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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Miner's Fast Recovery; Fugitive Father; Jihad Jack; Killer Nurse Sentenced; On the Run; Police Chase School; Hiding in Plain Sight; Oklahoma Wildfires

Aired March 2, 2006 - 23:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anna says she doesn't ask Randy about the miners who died, but he has told her he knows how fortunate he is.

ANNA MCCLOY, RANDY MCCLOY'S WIFE: You don't realize how precious life is until you think you ain't going to have it any longer. He just said that a few days ago.

HUNTINGTON: Randy McCloy has regained precious life. He and his 4-year-old son now watch cartoons from his hospital bed. And he can answer his baby daughter's cries for daddy. And his sense of humor shining through.

MCCLOY: He finds anything funny. He'll laugh about anything.

HUNTINGTON: She's not so sure he'll enjoy all the media attention that awaits him.

MCCLOY: Randy's going to be like, oh what?

HUNTINGTON: His doctors say that encounter could be less than a month away, when Randy McCloy just might be ready to go home.

Chris Huntington, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And that would be a remarkable thing indeed. Earlier, I discussed Randy McCloy's remarkably fast recovery with 360 MD Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Sanjay, when you hear what Anna McCloy and the doctors say about Randy McCloy's progress, what are your thoughts?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Here's the single most important thing I can say about that and I think it applies to anybody who's listening that's had any sort of brain injury -- how you're ultimately going to do is really dictated by how you do in the first few months.

If you have a good recover, as it sounds like Randy's having, your chances are very good for him to not only have a good recovery, but maybe even a complete recovery ultimately. And when I say ultimately, we're talking maybe a year and a half, two years even from now.

COOPER: We heard Anna McCloy mention that his sense of humor has returned. As a neurosurgeon, do you find that significant?

GUPTA: Yes, I do. You know, Anderson, when you examine somebody after a head injury, you look for certain things. You want to see if they can feel you, if they can move certain parts of their body, then you want to see if they can do it to command, meaning you ask them to hold up two fingers and they do it.

When it comes to things like humor, that's very nuanced language often. So the fact that they're getting language and interpreting it, but then also getting the nuances, shows some pretty higher cognitive function. So I think it's very significant, actually.

COOPER: His wife also mentioned that McCloy remembered bits and pieces of the events in the mine. How much of his memory might get regained ultimately?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's interesting -- it's hard to answer that. I did a full special on memory, looking specifically at what happens in traumatic situations.

Two things, Anderson. One is that when you have so much adrenaline coursing through your body at the time of a tragic event, it sort of sears the memory, if you will, in your brain. It can sear it so that you never forget it and that can lead to post-traumatic stress.

At some point, though, the adrenaline levels can be so high that it sort of flips a switch and all of a sudden everything's gone. So it's possible that Randy could get to the point where he remembers everything except exactly what happened when he was down in that mine.

COOPER: If you were his doctor, what are the next kind of developments that you would hope to see in the recovery process?

GUPTA: There are some things I still don't know about him. I don't know well he's actually moving both sides of his body. I'd like to see him start to do that. I'd like to make sure that he's actually able to feed himself, to live independently, dress himself, all those sorts of things.

Once that's starting to happen, I'd get him out of the rehab center, to his home, familiarize him with the things that he's used to seeing and gradually let him sort of regain his sense about him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well today, some of the very rescuers who pulled the men out of the Sago Mine said they want help with the investigation into what happened, but they're still waiting to be interviewed by federal investigators. The agency conducting that investigation, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, says it's still not done with interviews. But the United Mine Workers of America says to date it has not heard of any rescuers being interviewed.

Meanwhile, some Senators are criticizing the agency for not collecting delinquent fines for safety violations and for issuing fines some consider too low.

The agency says it had $16 million in outstanding delinquent fines as of the end of last year, explaining the lack of collection on computer problems.

Now, a story that you can help write the ending to. In fact, some of you may have already helped. It involves a kid in Kentucky, who will die without an organ transplant, and his criminal father who could save his life -- could, but didn't, or hasn't so far.

A judge let him out of jail, and he flew the coop. He and his girlfriend took off. And that's where we left it last night. Those are the two. Byron Perkins and his girlfriend Lee Ann Howard.

Some of you saw those pictures and saw this couple, not in Kentucky where they should have been, helping that boy, but in Mexico on vacation, trying to escape.

More now from CNN's Susan Candiotti.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From an ailing son to his fugitive father.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

CANDIOTTI: Destin Perkins, whose career criminal dad ditched him instead of donating a lifesaving kidney, might have some new hope.

DAWN IZGARJAN, DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: What did he say they were doing down there?

CANDIOTTI: A tip from a Washington state couple vacationing in Mexico is convinced they spent time with Byron Perkins and his fugitive girlfriend, Lee Ann Howard. The man and woman used the name Perkins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says she's 100 percent positive who it was.

CANDIOTTI: A deputy sheriff in Washington calls investigators leading the manhunt in Kentucky. Tourists call the cops after seeing Destin's story on CNN last night.

IZGARJAN: The couple who called in, had left, landed at Phoenix Airport. CNN -- the segment was on CNN, and they just thought, man, this is who we were vacationing with. CANDIOTTI: According to the tipsters, the man and woman said they were vacationing in a small fishing village near Puerto Vallarta earlier this week. The couple's physical description appears a match.

CHUCK GILBERT, DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: They described a tattoo that was on the gentleman's chest. It is identified with Byron Perkins as being an identifying mark.

CANDIOTTI: The same caller said the man went by, Eric. The woman used insulin, and Perkins' girlfriend is a diabetic.

IZGARJAN: He told them he was in a Harley accident, waiting for some money to come in, and money was going to be, I guess wired. He really didn't say how he was going to get the money, but he kept going into town to see if the money was in.

CANDIOTTI: Perkins and his girlfriend talked about getting money in recorded jailhouse phone calls before Perkins was released for a court-ordered kidney donor test and never came back.

The calls were obtained by CNN.

LEE ANN HOWARD, PERKINS' GIRLFRIEND: Do you want me to get my mom to write me a $100 check?

BYRON PERKINS, FUGITIVE: If you want to.

HOWARD: Do you think you can get it cashed?

PERKINS: Some way.

CANDIOTTI: Perkins, with a string of convictions for bank robbery, drugs and guns, even left behind a letter promising he would, quote, "come through" for his son, Destin.

ANGELA HAMMOND, DESTIN'S MOTHER: You know, he ran. It doesn't say much about his feelings for Destin.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Perkins' deal for a temporary freedom that backfired so badly raises troubling questions. Why did authorities -- the judge, prosecutors, U.S. marshals, public defender -- allow Perkins to leave jail, trusting his word that he'd return, and a $10,000 unsecured bond? That means he didn't have to put up any money for it.

Remember, one month later, Perkins faced a minimum 25-year prison sentence on a gun and drug conviction. Those in charge now say some policies will be reviewed.

(Voice-over): U.S. Marshal Service Policy states, taxpayers won't pay for "elective or preventive medical intervention and procedures...unless ordered by the court."

As CNN reported Wednesday, authorities said Perkins successfully duped them, literally in tears that he'd be true to his word. Doctors told the court an ankle bracelet would have interfered with medical tests. Bottom line, those in charge told CNN a good faith humanitarian decision was compromised.

RONALD MCCUBBIN, U.S. MARSHAL: It's starting a new, what will happen tomorrow. Certainly, there's not going to be a repeat of what happened yesterday, so to speak. So, changes obviously are going to have to be made.

CANDIOTTI: For now, the authorities' focus is on finding a fugitive dad and making him keep his promise to donate what may be the key to saving his son's life.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Louisville, Kentucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, again, if you have any information on the location of these two, Byron Perkins or Lee Ann Howard -- take a look at them again, you can call the U.S. Marshal Service, their headquarters, at 1-877-WANTED2. Particularly, anyone who's watching this right now in Mexico, that is where they were last spotted.

The story of a man who was once a dancer and faces sentencing now in Australia as a convicted terrorist. A plot Hollywood rejects as outlandish, except it is true. And they call him "Jihad Jack."

And the families of his victims faced a nurse who killed 22 people. A day in court no one who was there will ever forget.

Also ahead tonight, a side of Los Angeles most of us don't see, thought it is right there in front of us. We're talking about the city's enormous homeless population. Tens of thousands of people hiding in plain sight on skid row.

First, take a look at downtown L.A. from above at night.

360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Today in Karachi, Pakistan, a pair of explosions in a hotel parking lot hear the U.S. Consulate wounded more than 50 bystanders; 4 people died in the blast, one of them an American diplomat identified by the State Department as Administrative Officer David Foy (ph) of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Still on the subject of terrorism, it is already Friday in Australia, where a sentencing hearing is expected to be held in the case of a man with an odd nickname. "Jihad Jack" is what they call him. And his story is even odder. He's a former ballet dancer, the father of three kids, a man who went off in search of himself and found trouble instead -- serious trouble in Afghanistan.

CNN's Nic Robertson has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The face Osama bin Laden thought could fool Australia, someone to blend in and help attack his own country. And for a while at least, "Jihad Jack," or Jack Thomas, until he converted to Islam, was ready to play ball, offering his services to bin Laden's top recruiter.

JACK THOMAS: I asked Abusa Behda (ph) if there was any possibility, you know, of something that I could possibly do to help.

ROBERTSON: Jack came from a Christian family, but was restless, tried different religions before finally converting to Islam, choosing the name Jihad, because he knew it meant struggle.

Like American Taliban John Walker Lindh, "Jihad Jack" says he became radicalized, heading to Afghanistan for excitement and fulfillment.

It was early 2001, and he quickly joined an al Qaeda terror training camp.

THOMAS: It involved a light. You know, weapons that are like Kalashnikovs and light firearms, pistols.

ROBERTSON: Bin Laden was a regular visitor to the camp. Whenever he came, according to Jack, there were celebrations.

THOMAS: He was very alive and humble and shy. He didn't like too many kisses, you know, he didn't mind being hugged, but kisses he didn't like. And he just seemed to float, float really, across the floor.

ROBERTSON: But it wasn't just "Jihad Jack," who formed a lasting impression. Bin Laden, it seems, was singing out the white Australian. In the coming months, "Jihad Jack" was to meet many of al Qaeda's top leaders, including bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and his military commander, Mohammed Atef.

THOMAS: At that time I had no idea who I was dealing with.

ROBERTSON: After 9/11, as U.S. planes bombed Afghanistan, Jack headed to Kabul, sharing a house with 9/11 mastermind Ramsey bin al- Shaid.

THOMAS: There's no doubt that I do go back to Bagram to fight the Americans.

ROBERTSON: But, as the U.S.'s allies, the Northern Alliance, closed in on the city, he fled across the border to Pakistan. Later, in an al Qaeda safe house, "Jihad Jack," says he was told, quote, "Osama bin Laden would like an Australian white person to work for him in Australia" unquote. He was given cash and a plane ticket back home.

(On camera): He didn't get far. "Jihad Jack" was arrested at Karachi airport for traveling on a false visa. Interrogated, he gave up former al Qaeda friends, but he swears he was never planning to attack his countrymen and says he only took the money because he felt it was owed him. (Voice-over): Jihad Jack Thomas was convicted this week in Australia of receiving money from a terrorist organization, but acquitted on charges of offering to work for al Qaeda.

But by the account of terror experts we spoke to, bin Laden is still trying to recruit white Muslims in the United States and Europe to turn on their people.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Back here, in the U.S., a former nurse who killed at least 29 patients, finds out his fate in court. That story is coming up.

Erica Hill, from "HEADINE NEWS," though, first joins us with some of the stories we're following tonight -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson.

President Bush's trip to New Delhi, bearing some fruit in the form of a groundbreaking pact between India and the U.S. Now under terms of the agreement, the U.S. will send nuclear fuel and expertise to India. In exchange, India will open up its civilian nuclear reactors to international inspectors. Many expect the agreement to be viewed with interest by India's regional rival Pakistan. President Bush is set to visit that country briefly on Saturday.

The sparring continues today between former FEMA Head Michael Brown, who resigned in the face of criticism after Hurricane Katrina and Michael Chertoff, director of Homeland Security. Brown spoke out today on CNN's "SITUATION ROOM"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BROWN, FORMER FEMA HEAD: It appears to me that, you know, when Michael -- when Chertoff does things like tells me that I've got to go to Baton Rouge and plop my butt down in a seat in Baton Rouge and run a disaster from there, I think shows naivete about how disasters are run. And so, you've either got to get with it or move on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he lose his job?

BROWN: Well, I think so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: Strong words there.

Finally, from the hot seat to a chilly race, but it turns out, not quite chilly enough. Warmer weather in Alaska, prompting organizers of the grueling 1,100 Iditarod sled dog race to divert the famous contest to a route north of its usual starting point because the snow is just too sparse along the traditional Iditarod trail.

That is something I would love to see someday.

COOPER: It would be cool. Maybe our dogs could take part in that and we could, you know, go.

HILL: I think they would have a great time. Jay's (ph) got some husky in him, he's ready.

COOPER: OK, Erica, thanks.

Coming up, a New Jersey nurse, trained to save lives, chooses to take them instead. At least 29 people died at his hand. It is an unbelievable story. Today he found his punishment in court and heard from the victims' families and you will too, coming up.

And it's one of the more bizarre spectator sports in Los Angeles, the televised car chase, burning rubber and winning ratings for a lot of television stations that broadcast it. We'll look at that and what police are trying to do to stop them, when this edition of 360 from L.A. continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: No one in the history of the state of New Jersey has ever been convicted of murdering more people than Charles Cullen, who was sentenced to life in prison today for ending 22 lives. He's also admitted to seven other deaths in Pennsylvania.

Now, you have to understand that Charles Cullen was not a mad man with a gun. Charles Cullen was a nurse. And those he killed were hospital patients in his care.

Today, for the first time, the families of his victims had the chance to confront the self-appointed grim reaper.

CNN's Allan Chernoff was there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... was murdered by Charles Cullen

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The courtroom was filled with unbearable pain, as members of the victims' families told of their suffering...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are the reason I cry myself to sleep almost every night of the week.

CHERNOFF: ... and anger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are Satan's son.

CHERNOFF: Serial Killer Charles Cullen sat expressionless with his eyes shut for nearly three hours of testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don't you look at me? You're not a man. You are a coward.

CHERNOFF: Cullen confessed to administering deadly doses of medication at nine hospitals and one nursing home in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, killing 29 people in all. He once claimed he was putting patients out of their suffering, though many if not most of his victims did not have fatal illnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's my baby.

CHERNOFF: In May of 2003, 21-year-old Michael Strenko became one of Cullen's youngest victims. His parents were in the courtroom.

MARY STRENKO, VICTIM'S MOTHER: ... hit my heart. It aches for my son. It bleeds for my son.

THOMAS STRENKO, VICTIM'S FATHER: What kind of person takes a child from their mother and father is a sneaky, cold-blooded killer with no regard for human life.

CHERNOFF: In the face of all this emotion, Cullen himself showed no remorse and gave no explanation for his crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, JUDGE: Mr. Cullen, are you ready to address this court, the assembled families of your victims, and society as a whole?

CHARLES CULLEN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, JUDGE: I'm sorry?

CULLEN: I have nothing to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, JUDGE: Why is that?

CULLEN: (No response.)

Mr. Cullen, I asked you a question. Why is it that you have chosen not to address the court?

CHERNOFF (on camera): New Jersey does have the death penalty, but the courts here haven't allowed an execution in more than 40 years. So prosecutors agreed to a life sentence for Cullen in return for his cooperation in identifying his victims.

(Voice-over): Cullen was stone cold when the judge pronounced his sentence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, JUDGE: You are hereby sentenced to New Jersey State Prison, to two consecutive life sentences.

CHERNOFF: Cullen will never be paroled and will die in prison.

Mary Strenko says that will now help her move forward.

M. STRENKO: And at this point the healing process has just begun now for us. Just started. CHERNOFF: On March 10, Charles Cullen is to be sentenced for seven murders in Pennsylvania, where he will also receive a life sentence.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, Somerville, New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: High speed on the highway, car chases are practically a daily occurrence in L.A. Not just here, but in other cities as well. What are the cops doing about it? Find out, coming up.

And a devilish problem in the city of Los Angeles. For those with nowhere else to go, the address of last resort -- skid row, hiding in plain sight. We'll take you there. Next on 360.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, Californians are used to turning on the local news and seeing cops chase down a suspect, but today police were after one of their own cars. It had allegedly been grabbed by a woman while she was being questioned by police about a stolen vehicle. For two hours the woman drove, the cops followed, until it ended with an arrest at gunpoint.

As we mentioned earlier in the program, car chases are as much a part of L.A. as plastic surgery and celebrities. But why do they do it? And why do we watch?

CNN's Ted Rowlands takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unbelievable. Look at that. He's out of control. Head on into a pickup truck.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They play out on a daily basis in California and many times end up on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, there's four vehicles that he just ran into.

ROWLANDS: Police chases, which some consider the ultimate in reality television.

JUDY GRAFFE, PURSUIT WATCHER: I have to tune in.

ROWLANDS: Judy Graffe, along with thousands of other viewers, love to watch people on the freeways in streets of California trying to get away from the police. Judy is such a fanatic that she actually subscribes to a service that alerts her with a phone call when a chase is under way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, look at that. Right between those two cars. GRAFFE: No one single car chase is like another. I mean, anything from what neighborhoods they go to, to the speeds they travel, to who it turns out they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he goes. He's out, and he's in the lanes of traffic.

ROWLANDS: Over the years, there have been some memorable California chases. There was the stolen tank in San Diego. There was the hijacked bus in Los Angeles, the driver careening through the streets like a real-life version of the movie, "Speed," without the Hollywood ending.

GRAFFE: That one was absolutely fascinating. To imagine somebody hijacking a bus and thinking they could get away? Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's over 120 miles an hour here in...

ROWLANDS: Police have chased practically everything on wheels, from motorcycles...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look at this, a wheelie, right through traffic.

ROWLANDS: ... to RVs. This chase lasted more than four hours, part of it off-road. Everyone seemed relieved when this ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nature called.

ROWLANDS: 7-Up received some free advertising while police pursued this stolen truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look out. Spinning out...

ROWLANDS: There's even been a case of ambulance-chasing, literally. Sometimes the suspect runs; many times they give up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's a foot chase, and we'll see if the officers -- he runs out of steam.

ROWLANDS: This person decided to turns things around, putting the car into reverse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very bizarre behavior.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went through the interchange, continuing northbound onto 405...

ROWLANDS: And, of course, there was the ultimate celebrity pursuit, O.J., the slow-speed chase seen live around the world.

GRAFFE: Who knew where that was going to go? I mean, it was anybody's guess. And so I think that sort of hooked me into car chases.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we will take you back to regular programming now.

ROWLANDS: Interrupting television programming to show chases started before O.J. It has been a part of Southern California life since the early '90s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been live with you now just about an hour here on Channel 9 following this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people do not want to go to jail.

ROWLANDS: Joe Zizi is an officer with the California Highway Patrol who's been in a number of cases. He says people may enjoy watching them on TV, but for officers involved it is very dangerous.

OFFICER JOE ZIZI, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: Who knows? You could be chasing after America's most wanted suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look at the smoke coming off his tires as he brakes. Oh, oh, he hit that car, hits that car. But he's still in -- no, he jumps out the window.

ZIZI: About 60 to 70 percent of people that flee are either driving a stole vehicle, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or are wanted by the police.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who knows what is going through his mind...

ROWLANDS: Some of these chases go on for hours. Some become standoffs, leaving television anchors to speculate about anything so they can fill time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's probably so blotto -- you know, he's just belligerent as all get-out.

GRAFFE: I'm fascinated at how the anchor call the car chase. I mean, it's a little bit like a play-by-play in a sports event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going off the road. He's spinning out, spinning out. Whoa, he's going down the hill, spinning out. It's rolling over. One, two, three...

ROWLANDS: Sometimes drivers know they are on TV and play to the audience. This guy made the time to show everyone his softer side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just mooned him.

ROWLANDS: This woman being pursued even stopped to talk to bystanders who had come outside after watching the pursuit on TV.

ZIZI: We've had several citizens watch it on television, see that it's approaching their house, and get outside to either try and cheer the suspect on or try and get involved to stop the suspect vehicle.

ROWLANDS: In this chase, police got some help from a couple of truckers who saw the chase coming...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it looks like these big rigs are doing it on purpose. Yes, this is great.

ROWLANDS: ... and sandwiched the suspect between them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's stuck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure did.

ROWLANDS: Police don't encourage the general public to intervene. They have their own tactics to try to but brakes on chases.

GRAFFE: You've got the spike strip. You've got the pit maneuver.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, they're putting down another spike strip to blow out the rear tires.

ROWLANDS: The spike strip flattens tires but doesn't stop cars cold, like this driver who continued for miles until the SUV actually started to fall to pieces.

This is what's called a pit maneuver, which is used to disable a vehicle.

ZIZI: We're going to get up alongside that vehicle, bump it, push it to a side, make it spin out, and hopefully incapacitate, stall out the engine.

ROWLANDS: But it's not always an immediate success. The newest weapon for police is a satellite tracking device they can actually shoot onto a vehicle, which allows them to back off of it and keep officers out of danger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's getting out. He's starting to run.

ROWLANDS: Many times the suspects are armed. When they are, the chase can have a violent ending.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to run. Oh, he just got shot. Oh, my god.

ROWLANDS: As for the question of why so many chases here? Many people think California is unique because there are more freeways and more cars. But Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton points to the people.

WILLIAM BRATTON, CHIEF, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: You got a lot of nuts here, that's what makes it so unique, quite frankly.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Well, maybe it's exciting for the rest of us to look safely and comfortably on while real police are going really fast, chasing real bad guys, but it isn't exciting to do.

It is dangerous, which is why in some places police are now getting very rigorous training in the finer points of white knuckle driving.

CNN's Rick Sanchez reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look at the smoke coming off...

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They have called off the chase in Seattle, Washington. Police here now have a no pursuit policy.

However, in surrounding King County, the chase is not only on, but being perfected. Here at Pacific Raceways, a virtual chase training academy where police are taught to ram, to use spike strips and to employ the pit maneuver, where a suspect's vehicle is literally spun into submission.

TIFFANY ATWOOD, INSTRUCTOR: Stay hard on the brakes, real quick steering.

SANCHEZ: Instructors say the most important lesson they teach here is to avoid danger, by learning when to call off the chase and how to avoid collisions when they don't.

Watch what happens when officer tries to come to a full stop at 55 miles per hour while maneuvering around a set of cones.

DEPUTY JAY MILLER, KING COUNTY: They did hit a cone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened? What went wrong?

MILLER: I'm not quite sure what went wrong.

SANCHEZ: Apparently it's all in the hands.

PETER LINDY, KING COUNTY: His hand position was all wrong. He was probably just turning the wheel too far, trying to jerk it back and forth.

SANCHEZ (on camera): As you watch these officers train, you begin to wonder just how hard it would be to learn something like this. Let's give it a try.

DARREN JENKS, INSTRUCTOR: The first thing we want to do is think about our seat position and where our arms are in relationship to the steering wheel.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Soon, I am zooming down the roadway. I'm told to hit the gas and get it to 50 miles an hour and then slam on the brakes when I'm only 30 feet from those five cones. But I chicken out. I take my foot off the gas.

(On camera): If I told you I wasn't scared, I would be a liar.

Here's why I chickened out. This is what it looks like from my vantage point. We placed a camera on the hood of the car. Look how fast those cones seem to be coming at me. Daunting, isn't it? Now I'm told to crank it up to 55 miles an hour. It seems totally illogical. My instruction is to slam on the brakes and then steer the car around the cones. It's a disaster. This is tough.

ATWOOD: Remember, I talked about quick steering?

SANCHEZ: Quick steering, quick steering, I tell myself. Finally, on my fourth try, I get through the obstacles, but I released the brakes.

ATWOOD: That was so nice...

SANCHEZ: I did it, Anderson! Oh my God, look at me!

ATWOOD: ... and you released the brakes.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): What you come to realize is it's all about trust. This car and probably yours too, has an antilock braking system that allows us to steer while braking. But who gets to practice something like this?

At 60 miles an hour, it's even more intimidating. Those five miles make a mountain of difference. I hit a cone. Close, again. But no cigar.

ATWOOD: Actually, that was a pretty nice job.

SANCHEZ: This is my last try and I want to get it right. Keep my foot pinned to the brake, trust it. My hands at 2:00 and 10:00 o'clock, and steer quickly. What an incredible adrenaline rush.

ATWOOD: That was his best one.

SANCHEZ (on camera): It was my seventh try, and I finally nailed it.

(Voice-over): It's scary. It's heart thumping. And it's what officers deal with when they choose to pursue.

(On camera): There is some new technology out there that's being developed now that could possibly take this away from officers. Two things. One is a dart the police are working on, that they'd shoot into a vehicle that would work like a GPS tracker, that they'd be able to watch on a monitor.

Another one is a gadget they would use to zap a vehicle which essentially sends a charge that would conk out its engine. The car would basically stop, as if it had run out of gas.

Two technologies. They're still working on them, though. They're not quite there yet.

In the meantime, these officers say they'll continue to train for the inevitability of police pursuits.

In Seattle, Rick Sanchez.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, it is a problem that simply should not be. We're talking about vulnerable people who government agencies promise to help. Instead, they're being dumped literally in downtown L.A. It is a problem, an outrage, say some, hiding in plain sight.

Plus, an update on the latest round of Oklahoma's brush fires. Since December, they've coped with one wave of flames after another.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: One surprise if you visit Los Angeles is something that's hiding in plain sight. There are some 91,000 homeless men and women in Los Angeles County. Now that's more than three times the number in New York City.

Here in L.A., most share the same address -- downtown. That's a shame. How they got there, many call that an outrage. You see, they were supposed to get a helping hand and a ticket out of misery. Instead, they ended up with a trip to nowhere.

Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is Skid Row, a 50-square-block human dumping ground in downtown Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, let me see your wristband. Were you in the hospital recently?

KAYE: Still wearing a bracelet from the county jail, this woman, Lilly, was too strung out to tell how she got here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long were you in the county jail?

KAYE: Because of the abundant social services, Skid Row is a magnet for the drug addicted, the mentally ill, the criminals, and the helpless. It's also a magnet for other cities who don't know what to do with their own problems, so they bring them here and dump them.

ANDREW SMITH, CAPTAIN, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: I saw an outside agency dropping off an individual who didn't live in this area, who had never been here before and hadn't been arrested in this area, down -- actually, right down on that corner down there.

KAYE: Out on patrol, LAPD Captain Andrew Smith says he saw two L.A. County sheriff's deputies dump this man, Byron Harris, who Smith described as confused.

SMITH: Watched them pull to the curb, open the door, and take a handcuffed prisoner out, unhandcuff him, hand him a bag of his property and begin to leave. So I, of course, stopped him and tried to figure out what was going on.

KAYE: Smith says Harris told him he had not been requested to be dropped downtown. He had been arrested in Long Beach, 25 miles away. But a spokesman for the sheriff told CNN Harris, just released from jail, had requested food and shelter. Both available on Skid Row.

The spokesman said deputies did not dump that man or anyone else.

(on camera): Why do you think, if it's indeed happening, other communities are doing this?

SMITH: Well, we have a lot of services, social services down here. But, really, I think it's a way for other cities to get rid of the problems that they have.

KAYE (voice over): Skid Row services include food, shelter, medicine, even prenatal care. It's a unique setup borne from good intentions. But critics, like Central City East Executive Director Estela Lopez, now worry the free handouts are leading to dumping.

(On camera): A long time ago they thought that this idea of centralized services was a good thing. Has it turned out to be a good thing?

ESTELA LOPEZ, BUSINESS LEADER: It's turned out to be a nightmare. What it has done -- it's been a good thing for the 88 other cities in the county of Los Angeles that don't have to deal with problems that come from their own communities. They send them here.

KAYE (voice over): Which of these people have been dumped or decided to come on their own is unclear, but Estela Lopez and Captain Smith aren't the only ones who have witnessed dumping.

ORLANDO WARD, THE MIDNIGHT MISSION: How long have you been on the street?

SMITH: Orlando Ward works at Midnight Mission, just a block from where Captain Smith encountered Byron Harris.

WARD: I had a guy in our courtyard three days ago. He had a hospital gown on, he had -- the I.V. was still attached. So I went and I asked him, I said, how did you get down here? And he said that the ambulance dropped him off a couple blocks down in front of a mission.

I said, well, did you go in? And he goes, well, they just dropped me off.

KAYE: Ward was once a basketball star at Stanford University. Drugs lured him to the streets of Skid Row. He bottomed out, and after two years he got clean. Ward says Skid Row was designed to help people, not dump people.

WARD: It makes me angry when you dump people without attaching them to the services that they really need. If your motive is getting them out of your backyard and dumping them to somebody else, I have a problem with that.

KAYE: Captain Smith's 145 officers can hardly make headway here. San Julian Street, otherwise known as "Heroin Alley," is like a giant block party where everyone brings an illegal drug.

This woman propositioned me. Police say it's well known she's a prostitute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How am I going to pay for this?

KAYE: She explained she has been on the street since age 9.

(on camera): Why do you live like this so and do this to yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you know what? This is a million- dollar corporation. It's going to never stop.

KAYE: This is Skid Row.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Baby, Skid Row looks out for Skid Row.

SMITH: How are you doing? How are you hanging?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm OK.

SMITH: Are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm hanging on.

KAYE (voice-over): Captain Smith says police can't fix the problem. So who will? And when, the captain wonders, will other communities start providing services for their needy?

MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: A great city can't be a place where we're leaving so many people behind.

KAYE (on camera): Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is investigating. He says the city of Los Angeles has pledged millions to help the chronically homeless, but it's time the federal government step up, too.

VILLARAIGOSA: The only governmental entity with the resources to deal with the structural problems of poverty in the cities is the federal government. The federal government has failed and refused over the last few years to invest in housing, to invest in the urban core in our cities.

KAYE (voice-over): The same society that's allowing people to live on Skid Row, is in some cases, transporting them to be forgotten and, perhaps, to die. WARD: It's a cultural genocide. We're losing a whole generation of people to this despair and, ultimately, death.

KAYE: Unlike Byron Harris, countless others may have been dumped here without a witness.

Randi Kaye, CNN, on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: A problem truly hiding in plain sight.

Erica Hill, from "HEADINE NEWS," joins us now with some business stories we're following -- Erica.

HILL: Hi Anderson.

The popular website, MySpace.com, is now taking some steps to tighten its security. And that move coming after some bad PR, following charges brought against two men who used the site to meet underage girls. It's very popular with teenagers. A federal prosecutors says MySpace is in no way liable; nevertheless, the site plans to soon add technology to screen just how its members are using the site.

Over the past 12 months, profit margins at Wendy's fast food restaurant have lagged McDonalds by about 50 percent. And today, disgruntled investors, led by Nelson Peltz, succeeded in having three directors added to Wendy's board. Now, management also introduced steps to boost profit. It has dubbed the "Three-Year Combo Plan."

And have major record labels been colluded on setting the price for online music downloads? New York's attorney general has been investigating; now the Justice Department, reportedly launching its own parallel investigation.

Meantime, one man who helped to launch the legal, digital music revolution, Apple's Chief Steve Jobs says it boils down to the fact that the music industry is just greedy.

COOPER: I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

HILL: I am shocked and appalled. Never heard that before.

COOPER: Yes, never. Imagine that.

Thanks, Erica.

The earth is scorched in Oklahoma tonight. And now that the firefighters have things under control -- the volunteer firefighters, I should point out, it is time for the investigator to get to work.

How did these blazes begin? The latest coming up in this edition of 360, live from L.A., continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN GRAPHIC)

Oklahoma Fires Yesterday

Fires in Oklahoma: 27

Acres burned: 13,764

(END GRAPHIC)

COOPER: Wildfires that raged across 8,000 acres of southern Oklahoma last night are under control and investigators are now turning their attention to how those fires started. The fires which destroyed up to 40 homes are considered suspicious, although no arrests have been made.

CNN's Christopher King has more.

KIMBERLY GENTRY, EVAUEE: Everything...

CHRISTOPHER KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kimberly Gentry has nothing left. Wildfires burned her trailer home in Duncan, Oklahoma, to the ground. The roof collapsed. The metal walls, twisted and jagged as if her home imploded. The pictures of her grandchildren, up in smoke, like the dried grass that fed the wildfires.

GENTRY: It was terrible. Because you don't have anything left. Everything from my childhood, my son, my grandchildren, everything was in that house.

KING: Gentry had just remodeled her home, but on Wednesday afternoon, she had to evacuate. She grabbed what few belongings she could, hoping she'd return to salvage something, but finding nothing.

GENTRY: You can't even get in it.

KING: Wildfires scorched thousands of acres of grassland here in southern Oklahoma, in towns like Duncan and Meridian, 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. Dry weather, high winds and temperatures on some days soaring up to the 90s, stoke the fires. Officials say this is their seventh round of wildfires since December.

SAM DARST, SPOKESMAN, DUNCAN, OKLAHOMA: We had a perfect storm situation yesterday. We had winds out of the south at 40 miles an hour, 17 percent humidity, no rainfall to speak of over the last three to four months. You combine those things together, you get an ignition source, and something's going to give.

KING: This used to be someone's home. All that's left now is rubble and debris. Charred earth stretches as far as the eye can see.

(On camera): These wildfires burned down dozens of people's homes, and with them, the memories of lives they once had.

(Voice-over): Church members hugged at Liberty Baptist. Their house of worship, now ashes.

MARVIN KNOX, LIBERTY BAPTIST CHURCH: There are people who are devastated, but I think they'll get over it because we are a people of faith. And we believe God has a purpose and a reason for it, and that good things are ahead for the church.

KING: But Kimberly Gentry isn't so optimistic. With everything she owned gone, she's not sure where to go.

GENTRY: Our families are separated. We have nothing. You just go down to the fairground and try to get free food and wait.

KING: Wait at the emergency staging center at the Stevens County Fairground and hope that somehow she finds help at rebuilding her life.

In Duncan, Oklahoma, I'm Christopher King.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: It is just terrible.

"On the Radar" tonight, our report on Rashad Williams, the promising young kid who ended up dead, shot while taking part in a home invasion robbery. Quite a discussion happening on our blog.

Rebecca in Houston, writes, "It's a hard fact of life, but you really cannot trust anyone. Manipulation and greed seem to run so many lives. I always wonder when the strong. What a crazy story; shocking, but not surprising."

From Rachel in Philadelphia, "We as a society are so quick to place blame on others and on external forces for dragging us down. What happened to the concept of personal responsibility?"

From Joseph in North Huntington, PA, "What we see on the outside is not an indicator of what's going on inside. No one can ever know what demons are haunting the mind of another individual."

And Dale in Los Gatos, California, has this to say, "Heroic aspiration in men young and old is most often an expression of need. As a culture we love the heroic, but we do little to address the need. We can do better for these young men. And hopefully, we will."

More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Thanks for watching 360 from L.A.

"LARRY KING" is next. Actress Roseanne Barr tells all.

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