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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Anna Nicole Smith Dead; Murder City USA: 24 Hours in New Orleans;
Aired February 8, 2007 - 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: We're in New Orleans tonight; sadly, not for a progress report, but for a reality check for a city that is now the murder capital of America. That story is coming up.
But first, the sudden death of a troubled celebrity, Anna Nicole Smith. The former "Playboy" playmate was found unconscious in a Florida hotel room. Efforts to revive her failed. She achieved fame with her looks, of course. She was also in and out of court. And she suffered tragedy, including the recent loss of her son. Today her turbulent life came to a mysterious end.
More now from CNN's John Zarrella.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): It began at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. Anna Nicole Smith was found unconscious in her hotel room this afternoon by her private nurse. A bodyguard tried to save her.
CHARLIE TIGER, SEMINOLE, FLORIDA, POLICE CHIEF: At 1:45, a bodyguard administered CPR to her.
ZARRELLA: Nine-one-one was called. Police were there within minutes.
TIGER: At approximately 1:45 p.m. today, the Seminole Police Department responded to the Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel in reference to a person needing medical assistance.
The person, later identified as Anna Nicole Smith, was transported by paramedics and transported to Hollywood -- was treated by paramedics and transported to the Hollywood Memorial Hospital.
ZARRELLA: Monica Alvarado was at the hospital when the ambulance arrived.
MONICA ALVARADO, EYEWITNESS: We just came out to get fresh air. And we seen a whole bunch of cops and an ambulance. And a friend of ours tells us that that was Anna Nicole in there.
They just moved everybody back. They didn't want nobody there. So, we got pushed back.
ZARRELLA (on camera): So, you couldn't tell whether they were still trying to work on her or anything? ALVARADO: They told her she was dead upon arrival.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): A tragic end to a woman who saw more than her share of tragedy.
Her son Daniel died this past September from a deadly combination of antidepressants and methadone while in the Bahamas. A doctor hired by Anna Nicole said it was accidental. Authorities there say there will be a formal inquiry into his death in March.
But Anna Nicole Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, told Nancy Grace on "Headline News" that she believes it was not an accident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NANCY GRACE")
VIRGIE ARTHUR, ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S MOTHER: I just know that Danny didn't kill himself. He did not overdose himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: And, at the time, she had a warning for the daughter she called Vickie Lynn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NANCY GRACE")
ARTHUR: Vickie Lynn, you know I love you. Always have. And be very careful about who you hang around with, because you may be next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: No one knows yet how Anna Nicole Smith died. There will be an autopsy Friday. But, for now, her family takes some solace in the idea of mother and son reuniting.
"There is no doubt that her son loved her," they said in a statement. "They lived out of each other's pockets while he was alive. And now they can finally be together again in heaven."
COOPER: John, there's so many sort of legal battles now pending about this. We understand there's going to be an emergency hearing tomorrow about who is going to get access to this child. Do we know where the child is?
ZARRELLA (on camera): No, we don't. What we do know is that apparently the child was not at the Hard Rock Casino with Anna Nicole and Howard K. Stern, who apparently was here as well. Although, we have not seen him at all. But the child was not at the hotel. Do not know if the child was even in the state of Florida.
But, yes, we do hear there might be some paternity emergency hearing tomorrow and also we understand perhaps tomorrow there may be some DNA sampling done of Anna Nicole Smith either before or after the autopsy. But that's all we know about that at this point -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. John Zarrella, thanks for that.
Michael Scott was Anna Nicole Smith's attorney in the Bahamas. He was also the lawyer for the estate of her son, Daniel. Scott ended up suing Smith and is still suing Smith's estate now for unpaid legal fees. I spoke to him earlier.
COOPER: Mr. Scott, let's start with you. Your initial thought upon hearing of Anna Nicole Smith's death?
MICHAEL SCOTT, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR ANNA NICOLE SMITH (on the phone): Yes, it was -- actually, I was actually shocked. I was moving in between appointments and clients and it was drawn to my attention by one of my secretaries who was watching CNN, breaking news, actually.
COOPER: How did you first come to be involved with her?
SCOTT: That was back in July of last year. I was initially in connection with her move to the Bahamas. I and my firm gave certain advices.
After that, I became involved as a result of the death of her son, Daniel, and issues arising out of that, and the investigation and referencing her and protecting her interest in the matter of the estate of her son until I basically resigned.
COOPER: Why do you think she wanted to move to the Bahamas?
SCOTT: Well, I think she wanted to move to the Bahamas to avoid what's happening now, what has happened in the last couple of months, the legal proceedings in California relating to the paternity of her child.
COOPER: Obviously when you became involved with her after the death of her son, Daniel, she was obviously extremely upset. That must have been an extraordinary time to be part of her circle.
SCOTT: It was extraordinary. It was. In a small jurisdiction like the Bahamas, she dominated the headlines and dominated the headlines from the time she arrived. And living in the Bahamas is sometimes like living in a fish bowl. And of course, it was all over the press, all over the media, the local media and of course we had the invasion of the foreign media.
So yes, it was -- my life was a bit topsy-turvy and insane, actually.
COOPER: And then did she not pay you along the way? I, because I mean I read articles in which ultimately your firm has had to seek legal action against her in order to try to get unpaid bills. Was there ever a time when she was paying as it went or was she always avoiding payment?
SCOTT: We were engaged. We were given certain undertakings and those undertakings were dishonored. And I was forced to sue for the fees.
COOPER: Have you been able to recoup any of the fees? I think I read it was $113,000 in unpaid fees.
SCOTT: Correct. Not yet.
COOPER: Are there assets there that you can seize or that you would be able to get payment from?
SCOTT: I have no idea the extent of her assets. My impression was she had this predilection towards evading her contractual and other obligations, at least financially.
COOPER: You don't think she really ever had much of an intention to pay at all, unless she was forced?
SCOTT: No, of course not, unless she was forced to pay.
COOPER: And what happens now? I mean, can you seek judgment against her estate?
SCOTT: Well, there will be a judgment against her. Of course, that judgment will survive her demise and it will have to be dealt with by whoever administers her estate, which is another legal mine field.
COOPER: As you look back on this entire episode in your life, what goes through your mind?
SCOTT: Anderson, let me say that frankly, for a while it was interesting being the focus of attention by the media. But let me say this clearly that I wish I had never become involved in this matter. It's been a distraction in my life. There have been negative sides to it. The whole thing is just -- it's drained me and it's drained other members of my firm, including my partner who worked with me on this case. It's drained us emotionally and physically.
COOPER: Mr. Scott, I appreciate your time. I'm sure it's been a busy day for you. Thank you very much.
SCOTT: You're very welcome, Anderson. Thank you.
COOPER: That was Michael Scott, a former attorney for Anna Nicole Smith.
Up next, 360 special report, "Murder City USA: 24 Hours in New Orleans."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): A city on edge night and day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do I know you from? What area? I forgot, St. Claude area?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the music. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Music. All right. All right. Ooh, that's all the killers over there, huh?
COOPER: Killers leaving their mark. So far 20 murders in 2007, and that's not all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got a white camaro, white trans am.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's running. He's running.
COOPER: Suspected drug dealers and more bad guys roaming the streets.
Plus, a victim of the violence. He brought music to the city he loved. How New Orleans lost a favorite son and what they're doing to make sure it doesn't happen again.
This is a 360 special report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: "Murder City USA: 24 Hours in New Orleans." We'll take you on patrol with an elite unit in the New Orleans Police Department fighting crime in this battered city. Stay tuned.
COOPER: Well, the last time we came to New Orleans last month the city was in the grips of a violent crime wave. Tonight, it still is.
Back then people were marching in the streets, voicing outrage at the predators, but mostly at a city and a criminal justice system they say simply isn't doing it's job, isn't protecting them.
That's the demonstration we saw just a few weeks ago.
So far this year 20 people have been killed in New Orleans, making it the most violent big city in the country. A city about half the population it was before the hurricane.
Tonight, the problems and solutions as they play out over a 24- hour period.
We start with CNN's Rick Sanchez with exclusive access to a newly formed elite police unit out on patrol at midnight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody parallel. Somebody parallel.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a new day with a new way of fighting crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melvin, go -- we just passed that little cut by the park. Got a white camaro, white trans am.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's running. He's running.
SANCHEZ: Apparently not running for long.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, you told me it was his cousin, though, just now ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're calling him my cousin, Brian.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, you ain't making no sense. Roll over. Roll over.
SANCHEZ: A suspect is caught off guard. Right next to him, police find a bag of ecstasy. Quick chase. Quick catch. Why?
Imagine 15 cops running at you all at once from different directions. It's why they're called the jump out boys.
In just a little more than three months, this elite unit has made more than 1,000 arrests, confiscated 44 guns and taken 250 suspected drug dealers off the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do I know from? What area? I forgot. St. Claude area?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, the music.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Music. All right. All right.
Ooh, that's all the killers over there, huh?
SANCHEZ: It feels like a game of whose who. The goal is to end the city's murder epidemic. Hurricane Katrina has left police playing catch up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mind if we go in that vehicle before I get a dog over here?
I'm asking you, brother.
SANCHEZ: We're a mile away from the French Quarter. A tip leads the unit to a suspected dope seller.
(On camera): You see this car? Police say this is a dead give away. It's parked in the corner. You can see the windows are tinted. And the driver's seat is usually reclined because they say that's a, usually a drug seller whose customers know he's there.
Now, he doesn't want police to know he's there. That's why his seat is leaned all the way back.
And what is he selling? Here it is. It's a half an ounce bag of marijuana.
(Voice-over): It's hardly a major drug bust, but the night is still young and there's new information on what could be a sizable bust, the kind that sticks in court.
(On camera): We're in the Lower Ninth Ward. This is a church in this area. It's open on Fridays, Tuesdays and obviously enough on Sundays.
Now, let me show you something right next door. That white house right there. Police say that they have been looking into this house for quite some time. And when they go in there, they say they're going to be able to find, they're convinced, some guns and some crack cocaine.
By the way, they say the hours of operation there, 24/7.
(Voice-over): With warrant in hand, they're in. Three suspects arrested. They won't talk. But what police are about to find speaks for itself. A semiautomatic handgun with plenty of ammo, heroin, marijuana, and $3,400 in cash.
Still, though, no crack cocaine. The key may be to call in a canine unit. They do. And it works.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See these pieces of crack cocaine?
SANCHEZ (on camera): Um-hum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Individually bagged. See how they're all tied and knotted at the top?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Common signs of street level crack cocaine dealing.
SANCHEZ: So it's both heroin and cocaine in there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the way it looks.
SANCHEZ: And that looks to be a pretty significant amount.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is.
SANCHEZ: That's enough to send you to federal prison for some time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than likely, yes.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): All three suspects are booked. Because they were next to a school and a church, their charges will be aggravated. In fact, one of them is a convicted felon. Could face up to 30 years in a federal penitentiary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Felony bust (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five and ten.
SANCHEZ: It's now 2:00 in the morning and two more arrests bring the shift's total to six. But their work is not over.
These officers are going to be in court tomorrow because arrests are one thing, convictions are another.
COOPER: I saw you riding out there with Sergeant Dan Anderson, who actually I first met back at Wal-Mart just days after Hurricane Katrina. One of the guys who stayed on the job, working non-stop since then.
What -- the police you've been talking to, what do they say is the problem here?
SANCHEZ (on camera): Well, you hear the stories about the turf wars and about the bad people being here and about a lot of the good people still haven't come back.
But, the key problem, they say -- you know how in a lot of cities they always say they got these crack houses and then they'll bulldoze them? Well they got 10,000 of them here -- 10,000 abandoned homes that are potential crack houses.
And those are the ones that are being used by the bad guys. They sell drugs out of them. They keep guns in there. And these guys got to keep going back and essentially going through them and trying to see if they can get the bad guys out of there.
You know, it's a tough job. But this is an elite group and they're doing the best they can.
You know what struck me, though? To watch these guys -- well, how would you act, Anderson, if 10 police officers with guns came at you all of a sudden and you're sitting in your home?
SANCHEZ: Freak out, right?
COOPER: Yes, probably.
SANCHEZ: Right. We -- most would. I watched case after case where these suspects were just like -- it's almost like they've resigned themselves to the fact that this is all they've got.
There's a certain hopelessness in that community of these guys that we saw. It's something the city is going to have to, you know, deal with at some point. I mean, you know, I'm a reporter, I'm not a psychologist. I don't know what it is, but there's a problem there.
COOPER: There's a lot to deal with here.
COOPER: Rick Sanchez, appreciate that reporting. And as Rick just said, arresting people, it's not enough. The sad truth is you can get away with murder in New Orleans. In fact, the system is so overloaded and witnesses so unwilling to come forward, you might not even be charged.
Desiree Watson Jones found out firsthand when her phone rang at 1:00 a.m. The story now from CNN's Randi Kay.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Desiree Watson Jones has had enough of the crime, the killing and criminals walking free.
DESIREE WATSON JONES, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: I got a phone call and said, come, your son just got killed.
KAYE: It was 1 a.m.
JONES: My son was killed right on this street here.
KAYE: Thirty-year-old Yoshia Watson, soon to be married and the father of a 5-year-old boy, had been shot once in the head. There were witnesses. So why weren't they talking?
JONES: The guy walked up to me and said, I seen the whole thing.
I said, you seen the whole thing? Are you going to tell the police? I'll talk to you later. I don't want to get involved in that.
KAYE: Police eventually arrested Ivory Harris, street name B. Stupid. By law, prosecutors had just 60 days to charge him. Prosecutors couldn't find a witness to talk, and Harris walked.
CRAIG FAMULARO, PROSECUTOR: You think you've got the right person and you can make a case, and you might have some physical evidence that ties him to the scene, but you need that essential witness.
KAYE: Criminals call it misdemeanor murder. Scare the witnesses into silence until 60 days is up.
(On camera): Of all the murder suspects arrested last year, the D.A.'s office didn't charge nearly half of them. Prosecutors say 46 percent of the cases had to be thrown out and the suspects freed.
In 90 percent of those cases, the witnesses refused to testify.
(Voice-over): A New Orleans judge says last year the court released more than 3,000 violent and nonviolent alleged offenders combined. He predicts 7,000 will walk this year because the justice system is still so overwhelmed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So New Orleans is... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I know. I know.
KAYE: Pastor John Raphael was a police officer here for 15 years, before God came calling.
(On camera): What are witnesses so concerned about? Why are they running?
PASTOR JOHN RAPHAEL, NEW HOPE CHURCH: There's a fear, not only of the person who committed the crime coming back on -- to you with some kind of retaliation. We've had witnesses who were victimized who became homicide victims. The -- either because the person thought they were going to testify against them or they had already made plans to testify, and so that fear is legitimate.
KAYE (voice-over): Yoshia Watson's mother says it's time residents respect life enough to come forward.
JONES: I don't think that it's fair for no one not to come forward.
KAYE: Especially because the suspect, once released, may kill again.
Since Ivory Harris' release, he's become a suspect in three murders in Houston. And today he's back in jail, charged with second- degree murder in a New Orleans case.
Harris has pleaded not guilty.
But this time, prosecutors say they have a witness willing to talk.
COOPER: Randi joins us now. You hear a lot of residents saying that different groups here seem to be blaming one another. Police blame the D.A., D.A. blaming the police, people blaming the judges. You hear that all the time.
KAYE (on camera): Everywhere you go. And there is a lot of finger pointing certainly happening around here. The police are frustrated that the D.A.'s office isn't getting cases charged fast enough. And then these guys are ending up back on the street.
Chief Riley has said before that he's tired of rearresting the same people over and over again.
The D.A. Eddie Jordan (ph) is frustrated with the police because he says he's not getting the case files fast enough. And by the time he does get them, the witnesses are long gone.
And then, Anderson, you throw the judges into the mix, and they have to release these guys after 60 days by law if they don't have the witness or the evidence to charge them. So there is a lot of finger pointing. I'll tell you, these criminals, they do know the system. They know that if they keep their mouth shut, they keep the witnesses quiet, within 60 days they will be back on the street.
And one other note, just to point out, there used to be a witness protection program, witness housing here. And there's some talk about maybe bringing that back because it's not around anymore. At best, it's dysfunctional. And so they're hoping that maybe that will make a difference and get these guys talking.
COOPER: Randi, appreciate that report. Thanks very much.
There are a lot of police officers here who we have been following really since Hurricane Katrina. One of them is our next guest, Chief Anthony Cannatella, deputy chief now of the New Orleans Police Department. He joins me now.
Good to see you again.
DEP. CHIEF ANTHONY CANNATELLA, NEW ORLEANS POLICE CHIEF: Good to see you again.
COOPER: Bottom line, what is the problem here? Why do you think the murder rate has been going up?
CANNATELLA: Well, I think what happened is after the storm, as you know, most of our population was evacuated out of state. And I think the initial influx of residents back was the gangsters and the thugs, the drug dealers that were fleeing Houston, Dallas, Atlanta. They came back home and they're all vying for that same smaller footprint.
COOPER: So there's a smaller amount of territory and people vying for turf. Essentially, it's what a lot of...
CANNATELLA: That's exactly what we're seeing. Yes.
COOPER: Because I was in the French Quarter today. The French Quarter looks cleaner than ever. They got a new company in there literally scrubbing the streets.
COOPER: Every store owner said to me, look make sure people know the crime is not happening in the French Quarter, it's safe for tourists to come. So what you're seeing is sort of gang related, drug related.
CANNATELLA: I think so, Anderson. You know, if you look at it, we're no different than any other urban city in America. We have certain areas of the city that you just, you know, where the drug dealers are that it's just not safe to venture. The police, we're focusing our attention in those areas. We're making arrests, as you saw with our teams. This city is as safe as any other city in America.
COOPER: How frustrating is it as a police officer, though, for, you know, you send people into the system and then you see them released after 60 days because witnesses won't come forward?
CANNATELLA: It's extremely frustrating. Part of the problem is, you know, again, it goes back to population. A lot of our good citizens are not here. There's very few people here that's willing to become witnesses. They've had their fears and they're seeing the same people getting back out of jail. So they feel like, you know, why would I want to be a witness and run a risk of having to be murdered by the same guy that just got out of jail for me being a witness against him.
COOPER: It also seems like the social structure is kind of broken down. You have a lot of young kids, but their moms or the grandmothers, or aunts and uncles, people who were raising them, who formed a society aren't here yet or didn't come back and they're kind of on their own.
CANNATELLA: That's correct. We have a lot of juveniles, 14-year olds, 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds that are actually back in the city without guardians or parents, without their grandparents. They're living in either their parents' former homes or other abandoned homes that are still blighted that haven't been remediated since the hurricane. It's a unique problem. And as we identify those areas, those are the ones that we're targeting and taking off the street.
COOPER: You guys have these now late night road blocks where you check cars, check people. Is there something more the police can be doing, should be doing, you want to be doing?
CANNATELLA: Well, I think...
COOPER: You guys still don't have a crime lab?
CANNATELLA: Well, and that's a big part of our problem, Anderson. You know, here it is 18 months later. We still don't have crime lab. We still don't have central evidence and property. We have three police districts -- three, five and seven -- that's operating out of FEMA trailers, police headquarters operating out of FEMA trailers.
We have no central focus for police headquarters right now. Out DNA lab has been destroyed.
COOPER: Your DNA lab has been destroyed?
CANNATELLA: Yes. It's all been destroyed by the hurricane. Again, none of it is up. We expect to be in a crime lab within 30 days, but we still have a backlog of probably 2,000 drug cases that need to be tested. We're utilizing other Parishes' crime labs right now.
COOPER: And you hear the frustration of people out there. I mean, you hear the anger. What do you say to the residents? CANNATELLA: Well, you know, we're doing the best we can right now. We're trying some new things, the federal government, FBI, DEA, ATF and U.S Marshals are here assisting us now. We're putting forth a better effort, I think. We've moved some things around. We've rearranged some of the districts. We've put some task forces in place, the CAT Team -- the superintendent put the CAT Team together. That's all handpicked officers that know what to look for and where to look. I think we're doing it.
I mean, we're ready to start Mardi Gras tomorrow night. That's 12 days. And, you know, we feel like our home is safe and we're inviting the world to come out and enjoy Mardi Gras. The city's safe.
COOPER: Deputy Chief Anthony Cannatella, appreciate it as always.
CANNATELLA: Thank you.
COOPER: Thanks very much.
CANNATELLA: You too.
COOPER: Our next story happens as the sun is about to rise, when the family of Helen Hill, who made a home for themselves here -- well, the family is changed forever. The wife, mother, and filmmaker was murdered inside her home. It is a senseless crime that has sparked community outrage.
Once again, CNN's Randi Kaye reports.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 5:30 in the morning. The peace in this New Orleans neighborhood shattered by a bullet.
Paul Galuna (ph), asleep in the bedroom with his son, hears a gunshot and his wife, Helen, screaming from the living room. Paul runs to the bathroom with his little boy to keep him from harm's way.
The gunman chases them, shooting Paul three times, hitting him twice in the arm and once in the cheek. The toddler isn't hurt.
(On camera): When the police arrived here at the couple's house, they found Paul bloodied, huddled here at the front door, clutching his son.
Helen, Paul's wife of 10 years, was inside on the living room floor already dead from a gunshot wound to the neck. Her last words before she died, please don't hurt my baby.
(Voice-over): Helen's death last month marked the sixth homicide in New Orleans in less than 24 hours. It was the 12th in that week.
JACOB HILL, HELEN'S BROTHER: If in some grotesque way Helen has become a touchstone to what's happening in New Orleans, then I didn't want her to be a martyr, but let's accept that and shed some light on the tragedy that's still happening in New Orleans.
KAYE: In a tragic twist, Helen had convinced Paul to return to New Orleans. They had fled the city after Katrina flooded their home.
KAYE (on camera): Were you concerned at all about her heading back to a dangerous city?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Oh yes. Oh yes. I -- in retrospect, I should have been even more concerned than I was.
KAYE (voice-over): Helen loved New Orleans. She worked as an award winning filmmaker; Paul, a family physician.
New Orleans police investigators have been searching for her killer. No motive, no suspects.
HILL: There is a community there that because of the context in the circumstances is breeding in a culture of violence. And it's because they need help.
KAYE (on camera): How difficult is it for you to think about the fact that your sister went back there because she loves the city so much, wanted to make a difference, only to be gunned down four months later?
HILL: I could not imagine that it was a community with such danger as it was until this happened.
KAYE: Friends have said when Helen died, a light went out in New Orleans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It did. It went out in a lot of places.
KAYE (voice-over): Helen was buried in South Carolina. Paul was returned to Canada with 2-year-old Francis.
On a blog devoted to Helen's life and death, Paul posted this. We are trying to fill what we know is a hole in his little heart. Having lost his most important person, his beloved mama.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.
COOPER: It is so sad.
You know, any time we come to New Orleans, the first thing we do is turn into the radio station WWL and listen to my next guest, Garland Robinette, a radio talk show host who is really a pillar of this community who has been trying to find answers to about what is going on, not only with the crime, but with rebuilding of the city ever since Katrina struck.
I talked to him a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: We've just seen the story about Helen Hill. There have been so many murders this year. What is going on? Why is the crime -- why are murders escalating like this?
GARLAND ROBINETTE, WWL RADIO HOST, NOLA: That's what we would all like to know. Residents would like to know what the hell's going on. If you talk to the police, it's the D.A. You talk to the D.A., it's the police. If you talk to somebody else, it's the mayor. You talk to the mayor, it's the governor. The governor says it's the mayor. Everybody maybe will take a little bit of responsibility, but nobody says we're broken and here's what we're doing to fix it.
COOPER: Every day on your radio program you are holding officials accountable, trying to get some answers. And I mean, I was listening to you today, talking to someone from the D.A.'s office. And you know, everyone you talk to seem like good people. They seem like they're working hard, but it just doesn't seem to get -- nothing seems to get done.
ROBINETTE: Well, you hit it right on the head. You know, I often tell people, I don't know the police chief, I don't know the D.A. I know of them and I've met them, but I don't know them. Seem to be good people. No suggestion of corruption. But the report card keeps failing. And it's been failing here for decades.
COOPER: Do you have any sense of what can be done? I mean, now the city is talking about, OK, we're going to have these late night road stops. Should there be a curfew? Should there be a new police chief? Do you have any ideas?
ROBINETTE: Well, everything's a contradiction here. The police chief said the last time we had the curfew, crime went way down. But tourism says how can we have a curfew to show the people that the French Quarter and the CBD where we're standing is safe, which it is, but we can't have a curfew for the residential areas where the crime is occurring. So all of us are confused. We want an answer and we don't have a clue as to who to go to or how to get it.
COOPER: So what happens now? I mean, there was this big demonstration, thousands of people coming and marching on city hall, you know, and yelling at the mayor, enough, enough, they were saying. Do you think things will get better?
ROBINETTE: One man's opinion -- I could be wrong. I think the anger level here has been simmering for so long. Katrina tore off the top of it, tore off the scab, so to speak. And right now people are so angry that it's just going to take a little ignition point. That march the other day I think was the first evidence of it. We've got a city council meeting on Monday. I think the populous is right on the verge of doing something en masse to say the leadership, it changes and it changes soon.
COOPER: I know it's something you wrestle with. It's something I wrestle with, even about doing this program, devoting so much time to the issue of crime because, you know, we all love this city. We all want it to come back. And yet, you know, you kind of hate to put out a bad image of New Orleans. You hate to let people know things are so bad here in terms of crime. But at the same time, not talking about it feels like maybe nothing will change.
ROBINETTE: We both have that same debate. And my brain said, wait a minute. You do six hours of homework every day. And all you read about is New Orleans in "USA Today," CNN, "Wall Street Journal," "New York Times," L.A., Chicago. So, what the hell's the problem with talking about it on national TV, saying tourism here is still safe. But we got a problem and we've got to get it solved.
COOPER: The tourists are safe if they come here. The French Quarter is more or less safe.
ROBINETTE: Yes. The French Quarter is more clean than I have ever seen it.
COOPER: It's unbelievably clean. They got a new company in there, literally scraping the streets.
ROBINETTE: Yes. First time ever. And the safety side of it is there. But you get out into the peripheral areas, residential and slightly residential, and people are afraid. Whether it's truth or perception, I'm not sure. But I know they're angry and they're afraid.
COOPER: Well Garland Robinette, it's an honor. I'm a huge fan.
ROBINETTE: Anderson, nice finally meeting you face to face.
COOPER: You've done incredible work for the city. Thanks.
COOPER: Well, even before Hurricane Katrina struck, New Orleans had a serious problem with prosecuting crime. Here's the raw data on it.
In 2003-2004, the conviction rate for murder and attempted murder in New Orleans was just 12 percent. That was down from 27 percent in 1999-2000. By comparison, the national conviction rate is 80 percent.
Well, coming up, too young to die. Teenagers falling victim to crime in New Orleans.
A victim of the violence. He brought music to the city he loved. How New Orleans lost a favorite son and what they're doing to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Plus, residents of the famed French Quarter living in fear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was laying in the street and he held a gun to my face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: A lost sense of security, when "Murder City USA: 24 Hours in New Orleans," continues.
COOPER: We're looking at 24 hours in the life of New Orleans. It's now 3:00 p.m. in our timeline. Most students should be getting out of school. But for some teens, they're roaming the streets, buying or selling drugs. And some of them may never make it home alive.
The violence is taking its greatest toll on the young here, as we found out during 24 hours in New Orleans.
CNN's Gary Tuchman reports.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 3:00 p.m. Classes are over. And it's about to get noisy.
The sweet music comes from the boys who go to New Orleans St. Augustine High School. The sighs of relief come from the adults in their lives. Happy their kids are spending a longer day in the school building and less time on the streets.
(On camera): Father John Raphael is an alumnus of the school and now the principal.
REV. JOHN RAPHAEL, HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: What we do now is to remind them that the stakes are higher perhaps than they were when I was a student 20 years ago, than they were a year ago before the storm. Because, again, the possibilities of danger are greater.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Just Wednesday night, a 17-year-old boy shot to death in this New Orleans neighborhood, allegedly by another 17-year-old who is still at large.
Local court officials say the violent crime rate of teens 17 and over has risen since hurricane Katrina.
And it greatly worries 15-year-old Julian Raymond's parents, who while still hoping to move back into their Katrina-damaged home, know they are in a very different city.
JULIAN RAYMOND, HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: It's messed up, that some people could get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, even if they're not doing anything wrong. They could be good people, but they could get killed.
LEO RAYMOND, FATHER: There's a lot of people that are transients, are coming in, and they're recruiting.
TUCHMAN: For trouble, you mean?
L. RAYMOND: They're recruiting for trouble.
TUCHMAN: At St. Augustine, the principal says he has great kids. But there have been more disciplinary issues at his school since the storm. And he and his staff has to be more vigilant.
RAPHAEL: There's a lot of trauma, a lot of displacement issues. Kids went to multiple schools last year.
TUCHMAN: At a local high school hangout, 15-year-old, who we'll call Andrea, says she is told by her family she can no longer go out after the sun goes down.
(On camera): What happens sometimes in your neighborhood after dark?
"ANDREA," 15-YEAR-OLD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you hear gun shots.
TUCHMAN: How often do you hear gunshots?
"ANDREA": Like every Friday, Saturday. It's on the weekend, like every night.
TUCHMAN: Every weekend? Do you hear more gun shots now than you did before Katrina?
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Police have begun stopping cars at random checkpoints to try to clamp down on crime.
(On camera): John is a teen who says the streets are much more violent now.
Are you scared sometimes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm never scared.
TUCHMAN: How come you're never scared?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, whatever happens, is going to happen. I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we got to go one day.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): We all have to go one day. Not exactly words of inspiration for the worried parents of New Orleans, Louisiana.
COOPER: You talk about crime rates going up for older kids. What about kids under 17?
TUCHMAN (on camera): That's the one piece of good news, that court officials say that kids under 17, their rate has gone down since before Katrina.
However, there are some people here in New Orleans, particularly police officers I've talked to, who say, listen, the priority is catching the adults. But the shortage of police officers right now, we're not really thinking that much of catching the juveniles who commit less serious crimes.
We should mention, though, the one good piece of news also that we have heard from officials here, from police and court officials, that they're spending a lot more in securing these kids. They used to spend before Katrina $23,000 per school for security; now they're spending $260,000. There's 11 times more for security for the kids in school.
COOPER: Yes, I was at a school this afternoon when they were getting out and there were four police cars parked around the school just to make sure things went OK.
TUCHMAN: There's a ratio of one security officer for every 33 kids now. Before it was one officer for every 300 kids.
COOPER: Wow. Interesting. Gary, appreciate it. Thanks for the reporting.
As we get into the late afternoon in our 24-hour timeline, a popular musician meets a horrible fate in front of his family. And many vowed to forget. That story is next.
Plus, they survived Katrina, only to become prisoners in their own homes. Why so many people in New Orleans are living in fear after dark, when this special edition of 360 continues.
Wanted for Aggravated Battery
Kenneth Moore Any Info: Call CrimeStoppers at 504-822-1111 or 877-903-7867.
Wanted for Burglary
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COOPER: This is a special edition of 360, "Murder City USA: 24 Hours in New Orleans." It's now 5:30 in the late afternoon in our timeline. And the city is about to lose a beloved musician who we've met before.
COOPER (voice-over): We first met Dinerral Shavers a few months after Katrina. He was in Baton Rouge playing music for evacuees.
DINERRAL SHAVERS, MUSICIAN: We're no different from them. I mean, we lost everything, too. I mean, but we have something that everybody don't have and it's our music. And we're using the music to the best of our ability to show our appreciation to show that New Orleans don't die.
COOPER: Shavers was just 25, but already an accomplished drummer in the Hot Eight Brass Band, a popular fixture in New Orleans jazz clubs.
He passed along his passion for music to kids of Rob Winn (ph) High School, convincing the principal to let him start the school's first marching band.
KEVIN GEORGE, HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: He talked to me about the importance of music and how it helped him come out of some different situation that he had been in. And he said he knew that he could give that to the kids and give them a different avenue, something else to do after school, something else to do on the weekend, something to look forward to coming to school for.
COOPER: Shavers had much to look forward to until he became another statistic in New Orleans' escalating crime wave.
(On camera): On December 28, 2006, Shavers was with his wife and two kids, driving in their car here on Dumain (ph) Street. It was around 5:30 p.m. According to police, a teen gunman opened fire, shooting Shavers in the back of his head. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
(Voice-over): The next day police arrested a 17-year-old boy, saying he was the gunman and was aiming for Shaver's stepson because the two teens had a dispute.
Shaver's death and the murder of Helen Hill several days later outraged New Orleans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shame on you.
COOPER: Thousands marched on city hall, demanding something be done to stop the violence.
GLEN ANDREWS, MUSICIAN SHAVERS' FRIEND: Dinerral was one of the greatest people you ever wanted to meet. Never had a bad word about him.
COOPER: Glen Andrews and Shavers have been friends since childhood.
(On camera): Why was music so important to him?
ANDREWS: Because it took him out of the Ninth Ward. He realized that the world was bigger than the Ninth Ward and that he could help move people and himself through music. His passion was to rebuild the Ninth Ward and to come home and to make music in schools. So he did that.
COOPER (voice-over): At Rob Wynn (ph) High School, the band Shavers started plays on.
KEVIN GEORGE, HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: When I went up to the classroom, or the band room, they had his desk. They put masking tape all over his chair, where no one could sit in it. They had put Mr. Shavers' chair. And then when I first went in there, I was like, guys, what are you doing? They said we don't want anybody to sit in his chair. You know, this was Mr. Shavers' chair. You know, we're going to keep it and it's going to stay here. And we don't anybody else to sit in it. And that was, you know, again, very touching. I mean, he was truly loved here. The kids just adored him.
COOPER: On Friday, they'll play in their first Mardi Gras parade. Through them, Dinerral Shavers' music and his memory lives on.
COOPER: When the sun sets on New Orleans, some people here grow very tense. They know that in the dark there is danger, sometimes even death. And the only safe place to be is off the streets until sunrise.
That story is next on this special edition of "360."
Wanted for Murder
Any Info: Call CrimeStoppers at 504-822-1111 or 877-903-7867.
Wanted for Robbery
Any Info: Call CrimeStoppers at 504-822-1111 or 877-903-7867.
COOPER: This is special edition of 360, "Murder City USA: 24 Hours in the life of New Orleans."
It's 6:00 o'clock in our timeline in the evening. Most people are just getting off work or beginning their commute home.
But for some people in the French Quarter, their commute is a race to get inside before darkness falls.
CNN's Susan Roesgen reports.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People come from all over the world to stroll in New Orleans' famous French Quarter. But some of the people who live in the Quarter won't step foot outside anymore past 6:00 p.m., when it starts to get dark.
BILL NORRIS, CRIME VICTIM: As I walked about, Betty said something, I think, and I looked back and I saw this gun at her face.
And then there was a man -- I think he jumped out of the car and ran around to the front where I was laying in the street. And he held a gun to my face, like a 9 millimeter automatic. And he said he wanted my money. So I said, man, you got my money. You get the gun out of my face.
BETTY NORRIS, CRIME VICTIM: Totally horrific. I mean, I can't tell you. It just made me feel like somebody had sucked all the breath out of me.
ROESGEN: That was in January, the day Bill and Betty Norris lost the sense of security they felt for more than 17 years before Katrina.
When a thousand people marched on city hall to protest the post- Katrina crime wave, Bill Norris marched, too. But becoming crime victims has taken away some of the couple's freedom.
They used to walk everywhere in the French Quarter. And they agreed to walk with us, but only while it was still daylight. Since the mugging, they'll only drive after dark or not go out at all.
BILL NORRIS: Our plan now is to reduce our exposure.
ROESGEN: In neighborhoods across New Orleans, people feel they have become prisoners in their own homes. Some show that fear to the world, some keep it inside. While others, like the Norris's, disguise their fear in ways you wouldn't expect.
BETTY NORRIS: The more you pull away from it, the more it digs in. So it can get kind of treacherous if you're really tangled up in it.
ROESGEN: The vines Betty planted on the side of the house are full of thorns, a way to try to stop the burglars who've been spotted jumping over the walls recently.
BILL NORRIS: They got a surprise if they get up there now.
ROESGEN: Crime was a problem in New Orleans before Katrina. But with fewer people living here now, people like the Norrises feel outnumbered.
BETTY NORRIS: We have got to get better policing so that we are not held prisoners.
ROESGEN: Ultimately, if the police can't find a way to lock up criminals, more ordinary people may lock themselves in. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Did the police ever catch the people who mugged them?
ROESGEN (on camera): You know, there were three people. There were two guys with guns and a girl. The police only got the girl. And Anderson, she was 15 years old.
COOPER: You know, it's weird though, because we just had the deputy chief of police on, who said, look, the French Quarter is safe.
ROESGEN: You know, I've always gone around telling out of town friends, oh, come to the French Quarter. If you're not doing drugs in some bad part of town, you're fine in the French Quarter. But I'm not so sure anymore.
ROESGEN: Those guys have lived there 17 years and they really will not walk at night.
It's a hard thing to judge though. I mean, I was in the French Quarter today. The place -- it looks incredibly clean. I saw police everywhere. And all the store owners kept saying to me, look, you know, please make sure people know that you know, the crime is in other parts of town. It's not here. They're terrified that tourists aren't going to come to this town.
ROESGEN: I know. We need the tourists. It's the lifeblood of the city. But you know, that couple says that they haven't seen as many police officers in that part of town. And if criminals have to encroach in other areas to find victims, to buy drugs, they're going to start coming into places where they weren't before. And maybe the French Quarter, the jewel of the city, is one of them.
COOPER: Well, we'll see what happens. Susan Roesgen, appreciate the reporting. Thanks.
More now from New Orleans in just a moment. You're watching 360. Stay tuned.
COOPER: We're keeping them honest here in New Orleans. And we want you to help us keep them honest too. If there's a wrong that needs to be made right in your community in the United States, go online, tell us about it at cnn.com/360.
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