Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Ten Killed, Ten Wounded In Texas High School Shooting; NYT: New Details Contradict President's Claim Of Spy In Campaign. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 18, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: A searing and solemn night -- tonight in Santa Fe Texas where my colleague Chris Cuomo is right now. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hey, Anderson, students from the local high school, parents, members of this community, all forever changed and coming together tonight in a vigil. Ten people had their lives stolen here. Nine of them were students, one of them was a substitute teacher. We know law enforcement officers were also injured taking on this murder.

We have learned some of the names, though not the stories yet. We know that Sebena Shake (ph) is one of the people who was hurt in this situation. We know that Cynthia Tisdale (ph) is the name of the substitute teacher who lost her life. Sebena Shake is an exchange student from Pakistan who was involved here. Pakistani officials confirm that. So you also have about a dozen people that were injured here Anderson. It's a very, very active scene because of the involvement of explosives.

COOPER: Yes, Chris, the alleged gunman, a 17-year-old student a junior has made his first court appearance charged with capital murder. Bail denied of course as Drew Griffin reported in the last hour. This came without many of the classic warning signs which doesn't change one single other fact of what happened more wipe away a single tear. More now from our CNN, Nick Valencia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're making entry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired shots fired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More shots fired. Additional shots fired.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Gunshots rang out at Santa Fe high school in Southeastern Texas just after classes started this morning. The shooter walk in his class around 7:30.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several more shots.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police shooting. He is in the art room. We have shots fired right now, guys. VALENCIA: Nine students and one teacher killed. An additional ten

people were injured, including school resource officer John Barnes, who is shot in the elbow. Survivors describe a harrowing scene inside the school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the teachers are telling us to run, go, go, run. Me and my friend Ryan ran to the -- to get shelter are and that is when I called my mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like instinct, you are scared. You are traumatized, so you are running as fast as you can.

VALENCIA: Parents received the unthinkable call, an active shooter inside their child school.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really scary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is in custody.

VALENCIA: A 17-year-old male is in custody, and is believed to be the shooter. The Texas governor said authorities are speaking to two other people in connection with the crime. In addition to the use of a shotgun and .38 caliber revolver during the shooting, explosives were found nearby that could have cause much more damage.

WALTER BRAUN, POLICE CHIEF, SANTA FE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: There have been explosives devices found in the high school. And surrounding areas adjacent to the high school. Because of the threat of these explosive items community members should be on the lookout for any suspicious items.

VALENCIA: Law enforcement says, the explosive devices included homemade pipe and pressure cooker bombs as well as a Molotov cocktail. Sources tell CNN that investigators have searched a nearby trailer where it's believed the explosives were assembled. The students of Santa Fe High School now have to grapple with being the latest school on a growing list affected by a mass shooting.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Nick Valencia joins us. Nick, I know you were at a vigil just finishing up tonight.

[21:05:00] VALENCIA: Yes, Anderson, I talked actually to the niece of a teacher, full-time substitute teacher, who was killed earlier today. And I think that the passing of the reality is starting to settle in here with a lot of people in Santa Fe. They never planned for this to happen. In fact, it was earlier this year that they went through a scare. It was just after Parkland, I'm told by the students here that there was a threat of a school shooting. The school was put on lockdown. It was just a scare that day. But earlier this morning it was the real thing.

And we're seeing that on the faces and the expressions of those here at this vigil. It was just a short time ago here off camera there was a student who is sobbing in her mother's arms saying she didn't get the chance to say goodbye to her classmate before he was killed. And there was another little girl, 15-year-old girl who was showing up here, who showed up here in crutches. She is one of those injured at today's shooting, grazed she believed by a bullet in the right leg. She says in the chaos of it all, she wasn't really sure what happened. So many people here sharing their stories, sharing their emotions here on what is a very depressing day in Santa Fe. Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Nick Valencia thanks very much. Again, the alleged gunman made his first court appearance tonight by video link up, the Judge denying him bail, as we mention, we neither showing his face or saying his name and authorities have yet to offer full accounting all he has allegedly done. However, we are all learning new details and for that, we turn now to CNN's Alex Marquardt, Alex?

The governor of Texas say today that there were no warning signs, no arrest, no criminal records, but there were red flags in recent, in social media postings.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. What the governor is saying at least in terms of his official background, his criminal background, he -- the attacker had what the governor called a clean slate. But for anyone who is paying close attention to the attacker social media profiles in particular his Facebook page there certainly were some fairly clear red flags. Let me run through those.

The first was posted on April 30th. Now that was just under three weeks ago. And the attacker posted a picture of a black t-shirt that had born to kill, written on the front. Now that same day he also posted a picture of a long black coat. We know from the lieutenant governor today that the attacker carried out his attack wearing a long black coat and hid a shotgun under it.

Now, in this Facebook post, the attacker drew attention to a number of pins that were on the coat including a Nazi iron cross which he said in the caption represented bravery and then on the collar there was a communist red star with a hammer and sickle which he said represented rebellion.

Now, Anderson, one third disturbing clue on that Facebook page, the cover image of the attacker profile had the album cover of a French electronic band. And on that album they have a song called humans are easy prey. So, Anderson for anyone paying attention to the Facebook page there certainly were red flags, there certainly were warning signs and Facebook has taken down that page today. Anderson.

COOPER: Governor Abbott also talked about the guns, the weapons the attacker used and mentioned a journal with plans. MARQUARDT: Yes. He also talked about explosives. So we know from

investigators and from the governor there were a number of explosives found in and around the school, including pipe bombs, pressure cookers, Molotov cocktails, but as far as the guns that were used by the attacker, there were two of them, one was a shotgun and one was a .38 pistol. Now both of them were acquired legally but not by the gunman himself, he was of course just 17 years old. But by the gunman's father. It's unclear whether the -- how the gunman's father kept them whether they are on locking key, whether he knew his son had access to them, whether he knew his son had taken them. But it was a shotgun and a .38 pistol.

As far as the journals go, investigators say that they found journals on both these cell phone and computer of the attacker in which he said that not only he wanted to commit this shooting, but then he wanted to commit suicide following it. We now know that he attacker turned himself in and then told the authorities that he did not have the courage to kill himself. Anderson.

COOPER: There's also been a lot of back and forth about a possible accomplice. Where does it stand with that?

MARQUARDT: Yes. There is still a bit of confusion surrounding that. What we learned earlier today from the governor was that there was a second possible accomplice, they said an 18-year-old, who is also possibly a student at the school. They also said that there were two people of interest. The latest that we are learning, and this is from Judge Mark Henry, who was the judge in that hearing tonight. He is the highest elected official in Galveston County. And he is saying that it appears and this is according to inventory's that he spoken with that the shooter acted alone. Anderson.

COOPER: We are also hearing more from students at the school who knew the shooter. And what sort of things are they saying? How well do they actually know the shooter?

MARQUARDT: Well, no one has really come out and saying he was best friend, he was a great guy, he was super nice, I can't belief that he carried this out. What we are hearing from a number of students is that he was quiet, he was a loner, and he kept to himself. One student who we spoke with said that he wore combat boots and possibly this famous black trench coat every day, even in 90-degree heat.

[21:10:13] Very hot down there in Southern Texas. This same student was also saying that he was bullied by coaches. Now we have spoken to neighbors who said that he was a nice and quiet kid. Anderson this was not someone who is a complete loaner. We know he played sports, he played freshman football, and he played J.V. football. According to at least one report we saw on the school website he had a standout game. So he was from what we understand at least a decent athlete. He had posted on that Facebook page that he was going to join the marines next year. Now the attacker was a junior, this year. He was planning or hoping to join the marines after he graduated. And so we did reach out to the marines, they said they had no record on any contacts with this young man. COOPER: Alex Marquardt, appreciate it. CNN's Chris Cuomo is also in

Santa Fe. I want to check in with Chris. Chris, obviously still a lot to learn about this young man.

CUOMO: Yes, but, you know, how familiar does it smack already, Anderson? You know, that is why they put the Columbia protocol into place. Where you can ask people a series of questions and identify risk of homicidal thoughts, suicidal thoughts. Somebody knew something and we'll probably learn, they didn't know what they were seeing, they didn't know what to do about it and wind up in the same place we've been so many times.

And there are other aspects of this situations we need to get into that will teach us something for sure. So let's do that right now. We have CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and Retired FBI Supervisory Agent, James Gagliano, Special Agent James Galliano. We also have National Security Analyst and former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security, Juliette Kayyem.

It's good to have you both with us. James as I said, in the last hour, you and I had stood together too many times in situations like this.

This one sets up similar in terms of the profile of the kid what's known and unknown about the 17-year-old. Let's put them to the side. The weapon analysis here is different than we are used to seeing. It's usually that it is a high-round, high-capacity, high-power weapon being used. How did he get it? He shouldn't have been able to get it, that doesn't seem to be the case here.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Two standard home defense weapons a shotgun and .38. The level of complexity gets raised when you look at the explosives. Now, the Feds may end up walking and taking this over as a weapons of mass destruction case. I mean, Texas got some pretty draconian laws here. I mean, that he is probably going to be looking at the death penalty.

CUOMO: He has been charged with capital murder, death penalty eligible. He didn't enter a plea, but he did asked for an attorney.

GAGLIANO: Absolutely. Now law enforcement right now, the most important thing is we are starting to rule some things out. They're going through obviously everything they had as far as digital exhaust. The social media platforms and that stuff. Also, talking to people he knew, trying to basically build out or flesh out who this person was. What his grievance was, what caused him or drove him to do this, and most importantly where there any accomplices.

You and I talk about it. Building these bombs, people think it is just as easy as, you know, reading an artist cook book. And these are -- these are, yes they're crude devices, pipe bombs, pressure cooker bombs, but they do take a certain level of sophistication. For him to bring a number of them to the school for that school to be a crime scene -- still to be -- we're a safe distance away, because the law enforcement is going through there and making sure there is nothing is readily able to detonate. CUOMO: They found them at the scene, they found them in the

surrounding area and they are looking at a nearby trailer where they think that they were put together.

GAGLIANO: It just seems that there is a level of complexity and coordination here. So I'm sure that the most important thing right now is to make sure that there were no accomplices.

CUOMO: And you know, Juliette, according to one of the witnesses who was a room over, but then says, he directly spoke to kids who were in that art class room where the shooting was going on. He says that they told him that the murderer threw what looked like a cylindrical device that exploded in there. That he saw kids with weapon -- with injuries, that is going to be relevant to his federal case, because they would have to show that these qualifies as WMD's they weren't insert, they weren't things that couldn't go off if one actually did. The only other obstacle I believe legally is the kid is 17 and that would requires a special -- a special reference from the Attorney General himself. But in terms of the analysis of looking online, to who he knew, who would have helped him, where does that take investigators?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's going to take them to friends. I think that is going to be the most interesting point. Because like James, I'm finding it hard to believe that someone didn't know where that there wasn't some other accomplice. We are certainly hearing that from law enforcement. The reason why is because this is not a typical school shooting. The involvement of the IED's and the explosives means that there is a level of planning of literally purchasing things, figuring out how to put them together. To potentially testing them. Of course they didn't work, but it just takes a level of coordination that is -- that is unique in this case. And so that is why I think the accomplice issue is key here.

[21:15:02] The other issue, of course is going back to the guns. This case is not falling into the typical gun debate that you and I -- you know, that sort of follows these incidents of the three of us have often followed. Simply because that the rifle -- the shotgun and then the pistol that were used are not -- wouldn't be covered by any gun legislation that is often talked about. But I do think there is another issue that is going to be examined. And you started to hear it from law enforcement which is, did the father know that the son had access to the guns? Did he think that they were stolen? You know, what was the relationship there? I'm a strong proponent of parents taking responsibility for the guns they bring into their homes, safe locks and other aspects like that. I don't know if there will be criminal liability for the father, but it is certainly something to examine, what did the father know and what did he know about access to the gun.

CUOMO: You tee up the right issue. First of all, we hear on the federal side they are looking, because people say they are using bombs and stuff this murder. Why isn't it terrorism? They need to find proof of motivating a political or social agenda. That is what they define terrorism as. I know that is frustrating to people, but it means something that word to investigators is often different than what it connotes to the rest of us.

Now, James, to Juliette's idea about access, you did some research into the law. What did you find out about what the law with respect to who is in charge of the weapons? How does that work in this case?

GAGLIANO: Sure. So 28 states across the country, Chris have what we call child access prevention laws. They're called Cap laws. You reference it before. Texas has one. It's a class E misdemeanor meaning the lowest level of misdemeanor. So, if you are negligible. Meaning, -- or negligence, you leave a weapon out that a youngster gets a hand on and think about this. One hundred kids a year are killed by unsecured firearms. So, two, essentially two a week. In this instance, did the father do everything reasonable to safe guard those weapons or leave them out where a minor could get their hands on. That is going to be the question. We talk about safe gun owner ship, you have a lock box or you have safe or you have some type of trigger lock on your weapon. In this instance did the father know that the son had access to it or did the son somehow, behind the scenes, score and get access to those weapons.

CUOMO: Key factor analysis.

GAGLIANO: You pointed out earlier.

CUOMO: Right.

GAGLIANO: It's difficult for district attorney under circumstances like this where generally speaking, you have either a child that was involved in getting ahold of those weapons, killing themselves accidentally or through suicide or killing others.

CUOMO: Right.

GAGLIANO: It's something that is normally taken up in civil court.

CUOMO: All right. James, Juliette, thank you very much just for some context about why we should care about this issue, Anderson, 1.4 million households in this country have some two-million-plus guns that are not kept locked away. They are either near or fully armed, so it's an issue. Was it an issue in this case? We will find out soon enough.

COOPER: Yes. We'll look at it. Chris, thanks very much. Coming up next, the judge, who just ruled in tonight's court proceedings, we are going to hear more about what he says about the case. Also some perspective from a parent, who lost a child in the shooting in Parkland, less than three months ago.

[21:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well we touched briefly on the legal process tonight. The alleged killer making a video court appearance. The Galveston judge talked to reporters today and he also visited the crime scene as well as the hospital. Here is some of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK HENRY, JUDGE, GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS: After reviewing the

probable cause affidavit that the arresting officer submitted and having input from the Galveston County district attorney's office, I found probable cause for the charges of capital murder and aggravated assault of a public servant. I denied the bond on the suspected shooter in Santa Fe, read him his rights, he requested appointment of counsel. He will be assigned to trial court -- a felony trial court and they will proceed on the charges of capital murder and aggravated assault on a public servant.

Yes, I've been on the scene three times today. So I'm pretty familiar with what happened. So, I did not have difficult time with the probable cause affidavit. The arresting officer described how he is dispatched to the scene, how he helped or saw the officer got shot in the chest, I believe it was or in the arm maybe. And how he saw multiple victims that were deceased on the scene.

Capital murder is a death penalty case. I don't see the value in having a district attorney add more charges. That is his decision it is not mine. I just don't, there is nothing worse than capital murder. So, I don't know, what the point would that be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just came here straight from the hospital what was that like for you.

HENRY: Governor Abbott, lieutenant governor, Patrick -- attorney -- Senator Cruz and a couple of state reps, I all went to the Clear Lake Regional, we actually got to meet with one of the shooting victims. A very brave young man who got shot in the arm. He had his x-ray, he showed his arm is broken in half from the gunshot. He is doing well. The doctors said they don't have any reason to believe that there will be complications. And it was just great, he was surrounded by a ton of family, probably, I guess 15.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a student.

HENRY: This was a student, a junior at Santa Fe High School, yes. I have not ever heard the word accomplice being used by anybody close to the investigation. They have termed him a person of interest. And the details that I got lead me to believe that is the correct assessment. I don't see any real connection from what they're telling me. And I don't expect that is going to end up being an accomplice.

Federal law enforcement was there. They are specifically focusing in any weapon -- I'm sorry on any explosives charges that might be pursued by the federal government. That is absolutely what they should be doing. That is something that the Feds can do better than the state can do. The weapons are consistent with what's been reported a shotgun and .38 caliber revolver handgun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the explosives, anything about that?

HENRY: What -- what I was -- again, my information is pretty old now as fast as this is developing. But the information I last got around 2:30 was that they were attempts, but they were not functional. They were CO2 canisters, wrapped up with duct tape, but no way to detonate and a pressure cooker with an alarm clock and some nails. But no explosives device. So, but you can't -- you've got to treat them like they are going to do it potentially lethal and go from there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They see Molotov cocktails.

HENRY: I did receive information from one of the investigators that was an unlit or unspent, what they call it Molotov cocktail, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what do you want to say to their community right now?

HENRY: Hang in there. We're doing the best we can. We have significant loss of life which not common for Galveston County. We have some families that need support and help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Chris Cuomo is on the scene in Santa Fe. Two important things just stand out to me, Chris. One, no real technological know- how in terms of the devices that law enforcement have talked about earlier. So we have some more detail on that. And also the Judge saying based on what he has seen doesn't seem like there was an accomplice. Which is obviously incredibly significant, because there was a lot of concern about that earlier today.

CUOMO: Right. I mean there is going to be a very straightforward aspect to the prosecution here. And that is what the judge was referring to, capital murder is as bad as it gets here and certainly justified by the circumstances. Let's bring James Gagliano, back in, because of his experience in the FBI and these kinds of investigation.

Interesting to hear the judge say, we think all the explosives were decoys that means two things to us factually, one we had a witness who was there this morning who believed he heard something explode. Who says he was told by kids in the room that they saw a bomb that it went off and kids were injured.

Now in a moment people can mistake situations and cannot be what they seem in the moment. So, that is one issue. The second is the idea of federal charges for weapons of mass destruction. If they are all inert, here is the question for you, they could not have gone off, they would have never worked, can you charge.

[21:25:15] GAGLIANO: That is a difficult legal question, Chris. First of all, the components of a bomb for it to be classified as a bomb, it has to have a power supply which could be a battery. It's got to have an initiator or an igniter could be a blasting cap. It has got to have explosives and from what we understand, there were no explosives there, like C4 or something like. And then it has to have a switch. Something that would set it off, it could be a trip wire.

It sounds like these were clumsy rudimentary devices and you and I talked about the possibility of law enforcement flushed out. Were they used to inspire without calling it a terrorist attack, inspire terror. Having those things strolling into the room, so the children thought that they might have been a grenade. Now, for it to be classified as a weapon of mass destruction that could be anything with a chemical component, biological, radiological or nuclear. So, anything that has got levels of explosives in it and things that could possibly put a biological hazard into the air or chemical hazard or something like that.

CUOMO: And also this -- this murderer being 17 that would require a pass essentially on the age restriction by the U.S. attorney.

GAGLIANO: Yes.

CUOMO: So, we are going to have to find out more about that. But there is something very straightforward about this case for this Judge that this man went in there, he had the intent to kill and he did exactly that. James thank you very much. Let's take a quick break. Still a lot ahead tonight. We are going to have a conversation with Mark Kelly, you know him the former astronaut and husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. So you are going to want to stay tuned for that. Because we're all searching for the same answers. How do we make these shootings stop? Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:30:00] COOPER: Mark Kelly, the retired NASA astronaut and husband of shooting survivor, Gabby Giffords, tweeted about what happened at Santa Fe High School. "It's our moral obligation to protect the vulnerable," Commander Kelly wrote. "The adult, the politicians are responsible for safety of our children. Gabby Giffords and I are devastated for the Santa Fe community. I lived in that area for over 15 years. It's just 10 miles from the Johnson Space Center."

Commander Kelly joins me now from Arizona. Commander, do you take the president at his word when he says that he is determined to do everything to protect students and secure schools?

MARK KELLY, CO-FOUNDER, GIFFORDS: Well, he said that after Parkland. I think it was on a Tuesday. And then he -- then he spoke very pointedly to a number of U.S. senators and said that they were scared of the National Rifle Association and then maybe he would have to be the person that went forward and got background checks as an example.

I think he said background checks passed for gun sales. That was on a Tuesday. By Thursday, he completely I guess lost interest and about two months later he was the speaker at the National Rifle Association's convention in Dallas.

So, I don't think -- I mean, I didn't hear him say anything today that was, like, in a positive direction to take this issue seriously. He talked about how it's been going on too long. I think we all know that. I think the only directive thing he did is he said that we should fly the flags at half staff.

COOPER: I mean, a lot of your focus has been at the local level. Is that right? Because I mean after a mass shooting, people, you know, ask, will this finally be the time when leaders take decisive action? You know, will things happen on Capitol Hill? You've been looking state by state. You've been working state by state. KELLY: Well, Anderson, both actually. We worked really hard with members of Congress on Capitol Hill on legislation. I haven't gotten a lot passed. We are fighting against the NRA's top three priorities which is concealed carry, reciprocity, legalization of silencers, and getting rid of -- they want to arm teachers essentially and have more guns in schools that's certainly not the answer.

On the state level, we've helped pass 200 pieces of legislation in 45 different states. So, there is a state focus. I heard some -- to be honest, I heard somewhat positive things from the governor and the lieutenant governor of Texas and Ted Cruz as well. I mean, they talked about, you know, we have to do everything humanly possible to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

They mentioned background checks for gun sales. They mentioned, you know, we got to look at red flags. So they said some positive things. You know, I'm just worried that in the next couple of days, they'll start to walk that back.

COOPER: I want to ask you about an analysis that The Washington Post did in which they found that more people have been killed at schools this year than have been killed while serving in the military. In fact nearly twice as many. I mean, it's kind of -- it's a staggering juxtaposition. What goes through your mind when you hear that?

KELLY: It's ridiculous. I mean, that these kids have to live in a country. These kids in Santa Fe or Parkland or 22 other places around the country just this year alone, that they have to assume that kind of risk when they go to school.

I served in the navy for 25 years. You know, i flew in combat. There was a presumption of risk, you know, that you are risking your life when you are serving your country and flying, you know, an airplane into a combat zone. These kids shouldn't have to assume risks just to go -- just to go to school.

And, you know, to see our elected leaders do nothing about this over and over again, it's just an incredibly sad situation. You know, I -- I really feel for this community in Santa Fe. I was part of that community. They were great people. The kids should not have to go through this.

COOPER: Yeah. I mean, you said you lived there in that area for more than 15 years. You know it well. Commander Kelly, I appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you so much.

OK, Chris -- Chris on the ground in Santa Fe. I feel like we talked with Commander Kelly after every one of these and again it seems like nothing changes.

CUOMO: Well, that's because nothing has change, right? I mean, it is fair criticism, Anderson. No matter what side of this silly war of resistance when it comes to gun control that you are on, nothing gets done because it's a war of resistance. And here we are once again, the smart thing to do is to be here. Your show made the right call. If we start ignoring these, if we get compassion fatigue, that will assure that nothing gets done.

So, let's get back to what you've been reminding us all might matters most, the people who made it through, the people who didn't and hearing their stories. Madilin Williams is with us now. She is a senior. She is graduating in two weeks and she has a story to tell. Young lady, thank you for joining us here.

[21:35:00] I wish it were under different circumstances. We were talking about that earlier. You lost friends, three of them. How are you dealing with this? You have your mom with you but this is not something we're set up to cope with easily. How are you doing?

MADILIN WILLIAMS, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I have my other friends that -- we're all working through it together. We're helping each other. One of my friends -- he is one of the ones that got me out of there fast, because I'm not a fast runner by any means.

And he grabbed me by the wrist and he dragged me out. And he was like, we got to go. So, we're all working through it together. We're coming together as a community. We're setting up funds for the families. We're helping each other.

CUOMO: And it's so raw and new to you that this happened. When you realized now it's your school, I know that your school participated in a walkout in support of what happened in Parkland, but you never think, we all know it could be anybody, but you never expect it to be you. What do you think this will mean to you guys and this community?

WILLIAMS: In this community I feel we're going to start pushing for more guns because we are a small town, Santa Fe. We're pushing for each other. We're rooting for each other. Friday night lights are the best. The amount of people here that are in support of gun control is very, very small. We are -- one of the teachers is an ex-marine. And he -- he was very instrumental (ph) in getting all of us out and helping us to find places to be and saving us.

CUOMO: Sure, that's what we've been told.

WILLIAMS: And I feel like if we have more marines on campus or if we had something to protect ourselves with, we wouldn't be sitting ducks. We wouldn't be defenseless. We have two cops on campus and --

CUOMO: And they supposedly engaged him very early on. Did you hear the volley of gunfire?

WILLIAMS: We did.

CUOMO: That suggests that they were taking on the shooter and we do know that law enforcement was injured. So, there were people there. They responded early. He was still able to kill people.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Statistically, they only last about five minutes. And for the amount of people to die that we did in five minutes, we need either faster response time for -- from our officers or we need our own sort of protection. And I feel like we're already asking enough of our officers. They've already done so much for us. We should be able to protect ourselves.

CUOMO: Well, here is what we know for sure. We got to do something, right?

WILLIAMS: We do.

CUOMO: Because we keep living the same nightmare and young people like you wind up having to carry it forward as one of the biggest moments of their lives and that's not fair. The good news, you're good people. And you are wearing a shirt that says commit for life which is making the commitment to donate blood.

And there was a call that went out today because of your classmates and the law officers, the law enforcement officers who were hurt, and you're saying you're giving blood and other people are answering the call.

WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: There are good people and there are bad people. And the more of you we have, the better off we will be. Madilin, I am sorry to meet you this way, but I wish you the best going forward. And I hope someday, we will be able to see that the changes that will make this less likely have been made.

Thank you for talking with me about it. The best to you and your family and your friends. And congratulations on graduation. It is still going to be the best day of your life going forward.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Let's take a break. So many of these questions are so familiar to so many of you and yet we have not gotten the answers that we need. When we come back, we're going to tell you more of the truth of the situation and what lies ahead. Please stay with us.

[21:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Today's shooting was obviously an extremely painful reminder of what took place at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida just three months ago. One of the 17 killed that day was Meadow Pollack whose father, Andrew, has made protection of high school students one of his life's missions. I spoke with him just before the broadcast.

Andrew, I can't imagine what today must have been like for you. Another school shooting so soon after Parkland. What went through your mind when you first heard the news?

ANDREW POLLACK, FATHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM: At first when I heard it, my heart was -- just sunk to my stomach. I was so sick for like -- like an hour just thinking about what happened and the families, how they are going to feel. And as the day went on, I got angry. So by the time I got on now with you, I'm pretty angry that there is another 10 kids that are dead or one teacher and nine kids. And now there is going to be another 10 families that have to live like I do.

It's not -- it's not a good thing, believe me. My life has been changed and it will never be like it was before. And now there is 10 more people that have to live like I do. And it's not -- it's not something that -- that is good to live with. And I really feel for those families in Texas. That's what angers me. And it happened again, Anderson.

COOPER: You talk about anger. I know you have been turning that anger into action ever since your daughter was killed. You are focusing on school safety. Do you think anything has changed? I mean, are we in the same place as we were before the Parkland shooting?

POLLACK: Well, I think not much has changed because it happened again. You know, after 9/11, there hasn't been one high jacking that I know of after 9/11. But today we sit here, me and you, talking, and it's the 22nd school shooting of this year.

Now, when is enough going to be enough, where people say listen, we need to have single-point entries and metal detectors at the school, just like in a courthouse or at a stadium. We're safe in stadium, but we let the kids go to school and they're not safe.

COOPER: You have an organization, AmericansForClass.org, AmericanForClass is the organization. That's the focus, to try to change and focus on school safety issues?

POLLACK: Well, what -- what I got involved with is, I don't want it to be politicized. It shouldn't be in this country where people make it political or left or right.

[21:44:58] You know, we all have kids, so after a lot of the shootings, I saw that a lot of the focus was just on guns. And for me it was really -- it really bothered me because it's something that every American wants, is our kids being safe. And that's something that we could do right away.

That's why I started AmericansForClass.org to work with parents throughout the country on keeping our kids and our teachers safe because look at our society, Anderson, we're -- we grew up in times where we were safe at school. I met with over 100 teachers in the Parkland area and they're still to this day do not feel safe going to school. And the students don't feel safe.

COOPER: What can you say to a parent who has been through this? I mean, you've been through the worst thing any parent can possibly live through.

POLLACK: That's what people have been asking me. People have been asking me all day about that, Anderson. And I really -- there is nothing like -- there is nothing that you could say to a parent that lost a kid that's going to make them feel better. It's really sad, Anderson. The only thing you can do is be there for a parent and just support them. You know, my life has changed.

Those -- those parents in Texas are never going to be the same as they were up until today. And there is nothing you're going to say to them to make them feel better. It's 90 days now and I feel it's just as bad as the 14th of February as I do today. So I wish I could tell them something but there is nothing that's going to make them feel better.

COOPER: People often talk about closure. I just think that's like a made-up TV word. I just don't think there is anything like that for somebody that lost a loved one like you have.

POLLACK: How -- you know, I get stabbed in the heart every day. I get a knife in the heart. I see a picture, you know, that I see or something that reminds me of my daughter and it kills me. You know, it's like a wave of emotion. And I'm waiting like when is that ever going to go away?

I still -- I can't smile for a picture. Could you imagine that, Anderson? I got pictures, people want to take a picture with me. I go -- wherever I go, family functions, friends, I can't even get to the point where I can show my teeth and smile.

COOPER: Yeah.

POLLACK: That's my life now. And now, unless we start taking this really serious, it's going to happen again. You know, what happened in Texas, it can happen again even in Florida. When school opens and school closes, people could walk into the schools. There is no way to stop what's going on right now. So, it's kind of -- I don't know, like after 9/11, the airports were fixed. Twenty-second school shootings, I'm angry that's going to happen and it's going to happen again.

COOPER: Before we go, what do you want people to know about Meadow? I know on this day as you think about her obviously every day. What do you want people to know about her?

POLLACK: You know, I just -- it's all these kids. My daughter was unbelievable. I think about her all the time. But people -- we got to put all our kids in our hearts. Grandparents, parents, just as a country. We can't let our kids go to school and not feel safe. We owe it to them to do something different, Anderson.

My daughter meant everything in the whole world. The love that I had for her is immeasurable. And I'm never ever going to be the same. So, we owe it to the kids. We went to school. And we had a good time. We went Friday night. We went to the parties. We went to school. We socialized. Kids don't have that today. And we owe it to them in this country to make it happen.

That's what I would tell everyone out there that enough is enough with getting our kids not safe at school. They're getting shot. And it's no way for a kid to go to school or a teacher. You know, it's unacceptable to me for that. It's the worst imaginable thing that could happen to you when you go through something like this. There is nothing anyone can say. But when they see me, I know what they feel.

COOPER: You want to go to Texas. You want to meet with these parents and just share with them. POLLACK: I'm just going to hug them, man. There is nothing you can do. Thank God you don't know. And thank God there is other -- most people don't know. You know what I mean, but I know how it feels. And I'm just going to give them a hug. I think it's worth me.

I feel like I owe it to them to go out there and just give them a hug and maybe pay my respect at the funerals. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to leave from New York probably Tuesday and probably and then head out.

COOPER: Andrew Pollack, thank you.

POLLACK: All right, Anderson.

COOPER: Andrew Pollack. Just ahead, we have breaking news on the big claim that the president is making about a spy in his campaign. He doesn't offer specific evidence. Tonight, we know a lot more about who this person is and exactly what that informant was really doing. Ahead.

[21:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: There's new reporting tonight on the informant who President Trump and surrogates have been trying to paint as an Obama FBI spy in the 2016 campaign. This morning, the president tweeted, reports are, there was indeed at least one FBI representative planted for political purposes into my campaign for president. It took place very early on and long before the phony Russia hoax became a hot fake news story. If true, all-time biggest political scandal.

Earlier today, U.S. officials told CNN that a confidential intelligence source was not planted inside the Trump campaign. And tonight, "The New York Times" has a new story up with even more insight. The headline, FBI used informant to investigate Russia ties to campaign, not to spy as Trump claims. And the report really flashes out who this individual actually is, and violate what he is not.

Matthew Rosenberg shares the byline on the story. He joins us now by phone. Also with us, CNN Political Analyst -- excuse me, Matthew joins us live in person, and Karoun Demirjian and foreign FBI senior intelligence official Phil Mudd also joins us. So Matt, just walk us through what's new in your article. Details about this informant, the capacity in which the informant assisted the FBI and what that yielded.

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: So what we've been told is that basically the FBI had its investigation going. They needed to find out from people involved in the campaign, you know, certain details. People who were already subject to this investigation. Now, they couldn't very well send FBI agents off to do that. That would have tipped off the campaign about what's going on in the middle of an election.

[21:55:00] So they used a longtime source, an informant, an asset, whatever you want to call him. This is an academic, retired academic, who splits his time, a lot of time in Britain and a lot of time in the U.S. And that he then went and made contact with at least two different individuals who are now part of this investigation, including George Papadopoulos, who's pled guilty already.

And so that's what we've learned. So the president kind of saying, this all was a spy inside the campaign, before this whole thing became a story. That's totally misleading. This was after the investigation had begun and was a kind of improperly used investigative tool in an attempt to find out more.

COOPER: So this informant or asset met with George Papadopoulos to try to find out details if he -- what he knew about Russia and any e- mails?

ROSENBERG: Yes, exactly. That George Papadopoulos helped get this investigation going. This one drunken night in London, he bragged to an Australian diplomat about this dirt that Russia had on Hillary Clinton including WikiLeaks e-mails, long before they ever became public. That got to the U.S.

That helped launched the investigation. The FBI then used this asset to go try and talk to George and see what more they could find out. They actually didn't find out much from him through the informant. That was one of the uses of the informant.

COOPER: Phil, as someone who served in the FBI and CIA, I'm wondering what you make of what the president's allies and the president are kind of attempting to do here.

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: It's willfully misleading. I mean, if the president asks a simple question, how do you conduct an investigation, which his colleague, Rudy Giuliani, would know? Having been U.S. attorney in New York, he would get a simple answer.

Once you have, as Matthew was explaining, an open investigation, there's a couple ways you get information, Anderson. That's sources and wires. You wiretap people. We know that happened in this case. That's the whole question about whether people had FISA warrants that were appropriate.

The second way you get information is you get an informant to get up next to somebody and ask them questions. Once the FBI opens up an investigation, typically if the investigation is serious, they're going to do one of those two things.

These are not spies. These are informants to try to determine whether the investigation is appropriate or not. This is the president trying to make filet mignon out of chopped liver. This is not that interesting.

COOPER: Karoun, your newspaper is reporting that Devin Nunes isn't speaking to the president directly anymore. He is going through White House counsel Don McGahn because as we know, Nunes previously got caught running interference for the White House on the Russia investigation. But this is still Devin Nunes sort of acting like a private eye on behalf of the president. KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, he's certainly been looking for a lot of different elements of the probe to question and certainly he has been pushing -- his reason for doing this all seems to be that he is trying to find places where the probe is weak to try to undermine it.

But clearly, I mean this is one area that he's stuck on. And he's been very careful the entire time to make sure, ever since he kind of got caught with last year's midnight run to the White House, to make sure that what he's doing is not obviously any sort of coordination with the president or with the Oval Office.

My colleagues at "The Washington Post" just published a story on this topic as well that goes into a little bit more detailed on some of the points that we were just talking about, including that there was a third member of the Trump orbit that was made contact with by the same person that everybody is focusing on.

And just given that we were talking about the timeline, that some of that may have started slightly before the formal opening of the investigation on July 1st. Basically, we're still asking a lot of questions about the details, but it does come down to the allegation that was made by the president, that there is some sort of plant in his campaign. There's no evidenced of that as far as anybody reporting on this story has unearthed.

COOPER: I haven't seen that news story in "The Washington Post." Do you name the third person in the campaign?

DEMIRJIAN: The three individuals that are in our article are the same two that's in "The New York Times" and the third is Sam Clovis, who was affiliated with the Trump campaign under a different guise.

COOPER: Matt, your report tonight says, quote, the informant is well known in Washington circles, having served in previous Republican administrations and as a source of information for the CIA in past years. Do you have any sense of how -- is this person concerned that the president's allies want to -- want his identity revealed?

ROSENBERG: I would imagine so. I want to be careful here. I don't want to go too far. We specifically didn't name him for a reason. But look, when you are an informant and have done this work for years, your identity gets out.

One of the concerns here is that people who may have dealt with you 10, 15, however long ago on something else will say, hey, that guy, uh-oh, was he working for the other people or is he working for the u.s. on this? And then there are new dangers you don't know about. There are real concerns here.

COOPER: And Phil, the Republican congressman who President Trump reportedly speaks several times a week about all this, Mark Meadows, isn't on the intelligence committee. Does that concern you?

MUDD: Sure. He doesn't know what's going on you. The underlying fact here is this is a political conversation the president wants to have with the American people. It is not an intelligence conversation on the intelligence oversight committee.

[22:00:00] Done deal. That's all it is.

COOPER: I want to thank you all. Appreciate it. Time now to hand things over to Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT."