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Texas School Shooting Update; Explosive Devices Found; Student Shares Eyewitness Account. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You've obviously got to do the job, which they're doing.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: They sure are. Thank you so much, Sanjay.

I'm going to thank you for watching and also go right over to Wolf Blitzer, who's picking up our breaking news right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer.

We start with our breaking news.

It's happened once again right here in the United States. Multiple fatalities after a shooting at a high school in Texas and now fears from police as they say they have found several explosive devices, both at the school and in the area. The shooting happened at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. That's just outside Houston. Police say there are at least eight people dead, possibly ten.


SHERIFF ED GONZALEZ, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: One person, a suspect in custody, a second possible person of interest that was detained and being questioned. There are multiple fatalities that have been confirmed.

It could be anywhere between eight to ten, the majority being students. One male is in custody and then a second one, again, was a person of interest. Both are believed to be students here at the school.


BLITZER: At a White House -- at a White House event earlier today, President Trump spoke about the tragedy.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This has been going on too long in our country. Too many years, too many decades now. We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support and love to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack. To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High,

we're with you in this tragic hour and we will be with you forever.


BLITZER: Our Rosa Flores is joining us now live. She's in Santa Fe, Texas.

You know, Rosa, we heard from the police. They say they know the shooter was a student. What else are we hearing? What's the latest?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, about the shooter, Wolf, we don't know his name. We also know from Harris County Sheriff Gonzalez that there is another individual detained. They are not releasing the names at this point, but they do tell us that these two individuals were students.

Now, about the timeline. According to the sheriff, shots rang out at about 8:00 a.m. According to witnesses who spoke to CNN, they were in their first period class when an alarm went off. The students went outside those classrooms and that's when the shooter started firing his weapon. One student describing the weapon as a -- as a gunshot -- as a shotgun, excuse me.

We asked the sheriff about the type of weapon and he did not disclose that information. But we are learning now from authorities that explosives have been recovered from the campus in an area adjacent to the campus.

Take a look behind me. This is still a very active scene, Wolf. You see a lot of vehicles. A lot of them are unmarked, but they are police vehicles according to a police officer that's at the scene.

According to the sheriff, his bomb squad is still on scene. They are scouring through this school and the adjacent area to make sure that those devices are secured and that no other individuals are hurt.

Now, about injuries. We're also learning more from hospitals, from witnesses, from authorities. Multiple gunshots -- gunshot wound victims, some to the arm, some to the legs. A girl with a gunshot to the leg. A police officer was also injured according to the sheriff.

But a lot of this information still coming in, still preliminary because, as the sheriff was telling us, there's a lot of information coming into their command centers and into our newsrooms.

But, Wolf, here's the sad reality. We are here yet again at another town in this country covering another mass shooting that involves students. According to the sheriff, between eight to ten individuals are dead. Most of them students. Wolf, most of these students and teachers would probably be planning for commencement, for graduation, for that exciting time in college for these students. And, instead, some of their families, of course, planning now for funerals.


BLITZER: I know two individuals have been detained, Rosa. Was there one shooter or were both of them shooters?

FLORES: You know, at this moment it's unclear. What we do know from Harris County Sheriff Gonzales is that there is one suspect in custody, the other individual is being held for questioning. So it's unclear the involvement of this individual, but it could tell us a little bit about what happened here. So, was there planning involved? What's the motive? We do know that those two individuals were students. That asks the question -- answers the question of access, how thy actually got on campus.

[13:05:12] But, Wolf, there are so many questions, because as you and I know, lawmakers right now have been talking about what's necessary, what school district have to do around the country to make sure that students and teachers are prepared to respond to some of these active shooter situations around the country, to make sure that they can do what they can to make sure that they are safe.

I know in the state of Florida we've talked about Parkland so much because of the shooting that happened there and the tragic situation lawmakers there asking themselves the same questions. The governors, of course, of states around the country asking themselves the same question, what needs to be done to make sure that if a tragedy like this happens someplace else in the -- in the city near you, that students and teachers are prepared to respond to protect each other and themselves.


BLITZER: And, very quickly, Rosa, they say they found explosive devices at the school, elsewhere in the area. What do we know about these explosive devices? I know they've warned folks in the area, be careful. If you see something, say something. Be careful if you see anything suspicious at all. What -- what kind of explosive devices are they talking about?

FLORES: They're not going into the details at the moment. Law enforcement being very mum about that. The only thing that they are saying for the sake of transparency is that they have found explosive devices on and off campus in an area adjacent to the school.

Now, since we've been here, we haven't heard any destinations. As you know, Wolf, sometimes these devices are then detonated safely in a protected area. We haven't heard any detonations since we've been here. So it's unclear exactly where these devices are. We do know that on and off campuses. We don't know the type of devices. Authorities not going into those details at the moment. But I'm sure that we will be learning more about that and we'll bring you the information as soon as we have it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that's extremely disturbing right now that there may be other explosive devices at large as we speak.

We're going to get back to you, Rosa. I know we're standing by for more briefings where you are in Santa Fe, Texas. We'll have a lot more from you. That's coming up. But our crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz, is working his sources as well. What are you hearing, Shimon?


So, Wolf, first we have some more information about the gunman here, the suspect. It's a 17-year-old male. And as we've been reporting, it's a student at the school.

The big concern, I think as you indicated just moments ago, is these possible explosive devices that could be in other parts of the community, around the school. That seems to be the big concern right now for law enforcement. They've been asking folks there if they see anything suspicious to call 911 because there is an obvious public safety risk.

In terms of the number of shooters here, I -- based on the conversations that we have had with law enforcement, it appears to be only one shooter right now. It's not clear why this second person was detained and is being questioned. But this happens a lot in these kinds of situations where something perhaps suspicious occurred here and they wanted to talk to another person.

And the other thing is going to be, what level of planning did this involve because it seems, in order to build these explosive devices, what law enforcement is calling explosive devices, would require some time and some planning -- some planning. And then to place them around different locations would require some planning.

So that's a key part of this investigation is going to be something that law enforcement is going to want to dig -- dig into. And also the weapon, the weapon that was used here. Obviously, how did the gunman get his hands on the weapon. That is going to be a big part of this investigation as well.

BLITZER: And we know at least one police officer was injured, apparently shot, is that right?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's apparently -- that's what the hospital said and that's -- this was the resource officer. So that means this was the officer that was at the school there for obvious reasons, to secure the school.

BLITZER: An armed police officer.

PROKUPECZ: It appears to be an armed police officer. We don't know. In some of these situations at schools, the resource officers maybe aren't armed. I would think, in this day and age, you would expect someone to be armed.

So based on what we know, it seems like this officer encountered, maybe engaged the shooter and obviously that's how he was shot. The hospital said he's in critical condition.

So the police there, again, you have a situation here where the police are (INAUDIBLE) on scene. There was a resource officer there. Looks like he may have engaged the shooter and, you know, still could not prevent this.

You know, and this is going to, obviously, bring up a lot of debate again.

BLITZER: The shooter -- the shooter himself, the 17-year-old youth, was shot and is now, what, in the hospital?

PROKUPECZ: I know if he -- if the shooter -- I know that he's in custody.

BLITZER: Well, we don't know if he was shot?

PROKUPECZ: I don't -- there aren't any indications that he was shot.

BLITZER: But he is -- has been detained.

PROKUPECZ: He has been detained and police are, you know, trying to question him at this point. And hopefully he --

BLITZER: All right. We'll get some more information on that. I know you're working your sources.

Shimon, stand by.

[13:10:02] Fifteen-year-old Leila Butler is a sophomore in Santa Fe High School in Texas. She's joining us on the phone.

Leila, thanks so much for joining us.

First of all, how are you doing?

LEILA BUTLER, SANTA FE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT (via telephone): I'm really in shock. I really haven't been able to process what's happened yet, but it's just been a crazy day.

BLITZER: Tell us what you saw and what you heard this morning at school.

BUTLER: This morning I didn't hear gunshots personally, but I was sitting in class and I heard a fire alarm go off. And everyone in my classroom just immediately got up and evacuated the school. And we got outside to see people in our administrative area yelling at us to get across the street, across the highway, into the ditches, just as far away as the school as we could get as possible just to be safe.

And we didn't -- we just thought it was a fire drill because I was so far away that I didn't hear the shots. And then we immediately saw so many cop cars and sheriffs arriving and we knew immediately that something was wrong, that it wasn't just a fire.

BLITZER: Did you -- Leila, did you know this shooter who's apparently a 17-year-old young man who was a student at the school?

BUTLER: I did not. I haven't even heard who they believe it was, but, no. BLITZER: How are your friends doing? This must be such an awful

experience for all of you, and our hearts go out to you, but how are you and your friends doing right now?

BUTLER: We're all really just devastated that such a tragedy could happen in our small town. That we're all so close because it's a small school that it -- you just never think that something like this could happen. And when it does, it just -- it affects you so much. Especially after having Harvey affect us at the beginning of this school year and now we're having this. It's just -- it's more than we can handle.

BLITZER: Well, we're grateful to you for joining us, Leila. Good luck to you. Good luck to all your friends, your families. An awful, awful experience for all of you. Fortunately, you're OK.

We'll stay on top of this story. Leila Butler is a student at Santa Fe High School.

Leila, thanks very much.

We've got some more breaking news. New numbers coming in right now.

Shimon is with us.

We now know that, what, 10 -- 10 people confirmed dead, nine of those students, one a teacher.

PROKUPECZ: That's right. It's now 10 dead. Remember, the police, the sheriff there saying at the press conference that it was anywhere from eight to 10. We're now being told by law enforcement that it's, in fact, ten. Nine students and one teacher is what we're being told.

We're also being told more -- given more information about these explosive devices that law enforcement and police there are concerned about. And it appears to be pipe bombs and pressure cookers that were found at the scene, at the school and also around that area that has police so concerned and urging the community, that they see anything suspicious, they should call 911.

But certainly grim news out of there, Wolf, now that we have ten dead in what is really just another tragic, tragic, tragic situation here.

And really, the other concern here, as we've been saying, is going to be these explosive devices. And also pipe bombs generally, you know, as we know, are not difficult to make. Pressure cookers are not difficult to make. These things are available online. You can go online and you can figure out how to make some of this stuff. Pressure cookers, as you may recall, were used in the Boston Marathon bombing. So it's been a favorite of terrorists. Obviously no indication here that this is terrorism.

But certainly this will increase -- likely increase the involvement of the FBI because we're now dealing with what appears to be explosive devices and certainly a concern there for the community because there may be other devices out there that the police are trying to find. BLITZER: Yes. It certainly is a massacre. Ten -- ten individuals dead, nine of them students, one a teacher, this according to a law enforcement official.

We're also told by this official, by the way, that two law enforcement officer are among those injured.

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

BLITZER: There are multiple injuries right now. The hospitals there in the area are very busy.

Jonathan Wackrow is joining us. He's our senior law enforcement analyst, a former Secret Service agent.

So, Jonathan, when you hear that pipe bombs, pressure cookers were found at the scene, found elsewhere in the area and there's a lookout for more, what does that say to you in addition to this shooter going out and killing these people?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, first of all, the introduction of explosives into this situation shifts the risk dramatically. Really, it -- this is a -- it alludes to the premeditation of this attack. So this was not a crime of passion, this wasn't an argument that escalated and the shooter went in. This is something that absolutely was premeditated. You know, building of explosives, the research that's necessary, the placement of them, you know, leads to his intent. It was to absolutely cause harm, not only at the school, but as they find these devices throughout the community, it shows that his intent was to terrorize the entire region.

[13:15:15] BLITZER: Pipe bombs and pressure cookers. They -- as we know, and as Shimon pointed out, reminded us about the Boston Marathon, what happened then. They could be very, very deadly. If there are others at large right now, people have to be very careful, right?

WACKROW: Absolutely. And these devices can be disguised. They can easily be secreted throughout the community. They are very easy to make. You can, you know, learn online how to make these devices and how to effectively deploy them for the greatest amount of harm. So right now what we're seeing is what was a regional -- which was a contained incident at the school is now a communitywide incident that's really going to spread law enforcement thin over the next, you know, few hours searching and ensuring that all those devices are found.

BLITZER: The notion, though, that this shooter went out there and found -- and murdered nine students, one teacher and injured multiple others and with these pipe bombs and pressure cookers there as well, you point out this is a planned event, not just an act that momentarily someone gets crazy and starts shooting. This clearly is something that was in the works for a while.

WACKROW: Absolutely. And motive is key here. What law enforcement is doing right now is they're looking at his individual. They're looking at all of his associated groups. Hopefully they started looking through his, you know, social media and digital platforms to see, you know -- ascertain what was the motive and who was he targeting? Was he targeting the community as a whole, specific parts of the community? That's going to come out, you know, pretty quickly.

BLITZER: Tom Fuentes is also joining us. He's our senior law enforcement analyst, formerly with the FBI.

What do you think, Tom? Walk us through what law enforcement is trying to figure out right now.

TOM FUENTES, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think they are trying to figure out, first of all, is it absolutely just this guy, this kid, and not part of a group, or he hasn't been contacting with other people intending to do the same thing.

But, you know, the other part of this is that, you know, the police have 1,400 other students to talk to about this kid. If he's from that school, and they know his identity, and chances are the students have already been gossiping with each other all morning with a good idea who's responsible for this even before they hear the name, is try to find out who did he associate with at that school? Who did he have problems with? Which teachers or other students didn't he like or have grievances against? So there's a lot of people that need to be interviewed and talked to about him, much less the usual classmates, workmates, family, neighbors, coworkers, that type of thing.

So in addition, the search of his residence to get to his desktop, laptop or other printed material that he may have. So if he made these devices, let's say, the explosive devices, did he print out instructions on how to do it? Which websites did he go to? Were other people involved? Did he get tutored in how to do this with other, you know, possible associates that might want to do something like this. And was he in contact with anybody else that may intend a similar act somewhere else?

That, you know, this is the one problem now that comes up because of the Internet is before, if you had a socially mentally deranged individual 20 years ago, they didn't find or associate with other similarly deranged people. But now with the Internet, they can find each other, they can encourage each other, they can help train each other and that's a huge problem. So they'll need to look at his media, his e-mails, his phone calls, websites, et cetera that he's gone to, to see if they can find other connections like that.

BLITZER: How unusual, Tom, is it -- and we've had, unfortunately, way too many of these school shootings over -- in recent years here in the United States. How unusual is it that the shooter is not only a student, not only has a weapon and starts murdering fellow students and teachers, but also has explosive devices planted at the school, near the school and maybe elsewhere.

FUENTES: Well, I think, Wolf, you're right, I think everything that you said up till that point was pretty much, you know, business as usual for school shooters, getting their hands on a weapon, stealing a weapon, taking a parent's weapon, whatever that, you know, might be. But the explosive dimension is a new wrinkle in this thing.

But, unfortunately, it's very easy to get all of the instruction you need on the Internet, whether you're going to use a pressure cooker bomb like the Boston Marathon bombers that, you know, had articles online how to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom with explicit instructions how to do it with a pressure cooker bomb and materials that you could easily buy at a home repair or supply store. And then other devices, pipe bombs, have been very common for decades. No shortage of instruction on the Internet to make a pipe bomb.

[13:20:17] And so if those are the type of devices we're talking about, very easy for practically a seven-year-old to make, much less a 17-year-old.

BLITZER: Stand by, Tom.

There are more eyewitness accounts of what happened at Santa Fe High School outside of Houston. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard three shots and then I heard four more shots.

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pray. That's what we need right now, guys. Just pray for our kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because whoever did this is really selfish and cold-hearted. These are innocent people at our school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you would have heard what I heard this morning, the fear in my loved one's voice because of my son being in that classroom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really scary. Really, really scary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very scary. My brother was in the classroom when it happened. We're still trying to get contact with him. He's --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody should have to go through this and nobody should feel that pain. It hurts my heart to see this.


BLITZER: Our hearts go out to all those students, all their families and their friends.

Representative Ted Deutch of Florida is joining us on the phone right now.

Representative Deutch is, unfortunately, all too familiar with this kind of high school shooting. It happened in his district not that long ago, only a couple months or so ago in Parkland.

Talk a little bit about what's going through the families, the friends. You're very familiar, unfortunately, congressman, with this kind of a situation.

REP. TED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Well, thanks, Wolf. First of all, thanks for having me on, and, most importantly, my heart really goes out to the families, the student survivors, the teachers at Santa Fe High School. This is just so, so familiar to me.

It's a -- it's a terrible time. Our community had a hole ripped from its heart. And as I watch, and as we watch this play out again in Santa Fe, knowing what it means for these families, knowing what they have ahead, knowing how hard it is going to be for them, for those who grieve and for those whose lives will be forever affected by what happened today, it's just so painful. So, so painful.

BLITZER: I know you, a little while ago, walked over here in Washington and gave a hug to a fellow member of Congress, Republican Congressman Randy Weber. It's in his district where the Santa Fe High School massacre has just taken place.

Tell us how he reacted and tell us how you felt in talking with him.

DEUTCH: Well, look, Wolf, the whole thing was very surreal. It was only three months ago that I was standing in the same place that he was, in front of your camera talking about the most unimaginable thing that I could think of happening in my district. And Randy is now going through the same thing. I just gave him a hug and told him that -- that he should reach out any time. That I'm here for him and that I know my community is here for his.

BLITZER: I know he's heading back to his district right now to be with his constituent in this awful, awful time.

What's your message to the parents, the students, the faculty, the teachers and law enforcement in this area around Santa Fe High School, outside of Houston right now given the fact that in February you and your constituents went through something very similar?

DEUTCH: I'm not sure that -- well, I'm not sure that there's any message that I could pass on that can even begin to address the hurt, the pain that they're feeling. I mean, I -- we're grateful for the (INAUDIBLE), we're grateful for the work of law enforcement there. We're -- I'm sure we'll hear more about what transpired and I'm sure that in the midst of this, there is heroism in those who took brave action.

But, ultimately, there are at least eight people who were killed. And their lives aren't going to be the same. But for the people in that community, I can only say that the comfort that was extended to our community from families in Sandy Hook, who endured what happened at Sandy Hook, and at Columbine, and in Las Vegas, and Virginia Tech, the outpouring of support of the people who came to grieve and to just offer strength meant the world to us. And we're now a community that is still grieving, but even as we grieve, extends that same support to the families in Texas.

[13:25:29] BLITZER: It was just in February we were all covering the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in your district. An awful shooting. And now we're covering this shooting at the Santa Fe High School outside of Houston.

One final question before I let you go, congressman.


BLITZER: The president just said that his administration was doing everything they can, everything they could to keep schools safe in the United States. You have some background in this area. What's the most important thing the president can do right now to keep schools safe, to keep school kids safe here in the United States?

DEUTCH: Well, Wolf, I sat at the White House three seats down from the president of the United States when he looked around the room and said, I don't know why no president has been able to lead to pass universal background checks and to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and to pass gun violence restraining orders. He said, I don't know why anybody else -- no other president could do it. I guess I'm the one who's going to have to do it. And he hasn't.

And the -- what the president can do is simply live up to his own words in the White House when he said that these common sense measures that have such broad, bipartisan support need to get done right now. Right now. He looked around the table and told people not to be afraid of the NRA. He told my colleagues not to be afraid of the NRA. The president has an opportunity. I told him at the table that day, I repeated to him if he's watching now, we can take action to prevent gun violence.

He said he wanted to. It's time that he leads and forces my colleagues in Congress, the leadership in Congress, to let us vote on these bills to get them to his desk and to start taking action to keep our kids and our community safe. That's what he can do.

BLITZER: Congressman Ted Deutch, thanks so much for joining us and thanks for your perspective. Unfortunately, it's a tragic perspective given what happened in your district back in February.

As we mentioned now, a law enforcement official tells CNN ten people -- ten people are now confirmed dead as a result of this shooting at this Santa Fe High School. Of the ten, nine are students, nine were students, one teacher dead. There have been multiple injuries. CNN has learned that at least 12 people are being treated at local hospitals near the Santa Fe High School. Just a little while ago we received this update from an official with the University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID MARSHALL, CHIEF NURSING OFFICER, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL BRANCH: The male patient that's in the operating room had a gunshot wound to the arm. The male patient that's under 18 had a gunshot wound to the leg. And the female patient who's in the operating room had a gunshot wound to the leg also.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you say the male is in surgery right now had a gunshot wound to the arm?





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we were told that a chest -- there was some kind of a chest wound?

MARSHALL: It was close to his chest.


BLITZER: Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is joining us right now.

Unfortunately, Sanjay, more and more hospitals have to be prepared for these kinds of horrific situations around high schools here in the United States, and elementary schools for that matter, as well. What's the protocol?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's interesting, the protocol has even changed over the last several years that we've been following -- reporting on these types of stories. I mean, first of all, you do get first responders that often go to the scene here, an active shooting scene, even before they have to try and respond before the scene is sometimes fully secure, which sometimes puts first responders in harm's way. They have to assess and do triage on the scene to try and determine where should -- does the patient need care, where should that care be received? There's a level one trauma center that you just heard from the University of Texas Medical Branch. That's Galveston. There's a level two trauma center as well in Clear Lake. There's another trauma center. So they have to make these decisions.

The patient that the -- you were just heard described was then deemed critical condition and was flown by helicopter then to UTMB in Galveston, which is about 25 miles away. And as you heard, Wolf, is in the operating room significant injury, sounds like to the arm, I don't know exactly what all the other injuries are that he might have, but critical condition, most likely from significant blood loss. And when you do -- they're still describing the patient as in critical condition, that means that they haven't probably yet been able to fully control that blood loss, which is certainly what they're trying to do right now.