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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

California Wildfire; Economic Rebound?; Stalker Turned Killer; Terrorist Watchlist; Inside a Chicago ER

Aired May 8, 2009 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It looks like this is what firefighters have in their faces tonight in Santa Barbara County, California.

Flames that have destroyed dozens of homes, forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, flames now threatening to charge down from the mountains into the City of Santa Barbara, blown westward by evening sundowner winds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BROWN, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: If you live in an area that is in a warning area or even an adjacent area, you should be preparing to evacuate and move now.

The potential for another breakout of fire remains very, very strong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Fast-moving threat, a lot happening on the ground and in the skies above Santa Barbara.

Let's check in now with Thelma Gutierrez who's on the scene.

Thelma, what's the latest?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I can tell you, it's an all-out battle against this fire. Fire officials are giving it all they've got. They have 2,500 firefighters on the ground trying to protect these structures and 16 aircraft in a DC-10 up above trying to make water and fire retardant drops.

This is the kind of terrain that they're up against. It's very steep, it's very rugged, difficult to get to, lots of homes perched in canyons just like this.

The family who lived here lived here for 31 years. Within two hours, everything was gone. They didn't even have a chance to get their cars out of the garage.

The big concern tonight are those sundowner winds. Things look calm right now. The wind is not blowing.

However, officials will tell you it can turn on a dime. That's exactly what happened last night. Things looked very calm. All of a sudden the winds picked up and the whole hillside was ablaze, forcing thousands of people from their homes. So right now, things are very tenuous. It could shift at anytime -- Anderson.

COOPER: We talked about this five-mile long fire. Do we know the size of it and how fast it's actually moving?

GUTIERREZ: It's a five-mile long flank. It's moving in both directions. That was kicked up by last night's wind. And it's igniting brush that hasn't burned out here for about a half century. It is making progress.

However, one good piece of news is that the winds have come in from shore and they're pushing the flames back into the canyons and away from the homes and they're just hoping that those conditions will hold up, Anderson. They're hoping that those flames don't kick up and move in the opposite direction toward the town.

COOPER: All right, Thelma Gutierrez, live on the scene. Thelma thanks very much. We're going to continue to follow this throughout the hour.

But now we turn to new signs tonight, good signs perhaps that the deepest recession since the Great Depression may be bottoming out.

Those signs arriving in a batch of numbers that under any other circumstances would be considered horrible, horrible but good enough to drive markets to the eighth weekly gain in nine months -- nine weeks, I should say.

The DOW up 164, investors liking that layoffs are slowing even though the percentage of Americans out of work is still rising.

President Obama today unveiling rule changes to let the jobless keep their benefits while attending community college or job training.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're moving forward because now is not the time for small plans. It's not a time to pause or to be passive or to wait around for our problems to somehow fix themselves.

Now is the time to put a new foundation for growth in place; to rebuild our economy, to retrain our workforce and re-equip the American people. And now is the time to change unemployment from a period of wait and see, to a chance for our workers to train and seek the next opportunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, the larger question though, when will the big picture get brighter? Did it today? And does it change the political picture for President Obama?

Joining us now: chief business correspondent Ali Velshi and senior political analyst, David Gergen. Ali, the President seems to be trying to getting out ahead of this pretty scary headline, that these are $highest unemployment rate we've seen in 25 years. You say there are some encouraging signs. What are they?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes Anderson, what a strange time we live in, that on a day when we learn that half a million people, more than that, lost their jobs in April, we can say it's an encouraging sign.

But here's why. We've been in this recession since -- for about 18 months, since December of '07. December of '07, the first month of the recession, we didn't actually lose jobs. We lost jobs every month since January of '08.

Now, look at how the pattern developed through the course of last year. It was all good until about midsummer when we started to see the problems of the banking sector.

The credit crisis developed September, October. Look at that -- look at those numbers, crossing -- 700,000 jobs lost in a single month. But now look what's happened, 539,000. That's an astounding number of jobs lost. But look at the trend, it seems to be coming upwards.

The unemployment rate is actually increased. But in this country, you actually have to add jobs every month just to keep the unemployment rate steady.

So we know the unemployment rate, 8.9 percent, will probably go up. But that's the issue. The issue is fewer jobs were lost in April than in March and we're hoping that we've seen the worst of it.

Maybe next month, fewer jobs yet will be lost. That's how you get out a recession ultimately. Anderson, people are working, they pay their bills, they pay taxes and they are economic participants.

COOPER: So, David, does President Obama at this point start to claim credit for this?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think he wants to dance yet, Anderson, but he has had two significant days now. The job numbers today, as Ali just said, and then yesterday, the numbers, the stress test for the banks which basically showed that the banks are not insolvent.

Only a couple of months ago, people thought the banking system wasn't solvent. It does now appear to be more encouraging. Both of those have helped him a great deal.

We've got the stock market is up now some 30 percent since March 9th. All of that is helping the President. But everyone knows and especially the White House understands that just beneath these numbers there are still continuing questions.

For example, one of the main reasons why the job losses were not as big as anticipated was that the government hired 70,000 people this past month for the purposes of taking the census in 2010. Otherwise, job losses would have been over 600,000 this month.

So even with the bank stress test -- there were a lot of stories out, the big story in "The Wall Street Journal" for tomorrow morning saying the stress numbers, the banks actually persuaded the government to reduce what appeared to be their capital needs and make them more reasonable.

So underneath a lot of this, there are questions. But for the President and for the country, very importantly, these are encouraging days.

COOPER: So Ali, I mean referencing off what David said, about the 70,000 workers now hired for the census. When you look at the unemployment number, every worker is not necessarily created equal.

VELSHI: No. And know as you get to the end of this recession -- hopefully the end of the recession, you've find that a lot of averages don't make sense. Home price averages don't make sense because they're different all over the country.

Unemployment averages don't make sense either.

Take a look at a couple of breakdowns I've got for you. This one has to do with education. The unemployment rate nationally, 8.9 percent. The unemployment rate for high school dropouts, 14.8 percent. The unemployment rate for high school graduates is much lower, 9.3 percent -- that's very close to the national average.

And look at that, for college graduates, half of that, 4.4 percent. So, again, people with degrees are less unemployed than those not.

Now, let's break those down by race. It's not sort of every breakdown of race, but it's something to show you. The unemployment rate again, nationally, 8.9 percent. Whites have an unemployment rate of eight percent in this country, lower than the national average. Blacks, 15 percent, that's up from 13.5 percent in March; so in one month, up 1.5 points. And Hispanics, down a little bit from the month before to 11.3 percent.

So the fact is that it is not equal how unemployment is spread out, and this is an issue for the President because whether its race or its socioeconomic class, the bottom line is we cannot have a recovery that leaves many millions of Americans behind.

Often when you recover from a recession, it can be jobless or we don't get back all the jobs that we lost. We have to make sure that people are included in this recovery, Anderson.

COOPER: David Gergen, you've worked in White House Republican and Democratic. How has this President handled the crisis thus far, and where do you see him going from here? I mean, he's been out in front of this. All along, you've been saying they need more people out in front. Have they done that, how do you think he's handled it?

GERGEN: Well, I think that Tim Geithner, who was under heavy, heavy criticism earlier on for being a weak, wobbly leader on the economic front, is now starting to shore up. I think he's begun to find his voice and certainly the policies he's put in place are beginning to turn out better. And I think he's in effect saved his job and I think helping the President more.

I think the President has been very calm -- and he's going to get a lot of credit if this thing turns around in the way it's starting -- or at least bottoms out. That he's going to get a lot of credit.

But it's an irony, though, Anderson. We're in effect beginning to see, for a Democrat, here's the irony. The guy who's there for the little guys, you know, the people who are -- we're starting to see two economies developing here.

One is the investor class is now actually making money. I mean the stock market's up 30 percent. They're starting to see -- they're actually seeing benefits. Whereas working people are seeing jobs continue to disappear.

And for a Democrat, you know, you sort of -- most Democrats like to have it the other way around. So it's -- but I do have some concern over the next few months as the joblessness continues that we may divide out as a society and some people are still hurting a lot just as Ali pointed out.

VELSHI: To that point, to David's point, what typically happens at the end of a recession is the stock market recovers first. And that's what's happening. The investor class will get the benefit first. Things like jobs and housing, they take longer to recover and unfortunately that's where the little guy's getting hurt.

COOPER: Well, all right, we'll leave it there. Ali Velshi, David Gergen, have a good weekend thank you both.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Let us know what you think about how the economy is going and how it's affecting you.

Join the live chat at ac360.com right now and check out Erica Hill's live Web casts during our breaks tonight.

Up next, though, what the diary of the alleged killer of a Wesleyan student says about his obsession with the victim and Jewish people. He allegedly stalked her, we have details tonight. And what you can do if you're being stalked.

Also tonight, the teen killings in Chicago, Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the front lines at a hospital that has already seen 900 shooting victims so far this year. So many of them young, the deadly city for school kids in America.

Then ex-cop Drew Peterson, he chewed gum, cracked stupid jokes today to reporters. Details on his strange day in court facing murder charges.

And later, the Catholic priest who says he's not repentant about falling in love. The latest on his story and we'll hear from a priest and former nun, now married, about their lives in love in and out of the church. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, we're remembering a young woman who touched many lives. At Wesleyan University in Connecticut, a vigil was held today for this young woman, Johanna Justin-Jinich. Shot to death by an alleged stalker.

In a statement to the campus community, Wesleyan's President said, "May Johanna's memory be a blessing to us all."

Today, the suspected gunman heard the charge against him. He's being held on $15 million bail. Tonight, we're learning much more about his life and the alleged threats he put on paper.

For tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report here's Erica Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Stephen Morgan was silent during today's court appearance but police say his journal speaks volumes about his deadly intent.

According to the arrest warrant, Morgan had the notebook with him when he allegedly shot Johanna Justin-Jinich at point-blank range seven times, mortally wounding the Wesleyan University student.

In the final pages of that journal, authorities say Morgan mentioned seeing all of the beautiful and smart people at Wes and also allegedly wrote, "I think it ok to kill Jews and go on a killing spree at this school."

Another entry reads simply, "Kill Johanna, she must die."

Middletown police say Morgan made good on that threat early Wednesday afternoon when he shot the 21-year-old student in the campus bookstore cafe where she worked.

Morgan was briefly questioned at the scene before he became a suspect and then let go. He turned himself in Thursday night after stopping at a convenience store and asking a clerk to call police.

SONIA RODRIGUEZ, STORE CLERK: He said who he was, that the detective told me who he was.

HILL: The 29-year-old suspect crossed paths with the victim two years ago when they were enrolled in the same summer course at New York University. The class lasted just six weeks. But in that time, Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint against Morgan.

According to Morgan's arrest warrant, she cited repeated cell phone calls from Morgan and threatening and disturbing e-mails.

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: We know that the victim did report him initially, but then she failed to follow through and press charges against him so there wasn't a lot that law enforcement could do.

HILL: The suspect, who spent four years in the Navy, is described by his father as a loner, quiet, not having many friends. And said he's also known his son to make anti-Jewish comments.

The victim, meantime, is being remembered as an intelligent woman with many friends and interests. A world traveler who also shared her thoughts in a journal, though hers was kept online. She started the diary in sixth grade.

In one passage from June 2004, Johanna Justin-Jinich writes, "I simply want to put the message out there that life is fragile, especially the lives of those around you. Recognize them before it's too late."

Morgan's attorney says he will plead not guilty to the charge of first degree murder.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: And we're also getting a little bit more detail as to what may have happened that day. Police say they believe that Morgan actually hitchhiked from the scene to a movie theater and then walked around an abandoned building for a few hours. And then at that point went to the nearby town of Meriden where he walked around most of the afternoon. That's about 20 minutes away from Middletown.

COOPER: It's so creepy -- yes. Erica thanks for that.

Morgan was allegedly infatuated with Johanna Justin-Jinich, an obsession the police believe ended in the murder.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 1 in 12 women will be stalked in their lifetime and nearly 80 percent of female victims know their stalker.

Even if the woman gets an order of protection or files charges, is it enough to protect her? Rhonda Saunders is a stalking expert and prosecutor in Los Angeles. She's also the author of "Whisper of Fear." She joins us tonight.

Rhonda, you've prosecuted a lot of stalking crimes. The suspect in this case actually lingered at the crime scene allegedly, and watched the police investigation. What does that tell you?

RHONDA SAUNDERS, STALKING EXPERT: It tells me that he was proud of what he did. He wanted to take credit for it. I mean, we've seen this happen over and over again. That life was meaningless to him and especially the victim's life.

But right now we're still getting more information about the crime itself, about the suspect, so I think over the next few days we're going to hear a lot more details about whether it was a love or a hate-type of feeling he had towards the victim.

COOPER: The suspect met the victim two years ago, and made several threatening phone calls, e-mails to her. If someone out there who is getting e-mails or calls that they don't want, if they're not threatening, if they're not and he's just not saying I'm going to kill you, but they're unwanted, and there are creepy, can someone get that stopped?

SAUNDERS: Absolutely. Because most stalking laws across the country and especially here in California, it does not require a threat of "I'm going to kill you" or "I'm going to rape you." The threat can be implied by the words or by the conduct of the stalker.

So absolutely, if somebody is getting strange e-mails or strange phone calls, what they need to do is document it.

They shouldn't erase the emails. Make a copy of it. If they're getting phone calls, keep those phone calls, record them on another device. That way, they can go to the police department and we have evidence, then we can do something about it.

COOPER: I read that more than three million people in America alone are stalked every year. Is that really true? I mean, I find that remarkably a large number.

SAUNDERS: It really is. In fact, a study came out in January of 2009 from the Department of Justice and this was their Bureau of Statistics. It actually said 3.4 million people a year are stalked in the United States.

COOPER: I've had -- I mean, everyone on TV has crazy people show up. I've had a couple of people I guess who would be stalkers. I've made the mistake sometimes of trying to talk to them, and reason with them. That never works.

SAUNDERS: Absolutely. One of the pieces of advice that I can give to victims of stalking, have no contact whatsoever with these stalkers. All it does is empower them. That's what they want.

And stalkers will say if you talk to me one more time, if you meet me for coffee one more time, I'll go away, but they don't. All it does is reinforce that they have power over their victim.

So the best piece of advice I can give anyone who is being stalked is do not talk to that person. If they call you, hang up. Do not email them back. Never agree to meet them anywhere because your life could be on the line.

COOPER: And what's fascinating too is you think you're being rational with them but they interpret it in a complete -- in a different way that you can ever possibly imagine.

SAUNDERS: What the stalker hears, even though you may be saying, "Look, leave me alone, I want nothing to do with you." What they're thinking is, "Gee, she's talking to me, I'm getting through to her."

So we may be rational, most stalkers are totally irrational. They're narcissistic. And they have a mission in life, which is pretty much to destroy their victim's lives.

COOPER: And it's so creepy. I appreciate your expertise. We have some good advice tonight. Rhonda Saunders, thank you very much.

SAUNDERS: Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead, we'll have more of our in depth reporting on the epidemic of student murders in Chicago; 36 this school year alone. 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside an ER in Chicago were surgeons are seeing more shooting patients than medics do in Iraq.

Up next though, celibacy and the Catholic priesthood: one priest's romance in Florida triggered a debate over -- should the clergy be able to marry? We'll ask a former priest and former nun, now husband and wife, about their experience in the Church and in love.

And later, think the President's only the one who can sneak out for a burger? We'll see how the First Lady quenched her craving for a hamburger and where she did it, when "360" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Tonight, a test of faith for a widely known Roman Catholic priest who says he's not ashamed for loving a woman. These are the photographs seen by millions of people, it shows Father Alberto Cutie out on a Miami Beach bare-chested, embracing a woman he says he first met ten years ago.

Father Cutie, who was called Father Alberto and has a Spanish language TV and radio talk show, was removed from his post by the Miami Archdiocese.

Now, at first, Father Alberto apologized and asked for forgiveness. But that all changed today in an interview with Univision. Speaking Spanish, here's what Father Alberto said.

He said, quote, "I'm never going to say sorry for loving a woman. God made me a man. I'm not sorry for falling in love. I tried with all my heart to be faithful to Jesus, to all that God asked of me, but I failed. When someone is in love, you're capable of anything."

Does he want to stay in the priesthood? Well, Father Alberto says he'll have the answer early next week. Well, what do you think? Should the Catholic Church let priests marry?

My next guests say yes. Joe and Joan Koechler have been married for 30 years. She's a former nun. He resigned as a priest. Both are now part of a group dedicated to reforming the Catholic Church. Thanks for being with us.

Joe, today, the Archbishop of Miami issued a statement. And I want to read what it said, it said, "Father Cutie made a promise of celibacy and all priest are expected to fulfill that promise with the help of God. Father Cutie's actions cannot be condoned, despite the good works he has done as a priest."

You left the priesthood because you weren't allowed to marry. What did you think of all this? JOE KOECHLER, RESIGNED PRIEST: Well, I cannot judge what Father Cutie's motives or what he will do going forward. I really don't know him. I just know what I've read about him.

When I came to make my decision, I talked to my bishop, was in counseling for quite a while, and then made the decision to ask permission to leave, to be laicized, as we call it in the Catholic Church, and permission to marry, which was granted.

On the other hand, I can understand Father Cutie's position of wanting to continue his ministry, which appears to have been very successful and very well received by his congregation and the people in South Florida.

It's unfortunate that in the Latin Rite of the Roman Church he cannot both be married and continue his ministry.

I'll tell you honestly, I wish I could have that option, but I chose to follow the rules, if you will, and be laicized and be married and continue to be a member of the church.

COOPER: And I guess in this case -- in his case, which I don't want to dwell on fully because I'd like to talk more about your experiences and your thoughts, but I guess in his case, there are really two different things going on.

One, there is his desire to be with this woman. And then how that reflects on the Catholic Church doctrine. There's also his lying about this for all this time and hiding it and breaking the rules. I guess those could be seen as two separate issues.

But Joan, you left the convent because you were in love with Joe. And -- why do you think it's -- why do you think that priests should be able to marry?

JOAN KOECHLER, RESIGNED NUN: Well, unfortunately, many people want to minister. This is truly their desire. But unfortunately marriage is then closed off to them. And I think it would be better for them to be able to have the option, if possible.

It isn't anything other than a rule made by the Catholic Church. It's not a doctrine. And even many popes have said that simply a motion of the pen could wipe it away so...

COOPER: The official church teaching though says -- and I want to quote them correctly, says "Clerics bound to celibacy can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity."

What do you think about that, Joe? I mean, is it -- is it easier to dedicate yourself to Christ if you were not married?

JOE KOECHLER: There's two ways to look at that, Anderson. One is we've had a tradition of a married clergy in the church since the time of Jesus Christ. Many of the early apostles were married. It's only within the last -- well, last thousand years that for the Latin Rite of the Church that the rule of celibacy was imposed.

We have Eastern Rite members of the Catholic Church. We have a married clergy and we have the whole experience of our Christian brethren, Anglicans, Episcopals, Evangelicals, et cetera, who would work just fine with a married clergy.

I understand both, the gift of celibacy for dedication and for those who wish to be married.

COOPER: Joe, did you ever consider staying a priest and just kind of keeping you're -- having a relationship with Joan and keeping it a secret, which is apparently what this priest has done?

JOE KOECHLER: No, I did not. Although, I will tell you I have classmates who wish to stay in ministry and became Episcopalians and had their own congregations as married clergy.

COOPER: And how long have you been married now?

JOE KOECHLER: It'll be 31 years this July.

COOPER: Wow. Well, congratulations on that; a remarkable accomplishment.

JOE KOECHLER: Thank you.

COOPER: No matter how it started, it's just incredible. Joe and Joan Koechler, I appreciate your perspective on this, thank you.

JOE KOECHLER: You're welcome, Anderson.

COOPER: Well, coming up next, a fascinating story about the terror watch list. Could you be on it? Drew Griffin found out he was the hard way. It turns out thousands of innocent Americans are on this watch list.

Well, wait and see until you hear who's not. We're "Keeping them Honest."

And breaking news tonight: a California wildfire forcing at least 30,000 people to flee, threatening thousands of homes. We'll have the latest on that.

And new fallout from this Air Force photo op. The stunt sent a lot of New Yorkers into a panic. Cost over $300,000 of your taxpayer money. We'll have the latest on this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Updating you now on tonight's breaking news: authorities in Santa Barbara warning 23,000 more people to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. That's already now on top of 30,000 who are already under orders to flee this massive wildfire. Nearly 2,500 firefighters now on the scene.

The weather is a key variable. So far tonight, those sundowner winds that they call that blow the fire down from the mountains have stayed away. Officials are warning that things could change at any time.

We'll keep following this throughout the next half hour.

Now, just how accurate is the national terror watch list -- the terrorist watch list? The new Justice Department report reveals that dozens of terror suspects, none of them on the list, may have actually passed through U.S. airports without notice.

Meanwhile, thousands of innocent people mistakenly named on the list are delayed or barred from flights. Our own Drew Griffin found out that his name was on the list. He was stopped repeatedly trying to board flights. We reported on this a lot last year. Tonight, he's "Keeping Them Honest."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SIU CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Finally someone in Washington has figured out what a reporter in Atlanta, an airline pilot in Alaska, a former U.S. Attorney from Michigan, and an 8-year- old in California already knew.

Are you a terrorist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

GRIFFIN: Well, most of us knew anyway. We are not terrorists. Even though every time we went to the airport and tried to check in for a flight, we were being told we were on a terrorist watch list.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are on the watch list.

GRIFFIN (on camera): A watch list?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): A just released inspector general's report found 24,000 of us were on the FBI's terror watch list by mistake. Like former U.S. Attorney James Robinson.

JAMES ROBINSON, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So it seems, for years now.

GRIFFIN: Those caught up in that watch list nightmare, hassled for years at airports, did complain. They sent in paperwork to try and get off. And it didn't work.

Denise Robinson, whose son James was on the list, found out it was such a known joke among the airlines that a few bucks to a Sky Cap (ph) could suddenly make the list go away.

DENISE ROBINSON, SON IS ON TERRORIST WATCH LIST: "My son here is on the terrorist watch list. Can you help us?" And now the Sky Cap will say sure. They'll do whatever they need to do and he comes back and they'll say, here's your boarding pass.

GRIFFIN: That may seem funny, but there is a very serious problem with the list as well. While many of us non-terrorists were caught on it, some real terrorist suspects were not. The inspector general surveyed more than 200 terrorist cases over the past two years and found 35 suspected terrorists were left off the list, creating a risk to national security.

The FBI, which controls the list, says it has adopted all 16 of the inspector general's recommendations to improve the list, trying to make sure the real bad guys are on it and the rest of us aren't.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Unbelievable. How does an 8-year-old end up on the terror watch list?

Go to ac360.com to read the Justice Department report on who makes the list and who doesn't. That's where you can also, of course, join the live chat, which is happening right now at ac360.com. And also, watch Erica Hill's live Web cast during the break.

Coming up next, why are so many of Chicago's kids ending up in the ER, shot; so many of them dying? We're going to go inside the trauma center and talk to a doctor who tries to save lives daily.

Also, the latest on Drew Peterson, accused of killing his third wife, today cracking stupid jokes with the media on his way to the courthouse. We got the latest on him.

And sometimes you just need a burger. That's why Michelle Obama surprised a popular D.C. restaurant for lunch today. We'll tell you all about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: So far, this school year in Chicago, 36 school-aged kids have been murdered. That is one murder every seven days; a funeral a week. Sidewalk vigils on sidewalks still damp with tears; that's a vigil we saw this week. It breaks your heart three dozen times over.

If that weren't enough, consider this, so far this year, 900 people have been treated for gunshot wounds; 900, that is, in a single hospital in Chicago. A lot of the patients are kids. Some have been wounded before.

360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ER, this is Rudy.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a war zone, very much like we would see in Iraq. It's a triage situation.

Advocate Christ Medical Center on the south side of Chicago. DR. STEVEN SALZMAN, TRAUMA DOCTOR: just several weeks ago, two very badly injured gunshot wounds. One that wound up dying. Two other gunshot wounds there. Two other gunshot wounds over there. And so it was incredible. There was -- we were completely filled.

Actually that same night, we had a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old that were shot too. I mean, that is really what kind of epidemic we're dealing with. It's unbelievable, the amounts of violence.

GUPTA: Already this year, 900 patients have come in wounded by gunshots; 250 of them were teenagers.

SALZMAN: It's tough. It's become the bulk of our practice.

GUPTA: Medically, Salzman says, it feels like a military field hospital because they see so many ak-47 injuries.

(on camera): So what are we looking at?

SALZMAN: This is a young man who came in about a month ago who was shot with a high-powered rifle, with an AK-47. So we have enormous amounts of soft tissue damage; enormous bony damage, and of course all the shrapnel and stuff. These weapons are created to kill. They go in and sometimes just make a small hole and blow everything apart on their way in.

GUPTA: Hearing about AK-47 gunshot wound in the south side of Chicago sounds like a war zone.

SALZMAN: The wrong people are getting their hands on these weapons and they're using them to essentially wage war in the streets of Chicago.

GUPTA (voice-over): A war among young people. Tyrese McKay, only 19, has already been shot twice from behind. He says both times he was being robbed. Each bullet tore through his abdominal area.

SALZMAN: His belly is open. He doesn't have skin covering his intestines right now.

GUPTA (on camera): Were you always confident he was going to survive?

SALZMAN: No. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I essentially slept at his bedside for two or three days post-injury. He was as close to death as you can possibly get.

GUPTA: You are 19 years old.

TYRESE MCKAY, SHOOTING VICTIM: Yes.

GUPTA: you've already been shot twice. That's pretty startling to a lot of people to hear that.

Does that surprise you? Did you ever think, before you're even 21 years old, you've been shot twice?

MCKAY: Yes, think about that a lot.

GUPTA: Tyrese survived. So many other teens are not so lucky.

SALZMAN: I'm sorry, Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so, but your son or daughter is dead. Certainly you know what the reaction to follow is going to be. And you know that you're destroying not only their lives but multiple -- siblings and maybe girlfriends or wives and families. It's very difficult.

GUPTA: Can you imagine how difficult? And given the trend in Chicago, no reason to think it's going to get any less difficult any time soon.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Coming up, the teen death toll mounts. And Chicago's gun violence goes unchecked. How do kids get their hands on these weapons in the first place?

David Mattingly is going to investigate that for us.

Also, more on our breaking news, the California wildfire continuing to rage; at least 30,000 fleeing their homes. We'll have the latest.

And taking a cue from her husband, the first lady sneaks out for a burger and fries. Could it compare to Ray's Hell Burger? That's where president and Vice President Biden went the other day. We'll find out when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We continue our coverage in Chicago tonight where teen victims of gun violence are packing the city's ERs and, frankly, its morgues. As we mentioned 100 school age kids have been shot and killed over the past three years; an astounding 36 in September alone. These are just some of their faces.

Their assailants in many cases are kids their own age, some as young as 13. The question is why are so many kids in Chicago armed and why are so many dying and where are they getting the guns?

David Mattingly is "Uncovering America."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a city accustomed to blood in its streets, one Chicago Friday night in February was especially ominous. Three teenagers were killed in a sudden burst of bullets.

At the scene, police found scattered shell casings; the unmistakable evidence of a very dangerous weapon.

JODY WEIS, POLICE SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO: The casings on the ground were 7.60 x 39 which is a cartridge assault weapons would fire; either an AK-47 or an SKS or a similar-type weapon.

MATTINGLY: How many assault weapons are on the streets of Chicago and in the hands of gangs is anyone's guess. Police say they confiscate an average of one a day. The city's top cop wants to see them banned.

WEIS: Take weapons such as assault rifles out of an urban area. I just don't see a need for an assault rifle in the city of Chicago.

MATTINGLY (on camera): some people blame the proliferation of assault weapons and handguns, both of them illegal in the city limits of Chicago, on straw purchasers. These are people with clean records who are recruited by criminals. People who can go into a gun shop, pass the background check outside the city limits of Chicago, and then purchase a handgun.

(voice-over): Both the feds and the firearm industry are trying to spread the word to would-be straw buyers, getting caught could bring a ten-year sentence. But catching isn't that easy.

THOMAS AHERN, SPECIAL AGENT, ATF: It takes often months or years to do unfortunately because a crime has to be committed and a gun has to be recovered before a trace of that weapon is initiated.

MATTINGLY: Reaching the hands of gang bangers, these straw bought guns contribute to the kind of street violence that claimed the lives of nearly 100 Chicago school-age youth in the last three school years. That includes many innocent bystanders like Patrice Brown.

In 2007, she was about to start her senior year in high school and couldn't wait for her 18th birthday when her mom promised her a laptop. Instead, she was killed by a stray bullet while walking to a friend's house.

DARLENE BROWN, VICTIM'S GRANDMOTHER: You got a lot of young men -- can go get guns anywhere. It's sad you can get gun anywhere. You can walk down the street and get a gun.

MATTINGLY: That's why some say the law needs to be changed.

One recent attempt to restrict gun sales and broaden background checks failed in the Illinois State Assembly by five votes.

David Mattingly, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: With assault weapons and gangs flooding the streets of Chicago and the cities across the country, how do we stop our kids from killing each other?

Joining me now is Tio Hardiman, the director of Mediation and Community Organizing for the Chicago project of violence prevention. Thanks for being with us.

You grew up in the inner city of Chicago. What do you see happening now on the streets? Is the culture of gang violence getting worse? TIO HARDIMAN, DIRECTOR GANG MEDIATION & COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: It's not really getting worse, Anderson Cooper. What's going on is that here in Chicago, 75 percent of the teenagers and the youth are on the defense. A lot of people are already premeditating what they're going to do if they get into a conflict.

At cease-fire, we have violence interruptors (ph) and outreach workers who mediate conflicts on the front end. I just provided one of your colleagues, Mr. Joe Johns, with some footage, a dynamic footage, on how we stop young people from shooting one another on the front end, ok. So that's what it comes down to and violence is normal here in Chicago. A lot of guys come from dysfunctional families and everything.

COOPER: But there's a lot of cities that have gangs. There's a lot of cities that have the same problems that youth in Chicago face. Not all cities have this high murder rate though of young people.

HARDIMAN: Well, see, the young people in Chicago just don't know how to get along. Most people get into a conflict, they believe they have to hurt somebody or shoot somebody because they don't want to be victimized. So we need to have people reach out, call cease-fire so we can mediate all the conflicts.

For example, Anderson Cooper, this year alone, we've already mediated about 65 conflicts in Chicago amongst young people that could have led to a shooting or a homicide. People have to start looking at violence as a public health issue.

You see, we have to change minds and change hearts. And begin to work with people one person at a time and really change the culture of violence because there's so much that goes into violence.

You got the prison culture. You got the gang culture here in Chicago. You don't have the -- 70 percent of the violence in Chicago is interpersonal violence. That's why it's hard to catch it...

COOPER: So it's people who know each other, have a beef with each other, people who live in the same neighborhood?

HARDIMAN: That's what I'm talking about. See, a lot of guys get shot at dice games. They get shot at house parties. Guys get shot because they touch some girl the wrong way, she calls her crazy cousin. It's hard to catch that unless somebody calls you and lets you know that this might be about to occur or an act of violence might be in the making so to speak, Anderson.

So what it comes down to, cease-fire, public health model is evidence- based now and we've actually replicated our successes in reducing violence in 13 different communities in Chicago by an average of 40 percent to 67 percent throughout Chicagoland. And our outreach workers have worked with more than -- this year alone, we're working with 300-plus individuals here in Chicago.

COOPER: Keep up the good work. We'll continue to follow this story. It's not going away sadly. Tio Hardiman, appreciate you being with us tonight. Thanks.

HARDIMAN: Appreciate you, Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: All right. There's more about the Chicago Child Killings in our Web site. Go to ac360.com to read about the role the city's public housing program and the violence.

This is the kind of story that doesn't make headlines everyday but it's one of the things you kind of start think is normal. But it's not normal; it should not be normal. Thirty-six school age kids dying this school year alone. We were there two years ago and it was 28 kids. Just seems to be getting worse and worse.

While you are on the site, ac360.com, you can also join the live chat happening now and, of course, watch Erica Hill's live Web cast during the breaks.

Coming up, Drew Peterson -- strange day in court for this guy -- he's facing a judge and charges he killed his third wife, he's cracking stupid jokes to reporters. That's him doing it right there. We'll have that story.

Plus, fallout over the photo shoot that scared thousands; Air Force plane flying over the Statue of Liberty in Lower Manhattan. There's been a resignation. We'll tell you who's taking the fall for this and how much it costs.

And Vladimir Putin unplugged. The Russian Prime Minister belts out a tune. Would Simon Cowell be impressed? We'll find out.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Still ahead, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin famous for his he-man antics, fishing bare-chested in Siberia, hunting tigers with his bare hands -- not really -- but tonight, a softer side. Putin, the crooner, that's tonight's "Shot".

But first Erica Hill has serious stuff in the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Erica.

HILL: Anderson, we want you to get caught up on our breaking news tonight. At least 30,000 Santa Barbara residents forced to flee as the California wildfire continues to burn out of control there and officials have put another 23,000 on alert warning them that they may have to now be ready to leave at a moment's notice. The cause of the blaze which broke out Tuesday, under investigation.

The arraignment for Drew Peterson, the former police sergeant charged with murdering his third wife, now delayed until May 18th. Peterson who arrived at court laughing and cracking jokes today actually calling his handcuffs bling had no objection to the delay. He's being held on $20 million bond.

Chrysler's reorganization plans cleared a hurdle today as lenders opposed to the deal dropped their court battle. The development paves the way for bankruptcy court approval to form a new company which will be controlled by Italian automaker Fiat and the United Autoworkers Union.

A White House aide stepping down for authorizing the Air Force flyover photo-op that sparked panic in New York and New Jersey last month. President Obama accepted the resignation today of Military Office Director Louis Caldera who ok'd that shoot in Lower Manhattan.

Finally, first, President Obama and his VP slipping out to raise Hell Burger for an afternoon bite. Well now, a relaxed looking Michelle Obama one upping him, she took the entire staff for burgers at Spike Mendelsohn's Good Stuff Eatery.

COOPER: Hmm, burgers.

HILL: There you go. It's just down the street on Pennsylvania Avenue apparently. And included on their menu is the Prez Obama burger -- not clear whether there's may be a first lady Obama burger in the works or not.

COOPER: I was thinking now, there would be, if they were smart.

HILL: I think it might be in their best interest, yes.

COOPER: All right, the "Shot" is next. A man who likes hamburgers, I'm sure. The singing strongman, the Russian prime minister putting on a musical act for his country -- is he good enough for "Idol"? We'll let you be the judge on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica, for tonight's "Shot," move over Susan Boyle, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the next singing sensation, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRIME MINISTER, RUSSIA: (Singing.)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And it goes on.

HILL: Yes.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: He looks...

COOPER: He's not so bad. See? He sings.

HILL: Boy, he can do anything now.

COOPER: Yes.

HILL: He's just a happy guy, isn't he?

COOPER: Just a -- misunderstood. That's what he is. Just misunderstood. He just wants to sing.

HILL: That's all he wants to do. Maybe he could get on the next edition of -- do they have "Russia's Got Talent?"

COOPER: I'm not sure. I'm sure they will soon.

He shared the sweet duet with a school girl. It's broadcast of course on Russian TV. The song is from World War II.

If you need some help with the words, you can see the lyrics in the bottom of the screens. So it's kind of a sing-along.

HILL: Too bad we -- there they are in English.

COOPER: Nice to see a lady in the Russian uniform. She clearly must have served...

HILL: She may have served, yes.

COOPER: Absolutely. Cool.

You can see all the most recent shots and tonight's "Beat 360" which sadly we didn't have time to put on the air tonight but it will be on our Web site. You can check it out there. See who won. See if you won.

HILL: It's a good one.

COOPER: It is a good one.

That's at ac360.com.

Hey, that does it for 360. Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend; I'll see you on Monday.

"LARRY KING" starts right now.