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Louisville Player Injured During Game; Texas DA and Wife Gunned Down; Inside a Taliban Firefight

Aired April 1, 2013 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Happening now in the NEWSROOM, March Madness horror.

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: That is a gruesome looking injury to Kevin Ware.

COSTELLO: Louisville guard Kevin Ware and the stunning injury that shocked everyone, breaking his leg, a painful open fracture.

RICK PITINO, CARDINALS MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: It was a gruesome sight. Nothing like I've witnessed before in my life during a basketball game.

COSTELLO: Also Texas on edge.

MIKE MCLELLAND, TEXAS DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We'll find you, we'll pull you out of whatever hole you're in, and we're going to bring you back.

COSTELLO: A district attorney and his wife brutally murdered in their home, the assistant DA killed two months ago. Who's targeting the prosecutors?

Plus firefight. CNN on the ground and on the front lines with U.S. special forces in Afghanistan.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do know there is a Taliban stronghold about a kilo from here.

COSTELLO: A CNN exclusive straight ahead.

And Easter finale.

DIOGO MORGADO, ACTOR: I am coming soon.

COSTELLO: The History Channel's series that's making history, the actor who plays Jesus moved by the powerful story.

MORGADO: I can tell you that at one point being on that cross, I had a flash of my entire life leading up to that moment.

COSTELLO: The stunning series that has all of America talking this morning.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. We begin with one of the premiere events in sports and a heartbreaking moment that mesmerized millions of viewers.


UNIDENTIFIED SPORTSCASTER: He's dislocated some portion of his leg there, Jim.



COSTELLO: College teammates, opposing players, even coaches, struggled to deal with the horrifying injury in front of them. Louisville's Kevin Ware writhing in pain, the bone poking through the skin. Yet amid the horror, Ware summoned and inspired his teammates. Today, the Cinderella magic of March Madness has a new chapter.

VOICE OF RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE COACH: While Kevin was down, one of the players called the players over and said, you know, win the game, win the game. It was his message to the team and they certainly took to heart and got the task accomplished.

COSTELLO: Did they ever. Louisville played with a vengeance, transforming the game from a dead heat to a blowout. Here is CNN's Jared Greenberg with more.


JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT (voice-over): A trip on the Final Four on the line. The game, oh so close. 6:33 left in the first half. Louisville guard Kevin Ware leaps to contest a shot on the perimeter. Then the unthinkable. Ware lands. He breaks his leg, a horrific open fracture of his right tibia.

Players are stunned. Fans in shock. A rare sight, a coach visibly emotional -- Louisville's Rick Pitino wiping away tears. Time stands still as medical personnel stabilize Ware.

PITINO: It was a gruesome sight, nothing like I've ever witnessed before in my life for a basketball game.

GREENBERG (voice-over): And then -- a standing ovation as Ware is wheeled from the court and taken to the hospital.

RUSS SMITH, CARDINALS JUNIOR GUARD: I didn't ever think in a million years I would see something like that. And that happened especially to a guy like Kevin Ware. I was completely devastated.

PITINO: But he's a brave young man because all he kept saying is win the game.

GREENBERG (voice-over): Louisville did win the game, beating Duke 85- 63, advancing to the Final Four in Atlanta, not far from Ware's high school.

PITINO: Real proud of our guys. Real disappointed for Kevin, but we're getting him home to Atlanta.


COSTELLO: Oh, I just can't imagine the pain. Jared Greenberg joins us now. Kevin Ware had surgery last night. How is he?

GREENBERG (on-camera): Well, they were happy with the surgery, a routine two hour surgery. For as horrific as we've seen, the medical field pretty used to things like this. And the team is hopeful that he'll be released from the hospital on Tuesday, travel back to Louisville, and then maybe even go with the team to Atlanta to be on the bench for the Final Four.

COSTELLO: As far as the injury is concerned, will it affect his future in basketball?

GREENBERG: Absolutely. But it depends on how much he wants it, how hard he wants to work. Coach Pitino saying that it's at least a year recovery. But as we know, injuries like this are up to the individual. If he puts in a lot in physical therapy and wants to get back on the court next year at some point, maybe we see him. HE seems like a pretty tough kid. I wouldn't doubt him.

COSTELLO: He took a picture of himself in the hospital, sent it out on Instagram.

GREENBERG: With the trophy.

COSTELLO: With the trophy? Oh, good luck to him. We wish him all the best.

GREENBERG: Certainly do.

COSTELLO: Jared Greenberg, many thanks.

Security tight at the Kaufman County courthouse this morning just days after a Texas district attorney is gunned down. Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death inside their home near Dallas Saturday night. Their murders come just two months after an assistant district attorney was shot and killed. Now the DA's office will stay closed as the manhunt goes on for whoever is responsible.

Here is more from CNN's George Howell.


MIKE MCLELLAND, KAUFMAN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We're going to find you. We're going to pull you out of whatever hole you're in, and we're going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.

HOWELL (voice-over): A promise from Kaufman County, Texas, district attorney Mike McLelland two months ago to the unknown killer of an assistant D.A. in his office -- a promise, though, he would never see fulfilled. Saturday night, police found the bodies of the D.A. and his wife Cynthia at their home.

DAVID BYRNES, KAUFMAN COUNTY SHERIFF: They both had been shot, and we are in the process of completing the crime scene workup right now.

HOWELL: An investigator says police found several shell casings inside the home from a high-powered rifle.

BYRNES: It's pretty obvious it's unnerving, and it's unnerving to the law enforcement community, it's unnerving to the community at large.

HOWELL: There are no suspects. And the sheriff's office has not officially said whether the McLellands' deaths are connected to the killing of Kaufman County assistant D.A. Mark Haase, who was shot outside the county courthouse in January. The sheriff says extra precautions are being taken to protect county elected officials, as well as the public.

BYRNES: There will be complete security at the courthouse tomorrow, visible security.

HOWELL: McLelland said his coworkers were like a family, but they all knew their job came with risks.

MCLELLAND: When you deal with bad people on a regular basis, you know that there's always the potential for these bad people to do something bad to you, because they've already done something bad to somebody else. And so, they could always concentrate and backlash on you.


COSTELLO: And George Howell joins us live now. Georgia, a county judge thinks there is a strong connection between the killings. What are investigators saying, though?

HOWELL (on-camera): Well, investigators, Carol, at this point, they are not making any connection between those two killings. But look at it like this -- we're talking about the murder of two prosecutors in the span of two months. You hear this over and over here, people say it's not the sort of thing that happens here. You find this community really taken by shock, fear, by what's happened here.

So what we're finding now, obviously, there will be extra security at the courthouse as it opens today. And even public officials, Carol, they're not taking chances. We know for instance in Houston, Texas, in Harris County, Mike Anderson, the DA there, he has taken an officer from the sheriff's office to have round the clock security to watch him and his family. One example of how public officials are not taking a chance here in the case that public officials are being targeted, Carol.

COSTELLO: Unbelievable. George Howell, many thanks.

Tom Fuentes is a former FBI assistant director. He joins us live now. Hi, Tom.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Between these murders in Texas and the killing of Colorado's prison chief at his home last month, I mean, it might be logical to some to draw a connection. Is there one, you think?

FUENTES: Well, it's hard to tell and I think the investigators are doing everything they can to try to try to determine whether or not there is a connection. But obviously the murder of three very high- ranking law enforcement officials in the span of three months is a pretty chilling development for U.S. law enforcement.

COSTELLO: And of course the alleged killer of the prison chief in Colorado was found in Texas.

FUENTES: Right. And that will be something they will be looking at, as what were his connections in Texas? And also for how long he's been out of prison, the last four years, since being released from the Colorado system, what's he been up to, who's he been with, what organizations may he have been associated with that may have led to this.

And again, it's going to be a very, very difficult investigation to try to determine that connections between even the two events of the murder of Assistant District Attorney Hasse and District Attorney McLelland and his wife. Those two murders alone are going to very difficult to connect.

COSTELLO: We know the suspect in Colorado was connected to a white supremacist gang. Why would a white supremacist gang target prosecutors or a prison chief?

FUENTES: Well, it's hard to tell what motivated him to do that. It's been reported that he made threats against various prison guards during his stay in the prison system in Colorado. So it could have been in connection with that or it could have been -- it could be unrelated to that. We just don't know at this point.

And obviously with him dead, we probably may not ever know what the true motivation was to pick Clements himself, the director of corrections, as opposed to one of the prison guards that he may have had a dispute with while he was in prison.

COSTELLO: Tom Fuentes, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

FUENTES: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Checking our other top stories now. About two hours from now, theater shooting suspect James Holmes is due in court. He's expected to learn if prosecutors will take the death penalty off the table. Holmes's defense team says he's ready to enter a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison for killing 12 people and injuring 58 others last summer in Aurora, Colorado.

As the threat from North Korea grows louder, the U.S. steps up its military might in the tense region. It's deployed F-22 Raptors to South Korea as part of joint military exercises. In the meantime, South Korea's president is warning North Korea that any provocative move would be met with a strong response.

The man accused of crashing his car into a California Walmart is behind bars this morning. San Jose police say the suspect drove more than ten feet into the store, jumped out and started attacking customers with a blunt object. Don't know a motive, but police believe drugs or alcohol may have been involved.

New for you this morning, New York police say a videotaped abduction was a prank. Surveillance video showed a couple walking down the sidewalk. Seconds later, two people who appeared to be wearing masks were seen running up behind the couple. Witnesses say they heard a woman scream and saw her and her male companion forced in to a minivan and then that minivan sped away. Police searched for the couple all weekend long. Apparently it was just a big elaborate hoax. Those involved, though, will not face criminal charges.

Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball with games across the country kicking off the season. But we have to talk about the weather because it's going to be cold in some of the ballparks across the nation.

Jennifer Delgado is here to fill us in. Good morning, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Carol. You're right, it's going to be plenty cold out there. They're going to be selling a lot of coffee and hot chocolate.

Now, we are expecting temperatures in some parts to run 10 to 20 degrees below average for this time of the year. I want to go focus on one game -- the Tigers versus the Twins in Minneapolis, we're expecting a temperature of 33 degrees. That happens at 4:10. For the New York Yankees as well as the Red Sox, temperature right around 54 degrees. That's not bad at all. But we do have a slight chance we might catch an isolated shower, too, but nothing that's going to disrupt play.

Now we want to focus on Royals at White Sox. Well, it's going to be cold there. We're rating (ph) up 39 expected at first pitch. And the Phillies and Braves, hey Carol, we're going to have the best weather, really, I think for all of baseball to start off that season.

But the reason why we're talking about such cold temperatures, that jet stream is in place. It's coming in from the north, bringing that cold air and spreading over towards the East. It's going to be cold as we go through about Thursday. Look at these numbers running 10 to 20 degrees below average. And notice those temperatures really drop off tomorrow.

I can tell you this, Carol -- I can't predict who are going to win the games today, but I can tell you this, though. Minneapolis, they're going to win the pitch of the day for the coldest start. We're talking windchill values -- wait, 10 to 20 windchill values.

COSTELLO: But Justin Verlander, you know how fast he throws, he can generate --

DELGADO: The ball might slow down in the cold, too.

COSTELLO: I don't think with Justin Verlander, that ball's slowing down.

DELGADO: All right. I think you like him.

COSTELLO: I think I do because I'm a Tigers fan and they will beat Minnesota, no matter the weather. Thank you, Jennifer Delgado.

DELGADO: You're welcome.




COSTELLO: U.S. special forces in Afghanistan are used to this intense fighting. CNN crews are not. We'll show you exclusive and riveting report from the front lines in Afghanistan. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Seventeen minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories.

In Alaska, three are feared dead in a crash of a state trooper helicopter. The pilot and state trooper had just rescued a stranded snowmobiler northeast of Anchorage. The chopper was on its way to meet medics when it disappeared. Another aircraft spotted the burned wreckage but did not find any survivors.

The numbers keep climb management massive pileup on I-77 in southern Virginia. A total of 95 cars were involved in the chain reaction of accidents when thick fog obscured the highway, three were killed, dozens more injured.

The man who won last week's $338 million Powerball jackpot could see his luck run out today. He's due in court for $29,000 in unpaid child support. A warrant was issued for him a few years ago, but a judge shelved it pending today's court appearance.

We have exclusive reporting to show from Afghanistan. We're giving and you firsthand account of some very intense fighting from the front lines in Afghanistan.

CNN's Anna Coren and our crew were this embedded with U.S. Special Forces when a firefight erupted. Trust me -- you will not be able to look away.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As rounds of gunfire ring out in the distance, U.S. Special Forces run straight into the thick of it.

They're the military's elite and this is what they're trained to do. They don't just fight back. They hunt down the enemy.

We come under heavy machine gun fire less than 400 meters away. An incoming round flies close overhead.

We take cover behind a mud brick wall.


COREN: With the attack coming from three different directions, Special Forces spread out across open farmland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right on back side. Right on the back side.

COREN: Their only cover in this fertile valley, low-lying ditches and sparse undergrowth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. This is what we're going to do. We're going to continue up this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) riverbed until we get to the left side. We want it (INAUDIBLE) with us, OK?

Straight there. Let's roll.

COREN: For a brief moment, they pause. A Special Forces operator targets the enemy firing position with a 40 millimeter grenade launcher. But the fire fight rages on.

(on camera): We got intelligence that there was an IED in this area with a number of associates. We've come into these open fields. Soldiers are taking fire. We don't know where the enemy is, but we do know there's a Taliban stronghold about a kilometer from here at the base of these mountains.

(voice-over): With enemy fire getting closer, Special Forces are exposed as they move along the banks of the river. A soldier reloads, preparing for another assault.


COREN: We run towards the compound where insurgents staged one of their attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're pushing down this way, all right? Let's go.

COREN: They quickly secure the area, not knowing what's behind these walls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody looking back that way?


COREN: Movement inside has everyone on high alert.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody's just run across the door.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And back again.

COREN: Soldiers locate the enemy firing point. With spent cartridge cases littering the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're Taliban which we're getting reports that they probably are, then they may not necessarily live in these areas. Which means that when they go into other people's compounds that they may get intel relayed back to us, so that's what we're hoping on.

COREN: Apache helicopter gunships circle the valley searching for the enemy who've made their escape, but they already vanished, blending back into the community and the landscape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I admire their resiliency and their conviction for sure. There's a degree of mutual respect, but you know, but that doesn't mean we want to kill them any less.

COREN: While America's war may be finishing up soon, these brave soldiers know it's yet to be won.

Anna Coren, CNN, Nejrab, eastern Afghanistan.


COSTELLO: Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, our talk back question today: is it racist to celebrate Confederate war symbols? or tweet me @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk about on one of the stories of the day. The question this morning: is it racist to celebrate Confederate war symbols? Symbols of the American Confederacy are quickly becoming taboo. Even if they're part of a historic exhibit, Civil War buffs in North Carolina found that out the hard way. They hung a Confederate battle flag inside the statehouse to commemorate Raleigh's role on the 150th anniversary of the civil war. The flag is coming down after protests. The idea to name April Confederacy month was dropped just as fast in Ringgold, Tennessee, a town filled with Civil War symbols.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's important to maintain our history. And this area, you can't put your foot down but you're stepping on history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They served our country just like anybody else during that time, so they should be honored just like the veterans in the U.S.


COSTELLO: But that side is losing.

Confederate symbols are coming down throughout the South. In Memphis, Tennessee, parks named after Civil War generals and slave holders were renamed to the less controversial Memphis park and health sciences park. Much to the chagrin of those opposed to the change like the Ku Klux Klan which rallied in protest.

But here is the thing: Civil War buffs say it's important to understand history and not censor it by removing symbols. But for civil rights advocate, simply displaying Confederate symbols gives us an incomplete history of the Civil War, and they're a painful reminder of the racial violence that was also part of the Confederacy.

Talk back question for you today, is it racist to celebrate Confederate war symbols is this?,, or tweet @carolCNN.

Also coming up next, U.S. fighter jets head to South Korea after the North says the two countries are now in a state of a -- in a state of war, rather. And the United States is also a target. Our political panel will weigh in, next.