Return to Transcripts main page


At Least 10 Killed in Alabama Shooting Rampage; President Obama Focuses on Education Reform

Aired March 10, 2009 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin tonight with breaking news: a bloodbath in southern Alabama. Details are just reaching us of a shooting rampage, a lot of people dead at this hour.

It happened, we know, in a pair of towns in southern Alabama, Samson and Geneva, just north of the Florida Panhandle. You're looking -- we're about to show you video just in from Samson, where the gunman struck first -- four adults and a child dead at one residence in that town. We don't know whose residence it is at this moment.

That was apparently just the beginning of the rampage. There were two more killings at two separate residences. Then, the gunman went to two separate businesses. Local law enforcement is describing in all at least four separate shooting incidents, different locations, one eyewitness saying, at one point, the gunman was just firing at ordinary people on the street.

The gunman is dead. He apparently shot himself. They're also investigating a burned-out house in the area. So far, we know 10 dead, at least, including the wife and child of a local deputy, and a number of others reportedly wounded.

With us now on the phone is CNN's Mike Brooks, who's been following the -- the situation, and Ken Curtis, news director at CNN affiliate WDHN.

Ken, what's the latest information you're getting on the shootings? What do we know?

KEN CURTIS, NEWS DIRECTOR, WDHN: The latest we're hearing, 10 people dead.

They are continuing to look at some other venues as possible sites. But, so far, they have turned up nothing else, not that this wasn't enough in itself.

It's just a horrible situation, 10 dead down in rural south Alabama County, Anderson, where nothing like this ever happens.

COOPER: Mike, what do you make of these multiple shootings, apparently, first in a residence, then two other residences, and then two separate businesses?

MIKE BROOKS, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Anderson. Apparently, the -- I mean, we -- you're looking at four different crime scenes. And, you know, two of the victims, it was a wife and a child of a Geneva County deputy sheriff. You know, what was the reason for him killing them? We don't know. Was there some history between them? We don't know that either.

In fact, people are saying, what is the motive? I'm hearing from sources in Alabama right now, Anderson, that, right now, it looks as if the motive was possibly a job loss. We're not hearing a lot about him right now. But I'm sure, as it progresses and as the investigation starts, because it's in the early stages now, we will find out more about him.

But, also, the -- the chief of police of Geneva was -- was shot twice and wounded. They were not life-threatening. But he ended up at a manufacturing plant. He fired a 30-round burst. And my sources there are telling me it was an M-16-type weapon. And then it looks as if he killed himself.

COOPER: We should just point out, we have not been able to confirm that -- that story about a job loss. We want to be very careful about what we say at this point. We don't want to go down the road of speculation.

Ken, what do you know -- or what -- what are authorities saying for a fact that we know? The first shooting was at a residence. Do we know whose residence it was?

CURTIS: We don't know whose residence it is.

But I -- we are told, Anderson, indeed, it was a job loss that led to this. The man went on a rampage. Let me explain the geography, if I might, for just a minute.

COOPER: Please do, absolutely.

CURTIS: It all happened along Alabama Highway 52. That is a state highway that runs very near the Florida-Alabama border in a very rural area of Alabama.

I was told this man drove down the street, picking random victims, some members of the same family. And we just got some information in via a sound bite from down there, Anderson, indicating, at one time, a baby might have been in danger, and somebody snatched the baby away and took it into safety.

COOPER: The first shooting, though, was it at -- at the residence?

CURTIS: No, I think the first shooting probably was at a Big Little Store. We have heard reports there was actually an initial shooting to the west of there. We have not been able to confirm that.

It was at a Big Little Store in a town -- a small town called Samson. And that is where I think either three or four people may have died. From there, it moved eastward about 10 miles into Geneva, where the shootings happened around at the area of a Wal-Mart.

COOPER: We're looking there at the pictures from the Big Little Store, where you said the shootings may have begun.

I want to go back to Mike Brooks in a moment, but we also have some sound from local law enforcement, statement law enforcement. Let's listen to what they said.


CORPORAL STEVE JARRETT, ALABAMA STATE POLICE: State and local law enforcement agencies in South Alabama are responding to a series of at least four shooting incidents involved what is believed to be a single gunman who left at least nine victims dead, before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

The shootings are believed to have begun late afternoon Tuesday in Samson in Geneva County, where four adults and one child were found shot to death at one residence. One adult was found shot to death at a second residence. And another adult was found shot to death at a -- at a third residence.

It is believed the gunman left that location traveling on Alabama 52, where he shot at a state trooper's vehicle, striking the vehicle seven times, and slightly wounding the trooper due to broken glass.


COOPER: From there, he went to one business, then -- where, apparently, shots were also fired.

Mike, is that correct?

BROOKS: That's correct.

And, right now, officials are on the scene of a possible arson scene, Anderson in Coffee County. And I'm sure Ken can tell you, it's a little bit north of there. So, but they're thinking that it might be related to this. But it's still too early in the investigation to say that for sure.

COOPER: Ken, how far is that arson scene from these other incidents?

CURTIS: I don't -- it's not very far. Coffee County is adjacent to the county, to Geneva County, where Samson is.

In fact, we heard at one time, Anderson, this shooting began over near the Coffee County line. I'm not sure now that is going to pan out to be true. But it's just, as we would say down south, a hop, skip and a jump away, just a few miles, whether this is related or not.

Anderson, if I could point this out, we have very good law enforcement down here -- down here in southern Alabama. But, in this county and in this area of the state, this is just almost more than they can handle at one time. So, certainly, they're battling a lot in this investigation right now. It's a very, very small area.

COOPER: Yes, what -- what is -- I mean, how small are we talking about? How small are these towns? What kind of an area is this?

CURTIS: You're talking about Geneva, where the second part of the shooting spree occurred, being a town of less than 5,000 people. Samson is even smaller than that, perhaps only maybe around, oh, 2,000 or so down in Samson, Alabama.

COOPER: Mike, it certainly seems like this person had some sort of -- I don't want to say a plan, but certainly something in mind. It doesn't seem completely random.

BROOKS: No, especially when he's targeting certain residences. And that's going to be interesting, Anderson, as this investigation goes along.

You know, was there (AUDIO GAP) linkage between the wife and child of this Geneva deputy? You know, was there any linkage to this guy before? Now, that's what investigators are doing right now. They're going back and taking a look at all the arrests he made. They're interviewing friends, associates of that deputy and the deputy himself.

Maybe it's someone who he had arrested in the past. We don't know a lot about the perpetrator right now. But I'm sure, over the next couple days, we will be hearing a lot more about him and his background.

COOPER: And, Ken, I understand the -- the person went into the -- the shooter went into the Reliable Metal Products Company outside of Geneva, and then drove 12 miles east to another place, to another business. Is that correct?

CURTIS: Well, he went into the Reliable Metals business. I think, Anderson, that's where it all ended at. And he took his own life, as his -- as he was being pursued. Certainly...


COOPER: So, that's where it ended?

CURTIS: That's where it ended, yes.

COOPER: At this point, Ken, are you expecting another press conference, or do you know when authorities are going to be speaking again?

CURTIS: I don't think we will have another press conference tonight. I think they're going to sort everything out right now, Anderson. They're going to get their facts together.

And, of course, this will demand an investigation. But, at the same time, unlike a lot of cases, you know, the -- the criminal element of this is now dead. So, there's not going to be a lot of investigation. Obviously, they will try to put -- put the pieces together and follow the trail of what happened.

But, you know, you're not going to have a defendant in this case. Nobody's going to be arrested. I think you have mentioned this. If not, the police chief of Geneva was shot during all of this. Luckily, he was only grazed in the -- in the shoulder. And we understand he's doing quite well tonight, up and around and talking.

COOPER: If, in fact, a job loss was involved in this, Ken, I mean, how is the economy down there?

CURTIS: Well, the economy is -- is not good. It's not good anywhere.

But I can tell you -- and it's probably a little worse in Geneva County -- historically, it always is -- than it is in some of your metropolitan areas of Alabama. But compared to other parts of the country -- Indiana, Michigan, the Midwest -- we're doing better down here than they are. So, it just depends on your individual circumstance.

COOPER: Ken, you have been covering the region for a long time. We appreciate you -- you being with us right now.

We're going to continue to follow this story.

OK. I'm told we have a trooper on the scene right now, Trooper Kevin Cook.

Trooper Cook, what can you tell us? What's the latest?

KEVIN COOK, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, ALABAMA STATE TROOPERS: Well, the state and local law enforcement agencies of south Alabama responded to a series of at least four shooting incidents involving what is believed to be a single gunman, who left at least nine victims dead, before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

The shootings are believed to have begun late Tuesday afternoon in Samson and Geneva County, Alabama, where four adults and one child was found shot to death at one residence.

One adult was found shot to death at a second residence. And another adult was found shot to death at a third residence. It is believed the gunman left that location, traveled on Alabama Highway 52, where he shot at a -- at a state trooper's vehicle, striking the vehicle seven times and slightly wounding the trooper due to broken -- broken glass.

The subject shot and killed another individual at a Samson pop and supply on Alabama Highway 52, and an individual at a service station also on Alabama 52.

He then was pursued to Reliable Metal Products. That's two miles north of Geneva on Alabama Highway 27, where he shot an estimated 30- round burst. One bullet grazed the Geneva police chief, Frankie Lindsey, who was saved from serious injury by his bulletproof vest. The subject entered the business. And, within minutes, shots were heard from within Reliable Metals. Law enforcement officers found him dead from what is believed to be self-inflicted gunshots. State fire marshals are investigating the scene of burned house in Coffee County where one body was found. The scene is believed to be involved in this series of events.

There are believed to be additional victims shot and wounded during these episodes. This is a very complicated investigation that is unfolding as we speak with multiple crime scenes. And there's a number of agencies working together.

As the investigation continues, additional -- additional information will be made available.

COOPER: Kevin, I know there's probably a lot you can't say. And I don't want to press you too much, because I know you're busy. But do we know -- there's all these stories floating around that this had something to do with a job loss, maybe at Reliable Metal. Do you know anything about motive for this gunman?

COOK: As far as motive right now, Anderson, no, sir, there's not a motive, not one that we have found, no, sir.

COOPER: Do you know what kind of a weapon he was using? I mean, he's 30 rounds at a clip. It's -- it sounds -- do you know what he had?

COOK: It was a semiautomatic weapon, sir.

COOPER: Semiautomatic.

Trooper Cook, we appreciate you -- you talking with us.

We're going to continue to follow this throughout the hour. We're going to bring our viewers any updates as warranted.

As you know -- as you know, from watching these things in the past, a lot of times, the early information we get is contradictory. It comes in, in drips and drabs. We're going to continue to follow this through the hour, bring you any details, try to get as much of a picture of exactly what happened in this small -- in these small southern towns, southern Alabama towns, over the last several hours.

It is clearly something, as you heard from -- from Ken there, something they have never seen before.

Up next, though, details of the upcoming Bernie Madoff plea deal -- surprising moments in court with Bernie Madoff today -- today. His alleged massive stock scam, we always knew it was big. He had said it was $50 billion big. It turns out it's a lot bigger than that. We will have more on that.

You can join the live chat happening now at

Also ahead in this hour: President Obama's tough message on education. Can he make schools and parents more accountable and students more employable? A lot of presidents have promised that. Hear what this president said today.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short, and other nations outpace us.


COOPER: We have got some of the nation's best educators joining us tonight to weigh in on what the president said.

Also ahead tonight, Rihanna and what experts worry she will be facing back with Chris Brown. And, as you will see, they have taken reunion to another level entirely.

Later, your money going to build a road that some are calling a road to nowhere. See for yourself what your tax dollars are buying and decide for yourself if it's worth it -- all that and more tonight on 360.


COOPER: In New York, a dramatic day in court for Bernie Madoff, once considered a Wall Street wizard, now perhaps the most hated man in America.

Today, the beginning of the end of one of the greatest frauds in Wall Street history. Madoff, who's been sequestered in his fancy penthouse apartment, appeared today, silent and grim as he walked to court. There he is. The ex-money manager had told authorities he had scammed investors in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. It turns out today prosecutors said the dollar amount is actually much higher.

Madoff, who allegedly masterminded the greatest fraud in Wall Street history, will pled guilt on Thursday to 11 wants. That's according to his attorney. He's facing up to 150 years in prison.

Madoff is back right now in his $7 million apartment building on New York's Upper East Side.

And that's where Randi Kaye is as well.

Randi, some big surprises in court today.


As if a $50 billion Ponzi scheme wasn't big enough, prosecutors now upping that number, the dollar amount in the fraud scheme today, to nearly $65 billion. Tonight, as you mentioned, we're outside his apartment building here in New York City.

We believe he's somewhere up there on the 12th floor in his penthouse. Not sure how well he's going to sleep tonight, considering that we learned today that, just a couple of days from now, he is expected to plead guilty to 11 counts, including perjury, money- laundering, and fraud.

He could get, as you mentioned, up to 150 years in prison. That is the maximum sentence. And, for Madoff, who is 70 years old, Anderson, that is essentially a life sentence.

We also know he's facing fines of about $100 billion, Anderson, which is double the amount that his clients lost.

COOPER: It's fascinating, just watching that video of him, grim, kind of silently just going to court. I understand he was wearing a bulletproof vest underneath a jacket, showed up three hours early just to try to avoid any hostile crowds that might be there.

Do we know why he would agree to this? I mean, this is not a -- this is not a plea bargain. He's just going to be flat-out pleading guilty, according to his attorney.

KAYE: Right, Anderson.

In fact, we have confirmed, just to be clear, that he has not agreed to cooperate with investigators. He has not worked out a bargain or any kind of deal with -- with investigators. He's not getting any type of reduced sentence as a result of this.

It appears to many what he's trying to do here is take the fall, be the fall guy here, and try and protect his sons, who were both executives at the firm, also try and protect his wife. It doesn't mean that prosecutors won't be investigating them and looking to see what -- what they might have known and if they were a part of this fraud scheme.

But we -- it does appear that that is what he's trying to do, is to -- he has said he worked alone on this, that he was the only one involved in the fraud scheme, that nobody else knew. And, so, by doing this, he can certainly maybe lessen what may happen to his family members and those who worked at the firm.

COOPER: The idea that he did this by himself, it just -- it boggles the mind. It defies just common sense.

Randi, appreciate that tonight.

Let's dig deeper on this. Joining us now, senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and chief business correspondent Ali Velshi.

Ali, just -- I mean, there's no way this guy did this all by himself. I mean, his wife oversaw his bank accounts. His kids were involved in this. He had -- he had employees whom he hired. Do we know how he pulled it off?


COOPER: I mean, he must have had help, right? VELSHI: ... there's no -- there's no way he could have run this investment by himself. Clearly, there were employees sending out statements. There were people fully involved.

The question, of course, revolves around, did he pull off the scheme by himself? Who else knew that was going on? And who suspected what was going on? How much did they know, and when did they know it? That's going to be the case -- or the issue that investigators are trying to get to the bottom of.

He couldn't have run the entire business, investment business, on his own. But did others know he was doing something that was illegal, as has he said himself that he's done?

COOPER: Jeffrey, do we know what happens now, I mean, how deep investigators are or where -- where they're going to be looking now?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Well, there was actually...

COOPER: I mean, they're not going to stop with him, right?

TOOBIN: No, they're certainly not.

And there was an interesting clue in the document that the government filed today. The government said that this scheme was run with inexperienced, naive people who were hired to work on the corrupt part of -- of the Madoff business.

Now, that would probably cover some of them. As you say, it's very hard to believe that no one at that business understood that the statements that they were all sending out were completely false.

The questions that investigators have to look out now is, who knew that this was a completely corrupt scheme? The two sons? Remember, Madoff's brother was very heavily involved in this business, his wife. Those are going to be the main targets.

But there are a lot of people who worked at this business, and they're all going to be under scrutiny.

COOPER: Jeff, did it surprise you, though, that he didn't try to go for a plea deal?

TOOBIN: You know what? The government had all the cards here. They weren't going to give him a plea deal.

He admitted to his sons that this was a Ponzi scheme. There's -- there's no money in the bank account. So, it was obviously a Ponzi scheme. He didn't want to himself sit through a long trial. By having a trial, he would have had all these people testifying under oath. It may have exposed other members of his family to liability.

This is the only way he could try -- I'm not sure -- I'm not sure it's going to succeed, but he could try to contain the damage by taking it all on himself. COOPER: And, Ali, we learned today it's much more than $50 million. It's more than 60 -- 60 -- excuse me -- billion. It's more than $60 billion.

Do we ever -- will we ever have an actual dollar sign on this?

VELSHI: Well...

COOPER: I mean, will we ever know the full details?

VELSHI: Two problems. What are you accounting for? Are we accounting for the money people that invested with him?

Some of those people took money out after it had grown for several years. Did you account for the money that had grown?

But, ultimately, no. They have recovered very, very little of this. And, as something Jeff and I were talking earlier, you don't get much money out of these things, even when the FBI or the SEC can track exactly what happened to the money.

So, it will be some time before -- I mean, these things typically take years to get a full accounting and trace where the money is. And what calculation are you using? Are you losing -- using everything he said he had invested and was earning or just what people invested? It's a very complicated story.

TOOBIN: But, unfortunately, the golden rule of these schemes is that the money's just gone. So, the people who want to get their money back, they will be lucky to get pennies on the dollar back, at the end of the day.

COOPER: He's back in court on Thursday. That's apparently when he's actually going to plead guilty. We will be covering it closely.

Jeff, thanks very much, and Ali as well.

We're continuing to follow details out of the -- the shooting rampage in Alabama, at least, we know, 10 people dead, including the gunman, who went on this killing spree over the course of several hours in southern Alabama. We will have details coming up.

Also tonight, President Obama's prescription for fixing the nation's education system, does it pack the right punch? We will investigate?

And Chris Brown and Rihanna, they're not just back together. It goes beyond that, apparently -- surprising new details about what the couple is up to. And the larger question, sadly, it comes up all the time: Why do so many battered women go back to their abusers?

All that ahead.


COOPER: After weeks of debate, the Senate tonight passed the final piece of President Bush's final budget, money to keep the government going through September, $410 billion, full of earmarks, Democratic and Republican.

President Obama, who has done his best to disown the bill, is expected to sign it, possibly behind closed doors.

This morning, he took up education reform, however, calling for more charter schools, greater teacher accountability and parental involvement. And also about -- he talked about merit pay.

Here's the president in his own words.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short. And other nations outpace us.

Let me give you a few statistics. In eighth grade math, we have fallen to ninth place. Singapore's middle-schoolers outperform ours three to one. Just a third of our 13- and 14-year-olds can read as well as they should.

And, year after year, a stubborn gap persists between how well white students are doing compared to their African American and Latino classmates. The relative decline of American education is untenable for our economy, it's unsustainable for our democracy, it's unacceptable for our children -- and we can't afford to let it continue.


OBAMA: I think you would all agree that the time for finger- pointing is over. The time for holding us -- holding ourselves accountable is here.

What's required is not simply new investments, but new reforms. It's time to expect more from our students. It's time to start rewarding good teachers, stop making excuses for bad ones. It's time to demand results from government at every level.

It's time to prepare every child, everywhere in America, to outcompete any worker, anywhere in the world.


OBAMA: It's time to give all Americans a complete and competitive education from the cradle up through a career. We've accepted failure for far too long. Enough is enough.

America's entire education system must once more be the envy of the world -- and that's exactly what we intend to do.

No government policy will make any difference unless we also hold ourselves more accountable as parents -- because government, no matter how wise or efficient, cannot turn off the TV or put away the video games. Teachers, no matter how dedicated or effective, cannot make sure your child leaves for school on time and does their homework when they get back at night. These are things only a parent can do. These are things...


COOPER: Well, we wanted to talk about President Obama's plan. We have assembled some of the best educators out there.

Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Harvard, Connecticut, which routinely sends 100 percent of its graduating class to college, he joins us. Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, joins us as well, and Patricia Gandara, professor of education at UCLA and author of "The Latino Education Crisis."

I just want to get a quick headline from each of you, your take on what the president said.

Jeffrey, what did you think?

GEOFFREY CANADA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HARLEM CHILDREN'S ZONE: Well, I think that this president did something I have been waiting for my entire life, have a Democratic president that absolutely touched the third rail of Democratic politics.

He said, our schools are failing. We're going to hold teachers accountable. We're going to fund education, but we're going to expect results. And, if you don't produce results, out you go.

This has never happened in a Democratic president before. And I think we're getting ready for change in America.

COOPER: Patricia?

PATRICIA GANDARA, PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION, UCLA: Well, Anderson, I'm -- I'm very encouraged by the focus on education, but I don't hear too much different here than what we heard under the last administration.

We're hearing higher standards, more accountability, charter schools. I'm hoping to hear a little bit different message and a little bit more detailed message about how exactly we're going to do this.

COOPER: Steve, what was your take?


And -- and what I would also like to say is that there does need to be a more focused approach on some of the specific issues that undermine education in public schools, more specifically, issues such as seniority and equal pay. Is the notion that a person in their first year should make the same as every person their first year? That's a problem. That's like saying that all ninth-graders should all have D's and all 12th-graders should have A's because they have stayed in there the longest.

COOPER: Patricia, you took issue with the -- the idea of merit pay. You say, nice on paper; the devil's in the details?

GANDARA: Yes, exactly.

I think merit pay's been tried in quite a number of places. And pretty much every study that has looked at this has found that it's a good idea, but it's a very hard one to implement. And a lot of it has to do with how you determine who's a really good teacher and how do you take into account the kinds of challenges that teachers are faced with in teaching.

It's -- it's a difficult thing to measure.

PERRY: It's not quite that difficult if you take a look at someone like Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote the book "Blink." One of the things he talked about taking the sound off of a video that showed -- I mean, showed teachers working. And children could within 15 seconds determine whether or not that was a successful teacher. Children can determine who a successful teacher is. Then I would imagine individuals who are principals should be able to determine what a successful teacher looks like.

COOPER: Geoffrey -- go ahead.

CANADA: I was just going to say that I couldn't agree more with the fact that teachers who work harder, who produce more, who help educate children should be rewarded more than teachers who don't. We've got lots of teachers in America who would work weekends, who would work, who would put in the time to save these kids who just made teaching a profession and reward the teachers for their extra work.

If I'm working hard and someone is working not nearly as hard and we're making exactly the same thing, that doesn't work any place else in America. Why would we think that would work in our public schools? That just doesn't make any sense to me.

COOPER: Geoffrey, what do you think about charter schools?

CANADA: You know, I run a charter school, Anderson. And I think charter schools are the engine of innovation. That you can give charter schools -- the deal is this. If you don't educate children, they snatch the charter away, and you're out of business. And I think that's exactly right.

If you take the money, you deliver the goods or you're out of business. And I think that a public education has to do the same thing. You know, we've got to make sure what we've learned in charter schools, longer school days, longer school years, are really focused on accountability. It happens in the public schools. Our charter schools aren't the answer. But they certainly give us ways of, I think, thinking about how we have to change the public education system in America.

PERRY: It takes also into consideration...

COOPER: Go ahead.

PERRY: What we take into consideration also is charter schools, but it's also vouchers. We have to look at not every -- not every community is going to have a charter school. So some children are going to have to have the opportunity to go outside of their demographic area and go to school somewhere other than their neighborhood. And vouchers are that.

We see too many children who are born into raggedy schools. The president also talked about some 2,000 schools that represent 50 percent of all dropouts in America. Well, those -- all 2,000 of those schools need to be closed down immediately.

COOPER: Patricia, charter schools? Go ahead.

GANDARA: I would agree that those schools need to be closed down. But I wouldn't agree that charter schools are necessarily the answer. We actually have pretty good research on this that shows us that charter schools on average don't do any better than public schools. But they do tend to be more segregated than public schools.

In fact, I'm kind of a little surprised that Mr. Perry didn't raise the notion of magnet schools that actually are set up to try and integrate kids, get kids out of the isolated circumstances that they're in and mixed with other more middle-class kids.

PERRY: I didn't bring it up because one of the reasons that we need -- we need to look at magnet schools. But we also need to look at all the options that are on the table. We haven't made it through the full discussion on this one. But I do know that it's important that our kids have options. Magnet schools are one. Charter schools is another.

CANADA: I think I was clear in saying it's not that you don't have lousy charter schools. You're going to have lousy charter schools like you have lousy public schools.

The difference is with charters, the exception is if you are lousy, you are going out of business. And the good ones are going to stay. And that's what we need to make sure, that we constantly force schools in America to educate children.

And there should not be an assumption that you can fail children for 50, 60 years, which has happened all over this country, and there is no consequence. Everybody keeps their jobs. And the system just keeps going along while children suffer. That has to come to an end in America.

And that's what the president was talking about. And that's what we need: real leadership to change this system so all the country's children can get an education.

PERRY: The teachers now can get tenure. They don't just keep their jobs. They keep their jobs and get tenure. They keep their jobs, and they're able to continue on almost above approach. And so at some point the schools need to close.

COOPER: I want to give you the last word, Patricia.

GANDARA: Thank you very much. Under NCLB, for a number of years now, we have had the possibility of closing down schools. And in fact, we're doing that. We're dismantling schools all over the country that don't have the resources, the wherewithal to educate these students well. We have not seen that this has raised student achievement.

COOPER: This is an important discussion. I wish we had more time for it. We had planned to have two blocks on this. Unfortunately, this breaking news out of Alabama, we've had to cut it short. But we'd love to have you all on. It was a great discussion. And you all represented your sides well. Steve Perry, Geoffrey Canada and Patricia Gandara. Thank you very much.

Breaking news now. We have a local reporter live on the scene of a deadly shooting rampage in Southern Alabama. At least ten people found dead so far. That could rise. We'll get a live report coming up.

Also ahead tonight, Chris Brown, Rihanna. Are they actually back together? The duo is reportedly reunited and actually recording a song together. Why would she go back to him? Why does anybody who's been abused go back to their alleged abuser? We'll dig deeper with a panel of experts.

And also, a chilling discovery in central Mexico. Five people found dead. The details? Well, it's going to stun you when 360 continues.


COOPER: Updating our top story, a shooting rampage in southern Alabama. The death toll has now risen, 11 people now confirmed dead, the gunman included. In a string of shootings, possibly an arson fire in the towns of Samson and Geneva, Alabama.

Among the fatalities, the wife and child of a Geneva sheriff's deputy.

The killer opening fire at three homes, separate residences, patrol car on state Highway 52 as well as two local businesses. In all, he killed ten people before opening fire on officers outside Reliable Metal Products in Geneva. That's where this whole terrible tale came to an end. He fled inside that business. Apparently turned the gun on himself.

Joining us now on the phone is Grace White, reporter with our affiliate WEAR. Grace, what's the latest you're hearing now? The death toll is at 11?

GRACE WHITE, REPORTER, WEAR: That's right, Anderson. We now know that 11 people are confirmed dead in this string of shootings this afternoon. Investigators with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation tell us there are six separate crime scenes.

And one of those you can see behind me. You're looking now at a live picture of downtown Samson that you can see, usually a very quiet community in rural south Alabama. Tonight, it's very much alive. Multiple law enforcement agencies out here on the scene investigating. You can see the crime tape is still up on Main Street blocking people from going through what is usually a busy area for this small community.

This is where it all started in Samson, Alabama. The small community. Sometime this afternoon between 3:30 and 4, as we said, the gunman started at one house and killed four adults and one child there. Included in that house was a Geneva County deputy's wife and 1 1/2-year-old child. Another child from that deputy was also injured and we're told is now on their way to surgery at a local hospital.

He then moved on to a second and third house in -- excuse me, in Samson, where one adult was killed, shot and killed at each home.

And then he moved on to a local business, Samson Pipe and Supply. Another adult killed there. Then a local gas station. Another adult killed there.

And then investigators have confirmed late in the evening that a house fire in Coffee County, Alabama, a separate county -- we're in Geneva County right now -- one adult confirmed dead inside that home. Investigators are saying it's somehow related.

Now, in between all that activity, they -- investigators are saying that this gunman also managed to shoot at a state trooper and a police chief. Both are doing OK. That police chief was actually wearing a bullet-proof vest. So that saved his life.

But no name, no motives being released in this. And, again, that's no names of the suspect or any of these victims. Investigators are confirming, though, that there are additional victims that are injured. They're not saying how many or their conditions.

But, again, ten victims dead and that suspect makes 11 total dead. But again, there could be many more victims we don't know about right now that are just simply injured. So a lot going on. A lot still unfolding tonight out here in Samson, Alabama.

COOPER: Unbelievable, Grace. Just in terms of -- you said there may be other victims out there, other people who have been shot, who have been wounded, but who are being treated. Do we know where they came from? Are those people who were just kind of randomly shot, or do those come from some of these residences or businesses? Do we know? WHITE: We don't know right now. Again, these crime scenes span between two cities here in south Alabama, Samson and Geneva. And we don't know if these additional victims came from the homes in Samson, where we are here, or in Geneva.

One other thing I did want to mention is that we -- while we don't know the gunman's name or his age or even if he's from around here, investigators did tell us he was once an employee at Reliable Metal Products. And that's, Anderson, where he was found -- where he shot himself.

COOPER: So you have been able to confirm that he was, at one point, an employee of Reliable Metal Products, which is where this whole thing ended?

WHITE: Exactly. We know that he was at one time an employee. We don't know if that was recent or a couple years ago. But he was, in fact, employed there at that local business here.

COOPER: All right. Grace White, appreciate you bringing us up to date. Grace White from our affiliate WEAR.

Next on 360, Rihanna and Chris Brown. Not only have they reunited, they're said to be singing together. Why would she return to her alleged abuser? We're digging deeper on domestic violence tonight.

Plus a gruesome discovery in Mexico. The drug war there getting more critical. We'll have the latest.


COOPER: Reports tonight that singers Chris Brown and Rihanna are in a recording studio, working on a duet, if you can believe it. We've also learned Nickelodeon will keep Chris Brown as the nominee for a 2009 Kids Choice award.

Both developments extremely disturbing to domestic violence experts. Here's why: Brown is accused of brutally beating Rihanna, punching her repeatedly in the face until she was bloody. He also allegedly threatened to kill her.

The couple is back together, Oprah Winfrey warning Rihanna he will hit her again. It's estimated one out of four women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Why then, would Rihanna and millions of others return to their alleged victimizers? We're going to talk about that tonight with our panel. We're going to answer questions and iReports that you've sent to us. We're "Digging Deeper."

With us tonight attorney and In Session anchor Lisa Bloom; Faye Wattleton, co-founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of Women; and from UCLA, Dr. Michael Rodriguez, who specializes in domestic abuse prevention. Lisa, a lot of people were taken aback by the story that they've actually gotten back together. I want to play this iReport, which kind of sums up what a lot of viewers are saying to us. Take a look.


MATTHEW MILAM, IREPORTER: If you got your butt whooped by this guy more than once, why the hell would you stay with him? It's not like, you know, Rihanna's poor. Rihanna's got money. I mean, she could get a thousand different guys that are better than Chris Brown. But yet, she's sticking to Chris Brown.


MATTHEWS: We've gotten a lot of e-mails and blogs like that. It seems hard for a lot of people to imagine. A lot of battered women, though, go back to their abusers. Why?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: They do. According to one study, 80 to 90 percent go back to their abusers. And people who prosecute domestic violence cases, like the prosecutors in Los Angeles who are working this case, know that. And so systems are already in place to deal with it.

Los Angeles has a no-drop policy in place. It doesn't matter if the victim is going to cooperate. Prosecutors are going to push forward. Those policies, Anderson, are in effect in most major cities in the United States, cities over 250,000.

So we who work in the domestic violence area know this is more common than not, that the victim will go back to the abuser. Why? Sometimes economic dependency. Sometimes children. Those aren't present here.

We've got a very young woman here who may come from an abusive background herself. She may have low self-esteem. And she just simply may not know any other way of having a relationship.

COOPER: Michael, I want to show our viewers what Oprah Winfrey said the other day about this. Her warning to Rihanna.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Love doesn't hurt. I've been saying this to women for years.


WINFREY: Love doesn't hurt. And if a man hits you once, he will hit you again.


WINFREY: He will hit you again. I don't care what his plea is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Michael, is that true? That once an abuser, always an abuser?

DR. MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ, UCLA: What she says is very important, because it highlights the cycle of violence. That frequently what happens is that violence is -- domestic violence is not a single incident. We see it happening over and over again.

But at the same time, I think it's important to acknowledge that change can happen and that, when a person is perpetrated and abused, it's important to get professional help, and acknowledge the problem, and be able to seek help so that you can stop the violence from happening.

COOPER: Faye, you know, what's stunning to a lot of people is that Chris Brown was out on a Jet Ski after all this. I mean, it doesn't seem -- he's out in public. It's -- you know, while they're making public statements about contrition and, you know, he's being thoughtful and rethinking of this, certainly doesn't seem like much is different in his life.

FAYE WATTLETON, CO-FOUNDER/PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN: Well, we certainly don't know what has happened before he was out on the Jet Ski.

But what I think sometimes we are not mindful of, in this particular situation, is that we're dealing with late adolescence here. We're having a national discussion, which I think is very positive, as a result of this unfortunate incident, about an issue that is enormously complex.

The psychological composition of these two people has a very long and deep history, their entire lives. So it's really impossible to really judge entirely why his behavior is as it is.

But let us not forget: he's a teenager. And we know from the Family Violence Prevention Fund that one in three teenage girls say that they have either been physically or psychologically abused by their intimate partners.

This is an epidemic that, as a nation, we need to take greater responsibility for saying it's unacceptable. Why are we giving the kind of celebrity attention to this individual if we don't consider this unacceptable behavior?

COOPER: Lisa, in terms of the court case, does it matter whether Rihanna agrees to testify or, you know, gives -- gives evidence?

BLOOM: It does not matter. The Los Angeles County district attorney's official policy is that cases of domestic violence with credible evidence will go forward with or without the cooperation of the victim. That's right there on their Web site, Anderson.

Now, technically, by the way, this is not a domestic violence case in Los Angeles, because they don't cohabitate, and they're not married. But I suspect that policy will apply. And I've talked to prosecutors in the L.A. D.A.'s office about this case. They feel strongly this case must be treated like any other case. And that means they're going to follow the policies that are already in place, that have been in place for years, which means the victim will be subpoenaed to come in and testify. If she does not come in voluntarily, she will be brought in involuntarily to testify. That's how they're going to handle this thing.

COOPER: Michael, very briefly, we've got to go. What's the most important thing you want to get across?

RODRIGUEZ: I think one of the most important things that we're seeing here is that domestic violence can happen to anybody, no matter whether you're poor or whether you're wealthy, whether you're beautiful. What this shows is it can happen to anybody. And no matter whether you're ashamed or whatever, if this has happened to you, it's important to get help or to tell somebody.

COOPER: We've got to leave it there. Faye Wattleton, Lisa Bloom, Michael Rodriguez, I wish we had more time. I do appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

Still ahead tonight, last night we reported on Mexico's deadly drug cartel battle. Tonight, a gruesome discovery on a highway deep inside Mexico. Five human heads stuffed into five ice boxes, ice chests with a warning note. More details on that coming up.

Also, dramatic developments in the case against Bernie Madoff. A plea deal --well, actually, not a plea deal, just an admission of guilt. The new numbers on just how massive his Ponzi scheme really was.


COOPER: Just updating our top story, a shooting rampage in southern Alabama. The death toll now has risen. Now 11 people confirmed dead. The gunman is included in that number. A string of shootings, possibly an arson fire in the towns of Samson and Geneva, Alabama, just along the Florida border.

Among the fatalities, the wife and child of a Geneva sheriff's deputy. The killer opened fire at three separate residences, three homes, also opened fire on a patrol care on state Highway 52 and at two local businesses, as -- as well.

In all, he killed ten people before opening fire on officers outside Reliable Metal Products in Geneva, where just moments ago we learned he did once work. The man then went inside, apparently turned his gun on himself. He is included in the 11 dead.

Now, Joe Johns join us with a "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, a suicide car bomber killed at least 33 people and wounded dozens more in Baghdad today. The attack targeted a meeting to mend fences between Sunnis and Shiites. It came barely 48 hours after a suicide bombing aimed at Baghdad police recruits killed 30 people.

In central Mexico, police say a grizzly discovery has all the hallmarks of a drug cartel violence. Five human heads were found beside a highway, each head in a separate ice chest. The victims, all men between the ages of 30 and 45 years.

Stocks rallied today, with all three major indexes logging the biggest gains of the year. Good news from Citigroup. The Dow surged 379 points, the NASDAQ gained almost 90, the S&P 500 rose 43.

And in a television interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, Nadya Suleman, the mother of the California octuplets, said she's getting ready to move to a new house near Los Angeles, which her father is buying. She also said that four of her new babies are healthy enough to leave the hospital.

And Anderson, that's the update.

COOPER: Should point out there you can afford a new house because of all these TV interviews she's doing, which I guess she's being paid for by all these entertainment folks. So...

JOHNS: Looks like the case.


Coming up, Bernie Madoff could go from his penthouse to a prison cell. His attorney says he's ready to plead guilty to 11 charges. Could face up to 150 years in prison. The new price tag of the scam, though, just got larger. We'll tell you that, ahead.

And more on our breaking news out of southern Alabama. Reports of at least 11 people now known dead in a shooting rampage. We'll have the latest.


COOPER: All right. First we're going to make you smile before you go to bed tonight. You'll appreciate this "Shot," Joe, it's why they created the Internets [SIC] in the first place. How long does it take for one person to get their clothes off? Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking Japanese)



JOHNS: Oh, man.

COOPER: I don't know how he did it. I don't know how -- it looked painful, actually. We found the clip on Huffington Post. Apparently, some sort of game show from Asia, where all, frankly, our favorite TV moments come from. Kids, don't try that at home.

JOHNS: I will not try that myself, no.

COOPER: You can see all the most recent "Shots" at

Coming up at the top of the hour, the latest on Bernie Madoff. Late details of his agreement to plead guilty to 11 counts, facing up to 150 years in prison. All that and more coming up. We'll be right back.