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PAULA ZAHN NOW
FBI Warns Stadium Operators of Possible Terror Attacks; Interview With Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal; Bush Presidency in Trouble?
Aired March 10, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone.
Glad to have you join us, as we wrap up the week here tonight.
A very scary thought for any of us who have children. Is someone out there trying to lure our kids on the Internet?
ZAHN (voice-over): The "Eye Opener" -- while you're watching us tonight, do you know who your kids are hooking up with under your own roof online? The growing outrage over Internet predators.
"FRAG," PERVERTED-JUSTICE.COM: One of the predators actually had to find a baby-sitter, so he could come over and molest someone else's 13-year-old daughter.
ZAHN: But what happens when a teenage girl turns out to be the cops?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, partner, you're under arrest.
ZAHN: "Outside the Law" -- a moment of crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All we know is two people have been shot.
ZAHN: The beginning of 26 terrifying hours and the rampage of a desperate killer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That I needed to get out of that courtroom and I wasn't going to let him shoot me straight in the chest.
ZAHN: The chilling details you have never heard before -- inside the Atlanta courthouse shootings.
And what were they thinking?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are see some crazy, crazy stuff today.
ZAHN: It seems incredible, but these kids are actually playing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toaster. Toaster action.
ZAHN: Barbed wire, broken glass, no holds barred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's lit himself on fire.
ZAHN: The brave new world of backyard wrestling.
ZAHN: But we begin tonight with a developing story on our "Security Watch," an terror bulletin about one of the nation's most popular sporting events, the NCAA basketball tournament, which takes place in cities all over the country.
Justice correspondent Kelli Arena joins me now with this late- breaking story.
What do we know, Kelli?
ARENA: Well, Paula, with those basketball tournaments taking place this weekend, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are warning stadium operators that sporting events could become terror targets.
Now, officials say that there was an Internet posting on an extremist Web site which is advocating attacks at sporting events. One law enforcement source tells CNN that the FBI and DHS don't believe that the posting constitutes an imminent threat, but the source says that it was broadly distributed among jihadist Web sites and contains information regarding tactics.
Now, according to the bulletin, those tactics include hiding explosives under winter clothing, having one suicide bomber detonate a bomb inside a stadium, while others set off bombs in the path of fans that are evacuating. The posting also suggests using blonde or black American suicide bombers.
But to put this in perspective, Paula, this was not an alert. This is information that is passed along as part of the FBI's regular bulletin. It's sent out weekly to state and local law enforcement officials. The FBI stresses in the bulletin there is no specific or credible intelligence that any attack is planned. And officials say that the information was shared out of an abundance of caution.
ZAHN: But, Kelli, all of that might be true, but I can't remember the last time when I read one of these things where I saw the level of the detail we're seeing here tonight, describing the possibility of these blonde or black American suicide bombers. Isn't that a little bit unusual?
ARENA: Well, we have seen information before where it was suggested that women be used in attacks, because, of course, the -- the community believes, the terrorist community believes that Arab- American men are being profiled and that if you use anything but that, you will have more success.
ZAHN: Kelli Arena, appreciate the update. Please stay on top of it for us.
(CROSSTALK) ZAHN: We move on now to a Friday-night question that is even more disturbing than ever. As a parent, do you know where your children are right now? What are they doing? Who are they with? Well, this week, a number of stories have put a very bright spotlight on the dangers young people face every single day.
There is the graduate student in New York who stayed out late drinking alone at a bar. She ended up dead, raped, her body left in a vacant lot. In New Jersey, a 13-year-old girl disappeared on Monday. She sent her frantic mother a string of frightening text messages, but turned up alive on Thursday. Police have now arrested a 20-year-old man and charged him with criminal sexual conduct.
And then there is an even newer danger out there, closer than you ever imagined, and your son or daughter may be logged on to a so- called social Web site even as I speak. These are Internet hot spots where young people are meeting one another. And, unfortunately, sexual predators know about them as well. I want you to pay really close attention.
Technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg shows us why these sites are such an alarming "Eye Opener."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) looking good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's getting out. We will get a good look at him right now.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A police stakeout in Laguna Beach, California. Officers prepare to take down their suspect. They say 24-year-old Fernando Guerin Jr. (ph) is attempting to lure a 13-year-old girl to this playground for sex.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he starts walking through the park or something, we will take him down.
SERGEANT DARIN LENYI, LAGUNA BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: "I just wanna kiss you right now and lick you, snible you up and down from head to toe."
SIEBERG: Sergeant Darin Lenyi reads one example of the language allegedly used by his suspect on the messenger program Yahoo chat. Much of it is too explicit for this program.
He shows us what is believed to be Guerin's (ph) page on the popular social networking site Myspace. And he shows us several naked photos he claims Guerin (ph) e-mailed to his chat buddy.
So, how does Sergeant Lenyi know about all this? Well, it is an Internet sting operation. And the Laguna Beach P.D. has planned a number of them in the past several months.
This surveillance video is from another operation that netted 13 arrests in one night. One suspect arrives with a single red rose for his underage date. Officers are waiting inside to arrest each one, a pharmaceutical technician, a Starbucks manager, an engineer, even a lieutenant with the California Highway Patrol.
All are formally charged with attempt to child molest and are in the process of being arraigned.
The citizens group Perverted-Justice.com creates phony profiles of underage kids to see if anyone will take the bait, complete with cultural references and Internet lingo. Working with all levels of law enforcement, they claim to have busted several dozen pedophiles since 2004.
"FRAG," PERVERTED-JUSTICE.COM: We have caught doctors, lawyers, cops, firefighters, teachers, social workers, you know, really all walks of life.
One of the predators actually had to find a baby-sitter for his 13-year-old daughter, so he could come over and molest someone else's 13-year-old daughter.
SIEBERG: To circumvent the arbitrary minimum 14-year age requirement on some sites, Perverted Justice volunteers simply make up another number. It is something any child could do.
"DEL HARVEY," PERVERTED-JUSTICE.COM: She puts 113, obviously not being 113, and, down below, clarifies, for anybody who could have missed it, that she's not 113. She's 13.
SIEBERG (on camera): OK.
(voice-over): Myspace says that while it can't prevent all fraud, the company has deleted more than 200,000 underage profiles to date. And one warning on the safety tips page reads, "If you're under 14, go away."
"Frag" and "Del," not their real names, of course, say they never initiate the conversations, but, rather, wait to be contacted. Then they and their volunteers engage in chat sessions and, whenever it is requested, allow the person to call them on the phone. Adult members of Perverted Justice who sound underage pick up the line.
Here is a sample conversation. And it is disturbing.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old are you?
UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: Twelve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sound pretty cute.
UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what are you up to? UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: Nothing really. Talking to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're -- you're, like, horny, aren't you?
UNIDENTIFIED PERVERTED JUSTICE MEMBER: I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're so cute.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SIEBERG: And when these phone or cyber-exchanges move into the real world, the authorities can act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let us know where he's going.
SIEBERG (on camera): The folks at Perverted Justice have worked for about a week with the Laguna Beach Police Department to set up this stakeout operation here at a park, where the 13-year-old girl says she's going to show up, after playing hooky from school today.
(voice-over): But rather than a teenage girl waiting on this playground...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around. Drop your Beanie. All right, partner, you're under arrest for attempted molestation of a minor.
SIEBERG: Police search Guerin's (ph) car and find condoms and a digital camera, which, based on his alleged chat, Guerin (ph) was going to use to take dirty pictures.
He has since has been charged with attempt to child molest and sending lewd pictures to a minor by the Orange County district attorney. He's being held on $100,000 bail and faces up to four years in prison. The public defender's office declined comment.
LENYI: Obviously, if this was a real 13-year-old chatting with this individual, it -- it is robbing some innocence from that child. So, it is rewarding that we made this happen and no harm did come to a -- a 13-year-old little girl.
SIEBERG: A deterrent for anyone who attempts to contact a teenager online: That curious and chatty child may actually be wearing a badge.
SIEBERG: Now, despite this success, tracking criminals over the Internet remains a challenge for law enforcement across the country. They can simply be too understaffed to handle it. And that's clearly where parents have to play a key role -- Paula.
ZAHN: Like those of with us teenagers need another responsibility here. This whole thing is so...
ZAHN: ... sick.
SIEBERG: It -- it is. It's quite disturbing.
ZAHN: Daniel, stay right here, because we are going to come back to you in a little bit, after our next piece.
In -- in the story you just saw, Daniel Sieberg mentioned a Web site called Myspace.com. It is a pretty good bet you might never have heard of it. It is an even better bet, though, that your kids have.
Myspace.com has only been around since about 2004. But, by one measure, it is second only to Yahoo in popularity. Sixty-one million people, mostly teens, have posted their personal information online, and even pictures of themselves for anyone to see.
This week, in Connecticut, a federal grand jury indicted two men. Prosecutors say they both used Myspace.com to set up sexual encounters with girls who were 11 and 14 years old.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is crusading for tighter rules and more supervision. He joins us tonight.
So, Attorney General, based on what you have seen, do you think Myspace.com should be shut down?
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Not shut down, Paula, but certainly do a better job of helping parents.
Parents are the first line of defense. I know, as a parent of four children, that they are certainly likely to be tempted by Myspace. But there should be, for example, better filters that enable parents to block access to Myspace for 13- or 14-year-olds.
There should be better policing by Myspace itself to prevent the kind of pornography and predators that now pose such a threat and that result in that federal couple of arrests.
BLUMENTHAL: And we're investigate some serious sexual assaults in our state police.
ZAHN: So, how bad do you think this threat actually is?
BLUMENTHAL: Serious, very, very perilous.
ZAHN: Describe to us what you have seen that has you so concerned.
BLUMENTHAL: What parents need to do, really, is to visit that Web site. And those pictures are worth 1,000 of my words. What concerns me is not only the instances of sexual assaults, seven of them now under investigation in the state, but also the images of drug use, of obscenity, of other kinds of activities that we simply wouldn't want our children to see, let alone do, and glamorizing and hyping them, to literally millions of children, and exposing them to these sexual predators.
ZAHN: And the language is very offensive, isn't it? Very raw, very graphic.
BLUMENTHAL: More than graphic and raw, it is really alarming, in the sense of what it can lead kids to do. This Web site, right now, can do a better job. We're determined to work with Myspace, which has been responsive.
They have sought to be cooperative. We think there is technology that can enable filtering out and, in effect, cleansing of many of these most dangerous kinds of images, because they are more than just words. They are literally photographs, images, repeated in your face that are really so absolutely appalling.
ZAHN: Something that is shocking to any parent, hearing this for first time -- a pretty scary landscape out there for any of us raising children at this time and place.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for the warnings. Appreciate it.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
ZAHN: I want to turn now back to our technology correspondent, Daniel Sieberg.
We just heard Mr. Blumenthal that talk about some of the things he need -- thinks needs to happen, filters, but, more importantly, even greater parental scrutiny of what goes on in our kids' lives.
ZAHN: Now, come on. We know how fast everything moves out there. We know that teenagers usually shut their bedroom door anyway. What -- what you to recommend we do?
Well, I mean, this does fall to parents, for -- for them to take some responsibility, some action here. Some tips are -- are more practical than others. But these are just a few things you can do any time. In fact, you could do it right now, if you wanted to. You can set up your own Myspace profile or on one of the other similar sites that are out there.
Basically, see what your kids are talking about. Get them to show you their profile, or search for it, if necessary. Ensure their friends aren't revealing details like when and where they meet in real life.
Obviously, discourage posting personal details. This could include address, a full name, e-mail address, instant message -- instant message screen name. And, finally, talk to your kids about the hazards of moving from the virtual world to the real one, because, Paula, that's when it can get really dangerous.
ZAHN: Yes. Basically, the bottom line is, we just got to keep on talking to our kids over and over again...
SIEBERG: Exactly. Exactly.
ZAHN: ... no matter how many times they don't want to hear it.
SIEBERG: It's the same message. Right. Exactly.
ZAHN: Daniel Sieberg, thank you so much.
SIEBERG: You bet.
ZAHN: Appreciate your good reporting.
Even if your kids aren't on the computer right now, they still may be doing something that is pretty unbelievable. Just watch. What are these kids thinking? They call it fun. They call it backyard wrestling. But what is real really going on here?
Also ahead, is the Bush presidency still afloat, now that the Dubai ports deal has been scuttled?
And, a year ago, we all watched in horror as this story unfolded. How did an inmate get his hands on a gun? What happened when he was roaming Atlanta's courthouse? Tonight, details you have never heard before.
More than 18 million of you went to our Web site today.
Our countdown now of the top 10 most popular stories on CNN.com begins where I just left off, in Georgia. That is where a jury today convicted a millionaire of hiring a hit man to kill his wife 19 years ago. She was shot to death on the doorstep of her Atlanta townhouse.
Number nine, reports of force-feeding detainees on hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay brings outrage from doctors all over the world. Hundreds of them have signed a letter to "The Lancet" medical journal, asking the U.S. to stop -- numbers eight and seven next.
ZAHN: What really happened the day of the Atlanta courthouse rampage? Coming up, untold stories from people who were there.
Well, tonight, 24 hours since the Dubai ports deal died, everybody is wondering how bad all of this is for President Bush. A new poll out today puts his job approval rating close to its lowest point ever. And, today, the president says he's troubled by the political opposition that killed the deal. Well, who wouldn't be?
Chief national correspondent John King takes us "Beyond the Headlines" tonight.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An audience of newspaper editors, the perfect place to turn the page, but, first, this ports debate postscript.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm concerned about a broader message this issue could send to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East.
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Goodbye, Dubai.
KING: Moving on won't be easy. The ports debate caused trouble for the president at home and overseas. Glaringly, provocatively anti-Arab is how "The Saudi Arab News" summed up the debate. And, remember, the image of the United States and this president was already a major foreign policy challenge.
But the more immediate tests are here at home, the new debate now, whether the ports fight was a one-time internal Republican skirmish or the beginning of an election-year civil war.
STANLEY GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: They have been impressive, you know, since they took the White House you know, in -- in 2000. But now they're fighting amongst themselves. It undermines their whole identity, you know, trust us to govern and lead.
KING: Republicans insist, this soon will pass.
CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: We have had remarkably strong unity among congressional Republicans and the president for five years. And it's never going to be perfect, but I think it will continue to be good this year.
KING: The tests are coming. Spending is one flash point, immigration another source of internal Republican discord, and a fight Mr. Bush seems determined to pick.
For the first time in a long time, Democrats are enjoying watching the president.
GREENBERG: This past week, you know, the president was talking about how great outsourcing was for Americans. There are a lot of these older blue-collar voters, couldn't understand the ports, couldn't understand why he was in India talking about outsourcing. This is a president, I think, that is out of touch on a -- you know, a number of fronts.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: All types of homeland security.
KING: That Democrats are so emboldened was one big ingredient in the collapse of the ports deal. Add in a weakened president, congressional Republicans worried about their own grip on power. Then stir in a company in a country where money and royalty carry more weight than public opinion. What you get is a plot that got so messy, there was, by Washington standards, only one logical place to turn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The delay to buy more time, informed sources tell CNN, came after private White House appeals to allies like former Congressman Vin Weber, a lobbyist who represents the United Arab Emirates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: They have hired Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The lobbyists hit the Hill and the phones to make the case the company could and should be trusted. Dubai granted CNN exclusive access to make its case it could and should be trusted.
And a defiant president said, more than once, the company and the country could and should be trusted.
BUSH: Nevertheless, Congress was still very much opposed to it.
KING: A good editor would call that succinct and a major understatement.
John King, CNN, Washington.
ZAHN: And we move on now.
Just a year ago, on a Friday night, police were frantically looking for a man who had gone on a shooting rampage inside Atlanta's courthouse. How did he get loose? Why he did get away? Coming up, some of the untold stories.
And a little bit later on, what are your kids doing when you aren't looking? Would you believe what you're looking at right now is considered a sport, and it is really, really popular?
Now, though, first, number eight on our CNN.com countdown -- the U.N. Security Council considers proposals to force Iran to address questions about its nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies fear Iran is building atomic weapons.
Number seven, a federal judge in New York today declared a mistrial on racketeering charges for John "Junior" Gotti, son of the late mob boss John Gotti. Prosecutors have vowed to try him a third time.
Don't go away -- numbers six and five coming up next.
ZAHN: The Dubai ports deal is the first time President Bush has run into a solid wall of opposition from his own party, as well as Democrats. So, now that the deal is dead, how much damage has been done to the White House? A question that is reaching the boiling point tonight.
So, joining me now to debate that, voices from the right and the left, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of "The Nation," and Bay Buchanan, a CNN contributor and president of the American Cause.
Good to see both of you. Welcome back.
BAY BUCHANAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi there, Paula. Thank you.
ZAHN: So, Bay, you got to acknowledge the president is in trouble.
Take a look at this latest poll number, showing his approval rating at 37 percent. He got pummeled on this ports deal. There was a mutiny of the Republican Party. How much trouble do you think he's in?
BUCHANAN: Well, there is no question that this has -- this has hurt him. He has come down again in the polls, as you just indicated.
And each time, Paula, you drop in the polls, it is harder to get back up. And -- and, so, the American people now have that much more to question his leadership. And, so, he's in trouble himself. But I will tell you, House Republicans are in a stronger position today, I believe, than they were before the ports deal.
ZAHN: Are Democrats in any stronger position today, Katrina, than they were before this thing blew apart?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": I think the election of 2006 is going to be a national referendum on a failed Republican stewardship of this country.
I do think that the -- one poll that is very interesting is that 70 percent of the country, Republicans, Democrats, independents, believe this country is heading in the wrong direction. So, I think the ports are part of the larger accountability moment issue, where you have a president misled a nation into a war which the country has turned against, who knew in advance about the breached levees, who has failed to support ordinary people, giving tax cuts to the very richest at a time of national sacrifice.
I think all of that is going to make this a change election, because of such discontent in this country. (CROSSTALK)
BUCHANAN: And -- and...
ZAHN: So, Bay, can he win back any of that -- that loss that he has bled so badly over the last several months?
BUCHANAN: Well, you know, I'm not sure if, you know, there's -- depending on what he starts fighting.
If he starts fighting for an amnesty across the country, you are going see to those numbers -- he's going to be thinking those numbers are good. It's going to drop -- the very bottom will drop out from it.
But the key here is -- what Katrina is talking about is, this election is a national referendum. That's what the Democrats have to have, Paula, some kind of national referendum against Bush, is what they feel is going to work. And that's why this is such good news.
The House Republicans have now defined themselves as something separate from Bush. They have shown real leadership. They want to represent the American people on the issue of safety, the best issue out there. I believe that they are stronger now, and they're the ones that are emboldened, and that this whole mess has really hurt the Democratic strategy.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, there is nothing like political survival to stiffen the spine.
- BUCHANAN: Exactly.
VANDEN HEUVEL: And the Republicans are now running away. But it is going to be much tougher for Bush to assemble any majority around some of his core issues.
But, at the same time, the Democrats are going to link these Republicans to Bush and his coattails at every possible stage. And, again, this is a..
ZAHN: It hasn't worked for them so far, though.
BUCHANAN: But that is what will work now.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But look at the -- again, this country does not like the direction it is heading.
There was an AP story today. A voter in Virginia, Walter Wright (ph), a Republican. He said he wouldn't be surprised, quote, "to see the Democrats take 2006 because people vote for change and hope for the best." This is a Republican speaking. And Republican pollsters are saying this president has no political capital.
ZAHN: Bay, you've got ten seconds left. Where do you think the president will be six months from now when you look at these approval ratings? BUCHANAN: Well, you know, the president is probably going to be I think in the low 40s, unless something breaks, something unexpected. But the key here is if it's not a national referendum, if that doesn't work, if Republicans can define themselves and show the kind of leadership they have now, their own agenda, they will be running as individuals. Or on...
ZAHN: We'll see.
BUCHANAN: Yes, we will see, and I think they'll do fine.
ZAHN: Bay Buchanan, Katrina Vanden Heuvel. Always great to have both of you on the air with us.
So the question tonight is what exactly happened during 26 hours of terror in Atlanta? Believe it or not, a lot more than you remember. How did an inmate get his hands on a gun? What happened when he confronted a judge? How did he get away?
Also, are your kids trying this? They call it fun. You know, they could end up paralyzed for life. It's happening all over the country, folks.
First, though, number six in CNN.com countdown. In Michigan, some terrifying moments on the road for two pregnant women in an SUV. Police say another driver rammed into their vehicle and it almost forced them into oncoming traffic. Luckily, neither one of them was hurt.
Number five, NASA scientists cheered today just a short time ago when a spacecraft slowed down enough to make it into orbit around Mars. It's expected to send back some of the best views yet of the red planet.
Numbers four and three are just ahead.
In tonight's "Outside the Law," it was one year ago tomorrow. All of us were glued to our television sets as a terrifying rampage and manhunt unfolded in Atlanta. An accused rapist shot his way out of a courthouse and set off a 26 hour reign of terror that left four people dead.
My colleague here Kyra Phillips tells the story in a special two hour "CNN PRESENTS" this weekend. And Kyra joins me now from outside the courthouse, where it all came down -- Kyra?
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Paula, I'll never forget it. It actually happened when I was on the air. We got word that we might have some breaking news. The next thing you know, we were looking at all these affiliate live shots out of Atlanta, Georgia. And it looked so calm and quiet now, but there were police cars just converged on this area, people running around screaming. Nobody knew what was going on. And for the next 26 hours, we were on the story.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): It should have been a day like any other at the Fulton County Courthouse: business as usual. It would be anything but.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police are everywhere here, Kenneth (ph), said to be flying around. What we know is two people have been shot. One is a deputy. The other, we believe, may be a judge. This is just a chaotic scene, with emergency vehicles flying everywhere.
PHILLIPS: In a span of 12 minutes, a brazen jailbreak. A deadly shooting spree. The terror begins. March 11, 2005. Thirty-three- year-old Brian Nichols is transported from jail to the basement of the county courthouse. Nichols is on trial for a second time in as many weeks on charges of rape, burglary, false imprisonment.
ASH JOSHI, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I was quite confident Brian Nichols knew the trial was not going well. It was the fourth quarter and we were up by a few touchdowns and I think he was concerned.
PHILLIPS: Faced with the very real prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison, police say Nichols takes matters into his own hands, literally.
At 8:49 a.m., he's escorted up to the holding cells on the eighth floor of the new courthouse. There he assaults and overpowers Deputy Cynthia Hall and quickly changes into street clothes.
U.S. Marshal Richard Mecum heads the task force investigating the events of this particular morning.
RICHARD MARSHAL, U.S. MARSHAL: He knocked her out. She had a key on her that unlocked the gun box. And so he unlocked the gun box, which is in the holding cell and took her gun out. Also got her radio.
PHILLIPS: As Nichols makes his break, Judge Roland Barnes is presiding over a civil matter on the eighth floor of the old courthouse. Court reporter Julie Brandau is next to him. Attorney Richard Robbins is also in the courtroom.
He's never given an on-camera interview about the events of the day, but he did agree to speak with CNN off camera.
RICHARD ROBBINS, ATTORNEY (off camera): There was media at the prosecutors table and three on the other side at the other table, and Julie was the court reporter at the hearing and the judge was on the bench. So it was sort of a typical day in the courtroom up until that point.
PHILLIPS: Prosecutors Gayle Abramson and Ash Joshi are also at the courthouse, preparing to head to Judge Barnes' courtroom for what they hope will be the final day of Brian Nichols' rape trial.
JOSHI: It was a few minutes after nine, probably about 9:05. I said Gayle, I'm going to go up. Go ahead and go up to the courtroom. I'll see you there in a few minutes.
GAYLE ABRAMSON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: He took the way I would take, the stairs, but since I had so much with me, visual aid stuff, I was taking the elevator. And I was running late.
PHILLIPS (on camera): By now, Brian Nichols, armed with Cynthia Hall's hand gun, is calmly walking away from the holding cells. But instead of easily escaping, he's making his way across this sky bridge to the old courthouse.
MECUM: He had been this route several times, so he knew where to go and how to go. He went from the holding cell up to Judge Barnes' courtroom. He didn't go in the courtroom itself, but went into the judge's chambers.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Once there, Nichols takes several hostages, including another deputy and his gun. He then walks into the eighth floor courtroom, where his rape trial is about to begin.
MECUM: From the chambers, in the courtroom is directly behind the judge's bench. The judge was already on the bench with the court reporter. And when Brian Nichols came through that door, he then shot the judge and the court reporter.
PHILLIPS: Judge Barnes and Julie Brandau are killed instantly. Nichols then turns his attention to the prosecution table, but there were no prosecutors. Instead, he locks his eyes and his gun on Attorney Richard Robbins.
ROBBINS: A lot of thoughts went through my mind. He just killed the judge. Now he's going to kill the prosecutor, then he's going to kill everybody else. And I'm sitting at the prosecutor's table. So I decided at that point that I needed to get out of that courtroom, and I wasn't going to let him shoot me straight in the chest.
PHILLIPS: Robbins, convinced he's about to be shot, breaks for exit.
ROBBINS: I didn't find that out until a couple of days later that when I turned around and ran, that distracted him and he ran out of after me.
PHILLIPS: Robbins runs across the sky bridge, while Nichols ducks into a stairwell, but he's spotted by Sergeant Hoyt Teasley, responding to an alarm. Teasley chases Nichols as he dashes down seven floors to Martin Luther King Junior Drive.
Even as Nichols is making his escape, few have any idea of the tragedy unfolding at the courthouse.
JOSHI: People were moving around very fast and I see the judge's case manager and his law clerk hugging each other and crying, sobbing uncontrollably.
PHILLIPS: Judge Barnes' wife Claudia also works at the courthouse and remembers all too vividly the chaos that followed the shootings.
(on camera): How did you hear there was a shooting inside the courthouse?
CLAUDIA BARNES, WIDOW OF JUDGE ROLAND BARNES: I had a marshal friend who used to be assigned to our courtroom. I work for another judge. And he called me and asked me what all the commotion was outside my building. And I said, well, you tell me because, you know, you're the guy with the gun.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Claudia Barnes will soon learn that a judge has been shot on the eighth floor of the old courthouse.
BARNES: One of my good friends came and got me and at that point, I knew something was wrong with Roland. So we went over to his courtroom and they had already taped it off.
PHILLIPS (on camera): They wouldn't even let you in the courtroom.
BARNES: No. Oh, no.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): In a matter of 12 short minutes, so many lives are changed forever at the Fulton County Courthouse, and it's about to get worse. Brian Nichols is on the loose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nichols is considered armed and extremely dangerous.
PHILLIPS: I'm taking you there. It was these doors right here that Brian Nichols ran out of this courthouse sergeant Teasley right behind him, the only sheriff's deputy that was chasing him at that time.
Brian Nichols makes his way right over here in the middle of the street. That's when he turned around with the gun and opened fire on Sergeant Teasley. Sergeant Teasley was standing right here trying to get a focus on Brian Nichols. And that's when he was shot, and he died right here outside this courthouse.
But it didn't stop there. Brian Nichols went on to do about three more carjackings, starting in this parking lot. That's when he -- hours later, he took the life of another individual, a customs agent in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, Georgia.
And then after that is when he finally came face-to-face with Ashley Smith, and you know the story from there. He held her hostage for seven hours until she was somehow able to get him to turn himself in -- Paula.
ZAHN: It's just as horrifying to relive this a year later as it was when we all watched this unfold on live television last year.
Kyra, thanks so much. I didn't realize we were going to hear from so many people for the very first time on this story. Appreciate your reporting, and we are going to be watching Kyra throughout the weekend for the whole story of the rampage and manhunt and Ashley Smith's pivotal role in this whole drama, the focus of a special two- hour CNN presents, "26 Hours of Terror: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Courthouse Shootings."
You can watch it tomorrow at 7:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. Eastern and then again on Sunday at 7:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
"LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up in just a few minutes from now.
Hi, Larry. How are you doing tonight?
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: I am well. How are you dear?
ZAHN: I'm fine, thanks. You going to have some people joining you tonight?
KING: I'm going to have Wynonna Judd, one of my favorite people, who is going to reveal something tonight she has not announced before publicly, and that should be very interesting.
And then later in the show, Wynonna at end of the program will be joined by Cowboy Troy, the self-described hip-hop artist, who appears on a new show starting next week with Wynonna's as kind of a co-host. But it is Wynonna's hour tonight at the top of 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
ZAHN: You have piqued my interest waiting for her surprise announcement. And nice tie you got there, Larry. That got my attention too.
KING: The shirt matches, right? Looks nice.
ZAHN: It's all color coordinated. Have a good weekend. Have good show. Thanks Larry.
KING: Thank you, you too.
ZAHN: And in just a minute some Friday night fights. They actually call it backyard wrestling. What really goes on here? You have to see it to believe it. You have got to hear the warnings to understand why so many parents around this country are absolutely flipped out about what you're looking at right now.
Moving up on 14 minutes before the hour, time for Erica Hill and "The Headline News Business Break."
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, the good news Wall Street was waiting for helped push stocks higher today. All three major indexes rose with the Dow tacking on 104.
So just what was that good news? Jobs. Employers added almost a quarter million workers to the payroll in February. That's the biggest increase in three months. Construction , retail and health care sectors helped to lead the way.
GM is recalling 900,000 older model Chevy and pickup trucks because of faulty tailgates that might collapse under heavy loads.
And Motorola shares falling after Cingular and T-Mobile temporarily stopped selling the Motorola Razr cell phone, that's that really thin phone. The company say a glitch in the phone causes dropped calls or even a complete shutdown. Motorola though says the problem only affects just a limited number of the Razr phones.
So, Paula, just on the up note for you, it is Friday. So have a great weekend.
ZAHN: Oh, thanks for that little reminder. Did any you guys know it was Friday? Oh, look, they're so silent now. We were cheering earlier when we knew weekend was on its way.
Why do some young people enjoy doing things that could leave them permanently scarred or even paralyzed? Well, they call it backyard wrestling. They swear it is fun. But what the heck are they thinking?
Now on to number four of our CNN.com countdown, something we covered a little earlier, President Bush's concern that the collapse of the ports deal sends a very negative message to the U.S. -- or to U.S. allies in the Middle East.
Number three takes us to California, where the Iraq war veteran wounded in a police shooting caught on tape says his recovery has been very difficult. A sheriff's deputy has been charged in that shooting. Stay with us. Number two is next.
ZAHN: Now some absolutely amazing video of teenagers doing what they do best, finding ways to shock their parents. It seems that every generation of kids tries to outdo the previous one.
So today, how are thousands of teenagers all over the country managing to do just that? Well, they have found a frightening and dangerous past time.
Here is Adaora Udoji with yet another case of "What Were They Thinking?"
ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Nearly every weekend, 17-year-old Shawn and his friends head into their Brooklyn field of dreams...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now making his way out to the ring...
UDOJI: Into a violent and bloody world you are not going to believe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to see some crazy, crazy stuff today. UDOJI: Prepare yourself. It is shocking. This is hardcore backyard wrestling. And it is Shawn's dream to go pro. Shawn, who is studying for his GED, started IVW or the Insane Backyard Wrestling Federation with more than a dozen of his closest friends.
(on-camera): Why do you call it that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we are insane. If you guys watch any other backyard tapes or something, there is nothing like this out there.
UDOJI (voice over): They call it entertainment, a combination of showmanship and choreographed moves using weapons meant to shed blood but only look painful. There are no rules. No supervision. Just friends bashing each other with keyboards, whacking themselves with fluorescent light tubes. And ramming each other into the ground head first.
Notice there are no trainers, no adults, not even a Band aid. But they insist no one really gets hurt. The blood is just show for the cameras. But where do they get these ideas?
They say they learn the moves watching video games like this one where a wrestler's head is pushed into a deep fryer and DVDS widely available from World Wrestling Entertainment or WWE, in which pro wrestlers use fire and cheese graters for maximum shock value.
(on-camera): WWE officials responded in a statement saying they are adamantly opposed to the concept of backyard wrestling because of the risks of injury to untrained amateurs.
(voice over): The statement goes on to say, "We urge parents to be proactive in discouraging their children from undertaking this dangerous practice."
Back in Brooklyn, Joe Giordano had no real idea what his son Jordan was up to until he saw it for himself. It was his first time, and he watched in horror as Jordan took a beating.
JOSEPH GIORDANO, BACKYARD WRESTLER'S FATHER: We are going to talk about this later.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want some water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jordan, is it bad?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It is not bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it is one of those little ones.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes.
UDOJI (on-camera): You're clearly upset. GIORDANO: Yes. A little bit. I thought I was going to handle this a lot better. I thought it was kids wrestling, you know? And all I can see is a piece of glass going into his face, in his eye, in his hand. It is -- this isn't what kids should be doing.
UDOJI (voice over): But physical injury isn't the only risk, according to pediatrician Shari Barkin, who studies links between images of violence and aggression. She watched our video of hardcore teen wrestling in disbelief.
DR. SHARI BARKIN, WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY: Being violent creates an addictive property, so that once you have done it, just seeing the same thing over and over again is no longer interesting. You have to escalate it and escalate it and escalate it, so where is the final escalation?
UDOJI: Back in Brooklyn, Shawn's match has moved on to thumbtacks, dozens of them for a favorite big finish. It is hard to believe but he says getting punctured several times in the back is no big deal.
(on-camera): None of that hurts, Shawn?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UDOJI: It looks painful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the whole point.
UDOJI (voice over): But it is a very big deal to Jordan's dad, Joe.
GIORDANO: I'm sure the other parents have no idea what is going on here.
UDOJI (on-camera): Are you going to tell them?
GIORDANO: Everybody I know. Every kid that is here that I know, I'm going to let their parent know.
GIORDANO: And if they don't believe me, let them come, let them take a look for themselves and let them get shocked like I did.
UDOJI (voice over): Adaora Udoji, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: Big job being a parent.
Coming up at the top of the hour, superstar Wynonna Judd talks about the food addiction she couldn't control. That's coming up on "LARRY KING LIVE." We're also told she has some kind of surprise announcement to make tonight. And number two on our CNN.com countdown, California closes Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and orders him to pay a $69,000 fine. The state says he hasn't paid workers' compensation insurance. Jackson you might remember moved to Bahrain after he was acquitted of child molestation charges.
Number one is next.
ZAHN: Now number one on our CNN.com countdown, Lance Armstrong says he has been spending some time comforting Will Reeve since his mother, Dana's, death earlier this week. Armstrong says they became close after Dana Reeve was diagnosed with lung cancer last year.
Next Monday, a disturbing mystery in Florida we are going to try to solve for you. We hope you join us for that. And we hope you have a really good weekend. Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Hope to see you at the beginning of the week. Good night.
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