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17 Killed In Florida School Shooting; Bipartisan Group Reaches Immigration Deal; Trump Breaks Silence On Domestic Abuse; Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Gold In Women's Giant Slalom. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 15, 2018 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Pray for this city, pray for this school, the parents, the folks that lost their lives. It's a horrific, horrific day.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Seventeen more lives lost in another episode in the cycle of gun violence plaguing American schools. The suspect's social media now raising disturbing clues. A Florida community reeling this morning as officials resort to thoughts and prayers with no action on the horizon.

Welcome back to EARLY START this morning, a very said morning here. I'm Christine Romans.

All right, we have Dave Briggs for us this morning in Parkland, Florida where he is following this news this morning that America is waking up to another repetition of its -- of its recurring nightmare facing a mass shooting, helpless to stop the gun violence plaguing this country.

Seventeen people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. At this hour, there are five patients, we're told, who remain in life-threatening condition. Ten others have been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. So far, 12 victims of the deadly rampage have been identified.

Here are just a few seconds of the horror these students and these teachers went through. We want to warn you this video is disturbing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy -- oh my God.



DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And that will never get out of the minds of these students.

Officials say it's the sound of an AR-15 rifle being fired by 19-year- old former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz.

Senior senator of Florida Bill Nelson told CNN how this gruesome attack began.


SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: The shooter wore a gas mask and he had smoke grenades. He went and set off the fire alarm so the kids would come pouring out of the classrooms into the hall. And there, the carnage began.


BRIGGS: These kids, they never had a chance. The gunfire sent students, as you can see, running for cover, desperate to escape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started hearing like six gunshots like far away, but I could still hear them clear as day. And as soon as that ended, I just told everyone we've got to go. Like, we've got to run and everyone started running as fast as I can.

And then people were taking snapshots and stuff and I'm like, man, you've got to go. Like everyone's got to go.


BRIGGS: Of course, there were lucky families. Emotional reunions as moms and dads embraced sons and daughters. Imagine those hours waiting to hear from their babies.

There have now been 18 school shootings this year and it's only mid- February. That's essentially one every three days.

For the very latest on the police investigation and what we know about this former student behind this shooting, CNN's Rosa Flores here in Parkland close to the school.

Good morning, Rosa.


Well, this is still a very active scene. Investigators scouring through this extensive scene to look for clues to try to figure out why this gunman did what he did.

We are learning more about -- 19 years of age. Nikolas Cruz is his name. We know that he was -- he was at this school -- he's a former student that was expelled because of disciplinary reasons.

According to authorities here he purchased the AR-15-style rifle about a year ago -- he passed the background check -- and he had an extensive amount of magazines.

We're also learning a little more about his family history. We understand that his father -- adoptive father -- died about 13 years ago. His mother died last November.

A family took him in and now, that family speaking through an attorney. Take a listen.


JIM LEWIS, ATTORNEY: Nothing to indicate that anything like this was pending. Showed no harm or malice towards anyone at that high school. Never mentioned anything like that, that he had any problems with anybody there. They totally don't know where this came from.


FLORES: Now, we are learning from authorities about the social media trail that this gunman left behind. There are extensive photographs -- graphic photographs of him with guns, graphic messages.

We also know that he's expected to face a judge today, Dave.

[05:35:00] ROMANS: All right, many of the worst -- thank you so much for that, Rosa. We're having trouble with Dave's audio there.

But I can tell you this about the shooting. Many of the worst mass shootings in recent years have something in common, the same weapon. The AR-15 rifle used in all of them. In the Sutherland Springs church, the Las Vegas country music concert, the Pulse nightclub, the San Bernardino office shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary, and the Aurora movie theater massacre.

Now, the AR-15 is a civilian version of the military's M-16. The National Rifle Association calls it adaptable, reliable, and accurate. The NRA says the AR-15 is America's most popular rifle, owned by more than eight million people in this country.

All right. The shooting in Florida quick to draw outrage from Democrats in Congress.


REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: The pattern will be perfectly predictable. There will be a moment of silence, people will wish everybody thoughts and prayers and sympathy for the victims. And then, the Congress of the United States will do absolutely nothing.


ROMANS: It looks like Republicans have gone largely silent on the matter. More from Washington, next.


[05:40:24] BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs live in Parkland, Florida, following overnight developments in the Florida high school shooting that killed 17 people. This ranks now as the ninth-deadliest in modern U.S. history.

Let's bring in Charles Ramsey, CNN law enforcement analyst and former police chief of Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, and you started your career in Chicago -- three cities that know violent crime.

But when we talk about the two recent most deadliest school shootings we're talking about Newtown, Connecticut and Parkland, Florida, which was the 15th-safest city in the United States.

What's the message?


It's just like the opioid epidemic. It's no longer confined to certain areas and urban areas or what have you. Everyone is affected now and impacted by it, so that's the message.

BRIGGS: Eighteen school shootings this year in 13 different states so, yes, no one is safe.

Let's turn now to the investigation and to this attack. There was a report that he pulled the fire alarm --

RAMSEY: Right.

BRIGGS: -- and was armed with smoke bombs.

Now, there was a fire drill earlier in the day, totally unrelated. It may have played into the reaction of the students and the kids.

But how much advanced planning went into this attack?

RAMSEY: Well, you would think that he thought this through. How can I draw as many people out into the open as possible? Pulling a fire alarm certainly would do that.

He knew exactly what he was going to do so there was some planning. For how long, who knows. That's all part of the investigation and the interrogation of this individual to try to find out just how much planning and whether or not he had someone else that was involved in that planning.

BRIGGS: Yes, the law enforcement community has a busy task ahead.

You talked about the law enforcement community and changes you'd like to see across this country. Congressional action is doubtful at this point. We talked about Sandy Hook when nothing happened. Even the congressional shooting, Steve Scalise, nothing happened.

What would you like to see? What would the law enforcement community like to see done here in the United States? RAMSEY: Well, first of all, I'm not anti-Second Amendment or anti- firearm --


RAMSEY: -- I'm really not -- but we got to make it more difficult for people to get their hands on weapons if they're not responsible and if they're not law-abiding people that are going to use them properly.

I mean, if you have some form of mental illness. I mean, think about it. If you're on the no-fly list you can still go out and buy a gun. I mean, that is absolutely crazy.

So there have to be some steps that we can take if we sit down and think this thing through and do what we have to do. If we don't care about ourselves as adults, at least care about the kids because they're the ones being impacted. Not just those shot -- think about the trauma that these kids are going through. Their lives have changed forever now.

BRIGGS: Everyone in this town, I think, their lives --


BRIGGS: -- have changed forever.

School is canceled Thursday and Friday but ever coming back to this school will be emotional, and painful, and difficult for all of these kids.

Talk about this AR-15 rifle. They made it easier to acquire for 18- year-olds. Just about five years ago the attorney general Pam Bondi joined with 21 other states and the NRA.

Should something be done about that weapon?

RAMSEY: Well, it's my understanding some eight million people currently own them --


RAMSEY: -- so to think that we're totally going to get rid of them I don't think is really practical.

But again, can we make it more difficult for people to purchase that kind of weapon? Maybe instead of looking at it as just all firearms, look at some of these different types of firearms, assault weapons being one. A little more difficult, a more thorough background check, something that would make a little more difficult -- well, a lot more difficult, actually, for someone like that to get their hands on it.

What would an 18 or 19-year-old need with an assault weapon like that?

BRIGGS: It is difficult to imagine what they need that for. So, that's Congress. Is this a call to action, you think, to parents, to students, to

teachers, to administrators, to the parents of kids to look at their social media and take a role in this -- take action?

RAMSEY: Well, it is that but it's also all Americans need to just step up and just say hey, enough is enough because what's going to happen -- we have a short attention span in this country. I mean, you know, and a few days will pass and we won't be talking about this. We'll be talking about the latest tweet from the president or something like that.

This is a serious issue that has be addressed. This is not going to be the last school shooting. There'll be others, guaranteed. The question is where and when, and unless we do something it's not going to change.

BRIGGS: There has been one every three days.

[05:45:00] You can see brand new investigators arriving here at the scene behind us. A heavy law enforcement presence as you would imagine.

Charles Ramsey, thanks for joining us --

RAMSEY: Thank you.

BRIGGS: -- here this morning.

Christine, back to you in New York.

ROMANS: All right, Dave, thanks.

You know, so far, gun rights advocates have been largely silent and two of Florida's most prominent Republicans are taking a familiar fallback position, including Sen. Marco Rubio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of your colleagues in the Senate and here from Washington, D.C. have already been trying to make this about policy and about gun control.

Is this the appropriate time to be doing that?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: No, it's not, only because people don't know how this happened. I mean, who this person is, what motivated them, how did they get ahold of the weapon that they used for this attack? I think it's important to know all of that before you jump to conclusions that there is some law that we could have passed that could have prevented it.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: There's a time to continue to have these conversations about how through law enforcement, how through mental illness funding that we make sure people are safe, and we'll continue to do that.


ROMANS: Well, let's bring in "CNN POLITICS" reporter Tal Kopan live in Washington. Good morning.

And first of all, I mean, it's just such a -- just such a sad story. For so many of those kids, and teachers, and survivors this is something that will mark the rest of their life, and to see this played out every three days, as Dave said -- there is a school shooting.

It's interesting because five years after Sandy Hook, no legislative action. Congress doesn't do anything and -- clearly, on this matter.

But you heard Chief Ramsey say there that law enforcement -- leaders in law enforcement may have to take a stand. I mean, these are people who are pro-Second Amendment, who are pro-gun rights and gun ownership, but who want public safety.

The electorate may have to move on this.

Is there any indication that voters -- for voters, this is important or these events resonate?

TAL KOPAN, REPORTER, "CNN POLITICS": Well look, Christine, this is one of those issues that it seems so silly in some ways that Congress can't come together because the polling is pretty strong on some sort of moderate, middle-of-the-road provisions that the electorate wants to see.

I feel like every time we have one of these tragedies -- and again, it is so unfortunate that we even have to say a sentence like that, that anytime we have one of these tragedies, they happen so often. But, there's a clamor for some sort of a reasonable proposal.

Let's remember, after the Las Vegas shooting last year, there seemed to be all this momentum for finally doing something small and regulating bump stocks, which was a way to make a semi-automatic fire more quickly.

That has fizzled. That did not go anywhere. It has been left with the administration to do sort of through regulation that's been very murky. Even that couldn't get across the finish line.

But until lawmakers feel like -- you know, like it's what they're hearing at town halls, it's what Americans are discussing at their kitchen table, and it's what Americans will vote on them primarily at the polling station. It's unclear whether that message is actually going to hit home, how popular an issue this is.

ROMANS: The president tweeting yesterday afternoon -- not a public, on-camera statement but tweeting, "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."

I can tell you, waking up this morning as a parent, I do feel unsafe about American schools.

The Florida "Sun Sentinel" says this is an editorial.

"Yes, thoughts and prayers are a welcome response to anyone in mourning and in need. But with this type of tragedy, repeated so many times across our country, we already know that thoughts and prayers alone are a grossly inadequate response to our country's self- inflicted cancer on gun violence."

That word cancer really got my attention because I thought, Tal, no, we spend a lot of money and a lot of time fighting cancer. We don't spend anything fighting gun violence.

KOPAN: That's right, and you -- keep in mind, you can compare the administration's reactions to different tragedies. And this reaction is very different from the reaction to some recent terrorist attacks, especially when they're committed by someone who was not born in this country.

And so, you know, you have to sort of compare that reaction when you look at the administration and see in those instances -- in terrorist attacks, a sort of entire apparatus of government springs into action to get to the bottom of it and there is a conversation about what could have been done to prevent it. And perhaps, per our earlier conversation, it's up the voters to demand the same in this case.

But, you're right. It is not like cancer. It is not like a number of other issues. This seems to be one that stymies Congress over and over and unfortunately, the partisan lines have been drawn. The sort of -- the game plan has been set.

We see this pattern repeat over and over. It's unfortunate that there even has to be such a pattern. And there seems to be nothing at this point --

ROMANS: Right.

KOPAN: No tragedy so atrocious that shakes us out of that pattern.

ROMANS: Yes, and Republicans say don't -- Democrats don't play politics with the pain and suffering of these -- of these poor people. And, Democrats say don't just say thoughts and prayers. That's insulting.

[05:50:09] KOPAN: Right.

ROMANS: So they just replay the tape, replay the tape.

Let's talk about immigration. You cover immigration for us here at CNN and there is a move -- a narrow move underway here to get some sort of deal.

Can they get 60 or what does that deal look like?

KOPAN: Right now, Christine, we do not know if they have 60 votes. They are very close. The bill came out with about eight Republicans in support. If every

Democrat votes for it, which at this point is not a given, they need 11 Republicans so they're sort of right on that precipice of possibly being there but it's not clear at all whether they will get there.

And right now, what has been proposed -- this came out of a group of bipartisan senators who have been meeting for weeks. It was sort of looked at as the most likely chance of finding something that could actually pass.

It's a much narrower version than what the White House has asked for. It's sort of the DACA piece, though legalizing a path to citizenship of 1.8 million people. It's $25 billion for border security, as we've seen, and a small provision limiting the ability of those individuals once they become citizens to sponsor their parents for citizenship, which is one concern of conservatives on this issue.

ROMANS: Right, but the diversity lottery -- that's not in it?

KOPAN: It's not in there.

ROMANS: Not in there.


ROMANS: OK, all right.

Tal Kopan, nice to see you this morning. Thank you so much.

KOPAN: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right.

The president didn't say anything publicly, as we've said, about the shooting but after a week of silence he did speak up about domestic violence.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that.


ROMANS: Now, CNN has learned Rob Porter was one of many in the White House operating without -- with temporary security clearance for a year.


[05:55:56] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, we're leaving. Make your way out.

TRUMP: I oppose domestic violence and everybody here knows that. I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that and it almost wouldn't even have to be said, so now you hear it but you all know it.

Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.


ROMANS: President Trump breaking his painfully long silence on domestic abuse. He's been avoiding the subject ever since his top aide Rob Porter was accused of abusing his two ex-wives. Porter denies the allegations.

The president, who faces his own accusations of harassment and assault, has struggled to respond to the nationwide outcry against mistreatment of women.

Vice President Pence now admitting the Porter debacle was fumbled.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I said and as the White House has said, I think the White House could have handled this better, and I still feel that way.


ROMANS: CNN has learned exclusively there were more than 100 staffers in the executive office of the president who were working without permanent security clearances over a year after the election. That includes Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Six Democratic senators have sent a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray asking for the names of all White House staff members with interim security clearances.

The pornographic actress who allegedly had a sexual encounter with President Trump is ready to tell her story. Stormy Daniels' manager says she believes the president's personal lawyer breached a non- disclosure agreement he negotiated with her.

Michael Cohen admitted this week to paying Daniels $130,000 back in 2016. Cohen said the exchange was not a campaign contribution and he did not tell Mr. Trump about the payment days before the election.

American skier Mikaela Shiffrin winning gold in the giant slalom at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. It is her second career gold medal. The 22-year-old won the ladies slalom in Sochi in 2014.

Mikaela will try to defend her title in that event tomorrow but she will not longer race in the Super-G Saturday. The windy weather has caused repeated changes to the skiing schedule.

The U.S. has now won five gold medals in South Korea.

All right. Global stocks higher today after Wall Street shook off some inflation fears. That's what sparked the market sell-off two weeks ago. Stocks initially dropped after news broke of inflation -- that inflation rose 2.1 percent in January. Americans paid more for gas, for rent, for health care.

The Federal Reserve has a target of two percent inflation. Any higher and investors worry it means higher interest rates faster than planned.

Low rates have fueled the stock market bull but Wall Street rebounded anyway, boosted by tech stocks. It's now on a 4-day winning streak. The Dow and the S&P 500 both up again for the year, folks.

All right, thanks for joining us. For Dave Briggs in Florida, and for me here in New York, I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Thursday, February 15th.

Chris is in New York; I am in Parkland, Florida.

This, of course, the scene of the latest school shooting. This is a city in mourning. This is the site of the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since Sandy Hook which, of course, we all remember, in Newtown, Connecticut. That was more than five years ago.

So, police say this heavily-armed young man stormed into his former high school from which he was expelled. The high school is right behind me. He opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon and he turned his school into a war zone.

Here's where things stand at this hour.

Police say 17 people were killed in and around Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. None of the victims have been named as this hour because authorities are still trying to notify their families. Some of these students didn't have identification on them.


CAMEROTA: So, at least 15 others are hospitalized, five of them with life-threatening injuries. We're waiting to see what their condition is this morning.

And in just hours, this 19-year-old suspect will make his first court appearance. He is -- he's been transferred to the Broward County Jail. You're going to see some new video right here. This is him in the wee hours of the morning being transferred.