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CNN TONIGHT

17 Killed on Florida School Shooting. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 15, 2018 - 00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:59:50] JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: But how can you look at this society and compare it to other societies -- diverse societies, societies that are open -- and say, you know, we alone, you know, our people who are mentally ill, they use guns. Well, why is that? It's because there's access to guns.

And so, it's just -- at this stage, you have to think I'm stupid to not see the numbers.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And the reality of it.

KAYYEM: I see the numbers. And so, the reality of it -- and I'm not naive. I know gun legislation, banning these weapons won't make unicorns and rainbows everywhere. But I do know that any layered defense system would be idiotic. But to take into account, right, the mechanism by which all these people are killing innocent victims quickly.

That's what it is -- it's quickly. Las Vegas, today, you name it, Newtown. Sorry.

LEMON: No, no, no. I asked you to say it. And listen, you are a very steady and smart security analyst. You have been -- most of the things that you predict when it comes to this, the Russian investigation, all of this, has turned out to be true, right on. And so I could sense the emotion. And if you're a parent and you've got a teenager, we want to hear that from you.

Cedric -- thank you. Juliette -- I appreciate. Let's hope that next time we meet it will be for better circumstances. I appreciate it.

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Let's hope.

LEMON: Absolutely.

ALEXANDER: Let's pray so.

LEMON: Thank you. Yes.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. I need to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Just past midnight here on the East Coast. I'm live from New York. Live with the breaking news, the terrible news.

Seventeen people shot to death today at a high school in Parkland, Florida; five people hospitalized, life-threatening condition; ten more, nonlife-threatening condition. The suspect, a 19-year-old former student in custody and expected to be in court later today.

Here's what law enforcement sources are saying. They're saying the weapon used to kill those 17 people was an AR-15 style firearm. Sources say the suspect pulled the fire alarm just to lure out his victims from the classrooms and tried to mix into the crowd of students in an effort to escape.

Lots of details to cover but I want to get straight to CNN's Martin Savidge at the scene of the shooting as well as Kyung Lah (ph) at Broward Health North Hospital, Shimon Prokupecz in Washington with the investigative part of the story.

Let's start with Martin now down at the scene first. Seventeen people lost to gun violence tonight, more than a dozen injured -- Martin. Some fighting for their lives right now.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. We're told by medical authorities, that is the case. Right now, the focus for law enforcement is identifying all those who were killed. And they are very far along in that process.

They had said three hours ago that they had identified the 12 victims that had been found inside of the school. We also know that there are three other victims that were outside on the school grounds. And then of course, there were two other victims that died after they were transported to hospital. So notifying next of kin, the most painful but also the most important process and we note that that is going to continue through the night tonight.

You've already said, they've identified the suspect here -- 19-year- old Nikolas Cruz. And he's got his first court appearance that will take place later this morning. Trying to figure out why is, of course, the next step after you identify the dead.

The Broward County authorities just put out a kind of a break down as far as what they know so far, how this all went down. And they said it was just before school began to wrap up the end of the day today they got reports of an active shooter.

The first deputies on the scene were confronted by hundreds of terrified students that came pouring out of the school building. They now know it was during that exodus that the gunman did conceal himself in that crowd. And that's how he was able to get off of the school property.

Authorities said the way they were able to identify Nikolas Cruz was by surveillance video that was from within the school. They actually saw him carrying out and moving within the building.

So they were able to put a face to a name. And then, they were able to eventually find him in a nearby neighborhood in Coral Springs. And when authorities finally tracked him down, they said that he had labored breathing. He was breathing hard.

So that's the reason he was transported to a nearby hospital. He was checked out medically. He was given the ok. He's in custody tonight and we've already mentioned the arraignment.

But those are sort of the cold-hearted, solid facts. Listen to what it was like inside in that school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: The sound of the weaponry, as you've already pointed out several times, Don, is just shocking. The natural sound of people reacting to it is sickening.

And once again, we're confronted with a massive killing on a school property. I should point out here that the gunman was taken alive. That's unusual.

[00:04:58] Most of these cases -- those that carry out these kind of deeds usually ended their own life. That hasn't happened. So investigators say he is cooperating with them. He is telling them at least part of why he did with what he did.

But authorities are also looking at social media. And it's pretty clear there were indications this may have been in the offing. And they wonder why others hadn't come forward ahead of time. That's going to be a key question as we move in the morning hours.

LEMON: We're going to speak more about that especially with Shimon who's going to come up in a second here. But Martin -- I appreciate the reporting again as Martin has been reporting about this -- your words are exactly right.

The sheriff says they identified the suspect through security camera video. Next time he will be in court Thursday morning, which is tomorrow morning 10:30.

Kyung Lah, live for us at a nearby hospital where victims are being treated. Kyung -- what can you tell us?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the hospital that's closest to the school where Marty is at. A total of 17 patients, Don, were transported to some of the local hospitals to the Broward health System.

Of those 17, five are fighting for their lives. They have what is being described by hospital personnel as life-threatening injuries. Ten have non-life threatening injuries.

We are also learning that two of the patients who were brought here to this hospital, that they didn't make it. We don't know if they're students. We don't know if they are teachers. But we now are beginning to learn the numbers.

Don -- we also did learn that the suspect was temporarily transported here. He was treated and then released to police custody -- Don.

LEMON: The Governor was at the hospital, Kyeung, just a short time ago, trying to comfort people. It's a familiar role that he has had to play it before. He's had to do this -- I remember you know, for Pulse and other shootings. What did he say?

LAH: Perhaps the Pulse shooting is the one that is particularly memorable because it was such a large and heartbreaking shooting here in this state. What the Governor did here within the last hour or so, and he spoke to the press, he went through and he thanked the medical staff. He thanked the doctors, the nurses who tried to help these patients, as they were flooding into this emergency room.

Then he spoke with a few families. And then he said that this was a tragedy. He tried to speak to the fears, directly the fears of the parents in this country. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I think about my -- I have six grandsons now. And the eldest is six, going to school. I talked to my daughter today, and I'm sure every parent is doing the same thing. Is my child going to a safe school? Is it safe where they're going?

I know our law enforcement is going to continue to do everything they can to keep every child in our state safe. And we're going to continue to figure out how we -- how we learn from this to hopefully try to make sure this doesn't happen again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: That idea of learning and preventing the next thing from happening again, if all of that sounds very familiar it's because he said almost the exact same thing after the Pulse shooting. That was June of 2016. And here we are again -- Don.

LEMON: Here we are again -- Kyung. Thank you for that.

Let's bring in Shimon -- Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon you've been speaking to law enforcement sources all day. You have new details tonight about the shooter's weapon. What do you know?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. That's right -- Don. So we were told, according to U.S. officials who've been briefed on this investigation that the shooter purchased this weapon, this AR-15, and investigators believe they've been able to do a trace -- and you know, as we've said all day ATF has been the running the trace on this weapon -- that he purchased this weapon sometime in the last year on his own, used his own money, they believe, to buy this in Florida.

He passed a background check. He went into a gun store, filled out whatever required forms. They ran a background check and there was nothing to stop them from selling this weapon to him.

LEMON: And investigators are looking at his social media, as well. PROKUPECZ: So yes, certainly -- Don. This is playing a key role in

this investigation. And the sheriff, pretty early on, there was evidence that the police were able to find his social media profile once they identified him.

And here as you can see on the screen, we've blurred some of these images because they're pretty horrific. I mean he's on there, showing pictures of guns, taking various photos of himself with different weapons. He talks about, in other social media posts, he talks about shootings and killings and hurting law enforcement.

So, all of this certainly came to the police. Once they identified him, they did a search of social media and they were able to clearly find this and really raising the question of why didn't anyone come to them and raise issues with this, flag it, say to them, hey you've got this guy on the Internet that's posting these things.

Certainly, his friends -- there are some family issues obviously. People at the school have said that they knew that he had issues, that he had this fascination with guns.

So all these things kind of playing into this idea of what was going on. Why didn't anyone come to the police?

[00:10:04] LEMON: Shimon, thank you. All good questions. Let's hope we get some answers soon. Thank you very much.

Joining me now -- CNN political analyst Ryan Lizza, and David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida. Ryan -- this massacre that was committed in Florida today, unfortunately all-too common in the United States. How many times have we been here discussing similar ones? Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas.

Why do you think these mass shootings like this, why is this uniquely an American problem?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the answer is access to high-powered weapons that just does not exist in most industrialized countries. I mean that's the simplest answer.

And you know, it's just deja vu. I can't tell you how many times I've been on shows like this after a mass shooting, having a conversation about the politics and what happens next.

And frankly, we all know what happens next. And that is, you know, the only policy response from the government is to lower the flags at half-mast. And we know that Congress is not going to do anything, that there won't be a policy response in Washington.

You know what's even worse than that, Don -- I was reading a study tonight from Harvard Business School. In 2016 they studied the policy effect of mass shootings. And the major finding is that over the last few decades, the number one thing that happens after mass shootings in the States, is that laws loosening gun laws become more prevalent.

In other words, in the United States, after a mass shooting it is more likely that gun laws become looser than stronger. So just think about that for a second. Not only do we not have a policy response where gun control becomes more important, it's actually the opposite.

LEMON: So, I just want to say this. You're talking about the Harvard study. This is from the "New York Times" that is out and it says, "What explains U.S. mass shootings? International comparisons suggest an answer. Perhaps some speculate it is because American society is unusually violent or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common, those seemingly sensible all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion."

All right. Is everybody listening? "The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns." And then it goes on to look at the numbers and give the facts. What do you say to that, David?

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER FLORIDA REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Don -- we are a broken nation tonight on the issue of guns. And the American people are begging for leadership.

There is a lot that perhaps is unknown politically but let's be brutally honest about what we do know. And I say this as a Republican. Republicans will never do anything on gun control.

Consider last summer you had Republican members of Congress shot and nearly killed during a softball practice and they did nothing. After the Pulse nightclub, Democrats had a sit-in in the House, Republicans did nothing. After Vegas -- hundreds injured, over 50 killed, Republicans did nothing.

The idea of gun policy in the Republican Party is to try to get a speaking slot at the NRA and prove to that constituency that you're further right than generations past of Republicans have been on guns. And there's a disconnect with the American people and the heartbreak of the American people tonight.

And so if this is the issue that defines your ideology as a voter, there are two things I would suggest tonight. First, flip the House. Flip the House. Republicans are not going to do a single thing after this shooting we saw today.

But I would also offer to Democrats, work for incremental wins. And what I mean by that is this. We can do comprehensive universal background checks. And we can do it with the support of the law enforcement community, which typically is a conservative Second Amendment group. The law enforcement community wants universal background checks. They want greater restrictions on assault rifles.

Democrats should go to the law enforcement community and say we're going to leave the Republicans behind. Let's work on this together right now and get the will of the American people to be enacted in the United States Congress.

LEMON: If I was with you, I would hug you right now. It is -- I mean honestly.

[00:14:58] JOLLY: Don -- listen, let me be honest -- Don.

I'm a conservative Second Amendment person who sponsored some pretty hard-core Second Amendment bills -- national reciprocity. I believe in Second Amendment issues but I believe in background checks and reasonable restrictions, even possibly banning assault rifles.

And you know what changed it for me, what really personalized it, was the Pulse Nightclub shooting, representing the state of Florida and trying to work on a solution with Democrats in the House of Representatives, and my party said not a chance. We're not doing it.

Now I'll also be honest with you. Democrats played politics on it, as well. It is on both sides of the aisle which is why work for incremental change. Let's work the will of the people.

LEMON: I hope -- I hope this that so many people are watching tonight. I hope this gets out on social media. I hope everyone writes about it. I think you're so sensible on this and you're right on.

It's extraordinary to hear a Second Amendment proponent, a proponent of the Second Amendment, as you have been, a Republican, a former congressman talk about this in ways that you have spoken about it, sensibly. You make so much sense. So I hope the world is watching. And I hope we can make a difference.

I jut want to put your tweet up before I go back to Ryan here.

You tweeted this a short time ago. You said, "The last time there was at least discussion on responsible gun control measures on the right, we lost the battle. Of the five of us, three are still there." Right? Who do you talk to in congress? Point them out, name names. Who do you want to see make a difference? Call them out.

JOLLY: Yes. Well, so let's go on that history, right. That was after the Pulse Nightclub, saying if you're on the terror watch list, you shouldn't be able to buy a gun. Republicans were concerned there weren't adequate due process protections. So about five of us said, let's do it. Let's do no-fly, no-buy but let's add due process.

It was myself, Susan Collins in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake and Ayotte. Myself and Ayotte -- we're out. Right now you've got Susan Collins who's led on it, Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake. And I would expect we will hear from somebody like a Susan Collins tomorrow.

And this is where the tribalism of partisanship will get in our way. You know, during the Democratic sit-in, they yelled "shame, shame, shame" on the house floor. And I get the passion. I really do. But they weren't coming across the aisle saying, let's work on a compromise, right. We need Republicans to work on a compromise. Democrats, to accept that willingness, look to people like Susan Collins, I would think in the next few days to say something about this.

LEMON: Ryan, I'm sure, you know, I haven't spent as much time with you during this interview. But you understand the importance of what I was speaking with the representative about.

LIZZA: Absolutely.

LEMON: So earlier let me talk -- I want to put this tweet up. This is from the President -- Ryan, I'll give this to you. "My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school." And that's it. No statement addressing the nation. No promises to do something to prevent this from happening again. Just a two-sentence tweet.

LIZZA: Yes. Thoughts and prayers, it's become a social media joke, right? That kind of tweet that happens after every one of these shootings.

LEMON: Thoughts and prayers are important but --

LIZZA: Of course. Of course.

LEMON: -- they don't prevent these shootings.

LIZZA: But that's not a policy response, right.

LEMON: Right.

LIZZA: And, you know, the other thing we don't focus on as much, we focus a lot about the dysfunction in Washington and how there's just very, very little promise for anything. A lot of gun regulation happens in the states. You know, the state and statewide is where the NRA is extremely organized. And where a lot of these loosening of gun regulations is happening.

And so it's not just Washington, it's out in state capitals where this debate is being won and especially in Republican-controlled capitals in the states where the ability to carry weapons openly is expanding. The ability to carry a firearm in new and ever-expanding places, that's where gun laws and gun restrictions are being loosened, even in the wake of these mass shootings. So it's not just Washington.

JOLLY: That's right. That's right.

LEMON: Americans, according to the study, make up 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world's guns. From 1966 to 2012 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were Americans, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

The only -- the only, if you adjust for population, Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people. That's a distinction. I'm sure we're talking about Yemen. Remember what we're talking about. A distinction I'm sure that we would rather not have in this country.

LIZZA: We're alone in the world, Don, on this issue.

LEMON: I appreciate your candor so much. Thank you -- Ryan. Representative -- thank you.

LIZZA: Thanks -- Don.

LEMON: Thanks so much.

JOLLY: Thanks.

[00:19:56] LEMON: When we come back, much more on our breaking news. Seventeen people in a mass shooting at a Florida high school today -- again that's 17 people are dead. I'm going to talk to a mom who lost her child in the Columbine shooting about what she wants to see done.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Our breaking news -- 17 people shot to death at a Florida high school today; 17 shocked families now grieving the loss of their loved ones.

I am going to bring in now a woman who knows what those families are going through all too well. And that's Coni Sanders. Her father was one of 30 people killed at Columbine High School in 1999.

Coni -- let me just pause this. They said you lost your child -- you lost your father. I said that before going to the break so my apologies to you. Thank you so much for joining us.

When a horrible shooting like this happens, does this open up old wounds of your father and what happened at Columbine?

CONI SANDERS, FATHER WAS KILLED AT COLUMBINE: It really does. I didn't expect that after 18 years that we would still be traveling this road and that the sad group of people has gotten really large over the last 20 years as far as people affected by mass shootings.

I just -- I cannot believe that we're still here and that people are starting the journey that I've been traveling for 18 years. And it's a rough one.

LEMON: Did you hear the representative on earlier just before you?

SANDERS: I did. And you know, I've been a therapist. I work with people convicted of crime.

[00:25:01] I know that if we can find some middle ground, that we can gain some traction on this issue. It's so amazing to hear somebody actually say, you know what, we can do something.

Let's get some common sense measures put in place. Let's actually, as a state, each state coming together and deciding, you know, what we can do about this because at this point, you know, just thoughts and prayers and, you know, moving on isn't working.

You know, 20 years ago, the world stopped for Columbine. It really stopped. There were no sporting events. The malls were closed. Everything stopped. And then, a couple hundred shootings later, we have Sandy Hook and the world paused and said this is horrible. We can't do this.

And here we are again, a few hundred mass shootings later and now we just blink.

LEMON: Yes.

SANDERS: We don't even register it. We just blink. It's time to open our eyes and do something. And we can do that as a society. We don't need politicians. We can come together as a society because we're the people that drive this kind of change.

LEMON: Coni, this was another teenage shooter. Warning signs we're hearing from fellow students. Some of them said well, I didn't see that side of him. But most of them say, well, he sort of kept to himself. They looked at his social media site, there are warning signs. There's pictures of him holding a gun on Instagram. He posted threatening comments on YouTube and other sites. And he was expelled from high school.

Is this a case where someone should have seen the red flags? And the bigger point, the bigger point, someone like that, especially a teenager -- he's 19 years old -- should have access to a high-powered weapon?

SANDERS: Well, absolutely. He shouldn't have access to it. I can't believe that this is even a conversation that a 19-year-old can have access to an AR-15 but he can't have a handgun or have a beer.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Unless he's in the military, right.

SANDERS: Yes.

LEMON: Right.

SANDERS: But I'm really -- I really want to go back to this. I'm hearing a lot of see something/say something. I want to make it very clear to anybody out there that is sick in their soul with guilt because they didn't say something and now people are dead.

This is not your fault. This is on the arms -- on the shoulders of the shooter, not on yours. I know that statement is going to drive a lot of people to feel guilty and terrible that they saw these things, that they knew what he was saying and they didn't do anything. So I want it to be really clear.

The only person responsible for this atrocity is the person that is the shooter.

LEMON: I'm glad you said that.

Let's talk about this because you're a forensic therapist, right?

SANDERS: Yes.

LEMON: You work with violent offenders and the mentally ill. And so listen, we can work on mental health issues and we can work on gun issues, right, on sensible gun laws. Do you believe that violent people can be treated? And could some of these crimes be prevented through that?

SANDERS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I have seen it happen. People say, you know, criminals will just get a gun elsewhere. This man wasn't a criminal. He followed all the laws and got one anyway. And I work with people convicted of violent crime. I don't work with criminals. I work with people that have committed violent crime and if you give them hope and you give them options, and you give them a path, a lot of them will follow it. Now, of course, that isn't going to happen with everybody.

And as far as mental illness, let's stop stigmatizing mental illness. If people are victimized and they seek treatment, are they mentally ill and they can't now protect themselves with a weapon?

We have to get better about defining exactly what mental illness is. We need to defined better who is a dangerous criminal and who's just somebody with a criminal history? We've got a lot of definitions to clarify before we can make any progress.

LEMON: I thank you for coming on. I really do. And your words mean so much.

And I'm so sorry about your father. And I know that the pain doesn't go away. You just kind of get used to it. And there's your father, we put a picture up right there.

SANDERS: Yes. Oh, thank you.

LEMON: For his memory, let's hope that we do something. Thank you so much -- Coni.

SANDERS: Thank you.

LEMON: Appreciate it. >

When we come back, much more on our breaking news -- 17 people shot to death at a Florida high school. Learning more, tonight, about the 19- year-old suspect who is an ex-student.

[00:29:21] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:30:00]

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DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news, 17 people killed in a mass shooting at a high school in South Florida. The suspect is in custody. A 19-year-old former student at the school. A source tells CNN he is talking to investigators. He is due in court later today, at 10:30 Eastern time.

Joining me now, Neil Franklin, a retired major with the Maryland State Police. Also, CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, former assistant director of the U.S. Marshal's office and Jim Maxwell, also a retired FBI special agent.

Thank you for coming on this evening.

Art, you first. Sources tell CNN, the suspect pulled the school's fire alarm just before he began shooting people. This is a deliberate tactic.

What does it tell you, Art?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It tells me that he actually put a plan in place. He had smoke grenades with him. He was actually looking to hurt or kill or maim as many people as he could.

You know what happens when you pull the fire alarm. This is a school of 3,000 kids. It's a small town. What happens in those hallways, when classes end or somebody pulls a fire alarm. It's absolutely chaos. And what happened was when those kids funneled into the hallway, he had multiple targets.

To be honest, I'm amazed that more people aren't hurt or killed at this point in time.

LEMON: Really? Why?

RODERICK: Yes. He had multiple magazines -- oh, yes. He had an AR- 15. We just went through this whole process in Vegas with the bump stock issue. Now we're talking about a teenager with an AR-15.

I'm very familiar with AR-15s. I've been in firefights, using an AR- 15 --

[00:35:00]

RODERICK: -- or an M-4 and been shot by a Ruger Mini-14, which is a very similar weapon. Hearing those stories from those kids you had on earlier, Don, and listening to that Snapchat video, that will remain with these poor children for the rest of their lives.

LEMON: Neil, let's talk about the officials, the social media profile. Officials are saying it was very, very disturbing. We know he had been kicked out of school for disciplinary reasons.

How do you see these factors being a part of his criminal profile here?

NEIL FRANKLIN, MARYLAND STATE POLICE (RET.): Well, we've seen it before. Here's someone who was literally telling us he's going to do something, social media. It's no doubt that many people were following him on social media, people that have known him for some time.

It's been said that people knew he was somewhat troubled and he had a fixation with firearms. Basically he was telling us that something was about to happen, at least telling us that we need to take a close look at him.

So I want to touch on what was said earlier about his premeditation here and pulling that fire alarm, which was also most likely part of his plan to escape because, if he had gone into the school, you know, knowing what the protocol is, all kids are taught what the protocol is.

You secure yourself, you hide, you lock the doors to the classroom, to keep people out, to keep the shooter out. Pulling that fire alarm caused chaos in that school. A large number of kids filtering into the hallways and elsewhere, which also would be a cloak for his escape, which he attempted to do.

And he did, literally. He got out. In the mass confusion he got out and almost got away but eventually he would have been discovered and caught. But that was part of his plan premeditation, not just to commit the shooting and harm as many people as possible but also his escape.

LEMON: Jim, time for you to come in now and weigh in on this. A teacher at the high school said that he had been told last year, the shooter wasn't allowed on campus with a backpack. That's interesting. That seems to be a huge red flag.

Is that uncommon?

JIM MAXWELL, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I would say, there are a bunch of red flags, regarding this investigation, regarding this case. I go back to -- if you go to the Homeland Security website, Secret Service did a study several years ago of 14 random acts of violence at schools.

And they dissected each investigation. They talked to everybody: relatives, friends, witnesses, victims and the subjects. And they boiled it down and determined that, in over 50 percent, almost 60 percent of these people interviewed, someone knew this was going to happen before it actually happens, sometimes hours before it happens, sometimes days.

In one case, it was weeks before it happened. So in this particular case, there's a lot of red flags here.

We have to look at the school's procedures and how to follow up on once a student is expelled from the school, how do we keep him out of the school?

What types of systems are in place?

And I do assessments of schools and hospitals around the country. The one thing that's consistent is there's no consistency. There has to be some general standards on dealing with these situations and keeping these potential problems out of the schools.

LEMON: Neil, CNN is also reporting tonight that the suspect attempted to escape the scene, as we said, by mixing in with the crowd of students. It took about an hour for him to be apprehended.

I'm wondering if the system worked, in your opinion, because the only way they knew, because he was hiding in that crowd, you said it was part of the tactic there. They did it through security cameras.

FRANKLIN: Through the videos, school videos. They were able to put the face to the name and eventually track him down. It would have taken longer without the videos because they would have had to interview students.

Students knew who he was. Some of them knew who he was. But it would have taken much longer. As you talk about the tell-tale signs and the red flags and the mental health issues here, things that should have been brought to light and acted upon.

There are schools across this country, there are cities across the country, speaking not too long ago with Chief Art Howe in Racine, Wisconsin, and another chief down in West Virginia, Mari Richards (ph), down in Martinsburg, they started putting mental health units in schools, for other reasons. Dealing with the psychological --

[00:40:00]

FRANKLIN: -- issues of young people that would help with other issues such as drug abuse and so on. But this could also be helpful in situations like this, where the school can identify someone that's been dealing with some issues.

As it's been said, he's been kicked out. He's been expelled. And even if you try to keep him out, he will find a way to get back in that school. It's not that difficult. So you've got to identify these people soon to prevent them from committing the act or attempting to commit the act to begin with.

LEMON: Yes. There's so much breaking news. I'm sorry we didn't have more time but that will have to be it. I thank you. I appreciate it. We will have you back on next time.

When we come back, more on our breaking news, 17 people shot to death at a Florida high school. The suspect, a 19-year-old former student.

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LEMON: Breaking news, deadly mass shooting in Florida. At least 17 people killed at a high school, a place where children are supposed to be safe.

I want to bring in now CNN political commentators, Keith Boykin, Scott Jennings and David Swerdlick.

Gentlemen, thank you for coming on this evening.

David, I'm going to start with you, here we go.

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LEMON: Another mass shooting, teachers, students, hiding in closets, families not knowing if their children are OK.

What's your reaction first off?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: My reaction is that we're at a point that this is happening so frequently that I think the response of politicians, of our political class, needs to be stepped up.

You can have a reasonable debate about if we need more gun control, if particular gun control proposals would have stopped this crime, what is enough gun control, what is too much gun control.

But the statements we heard from a lot of politicians in these instances, including tonight, you heard Governor Scott in Florida, saying, now is not quite the time yet to discuss political solutions.

You had the president tweeting, basically, his prayers and condolences, which I heard you say, yes, it's meaningful, it's important but woefully inadequate. This is not enough of a response from politicians at this point.

This is not some out-of-the-blue thing where everyone can't believe it's happened, you have to believe it's happening because it's happened in recent weeks. It will happen again. So we should be expecting more from our leaders.

LEMON: Well, one politician, he's former, usually doesn't seem like people have backbones now unless they've become former.

Did you guys hear David Jolly earlier?

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SWERDLICK: He was very cogent on the issue. And I think it was notable that he called out his own party.

LEMON: He said vote them out. He said -- he said, a Republican, who has been very strong on the Second Amendment, he said, it's time to do something. He tried to do something. And he said, Democrats are the party -- that's the party that's going to have to, unfortunately for him, he says, do something meaningful when it comes to sensible gun legislation.

And he said, vote my own party out because he said Republicans are not going to do anything.

That had to be surprising to you as a conservative. Was that surprising to you, Scott Jennings?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I mean, look, I think these kinds of shootings, when it happens, it's tragic for all of us who have children. The thought of them going to a place that is supposed to be a place of peace and safety and learning can turn into such a horrific day.

We all dread it. Every parent in America worries about that day coming and prays that it never comes to their own family. I do think back to the Bush administration. I served as special assistant to President Bush. I think that's the last time we actually had any kind of sweeping gun legislation in this country.

It was January 2008, there was bipartisan cooperation. It was in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, you had the NRA and the Brady campaign on board with a big bill that beefed up the national database to try to screen out people who should not buy weapons.

I heard some people tonight express cynicism about we can't get to a solution. The Republicans won't do this. They can't come to an agreement. The two parties can't work together.

Actually, they can. And they could and --

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LEMON: Would you support sensible restrictions on assault-style weapons?

JENNINGS: I certainly don't think people should have access to weapons that have violent tendencies, violent histories, mental health issues. That's a nonstarter for me.

One thing about gun control and banning guns moving forward, I think we have to have a realistic conversation, about -- there's 5 million of these particular kinds of guns already on the streets. You're not going to realistically going to confiscate all those guns.

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LEMON: Why does that matter if it's restricted?

Why does that matter if it's restricted?

You're not going to get all of the jalopies off of the street that don't meet the standards of when you go to get your car registered or you go to get an inspection on your car. It means that you have to start somewhere.

So why does it matter if you don't get them all off of the street?

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LEMON: You'll keep more from pouring --

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JENNINGS: You raise a reasonable question. But, Don, you and I are from the same part of the country, where gun confiscation would be a nonstarter. It's not a conversation that people in communities, in a lot of places in rural --

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LEMON: Why are you talking about that?

JENNINGS: Because the point is, banning guns today does not solve the problem of having 5 million of this same kind of weapon already out in America. So I think people are going to want to talk about --

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LEMON: Couldn't you start by talking about saying we don't put more on the street?

We don't want to put anymore on the street. You cannot, under these circumstances, you cannot buy these. And then, do something else that will maybe -- if you have them in your neighborhood, because you don't need them anymore and you can't use them in this particular thing, unless you use them at a range or what have you, you have to turn them in or you should turn them in.

But you don't have to confiscate everybody's AR-15 if they already have one.

Why does it have to go to the extreme?

Why can't you just start from where we are now?

JENNINGS: I don't disagree with what you just said. You could have a conversation about regulations like that. But I'm tell you realistically, where --

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JENNINGS: -- the debate is going to wind up is, are you going to try to confiscate weapons from people who don't think they should have them confiscated?

This is where this thing breaks down and that's what has derailed some gun control debates in this country.

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KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Scott, can I suggest something?

You said this conversation, debate will end up there about confiscation.

How about you not make it that?

How about you encourage your fellow Republicans not to make it that?

I don't know any Democrats and I'm very progressive. I very much believe in doing something about guns. But I don't know any Democrats who are talking about confiscating people's guns. And I wish you could communicate that to the Republicans out there who support Trump or who were afraid that somehow Obama was going to do that or Hillary Clinton was going to do that.

That's a consistent red herring. The NRA uses this red herring and gun manufacturers, I think, as well to promote gun sales and promote fear and hysteria. But nobody is talking about confiscating guns. We're talking about sensible gun restrictions that most Americans support.

And instead of talking about those, what we do is instead we leap to the far extreme and talk about why we can't do that. Let's just talk about what we can do, which is what you said you were able to do with the Bush administration. Let's do that and let's not talk about --

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LEMON: All right, I have got to get to the break. So you guys will get to respond on the other side. I'm not saying there should be gun confiscation at all.

But how many times have you had your car impounded when you parked in the wrong place?

You go out there and your car is gone. You're like, oh, my gosh, what am I going to do?

And then you have to prove that you're worthy of that car and pay to get it back. So I'm just saying, look, we have to start somewhere. We have to stop pretending that there's some mortal wound that you can't have some sort of a gun. Come on. Give me a break.

We restrict the size of motorcycles; we strict the size of engines for cars on the street. We should be able to do the same thing when it comes to guns. It just makes sense. We'll be back.

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LEMON: We're back. I'm back with Keith Boykin, Scott Jennings and David Swerdlick. I want to hear just -- the viewer to hear in case they didn't what we were speaking about in the last segment. Play it.

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REP. DAVID JOLLY (R), FLORIDA: There are two things I would suggest tonight. First, flip the House. Flip the House. Republicans are not going to do a single thing after this shooting we saw today.

But I would also offer to Democrats, work for incremental wins. What I mean by that is this, we can do comprehensive, universal background checks. And we can do it with the support of the law enforcement community which typically is a conservative Second Amendment group.

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LEMON: I have a short time left, guys.

I don't want to give you short shrift but what do you think of that, David?

SWERDLICK: So I think it was refreshing to hear former Republican congressman speak directly on that issue, Don. I also think that he pointed out the influence of the NRA in this issue. And he pointed out a noteworthy thing about Democrats need to look for incremental wins.

Here's my skepticism on this point. Guns are not just a Second Amendment issue, a policy issue. They're also a cultural issue at the heart of a lot of our American political friction that Democrats just can't use as an issue to flip the House or the Senate in an election.

In the same way take a different issue like same sex marriage, where Republicans at some point were just no longer able to use that -- yes, I'm sorry.

LEMON: That's OK, go ahead.

Go ahead, Keith.

What do you say?

BOYKIN: I don't know where to begin. I think the problem is that the country has a fascination with guns. But not everybody has that. It's only a small portion of people who actually are obsessed with guns this way.

And we have to be able to stand up to people like the NRA and to the gun lobby in general and do something. We're not exercising any leadership right now.

LEMON: Last word, Scott?

JENNINGS: I think some of the solutions to this really don't have anything to do with politicians. We have cultural societal issues. I think we have in some ways a lost generation of young males in this country.

They're going off the grid, they're not participating in the labor force. They're falling into violence and drugs, manifesting themselves in these violent outbursts. I don't know if there's a politician in America that can fix what's culturally going on with a lost generation of young males.

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SWERDLICK: Well, you can take guns away from them, Scott, is one thing.

LEMON: Thank you.

So listen, thank you all. I got to say that I know that owning a weapon is a right under the Constitution. But I also have the right under the Constitution to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Life meaning I have the right to be able to walk down the street, go to a movie theater, go to a school wherever it is, come into the workplace and not be gunned down by someone who shouldn't have access to a gun.

Good night.