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President Obama Speaks About Epidemic of Teen Violence in Chicago; Dorner Died of Single Gunshot to Head

Aired February 15, 2013 - 20:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Erin, thanks. We are in windy and chilly Chicago where President Obama spoke today about the epidemic of teen violence gripping his home town.

We are also going to be looking at the close encounter with a meteor that everyone is talking about that was literally earth- shaking.

And later, we'll have the latest on the blade runner's emotional day in court, charged with premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend.

But we do begin with breaking news in the death of killer ex-cop Christopher Dorner whose life ended in that burning cabin in the mountains outside Los Angeles.

Just moments ago, another vital question was answered. The precise manner of Dorner's death. Randi Kaye is joining us. She just got word of the situation. She's in Los Angeles.

So Randi, the big headline is Dorner died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Does it mean it was self-inflicted?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It appears so, Chris. They didn't see him fire the fatal shot, but all indications are it was self-inflicted. They are still investigating, of course, but you have to remember that cabin was on fire. So law enforcement wasn't anywhere near him. They had that armored vehicle that was pulling the walls down during this. You also heard some chatter from the San Bernardino county sheriff's department. We could hear on the chatter that was released. You could hear them saying I think I just heard a single gunshot, was that a single gunshot.

So, for all the people who thought he maybe died in the fire, he possibly die from smoke inhalation, it certainly doesn't appear that's what happened.

I can also tell you they recovered from weapons from his vehicle and also from the cabin. They show some examples of the weapons today. Just to give you an idea of what they recovered, they found assault weapons, they found rifles, they numerous semiautomatic weapons as well, they found a military style Kevlar helmet along with tactical style load bearing vests. So this guy was prepared, Chris. CUOMO: He had really set up a garrison there. And that also leads to some speculation about how long he could have been here, right. Because we thought originally they chased him through the woods to this cabin, but you have some new information about how long Dorner may have been hiding out in big bear, right?

KAYE: Right, tonight officials saying he was there since Thursday. Now, remember, that is the same day that he killed that police officer in that ambush-style shooting in Riverside, California. They believe he was hiding out in the very cabin where he took that couple hostage since Thursday night. They're also now saying that they checked that cabin, and it was locked.

Remember, his burned-out truck was found at big bear on Thursday as well. So the cabin he was hiding in, it turns out, was just one mile or so from the command center for the San Bernardino county sheriff, media, sheriff's deputies were right there, so close. He was literally under their noses, but law enforcement tonight saying they performed flawlessly.

All right, Randi. Thank you very much for the reporting. Appreciate it.

Randi is going to have more on the 10:00 p.m. eastern hour on special edition of "360, Killer cop inside the hunt for Christopher Dorner."

Thanks for now, though, Randi.

Right now, we're here in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago's south side. Behind me is a memorial that sadly keeps expanding. Each brick has the name of a child or a teen or young adult, all of them taken by gun violence in recent years. Even one brick would be too many.

However, there are hundreds, so many, there are bricks that don't even fit here. Every week, the casualties grow. But there is hope in the form of programs and people you'll meet tonight.

People like Diane Latiker. She's the keeper of the bricks. Ten years ago, she turned her home into a safe haven for high-risks kids. She called it kids off the block. We are going to tell you about her remarkable story. But Diane said she still doesn't have the happy ending these kids need because too often there is that next brick.

There was 17-year-old Tyrone Lawson shot dead last month after a high school basketball game. Instead of looking forward to the prom, his mother said, I'm looking for an insurance policy to bury him. Or Hadiya Pendleton who performed at President Obama's inauguration festivities, became an apparent victim of gang fatality. Hadiya neither a party to that fight nor part of that culture. She was, however, part of an epidemic.

Anderson and "360" have been reporting on it year after year. And year after year, people say no uncertain term, enough is enough.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was the hardest thing to see another baby lying in a casket.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get in here and change the city. Make it safe for us to walk down the street every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lost 27 children this year. Enough is enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really, really hope somebody can stop this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can expect this to happen every single night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These conditions are killing our children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of us need to step up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is truly unacceptable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need help. We're crying out for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough is enough.


CUOMO: Those sound bites extend back to 2007. For six years, everyone has been saying enough is enough. But still, the killing here continues.

So tonight, we are going to take a look at the problem why it's happening and focusing on what is working here. You are going to meet people determined to stop the killing.

We will start with President Obama who came here today for the first time in his administration specifically to address the heartache and offer answer.

That part from Ted Rowlands.



TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama spoke just a few miles from both his Chicago home and from where 15- year-old Hadiya Pendleton was murdered.

OBAMA: What happened to Hadiya is not unique. It's not unique to Chicago. It's not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken away from us.

ROWLANDS: Not unique, but it was a catalyst for this president. Hadiya was in Washington, D.C., part of a dance troupe performing at inaugural events.

OBAMA: Last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city and 65 of those victims were 18 and under. So that's the equivalent of a Newtown every four months.

ROWLANDS: Hadiya's death one week after the inauguration was enough to bring Mr. Obama back to his home town to address the issue of gun violence, something many here have been asking for, for years. The president said stopping violence in Chicago and other urban areas could be helped by economic opportunity, education, and the family. Fathers, he said, have to be more involved in their children's lives. He even brought up his own father who left the family when the future president was an infant.

OBAMA: We have single moms out here. They are heroic what they're doing, and we're so proud of them. But at the same time, I wish I had a father who was around and involved.

ROWLANDS: In the crowd watching the speech was Annette Holt. This surveillance tape shows the day her 16-year-old son, Blair, was murdered. A gunman walked onto this bus and started shooting.

ANNETTE HOLT, MURDERED TEEN'S MOTHER: I think violence is going to change. It has to change. We can't continue at this pace. And I think what he said is was just so important because now people understand it's not just up to the president. It's not just up to the mayor. It's a multifaceted approach that needs to take place in the city of Chicago, and really, it starts at home with the parents.

ROWLANDS: We also spoke with these two women who now find themselves on the other side. Aunts of Michael Ward, one of two men charged with Hadiya's murder. They describe their nephew as nice and funny and say while they don't know if he's responsible for the shooting, they say the violence has to stop. And like the president, they say their own community has to step up.

RHONDA WARD, MICHAEL WARD'S AUNT: Stand outside and say let's get together, let's walk the streets, let's walk the block. Not we're going to have a candle burning. That's not it. Let's have a conversation with the kids.

ROWLANDS: Before his speech, the president had a conversation with several kids growing up around the violence, speaking privately for almost an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have good advice about how he dealt with his anger issues and his problems. So, we had a good experience with him today.


ROWLANDS: The president spoke for a total of about 25 minutes. And while many of the themes in his speech were echoed in the state of the union, you could feel the obvious connection he has with the city of Chicago, and his concern with the ongoing violence here - Chris.

CUOMO: All right, our thanks to Ted Rowlands.

Joining us now is Tio Hardiman. He is the director of Ceasefire Illinois and creator of the violence interrupter initiative.

Tio, thank you very much for joining us. You were with the president. You heard his speech. What did you think?

TIO HARDIMAN, DIRECTOR, CEASEFIRE ILLINOIS: I thought the president nicely, you know, laid out a format to kind of address this epidemic of violence that is plaguing, you know, throughout the United States. But at the same time, I'm glad he came to Chicago because we have a Sandy Hook incident in Chicago every 30 days.

CUOMO: It's a very interesting perspective that literally so many kids are killed here, it's like one of those school shootings every month that you have.

A lot of talk about limiting supply, gun control, making it harder, background checks. Do you believe that a gun control law will be the answer to stopping the violence?

HARDIMAN: I don't really get so caught up in the gun control aspects of this issue. My thing is we have to change the way people think. We have generations of people that grew up in this culture of violence in Chicago. It's been passed down generation after generation. We have done a lot of work in the public health arena and take a look at violence as a public health matter.

CUOMO: Did we learn the same lessons that we get with drugs that you can't just deal with the supplies. You got to deal with the demand. You got to deal why people want these weapons in the first place, right?

HARDIMAN: That's my point. It's all about the thinking. Because if I have been raised up and my family members are involved in the gang lifestyle, and other guys sat on my front door. People are shooting one another, that's what I might do because violence is a model behavior. So, we have to look at it like that.

CUOMO: But in that way, another law to make it harder, that's easy to do even though there's a lot of political fighting right now. That's easier to do than I'm going to give you a different was way to see your life. I'm going to give opportunities that you don't have right now. I'm going to give you hope for a future you don't have. Those are difficult to establish, right?

HARDIMAN: Well, the thing is seize fire, we are winning right now. We're working with 1100 high risk individuals in Chicago right now, and about 30 percent, we have them in working jobs now, the other 35 percent are enrolled back in school, and the remaining percent of citizens others we're working with them, change the way they think about life one day at a time.

CUOMO: Did you see that it works?

HARDIMAN: Yes, we are seeing that it works. CUOMO: When you put them in a job, let them see this another way, it changes?

HARDIMAN: Yes, indeed. Once you change their thinking, they're job ready. However, what happens we just can't work all over the place. So, the epidemic of violence has hit Chicago over the last 30 years. Well, this is nothing that took place overnight. We have to do a lot of work dealing with the families out here, with all of the people throughout Chicago, to do the best we can.

CUOMO: We hear from the political side, it's getting better. The numbers are better in Chicago, things are better, but when you walk in the community here and you talk organizers and people trying to make it better, they say it's bad. I don't know if it is better, but all I know is that it is still bad and that is all that matters.

HARDIMAN: Well, here is the thing. You had 506 homicides in 2012. We had over 2400 shooters in year 2012. And in the month of January in 2013, we had about 44 homicides. So, it is not really getting better right now. We decided to do a lot more work out here reaching all the people because you had 600 different factions in Chicago. So, you need a lot of staff to go out and work with everybody. That's the key.

CUOMO: There is an important message our lawmakers also to remind them that you think you're not going to help, you think not going to put money here, you're still going to wind up paying because if you don't pay to help these young people now for the better life, you will pay for them when they are in the system, right?

HARDIMAN: Even police officials have stated you cannot arrest your way out of this problem. One third of the inmates in the cook county jail are suffering from mental health issues. So, we have a lot of issues and kind of deal and so, as long as we can address it as a public health issue, because the violence spreads like an infectious disease. I grew up in the projects on the west side of Chicago, and I lived in a building with 3,000 people. And if I was mad at you, 40 percent of the building, they were mad at you, too because I transmitted what I'm thinking nearby. So, we have to address it like the cigarette campaign, for example. There was a time that people could smoke in public anywhere, and they're not doing it anymore. We need to have a day common in America, people pulled out guns and everybody is their face and we don't do that anymore.

CUOMO: The pull of the problem is strong, but people like you are just as strong to fight it?

HARDIMAN: Yes, that's what's going on. You have credible messages, Ceasefire has violence interrupters, (INAUDIBLE) who go through professional training. The incredible people come from the community and they help people change their lives one person at a time.

CUOMO: Thank you for the work you're doing, Tio.

HARDIMAN: Thank you so much. CUOMO: It's my pleasure.

Tio Hardiman, it's great to have him with us today.

Its clear there's not going to be any single solution to the problem which is why we will be coming at this from another number of different angles tonight. If when Tio and his people are doing is going to make a difference. No question about it.

And later on, we are going to be talking about tackling gang violence by taking it to the court, the Hardwood kind of court.

And coming up next, what happens in when universe starts throwing rocks at us?

Literally, after the break.


CUOMO: Welcome back. Most of our coverage tonight involves the local, the personal, the human dimension. Here's the exception. A taste of the celestial. The earth today experiencing something literally out of this world. That is a meteor burning its way across the skies over Russia that you're looking at. And it wasn't just something to see. There was sound and fury and a lot of people hurt. Here's the story from Jim Bolden.


JIM BOLDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The images look like something out of a movie. A tiny asteroid tearing through space at a speed of 33,000 miles per hour. Before streaking across southern Russia. Cameras caught sight of the white trail as it headed across the sky. And then this. An explosion of light, then a massive sonic boom. Strong enough to shatter windows and damage buildings. There were reports of more than 1,000 people injured. Mostly from glass and debris. This video shows a children's judo class. Windows blew out here and in buildings around the region. Some people said they thought it might have been a plane crash.

This is the aftermath of the blast in a high school. A 17-year- old student put this video on you tube, showing the reaction in his physics class. Students screamed and ran into the hallways. He said some in the class thought war had started. Some of the incredible images were caught on cameras placed inside Russian cars. Many drivers now record their journeys in case of crashes or run-ins with police. Shock and gasps at the blinding light, the boom, and all the shattered glass.

Jim Bolden, CNN, London.


CUOMO: Amazing. Let's dig in a little deeper with physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss in his vision to his pioneering work and theoretical physics. He's made a career of explaining for people like me and you everything from how the tiniest particles behave to how the universe will end. He is the director of the origins project at Arizona State University and his latest book is called "a universe from nothing." We spoke earlier tonight.


CUOMO: Professor, thank you for joining us. Our first question is how was this meteor able to do so much damage?

LAWRENCE KRAUSS, PROFESSOR, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, it's a 10 ton or 20 ton sized object going 30,000 miles per hour and it suddenly stopping in the atmosphere. You can imagine it's a lot worse than getting hit by a truck.

CUOMO: I mean, I don't really understand how it works. I mean, tell me, what is it about this flying piece of space matter that makes such damage when it comes in? You say the speed and I guess temperature, but it really blew out windows so far away. People falling down. Even though it was big, how did it do so much damage?

KRAUSS: Well, you know, when a space shuttle comes in and is designed to go on a trajectory that doesn't burn it up, it still creates quite a sonic boom. But, this thing wasn't designed to be in a trajectory that would keep it in one piece. There was so much heat generated, it's coming into the atmosphere at maybe 30,000 miles an hour. And the heat its generate is incredible, enough to break apart, blow up literally a 10 ton object. And it create the kind of sonic boom with amazing power, enough to blow out all these windows, and hap fully, of course, it burned up in the atmosphere for the most part and didn't hit the ground. If it survived to ground with that size, it would have done a lot more damage. It would create an immense creator. But ,like most meteors, in fact, it burned up in the atmosphere and maybe so small pieces fell to the ground. And - but with 10 tons, keeps hopping up to explode. What was that?

CUOMO: So just the sound alone was enough to cause all that damage?

KRAUSS: Exactly. A sonic boom is nothing other than a pressure wave in the air. And when an object that size blows up in the atmosphere, it produces an incredible pressure wave. And that pressure wave, which is nothing other than sound, is intense enough when it hits windows to blow them out.

CUOMO: When I hear you describe it, it seems like there's always an occasion of good fortune when these things happen. You know, if it didn't burn up, if it had made it all the way to the ground, if it hit in a different place, how lucky do we get in situations like this?

KRAUSS: Well, in this case, where we're relatively luckily. We're actually relatively lucky as a species, in fact, because this is a relatively small object. And even at 10 tons, it seems like its large, but in fact, every single day, over 100 tons of material is coming to us from space. It's just coming in such small objects they don't create sonic booms. But 100 tons of material is falling on the earth every day. So, this is just 10 percent of it. Something this big that hits the earth once or twice the century, but bigger things hit the earth more rarely.

The asteroid that came by and had a near miss, those objects might collide with the earth once every million years or so, and they create a much greater damage. And of course, if you're really unlucky and you're a dinosaur 65 million years ago, a dinosaur - a meteorite that was a lot bigger hit the earth and killed the dinosaurs. That happens about once every 100 million years, and it's been about 65 million years so we have a little while to wait. You don't have to be too worried. In fact, I was on Russian TV trying to convince people there they had nothing to worry about, that the single meteor happens every now and then. It's an accident, but it doesn't portend things to come. There aren't going to be frogs or locusts or anything like that.

CUOMO: Well, it does fuel the fears, though, right? Everybody looks up into the sky and says, boy, are we just one mishap away from some massive rock the size of earth crashing into us? You're saying it's a remote possibility even though this does happen. Of that scale, we would know in advance.

KRAUSS: Well, we would know in advance. That's really important, in fact. It will happen to the earth eventually, but we now have earth observing systems that can look out, and that solutions come. And with our telescopes, we can detect any earth impact object that's large enough to do significant damage. At least several years in advance, and maybe even a decade in advance. That means we might actually be able to do something about it. It's not just science fiction.

CUOMO: What could we do about it?

KRAUSS: Well, we could send a rocket out, and to land on it, for example, or impact with it. But very small deflections, if you're far enough away from the earth, a small rocket running for a little while may be able to deflect it because you're so far away that a very small angular change is enough to have it miss the earth, and in fact, we would have not much other choice.

CUOMO: Professor, did you see the Bruce Willis movie? Because that sounds just like the scenario out of the Bruce Willis movie. You think that's realistic?

KRAUSS: I don't think the Bruce Willis movie is realistic, but what I think is really important is even without Bruce Willis, we might be able to do something that is less dramatic. We don't need atomic weapons but just a simple rocket ship. And in fact, we have to think about these things because the space is full of objects, and every now and then, one of them is going to come close to the earth. And we, as species, have the capability to at least be prepared. And there are a lot of things we don't prepare for, including climate change, but I like to think we're prepared enough to realize that a large object like that is severe enough, if you don't move it, there's no getting out of the way. And it's a disaster, it could be large enough to produce global fires.

I mean, whatever killed the dinosaurs probably produced global fires around the world. It hit with a large kilometer sized object that hit in what is probably The Yucatan. And as I say, we have maybe 30 million years to wait, but these things are probabilistic so you never know when it's going to happen.

CUOMO: Professor, thank you very much for the perspective. I'm glad it's a remote possibility.

It's good talking to you.

KRAUSS: I wouldn't sell your stocks, now. But it's good talking to you.


CUOMO: I love how the professor can talk about the potential end of earth with a smile on his face.

We appreciate all the perspective he gave us tonight.

Coming up, I'm going to visit kids off the block. A program here in Chicago that offers kids a place to go to get away from the violence on the streets.

CNN hero Diane Latiker founded the program, opening her own home to neighborhood kids.

And also later on, the Olympian known as the blade runner makes and emotional appearance in his South African court room, charged with murdering his model girlfriend.

All that when we come back.


CUOMO: Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was in court in South Africa today, charged with murdering his girlfriend. The case has shocked South Africa and people all over the world who were inspired by the athlete known as blade runner for his prosthetic legs. Reeva Steenkamp was found shot to death in the athlete's home in Johannesburg yesterday morning. The police have not talked about a motive for the alleged murder, but prosecutors plan to argue that it was premeditated.

There were also been local reports off setting that saying Pistorius may have mistaken his girlfriend for an intruder. However in court today, Pistorius broke down in sobs and was sobbing uncontrollably when the judge officially charged with murder. Pistorius is in custody, at least for now. There will be a bail hearing Tuesday.

And Robyn Curnow is joining us. Thank you very much for being here. You were in court today. Just feet from Mr. Pistorius to say he was emotional is to understate it, right Robyn?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It was a very emotional, touching, quite sad experience to be in that court today. If you recognize the fact that this was Oscar Pistorius walking out of the holding cells, a man who for many people here in South Africa, myself included, respected for his sporting achievements, for the fact that he's a Paralympian, a man with no legs who competed in the Olympics and did so well. So, to see him walk out and appear and be charged with murder was quite devastating. I think all of us. (INAUDIBLE) that he was facing a murder charge. He literally collapsed, essentially.

His head went into his hands like this, and he started sobbing, crying uncontrollably. And throughout the whole court proceeding, this was a bail application, he just then sat down.

I mean, I could see him. I was standing about a meter from him, and his body, Chris, was shaking uncontrollably. At the same time, you have got to remember he's accused of murdering his girlfriend.

CUOMO: And authorities couldn't seem more serious about it, right, Robyn? I mean, this is intentional murder. They were against bail for Mr. Pistorius. I know you spoke to Pistorius' agent today. Was he able to tell you anything that gave some hope?

CURNOW: The police seem to have in their opinion quite a water- tight case. They're incredibly confident about this, saying they're going to charge him with premeditated murder. His agent said that Oscar strongly refutes this murder charge.

He's going to fight it. In terms of the details of what happened that morning, that Valentine's Day morning, his agent said he didn't know. That he had only been able to spend 10 minutes with Oscar in the last two days and he hadn't been able to sort of talk to him.

And I put to him, what about all these rumors and suggestions that perhaps Oscar had this dark side, that perhaps there had been suggestions of abuse against women? He said, that's exactly what they are. He expressed frustration that Oscar wasn't able to defend himself.

So this is very, very disheartening for the people who are close to Oscar, and again, just remember that another family, Reeva Steenkamp's family, are going to be having a memorial service for her on Tuesday.

They're burying a sister, a daughter, a friend. So this tragedy is playing out across the country on a personal level, and then also on a bigger scale, as South Africans try to digest the sense that one of their greatest sporting heroes has fallen so spectacularly.

CUOMO: And of course, Robyn, you make a good point. The victim here was the girlfriend who was taken in the shooting, and that's where the sympathy should lie, certainly until the fact come out. Robyn Curnow, thank you very much for bringing your reporting here to us tonight.

Coming up, I'm going to take a visit with Diane Latiker. She did found kids off the block, giving kids and teens in Chicago a place to go to escape the violence on the streets. But first, we're going to get you up to date on some other stories that we're following. Randi Kaye has a "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors, former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has admitted misusing campaign funds. The plea agreement says Jackson and his wife spent some $750,000 in campaign money to buy everything from furs to Michael Jackson memorabilia. As part of the deal, Jackson has to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The commander of the Navy SEALs is disputing the claims in an esquire article about the SEAL who reportedly killed Osama Bin Laden. In the article, the shooter complained about losing his health care coverage when he left the Navy.

The SEALs commander said the shooter was counseled on his benefits and made a decision to leave several years short of retirement status, but the Navy is prepared to help him. That comes from a statement into active and former SEALs.

Luxury jeweler Tiffany is accusing Costco of selling counterfeit Tiffany diamond rings. A lawsuit is seeking millions of dollars in damages. Costco hasn't commented on that lawsuit.

And play at the women's Australian Open Golf Tournament was interrupted in the first round by these guys, the kangaroos. It's dry this time of year and the kangaroos are drawn to the lush, green courses, or maybe they really like golf.

Chris, I have been following this all day. A lot of people are wondering, does the golfer get a mulligan if the ball lands in the pouch? Good question.

CUOMO: That's a good one, a good question. We'll have to wait for the answer to that one. Randi, thank you very much for the update.

When we come back here, we'll be right here in this neighborhood that is so dangerous. You're going to meet a woman who literally opened her own home to give young people a place to go to get away from the violence. Her name is Diane Latiker. And she has a group that's called "Kids Off the Block." We will show you how it is helping change a generation. Stay with us.


CUOMO: The NRA is calling on its members stand and fight, the group responding to President Obama's "State of the Union" address. Straight ahead on 360, the NRA president lays out his case against new gun control laws.


CUOMO: Here in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, one woman is making a difference, taking a stand against gang violence. You might recognize Diane Latiker. She was named a top ten "CNN Hero" in 2011. Back in 2003, she opened her home to youngsters, giving them a place to go to talk about their hopes and dreams, a place to escape the violence on the streets.

That simple gesture led to a non-profit program called "Kids Off the Block," a program that Latiker says has helped thousands of young people. I visited Diane and her "Kids of the Block" program. Take a look.


CUOMO (voice-over): These are some of the most dangerous streets you'll find. We're not in a third-world country. This is Chicago. This memorial has one brick for each young life lost in recent years, close to 400 names. Some 200 bricks are yet to be placed. Diane made it in her fight to stop the violence.

(on camera): So you would bring them here and say, they're all you. This is all you, whether you're black, you're Latino, it's all you.

DIANE LATIKER, FOUNDER, "KIDS OFF THE BLOCK": It's all you. Most of them know some of those people in there.

CUOMO: Does it affect them?

LATIKER: Yes. I have seen gang members actually change their lives standing in here and go get a job and go back to school. I have seen that with my own eyes.

CUOMO (voice-over): Her mission began close to home, a mother's effort to keep her teenage daughter and her friends off the block.

(on camera): What is going on in what you call the block, what is the mind set? What is the mentality?

LATIKER: The mentality is raw. The block teaches our kids for us when we don't. The block guides our kids, the block kills our kids.

CUOMO: Teaches them they have to go hard, go for theirs.

LATIKER: They better, because some other kid is fighting for that same piece of concrete that doesn't belong to either one of them.

CUOMO (voice-over): So Latiker gave kids a safe haven in her apartment. What started as a handful, as word spread, became 20, 50, 75 kids. Latiker shed furniture, even sold her TV to buy computers, but the biggest draw was her.

(on camera): What's the main message you tell a kid when he comes in and he says, we'll be here today, but we know I'm not going anywhere, I have to go on the block?

LATIKER: I say, sit down, shut up and listen, because if he tells me and talk to me and bears his soul, I got it. CUOMO (voice-over): Donors helped Latiker buy the building next to her apartment, and now "Kids Off the Block" is an afterschool haven for hundreds.

CUOMO (on camera): Who here believes if it wasn't for KOB, their lives may have taken a different direction?

(voice-over): Most of these kids live on gang turf, as Chicago is home to the largest gang population in the country. Gangs here are not just about crime. They're about family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of them, they're just out there because they're looking for somebody to love them and embrace them.

CUOMO: Kids like James, who was first arrested for gun possession at 13. He believes not having a weapon is suicide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still got the same mindset, get caught with it or get caught without it. I'm not going to get caught without it.

CUOMO (on camera): So you believe that because of what the situation is here, it's too big a risk for you to have no way to defend yourself.


CUOMO (voice-over): But he says he won't bring a gun here because here, bangers from all different sets come and drop the color war in the hope of finding something for themselves, something other than a place on Latiker's ever-expanding wall.


CUOMO: When it comes to new gun control proposals, the National Rifle Association has a message for its members. Stand and fight. The NRA's executive vice president, Wayne Lapierre put out the rallying cry in an op-ed on the web site, "The Daily Caller," responding to President Obama's calls in his "State of the Union" address for Congress to vote on new gun laws.

Lapierre points to long lines at gun stores and suggests the president already made it clear he wants to ban all semiautomatic weapons and he says, quote, "It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It is survival." Anderson discussed all this with NRA President David Keene.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: David, you criticized the president's "State of the Union" comments earlier this week saying that he was trying to use emotion to force things through. You said that's a mistake because that's the way you get to bad policy.

The NRA, though, aren't you also using emotion? Wayne Lapierre wrote an op-ed and he said, hurricanes, tornadoes, riots, these are perils we're sure to face, it's not just paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival. Isn't that also using emotion?

DAVID KEENE, PRESIDENT, NRA: Well, you know, back during Katrina, when there was lawlessness in New Orleans and the area around there, authorities tried to take away everyone's firearms. We had to go to court to get those removed and prohibit the government from doing that in times of emergency.

We all hope we don't come to the situation where we have something like Katrina that breaks down all law enforcement. We all hope that none of us are attacked by an armed intruder, that no one who runs a small business is robbed, that no woman is raped, but those things happen.

What I was objecting to was the rush to pass legislation without really debating it or looking into it. There are ways to deal with the things he wanted to deal with, but by just writing something in the dark of night and ramming it through a legislature and signing it is not a good way to develop policy in a democratic society.

COOPER: But aren't both sides in this debate using emotion? I mean, I agree with you that a debate is necessary and a debate should be had and a conversation should be had, but it does seem like both sides are using emotion.

KEENE: Well, it's an emotional issue. I don't deny that. Both sides do use emotion. The question is what is the purpose of what you're trying to do? The president would like to get these things that he wants done, done very quickly, done by the Congress without really looking at them.

And we don't think that's the way you make good public policy. We have been insisting over the years that the way you deal with gun crime is you prosecute criminals who use guns in the commission of crimes, and it's a felony, a federal felony to use a firearm in the commission of a crime.

COOPER: You know, and that actually gets us to background checks because your position has always been, and I think it's a position, frankly, I have heard from the "Brady Campaign." They seem to agree with it as well at the current laws on background checks should be prosecuted more fully.

A felon that lies on a background check walks out of that store, if he gets caught lying, he walks out of the store, doesn't get prosecuted. What I don't understand and I would like you to try to explain that why you argue that extending background checks to private sales, to gun shows, is not necessary.

KEENE: We're not talking, Anderson, or at least the sponsors or advocates of universal background checks, as they call it, are not talking simply about gun shows. They're trying to require background checks in some way of all what they call private sales.

Those are private sales that do not go through licensed firearm dealers. At gun shows, maybe 10 percent of firearms sold at gun shows are private sales and don't require a background check, except in some states where they're required.

The rest of the so-called private sales, most of them are made between family members, neighbors, and friends. Gun owners are not interested in selling their firearms to criminals or people who have other problems that would prohibit them from owning firearms.

The problem with the gun shows and the problem right now, we were at the NRA strong supporters of the NIC system, which is what we're talking about, the background check system, the National Instant Check System.

COOPER: In 1999, Wayne Lapierre were saying no loopholes, everybody gets a background check.

KEENE: Well, the position we have now is fix the system we have, put the people who need to be in the system in it. Make it work smoothly before you talk about flooding it with others.

COOPER: I hear your argument about making it work better. Look, states aren't reporting all of the information that they can and should be reporting to this federal background check.

I get all the ways it is broken and not working. That doesn't mean -- is it necessarily one thing or another? Couldn't you prosecute the current laws better and extend the background checks.

KEENE: Anderson, you should walk before you run.

COOPER: Can't you walk and chew gum at the same time?

KEENE: Well, apparently, the government can't. That's the problem that we have had in trying to get the government to try to straighten out the system. The conceptual answer to what you say is probably, but the real world answer is it doesn't work that way. You really do have to walk before you run.

COOPER: Sir, I really appreciate your time and appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.

KEENE: Anytime. Thanks for having me.


CUOMO: All right, so now we're going to go from the mean streets here in Chicago to the hardwood in Chicago. Gang members going after one another, but this time, in a good way. How a Chicago basketball league may be calming part of the city's violent gang wars. An inspiring story, straight ahead.


CUOMO: It almost goes without saying that there is no easy fix to the epidemic of gun violence here in Chicago or anywhere. In fact, some believe it may take a blessing from above. If so, it's fitting that a priest is behind our next story, a man using his position in the community to reach out to rival gangs. Convincing them to put down their guns and pick up a basketball instead at least once a week. The sportsmanship and respect shown on the hardwood appears to be carrying over onto the streets of Chicago's south side. Here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's an unexpected sight in a neighborhood dominated by violence and death. Gang members and friends of gang members from Chicago's south side submitting to being frisked to make sure they have no weapons.

They're doing it because once a week, there's something more important than the street. This is the Peacemakers Basketball League. Rival gangs whose members have killed each other on the streets now meet on the hardwood.

(on camera): The two teams on the court are giving me the honor of letting me warm up with them. Let me tell you a little about these two teams. Officially, they are known as the black team and they're known as the blue team.

However, on the streets, the blue team right here is known as the gangster disciples. The black team on the streets is known as the black pea stones.

(voice-over): They have been bitter and violent rivals on the streets of Chicago for decades. But now thanks to Father Michael Pfleger of the St. Sabina Church, these gangs as well as two others are brokering peace on the basketball court.

REV. MICHAEL PFLEGER, ST. SABINA CHURCH: All four of these gangs since September have not shot or killed anybody. These were groups of guys, four gangs, who were doing it on a daily basis.

TUCHMAN: In the maroon jerseys, this gang team is the killer wards. They're playing a team of guys from the neighborhood. And the other gang team in the green is the black disciples. All four gangs are feared in these neighborhoods.

PFLEGER: In fact, at one of the gangs, a guy was playing against a guy who had shot him about six months before. And now they're playing ball together.

TUCHMAN: Polo Franklin is one of the players for the black disciples. He said he's been shot twice in the last year, in the leg and the wrist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got shot right here and it came out right here and I had to have metal rods stuck in right here and up here so my wrist could stay up.

TUCHMAN: Polo is 20 years old. He says gang life is about brotherhood, but as he puts it, sometimes they get caught up in the wrong things. (on camera): And when you play these other gang members on the basketball court, can you believe that you're on the basketball court having a friendly game?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a year ago, we were at each other's necks. It's hard to believe, but I'm glad it's happening. I thank God. I thank Father Pfleger for allowing us to come together so kids can be safe going to school.

TUCHMAN: It's pretty good, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's great.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): On the sidelines for one of the games, Curtis Polar, one of the older members of the black pea stones cheering on his team as they play the gangster disciples.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After being shot six times, once in the head, on five different occasions, yes, it's a blessing I'm still here.

TUCHMAN: He watches as his team takes a three-point lead into the final seconds of the game. The disciples have a chance at a final three-pointer to tie the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good game, gentlemen. Nice way to finish.

TUCHMAN: The stones win 48-45, and it's notable there are post game handshakes and hugs. As a matter of fact, we saw no out of the ordinary anger at all during any of the games.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys, they really don't know each other, but on the court, they get to say if I can play against you, then if I see you on the street, you're not that bad of a guy. I can give you a pass.

TUCHMAN: Curtis Polar is proud that his guys have not been involved in any shooting since they started playing in this league September, but he acknowledges the view that violence becomes ingrained.

(on camera): Do you think some of the guys on the court right now still think it's normal?


TUCHMAN: Even guys in your gang, the stones?


TUCHMAN: What do you say to them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say life is more than a video game. You don't die and come back to life.

TUCHMAN: Do you think if there were more programs like this, there could be a dramatic reversal in the amount of violence in this city?

PFLEGER: No question. There's no question in me that if we create positive opportunities and building relationships and offering options, the violence will come down.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Closing seconds in the other game, it's a tie. The killer wards try to win the game at the buzzer. It's overtime. Some more time on the basketball court. A good thing when you spend so much time on these streets.


CUOMO: Gary Tuchman is with us now. Great piece. Great piece. Basketball is so important, but just the beginning, right?

TUCHMAN: Just the beginning. And Father Pfleger recognizes that. What he's done is organized GED courses so these young men can get their high school equivalencies, and more than 20 have done that.

In addition, there are businesses in the neighborhood who have decided to hire some of these young men for jobs and internships. It's all seen as a package, all these things together. I will tell you the most fun for these young men is the basketball court.

CUOMO: Of course it is, but it winds up creating a reciprocal advantage, because they see there are other opportunities. People in the community ski they're not just bangers, offer them opportunities, and hopefully they all grow from that.

TUCHMAN: It's a wonderful thing, only four gangs right not, but the idea is to expand it and have more gangs throughout the city of Chicago participate in this.

CUOMO: Great, I also heard in the piece, since September, these gangs and their neighborhood, no shootings.

TUCHMAN: Absolutely no shootings for the last five months among those gangs in the neighborhood. That's very significant.

CUOMO: That's saying something. Great to be with you on TV. Always been a fan. Now we're working together. Thanks to Gary. Thanks to all you. We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back.


CUOMO: Before we end the show tonight, I want to show you this memorial one more time. Diane Latiker keeps all these bricks. Each one has a name of someone who lost their lives in the violence here. They literally have to rebuild this monument to make more room.

Hopefully programs like hers will help stop the violence here in Chicago. That's our show for tonight. We'll see you one hour from now at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of "360." Killer cop inside the hunt for Christopher Dorner. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.