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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Santa Fe Mayor Jason Tabor; Ten Dead in Santa Fe School Shooting; 10 People Killed, 10 Wounded in School Shooting; Interview with Congressman Randy Weber of Texas. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:08]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We are going to start with breaking news in our national lead today.

A mass shooting at a Texas high school leaving 10 people dead, in this case reaching a level far beyond the shooting, with the governor of Texas saying moments ago authorities are still very concerned about explosives in two residences that they want to search.

The first scene, Santa Fe High School in Texas about 30 miles south of Houston. One official telling CNN that pipe bombs and pressure cookers were found at the scene.

The 10 victims, the 10 who were killed, include nine students and one teacher. Another 10 victims are in the hospital, including a school resource officer.

A recording of radio traffic captured authorities making their way inside the school. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several more shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is actively shooting. He's in the art room. We have got shots fired right now, guys. We need you all up here.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: One witness saying that the gunman walked into art class before the first morning bell and started shooting.

Authorities just revealed that two school officers confronted the shooter early in the attack and that there is video of at least some of what happened. Sources have identified the shooting suspect as 17- year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who is right now being held on capital murder charges.

Just two weeks ago, the shooter -- or the suspect posted a picture of a T-shirt on his Facebook page. The words on the T-shirt, "Born to Kill."

We learned just moments ago that the accused shooter had a shotgun with him and a .38 revolver and the guns belonged to his father. It was unclear whether or not his father knew or allowed him to have access to those guns.

A source telling CNN that the gunman was injured and authorities are talking to him in custody, along with a second person who is now believed to be a possible, possible accomplice.

In the wake of this tragedy, the governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, called for action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It's time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's go to CNN's Rosa Flores. She is just down the road from Santa Fe High School in Texas.

And, Rosa, the crime scene is extensive with exploded devices. What else are you learning about the search to find all of these explosives?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is still very active.

You can see that right now there is a stream of law enforcement vehicles driving right by us. We have seen this scene be very active this morning and throughout the day, Jake, because there are multiple crime scenes, according to authorities.

They found explosive devices not just here at this location -- and we're being kept about half-a-mile away -- but at other locations, adjacent locations, but we have to put it like this. This has been a very intense and traumatic day for the people here at Santa Fe High School and Santa Fe community, and now authorities are trying to figure out what happened and why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still have several more shots.

FLORES (voice-over): Shots rang out just after 7:30 a.m.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's actively shooting. He's in the art room. We have shots fired right now, guys. We need you all up here.

FLORES: Police say a majority of the dead and wounded at Santa Fe High School in Texas are students, the alleged shooter, a 17-year-old classmate, Dimitrios Pagourtzis. ABBOTT: He gave himself up and admitted at the time that he didn't

have the courage to commit the suicide, that he wanted to take his own life earlier.

FLORES: Pipe bombs and pressure cookers have been found, a law enforcement official says, on the campus where some 1,400 students are enrolled. Police believe the explosives may have been assembled in this nearby trailer, all part of what appears to be a deadly plan.

ABBOTT: One was a CO2 device. Another was a Molotov cocktail. And there are various other types of explosive devices that have been identified, both in a home as well as in a vehicle.

FLORES: An 18-year-old has been detained as a possible accomplice, according to officials, as the crime scene continues to be scoured here in Texas. New details are emerging.

ABBOTT: The weapons used in this attack, there are two weapons. One was a shotgun, and the other is a .38 revolver.

FLORES: Earlier, parents raced to the scene as their children called from inside, still unclear about what was unfolding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just kept telling her to listen to her teacher, be quiet, stay down, stay on the phone with me. It was really scary. Really, really scary.

FLORES: Lori Williams' son is a junior, safe now after telling her how just close he was to the killer.

LORI WILLIAMS, MOTHER: He was in the classroom where the shooter was. According to him, there were three students down in the classroom. And when they were coming out, there were two more students down right outside the back door of the school.

[16:05:01]

FLORES: Today's shooting comes just three months after the massacre in Parkland, Florida, that spurred international demonstrations.

Santa Fe students participated in a school walkout just last month. Today, their school is the crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the place where we're supposed to feel safe. This is where we come most of the week. Nobody should have to go through this and nobody should feel that pain.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FLORES: A very traumatic event obviously for all of the students and for this community as well.

Jake, this is the end of the school year. This community is supposed to be celebrating graduation tomorrow. Students are supposed to be buying caps and gowns, thinking about their college days ahead. And, instead, as you mentioned, there are 10 people dead, nine students. And so, instead of celebrating, now this community is planning funerals -- Jake.

TAPPER: Those pictures of them participating in the march, the tribute to Parkland, Florida, with the sign saying "Never Again," and then a few months later it happens at their school, it is heartbreaking.

Let's go to CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin now.

Drew, tell us what you're finding out about the suspect. Obviously, he has a social media footprint, although not one as alarming as other school shooters that you have looked at in the past.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly not from the shootings that we have covered in the past. Nothing that stands out or glares out. A few things came up.

We do know apparently from other students he wore a trench coat. He wore a trench coat every day. He wore that trench coat today, 90 degrees. That is how he was able to get the shotgun into the school.

We also know just from a couple of students that he was quiet. But as the governor said and as we found on his Facebook page and other social media before it was taken down, this suspect really didn't have any warning signs and, as the governor called him, he was a clean slate.

TAPPER: And, Drew, moments ago, we learned from authorities that there may be -- they are investigating, at the very least, the possibility of accomplices. Tell us about that.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

We do know that there was an 18-year-old student who was detained. According to the governor, that student acted suspiciously or acted strangely at the school after the incident, was taken into custody.

And then the governor referred to another suspect. Didn't give us any details on that, but it sounds like an investigative lead led them to that.

One other thing the governor said in response to a question, Jake, no reason to suspect any person other than the suspect in custody was involved in making those bombs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, had scant details of life on his Facebook before the page disappeared.

But this is what CNN was able to confirm before Facebook removed him from its platform. Pagourtzis says he started attending Santa Fe High School three years ago. He posted pictures of himself showing what appears to be a normal, nondescript high school student. But on April 30, less than a month ago, he also posted this, a custom black T-shirt that says "Born to Kill." Indications are, the shooter may have been wearing this T-shirt when he went to school this morning.

Another post, a black duster jacket with Nazi, communist and fascist religious symbols, and under the name kamikaze, Pagourtzis posted three rap songs on YouTube. That is it. The rest typical teen. A photo of him in a church group. Other photos showing an average American.

On his Facebook page, he showed interest in joining the U.S. Marine Corps starting in 2019, he wrote. Before high school, he attended Santa Fe Junior High, where he was listed on the sixth grade honor roll. He was mentioned as a standout player on the school's J.V. football team a few years ago, but that is it.

Law enforcement tells CNN, at this point, they have no reason to believe he was on anybody's radar, and so far there is no explanation for why he would have done this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: Jake, we did check with the Marine Corps. And they have no record this kid showed any interest to them in becoming a U.S. Marine.

TAPPER: All right, Drew Griffin, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

I'm joined now by Santa Fe's newly elected mayor, Jason Tabor, who actually goes into office next week.

Mr. Mayor, thanks for joining us.

I'm sure you have spoken with victims of this, family members of victims of this. Tell us how the community is reacting and how they're doing? I can't imagine it.

JASON TABOR, MAYOR OF SANTA FE, TEXAS: It's our -- our community is completely at shock.

We're definitely mourning the loss of these students and faculty. And it's -- I'm at a loss for words. There is no words that can explain it.

TAPPER: Have all of the parents been notified? Have any of the parents been notified?

TABOR: Not that I know of, sir. I'm able -- that is all being handled through law enforcement.

TAPPER: You're an elected official now. You heard Governor Abbott talk about how Texas is going to do something about this and make sure that this doesn't happen again.

[16:10:05]

This has happened quite a bit all over the country and quite a few times in Texas. What do you want to see happen to stop this insanity?

TABOR: Sir, I wouldn't even have anything to even say about that.

We had officers on duty. We have a very well-trained Independent School District staff. And that would be something you would ask with the school district.

TAPPER: What does Santa Fe, Texas, need right now? What does -- anybody at home watching who is heartbroken, who feels horrible for what you and your town are going through, especially the family members of the 10 killed and the 10 injured, what can they do?

TABOR: Right now, pray for Santa Fe. This is a tough time for our community, and we already have -- Texas is already strong. We have dealt with a lot already the past couple of years. And we come together as a state and as a community, and just pray for us.

TAPPER: All right.

TABOR: For the kids and for the parents.

TAPPER: Mayor-elect Tabor, thank you so much.

Pray for Santa Fe.

I have me with now Dimitri Roberts, who is a former Chicago police officer, a current law enforcement analyst for CNN. Also with us Art Roderick. He was assistant director with the U.S. Marshals Office. And former FBI agent Josh Campbell.

Let me start with you, Dimitri.

We know he posted this accused shooter posted this image, a T-shirt that read "Born to Kill." He also had Nazi images, a pin on his page, and a hammer and sickle, and others. Would those in and of themselves raise red flags for a law enforcement officer?

DIMITRI ROBERTS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely. And they should for anybody.

And I think part of the issue here is that we're kind of taking a passive approach to looking at red flags. And we're only looking at social media and saying what he posted, but he had a network. He had a community that assisted him in carrying out this act.

We already know that there is another potential suspect. So that means that there's at least one other person and potentially others that were -- knew about or were potentially involved in what he was planning.

So I think we should start to focus more so on the human factors and start to look a little bit closer at these red flags and not taking such a passive approach as we have.

TAPPER: Art Roderick, the governor said that the shooter, his weapons were a shotgun, and a .38 revolver, which he took from his father. It is unclear whether the father allowed him access to the guns or

not. What do investigators do with that information?

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, first of all, those are usually generally given right away to ATF to go and check the history of that, of both those weapons, where they were purchased, where they were picked up from.

What kind of access did this kid have with the father's weapons at home? Were they locked in a safe? Did he have access to the safe? So there is a lot of questions about he actually got his hands on the weapons.

It appears at this particular point in time those weapons were purchased legally. It is just going to be a matter of how he accessed them to bring them into school that day.

And one quick point on the social media end of it, Jake. I think we tend to strictly look at Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, e-mail accounts, but as we have heard in past cases involving communications especially between teenagers, the first thing I would do is grab that Xbox or that PlayStation, that gaming device, because they're able to communicate with one another and pass massages back and forth on those types of devices.

So there could be a ton of information on those types of gaming devices of how he had planned to actually pull this particular thing off with other accomplices.

TAPPER: And, Josh Campbell, walk us through the process right now that the FBI and others, Harris County sheriffs and police are undergoing right now, getting -- trying to get to the bottom of a motive, especially knowing that the accused gunman is alive.

It is unclear if he's cooperating. But he's able to talk to investigators.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That is right.

We have so many questions right now that we don't have answers to, which is the primary reason why I took great exception, with respect the governor, coming out and saying that there were no red flags. It is too soon to tell whether there were red flags. We don't know.

As law enforcement officers, this is a complex investigation. Not only do you have information you're getting from the subject as far as determining what he's actually telling you, but you are going to want to corroborate that through physical evidence, looking at his residence, going through looking at these devices.

You're going to want to talk to those associates. You're going to want to talk to people who may have been in his orbit who may have suspected, may have seen something, and provide that information.

So to say now that there were no warning signs, there were no red flags is just completely premature. TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around. We have a lot more to

talk about.

The danger from the shooting remains, as police are waiting to search two properties associated with the suspect. They're concerned about explosives there.

That is next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in there for probably about a good 25 minutes.

A bunch of cops came in. And they said, "All right, get out, get out, get out."

We went to go out through out the back door, and they rerouted us out the front door. And when they rerouted us out the front door, I went to press the handle. When I went to press the handle, I did see blood on the handle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in there for a good 25 minutes. A bunch of cops came in and they said get out, get out. And we went to go out the back door and they rerouted us out the front door.

[16:15:04] And when they rerouted us out the front door and I went to press the handle and when I went to press the handle, I did see blood on the handle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: We're back with the breaking and tragic news. A live look at White House where President Trump has ordered the flags at half staff, this to honor the 10 innocent people, nine of them students at Santa Fe High School in Texas.

Now joining me on the phone is Congressman Randy Weber, he represents the district where the massacre took place earlier this morning.

Congressman, obviously, we're all thinking and praying for you and your community right now. What could you tell us about how the people in Santa Fe are holding up?

REP. RANDY WEBER (R), TEXAS (via telephone): Well, they are what I -- thanks for having me, Jake. They are what I call the salt of the earth. [16:20:00] It's a small town south of Houston. Actually, it's about

eight to 10 miles south of my home as the crow flies. You know, they -- the town population is probably about 12,000-plus people and the high school is probably 1,400 students. It's just a tragedy, a travesty that something like this would happen.

We woke up to that shock this morning. I was on the way to -- actually to the Capitol Hill, to the office here when I got the news. So we're all very, very stunned by it.

TAPPER: And, Congressman, after the Parkland shooting earlier this year, we learned a lot about the red flags that were essentially ignored or at least not enough attention was paid to them by law enforcement and others. I know it is very, very early, but are there red flags that you've heard about with this suspected shooter?

WEBER: Well, you know, unofficially, I've gotten -- of course, that is my district. I've grown up in the 20 mile radius on the gulf coast within my district in the last 64 years, so I know the area quite well. So I know just about all of the actors and local law enforcement and county and state officials and on and on. So I've been in conversation with just so many of them and these are not officially released.

But I believe from what I know and we've heard some of the report in the media, you know, the fact that he put the born to kill t-shirt on -- I would argue quite frankly, Jake, the fact that he wore a long overcoat even a 90-degree day could make us uncomfortable, if I want to say it that way, where you ought to say, gosh, should there be a dress code because you could hide anything you want under a long overcoat, obviously, and that is apparently what he did.

So red flags, the black shirt, born to kill and other comments that I think y'all mentioned earlier. I tell kids all of the time, we need a policy of if you see something, and not just kids but adults as well, if you see something, say something. You know, that needs to be something that we -- maybe we get a federal program for training where we -- I've been pushing here lately for active shooter training, a couple of resources -- a couple of officers in each school.

TAPPER: They've have that at the school, though, sir, you know? I don't mean to interrupt, I'm sorry, but the school did have active shooter training and they have school resource officers. One of them is injured I think, wounded in the hospital.

WEBER: Absolutely. But we need not -- you know, I hesitate to use the word mandatory because I'm a big states rights believer, that we should make it available. But they ought to have training every single year and maybe even more than that, maybe they need community training where you actually bring in parents, teachers, coaches, stakeholders, whether they are school district employees for training and you say, look, we need to come together as a community and say this is obviously an epidemic and it's gone on one time was too often.

And so, maybe we have timing where we say if you see something, say something, and what does that mean and how do we come together as a community, because we need to really redouble our efforts to do something about this.

TAPPER: Earlier today, we were told that the shooter apparently -- and again this is all very early information, but the shooter apparently got his guns, the shotgun and a .38 revolver from his father, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of the state of Texas, a big gun rights supporter as you are, had a message for parents out there, which is if your a law-abiding gun owner, lock up your guns so that your children cannot get them.

Do you agree?

WEBER: Well, absolutely. You don't want underage children getting access to your guns. The curious situation in this, Jake, was this suspected shooter, if I understand correctly, he's 17 years old and think under Texas law, he's an adult.

TAPPER: Right.

WEBER: That presents an interesting legal question.

TAPPER: Lastly, sir, I know that in the future we can have the debate and discussion about what legislative steps should be taken, if any, to prevent these mass tragedies, but I understand Congressman Ted Deutsche, the Democratic Florida congressman who represents Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the shooting was earlier this year, I understand that you two had a conversation, even an emotional moment that your politics might be different, but he went through something you are now going through.

WEBER: We did. It was witnessed in the hall. He came up to me with tears in his eyes and gave me a big hug, and he's a very good friend of mine, and yes, our politics are slightly different but we have more in common I think than people realize.

And that is where we need to come together on these school shootings. The discussion needs to be about what we have in common and the safety of our kids and how we need to fix this, because this is way out of -- way out of hand.

TAPPER: Congressman Weber, thanks so much for joining us. Obviously, safe travels and we're wishing for the best and praying for the best for the people of Santa Fe.

[16:25:03] WEBER: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: We just learned new information about the victims at the University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital.

I want to bring in CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, now.

Sanjay, good to see you as always. Doctors just talked about the condition of the retired police officer who was shot. What can you tell us?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the -- the injury was too his arm, upper arm and around the elbow area. We know it's a significant injury, Jake. He's still in the operating room. You get shot in the arm and you can have a significant amount of blood loss if one of the blood vessels is injured and that is what seems to have happened here. One of the major blood vessels injured -- losing a lot of blood.

It sounds like from what they're saying now, even though he's still in the operating room, that they've been able to stabilize him, meaning his vital signs are stable. But they're still working on repairing that blood vessel, repairing the bone that was no doubt injured as well. So pretty significant injury, but it sounds like a little bit more indication at least they got things stabilized, Jake.

TAPPER: Ten individuals were wounded in this attack. Ten others were killed.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.

Our breaking news coverage continues. We're going to talk to a student at the school during the shooting. Stay with us.

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