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Two Confirmed Dead in California School Shootings, Cheney Admitted to Hospital After Chest Discomfort

Aired March 5, 2001 - 4:33 p.m. ET


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Today is the debut of our new program, the "CNN NEWS SITE," where we solicit your participation and involvement in the news as it is happening through the day. But of course, the breaking news events of the day keep our interests at large here. You're also going to be able to contact us on our Web site and participate with your questions and comments there. But we want to bring viewers up to date on the air about what's been happening this afternoon.

Two very big stories in play this afternoon. First would be Vice President Cheney, who voluntarily admitted himself to George Washington University Medical Center today on the advice of his physicians after experiencing what have been described as some mild chest pains.

Of course, Mr. Cheney has been a heart patient in the past. He last had a treatment back in November, and apparently, has been some concerns in recent days. And he admitted himself for what is called a repeat cardiac catheterization. That will be to evaluate the current condition of his cardiac system. CNN's continuing to follow that story. We'll bring you the latest developments on the vice president's health as we get them here.

Now one of the other big stories of the day is occurring in southern California this afternoon, where another school shooting has taken place at a high school, the Santana High School in Santee, California. This is right outside of San Diego.

Already we know that two young people, students at that school, have been killed. At least 13 people have been wounded as well. CNN is following that story with the very latest developments.

We turn now to CNN's Frank Buckley, who is standing by in Santee. Frank, what can you tell us?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joie, we can tell you that we've been told by a bomb squad and SWAT team members that the school has been secured now. It is a crime scene. As you say, two students are dead, 13 additional people have been wounded in the incident that occurred here beginning at approximately 9:22 a.m., local time. That's when the first 911 call went out.

We're told that sheriff's deputies were on scene within three minutes, and soon after that a 15-year-old freshman was taken into custody. Joining me right now with additional detail on what happened is John and Barbara Schardt.

John, you're a student, and you, as I understand it, were taking photographs and video at the time in the school. Tell me what happened.

JOHN SCHARDT, SANTANA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I had just got off the phone with my mother. She was going to bring my lunch to school today. And right after I got off the phone, shots rang out. And my teacher, Mr. Saner (ph), was -- I was away from the window, away from the door. Mr. Saner said, "Hey, someone's shooting out there."

I said, "No, they're not. You're joking. Whatever."

And he says, "No, look. There's someone shot down on the ground."

I said, "Really?" and I ran and got my camera. And I go outside the door, peek outside the door. Started taking photographs. I get out there and I see people scrambling, people trying to get away from the shooter. And I see one kid on the ground who had been shot, kneeling in the fetal position. There was some blood there.

And, you see, I'm -- I'm looking at him and I'm taking pictures. And then, Mr. Saner said, "Hey, come on, it's not worth it. Get back inside. Get back inside." So I get back inside and -- and I -- I continue until my roll runs out of film.

And somewhere between that time and right then, my friend Paul, he grabbed his -- I'm sorry, my friend Jacob -- grabbed his video camera. He's in a multimedia class. He grabbed it and started recording what was going on.

BUCKLEY: Tell me what you saw in the hallway. Did you see the young man who was taken into custody?

SCHARDT: Yes, I did. We have that on video. We have him -- I believe we have him coming out after he went back into the rest room where all the other victims were. And he came out and was smiling and fired a couple more shots in the southward direction, and then went back in. A few minutes later, the sheriff's team show up and take him away.

BUCKLEY: You're saying that the young man, the 15-year-old who was taken into custody, was smiling. You saw him smiling.

SCHARDT: Yes, he had an evil, kind of sadistic demeanor to him.

BUCKLEY: And -- at a certain point, the deputies must have arrived. Were students asked to keep inside the classrooms until the young man was arrested? Tell me what happened after you finished taking pictures.

SCHARDT: About five minutes after we started recording they went to a lockdown. Over the intercom P.A. system they said we're under a lockdown. Of course, all the teachers already have locked the doors by then. That's just to secure the students in the classroom so that he couldn't go into classrooms and start shooting -- shooting other students.

BUCKLEY: We've been told that other witnesses have -- students have said to several of the other local reporters that this was a young man who had been picked on in the past. And that, in fact, recently he had been warned, as late as last night by the father -- stepfather of one of these students not to make threats regarding weapons, and that the young man had joked that he was just joking around.

Are you aware of that? Have you heard that? Did you know anything about this young man?

SCHARDT: No. No, I didn't. I know him only as a face. You know, everyone gets picked on, and everyone takes it differently. Some people are more susceptible to -- to everyone else's beratement. And -- it just -- it takes -- you know, you pick on the wrong person or someone snaps over that edge, they're going to do something drastic to get attention and to feel that they did something important and big. And, unfortunately, it was shooting, you know, students.

BUCKLEY: Thank you, John. Barbara, just very briefly, I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for you to be talking to your son and then to hear what happened.

BARBARA SCHARDT, MOTHER OF SANTANA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Yes. Well, fortunately, I talked to him before it happened and hung up. As he said, I was going to bring his lunch. And the phone rang two minutes later and it was him. And all he said was, "There's been a shooting at the school, Mom." And I heard chaotic noise in the background and we got disconnected.

My initial reaction to that was he's OK. Obviously, I knew that, but as a parent driving over here, not knowing if my kid was one of those -- was one of the kids that had -- that had, you know, that had gone through this. I can't even -- I still can't imagine it, and this is still very surreal.

It's been a really long day for him. I think he's been running on adrenaline. I mean, talking to all you people here in the media. Right now I think we need to go home and regroup and get some down time going on. My heart goes out to the parents of the injured children.

I still can't believe that this has happened. It always happens somewhere else, never in your own backyard. But it happen here in the little town of Santee.

BUCKLEY: Barbara Schardt, thank you very much for sharing a moment with us.

We should also tell you that we will have some additional official information coming at a news conference from city hall here in approximately 20 minutes at 5:00 Eastern, 2:00 Pacific standard time -- Joie?

CHEN: CNN's Frank Buckley for us in Santee, California. As we remind our viewers, this has been a very big day in developing news. We've been getting word in the last hour about Vice President Cheney admitting himself to a local hospital in Washington, D.C., reporting some mild chest pains.

Rejoining us now from the White House, this is CNN's Major Garrett, our correspondent there.

Major, you have some new information, I understand?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, some new information, Joie, While this news is just breaking here within the last hour to hour and a half, it came not as a surprise to the president of the United States, according to a White House spokeswoman. telling CNN that earlier today, the vice president talked to the president about this. Said he had "experienced some discomfort and was going to get it checked out."

We don't know exactly when this happened this morning or at what meeting, but it's not uncommon for the vice president and president to attend several meetings here at the White House. But this morning, sometime today, the vice president did let the president know that he was experiencing discomfort and that he was going to check it out. Now we have the information as to why. We will be trying to gather more information about what it exactly means for the vice president's future health as we gather it -- Joie

CHEN: Major Garrett for us at the White House. More about the vice president's health now, we turn to George Washington University Hospital in the District of Columbia, where the vice president is being treated; standing by there: CNN's Bob Franken.

Bob, what have you learned there?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still in the emergency room. We're expecting a news conference within the next half hour or so, where we're going to get an update -- we're waiting to get the precise information about the news conference. We are told that he checked himself in, that, in fact, the White House is going out of its way to call this a non emergency matter, that this is purely precautionary as Major pointed out. He had experienced what the White House had called a couple of "brief mild episodes" in the last couple of days.

Now, according to -- this ambulance has nothing to do with this -- that ambulance is going to the emergency room which is right in back of us. Now, what we are told is, that he had an EKG and it was reported that was no different than one that he had had at the White House last Thursday.

Again, the officials at the White House are going out of their way to try and downplay this a little bit. But you remember he was brought in on November 22 and had a catheterization -- he was supposed to have had another one today. So we are waiting to find out what the results are, to get an update on the information, which we would expect within the next half hour or so during a news conference with medical officials here -- Joie

CHEN: Bob, is this the hospital where he's been treated before?

FRANKEN: He has been treated almost ever since he first experienced heart problems. There is a medical team here with whom he has had long experience and so, it would be part of his routine when he has this kind of thing, if you can call it a routine; that he would come here and have it checked out, That's what he did last November. That's what he's doing now.

CHEN: Bob, can you talk to us a little bit about what the expectations are? I mean, is the thinking that he will be there for awhile. Have they given any indication of that?

FRANKEN: Well, there could be a number of tests. It's difficult to say what expectations. Of course, what we have to find out is, what the update is from the doctors about the seriousness of the situation. It would surprise no one if he was kept here for the night. Again, all I can do is report that the initial reports coming from the White House are downplaying this, calling this a non emergency.

CHEN: All right. We just want to bring our viewers back up to date on all this. They're coming in this late, it may be a little bit confusing. What we need to report to you is that Vice President Cheney checked himself into the hospital -- George Washington University, where Bob Franken is right now. The George Washington University Medical Center there in the District of Columbia.

He reported some mild chest pains from our Major Garrett at the White House. We understand that he reported them to the president himself this morning and explained that, on the advice of his doctors, he was going into the hospital to have this looked at. The latest information we have from the White House and Mr. Cheney's advisers is that he is having a repeat cardiac catheterization. This is a sort of treatment that will help doctors to evaluate the current condition of Mr. Cheney's cardiac system, his heart and to try to learn more about whether any additional treatment might be needed.

Again, we had heard earlier from CNN's Judy Woodruff, who had seen the vice president just last evening, as well as CNN's Wolf Blitzer who interviewed the vice president yesterday afternoon, both of them said, that in their encounters with the vice president, he was in seemingly normal spirits, had normal conversations with them. We had seen in the videotape the vice president talking about his health and saying that he was feeling pretty well himself.

Judy Woodruff saying last evening that he might have seemed a little bit quieter than usual, but nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that journalists, who usually keep a pretty sharp eye on such things, had even noticed as late as yesterday evening. Now the vice president being treated at George Washington University Medical Center. CNN is following up on this story. We'll bring you the latest information on that, as well as on the school shooting in -- outside of San Diego in Santee, California.

We will get late updates on both of those stories as well as other news after this.



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