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THE SITUATION ROOM
17 Killed in Florida High School Shooting; Shooting Suspect is Former Student Who Had Been Expelled. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired February 14, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They can talk to him right now without Miranda. Later, they will have to get it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're told the suspect is in that police vehicle right now. He's being transported to a local station, where, presumably, he will go through a formal arrest.
They originally took him to a local hospital. And I guess there were no problems as far as that is concerned, and now he's being transported. Those are live pictures.
The breaking news tonight here in THE SITUATION ROOM, new information emerging right now about that deadly school shooting in South Florida. The Broward County sheriff says there are multiple people dead at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Florida.
There's a suspect in custody. We've been he's in that vehicle. The sheriff says he had attended that high school in the past, but was not a current student.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. He's getting new information.
What's the latest, Brian? What are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM at this hour.
Law enforcement officials telling CNN there are at least two people dead from the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Of course, that number could change.
The Broward County sheriff says they transported at least 14 victims to local hospitals. The mayor of Broward County says there could be at least 17 sent to hospitals. The shooting, according to officials, occurred shortly before afternoon dismissal at the school. Douglas High School has roughly 3,000 students and is located north of Miami.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel says the suspect is now in custody. As Wolf mentioned a moment ago, we believe that's the suspect being transported in that vehicle you see there. Aerial footage from earlier today showed a man who law enforcement officials say was the suspect being placed inside a police vehicle. Here's the sheriff discussing how the suspect was apprehended after
campus without incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, SHERIFF: He was taken into custody I believe about an hour after he left Stoneman Douglas, after he committed this horrific, homicidal, detestable act. The FBI and our crime scene people will begin processing this horrific scene as soon as the buildings are cleared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The sheriff says the suspect is not a current student, but is believed to be a former student. Current students tell CNN there was a lot of confusion as the shooting began. They say a fire alarm went off.
Students started to leave the school fairly deliberately, as if evacuating for a fire alarm. Then students and teachers realized it was not a fire alarm and they started acting very frantically. Kids start running outside. Some took shelter in a nearby Wal-Mart.
Here are some accounts from witnesses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard three gunshots and we all ran inside. There's two rooms in the theater room. I went inside one of them. Five minutes later, our teacher said she wanted everyone in the back room safe, where we were safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I heard were gunshots, but at first I thought it was just kids playing around, because they always pop these little things. I thought it was like a water bottle. And then we heard it continuously and I saw a few of my friends run, so I ran as fast as I could.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: The mayor of Broward County says police are still combing through the school. The Broward County school superintendent says they have no reason to believe there's more than one shooter. The FBI and ATF and are now on the scene working with local law enforcement -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers these live pictures of that police vehicle. We believe the suspect is being transported in that vehicle right now.
Shimon, you're getting new information, including we're now learning the identity of this suspect?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's correct, Wolf. His name is Nikolas Cruz, we're told by several law enforcement
officials. As you know, he is the man there in this video that we have now on our screen that was taken into custody by police. As the sheriff indicated, he was a former student of the school.
The sheriff believed he was 18. There are some indications that he might be 19. Now we're sort of just going through what we always do and that is trying to figure out more about him through social media, trying to learn more about him and also what sort of precipitated, what was the motivation here.
But we are now able to identify him as Nikolas Cruz. He is in police custody. And as we see, he was taken from the hospital by police, now perhaps to another police facility.
BLITZER: Yes, we believe he is in that vehicle. We're showing you live pictures, that aerial video. It looks like they're arriving at the Broward County Sheriff's Office right now. According to our local affiliates, they're arriving fairly soon, Broward County Sheriff's Office.
He's going to be taken inside, Tom Fuentes, and what's going to happen once he's inside?
FUENTES: He will be photographed and fingerprinted, for one thing.
And then they will try to match those fingerprints later to maybe the fire alarm that was set off and other locations in the building of the school. But then they will begin the process of trying to question him. At this point, they may believe it's time to give him Miranda rights. And they will try to interview him.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, we're getting new information right now, Shimon, on the death toll. What are you learning now?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. Wolf, this is not good news.
We're learning that at least 16 people are now dead. This is according to law enforcement sources, federal law enforcement sources. That's local law enforcement sources in Florida. We're being told 16 dead in this shooting now.
BLITZER: Sixteen dead, not injured, but 16 dead. Do we know how many injured?
PROKUPECZ: We don't have an exact number of injured. We have been told perhaps as much as 14, but this certainly takes this to a new level, a different level.
That number of fatalities certainly staggering. Difficult to comprehend that we're now dealing with a school shooting with students inside a school and as many as 16 dead.
BLITZER: The suspect is in that police vehicle. They are now at the Broward County Sheriff's Office headquarters in Broward County. That's where Fort Lauderdale is, just north of Miami- Dade, South Palm Beach County.
We're going to keep this aerial picture up. We will see if we see the suspect being removed.
But, Phil Mudd, when you hear 16 -- and let's just watch this video for a second before we discuss this horrific death toll, 16 confirmed dead now, according to the latest information Shimon Prokupecz, our crime and justice reporter, is getting.
But let's watch this picture, all of us, and let's pause for a moment. Local authorities, they are putting gloves on. They're about to open the door and they're going to take the suspect out.
Tom Fuentes, this is a sensitive moment right now. They have to do this carefully.
FUENTES: They don't want him to be injured in the process of doing this.
BLITZER: Looks like he's got a hospital gown on.
FUENTES: Right. They might put gloves on not knowing if he has some disease or something that would be infectious for the police officers handling him that physically have to touch him.
But at least he's under his own power and healthy enough to walk into that police station, where he will be interviewed soon.
BLITZER: Phil Mudd, 16 confirmed dead now. That's what we just reported. You got to think of probably most of them students, high school students. They got parents, they got loved ones, they got a lot of friends. This community is not going to be the same.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That is.
But let me take you into the business I was in. There's a day job and there's a night job. At nighttime, you go home, see your friends. You wish you could reach out to a parent and say we, as Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, we love you.
Nine to five, though, it's cut and dry. I want to know from the individual who's now in custody, did you talk to anybody who knew anything about this? That is a people question. And were you planning any other imminent attacks, imminent threat?
Then I'm going to have a parallel investigation that says regardless of whether I believe you or not, I want your information to see whether you were talking to somebody, for example, in digital media that suggests that what you're telling us during the interview is false.
Wolf, there's a day job and a night job. At nighttime, you grieve. At daytime, you cannot afford to grieve. You have got to move now to ensure that in the next hour if he was talking to somebody else, that other person at another high school in another city can't act before you find him. Day and night, Wolf, it's a different game.
BLITZER: Shimon, you reported just a few moments ago the suspect identified as Nikolas Cruz, either 18 or 19 years old.
We just saw him being walked into the sheriff's office there. Now you're getting more information on the weapon?
PROKUPECZ: That's right. And this comes from my colleague Evan Perez.
What we're learning is police have recovered an AR-15-style firearm, which is now in the custody of police, of law enforcement. And the ATF is tracing the firearm. So, they're trying to -- now begins the process of trying to figure out how he obtained this weapon.
We have heard about this kind of weapon, this style of weapon being used in other shootings. This is not new to law enforcement, and certainly tells you the kind of firepower he was dealing with here, he was using to kill right now what -- the death toll stands at 16.
BLITZER: The death toll stands at 16. I want to talk about this AR- 15 in a moment.
But joining on the phone is the mayor of Parkland, Florida, where this high school is, Christine Hunschofsky.
Mayor, thank you for joining us.
So, we're hearing 16 people are dead. Is that what you're hearing as well?
CHRISTINE HUNSCHOFSKY, MAYOR OF PARKLAND, FLORIDA: I have heard that there are multiple fatalities. I have not heard a specific number.
BLITZER: Have you also heard that the weapon was an AR-15?
HUNSCHOFSKY: I have not heard what the weapon was specifically.
BLITZER: I know you have been speaking to students, you have been speaking to parents, you have been speaking to loved ones.
Tell us what you're hearing.
HUNSCHOFSKY: When I initially arrived on the scene today, there was not enough -- wasn't much information in the beginning. The parents were obviously very distraught.
Thank goodness for cell phones that we have today. Students were able to text their parents and put them at ease. Then what happened is, as time was going on, the police were going throughout the building section by section and letting students out as it was safe.
And there's nothing better for those parents but than to have been able to hug their children and know they were OK.
BLITZER: Is there an area where, unfortunately, tragically, some of the parents who may have lost a child, where are they right now and who's helping them?
HUNSCHOFSKY: We have all sorts of first-responders on the scene, and they have been talking to the parents who are there.
For parents who are looking to pick up their children, they set up the site at the Marriott nearby.
BLITZER: Is the search still under way through the classrooms, through the closets, through all the areas around this huge high school complex?
HUNSCHOFSKY: At about half-an-hour, 45 minutes ago, I was told they were making a final sweep. They were still inside as little as 20 minutes ago.
BLITZER: And they're still finding individuals or is it basically over? What are you hearing there?
HUNSCHOFSKY: I think it's mostly over, although I still heard there were some students. I had heard from one mother there were some students inside. But that was about 30 minutes ago.
BLITZER: Tell us how all this unfolded. You were obviously very well briefed. And what happened once the shooting started?
HUNSCHOFSKY: So, we heard that there was an active shooter report from our first-responders.
Immediately, they were headed towards the school. The school went on lockdown. There's a middle school next door. That school also went on lockdown. People were crowding the area. A perimeter was set up. And they were going inside to try and get the shooter.
BLITZER: Can you tell us anything, Mayor, about the suspect? We have learned his name is Nikolas Cruz, either 18 or 19 years old. We're told by the Broward County sheriff a former student at the high school.
HUNSCHOFSKY: That's what I was told as well. This was a former student.
And I was not given any firsthand other information, but several of the parents knew of the child who I had spoken to.
BLITZER: Do you know, Mayor, if there were any previous threats to this high school?
HUNSCHOFSKY: We have had -- many years ago, there had been a threat, but we hadn't really had anything happen there.
Wolf, we live in a very -- we're in the northwest corner of Broward County. Most people don't even know where Parkland is. We are a very small, tight-knit community, very family-oriented, parents volunteering, students volunteering. This is not something that you would expect in this area.
BLITZER: In the aftermath of Sandy Hook and Columbine, how do students -- how do schools in Broward County and Parkland, your high school there, how do they train for this kind of horrific situation?
HUNSCHOFSKY: So, in Florida, all our school systems are county school systems, so Marjory Stoneman Douglas is within the city of Parkland city limits, but it's run by Broward County Schools.
And the school system does do active shooter training drills. It's sad that that happens in this day age, but we see it as necessary, unfortunately.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, it's happening all too often.
Based on what you know, Mayor, what's happening at the school right now?
HUNSCHOFSKY: Right now, we still have police. I saw FBI. I saw all sorts of fire, EMS, first-responders. Everybody was out there still working on the situation.
BLITZER: There's a lot of work to do.
HUNSCHOFSKY: There's a lot of work.
BLITZER: As far as a motive for this suspect, is there any indication at all of what this person may have wanted, what he was up to, what kind of grievance he had?
HUNSCHOFSKY: I have not heard any motive.
Like I said, some of the parents were familiar with the student's name, but I didn't hear more than that. I would like to point out, we talk a lot in our country about our wonderful first-responders. It's on days like today that we're most grateful for those who run in and are there to protect us.
BLITZER: Mayor Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland, Mayor, I know this is an awful, awful situation for you, for everyone in Parkland, indeed for everyone watching right now, and especially the folks there.
Thank you. We will stay in close touch with you and wish everybody good luck down there. And please express our deepest, deepest condolences to families who have lost a loved one.
HUNSCHOFSKY: I will. Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Mayor.
Shimon, 16 fatalities, 16, maybe a lot of them kids, presumably dead.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. That certainly appears to be the case. That's 16 so far that we know of.
We don't have a definitive count yet, because, as we have been showing, police are still going through that building. We don't know if this was contained to just one room, one classroom in the building or one area perhaps of the building. Maybe this is stretched out. We don't know how long he was in there, if anyone was killed outside.
There's still a lot of work for the police to do.
BLITZER: I just want to point out the suspect identified as Nikolas Cruz. We saw him originally in that maroon shirt when he was arrested, handcuffed, put into the police vehicle.
And then we just saw a few moments ago him being escorted out of the vehicle at the Broward County Sheriff's Office wearing a hospital gown.
PROKUPECZ: Yes, so this is what normally happens in these kind of situations when police are investigating homicides, shooting, sex crimes.
In this case, it's -- the reason is, yes, he went to the hospital, got treated there. And it's likely that the police have decided to the his clothes as evidence for the case, gunshot residue perhaps on the body, DNA evidence, blood from some of the victims.
They may also be trying to trace where he went after the shooting and they may be able to do that by using his clothing, if there are grass marks or whatever it may be. There's also a question about how did he get injured. And I think that's going to be a question that police are going to try to answer. And so the clothing could be used to try and answer some of those questions.
BLITZER: They also want to make sure that there aren't any poison pills or anything like that hidden in the clothes. They want to make sure there's nothing like that.
PROKUPECZ: Right. And to have a suspect alive after this kind of a shooting is rare. So that gives them at least an advantage to try and talk to him and try and find out what was going on.
BLITZER: They put him a hospital gown. And they also fear very often there could be razors, razor blades or whatever in a pair of jeans or whatever.
PROKUPECZ: That's correct.
BLITZER: Josh, let's talk about this weapon. You heard Shimon say it's believed to have been an AR-15-style weapon. Tell us about that. We unfortunately hear about this AR-15 unfortunately all the time.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: We do, Wolf.
And let me say at the outset, my role here is to talk about law enforcement and national security, not politics. But what do we do when the two come in and intersect with each other?
Let me just say here at the outset, I grew up in rural Texas, I grew up hunting. My family owned weapons. I challenge someone to question my support of the Second Amendment. I was also an FBI agent and I carried a similar type weapon, the M-4, which is a high-powered assault weapon.
And up until a week ago when I left, I gave it back, because I think the national debate that we need to have -- and this is people in law enforcement, people in military and average citizens -- is what conceivable reason could someone have to have this type of high- powered assault weapon?
I know it's a very contentious issue. People are going to bring it up. But that's the debate we need to have.
BLITZER: It's an important debate. We unfortunately have this debate after every incident, high school shooting, along these lines. And there's a debate. Whether anything emerges from those debates, that's clearly not happening.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, Evan Perez, our justice correspondent, says law enforcement -- he quotes law enforcement sources as saying it's a .223-caliber AR-15-style firearm that was used in this horrific Florida mass shooting, at least 16 people now dead, according to our sources. The ATF is tracing the firearm.
But talk a little more about this.
FUENTES: The standard AR-15 has normally a 20-inch barrel. The cost is about between $800 and $2,500. The .223 round, which has a speed of over 2,000 feet per second when it's shot, so it's a horrific round, is the same caliber bullet that the military has in an M-16.
And a standard capacity magazine would be about a 30-round magazine. You have some that are longer and some that are a little bit more compact, but standard is 30 rounds, single-fire. So as quick as you can pull the trigger, you can be shooting.
But with a 20-inch barrel, you're going to have a fair amount of accuracy. That's why you will see not just sprayed bullets around like from a pistol, but pretty accurate fire into the individual victims. That's what makes this weapon so dangerous. It's a military assault-type rifle basically.
BLITZER: And so how many rounds can you shoot before you need to reload?
FUENTES: Well, if you have a standard magazine, it's 30 at a time. You fire 30 rounds, dump that magazine, pop the new one in and keep going, and it's as quick as you can pull a trigger.
BLITZER: That's pretty expensive, though, you said $800 to $2,000?
FUENTES: Yes, not counting the expense of the bullets.
BLITZER: This is an 18-year-old or a 19-year-old guy who got this weapon. How easy is it let's say in Florida to purchase a weapon like this?
FUENTES: Well, it's not going to be real easy. But we know that illegal weapon purchases are pretty easily made in terms of going to gun shows and buying them from other individuals.
Now, Sandy Hook, you have a similar weapon, and in that case it was Adam's mother's gun. He takes her gun, kills her with it, then goes to the school and does all the damage.
So, this gun could be stolen from someone. It could be the parents of this kid may have owned the gun or some other friend. We don't know. Obviously, ATF will do the trace and find out where that gun was made, sold and who was the last registered owner of it.
BLITZER: We have on the phone right now the superintendent of Broward County Schools, Robert Runcie.
Superintendent, thank you for joining us.
I know you're briefed. We have been reporting that 16 people are now confirmed dead. Is that the number you're hearing as well?
ROBERT RUNCIE, SUPERINTENDENT, BROWARD COUNTY SCHOOLS: We haven't confirmed any exact number at this point, but they're going through that process right now, so I would prefer not to give any exact numbers.
But there absolutely are fatalities. It's a horrific situation. I can't tell you how heartbroken we are for our children, our families in this community. It's something that you get up every day and pray that you would never have to see.
We're facing that. I say it's the worst of humanity. But beyond this, hopefully, we will see the best of humanity as our community comes together to get beyond this tragedy.
BLITZER: We saw images of the subject, Nikolas Cruz, 18 or 19 years old. What, if anything, Superintendent, can you tell us about this individual?
RUNCIE: We don't have a lot of details.
But I can tell you it's a Broward County public school student, or former student. His status of when he was enrolled, we're trying to confirm if he was actually an active student in the district or not. It is a former student, someone that is actually connected and has a relationship with this school.
BLITZER: Do you know if there were any threats made to the school before the killing started today?
RUNCIE: No. We have no indication of that.
And that's something that we're going to certainly work through in the next several hours, the next couple days, as a thorough investigation is being done by law enforcement, to see all the circumstances around this individual.
The individual is in custody. They are talking to him. They were also interviewing students as they have evacuated to a site where parents are meeting them and we're providing transportation. Law enforcement is using that staging area to certainly go through and do investigations and we're also providing services and support to children and families at that location as well.
BLITZER: Do you know if the search of the facilities of the school, the classrooms, the area around the campus, has that been completed?
And we believe the facility is totally evacuated at the moment. And I actually just came into the building about five minutes ago. We're setting up a staging area to plan -- make further plans and arrangements as we move through this.
BLITZER: Do you know, Superintendent, if the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was removed from this high school because of behavior or other related problems?
RUNCIE: Yes, I don't really know the details of that. We're going to pull all the facts together right now and really try to let law enforcement do their job and then brief us appropriately, so we can get detailed information.
So we're going to be going through all those details over the next couple hours.
BLITZER: Do you know if there were any warning signs that the school may have missed?
RUNCIE: No, not that I'm aware of. No particular warning signs that we were alerted to.
Any situation that can potentially impact the school safety, we take every threat or situation seriously, they are thoroughly investigated. And there was nothing that I know that came onto our radar screen about this tragedy.
BLITZER: We know 16 people, presumably most of them students, were killed in this mass shooting. Do you know how many were injured?
RUNCIE: Well, I can tell you that there were 14, I believe, that were removed earlier today to hospitals.
I think it was some number like that. I believe the sheriff had given some statements related to that on the media. They're working through that. So, yes, there are some injuries out there. The exact number, I don't recall.
BLITZER: Yes, the Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel, said 14 individuals were transported to local hospitals.
BLITZER: Superintendent, what kind of security measures does this very large high school have?
RUNCIE: We actually have school resource officers. And there are actually two squad cars and officers at our high school at all times when the high school is in session. So, they were on site today.
BLITZER: And do you go through drills? Do the students, the teachers...
BLITZER: ... the others, the administrators go through regular drills to prepare for, God forbid, something like this?
RUNCIE: Yes. We actually have drills and training at our schools.
We have a series of protocols. The school was immediately put on code red lockdown. We actually do go through our schools and have active shooter training. That's something that we've been doing throughout Broward County.
BLITZER: All right, Superintendent, the Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel, is about -- is speaking right now. And I want to listen in.
RUNCIE: OK. OK.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ISRAEL: Saddened to say that 17 people lost their lives, 12 people within the building, two people just outside the building, one person out on Pine Island Road, and two people lost their lives in the hospital.
There are people that are still undergoing surgery. And just pray for this city, pray for this school, the parents, the folks that lost their lives.
It's a horrific, horrific day. As I said before, my triplets attend -- graduated from Stoneman Douglas High School. And it's just horrible, absolutely horrible. And we will -- we continually ask you in the media to continually put out the message, if you see something, say something. If anybody has any indicator that someone's going through a behavioral
change, or on their social media that there are disturbing photos, perhaps bombs or firearms or just videos or pictures that are just not right, if there's something, please make sure law enforcement knows about it.
We're already -- you can follow us on twitter. We're going to put out numbers where people can possibly call and what have you.
QUESTION: Are all of the victims, all of the wounded and fatalities students, or is it a mixture of students and teachers? And can you give anything on a motive?
ISRAEL: We don't know.
Can you move back? Because I keep hearing you.
ISRAEL: Can you go back there and do that, though? It's very distracting.
QUESTION: Can you get back to whether they're students, teachers, a mixture of both?
ISRAEL: It's a mixture. I don't know if there are any teachers, but there will be -- there are certainly students and there are certainly adults.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Were there any signs that you know of?
ISRAEL: I believe there will be once our investigators -- that's a great question. Our investigators certainly began dissecting social media and looking at the Web site.
Nikolas -- I think we spell his name N-I-K-O-L-A-S -- Cruz was the killer. He is in custody and we have already began to dissect his Web sites and the things on social media that he was on. And some of the things that have come to mind are very, very disturbing.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) may be a former student?
ISRAEL: He's 19 years old. He was born in 1998 in September. He was a former student of Douglas High School. He got expelled for disciplinary reasons. I don't know the specifics. I think he might have surfaced at Taravella High School. We're still trying to confirm that.
And this morning when he woke, whether he was a student or not, I don't know.
QUESTION: Can you speak to the number of weapons he had and whether or not -- we heard that a fire alarm was pulled off. Was that in anticipation of the shooting taking place? ISRAEL: I don't know anything about the fire alarm at this point.
And he had countless magazines, multiple magazines, and at this point, we believe he had one AR-15 rifle. I don't know if he had a second...
QUESTION: Can you speak to the fire alarm that was pulled?
ISRAEL: I know nothing about it.
QUESTION: Did he say anything when he was apprehended and he was taken to Broward Health North? What are his injuries and how did he get them?
I think he has left Broward General North. I don't think his injuries were anything significant. I believe he's en route or has arrived at the public safety building. The investigation will continue.
I will keep Broward County informed. Anything that we uncover or anything that's important will be brought to the media. We will. I know it's going to be a long night for all of us.
But, on behalf of my family and BSO family, just continue, please, to play for these victims and these families. And we will give you a briefing the next time there's something...
QUESTION: Do you have a quick timeline from when the first shot was fired (OFF-MIKE)
QUESTION: Can you go over the -- the number of fatalities and the victims again? I couldn't hear you.
QUESTION: The numbers, please.
ISRAEL: Yes. We've had 17 confirmed victims. Twelve victims were within the building. Two victims are outside, just outside the building. One victim is on the street at the corner of Pine Island. And two folks, people, lost their lives at the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think this kid woke up this morning and was just hellbent on causing massive destruction at the school?
ISRAEL: I have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sheriff (UNINTELLIGIBLE) started outside and went inside. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
ISRAEL: Started outside and went inside. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
ISRAEL: Seventeen fatalities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many other injuries?
ISRAEL: Well, at one point I reported that there were 14 folks, 14 of our people that went to the hospital. Two succumbed to their wounds. I don't know if that -- you know, if more people were wounded or if we're just finding out that more people went to the hospital. Perhaps they weren't transported by us. Perhaps their own families or friends transported them, but we will keep you updated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have all of the families been notified?
BLITZER: So there you have it. The sad, very sad news from the Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel, confirming what we reported just a little while ago, 17 confirmed dead.
He said 12 of those dead, presumably mostly students, but he didn't spell that out, 12 were shot and killed in the building, in the school building. Two were killed outside, just outside the building. One on a road, on a street right near that school. And two had been transported to hospital injured but, unfortunately, they died in hospital. That's 17 confirmed dead.
The sheriff did not know how old -- how many people were injured, although earlier he said at least 14 had been transferred to a local hospital.
He also provided for the first time specific details on Nicholas Cruz, the suspect, 19 years old, born in September 1998, expelled for disciplinary reasons from this high school. He had -- we have confirmed -- one AR-15-style firearm. The sheriff said he had multiple, multiple magazines.
And that's what happened. He is now in police custody. We saw him being transferred in a hospital gown into the -- into the local sheriff's headquarters there in Broward County.
All we said -- we get original numbers, Shimon, that are relatively low and then, unfortunately, almost always in these shooting incidents, those numbers explode.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, that's what worried me here pretty early on. Because having covered several of these now, unfortunately, we all have. Some people at this table have had to work these cases. This is what usually happens in these types of situations. And that is when you know what you're dealing with is much worse than what you're being told initially. You know, we were getting all sorts of numbers, low numbers initially, but everyone was saying be careful, because we still haven't searched the entire building.
I will say to you, we've also -- we learned a lot there in that press conference. The sheriff there kind of rushed, but he gave us a lot of details. Social media, they already know a lot about the shooter here, the suspect. His social media seems to be factoring in all of this. They've gone through it, and the sheriff there seemed to be concerned of some of the things that they have found on his social media.
We also know that he was an expelled -- he's an expelled student with disciplinary problems.
And the other thing here, because we have been asking how did he get inside the building. Well, the sheriff there said the shooting started outside. I think that's what I heard him say. That the shooting started outside. So that kind of explains some of -- some of the information it gives us about how he was able to get inside the school and whether or not anyone there encountered him, any police officers or the security in the building. That, I guess, we still are waiting to learn.
BLITZER: Let me get Phil Mudd's reaction to this news, the latest briefing from the Broward County sheriff. Go ahead, Phil.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Let me pick up on something that Shimon said about shootings outside and about the number of victims, the size of the magazine, the fact that he had an AR-15. This isn't someone, in my judgment, who went in with a specific grievance against an individual. I'm going to wager he didn't even know everybody he killed.
I step back from that and say, OK, he went in with a general grievance that he's been building over time. It's a grievance about what happened at the school with his -- with other students, what happened with teachers. If he went in with that kind of general grievance that he was working on over time, he's going to have left a trail. That trail is things he's said on Facebook, places that he followed on the Internet, people he spoke with.
[18:35:04] When you're killing that number of people, some of whom you don't even know, that's got to be a grievance that's built up over time. And again, that tells me that he's left a trail that explains why he had such a grievance that led him to kill people that he wasn't even familiar with.
BLITZER: You know, Josh, the social media aspect that the sheriff just discussed, that's going to help authorities build a case and learn from this, how this exploded the way it did.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It is. And, you know, you always hope that the subject is going to be cooperative, that you're going to get all this information that will help you determine the motivation, who else may have been at fault and get all the details that you want in building a case.
Absent that, it is a potential gold mine to have social -- the social media accounts, Facebook. I imagine with him in custody and now the evidence that they're building, it won't be that difficult to then serve legal process on those providers in order to gather the information that may help -- again help explain why he did what he did.
BLITZER: Will they be able, Tom, to go through all of his social media and learn from that?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, they'll be able to learn what he put on that, not necessarily if that's true or what he was really thinking. But, you know, if he made postings on there that "I hate school."
The problem you see, when you know, you hear the "if you see something, say something," how many 18-year-olds post "I hate school. I hate my history teacher"? It doesn't mean they're all going to go out and start, you know, killing them.
If I can go back to one other point about the discrepancy in how many people are dead in this situation, part of the reason that you have that low number for so long is that when the police go in to search the building and rescue people, if people are just clearly dead, they bring in the medical examiner, pronounce them dead in the school, and let them stay on the floor now, pending the crime scene investigation.
The Sandy Hook investigation, those students, some of those students were on the floor for 24 hours. The Colorado theatre shooting, many of those victims were on the theatre floor for 18 hours. So this is typical of, if you clearly have a deceased person, that they may just let that person stay and, therefore, the count is how many went to the hospital, how many stretchers came out of the building, 14, 15, 17. But it doesn't tell you anything about who's still in that building that's already pronounced dead.
BLITZER: And Josh, if he had multiple, multiple magazines, each magazine may be 30 rounds, this could have been even a whole lot worse.
CAMPBELL: Wolf, you read my mind and I was listening to my good friend Phil Mudd here talk about, you know, he probably -- he may not have known the people that he was going after.
One thing that I thought as you were describing that is, what made him leave? You know, we saw from the footage of him -- the high-risk search and him being put inside the back of the police vehicle, which appears to be a distance away from the school. That's one question that I would like to have answered. And, you know, maybe on CCTV and witness statements, we can gather that. What made him leave? Was he out of ammunition? Or was there some other factor at play there that caused him to flee?
PROKUPECZ: And also, in some of these situations, sometimes the weapon jams. You know, we don't know what his knowledge is of this weapon. How many times have we heard of these kinds of shootings where the shooter's weapon jams, so there could -- that's what could have happened here.
You know, these numbers that the sheriff gave, 12 people in the building were shot, two -- the number of dead -- two outside, one on the street and then two in the hospital. I mean, that's -- you know, it's going to be interesting to see, to find out was this contained to one area or did he go around the school firing weapons? It would seem by these numbers that it's probably contained to one area.
But this is -- you know, this number just keeps growing. And look, we have no indication that it's going to stay at 17. Right? There are still people in surgery, and we don't know what else they're finding in the building.
CAMPBELL: No, you're right, Shimon. And I just want to add, obviously, you know, I don't want to speculate. We'll learn details as they come out.
But something you said earlier about this idea of the fire alarm, which we want to learn more about that, as well. There was a case back in 1998 in Arkansas, and I'm not going to mention the name of the subjects, because that's not important. We don't want to bring them back, you know, any more publicity than they had. But it was similar to that, where they used a fire alarm to then get people to exit so then they would have that fatal funnel it that allowed, you know, the subject to open fire. We don't know that's what happened here.
But as we hear more and more of that, where you know, we had a witness earlier with Jake Tapper saying that the call went out that there was a lockdown. Yet you still have a fire alarm being pulled, as well. Was that simply someone fleeing in panic, thinking, "I'm going to help my fellow students by alerting them to an issue" or was that something that the subject did on his own?
BLITZER: How difficult is it to fire this AR-15 style weapon, .223 caliber?
FUENTES: That's it. You load the magazine. You cock it so that it chambers around. And then after each round the next round automatically comes up. It's as fast as you can pull the trigger.
And with a 20-inch barrel you have a little better aim of it than just a pistol that might be, you know, the so-called spray and pray that some shooters do.
So in this case it's an extremely lethal weapon with an extremely lethal caliber bullet. And we heard that testimony in earlier shootings involving that .223 round, which is about that long, is that when it goes into -- a lot of times it starts to tumble in the air, and it goes through a body like a buzz saw. And there have been situations where even family members of the victims, parents had to identify their victim child by the clothing they were wearing. They couldn't recognize them otherwise. So that's how difficult and dangerous and horrific the crime scene would be in this situation.
[18:40:22] BLITZER: They're going to figure out, I assume, fairly quickly how this -- this suspect, Nicholas Cruz, got this AR-15 style firearm.
Kyung Lah is over at one of the hospitals that's been treating individuals who were at least wounded in this incident. You're at the Broward Health North Hospital, Kyung. Tell our viewers what you're seeing and hearing.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the nearest hospital to this high school. And the last information that we got from the sheriff's department is that 14 people were transported away from the high school. This is one of the two hospitals, Wolf, that we understand that was treating those patients.
Now, when we first arrived here about 45 minutes ago, there was an unusually large police presence. It was very, very curious, even for something this horrific, to have so many law enforcement at the emergency room.
And then there was an ambulance that was led away, surrounded by police cars. We don't know who was in that ambulance, but that is something that was very unusual. Police very concerned about the person inside that ambulance that was being led away from this particular hospital.
Now, what we've seen since then, some of the security has dropped down. You can see those lights shining behind me. That is law enforcement. And the best way I can describe what's happening here is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
Now the hospital has asked us to be in this parking lot. This is where they asked us. The area that you see right behind me is the visitor's parking area. And after something this horrible happens, there is so much confusion. It is a reminder that what we are dealing with are parents and children of a mass shooting.
Parents sometimes in the confusion don't know where to go. They hear that this hospital might be someplace that they can find their child. We're seeing minivans pulling in here at a high rate of speed, people jumping out, a man and a woman looking like approximately the age of parents running to the emergency room and then being directed into a different part of the hospital. I've seen three different vehicles like this. Minivans, parents, people who appear to be parents running towards the emergency room and being directed somewhere in the hospital. It's confusion.
The information we have from the sheriff's department is that two patients died at one of the hospitals. We don't know if this was one of the hospitals. And it's something that is simply unfolding as we are watching it happen, Wolf.
BLITZER: Kyung Lah is over at the hospital. Kyung, thank you very much.
I want to bring in CNN's Sara Ganim right now. Sara, you just had a chance to speak with a student at this high school who survived the shooting. What did she tell you?
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, this was a junior, a young girl who was a junior at the school who was in the freshman building, which is where we know at least some of this incident took place. She said that they were in there last period when they started to hear
a very methodical banging coming down the hallway. She isn't sure if the shooter was shooting out the windows or some other way he was breaking the windows, but the window of her classroom broke. This is a newer building where the hallway is actually a part of the building. And she said she saw him walking down the hallway as he was breaking or shooting out these windows.
She said this. She said, "I just heard banging coming up the hallway. He got to the window. He shot out the window of the classroom. He just kept going." And she said at that point she started to hear people screaming, "Help me."
She said one of the teachers grabbed some jackets, some other articles of clothing to try and go help, to try and stop bleeding, to try and use articles of clothing to stop -- to help with the wounds. She said when that teacher came back, she was absolutely covered in blood. She said this. She said, "There was just so much blood. There was enough injury that there was blood everywhere and people needing help."
Now, this is a three-story building. She was on the first floor when this happened, but she said as she was leaving, the police escorted them out. She said they ran across the street. The police said, "Just keep walking," and her friends who were leaving that same building from different floors were telling her there were people lying all over the floors everywhere, Wolf.
BLITZER: Our hearts go out to all these folks. This is so, so sad. Sara, we're going to get back to you.
We got a clip from a very, very emotional -- totally understandable -- mother who has been going through this. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just different when it hits home, you know. You read about it. You see it when it happens in other places. But when it's your backyard, when it's your child that's hiding, it's just a little different, you know. It's a very sad day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A very sad day indeed.
You know, Shimon, the news that we're getting, 17 confirmed dead. We don't know how many injured. Presumably, those numbers clearly could change. They could go up. I assume some of those transported to local hospitals are in critical condition. Let's hope they survive this ordeal.
We know that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, 19 years old, had an AR-15 style weapon.
Listen to this, Shimon, and then I want the reaction of everyone. This is one of the students who knew this individual, knew this suspect. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got kicked out of school last year. He always had guns on him and stuff like that. So it was -- I'm with Bruno. I'm with Bruno. Talk to her, please. Ma, got to go.
He was a little bit of a troubled kid. He always had jokes. It was a lot of like crazy stuff that he did, just not right for school. He got kicked out of the school most of times for that kind of stuff.
REPORTER: Was he known to carry guns or what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He carried multiple guns. He showed me his guns. I actually -- I was kicked out of school myself and I saw what guns he had. He showed me personally. A lot of time, the kids wouldn't pick on him because they knew what could go on, they were scared at times.
REPORTER: Did he come onto campus?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess so. My mom just called me to tell me it was Nikolas Cruz.
REPORTER: How did they know that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watching the news.
REPORTER: Was he a junior or senior?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he got kicked out, he was a junior, I could say, I'm not sure, I was a sophomore. Honestly, a lot of people were saying it was going to be him. A lot of people were saying that he's the one to screw up the school. It turns out everyone predicted it. It's -- that's crazy.
REPORTER: He must have come onto campus then, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He was on the third floor. He knows the school layout. He's been in fire drills. He's prepared for this stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Everyone predicted it. You just heard him say that. Everyone predicted it with this individual, this student, Nikolas Cruz. It's heartbreaking to hear that, this young student saying we knew who this guy was. He showed us his guns. He was expelled. He had serious problems. Then he said everyone predicted it.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: And we've heard this before, right, in other shootings where people say I knew something was wrong. I predicted this. I knew he was going to do this. He was not in a good place. And no one said anything.
So, that's going to be the question, why didn't anyone say anything. And now, it's going to be up to law enforcement to build this timeline. They're going to go back and see, when did people notice this. Maybe there was a change in him. So, now, they're going to have to work back to try and find out when exactly people knew.
Where are his parents? Where are his guardians? Where are the people that are responsible for him? He was expelled from the school. Everyone at the school knew he had guns, so what happened and why didn't anyone say anything.
BLITZER: Phil, they knew he had guns. He showed off his guns to other students. I'm struck by what the sheriff of Broward County just said a few moments ago, because he clearly understands already what is happening here. This is Sheriff Scott Israel.
If you see something, say something. If anybody has any indicator that someone's going through a behavioral change, social media, if there are disturbing photos, perhaps bombs or firearms or just videos or pictures that are just not right, please make sure law enforcement knows about it. In this particular case -- go ahead.
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: That's not the answer, Wolf. We know what the answer is. Everybody knows the answer.
This country is not serious about understanding where we fall short of international standards. If you look at simple statistics, I'm an analyst by training. In math and sciences, if you look at the countries around the world, our kids are not educated, and yet we say we're exceptional.
If you look at health statistics, whether a kid is going to be healthy, infant mortality, we are mediocre. Life expectancy, we are mediocre. But we can't compare ourselves to other countries because we say we're exceptional.
The reason I raise that is that in this case, we're going to say we're an exceptional country. If you look at other peer countries in places like Japan or Western Europe, they do not have the incidence of violence against children that we have in this country. We cannot in education, health, in death by guns look in a mirror and say actually, if we're going to be exceptional, we need to know we're going to improve.
Where we should improve? Why can't we meet the standards of countries like France, Germany, Nordic countries, Japan? It's because we refuse to accept that in some cases, we can learn from other countries. It's not that complicated.
BLITZER: You heard that one student say he had multiple guns. He didn't just have this one AR-15 style weapon.
Go ahead, Josh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there's that phrase if you see something, say something.
[18:50:04] We hear that over and over again. And even we become numb to that. What I want the public to know and hopefully if there's any good that comes out of a tragedy like this is the importance of --
BLITZER: Hold on one second. There's a hospital news conference. Updating us on the injured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medical doctor, I'm a trauma medical director for Broward Health North.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
So, good evening. First and foremost, we want to extend our condolences and sympathy for all those people, family members involved in the tragedy today. Through Broward health system, we received 17 patients at Broward Health North, we received eight patients and one suspect. The suspect was treated and released in police custody. Of our eight patients, we had two mortalities, three in critical condition, and three are stable.
REPORTER: What condition was the suspect in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot disclose that.
REPORTER: Can you repeat again, I'm sorry, I think the first sentence you said 17 patients at Broward Health North?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, system-wide in Broward Health, there was a total of 17 patients. Nine here, seven at Broward General, and one in Coral Springs.
REPORTER: How serious injuries are these?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of the eight patients we had, not including the suspect, two mortalities, three in critical condition, three stable.
REPORTER: What have you seen? What kind of wounds?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of respect for the family members, out of respect to our patients, we are not going to disclose that information.
REPORTER: Are these all gunshot victims?
BLITZER: Unfortunately we just lost that transmission. But I think we are going to try to reconnect. Listen.
REPORTER: That's why we wanted to clarify that. So eight victims, those were all gunshot wounds, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.
REPORTER: Can you elaborate on ages of the patients that were brought here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, we can't talk about the age or any information related to the patients, out of respect to the families.
REPORTER: Can you talk about? I know you guys were in lock down. Can you describe for us as a mass casualty incident, what was it like inside as these patients were coming here after the shooting? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. So we work very closely with our pre-
hospital personnel, fire and rescue, on scene in conjunction with Broward Sheriff's Office, pre-hospital communication, information to us. We routinely run drills at our institution to be ready for instances like this. So we have a process in place that gets initiated so there is calm, collected care that our patients receive.
REPORTER: Can you tell us anything about the fatalities, at least their ages, do you believe students, possibly people that were working at the school?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We prefer not to comment on our patients and respect for our patients.
REPORTER: Can you talk about just personally? I mean, seeing this sort of thing, knowing that, I mean just as human beings, outside of being doctors, treating these people who have come in here after experiencing one if not the worst event of their lives, and having the responsibility of treating these people and, you know, ensuring the best outcome they can have, I mean, how does that affect you all, just as human beings?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we do this every day. So what we saw today, we have penetrating trauma, non-penetrating trauma, level two trauma center, that's what we do every day. So, fortunately, for everybody we are located close to the high school where the shooting happened. So, fortunately for everybody, they brought the patients to our hospital and we were able to do a great job to do the right thing.
REPORTER: The suspect was brought here, I know you can't say much about his medical condition or whatever. But for a lot of people at home, they might be surprised that the suspect was being brought here. How do you kick in the Hippocratic Oath and do your job knowing what this guy was accused of doing?
DR. EVAN BOYAR, BROWARD HEALTH: Every patient that comes in gets treated as patient and we take care of them medically and that's what we do.
REPORTER: Was there any particular reason why he was brought to this facility versus one of your other facilities?
DR. IGOR NICHIPORENKO, BROWARD HEALTH: Because of the location. They have to go to nearest trauma facility and we were the nearest trauma facility.
[18:55:02] REPORTER: Is this the biggest mass casualty you can remember?
NICHIPORENKO: For our hospital, yes.
REPORTER: Are you expecting more victims?
NICHIPORENKO: We cannot comment on that.
REPORTER: Can you tell us if it was a large caliber, small caliber -- NICHIPORENKO: No, we cannot comment on that.
REPORTER: Do you know update on conditions what the other hospitals patients are?
NICHIPORENKO: Not right now.
REPORTER: Of the patients still here, will any of them be released tonight?
REPORTER: Is anyone still in surgery? Did surgeries go on after the incident?
NICHIPORENKO: We still have three patients in the operating rooms right now and they are in stable condition.
REPORTER: Did they all undergo some surgery?
REPORTER: Can you describe those not as serious injuries what their demeanor is like, I know it's obvious, about you can you describe it for us?
BOYAR: I prefer not to comment on a specific patient's demeanor. But, you know, as a human being, you can imagine that they would be in shock or be emotional about the whole situation.
REPORTER: Can you describe, you got a call?
BOYAR: Pardon me.
REPORTER: You got a call of mass casualty coming in.
BOYAR: We work with our hospital personnel to set that up.
REPORTER: Can you walk through what's next for these patients, specifically the three in critical conditions in terms of services? I understand chaplains are now here.
NICHIPORENKO: They're going to have successful surgeries and they're going to recover and they're going to go home.
BOYAR: Thanks very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right. So there you have the latest information from one of the two hospitals in Broward County treating these patients. Seventeen patients. Eight at this particular hospital.
Unfortunately, two of those patients died. Three are in critical condition. Three are in stable condition.
The suspect was taken to that hospital. He was released. He's in police custody. Right now, we saw that, Phil Mudd. It's heartbreaking to hear these reports.
MUDD: It is. I think though we're going to pivot in the next few hours and the pivot will be critical and provide I hope some answers to families that we have to pray for. The subject was taken live. That subject will provide information not only orally but in terms of his digital activity. If he's on social media as we think he is, if he's on cell phone, we should know.
And I'm going to predict by tomorrow afternoon what led him to do this and whether there was something in that digital trail he left behind, conversation with friends, conversations with families, that gives us a signal about whether we can save another child in the future.
I don't know but I'm going to predict that he speaks overnight and then his social media speaks and at least we have the beginning of answers by the time we wake up tomorrow morning, Wolf. I think we will.
BLITZER: We'll have a lot of answers. There's no doubt about that.
Here's another clip from another student talking about how he realizes how precious life is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life is really precious. Anything can happen within seconds. And we all have to treat each other with love and respect and kindness because whatever was caused this was caused by hate, pure confusion, and my sympathy goes out for the individual that did this, because obviously he was really wronged in a way and he was obviously mistreated. And that just shows you that we all have to care for each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, this is a painful experience for everyone, from the doctors, the nurses, law enforcement, the teachers, the administrators, everyone.
TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, everybody gets affected, including the police officers and investigators that are working on the case. They have kids, you know, students in high school or recent graduates and it's difficult for them to deal with the situation where it could have been their child being a victim or someone they love or very close to a spouse being a teacher or administrator in a school. So, yes, it's a very horrendous thing.
I'd like to go back to one thing, we hear this constant, if you see something, say something. OK, you say something, you call the police, this kid is acting crazy, he's making threats, what do they do over the long run? This person cannot be locked up for rest of his or her life. They are going to be on the street. Probably not going to be cured of whatever mental problem they have.
So, if they are a stone-cold psychopath, they are still going to be whether they are in the hospital a day, a week, a year, they're going to go back out, and still going to have this danger. And in this country it's easy to get any kind of a gun. So, you're going to -- we are going to encounter this for the long run. I don't see anyway around it, whether people say something or not.
BLITZER: Yes, he was expelled but then he was bragging to some other students as we just heard showing off weapons, making outrageous statements, then we see what happens. Truly heartbreaking day, 17 people, mostly students dead.
Our special live coverage of the deadly shooting in Florida continues right now with Jim Sciutto.