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Authorities Give Update on California High School Shooting; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Discusses School Shooting, Gun Control; At Least 2 Dead, 3 Injured in California School Shooting. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 14, 2019 - 14:30   ET




ALEX VILLANUEVA, SHERIFF, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: It's a sad day at Saugus and a sad day in Los Angeles County.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're going to take a listen to the L.A. County sheriff, Alex Villanueva. Let's listen in.

VILLANUEVA: -- this morning, Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station received a 911 call of a shooting within Saugus High School. Within seconds, we received multiple calls. And within two minutes, at 7:40, our first units arrived on scene and encountered in the quad area of the school multiple victims, gunshot wounds. A total of six victims promptly triaged and transported to local hospitals for treatment.

Among those transported, it turned out to be the suspect, who is currently in the hospital in grace condition. He's a male Asian, 16 years of age, and a student of the school.

The other five students I'll have Captain Wegener provide their demographics.

The school was locked down. We did partial evacuation and we sheltered in place a portion of the school until we established who was responsible for this tragic shooting.

The surrounding schools in the area were also placed on lockdown as a precaution.

We did identify who the shooter was through firsthand witnesses, video surveillance. We confirmed it and then executed a search warrant at the residence of the suspect. And now we're going through the very lengthy process of conducting a thorough investigation to figure out what happened and why.

At the same time, we're busy now doing the reunification with students and their parents. And all effected students and parents, families notified and with them currently.


DEPARTMENT: Thank you, Sheriff.

My name is Captain Kent Wegener, W-E-G-EN-E-R. I'm the captain of the sheriff's Homicide Bureau.

This morning, at 7:38, Santa Clarita station received a call of a 240 occurred, assault with a deadly weapon. A shooting that just occurred at 21900 Centurion Way in Santa Clarita at Saugus High School.


Upon arrival, within two minutes, Santa Clarita deputies recognized it was an active shooter situation and conducted a rapid deployment onto the school premises.

When they reached the quad area, they discovered six persons who were suffering from gunshot wounds. These were all students of the high school. All of the students were triaged and transported to a local hospital.

The suspect was later identified as one of the victims found in the quad. He is identified as a 16-year-old male whose birthday is today.

The weapon that he used was recovered at the scene. It's a .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol, which had no more rounds in it. Had no more bullets in it.

He is a resident in the 22900 block of Sycamore Creek Drive in Santa Clarita. That location was contained by sheriff's deputies and a cursory search was done to identify potential victims who may be at the location. There were none there. It is now being contained and search warrant is being written and it will be conducted to process that scene for evidence.

We are in the process of interviewing students who were witnesses to this incident. Some of those students are being taken -- are still at the high school in a multipurpose room, and other students are at Grace Baptist Church, where they will be interviewed by sheriff's homicide detectives.

Additionally, we have scenes at the quad at the school to process the crime scene there, a team at the suspect's House, a team at two different local hospitals. And we have another team that's working with our tech crew to process any video which we may be able to get from the surveillance system at the high school.

The FBI is here and they are collaborating with us to preserve and capture any cell phone video, which the students may have captured of this incident at the time that it happened.

The suspect's girlfriend and his mother are at Santa Clarita station with detectives currently.

Detectives reviewed the video at the scene, which clearly show the subject in the quad withdraw a handgun from his backpack, shoot and wound five people, and then shot himself in the head. There are no other subjects that are outstanding as part of this incident or who took part in this assault.

The victims who are hospitalized -- and I regret to say, at 9:23 this morning, one of the female victims, age 16, passed away. Her parents are at the hospital.

Another victim, age 14, another female victim, age 15, and two male victims, each 14 years of age.

Again, this is preliminary information. I know there are rumors out there about social media posts and different videos that may have been posted from the scene. We will be looking into that. At this point, I don't have any information about that.

I can tell you that we have checked for recent threats involving Saugus High School. We identified two, which were both investigated and had no nexus to this subject.

At this point I -- thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OFFICER: Next I'd like to introduce -- yes. Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby.


Hello. Daryl Osby, fire chief for Los Angeles County Fire Department.

And as mentioned today, the Saugus incident is a pretty sobering incident for those involved, including first responders. On behalf of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, our sympathy and prayers go out to everyone effected.

As mentioned previously, along with the sheriff's department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department got a call at 7:38 this morning for a shooting at Saugus High School. Our resources arrived on-scene with the sheriffs already on scene. We train with the sheriff's department for these types of incidents.

Our personnel went in with force protection, which means protection for the sheriffs to go in and as the scene.


At the height of the incident, the Los Angeles County Fire Department had 10 fire engines, seven paramedic squads, 24 ambulances, one helicopter and appropriate overhead on scene.

Our objectives during these types of incidents is life safety intervention, triage, treatment, and transportation to the hospital.

As mentioned earlier, there were a total of six victims that were inflicted with gunshots. They were considered critical on scene. The most critical, unfortunately, one was a head shot to the head, and the other was in cardiac full arrest. Four victims were transported to Henry Mayo Hospital. Two other

critical were transported to Holy Cross Hospital. And then we had a non-critical that was transported to Olive View for a total of seven incidents.

As we conclude this incident from the fire department's perspective, working with the sheriffs and investigators, also there were several members of my department -- and this is a very close-knit community -- that had kids also at the school. And some of those members have already been relieved to get the proper peer support and mental support on behalf of the department and on behalf of the county of Los Angeles.

So our department will continue to support our personnel as appropriate mental, spiritual behavioral support, along with their families. And we'll keep everyone else involved in our deepest thoughts.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OFFICER: Now from the Los Angeles field office of the Federal Burau of Investigation, assistant director in charge, Paul Delacourt.

PAUL DELACOURT, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, FBI LOS ANGELES FIELD OFFICE: Good morning. I'm Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office.

Once again here in front of you. Another somber and sobering press statement. We're talking about something no parent should ever have to go through. No high school student should ever have to worry about. Yet, we're here to talk about it again.

The FBI rolled crisis response resources. We are here in support of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department at this time. We are collaborating on victim and witness interviews and digital media exploitation. We have begun a social media scrub and have our evidence response team and our victim witness services teams on standby ready to assist.

We have resources available from Cyber Division and our Laboratory Division, if necessary, to assist the L.A. County Sheriff's Department in this investigation.

I can report to you, at this time, we have no known additional threats. We have no threats to this or any other school or no threats to this or any other area.

And we're here at this point as a police cooperation matter. We will run all the leads to ground. But at this point, we have no indication of any motivation or ideology.

It's early on in this investigation. I'm pleased to do a collaboration with our partners, proud of our response and collaboration with our partners.

But once again, it's sad we have had to bring those resources to bear in another situation like this. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OFFICER: Next, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

KATHRYN BARGER, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERVISOR: I, first, want to thank L.A. County Sheriff's Department who responded within two minutes of the call that came in regarding this horrific act.

We have Department of Mental Health has support teams on site right now working with the students as well as the family members. As you can imagine, the impact this is going to have not only on the school but on this community is tremendous. And the departmental health scans is ready to support the community in its entirety.

I want to thank member, Christy Smith, for being here. We have the state, federal and local officials all here working together.

Many people are asking why? That will come with time. But right now, our focus is on supporting the community.

And you heard Chief Osby say many of the sheriffs and fire officials that work here, live here, and either have children that attend this school or attend a school. This has hit very, very, very close to home.

My heart aches but I stand ready to support this community and lead and make sure that we provide the resources necessary to help.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OFFICER: Next we have assembly member, Christy Smith.



This a very tragic day for our communities and I stand with the supervisor Barger in thanking our first responders, the law enforcement community, the sheriff's department, our fire department for their immediate response in preventing further loss of life.

And also I stand with the county, our city, the school district allies in saying the state will bring all necessary resources to bear helping victims of this senseless tragedy to recover, as we help our community to recover as, hopefully, we learn something from this tragedy about how we move on and, hopefully, prevent future tragedies like this.

But we appreciate your cooperation and sensitivity to what this community is going through. We are close-knit and we will come together and we will survive. We cannot afford another tragedy like this.

Thank you.


Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean.


We may be the third-largest city in L.A. County, but we are a close- knit family-oriented community and our family sticks together.

I have a granddaughter who was at Saugus High School this morning. And when I heard about it, the feeling that went over me was indescribable. So I felt the same thing that our families are feeling about theirs kids here in the community.

And I just want to say that we, as a city, are going to be working with all agencies together to try and get through this terrible, terrible experience, including making our activity center available for this evening between 5:00 and 7:00. The school district will tell you more about that.

I just want every single family member to know that we are with you, our heart is with you. And that's all I can say as to this horrible thing. There's no words to describe it.

Thank you.



I'd like to first thank our first responders and the city of Santa Clarita for their tremendous response this morning.

First and foremost, our hearts go out to the families. Words are insufficient in times like these.

Nevertheless, we want to give you the facts available regarding the incident at Saugus High School this morning.

There was a shooting at Saugus High School before the start of classes. Law enforcement responded immediately and came on campus to address the situation with a massive presence.

Several students have been transported to local hospitals, as you've heard.

All schools in the Hart district were initially placed on lockdown as a precaution and allow law enforcement to deal with the situation.

At this point, all schools have been removed from lockdown. Once the scene was declared safe by law enforcement, Saugus students were transported to Central Park City in district buses to be reunited with their families.

We're in the process of formulating a plan to care for our school and community and we'll will continue sharing updates as we learn more, including a plan for the days ahead.

Tonight, at the Santa Clarita activity center, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., we'll have grief counselors and mental health professionals available for our community.

We will work together with law enforcement, the city of Santa Clarita and our community partners. We encourage the Hart district to check our Web site for regular updates.

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OFFICER: We're going to do one more speaker and then we'll do Spanish.

Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station Captain Robert Lewis.

ROBERT LEWIS, CAPTAIN, SANTA CLARITA SHERIFF'S STATION: Good morning, everyone. And thank you for coming to get the message out to the community. My name is Robert Lewis and I'm captain for Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station.

This is a tough day for Santa Clarita. I've been a 52-year resident here and grew up in the Saugus area. Santa Clarita is a very, very strong community. And I appreciate everyone surrounding themselves around us this morning and helping as much as possible from the community.

We are working through this event over the course of the next few hours and the next few days. Currently, we have a reunification center here at Central Park. We want to make sure everyone knew that was a reunification center for all parents and children to go to that went to Saugus High School.

As well as I want to make sure that the community is aware that, we, as Captain Wegener spoke, we have several people who witnessed this and we will be talking with them. We've been in contact with them and their parents to make sure they know they are safe.

We're getting communication out to the public as quickly as possible. And getting the information out to everyone and all residents.


As you move forward over the course of the next few days -- I'd like to look at every camera's eye and every eye of every resident of Santa Clarita and surrounding area and everyone who helps us.

Santa Clarita is the a very, very, very strong community.

I ask the parents and I ask everybody in the community, in the days ahead and in the years ahead, the main thing we need to do wrap our arms around each other, keep in contact with our kids, with each other, and in our relationships and our families so we know what our family members are going through, so we know what's happening in everyone's lives. As a strong community, between Santa Clarita and the unincorporated

area, 294,000 residents, all 294,000 residents need to gather around this incident. It's tragic, and tragedy struck.

How do we come out of a tragedy? We come out it by surrounding each other, holding hands, saying prayers, and spending time together. To see -- and, to see what's going on, see what's happening.

And then my last thing is we need to say, no more. As the FBI special agent said, this is a tragic event that happens too frequently. Across the nation I hear frequently, no more, no more, no more. When are we going to come together as a community of Santa Clarita and the rest of communities to say, no more?

It has to be put out by you, the media, to get that information out.

Thank you for being here.

We'll take a few questions in a few minutes. I think we have one more speaker. One more speaker that's coming up from Henry Mayo Hospital, Patrick moody. OK.

All right. Thank you very much for coming. I appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OFFICER: OK. Now the sheriff is going to do a Spanish interview with the assistance of the homicide captain, Captain Kent Wegener.

TAPPER: We're going to take a brief break away as they address the press in Spanish, and we'll go back when they start to take questions from the reporters there.

I want to talk to right now Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, of California.

And, Congressman, you just heard a plea to do something about this, to make schools safer. What do you want to do other than -- let me put it this way. What can you offer that House Republicans might support and that Senate Republicans at least enough would be willing to pass?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good afternoon, Jake. And it's heartbreaking to hear about Santa Clarita and we're mourning for victims there.

And you're a parent, I'm a parent, and we're parents in a generation where, when you get a call from your kids and, in my case, preschool, it's not just worrying whether something happened at school and they were bad. Now you have that sinking feeling there could be an active shooter. A new reality.

To my House Republicans colleagues, I would say, first, do we have to live this way anymore? Or is there a way you can shoot for sport, go hunting with you kids, and protect your house if an intruder came in, but still keep the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people? To me, as President Clinton said earlier in your interview, that

means, first and foremost, background checks. It also means hardening school safety with resources put in there, particularly with mental health counselors, and also just infrastructure at the schools.

I also believe holding gun manufacturers liable, as the Supreme Court is allowing to move forward in the Sandy Hook case, is going to be important. Having licensing, having insurance requirements and, of course, banning and buying back assault weapons.

There's he life cycle of firearms that we can look at, from what's made and who's liable, who can purchase them, to how we intervene when people have events in their lives where they shouldn't have firearms, to making sure we know more who is actually purchasing them. There's a lot we can do.

But I don't think any parents wall the call that parents in Santa Clarita are getting today, Republican or Democrat.

TAPPER: Congressman, how do you respond to those who say California has some of the strictest gun-control measures on the books and violence like this continues to happen?

We don't know how this 16-year-old student, this boy, got the .45 semiautomatic pistol the police officers said he used to shoot five of his schoolmates and then shoot himself in the head. We don't know how he go to it.

But, obviously, the strict laws in your state haven't stopped gun violence in California.

SWALWELL: It's a fair question. Jake, I was a prosecutor in Oakland, California, and our district attorney in Alameda County, Nancy O'Malley, sought to answer this question and she found in a study just released that half the firearms and the gun crimes used homicides in Alameda County came from out of state.


You're only as safe as the laws of the states around you. particularly for California. It's very loose laws in Arizona.

Our neighbor, Nevada, for a long time, was a big part of the problem. But legislatures there have gone Democratic, have put in place background checks and other restrictions, so we expect to see fewer firearms coming in.

But that's why you need across-the-board federal laws here. Otherwise, Illinois is only as safe as the laws in Indiana, the same as we see in California.

TAPPER: What do you say when you hear Attorney General Barr, by all accounts, was actually trying to put together a proposal that he was going to present to President Trump that would try to address some of these gun safety issues in terms of keeping guns out of the hands of individuals that pose a danger to society? And then he said, but House impeachment has put that on hold.

What would your response to Attorney General Barr be?

SWALWELL: The kids' lives are more important than politics. And, Jake, the president was able to oversee the al Baghdadi raid. He demonstrated he's capable of going through the impeachment inquiry and also protecting the country in that fashion.

I would ask, why can't he work with Congress to protect the children in the United States. And parents are going to demand that.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Swalwell, thank so much.

SWALWELL: Thank you.

TAPPER: We're going back to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department where we were told, tragically, another student has died. Let's listen in.

VILLANUEVA: -- that was a non-critical.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Not a gunshot wound?

VILLANUEVA: Not a gunshot wound.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I interviewed a girl who was huddled, sheltering for about 20 minutes herself was shot. Discovered she was shot and she was taken out I guess when police arrived. I wondered if she had gone to the hospital later.

VILLANUEVA: Probably one of those six. We'll sort through all of that as time goes on.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a male student.

VILLANUEVA: No. It's a male student.


VILLANUEVA: That we're still working to develop that. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Evidence of bullying might have been --

VILLANUEVA: That's where -- way too early in the investigation to be able to figure that out but we'll be able to get to that.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And many - (INAUDIBLE): parents with children at school also able to be among the first responders. Do you know if that's correct?

VILLANUEVA: Yes. As the fire chief said, this school, a lot of our local, from our department, from the fire department, from other police departments, this area has an awful lot of law enforcement presence there. So we're not surprised if they were available and did respond.


VILLANUEVA: I've not seen him personally.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you verify whether the suspect was one of those critically injured or whether he is -- (INAUDIBLE)? Can you verify that?

VILLANUEVA: He's one -- critically. He shot himself in the head so is in grave condition and not one of the ones that has passed away.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you clarify -- (INAUDIBLE) -- are you saying that another male - (INAUDIBLE)

VILLANUEVA: Yes. Yes. Yes, it was a 16-year-old female and a 14- year-old male.


VILLANUEVA: The information we have is that they're not in critical condition. The ones in critical are the ones that have passed away. And outside of the suspect himself, the other ones -- I won't comment further. I'll leave that up to a representative from the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: From Henry Mayo Hospital, public information officer, Patrick Moody, M-double O-D-Y.


About eighty percent of our employees live in the Santa Clarita Valley so we are touched by this. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

We train for this year around and hope the day never comes. Today it came. We were prepared. We immediately called the code triage and were prepared to receive patients.

We had four patients at the hospital. Two are deceased. One critical condition, one in good condition.

The question you're all going to ask me is, is the suspects at Henry Mayo? It's a question I can't answer. I'm going to defer that to the sheriff's department.

Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT OFFICER: OK. Without further ado, that's it for this evening's press conference. There will be updates put out later. Please follow social media and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Facebook and Internet pages. We'll try to get updated information out as soon as we can.

Thank you.


TAPPER: A lot of information from that press conference from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and other first responders.