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CNN NEWSROOM

Rep. Charlie Norwood Died; Winter Storm Takes Toll on Illinois; News Conference on Utah Mall Shooting

Aired February 13, 2007 - 14:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Want to update you now on some developing news, Betty Nguyen is following it for us. What are you tracking Betty?
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, we're right now waiting for a news conference to take place in Utah, as we've been reporting all morning long, actually since yesterday. There was a mall shooting that occurred there at the Trolley Square Mall that killed six people, including the gunman. The gunman was an 18-year-old who essentially according to authorities walked into the mall and just started shooting randomly with a shot gun and a handgun. Again, five people killed. The gunman was also killed by police. And when this news conference takes place, we'll bring it to you live. But I do want to give you a little bit more information that I'm just getting. The governor of Utah not only is expressing his condolences to the grieving families but he has called on all Utahans to lower both the U.S. flag and the state flag of Utah to half staff at all state facilities, and he is encouraging anyone who may have been present at the time of the shooting at that mall to contact the office of crime victim reparations to seek help. So that is coming from the governor of the state of Utah. In the interim though, we are still waiting on that press conference to take place. We're hoping to learn more information about the motive and this 18-year-old, who is accused of this killing at the mall. And as soon as that happens, we'll bring it to you, Don.

LEMON: All right Betty, thank you very much. I'm just getting some information now in from the "Associated Press." Just handed to me now. We're getting word, CNN is getting word that U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood, he's a Republican from Georgia, has died after a long battle with cancer. And that is according to his office. The 65-year-old, he just -- his office just announced that the 65-year-old has died. Republican, U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia, has died after a long battle with cancer. More details coming up in the NEWSROOM.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Accidents piling up, planes grounded. Shop owners closing early. A fierce winter storm taking its toll across Illinois. CNN's Keith Oppenheim is knee deep in blustery Peoria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in Peoria it's really a mix of falling snow and wind. As I walk along here, you'll see that I am trudging through some drifts but that I can step out on to the bare sidewalk. And over here, look how deep this gets, knee deep. And the snow is light pottery stuff. But the wind that we're having, this stuff just blows around and that's causing some travel trouble. There are some school districts that have closed. One of the local airports in Bloomington has closed. A couple of corporations that are headquartered here have sent their workers home for the day. And, really, it's the wind that's added on top of the snow. It's swirling around and we're getting gusts of up to 30 miles per hour which, for this region, is making for a pretty tough day. Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Peoria, Illinois.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: Much of the south is under the gun as severe storms rip across the region. A tornado touched down just outside of New Orleans. Our gulf coast correspondent Susan Roesgen is on the scene. She's been there since before dawn. I understand we're awaiting a press conference, new information from the governor.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: That's right Don, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco landed about half an hour ago and immediately got into a car and started taking a driving tour of the damage. And what she's going to see is really pretty dramatic. Updated numbers now, at least 31 homes and businesses here in Weswego, a town of about 25,000 people, either damaged or destroyed. And if the governor, Don, sees what our CNN viewers have seen today, she's going to see houses that have slid off of their foundations. She will see the roof torn off of a motel. The entire first floor exposed to daylight. She will see businesses reduced to rubble. She'll see a home, if she sees the one that we saw, a brick home, the base of the home survived the tornado but the roof was completely destroyed. Pieces of insulation everywhere. A lot of debris. The good news here in Weswego as we reported all day now, nine minor injuries, nobody killed in this area. But across the Mississippi River, in New Orleans, where we believe this same tornado touched down in two other neighborhoods, one person was killed, an elderly woman. We don't yet know the circumstances, but again, one fatality and about half a dozen minor injuries in the city of New Orleans itself. Don?

LEMON: Obviously not as bad as hurricane Katrina. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but the last thing these folks needed. We'll check back with you when we get word from the governor. Thank you, Susan.

PHILLIPS: Head-to-head, but not eye to eye. The House of Representatives launching three days of debate on a resolution opposing plans to send 21,000 more combat troops to Iraq. Our Dana Bash live on the Hill with the latest. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, what we're seeing on the House floor today is the first major illustration of what voters did when they put in place a democratically controlled Congress. Now what we are seeing is a non-binding or symbolic resolution being debated on the House floor. And it says simply this, it says Congress supports the troops serving in Iraq but does not support, disagrees with the idea of -- President Bush has, his plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops into Iraq. Now among the points Republicans have been making so far this morning is, you simply can't do that. You can't support the troops but then tell them that you don't support the mission that they are already being sent on because they say Congress simply can't micromanage a war. Micromanage the commander in chief. Now on the other side what we're hearing from Democrats so far is that after hundreds of billions of dollars spent, more than 3,000 U.S. lives lost in Iraq, in the words of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, no end in sight, it's overdue for Congress to have this debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: In a few days, and in a few -- fewer than 100 words, we will take our country in a new direction on Iraq. A vote of disapproval will set the stage for additional Iraq legislation which will be coming to the House floor. Friday's vote will signal whether the House has heard the American people.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Straight to Salt Lake City right now, a news conference on that Utah mall shooting, let's listen in.

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON, SALT LAKE CITY: -- whose lives were taken. We come together in sending our very best wishes to those who were injured and who are currently in the hospital. And our love goes to those who are suffering from the loss of their loved ones last evening. We want to do everything we can to help. And at times like this, there is an enormous sense of helplessness. But there is still much that can be done for those who have suffered losses, those who have been so horribly traumatized by the events of last night. There is help available. The property owners and store management at Trolley Square are going to be meeting with shop owners, discussing with them what's available for their employees in terms of grief counseling. Valley Mental Health has stepped up. They are available, if anyone wants to talk to somebody, if anyone is seeking counseling to help them through this very difficult time. That help is available and we urge anyone who desires that kind of help to call the Valley Mental Health help line, crisis line at 261-1442.

We've been providing assistance for our police officers, for our firefighters. We also want everyone to know that whether you were present or not, when news like this gets out into the community, there is a particular affect felt by children who question whether they're safe and secure in their everyday lives. And especially given the random nature of this act, it tends to leave a sense of being unsafe and insecure. And we urge everyone with children, let them know that they can talk about this openly. That they don't need to hide their feelings. That there is help available for them if they need a professional with whom to speak. And, also, whatever one can do to provide assurances, I think that's so absolutely important. This city, this region, is a very safe place. This was a -- an incident, a very rare incident. Kind of thing that we're obviously not used to in this community. It was an isolated incident. And people, especially our young people, need to understand that, notwithstanding what happened last night, this is a safe place. In fact, we've experienced, in terms of the most serious kinds of crimes, the lowest crime rate, serious crime rate, that we have had in 14 years. So there is a lot of good that can be done now for those who are suffering. We appreciate the assistance of the media in getting the word out to people that there is help available. And that this community comes together as it always does in difficult times. In letting those who have been so tragically impacted to know that they have this community's love and support and that we all will do absolutely everything possible.

We have asked representatives of the Trolley Square owners to speak briefly about what they are doing to help out both the employees and others in the community who might want to go to the premises and, especially friends and family members of the victims. Sometimes it can be healing, part of the healing to go to the site where this happened. They're going to make that available. Also, so Mark Blancarte and Tom Bard will speak on behalf of the owners group. Deborah Falvo from Valley Mental Health will discuss the tremendous services that are available through Valley Mental Health to help anyone who would like to be able to talk to somebody. And then, finally, Chief Chris Burbank. And before they start speaking, I would like to extend, on behalf of the entire community, our tremendous gratitude for our police officers, for our firefighters, and police officers from many, many agencies, all of whom pitched in last night and made such a difference. Our police officers and firefighters do what they do day in and day out because of a real concern to help other people. But in doing that, there can be a huge price paid, and many of them paid a tremendous price last night. And for that, we should all be forever grateful to those officers. And we're doing all that we can to help them through this very difficult time. So first we'll hear from Mark Blancarte and Tom Bard and then Deborah Falvo then Chris Burbank, chief of police.

TOM BARD, OWNER, TROLLEY SQUARE MALL: I'm Tom Bard. And I would just, as a representative of the owners and managers of Trolley Square, I would like to extend our deepest sympathy and prayers to the victims, their families and friends, and all of the Trolley Square community that has been traumatized by last evening's events. It's our purpose to assist in any way that we can to help in the grieving process and to recognize our appreciation to the city of Salt Lake City and the mayor, the police department and the fire department and all those that worked to help last night. Again, we will do whatever we can to assist in the grieving process and to restore us all to the -- to our confidence in our community and the pleasures and joys that we've experienced at Trolley Square in the past. Thank you.

MARK BLANCARTE, BLAKE HUNT VENTURES: Good afternoon. My name is Mark Blancarte. There's nothing an individual or a community can do to understand how to respond or even deal with the events of last night. And we're not here today as property owners but rather as members of the Salt Lake City Community to share in your pain, in your grief and hopefully restore hope and love to the community through this process. Our hearts go out to the families, the victims, anybody within the community that was impacted by last night's events. There has been a memorial fund established through Wells Fargo Bank in the event that any members of the community may wish to express their condolences to the families in that manner.

PHILLIPS: Hard time for the people there in Salt Lake City as police are still trying to piece together a motive for that shooting at the mall that left six people dead, including the gunman. The 18- year-old gunman was killed in the shoot out with police after he walked through the Trolley Square Mall Monday evening just randomly shooting at people. We're going to continue to follow this. You can also go to cnn.com/pipeline if you want to watch this in its entirety. But as soon as the police step up to the mic and talk more about the investigation, we'll take it live.

LEMONS: And Kyra, the list of presidential candidates grows again. But this guy's religion is getting as much attention as his politics. We'll tell you why, coming up.

Defending the deal. The U.S. envoy at the center of North Korea nuclear talks and why the agreement is a good first step. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMONS: Back now to Salt Lake City, Utah. Police are holding a press conference about the deadly mall shooting.

CHIEF CHRIS BURBANK, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE: -- the victims in this and that we not get too gruesome as far as the details concerning this. But I will take questions afterwards. The first thing I would like to do is I would like to recognize some heroes in our community. There was an off-duty Ogden Police Officer having dinner with his wife in Trolley Square that Evening. He left his wife to go find the individual responsible for the shots that he heard in the restaurant. There is no question that his quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people. As you will see, the suspect in this particular circumstance had one thing in his mind, and that was to kill a large number of people. The heroic acts of this individual officer going in and engaging a suspect who was well armed and prepared to engage him without having the benefits of a uniform, extra equipment, or magazines for his firearm, is truly heroic. Additionally, officers from the Salt Lake City PD responded in a manner that I cannot be too complimentary of. It was outstanding.

Within three minutes of receiving the call in our dispatch center, officers had arrived at Trolley Square. And within six minutes, we had reports that the suspect was contained. That is an amazing response. That is a response that, again, officers not caring for their personal safety, putting themselves in harm's way, responded immediately. Instead of waiting for more officers to arrive, SWAT teams and everything else that we have available to us. They actually rushed right in. And in fact one of my officers went in and joined the Ogden PD officer in a gun battle with the suspect. Shortly after several of our S.W.A.T. officers responding to the scene were able to contain the individual. The other thing that I would like to do is recognize the outstanding efforts by so many individuals. The numerous police agencies that responded to our assistance, too numerous to count. Sheriff Winter and his staff from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office -- responded immediately to the scene and assisted our officers, as well as agencies throughout this valley. Fire, it was amazing to see the response that occurred so quickly. That everyone came without a doubt. It speaks highly of the strength in this community and the commitment that law enforcement and public safety have in general.

The other people that need recognition are all the individuals that were involved in this. There were too many people to mention inside shops, inside restaurants in Trolley Square that actually put themselves in harm's way to protect their customers, to protect the public that were in there. We had a great deal of difficulty finding all the people secreted throughout Trolley Square that had been locked in closets, locked in restaurants, gates barred, preventing access of a suspect into where other individuals in the community were. And so we cannot minimize their contribution to the safety and well-being of the people with inside Trolley Square. Just before 7:00 p.m. last night, Solomon Tolovic, an 18-year-old resident of Salt Lake City, drove his vehicle to Trolley Square. He parked in the west terrace parking lot behind Trolley Square. As he exited his vehicle, he encountered two individuals which he immediately shot. He entered in the west doors of Trolley Square encountering a female there and immediately shot her as well. He proceeded to walk eastbound through the mall encountering five individuals in a gift shop and he shot all five of those individuals. Moving throughout the mall, he attempted to shoot numerous other individuals. Encountering two others before the off-duty Ogden officer engaged him and distracted his attention.

Again, as you can see, this individual had one thing in mind. He was well prepared. He had a backpack that had numerous rounds of ammunition as well as an additional firearm with him. He engaged these people with a shotgun. He had one purpose and again, heroic efforts by an off-duty officer, distracted him and contained him in a position until other officers could arrive and actually resolve the situation. Six individuals died in this incident, including the shooter. Four other individuals were sent to the hospital with serious injuries. This is something in our community that is really unheard of. We don't have these incidents occur in Salt Lake City. To stand before you now, I'm amazed that I'm standing here and saying that Salt Lake City experienced a crime as tragic as this. It is important that we take a moment and evaluate exactly what caused this. And quite frankly, the police department is still looking for the motive in this. What drove a young man to take this position? What can we do as a community to ensure that it doesn't happen again? I will now take any questions that you have. Actually we know very little, other than he was a resident here in Salt Lake City. He was 18 years old and we're still trying to gather information as we speak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you spell his name?

BURBANK: Actually, I have a sheet that will go out to you. We have a press release that has all that information on it. You know we're not releasing that at this time or the officers that are involved. I have four city officers that are on administrative leave because of their involvement in this and it will be up to Ogden if they want to release that information.

[ Inaudible question ]

BURBANK: There was a shotgun involved and a .38 pistol. Let me finish here and then -- I don't know how many rounds were expended. We still haven't got all that information gathered. We just recently released the crime scene this morning and so we're still putting all that together. Yes, ma'am?

[ Inaudible question ]

BURBANK: Again, we received calls almost immediately that there were shots fired and there was a gunman there. We had numerous calls come into our dispatch center. Three minutes until our first officers arrived on the scene and then six minutes after the initial call was received in our dispatch center our officers called in and said that the gunman was down. Yeah, I mean, six minutes until the suspect was contained. Just one second. Tolovich. Yes?

[ Inaudible question ]

BURBANK: No, it's my understanding that it was an ongoing gun battle where he engaged officers with numerous rounds, so, no, there wasn't anything set. At this point, no, we're still trying to determine exactly what caused this to occur.

[ Inaudible question ]

BURBANK: It's my understanding that he lives with his mother. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he student or [ inaudible question]

BURBANK: We're not exactly sure what his status was as far as his education.

[ Inaudible question ]

BURBANK: When they -- when the Ogden officers started engaging the individual with fire from his pistol, he basically prevented him from going throughout the mall and killing more people. And so until the time that our SWAT officers arriving on the scene were able to get there, it was basically a shootout between the Ogden officer and this individual.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still determining that. The medical examiner is looking at it, but it was our officers responding that were responsible for that.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have four from Salt Lake City on administrative leave and then the Ogden officer. So, for a total of five.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we have no indication. And from everything that we can gather at this point, it appears to be very random, and no sense to why he was doing what he was doing.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the victims' names and everything on a press release that we'll give out following my statements.

Yes?

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't at this point. We're still looking into that.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I cannot. I'm sorry. I don't have that information of exactly what it was.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were a total of six individuals that were killed and then four others that went to the hospital with wounds.

LEMON: All right. You're are listening to a press conference coming to us from Salt Lake City, Utah. Police there say an 18 year- old gunman drove to the mall with a shotgun and a backpack full of ammo with the intention to kill. And he did as soon as he got out of the car in the parking lot. He parked. As soon as he got out, they say he shot two people and then went inside the mall and shot several more people, eventually taken down by a police officer from a suburban Salt Lake City police department.

Eighteen year-old gunman in Salt Lake City, Utah killing five people and then that off-duty officer, who just happened to be at the mall, shot and killed the suspect. Police still don't have a motive. We'll have details on this story as we get them right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Meantime, the list of presidential candidates grows again. But this guy -- there he is right there -- Mitt Romney. He is shaking hands in Des Moines, Iowa right now. His religion is getting as much attention as his politics. We'll tell you why. coming up in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Two more feet hit the campaign trail. You're looking at live pictures right there of one of them. They're spit-shined wingtips of Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and would-be Republican nominee for president. He is in Des Moines, Iowa today, where he kicked off his campaign.

Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He will run as an outsider.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe Washington can be transformed from within by lifetime politicians. There have been too many deals, too many favors, too many entanglements, and too little real world experience managing, guiding and leading.

CROWLEY: He will run as a fiscal conservative.

ROMNEY: Hey. Great to see you. Thanks for coming tonight.

CROWLEY: Even his detractors give him props for presentation. But Mitt Romney is more than just another pretty face.

Harvard law and Harvard business, former management consultant, CEO, former head of the Olympics, and former governor of Massachusetts, where he developed his stiffest critics. They slam him for using the governorship in one of the country's most liberal states to repackage himself as a conservative presidential candidate.

SALVATORE DIMASI, MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE: He changed a lot over the four years that he was here. His rhetoric and his positions on, like, abortion, like, gay rights, like, stem cell research totally changed when he decided that his focus should be on conservative votes across the country.

ROMNEY: We respect the value of human life and the sanctity of human life. We respect the foundation of the family. All of these elements are part of our society and our culture.

CROWLEY: Romney's emphasis on values is not just about moral issues, it's about religion -- his.

DON WILTON, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH: Mormonism does make me nervous because I'm a Christian. And because the precepts and principles and, more importantly, the practices of Mormonism have cause for great concern.

CROWLEY: Romney is a Mormon, the Church of Latter-day Saints, viewed by some, mostly conservative evangelicals, as a non-Christian cult-like organization. All things they have heard before in Salt Lake City, home base for Mormons.

DAVID MAGELBY, BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY: I think there will be attacks on Romney that will be launched by third-party groups about his religion. I think that's almost a certainty.

CROWLEY: It's unclear how much his religion will hurt, but it is of particular concern for Romney in conservative South Carolina, the first primary state. He has returned repeatedly there with explanations of his faith and his values to groups both big and small.

RICK BELTRAM, SPARTANBURG COUNTY GOP CHAIRMAN: I had a discussion also privately with Governor Romney and said to him that clearly the one issue that he's going to have to properly communicate is what the Mormon faith is all about.

CROWLEY: Romney aides have long held that he could overcome or at least mitigate the religion issue with a focus on shared values.

(on camera): Still, polls show somewhere between 27 and 37 percent of Americans say they would not vote for a Mormon. And that's a high hurdle.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Dearborn, Michigan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: So will Romney's religion be an obstacle to the White House? We'll ask CNN contributor and fellow Mormon Bay Buchanan. That's coming up in our next hour. But you're looking at live pictures of him there in Des Moines, Iowa, Mitt Romney. We're going to talk to Bay Buchanan in just a little bit.

PHILLIPS: Police still trying to determine the motive in that mall shooting that left six people dead, including the gunman, in Salt Lake City. We just took a live news conference moments ago.

Thelma Gutierrez is there to bring us up to date.

Thelma, investigation is still going on?

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure is, Kyra. In fact, I can tell you that that news conference just ended a few moments ago. And the police chief of Salt Lake City did confirm the identity of the gunman. He is Solomon Tolovich (ph). He's 18 years old. He is from Salt Lake City. Police don't know much about him, but they say that he did live with his mother here in the city. They also say that he was very intent on going to the mall and trying to hurt, trying to kill as many people as possible. Police say that he left his home. He drove to the mall. He had with him a backpack full of ammunition. He also had a belt with ammunition, as well. He had a shotgun and a .38 caliber handgun. He walked to the mall. He encountered one -- two people, shot them immediately, went into the mall, encountered another woman who was coming around the corner, shot her. Then, as he walked through the mall, he was very calm, very methodical say the witnesses. He lifted his shotgun up to his shoulder and then he fired. He killed six -- five other people. And then totalled with the gunman there are six dead, four injured, Kyra.

The mayor of Salt Lake City says this is a very, very difficult time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR ROCKY ANDERSON, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH: This is as tough as it gets in any community. Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted and, most especially, to the families of the victims of this tragic, senseless crime.

Our community comes together and mourns the loss of those whose lives were taken. We come together in sending our very best wishes to those who were injured and who are currently in the hospital. And our love goes to those who are suffering from the loss of their loved ones last evening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUTIERREZ: The police chief also mentioned that there was a hero in all of this who actually stopped the bloodshed. He was an Ogden police officer who was at the mall with his wife. He was off duty. He heard the gunfire and then he says that he knew he had to do something to stop this person. He went, confronted the gunman. There were several other police officers there at the time. He told him to drop his weapon. Shots were exchanged. And then the 18 year-old teenager was dead.

Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: Thelma Gutierrez, live from Salt Lake, thanks.

LEMON: Straight ahead here in the NEWSROOM, the 911 call that reported an unconscious Anna Nicole Smith.

PHILLIPS: And hostages no more. Twenty-four Filipinos we showed you last week held deep in the Niger Delta, finally free. The story behind their story from the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Just getting word out of Washington now that we were told Vice President Dick Cheney, nor the president's aide, Scooter Libby, will testify in court. As you know, Libby is fighting a five- count indictment for discrepancies when he told investigators and a grand jury about his discussions with reporters about the identity of a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, who was outed in a column by Robert Novak. We are following all of the inner workings of this trial. We'll bring you more as we get it. But now we're just getting word Cheney nor Scooter Libby will testify at Libby's trial.

Twenty-four Filipinos held hostage for almost a month in Nigeria are freemen today. CNN showed you the group and their captors last week. Our Jeff Koinange was reporting on violence in the oil-rich Niger Delta when militants took him our of their -- or took him to their hideout, rather. Jeff has the latest now from his vantage point in South Africa.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Twenty-four Filipino hostages, sailors, first seen in a CNN story last week have been released by a group calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND. They had been held captive for 25 days.

A spokesman for the German-owned cargo line that employed them says the men were released into the hands of the Nigerian government. The sailors are said to be tired but in good health. Their ordeal began back on January 20th when their cargo ship was intercepted off the coast of Nigeria by militants in speedboats. They were held in a hideout in the Niger Delta.

This was the same group paraded in front of us by their captors, who insisted no harm would come to them. The group insists no ransom was paid and that the group was released on, quote, "humanitarian grounds".

Jeff Koinange, CNN, Johannesburg.

LEMON: And straight ahead, the latest on the investigation of Anna Nicole Smith's death. A.J. Hammer of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" has that for us -- A.J.

A.J. HAMMER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Don, we're going to play for you the 911 operators calling for an ambulance for the unresponsive Anna Nicole. We're also going to fill you in on a couple of new twists that this story continues to take. That's up next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, the story has spiraled and spread in umpteen different directions since last Thursday. Now the tape of a 911 call brings us back to the sad facts of the death of Anna Nicole Smith. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT'S" A.J. Hammer joins me now to tell us about that -- A.J.

HAMMER: Don, we're learning a few more things about the last day of Anna Nicole Smith's life, as today police released that 911 call. Now, it comes from the Seminole Police Department and its phone to the Hollywood City Fire and Rescue Department.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 OPERATOR: Hollywood Fire and Rescue.

SEMINOLE POLICE OFFICER: Hi, this is Seminole Police. If you could please respond to the Hard Rock...

911 OPERATOR: OK.

SEMINOLE POLICE OFFICER: ... Room 607.

911 OPERATOR: OK.

SEMINOLE POLICE OFFICER: It's going to be reference to a white female who is -- what is she, not responsive?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not responsive and not breathing.

SEMINOLE POLICE OFFICER: She's not breathing and she's not responsive. She's actually Anna Nicole Smith.

911 OPERATOR: Uh-huh.

SEMINOLE POLICE OFFICER: If you guys can please...

911 OPERATOR: Oh, OK.

SEMINOLE POLICE OFFICER: OK.

911 OPERATOR: All right.

SEMINOLE POLICE OFFICER: Thank you.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAMMER: The Hard Rock is on a Seminole Indian reservation in Hollywood. Now, they have their own police department, but not its own ambulance service. So this sort of call between services is normal there. And that's why, Don, it wasn't the panicked 911 call we're used to hearing. It was more business as usual.

LEMON: Because of all of that, was there a delay, A.J., in the response time at all?

HAMMER: Well, the Hollywood authorities say no. Now, they received this call at 1:42 p.m. Emergency personnel were at the hotel six minutes latter. That would be 1:48 p.m. But they didn't leave the hotel for almost a half an hour. And they arrived at the hospital at 2:21.

Now, the Seminole Police Department has not released the initial 911 call. And they are conducting the investigation into Anna's death.

But, to add some fuel to the fire, investigators in the Bahamas are now saying that they have a heightened interest in speaking with Anna's companion, Howard K. Stern about the death of her son Daniel last October. Stern was with Anna Nicole in Florida and they were the only two people with Daniel Smith when he died last October in her hospital room from a combination of methadone and anti depressants.

So, Don, you can understand why his proximity to both of those deaths would arouse some suspicion in the Bahamas. And they're following through on that.

LEMON: Absolutely. So, what's next in the Bahamas, A.J.?

HAMMER: Well, next the coroner's inquest into the death of Anna Nicole Smith is going to be held on March 26th. Now, considering that methadone looks to be the cause in the death in that case -- a picture showing a bottle of methadone inside Anna Nicole's refrigerator that surfaced over the weekend has understandably attracted a lot of attention.

That's not the only photo that's stirring up some trouble down there. A picture of Anna Nicole and the minister of immigration in his bedroom was on the front page of the newspaper in the Bahamas. And that has been causing a whole lot more commotion.

Anna's immigration petition had been fast tracked when she moved to the island. Now, some people are actually calling for this minister to step down. And his political party could pay the price at the polls in their upcoming election.

Now, coming up tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT", we're going to have much more on these 911 tapes. And we're going to be taking a look at the disturbing new questions about whether Anna Nicole could have actually been saved.

Plus, the author of an explosive Anna Nicole tell-all book speaks out. All of this taking place tonight on TV's most provocative entertainment news show, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT", at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on Headline Prime.

Don, there's no shortage of material to cover in this case.

LEMON: I was just going to say to you, you know, there are so many players and parts you almost need like a reference guide or a point book to keep up with it, seriously, because there's so...

HAMMER: Yes, I know, a lot of people -- I joked last night on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT", I need charts and graphs. But we actually are doing our best on our show to keep you informed as to exactly who all the players are. So tune in and you'll understand.

LEMON: A.J., we'll be watching.

Thank you so much.

HAMMER: You got it.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll use A.J.'s charts and graphs to talk about this winter whopper. Ice, snow, wind and cold, February showing its wild side right here in the NEWSROOM.

And a change of heart over a terrible incident in Iraq. One U.S. Marine changes his plea in the death of an Iraqi civilian. A CNN exclusive, straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Head up, wag that tail, strut with attitude. This six year-old Dandie Dinmont Terrier named Harry is a favorite at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and not just because one of his owners is Bill Cosby. Harry was tops in his group last night and battles for Best in Show tonight against two poodles, an akita and three dogs yet to be chosen.

LEMON: Hair's got a little fro. Did you see that? A little bush.

PHILLIPS: Did you see the little pick right there in the back, too? He keeps it all furry...

LEMON: (INAUDIBLE)

PHILLIPS: Yes, there you go.

LEMON: The one -- like, you keep them in a drawer.

PHILLIPS: OK.

LEMON: Well, tomorrow is Valentine's Day. And, of course, our producers and bosses -- are you listening? -- here at CNN, they're our Valentines. Isn't that right?

PHILLIPS: That's right.

LEMON: Whether you're single or in a relationship, you probably know someone with an inspiring love story. And we want to hear about it because we're nosy.

PHILLIPS: Just visit CNN.com/iReport and share your tale of a couple whose love has stood the test of time. You can send us photos -- make sure they're decent, love letters and the secrets to a life of love. We'll read some in the NEWSROOM and be inspired.

Next hour of the NEWSROOM starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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