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The Situation Room
Widening Manhunt For Suspect In Deadly Atlanta Mass Shooting; Russia Claims Ukraine Tried To Assassinate Putin, Ukraine Denies It; Sources Say, Special Counsel Sat In On Pence's Grand Jury Testimony; Police: One Dead, Four Hurt In Atlanta Shooting, Suspect At Large; Serbia Reeling From Rare Mass Shooting Leaving Nine Dead; Source: Tucker Carlson Sent Racist Text Hours After January 6 Riot. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 03, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, police say an armed and dangerous suspect is on the loose in Atlanta after a deadly mass shooting at a medical building. We're following the widening manhunt and getting new details on the victims and the suspect's getaway.
The other major story we're following, Ukraine is vehemently denying Russia's claim that it was behind an attempted drone strike on the Kremlin, allegedly targeting Vladimir Putin for assassination. CNN is analyzing the video as theories emerge about who may or may not to blame.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
All right, let's get right to the news out of Atlanta right now, a suspected gunman on the loose tonight and considered armed and very dangerously by police.
CNN's Ryan Young has been on the scene for us all day. Ryan, give us the very latest.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. We've been talking to our sources throughout the afternoon here in Atlanta to figure out exactly what happened, but the focus is on the building behind us right here. This is the medical building where the man came with his mother to get some help and medical attention. It's up there on the 11th floor where the shooting happened. And, of course, people here in the midtown area have been shocked by this, that shooting happening in the waiting room. Now, I have learned just in the last ten minutes or so that the family was upset because they believe the man was having a terrible time getting help from the V.A. He used to be a Coast Guard member. He served apparently for four years, and at some point, went to the V.A. for some help. When he went to the V.A., they gave him apparently a medication that he did not like and was coming here to get some new medication and maybe get some help from the doctors here. And at some point, he became agitated and that's when the shooting started. The Atlanta police chief gave us an update on this situation about an hour ago. Let's take a listen.
CHIEF DARIN SCHIERBAUM, ATLANTA POLICE: 12:08 this afternoon, we were called just down the street to 1110 West Peachtree Street. This is a medical facility, the Northside Hospital. It was at that location. The shooting did occur inside the waiting room of that medical facility where five individuals were shot. Unfortunately, a 39-year-old female has lost her life and of those injured is a 71-year-old female, a 56- year-old female, a 39-year-old female and then a 25-year-old female.
We do know that Patterson, Mr. Patterson, our suspect, left the building. We believe he carjacked a vehicle a short distance away and was able to flee the scene as the law enforcement agencies were descending on this area. And we believe he has left the area.
The family has been cooperating with us and so are other witnesses as well at the scene.
Cameras across the city have been instrumental in us tracking this individual. He's very aware of that as we get information that's called in by citizens, we are able to use the camera network to quickly go to that location even before officers arrive. So, it's helpful and we ask citizens to continue to do that.
YOUNG: Yes, Wolf. You know, that initial image that was put out with the man in a gray hoodie with the canvas bag over his shoulder, they were concerned about all the parking garages in this midtown area, a very business central area. There're hotels up and down the street here. That location is where they were worried, right there, at that parking garage. We actually talked to a man who was briefly detained because they thought he was the shooter.
The reason why I bring him up is he actually shot some of the video we're about to show you. This is video from inside the hospital at the facility just after the shooting. He shot this video as an Atlanta Police officer, was telling the shots, people on the inside what was going on and why they were going to have to shelter in place.
That shelter in place happened for several hours in this downtown midtown area. In fact, they just really opened the roadway back up here for traffic to flow through. All this going on and while they shut the perimeter down, there was a carjacking. That car has been located in Cobb County. And, Wolf, I can also tell you, I just learned from my sources, they found that canvas bag on the inside of the car. At some point, they're going to process that.
Now, they're starting to put up a perimeter near Braves Stadium and Truist Park out in Cobb County, but they don't believe, and they're getting several 911 calls from that area, just about what's going on out there.
So, look, this is still ongoing, it's a manhunt and they believe this man continues to be armed and dangerous. Wolf?
BLITZER: Very dangerous, indeed. Ryan Young on the scene for us in Atlanta, thank you.
Right now, I want to bring in our security and law enforcement experts for more analysis right now. Let me start with Chief Rodney Bryant, the former police chief of Atlanta. You know this city obviously, Chief.
You know this police department. Help us better understand this new focus right now that's going on, on Truist Park.
RODNEY BRYANT, FORMER ATLANTA POLICE CHIEF: Well, thank you, Wolf, for having me. And, absolutely, I was the previous chief of the city of Atlanta Police Department, in which I really grew up in. And so Truist Park is where many of us know the Atlanta Braves, that's their home stadium, right next door to the Atlanta Police Department and the city of Atlanta. This is Cobb County. We work with them on a regular basis. It's a very active space, very commercialized as well, as some residential. And so it's taking Cobb County and resources they have available and with the assistance of many of their law enforcement agencies here to converge on that area and do a deep dive to see if they can flush this individual out.
BLITZER: Yes. It's really critically important.
Chief Bryant, take us inside the manhunt right now. How are state, county and local police, as well as the FBI, universities there in Atlanta and the public all working together?
BRYANT: Well, absolutely. So, in the city of Atlanta, we really work very well with each other, train for situations just like this. We recognize that we sometimes may have to cross over jurisdictions. And so that level of training is expounded upon many different agencies. You bring in the different leadership so they can discuss strategies and policies as well as afford the resources available for the operational piece as this is being played out.
Additionally, you have to recognize that when you have a situation such as this, you'll have an investigative piece and an operational piece. And so it's much more different than a situation that's generally stagnant. And so you have so many moving parts. This thing is playing out in real-time and you need all the resources available to you to ensure that the community remains safe.
BLITZER: Yes. And John Miller is with us as well, formerly of the NYPD. John, you just heard the current police chief in Atlanta, his update. What stands out to you from the new details he laid out?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what's interesting is we have somebody who thought ahead enough, allegedly, to go to a medical appointment carrying a gun concealed on him into a medical facility and who became agitated enough to open fire on innocent people there but didn't seem to have an escape plan behind that, thus the attempt to break into one car, a possible attempt that failed to hijack another car and then a successful attempt, apparently, to carjack a vehicle that took him to Cobb County, where this has now shifted. So, it's indicative, Wolf, of somebody who was brought in for an evaluation whose mom has said he was having trouble with the medication and who was in a very agitated state and on the run.
Now, we've seen criminals who have been the subject of manhunts a number of times this week, but this is someone who is from the military, has firearms training, has some law enforcement training and who's in a very bad way.
BLITZER: Andrew McCabe is with us as well, the former deputy director of the FBI. Andrew, the suspect's mother, the Coast Guard and a bunch of witnesses are all supporting, cooperating in this manhunt, clearly. What sort of information could the Coast Guard specifically provide to police about this suspect?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, the Coast Guard could provide information on the suspect's background, his history, any tactical training he may have had, any weapons familiarization he may have had, and then also more broadly their observances of his time in service, whether he was known to be someone who is prone to kind of agitated episodes like this or challenged with some personality or mental difficulties. So, it's all part of investigators' efforts to build a background around this suspect.
This is not somebody that people have been focused on. The Atlanta Police indicated they had had minimal interactions with him in the past. So, they're really starting from ground zero. They want to know everything about this guy, what he's about, where he's from, what sort of things motivate him, what sort of things may be troubling him and what he's capable of.
And then, of course, those relatives and friends are going to be able to point out people who this person might reach out to in an effort to seek shelter, additional transportation or support of any kind.
Those are the kind of leads that enable you to direct the significant police resources we see out there on the ground.
BLITZER: And, Chief Ramsey, you're the former police chief here in Washington, D.C. as well as Philadelphia. How do police, in general, approach a suspect like this who has both military and law enforcement training from the U.S. Coast Guard?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, if they're able to locate him and just not stumble upon him and certainly you have a SWAT, you have other specially trained individuals. You try to establish a line of communication with your negotiators. If you're able to do that, odds are you can successfully resolve it. But, again, there will be a lot of things going on, but what they'll try to do, if they're able to contain him, they know where he is or they're going to make a breach of a location, that will be a SWAT Team specially trained in situations like this.
Obviously, they have to be very careful. He does have military training. But whether he had military training or not, these are very dangerous situations and highly specialized units are used in these situations. In Atlanta, certainly Cobb County, you have state police, you have FBI, you have all the right people there to be able to respond to a location if he is found.
BLITZER: And Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey is with us as well, former sergeant in the Los Angeles Police Department, retired. Sergeant Dorsey, Cobb County Police in Georgia say they are still searching. The suspect is still considered armed and dangerous. What's the general risk right now to the area?
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Well, this is going to be a case where the community is certainly going to have to get involved and stay engaged this individual may very well try to carjack someone else and as the evening progresses and night becomes an issue. Criminality may be something that he's looking to engage in further.
And so I think everybody who's out there should keep their eyes and ears to the ground, err on the side of caution. If you see something, say something. Keep your doors locked if you're driving around. Keep your car doors locked so that you don't become a victim.
BLITZER: Good advice, indeed. Everyone, thank you very much, stand by.
Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, I'll get an update on the shooting survivors from the chief medical officer at the hospital treating the victims. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Back to our top story right now, the manhunt underway in Atlanta for a gunman suspected of shooting five people, killing at least one.
I want to bring in our chief medical -- the chief medical officer from the hospital treating the victims, Dr. Robert Jansen of Grady Health System. We're also joined by our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who is the associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady as well.
Dr. Jansen, your hospital is treating for shooting victims right now. I take it they're all women. Can you update us on their condition? DR. ROBERT JANSEN, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, GRADY HEALTH SYSTEM: So, thank you for having me on. We have four patients brought by our EMS service. They arrived from around 12:30 to 1:00. All four came within 20 minutes. Three of those had procedures done, two in the operating room, and one had another interventional procedure. Those three are now in the ICUs or critical care units. The other patient who was brought in remains stable and is in the trauma center.
BLITZER: Sanjay, what more are you learning about the types of gunshot wounds these victims received where they were shot specifically?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, we are getting more details about that. There was a patient who was shot in the abdomen. I think that's the patient Dr. Jansen talked about earlier, who is probably the most severely wounded. Another person shot in the arm also requiring an operation. And then another patient was shot in the face, Wolf, and this is the patient who developed significant bleeding. And some of the blood vessels around the face required a procedure that's called an interventional radiology procedure, just putting little catheters into the blood vessels to try and stop that bleeding.
So, as Dr. Jansen said, all critically injured, but that basically means that they require medications to maintain their blood pressure and they're going to obviously be in the intensive care unit. I can also tell you, just as a trauma surgeon myself, it's a long road still. These are the initial procedures to stop bleeding to save lives, but oftentimes, these patients will need many follow up procedures as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: Dr. Jansen, I know your hospital prepares for this of mass shooting. How did this unfold today and what goes into providing the kind of care that these victims really need?
JANSEN: So, as soon as we heard that there was an event that included multiple casualties, we activated our co-triage system, which is to prepare for mass casualties. By the time the victims arrived, we had all staff in the trauma center waiting for them. They all had rooms already designated for them to go to. We had physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and all personnel in the rooms waiting for them when they arrived. We also had operating rooms open, waiting of them if they needed surgery.
And so when these types of events happen and, unfortunately, we have to be prepared and we were, everything that we have done in the past has prepared us for this type of event. And I could not be more proud of the way everyone performed. It was truly a work of art as they prepared for and then took care of these unfortunate victims.
BLITZER: We are all so grateful to the Grady hospital and your entire team, Dr. Jansen, for all you are and saving lives. Thank you very much, Dr. Jansen, Dr. Sanjay Gupta as well.
Coming up, Russia's claims about a brazen drone strike on the Kremlin and its attempt to pin the blame on Ukraine.
BLITZER: Tonight, a new flashpoint in Russia's war against Ukraine, Moscow accusing Ukraine of trying to assassinate President Putin with drone strikes on the Kremlin. The Kyiv government denying any involvement and suggesting Russians may actually be the blame for that.
Here's CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Is this the moment Russia's war in Ukraine finally struck home?
Two drone attacks on the Kremlin minutes apart, leaving smoke billowing from the historic buildings and an extraordinary scene of vulnerability at the heart of the Russian state. It was hours before Kremlin-controlled T.V. announced the news in the form of an official statement blaming Ukraine.
Last night, the Kyiv regime attempted a drone strike against the residence of the president of the Russian Federation, the statement reads. We view these actions as a planned terrorist attack and an assassination attempt, adding Russia reserves the right to take countermeasures wherever and whenever it deems appropriate.
Amid calls in Russia for an overwhelming military response, Ukraine's president visiting Finland is distancing his country from the incident.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We don't attack Putin or Moscow. We fight on our own territory. We're defending our villages and cities. We don't have, you know, enough weapon for these.
CHANCE: It's more likely a false flag operation, where local resistance forces in Russia say Ukrainian officials that are responsible for this.
In recent weeks, even they have seen an upsurge in unexplained attacks inside Russian territory, like this train derailment in the Bryansk region near the Ukrainian border, or this key oil storage facility in Southern Russia, near annexed Crimea, set ablaze also using a drone causing significant disruption.
One former Russian lawmaker now in exile and linked with groups carrying out operations in Russia tells CNN the Kremlin attack is the work of what he calls Russian partisans.
ILYA PONOMAREV, FORMER RUSSIAN LAWMAKER: Some of them are focused on railroad sabotage, some of them doing arsons of military recruitment posts, some of them doing attacks on activists, pro-war activists, some of them doing hacking attacks. CHANCE: Are any of these partisans supported by the Ukrainian Special Services, for instance? Because Ukraine says it's got nothing to do with this attack. Do you believe that claim?
PONOMAREV: Well, look, Ukraine indeed has nothing to do with this because it's all organized by Russians.
CHANCE: But whoever is responsible is a threat. At the moment, preparations are continuing for the annual May the 9th victory day parade in Red Square, near where the drone struck. But the weakness and insecurity of the Kremlin has now been exposed for all to see.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, Wolf, as well as publicly denying any involvement with this drone incident, Ukrainian official tell us tonight that they're also privately reiterating to officials in the United States and other allies as well.
Meanwhile, in Russia, there are calls for vengeance in the media and amongst senior Russian officials after what many there view as a humiliating strike at the heart of the Russian capital. Wolf?
BLITZER: Matthew Chance reporting for us, thank you, Matthew.
Let's bring in our experts on national security, the military, and Russia. And, retired General Spider Marks, let's talk about the possibilities of who is behind this. What's your analysis?
GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: First of all, we have to agree that something like this occurred, that this wasn't staged. I would suggest that it's probably some independent organization, as described in the previous report, could be partisans. Clearly, there is an element within Russia that does not agree with what Putin is trying to achieve and has been a part of this journey over the course of the last 18 months where it's gone sideways multiple times.
So, you could see that the element of control is starting to be -- you know, those controls are starting to be released somewhat by internal organizations, and this may be exactly what we're seeing. I tend to believe that it was not the Ukrainians because they would not have been able to transit the excess of 300 miles from the border of Ukraine and hover over the Kremlin, that would speak horribly toward the Russian air defense. I don't know that it's that bad.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. Beth Sanner, what do you see as a possible explanation and how do you assess the Russian claim that this was actually a Ukrainian assassination attempt against Putin?
BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I agree with Spider that it probably -- there are a lot of reasons why it wouldn't be Russia just because it exposed so many weaknesses. On the other hand, you might see this as how Russia might see this as a necessary part of rallying people around the flag. That said, I'm not sure I agree that the Ukrainians don't have the ability to do this. [18:30:01]
They have long-range drones. There have been drones within tens of miles off of the Kremlin.
I would say, though, the whole idea of the assassination, that's really poppycock. I can't imagine that that is at all in the realm of possibility. It's not like a drone carries a bunker buster. So, that's kind of silly and if anything, it is just a way of Moscow spinning this story to make it look less bad and less embarrassing and give them an excuse to, you know, conduct more attacks.
BLITZER: Jill Dougherty, you're an expert on Russia. How do you think this might play into Putin's mindset, what happened today?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: Well, I think he will be infuriated, number one, because I do agree it's highly embarrassing. I mean, even if you thought that it was a false flag giving Russia cover to attack Ukraine, they don't really need that anymore. So, I think for the Russian public, this is very worrying and embarrassing that even right in the heart of Moscow, they're not protected, even, in a way, Putin wasn't, because the Kremlin is the most highly protected official place probably in the world.
So -- and the other thing I think that's the very worrying about this, there is a possibility that there could be these partisan groups. And if they are, and this is still a theory, it could be an excuse by the Kremlin to have a purge. I mean, in Russian history, there have been events, like in an assassination of Kira, who was the head of Leningrad Party back in the '30s. Stalin launched the great purge. So, you never know how that might be an excuse for launching an internal operation against their own people.
BLITZER: Interesting, indeed. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, the U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel investigating Donald Trump personally sitting in on former Vice President Mike Pence's testimony before a federal grand jury. Stand by for our exclusive reporting and what it suggests about the criminal probe.
BLITZER: Now to an exclusive report on the federal criminal investigation of Donald Trump, sources telling CNN that Special Counsel Jack Smith personally attended former Vice President Mike Pence's grand jury testimony.
Our Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz is working her sources for us. Katelyn, is that unusual to see from a special counsel?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It is, Wolf. There have been special counsels. There have been Jack Smith bring in many, many witnesses, but it is very rare to hear about something like this, the Special Counsel Jack Smith himself going to the courthouse and observing some of that testimony before the grand jury of the former vice president, Mike Pence.
This happened last Thursday. Pence spoke for several hours to the grand jury who was being questioned about January 6th, the aftermath of the 2020 election, his direct conversations with Donald Trump. And Jack Smith has many prosecutors who would have been in the room for that as well, but having Smith himself there, Wolf, it just so much underlines how significant this was to secure the former vice president's testimony, something that has never happened in a grand jury proceeding before, where there's a vice president testifying potentially for a case against the former president himself, Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Yes, it was truly a historic moment, indeed. Katelyn Polantz, stay with us. I also want to bring in Defense Attorney Shan Wu.
Shan what does it suggest to you that the federal special counsel, Jack Smith, actually sat in during the grand jury testimony?
SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Wolf, besides the historic nature, as Katelyn just pointed out, I think his presence there is out of deference to that possibility. From a prosecutorial and defense council, it signals this is a leader of an investigation who is very active, very operational, as Katelyn was saying, very rare for a leader of such an operation, a special counsel to be personally sitting there in the grand jury room during that testimony.
And I think it signals that it's a very vigorous style of leadership. I mean, it's a little bit of a contrast to the approach we saw in the Mueller investigation where from what we understand and what I personally saw Mueller himself did not participate in most of the interviews, leading through his staff. Mueller, of course, coming from being the head for many years of the FBI, a very large institution, different place in his career than Smith, who was very much coming to this from being operational prosecutor. So, I think we're seeing a contrast in those styles.
BLITZER: Yes, indeed. Katelyn, Pence is clearly a central witness in this criminal investigation with Trump. But have we seen new testimony after him.
POLANTZ: We have, Wolf. So, there has been quite a bit of difficulty for the Justice Department to get Pence in before the grand jury. It took quite a bit of time. We know that he came after many, many other sought after witnesses, following a court order, getting him there. But even in the last couple of days, we saw others testifying in this same January 6th probe being conducted by Jack Smith.
Just yesterday at the federal courthouse, Dan Scavino and his attorneys were there. Dan Scavino, of course. was the deputy chief of staff in the Trump White House at the end, managing social media. And I do understand he was being asked about that, about January 6th, because he was being compelled by a court to go testify there. [18:40:04]
So, Scavino comes in, and also I've heard from many sources that in the coming weeks, days even, there are other witnesses scheduled related to this January 6th investigation being conducted by Smith. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. And, Shan, do you think the Special Counsel Jack Smith will continue his more hands-on role in other key testimony going forward?
WU: He may. I think it probably depends on the individual witness whether he would be there or not. But I think his mere presence signals he has a very hands-on role in directing the operation. Note of caution, not always good to have the top person be too hands-on, and you might compare Special Counsel Durham's sort of flailing efforts of leading the investigation, but there are very different kinds of prosecutors, and Smith's reputation precedes him. I think this really signals that he has a very steady and active hand on the controls of this investigation.
BLITZER: Shan, does it give you any indication about how the special counsel is progressing in this investigation of Trump?
WU: I don't think his presence signals that, Wolf, but the pace at which we're seeing these witnesses go in now, it's almost like the spigot has been turned on at this point. So, I think it tells us a lot about the speed.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. Shan Wu, Katelyn Polantz, guys, thank you very much.
Coming up, we'll have more on the mass shooting in Atlanta as police hunt for the suspect. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Let's get back to Atlanta right now, the desperate search for a gunman suspected of shooting multiple people, one fatally.
I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia.
Congresswoman, thank you so much for joining us.
First of all, what information are you getting from a police and local officials where you are down in Georgia on the search for this gunman in the ongoing risks to the community?
REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): Well, Wolf, what we do understand and know is that the shooter actually stole a car. He left the scene, of course. We still believe that he's armed. He may be within the Cobb County area.
We don't know where he is at this point. But that is -- police are definitely searching for him within the Cobb area, and, you know, a lot of people are on pins and needles. A lot of people are very, very nervous. But I keep thinking over and over again about the families -- you know, the families that have lost a loved one, of course, the other individuals, the four other victims, that are now fighting for their lives in the hospital.
BLITZER: And I know you've felt the pain personally of gun violence, Congresswoman, I know you're 17-year-old son Jordan was actually murdered by a man with a gun back in 2012.
Since then, the U.S. has seen an incredible surge in mass shootings. Why do you think that is?
MCBATH: Simply because of the relaxed gun laws that we have. We have to make sure that we are willing to do what it takes. Over 90 percent of the American public agree that we must enact gun safety regulations, safer gun laws, to keep guns out of the hands of people that are exhibiting signs of crisis, being in crisis, but still have access to guns.
Red flag laws, you know, bipartisan Safer Communities Law, we passed that law last year and it had a lot of my work in it, red flag laws that actually might help to allay a lot of these tragedies that we see again and again and again.
BLITZER: It is so heartbreaking indeed. If you have any faith, Congresswoman, that Georgia lawmakers, or for that matter Congress here in Washington, will act after this latest incident?
MCBATH: Well, Wolf, I have to say, I don't know how much more blood and carnage, you know, my colleagues in Washington, and also in state legislatures all around the country, have to see. What more does it take?
They just have the will in the courage to do the right thing to pass gun safety legislation that saves lives. More than 90 percent of the people in this country are screaming for gun safety regulation that saved lives. What more is it going to take, thoughts and prayers are not. The American public are tired of my colleagues in Congress, state legislatures all around the country saying, oh, our thoughts and prayers are with them.
That is not enough. It's unconscionable that we, in this country, 25 times more likely to die of gunfire than any of the other developed nations in the entire world.
BLITZER: So heartbreaking indeed. Congressman Lucy McBath of Georgia, thank you so much for joining us.
Meanwhile, the nation of Serbia is mourning tonight, after a very rare mass shooting left at least nine people dead at an elementary school there. Right now, the parents of the teenage suspect are under arrest. Police say their son used his father's handguns to carry out the massacre.
CNN's Scott McLean is in Belgrade with details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Handcuffed with a jacket over his head, a teenager is whisked away by police. He is the suspect in a mass shooting that brought Serbia to a standstill. The 13-year-old was accused of using his father's hand guns to kill at least eight children in a school security guard at a renowned elementary school in an upscale part of Belgrade.
Serbia's interior minister says, the boy had the code to the safe where's father locked the weapons. In the immediate aftermath, worried parents rushed to the school anxiously, waiting for news their kids were okay.
The ones who do a merge are shell-shocked or overwhelmed. Some parents recall their children seeing the attack right in front of their eyes.
ASTRID MERLINI, MOTHER OF ATTACK SURVIVOR (through translator): She heard shots before that, those were firecrackers. When she saw the security guard fall, she immediately rushed back to the class, she was scared. She told her teacher, there is a shooting upstairs.
MCLEAN: Police and ambulances quickly rushed to the scene to treat victims. Six students and a teacher were taken to the hospital, some in stable condition, others fighting for their lives.
DR. SINISA DUCIC, CARETAKER DIRECTOR, CHILDREN HOSPITAL TIRSOVA IN BELGRADE: It is very difficult surgery because of severe brain injuries. The child is out of operation room, and is endangered. It's an intensive care unit. All station procedures are performed.
MCLEAN: Belgrade police said the teenager waited to be arrested in the school yard, after calling police himself to confess what he'd done.
CHIEF VESELIN MILIC, BELGRADE POLICE (through translator): Upon arriving at school, he immediately pulled the pistol out of his bag and shot DV, the security guard. He then went past the on-duty staff member and sat down at his desk, like he did nothing wrong.
MCLEAN: Despite one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, mass shootings in Serbia are rare. Police said the attack had been carefully plotted for more than a month. While the precise motive is unclear, the education minister and this high school student blame violent video games and media.
LUKA, STUDENT AT NEARBY HIGH SCHOOL (through translator): This popularization of violence and crimes through public media, through art, through everything that can popularize it, and this example of violence is a consequence of that.
MCLEAN: Police have cordoned off the scene, and continue to investigate. And while answers may bring clarity for families, it won't bring back the young lives taken far too soon. (END VIDEOTAPE)
MCLEAN (on camera): So, the suspect's father is a doctor with no criminal record, he has been detained, along with his mother, but so far not charged with anything.
Under Serbian law, the suspect himself at 13 years old is actually too young to be held criminally responsible. So, at the moment, Wolf, he's instead being held in a psychiatric facility.
BLITZER: How accessible, Scott, are guns in Serbia?
MCLEAN: Yeah. So, Wolf, there is an unknown number of illegal gun circulating in the country from the conflict in the 1990s, but legally in this country, it is not that easy to get your hands on a weapon. Fully automatic weapons are generally banned, you can get semiautomatic weapons, but you have to go through a background check, a medical test, you have to do a training course. And perhaps most importantly, you also need to show that you have a good reason to actually own one -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Scott McLean in Belgrade for us, thank you.
This note to our viewers, coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT", right after THE SITUATION ROOM, a one-on-one interview with West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. That's coming up right at the top of the hour, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Tucker Carlson under fire for a racist text message he sent hours after the January 6th insurrection. We are digging into how that very disturbing text played into his abrupt firing from Fox. That's next.
BLITZER: Tonight, Tucker Carlson is under fire for a newly-revealed text message of racist and very disturbing comments he made just hours after the January 6th insurrection.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.
Brian, what more can you tell us?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the racist nature of this text is stunning. We have new information tonight on this discovery, and the continuing fallout for Fox News.
TODD (voice-over): A potential clue of why Fox News fired Tucker Carlson, a startling racist text he sent to a Fox producer in the hours after rioters stormed the Capitol on January 6th.
The text first reported by "The New York Times", and confirmed by CNN. "The Times" reports, Carlson was discussing a video he had watched weeks earlier, of a street brawl in Washington, when a group of Trump supporters, quote, surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living F out of him.
Quote: Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable, obviously. It's not how white men fight.
RASHAD ROBINSON, PRESIDENT, COLOR OF CHANGE: This rhetoric that is meant to dehumanize, to degrade, to make us less than, is very summed up in that statement.
TODD: Carlson, in the text, said he was rooting for the mob to kill the man. Quote, I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I can taste it.
But then, he texts that an alarm went off in his brain. Quote, I shouldn't gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere, somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed.
ROBINSON: The point around him catching himself in the middle of that text, doesn't change anything, the racial dynamics are still very much there.
TODD: CNN has confirmed, the Carlson texts was part of the evidence in Dominion voting systems lawsuit against Fox News, evidence that was redacted in court documents. "The Times" reports, the text, quote, set off a panic at the highest levels of Fox. Was this why Fox fired him?
JIM RUTENBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: This is part of it, look, a lot went to that firing. This was definitely a moment where members of the Fox board and even some senior executives, apparently, started focusing on this at the 11th hour, while they're in settlement talks.
TODD: A settlement for over three quarters of a billion dollars. One media critic questions the authenticity of the so-called panic inside Fox over Carlson's texts.
ERIK WEMPLE, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA CRITIC: Presumably, if you're watching Tucker Carlson at least have some awareness of Tucker Carlson's content, his programming, his broadcasting, for all these years. Why now? You know, is it only because someone sued you?
TODD: Carlson has long drawn criticism for controversial views on race and immigration.
TUCKER CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: This policy is called the great replacement, the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from faraway countries.
TODD: But a former Fox producer suing over a hostile work environment for women at Carlson's show is shocked that Fox would fire him.
ABBY GROSSBERG, FIRED FOX NEWS PRODUCER: I thought he was invincible. I thought his team was invincible. And they believe they were, too, by the way that they behaved.
TODD (on camera): Fox News declined to comment to CNN on the story. We also reached out to Tucker Carlson himself, he did not respond -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd, thanks very much.
And to our viewers, thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.