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Forbes Regional Hospital Press Conference; Stabbing Rampage at Pennsylvania High School; Audio of Police Response

Aired April 9, 2014 - 11:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...injury, what's that like recovery-wise? What can they expect to see?

DR. MARK RUBINO, FORBES REGIONAL HOSPITAL: The one thing about youth is that they are resilient, you know? Someone who is younger and strong can often tolerate these injuries better than someone else.

But a penetrating injury, it really has to be evaluated to which organs were affected, and often, that injury is never just localized to one organ. And I think that's what creates the critical nature of these injuries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you elaborate at all --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) say at this time yet, but we heard that the suspect would be transferred to an area hospital for minor injuries? Do you know if he's coming here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not coming here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you elaborate on the condition of the adult? Was that a staff member?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is in good shape. I have met with him personally. He's fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he a teacher?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not at liberty to say that.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were his injuries? What was the nature of his injuries?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had some injuries related to the -- well, actually, I don't know that we could --

RUBINO: It was a medical condition rather than a surgical condition.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not sure. He is being treated for a medical condition, not a stab wound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any idea what age range he is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not sure of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you received any students for psychological counseling (inaudible) they were standing by at the school? Have you received any of those students?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are making preparations for things like that, but, no, we have not received anything like that. We'll be working with the school in whatever appropriate way.

That's one beauty of being part of Allegheny Health Network is we have such a vast team of other resources within our system. We have psychiatrists, obviously, on our mental staff here at Forbes and then throughout our health system.

At ATH, we have some of the best folks around, so we'll do what we can with the school in that regard, as would others, I think, in the community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any information about the others (inaudible) and their conditions? (Inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know where some of them went. I don't know if we know all of their conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do not. We have not had confirmation of their conditions at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the -- how did you first learn of this incident? Did you get a phone call or did you see a news broadcast?

RUBINO: I was notified through the team as the alert went out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that come by a page or --

RUBINO: It comes from a -- by page.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's definitely a sad day in the community, too. Can you talk about being a part of helping children (inaudible) in a story that's now getting national attention?

RUBINO: I think Forbes has been on a journey, especially the last 10 years, of raising the level of services they provide.

We have a cardiac program, an open-heart program, and with implementation of the trauma program, it was really to prepare for an event like this.

We live in a community that is -- that can become relatively isolated with bridges and tunnels and all of that, so sometimes a response can be delayed.

The critical nature of these injuries really demanded an acute response. And from the paramedics down to the trauma surgeons, I mean, I look at this and I say, This is what we've worked for.

And --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even prior to today, there were at least two instances, one of which the media did cover and the other which didn't really get any media the attention.

But there have been at least two situations where -- in our trauma programs beginnings, where we have saved a life. They would not have made it going downtown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us the gender, girls, boys? Can you match gender to ages at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are all boys.

RUBINO: They are all male.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of the patients?

RUBINO: Here. The ones here.


RUBINO: The ones here. There are females that were sent to other facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And their ages, again, are still 15 to 17?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the exception of the adult.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you clarify what you told us about earlier about one of the patients?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, so we had a 17-year-old kid with a self- inflicted gunshot wound to the chest and I --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I am talking about earlier when you talked about one of the surgeons congratulating one of the victims for helping save the life of a friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amber had mentioned that earlier. Mark had also mentioned it earlier. But, you know, that's correct.

Applying pressure, it's important. It's important to preserve -- you know, that could be life saving, so --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we were under the impression that was a female that was brought here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you're saying all the patients here are males. I just want to get that squared away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The friend that applied pressure to her friend, it was a girl applying pressure to the boy that was stabbed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she was not injured?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No. No, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since it was early in the day, were these students wearing jackets? Had they -- did they have any protective clothing on them at all that you know of that might have helped at all as far as the severity of the injury?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so.

RUBINO: No. The way that the paramedics respond in those fields is, often when they come here, a lot of that outer layer of clothing's gone, so we responded to the victim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in those circumstances, you know, obviously, the paramedics in the field, you know, they're Johnny-on-the-spot, doing everything that they can. And, again, we can't compliment them enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Rubino, we don't know who this student, the friend, was that helped out her fellow student, but what would you have to say to her or him -- it's a girl, right? What would you say to her as far as what she did today?

RUBINO: She displayed an amazing amount of composure to really help that friend who was having probably pretty significant bleeding at that point, and the pressure that she applied probably played a significant role in his ability to survive this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you say she might have saved his life?

RUBINO: I really don't know that. I don't know all the details.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one thing that could be a working hypothesis for you to look into, the boys protecting fellow girl students, as well.

Some of the patients that we have here may have also been -- likely have been heroes, you know, this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know that. I'm just saying I think it's something that would -- you know, it would make sense to me. I think you need to look into it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know if the female student who helped her male friend -- is he one of the ones that had to go into surgery?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us when you might know more about the significance of the injuries of the two who are in the o.r. right now?

When will you know if they are out of the woods? Will you know today or in the next few hours?

RUBINO: I think -- our hopes are that they're going to be coming out of the o.r. pretty soon.

I had -- prior to coming over here, I had just been in the o.r. The hopes were that things were starting to become stable and that there were going to be plans that then get them transported to the intensive care unit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you confirm that one of those victims is suffering from a stab wound to the liver, since you referenced the liver specialist that's here?

RUBINO: I think that -- again, with the stab wound and the penetrating nature of the stab wounds, all those organs could be affected.

So, not to be specific, but I think that, again, the expertise that was available to us and was very interesting is the calls came in from everywhere, so when I was in contact with Allegheny General Hospital, and we had three young males all with right upper-quadrant stab wounds, so simply just made the call and said, could we have our liver team activated and have them on the way?

And they just got in their cars and started driving here. And they arrived and their expertise is -- was needed, is needed, and is being utilized.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can let everybody else know that the 15-year-old female that went to Allegheny had been treated and released.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) Life Flighted?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was -- I believe she was flown in.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: OK, you have been watching a news conference with the Forbes Regional Hospital, this, of course, near that high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, the Franklin Regional High School, where this morning, at least 19 students and one adult were hurt in a stabbing rampage at that high school. It's about 15 miles east of Pittsburgh. Authorities, what they're saying right now is the suspect, a sophomore boy, 16-years-old, is in custody. He ran down the hallway at about 7:15 this morning with two knives attacking people.

The injuries so far -- reported so far include stab wounds to torsos, abdomens, chest areas and backs. The patients are now being treated.

Doctors say, as of now, some of these injuries are clearly life- threatening.

We have much more information on the victims of this attack, also on the attacker who is in custody and on how it all went down, right after the break.


BERMAN: All right, welcome to @ THIS HOUR, everyone. I'm John Berman. Michaela Pereira is off today.

And we are following breaking news that has been developing all morning. At least 19 students and one adult have been hurt in this stabbing rampage at a high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. This is about 15 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Authorities say the suspect is a sophomore, male, 16-years-old, and he is in custody.

What he did? At about 7:15 this morning, a little earlier, in fact, he ran down the hall in the school with two knives, attacking people.

The injuries reported so far include stab wounds to the torso, to the abdomen, to the chest area and backs of some of the victims.

We're told by doctors that some of the injuries are, quote, "clearly life-threatening."

Jean Casarez has been following all the developments over the last few hours. She joins me right now to give us the latest that we know on the investigation.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest we know is that three people are in surgery. Two were in. One was being transported to surgery, clearly with life threatening injuries.

But let's start from the beginning. Just as you said, it's about 7:13 this morning is when the initial call came in. Now, classes don't start at Franklin Regional Senior High School until about 7:30, 7:40, so the doors had opened. Students were just coming in in the morning.

And we understand the initial attack was in a hallway and then moved to classrooms, plural. But he was thrashing two knives, as you said, allegedly, as he came in. And the victims began to multiply at that point.

We do know that the school resource officer handcuffed him, but we are also hearing that security officer, law enforcement, even social resource -- school resource officer was injured to a point in all of this.

But immediately there was a lockdown of that school. Students were told to leave. The fire alarm went out. This was the plan they had in place. But what we are learning is that these can be life threatening injuries, because there was a mode to this attack -- the right abdomen area is where a lot of the puncture wounds were.

BERMAN: And the principal, we also understand, was involved in subduing the suspect. It did happen at a crucial time in any school, 7:13 in the morning. This is when students are arriving. This is when teachers are arriving. These are moments of chaos and disorganization in any school.

CASAREZ: That's right. And on the one hand, everybody is very vulnerable at that time. On the other hand, think of the state of mind of coming to school right when the doors open before the classes begin with two knives, because that's what law enforcement is saying.

We are also learning that the suspect, 16 years old, sophomore, in custody -- he has injuries to his hands. So that appears to me to be a violent situation where others were trying to get that knife out of his hands.

BERMAN: And we have no sense of why he did it, if he was targeting specific students, none of that?

CASAREZ: There is nothing in regard to motive now. No one knows why at all. We heard earlier this morning he was being questioned by authorities.

We want to tell everybody that the elementary schools are closed, the middle schools and high schools, that all of the students are being taken care of in this situation.

BERMAN: And we have been told, as you said, that someone pulled the fire alarm and the chief of police in Murrysville, in this town, says that may have saved lives. It actually created a situation which caused everybody to run, and this chief of police said that is exactly what he wanted to those students to do.

CASAREZ: Because they had that plan in place. So often when we think of schools, we think of guns. We don't think of knives. But a knife is a deadly weapon, as we are learning this morning, firsthand, because critical condition is what some of these victims are in.

BERMAN: We are going to talk more about this as this hour continues, about the difference between a mass stabbing and a mass shooting. Our Jean Casarez, thank you so much. This information developing at the moment. We will find out more and we'll fill you all in.

First of all, let's talk about the victims, though. As we said, 19 students, one adult. Many of them were taken to different hospitals, several to the Forbes Regional Hospital. The director of the trauma center there spoke just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. CHRIS KAUFMANN, DIR., FORBES REGIONAL HOSPITAL TRAUMA CENTER: None of these are superficial wounds. These are all significant stab wounds, every one. All of the patients have torso stab wounds, chest, abdomen, back, flank. So all of their stab wounds are in the area of the torso.


BERMAN: None of these were superficial wounds. That gives you a sense of just how seriously they are taking this, just how seriously these cases are.

I'm joined by senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen from Atlanta. Elizabeth, give us a sense of what these patients are now facing. We hear stabs to the chest, to the abdomen, to the flank. These sound like some pretty serious wounds.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, they definitely do. I mean, when doctors use the words life-threatening and penetrating, this is definitely serious. They also said that internal organs were affected. In fact, they brought in a liver surgeon into some of these surgeries.

Now, we are told that these teenagers, between the ages of 15-17 at this one hospital, that they are sort of towards the end of their surgeries, some of them and will be brought into intensive care. John, the doctors told us that they will survive. He thinks that they will survive, so that obviously is good news. But they were also very cautious. He said, these were serious injuries. I think they were trying to let us know that this wouldn't necessarily be an easy recovery for these teenagers who, at least some of them, appear to have wounds to their internal organs.

BERMAN: It will be wonderful news if, in fact, they do all survive. Thanks for pointing that out, Elizabeth.

We were told gashes of up to two inches, very, very big. Some of the victims, four, we believe, were taken to hospital by helicopter. What does that tell you about the severity of their injuries?

COHEN: It probably tells us something about the severity of the injuries although it sounds like this local hospital is used to handling complicated things. It might also tell us something about volume. That maybe they just couldn't handle the volume, so they sent folks to at least, the victims, to at least four other hospitals if they are all affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh. And so there is a total, as far as we know right now, of 11 patients at four other hospitals in addition to the seven teenagers who are at Forbes, which is the local hospital.

So it tells us that there may have been just too many for this one local hospital to handle. That's a possibility.

BERMAN: And we heard from a doctor at one of these hospitals who said his main job is to be an obstetrician, and he was getting a little emotional because he pointed out, Elizabeth, that he may very well have delivered some of these students who today are victims, wounded but hopefully now recovering from this at the high school.

Elizabeth Cohen, great to have you here. Thank you very much.

Just moments ago, CNN obtained the police radio transmission from the moments they heard about the stabbing. We'll play that for you right after the break.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BERMAN: We're following breaking news from Murrysville, Pennsylvania, where just a few hours ago, just after 7:00, when high school students walked in the door, a 16-year-old sophomore male ran down the hall with two knives stabbing people. 19 students were injured, one adult. Many of these people have life threatening injuries. Several do, I should say; at least three. They are now being treated at local area hospitals. Again, this all started before 7:15. A fire alarm was pulled and the police were called nearly immediately.

I'm joined now by CNN's Evan Perez in Washington, D.C. Evan, I understand we now have some sound from police dispatch.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, that's right. During the last half hour, we heard from the hospital how the emergency room personnel reacted with clinical response to the first arrival of these patients. That describes exactly how the police handled these first calls that came in. We can listen to a little bit of the tape right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). I have my whole shift coming your way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, come in the front door, the first hallway on the right, halfway down. We've got multiple victims here, we need ambulances here as soon as possible. Be advised the suspect is in custody, only one suspect.


PEREZ: Well, John, as you can hear, a pretty calm response. They are calling for more assistance on the scene there. But one of the things that happens initially is they don't know exactly how many people they are dealing with, whether or not -- how many injuries they have. They're asking for more help, for more help, for people to come attend to some of the victims. And it's pretty much par for the course for these officers who see these types of things from time to time. And that calm response is what probably helped saved some of the lives right there.

BERMAN: Evan, I am struck by how steady this response was. That calm statement from someone in dispatch saying, "We have multiple shifts coming your ways right now." A whole shift coming your way right now despite the fact that they knew at the time of that call there were multiple victims. They also did know there was only one suspect and that suspect was in custody. So, Evan, I do imagine that contributed to sort of the calmness they were displaying there.

PEREZ: That's right. You imagine, you have a school with a bunch of kids who are probably very much afraid. And so the police officers, the EMT that is responding, they're responsible for helping to calm the situation, to make sure people don't get injured, or that there are no further problems as they attend to the situation. I mean this has got to be a horrific situation -- 7:15 in the morning as you are just getting to school. I can't imagine what these kids were thinking as this all went down, John.

BERMAN: Evan Perez, thank you so much.

Important to note now, this is a crime scene. The Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, now a crime scene. They are investigating the scene and the FBI is now assisting with this investigation as well. We are going to be covering this all morning long because the information is coming in as we speak.

Still, there is other news to tell you about. Ahead @ THIS HOUR, despite hearing two new pings, searchers still scouring the ocean for debris from Flight 370. The question is, if they hear the pings, why haven't they found anything else yet? We'll look at the possibilities next.