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Details of a Shooting on a Texas College Campus; Interview with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Aired January 22, 2013 - 15:30   ET


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS (via telephone): We know that students are frightened, but that they are now, still, as we understand it, in lockdown with an enormous number of police persons on campus.

It is near a wooded area, so there's a lot of potential that I know the law enforcement are concerned and want to be very secure and very sure that they have gotten all those that might have been the perpetrators, might have been the shooters.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": So, as far as you understand, was this sort some of an altercation between or confrontation or incident between two armed individuals?

LEE (via telephone): The initial report suggests that. That's why the -- this is not time, not someone else's turn for speculation about gun violence, but we also know that there were innocent bystanders involved.

And I think that -- I think that that is something that troubles all of us, touches our hearts. And if it is a question that involves gang violence, we're hearing more and more that that is the case, I don't know whether we take comfort in that or not.

People have been injured and people have been injured in a place that they go for learning and opportunity.

COOPER: This is, obviously, a large campus, some 10,000 students at this one campus in this community college system. This is in your district, correct?

LEE (via telephone): Yes (INAUDIBLE) a period of time and the surrounding areas.

COOPER: So, what sorts of subjects are taught here and what age of students are we talking about?

LEE (via telephone): This is a community college system, which, again, if I may use the terminology, I'm very proud of what Lone Star College has accomplished and I hope that they will be known for that.

It is a system of 90,000 students with campuses around the Harris County area. This campus prepares people academically to be able to go on to a four-year college and now with the economy and the resources as they are, many students are choosing to make a community college their first entrance into higher education.

But they also provide people with vocational training, beauty culture, for example, a brand-new division to their campus; first-responder training; other technical training, so that when people graduate, they can actually have a profession; nursing.

So, it is a well respected college, just in the state of Texas and it sends its students, its graduates on to the University of Texas system, A&M and a number of other colleges, four-year colleges.

They do quite well and I have visited the campus. The students are as committed to their college career and activities as you would be at a four-year college. They believe they're on and they are, in fact, on a tranquil college campus.

And it was put in an area to reflect that tranquility and to be a place to learn and I'm saddened by what has happened today.

COOPER: Congressman Lee, there had been one eyewitness report from our affiliate, KTRK, an eyewitness said that he saw somebody shot in the leg.

Is your understanding that there was one bystander shot? Do you know how -- I mean, we're seeing three people wounded at this point. Do you know? Was one of those people an alleged shooter?

LEE (via telephone): Anderson, the facts that we have are similar. When I spoke to the leadership at campus, they were still in lockdown and they were waiting on final reports which I expect to be back in touch with them later on as they are able to answer their phones.

Some were traveling, but, as those are on campus are able to answer their phones, we will be in conversation later on. But, yes, it was bystanders who were shot in the leg, but we also believe that a bystander is one of the more seriously injured.

So, I'm trying to discern whether that is accurate. And that's certainly, as I indicated, it troubles me that anyone has been injured. It troubles me that guns were used to shoot another person on a college campus, but certainly I hope that those innocent bystanders -- I hope they will be able to recover.

COOPER: It is also our understanding that one alleged shooter may still be on the loose. Is that your understanding as well?

LEE (via telephone): As I understand the law enforcement were not satisfied that they had secured the campus to the extent that they had gotten every person that was involved and that may be a perpetrator, as I indicated.

It is in a treed area, a wooded area, and I want to compliment all the law enforcement that have been involved in this investigation. They were still looking and wanted to make sure that they were looking in the parameters and surrounding areas as to whether or not anyone had eluded them. COOPER: So, and, obviously, anybody on that campus or in the area who is listening to this broadcast, certainly continue, according to authorities, to shelter in place. That would be your advice as well, Congresswoman, correct?

LEE (via telephone): I'm going to yield to the leadership that is on the ground. I'm here Washington, but I would certainly adhere to that, Anderson.

And let me again compliment what Lone Star system and college campus did. Almost in real time, they received a notice. I think this is something we learned from the horrific tragedy of Virginia Tech. Those students were told either to shelter in place along with staff and faculty.

And then, the others who had not entered the campus yet, they told them not to enter the campus. I think that is miraculous and powerful. That is so very important because I think it helps at least save future incidents that might have occurred, but more importantly, to cure those who are on campus.

COOPER: Well, Congresswoman Lee, I know it's a busy day for you, a busy time, and you'll want to be calling others, so we appreciate talking to you. We'll try to check back with you as the new developments occur. Thank you very much, Congresswoman.

LEE (via telephone): Thank you so very much for your concern.

Just to let you know, we were having a youth gun prevention -- gun violence prevention summit as this was happening. And I was attending that in Washington. And this is happening, so we know that we need to focus on helping to save lives.

COOPER: We'll continue to follow up on this with you. Thank you so much.

Let's, Brooke, again, it seems a very fluid situation, conflicting reports about. You had talked to one campus official who said they believed the campus itself is secure. The congresswoman saying she wasn't so sure, but, again, it is not clear how current her information is.

So, again, as we know, it is important not to speculate too much at a time like this, not speculate at all and just try to be as cautious as we can in what we're reporting and what we're witnessing, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Right. You've covered stories like these as have I and, you know, when I was talking to the school official and this call came in, now, by now, a couple of hours ago -- this was 12:30 Houston time, because all of this sort of -- you know, the fluid situation, the lack of information and hard numbers from, you know, as far as injuries, et cetera, it just shows that they're still trying to wrap their arms around this.