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California Authorities Hold Press Conference on Dorner Manhunt; 340,000 Without Power In Wake of Storm; Grammy Awards Handed Out; Massive Manhunt for Fugitive Ex-Cop; February is Heart Month
Aired February 10, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: It is 4:00 p.m. in the East, 1:00 p.m. on the West Coast. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. Thank you very much for joining us.
We're about to get new details from the police and the FBI about that hunt for the ex-cop and alleged killer Christopher Dorner. As soon as this news conference gets under way, we're going to take you there.
But right now in the San Bernardino mountains, investigators are going door to door, they are trying to find Christopher Dorner. Investigators say he killed three people, including a police officer and injured two others across southern California last week. Dorner threatened more bloodshed for the LAPD and their families. He says he wants revenge on the department after it fired him four years ago Our Casey Wian is following that investigation. And Casey, what are you hearing now?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martin, you've talked about that investigation that is continuing and that search that is continuing in the San Bernardino mountains near the community of Big Bear. That investigation now has been significantly downsized. Yesterday there were 125 people in those search teams. That number is now down to 25.
And a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County sheriff's office says they're going to reassess tomorrow whether they're going to continue that search effort. They are still using air power in that search. There's a helicopter being deployed with body heat sensors. They have received several reports of sightings from the public. But none of those reports have panned out. None of them has led them any closer, it seems, to finding out where Christopher Dorner is right now. Marty?
SAVIDGE: And what's the reason for that scale back? I mean do they just not believe he's no longer there or is there something else going on we're not aware of?
WIAN: Well, they're not saying specifically ...
SAVIDGE: Now, Casey, I'm going to stop you. I'm sorry, I'm going to take a break. The press conference is getting started right now. Let's listen in as the authorities begin to brief us and update us on the investigation for the search of Mr. Dorner.
We're just watching as the authorities gather there behind the microphone. This is a joint news conference, in which we're expecting to hear from both the federal, state and local level, as a new task force has been put in place to track down the suspect.
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, (D), LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Good afternoon. Today the search for Christopher Dorner continues. And let me be clear. Our dedication to catching this killer remains steadfast. Our confidence that we will bring him to justice is unshaken. This search is not a matter of if. It's a matter of when. And I want Christopher Dorner to know that.
To that end, we're all here today for one purpose, to stand united and say that we will not tolerate a killer targeting our officers and their families, targeting innocent people in this city and in this region. Yesterday, leaders from throughout the region, including leaders from businesses and unions, government, law enforcement and community groups, came together to pool resources and protect our core value of public safety. Collectively, this group, led by my office, is posting a reward of $1 million for information that will lead to Mr. Dorner's capture. We will not tolerate anyone undermining the security, the tranquillity of our neighborhoods, and our communities. We will not tolerate this reign of terror that has robbed us of the peace of mind that residents of southern California deserve.
We will not tolerate this murderer remaining at large. Authorities from Los Angeles, Irvine, Riverside, the FBI, the United States Marshals Service and other agencies are working together to bring this ordeal to an end. And let me say this, and some of you have heard me say this over the last seven and a half years again and again and again. We're as safe as we are, we're safer at any time since the 1950s. In no small part because the LAPD, the sheriff's department and the law enforcement agencies of this region work as collaboratively as they do. And that's also true, of course, for our federal partners. And once again, we are working seamlessly to protect the public and to bring Mr. Dorner to justice.
Now, Chief Beck will give you an update on the search in just a moment. But first, allow me to acknowledge a number of people who are here with me today. In addition to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Irvine Mayor Dr. Steven Choi, FBI assistant director in charge Bill Lewis, Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz, U.S. Marshal for the Central District of California David Singer, and also Supervisor Antonovich who has joined us. I want to thank all of the public safety officers across the region for answering the call of duty. Every day I marvel and applaud their unwavering bravery. Their dedication has been complimented by the vigilance of residents throughout this region.
You've been on the lookout and shared your leads with law enforcement. We thank you for it. Anyone with tips can call 213-486- 5230. But I also want to remind everyone to continue to be alert as long as this man remains at large. If you see Mr. Dorner or even suspect that you see him, please do not engage him. He is considered armed and extremely dangerous. With your help, we can bring this tragedy to an end, and now I would like to introduce LAPD chief Charlie Beck.
I will give Spanish remarks afterwards.
CHIEF CHARLIE BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE: Good morning. And thanks for being here. As the mayor said, the search for Dorner continues. We continue to focus on his last known locations in the Big Bear area, but our search continues in and around the areas where we have known targets. There are over 50 LAPD families that have not only security, but surveillance in and around their neighborhoods. These 50 LAPD families are targets of Dorner's, and are likely, likely victims.
The reward that the mayor talked about, $1 million. This is the largest local reward ever offered, to our knowledge. Some may ask why so large? This is an act, and make no mistake about it, of domestic terrorism. This is a man who has targeted those that we entrust to protect the public. His actions cannot go unanswered. A society is defined by what it values. And we value our law enforcement family. That's why the reward is so significant.
Also, this is not about capturing a fleeing suspect. This is about preventing a future crime, likely a murder. Every day that Dorner is loose, the likelihood of an attack on either a uniformed police officer or a family of a police officer is likely. That's why we rush to make this offer. We ask the public, please, help us to protect you. Help us to find Dorner before he's able to kill again.
I want to thank some folks. I want to thank my allied law enforcement brothers and sisters. We have co-located in our joint regional intelligence center. We are working seamlessly with our local, state and federal partners. I am confident that we have the best of the best working this case. I visited the joint regional intelligence center yesterday, spoke personally to the scores of detectives working there. They are committed to this hunt. And the mayor is right, we will capture Dorner. We will bring him to justice. For those of you that have questions about how the reward works, the reward is for the capture and conviction.
For those of you that question how so much money was put together, it was amazingly, amazingly easy. When we reached out to members of this community, they gave immediately. And I want to particularly thank my employee organizations. Significant donation by my police union, the Police Protective League. Significant donation by my Federal Credit Union. And they also reached out to employee organizations of law enforcement up and down the state who gave willingly.
I want to thank the private donors who not only gave willingly, but immediately. Many contacted me or the mayor. They didn't have to be asked. They called and demanded to be included. This shows what L.A. and southern California values. And I think it's important that we make this statement, just as I think it's important that we capture Christopher Dorner. Thank you. VILLARAIGOSA Also with us is Chief John Thomas of the University of Southern California Police Department. I acknowledge him and their efforts and the generosity in this effort. Please help me in welcoming the Riverside City Mayor Rusty Bailey.
MAYOR RUSTY BAILEY, RIVERSIDE CITY, CALIFORNIA: Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for one's friends. While many Americans in the public enjoy a Sabbath day of rest this Sunday, our brave law enforcement officers are patrolling the streets, responding to calls for help and protecting our cities from evil. We lost one of those courageous souls this week and we stand here today in solidarity to ask Christopher Dorner to surrender without further loss of life. Our hearts go out and our prayers are lifted high for the officers and families that have been forever impacted by this senseless manifesto and random act of violence in Riverside.
We also stand here in prayer for the safety of those that continue to search for the perpetrator of these evil acts. Thank you all for supporting our highly trained and professional police departments and law enforcement agencies. God speed to you all in your ongoing investigations and search. While God is quick to forgive, he does demand justice. And there will be a day of reckoning in this world or the next. Better is one day in his courts than thousands elsewhere. Our hope is that this reward will bring expedited closure to this tragic situation and that someone with specific knowledge will bring that forward toward a hasty and peaceful resolution.
VILLARAIGOSA: Also with us is Irvine City Mayor Dr. Steven Choi.
MAYOR DR. STEVEN CHOI, IRVINE, CALIFORNIA: Thank you. Good afternoon. I'm Mayor Steven Choi from the city of Irvine. On behalf of the city of Irvine and the city council, I would like to thank Mayor Villaraigosa, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, our own Irvine police chief David Maggard and the many scores of law enforcement agencies for working so hard to catch this ruthless criminal. You have seen all the agencies involved here that I have not mentioned here, but they are very strong, good partners, including FBI, and the Riverside City and then also the county of San Bernardino.
The offer of this $1 million of reward is clear demonstration that we are collectively committed to solve this tragic case as quickly as possible and we thank you for the all the partners for that. We will never forget that this senseless tragedy that started just last Sunday in our city of Irvine. Seven days ago, our community lost a wonderful young couple that was preparing to get married soon, Keith Lawrence, a safety officer at USC, and Monica Quan, an assistant women's basketball coach at the Cal State, Fullerton. It is important to know that they had dreams and aspirations. Our Irvine police department is committed to helping find this suspect every day and every night.
VILLARAIGOSA: Also with us is Federal Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director in Charge, Bill Lewis.
BILL LEWIS: The FBI remains active in this investigation. The one point that I would like to make is the FBI, along with the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Forces are throughout the United States. Should any citizen have any information they think may be pertinent to this investigation, I encourage you to make that phone call, and we will have all leads followed up by federal agencies and local law enforcement partnered throughout the United States. Thank you.
SAVIDGE: And Casey Wian has been listening to this as well. And Casey, as you heard, the mayor is announcing a $1 million reward, he says that the largest the city has ever at least offered locally. So it shows you just how absolutely adamant they are to bring what he described as a ring of terror to an end, doesn't it?
WIAN: Absolutely. And he said that that money has come from business, government, law enforcement, community groups and I'm sure you heard Chief Charlie Beck, the LAPD said it was remarkably easy to gather all that money up, $1 million leading -- for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Christopher Dorner, because this is such a high priority manner for so many people in Los Angeles. I want to talk about something that Chief Beck mentioned as well, too.
When you talk about the scope of this manhunt we've been talking about, what kind of gets lost in this sometimes is the protection effort that is going on. He talked about 50 Los Angeles Police Department families that are now being protected at their homes because of this threat. There's also surveillance going on at their homes. And we're talking about a very widespread geographic area. Not everyone who is in the LAPD lives close to the city of Los Angeles, many of them living 40 miles north of here, in the communities like Santa Clarita, 40 miles south of here, in communities like Huntington Beach. So that effort is going on at the same time, this protective effort for these officers and their families who have already been targeted and the manhunt, of course, continues as well.
SAVIDGE: And, actually, speaking to that manhunt, there was really no mention as to whether there's been any recent sighting, I mean it appears not since his truck was found burned out there by Big Bear Lake, if we heard any more about that.
WIAN: There have been lots of calls, lots of reported sightings, but according to the investigators, none of those have penned out, none of them have led them any closer to knowing where Dorner is right now. They're continuing that manhunt, but in the area that they've been looking most intensely, the San Bernardino mountains near the community of Big Bear, they're saying that they're scaling that operation down. It's now down to 25 people who are searching. They're talking about reassessing that manhunt going on tomorrow, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Casey Wian reporting to us from outside LAPD headquarters. And again, a $1 million reward being offered by the City of Los Angeles for the capture of Christopher Dorner who is accused of killing three people. We'll come back in just a bit and check on how the big dig is going on in the northeast right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SAVIDGE: Millions of people who got slammed by that blizzard in the northeast have to get back to work tomorrow. So today, they dig. Airports in New York, Boston and Connecticut are back open. Amtrak is restoring limited service between New York and Boston and has resumed modified service in other areas. And the power is back for a lot of people. Still, there are about 340,000 homes and businesses in the dark. Our Susan Candiotti has the details.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The temperatures are just about at the freezing level, but with a warm sun, it feels very good in Boston this day. But the snow is still piled high, and it will take quite some time to get rid of it, of course, but looking at the main streets, they are clear. The side streets are the ones that still remain a mess here.
But the city is doing all it can to get things back to normal. For example, they've been spending all day on Sunday cleaning up these. These are the transit rail tracks, trying to get them ready to resume normal service Monday. But they don't think that's going to happen. Only partial service will be in effect. That's why people are being told to prepare for long delays. On the other hand, schools will also be closed, so they're trying to make arrangements for what to do with kids as people try to get back to work. All this while power outages are still a concern. And several parts of the state still working to make those repairs and getting ready for a freezing rain tomorrow. Just what Bostonians don't need. Back to you.
SAVIDGE: Thanks, Susan. In Long Island, more than two dozen people spent the night in a Wal-Mart after their cars got stuck in the snow. Our Mary Snow talked to one woman who went into the store to get away from the cold.
JEAN MILLER, SPENT NIGHT AT WAL-MART: I was very happy to come into a warm place. I was soaking wet just from sitting out there and having to get in and out of the car, to continually wipe the snow off. So, a lot of other people they came in, some people chose to stay out in their cars, but then they came in in the morning for some hot coffee and donuts that Wal-Mart - the store manager Jerry Greek put out for us. And, you know, we were just happy to be indoors and not out there.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you're only a few miles from home?
MILLER: I'm two miles from here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: The Long Island Expressway will remain closed until about 9:00 p.m. in both directions between exits 57 and 73.
And Mother Nature packed another surprise south of the equator. That just a short time ago. A 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck the central region of Chile shaking buildings in Santiago. Early reports say nobody was injured. We'll bring you more details as they become available.
Tuesday night, millions of Americans will tune in to watch President Obama deliver his State of the Union speech. Find out what issue he'll really hone in on.
And dancing in the streets. We'll take you to a non-stop celebration across an entire country.
SAVIDGE: President Obama goes before the nation with his State of the Union address on Tuesday. The president will outline his plans for the future and the direction, in which he plans to take us. Who better to help sort out what will be in the State of the Union than our very own Candy Crowley, the anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."
So, Candy, give us a preview, what do you think will be the themes, the messages that the president will have and keeping in mind, of course, that he faces a divided government at least for the next two years.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that part of it, the divided government part won't ever have a play here. This is the president's agenda, what he wants to do. You will hear echoes of the inaugural speech, because you will see things like immigration, climate change, maybe a little meat on those bones, like what about climate change. Maybe a little bit about immigration, although his plan is already out there.
Our White House correspondents, we've done a lot of reporting on this, including our own Jessica Yellin who says this is about, you will hear a lot about the economy. You know, the White House was not all that thrilled when the focal point of the inaugural speech was immigration and gay marriage, same-sex marriage, that kind of thing. So this will be focused more we're led to believe on the economy. In particular what the White House likes to call investments and what Republicans call spending.
SAVIDGE: We know that Florida Senator Marco Rubio is giving the Republican response, but also Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is to get the Tea Party response. Any surprises we expect from him? I know you spoke to him.
CROWLEY: No. This is the third - third year in a row. I think it's a little surprising that he's doing it in some ways. Since both he and Marco Rubio have Tea Party ties, at least Tea Party backing. Rand Paul is, you know, led me to believe that what he's going to do is talk about what we've come to know as classic Tea Party subjects, and that is the debt and spending. And those - that's where he will be focusing his attention. He told me that he actually had written a speech, but that he wanted to wait to see what the president had to say before he finished it. We talked a lot about whether it seemed a little strange that he has an R behind his name and so does Marco Rubio and yet there are two responses. But he believes that there are differences between those who consider themselves members of the Tea Party, and remember, there are lots of Tea Parties. That's a big umbrella there. And others who are sort of -- you know, maybe conservative, but are more mainstream.
SAVIDGE: Yes. What does that say, though, about the cohesion of the party then if you've got these two men talking as you point out?
CROWLEY: Exactly what you think. I mean, I asked Senator Paul about that. He said, I may agree with some things that Marco says -- Marco Rubio -- and I may not agree. But nonetheless, he believes it's sort of the importance of what you put the emphasis on. And if you wanted to look at this politically, not that any of us would do that, but if you are to look at it politically we saw this big "TIME" magazine cover of Marco Rubio, the new face, you know, the Republican Party savior, but we also know that Rand Paul is one of those thinking kind of looking at 2016.
SAVIDGE: Candy Crowley, I only get to see you once a year, talking about the State of the Union from "STATE OF THE UNION." Thanks very much.
CROWLEY: All right. Thanks, Martin.
SAVIDGE: And don't forget to tune in at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday for our live coverage of the State of the Union speech.
The LAPD wants the public's help in catching accused killer Christopher Dorner and it's willing to pay a lot of money for it. The reward money skyrockets today.
SAVIDGE: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield. If you're just tuning in, we definitely appreciate it.
These are the top stories we're following right now in the CNN NEWSROOM.
A $1 million reward is now being offered for information leading to ex-cop Christopher Dorner's arrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF CHARLIE BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE: This is an act, and make no mistake about it, of domestic terrorism. This is a man who has targeted those that we entrust to protect the public. His actions cannot go unanswered. A society is defined by somewhat it values, and we value our law enforcement family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Dorner is accused of killing three people, including a police officer. He has threatened to kill more police and their families. We'll have more on this in just a moment.
That big blizzard that went through the northeast has left behind a lot of snow. Folks in the area are busy clearing the roads and shoveling snow off their cars today trying to get back to normal after a day of being stuck inside. But about 340,000 people are still without heat or electricity.
And it's a big night for anybody who loves music. The Grammys will be handed out in Los Angeles and a few really expect the repeat of last year when singer Adele virtually swept them all.
Our Nischelle Turner joins us live from Los Angeles with that manhunt of that ex-cop going on. So I'm wondering, you know, is that influencing security there, Nischelle?
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, that story has reached all the way here to the Grammys, Martin. Now there have been reports out that because of the search for Christopher Dorner that security will be extra tight here at the Grammys today.
And we also -- we reached out to officials at the Staples Center which house the Grammys. And the only thing they would tell us is they do not comment on their security procedures. But I can tell you just from observing in the times that I've been here on the red carpet already that there is definitely a tight security presence. There always is, but there could definitely be an increase in security here.
Now the other thing, the other talker on this Grammy red carpet is the fact that apparently there is some sort of a Grammy dress code that is hoped to be in effect this year. CBS put out a memo for this year's Grammys, basically asking for people to cover up.
Now they're talking about a rock 'n' roll show here, Martin, so I'm not sure how well that's going to go over. In fact, I have already seen my first rule breaker, Tamia, who was up for Best R&B album. Kind of broke the rules already because one of the things that the Grammys and CBS asked for is that -- to have the female breast adequately covered. And let me just say hers were not.
Back to you.
SAVIDGE: Right. That's a tough thing to kind of police with that kind of crowd.
One real question here. Justin Bieber fans said that they got snubbed this year. Why wasn't he nominated? And I hear he's also involved in something fairly interesting.
TURNER: Well, he is. And in television this is what we call counterprogramming. What Justin Bieber is doing, a lot of his fans were surprised when he was not nominated for a Grammy in any category. He hasn't come out publicly and said that he's miffed by this. But what he's doing, he twitted this last night, is he is going to do an hour live stream on the Internet, playing new music, answering questions from fans at the exact same time that the Grammys are on. So you have to think that maybe he's trying to give a little nudge to the Grammys saying you don't nominate you, then I won't participate in any way in your program. So we'll have to see how that goes over.
And, by the way, Martin, just because I know that you were really wondering about this, we already have some winners in the pre-telecast already. Rihanna is the winner already tonight and Mumford & Sons a winner already tonight. Rihanna for Best Short Form Video and Mumford & Sons for Best Long Form Video. So just in case you were sitting on the edge of your seat wondering, Martin, that's the info.
SAVIDGE: Look at that. I got my Bieber update and I get to hear some of the early winners.
Nischelle Turner, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
TURNER: See? There you go.
SAVIDGE: See you later.
All right, stories that are trending right now on the Web. Something happened on board the cruise ship Thompson Majesty during those safety drill today off the canary islands. Five crew members killed, three others injured. The owners of the cruise ship say that they are still investigating adding that their focus is on the families of those involved.
You just heard, Justin Bieber hosted "Saturday Night Live" last night and he wound up apologizing to his fans for smoking marijuana during a sketch. Then during the opening monologue, Bieber says that he was looking for the future Mrs. Bieber, but he didn't drop any names.
Two guys with tough reputations are teaming up to train guards to protect schools in Phoenix, Arizona. That's America's toughest sheriff Joe Arpaio -- excuse me -- and action star Steven Segal. They're looking for 1,000 volunteers. The sheriff already guards in 59 Phoenix area schools. Critics are calling this a movie -- or using a movie actor as -- even one with martial arts skills to train guards a mockery.
We'll have all the new details on the manhunt for that accused killer Christopher Dorner, including exclusive video. We'll also hear from a man who spent months with Dorner and says the fired L.A. cop is extremely dangerous.
SAVIDGE: A million dollar reward is being offered for information leading to an ex-cop or an ex-Los Angeles accused of killing three people. The man police are looking for, Christopher Dorner, has the same training as them. This is exclusive CNN video that we have received.
Kyung Lah has more on the man at the center of the search. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christopher Dorner, LAPD cadet, in 2005.
(On camera): What do you think watching this, considering what's happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's an expert with weapons. Definitely. He's definitely dangerous.
LAH (voice-over): This man spent months with Dorner at the LAPD Training Academy. We are altering his voice and not showing his face because he fears Dorner will go after his police friends but he wants the public to see this so people understand what the LAPD is facing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look at Chris. You could see that he's a little bit of an expert. The way he watches and disarms. The shoe, and almost no movement he shoots the gun and then pop, with nothing.
LAH (on camera): So he stood out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he stood out. He knew what he was doing. The LAPD has -- they're going to be going after one of their own former, and he knows what -- like I said, he knows what he's doing. He knows how to use everything.
LAH: Being a cop, do you think that it was -- could you tell that it was important to him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I think it was very important to him. Yes.
LAH: You could see it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAH: Even during the training?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Yes. I think it's a 300-pound dummy and he does that easily.
LAH: Easily, this is 300 pounds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I believe that's 300 pounds.
LAH: So this is a very strong man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
LAH (voice-over): But not everything was easy for Dorner. The aspiring police officer. This man says he witnessed drill instructors picking on him for his weight and slow running.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I hear about how angry he is about the LAPD, I think that fits to my experience with him. I could kind of -- you know, that matches up when he says things about LAPD, matches up to the way I think he had his experience through the LAPD, especially the academy.
LAH (voice-over): This man never spoke to Dorner, but he never forgot the cadet.
(On camera): But your thought was this man represents power and strength.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Exactly. I wanted to show -- when I was going to use it, I wanted to show, maybe put music and show that the LAPD is powerful. And look at this powerful man. You know, handling this gun.
LAH: Is it frightening to think that the LAPD is now facing this man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. I mean this guy is no joke.
LAH (voice-over): And one police are taking very seriously.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
SAVIDGE: A festival in Iowa is getting a lot of attention. Here's why. That's right, hot bacon and lots of it. A festival dedicated solely to strips of sizzling pork. And wait until you hear just how many of those strips have been consumed.
SAVIDGE: And now to something not so heart healthy. This weekend a town outside of Des Moines, Iowa, paid homage to something that they feel pretty strongly about. Bacon. They held the Annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Fest. Nobody walked away hungry from this festival. Tens of thousands of bacon strips they were consumed.
OK. From not good to something better, let's talk about healthiness and your heart. February, if you didn't know, is National Heart Month and the bad news for Americans, the CDC says about 600,000 people die of heart disease every year. So if you have chest pain, shortage of breath, tire easily and break into a cold sweat, it's time perhaps to see the doctor.
We can see a doctor right now. Dr. Arthur Agatston. He joins us. He's a cardiologist and author of "The South Beach Diet." He joins me now from Miami.
Doctor, thanks very much for being with us.
DR. ARTHUR AGATSTON, CARDIOLOGIST: Hi, Martin.
SAVIDGE: You've got a book out on heart health. In fact, we just saw there. How do we know who is, say, high risk, at high risk for a heart attack?
AGATSTON: Well, many of us are reassured by having low cholesterol levels or we're worried because our cholesterol levels are high. We use just the traditional risk factors. Now we can look and see heart disease years before it builds up to cause a heart attack and stroke. And the best way is getting a mammogram of the heart which we calls the calcium storage. It's safe, minimal radiation.
And if you're in your 40s, for instance, and heading for a heart attack in your 50s or 60s, you will be building up plaque. You can see it with this simple test. And it's a much better predictor of heart attack and stroke than any of the traditional risk factors.
SAVIDGE: OK. So this now begs the question, what do we do to prevent heart disease or maybe the build-up of what you just described?
AGATSTON: Well, if we start early, it's lifestyle, it's plenty of exercise and the right food. And if we start in childhood, you're very unlikely to have a heart attack. But in America, as you just mentioned from Iowa, we're not -- we're not doing so well. So the main thing is to get tested early to see if you're at risk. Some of us get away with a lot of bad habits and live a long, healthy life. And others are not so lucky.
So it's important to get tested early because if you know you're at risk, then you know you have to change your lifestyle, possibly be on the right medications. And with that, heart attack, strokes are absolutely preventable. But you have to detect the disease, the risk on time.
SAVIDGE: And you mentioned the -- that heart scan there. And I'm wondering, you know, we also mentioned there were 600,000 people, I believe, who will die of heart disease every year. Are we making progress? Is it -- is that death toll coming down?
AGATSTON: We're making progress in knowing what to do once we know people are at risk. We're not making progress in lifestyle. So we have more and more American -- Americans at risk due to the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and so it's important to get tested early to know your risk. And boy, when you see a picture of your heart filled with plaque, you're much more likely to follow the healthy lifestyle and get some exercise. And if you need medication, then you should be on it sooner rather than later. The sooner you start, the easier it is to prevent that heart attack or stroke.
SAVIDGE: Dr. Arthur Agatston, thanks very much for joining us on this heart month February.
Thank you, sir.
AGATSTON: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Worshipping god while packing heat. Arkansas is about to allow concealed guns in churches. Some pastors are upset saying it could lead to unsettling announcements during services. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SAVIDGE: In Arkansas, House members have passed a bill that would let churches decide whether to allow concealed guns inside their buildings. The governor says he'll sign that into law. Some church officials are worried about the possible impact.
David Goins of CNN affiliate KARK has this "Belief" blog report.
DAVID GOINS, KARK REPORTER: First Presbyterian Church in downtown Little Rock already has signs posted on the door. Pastor Marie O'Connell doesn't want to add one about handguns.
PASTOR MARIE O'CONNELL, FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, LITTLE ROCK: I feel like my concerns have been heard. I'm not sure they've yet to be addressed.
GOINS: O'Connell says her church insurance provider may require announcements about handguns before Sunday service. Legislators supporting giving churches the option on hand guns say not so.
STATE REP. NATE BELL (R), ARKANSAS: There's simply no -- logical reason to believe that insurance companies would single out Arkansas churches for its draconian policy changes when they have not done so in other states.
GOINS: State Representative Nate Bell telling fellow legislators guns in churches is about freedom of religion.
BELL: It's time for us as politicians to get our collective noses out of the religious affairs of churches and to allow the churches themselves to make their own theological decisions.
O'CONNELL: Even though I personally don't feel that guns are going to help spread the gospel message, I can understand other churches might feel differently. And I have to respect that.
GOINS: Now it's a choice O'Connell will have to make after the House overwhelmingly said yes to giving churches the option.
SAVIDGE: And a spokesman for the Arkansas governor Mike Beebe tells CNN the governor plans to sign that bill as written but he does want to continue discussions with lawmakers about concerns expressed by members of the faith community.
And you can see more about this story on our "Belief" blog and that's at CNN.com/belief.
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