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Horrific Sports Injury; North Korean Threat; Surgery after Player's Gruesome Injury; Inside a Special Forces Firefight; American Tourist Brutally Attacked in Brazil; Syracuse Offers Truce to Gang Members; Australia's Dumbest Crook a Global Laughingstock

Aired April 1, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a powerful response to North Korea's threats. The U.S. military showing muscle after Kim Jong-Un's new declaration of war.

A second Texas prosecutor is dead. Authorities are on high alert fearing another one will be gunned down.

And the broken leg that horrified the nation -- how doctors are trying to heal the college basketball player Kevin Ware.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome the viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

North Korean troops gunning for an American target in another propaganda video from the regime that's going to new lengths to threaten the United States. Now the U.S. is sending more firepower to the region taking Kim Jong-un's missile test and his new declaration of war very, very seriously.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is following all of the latest developments.

Tell us, Barbara, what you are learning about the latest U.S. response.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there are tonight more U.S. military moves to protect against a North Korean provocation and more questions about what exactly North Korea may be up to.


STARR (voice-over): The U.S. Navy is moving a warship closer to the North Korean coastline. It's also sending this ocean-going radar. The worry? North Korea may be planning more ballistic missile test launches. U.S. officials say this missile called the Musudan might be fired in the coming weeks. With a 2,500-mile range, it threatens South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.

If fired and headed for land, the Navy ship would then try to shoot it down. The ship along with two F-22 fighter jets and B-2 bombers are Washington's latest move on the chessboard to challenge a North Korean provocation. The U.S. strategy: GEORGE LITTLE, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: It's about showing the South Koreans and our friends in the region that we are ready to protect them in the face of any threat.

STARR: There are new images of Kim Jong-un looking ready for war, but is that his goal?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would reiterate that we haven't seen action to back up the rhetoric, in the sense that we haven't seen significant changes, as I said, in the North in terms of mobilizations or -- and repositioning of forces.

STARR: But analysts say that's small comfort.

VICTOR CHA, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER: This new leadership that's very unpredictable that will fire off a missile, then at the same time down with Dennis Rodman and say that he wants Obama to call him.

STARR: Victor Cha's says North Korea's recent successful missile and nuclear tests played, perhaps, into the regime's ultimate goal, to not give up its weapons' crown jewels.

CHA: Can't put it past them the idea that they are also trying to establish a new equilibrium in which they are accepted as a nuclear weapon state.


STARR: And now it looks like that North Korean underground nuclear test was more advanced than originally thought. Experts say there were almost no radioactive emissions from that underground test. That means North Koreans most likely buried it deep underground, possibly shielded it, doing anything they could to keep the U.S. from figuring out what exactly was going -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I assume, Barbara, those nearly 30,000 American troops stationed along the demilitarized zone just between North and South Korea, they're in a much higher state of alert right now.

STARR: Well, look, they are always on a high state of alert. But, yes, right now I think the guidelines are watchfulness. They are not -- we should be very clear. They are not seeing major offensive moves by the North Korean military, but the timing of any provocation could be very short.

The worry, Wolf, always is that things could erupt and spin out of control and they want to stop it before that happens.

BLITZER: Let's hope that happens, that it doesn't spin out of control.

Barbara, thank you.

Add to all of this, by the way, South Korea's new president sending a threat of her own today by promising swift, swift military action if the North does anything at all provocative.


PARK GEUN-HYE, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations.


BLITZER: The South continues to hold military exercise with the United States and they will continue throughout this month of April.

Here in the United States, other news we are following. Texas authorities are racing to figure out who's killing local prosecutors and now several dozen federal agents are on the case as well. A district attorney was found dead along with his wife only two months after he promised to track down the killer of his assistant DA.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us now. He's following this deadly mystery.

Ed, what's the latest?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now there are few answers and many people wondering just exactly what is going on, and that has created a sense of unease and a frightening situation, quite frankly, for the people here in Kaufman County.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Who's next? It's the question gripping Kaufman County, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very, very scared and it's really hard to imagine that something like this happening in your neighborhood.

LAVANDERA: Courthouse security has been beefed up in the Kaufman town square, and law enforcement officers say special security measures are being taken to protect other elected officials.

There seem to be few leads and no suspects in the hunt to find the killers of Mark Hasse, and Mike McLelland, along with his wife, Cynthia. The uncertainty of what might happen next is chilling. Texas Governor Rick Perry talked about the threats.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: This, I think, is a clear concern to individuals who are in public life, and particularly those who deal with some very mean and vicious individuals, whether they're white supremacy groups or whether they're the drug cartels that we have.

LAVANDERA (on camera): This is the courthouse where Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland would come to work. We have spoken with several law enforcement analysts who have taken a closer look at all the details that we know about their murders. And they all say the same thing, that they're struck by the simplicity of the attacks on those two men.

Mark Hasse killed just as the corner here as he was walking to work at the courthouse, McClellan killed inside his home, that this suggests that these men were followed, studied in some way and that they killed them in the areas where they felt most at ease, most comfortable, part of their daily routine.

(voice-over): A lot of attention has focused on the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. State police issued a warning four months ago that the white supremacist group was actively planning to retaliate against officials who had targeted the prison gang's leadership.

But before he was killed, district attorney Mike McLelland downplayed that angle in the murder investigation of his fellow prosecutor Mark Hasse. In an interview to WFAA-TV, McLelland said Hasse had received no threats from a prison gang and that his work on Aryan Brotherhood cases was minimal.

FRED BURTON, SECURITY ANALYST: Although it's frightening, it's very simple to pull off.

LAVANDERA: Fred Burton heads a security consulting group called Stratfor Global Intelligence and he's a veteran law enforcement officer.

BURTON: You have an individual that could work by himself to just conduct some loose surveillance. If you look at the assistant district attorney that was attacked after he parked his car in the parking lot and was walking to work, those kinds of patterns are very predictable. They're not complex kinds of murders to carry out.

LAVANDERA: With no apparent suspects or significant leads, investigators must look at all possibilities. Could it be another organized group like a drug cartel or just one person with a violent vendetta?


LAVANDERA: Wolf, this is what makes this situation so complex and so daunting for the investigators. As long as none of the physical evidence draws them and brings them closer to a specific subject, going through the case files that might connect Mark Hasse and Mike McClellan is a very daunting and laboring task for these investigators, going through the thousands and thousands of cases that they might have had handled.

That's very -- that's a painstaking, slow process because the vendetta and the grudge could have come from anywhere, Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us watching the story. Ed, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now and speak with a friend of Mike McLelland, the district attorney who was killed. Doug Lowe is joining us and he's also a DA from neighboring Anderson County. Doug Lowe is joining us on the phone.

You were friends, Mr. Lowe, with Mike McClellan. Sorry obviously for your loss and for the loss of the community. Tell us a little bit about him.

DOUG LOWE, ANDERSON COUNTY, TEXAS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You know, Mike was basically a big bear of a guy. Never met a stranger. A real friend to me and all the prosecutors around and you saw the clips of him. That's kind of what Mike was. He said what he meant, and I'm sorry this tragedy followed him, and I mourn the loss of a friend, a fellow prosecutor who was obviously gunned down.

And it's early in the investigation, but it may appear that he was killed for what he did for a living.

BLITZER: That is certainly the suspicion out there. I want to play for you, Mr. Lowe, a clip. This is Mike McClellan issuing some tough warnings at a press conference after his assistant DA had been killed. Listen to this.


MIKE MCLELLAND, KAUFMAN COUNTY, TEXAS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're going to find you. We're going pull you out of whatever hole you're in and we're going bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.


BLITZER: Do you think that these two deaths, these two killings of these two prosecutors may be related?

LOWE: You know, it's not for me to say. I'm going to rely on the Texas Rangers and the FBI to sort that through.

It doesn't appear to me to be a coincidence, but do they have a tie that's related to organized activity or to what he did over there? I'm just not prepared to say. We're just -- we're just mourning his loss right now.

BLITZER: You heard Governor Perry speculate about maybe white supremacists being involved or Mexican drug cartels. Do you have any thoughts on that?

LOWE: You know, Mike and I, we share a common highway that brings drugs down from Dallas into East Texas and so we deal with a lot of bad, bad people in our counties. And we have talked about the threats that we face.

And like I say, I think that there is probably more than coincidence, but I'm not ready to say based on what I know that they're ready -- that there is a tie and we will say basically stop at that.

BLITZER: Because before the killings of these two prosecutors back in December, the Texas Department of Public Safety did issue a statewide warning -- it's pretty specific -- stating that the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas was planning retaliation in their words against law enforcement personnel.

Was that just a coincidence? What do you think about that?

LOWE: My understanding is that Mike's office had been involved with several participating agencies, the Office of Internal Affairs for the state prison system, the FBI, and that they were included in that well list of threats.

But I will tell you that my jurisdiction is the home of five security prison units, and I have not expected a direct threat from any of those organizations, because the Aryan Brotherhood is an organization that started in prisons, but I have not personally been threatened by them.

BLITZER: Has security been intensified for you and your fellow prosecutors in your neighboring county?

LOWE: I will say that we're more mindful of it and I think all jurisdictions of DAs, we're working with our local sheriff to say here are our concerns, because frankly my staff is worried and the families of their staff are worried. So we're going to look at those issues and develop a plan that hopefully meets whatever circumstances come up.

BLITZER: I think the whole country is worried right now for you and all of your fellow prosecutors out there. Doug Lowe, the district attorney from Anderson County in Texas, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone out there. Thanks for joining us.

LOWE: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: Up next, prosecutors decide whether to accept James Holmes' offer to plead guilty to the Colorado movie theater shootings. We have details from inside the courtroom.

A new way to combat gang wars. The special deal offered by police.


BLITZER: Prosecutors announced today they're seeking the death penalty against the alleged Colorado movie theater shooter, James Holmes, despite his offer to plead guilty in exchange for life in prison.

CNN's James Spellman is in Colorado and he's joining us now with the latest.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, you were inside the courtroom. What was the mood like in there?

SPELLMAN: It was very tense to begin the day, Wolf. On one side, there were victims and family members of people murdered in the theater that night. On the other hand, the journalists and sitting amongst us reporters James Holmes' parents.

The DA in this case, George Brauchler, came out and said he had told no one of his decision, not even his prosecution team, before that moment. He said he spoke to 60 victims personally and in the case of James Holmes justice is death. You can see James Holmes' parents seated right in front of me sort of collapse into each other.

A few sighs, but pretty stoic on the victims' side. They knew that this was definitely an option. For some of the family members and friends, Wolf, of these victims, it's welcome news. Listen to Bryan Beard. His friend Alex Sullivan was gunned down in the theater last summer.


BRYAN BEARD, FRIEND OF VICTIM: He took one of my good friends from the earth, and the only way that death is served justice is with death. Give me a front-row ticket. I want to be there for it.

SPELLMAN: Why is that?

BEARD: Why? He took my good friend from this earth.


SPELLMAN: For other victims and their families, Wolf, the most frustrating thing is how long all of this is taking. It will be at the very minimum a year before this trial is over, and that's if there's no more delays.

BLITZER: And then it could be several years before there is any execution, given the appeals process that will take place. So what happens next, the immediate period ahead?

SPELLMAN: Well, one thing is that at this point, James Holmes has refused to enter a plea and the judge entered before him a standard not guilty plea. But at any time, he could change that to not guilty by reason of insanity, which would further delay things.

That delay is the main reason why a lot of the victims and their families want that deal to be taken. They want him -- as long as he's not out again, they will take that deal if they don't have to deal with him anymore. Every time they come to court, Wolf, it's just heartbreaking for them to have to sit in the same room with him and go through this being in the news again and again and the seemingly endless string of hearings -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, Jim Spellman on the scene for us, thank you.

Other news, a New Jersey judge has ordered the winner of a $338 million Powerball jackpot to pay $30,000 in back child support to the mother of his three children. Probation officials say the payment will clear his record. The man is expected to net approximately $152 million after taxes.

He told the judge today that his children will now live with him.

Another $506 million has been returned to victims of Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme, according to a trustee, bringing the total victims' payouts so far to more than $5 billion. Over four years since Madoff's conviction, more than two-thirds of the billions stolen is either still unaccounted for or hasn't been returned. The Ponzi scheme was the largest ever.

College basketball player Kevin Ware is vowing to make a comeback after his shocking injury during an NCAA Tournament game. We will talk to an orthopedic surgeon about whether that's even possible, what's ahead for Kevin Ware.

Also, strong emotion in the stadium on opening day for Major League Baseball. We will tell you what happened.



BLITZER: Still ahead: a college basketball player hoping to recover from a really gruesome injury. Will Louisville's Kevin Ware be able to play again? I'm going to speak to an orthopedic surgeon.

And new details emerging right now on a brutal abduction of foreign tourists. It turns out one of them was an American.


BLITZER: Happening now: the first step to recovery after a horrifying basketball injury. What will it take for Kevin Ware's leg to heal?

Plus, a CNN exclusive. We're on the front lines with U.S. special forces during a very dangerous firefight.

And guns and gangs, a new idea to get them both off the streets.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

You don't have to be a college hoops fan to be caught up in the story of a Louisville player, Kevin Ware, and the really terrible injury he suffered on the court. His leg broke during a crucial game against Duke yesterday in such a gruesome way that we're not even going show it, but you can see the horrified reaction from his teammates.

Ware now is recovering from surgery to reset his leg and promising to make a comeback.

Here's our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you don't see an injury like this all that often in basketball, and while it was gruesome, it's surprisingly easy to fix.

(voice-over): A high-stakes game. Louisville versus Duke to see who goes to the Final Four. With six minutes to halftime, Louisville guard Kevin Ware jumps to block a three-pointer.

(on camera): He's landed that jump a million times.


COHEN: Why this time did it go wrong?

KERCHER: It looks like all his body weight is rotating about his tibia. It's a very high-reaction force, coming down from the height of that jump.

COHEN (voice-over): So he's up high and his whole body weight is on that shin bone.

KERCHER: Correct.

COHEN: Dr. James Kercher is an orthopedic surgeon at Piedmont, Atlanta, Hospital and used to treat the Chicago Bulls. We asked for his thoughts on Ware's injury. We're not showing it, but you can tell from his teammate's reactions it's gruesome.

(on camera): What do you think his fracture looks like?

KERCHER: I would expect it would look something very similar to this.

COHEN (voice-over): And a break like this needs a metal rod. Surgeons align the broken bones, drill a line at the top of the shin bone, and then insert the rod, usually titanium.

(on camera): This actually goes inside his bone...

KERCHER: Correct.

COHEN: .... because the bone is hollow?

KERCHER: Correct.

COHEN: And then the bone heals around it?

(voice-over): In the end it looks like this, and already the next day, he's up and walking with crutches.

(on camera): So apparently Kevin Ware told his teammates, "I'm going to be back at it like I never left." Can that really happen?

KERCHER: Absolutely. The bone is going to heal, you know, and it will be just as strong as it was before.

COHEN: With Ware's injury, they had to be especially careful, because the bone broke through the skin. That means that dirt from the basketball court could get into the wound so they had to wash out that wound before they started the surgery -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.

We're joined now by a leading orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine here in Washington, Dr. J.R. Rudzki. J.R., thanks very much for coming in.

DR. J.R. RUDZKI, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: Thanks very much for having me.

BLITZER: I'll give you greater respect. You brought some example of what's going on. I'm pretty amazed that, after what looked like such a horrific, horrific disaster yesterday, he's already up on crutches.

RUDZKI: Yes. The beauty of this procedure is that we can stabilize the fracture acutely with the rod, as we saw from Elizabeth's presentation there. We will take it first in approach to the knee, where we're going to make an incision just along the side of the patella tendon, which gives us exposure to the top of the tibia. And looking now at this other model, you can see here the entire tibia along its length. We can place a rod through a small drill hole that measures about a centimeter down to stabilize the fracture and allow the patient to get on...

BLITZER: That would be that titanium rod that she was talking about. That will stay in there forever, is that right?

RUDZKI: Typically. You know, it's rarely necessary to remove it. But sometimes there might be irritability from locking screws or bolts that go above or below the fracture, but usually, that's not necessary.

BLITZER: You've done this procedure yourself?

RUDZKI: Yes, I have.

BLITZER: What's the recovery time? What can we expect in the days, weeks, month ahead.

RUDZKI: Some of that is influence on the fracture pattern, and configuration of the fracture is very extensive and communated (ph) in several pieces we'll be slower with how soon we allow the patient to ambulate. But typically, with fractures that are stabilized acutely, And the patient will start within four to six weeks and be working on knee and ankle motion and then starting to ride a bike, do an elliptical, and then progress from there.

BLITZER: So he's going to be heavy into rehabilitation for months and months and months?

RUDZKI: That's correct.

BLITZER: When do you think -- and we hope, we all hope he'll be able to get out of a basketball court and start playing ball? RUDZKI: Sure. The, you know, extensive athletic ability and functional demands necessary to perform at his elite level are significant so he clearly has big challenges ahead of him, but there's precedent to expect that he has a very good chance to return from other professional athletes who have had similar long-bone fractures in the past.

BLITZER: Other professional athletes who have gone through the similar operation, the rehabilitation, do they come back to the level that they had before the injury?

RUDZKI: I think that's always the question, you know? Again, the level of performance that they need is so dramatic that missing a step can be very challenging. But patients have been able to return to sports, and I think he has a good chance.

BLITZER: You've seen the video. It didn't look like somebody pounced on him or anything like that. It was just one of these freak type accidents. Is that the impression you got?

RUDZKI: It really was. He sustained a combination of a bending moment and a rotational moment about the tibia and the fibula, resulting in a fracture at both levels.

BLITZER: How do you prevent that? How do you -- young guys who are watching us right now who were playing basketball. What do you tell them?

RUDZKI: I think that maintaining optimal flexibility and maintaining strength, but really, this is just bad luck. This was really a very unfortunate event.

BLITZER: He looks like he's a strong guy, and the fact that he's already had this procedure and he's getting ready to go to Atlanta for the Final Four to watch his team, Louisville, perform. I think that's pretty encouraging.

RUDZKI: That's very encouraging.

BLITZER: Your patients would do -- would do that, as well, within a few days: be on a plane and watch what's going on?

RUDZKI: I think I'd probably prefer they'd rest for a little longer, but if they were playing in the Final Four, we'd help them get there as soon as possible.

BLITZER: Any final words of advice?

RUDZKI: Our thoughts are with him, his family and his teammates. Wish him the best of luck.

BLITZER: J.R. Rudzki, thanks very much for coming in.

RUDZKI: Thank you.

BLITZER: CNN is on the front lines in Afghanistan right now. Stand by for an exclusive look at a very dangerous fire fight. U.S. Special Forces, they are taking on the Taliban right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right on the back side!



BLITZER: We have an exclusive report for you now. CNN takes you to the front lines in Afghanistan and right into a fire fight between American troops and the Taliban.

CNN's Anna Coren went with U.S. Special Forces to eastern Afghanistan who are working to try to track down an IED maker when they came under fire.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As rounds of gun fire ring out in the distance, U.S. Special Forces run straight into the thick of it. They're the military's elite, and this is what they're trained to do. They don't just fight back. They hunt down the enemy.

We come under heavy machine gun fire less than 400 meters away. An incoming round flies close overhead. We take cover behind a mud brick wall.


COREN: With the attack coming from three different directions, Special Forces spread out across open farmland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Around the back side. Right on the back side.

COREN: Their only cover in this fertile valley, low-lying ditches and sparse undergrowth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. This is what we're going to do. We'll continue on this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) riverbed until we get to the left side, and we'll flank her with us, OK? Let's roll.

COREN: For a brief moment they pause. As Special Forces operate, they target the enemy firing position with a 40 millimeter grenade launcher. The firefight rages on.

(on camera): We've got intelligence that there was an IED maker in this area with a number of associates. We've come into these open fields, and the soldiers are taking fire. And we don't know where the enemy is, but we do know that there is a Taliban stronghold from here at the base of these mountains.

(voice-over): With enemy fire getting closer, Special Forces are exposed as they move along the banks of the river. A soldier reloads, preparing for another assault.


COREN: We run towards the compound where insurgents staged one of their attacks.


COREN: They quickly secure the area, not knowing what's behind these walls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody looking back that way?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's right around the corner.

COREN: Movement inside has everyone on high alert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody just ran across the door, yes, and back again.

COREN: Soldiers locate the enemy firing point, with spent cartridge casings littering the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're Taliban, which we're getting reports that they probably are. Then they may not necessarily live in these areas, which means that, when they go into other people's compounds, that they may get some intel relayed back to us, and that's what we're hoping on.

COREN: Apache helicopter gunships circle the valley, searching for the enemy who have made their escape, but they've already vanished, blending back into the community and the landscape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I admire their resiliency and their conviction, for sure. There's a degree of mutual respect, but it doesn't mean we want to kill them any less.

COREN: While America's war may be finishing up soon, these brave soldiers know it's yet to be won.

Anna Coren, CNN, Nijrab, Eastern Afghanistan.


BLITZER: Anna is one of our truly, truly courageous journalists, also with Mark Pultz (ph), our photojournalist for bringing the extraordinary fire fight to all of our viewers in the United States and around the world. CNN is committed to bringing this kind of serious reporting.

Other news we're following right now. New information emerging about tourists brutally attacked in Brazil. We now know that one of them is an American. It happened in Rio De Janeiro, a city preparing to host three -- yes, three -- huge international events. CNN's Shasta Darlington is in Brazil.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've gotten confirmation from the U.S. embassy that one of the two foreign tourists kidnapped in the Copa Cabana beach area of Rio De Janeiro. Shortly afterwards, three men got on board. They forced all of the other passengers off, and then, they started to brutalize these two. They tied the man up and they beat him. They repeatedly sexually assaulted the woman. They took their credit cards. They drove to around gas stations and took out money. They lasted for a good six hours. They dumped these victims in a city of Rio De Janeiro.

Police picked them up. They have since arrested two men suspected of these crimes, and they're searching for a third man.

It's also interesting, because the police investigator said that, since they published pictures of these two suspects, another Brazilian woman has come forward and said that she was attacked by them a week earlier.

This is obviously a horrific crime, but it also comes at a terrible time for Rio De Janeiro as it gears up for three major international events. The first one is in July when Pope Francis is expected to come and celebrate World Youth Day. There will be millions of youth coming to Brazil, coming to the city of Rio De Janeiro.

Next year we're have the World Cup, and many of those games will be played in Rio's Maracana Stadium.

And of course, in 2016, Rio will host the Olympic Games.

This is going to make people ask and question whether Rio De Janeiro has solved its historic problem with violence and whether they want to come at all, Wolf.


BLITZER: Shasta Darlington on the scene for us. Horrific, horrific attack. We'll continue to monitor what's going on in Rio for all of our viewers.

When we come back, we're heading to the city of Syracuse. Syracuse, New York. Upstate New York is attempting to call a truce in a fierce gang war. We have details on a special deal that is now being offered.


BLITZER: Like so many cities all across the United States, Syracuse, New York, is embroiled right now in a fierce gang war, but police are hoping to call a truce in a special deal that starts with putting down the guns. Our national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick, is joining us. She's been in Syracuse. She's got the details. What's going on, Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, the thing that's gotten lost in the gun control debate is the fact that the majority of crimes are being committed by a minority of people, gangs that are holding entire neighborhoods hostage.

Well, now there's a program that saw a 60 percent drop in youth homicides in Boston, a 40 percent drop in youth homicides in Cincinnati, and they are hoping the same will happen in Syracuse.


FEYERICK (voice-over): This is what most people think of when they think of Syracuse. What they don't think of is that, like many mid-sized cities...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty-year-old black male...

FEYERICK: ... Syracuse has a serious gang problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have I.D. on you?

FEYERICK: And where there are gangs, the police say there are always guns. More than 30 confiscated while we were here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rival groups standing out in front of the store. Some kids kind of came in from behind the houses to the empty lot over there. They were armed with sawed-off shotguns and pistols. And they opened fire from across the street.

FEYERICK: Syracuse has roughly 1,500 gang members belonging to 27 different gangs. Detective Sergeant Tom Connellan is familiar with all of them.

(on camera): What percentage of crime do they account for here in Syracuse?

DETECTIVE SERGEANT TOM CONNELLAN, SYRACUSE POLICE: For the violent crime, they account for the majority of our violent crime.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Now Syracuse is launching a bold initiative.

JOHN DUNCAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: We want to give you an opportunity to change your life.

FEYERICK: In a courthouse meeting, about 20 gang members face police, prosecutors, state and federal law enforcement, who offer them a deal, a truce. Put down the guns, and in exchange, gang members get critical services like job training, addiction counseling, tutoring.

Ignore the deal and if anyone else is killed, every member of the shooter's gang will be rounded up on outstanding violations, charged with conspiracy to murder, and will face 20 years to life if convicted.

CHIEF FRANK FOWLER, SYRACUSE POLICE: We're coming after with you any and everything that we can, not just the shooter but any and all of those who are associated with the shooter.

FEYERICK: As surveillance photos and mug shots of gang members dead or in prison flash on screen, several men shift uncomfortably. Police make it perfectly clear there's no hiding anymore.

DUNCAN: There is no parole in the federal system.

FEYERICK: Derrick Wilson was shot three times and served ten years for drugs and gun crimes. He says there's no way he's going to take the fall for another guy's actions.

DERRICK WILSON, GANG MEMBER: Hold on. I'm not going to jail for what I did. I can go to jail for what he did? Maybe I need to talk to this guy then. So it's going to resonate throughout the community.

FEYERICK: That's what everyone in the Truce Project is counting on, especially Sharia Dixon, who has a $50,000 budget to coordinate more than 15 social service networks.

(on camera): How far does that stretch?


FEYERICK (voice-over): During out 30-minute interview with Dixon, two gang members walk in separately asking for help. One wants to get his high school equivalency degree. The other needs a job.

DIXON: These are some of the brightest individuals that I have met. They have made poor choices in life, yes, but that does not mean they need to be locked away. That does not mean that they can't be changed, they can't be helped.

FEYERICK: The final message of the Truce Project is perhaps the most important. Only your family, not your gang, will grieve for you when you're dead.

DOLCE COLLETTE, MOTHER OF GANG VIOLENCE VICTIM: My son will have been taken away from me for 11 years. And the pain is still here. Again, I'm asking all of you, please, please stop killing one another.


FEYERICK: So far, 15 -- Wolf, so far 15 known gang members have actually come and sought services.

And when you think of the cost of this program, it's about $300,000. It's a grant over two years. Think in the amount of money that is saved by not going to trial, by not incarcerating people but instead by giving them an option, an alternative. Syracuse really thinks this is the way to get back their streets and to stop this gang violence which is not only plaguing Syracuse but other mid-sized cities, Wolf. BLITZER: Interesting stuff that's going on. Since Syracuse police began this approach, have any gang members violated the terms of the truce?

FEYERICK: Well, as a matter of fact, one young man who was actually supposed to attend one of the meetings, he was shot dead. He couldn't decide which gang he wanted to belong to. And so there was action street justice that was taken.

Now the Syracuse police, FBI, ATF, U.S. Marshals, they've all launched a massive investigation, and there will be charges forthcoming, Wolf.

BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick. We're watching what's going on in Syracuse. Lessons to be learned all over the country from this experiment. Thanks very much for that report.

CNN's Erin Burnett is going "OUTFRONT" at the top of the hour with an investigation into an all-white student organization stirring up some serious controversy on a university campus. Erin is joining us now with a preview.

What do you have, Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf. We're doing a special investigation of this Towson University. An all-white group of students is going to start this week patrolling at night. They say that there's been a rise in black-on-white crime. We have a special investigation on what they're doing and whether that claim really adds up. That's coming up at the top of the hour.

Plus, the story that's got everybody talking today. Do you go to a school like Princeton to get an M-R-S degree if you are a woman. The quote from the woman who wrote it, "Princeton women, we've almost priced ourselves out of the market. The best thing can you do when you go to college is get a husband." She is "OUTFRONT" tonight, and that's coming up tonight, too, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll be watching, Erin. Thank you.

When we come back, some are calling him Australia's dumbest crook after this attempted escape through a glass door knocks him out.


BLITZER: An alleged robber is a global laughingstock. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it the glass half empty approach to purse snatching. In Australia, they're calling him...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The country's dumbest crook. MOOS: Here he is following a woman in a shopping center. He grabs her bag and heads for the door, heads through the glass door. He's momentarily knocked out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a lot of blood around. There was a lot of glass shards around. So I mean, I'd say he'd have to go to hospital after that.

MOOS: An apparent accomplice arrives. As he drags away the alleged purse snatcher, a tattoo store owner tries to stop him. But eventually backs off when the accomplice threatens him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, "I've got a gun. I've got a gun, and I'm going to shoot you. I'm going to shoot you."

MOOS: The two escape in a stolen car. But they can't escape infamy on the Internet.

(on camera): Why is it glass is such an idiot magnet? It's almost as if it has some sort of gravitational pull.

(voice-over): Just last week security camera video of this genius surfaced. At first, he forgot to put on his black pantyhose mask as he approached this mom-and-pop grocery store in Reading, California. Police believe the pajamas featured little chickens. He sure acted chicken when the rock he threw set off an alarm. And then he tripped. Next thing you know his escapade is being put to music popularized by Benny Hill. And "The Pink Panther."

One YouTuber even did a parody re-enactment.

When man meets glass, glass usually wins. For instance, when an air rage over missing two flights caused this Chinese executive to try to batter his way onboard.

Maybe glass is tough enough to be used by Virgin Atlantic Airways for glass-bottomed planes. That's what Virgin announced it was launching. Might make the walk to the restroom less than restful. But turns out it's just April Fool's.

But not as big a fool as this guy.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. See you in one hour on "AC 360." "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.