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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Six People Killed in Illinois College Shooting; Romney Backs McCain; New Orleans' Homeless
Aired February 14, 2008 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're in Saint Bernard Parish, just outside New Orleans. And we are going to have a lot more of what's happening here coming up later in the program.
But we begin tonight with the breaking news at a place where violent crime ought to be rare or nonexistent -- that's what every parent hopes, at least -- a college campus. Tonight, it is a crime scene.
Earlier, tragically, it was a killing ground. The location, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, about an hour drive west of Chicago. We will be hearing from people who saw it all unfold this afternoon.
First, the very latest from CNN's Candy Crowley on the scene -- Candy.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, all of this coming from the president of this university, Jonathan -- I'm sorry -- coming from the president of this university.
He says -- Jonathan Peters says that there are six people dead. That includes the gunman, who killed himself, according to what we are gathering from the police sources and from college officials.
Now, the gunman himself, we are told, was a student here, or at least was enrolled here on the campus last spring as a sociology graduate student. We are told by our producer, Fran Fifis, that authorities found another student I.D. on the gunman. They wouldn't say from where, but, because of that, they believe he was enrolled in another campus somewhere in Illinois.
We also know that in addition to the six dead, there are 22 injured, at least four of them in critical season. So, tonight, again, 22 casualties, six dead, including the gunman, four critical. The rest, some of them walk-ins, are still in the hospital tonight -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, Candy, just so I'm clear -- and you may just end up repeating some of the stuff you already said, but that's fine -- what we know about the gunman is this. We know he was a sociology graduate student on that campus at one point, but perhaps not currently?
CROWLEY: Yes. They say he was not enrolled here currently.
But they have gone back to their records. They obviously know who this gunman is. He was enrolled last year. Doesn't say he went to classes, but they know he was enrolled last year as a graduate student in sociology. They also know that there's no criminal record. There is no record anywhere of any contact with police.
So, they are sketching out the details. And, you know, of course, the one thing they really don't know is why.
COOPER: Do we know -- since we don't know anything about motive, do we know much about the details of the crime? Did he walk into the classroom? Was he already there? I have heard conflicting reports earlier in the day.
CROWLEY: They don't know at this point. He walked from behind a careen.
This is a huge lecture hall. It can hold almost 200 students. There was someone giving a lecture, a teaching assistant giving a lecture, and the gunman, according to eyewitnesses, walked out from behind a screen on the same platform where the T.A. was and just opened fire.
They believe he had three guns, a shotgun, a Glock and then another smaller-caliber handgun. They believe that. They haven't found that smaller handgun, but they have a clip, a cartridge that doesn't fit the Glock. So, they believe that there is a third handgun as well.
COOPER: All right.
CROWLEY: So, in fact, that they're not sure whether he was sitting in that classroom for a long time or whether he just came from behind the screen at that moment.
COOPER: All right, still a lot we got to figure out. Candy, appreciate the reporting.
Again, we may never fully understand what it was that drove this guy to do what he did. On a certain level, acts like this one are inherently beyond the reach of motive and reason.
What we can do, however, tonight is retrace the steps that led up to this point. And that's what police and obviously forensic psychologists are probably doing as we speak.
For now, we have got a rough outline.
CNN's Tom Foreman has more on that.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just past 3:00, approximately 100 students are in a geology class. It is almost over when students say a strange man comes through a seldom-used door at the back of the lecture stage.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I looked up. I saw he had a huge gun. And I saw him shoot my teacher. And we -- everybody just dropped.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were rushing in kind of hastily. It was almost like nerve-racking, almost like surreal. You weren't sure if anything was -- positive it was real or not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was crawling over people. I could feel people crawling over me. Everyone was just pushing, trying to get out as soon as possible.
FOREMAN: Students say the gunman keeps up steady, apparently indiscriminate fire. At least one says he switches to a handgun.
Within moments, however, the first students escape, running out into the middle of campus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Students were running out, yelling, and it was -- there were so many of them, I pretty much got carried up in the wave.
FOREMAN: Three zero two: Outside, students are yelling for others to get away and making calls for help. Campus police rush to the building.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... was leaving, I heard about seven or eight more shots coming from him. And I could still hear him going as I was running.
FOREMAN: Three zero seven, a campus lockdown is declared, as ambulances are called to begin taking the wounded to a hospital only minutes away; 3:20, an all-campus alert goes out, telling student there is a possible gunman at large. Go to a safe area.
By 4:10, authorities say the gunman has killed himself and did so shortly after the shooting began, even though he still had plenty of unused ammo.
DONALD GRADY, NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY POLICE CHIEF: The incident itself was over very fast. We don't exactly have it, but, from the time we got the call until the time we had officers on the scene, at this point, I'm being told, was less than two minutes.
FOREMAN: In all, witnesses say he fired perhaps 30 shots before taking his own life.
FOREMAN: There is an awful lot we still don't know, as we said at the beginning there, Anderson.
The man was all dressed in black, people said, had a ski mask sort of on his head, a ski hat, not covering his face. That's all anybody seems to know about this guy as he came on stage, kind of a tall fellow.
But we do know a lot about the university. We know that the university paid a lot of attention when the shooting happened at Virginia Tech. They took a lot of steps to review their security procedures there. They set up a campus-wide alert system, which they used today to let people know what was happening.
And they went through drills as to how they would handle such an incident if it came along. They feel that that seemed to work pretty well so far today. They also had a -- an incident back in December where there was some threatening language written on a wall. They say that had nothing to do with this thing today, but, nonetheless, it heightened their awareness and they had warnings throughout the campus then that people should be aware if something like this might happen -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, no doubt we will have more details by dawn at least tomorrow. And, by tomorrow night, we will have a lot more as well.
Let's turn now to sophomore Zach Seward. He was in the lecture hall when all of this happened.
He joins us now from the campus.
Zach, first of all, how are you doing?
ZACH SEWARD, EYEWITNESS: I'm doing OK, I guess as good as anybody else. I'm still shaken up, I guess. But, you know...
COOPER: What did you see?
SEWARD: Basically, it was a normal day at class. I was sitting in the back of the room. I showed up late that day, I guess.
I sat in the back of the room. It was around 3:00. The professor was just doing lectures always. And one of the -- all of a sudden, one of the doors that are up by the, I guess, stage, one of the backdoors by the stage, just opened up. A man came out, pumped a shotgun and fired a round into the first couple of seats in the auditorium.
By that moment, I just ducked and I ran for the door.
COOPER: How far away were you from that?
SEWARD: I was sitting in the back of the auditorium, so I would roughly say about 50, 60 feet away from it.
COOPER: And could you see his face? I mean, did he say anything?
SEWARD: I could not see his face. He did not say anything. He just pumped the shotgun and fired a round into the crowd, into the auditorium in the first couple of seats. So...
COOPER: And, I mean, obviously, people were shocked and stunned. What happened then?
SEWARD: After he fired the first shot, everybody got down. A lot of people were screaming. Everybody started running for the door.
I turned and I ran for the door. On my way out, I heard a couple more shots go off. I wasn't sure if one of them was going to hit me in the back. I was not sure. I ran as fast as I could to my dormitory. So, it was just complete chaos, really.
COOPER: What do you do now? I mean, have -- or do you -- I mean, have you talked about this with other students? How is the -- the school handling this?
SEWARD: The school, they're handling this fairly well.
I mean, they had the scare last year and everything like that. They were on the scene really fast. As I was running out of the building, I noticed an officer running towards the building with his gun drawn. So, I mean, a lot of people heard it at the time. A lot of people were outside. So, as far as, you know, a shooting goes, I think they handled it pretty well.
COOPER: Zach, I appreciate you coming on and talking about it, an unbelievable day. We will -- appreciate you talking. Thanks, Zach.
We are going to, of course, continue to follow this story throughout the program, bring you any new developments as they happen. We will have some more details a little bit later on.
Up next, though, a potential very big political development: John McCain and Mitt Romney from bitter rivals to -- well, not exactly buddy-buddy, but at least an endorsement. Will today's endorsement, however, help put Senator McCain over the top?
And, later, here on the Gulf: why so many people are returning to their hometowns only to find themselves unable to still find a home. We will have that and a look at the progress here in New Orleans and elsewhere, all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast -- when this special edition of 360 continues, live from Louisiana.
We will be right back.
COOPER: And we are back in Louisiana, in Saint Bernard Parish, following the progress here since Hurricane Katrina.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: As you can see behind me, I have got a couple of hundred volunteers. This is -- we're coming to you tonight from Camp Hope. This is where the folks from Habitat for Humanity, they run Camp Hope, and the folks from the National Civilian Community Corps, as well as AmeriCorps.
These are all volunteers, several hundred volunteers, who have come here to help folks rebuild in this region. And there has been progress here. A lot of the progress is due to the people behind me and thousands like them who have been here over the last two years.
We have a lot to report about what is happening here in Saint Bernard Parish New Orleans and all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
But, first, let's talk about politics, a big day, a big day, a big endorsement in the race for the White House. It is all happening on the campaign trail.
CNN's Erica Hill has more of that -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, foes now friends -- or, if not friends, at least they're getting a little bit closer at this point.
GOP rival Mitt Romney lending his support today to John McCain for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: This is a man who tied his political fortunes to the fortunes of our country at a time of war. Such courage is not always rewarded in politics. But it was this time. And that's a credit both to the man and to the party he will lead in the election of 2008.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Now, of course, just a few weeks ago, these two were attacking each other. What a difference a Super Tuesday makes.
Romney's decision was announced at McCain headquarters in Boston. It could also bring the Republican candidate Romney's 286 delegates. Now, that would actually put McCain just 76 short of the nomination.
Still, though, there is a major player in the race. You can't forget about Mike Huckabee, who was at several campaign rallies in Wisconsin, which is, of course, site of the next Republican primary. But forget any talk about being a V.P., Huckabee determined to be commander in chief.
As for the Democrats, a postdated win for Hillary Clinton -- while she was campaigning in Ohio, which could be a make-or-break contest, Clinton picked up some more delegates in New Mexico. The state party chairman announcing today saying she won the February five caucuses there, edging out Barack Obama by some 2,000 ballots.
Her challenger, though, out of the spotlight, Off the trail today. No public events were scheduled for Barack Obama, who is said to be spending this Valentine's Day at home with his family in Chicago. But, even still, he managed to picked up an endorsement from one of the country's biggest unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. And CNN has learned he could get the backing of the Service Employees International Union as soon as tomorrow, Anderson, which is also a pretty important one.
COOPER: All right, Erica, thanks very much. Let's get back to Senator John McCain. Huckabee is not going away, but McCain will be the Republican nominee for president. All that stands in his way right now is either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Can he beat them? And will he be able to convince conservatives that he's the best choice for the GOP?
There's a lot to talk about tonight.
Joining me now is Larry Elder, radio talk show host and author of the book "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card -- and Lose. Also with us, Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president and co- author of the upcoming book "Personal Faith, Public Policy."
Appreciate both of you joining us tonight.
Larry, how much does Romney's endorsement actually help McCain among conservatives? Does it mean much?
LARRY ELDER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it does.
It shows that McCain is just one step further towards getting the nomination. It shows that -- that Romney gets it that the -- that nomination is going to be John McCain's, that John McCain's problems with the conservative base really can be reconciled. He's off the reservation on immigration, off the reservation on a few other things.
But, on the big issues, on the war, on taxes, on the opposition to a government takeover in health care, McCain is -- is right along with the conservative base.
At the end of the day, the conservatives do not want us to cut and run from Iraq, the way they would phrase it. And McCain is right there. So, this is going to be a very close race, a lot closer than a lot of people think, Anderson.
COOPER: Tony, I know you believe that, if McCain wants to be president, he has got to unite the conservative coalition. He was on "LARRY KING" earlier talking about his relationship with the conservative.
I just want to play that for some of our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know we have to unite the party. I'm doing that. I'm showing them my record and I'm standing on that record. But I also think the important aspect of this campaign is the vision and the ability to lead this nation in the 21st century. That's what they look for at the end of the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Tony, there are some -- I mean, Dr. Dobson -- Dr. Dobson has said there's no way he's going to ever vote for -- for John McCain.
Does -- can McCain unite the party? Does he have that vision, that ability?
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I think he can. I think he -- he clearly does have the foundation from which he can build a conservative coalition that could make him successful.
I don't think it's going to naturally come together. I think he -- as Larry pointed out, there's not a question you can't touch him when it comes to national security. He has a strong record on that. I feel very comfortable under his leadership in that regard.
He's building out on the fiscal issues, bringing in economic conservatives to his camp. And he does a social conservative record from which he can reach out. But it's not something that's come natural to him, that he's spoken a lot about, that he's worked, that he's led on.
And it's going to have to be incorporated more into his message and he's going to have to lay out some very solid steps that he's going to take, so that social conservatives are stirred, as he mentioned, about vision, about -- and there's going to -- he's going to have to reach that point where they have passion behind his candidacy, because that is what it's going to take to beat...
COOPER: Well, what -- so, what does he got to say, I mean, specifically?
PERKINS: Well, I mean, at first, I think you have got to acknowledge there's been some differences on policies. The McCain- Feingold has really left a bad taste in many people's mouths, not just conservatives...
PERKINS: ... but liberals as well.
PERKINS: But I think, on the issue of embryonic stem cell research, that's been an area of big difference. And there's some ground I think he can move toward the pro-life community in that regards.
I think he could acknowledge...
COOPER: All right. Let's...
PERKINS: There's some other solid steps he could take.
COOPER: Sorry. Go ahead.
PERKINS: For instance, he could say he's going to announce a family czar in the White House to focus on strengthening America's families. So, there are some very solid steps he could take that would make conservatives move more toward his candidacy. But it's -- again, it's not going to come...
COOPER: Larry, there were -- go ahead, Larry.
ELDER: And, Anderson, let's not forget, what will unify this party will be the strong opposition to Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, depending upon who gets the nomination.
They are on the record. They want to repeal the Bush tax cuts. They want to take over health care. They want to get out of Iraq yesterday. And, at the end of the day, if you really believe, as many Republicans believe, that the war in Iraq has made us safer, I don't know how you can, in good conscience, say, I'm going to sit this out, and let a commander in chief take over who will make us -- make us less safe.
I don't think Republicans are going to do that. They're going to unite against Hillary and against Obama at the end of the day.
PERKINS: Well, Anderson, with all due respect to Larry, I don't think the campaign slogan as "I'm not as scary or bad as the other guy" is going to work. First, it's not going to fit on a bumper sticker.
PERKINS: And, secondly, you have got to -- you have got to have a vision of what people are for.
And the reason I think George Bush was successful in 2004 is because that there was the issue of security, as Larry pointed out. There was the issue of Bush tax cuts. That was to his back. And it kept the economy going.
And he also embraced the social conservative message. And he presented a vision, a united vision, for -- for conservatives. John McCain is going to have to do the same. I think he can do it. I like John McCain. I think he's got a lot going for him. But it's not going to happen naturally. He's going to have to make it happen.
ELDER: Yes. And, Tony, I don't disagree with that.
COOPER: It's a long road to the White House.
COOPER: Sorry. We're -- we're -- we're out of time. We're going to have -- you don't disagree with that, Larry?
ELDER: I don't disagree with that, but he's running against somebody who wants to give driver's license to illegals, who has taken the wrong position on terrorist surveillance. And, so, I believe that -- that, when you compare McCain to Obama or Clinton, McCain is going to be somebody that Republicans can get around.
COOPER: All right, Larry, Tony, we appreciate your perspective. Thank you very much.
A programming note: Tomorrow night, we take a hard look at how race and gender are playing a role in the run for the White House, explosive issues, no doubt about it. We're seeing it in speeches and exit polls and interviews. Candidates don't often talk about it. We will, tomorrow night.
Here's a quick preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAYE WATTLETON, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: I will say, just from my personal experience in the voting booth last week, I stood for five minutes attempting to make a decision as to how I would vote, because before me stood my history.
And I was socialized as a female before I recognized my racial categorization, classification, and, at the same time, recognizing the enormity of the history that stood before me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Check out the 360 blog at CNN.com/360 for Faye Wattleton's views -- that was Faye Wattleton right there -- for her views on whether this election is uniting or dividing America.
And watch tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for our special report, "Uncovering America: Race, Gender and Politics."
Let's go back to Erica Hill for a quick 360 bulletin. Or, actually -- yes, 360 bulletin -- Erica.
HILL: I got that for you, Anderson.
And, for the first time ever, the Pentagon planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite before it falls to Earth. Why is this a big issue? Because it could spill toxic rocket fuel. The Navy will fire a missile just before the satellite reenters Earth's atmosphere, aiming for that fuel tank.
Police questioning a man seen in a surveillance video in a New York building where a therapist was hacked to death with a meat cleaver on Tuesday night. The man, who lives in Pennsylvania, though, was not arrested.
And a new twist in the war of words between baseball star Roger Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee. One of McNamee's lawyers now predicting -- get this -- George Bush will pardon Clemens, after Republicans on the Hill attacked McNamee yesterday, because of Clemens' friendship with the Bush family. It just gets more and more interesting -- Anderson.
COOPER: It sure is, Erica.
We will have an update coming up on the deadly shooting at the Northern Illinois University.
Also tonight, dog drama at an Atlanta radio station on this Valentine's Day. It is really bizarre. We're asking "What Were They Thinking?"
Plus, we will take a look at the -- at the latest here in New Orleans and Saint Bernard Parish and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: We will have the latest update on the trailers and all the progress that has been made, thanks to a lot of the folks behind me, volunteers from the Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCorps.
We will be right back.
HILL: All right, Anderson, I know how much you loved Uno the beagle last night, the winner of the Westminster Dog Show that we talked about.
Well, another dog story tonight. You don't have to love Uno. You don't have to love beagles. Just love life, and you are going to be a little appalled at this next story, unless you're Hannibal Lecter or something. You're going to be definitely be asking "What Were They Thinking?"
Take a good look at the sweet face of this dog that we're showing you. A promotion for Valentine's Day in Atlanta at one radio station, it was called "Axe Your Ex's Stuff." So, basically, they said, hey, bring anything that your ex gave you or belonged to them. Bring it down to the station. We will destroy it on the air.
A woman shows up with a dog -- not an iPod, not some bad stuffed animal, a dog, her ex-boyfriend's dog...
COOPER: That's horrible.
HILL: ... and actually says, axe this.
But the good part here, the phones lit up. The Humane Society got involved. People went nuts. I'm very happy to report the dog, of course, did not get the axe, instead, got a new home with one of the callers.
COOPER: Unbelievable. What a moron.
All right, Erica, thanks.
COOPER: Still ahead, another 360 guest announcer tryout. Here's a hint. He wears size 16 sneakers.
And while it may be fun and games with the NBA All-Star Game in town here in New Orleans this weekend, there's also a more troubled side of post-Katrina New Orleans. An estimated 12,000 homeless people are now out on the streets. How did that happen and what is being done about it? We will also look at the progress that is being made here as well.
We're also, tonight, going to go back to the campus of Northern Illinois University, where we continue to cover the shooting that took the lives of multiple students and ended with the shooter taking his own life.
We will be right back.
COOPER: Taking a look at New Orleans historic French Quarter, very much alive. The shops and bars are open. So are the restaurants. The food is better than ever. The French Quarter is actually cleaner than ever.
When we were here for the second anniversary of Katrina, we told you that the rebirth and renewal of New Orleans was well under way. And we see that even more tonight. And a lot of it is because of people like this, like the people behind me here.
We're coming to you from Camp Hope run by Habitat for Humanity. These are hundreds of volunteers. Oh, yes, there's a little bit of excitement, right?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: Hundreds of volunteers from AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, the NCCC.
They are helping to reenergize, rebuild this community. We have done dozens of hours of broadcasts from New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and from here in Saint Bernard Parish since the initial disaster.
And, today, we heard actually more optimism, more confidence, more -- more hope, frankly, than ever before. So, here's the good news. The population of New Orleans is at 70 percent of what it was before the hurricane. Employment is up nearly 80 percent of pre- Katrina level.
More encouraging news, 21 public schools that were closed since the storm have reopened since last fall. Tourism is back. This weekend, another big boost in the Big Easy: The NBA All-Star Game is here. It's the first time New Orleans has hosted the event at the New Orleans Arena.
A lot of difficulties, though, still remain. Crime is still a huge problem, no doubt about it. There's also a great need to -- to fix the infrastructure, rebuild homes and neighborhoods. A lot of people are still in need.
Tonight, we want to tell you about the growing number of Americans now living on New Orleans' streets.
COOPER (voice-over): Herman Moore (ph) watches nightfall over New Orleans. He gets uncomfortable when the sun goes down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know who can come up to while you're sleeping and bust you in your head, take what you have. It's -- it's -- it's really not a comfortable sleep. It's very uneasy.
COOPER: Herman is one of an estimated 12,000 homeless people in New Orleans. That's double the number of homeless that lived here before Hurricane Katrina.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never imagined it would happen, because I have been through, like I say, two other storms, Camille and Betsy. I didn't think this Katrina was going to do what it did. Another lesson in life, never underestimate nothing.
COOPER: A New Orleans native, Herman once lived in a rented house in the Seventh Ward. He held a steady job as a janitor. When Katrina hit, his house was swamped, and he was one of the thousands sent to the Superdome.
The memory of the chaos is still raw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the way that crowd was, because those people -- I mean, those people was frantic. They were scared. You just had to be there.
Anyway, they sent me to San Antonio.
COOPER (on camera): Herman didn't stay in San Antonio, Texas, very long. His home was destroyed but New Orleans was still his home. He came back, lived in a trailer park for a while. But the park got closed down.
The last couple of weeks he's been living here at a makeshift camp under a highway overpass. About 200 other people live here, as well. Groups who work with the homeless that say many of these people are here, one way or another, because of Hurricane Katrina.
MARTHA KEGEL, UNITY PROJECT: It's all Katrina-fueled in the sense that we lost 52,000 units of rental housing and very little has been replaced. And the rent has skyrocketed in New Orleans since Katrina. The fair market rents have gone up 50 percent. In many cases rents have doubled.
This used to be an easy place, relatively speaking, for poor people to live. Hence, the name the Big Easy. People cannot get by anymore.
COOPER (voice-over): Can't get by because there are just over half as many beds available to the homeless as there were before Katrina.
Martha Kegel's testified on Capitol Hill twice, asking for an increase of rent subsidies for the homeless, but so far she's heard nothing but empty promises.
KEGEL: The problem is that we just get told wait until the next appropriations bill. And at this point, it's become a dire emergency.
COOPER: The emergency may be ending for Herman. The morning after we met him, he was finally able to leave the camp.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm looking forward to this day.
COOPER: He registered with FEMA after the storm. And though it took two years of waiting and persistent calls, this morning he was given his own apartment. FEMA will pay his went through 2009.
Herman says it will give him a real chance to start over. He hopes to go to nursing school and pick up where he left off more than two years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was ready for you.
COOPER: A new beginning for Herman, we hope. We should point out we called House speaker Nancy Pelosi's office for comment and for information about what the holdup is with these vouchers. We so far have not gotten any information back.
Straight ahead tonight, we'll have more on the deadly school shooting in the campus of Northern Illinois University. We'll speak with a student who witnessed the bloody post-shooting chaos.
Plus, the FEMA trailer saga that the government just cannot get right, and it just won't get away. FEMA is now buying back formaldehyde-tainted trailers. We're "Keeping Them Honest." We'll be right back.
COOPER: A candlelight vigil tonight on the campus of Northern Illinois University where a gunman took the lives of five people before taking his own. Details continue to emerge at this hour.
CNN's Susan Roesgen is on campus, working the late developments. She joins us now from Dekalb, Illinois.
Susan, what do we know?
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we now know that the gunman was a former graduate student here at the university, a graduate student in sociology, but he was not currently enrolled. University officials say they don't know why this former grad student targeted an undergraduate-level geology course.
In any case, what witnesses are telling us is just terrifying. This gunman, a young white man between 18 and 20 years old, apparently stepped from behind a curtain and onto the stage of the main lecture hall on campus. He stepped onto the stage. There were about 150 students in the class. And he started firing with a shotgun and at least two handguns.
He shot and wounded the professor who was on the stage. And then he started firing, university officials say, randomly into the audience. We know that six people are dead, including the gunman, who took his own life. Sixteen people wounded, six of them critically.
Again, the university has not revealed the identity of the gunman, and they don't have a motive either. They don't know why this person did it. But they have the FBI, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and all kinds of local law enforcement agencies here, Anderson, to try to figure out what happened, where this person got the guns and what the motive might have been.
COOPER: So many questions still unanswered. Susan, appreciate it.
Rosie Moroni was standing just outside Cole Hall when the shooting began. She joins us now.
Rosie, what did you see?
ROSIE MORONI, WITNESS: I was just about to go into class and heard the initial gunshot and then heard people screaming, heard a lot more gunshots and just saw people running out. Complete chaos, so I just grabbed my stuff and ran.
COOPER: So you were going into the classroom where the shooter was or a different classroom?
MORONI: I was going into that classroom. I have another geography class there at 3:30.
COOPER: And so about how far away were you from the door?
MORONI: I was sitting on the bench right outside the door.
COOPER: And how many shots did you hear, do you remember?
MORONI: I heard one initially and then about five to seven on the way out.
COOPER: Did you know right away what it was?
MORONI: No. I thought that maybe they were doing a science experiment or something in there. I had no clue.
COOPER: Did you see the shooter as he entered the room or he came in through a different door?
MORONI: He came in through the book door. I was sitting at the front door.
COOPER: And how long did it take you to get out of the building? I mean, was there -- after the initial shots, did -- what was it that tipped you off? Did you see people running out?
MORONI: As soon as I heard people screaming and running, they came out running, "Called 911. He has a gun, and I just took off."
COOPER: Wow, unbelievable. Rosie, appreciate you coming in and telling us what you know. Thank you very much. Rosie Moroni.
Just ahead on 360, a new candidate for the voice of 360, on a far lighter note. We'll talk to an NBA all-star who's here in New Orleans this weekend for special events.
Also ahead tonight, toxic FEMA trailers. The alarm was raised nearly two years ago. Now get this, a new study confirms dangerous levels of toxic fumes in the trailers that thousands have been living in since Hurricane Katrina. What's going to happen to them? We're "Keeping Them Honest" next on 360.
COOPER: The New Orleans Jazz Vipers at the Spotted Cat. They play on Friday night. Every time we come back to New Orleans, we like to stop in at the Spotted Cat on the Marigny. It's one of the many places that we love in this city, one of the many places that makes this city so alive.
We've been coming here for two years -- 2 1/2 here years wanting to make sure that the promises made to people after Katrina have been kept. And some have, and some haven't.
We've seen tremendous outlays of money by the government, though often it's been slow to come. We've seen remarkable work done by groups like Habitat for Humanity and Americorps, who are in charge of -- Habitat for Humanity is in charge of this place, Camp Hope, which is home to hundreds of volunteers who have given their time and their labor to help their fellow Americans.
Without the work done by thousands of people like them and church groups and aid groups and individuals, not as much progress would have been made. So I know you all have been told thank you, but thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it.
Just today -- just today, however, we got a disturbing new report. A new government study revealed that about a third of the trailers that hurricane victims had been living in contained dangerously high levels of toxic fumes. CNN's Sean Callebs tonight is "Keeping Them Honest."
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Remember this? Miles of house trailers rushed to the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina, 120,000 in all, that cost FEMA $1.8 billion.
The agency bought way too many. So FEMA unloaded 10,000 trailers at bargain rates, 40 cents on the dollar.
So wait, back up. The trailers are going back to FEMA. "Keeping Them Honest," we wondered what's going on? Wanda Phillips in Purvis, Mississippi, knows. She and her husband bought one.
WANDA PHILLIPS, FEMA TRAILER OWNER: We thought it was great. Smells all new.
CALLEBS: In fact, it wasn't a new smell. Tests showed high levels of formaldehyde, a solution used to preserve wood. FEMA today admitted formaldehyde levels are, in some cases, 50 times acceptable levels, basically poisoning people. So FEMA is offering to buy back all 10,000-plus trailers for the full price of the sale.
PHILLIPS: We replaced the table top, new cushions.
CALLEBS: FEMA won't reimburse them for those costs. So the deal is, people must return the trailers to giant lots like this, one that happens to be right across from Wanda Phillips, which apparently had the effect of concentrating formaldehyde in the outside air.
PHILLIPS: You can hear how hoarse I am.
CALLEBS: She's had tests done and has documents that show small levels of the toxin in the air.
Keep in mind, FEMA tells its employees don't enter trailers when it's sunny because heat from the sun increases concentrations of formaldehyde.
PHILLIPS: They're out of control. They're -- they're doing exactly what they want to do without a care in the world to what happens to the people.
CALLEBS: Concerns about formaldehyde dangers were first brought to FEMA's attention in March of 2006, nearly two years ago. Residents are angry, and federal lawmakers are accusing FEMA of dragging its feet. And keep in mind, there are still close to 100,000 people living in trailers in the Gulf Coast.
PHILLIPS: People don't realize how agonizing it's been and what all we've been through.
CALLEBS: Phillips is selling her trailer back, and that will solve one problem. But with thousands of others selling theirs, as well, she expects another line of traffic in front of her home.
PHILLIPS: I felt cheated. I felt like my government, they're there to take care of us and they didn't take care of me.
CALLEBS: And Phillips says they still aren't.
COOPER: Sean Callebs joins us now. This whole trailer thing has been a disaster from the get-go.
CALLEBS: Without question. And today, Michael Chertoff testifying on Capitol Hill, said if there is another disaster like this, no more trailers. They're not going to do anymore.
And FEMA also today saying the 38,000 trailers that are out there, they want to get people out as quickly as possible. But with no apartments in this area, very few hotel rooms that are open, where are they planning on putting these people?
COOPER: On the good side, I'm sensing, I'm hearing from people here more optimism, more hope and more signs of progress than ever before.
CALLEBS: Yes, I've been here 25 months now, and I think that's exactly right. If we showed some shots of the French Quarter, the Marigny, places that you expect to do well.
But you get out, and because of people like these folks here, who are doing the gutting of homes, we're seeing more rebuilding. So hopefully, we'll see fewer trailers out there, more people coming back and this area continuing its move toward a very vibrant recovery.
COOPER: Tourism -- tourism is back in a big way here. It's the NBA all-star weekend. I mean, all that helps the city a great deal. And people here want to make sure the message gets out that this is a place that's open for business. It's a place where you can have the best food in the world. You know, you can have great entertainment. You can go to great bars, and you can hear great music.
CALLEBS: Yes. One quick note on that. If you look at the start of the year, we had the BCS and the Sugar Bowl here at the same time. Now, about that same time, the debate commission, presidential debate commission came out and said New Orleans isn't ready to have a debate. And that drove people here up the wall, because this place can handle a huge event like that.
What they need to do is kind of get rid of this kind of trifecta of disasters with city government, state government and federal government and get back on the same page and get money to the people who need it.
COOPER: Sean Callebs, appreciate all your reporting, as always. Thanks.
Just ahead, we'll have the latest developments on the breaking news we are following, the deadliest -- the deadly campus shooting in Illinois.
Plus, a stunning discovery in Iraq. Wait till you hear what one militant group is doing to recruit suicide bombers.
Also, an unexpected surprise for the family of one U.S. Marine, a Valentine's Day they will never forget. Our cameras were there. You will not want to miss this. That's next on 360.
COOPER: And I'm joined by two of the volunteers who are here with Americorps NCCC, Sara Rednik (ph) and Mallory Turnbull (ph).
OK. You've been here before. You were here for about three months before. How long have you been here now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been here most -- I just got here last Wednesday. So about a week and a half.
COOPER: What are the differences you're seeing now compared to when you were here in 2006?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's completely different. When I was first here in 2006, my first year in Americorps NCCC, nothing was open. The streets were desolate. There was nobody around. But I can tell you today, driving back to Camp Hope from work, there was traffic. I sat in traffic in Chalmette (ph)...
COOPER: That's not a great thing. But...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a great thing, of course. Traffic never is. But exciting to see people around. There's so many more businesses open. People are excited to be back here.
COOPER: Yes, it's amazing how many businesses are open and how many restaurants are open. And literally, you can get the best food ever. Have you eaten out at good places here or are you all just working here all the time, eating here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're -- most of our commitment here is to work, and so we haven't had a ton of free time to explore the fine cuisine.
COOPER: Well, maybe this weekend you'll get a chance. What about -- you've been working all along the Gulf Coast. What's the experience been like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're working on an elementary school right now. A lot of the kids are being because they were displaced because of the hurricane. But we're working with them trying to get them back on track with their reading skills, their math skills. It's really amazing the progress they've made, despite the troubles that they've had.
COOPER: Right now there's about 300 or so volunteers who are staying here with Americorps NCCC, Habitat for Humanity. During spring break, I think it's going to swell to about a thousand. Because I think what's really cool is a lot of young people, instead of going to spring break in Cancun and ending up on MTV, you know, or "Girls Gone Wild" to meet (ph) Joe Francis, and you know, are devoting their spring breaks to coming here.
What are you telling people who ask about should they come here to volunteer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's -- it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Hurricane Katrina was something very unique to our generation, the young 20-somethings in our country. It's something that, when we -- when I'm -- when we're parents and grandparents, we can look down and tell people in our family that we lived through Hurricane Katrina and we were able to come down and be a part of -- a part of change and be a part of something.
COOPER: Is it a good experience?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely. It's amazing to come here and meet people who actually went through it rather than just seeing it on TV, reading about it in magazines. It's just an amazing experience.
COOPER: Thanks for all you're doing. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
COOPER: Thanks very much. Appreciate it.
We began with breaking news tonight. Let's get a quick update with Erica Hill and a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Anderson, want to get you the latest on our top story. This afternoon's deadly shooting at Northern Illinois University, well, just about an hour -- it's about an hour west of Chicago. Six people are dead, five of them killed by the gunman before he turned the gun on himself.
The shooter, we're learning, is a former graduate student at that university. We're continuing to follow this one for you right here on CNN.
U.S. military officials say al Qaeda in Iraq is actively recruiting female psychiatric patients for suicide missions and actually getting help from hospital staff. The U.S. military began investigating that possibility after two mentally challenged women carried out a suicide bombing attack that killed more than 100 people at a pet (ph) market.
The nation's top two money men acknowledging there are serious problems in the U.S. economy, but they believe that our country will actually avoid a recession, those comments coming from Fed chair Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson today at a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.
And the Associated Press reporting Continental and United Airlines are inching closer to a merger that would create the nation's largest carrier. If that deal is reached, it could be announced as soon as next week -- Anderson.
COOPER: Wow. All right. When we come back, Erica, another VIP tries -- excuse me. Getting a little verklempt. Another VIP tries out for our 360 announcer slot. Obviously, his voice will be better than mine. He's a huge sports star, but that is the only clue we're giving out.
Also tonight, a Valentine's Day surprise that three young kids will keep in their hearts for a long time. We hope you do, too. Next on 360.
LEBRON JAMES, NBC STAR: Yo, what's up? This is Anderson, live from Camp Hope. Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: Yes, that worked. That was NBA star Lebron James, taking a shot at kind of becoming the voice of 360. He's one of our latest contenders. He's got some tough competition, of course, including Ozzy Osbourne and my personal favorite, Fran Drescher.
James is here in New Orleans for the NBA all-star weekend, which kicks off tomorrow. The Turner Broadcasting Network has full coverage, including Sunday's all-star game at 8 p.m. Eastern.
NBA officials say they chose New Orleans because they wanted the world to know that the Big Easy is back and open for business. It certainly is, and the NBA cares. Tomorrow is a day of service that the NBA is putting on with a lot of the folks that you see behind me tonight.
Now time for "The Shot," Erica. Let's take a look. What do you got?
HILL: This is a fantastic story, Anderson. A U.S. Marine captain, Mark Robinson, serving in Iraq for nine months. Well, he was supposed to come home to Connecticut this weekend. His three kids, as you can imagine, counting the days until Daddy would be there. But what they didn't know is that he had a little surprise for them. Talk about a fantastic Valentine's Day surprise.
He ended up coming to his kid's school, arranged to hide inside a giant Valentine at a rally today. And then -- they had no idea it was coming. But 9-year-old -- I think her name is Savada (ph) is performing. She's actually playing a song her dad likes, of course not knowing her dad was right next to her inside the heart.
Can you imagine what her heart -- how her heart was beating?
HILL: We're told there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Frankly, I'm not surprised. Honestly, I can't get enough of those stories. They're just too sweet.
COOPER: That's great. I know, guys. We saw one of these a couple of months ago, where I think it was a Marine who came back to his son's, like, kindergarten.
HILL: Yes, I remember that one. And it's so sweet. I think that kid broke down, too, like "Daddy."
COOPER: Yes. Yes, he couldn't believe it. Yes, it's great to see that.
Just ahead, the story from Northern Illinois University still unfolding. We'll bring you up to date on that.
Also, the impact of Mitt Romney's of his former frenemy, John McCain. 360 in Louisiana, tonight.
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