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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
9/11 Health Bill in Limbo; Silent Treatment from Congresswoman; School Board Shooting Hero Talks; American Jailed in Haiti; "America's Got Talent" Murder Mystery
Aired December 17, 2010 - 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: Evening, everyone. Thanks for watching.
Tonight, for years lawmakers have been praising, posing with and in some cases profiting from the heroes of 9/11, the first responders who risked their lives, and in too many cases paid with their lives and their health. So why now are lawmakers so slow to respond to their medical needs?
"Keeping Them Honest" tonight, we're going to show you which lawmakers are playing politics with help for 9/11 first responders. Lawmakers who once said the issue was beyond partisanship.
Plus, an American aid worker thrown in jail in Haiti. I've been to the prison; it's one of the worst you can imagine. The allegations -- get this -- he kidnapped a 15-month-old child after turning the boy into a zombie. That's what the father of the child says. But he and the medical team that worked to save this child's life say the little boy died and they have a death certificate to prove it.
And later is it "America's Got Talent" or murderer's got gall? A man who is a person of interest in the death of his wife, and one of the reasons why some people are suspicious is he learned his wife may be dead, then turned around and auditioned for "America's Got Talent". That's our "Crime and Punishment" tonight.
We begin though, as always, "Keeping Them Honest", on an issue we never thought we'd have to keep anyone honest about, caring for 9/11 first responders. It seems like if anything could get universal bipartisan support it would be meeting the medical needs of those who risked their own lives and their own health on September 11th, 2001 and in the days and weeks and months and years afterward.
If they need help for medical problems that resulted from their tireless work and the toxic environment at Ground Zero, who could possibly say no to them?
Who could have said no to Renee Dunbar, a veteran police officer who inhaled toxic materials at Ground Zero and died in 2009 as a result of it?
Who could have said no to Daniel Conroy, a 19-year veteran at the New York City police department who also inhaled toxic fumes at the World Trade Center site and died in 2006, he was 46 years old. And who -- and who could have said no to James Zidroga, a New York City police detective who developed respiratory problems because of exposure to toxic fumes and dust at Ground Zero. He died in January of 2006 and he was just 34 years old. The health bill is named after him.
For years these men and women who went above and beyond the call of duty that day and in the many dark days afterward for years they have been praised by politicians, lauded as heroes for whom no sacrifice is too great.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R-UTAH), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: There have been so many acts of heroism and self-sacrifice, the firefighters who gave their lives, the firefighters who've worked day and night, the volunteers who have gone in there.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: The uncommon courage of first responders called to duty that day reflects the steadfast spirit of our great nation.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: The stories of hope and heroism that emerged from the rubble of Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and that Pennsylvania field continue to serve as reminders of all that is good and true in the human spirit.
SEN. JON CORNYN (R), TEXAS: We watched as average Americans finding extraordinary courage became heroes. Firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel responded with remarkable bravery and determination.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Today we remember the men and women of 9/11, knowing they will never be forgotten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Never be forgotten. Well, now it seems the flowery rhetoric has been forgotten. And if you're wondering who now could say no to the families of the dead, the dying and the ill, well, the answer it seems and it's hard to say this, but the answer it seems is the very same politicians who have been praising them, politicizing them and in some cases even profiting off them.
Emotions start debate on the James Zidroga bill fell three votes short of being passed. The vote came down along party lines, Republicans voting against it, Democrats for it, except for Harry Reid who changed his vote to "no" so that the bill could be reconsidered at a later date.
Now, just today there were fireworks from the Senate floor when John McCain downplayed the Senate's work on the bill as, quote, "fooling around". Here's exactly what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: After all of the fooling around that we've been doing on DREAM Act, on New York City, on all of these other issues that's taken up our time, we will not have a time agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Fooling around, Senator Chuck Schumer took issue with that expression. Here's what he said on the Senate floor just a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: This is not fooling around. These men and the thousands of others who rushed to the towers on 9/11 and in the days thereafter were not fooling around. They, just like my colleague from Arizona, were risking their lives. To call that -- that helping them fooling around is saddening and frustrating.
We are not fooling around. We are fulfilling our duty as patriotic Americans to all of those from New York and elsewhere who rushed to the towers. I repeat, it is not, I underline, it is not fooling around on New York City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, all 42 Senate Republicans signed a letter promising to prevent a vote on anything until the issue of extending the Bush era tax cuts was resolved. We all know that.
Here's what Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said about that. Quote, "The idea that tax cuts for millionaires would derail this legislation is simply outrageous and offensive. The men and women who rushed to the burning towers and worked for hundreds of hours in the pile did not delay and the Senate should not have delayed either, certainly not to give tax breaks for millionaires. We should not have to wait for tax deals to do what's right."
Well, the tax cuts have now passed but the clock is ticking for the 9/11 bill. Reports that Democrats are planning to bring it up for another vote in the Senate before the end of the lame duck session but the question is, is there time and will it get the votes?
Though few Republicans want to go on television and say this some of them have a problem with the price tag, $7.4 billion. It's a lot of money, and they say they're worried about fraud. The House passed the bill in September on a mostly partisan vote but before that back in July, House GOP members blocked it after Democrats suspended the rules to keep Republicans from tacking on unrelated amendments.
When the bill failed, Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York made an impassioned speech on the House floor. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Great courage to wait until all members have already spoken and then stand up and wrap your arms around procedure. We see it in the United States Senate every single day where members say we want amendments, we want debate, we want amendments but we're still a no.
And then we stand up and say, oh, if only we had a different process we'd vote yes. You vote yes if you believe yes. You vote in favor of something if you believe it's the right thing. If you believe it's the wrong thing, you vote no. We are following a procedure.
I will not yield to the gentleman and the gentleman will observe regular order. The gentleman will observe regular order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman is not in order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's correct.
WEINER: Gentlemen, if he gets up and yells as if he's going to intimidate people into believing he's right, he is wrong. The gentleman is wrong. The gentlemen is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing.
It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes. It is a shame. A shame.
If you believe this is a bad idea to provide health care, then vote no. But don't give me the cowardly view that oh, if it was a different procedure.
The gentleman will observe regular order and sit down. I will not. The gentleman will sit. The gentleman is correct in sitting. I will not --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is quite obviously not in order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentlemen will suspend, the gentlemen will suspend.
WEINER: I will not stand here --
WEINER: -- and listen to my colleagues say oh, if only I had a different procedure that allows us to stall, stall, stall and then vote no. Instead of standing up and defending your colleagues and voting no on this humane bill, you should urge them to vote yes, something the gentleman has not done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, time is running out for this bill and the truth is time is running out for other first responders who are struggling to breathe, struggling to live, struggling to make sure their medical bills are covered and their families taken care of.
We spoke with Congressman Weiner about why this bill is in limbo right now.
COOPER: Congressman Weiner, a lot of Republicans over the years have praised the work of the first responders at Ground Zero, but when it's come time for the vote, every single Republican Senator voted against it. Does this make any sense to you?
WEINER: Look, there definitely is a disconnect here. You see my Senate colleagues wrap their arms around the 9/11 workers, praise them. Every September 11th they have events in their home states where they talk about how we must never forget the sacrifices made that day.
And then unfortunately this very modest bill that is completely paid for, that has been in the works for nine years now doesn't even seem to get a single yes vote and in the case of the Senate this week, couldn't even get an up or down vote to begin with whether they were going to vote for it or not.
COOPER: Not a lot of Republicans have come forward to actually go on the record about why they did this. Senator Mike Enzi from Wyoming did write an editorial for "The Daily News" explaining why he voted no. He said that every member of Congress supports the intent of the bill but said he was concerned about fraud and waste. And he wrote and I quote, "The American people need to know that money is being used effectively because frankly the nation can't afford careless spending no matter how well intentioned."
I mean, does he have a point? This is a $7.4 billion bill.
WEINER: Yes, we definitely don't want to have any waste, that's why the inspector general of the Health and Human Services has given it a clean bill of health; that is why the Government Accountability Office says that every single dollar has been accounted for.
You know, this does sound a little bit like an explanation in search of a rationale. I mean, the -- the fact is that the money is not only accounted for that you can look at all the documents that are available. This is the first time we're hearing anyone talk about this question of accountability and there have been 20-something hearings.
Frankly, I believe that Senator Enzi simply doesn't support this effort and is looking for any rationale possible to support it. You know, all I'm asking for Senator Enzi and others is let's give it an up or down vote in the Senate. We definitely have more than 50 votes. We're close to 60 votes.
But we can't even get them to end a filibuster to stop this from even being debated. And the irony of members of the Senate doing everything possible to stop even considering this, when literally every single day people are dying from 9/11 related illnesses, it's just too tragic for words.
COOPER: You know, I mean, for all of us who were in New York in those -- in those terrible days and -- and saw the remarkable effort made by -- by firefighters and police officers and first-responders and -- and citizens just to try to go and -- and work around the clock to try to save those who -- who could be saved and -- and to -- to bring home those who couldn't be saved, what do you think this message -- what kind of a message does this send to folks about, God forbid this happens again, about whether or not their government's going to take care of them down the road?
WEINER: Well, it's a very important question, because a lot of the people that are in this group are -- are just volunteers and also people who went down there as part of their job to try to help out.
But I want to remind you of something that you alluded to in the question. You know, along the West Side Highway those days and weeks after September 11 were lined up, and you can look at the license plates. People came literally from all over the country to deal with this problem, because the American people were doing that at that -- that moment. This was not a -- no one knew who was a Democrat, who was a Republican, what state they were from.
Now those people, over 900 of them, have died since September 11. And it's -- and -- and, among other reasons, it's because we, the federal government, told them that the air was safe to breath.
COOPER: But with so many Republicans against the bill, is there any hope this could be revived after the lame-duck session is over? Or was this basically the last chance?
WEINER: Well, unfortunately, one of the byproducts of the Republicans taking over Congress is I just think that it -- I'm very skeptical that the -- the House of Representatives will pick this up under Republican rule.
And it's not to be just partisan although I'm wont to be that from time to time. It's just because I looked at the vote count. Only 17 Republicans voted for it in the House of Representatives, only 17. Now we can't get a single Republican to stand up and part with their -- with their party in the United States Senate.
I'm just skeptical that, in the new Congress, where the Republicans get to decide what is on the floor of the House, whether they are going to let this see the light of day. I fear that, if this is not done in this lame-duck, then it is -- then -- then this -- this bill and, unfortunately, many of its victims are going to be dead for the year.
COOPER: Congressman Weiner, appreciate your time. Thank you.
WEINER: Thank you, sir.
COOPER: Well, let us know what you think about all this. The live chat is up and running right now at AC360.com.
Up next: the congresswoman elected by stoking fears about Muslims. Now Muslims in her district, the people she now represents, say they're trying to make peace with her, but they're getting a cold shoulder in return. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And later: you have seen the shooting caught on tape at a school board meeting. It's disturbing, no doubt about it, a gunman shooting point-blank at school board members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM HUSFELT, SUPERINTENDENT, BAY COUNTY SCHOOLS, FLORIDA: Please don't. Please.
CLAY DUKE, GUNMAN: I'm going to kill you. Don't you understand?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Tonight, you are going to hear directly from the man who brought the would-be assassin down. He says he's not a hero. We beg to differ. You will hear from the security guard, the second-by- second account of what really happened, what he saw inside that room.
COOPER: Well, at the height of the midterm elections, you probably remember, we were hearing an awful lot of concern and fear expressed about mosques and Muslims in America. Now that the campaigns are over, it's probably not a coincidence that the rhetoric has died down.
But now a number of Muslims in North Carolina say they have tried to reach out to their newly-elected congresswoman, and so far have gotten a cold shoulder. We're talking about a North Carolina Republican named Renee Ellmers who made headlines with an ad that seemed to equate Muslims with terrorists. And even though she was far away from the proposed Islamic center blocks from Ground Zero, she made that a central part of her campaign.
This was the ad that she ran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem and Cordoba and Constantinople, they built victory mosques. And now they want to build a mosque by Ground Zero. Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won't say, won't speak out, won't take a stand.
RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT: The terrorists haven't won. And we should tell them in plain English, no, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.
I'm Renee Ellmers, and I approve this ad.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Well, I asked her about that commercial during the campaign on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Ms. Ellmers, in your ad, you use the term Muslim and the term terrorist basically interchangeably. You say Muslims want to build a mosque at Ground Zero, the terrorists haven't won, and we should tell them in plain English, no, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.
You're essentially equating Muslims with terrorists.
ELLMERS: Well, to be honest, I think that you could make that assumption, but, you know, that's -- that's not giving me the benefit of the doubt.
COOPER: But I mean that's what you're saying in your speech.
COOPER: I mean, that's -- your words are very carefully selected.
ELLMERS: The -- the words are carefully selected, but that is certainly not what I'm intending to say. I am not intending to say that all Muslims are terrorists.
COOPER: You also talk about victory mosques that Muslims built hundreds of years ago on the site of military conquests.
ELLMERS: Yes, sir.
COOPER: But don't all -- right.
Don't all religions do that? I mean, you're Catholic. Rome was conquered from the pagans, and their altars destroyed, so the Vatican could be built.
Christian conquistadors and pilgrims to America all destroyed local religions and built their own houses of worship. Is the Vatican a victory church?
ELLMERS: No, that -- that is the --
COOPER: It's not?
ELLMERS: You're -- you are -- you are incorrect in -- in your statement, sir.
COOPER: Wait, wait --
ELLMERS: That is not what -- what has happened.
COOPER: Wait, wait. So, wait. Just about every religion -- when a religion in the past used to conquer in a war, they wouldn't build a house of worship; the Catholic Church didn't build houses of worship on -- on the sites of -- of other religions?
ELLMERS: Now, we all know about religion. I'm -- I'm a Christian.
COOPER: Well, yes or no? I know. You're a -- right.
ELLMERS: I am Catholic. Yes, I am.
No, you -- you are wrong in your assumptions.
COOPER: Wait. Wait. Wait. I'm wrong --
ELLMERS: And, you know, I guess -- I guess what I could ask you is, are you anti-religion? Are you anti-Christian in your thinking?
COOPER: That is -- that is like -- that's like the lowest response I have ever heard from a candidate, I've got to tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Anyway, it didn't really go very well.
Renee Ellmers won the election. She represents a district in the Raleigh area with a growing Muslim community. And now representatives of that community, her constituents, say they're getting the silent treatment. The state Muslim American Society says they have been angling for a truce ever since that ad ran. They say they have called Ellmers' office three times, and gotten no response.
A staffer for Ms. Ellmers even declining to talk to the local paper about it, saying -- quote -- that she's "currently busy with the transition and not available for an interview at this time."
We should point she turned us down for an interview as well tonight and -- quote -- "any time in the near future". So, she's too busy to return calls to constituents and too busy to talk about it, but, "Keeping Them Honest", take a look at her own Web site. The headline reads: "Transition in Progress. Fish Fry Thursday Night." That was last week. So, they had a fish fry.
The posting goes on to say she'll be attending various holiday events across the district over the past weekend, including three Christmas parades. The fish fry, by the way, was a fund-raiser. The congresswoman-elect also has a Christmas fund-raiser scheduled for the 21st.
Joining me now is Khalilah Sabra, state executive director of the Muslim-American Society's Immigrant Justice Project.
Ms. Sabra, you say you've reached out to Ms. Ellmers' office several times before and after the election, as recently as three days ago. What sort of a response have you gotten?
KHALILAH SABRA, MUSLIM AMERICAN SOCIETY: We've gotten no response whatsoever. We extended the olive branch, and, unfortunately, it hasn't been well-received at all.
COOPER: What is it -- what have they said to you?
SABRA: They haven't said anything. They haven't bothered to return our phone calls. We have sent letters. They haven't bothered to answer. Nothing, nothing whatsoever has come from her -- from her --
COOPER: So, not even a -- not even a staffer or somebody has -- has called you back?
SABRA: Not even a staffer.
COOPER: What is it you want to say to her?
SABRA: Well, you know, there are a lot of Muslim constituents in her district, and we'd like to know how is she going to -- how is she going to be able to represent us, when she doesn't have an understanding of Muslims or Islam and she equates us with terrorists?
So, we would want to know from her, how is she going to represent us?
COOPER: And -- are you looking for a meeting? Do you want to just have a phone call?
COOPER: What are you hoping for?
SABRA: We would like to have a meeting with her. Congressman Price, who is also in North Carolina, has met with us on several occasions. Most of the Congress people have. But, when it comes to her, she's totally resistant.
And I think it's because, you know, of what she said about Muslims and building a mosque in New York, which had nothing to do with the problems of North Carolina.
COOPER: The irony is that you're not actually a -- a big supporter of the proposed Islamic center in New York. I mean, you support the right of New Yorkers to build it --
COOPER: -- but you would prefer more interfaith centers.
COOPER: So it's not as if you're approaching Ms. Ellmers from -- from some completely rigid mind-set.
SABRA: Not at all.
I object to her words. I object to the fact that she compares Muslims to being terrorists. Now, first of all, she's a Catholic. I don't equate -- I don't say that every priest is a child molester, nor would I ever disrespect Catholicism or the right to build a Catholic church.
And I don't think that she should say that Muslims should -- don't have the right to build mosques because she -- she is opposed, like we are all opposed, to the sins of Osama bin Laden. And I resent her equating us with him, because that's wrong.
COOPER: So, in a meeting, basically, because -- assuming maybe somebody from her office at least is watching this program, you basically are -- are wanting to say, what?
SABRA: I want to tell her that we would like some dialogue with her, that two years goes really fast. If she can't represent us, in two years we will find someone who can.
We have a right to have our voice heard in Washington, D.C. She's taken the responsibility of doing that. And she represents all of the people. I mean, her district is not a jigsaw puzzle, where she can pick pieces and discard the rest. She's accountable to us now. And she needs to recognize that fact and give us the respect that we deserve.
COOPER: Khalilah Sabra, I appreciate you being on. And let us know if you get a call back. Thank you.
SABRA: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next: the unforgettable, disturbing scene from earlier this week, a gunman opening fire at point-blank range at the school board meeting. Tonight I'm going to talk with a hero. You don't see him in these images. The man who kept this story from being more tragic than it already was. Security guard, Mike Jones, who stopped the shooter, he'll tell you, in heart-stopping detail about what happened second by second as he saw it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE JONES, SECURITY DIRECTOR, BAY COUNTY SCHOOLS: And just as I looked through the door, he turned his back to me and squared up, with both hands on the gun right in front of the superintendent, Mr. Husfelt, just shooting.
And it was that first shot, everybody fell backwards. He and all the board members fell backwards behind the counter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Also ahead, an American relief worker in jail in Haiti tonight -- one of the worst prisons in Haiti -- accused of a bizarre crime, kidnapping a sick child and turning it into a zombie. A zombie. We have the bizarre details coming up.
COOPER: Tonight: the story of a true American hero.
Now, we all watched in horror earlier this week as the scene played out before our eyes, very disturbing pictures. A man named Clay Duke -- Duke opened fire at point-blank range at school board members in Panama City, Florida. Amazingly, he didn't hit anyone. It could have been a massacre. It wasn't.
And that's really because of one man, a security chief named Mike Jones, who wounded Duke, and then Duke, while on the ground, later turned the gun on himself.
Mike Jones is a retired police officer. He's known around town as Salvage Santa because of his charity work to give Christmas presents to needy kids.
He is a truly remarkable man, a very humble guy. He insists he was just doing his job at the school board meeting. He wasn't even supposed to be there.
I spoke to Mike Jones earlier.
COOPER: Mr. Jones, thanks for joining us.
I know you say you don't feel like a hero, but I -- I think just about everybody else in the country, myself included, views you as that.
If you could, just tell us a little bit about what happened. When -- when did you first know something was wrong inside that boardroom? MIKE JONES, SECURITY DIRECTOR, BAY COUNTY SCHOOLS: I was in my office area on the fourth floor of the Nelson Building, and one of the girls in the office called me and said, "Mike, there's a gentleman -- or there's a man in the boardroom with a gun."
COOPER: Now, we -- we saw the -- the man, the shooter originally drawing this V. In a circle in red with -- with spray paint on the wall. Was that -- at that point, were you near the scene or were you still up in your office?
JONES: No, I -- I don't remember seeing him do that. I was probably still upstairs at that time, because that's when he pulled the weapon for the first time.
COOPER: There was a point, too, when -- when Ginger from the school board kind of snuck back in behind him -- and we see it on the tape -- and she basically uses her bag to try to disarm him. Were you down there at that point?
JONES: No, sir.
COOPER: At what point did you first get a -- get a look at the shooter?
JONES: When he was standing right in front of the podium and was talking to the board members.
When I came down from the fourth floor, I kind of opened that door just about halfway. I was trying to draw his attention away from them. And then I said, "Why don't you come out here and let me talk to you?"
And he kind of took a couple steps towards where I was at, so I closed the door and backed up and got ready to engage him if he came out the door.
COOPER: Now, were you -- I mean, did you have a bulletproof vest on?
JONES: No, at that time, I did not. So, I ran to my car and popped the lid open, grabbed my vest, threw it over my shoulders, grabbed a couple of extra clips, and went back to that same door, maybe a 30-second trip.
And when I got back to the door again, I was playing peek-a-boo, looking through that door to see what he was doing.
And just as I looked through the door, he turned his back to me, and squared up, with both hands on the gun right in front of the superintendent, Mr. Husfelt, just shooting.
And it was that first shot, everybody fell backwards. He and all the board members fell backwards behind the counter.
COOPER: And, in the video, you can see -- after the first shot, you see the papers on the desk by Mr. Husfelt kind of blowing off the desk.
So, you run back to the car. You get your vest on. You get a couple extra clips. Then what happened?
JONES: Well, when I got back to that door, like I said, I looked through the door, I kind of looked through there. And I -- and I seen that he was squaring up. And about that time, I heard the first round.
As I was snatching the door open I heard the second round. I stepped one foot inside the door, and with my weapon in my hand, my right hand, I fired one shot, which I saw struck him in the back because I saw him flinch. And then he just started firing randomly at the board members who fell behind the counter.
At that time I fired two more rounds which I knew struck him. I could tell by the way he was moving. And he went to the ground, to the floor. I saw his arm come up and he was just firing wildly then.
COOPER: Did he say anything before he shot himself?
JONES: No, sir. Not that I remember. I don't remember him saying anything.
COOPER: That must have taken you by surprise.
JONES: Exactly. You know, I got up then, I walked down to where he was laying, it was obviously a serious wound, I knew he was dead then. I took the gun out of his hand and kind of threw it over to the right and then I just stood there.
It was kind of like being in a wind tunnel. I couldn't hear anything. It was just like everything was in slow motion at that point right then.
COOPER: At that point did you -- you must have been concerned that folks behind the desk, some of the school board members had been hit or at that point did you realize none of them had been?
JONES: It just seemed like I stood there for several seconds and then the superintendant stood up and the board attorney stood up, Franklin Harrison. When they stood up, I realized they were alive and that's when I just kind of collapsed to my knees, you know, and started crying. I just couldn't believe he was alive. There was no way that he should have survived that round.
COOPER: You made Christmas for a lot of families possible this year, because there would have been a lot of folks, a lot of families suffering if you hadn't been there and you hadn't done what you did.
So I know you're tired, I'm going to let you go. I appreciate you talking to us and, gosh, what you've done is just extraordinary. Thank you so much, Mr. Jones.
JONES: Thank you. COOPER: Wow. An amazing guy. Just ahead tonight, is it a mystery in Haiti or is it just plain a miscarriage of justice? An American aid worker in Haiti's most notorious prison tonight -- not even charges yes -- just a father, a Haitian father accusing him of turning his child into a zombie and kidnapping the baby despite testimony and a death certificate showing the baby unfortunately died in the hospital months ago.
Later police tell him his wife may be dead then he immediately auditions for "America's Got Talent"? Would that make you suspicious? It sure makes the police suspicious. We've got the details in tonight's "Crime and Punishment" report.
COOPER: An American hospital volunteer is being held tonight in one of Haiti's worst prisons, accused of kidnapping a 15-month-old deathly ill child after turning the boy into a zombie. That's right, a zombie. That's what the boy's father is claiming, even though the hospital says the little boy died and they have a death certificate to prove it.
But "Keeping Them Honest" tonight, are there any facts at all to support the allegations or is this volunteer instead the victim of the father's misplaced grief and superstition? Or is it just the way the justice system is working right now in Haiti?
Here's what we know. Back in February, Paul Waggoner, known locally as Little Paul was volunteering at Haitian community hospital in Petionville when a local man sought treatment for his critically ill 15-month-old son. This is about in the month after the earthquake. That's Little Paul right there. The child was brought to a local hospital. The hospital's volunteer security chief at the time, Jeff Quinnlin (ph), said that Waggoner had nothing to do with the boy's care. Quinnlin says the boy died, that he notified the father and told him to return within 24 hours to claim the body.
Here's an affidavit from a volunteer doctor, Kenneth Adams, who dealt with the baby's father, Franz Philiston (ph) when he returned. Adams says that the father said, quote, "said that he wanted to see the baby and confirm that he was indeed dead. Little Paul, another one of the volunteers at the hospital, found me and asked that I be present in case the father fainted or needed medical assistance."
Dr. Adams goes on to say they walked Mr. Philiston into a room, opened the box and showed him the remains of his son. Quote, "The father jokingly said that it looked like the baby was still alive but I pulled my stethoscope out and listened carefully for any breath sounds or a heartbeat and there was none."
He adds that the father took at least two pictures of the boy, had the doctor take a picture of him with the baby. Then after Mr. Philiston left the room, he says he took two pictures of the makeshift casket and re-taped the box.
This is a copy of the official death certificate for a Kevins Philiston (ph), male, signed by a hospital official. Now, the hospital then cremated the body and according to his fellow volunteer whom you'll hear from in a moment, Paul Waggoner's only role in all of this was being there with Mr. Philiston when he returned to view his son's body.
However, in March Mr. Philiston, the father, compliant against him, Jeff Quinnlin also and the hospital's Haitian administrator. The court issued summonses; the administrator and Jeff Quinnlin went to court and were cleared. Paul Waggoner though never made a statement. He left Haiti before the summons was served, fearing he might be lynched, he says.
A court-appointed public defender later telling him the summons had been lifted and the case was closed, so he returned to Haiti a short time later, not knowing that his attorney was wrong and the summons was still valid.
This summer -- then this Sunday, I should point out, the father spotted him and he was arrested and yesterday taken to the national penitentiary. It's a place I've visited after the earthquake. It's one of the -- really one of the most wretched places you could imagine.
The U.S. State Department has managed to contact prison authorities who say he is safe and being well treated but the question remains why is he even there at all?
Earlier tonight I spoke with his colleague, Paul Sebring who's known as Big Paul. Paul, you just got communication. What did you get? What did you hear?
PAUL SEBRING, CO-FOUNDER, MATERIALS MANAGEMENT RELIEF CORPS: I got communication directly from Paul Waggoner about 20, 25 minutes ago that earlier today they tried moving him to general population and that they're talking about moving him again and that the embassy has not seen him today at all.
COOPER: How is he doing in where he's being held?
SEBRING: From what I understand today, he was in a cell with another American and a Haitian, but in general the prison is so overcrowded, there's -- there is confirmed cholera in there.
COOPER: The father of this child who died has been going on the radio saying all sorts of things about the little boy was turned into a zombie. So you're saying he's basically going on the radio and just kind of spreading stories that then maybe prisoners are going to hear and then react to Paul?
SEBRING: Not only that they're going to hear, they have heard it. We have not had a chance to publicly try and defend Paul regarding this. Here, it's just -- anybody will air anything, and there's no fact-checking or anything like that. So the simple fact is that he's completely innocent, he never did anything, and now his life is in danger. COOPER: What exactly happened? I mean he was working at a hospital where this child was brought in. What connection does he actually have to this child?
SEBRING: No connection at all. I was actually there the night that the child died. I was helping a doctor set a dislocated shoulder. Right behind me by three feet, was the child, with two nurses working on the child. He was brought in with a high-grade fever, was very ill. We couldn't get any kind of IV access to rehydrate. The baby died. The baby was pronounced dead by the American and by the Haitian doctor. And the baby was wrapped up.
Little Paul did nothing. All he did was bring us oxygen, bring us supplies, bring us everything possible that night to try and save this baby's life and to try and help all the other patients.
COOPER: That was back in February, right?
SEBRING: That was February 23rd, yes.
COOPER: Paul had left the country for a while but basically came back thinking it was fine and was again doing relief work.
SEBRING: He left, came back. I think it was less than two weeks that he was gone, something like that. We're told that everything's handled in the courts, everything's fine by the first attorney that somebody else hired for us.
COOPER: Authorities we've talked to seem to think that Haitian law, the procedure has been correct. This guy, you know, filed a complaint, filed the lawsuit. There was a summons put out. But you think the arrest was improper?
SEBRING: It was not proper. He did not kidnap a child. I mean, if he -- he proved with a death certificate and from statements from people that were there that night that were told by the hospital administration that the body was disposed of, then why are we at this point? If it's about proof and evidence, then we've given enough. He needs to be released.
COOPER: As you know, there is a criminal background in the United States, a Nantucket newspaper reported that when Paul lived there, he was charged with kidnapping, assault, pled guilty to assault, spent 100 days in jail -- more than 100 days in jail. And his criminal record apparently goes back further than that.
Does that complicate the current situation? Are you concerned that that's going to be brought into this case?
SEBRING: No, I don't. I mean, if you look at that record on this, what did he do? He beat the crap out of a pedophile. You tell me any American that wouldn't do the same thing given the chance.
You know, Paul's heart is here to help people. And that was -- that was, what, two years ago? He -- he let go of a completely successful construction business, and he gave up his life to come start helping people.
COOPER: The U.S. State Department tells us that they're looking out for Paul's welfare, they're making sure that he's safe, and the local laws are being followed. Are you satisfied with the assistance that he's been receiving from the U.S.?
SEBRING: No, I'm not. Because if he was -- if all that was being done, I would not be getting a frantic communication from him, directly stating they're trying to move him to general population. And that he's -- he is scared for his life right now.
COOPER: Paul Sebring, I appreciate your time tonight. We'll continue to follow this. Thank you.
SEBRING: You're welcome.
COOPER: Still ahead tonight, "Crime & Punishment". After police told him his wife might be dead, just moments later, what do you think this guy did? He went ahead and he auditioned for "America's Got Talent" -- didn't miss a beat. Wait until you hear his explanation. He's now a person of interest in the case.
Also ahead, the woman leading the charge to take back the rainbow lands on the RidicuList tonight. We're pretty sure the leprechauns, well, I'm not sure they're going to be happy, either.
COOPER: Tonight in "Crime & Punishment", an "America's Got Talent" contestant who -- contestant who is named as a person of interest in his wife's death says he did not kill her. Police are investigating, but here's one thing we know for sure.
The contestant, Joe Finley, definitely raised some eyebrows by auditioning for the show right after police told him his wife may be dead. He says there was a good reason for that.
He talked with Ted Rowlands. Here's the report.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Joe Finley, performing with his rock group, the Joe Finley Band. Joe and Laura Finley married 27 years ago and raised three children together. Joe says Laura convinced him to audition for the show "America's Got Talent".
The couple checked into the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on October 22 for Joe's audition at the hotel the next morning. This photo of Joe and Laura was taken in the hotel bar that night. Joe says he fell asleep about 3 a.m. and the last thing he remembers is Laura getting ready to take a bath. When he woke up, he says she was gone.
JOE FINLEY, SUSPECTED IN WIFE'S DEATH: When she wasn't there, I assumed because I'm running late, she was getting breakfast.
ROWLANDS (on camera): At this point, Laura is actually dead. Her and Joe's room was at the end of this hallway on the sixth floor of the Biltmore. Her body was found at the bottom of this stairwell.
Joe says when he woke up, he took a quick shower, dried his hair and then immediately went down to the lobby to get in line for his audition. He says while standing in line he tried to get a hold of his wife by calling her and texting her.
(voice-over): Eventually police detectives got a hold of Joe and told him that his wife may be dead. As they were leaving the hotel for the police station, Joe says someone from "America's Got Talent" stopped him in the hotel lobby to ask if he still wanted to audition.
FINLEY: And he said, "In fact, if you want to go in right now, we'll let you go in right now."
And I thought of Laura. I thought I'm going to go in there. I'm going to be as brave and as courageous as I possibly can for Laura. And so the police escorted me in there.
ROWLANDS: So just moments after learning his wife may be dead, with guitar in hand, Joe says he sang a song he used to sing for Laura.
FINLEY: I got through almost to the end, and I broke. And I just dropped my head. And I took my sunglasses off, and I said, "I'm sorry. I can't do this. That's the best I can do."
And one of the police officers said, "That was a really good job."
ROWLANDS (on camera): Because most people would think, what are you thinking?
FINLEY: Well, first of all --
ROWLANDS: Auditioning when you just found out your wife was possibly dead.
FINLEY: Yes. It was a very emotional moment for me and a way for me to connect with my wife and the stress that was overwhelming and get to that point of focus. And I've done that my whole life.
ROWLANDS: Did you have anything to do with your wife's death?
FINLEY: Absolutely not. I would never hurt a human being in my life. I stick up for the underdog, as my wife did. We're loving, caring people.
ROWLANDS: Are you worried that you will be arrested for your wife's murder?
FINLEY: I will never be arrested for my wife's murder. There is nothing that would ever link me to this crime.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): Police arrested but haven't charged Joe for drug possession. As for Laura's death, Joe has established a private $25,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.
Investigators haven't ruled it a homicide, saying that the case is still open.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
COOPER: Coming up, the latest dramatic chapter in the Bernie Madoff saga. Over $7 billion turned over today -- $7 billion to help the victims but where did all the money come from? Details on that.
And you've probably seen this flag before but did you ever think that it only belonged to a certain group? One woman thinks so and she's making it her mission to reclaim the rainbow and in the process she becomes the latest addition to our RidicuList.
COOPER: Coming up, the battle over the rainbow that goes right onto the RidicuList. But first, tonight's journey into the absurd is just ahead, but first Susan Hendricks has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Susan.
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the crash of a drone in El Paso, Texas, is now under investigation. At first Mexico denied the drone was theirs. Then they admitted it was quote, "following a target." The Mexican embassy in the U.S. said the device was being used in an operation with the U.S. government.
In a TV interview, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was defiant, calling sexual misconduct charges against him a smear campaign and condemning the Swedish. Assange was released on bail yesterday from a London prison. He's awaiting an extradition hearing now. Today he said WikiLeaks is too resilient to be brought down by attacks against it.
A U.S. attorney announced today a massive settlement deal for victims of Bernie Madoff. The money, $7.2 billion, came from the estate of Jeffry Picower (ph), one of Madoff's chief investors. His widow agreed to give up the money.
And if you've got to have gold and cash just won't cut it, head down to Boca Raton, Florida. There, in the town center mall, you will find a gold-dispensing ATM machine similar to this one. There are now more than 15 gold ATMs around the world.
So if you need gold right away, Anderson, you can now get it.
COOPER: Wow. All right. Thanks a lot.
All right. So for tonight's "Shot" we head to Ukraine. A video we found on YouTube actually makes the Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. look -- dare we say it -- almost warm and fuzzy.
Take a look. This is what happens when they disagree in Ukraine's parliament. It's an all-out, knock-down slug fest. Chairs are involved, tables are involved, a lot of sweaty guys punching each other. Happened yesterday, four people were injured. They're even slamming -- look at that, they're slamming the doors. People are locked in. A bunch of people were taken to the hospital.
No matter how ugly things get on Capitol Hill, hard to imagine Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner literally exchanging blows on the House floor.
Of course, this is not the first time the Ukrainian lawmakers have mixed it up. Last April, there was a similar scene. Do we have that?
Yikes. They're not messing around. Bizarre. And it's unlucky to open up an umbrella indoors, but that seems to be a minor part of the problem.
All right. That's -- tonight's "Shot".
Now time for the RidicuList -- time to add another name to the RidicuList. Tonight, someone you probably never heard of. Her name is Dr. Jennifer Morse, and Morse is the founder of something called the Ruth Institute, which is a project of the National Organization for Marriage, which is a group that's very opposed to marriage equality for gays and lesbians.
Dr. Morse is on the list tonight because she's upset about this, the rainbow flag; the rainbow flag that's been a symbol of the gay rights movement for decades now. Dr. Morse apparently believes that gay people have stolen the rainbow, and she wants it back. Morse says the rainbow represents God's promise to humanity, and it shouldn't be a symbol of gay pride.
Now the problem as I see it is that plenty of other folks seem to like the rainbow, too. And I'm not just talking about leprechauns and Lucky Charm eaters.
Who's going to break the news to little Rainbow Brite that she's got to come up a whole new gimmick? Do we have a picture of Rainbow Brite? Thought we did. OK. A little slow on the uptake, but who's going to break the news to Rainbow Brite?
What about Skittles? Skittles advocates actually claim they can taste the rainbow. That's got to really annoy Dr. Morse.
And what about Judy Garland? She had a lock on the whole rainbow thing long before anybody else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(EXCERPT FROM "THE WIZARD OF OZ")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Yes. Why can't she indeed? Sorry, Dorothy. Looks like you and the happy little blue birds are going to have to find something else to fly over, because Dr. Morse wants the rainbow back. She's no shrinking violet. She's seen red and is also kind of blue that the rainbow has become a gay symbol. Orange you glad I didn't say indigo?
All right. Now that that's out of the way, there has to be some way that this can be worked out. Maybe Dr. Morse can get three colors, gay and lesbian Americans can get three colors and, I don't know, maybe share green.
Anyway, I think a court should finally make the decision on this. Preferably a court presided over by the Honorable Roy G. Biv.
Let's give -- let's get real, though. When it comes down to it, nobody owns the rainbow. You can't copyright it. You can't commandeer it. You can just enjoy it. And there's plenty of rainbow to go around, Dr. Morse. Haven't you heard? There's even double rainbows.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL VASQUEZ, VIDEOTAPED DOUBLE RAINBOW: It's starting to look like a triple rainbow. Oh, my God, it's full on double rainbow all the way across the sky. Oh, my God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: To sum up, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Most quandaries in life can be solved by looking to the nimble philosophical mind belonging to one very wise soul, the soul that dwells within Mr. Kermit the Frog.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM HENSON, VOICE OF KERMIT THE FROG (SINGING): Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So maybe Dr. Jennifer Morse will never make a rainbow connection with gay and lesbian Americans, but her color commentary has won her the pot of gold at the end of tonight's RidicuList.
That's it for 360. Thanks for watching.
"LARRY KING" starts now.
I'll see you tomorrow.