Return to Transcripts main page


Thousands Mourn 17 Killed at Florida High School; Survivors Remember Friends Lost in Attack. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 16, 2018 - 07:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was obsessed with guns.

[07:00:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like the dots should have been connected here.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every parent, we are here for you, whatever we can do to ease your pain.

LORI ALHADEFF, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM ALYSSA ALHADEFF: President Trump, you need to help us now. We need security now for all these children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If now is not the right time, when is the right time?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's one of those moments where we need to step back and count our blessings.

DAVID HOGG, SCHOOL SHOOTING SURVIVOR: We're children. You guys, like, are the adults. You can say, "Yes, we're going to do all these things. Thoughts and prayers." What we need more than that is action.

FRED GUTTENBERG, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM JAIME GUTTENBERG: What is unfathomable is Jaime took a bullet and is dead. I don't know what I do next.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. John Berman is in New York this morning. Chris is off. And I'm here in Parkland, Florida. Just the latest American city grieving over another deadly school shooting.

Thousands of people here gathered last night at this candlelight vigil to remember the 17 students and teachers who were killed on Wednesday behind me at the school here, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

We now know more about their identities. We know their names. We know some of their stories about their lives. So let me give you just a little glimpse into who some of these people were.

Among those killed, 14-year-old Alaina Petty. She volunteered to clean up after Hurricane Irma hit this state in September. She was part of something called helping hands at her church. She liked to give back to others.

Nicholas Dworet, he was a star swimmer at this high school. He was a 17-year-old. And he was planning to attend the University of Indianapolis in the fall.

The football coach that we've heard so much about, Aaron Feis, he's remembered as a hero. He was killed while shielding his students from the hail of bullets.

Throughout the morning we will share their stories. We will tell you about others. We will pay tribute to all of these victims, John, because, obviously, you know -- I can't -- I just can't say it enough. When one person that you know is killed, it is devastating. Imagine 17. And imagine having to be in high school and go back to high school somehow next week without 17 people who had bright futures and were part of your life. That's what the kids here are dealing with.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One life is too many. And it was too many years ago, as well, Alisyn. And maybe it will inspire others to take action.

So many of the students who survived this attack and their parents are trying to turn their grief and anger into a call to action, calling on the president and Congress to do something. So far lawmakers have abdicated. No real debate at all after so many of these mass shootings. President Trump would not even say the word "gun" in his address to the nation.

All this as investigators are now revealing that a confessed killer, how he carried out this massacre.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Rosa Flores, live in Parkland with new details -- Rosa.


The mood here in Parkland is somber. As Alisyn was saying, this is a community where everybody knows everybody. And as the first of the victims, of 17 is laid to rest, this community is asking for prayers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to know that you're not alone in your grief. We're all grieving with you. The entire country is grieving with you.

FLORES (voice-over): A sea of candlelight flooding an outdoor park as thousands gather to remember the 17 lives lost in Wednesday's massacre.

GUTTENBERG: I sent her to school yesterday. She was supposed to be safe. My job is to protect my children. Don't tell me there's no such thing as gun violence. It happened in Parkland!

FLORES: Parents holding their children close as students and friends reunited. But in the wake of the tragedy, many are turning their grief into calls to action.

ISABELLE ROBINSON, STUDENT WHO SURVIVED MASSACRE: This shouldn't be a fight between two different parties. This should be a coming together where we all realize that something is wrong.

CARLY NOVELL, STUDENT WHO SURVIVED MASSACRE: This happens over and over again. And people are dying. And it, like -- it seems like it doesn't matter. Because, like, what are thoughts and prayers going to do when people are already dead?

FLORES: As this community looks to move forward, authorities are digging deeper into the killer's past. New documents obtained by CNN show that police visited the killer's family home 39 times since 2010, for calls including domestic disturbance and mentally ill person.

BRODY SPENO, SHOOTER'S FORMER NEIGHBOR: The police were here almost every other week. Like, that's kind of how we knew he moved because, like, police stopped showing up there.


SPENO: Yes. He was always -- like always getting in trouble. He was, like, an evil kid.

[07:05:00] FLORES: Investigators are piecing together a very disturbing portrait of the killer's fascination with guns. A former neighbor took this video, shot a few months ago, showing the killer in his backyard brandishing a gun.

Authorities also discovering these disturbing images on a second Instagram account, showing the killer wearing a mask and a "Make America Great Again" hat. In one picture, an arsenal of firearms are displayed on his bed. Another taken through the scope of a gun.

The killer also espoused extremist views and violent desires online, writing on a video from Antifa, the controversial protest group, quote, "F Antifa. I'm going to kill them in the future."

But it was this post that prompted a Mississippi YouTube user to alert the FBI. Quote, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter."

BEN BENNIGHT, CONTACTED FBI ABOUT SHOOTER'S POST: I found that post disturbing enough that I thought somebody needed to know about it.

FLORES: The FBI says they followed up on the lead but did not have enough information to confirm the user's identity.

In his first court appearance Thursday, the killer was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Police say he has since confessed to carrying out the attack and is now on suicide watch. His public defender telling the press that the killer has suffered from mental illness for years.

MELISA MCNEILL, SHOOTER'S PUBLIC DEFENDER: He's sad. He's mournful. He's remorseful. He is fully aware at what is going on. And he's just a broken human being. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: And as the families of the victims ask for justice to be served, the investigation here continues. We are learning from the police how the gunman exercised this attack. We're learning that he arrived in an Uber.

After two minutes on campus, he started firing his weapon. About ten minutes after his arrival, he put that weapon down, an AR-15 style rifle, and he started blending in with students. That's how police say he was able to leave the scene. Then he stopped by two stores, buying a sandwich and a drink. And then later he was apprehended in a residential area by a Coconut Creek police officer who said that his training simply kicked in -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Just when you think it can't get any more chilling, Rosa, you hear that he had to stop for a sandwich. Thank you very much for all of that reporting.

So we're joined now by two survivors of this massacre. We have freshman Kelsey Friend and senior Carly Novell. Girls, thank you so much for being here.

Kelsey, we wanted to check in with you again this morning because when you came on yesterday, your tribute to Mr. Beigel, your geography teacher, was so powerful. You wanted his family to know what a hero he was. And that really moved so many people. And it was beautiful. Have you heard from his family?

KELSEY FRIEND, STUDENT SURVIVOR OF SCHOOL SHOOTING: Not yet. I hope I do soon, because Mr. Beigel will forever be my hero. I owe my life to him. And I -- I'm holding back tears right now, because I care for him so much. Now that he's gone and I have to walk into that classroom without him there, it's going to be hard.

CAMEROTA: How will you go back to school?

FRIEND: I'm going to go in with -- with strong arms with me. Us Eagles, we're very strong. And we will do anything to keep each other safe and to keep each other strong at this time.

CAMEROTA: You are so strong, Kelsey. But it's impossible to be a freshman and to have to endure, first, what you yourself, the trauma that you yourself, being under siege by this gunman, you had to hide behind Mr. Beigel's desk. And then the loss that you're feeling. I hear that you just got more bad news about a friend. Can you tell us about Peter Wang.

Peter was in my culinary class. That's why I'm wearing my culinary shirt to remember him. And yesterday was the Chinese new year. He was very excited to celebrate it with his family. Me and my family celebrated it for him and eating Chinese. Peter and me, we always argued a lot and I'm very upset that I couldn't say, "I'm sorry." Because I do care about Peter very much. Peter was very close to me, and it's hard to not have him in the hallways anymore, because me and him used to laugh with each other. He used to -- he used to make me smile. And now he's gone.

CAMEROTA: And you found out that he was gone because you were just going through Google, just online you were looking at photos and images of those who were lost. And you saw your friend. You hadn't known that he had been killed?

FRIEND: Yes. I -- during the shooting, I didn't really message him, but I should have. But, yes, I was going through Google images through the victim list. I saw Mr. Beigel, obviously. And then I saw Peter, and I started screaming and crying. And I had -- I couldn't do anything. I was just in complete tears. I was a wreck.

[07:10:16] CAMEROTA: Of course you were. I mean, this is life- changing. Even though you survived, obviously, to lose these people who were so close to you, this is forever life-changing. And to have to hear about 17 different people.

And so, Carly, I want to bring you in. Because you also have lost people. You also endured all of this. And you were inside.

And so when people like, you know, this conservative firebrand, Tomi Lahren, tell you how you should feel and what you can talk about today. Let me read the tweet that got you upset from Tom Lahren. It says here, "Can the left let the families grieve for even 24 hours before they push their anti-gun, anti-gun owner agenda? My goodness. This isn't about a gun. It's about another lunatic."

What did you think when you read that?

NOVELL: I just got angry. Like, she's trying to use, like, left and right. I don't think it's about any sides of the -- of political parties or anything. It's about children died. Like, it doesn't matter what -- what side of the gun control argument you're on. Like, people are dead.

CAMEROTA: And when is the right time to talk about this?

NOVELL: I think any time. I think it's right now. It's two days ago. We have to talk about it. Because there's no -- it's already too late to change.

CAMEROTA: I mean, I was so struck by what you said, that while it was happening, while you all were under siege hiding behind desks, as Kelsey was, hiding in closets, you were all talking about it. So if you can talk about it while it's happening, you can talk about it today.

NOVELL: Yes. I don't think it should be someone else's choice on when we can talk about it. Because it is something that is so sad. It happened at our school. People are gone. And we have to talk about it, because there's people dead. And there's been people dead because of this for shooting after shooting.

CAMEROTA: I mean, this is, by the way, how people process trauma. They talk about it. Here's what you tweeted back to Tomi Lahren: "I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren't there. You don't know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This is about guns. This is about all the people who had their lives abruptly ended because of guns."

It's quite simple to you, in your mind.

NOVELL: Yes. I don't think it should be an argument, even. And I understand people want the right to bear arms. But there's people dead and I think that's more important than the right to bear arms. Because we're protecting ourselves from this amendment, sort of.

CAMEROTA: Is this a tough conversation to have in Florida? A lot of people have guns in Florida. Obviously, there's a gun culture. Is this a tough conversation to have here?

NOVELL: I think it's a tough conversation to have anywhere. I think there's a lot of people who are really passionate about guns, and they love guns. But I don't see a need for it when there are people that are being killed.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Kelsey, what do you want to say to the leaders, to people who have some power to perhaps stop this from happening at another school? What message do you want them to know about what you all have endured here?

FRIEND: I just want them to know that something actually does need to happen. After Sandy Hook, after all the other shootings, and then having it happen at my own school. Something needs to be done or it's going to continue. Because people -- I understand people are crazy, but guns in crazy people's hands is deadly. And I lost two of my closest -- the closest people to me because of guns. And no one is doing anything about it.

CAMEROTA: What do you want us to know about Peter?

FRIEND: Peter was very funny. I used to joke around and call him Peter Griffin. And he'd laugh with me. He was one of my closest friends. And he always was very kind. He died a gentleman holding the door for other students. And knowing he's gone is going to haunt me forever.

CAMEROTA: Are you guys getting help? Are there counselors on hand that you guys are talking to? What are you doing with all of this pain?

FRIEND: Currently right now I'm just crying in my room, hugging my mom, and pushing through it by myself. But eventually I will talk to someone.

CAMEROTA: That sounds like the right plan.

How about you, Carly?

NOVELL: I feel like I haven't had a chance to deal with it all. It's all happening so fast. And I'm just trying to be thankful for what I have. I have my friends. I'm trying to talk about this to you guys. And it's a lot going on right now. And it's just like there's so many feelings. And it's hard to feel it all.

CAMEROTA: Give yourself a long time. This is going to be a long journey.

NOVELL: Yes. I don't think anything is ever going to, like, get better. I think this -- this has changed my life.

CAMEROTA: Things will never be the same. I agree with you both. Thank you both for your bravery. Thank you both for sharing your stories for us. No one knows better than you both. Thank you so much. And we're so sorry for your losses.

NOVELL: Thank you.

FRIEND: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So we do have a little glimmer of good news to report from here in Parkland. Two people who were injured in the shooting have now been released from the hospital. This just happened overnight, meaning that, obviously, their injuries, they've overcome them.

So meanwhile, police say that the killer, who survived, as you know, and escaped, he has confessed to this horrible act. The Broward County sheriff has released a timeline detailing the moments that changed this community forever. Watch this.


SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: The suspect entered the east stairwell -- that's Building 12 -- with a rifle inside a black soft case. The suspect exited the stairwell, pulled the rifle out of the case. At 20 -- at 2:21:33, the suspect readied his rifle and began shooting into rooms 1215, 1216, 1214. He went back to 1216, back to 1215 and then to 1213.


CAMEROTA: All right. Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analysts to talk about all this, Charles Ramsey and James Gagliano.

It's just horrible. I mean, it's just so sickening when you hear about the carnage that he was able to, you know, make happen in this school in just a matter of seconds here.

So, chief, we do know that there were warning signs. Let's just admit it. There were warning signs. There was a huge social media digital footprint saying really inflammatory, threatening, scary stuff. What went wrong here?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there are almost always warning signs in all these cases when you look back at it.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but these are glaring. Don't you agree?

RAMSEY: I agree, but then what action can you take on some of these is really the question? Now, this has to be debriefed. We've got to take a strong look at it and figure out could more have been done? And if so, then what action could...

CAMEROTA: But let me ask you that. If the guy is using his own name and you know his name on social media, can't police look into this?

RAMSEY: Well, you've got his name, but you don't have his I.P. address. You don't know where he's coming from.

CAMEROTA: You guys are investigators. Can't you find it?

RAMSEY: Well, that's what we've got to look at, to see whether or not enough was done in terms of the number of steps they could actually identify this individual and then take action.

Again, you know, Jim is always saying, you know, there's a balance between privacy and security. And I agree with that. But at the same time, we have to be able to take steps to avoid this sort of thing.

CAMEROTA: This tipped over the balance between privacy and security. He was saying, "I want to shoot people with my AR-15. I want to mow down people." And by the way, Jim, the FBI had been alerted to this guy.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: This -- this is is law enforcement's nightmare. Every one of us that have served, carried a badge and a gun, this is our nightmare. You want to look back when you do the 20/20 hindsight and you say, "Did we miss something," Alisyn. "Did we not connect the dots?"

However, in this instance -- and I'm going to take the chief's position on this one, too, and I agree. In a country where we cherish not just the Second Amendment but the First Amendment, there are protections there. And a lot of times, when you take speech off the Internet and you read something that's in a chat room, or somebody posts on a YouTube video, you have to understand, it has to be viewed, was it said in haste, was there impulsivity? Could it be misinterpreted?

CAMEROTA: I get it. But isn't that why you go and talk to the guy?

GAGLIANO: You do. And we do something called a knock and talk, which to the chief's talk again, they would have had to locate this guy. They had a name. They didn't have any other data to that. And again, in law enforcement, it is about triage.

So when you're trying to stop murders and you're trying to stop, you know, assaults and you're trying to stop kidnappings and bank robbers and terrorists, you triage these things. Should there have been coordination with local law enforcement? I'm confident that the FBI did what needed to be done. But those are the things that they're going to sort out now to get involved.

CAMEROTA: But how do you call -- listen, I think police work is God's work. OK? I have seen the incredible things that police do in keeping us all safe. I was a crime reporter at "America's Most Wanted" for a million years. So I know the sacrifices that you guys make. But how can you say the FBI did enough? They were alerted to this

guy. We know that this guy was unhinged. That's what -- he was expelled from his school behind us. He was posting these things online. How can they have done enough?

[07:20:05] GAGLIANO: Because a lot of times, we look at these things in a vacuum, and you see one thing inside of the silo. And you don't see all the other parts that went to it. So all these things are going to come out.

And look, Alisyn, from the tactical level, the police response, the investigation, we're going to get to the bottom of it. We have to look at this from the strategic level, the macro level. And that's where you go today to "The New York Post," saying, "We need to look at some of these gun laws. We need to look at the assault weapons ban. We need to look at these things that could have possibly kept that weapon out of a 19-year-old kid's hands."


RAMSEY: But it's not just the gun laws. That's part of it. You also have mental health issues. You've got communication issues. How do you transfer information from an individual's psychiatrist to law enforcement?


RAMSEY: And still maintain some level of privacy? There are so many gaps.

GAGLIANO: HIPAA infringement.

RAMSEY: Yes, exactly. So until we actually sit down and actually talk about all these things and come up with a comprehensive strategy, it's going to require some adjustments in law and so forth. But it's not just about gun control. It's not just about mental health.

CAMEROTA: Understood.

RAMSEY: A lot of these -- and we always look after the fact and have these kinds of conversations, but the gaps continue to exist. And we've got to close the gaps.

CAMEROTA: See, I feel like the -- the complications give people cover.

RAMSEY: They do.

CAMEROTA: Because you know, they say, well, we can't deal with gun laws because, obviously, it's mental health. And we can't deal with mental health issues, because obviously, there's disclosure issues. And so that makes paralysis. And so let's start with one thing. Let's just start with one.

RAMSEY: Start with something. But then build momentum so that we can fix these things. We're not constantly talking about the same thing, what did we miss.

CAMEROTA: Chief Ramsey, James Gagliano, thank you very much for your expertise. John, listen, I think they spelled it out perfectly. It's very complicated. And that's part of why Congress doesn't tackle it.

BERMAN: Well, complicated is why we put them there, to address things that are complicated, Alisyn. So far they've refused to make any changes to gun laws that, after so many mass shootings, will this one be different? Will this one change anything? Discussion next. How do you win at business?



[07:25:17] ALHADEFF, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM ALYSSA ALHADEFF: President Trump, you say what can you do? You can stop the guns from getting into these children's hands.


BERMAN: The mother of 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff making an emotional plea and getting the nation's attention. Alyssa was killed inside her high school, shot in the head, the heart, and the hand. Her mother is now calling for a new gun control laws. But will the presidential action follow that warning, follow that heed? Will they do anything?

Joining us now, former congressman Dave Jolly and secretary of state Jason Kander. Congressman, I want to start with you. Because right here on our air you said -- and remember, you're a Republican -- you said Republicans will never do anything on gun control. Despite the pleas from that mother, despite the pleas from the kids from this high school, do you still believe Republicans will do nothing?

DAVE JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: I do. And history has proven that. You can't listen to that mother and suggest that this issue is not about guns. It is. It can be about mental health and all these other issues, but it is about guns.

And so why don't we see anything on the right? We have to ask, is it ideology? Is it influence from organizations like the NRA, or just is just raw politics which both the left and the right play?

And in many cases, it's simply ideology, John. I mean, Donald Trump said yesterday to America's children, "I'll do anything to protect you." He was not telling the truth.

Donald Trump has said he opposes expanded background checks. He opposes gun-free zones. He opposes magazine restrictions. And so the anger that that mother feels, the anger that all of us feel across the country, is that Donald Trump and politicians on the right are simply telling us we're wrong. When we believe it's about guns, reps are saying you are wrong. And that is the anger you hear in that mother's voice.

BERMAN: What you do hear from gun rights advocates is all of those things you listed there, though, would not make a difference or that the laws that are already on the books are not being enforced. Listen to what Republican lawmakers have said in just the last 24 hours.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The reaction of Democrats to any tragedy is to try to politicize it. So they immediately start calling that we've got to talk away the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. That's not the right answer.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's not good if we've gun laws that say criminals can't carry guns, and they never get enforced.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: People don't know how this happened or who this person is, what motivated them, how did they get a hold of the weapon they used for the attack. It is important to know that before you jump to conclusions that there's a law that you could have passed that would have prevented this?


BERMAN: You know, so Jason, is there some law you could have passed that would have prevented this?

JASON KANDER (D), FORMER MISSOURI SECRETARY OF STATE: This guy is carrying the same weapon a carried in Afghanistan. For me to carry that weapon I had to go through training. I had to demonstrate that I was a responsible user of that tool.

It is a tool, the purpose of which is to, when necessary in a combat zone, kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time. He's a 19-year-old. That's the weapon he was carrying. It's the same weapon that the mass shooters in five of the last six most recent mass shootings have been carrying.

This is not difficult to figure out. This is a bunch of politicians in Washington and around the country. Republicans around the country who have decided that they would rather side with the leadership of the NRA than with protecting our children. It's disgusting.

BERMAN: Are you saying -- are you saying ban AR-15s?

KANDER: Ban assault weapons. Absolutely. We don't need weapons of war on the street in this country. We don't need assault weapons.

BERMAN: Well, Congressman David Jolly HERE, former congressman, will tell you that's not going to happen. You know, assault weapons were banned, Congressman, for a time, but that ban expired, and there is just no chance that that ban will go back into place, is there?

JOLLY: Look, I don't think the votes are there. And I know Jason is from Missouri. And frankly, there are some Democratic leaning states. You have some Senate seats held by Democrats that went largely for Trump. You have some gun-right Democrats that I don't think would vote for a full ban. But here's something we can do. And I think it's important we take

this opportunity after this tragedy to talk about incremental advances. Higher-class weapons, assault weapons are already subject to greater background checks.

Let's dramatically increase it. Let's say if you're going to have an assault weapon, you should at least have to go through the same security background checks that government employees getting a security clearance have. Or make it even higher. We can restrict storage and usage. We can have dramatic enforcement.

I think a ban should be on the table. But let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Let's look for where the incremental changes can happen right now.

BERMAN: Exactly. And some of those are incremental changes. Let's talk about them, Jason. Because what, you could raise the age, if you wanted.