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Mother of Slain Student in Florida School Shooting Calls on President Trump to Take Action; Sisters Texted Each Other During School Shooting in Florida. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired February 16, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: There was the teacher, Scott Beigel who we first told you about yesterday. He was killed while ushering students back into his classroom and shielding them when the killer opened fire. One of his students, Kelsey Friend, you may have heard her yesterday giving such an emotional testament to him. She called him a hero and told us how he saved her life.
John, listen, it's story after story after story that we've heard here because one student affects so many hundreds of other lives, so many people who were in class with that student or loved him or her and hear there are 17 of those families and that ripple effect that they're trying to absorb.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hearing how these victims live on in the voices of their friends and their family, it is inspiring. Wish we did not have to be inspired in this way this morning, Alisyn. So many of the students who survived this attack and their parents, they want to try to turn this grief, this anger into action. They're calling on the president, on Congress, on society to do something. So far, though, there has been nothing. After so many of these shootings, lawmakers have advocated no real debate. President Trump didn't even mention the word "guns." No mention of the word "guns" as he addressed the nation. All this as investigators are revealing how the confessed killer carried out this massacre, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: It's hard to talk about gun violence without mentioning the word "gun," John. I'm finding it hard to try to work around the word gun because it makes some politicians uncomfortable. That's like talking about plane crashes without ever being able to say the word plane. That's how one mother feels here. You probably heard her story. Her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa Alhadeff, was killed. And Alyssa will be buried this morning. So her grieving mother, Lori, has made an emotional plea to President Trump to talk about all this. She first said it in an interview with HLN yesterday. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORI ALHADEFF, DAUGHTER ALYSSA KILLED IN MASSACRE: I just spent the last two hours putting the burial arrangements for my daughter's funeral who is 14! President Trump, please do something! Do something. Action! We need it now. These kids need safety now!
(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: I spoke with that mom, Lori, and her husband Ilan after Alyssa's soccer team last night gathered for her own personal vigil. Her teammates showed up, they were wearing their red uniforms in her honor. Who among us can't relate to this, John, being a soccer parent and having the soccer team have to deal with this kind of loss. Here is what her parents told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: We were here, we saw the vigil for Alyssa. She obviously has tons and tons of friends. Can you tell us about your daughter?
LORI ALHADEFF: Alyssa is a very loving, passionate, kind person. She's athletic, plays soccer since she was three years old, and now she's dead at age 14 from a shooter at a school.
CAMEROTA: As you've said, it wasn't supposed to go this way. She was a good student, she loved soccer. She was supposed to have a long and bright future. How can you ever get your head around what happened?
LORI ALHADEFF: I just saw my daughter cold as can be shot in the heart, shot in the head, shot in the hand, dead, cold as can be. She's gone. I don't think I can wrap my head around that, or no other person in the world could either.
CAMEROTA: I know that you say you're fighting for all these kids, all her friends, everybody's kids, everybody who has a 14-year-old girl who now goes to school who should never have this happen to them. What do you feel you're fighting for?
LORI ALHADEFF: My child is dead. I can't help her, but I can help all those other kids at Stoneman Douglas high school and all the other kids around America and around the world. We have to protect our children. We have to fight for them. It is our job as parents. We have to recognize that if something is wrong with our own child, if they are ill, you need to get them help. If you have guns in the house and your child has access to these guns, that needs to stop.
CAMEROTA: What could have changed this?
LORI ALHADEFF: There needs to be layers of security. We need to get these semiautomatic weapons off the streets where these kids are able to buy them.
ILAN ALHADEFF, ALYSSA'S FATHER: Off the streets and out of the internet. They can buy it on the internet.
LORI ALHADEFF: And when the FBI gets a tip that we have a YouTuber that's mentally ill, do something about it! Don't sit there and watch.
CAMEROTA: What do you want to say to the politicians in Florida for what you want to see change?
ILAN ALHADEFF: Stop fighting amongst yourselves. Get stuff done.
CAMEROTA: Lori, what do you want to say to president Trump?
LORI ALHADEFF: President Trump, Barron goes to school. And let's also protect all these other kids here in Parkland in Florida and everyone everywhere else in the United States of America, because we earned it just like how you earned the right to protect Barron. You need to help us now. We need security now for all these children that have to go to school. We need action. Action! Action! Action!
ILAN ALHADEFF: When does it stop? These are our kids. How do we get some controls? Who is in charge? I'll tell you it starts at the top. It always starts at the top. We need some reform, we need it now. For our kids, for every one of these kids that are here today for this vigil.
CAMEROTA: What do you do next? What happens next? How do you harness all this anger?
LORI ALHADEFF: Listen, my Alyssa is gone. But right now I'm fighting for the other children that still have to go to school.
CAMEROTA: What do you want to say, Lori, to politicians who say now is no time to talk about this?
LORI ALHADEFF: What I would say to you --
ILAN ALHADEFF: Get out of office.
LORI ALHADEFF: One. And two, what if that was your child that was shot three times in the heart, in the head, in the hand. Think about it and then speak.
CAMEROTA: Is now the time to talk about this and fixing this?
ILAN ALHADEFF: It is the time to talk about it now and tomorrow and the next and the next day after that and every day after until all of this is resolved. We cannot continue in a civil society like this. We've got to do something different that hasn't been done before. We need some radical change.
CAMEROTA: What do you want to say to Alyssa's friends who are struggling?
LORI ALHADEFF: To Alyssa's friends, breathe for Alyssa. Find your passion, achieve your goals. Do it for Alyssa. When you think you can't do something, think, no, I can. Alyssa would want me to. And be great. Achieve all that you can do. And please keep Alyssa in your heart and your mind always.
CAMEROTA: So John, listen, obviously that's an important reminder after tragedies like this, we all have to live life to the fullest. The thing about this mom I find so striking, everybody processes grief obviously in their own way and differently. But she is reaching through the camera and grabbing people by the collars and trying to get the attention of politicians and President Trump, and almost verbally shaking them and saying please, action, action. That is the message that I'm certainly taking away from Parkland, so many people have said that to us, we want action now.
BERMAN: I'm so glad you brought that up, Alisyn, because I was just going to ask, I mean, none of us knows how we handle something like this. God forbid that anyone has to be in the middle of something like this. So one wonders why, why is this mother choosing to talk. But she told us right there at the end as she was giving advice to the friends of Alyssa. She's doing it for Alyssa. She feels like this is important, not just for herself, but also for the memory of her daughter. It was remarkable, remarkable to hear that. And I'll be curious to see if people are willing to listen.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And obviously the action that people here, the parents do put into action after grief like this because we have seen it before, in Connecticut. And we just talked to Andy Parker, Allison Parker's dad, people do harness their anger and put it into action in their own lives. And obviously we will be following all of that. John, we'll be back with you in a minute.
But we have to get to this story because as the shooting inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School behind me unfolded, one junior was trapped along with classmates. And the first thing she thought to do was text her sister. Seventeen-year-old Hannah was hiding under her teacher's desk as she texted her older sister Kaitlin at work. And here is some of their exchange. Kaitlin says "There is a shooter on campus. I'm not joking. Call 911 please. Please send them to Douglas."
Hannah, "What, are you serious right now?" Kaitlyn, "I am not joking. They just shot through the walls. Someone in my class is injured. I am not joking. Call mom and dad. I don't have service or I'd call."
"I'm calling 911 and then I'll call mom and dad." "I am so scared, Kaitlin. Tell them I love them so much." "I know, Hannah, you're going to be fine."
"I'm so scared." "I know you are. Daddy is on his way to the school. Hannah keep texting me please." "Tell them I love them so much." Kaitlin and Hannah Carbocci join me right now. Girls, it is so powerful to read the messages you were sending to each other. So Hannah, tell us what was happening?
HANNAH CARBOCCI, SURVIVED FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING: I was inside the freshman building on the first floor when we heard the shooting, and it came in towards the right side of the building. We had been practicing drills for months since we got back from winter break and even before that. So when it first happened, we all thought it was a drill. And as soon as I go closer and closer, we all ran towards my teacher's desk for safety.
I finally got under the desk after about a minute of shooting, and I was with another girl and my fellow classmate. And as the shooting was going on, you can could hear the glass shattering through all the halls and the bullet holes piercing the walls and everything. And it was just so horrible. CAMEROTA: And why was your first instinct, the first thing you wanted to do was text your sister?
H. CARBOCCI: I tried getting through to my parents first, but since we had no service in the building, but I was connected to the wi-fi, the only people I could get a hold of were iPhone users and I knew my sister would have her phone on if it was an emergency.
CAMEROTA: And sure enough, she did. So Kaitlin, tell us what happened. We read the texts. Obviously at first you hoped are you joking. You hoped she was joking. And then what happened?
K. CARBOCCI:, SISTER SURVIVED FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING: I was at work and I received text messages, and thankfully I had been on my phone because normally I just leave it to the side. And I had it on ringer and I saw she texted, and I was hoping just her typical texting, please save me from this place, get me out of here, I just want to go home. But it wasn't. And she said there was an active shooter. I immediately just paused and I started shaking.
And I was hoping that she was joking with me. But I knew she wouldn't just have me prank call 911. So I knew it was serious. I started shaking, I started crying immediately. My coworker came over and tried to console me. But my main concern was to make sure she kept texting me so I knew she was OK.
CAMEROTA: And did she keep texting you?
K. CARBOCCI: She did keep texting me. She was going back and forth between me and my cousin. So sometime I didn't get the notification right away which scared me. But she did keep texting me. And I got a hold of my dad. I tried calling 911, but so many people were calling. And I got a hold of my dad. And he immediately jumped in his truck and came down here. And he called 911 and got through. And he kept me updated and he called me once he knew she was out of the building and she was on the phone with him.
CAMEROTA: You guys exchanged 77 text messages during this. And so Hannah, did you think these were possibly the last messages you were going to be sending out?
H. CARBOCCI: Yes. I really hoped it wouldn't be. But when you're in the moment, you're just praying to God that everyone knows you love them and you're OK.
CAMEROTA: And that was the message. If these were your last message, what did you feel so compelled to say?
H. CARBOCCI: I wanted to make sure she knew that I loved her, I wanted my brother to know that I loved him. I wanted my parents to know that I loved them and I wanted all my family to know I loved them so much, and if anything were to happen, that I would be OK.
CAMEROTA: I'm so sorry that you at 17 have to think about this and have to send these messages. Were there friends of yours who didn't make it? H. CARBOCCI: There was four to six people in my classroom that got
shot and two of them, Nick Dworet and Helena Ramsay, they didn't make it.
CAMEROTA: That is so devastating. Where were they? Why were you able to walk out?
H. CARBOCCI: I was able to walk out because the way our classroom is set up, there's not much space behind the teacher's desk to hide. So with the 30 kids that we had in our class only so many of them could fit behind her desk, and a lot of them had to line up on the wall near where you can see through the window. And so they were the unlucky ones in our class.
CAMEROTA: And the gunman was shooting through the window?
H. CARBOCCI: Yes, he shot through the door. And the door has a window, and he shattered the glass and was shooting through the walls and everything.
CAMEROTA: How are you going to go back to school and class without two of your classmates, I mean, 17 obviously of your schoolmates, but in your direct class?
H. CARBOCCI: It will definitely be really hard knowing we're missing such a big part of our class. They had such beautiful personalities and they were great people. So it's definitely going to be really difficult to go back and see the classroom and know what happened there.
CAMEROTA: Kaitlin, did you think that these were possibly the last words you would get from her?
K. CARBOCCI: I did. I went here all four years of my life and you always see this stuff around everywhere and you never think it's going to happen to you so close to home or even in the own high school that you went to and I was just scared that -- because I was there with her for two years and I was scared. And I was like why couldn't this happen at least when I was there or without her being there.
CAMEROTA: Because --
K. CARBOCCI: I'd rather be in her shoes than -- instead of her going through it.
CAMEROTA: Such a beautiful sentiment. We've heard so many family members say that they would have taken bullets for their loved ones who ended up dying. So what messages were you sending to her if you thought that these were going to be your last communications?
K. CARBOCCI: I -- she knows I love her, but I wanted to make sure she knew that I loved her and I wanted to keep her positive and calm and I wanted her to know that she was going to make it. She kept telling me to tell my parents that she loves them. But in my head I just kept saying no, you're going to be able to tell them. Like, you're going to make it out OK. CAMEROTA: Did you believe that or were you just telling her that?
K. CARBOCCI: I wanted to believe it. There was times when she wasn't answering right away and I thought maybe she wouldn't be. But I was really hoping that she would make it out.
CAMEROTA: I mean, thank god for modern technology that you two were able to communicate and able to reach out, to get to the authorities. What happened when you saw each other after this was all over?
K. CARBOCCI: Oh, I had raced home from work and when I knew my dad was on the way -- on the way with her. And as soon as I walked through the door, I just dropped everything in my hands and immediately hugged her for so long and we both started crying our eyes out. Because I was just so happy to see her. And I was glad she was OK.
CAMEROTA: Hannah, what was it like for you when you saw your family again?
H. CARBOCCI: When I -- when my dad picked me up, he picked me up about a mile that way, down Pine Island road and he was coming from work. He -- he turned on his lights and work truck because he works for BSO. So when he finally found me and picked me up, I was a mess. I was just so happy that I could see my dad again.
CAMEROTA: And what about -- and what was it like when you saw your sister?
H. CARBOCCI: When I saw my sister, I was really thankful that she kept me calm for everything, because if it wasn't for her, I would have been a mess through the entire thing. I wouldn't have been able to reach any of my family. She was the only family member besides my cousin that was going to believe at (ph) the time that I had contact with. So I knew that I was really thankful to see her and I was really thankful for her for the entire thing.
CAMEROTA: And what were the other kids -- while you were sending the 77 text exchanges, what were the other kids in your classroom doing?
H. CARBOCCI: A lot of the other kids that were not fortunate enough to sit behind my teacher's desk, they were trying to hold the wounds and injuries of the kids who were injured in our classroom. A lot of the kids, they were on their phones trying to text their families but we had no service in there, so a lot of them were not going through. My teacher, she was trying to call 911.
She had no service. She was trying to get in contact with her husband. And (ph) just one of the kids, his name's Matthew Walker (ph), he was video taping through it. And that's where one of the videos comes from, in my classroom. And then he took a picture of the laptop at the end and that laptop was at my desk and it had three bullet holes through it. Yes.
CAMEROTA: This is just all so chilling. And we just pray for you, that you're going to be able to go back and function after all of this. In high school, you should never have to have endured all of this. But I'm so glad that you survived and that your sister was the voice of calm throughout all of this and that you guys were reunited. Thank you so much for being here. (ph)
H. CARBOCCI: Thank you.
K. CARBOCCI: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: OK, so there is a little bit of positive news to share with you here in Parkland. Overnight, two people who were injured in this shooting were released from the hospital, which is obviously good news. It means that they've overcome their injuries and they convalesce back at home. But the police say that the killer who caused all this carnage has actually confessed to them to carrying out this attack.
Broward County Sherriff is releasing a timeline now. They're detailing the moments that have forever changed this community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT ISRAEL, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY: 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 two twenty one hours and thirty three seconds, 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. We want to bring in now CNN law enforcement analysts. We have Charles Ramsey and James Gagliano join. Thank you for being -- standing by with us all throughout all of this ordeal. The amount -- I mean, the police -- they're just laid out the amount of carnage that the gunman was able to do, because he had a semi- automatic rifle and was able to shoot into classrooms and cause all sorts of mayhem and destruction.
When people feel so hopeless about how to stop these, Chief, what do you say? What do you think the solution is?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER COMMISSIONER, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: Well, it may seem hopeless now, but there has to be some action. There has to be some leadership. And right now, we're not seeing either from the Congress, from the White House. I mean, we keep talking about the same thing over and over again as if it's going to somehow change and they say it's not the time.
Well, in a sense they're right because it's past time for us to really do something, to think about what it is, the problem that we're trying to solve and what are all the moving pieces and what do we need to put in place to fill those gaps, to -- so that we don't have to keep talking about the same thing and doing the same thing. It may not stop all of it, but you can certainly have an impact to stop a lot of it. CAMEROTA: Well without that, all you're asking parents to do is just
keep their fingers crossed every day. We're just going to keep our fingers crossed as we send our kids off to their high schools or their elementary schools and just hope this doesn't happen.
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Alisyn, it's tough to sit of camera and watch you go through those -- those difficult, difficult interviews. I look at it from this perspective, too. It's also part of our culture. And when you look at some of these -- these clips that have come out of what was -- what was allegedly attributed to -- to this gunman --
CAMEROTA: You mean the social media posts?
GAGLIANO: The social media posts and the violent -- you know, the violent video game culture that we live in. Those things we've got to look at too. And the way we look at this -- the second amendment is sacrosanct. I understand it's utility. Look, the planet is 4.5 billion years old and civilization's been around for 6,000. We've only been a country for 241 years. And yet we look at that and go this is the way that it should be.
Now, there are no laws currently on the books that would have prevented this shooting. We know that.
CAMEROTA: Well, I don't know that. Hold on a second.
GAGLIANO: We've looked at them. There are no laws. There's nothing -- other than --
CAMEROTA: There's nothing that could prevented this?
GAGLIANO: No, there are no laws currently on the book. Unless you --
CAMEROTA: In Florida.
GAGLIANO: Unless you want to raise the age and say somebody can serve in the military and die for their country at 18 but can't buy a weapon until they're 21. We need to look at the assault weapons ban. Assault weapons are loosely defined as collapsible stock, pistol grip, detachable magazines with 20 or 30 rounds, shrouded barrel, that's what the AR-15 is. I will argue with hunters -- I am a hunter -- that try to tell me that a .223 round out of a AR-15 with a 30 or 20 round magazine has utility in a hunting sense. It does not.
CAMEROTA: About the laws, one of the laws that I'm thinking of is not national, you're right. But it is in Connecticut, and after Newtown they passed this. And it's called the EROP. (It's basically) a temporary restraining order to take away a gun or prevent someone who is mentally unstable or has exhibited some of the very behaviors that this gunman exhibited from having access to their gun. And it worked in Connecticut.
GAGLIANO: It goes back to you've now got to send law enforcement officers to somebody's house to pick it up. People aren't going to voluntarily turn their guns in. The school, that's a gun free zone. That didn't stop a gunman who had been expelled and not allowed on that property from showing up.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I understand that that doesn't stop somebody, but there are things that can happen.
ISRAEL: Sure, there are things. Yes. (ph)
CAMEROTA: I mean, this isn't just pie in the sky. We saw that the most hideous thing we ever thought we could imagine happened in Sandy Hook in Newtown Connecticut. That state -- because nationally, the politicians wouldn't do anything -- that state took matters into their own hands and gun violence went down.
ISRAEL: No, you're absolutely right. You know, it's not totally hopeless but it's going to take a lot of resolve. There's some solutions at the national level, some at the state level, some at the local level, but it really requires people to actually get off their butts and do something. And as Americans, we've got to quit putting people in power that do absolutely nothing, that can't make a decision, that exhibit no leadership.
They say oh, it's too complicated. Well that's why we put you there. If it's over your head, then maybe you need to be replaced by somebody else. And we've just got to quit a8ccepting this. You know? When you look at school systems, many schools got rid of school psychologists, for an example. My wife happens to be one. I mean, maybe that could have been an indicator of behavior that would have been really put up a red flag because they would know these kids.
CAMEROTA: They're definitely some of the first line of defense. For sure.
ISRAEL: So there's a lot of stuff. But when --
GAGLIANO: Shouldn't be a partisan issue either, chief.
ISRAEL: It's not. It's not.
GAGLIANO: It should not be a partisan issue. I agree.
ISRAEL: It's not a partisan issue. It shouldn't be, but it is.
GAGLIANO: But it is.
CAMEROTA: But listen, you guys obviously are in law enforcement. You come from a long, long experience with law enforcement. And so police hate when -- they hate this.
CAMEROTA: They hate when somebody has access to a semi-automatic that shouldn't. Is it possible for police to lobby Congress, to go to Washington and share how they feel about some of this?
ISRAEL: I think the International Association of Chiefs of Police -- I know a number of -- of fraternal organizations of police that -- organizations that are out there that are saying we respect the second amendment. It has utility. But we have to draw the line. When you say well, we need weapons that are commensurate with pushing back on a tyrannical government so we need automatic weapons, the government has nukes.
You're not going to win that. So that is a specious argument. It's silly. And when folks like us come out and saw we -- we -- we own weapons, we have concealed carry privileges as retired law enforcement, we're hunters, we believe in the second amendment, but something has to be done and we can't wait the right amount of time to talk about it because it gets lost in the noise.
GAGLIANO: It falls on deaf ears. I was president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association for five years. And we did lobby, we've talked to people about this issue --
CAMEROTA: And what happened?
GAGLIANO: But it goes nowhere. It goes absolutely nowhere. You get a lot of noise, you get a lot of talk, but you get absolutely no action. And that's what we're seeing here. And there won't be any action after this. It's unfortunate, but it's reality. And there will not be until people stand up -- because the real power's with the people, not with our elected officials -- and say listen, you're not doing anything, you're out of here.
CAMEROTA: Yes. That's the message that we have heard over and over again here. James Gagliano, Charles Ramsey, thank you very much --
GAGLIANO: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: -- for all of your expertise. John, listen, as we've talked about, you hear everybody calling for action and you hear everybody calling for action at the ballot box now.
JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: We will see where this is an election issue and how much of an election issue it is. Because it's been kryptonite for so many candidates in so many places, Alisyn. Thanks so much. A former Trump nominee issued a warning last November about AR-15 style rifles, the kind of gun police say was used in this massacre. That comment ultimately cost him his job at the Pentagon. Dr. Dean Winslow joins us next.
BERMAN: AR-15 style rifles under new scrutiny in the aftermath of the Florida high school massacre, but a former Trump administration nominee was sounding the alarm about these weapons back in November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN WINSLOW, FORMER COLONEL, U.S. AIR FORCE: -- get in trouble with other members of the committee to say, you know, how insane it is that the United States of America, civilians can go out and buy a fully -- a semi-automatic assault rifle like an AR-15.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Dr. Dean Winslow was the president's pick for the Pentagon's
top health official but that comment ultimately de-railed his confirmation. He withdrew his nomination.