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Reverend Wright Responds to Criticism; Justice Denied in NYPD Shooting Death? Some Protesting Removal of Children from Polygamist Ranch; Man Killed in California Shark Attack; Violence Worsens in Chicago

Aired April 25, 2008 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Barack Obama has a pastor problem, and, once again, it's all over national television, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright appearing tonight on PBS' "Bill Moyers' Journal," doing Senator Obama no favors. He's not backing away from passages in his sermons that some call anti-American and that Senator Obama once again today denounced.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is obviously free to express his opinions on these issues. You know, I have expressed mine very clearly.

I think that what he said in several instances were objectionable. And I understand why the American people took offense. And, you know, and as I indicated before, I took offense.


KING: And Senator Obama is not likely to be any happier tonight. We were able to show you certain excerpts last night, given to us by PBS.

But, tonight, now that the full interview has aired, there's more.

Here's Reverend Wright when asked why he thinks his sermons have drawn the response they have.


REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: We are miseducated as a people. And, because we are miseducated, you end up with -- with the majority of the people not wanting to hear the truth, because they would rather cling to what they are taught.

James Washington, now a deceased church historian, says that, after every revolution, the winners of that revolution write down what the revolution was about, so that their children can learn it, whether it's true or not.

They don't learn anything at all about the Arawak. They don't learn anything at all about the Seminole, the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee. They don't learn anything. No, they don't learn that. What they learn is 1776, (INAUDIBLE) and their fight against the British, the terrible -- we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal while we're holding slaves. No, keep that part out.

They learn that. And they cling to that. And when you start trying to show them you have got only a piece of the story, let me show you the rest of the story, you run into vitriolic hatred, because you're desecrating our myth. You're desecrating what we hold sacred.

And what you're holding sacred is a miseducational system that has not taught you the truth. Well, the church members are very upset because they know it's a lie, the things that are being broadcast. The church members have been very supportive. The church members have been upset by behavior of some of the media, picking up church bulletins to get the names and addresses and phone numbers of the sick and shut-in, calling them to try to get stories.

One lady, they called in hospice. My are very upset about that. Our members are very upset about that. Our members know that this is what the media is doing. And our members know they're only doing it because of the political campaign.

What have we gotten into here, people threatening, Christians, some of them, threatening us, quoting Scripture, and telling us how they're going to wipe us off the face of the Earth in the name of Jesus.

BILL MOYERS, HOST: There have been death threats?

WRIGHT: Yes, there have, at -- both on myself and on Pastor Moss and bomb threats at the church.

September the 11th, I looked out the window and saw the second -- second plane hit from my hotel window, all right? I had members who lost loved ones both at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. So, I know the pain.

And I had to preach to them Sunday. I had to preach. They came to church wanting to know where is God in this. And I tried to show them using that psalm, Psalm 137, how the people who were carried away in slavery were very angry, very bitter, moved, in their anger, from wanting revenge from the armies that had carried them away to slavery to the babies.

That psalm ends up saying, let's kill the babies. Let's bash their heads against the stone. So, now you move from revolt and revulsion as to what has happened to you, to you want revenge. You move from anger with the military to taking it out on the innocents. You want to kill babies.

That's what's going on in Psalm 137. And that's exactly where we are. We want revenge. They wanted revenge. God doesn't want to leave you there, however. God wants redemption. Gods wants wholeness. And that's what -- that's the context, the biblical context, I used to try to get people to -- and, again, in that sanctuary, on that Sunday following 9/11, who wanted to know, where is God in this? What is God saying? What is God saying? Because I want revenge.


KING: Jeremiah Wright this evening on PBS' "Bill Moyers' Journal."

On Monday, he's scheduled to speak here in Washington at the National Press Club, meaning of Wright-Obama headlines.

Then there's the ad North Carolina Republicans plan to launch, over the objections of John McCain, featuring the pastor.

So, the question now for Barack Obama, will his Jeremiah Wright flare-up turn into a chronic problem?


KING (voice-over): It is a friendship-turned-political- liability. And that both are black men is, like it or not, very much part of the political picture.

MERLE BLACK, EMORY UNIVERSITY: It goes to the character and the judgment of Barack Obama. The contradiction is that Obama presents himself as someone who has transcended race, but, clearly, this is a church in which race was very central to the theology.

REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT, TRINITY UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST: A culture controlled by rich white people.

KING: Senator Obama's biggest political challenge at the moment is making inroads among rural and working-class whites, not exactly the best time for Pastor Wright to speak out against those taking issue with some of his sermons.


WRIGHT: I think they wanted to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I am un-American, that I am filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ. And, by the way, guess who goes to his church? Hint, hint, hint.


KING: Reverend Wright also shrugged off an Obama speech in which the Democratic candidate denounced some of his longtime pastor's sermons.


WRIGHT: He's a politician. I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician.


KING: Wright says Obama never embraced or repeated his controversial sermons. But some critics see political gold.


NARRATOR: For 20 years, Barack Obama sat in his pew, listening to his pastor.

WRIGHT: And then wants us to sing God bless America? No, no, no, not God bless America. God (EXPLETIVE DELETED) America.


KING: That North Carolina Republican Party ad is aimed at hurting local Democrats who have endorsed Obama and at stoking doubts about Obama himself.

John McCain calls it out of bounds, but the state party ignored his request to scrap it.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All I can do is, in as visible a way as possible, disassociate myself from that kind of campaigning and, again, reiterate that's not the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. It's not.

KING: Riding on McCain's bus Friday, former GOP candidate and onetime Pastor Mike Huckabee cautioned against political guilt by association.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I think that would be a little bit presumption to ever assume that, just because the pastor says something at the pulpit, everybody in the pew agrees with it. That's rarely the case.

KING: But while these two leading Republicans say Obama should not be held accountable for Wright's statements, others see a major problem. Emory University's Merle Black has written extensively on the role of race in politics and says, if Obama is the Democratic nominee, this friendship will cause a lot of discomfort in places critical to winning the presidency.

BLACK: Across the South and in the heartland of the United States, you know, many areas, especially rural small-town America, they really couldn't understand why someone would be a member of that church for 20 years.


KING: Now, out of fairness, we should mention John McCain also has a bit of a pastor problem. Televangelist John Hagee, who has endorsed McCain, has said things like, God punished New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, in part, for planning a gay pride parade.

Senator McCain yesterday in New Orleans repeatedly called those remarks nonsense.

With us now to discuss this, Cleveland Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones -- she supports Hillary Clinton -- D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who supports Barack Obama, and our CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger.

Congresswoman Norton, let me begin with you, as a Barack Obama supporter.

Reverend Wright says he's being taken out of context. He goes on television to try to explain himself. He may well be right. Some of these sound bites might not be contextual to his sermons, but he's not helping your candidate, is he?


And he may be -- I hold him to a high standard, when he's a minister of the Gospel, and he's a pastor of Barack Obama. I have to say that I think these candidates, for all of the fistfights, as it were, verbal fistfights they have been in, have been better by themselves than some of their -- some of their surrogates.

In fact, the surrogates closest to them seem to have done the worst by them. Here, you would expect the pastor not to come out two weeks before the two primaries that are coming. You wouldn't expect Bill Clinton to still be making comments and make news. The surrogates are making it much harder for the candidates than the candidates are making it for themselves in this contest to the finish line.

KING: More on Bill Clinton in a minute.

But, Congresswoman Tubbs Jones, let me ask you to jump in here.

A, do you think this helps your candidate, this whole controversy? And, B, is it fair game, as the Clinton campaign is doing, to be making calls to superdelegates, raising this pastor controversy, saying, look, you don't want Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee in the fall, because he will lose because of this?

REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: Let me, first of all, correct you. The Clinton campaign is not calling superdelegates, raising the issues of Reverend Wright.


KING: Harold Ickes has conceded the point, Congresswoman. Harold Ickes has conceded the point that he has used this in conversations with superdelegates, saying that it is a legitimate issue, to talk about the November election.


TUBBS JONES: Wait a minute. I'm not going to talk on top of you. Don't talk on top of me.

I have spoken with Harold Ickes. And Harold Ickes said specifically that superdelegates have raised the issue with him. He has not conceded that he raised the issue with them. And he has responded, that is your choice to make a decision about whether you like or dislike the comments of Reverend Wright and whether you use that in making your determination.

So, let me be clear on that point first.

Secondly, it's an opportunity for every American who has a right to vote to make their own determinations and consider Reverend Wright or discard him. Our campaign is not trying to make them do one thing nor another. I personally do not condone the comments of Reverend Wright. Neither does Senator Clinton. But each person individually has to make a determination.

KING: Well, Gloria, one of the issues that came up in the Bill Moyers interview was Pastor Wright's relationship with Louis Farrakhan.

Let's listen.


WRIGHT: The Nation of Islam and Mr. Farrakhan have more African- American men off of drugs, more African-American men respecting themselves, more African-American men working for a living, not gang- banging, not trying to get by.

That's not indefensible, in terms of how you make a difference in the prisons, turning people's lives around, giving people hope, getting people off drugs. That is -- we don't believe the same things in terms of our specific faith. He's Muslim. I'm Christian. We don't believe the same things that he said years ago. But that has nothing to do with what he's done in terms of helping people.


KING: Gloria?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's this whole issue of guilt by association, as you pointed out in your piece, John.

Talking to people in the Obama campaign today -- I spoke with David Axelrod, who is a chief strategist for Obama -- he said, people are trying to -- to attach other people's words to Barack Obama, words that he never spoke.

And they're kind of getting a little tired of it. But you have to expect that it is going to continue. And Hillary Clinton herself raised the issue again by saying, I wouldn't have stayed in that church.

So, it's not as if the Clinton campaign has decided not to talk about it. Of course, they -- they are talking about it, because they think it's one way to convince people that perhaps -- these superdelegates, that Barack Obama is unelectable. And to think that this is an issue that the Republicans are not going to use, whether it's in that ad that John McCain likes or not, is crazy. Of course they will. They will use -- this is a presidential campaign. They will use everything they can.

KING: You heard professor Merle Black at the end of the piece that was on earlier. He's not a flamethrower. He says, if nothing else, Barack Obama is going to have to do a much better job explaining who he is to the people of small-town America, churchgoers. Do you concede that point?


NORTON: I concede that point. And I think that he isn't helped when a member of his own party, Hillary Clinton, helps to define him and when his own pastor -- even worse -- defines him in a way that...

TUBBS JONES: But you know what?

NORTON: ... that everyone who has heard him and that millions people who voted for him, millions of people who, I think, are waiting for the message he brings, would not define him by.

KING: Congresswoman Tubbs Jones, very quickly.

TUBBS JONES: But you know what? Let me say this, very quickly.

Gloria, Congresswoman Norton, you're trying to attribute to my candidate, Hillary Clinton, things that are not already in the public eye. These are things in the public eye. And every time someone within our campaign wants to comment on things in the public eye, we're doing something wrong.

I disagree with you. Senator Clinton was not trying to point Senator Obama out, or Senator Obama out, in any way. It's in the public eye. And it's open to commentary by anyone.

KING: As you can see, a very emotional issue. We will have more from our panel shortly.

Straight ahead: political dynamite -- the third-ranking member of Congress slamming Bill Clinton, saying African-Americans now believe that he and Senator Clinton want to sabotage Barack Obama for the general election.

And later: new details in the massive FLDS polygamy custody case -- tonight, all of the children into foster homes, and the church's attorney speaking out.

Plus, the latest on a rare, but deadly shark attack -- that and more tonight on 360.


KING: A top African-American Democrat, he's calling Bill Clinton's campaign conduct bizarre, House Democratic Whip Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina. That's his word, bizarre. And that's not all.

Talking to "The New York Times," the congressman said -- quote -- "When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar." He continues, "I think black folks feel strongly that it is a strange way for President Clinton to show his appreciation."

Congressman Clyburn added that African-Americans believe the Clintons are committed to doing everything they possibly can to damage Barack Obama to the point that he could never win the general election. Tough stuff.

And he said even more to CNN's Jessica Yellin, who has got the "Raw Politics."


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's one of the most influential African-American politicians in the nation, and he's worried.

CLYBURN: We have young people, African-Americans as enthusiastic about this party as they have been in the last 40 years. And we cannot tamp down that enthusiasm, or we will not be successful in November.

YELLIN: Congressman James Clyburn says race has been injected into the campaign, and the primaries have taken on a venomous tone.

CLYBURN: I have had people that said to me, how could you, as a proud African-American, you cannot speak out, when you can see the race card is being played against African-Americans?

YELLIN: So, who's to blame? According to Clyburn, there's plenty to go around, and points to talk like this.


YELLIN: Can he get significant support from white low-income voters?


YELLIN: Clyburn suggests such statements are loaded. Why, he asks, is there no mention of Clinton's difficulty winning African- Americans' votes?

And he questions the Clintons, most recently this comment from Bill Clinton just before the Pennsylvania primary.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that they played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything, that they planned to do it all along.


CLYBURN: Well, I'm trying to figure out that last comment about, they played the race card on me and all you have got to do is look at the memos, the campaign memos.

What campaign memos? I mean, what's that about? That was very bizarre to me.

YELLIN: Fact check? There was one January e-mail sent to reporters by a junior Obama press aide. It listed racially charged statements by Clinton supporters, no discussion of a race strategy.

(on camera): All of which has some top Democrats concerned that, if Clinton becomes the nominee, African-Americans will feel so alienated, they won't turn out to vote in November. It's a voting bloc Democrats cannot afford to lose.

(voice-over): A Clinton spokesman says, of Clyburn's comments: "President Clinton has an impeccable record on race and civil rights. This election is not about President Clinton's record. It's about what Senator Clinton would do as president."

And Obama insists, this too shall pass.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never believe in irreparable breaches. I'm a big believer in reconciliation and -- and -- and redemption. People are going to be excited about taking on John McCain in November.

YELLIN: Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.


KING: Up next: more on race and the race for the White House. We will dig deeper with Congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Eleanor Holmes Norton and CNN's own Gloria Borger.

Also, the latest on the fight for the more than 450 children taken from that polygamist compound in Texas.


KING: South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn stirring controversy tonight, talking about race, politics and the Clintons.

Back with us now, Congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Eleanor Holmes Norton, Clinton and Obama supporters respectively, also CNN's Gloria Borger.

Congresswoman Tubbs Jones, I want to begin with you, because Congressman Clyburn has a pretty loaded charge. He says the Clintons, plural, and especially Bill Clinton, will do all they can to destroy Barack Obama to the point he can't win a general election.

That's a pretty tough charge.

TUBBS JONES: It -- it -- those are the words of Congressman Clyburn, but I don't believe that the Clintons would do anything to destroy Barack Obama for November.

The Clintons have worked very hard in their career. All you have to do is look at the body of their work and the things that they have done in and for the United States of America and in support of African-Americans across this country.

I'm sure Congressman Clyburn had great intentions in the comments that he made, but I'm confident that African-Americans across this country know the record of the Clintons, and will not, if in fact Hillary Clinton, or if Barack Obama is the candidate, will not turn away from the Democratic Party.

They understand the importance of this election. And it's bigger than Hillary. It's bigger than Obama. It's bigger than Clyburn. It's important for all of us to get rid of the Republicans and make sure that, in November, we elect a Democrat.

KING: Well, Congresswoman Holmes Norton, you're an Obama supporter. Do you agree with Congressman Clyburn when he says the African-American community is incensed at Bill Clinton particularly?

NORTON: I do, but I don't think -- I think it's a passing phenomenon.

They are incensed. They have been incensed ever since the -- ever since the comment about Jesse Jackson: Jesse Jackson won South Carolina. What do you expect?

There's great love for Bill Clinton. I think we can reconcile this. But I think there is a sense, this man that we call the first black president, what, is he's out there against the first black president? Well, he's out there against him because it's his wife, people.

And the point is for all of us to understand why the surrogates are behaving as they have. I think that Bill is behaving as he has -- race card comment was so atypical of a man who is so good at the language, such a practiced politician, that I think he ought to apologize for that, because we know that's not the case.

But for the reverend, the reverend needs to understand that he's the pastor of a flock, and he's hurting the man in his flock that most needs him now. And, in a real sense, I hold him at least equally responsible, if not most responsible -- more responsible.

And if we could just get these surrogates back, I would rather have the candidates fighting one another, than to have the surrogates' statements.

(LAUGHTER) KING: So, Gloria, do the Clintons have a problem here, a short- term problem, if she is to somehow come back and win the nomination, and a long-term legacy problem, because, as the congresswoman notes, Bill Clinton was called the first black president?


BORGER: Right. It's interesting me to hear -- to hear both of these congresswomen say that, in fact, black voters will not hold it against Hillary Clinton if Barack Obama does not become the nominee.

And I guess my political analysis is that they just don't want him to be -- anyone to seem cheated. If they feel that someone got cheated out of this nomination, then I think you're going to have a problem, and you're going to have a problem on both sides.

But I think, on Hillary Clinton's side, you will have a problem with African-American voters.

KING: And, Congresswoman Tubbs Jones, have you ever picked up the phone or pulled your candidate aside and said, you know, let me speak to you as somebody who understands my community; easy; this comment went over the line, or that comment went over the line?

TUBBS JONES: You know what? I have not done that with President Clinton, but we have had a number of conversations.

I want to say this, so that it's pretty clear. It is on the obligation of all leaders, black, white, brown, yellow, to make sure we bring our party together, that we make it a cohesive party, that, after all of the politicking is set aside, that we are in a position to win this election.

And I have to say that the comments of Reverend Wright about a politicians saying what they have to say, I don't have to say anything. All I have to say is truth to my constituency. And most politicians are focused on that, that they have an opportunity to say to their people what they think, what their opinions are, and move forward.

So, I don't attribute his comments to all the elected officials across this country.

KING: All this talk about race and politics potentially a good thing, or is it stirring up trouble?

NORTON: Oh, well, after we have had the candidates, who themselves rose above race and rose above gender, to have surrogates insert gender and race into a historic election is such a disservice and such a tragedy, at that.

Hey, Stephanie, tell Bill...


NORTON: Tell Bill to do just what you said do. Leave it to the candidates.


KING: Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Gloria Borger, thank you all for spending some time on a Friday night with us. It is a fascinating issue and sometimes a dicey issue.

And we will continue to talk about it in the week and months ahead. Thank you, all, tonight.

And still to come here: a deadly shark attack, a swimmer killed by what authorities believe was a great white shark. We will talk to an eyewitness and a marine biologist.

First: anger at the courthouse after a verdict in a cop shooting case. Was justice denied?

And, tonight, the FBI is looking for this pilot, allegedly kidnapped and held for ransom -- the latest on the investigation -- 360 next.


KING: A deadly shark attack, a swimmer killed -- that's coming up.

First, though, some of tonight's other headlines.

Erica Hill joins us with a 360 bulletin.

Hi, Erica.


Verdict outrage -- a large crowd upset, some crying even, outside a New York City courthouse this morning, after a judge acquitted three police detectives in the death of Sean Bell. Bell was unarmed when he was killed in 2006 in a controversial 50-bullet shooting outside a strip club. It happened just hours before his wedding.

Tense moments in the Persian Gulf, it was revealed today. Earlier this month, a cargo ship under contract by the U.S. military fired warning shots at two boats believed to be from Iran. Iranian officials deny their vessels were involved.

And, in Lakeland, Florida, a missing pilot allegedly kidnapped and held for ransom. Twenty-six-year-old Robert Wiles hasn't been seen since April 1. His parents are offering a $10,000 reward for his safe return -- John.

KING: That is a bizarre case.

HILL: It is. KING: All right, still ahead: a deadly shark attack off the Southern California coast, a man killed by what experts say was a giant great white. We will talk to a man who was quickly on the scene.

Also ahead: more than 450 children taken away from a polygamist ranch in Texas are now in foster homes, but the custody fight if far from over.

And here tonight's "Beat 360": Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at a luncheon in New York City.

Here's the caption from our staff winner, Chuck: "Mr. Universe? Big deal. I'm from New York, pal."


KING: Think you can do better? Erica is already thinking up her answer. Go to Send us your entry. We will announce the winner -- Where else? -- right at the end of the program.

Stay with us.


KING: Dramatic and highly emotional. These are photos on the raid of the polygamist compound in Texas. The images of armed men and of children taken away from the ranch from a Web site created by the FLDS protesting the removal of hundreds of children.

Tonight we've learned that all of them are in foster care. Officials say the collective transfer of custody was necessary. The mothers, though, call it state sanctioned kidnapping.

The latest now from CNN's Susan Roesgen.


SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even hundreds of miles away at an NBA game in Utah, some say shame on Texas for taking the children from a polygamist ranch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea is to send a message to Texas that we want those kids to be treated properly, and they need to be reunited with their parents.

ROESGEN: That reunion is unlikely to happen any time soon. The state of Texas has emptied the yearning for Zion ranch of all the children, 462 children, from babies to teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, "You get on the bus. You will never see your father and mother again if you don't do what we say."

ROESGEN: Today, the last 260 children at an arena in San Angelo were bussed out, scattered across the state in 16 different group homes. Most separated from their mothers, to the fury of a ranch spokesman.

ROD PARKER, YFZ RANCH SPOKESMAN: Literally prying children off of their mothers, pulling their arms away from their mothers and taking them away. That's the kind of scene that's been taking place in this building in the last few days. It's cruel.

ROESGEN: State officials say the separation was not that traumatic and that the state has custody of the children for their own protection.

DARRELL AZAR, TEXAS CHILD PROTECTION: There was a systematic process going on in which young girls were being groomed to become the wives of middle-aged men and have their children at a very young age. As young as 13 years old. And in that environment, there was no way to make those children safe.

ROESGEN: DNA samples have been collected from all the children now and from 180 adults. Depending on the results of those tests and possible criminal charges, the state can retain custody of the children for at least six months and possibly longer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somehow, we're going to get those children back. We need to get them back.

ROESGEN: A mother's hope, a legal fight, and the biggest child custody case in U.S. history.


KING: It's an amazing case, and Susan Roesgen joins us now.

Susan, what happens in court next week?

ROESGEN: Next week, John, the attorneys for the parents are going to go to court to try to get the parents reunited with the children. At the same time that another lawsuit is alleging that the search and arrest warrants that opened that raid -- opened that ranch up to the raid were illegal, because apparently some think the initial phone call was a hoax.

So this fight will go on, John.

KING: Thank you very much, Susan. Stunningly depressing and troubling case in some ways, and we'll keep watching. Susan, thanks very much.

Next on 360, every ocean swimmer's nightmare. The latest on the deadly shark attack off Southern California. We'll talk to a man early on the scene and also to a marine biologist.

And later, a city in fear. Chicago's soaring murder rate. What's behind the crime wave? Tonight on 360.


KING: That memorial in Southern California, the San Diego beach where a swimmer died today, killed by a shark. One expert believes it was a great white that did it, possibly 17 feet in length. Lifted the victim straight out of the water. The man died a short time later.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is at the scene for us with the very latest on the deadly shark attack -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, tonight, eight miles of beach here in Southern California have been closed, and they are searching actively for this shark from the air. They want to try to find this shark, not to capture or to kill it, but just to keep tabs on it, to make sure it isn't in this area.

This area, of course, was rocked by this shark attack today when at 7 a.m. this morning, a retired veterinarian, a 66-year-old man, was swimming with ten other people. A normal swim. He's a triathlete. He was out in the morning with his group.

They were only about 130 yards offshore when, according to witnesses, the shark came from below and grabbed and bit the victim, took him up into the air and brought him back down under the water. When he came up, he was screaming, according to witnesses. They brought him on shore as quick as possible but he was pronounced dead here at a lifeguard station nearby before he could even get to the hospital.

This is very rare, but scientists and people that have seen the wound and have been analyzing and listening to the witnesses, say they are sure that this was the work of a great white.


PROFESSOR RICHARD ROSENBLATT, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SCRIPPS INSTITUTION: In my examination of the wounds on the victim and also the narrative that I got about how the attack happened, that this almost certainly was a great white shark. It was typical great white shark behavior to attack from below, take a bite, and then go away.


ROWLANDS: The victim, Dr. Dave Martin, the 66-year-old, as we said, retired veterinarian, loved in this community. He's lived here since 1970.

And tonight, it has been very emotional. People that know him have been coming here to the shoreline, drawing things. They're writing things into the sand. They just wrote, "Good night, Dave," in there. They've been steadily coming through here, throwing flowers. Very emotional scene, as you might imagine, here tonight.

But again, beach is closed at least until Monday. If they see this shark, then they re-evaluate that -- John.

KING: Ted Rowlands for us at the scene. Ted, thank you very much for that. Very emotional and very sad out there tonight.

And with us now, an eyewitness to the scene and a shark expert. Ira Opper likes to surf in the area. He also was on the beach moments after today's attack. And Jeffrey Graham is a marine biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Ira, let me begin with you. You didn't actually see the attack take place, but you were there shortly thereafter. What did you see and when did you know something wasn't just right?

IRA OPPER, EYEWITNESS: When one of the triathletes came up the ramp and was very upset and horrified and was calling out for, you know, some emergency help, just as the paramedics arrived and the lifeguards, you know, went down the ramp, and obviously attended to the victim.

KING: And Dr. Graham, you've been briefed on what they know in this investigation so far. Incredibly unusual for a great white shark to attack a human. But it does happen. Why?

JEFFREY GRAHAM, MARINE BIOLOGIST: John, yes, you're correct. This is a very rare event for Southern California. There has not been a certified shark attack in the last 50 years, almost 60 years here in Southern California.

KING: And sir, any reason to understand why the shark might have attacked a human? I read one report earlier that the victim may have been wearing a wet suit. Is that something that a shark could have mistaken for, say, a seal or some other animal?

GRAHAM: No, I think not. It's -- it's probably a case we would call, John, of mistaken identity, where the shark, which normally preys on seals and sea lions in shallow water, such as this particular attack took place, in that particular situation, the shark may have mistaken the victim for a seal and come up and taken a first hard rush and a bite, thus lifting him out of the water. And at that point causing the severe damage that resulted in his bleeding to death.

KING: And Ira Opper, I want to go back to that scene, the sad scene on the beach. Did you see the victim when he came to shore? What did you see? Describe what it looked like.

OPPER: Well, I saw the paramedics and the lifeguards bringing the victim up in the back of a lifeguard vehicle. They came up to level land at the park and immediately began CPR. I mean, they were working diligently on Dr. Martin for 20 or 30 minutes.

There was also an injured seal on the beach this morning, too. So that may also have something to do with the mistaken identity, so to speak, with the swimmer.

KING: And Dr. Graham, witnesses describe seeing the victim thrust out of the water violently. Tell us about great white shark attacks. You compare them to a grizzly bear.

GRAHAM: Well, the great white is a very powerful swimmer, and it stalks its prey. And it actually takes advantage of the light coming down from behind and backlighting prey, and then rushes up and strikes it as vigorously and as forcefully as it can, at the same time taking a large bite.

The strategy then, the behavior of the shark at that point is to -- is to release and to back off and to expect that the result of the serious bite is going to be that the prey then bleeds to death. And then comes back and feeds after the prey is not in a position to defend itself.

Large pinnipeds -- that is seals and sea lions -- have powerful jaws and they have large claws, and they can do damage to a shark that were to come up and bite and hang on. So this seems to be part of the behavior, to sneak up, make a rushing attack, deliver a debilitating bite and then back off and wait for the prey to succumb.

KING: Ira Opper, you know these waters very well. Have you ever seen any sharks in them in the past? And have you ever seen a great white?

OPPER: I have never seen a shark on Solana Beach, other than sand sharks or leopard sharks. We don't -- I mean, the other day we were out, and there was a couple of dolphins with their pups playing in the surf. I mean, that's more what it's like, generally, in the area.

So this is -- I've been surfing in Southern California for over 40 years, and this is -- there's nothing like this that's ever happened in my experience.

KING: And so Dr. Graham, any reason, any wonder why would a great white be in these waters if the veterans of the waters say they've never seen them before?

GRAHAM: Well, we know they occur here, John. Great whites are powerful swimmers, and they occur nearly worldwide in temperate zone waters. And Marine biologists have a theory that the females will sometimes come into warmer waters -- that is South and Central California -- into areas like Southern California to have their pups.

The pups are oftentimes born in April and certainly in May. And so it could be very well that this particular shark had come down here and had -- was in the process of giving birth to its pups and then maybe decided to feed.

KING: Dr. Jeffrey Graham...

GRAHAM: What we saw then was...

KING: Go ahead, sir.

GRAHAM: So the result of this was this unfortunate accident where a missed -- missed opportunity in terms of the shark, when it thought it was going to feed on a seal or sea lion, to actually take the victim.

KING: Dr. Jeffrey Graham and Ira Opper. Gentlemen, we thank you both for your thoughts and insights on this sad evening tonight. Thank you both for joining us on 360. GRAHAM: Thank you, John.

KING: Up next, Barack Obama speaks out for the first time about the murder streak in Chicago and how to stop it.

And the check is in the mail, sooner than you might have thought. New details about cash from Uncle Sam, up next.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lot of the emphasis is going to be on more effective community policing. A lot of the emphasis is going to be on how we are working together to give young people more constructive things to do and to give them more perspective in terms of why violence is unacceptable.


KING: Senator Barack Obama talking earlier today about how to stop the wave of violence sweeping his home city of Chicago. Senator Obama told reporters he plans to meet with school officials to discuss this crisis.

How bad is it? Two dozen children have been killed this school year. And today the mayor met with cops and community leaders to discuss ways to stop the killings.

We've been following this story, as you know, for more than a year. Instead of getting better, the violence is getting worse. "Uncovering America" tonight, we return to Chicago's deadly streets.

Here's CNN's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Blood in the streets of Chicago, and police say they can't stop it alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bottom line is, we need the community's help.

MATTINGLY: April 23, five people were found shot to death in a single home, the latest in a series of spikes in deadly violence. Experts blame a morass of social ills for the continued bloodshed: unemployment, drugs, gangs, guns, even bad parenting. But solutions have been elusive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're walking for you, Blair. We're walking for you.

MATTINGLY: Last year, neighborhoods of the city's South Side rallied after the death of teenager Blair Holt, an innocent bystander killed in a gang shooting. Holt's father, a Chicago police officer, tearfully vowed to honor his son's memory. RONALD HOLT, FATHER: I'm going to be strong for him, no matter what. No matter what. Because that's what he wants, and that's what he's going to get.

MATTINGLY: Holt's parents became high-profile activists, attacking lax state gun laws, pushing business to create more urban jobs and challenging adults to be better parents. Their son was the 20th of 31 Chicago students to die violently last school year. They hoped to make this year safer.

(on camera) Instead, the violence seems to be getting worse. In a single spring weekend in the city, 36 people were shot, and two were stabbed. Almost half of the victims were young people, students from Chicago's public schools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sick of burying our children, oh, God.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Eleven months after the death of his son, we find Ron Holt still fighting.

(on camera) How many of these demonstrations have you been to?

HOLT: Countless. Countless. I -- seriously, I don't even know the number how.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Holt lobbied unsuccessfully to pass tighter restrictions on gun sales. The economy slowed, more young men are out of work. And two dozen school-aged kids have been killed so far, an even faster pace than last year.

Holt's newest enemy is despair, and he looks to his departed son for strength.

(on camera) Can you imagine what he might be saying to you?

HOLT: I think he would probably say, "Keep going, Dad. Keep going. Keep going."

MATTINGLY: Holt believes demonstrations like this will embolden neighborhoods to be more aggressive against gang violence.

Meanwhile, police are stepping up patrols, sending SWAT teams to troubled areas, and strictly enforcing curfew laws. Everyone hoping to avoid a long and bloody summer.

David Mattingly, CNN, Chicago.


KING: Troubling story. And we promise to stay on top of it as Chicago tries -- tries to take back its streets.

Now Erica Hill joins us again with a "360 News and Business Bulletin." Hi, Erica.

HILL: John, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas telling the Associated Press he's returning home with little to show from his talks with President Bush. Abbas said the biggest obstacle to Middle East peace is Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements and Palestinian occupied territories.

His words come as a stark contrast to the optimism offered by President Bush yesterday.

Some Americans will be receiving their special stimulus payments on Monday. That's actually four days earlier than expected. By July, the Treasury Department plans to distribute more than $110 billion to 130 million taxpayers.

And more trouble to tell you about for Amy Winehouse. The 24- year-old soul diva arrested today in London on suspicion of assault following reports she scuffled with two men during a wild night out.

Winehouse recently entered rehab after years of erratic behavior and cancelled concerts.

It's so sad, John, because she's so incredibly talented, too.

KING: Talented and troubled. Stay right there, Erica.

Now our "Beat 360" winners. Every day, as you know, we post a picture on our Web site so you can try to out-clever our staff by coming up with a better caption than they do.

Tonight's picture shows the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg. And California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sharing a moment during a luncheon at the Four Seasons restaurant this past month.

Tonight's staff winner is Chuck. His caption: "Mr. Universe? Big deal. I'm from New York, pal."


KING: Yes, exactly.

And tonight's winner is Gina from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her entry: "Weren't you in 'Kindergarten Cop?' Can't you get these Democratic candidates to play nice?"

Touche, Gina.

You can check out...

HILL: I don't know, John. Do you think he'd have any luck with them? Do you think he'd have any luck with them?

KING: You know, I don't know.

HILL: Maybe a guy from the other side...

KING: A guy from the other side?

HILL: ... can bring them -- bring them together.

KING: His wife's a Democrat. Maybe she can arrange it.

HILL: There you go, maybe he's learned some tips.

KING: All right. You can check out all the competition on our Web site at

And still ahead, what's the point, we always say, if you don't dream big? Well, apparently, some Belgium college students share our philosophy, in a strange way. Their dream was to pull off the biggest Mentos and Coke explosion ever. We'll show you how it turned out.

Plus, our award-winning "Planet in Peril" documentary. Coming up, part two of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's search for a missing lake in Africa. Plus, Anderson and Jeff Corwin head deep into Brazil's rainforest with the poaching police.


HILL: All right, John, time now for "The Shot." As you said before the break, our motto here at 360, if you don't dream big, what's the point? I didn't know that was our motto until tonight, by the way, but I like it. I'm going to use it.

KING: Keep it.

HILL: So 1,500 Belgium college students really dreaming big. They wanted to set off the biggest Mentos and Coke explosion ever. I think most people do it with Diet Coke, right? Well, that's what they did for this feat.

Fifteen hundred bottles of the fizzy stuff, one for each student. Fifteen-hundred Mentos to go along. And plastic ponchos for everyone, not for the rain, no, no. Because on the count of three, here we go.

On cue, look at that explosion. All 1,500 students dropping their Mentos into the Diet Coke. Voila. Massive eruption, massive mess. Perhaps a massive record. We hear they did, in fact, John, set a record before it turned into a free-for-all.

KING: That is sticky stuff, and I sure hope Noah (ph) and Haneky (ph) are not watching at home.

HILL: Yes, we don't want them to get any bright ideas.

KING: I know. They think they're scientists to begin with. Boy, oh, boy.

HILL: Good luck with that one. Do it in the backyard this summer. Easier to clean up.

KING: Yes.

Do you want to finish this one?

HILL: Sure. If you see some amazing video, perhaps the King kids playing with Mentos and Diet Coke, let us know at And while you're there, don't forget to vote for us. We want to win the Webby, and we're very close. We need you.

KING: Shameless.

HILL: Totally.

KING: Shameless. We're nominated in what categories?

HILL: I forget which one.

KING: Celebrity fan. The celebrity fan category. We need your support.

HILL: There you go. Because we're nothing without our fans and our bloggers. I mean that seriously.

KING: What they say in Chicago, vote early and often.

HILL: We mean that, too.

KING: Coming up -- coming up right here, Anderson and wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin journey to the amazing Amazon rainforest. "Planet in Peril" is next.