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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Found Alive -- Missing Girl; TB Patient Speaks; Deadly Lessons: 24 Hours in Chicago
Aired June 6, 2007 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Initially, police believed she had run away, again. Danielle Cramer went missing about a year ago. They say she was troubled and had run away before.
Then investigators began to suspect foul play, so they questioned Adam Gault several times. Gault was a business associate of Cramer's family, and police say he had a history of having inappropriate relationships with young girls. Police thought the worst had happened to Cramer.
Finally, this morning, while serving a search warrant at Gault's home, everything they had thought suddenly changed.
CAPTAIN JEFFREY BLATTER, BLOOMFIELD, CONNECTICUT, POLICE DEPARTMENT: One of the investigators moved a large bookcase and found a concealed room that had been secured and locked, and found the juvenile inside.
CARROLL: The hidden room was beneath a staircase. Detectives say it did not appear Cramer had been living in the room.
Police arrested Gault, his common law wife, Ann Murphy, and another woman, Kimberly Cray. Investigators said little about how the teenager seemed after being missing for a year.
BLATTER: I don't want to get into the specifics of her demeanor. To judge how she is right now, under these circumstances, would be unfair. She's 14 years old, under the influence of a 40-year-old.
CARROLL: A neighbor who lives across the street from Gault says he never saw a girl at the home, but was suspicious of the man who lived there.
VLADIMIR ROZVADOVSKY, NEIGHBOR OF ADAM GAULT: The guy, he was really weird. Whenever he walked, he -- he would keep to himself. And he would be like slouched over.
CARROLL: The three suspects face several charges, including unlawful restraint and reckless endangerment. Cramer lived about 10 miles away from where she was found. A man at the family home refused comment.
Authorities say they're just relieved that they found Cramer and found her alive. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Jason, what else did the police have to say about Danielle?
CARROLL (on camera): Well, it's pretty interesting. Police basically said that she had a troubled past. They said that she was a habitual runaway, Anderson, and that she had a history of drug abuse.
And we can only theorize at this point -- I'm sure police are theorizing that Gault somehow saw that this young girl was vulnerable and found a way to exploit that -- Anderson.
COOPER: And the three who are in custody -- Gault -- who are the two other women? What are their relationships with Gault?
CARROLL: Well, we know that one, Ann Murphy, is his common law wife. At this point, police are not saying Cray, the other woman, they're not saying what her relationship is to the other two, only that she was somehow involved in the whole disappearance of this young girl.
COOPER: So many questions unanswered.
Jason Carroll, appreciate it.
Sadly, not every story ends with police rescuing the victims.
Outside Kansas City, the search is over for the young woman whose abduction was caught on tape this weekend.
More on that tonight from CNN's David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She left behind a vivid electronic trail that raised hopes that Kelsey Smith would soon be found. But she was not found alive.
GREG SMITH, KELSEY SMITH'S FATHER: She could walk into a room of strangers and walk out with a room full of friends.
MATTINGLY: The 18-year-old disappeared Saturday evening in Overland Park, Kansas. Cameras watched Smith walk into a store, make a purchase, then walk outside to her car. Then there was this poor- quality image from a camera outside.
Watch as this blurry figure approaches the young woman at her car. Police believe this is the very moment she was abducted. But what happened next? Kelsey's cell phone held the clues.
DETECTIVE MATTHEW BREGEL, OVERLAND PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT: With the time frame that we have in here, it appears that the cell phone was traveling. So, we are focusing here, where it hit twice.
MATTINGLY: Investigators were able to trace a series of pings, the moments Kelsey's phone made contact with nearby towers. This happens whenever a cell phone sends or receives a call.
In all, there were five pings from Kelsey's phone, all of them from people trying to reach her, the first two not far from the Target store where she was apparently abducted. The last came 46 minutes after she was taken, about 20 miles away, near the large public park where searchers found her body.
Police aren't prepared yet to name a suspect, but they still want to find this man, also captured on tape leaving the Target store. Could he be that indistinct figure on video approaching Kelsey in the parking lot?
JOHN DOUGLASS, OVERLAND PARK POLICE CHIEF: We continue to look for individuals who resemble the photograph of a person of interest. That person has not been locked down. We have talked to numerous people, but to assume that we have got the right person that we're talking to right now is not correct.
MATTINGLY (on camera): Police are also looking for a black Chevrolet pickup truck that was seen on tape parking in the same row near Kelsey Smith's car. Public tips are being encouraged. And police say they have received so far hundreds of calls.
(voice-over): The electronic trail of evidence in this case began with Kelsey Smith's last moments of freedom, and ended with the discovery of her body. Police now want to know if that same evidence can lead them to her killer.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Well, now the words from a man who has already had more said about him in the last few days than most people have in a lifetime.
People have been pretty rough on Andrew Speaker from getting on one flight after another with an extremely -- potentially deadly and tough to treat form of tuberculosis.
Now, from his isolation room in a Denver hospital, he is firing back at health officials, lawmakers and his critics.
He spoke to a Senate subcommittee today.
He and his wife, Sarah, join us now, along with 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Andrew and Sarah, thanks very much for being with us.
Sanjay, I want you to start it off, since you're the doctor.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, guys.
First of all, Andrew, how are you feeling? Have you been sick at all? ANDREW SPEAKER, TB PATIENT: No, I -- other than just the -- the natural stress. I've been feeling fine. The staff at National Jewish is absolutely amazing.
GUPTA: Andrew, a lot of people are curious. Now that you've had a chance to reflect on this, where do you think you got this XDR TB?
A. SPEAKER: What it seems, talking to officials, probably the most likely source -- excuse me. I was in Vietnam for about five weeks last year as part of a rotary club mission. And we went to orphanages, hospitals and schools donating money, just a goodwill ambassador trip. And that was probably the most likely source of where I could have picked it up.
GUPTA: You know, a lot has been made, Andrew and Sarah -- your father and, Andrew, your father-in-law now, about the fact that he works at the CDC as a TB -- tuberculosis researcher.
I mean, you got to admit, it's sort of bizarre and maybe a strange irony, but what do you say about that, I mean, is there any chance that your father-in-law could have given you this?
A. SPEAKER: Do you want to speak to this one?
SARAH SPEAKER, ANDREW'S WIFE: I can speak to this one. There is absolutely no chance that my father-in-law -- my father gave Drew this tuberculosis strain. He is routinely tested. He has never had TB. Further he's a man of integrity. He -- two most important things in his life are his family and the public health. And he would never jeopardize either of those two things.
COOPER: Andrew, you know, there have been a lot of questions, obviously, about your travel. What did you know before you left? Did you know you were potentially contagious? What did the CDC officials you met with tell you?
A. SPEAKER: Hopefully -- hopefully some things have been cleared up. That before I left, I knew the CDC, Fulton County Health Department all knew that I had multi-drug resistant TB. And the difference between what I knew now and what I knew then was before I left I was told that I was not contagious, that I was not a threat to anyone, that when I got out here I would not be sequestered and there was no need to have concern about my family or anyone else.
Of course, now there's a reason why my wife is in a mask and there's reason why the people in the room are in a mask. And that's the big difference, that I'm talking to you now in a situation where people say, yes, something very dangerous and there's a chance you could give it to your wife, or your child or strangers.
Before I left, I was sitting in a room where no one had a mask on, going about my daily life and my work, completely under the supervision of Fulton County and with the full knowledge of the CDC. And no one had a mask and no one told me that I was a threat to anyone.
COOPER: So they were sitting -- so, when they were sitting there, telling you all this, they weren't wearing masks?
A. SPEAKER: Of course not. No. I mean, I was just going to work, going about my daily business, going to court. Going home to my wife. Going home to my daughter. There was -- the first time I ever heard mention the terms isolation or quarantine or, you know, zero flow room were when I got back in the states and, since then, I've maintained my story, but as you saw this morning in the Senate, Fulton County's and the CDC's keeps changing.
So if they want to talk about this circle of trust, why is it they can't get their story straight?
COOPER: And did they say point blank do not get on an airplane or did they just say we prefer you not get on an airplane?
A. SPEAKER: Actually, in the recording that "LARRY KING" has, at the start of it, it says we prefer you not get on a plane and you need to go out to Denver. They told me they preferred I not get on a plane.
S. SPEAKER: They never gave a reason.
A. SPEAKER: Well, you know, I said why? If we know it's going to take three weeks to do my medication, we know it's going to take three weeks to get me a bed in Denver, so if I'm walking around Atlanta, if you're telling me I'm not a threat to anyone, I'm not contagious, why shouldn't I go on my honeymoon?
And I can understand people's anger of my decision based on what they hear when I landed back in the States. But I hope at least they now have an insight into what I was told before I left to maybe understand why I made the decision I did.
GUPTA: Sarah, was there any reason you specifically moved your departure date up to Europe by a couple of days? I mean, was this in your mind, all that was going on here?
S. SPEAKER: I encouraged him greatly to do that. He was -- at this point, he actually had gone out on his own to practice. I had a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I was going on that was 10 hours a day.
He just found out that he had this multi-drug-resistant TB, you know, during that meeting and that he had a long treatment ahead of him. So, he wasn't sleeping. And he was upset. Our family was already overseas. We're going to 11 cities. So there were still details. I said just go, just get out of here, go over to Europe and wait for me when I get there. And that's what he did.
And I have to say that Fulton County saying they had a letter they were going to deliver, I was there until May the 14th. His family was -- you know, his father was there, his mother was there at the office where Andrew works. No one called us. No one tried to deliver anything to our home. We're all in the phone book. So, it certainly wasn't to evade some sort of incoming letter.
A. SPEAKER: You know, I wasn't told on May 10th that, you know, I was going to be taking Tylenol and, you know, having to do a little physical therapy. I was told I was going to get the upper half of my right lung lobbed off and I was going to be on medication and IVs almost every day for the next two years.
And I -- you know, people hear that and they say, God, if you were so sick, but I wasn't. I was walking around, I was asymptomatic. I felt perfectly fine. I was jogging the day before I left.
And so the fact that they told me, that I had lost drugs, that didn't make me more contagious. It meant that my road was going to be a lot more difficult.
GUPTA: Andrew, I mean, do people sort of see you as a modern day typhoid Mary or do you think that you're more the victim of just miscommunication by our public health system? Now that you've had a chance to evaluate all of this, what do you think?
A. SPEAKER: I don't want to be either. I just, you know, the only reason why I'm on the air is because I just want my life back to where it was. I didn't -- I hope people have heard very clearly, the people I look to, my health authorities and doctors, who told me that I was not contagious, I was not a threat to anyone. I hope they understand that when I left, that was the impression I was under and would never have put my family in jeopardy.
And, you know, now, coming back, I just want to get back to where I was. I worked very hard to have a good reputation, to live a good life. And I just want to get back to that point.
A. SPEAKER: Yes?
COOPER: Sorry. The other criticism -- and two questions -- has been you were told -- officials said you were told in Rome to turn yourself in. They say you didn't and that you re-entered the United States over land by car from Canada. Some have suggested that was to avoid any legal ramifications of taking an American flight into the United States. Are either of those true?
A. SPEAKER: You know, when they called us in Rome, they asked us to cancel our trip and told us they were going to -- to call them the next day for travel arrangements. We immediately canceled our trip. We were supposed to leave for Florence the next morning. We canceled our trip right then and there and we waited around and talked to them the next night.
The next night they told us that the only way to get home was if I could raise up $140,000. And I asked them, well, you know, what's changed? When I left, you told me I wasn't contagious. And yes, you've lost another drug, but that doesn't make me any more contagious, according to what you told me.
And they asked me to voluntarily turn myself into Italian health authorities and they said -- and I said, well, you know, if they don't treat me right, I've already been told that if we lose any more drugs, I'm not going to be cured and I'm going to be stuck there indefinitely.
And so, I got home. And I did it, not thinking I was putting anybody at risk. But I was going to get home. And I was going to get back to America, where I could get my treatment. And I hope people understand that up to that point, that I had been advised that I was not contagious.
And, yes, I lost another drug and that meant that it was going to be harder to cure me and my chance of recovery was less. But that doesn't mean that I was any more contagious or any more of a risk to anyone else than what they told me.
COOPER: I want to talk a little bit about what affect this has had on both of you and your marriage, which is just starting off. Talk about, you know, for better and for worse. We're going to talk about that.
We're going to -- have take a short break. We'll be right back after the break with more from Andrew and Sarah.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are continuing our conversation with Andrew Speaker and his wife, Sarah, as well as 360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Andrew and Sarah join us from their hospital room in Denver, Colorado.
Sanjay, I know you have some questions.
You know, Andrew, one of the numbers you've probably heard -- I've heard it over and over again. As you know, I visited the hospital where you're staying, is that the survival rate for something like this is only around 30 percent.
I mean, what are you hearing? How optimistic are the doctors that they're going to be able to get you through this?
A. SPEAKER: I have no doubt that National Jewish is the single finest place to be. They are incredibly optimistic with the fact that the mass is pretty much concentrated in my upper right lobe. So by taking it out, that should almost completely eliminate it. And then they can use the rest of the cocktail drugs to kind of knock the rest of it out.
But it's not -- I'm very, very fortunate, like I said, that I am asymptomatic and it's not at a stage where, you know, it spread throughout my lungs and I'm coughing up blood and what people typically think of, you know, Doc Holiday in the old Wyatt Earp movie, where he's coughing up the blood.
S. SPEAKER: And I think this is really highlighting -- I think we are always looking for why this has happened and why it's gotten so much publicity. And I hope that one of the results of this is better funding for TB research worldwide. And I think that some of the figures of those mortality rates are based on immunocompromised patients that can't get medicine to treat their tuberculosis.
A. SPEAKER: Yes. There's nothing new. There's no new medicine. So -- but, I'm very optimistic and, more importantly, my doctors are optimistic.
GUPTA: An important message, for sure.
And Sarah, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the show, as you know, from outside the hospital. You came out and spoke to me afterward.
I mean, are you -- do you feel safe? I mean, you're wearing that mask in his room.
Oh, can you hear us? Andrew, Sarah, can you hear us?
A. SPEAKER: I'm just hearing a busy signal.
COOPER: We'll try to get their IFBs worked on.
Sanjay, what -- from a medical standpoint, what is it that he has? You know, we all know TB from movies and from history books and around the world. I mean, the numbers of people who actually have it is astronomical. What is so particularly -- what is so difficult and resistant about his case?
GUPTA: You know, there are different types of tuberculosis, different strains. After tuberculosis started getting treated, pretty soon after we saw what's called multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, which means that they just wouldn't respond to a lot of the antibiotics out there.
And more recently, Anderson, we've seen something called extensively drug-resistant TB. You and I have talked about resistance quite a bit. I mean, this is -- these are just strains of bacteria that are very smart. They can outsmart just about every antibiotic out there. And it can be very difficult to treat as a result.
You know, exactly -- you know, he talked about the fact that he may have gotten it in Southeast Asia. In this country, there's only been about 49, 50 cases over the last 13 years, so it's very, very rare. But it does exist in about 37 countries around the world.
And it is -- Anderson, I mean, you know, here in the United States, he's talking about the fact that he can have this operation, he can get antibiotics. In Sub Saharan Africa, where it's so concomitant with HIV AIDS, people die of this all the time. I mean, it's exceedingly difficult to treat -- Anderson.
COOPER: And what is the treatment? I mean, what is he doing on a day-to-day basis? What does a patient go through?
GUPTA: So what happens is interesting. They'll actually take some of the bacteria from his lungs and actually put it in a dish with various antibiotics and then literally see antibiotic is killing the bacteria.
And with the case of extensively drug resistant TB, very few of the antibiotics will work and in his case, none of them may work. And that's sort of by definition what XDR TB is.
What he was alluding to and what's interesting -- I had a chance to talk to his surgeon out there -- is that because his tuberculosis is confined to one particular area of the lung, the thinking is look, we'll just take that part of the lung out. And as a result, not only -- you know, he'll lose that part of the lung, but he'll also lose the majority of his confined infection. He may need some antibiotics afterwards, but his treatment -- and it's very unusual -- may actually be surgery for an infectious disease. And it could work very well.
COOPER: And I know that Andrew and Sarah, we've reestablished the IFP connection.
They join us again.
Andrew and Sarah, I'm sorry about the technical problem.
What are your days like, Andrew and Sarah? I mean, how do you -- what do you do every day? How do you deal with this?
S. SPEAKER: We -- I have to say that what's really lifting us up right now and keeping our faith and our spirits is we have boxes full of cards from people, strangers and friends and family. And I think that that's keeping us going through all of this, and keeping us positive. That, and like lots of cards and Scrabble and...
A. SPEAKER: Yes, you know, thoughts and prayers and, honestly, yes, I have treatment. I have to be out here so they can monitor my blood levels. And I get some IVs in, but, really, I've got my laptop. I work on my cases. You know, most of the day, I'm just sitting around and either taking pills or giving blood or getting an IV. So I spend the rest of the day working and speaking to people back home.
COOPER: And were you...
A. SPEAKER: Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy.
COOPER: Were you following the media coverage, what officials were saying about you? Did you feel -- I mean, what is it -- it's got to be a surreal experience to be at the center of this worldwide scare.
S. SPEAKER: Oh, it absolutely is. And we weren't -- you know, we weren't really -- we didn't know that the CDC was going to come out and do the press conference. And when they did, we just -- I guess we felt so out of control at what they were saying and we felt like we had no -- we just felt very strong. And then we were sitting there at Grady Hospital and there's news trucks lined up and CDC has these people in space suits and CDC is communicating with us to pack our car so we can sneak out and drive ourselves to Denver.
A. SPEAKER: I remember seeing that on TV, these big white space suits that they had people in ambulances and looking at each other and going, I've never seen one of those. They were talking about the necessity to quarantine and how much CDC needs in order to take care of a patient and how much more funding they need.
S. SPEAKER: And yet we're packing our car to drive ourselves across country.
A. SPEAKER: Yes, and they're asking us to get an agenda to drive across country. Or when we landed. You know, turning on the news, seeing your face on the news and hearing the CDC say we never knew he was leaving, we didn't know where he was.
And sitting there -- and, finally, this morning, talking to the Senate and being able to say that's not true. They knew I was leaving weeks before I left. Everyone knew I was going. Everyone knew I was drug resistant.
You know, they testified this morning, I believe, that they didn't find out I was drug resistant until the 18th. Yet the CDC is the one who did the drug resistant testing that they gave to my doctors that we discussed on the 10th. And just to finally have a chance to say, no, you know, that's not -- my family's not like that. To just have a chance to say, no, we're not bad people. We're not these malicious people going out -- and to stand up for yourself and say, no, you're lying.
COOPER: And point blank, you're saying they're lying?
A. SPEAKER: Well, I mean, if someone says...
A. SPEAKER: Maybe there was miscommunication.
S. SPEAKER: Yes. Internally. There's a lot of bureaucracy in these organizations and we've seen that firsthand throughout this. I mean, I think there were too many people involved on our case that they couldn't make a decision. And I think it got passed around. I think communications were lost.
A. SPEAKER: Originally they said they were working very hard to get us home and we just suddenly left and then it was either today or last night, they said, well, maybe the person we were talking to didn't know that they were trying to get us home.
S. SPEAKER: But we were told final decision, CDC.
A. SPEAKER: So just to finally, you know -- and, honestly, this is just the starting line. You know, this is a lot of hard work to just get to the start.
GUPTA: Andrew, this has obviously been a difficult situation for you. You know, it's sort of interesting. You're a personal injury lawyer. I'm wondering, looking at it from that vantage point, any of the people on those planes, do they have a case? I mean, they may have been injured by this. Do they have a case? A. SPEAKER: I...
S. SPEAKER: I think an important part of the law -- I'm a law student -- is a mendrea (ph), a mental element, some sort of intent or some sort of knowledge or some sort of recklessness. And when you're told by your doctors that you're none of those things, you're no threat, you're no risk...
A. SPEAKER: I'm not trying to get in the lawyer's speak.
S. SPEAKER: I'm sorry.
A. SPEAKER: No, no. When I got on the plane, I didn't think I was putting anybody at harm. And that was based on what the doctors and the health officials told me. And if I had have gotten on that plane -- if someone had said you're contagious and I still got on that plane, then yes.
And -- however, regardless, that doesn't make up for the fact that people were scared and that people were worried. And for that, I apologize. The lawsuits or whatever else aside, I'm sorry that people were scared and I'm sorry that they're worried.
S. SPEAKER: And if we knew then what we know now, we wouldn't have gotten on the plane.
A. SPEAKER: There's a big difference between you're slightly contagious and you're not contagious. The difference is, you either go around your daughter and your wife or you don't. And long before I would have gotten on a plane with a stranger, I wouldn't have taken the chance of getting my daughter, my 8-year-old daughter TB, that she wouldn't be able to survive even if I can't.
COOPER: Andrew and Sarah, we do appreciate your time. I know this is -- it's been a long day and a long couple of weeks for you.
I want to read you what some local and federal officials have said as well today on Capitol Hill.
Dr. Stephen Katowski (ph) of the Fulton County Health Department told Senators, and I quote, "was he ordered not to travel? The answer to that was no. The local health department does not have the authority to prohibit or order somebody not to travel."
And Julie Gerberding (ph) of the CDC said, quote, "we gave the patient the benefit of the doubt at several points here and in those cases we failed to take the aggressive action that we could have used with legally sanctioned methods to restrict his movement more effectively." As to Andrew's statement that he was told he was not contagious, the Fulton County official said not quite. He says they told him he was not highly contagious.
Is that your recollection?
A. SPEAKER: Well, you know, there's a good reason why they didn't show up tonight on "LARRY KING." Last night they were both slotted to have spots and after this morning with the Senate hearing, they both suddenly decided that it was better not to show up.
They said this morning in the Senate that I was -- that they told me I was not highly contagious. And as you heard on "LARRY KING," as a matter of fact, they said, no, I was not contagious. I was not a threat to anyone. Two very different things.
And this morning, they also said -- I don't want to reiterate, but you know, you can read the Senate transcripts. And I caught the back half of her speech. And my start to the Senate was with all due respect, sir, that is not true. And I started going into what was false about it.
So, you know, I didn't -- that's my private medical history. What kind of IV or port I'm going to have in my chest, or what the treatment is going to do to me. That's my personal information. And we didn't want to do this, except for when people come after you, I'm willing to admit I'm sorry. I'm sorry people were can scared. I'm sorry if I made a bad decision. I hope people can understand what my decision was based on.
But it's about time that the CDC and Fulton County steps up and said we should have told him, you know. Why does the public health authority not know that TB is contagious or slightly contagious? Hopefully, there will be some changes in procedures and changes at CDC. But before they're going to make a change, they're going to need to get their stories straight and start stating the facts and admit that they made mistakes too.
Because I'm sorry for my part in it. And I'm not going to be the one that they're going to drag through the mud with my family and my family's name. It's not going to happen.
COOPER: Andrew speaker, Sarah speaker, appreciate your time tonight, joining us tonight from the hospital room in Denver, Colorado.
We would invite any officials from the CDC or Fulton County, if they would like, to come on the program and explain their position.
Sanjay, what do you make of all of this?
GUPTA: Well, he is very clear in the fact that he was not told that he was not contagious. And I think that really strikes at the heart of all of this. Made some tapes public tonight to that effect as well. It's difficult.
You know, I think more than anything, taking aside this specific case, Anderson, we're not very good at handling these sorts of situations as a public health community. He's one guy. This is one guy with XDR TB, a big problem. But imagine if it was 10 or 100 people or if it was small pox or some other sort of other contagion. We are not prepared in this country to be able to handle these sorts of public health problems right now.
And I think, you know, Andrew's testifying before Congress, I think it just speaks to that. And hopefully, if anything good can come out of this, it will serve as a wake-up call that we just need to get better at this.
COOPER: Sanjay, appreciate your expertise on the subject. Thanks very much.
GUPTA: Thank you.
COOPER: We're going to have a lot more in our continuing half hour on 360. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: A couple of days after what most political analysts considered a pretty good showing at the CNN-sponsored debate in New Hampshire, Barack Obama has not slowed down.
Today, he gave a speech at Hampton University Ministers Conference in Virginia. In it, he talked largely about bringing hope to places where there is none. But he also said something else that really caught our ear. He talked about Hurricane Katrina and how after disasters like it, the government and everyone else pretty much moves on. And then he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And nothing really changes except the news coverage quiets down and Anderson Cooper is on to something else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Got to say, we were kind of surprised to hear the Senator say that. With all due respect, Senator Obama, unlike pretty much everyone else in the media, except perhaps NBC, we have not moved on to something else. We have an office in New Orleans and we return their regularly.
We spent nearly five weeks along the gulf coast in the dark days after Katrina. And since then, we've anchored around 20 programs from there, easily more than any other national newscast and we continue to anchor programs from there on a regular basis.
We made a promise not to forget, not to move on, and we are honoring that promise.
Now, some viewers, and in fact much of the country may say they have Katrina fatigue. We think the only people who have a right to be fatigued are the people of Louisiana and the Mississippi gulf coast who are still trying to rebuild, still waiting for help and still hoping to move back home someday.
We're going to continue to visit New Orleans and Mississippi, telling the people's stories and keeping politicians honest about the promises that they have made and the promises that they still have not kept.
We will be back in New Orleans soon and, hopefully Mississippi as well. And when we go, we would like to invite you, Senator Obama, to join us. We hope you will.
We've also devoted a great deal of time to a story happening in Senator Obama's home state. All the Chicago public school students murdered since this school year began.
Over the weekend, we should point out, a 14-year-old boy was shot to death. As of tonight, 30 students from the Chicago public schools have been killed in this school year -- 30 kids.
We went to Chicago last week to report on a tragedy. Back then, last week, it was 28 kids. It's now up to 30. It's a tragedy many in the city believe is not being told to the rest of the country. Some say it would be if the victims were white. They are not. They are African-American. They want answers and so do we.
One of the victims was a young man named Blair Holt.
CNN's David Mattingly has his story.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Midnight, May 10, Blair Holt stayed up late on a school night, possibly to work on his next rap song.
COOPER: Obviously, we're having a technical problem. We're going to try to get that fixed. We're going to take a short break. And when we do, we'll have the story for you. Stay tuned.
COOPER: As I mentioned before the break, we went to Chicago last week to report on a tragedy that a lot of people in the city believe is not being told to the rest of the country. Some say if the victims in this case were white, it would be.
Thirty Chicago school kids, African Americans, have been killed in this school year alone. People want answers and so do we. Why is it happening? What's being done to stop more deaths?
One of the victims was a young man named Blair Holt.
CNN's David Mattingly tells his story.
MATTINGLY: Midnight, May 10, Blair Holt stayed up late on a school night, possibly to work on his next rap song.
MATTINGLY: These are the words and beat of a streetwise kid from the rough-and-tumble south side of Chicago. Just 16, he had already seen a lifetime of violent death. ANNETTE NANCE-HOLT, MOTHER: There had been quite a few kids lately who had been killed by gunfire, at least three that have been killed by gunfire in the neighborhood. And he knew them, because Blair grew up from a baby in that neighborhood. They knew him.
MATTINGLY: But knowing them was one thing. Becoming one of them, a gang-banger, was a line Blair never dared to cross. His police officer father and firefighter mother made sure of that.
A. HOLT: Well, I always told Blair, you know, be careful who is around you. Always watch your surroundings, because you can have somebody who is in a gang who is around you, you know, and they could -- they never seem to hit who they was aiming for, anyway, I mean.
And Blair would be like, I know, ma. I know, ma.
MATTINGLY: And it was a message his parents say they reinforced every day. College was going to be Blair's way out. And, at 7:00 a.m., just like every other morning, his mother says she took him on a 15-minute drive to school, dropping him off with these words of encouragement.
A. HOLT: Whatever do you today, do good. When you go to school, do good.
MATTINGLY: They were instructions that Blair took to heart. He made good grades and found a talent for rap, adopting the stage name Bizzy B.
He walked through the metal detectors at the school entrance almost 45 minutes early. This was his time, time to socialize, time to make plans.
(on camera): One of Blair's favorite things to do before class was to meet up with his friends and go over the lyrics he had written the night before. Sometimes, they would talk about the future, about going into the music business. His parents say Blair set a very lofty goal for himself. He wanted to be a star.
A. HOLT: When I'm famous, I'm going to buy you a brand new 745, because I know you love that car. He told me that. He said, don't worry. Don't worry. I'm going to buy you a brand-new one.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): But Blair's parents did worry. They became increasingly troubled, as violence made headlines, and the death toll among Chicago's school-age children continued to rise.
(on camera): As you are seeing these terrible things happen to other families, did you ever think that it would come into your own lives?
RONALD HOLT, FATHER: No.
A. HOLT: No.
R. HOLT: Not -- and you couldn't have told me, convinced me, in a million years, that we would be experiencing this, and going through this, no way, no how.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Throughout the Thursday classes, students talked about final exams. The end of the school year was at hand. Soon, Blair would be a senior.
And when the 3:00 bell sounded at the end of the day, there was no reason to believe that anything was standing in the way of Blair Holt realizing all of his dreams.
He then boarded a city bus bound for his grandparents' store, where he worked every afternoon.
(on camera): This is the beginning of what was supposed to be a 40-minute ride, 40 minutes that always made his mom nervous, because it was one of the few times that Blair was on the go without his parents' supervision.
A. HOLT: Yes, I would call my mother and go, is Blair there yet?
I said, as soon as he walks through that door, call me.
R. HOLT: Yes, that -- that day, he didn't have -- I think his cell phone wasn't working. And I would always call his cell phone...
A. HOLT: Right.
R. HOLT: ... after school. I says, Blair, call me to let me know that you made it to the store.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): When Blair took a seat with fellow students, he might have been thinking about new lyrics he had put to paper, his hardest-hitting yet, a dark and angry rap about gangs and young lives that ended too soon.
He even wondered if his own life might end violently at the hands of street thugs, saying, "They won't stop until my mother is grieving."
A. HOLT: He was just talking about how life is. And, I mean, that's what a lot of young black males feel, what life is like for them. It's like no hope. And, I mean, he had hope, but he was writing how he feels.
MATTINGLY: But just six blocks later, shots rang out on that Chicago city bus. Blair Holt had come face to face with the violence that he railed against.
But what happened to this son of a cop father and firefighter mom was just beginning.
(on camera): The two of you know what it means to put your life on the line. But what your son did, that was different, wasn't it?
A. HOLT: Oh, my God. My hero. My hero.
COOPER: Well, not just her hero, a city's hero.
Just ahead, how this young man became a hero. Stay with us.
COOPER: School is still open in Chicago. Students are still dying. Since the start of this academic year, 30 public school kids have been murdered in this city. Think about it -- 30 students in one year.
Before the break, we told you about one of the young lives lost. His name was Blair Holt. His story must be told. His name remembered, his life honored.
Once again, here is CNN's David Mattingly.
MATTINGLY: 3:20 on a Thursday afternoon, early in May, Blair Holt was almost halfway through the 40-minute bus ride from his school to his grandparents' store.
The bus made a regular stop, but this time the passenger who boarded was, according to police, a gang member looking to settle a score. He allegedly pulled a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun and fired wildly, missing his intended victim, but hitting innocent bystanders.
If it all weren't so horrifyingly real, Blair Holt might have found a way to work it into a new rap song, but all he had time for were a few simple words.
R. HOLT: He said, tell my mother and father that I love them. And he said -- she said that he threw up the peace sign.
A. HOLT: He knew he wouldn't come home to me, but he still got me a message because I felt that I didn't have any closure with him.
MATTINGLY: In all, five students were shot and a community was stunned. Blair was hit worst of all. Shot in the chest, there was a lot of internal bleeding. Blair Holt died that night at 9:03.
(On camera): The young man who dreamed of becoming a rap star had become shooting victim number 20 in a deadly Chicago school year. But soon everyone would hear of something remarkable that happened at the scene of this crime, something that would transform Blair Holt into much more than just a sad statistic.
Because of what you two do, the two of you know what it means to put your life on the line. You do that as a matter of duty.
R. HOLT: Yes.
A. HOLT: Without thinking.
R. HOLT: Yes.
MATTINGLY: But what your son did, that was different, wasn't it?
A. HOLT: Oh, my God.
R. HOLT: That was different. That was different, and that was extremely, of course, personal. And...
A. HOLT: My hero. My hero.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): When the bullets started flying, this 16-year-old, his dad a policeman and his mom a firefighter, grabbed a classmate and pulled her out of the line of fire, saving her life.
TIARA REED, SHOOTING VICTIM: I remember him pulling me and throwing me on the seat. And I remember getting shot in the leg. And then everything, it just went -- I felt the pain, and then that was it.
MATTINGLY: Thanks to Blair, Tiara Reed lived to tell her story.
But Blair had no time to protect himself. He was the only one on the bus to die. And his parents decided it was time to take a stand.
R. HOLT: Not having my son, not -- not having my son, because it hurts. But I'm going to be strong for him. I'm going to be strong for him, no matter what, no matter what, because that's what he wants. And that's what he's going to get.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blair, we walking for you. Blair, we walking for you.
MATTINGLY: Students and parents at Blair's high school protested, demanding safe passage to and from school.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Put the guns down!
MATTINGLY: Then, another protest, this one at a neighborhood gun shop. The fame Blair Holt dreamed about in life came to him that violent day he died in Chicago. He became a symbol for a community tired of the killing.
(on camera): Your son was number 20. If we had been paying this much attention to child number one...
R. HOLT: Yes.
A. HOLT: Right, we would be...
MATTINGLY: ... would we be talking today? A. HOLT: No.
R. HOLT: Probably not.
A. HOLT: No, because, like I said, so many people take for granted...
R. HOLT: Yes.
A. HOLT: ... what's happening in the black community. And it's not always gang-related. It's -- it's really not. A lot of people who are getting killed are innocent.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Blair's anger about the violence lives on in his music.
"When I'm gone," he said, "I don't want to be forgotten. Every time I turn around, bodies is dropping." They're the lyrics he wrote, but never had a chance to record. And some now wonder, was he right when he predicted an end to the killing by saying, "They won't stop until my mother iz grieving?"
A. HOLT: No matter who you are, what color you are, or what demographics you come from, we got to wake up. We got to wake up, because it's my child today. It might be yours tomorrow.
MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Chicago.
COOPER: A young man.
Today it was reported that two teenagers were indicted for the murder of Blair Holt. Both were also indicted on five counts of attempted murder for those who survived the shooting on that bus.
And the killings in Chicago continue and around the country, where juvenile crime is on the rise.
Still ahead on the program tonight, what the candidates think of God and what you think about what they think. We'll read your e-mails next.
COOPER: On the radar tonight, our reporting on faith and the presidential race is getting plenty of action on our blog.
Charlotte in Stockton, California, writes: I don't have a problem with a candidate making a faith statement and letting the chips fall where they may. What I don't like are the labels that one party is more moral than the other, or has values -- and the other party does not. Kathy in Chicago, says: It's nice to know the candidates believe, but I don't really think that it tells us how good a President they will be. Look at Mr. Butch -- Bush -- ouch.
And from Rich in Phoenix: I'm waiting for an atheist to run for president. They don't believe in God or in afterlife so maybe they'll actually do something good while in office that will help this country now. Keep your religion at home, it means nothing to me. I want someone who will focus on doing the job, not getting it.
As always, we welcome your views. Just head to CNN.com/360blog, follow the links and weigh in.
And be sure to catch CNN this Friday at 8:00 Eastern. Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama talk about their faith and values with CNN's Soledad O'Brien.
Don't miss the day's headlines with the 360 daily podcast. You don't need an iPod, you can watch it on your computer at CNN.com/AC360podcast, that's CNN.com/AC360podcast. I'm trying to see how fast I can say that. Or go to the iTunes store where it is a top download.
We're going to have a little bit more of 360 after this.
COOPER: Remember that little bit more of 360 we promised you before the break? You're looking at it. That was it.
For our international viewers, "CNN TODAY" is next.
Here in the states, "LARRY KING" is coming up.
I'll see you back tomorrow night.
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