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Ten Dead in Santa Fe School Shooting. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 15:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Investigators are searching a trailer where they believe those devices were assembled.

I want you to take a listen to some of the students and parents from earlier describing the terrifying moments of chaos that broke out just after classes started this morning at Santa Fe High School.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was. It was very emotional, you know, because I was so concerned. It's one of our fears as parents to send our kids to school nowadays and not know that they're safe.

It almost makes you want to pull them out and homeschool them. Or -- but this is the world we live in. So, it's either they could be in the mall or wherever, the movies, nowadays and go through the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She called me. She said, mom, there's shots. And I said,what? And she said, there are shots in the school. And she was crying.

I turned around and just hauled it all the way to the school. Thank God I was close, and just stayed on the phone with her the whole time, tried to keep her calm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The teachers were just telling us to run, run, go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard so many people saying that it was gunshots and that people were dead. And I was like shaking. My anxiety was -- it was bad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't understand her. There was just noise coming out of her body. I could tell she was in distress, and she said she was in a field behind the school hiding. And, I mean...


TAPPER: We're going to listen to the governor of Texas right now talking to reporters about the horrific shooting earlier today at Santa Fe High School just south of Houston, Texas, Governor Greg Abbott.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... because of a tragic event that occurred this morning at Santa Fe High School.

Fortunately, for us, we did have a rapid response from a lot of state and U.S. leaders who are down here now. We have spent a little bit of time briefing the governor and lieutenant governor, Senator Cruz and other elected officials on the events that happened this morning.

At this time, I will pass it off to Government Abbott.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Well, Judge, first, I want to thank you for your tireless efforts over the past few hours to help your county respond to this.

We appreciate you and your entire team stepping up and showing the way to respond to what has to be probably the worst disaster ever to strike this community.

Also, I want to express my gratitude to the other officials who are gathering with us here today. This is just the beginning of what will be a very robust response by both local, state and federal officials.

We come together today as we deal with one of the most heinous attacks that we have ever seen in the history of Texas schools. It's impossible to describe the magnitude of the evil of someone who would attack innocent children in a school, a place of learning where parents should be able to send their children without fear for their child's safety.

It's with a very heavy heart that I can confirm that as of this time there have been 10 lives that have been lost and another 10 that have been wounded. We grieve for the victims who lost their lives at Santa Fe High School, and we pray for the families who are suffering and will continue to suffer in the days to come.

Nothing can prepare a parent for the loss of a child. This will be a long and painful time for these parents as they work their way through what has to be the greatest challenge they have ever dealt with.

We mourn with them. We mourn as fellow Texans. But we must come together as one community at this time of enormous suffering and show the victims and their families the support they need and they deserve.

We appreciate all the first-responders who have already stepped up to help respond to this challenge, and we look to God. We look to God to give the first-responders, as well as the victims and their families, the guidance they need in the coming days and weeks, as we work to continue to get to the bottom of what happened and very importantly work to respond to this challenge.

I ask the rest of the country to join Texas in mourning the loss of these individuals, these students, and to offer your prayers and support of these families.

And I ask every parent out there, wherever you may be, to hold your children close tonight and let them know how much you love them.

Now, we have two goals going forward. The immediate goal is to work, in the immediate aftermath of this catastrophe, to gather the evidence and information that is needed to ensure that this crime is going to be prosecuted appropriately, while also working in tandem to ensure that we provide -- that the families and victims, as well as all the children at the schools and across the entire Independent School District, for the support and resources and counseling they need.


Second, 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 in the history of the state of Texas.

So, beginning immediately, I'm going to be working with members of the Texas legislature, but also members of our communities across the entire state of Texas, to begin with roundtable discussions beginning next week, where we will assemble all stakeholders to begin to work immediately on swift solutions to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.

We want to hear from parents. We want to hear from students. We want to hear from educators. We want to hear from concerned citizens. We want to hear from those who hold the Second Amendment right in high esteem. We want to hear from everybody who has an interest in what has happened today, so we can work together on putting together laws that will protect Second Amendment rights, but at the same time ensure that our communities and especially our schools are safer places.

These include things like speeding background checks. They also include strategies to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose an immediate danger to others.

They include providing more resources to our schools to make sure that they have the safety personnel who can help protect their schools. It also means providing resources to address the mental health issues behind gun violence, with a focus reduce gun violence.

It also means perhaps responding a program that we have seen work effectively in the Lubbock Independent School District, where they have ways of measuring mental health challenges of students and being able to identify those who may pose a risk, and looking to deploy those strategies in school districts across the state of Texas.

Listen, the fact of the matter is in the fog of the aftermath of a catastrophe like this, the answers are not always immediate, but the answers will come by us working together.

Now, that said, I do want to cover some of the details where we stand right now, understanding that we will be providing updates later. I mentioned those who have been identified as being deceased and wounded. And we will provide an update on that later on.

We are still -- law enforcement is still in the process of undertaking both searches and investigation of the entire scene, as well as other locations. They have warrants out concerning the person who is responsible for the shooting, and they include warrants to search two residences.

The reason why there is some slowness in being able to undertake these searches is because of the potential for explosive devices to be found in these residences. They want to make sure they're able to enter them without anybody being harmed.

One reason why there is concern about explosive devices is that various different kinds of explosive devices have already been detected. 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.

There's also a search warrant out for the vehicle of the shooter. But, again, care and caution is being undertaken to make sure that entry is not made into that vehicle in a way that could pose harm for the people who are trying to enter into it.

We also know information already that the shooter has information contained and in journals on his computer and his cell phone, that he said that not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting.

As you probably know, 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.


He is currently at the Santa Fe Police Department. The Santa Fe Police Department is working in collaboration on this investigation with the FBI, with the Texas Department of Public Safety, with the ATF, with the Galveston Police Department, as well as the Galveston County Sheriff's Office.

This is something that will be handled collaboratively by both federal and state prosecutors.

So you will know, there are one or two other people of interest that are going to be in or are currently being interviewed. One is a person who was at the scene, and we cannot definitively say whether or not this is a person who may have had some level of involvement in the crime.

There was just some suspicious reactions on the part of this person, that we want to make sure that this person is adequately investigated. And then separate from that, there is another person where we have certain information that we want to make sure this other person is going to be fully interviewed to see if there's information to be gleaned from this other person, who at this time will not be identified.

As you probably have heard, the weapons used in this attack, there are two weapons. One was a shotgun, and the other is a .38 revolver. Neither of these weapons were owned or legally possessed by the shooter. It is my information that both of these weapons were obtained by the shooter from his father.

It's my information at this time that the father legally owned these weapons. I have no information at this time whether or not the father was aware that his son had taken these weapons from the father.

I do want to thank all of the multitude of law enforcement agencies that have been involved in this process. They include the Santa Fe Police Department, the Galveston Sheriff's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, League City Police Department, as I mentioned earlier about the FBI, as well as the ATF, the Galveston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff's Office, Texas City Police Department, Pearland Police Department and Houston Metro Police Department.

And two things, we're working on as we speak. One is, is to make sure that parents are going to be notified as swiftly as possible. One thing that depends upon is how swiftly the crime scene is going to be able to be dealt with, with the concern being that -- for the potential of explosive devices on the crime scene.

I think that's something that can be worked out here in a very short period of time. Second, and very importantly, is the necessity of providing counseling to everybody involved, certainly counseling for the families, for any living victim, but for all of the students at the school, and I would say any student in the entire Independent School District.

I know that resources are being provided by the county for that. They are also being provided by the state. And we will have whatever amount of counselors that the school district needs.

I have had the opportunity to visit with the superintendent of the school district, who has been quite helpful, both in the investigation, but also in the response. And I thank her for her leadership in this effort.

Also, as you have heard, I have received phone calls from the president, the vice president, the secretary of homeland security, as well as the secretary of education.

All have pledged whatever support Texas needs in order to be able to adequately respond to this.

Now, one of the people helping us respond to it is one of the senators from the state of Texas to the federal government, and that is Ted Cruz, who at this time will take the Mike.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Thank you, Governor.

Thank you for your strong leadership of the state, particularly in time of crisis.

Once again, Texas has seen the face of evil. What happened this morning here in Santa Fe defies words. The agony, the hell the parents, that this community is going through is unimaginable. Every one of us as a parent that sends our sons and daughters off to school in the morning, to have this horror greet them.

This community is grieving mightily, and the entire state of Texas, the entire country is grieving along with these parents, grieving along with these students.


There have been too damn many of these. Texas has seen too many of these. We have seen deranged murderers, whether this morning here, whether a deranged bomber in Austin murdering innocent people, or whether six months ago in Sutherland Springs another evil criminal murdering innocent people.

Two weeks ago, I was back in Sutherland Springs at the dedication, the rededication of that church on the six-month anniversary of that horrific crime.

And the word of encouragement that I would give to the people of Santa Fe, as you deal with this unimaginable grief, is that, in the wake of this horror, that community and this community came together, leaned on each other, stood side by side with each other, cried on each other's shoulders, held each other, prayed for each other, helped each other stand up.

And I can tell you, Sutherland Springs, that six months after the horror, there was hope and joy. There was grief and mourning and loss, but there was also hope and joy.

I will tell the people in Santa Fe, you are right now being lifted up at this instant in prayers by millions of people across Texas, across the country, and across the world.

And in the public policy arena, we need to be doing everything humanly possible to stop this from ever happening again, to stop violent criminals, to stop them from getting firearms, to stop them from getting access to schools, to incarcerate them when they try to illegally purchase firearms.

In the days ahead, we will discover more about this particular shooter, about what red flags, what warning signs there may have been or there may not have been.

And I'm sure we will have a robust conversation about what more could have been done to prevent this horrible atrocity. But, Texas, as a state, we will make it through this. This community, Santa Fe, will make it through this, leaning on each other, praying for each other, standing with each other. We will make it through this.

And we thank the incredible heroes that we saw today, those in law enforcement that rushed into harm's way, teachers, students. We know that we are going to hear the bravery that manifested in the face of evil, bravery that we know was done, at least in some instances, at great cost and great sacrifice, including the sacrifice of people's own lives.

And so we celebrate that bravery, that courage. At the same time, we grieve the horror of this mass murder.

With that, I would like to recognize our lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick.

LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS: Thank you Senator.

Once again, thank you to law enforcement, and we all pray to lift up these families and all the students.

What can we do now? One, if you are a parent and you own guns, lock your guns safely away. Your children should not be able, or anyone else, to get your legally owned guns. It is a serious issue. It's one big step that we can take.

Number two, this school, Santa Fe School District, was actually one of 186 schools that received a safety award for going through a program that the state administered out of over 1,000 school districts.

Dr. Wall and her staff had done everything that they could to protect these students. There were two officers assigned to this school, plus a roving officer. The chief was on his way to the school when the first shots were fired.

In fact, it was the chief who was able, we understand, to pull back the one officer when he was shot, and pull him to safety and return fire.

We may have to look at the design of our schools moving forward, and retrofitting schools that are already built. And what I mean by that is, there are too many entrances and too many exits to our over 8,000 campuses in Texas, over 8,000 campuses. There aren't enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit. You would be talking 25,000, 30,000, 40,000 people.


But if we can protect a large office building or a courthouse or any major facility, maybe we need to look at limiting the entrance and the exits into our schools, so that we can have law enforcement looking at the people who come in one or two entrances.

Schools may have to have their start day -- not all students show up at once, so that we don't have every student -- there are 1,400 students in this school -- trying to get in the door at once. We are going to have to be creative. We're going to have to think out of the box, because, from what we know, this student walked in today with a long coat and a shotgun under his coat.

It is 90 degrees. Had there been one single entrance possibly for every student, maybe he would have been stopped. Now, that will take a lot of work and a lot of money. But we need to do the work and do the money to protect the children the best we can.

In other words, we need to harden our schools and make them safer. And that's just one of many answers. And that's why the governor is calling for the roundtable to discuss every option. But this is not acceptable in the state of Texas or in this country.

This must end and we must do everything we can. We can't protect every parking lot and every stadium and every building. But we can sure do better. And as a nation, we should look at the design of these schools that right now let people who are evil come onto the campus and take innocent lives.

The legislature will work side by side with the governor. We will act working with the federal government. We will act to do everything we can that this never, ever happens again in Texas.

And now our Colonel Steven McCraw from the State Police Department of Public Safety.




I just want to underscore some of the points that the governor made. First and foremost is that, when you get these calls, every police officer, no matter where you are, has to immediately engage the active shooter, period. There is no alternative, because every second means someone else is going to die.

In this situation, you had that. The brave officers, Independent School District here in Santa Fe stepped to the plate and engaged. One is in critical condition right now. The other one, the chief got there on scene, was able to rescue his officer. And a Texas State Trooper also engaged the subject.

And we know that, because they were willing to run into that building and engage them right now, that other lives have been saved, absolutely important.

And in terms of the investigation, I'm going to defer to the special agent in charge of the FBI in terms of going it. But I can tell you this. Everything that can be done is going to be done. It's done at the local, state, and federal level. We are all partners. We will get to the bottom of this in terms of motivation.

What we do have is a statement from the subject right now. That's important. Again, the subject is alive. That helps to identify motive, which is important. And going forward, we will continue to investigate.

PERRYE TURNER, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Good afternoon. My name the Perrye Turner, the special agent in charge of the Houston FBI office.

And I want to say my hearts -- our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the Santa Fe community. This is truly a tragedy.

I would like to thank our federal, state, and local partners for working this investigation jointly with us. It is a joint effort. Every resource is being used to bring this matter to a successful conclusion.

We are still in the process of gathering evidence, of conducting several interviews, issuing several search warrants. So, this investigation is still pending and ongoing.

As far as information, we -- once we receive the information, we release the information to you in a very timely manner. Because the investigation is still ongoing, we are still in need of more information. We are still gathering it.

So, anyone with photos, videos, or information on their phones, please take them to our FBI Texas City office. The address is 600 Gulf Freeway, Suite 211 in Texas City.

And also anybody with additional information, please call 1-800-CALL- FBI. That's 1-800-CALL-FBI. Thank you for your help.

ABBOTT: Once again, we want to thank the heroes of law enforcement who stepped forward to respond to and confront the shooter. Their action probably ensured that more lives were not lost.

And, also, once again, we send our hearts out to comfort the families of the victims. And we want to ensure those families, as well as every person across the entire state of Texas that we as leaders of this state view what happened today as unacceptable, and we are going to be striving to find strategies that will prevent actions like this from ever happening again.


We will be happy to take a few questions.

QUESTION: Governor Abbott, who is on your (OFF-MIKE) team? Who do you want at that roundtable come Monday morning?

ABBOTT: Very importantly, we need to have people participating in this roundtable who will bring a diversity of ideas, strategies, thoughts, and concerns.

I would like to see two members from the Texas Senate, two members from the Texas House from the legislative side. It's also important to have families, victims, educators, but also understanding this doesn't just happen in school. It happens elsewhere.

So we want to see others who were impacted by shootings like this. It would be great to have some people who were victims of Sutherland Springs there, for example, as well as concerned parents.

But, also, it's very important to have those who believe in making sure that gun rights are protected. So, we want to have everybody who brings every perspective so that we can find the right strategies that will actually work.

QUESTION: Any specific legislators? ABBOTT: That will be up on -- for the lieutenant governor to decide

and for the speaker to decide for their respective bodies.

QUESTION: Governor, legislatively, if you could propose something right now, what would it be?

ABBOTT: Interestingly, I had prepared a policy paper that I was going to be rolling out next week addressing gun safety in the state of Texas.

And I ticked off a few of those policy proposals in general. But they do include some things that actually would not be relevant to what happened today, but they do include speeding background checks. They do include strategies to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose an immediate danger to others.

They do include providing more resources to schools to have safety personnel that are needed to respond, but also what you might call hardening of schools. They include resources to address the mental health issues that are seemingly behind so many of these shootings and make sure that we are able to address those mental health issues in a way that reduces gun violence.

It also includes looking at that program, the mental health program that's been employed by the Lubbock Independent School District and look to expand that to other schools across the state.

QUESTION: Governor, can you provide any more details on the confrontation with law enforcement? How much longer after the shooting began was law enforcement able to (OFF-MIKE) the shooter? Any information on that?

ABBOTT: I think that would be better answered by somebody else who was on scene.

I have been briefed on it, but I want to make sure you have accurate information on it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) lead agent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the question?

CRUZ: How much time? What was the an apprehension, and how much time between the beginning of the shooting to when the shooter was apprehended?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know officers were at the school at the time.

ABBOTT: You can come on up, come on up right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know officers were at the school at the time. As far as the time frame, we don't know that yet. We just have to go back and review the video at this point.

But there were officers on the scene. So it was a very limited time frame.

QUESTION: You said they were at the school when the shooting began?


ABBOTT: Now, let me tell you two things about that.

First, the safety plan by this particular school and the school district is to have two ISD officers on campus. Those two officers were on campus at the time and were able to confront the shooter early on in the process.

Two, there are cameras in the school that will provide film of a lot of this information. That has not yet been made available to all of us yet, but hopefully will be soon. And that will reveal a whole lot.

QUESTION: Governor, the legislature allowed SB-1556 to lapse in 2017, the legislation that created certificates through the Texas School Safety Center.

Is that something that critically needs to be brought back, given the need to lock down some of these schools?

ABBOTT: Well, first, with regard to the School Safety Center, you may recall that, after the shooting in Parkland and Florida, I asked Mike Morath, the TEA commissioner, to reach out to every school, as well as to every college, and make sure that their school safety standards were up to speed.

And he received back confirmation, information from schools across the entire state of Texas. So, we did that proactively. Interestingly, this school went through their school safety procedure just weeks before this incident.

And they went through a lockdown test. And so they took the precautionary preparation that was expected of them.

QUESTION: Governor, concerning the explosive devices, does that appear that is something that this student or others made on their own? Were there a number of them found? Do you have more information on that?


It appears that these explosive devices were made by the shooter.