. Say again.

HAMMOND: I say, it's just -- it makes it hard to swallow.



LEMON: Let's talk about your experience because the school is just two houses over from where you live.


LEMON: Close enough in fact that you usually hear the kids when they are out at P.E.


LEMON: Can you walk me through what you heard and saw unfold around your house this afternoon.

HAMMOND: Sure. I had just sat down for lunch. I don't know what the exact time. I didn't look at the clock. But it must have been around 11.25, 11.30. And something just didn't feel right. And I don't know if I had like sensed something or heard something and I just dismissed it.

But when I sat down, I thought I heard a couple of pop-pops. In my brain it was like, man, that sounds like gunfire. I thought maybe the neighbor dropped some two by four's or something and I just dismissed it. And I went about eating my launch. And then my living room start to shake and then there was a helicopter right above my house.

And I thought, OK, there must be something going on. So, I went outside and there was a helicopter just circling over -- over the house and around the school. And I thought maybe it was border patrol and I thought, well, we must have some human trafficking runners again.


They have been -- they have hidden in the backyards here before. And so, I just locked my screen door and as I was coming in I saw all of this action out front of the house. So, I ran out front and that's when I saw guys in tactical gear.

The first vehicles I saw were border patrol vehicles. Then I saw that there was Texas state trooper vehicles. Then I saw Uvalde County Police vehicles. And Uvalde City police vehicles. It was just a lot of -- a lot of law enforcement converging on this neighborhood.

So, I walked back inside, locked my door, and got on Facebook, got on the Uvalde City Police Department Facebook, and it did say safety alert, large police presence at Robb Elementary School. And I thought, my gosh. So, they were just warning the public to stay away. And that's basically the only information that we had until they updated again and said that this was an active school shooter situation.

I had folks texting me, asking if I was OK, because they said that they had arrested one guy but there was another guy that was his accomplice was out loose, you know. How bad news travels fast. And it was fortunate that it was, you know, wrong news. But we still didn't know this guy was actually in the school.

And then I started counting the ambulances. And that's when I thought, this is -- this is really grave because if they only shot the shooter, why do they need seven, then eight, then nine ambulances? And then, yes, that was that.

LEMON: Reality set in?

HAMMOND: Yes. Yes. It did. And, you know, it's an emotional thing that when Sandy -- when Sandy Hook happened, you know, I think the whole nation took it hard because these were little kids, you know. And who -- who is going to kill little kids like this on purpose?

And then to have it happen again, Don, it's just -- what the hell are we doing, you know? And if every red-blooded American isn't just P.O.'d right now, there is something wrong. There is something gravely wrong.

LEMON: You know --

HAMMOND: So, yesterday, yesterday I got back from the grocery store and they were playing on the speakers at this school pomp and circumstance. And so, they were having like a little celebration for these kids. I didn't know what it was, but I was humming the song all day. And then today this blew into my driveway out of one of the parents'

cars and they were having a celebration of perfect attendance and awards. And you know those little kids were so proud to be able to get those awards yesterday. And then today -- today they are just happy to get on that school bus and get out of that school.

LEMON: Kim, it's moments like this where I fail to sometimes be able to do what I'm tasked to do here, and that's speak to people, you know. My colleague, Anderson, I am at a loss of words. I don't know what to say. I am sitting here listening to you and I don't know what to say to you, and I'm wondering if you are OK because I hear your voice. I am looking at you and I don't know the answer to those questions.

HAMMOND: Well, I'm deeply saddened. I'm deeply saddened for this community, especially for those moms and dads that are still trying to find their baby. They still don't know. You know, we ran into a couple out front that were looking for their niece. They are like we're just hoping that we find her at the hospital and they pointed at school and not at the school. So, until that's in your backyard, you don't know what this feels like. And I, you know, you just don't know.

LEMON: What about your neighbors? Have you a chance to speak to them?

HAMMOND: I did to my backyard neighbor. He has two young children -- or three young children between the ages of about 6 and 10. And I didn't see them all day and I was just panicking. And then I saw them in the backyard. I said, are your babies OK? He said, they're OK. You know, they're OK. So, thank God. He said this is evil. This is just pure evil. Then he was in the backyard playing with his little boy. I was so grateful. So grateful.

LEMON: Did you know anyone involved?


HAMMOND: And, you know, it's -- not personally, no. No. Not that I know of yet, not that I know of yet. So, this is still, you know, still evolving. You know, it's still, you know, it's still -- some people still haven't been notified, so.

LEMON: Kim, talk to me about this community. I understand it is a tight-knit community. You describe it as a tight-knit community. Did you -- no one ever expects anything like this to happen really anywhere, but especially there.

HAMMOND: Anywhere.


HAMMOND: Yes. You wouldn't think here, you know. Robb Elementary? You know, this is --


LEMON: Like I said, no who would -- no one thinks this is going to happen anywhere no matter where you live, right?

HAMMOND: Yes. Yes. That's the scariest thing about it, is it can -- if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. They have an awesome law enforcement presence here in Uvalde. The people are super friendly. It's very tight-knit. I'm not -- I'm not originally from Uvalde. I just moved here in September and I have felt like this has been my home forever. That's just how welcoming of a community this is.

And so, they will rally around. I think everybody will just rally around each other, but they definitely will support the families that were affected by this, of every student in that school. Their families were affected by this. The teachers' families are affected by this. So, this is going to be months and months, if not years, of healing.

LEMON: Yes. If you get over --


HAMMOND: Not that they'll --

LEMON: If you get over -- if you get over --


HAMMOND: Yes, I don't think --

LEMON: -- anything like that. I have spoken to --

HAMMOND: They will never get over -- they won't never get over it.


HAMMOND: So, this community will never -- this community is changed forever today.

LEMON: Yes. I think it changes all of us. I remember being in Sandy Hook and, Kim, the -- watching the hearse and the families with the little tiny coffins in the back from the kids, right, the young parents with their kids and it was just heartbreaking.

All I could think was someday my company is going to call and say, OK, Don, you can leave now and come back to New York. But those folks can never leave. That's their community. This is your community. People don't leave there. This is going to be with them forever.

HAMMOND: Yes. That's for sure, for sure. That's -- it's a lot to swallow.

LEMON: You are going to stay?

HAMMOND: Yes. Yes, I'll stay and do everything I can to help. Any way I can help. They say they have everything they need right now. But there is a blood drive tomorrow, so I will go participate in that. And just do whatever I can, might even just hug a neighbor that I have never introduced myself to before. LEMON: Yes. Listen, we have been talking about Sandy Hook. And

earlier you told my producers that after Sandy Hook after the massacre there that you vowed never to own a high-powered rifle.

HAMMOND: Yes, I did.


HAMMOND: I am an army veteran. I packed around an M16 during Desert Storm. And I had a reason to pack that weapon around. I don't have any desire for myself any more to have anything to do with those now that I'm in the civilian world.

I just really adamantly disagree with the sale of these to anybody but law enforcement or military or, you know, anybody in law enforcement. Somebody that, you know, in the line of duty, in your job you need that to protect yourself and the public, absolutely.

What do we need to go hunting with an AR-15 for? You know, we just don't -- it's a .22 caliber weapon. You know, you would have to shoot something three times. And then it's basically going to bleed out. It's not -- you know, it's my right to have a -- it's my right.

Well, yes, sure, it's your right. But unfortunately, your right is putting these guns in the wrong hands. That's my opinion, my opinion only. I will take a lot of flak for that. I really don't care at this point. Our rights are just getting -- it's just -- honestly, Don, it's stupid. It's stupid. I believe in the second amendment. I absolutely do. People are going to say how can you believe in the second amendment and not believe -- well, I don't believe in assault rifles. They are not assault rifles.

Well, the only reason they are manufactured is to be able to squeeze out as many bullets as you can squeeze out of that trigger. So, if you are shooting at targets, that's great. But when you are shooting at little kids, it really ticks me off.


LEMON: Kim, listen, this is unusual and unique moment and I don't know if I have asked you all the right questions. But is there anything else you want to say now that you have this platform and you can speak to folks? What do you want people to know? Is there anything else?

HAMMOND: Just one thing. If you have a friend, a family member that you know is struggling with mental health issues and you know that they have access to high-powered rifles or even a .22 pistol, you know, think about it. Think about these moms and dads that are going home tonight without their baby.

And then maybe make that call if you see that -- that possibility. If you just see that possibility, let somebody know. That's -- I think that's the only way this is ever going to change.

LEMON: Kim, thank you. HAMMOND: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: I wish you were here. I would hug you. That's actually -- that was actually the right thing to say. You may hug a neighbor tomorrow that you've never even met. And I suggest --


LEMON: -- we all do that.

HAMMOND: Absolutely.

LEMON: To get to know our neighbors, right? Thank you, Kim.

HAMMOND: Absolutely.

LEMON: Take care of yourself.

HAMMOND: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: All right. Take care.

HAMMOND: You, too.

LEMON: So, let bring in now CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez, CNN law enforcement analyst and a former Philadelphia police commissioner, Charles Ramsey. Good evening to both of you.

Again, you know, here we are. So, Charles -- or Evan, I'm going to start with you with the reporting on this. What do we know tonight about what investigators are doing at this hour? What resources are being brought in here?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, you know, look, none of these things ever make any sense. But one of the things -- one of the things that's really striking at this hour, you know, we've covered so many of these. And usually by this time we've begun to sort of understand perhaps some kind of motivation. We have begun to sort of piece together something.

And one of the things that's remarkable about this one is that we are not yet hearing that. Law enforcement is -- that's really what they are working on right now, is to try to figure out why the school, why now, what set him off, why did he shoot the grandmother, attack the grandmother in her home. All of those things are still very much at the top of the list of law enforcement.

So, this is going to be some time before they can sort of answer those questions. Again, just from what we know about the gunman, he is 18 years old. So, he only recently would have been able to buy these firearms.

If you bought these firearms legally, which is what all indications are, is that he bought these legally. So, you know, how long has he been thinking about this? All of those questions are here still top of mind and we don't have many answers yet. So, you asked Sergeant Estrada about the grandmother. Obviously, one

of the things that they are hoping for is to be able to talk to her so they can at least get some answers about what happened, what preceded this in the last, say, in the last day, in the last few hours before this rampage began.

One of the things that is still striking is that they still don't know whether he intended to go to school. This is something that just happened after he crashes the car? A lot of those things are still what they are working on at this hour.

LEMON: So many unanswered questions. Charles Ramsey, I appreciate you joining us. I've been watching your coverage all day. I have been, just admire the way you have just been human tonight, right? And telling us like it is.

Let's talk about the suspect. You can tell me whatever you want to say but I want to ask about the suspect and how investigators are going to piece together the motive for this. They can't speak to the grandmother. They can't speak to him, obviously, the grandmother at this moment. So, how are they going to figure this out?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, social media will tell them a lot. I mean, I'm sure they are executing search warrants now at his home, his car, you know, probably interviewing friends. So, they will be able to start piecing together something around him.

I would be surprised if there wasn't a lot on social media that would be an indication as to not only his state of mind, but why he chose to do what he did. So, I'm sure they are going through that right now as part of the investigation.

But, again, you know, we keep having these conversations. It is not going to change. And our elected officials aren't going to do anything to hang it. The needle didn't move after Sandy Hook. It's not going to move after this. I hate to be that way, but it's the reality of the way I see it because it's just, you know, the hypocrisy of the whole thing.


You've got -- you're in Texas. How long ago, a couple weeks ago, that the very governor that was making statement earlier today was kind of beating his chest because he passed legislation or signed legislation supposedly to protect the unborn. Well, what about the kids that are born? What about the kids that are here now? What kind of legislation are you going to pass to protect them?

I mean, this makes absolutely no sense at all. And it's not going to change until people get -- have enough courage to say enough is enough and start putting people in office that will at least do things to protect them. That doesn't mean get rid of all guns. It doesn't mean ban this or ban that. It doesn't have to be extreme. But you have to look at this and come up with some kind of a reasonable efforts to keep the guns out of the hands ever people who should not have them. And there is no reason for an 18-year-old to be able to go out and buy

an assault weapon. My understanding is you can't drink in Texas until you are 21. If you can't drink until you're 21, why should you be able to buy an assault weapon? It makes no sense.

LEMON: Charles Ramsey, Evan Perez, thank you both. I appreciate it.

Nineteen children dead, 19 families who will never hold their children again, who will never feel safe again, and a community is in anguish.


HAL HARRELL, SUPERINTENDENT, UVALDE CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: My heart was broken today. We're a small community and we will need your prayers to get us through this. Thank you.



LEMON: So, we are back now reporting on another horrifying night in this country. Nineteen children, two adults gunned down in a small town in a Texas elementary school. Those numbers just updated by the public safety officer there, the Texas Department of Public Safety officer, Sergeant Erick Estrada, updating. It was 18 students and one adult. Now it's 19 students and two adults.


Earlier tonight, President Biden pleading with Congress to do something to stop these massacres.


BIDEN: 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 assault weapons for except to kill someone? They aren't running through the forest with Kevlar vests on, for God's sake. It's just sick.


LEMON: I want to bring in now Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas. She represents a district near Uvalde where the shooting took place. Congresswoman, I appreciate you joining us this evening. Thanks so much.

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): Hi, Don. Thank you for having me on.

LEMON: Absolutely. Now we are hearing it's 19 children, two adults, murdered in this elementary school. How do you make sense of this, Congresswoman, this horror?

ESCOBAR: Well, first, Don, I want to say that my heart goes out to all of the families and the entire community of Uvalde, El Paso is with you. We are sending you our love, our prayers. If there is anything we can do, we will do it.

I'd like to also call on our state legislature. There will need to be some significant resources, mental health resources sent to this grieving community because the magnitude of the trauma that those babies witnessed in their school, that those teachers and that staff witnessed, the survivors, the victims' families, there will need to be a lot of care that will be provided to the community of Uvalde.

And I think, you know, how you make sense of it, we shouldn't try to make sense of it. We shouldn't try to become numb to it. We shouldn't say it's just part of being in America and we need to look at why this is happening, Don.

And I will tell you, I take issue with folks who say legislators aren't doing anything or Congress isn't doing anything. We need to be precise in our language, because the only way that we are going to solve this is to understand where the obstruction to solutions are.

And there is one party in America that is so tied to the NRA, so addicted to their money and their endorsements that they are willing to let babies die. And that is the Republican Party. In the House of Representatives, House Democrats, who hold a slim majority, we have passed some pretty common sense gun violence prevention legislation.

Every Republican has stood in the way of -- on the Senate side of advancing that legislation. We in our state legislature, we saw Republicans who care more about opening up more avenues to guns than they do in helping ensure that we do some engage in some common-sense conversations.

Just as we regulate the roadway, just as we regulate how old you are when you can take your first legal drink at a bar, just like we regulate vehicles and cigarettes and other things, it should not be outside the realm of possibility to regulate guns so that parents don't live in fear that their babies will get slaughtered at a school. So, we've got a lot of work to do in making sure that Americans understand where the obstruction lies, and we need to be precise and honest in our language.

LEMON: Congresswoman, thank you for joining us. Congresswoman Escobar, we appreciate it.

ESCOBAR: Thank you.

LEMON: So, make sure you stay with us. Nineteen children dead, two adults dead, all killed in a shooting at a small town, Texas elementary school. We're going to have more right after this.



LEMON: So, we are back now with our breaking news tonight. The death toll has gone up in that elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen children, two adults shot to death in the middle of the school day. I want to bring in now the former New York City Police Commissioner,

Bill Bratton. Commissioner, thank you for joining us this evening.


LEMON: Can we have some straight talk about this? I mean, do we have to live like this, schools, grocery stores, churches, subways, movie theaters, anywhere can be a site, become a site of a massacre. Is this our fate as a country?

BRATTON: Unfortunately, that's the reality of our times. And the danger, the risk, the carnage is growing exponentially. Crime is increasing. The number of these mass shootings is increasing dramatically. Based on FBI reports, that's the reality that we are living in. And today is just the latest example and it won't be the last example, unfortunately.

LEMON: So, what's the answer?

BRATTON: Nobody has that answer at the moment, Don. That's what's so frustrating. I really have smoke coming out my ears. I have gotten angrier and angrier during the course of the day since first hearing of this event earlier today.

That wonderful guest that you had on earlier, the woman who lives next door to the school, you should repeat that interview. It was phenomenal to listen to her. How smart, the wisdom of that woman talking about this issue.


But going forward, we need to try to find things that do work, that can minimize this. And you had a guest on earlier in the Anderson Cooper show talking about, and this was the father of one of the victims, one of the earlier massacres, that in Florida the red flag law that they passed down there, evidently there have been 5,000 uses of that law in just recent years.

That's 5,000 times that that law has been used to prevent something like we just witnessed today. Good news is, there seems to be by and large bipartisan support for red flag laws around the country. We don't have too much bipartisan support for anything in this country anymore.

So, let's focus on things that apparently are working and see if we can expand that. Guns are here to stay. There is 500 made in this country, we are making a million or two million every month. We have 13 million assault weapons. An assault weapons ban isn't going to help us.

Now the reality is we need to find where can we collaborate, where we can work together on background screening is one area that we might be able to get some bipartisan support. Red flag laws, apparently, an issue that can be exponentially grown. So, while we all are dismayed by the rapidly increasing rate of crime

and disorder and fear in this country, in the midst of that darkness, in the midst of that horror let's try to focus on things that are showing themselves capable of preventing a lot of these incidents from happening.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, we should focus on the laws, the guns, and also the mental health, right? There are a couple of different aspects that we can focus on.

Let's talk about some of the reporting that we are getting on the shooter, Commissioner. From what we understand, he is 18 years old. Shot his grandmother and then proceeded to unleash this carnage. We are also getting some new reporting in, Commissioner, that says that he -- this is from a former classmate that said the school shooter, that he would get severely bullied, made -- he was made fun of a lot.

Didn't want to identify this person who was close to him by name, but he said he was taunted by others for his clothes that he wore and for his family's financial situation and so on. So, there may have been possibly some red flags here. I'm not sure. But what do you make of this, this latest reporting we have on the gunman and the fact that he shot his grandmother first before doing this?

BRATTON: Well, Don, as you know, the way these things work, we are in for days if not weeks of the evolution of this incident. In terms of what were his motivations, were there signals that were missed in the sense of people being aware that he may have been becoming very problematic, social media, his interaction with friends, is evidenced just by the comment that you just made, a schoolmate reporting on being aware that this young person may have been bullied. Might that have been the motive.

Part of this comes down to the expression we use in -- so successful in dealing with terrorism. If you see something, say something. And that basically is what starts the whole red flag process. Somebody sees something, whether it's a relative, friend, a neighbor, and says something and says something to the appropriate authorities who can look into it.

We have no capacity in this country to monitor the rapidly exploding world of social media. We have to be informed as to where to focus our limited resources. The NYPD, I had the largest police department in the country, and we could not keep track of even all of the various tips that were coming into us. We had to prioritize and focus on those that we thought would be the most significant to follow up on.

So, trying to in a larger sense of not just terrorism, but the potential of people to do violence, the FBI, NYPD, all of the law enforcement agencies in this country, it's like basically taking a cupful of sand off the beach. You have no ability to monitor it all. We need the help of, when I say we, I mean law enforcement, the help of the public to effectively be our eyes and ears and to point us in the right direction.

LEMON: Commissioner, I appreciate your wisdom, and always, for taking the time to speak with us. Thank you so much.

BRATTON: OK. Good to be with you.

LEMON: The first lady of the United States, Jill Biden, tweeting tonight, Lord, enough, little children and their teacher stunned, angry, heartbroken, more on the deadly school shooting in Texas, next.



LEMON: A community left heartbroken after a terrible shooting, 19 children, two adults dead in Uvalde, Texas.

I want to bring in now Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, he presents Uvalde in the state legislature. As a matter of fact, he is there tonight. Senator, thank you.

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Thank you, Don. How are you? I'm having a bit of an issue with Wi-Fi in the location where I'm at. So, I may be losing you. I can talk for a few minutes, I imagine.

LEMON: OK. We have you loud and clear, we can see you and we can hear you. So, what do you -- so we understand that you have driven there, you are now on the ground. What are you hearing from members of the community, how are they responding tonight?

GUTIERREZ: Don, I apologize for moving. I am being escorted from a particular property right now because their policies are that we cannot use Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, what's happening right now in the community is just devastating.

As you can imagine, we have people that have, that still have not had their children identified. Right now, they are still doing a DNA match. I am across the street from the civic center, where those DNA matches are occurring. We are currently in a situation where just this community is, it is just distraught. It is just distraught.


LEMON: So, explain to us, talk to us about the DNA match. Are they taking DNA from parents, from relatives? What's going on?