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Seventeen Dead In Florida High School Shooting, Suspect In Custody Talking To Investigators. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired February 14, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:01:48] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight I'm Don Lemon. I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. A little past 11:00 here on the east coast live with the breaking news, 17 people shot to death today. Marjory Stoneman Douglas 9high school, Parkland, Florida, five people hospitalized. Life threatening condition. Ten more non-life threatening condition. A suspect at 19-year-old former student, in custody. Sources say he is talking to investigators, expected to appear in court tomorrow. Law enforcement sources are saying that the weapon used to kill those 17 people was an ar-15 style firearm. Sources say the suspect pulled the firearm alarm to lure out the students. And then tried to mix into the crowd of students and in an effort to escape. Many more details to come throughout the broadcast here tonight on CNN. I want to bring in CNN Randi Kaye at the scene of the deadly shooting also Kyung Lah is at Broward health north hospital. And Shimon Prokupecz is in Washington for us. Good evening to all of you. Randi I am going to start with you, down at the scene in Florida, painful day for so many. What can you tell us?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Don. It was really an afternoon and evening of terror for so many here in Parkland. Any other day this affluent community outside Fort Lauderdale would be quiet and peaceful. But one shooter changed all of that and tonight we are told by investigators that that shooter pulled that fire drill in order to draw out those students so he could shoot them. And tonight, Don, investigators are combing through the high school a looking for clues and identifying victims.
KAYE: Around 2:30 p.m. the Broward county sheriff's office responds to reports of a shooting with multiple injuries at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school. The student population close to 3,000. At first those inside the school didn't realize what was happening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kids were freaking out. Some kids froze. Some kids on phones. A lot were on their phones trying to snapchat everything, because they thought it was a joke and it wasn't.
KAYE: At this point the shooter whereabouts are unknown. SWAT Teams go from room to room securing areas before allowing students and teachers to evacuate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's it like for you to have this going on in your school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's insane. It's unnecessary. It's out -- there is no words to describe how I feel right now. I was shaking. I was panicking, all out panic throughout the school.
KAYE: Students run to safety after they are escorted out of the school building. Some with hands still in the air. Others clutching each other for support. Outside the school first responders tend to the wounded. And parents anxiously wait to see their children outside of the lockdown zone.
Do you know, is your daughter safe?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely, thank god. Just ten minutes ago she was able to call me. I hadn't heard from her since 2:48. She kept texting me and said that she was hiding. She was fine but for me to please call 911, because there was somebody hurt on the third floor in the 1200 building. She was very nervous. She could hear the person who was shot crying out for help and just, you know a nervous wreck.
[23:05:10] KAYE: The FBI and ATF join local law enforcement on-site. Police say they know the identity of the suspect and confirm he has left the school grounds. Just before 4:00 p.m. the Broward county sheriff's office announces they found the shooter and arrested him without incident.
KAYE: Days like these, Don, so heart breaking, so terrifying. When I arrived here on scene shortly after the shooting this afternoon there were parents who are still wondering if their children were inside the school, if they had gone home with friends, if they had been taken to the hospital. They had no idea. I ran into one woman and I asked her about her daughter and she told me that her daughter luckily was safe, she found out. Before that she got a text message from her daughter saying if I don't make it, mom, I love you and thank you for everything you did for me, just a horrendous afternoon for so many families.
LEMON: Oh my gosh, your heart just breaks when you hear that.
KAYE: It does.
LEMON: I understand you are getting new information about the shooter's mother. What do you have or know.
KAYE: We are just learning from a cousin, Don who spoke to CNN telling CNN that the gunman mother, adoptive mother, he was adopted -- passed away in November last year, November 1st in fact. She had the flu. It turned into pneumonia and she passed away and also his adoptive father had died 13 or 14 years ago from a heart attack. In cousin was asked who did he live with, who took care of him and the cousin told CNN he has been on his own. Whether or not that speaks to what happened here today, what some of the motive was still unclear at this point, Don. LEMON: Randi Kaye reporting in Parkland Florida. Thank you very much
I appreciate your reporting. Stand by I want to get to Kyung Lah now. You're at one at the local hospitals treating the victims from the shooting. Talk to me about what you have been seeing there.
KYUNG LAH, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, the first thing we noticed when we arrived here is that this sort of panic that you heard Randi talking about, that expanded and carried over to some of the local hospitals. The hospital that I'm at it is the hospital that is closest to the school. When we arrived here -- and this is a couple hours after the shooting. This is a parking lot that the -- that the hospital asked to us park in to give the families a bit of privacy as they started to walk in and out of the emergency rooms.
Those doors are a bit of a distance behind my right shoulder. And what we noticed is that even from our vantage point some vehicles were tearing into here. There were vehicles minivans and SUV's. And the people coming in were parents man a woman running in to the emergency room, checking in with the police guard outside the emergency room and then being directed somewhere else. These are parents in those chaotic hours after a shooting are still trying to track down their children.
And they're trying to understand exactly what was happening. And so from having covered so many -- unfortunately so many of these shootings that sort of panic is not isolated to this one. This is a fear and confusion that is carried over until they have the answer of whether or not their child is dead or alive or being treated at one of the local hospitals here, Don.
LEMON: Kyung standby I want to get to Shimon. You have new details about the shooter's weapon. What do you know?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER, CNN: That is right, Don. We talked about this ar-15 style weapon throughout the day. We have explained that the ATF has the possession of the firearm have been running traces on the weapon and we have learned according to U.S. officials that the shooter purchased this firearm himself. He went into a store we believe in Florida and on his own with his own money purchased this gun. We are told by the U.S. officials that every sign points that at least right now that he passed the background check. There was pretty much nothing stopping the gun shop owners from selling him the weapon. You know, there is a federal law on the books that does not allow people under 21 to purchase handguns. But if you are over 18 you can purchase a rifle or a shotgun. So certainly, you know when you think about that law and how it plays here, but you know that is a federal law.
LEMON: And it is mind boggling. Also I understand you are learning more about search warrants.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, we have been told tonight, both my colleague Evan Perez and I two search warrants- at least two were executed, allowing police, the FBI, ATF to enter locations one of them is believed to be the suspect, the shooter's home. Another location we're not clear on what that is. But police along with the ATF and FBI are going through the homes now. They're searching for items. You know they'll probably grab any computers that are in there, phones things that you would normally expect in these kinds of investigations after such a shooting.
[23:10:09] So it's general practice they now go into the homes and try and pull everything they can out to learn exactly when he was planning in, how this all started and really it's really about building a kind of profile about him and building a time line as to when all of this when he started planning all of this.
LEMON: A big part of that Shimon will be social media and the plaintiffs said earlier they are combing through the social media. What are investigators finding?
PROKUPECZ: They have found quite a bit of stuff. The sheriff called some of this stuff disturbing. We found this. There are weapons on there, photos of the shooter with weapons. He describes in some of the social media postings about wanting to kill people, wanting to hurt law enforcement. Talks about the type of weapon he used the ar- 15 in social media. There are all sorts of signs here and flags that should have been raised. People should have raised issues if they had seen these social media posts. The sheriff talked about it several times today, how if you see something say something. Clearly it's their belief at this point no one came forward. There is nothing to indicate at least to this point that anyone came forward to police to report any potential issues with the shooter.
LEMON: Shimon, we saw on CNN we saw them take the suspect into custody. We saw that live. He is speaking to investigators I understand.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, he is speaking to investigators. He is cooperating. It's how they have learned some of the details of him pulling this fire alarm and coming out and wanting to shoot more victims, wanting to increase the count, the number of victims. This is all we believe coming from his cooperation, his talking with investigators. They also learned that he when he left the school he wanted to mix with the crowd as you said earlier. This is all it would appear coming from his mouth to police. He is providing other information. Obviously police are not telling us everything. But certainly they appear to have made a lot of progress in this investigation. His background, what's been going on with him, the mayor of Broward county was on air earlier tonight talking about how he was told that there were mental issues, that this shooter was at a clinic, stopped going to mental health clinic in the last year. All of that is going to be part of this investigation.
LEMON: Shimon, thank you. I appreciate that. I want to bring in the mayor of Parkland Florida, Christine Hunschofsky, listen, mayor. My condolences to everyone there, your City is it hurting tonight, the country is as well. What are you hearing from citizens and survivors of this horrible shooting?
CHRISTINE HUNSCHOFSKY, MAYOR, PARKLAND FLORIDA: Thank you, Don. I appreciate that. I think everybody here is just trying to make some sense of this. For those who don't know Parkland is a small community. We're a family-oriented community, close-knit community. It's an absolute shock and devastating that something like this would happened in our community today.
LEMON: Earlier, mayor, we heard that help is being offered onto the families of the deceased and those who need it in the community and there will be counseling. What more can you tell bus that?
HUNSCHOFSKY: Yes, we have -- we will have grief counselors at various sites throughout the City, at the Parkland recreation center and library. We will offer support to the residents as long as they need it for. Our job now is to take care of those who have been harmed, take care of those who lost loved ones and make sure our community can heal from this.
LEMON: So what are you hearing about first responders? What are they telling you about? What they witnessed today and how it impacted them? They are the first on the scene and see the worst part of this, beside the people actually there witnessing it.
HUNSCHOFSKY: They do. I mean, we say often in our daily lives we are grateful for first responders. The gratitude one has when one sees them actually in action can't even be explained. I watched them rushing in today. I watched our EMS first responders taking out students, helping them. From the ones I've talked to it was disturbing for them to see what they say tonight in the school. Like I said, we're a very close-knit community. The school is a place where many of us go for different activities. I was just there judging a debate tournament this past weekend. So we are all familiar with the school. And they were quite taken aback by what they saw today.
LEMON: I would imagine you are getting updates on everything. You are the mayor, after all. Is there anything you can tell us- anymore you can tell us about the suspect? Because this is what we are hearing, mayor. I don't know if you know about in because this is our CNN reporting.
[23:15:0] CNN spoke to the cousin of Nikolas Cruz, his mother Lydia Cruz tells CNN the gunman was adopted, and she never met him, the gunman's mom passed away in November 21st of 2017. She had the flu that went to pneumonia and she died. The father Roger died 13 years ago of a heart attack. Maybe 14 years ago. Do you know anything about the suspect?
HUNSCHOFSKY: We have heard several stories. But we have been asked to limit our conversations while the investigations are taking place.
LEMON: What can you say, though, if anything?
HUNSCHOFSKY: I can say that from -- I was here very early on when parents were just hearing from the students inside the school. And when they heard the suspect's name it was a familiar name to them.
LEMON: Yes. So Parkland was named Florida's safest City last year, mayor. What does it say about Americana a mass shooting like this can happen in your City which was named Florida's safest City? HUNSCHOFSKY: Well for anybody who has been paying attention over the
last couple of years I think if we have learned nothing else we learned that this can happen anywhere. And that we cannot be complacent. We need to pay attention to what's going on around us. And I'm hoping at some point that we'll see some courage in leadership in our legislative leadership and people will roll up sleeves and do the hard work to find out the answers to these problems. Because if they were simple solutions or simple answers I'm sure we'd have them by now.
LEMON: Mayor, we heard from investigators there. The sheriff is saying there were signs. There were red flags in terms of the alleged shooter. Do you think anything could have been done differently? I know we ask this in the wake of every shooting. Anything could have been done different to prevent this? I'm only asking to try to keep it from happening again.
HUNSCHOFSKY: I'm sure there are people who when the investigations are done that the sheriff's office will find out might have known some things. And maybe not put two and two together. I hope the community here and throughout the country will learn that if you do see something you know don't be afraid to say something. Worst-case scenario you're wrong and the police looked into something and everything is ok. But I hope we can learn to do that going forward.
LEMON: Well, the kids -- we spoke to said they were surprised -- they did see something and weren't surprised about it. But I don't know maybe the adults were.
HUNSCHOFSKY: I don't know, maybe there was a, disconnect. I haven't spoken to a lot of the kids. When I was seeing people they were frantic, they were just coming out of the school. People trying to reunite with children. I didn't have those discussions. But it wouldn't surprise me. As parents I think it's really important that as busy as we get in life and so many things we have to be at. And so many things going on around us that it's really important that we stay connected to our children. And we let them know that no matter what they're seeing or hearing that we are a safe place for them to come and speak to.
LEMON: Can I ask you, because the students were on earlier? And they said that this suspect had been expelled from the school because of a gun. What do you know about that?
HUNSCHOFSKY: I have nothing that I'm able to say on anything. I'm letting the police do their job. And I don't want to be doing anything to jeopardize their investigation.
LEMON: Mayor, thank you. Again, I'm so sorry for what you guys are dealing with there and we appreciate you coming on updating our viewers on it. Thank you so much. Please take care.
HUNSCHOFSKY: Thank you very much.
LEMON: When we come back more on the breaking news. 17 people killed in a mass shooting at a Florida high school today. The suspect a 19- year-old ex-student in custody, talking to investigators now. I'm talking to a student who took shelter in a closet.
[23:22:25] LEMON: Breaking news tonight, 17 people killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Florida. The 19- year-old suspect an ex-student talking to investigators. I want to bring in Will Gilroy, a freshman at the high school who hid in a closet during the shooting. His mother Christie Gilroy is with him. Thank you so much. I just can't imagine. I appreciate you joining us. So, Will, I'm so glad that you're ok. I understand that you and about 30 other kids all hid in the closet. Tell me about your experience. What happened?
WILL GILROY, FRESHMAN MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Well, we heard the fire alarm go off. And this was the second time we heard it today, because this morning we had a drill. A lot of us were not sure if it was real or not. About half the class went outside and we saw two security guards in the school telling us to go back inside and so most of us were inside. Some of them didn't get back inside they went into other classroom. We heard fireworks go off at the school so everyone started freaking out. Previously like a month before we were told we were having an active shooting drill. A lot of thought it was just the drill happening. Because they didn't stound like gunshots or anything. For 20 minutes in the closet we didn't realize it was an actual shooter on the campus until we heard sirens. A lot us were on the phone saying there is a shooter on campus. We were all locked in the closet for fear. It was very tight and hot. And a lot of the kids were like scared. And a lot of us were on phones looking for whatever we can. We texted our parents making sure everyone could make sure we were ok and safe. And it was lucky we got in the closet before anything else happened.
LEMON: So for ten minutes -- you thought it was a drill for ten minutes, correct?
W. GILROY: Yes.
LEMON: And then you didn't move into the closet.
KRISTI GILROY, MOTHER OF WILL GILROY: My son actually texted me I teach up the street. And he said did I know if there was a drill, because if something real happens they'll lock all the schools on the road down. And I said know I don't know of anything. Two minutes later they sent the lockdown drill to our school. I texted back and said it's real. You know follow the directions.
LEMON: Yes and it wasn't until then. I want to get it straight, Will, that you and the other students got into the closet right after the ten minutes?
[23:25:00] W. GILROY: Yes. That was correct. We were -- and we were in a computer lab so the teacher turned off the computers to make -- so there was no light. And she turned off the closet light and we just sat in the closet for I would say an hour probably until the police came. LEMON: Take us through. I can't imagine what's going through your
head as you guys were in the closet and you knew that you were hiding from an actual shooter?
W. GILROY: Well, I -- we were all freaking out because we thought it was a normal valentine's day bring candy to friends and have a good day. And everyone -- just a normal day we were about to get out of school so we were all anxious to get out of school. Like ten minutes before the bell when it rang. The thing about that if he waited ten more minutes way more could have been killed or injured. To think about that, my life could have been taken away is pretty scary to think about. And hope all my friends are in a room safe and away from the shooter. It was scary.
LEMON: Did you know any of the kids who were hurt or who were killed or injured, Will?
W. GILROY: I did actually.
LEMON: And have you been able to speak to families how they are doing?
W. GILROY: I have. I have heard some are still, no word, but some I have heard somewhere and it's pretty sad.
LEMON: So sorry. Kristie, listen you are standing next to your son. And you must be extremely grateful that you can touch him hold him hug him speak to him. Sadly some of his friends, classmates their parents won't be able to.
K. GILROY: I know. . I know -- like I said I was at my own school. And there was many parents of students at the high school there. And we were all, you know, have you heard from child? Is your child safe? Are they ok? Because we couldn't leave until our school was off lockdown. That was the first thing was get home find your child. But then the next thing is who do I know? It's a small community. We all teach kids who go to the high school we said when this is done we're all going to know somebody. And it's just devastating to think that person isn't going to be able to reunite with child the way I have been able to.
LEMON: The moments you were -- you were at another school you knew the severity because you got the alert, I imagine, you know, minutes felt like hours. Hour felt like days because you weren't able to -- I guess you were able to get in touch you were still texting correct? But being able to see him or know exactly what was going on must have been horrific.
K. GILROY: Like I said, you know, there was many other staff members that had children. And we're all checking in with each are have you heard from your child, from this child? I think, too, because of where we were at and we had access to outside information, I was getting texts from, you know family members around the country, are you guys ok? Because we initially didn't know what was going on until we got on the computers and found out what was happening. And I think that made it more real is when you know the rest of the country is watching what's happening in your backyard, you know, you think about keeping the kids at your area safe. But then worried about your own child. And are they ok? And can they find you?
LEMON: Yes. And so you were getting -- this was official texts from the school or the school district, right initially?
K. GILROY: We got some information from the school district. A lot of it was you know from teacher to teacher and classroom to classroom. We have to follow the same procedure. We still have kids in aftercare on our campus. We were still keeping kids in lockdown in classroom, not moving about. You know, you're not quite sure initially how -- what's going on around you. We all follow the same procedures you were taught. You lock your classroom, stay put. So I wasn't -- my classroom I was in by myself. I was sitting in my closet too. Because you're not sure. You don't know all the information yet.
LEMON: I understand you guys live right behind the High School so a lot of Will's friends ran over to your house after this happened. Talk to me about that.
W. GILROY: When we were in the closet I got a phone call from one of my friend. And he called me and said are you -- where are you right now? I told him I was -- a teacher he has a different period. And he said we're on west clays the school next to us they told me they jumped the fence and there is a canal they had to walk near. And they had to jump the fence to get over to the west glazed. They told me they had nowhere to go. I told eight of my friends to go to my house, because my dad was there and they could stay there for the time until this is over. So.
LEMON: Will, the suspect we understand was expelled from your school. Did you or your friends know anything about him?
W. GILROY: I had -- I have a friend who used to live here but he moved to West Virginia and he didn't know him in middle school. And he said he was bullied. That is all I heard. That is it.
LEMON: So Kristie, this is an understatement, right, and probably a cliche. But this is probably a parent's worst nightmare. If -- to fear for your child and the life of your child, will you live your life any differently after this? What do you say to Will? He is standing there next to you? What did you say to him when you first saw him?
KRISTI GILROY, MOTHER OF WILL GILROY: I, you know you go and hug your child. And you give them love and you ask are they ok? I think part of it is too this is one of the things that could you know happens over time. You know, as they find out about their friends, as we find out about the people in our community it's -- you know it's going to take a while. Because it hasn't sunk in yet. I know watching all the teachers at Douglas we did the same training they did. Just thinking BOURDAIN: `t that they followed the procedures and taking care of our kids and watching out for our kids as I would do in my situation. I'm so thankful that they did everything we were trained to do and we're responsible and caring. And were at gracious with all of our students. LEMON: What do you say as an educator, as a parent, because listen
the world is watching? We're broadcasting around the world now on CNN. What do you want people to know about this how to prevent it? What you are dealing with, whatever you want to say, Kristie?
K. GILROY: You know I think it's just the same thing we've been hearing on the news. If you see something, if you hear something, if someone seems troubled, make sure that you're reporting it and telling authorities. And if things don't seem to happen, you know, be the bug in an ear. Keep trying. You know clearly from what I've seen on the news there were signs. You want to just make sure that everybody is safe. So -- when you see things, report it and keep telling people.
LEMON: Will, what do you want to say?
W. GILROY: I just think that if you ever can help anybody who just seems like they just need someone to talk to, just talk to them. It's not going to hurt you. It's not going to affect you in any way just help someone else and maybe prevent this from happening in any other schools. Even if you think it won't happen at your school. It can. I didn't think it would happen at my school and it did.
LEMON: Will Gilroy is a freshman at the high school. Kristie is a teacher in the school district. Thank you so much we appreciate your time. Will, we are glad you are ok and we thank you for coming on and letting the world hear your story. Thanks so much.
K. GILROY: Thank you.
W. GILROY: Thank you.
LEMON: I want to bring in CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano retired FBI special agent. Tom Verni, a former New York police detective. Here we are. What do you think?
TOM VERNI, FORMER DETECTIVE, NEW YORK POLICE: Here we are again.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Again.
VERNI: I mean. Sadly, you know what.
LEMON: You'll be back here.
VERNI: Yes. And I think unfortunately we'll be back here again. Because my litmus test was Sandy Hook. And when 21st graders are slaughtered in their classroom including half a dozen teachers. And absolutely nothing is done whether talking about closing up loop holes or addressing, you know mental illness in this country which is a taboo subject for a lot of people, they don't want to talk about or address it. And you have the mix of the two inevitably at some point. And here we are. If nothing was done after that, I just really don't know what the -- what the body count needs to be before people in Washington D.C. give a rat's ass about the people in this country and their children. They have children and grandchildren of their own. Do they not care? It's infuriating to me that something is not done and here we are again, another 17 people killed. A number of people injured. And a day from now week from now, month from now we'll be right back here again very likely.
LEMON: I want people to know as you sit here and listen to this conversation, we're not speaking to some left-wing or right-wing partisans here.
GAGLIANO: I'm a gun owner he is a gun owner.
LEMON: Retired NYPD. You're gun owner, go ahead James.
GAGLIANO: And proponent speaking for myself of the second amendment.
LEMON: We all are.
GAGLIANO: As you and I spoke about standing on a box in the desert in front of Mandalay bay in November of this past year. The utility it's important and we appreciate and respect it. I almost look at my generation and feel a sense of blame.
[23:35:00] Because the first mass shooting on a school campus was the University of Texas clock tower shooting which happened August 1st 1966. Here we are 52 years later. My lifetime, 19 years ago Columbine. We all sat there after Columbine in shock. With all the lessons learned with all the best practices of law enforcement. We have come a long way. Columbine we learned to adapt our strategist and tactics for mitigating this things, and interdicting this shooters, but they still continue to happen. And there are sensible things we can do to stop them.
LEMON: We will talk about the second amendment and we are proponents. Weren't they talking about muskets? If you want to own and musket go for it. The ar-15.
VERNI: Back in the day when you had 17, 18, 19-year-olds go out and hunt and defend the country at the time.
GAGLIANO: All right.
LEMON: There were no whole foods or supermarkets. You had to hunt food. And it was also about a well-regulated militia.
GAGLIANO: And twitter will blow up because people will say well you don't understand the weapons are in place in citizen's hands to confront a tyrannical government. My answer to them is they have nukes.
LEMON: Should we be allowed to have nukes?
LEMON: In a well-regulated militia, who regulates militias? The government?
GAGLIANO: Well the government of the people for the people and by the people that we elect. LEMON: Ok I need to talk about in because I think this is really
important here. This is new information I'm getting so I'm going to read it. This is from our Evan Perez who is our justice correspondent. One official who has worked on many shootings says even seasoned law enforcement officials found the shooting scene to be one of the most difficult they have encountered. Officials said they wouldn't soon forget this scene. The source says they were very disturbed by the crime scene today beyond the bodies and blood were also piles of back packs and cell phones dropped. Some still ringing, unanswered as parent desperately try to find their kids to see if they were OK.
GAGLIANO: And the argument would be, well you can't call this as an assault weapon because it doesn't have fully automatic capability. An assault weapon can be anything that has a pistol grip, a detachable magazine, as I listened to the chilling cell phone video and licensed to the pop, pop, pop, this was aimed semiautomatic fire, aimed semiautomatic fire where somebody was essentially shooting humans that were trapped inside a classrooms and inside of hallways.
LEMON: I think my mom said did they have security cameras at the school and they did. I'm just learning that is how they were able to identify the shooter through the security cameras at the school. The next update from law enforcement officials, 10:30 tomorrow morning, correct? Down in Florida. Yes. That is how -- so security cameras are -- they know who did it. They know exactly how it happened. And -- luckily the security cameras to identify. But still didn't save any students.
VERNI: The thing is how much could you really fortify a school without it being an armed encampment. Do people want metal detectors in every school across the nation? Do they want armed police or guards or the National Guard standing guard at every school in the nation do we need that? Is that the kind of country we are? We have to decide. There has to be a balance between our freedoms and our rights. And being able to kind of move in autonomous manner where we can do thing and not have kids on lockdown for their entire lives.
GAGLIANO: This school took what you think would be are reasonable precautions. 3,000 students they had an armed school resource officer there, they had a single point entry with security check to get in the school. A large school 3,000 students is a lot of students. Another thing to Tom's point, the more you make it difficult for somebody to get in the classroom, if something happens in the classroom, you now make it difficult for us to come in and get you, because essentially the most difficult hostage rescue is conducted in prisons. Because in prisons we design them to keep people in. And we design enemy to keep people from the outside trying to get in to get the people out. When the hostage rescue folks have to try to come in or the SWAT Folks, makes it difficult.
GAGLIANO: Really difficult.
LEMON: Thank you. I appreciate it. GAGLIANO: Thanks, don.
LEMON: Imagine this. You are in high school. And you hear there is a gunman. You hear shooting, people screaming. Your fellow classmates are being gun down and your only refuge is in the closet. That happen to a student and he is going to join me next.
[23:44:08] LEMON: Our breaking news, 17 people shot to death at a Florida high school today. The suspect a 19-year-old ex-student now in custody. Sources believe he pulled a fire alarm to draw people out of classrooms, tried to mix with the crowd hoping to escape. I want to bring in now Gabriella Figueroa she was barricaded in a closet during the shooting. Her boyfriend is Jonathan Guimaraes he is also a student at the school and knows the suspect. I appreciate both of you joining us. I'm so glad that you're ok. I can't imagine the terrible just horrible horrific day you have had. You were inside Gabriella, the school as the nightmare unfolded. Do you mind taking us through it? What happened?
GABRIELLA FIGUEROA, WAS BARRICADED IN CLOSET DURING SCHOOL SHOOTING: I was able to just like repeat what happened? Ok. The fire drill went off.
[23:45:00] I -- we were all evacuated outside. I heard the gunshots. I went to a classroom immediately. I was -- I called my mom. Mom there is a school shooter. There is a school shooter. I was just crying. I went inside the classroom. And, like I sat down. We were all back to the wall. And then I'm like ok I don't feel safe just being onto the wall near the door. I went to the closet, because I just safer in there. I sat in there. There was like 10, 15 people in there. I got in touch with my parents, text -- I texted all my friends if they were ok. It's just a bad experience.
LEMON: I got to ask you, looking at your faces are you ok Gabriela? Are you going to be all right?
FIGUEROA: Yeah, I'm fine. I'm fine.
JONATHAN GUIMARAES, GABRIELLA'S BOYFRIEND: It's just a lot to breathe in, a lot to take in. It's a lot. Still trying to take it in.
LEMON: Tell us about it.
GUIMARAES: It's really unexpected. Especially since I knew this kid. He was in my class last year. And I was always nice to him and never expect something like this. The day was going on so perfectly. And it just out of nowhere it just, Valentine's Day everyone was happy spreading love and it crashed down so quickly. No someone deserves this. Sent out my heart to all the families, everyone out there no one deserves this. This is terrible.
LEMON: What did you know about him? You said you knew him, Jonathan? GUIMARAES: He was in my junior ROTC class. And from what I knew from
him personally just me and him, he seemed pretty normal to me. I was always nice to him. He was always to me. Me and Gabriela go on movie dates. He is the cashier at the dollar store. When I knew him, he was nice. I just -- whatever happened, no one deserves it.
LEMON: So Gabriela, you're -- first of all, Jonathan where were you when this happened?
GUIMARAES: I was in class. I was, thank god, as far as I can possibly get from it.
LEMON: But Gabriela you were not as far away as Jonathan was. Again you had had to go.
LEMON: Into a closet there. I would imagine -- everyone you don't know what to do with that.
FIGUEROA: I was like for two hours. It was like hot in there and like scary. I literally just was praying, praying, praying. All my friends, everything that everyone was ok. I was literally wanted to get out of the closet as fast as I could. It was like an hour. But it felt more than an hour. It felt like the whole day. It was the scariest experience of my whole life.
LEMON: How did you get to safety after? How did you hear from inside the closet it was ok to come out?
FIGUEROA: Well -- oh the closet was closed. Then like I guess the teacher said -- one of the cops said it was clear. We went in the classroom. The closet is the in the classroom. We went in the classroom. Eventually the cop came. We had our hands up we candidate take our bags. We walked in a single file line with our hands up. I was hysterical crying. It was so scary.
LEMON: Did you know any of the people involved in this either of you?
LEMON: Do you know any of kids or the people who are hurt or killed, Jonathan?
FIGUEROA: I do.
GUIMARAES: Yes, we do send our hearts to every single one of them and we hope everyone gets found.
LEMON: Gabriela, go on.
FIGUEROA: One of -- one of my friends have been injured. She is ok, thank god. But I -- I heard that one of the people I know is missing. And he -- just all my prayers I'm hoping that he is found safe, ok.
LEMON: Yeah. FIGUEROA: This is unbelievable how something like this can happen
today, like any day, like, it's just insane.
GUIMARAES: Anything can happen.
LEMON: Yes, it's unbelievable. I hate to have you here. But these are the circumstances. And people want to know what they can do. What are the signs maybe they can prevent it. Gabriela what I found interesting as the producer spoke with your father earlier they said your father was waiting outside the school trying to find you and he saw the shooter Nikolas Cruz being apprehended is that correct?
LEMON: What did he tell you?
[23:50:00] FIGUEROA: He was about two feet away from him. My dad saw, like, saw he him. He was two feet away from him, like, in the car. That is when everyone noticed him. That is the shooter. That is the shooter.
GUIMARAES: It was extremely chaotic trying to get out of the school.
FIGUEROA: I thought I was going to be there all night.
GUIMARAES: When my side of the building first got out, it was a zoo. People were climbing the fences, yelling, screaming. 500 kids trying to fit in a space about like 5 feet. About my wingspan. Kids were squeezing, crying, trying to climb the fences.
LEMON: What do you want everyone who is watching to know about this? What you're dealing with?
GUIMARAES: Just hold on to your loved ones. Cherish everything. Anything can happen whenever.
LEMON: Gabriela, Jonathan, thank you so much. We wish you the best.
FIGUEROA: Thank you.
GUIMARAES: Thank you.
LEMON: Joining me now, CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. These are kids, man. They are going through it right now. Good evening. As good as an evening it can be considering the circumstances. Juliette we went through some similar situation, this was Boston when we first met. There was a mass killing there. Another deadly mass shooting that we talk about. Teachers and students hiding in closets. What's your initial reaction? What questions do you have?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: They seemed like I knew them and familiar to them and what they're going to live with not just today and tomorrow but for the rest of their lives. A real failure on the adult's part, and a failure to respond to what is an obvious discussion we need to have. We talk a lot about if you see something say something which I do think is important and I do think we should look to companies like YouTube and others where the murderer was putting on violent material, threats and other things. What is going on with these platforms? They're monitoring everything. Why isn't this getting caught by them, as well? See something/say something, here's what I see. An ar-15 is being used to kill children and concertgoers and everything else. We don't need to see much more. It's right in front of us. It is literally right in front of us. And everyone is seeking prayers for these families. Maybe god is telling us, here it is. Here's the answer. These weapons should not be allowed in our society, period.
LEMON: What do you think would happen, Cedrick, if it was harder for people to acquire an ar-15, if there were tougher standards in place, training, so forth, even for civilians, they got rid of them. What do you think would happen if we had stricter guide lines when it came to ar-15s and assault-style weapons?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, CNN: Well, I think it would be helpful in some ways. But I'm not sure it would really stop the problem that we have. What we need, Don, more than anything else, is that we need legislation in this country around guns. I'm a long time law enforcement person myself. And most of my friends are. And of course, we all are supporters of the second amendment. But something is wrong here. We cannot continue here to come back every few months. And this is not coming back here once a year. This is coming back here almost weekly or monthly. It's too frequent. It's right in front of us. And until our elected officials in Washington, D.C. decide to have the courage to meet the challenge and take politics out of this whole thing, we're going to find ourselves right back here again, because we know assault rifles are dangerous to our communities. Police officers have to confront them every day, too. They don't want to go up against an assault rifle. But the fact of the matter is, even our police organizations are going to have to step up and have a greater voice in this. And to say it's a danger to the community and danger to the police officers who are out there, because everyone should not be in possession of these weapons. They should not be so easily acquired. I'm sick and tired of coming on this show and saying the same thing over and over and over again. And I know you are.
[23:55:00] And many other people are. So, we have to push our elected officials to do something different. How do we do that? People in communities across this country are going to have to demand from them their elected officials in their own respective communities to do something very different and begin to have a real conversation and take politics out of this. We're a nation that is taking a nose-dive. We're killing ourselves off every day. What we're hearing from these young children, just moments ago, is just terrifying. They're going to be stricken with this for the rest of their lives. Their families, that community in Parkland, south Florida, and across this nation, we can't take much more of this. And I implore our elected officials in Washington and congress that somehow, that both sides ought to figure out how to make this work so some real conversation and some legislation can begin to take place to make people in this country feel safer.
LEMON: I wish that I thought that what you just said would make a difference. And I hope that it does. But we have been here too many times.
ALEXANDER: Too many times before.
LEMON: When we sat there or stood there, at the memorial, in Newtown, I said then, this is certainly going to make a difference. You had children that were killed, murdered in a school, the smallest of lives, and you saw the hearse drive by with the little caskets. And they had this look in their eyes, a faraway look. Surely, I thought we would do something. And we did absolutely nothing about it.
LEMON: I hope your words make a difference. I really do. You know, I guess I'm just jaded. And I don't know if it will. I want you to look at this video. Juliette, you can respond after this. Please say whatever you want, hold you thought, I got to get this video up. This is from inside the classroom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, that is that. And I heard on some of the stations, they were bleeping out the bad words and not the gunshots. And certainly to me, the gunshots are way more offensive. And it shows you the power we're giving someone else to be able to take lives in an instant. According to Senator Bill Nelson, the suspect was wearing a gas mask, had smoke grenades. This all goes to premeditation, right?
KAYYEM: Absolutely premeditation, preplanning. And in each of those, the intricacy of this, I think, you know, he is sort of doing the best of school shootings. He took little bit from columbine, a little from this one and merged them all together. And so, each of those points were a moment in which something could have happened. I'm not naive.
But I'm pissed. I'm sorry. I know things won't get solved with gun legislation, if it even occurs. But the whole point of protecting our society, in particular our kids, is you reduce the risks that they encounter. You're not going to get them to zero. Out in the world and stuff. You reduce them. Go after YouTube and whoever else is letting this stuff get posted. It's insane. Who sold him the gun? How did he get the money?
Each of these points becomes -- gives us the capability to minimize the risk to our kids and recognizing that, no, we're not going to get it to zero. But certainly, laws that prohibit the ability of a teenager, to walk into a school and kill this many people, you know, I would rather him have a handgun. I'll be honest with you. At this stage, maybe we don't stop all gun violence, but certainly with handguns, you're not going to kill this many people this quickly. I'm so tired of you saying it won't fix it.
LEMON: I know you're upset. You have teenagers. Tell me about it. Talk to me about it.
KAYYEM: I mean, you know, people come on there and say, that won't fix it and mental health and all that stuff. I'm like, sure. Yeah. But how can you look at this society and compare us to other societies? Diverse societies, societies that are open, and say, we alone, you know, our people who are mentally ill, they use guns. Why is that? It's because there's access to guns. And so, it's just -- at this stage you have to think I am stupid to not see the numbers.