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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Thousands of Kids in Limbo in the United States; Hamas Militants Say They Intend to Target Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport; Hamas Warns It Will Fire Rockets At Tel Aviv Airport; Lebron James' Biggest Rebound: Returning to Cleveland Cavaliers; John Walsh: His 6- Year-Old Son's Murder Sparked His Crusade To Protect Children
Aired July 11, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
Tonight the drug violence that so many Central American kids are fleeing to come here even if it means risking their lives to do it, where on their dangerous, often deadly route north.
Also tonight, breaking news, a dire warning to Israel from Hamas leaders in bound down Gaza, you target us, they say, we'll target your airliners.
Plus, it's a slam dunk for his home state and big rebound for Lebron James. He is talking talents from South Beach back to Cleveland.
We begin, though, with thousands of kids in limbo here in the United States and more coming every single day. In a moment, reporting you won't see anywhere else from deep in southern Mexico tonight in the middle of the human wave of kids and adults rolling north from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador.
But first, the reception that many are getting when they arrive here.
Today, President Obama's secretary of homeland security visited the border at a crowd holding facility in Artesia, New Mexico. Jeh Johnson, the guy in the white shirt, had a message for anyone trying to enter the country illegally, echoing the president, he said we'll send you back.
"Keeping Them Honest," though, the data from 2013 suggest the vast majority of non-Mexican undocumented kids haves not sent back. Administration wants more money for additional judges to hear their cases. However, as we shown you, many immigrants never go before a judge. They are sent on their way with summons to appear and then many never do which may help explain why bus loads of these immigrants have sparked angry protest at receiving centers in the southwest.
More on that right now from our Randi Kaye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When do we want it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In League City, Texas, they are fighting mad using their voice and vote to tell the federal government don't even think about it.
While there is no plan to bring any children who have illegally crossed the border to this community, the city council voted on the issue anyway, passing a city ordinance this week banning the processing and detention of undocumented immigrants. The message, they are not welcome here.
KIM KITCHEN, LEAGUE CITY, TEXAS RESIDENT: We have veterans that are homeless that can't even get medical care, but we're going to house these people on a military basis and it just makes me sick.
KAYE: One city council member even suggesting the federal government is secretly finding shelters for the tens of thousands of Central American immigrants.
HEIDI THEISS, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, LEAGUE CITY, TEXAS: If they are going behind the backs of local authorities to establish detention centers in communities about our size, we have to be proactive. We have to plan for this.
KAYE: And they are not just planning in Texas. In Marietta, California where immigrants have been arriving by the bus load, angry protesters blocked the road way when this bus tried to reach the border patrol station.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're obstructing the road way.
KAYE: The protesters chant go back home. The buses turned around carrying 140 undocumented women and children to another community hoping to find a different response.
KAYE: Perhaps they should try heading north to Michigan where the wolverine human services center which treats troubled boys is offering to take in some of the children crossing the border. They are looking to house 60 to 120 boys ages 12 to 17.
Even here, though, that news doesn't sit well with residents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't stand for something, you're going to fall for anything.
STACEY CONNELL, RESIDENT: I love everybody. I'm a Christian. But the bible tells me to obey man's laws and the law says you must come to our country legally. I love these people and have compassion for them but we do not need them here taking our services, our money, or our children's time. KAYE: No doubt it will get uglier before it gets better as many on
this side of the border worry about their jobs, their children and continue to associate the influx of helpless immigrant children with drugs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be easy for the cartel to come in and set up operations here.
KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN New York.
COOPER: All right, a lot of reporting on this tonight.
Let's begin though, digging deeper with the former Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. Thanks very much for being with us.
When you see images of protests like that, you know, as a former mayor, what do you think?
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, FORMER LOS ANGELES MAYOR: It breaks your heart. You know, the role of a leader is to be a uniter, not to polarize people. The role of a leaders is to roll up your sleeves and try to fix this a problem of gargantuan proportions. It's a crisis, humanitarian crisis.
COOPER: Were you surprised that those buses actually turned around?
VILLARAIGOSA: I was. You know, I was criticized. I welcomed a million immigrants when they came to city hall. Four days later when the kids closed down freeways, I arrested them. And I did because you can't close down roads freeways. You can't close down roads that way and stop the federal government from doing their job. So I'm surprised that we just turned those buses around in the way that they did.
COOPER: How do you see this crisis? I mean, on the one hand you can say it's an immigration crisis, that it clearly, anyone can understand protests of people concerned about resources being set. On the other hand, in other countries, you look at the refugees coming from Syria who are now in Jordan and Turkey and we expect Jordan and turkey to take care of those people, some people would look at this as a refugee crisis.
VILLARAIGOSA: Well. Look, the crime rate in San Pedro Sula, Honduras is anywhere from six to ten times greater than the crime rate of Chicago, as an example. There is a crisis going on in these countries in Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador and we got to address that crisis.
My former czar for dealing with prevention, intervention with gangs was working with U.S. aid in some of those countries to address the gang problem that's an epidemic there.
COOPER: So you see the reason a lot of these kids are coming or many of these kids are coming as legitimate? They are legitimately fearful for their lives in the countries they are living? It is not just they are coming to look for a better life?
VILLARAIGOSA: Everything I understand, many of these kids are fleeing that crime wave, that situation, some of them are targeted for murder and assassination. There are others that may be coming in, as some have said. That's why we do have to have the resources to be able to look at each one of these cases to make sure these people have representation to make sure that we're evaluating each case carefully. So I don't support the notion we should expedite the deportation of the people. That's not the answer.
COOPER: You don't think the 2008 law that gives special treatment basically people from Central America up for Mexico, you don't think that should be appealed and altered?
VILLARAIGOSA: Not yet. And if it is, it has to provide protection for due process for these kids. Some of them are refugees without question. Many them are children. Some of them are trying to reunite with their families. And it seems to me that we should treat this more carefully than we have. We should stop the political football, if you will, you know, and on both sides.
COOPER: It sounds like also you're saying, I mean, a key component is dealing with the root problem in Honduras, in El Salvador and Guatemala with the violence, doing something to help in that situation.
VILLARAIGOSA: Senator Bill Nelson recently talked about the role, the impact of sequester on in addiction, drug efforts, on fighting these cartels in those areas. There is no question that we're going to have to put resources to address this crisis. It's origin. Not just at the border. So the notion that the National Guard or just beefing up the border is going to solve the problem. These people aren't being apprehended, by the way. They are giving up. They are walking into those border patrol stations and saying take me.
COOPER: But, you know, to somebody who says look, there are kids in Chicago who are living in violence and under threat every day from gang violence and getting killed in, you know, huge numbers. You know, resources should be used to help kids here at home rather than we can't take care of all the world's kids, can we?
VILLARAIGOSA: We can't and we do have to address the crisis in our cities, the gang violence, the crime, victimizes young people, people of color in poor communities but that's not excuse for doing nothing here. We have to address this crisis.
Just as you said. Turkey is taking Syrian refugees. Lebanon is taking on those refugees. Italy is taking on African refugees. America has to address this in a humane way. We have to address this in a way that understands. It's a very complicated issue. It shouldn't be politicized. Both parties should work together. You know, I support comprehensive immigration reform. But that won't fix this problem right now.
VILLARAIGOSA: This problem needs resources. It needs focused --
COOPER: And it's not going away.
VILLARAIGOSA: Comprehensive effort.
COOPER: It's not going away any time soon.
VILLARAIGOSA: It is not going anywhere anytime soon.
COOPER: Mr. Mayor, it is great to have you on. Thanks very much.
VILLARAIGOSA: Great to be here. Appreciate it.
COOPER: Thanks very much.
Quick reminder. Make sure you set your DVR. You can watch 360 whenever you want.
Coming up later, the breaking news out of Israel. A new threat aimed at anyone flying in or out of the country. The air strikes in Gaza ramp up and Palestinian rockets fly. And we will take you south of the border down to Central America to see how these kids are coming out here.
More on that ahead. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're talking about kids in limbo here and their dangerous journey across Mexico to get here.
Our Gary Tuchman has spent time with people on the road with people fleeing Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras. He's been reporting from Mexico's southern border where law enforcement seems to exist in name and uniform only.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I want to give you a look here to give you an idea of how open this is. There are police here. There are police all over here and no one minds the people are going across the river from here in Guatemala into Mexico. You can see this family of three, a mother, father, and a little boy. They told me a short time ago they are ready to go on this raft. The rafts are made of this huge inner tubes and they are getting ready to go across from here in Guatemala into Mexico. They are hoping also to get into the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Gary Tuchman now joins us.
Where are you joining us from tonight, Gary, and what did you see today?
TUCHMAN: Right now, Anderson, we're in Guatemala just a few hundred feet behind me is the border station in the nation of Mexico.
What we saw today was very interesting. To get across the border from Guatemala to Mexico, as we pointed out, very easy. People doing rafts, they swim, they walk through the river to get on raft, they pay the equivalent of $1.30.
But things get much more serious when you get into Mexico behind me. Right away when you get there, there is a big mural that says Coyote Path and there is a picture of a coyote. And what the locals tell us is referring to are the human smugglers known as coyotes. That's where people from Central America, from Honduras, from El Salvador, here in Guatemala, meet up with coyotes who will help them the rest of the way. And it's 1600 miles from here to Nogales,. Arizona, for example, to help them get here. So to cross the river from Guatemala to Mexico, $1.30, to get a coyote, typically $3,000 a head. So that's where the serious business starts.
We also met children, we met mothers, we got parents who were migrants who are on a van in the town right behind us. They were on their way going -- heading up north, trying first to go to (INAUDIBLE) which is a pretty big city in the southern tip of Mexico. They go there because in (INAUDIBLE) there are shelters, there are churches, there is food, there is aid for people who are planning the trip.
And no one cast judgments here in Guatemala and southern Mexico. Everyone know there are migrants everywhere. Everyone helps everyone. It's not an open secret what is going on. But we saw lots of people preparing their journeys to get all the way up to the United States. Many have been there before and kicked out multiple times.
We talked to one guy today, Anderson. He has been kicked out of the U.S. four times. He has been kicked out of Mexico four times. But he is going back again.
COOPER: I understand. You saw a woman who is traveling of U.S. actually had to stopped to give birth, tell us about that.
TUCHMAN: Right. There was a catholic church in the Mexican town behind us. It's a clinic but it is for people that have been seriously hurt. There are many people that's been injured on the beast, that's the freight train people ride on top of the wagon between that get injured. They get sent to this clinic.
But we also saw a mother and her six-day-old baby. She actually was trying to get to the United States, but had to stop because she was nine months pregnant and gave birth in the clinic. Also, there was her daughter and her daughter's child who was a little shocks (ph). The four of them were in the clinic, waiting until the baby gets bigger and then they say, they too, all four of them, including the little baby plan to continue their journey from Southern Mexico and they want to try to get to the United States, also.
COOPER: All right, Gary, thank you. Remarkable reporting all week long. Gary, thanks so much.
Joining us now is Sonia Nazario, prize winning author of Enrique's journey, the story of a boy's dangerous odyssey to reunited with his mother. She met this boy, Enrique, 11 years ago in a neighbor outside (INAUDIBLE), Honduras, wrote about his journey north. She went back there recently to bear witness to an 11-year-old boy's attempt, Christian, is his name to escape not poverty but violence. He has known eight people who are murdered, she writes and seen three killed right in front of him. He saw a man shot three years ago, still remembers the plums the man was holding rolling down the street coated in blood. Christian's story runs in this Sunday's "New York Times" in the week review section. It is an extraordinary article. I just tweeted it out. We are proud to welcome Sonia Nazario. Thank you for being with us
Your article which I just read about life for these kids in Honduras is truly eye opening, whatever you think about what should happen to these kids here in the United States, it is truly extraordinary what these kids are facing, the violence they are facing in their communities in Honduras, you say even elementary schools there are run by drug lords in some cases. At one school, I'm going to show pictures you took of students there, traffickers recruit kids inside the school to distribute drugs.
SONIA NAZARIO, AUTHOR, ENRIQUE'S JOURNEY: That's right. I mean, there has been a huge shift in the decade since I went to this neighborhood in (INAUDIBLE). The drugs that used to run up the Caribbean corridor, you know, we put billions of dollars to stopping these drugs moving from Colombia to the United States in this way.
And so, the traffickers are simply rerouted to Honduras. And about four and five planes now land in Honduras with this cocaine heading north. And these NARCO cartels have really established an enormous grip on some of these neighborhoods. And these children are their foot soldiers and a lot of schools are their new battle grounds. And they want to recruit these children like Christian, to work for them, to rob, to extort people in the neighborhood and ultimately to become hit men and work for them in that way.
And so, you see children as young as six years old in Christian's school being pressured to use marijuana and later crack. And Christian was asked when he was 11-years-old, you will use marijuana and crack, the attempt is to hook them with that and get them hooked on these drugs and then working for them. And many of them are threatened with their lives. And so many of these kids have been threatened, you know, really several times. And that's why I really see these children as refugees.
I believe that unlawful immigrants should be deported to their home countries. But this is a very different migration. These children are fleeing for their lives. They are refugees and we should be treating them as refugees and opening refugee centers and dealing with their cases in this way. Like we ask other countries to do.
COOPER: I mean, one of the things that sort of really opened my eyes about your article, is not just kids being caught in the cross fire. It is kids really being targeted specifically being raped, being killed, being murdered, every kid that you talked to seem to have known multiple people, many of them other kid who had already been killed.
So when you talk about this as a refugee crisis, let's talk about that. Because you kind of use it in the same way as you say look, you know, there is all these Syrian refugees fleeing violence, fleeing war in Syria who are in Jordan, who are in Turkey and elsewhere and we expect Jordan and Turkey to take care of them. You're comparing it basically to a similar situation here.
NAZARIO: Absolutely. I mean, what I saw in this neighborhood where the boy that I wrote about in my book, Enrique, grew up, the pressures these children face to join up and work with the NARCO traffickers is no different, I think, than what many child soldiers face in Sudan, or in the civil war in Bosnia.
And so, I believe that our country should take a compassion and humane approach. I think many Americans distinguish between someone who comes here as an economic migrant, they are fleeing poverty.
And I talked to many children, one boy Carlos, who said, you know, I have endured enormous poverty. He slept outside for a year when he was 7-years-old. He eats one out of every three days. You know, he's worked in a dump since he was 7-years-old. And just faced some enormous hardship. But it was the pressure from the cartels that pressure they tried to rape him, they tried to force him to use crack. They try to force him to be a hit man. That is what is convincing him to leave. It's not the poverty.
And I think many Americans would say let's send economic migrants back to the home countries. But we're compassion et towards people fleeing for their lives and we asked other countries to be compassionate.
COOPER: So you're actually advocating for almost refugee camps to be set up kind of in border areas where due process rights and judges hear cases and are trained to talk to kids. But this current thing of sort of sending kids around the country, that's not something you think really is feasible?
NAZARIO: Well, I think what Americans don't like is that these children are coming and they are being processed and they are being released and then many of them, you know, they don't show up to their immigration court hearings and they blend into the wood work.
And what I'm saying is let's take a humane but practical approach, let's set up refugee camps, bring in immigration judges to adjudicate these cases, bring in judges who do know child sensitive interviewing techniques. And let's give these kids attorneys because you can't ask them to go before an immigration judge and get full due process if they don't have an attorney by their side.
We are currently propping up 5-year-olds, 7-year-olds in immigration courts. And you know, if you're a murderer in this country, you're entitled to public defender. But for f you're an immigrant, including a five or 7-year-old child, you're not entitled to any kind of government-funded legal representation.
So I think if you want due process, you've got to give that child an attorney and let them see, are they really a refugee? Do they qualify under our asylum laws? And if they do, let them in and if they are an economic migrant don't let them in. but while you are doing this, hold children for 60 to 90 days in this facility, don't release them so that they can blend into the wood work, which is what bothers people. And if they don't qualify, then send them back. And I think many Americans would agree with that approach.
COOPER: I mean, just briefly, though, to those who say look, there are kids as I said to Mayor Villaraigosa, there are kids in Detroit, there are kids in Chicago who are getting, you know, who are under threat from gangs, and we're not able to take care of those kids, why should we -- you know, can we take care of the world's kids?
NAZARIO: We can't take care of all of them. But we've taken fewer refugees than we did pre-9/11. We took a 90,000 back then, the ceiling. And now the ceiling is 70,000 and we don't even accept that many.
So, I'm merely saying let's consider going back to pre 9/11 levels f refuges and we signed conventions and protocols saying that we'll treat people who are refugees in this way. And we expect other countries to behave humanely towards immigrants. So I think this is not how a great country treats children who are fleeing for their lives.
COOPER: Well, Sonia, again, the article is in Sunday's paper. I tweeted it out a few minutes ago because I just think it's an extraordinary piece journalism, regardless of what you think should happen to these kids once they are here. Just the description of these kids' lives in Honduras is truly eye opening. I appreciate you being on. It's also up on "The New York Times" Web site, NewYorkTimes.com. Thank you so much.
As always, you can find out more on this story and others on CNN.com.
Up next, we have breaking news tonight. Hamas warning that it will target the airport outside Tel Aviv with rockets. Coming up, the latest from Gaza city, in Jerusalem.
Plus, NBA star and free agent, Lebron James, trading Miami for the Midwest heading back to Cleveland. We will tell you why he left and what made him come back.
COOPER: We have breaking news tonight. Hamas militants said they intent to target Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airports with rockets and are warning airlines not to fly to the city. That threat came as Israel pounded Gaza with air strikes where a fifth day, Israel has said it won't consider a seize fire until rockets from Gaza which is controlled by Hamas, obviously stops. This is a sign that is going to happen.
Now, in Jerusalem today, CNN's Wolf Blitzer took covered twice in bomb shelters. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: You can hear the sirens have just gone off. So, we are all being told to get to a shelter. So we are running in. So now we just wait for the all clear. Hopefully that will happen shortly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Military says 570 rocket have been fired from Gaza, one hit a gas station today in Ashdod today. Three people were reportedly hurt. So far no Israeli haves been killed. A much different story, though, in Gaza. Officials there said the death toll is now more than 100 including more than 20 children. Hundred of them wounded, hospitals overwhelmed.
Senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman is in Gaza city and Wolf Blitzer is in Jerusalem. They both join me now.
Wolf, you were near the Israeli-Gaza border. You had to take cover. This new threat against the Ben Gurion airport, are the rockets really that, I mean, does Hamas have rockets they are actually able to aim that effectively?
BLITZER: I don't think they can aim that effectively but they could clearly reached Ben Gurion airport from Gaza. They have gone further north. They have come into Tel Aviv which is further north. They have gone all the way up to the Mediterranean coast to (INAUDIBLE). So they could really reach that area. But they are not very effective. They are not very precision, if you will. They could get lucky though. It is one of the reasons why pilots flying commercial aircraft into Ben-Gurion Airport have a little bit new procedure they have been doing to make sure everyone is safe. But there is a potential out there for a problem.
COOPER: And Ben, more air strikes in Gaza today. What's the latest there tonight?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we've been hearing is fairly steady naval bombardment to the north of here and we just heard on the Hamas security radio that they are seeing a large amount of white smoke in the northern border. Now we don't know exactly what that is, but certainly much of the focus of Israel's activity in the north has been in the north and that would be a possible area for a ground operation if that were to take place.
But what we saw really is some sort of, we were going from house to house that had been destroyed in Israeli air strikes this afternoon. One of them had been hit by a rocket and a four-year-old boy had his -- half of his head blown off. Apparently in that case they did not receive the phone call warning the family to move away. What happened is many people in the area told us we're getting out of here. It's getting too dangerous.
COOPER: There have been more than 800 wounded, 100 people have been killed so far. In terms of the medical situation, I mean, what is it like on the ground for people there? WEDEMAN: Well, what you're seeing is almost sort of every two or three blocks, there are ambulances ready to go if something happens. But they have very limited medical facilities here, which are strained in the best of times but at the moment, really the doctors are overwhelmed, and it's not -- it's -- our figure is it's more than 500 wounded at this point.
But because of sort of the extend of the Israeli air strikes, often times there have been air strikes, not on hospitals but close enough for instance to the European hospital now down near Raffa that had windows broken out. So there is a variety of stresses and some ambulance drivers have been wounded, as well. So the medical system is in the best of times in bad shape here. Now it's close to breaking.
COOPER: Nearly 500, more than 500, not 800, as I've said. Wolf a rocket was fired into Northern Israel earlier today. What more do we know about that?
BLITZER: Well, the Israelis responded with artillery shells and ended at least for now. They are worried there could be a two-front war, if you will rockets coming in from south and rockets from the north. Right now they don't anticipate that could happen but that's something they have to worry about. My own sense based on conversations, I've had with Israeli military commanders.
If the Israeli military were to move into Gaza on the ground with tanks, armored personnel carriers, the infantry going, not only would there be more causalities in Gaza including Israeli casualties, by the way, but that could spark support for Hamas for the Palestinians from Lebanon even from elsewhere on the West Bank. So this crisis as bad as it is right now, Anderson, could easily escalate.
COOPER: Wolf Blitzer, appreciate you being with us. Ben Wedeman, both stay safe. Thank you as we said, according to Israeli military officials. More than 570 rockets have been fired from Gaza this week. Many of them have been intercepted by Israel's iron dome. That's what they call the country's missile defense system, can knock missiles out of the air in a matter of seconds. They began the iron dome in 2007. Tonight, Tom Foreman shows us how the system works.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, just as Hamas has expanded the range of its rockets, so, too, Israel has improved its iron dome missile defense system. So much so that Israeli authorities are now claiming that they are 90 percent successful in neutralizing the missile threat coming out of Gaza and affecting places like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Haifa.
So how is this working? Three key steps and we start with detection. Every time any sort of rocket rises up out of Gaza, high tech cameras and radar systems and computers start tracking them. Figuring out how big they are, how fast they are traveling and most importantly where they are going because simultaneously analysis and targeting begins.
If these computers determine that a rocket is headed off into the sea for example or going into some rural place where nobody is going to be heard, they just let them go, but if it spots a rocket out here headed toward a place where people might be involved, then those same computers entered the destruction mode and that means these battery of missiles out there to fire.
And these missiles are guided from the ground electronically on board to get as close as they can, each carries some 24 pounds of high explosive, even though they are 10 feet long and then they blow up obliterating everything in that air space. This is not cheap. It was originally developed by an Israeli company, but the United States subsidized the program to the tune of about $235 million.
And each of these defensive rockets cost about $62,000, but the clear goal here is to expand, expand, expand this system because the Israelis and Americans clearly feel that iron dome built big enough could offer defense for much more robust missile attacks for much bigger enemies -- Anderson.
COOPER: Tom, thanks very. A very different story coming up next. They are celebrating in Cleveland, doing cartwheels in the streets after Lebron James' big announcement. He's coming home. We'll talk to Martin Savidge who is in Cleveland tonight.
Also ahead, John Walsh joins us, why he's renewing his on air fight against crime. Doing it here on CNN.
COOPER: The nation's long wait is over, NBA star, Lebron James, has finally made his decision. He is coming home. After four years in Miami, two national championships, the free agent is returning to Cleveland joining the Cleveland Cavaliers once again. Unlike his journey south, it was all very low key except, of course, for the celebration in Cleveland. We'll take you there in a moment but first, here is Martin Savidge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope he never wins anything in Miami.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four years ago, Cleveland's anger at Lebron James spilled out into the streets. After seven seasons at the city's favorite son, it was this announcement now infamously known as the decision that rocked Cavalier's fans.
LEBRON JAMES, NBA STAR: I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.
SAVIDGE: A few days later in Miami, Lebron was given a hero's welcome and had some predictions for how many championships he would help win for Miami. The feat he failed to do in Cleveland.
LEBRON: Not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven. We believe we can win multiple championships.
SAVIDGE: The Cavaliers' owner perhaps channelling the rage of his team's fan base in a letter called Lebron's move, quote, "heartless and callous and a cowardly betrayal." That betrayal for Ohio's fan went beyond Lebron's time with the team. He was one of them, born and raised in Akron. He was so dominant in high school, that "Sports Illustrated" dubbed him the chosen one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Simply put, Dan, Lebron James is the best high school basketball player I've seen.
SAVIDGE: ESPN even made the unprecedented move of televising his high school basketball games. He was the first player chosen in the draft.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Cleveland Cavaliers select Lebron James.
SAVIDGE: And it seemed like fate when he was picked by the Cleveland Cavaliers. His last four seasons with the Miami Heat have helped cement his legacy as the dominant player of his era, the Heat have reached the finals every year and won two championships. But with the Heat's loss in the finals this year, and some of his key teammates past their primes, there were hints that James was eyeing a return to Cleveland.
He held the league on edge, and in Cleveland, it was deja vu all over again, but this time the chosen one would return. Writing in "Sports Illustrated," in Northeast Ohio, nothing is given, everything is earned. You work for what you have. I'm ready to accept the challenge. I'm coming home.
COOPER: Martin Savidge joins us now from Cleveland. Martin, as a Cleveland native, you felt four years ago when Lebron left overnight, he went from hero to villain. Has it once again overnight gone the other way from villain back to hero?
SAVIDGE: Yes. I should point out that the reason people here were so upset was that he's family. So when he left, it's kind of like a family member leaving. Like family, you forgive, you forget, and that is clearly what has happened and now, they are ready to forget everything in the past and cheer nothing but the future and here with my friends -- since it's the last of the day, calling it quits and join them celebrating.
COOPER: Do we know how big is the deal? How much money is he going to make?
SAVIDGE: One more time.
COOPER: How much money is he going to make? How big a deal is this?
SAVIDGE: You know, the exact finances haven't been put out there. It's been talked about something like 20 some, 22 million maybe per year. People talk about here not so much how much he'll get paid. How much it means to the local economy? It was estimated when he left, it was $250 million a year that walked with him due to lost business, ticket sales and that. He means a lot to this city, some of it, of course, is by the heart, some of it is by the wallet. Everything is done back in time for him to do. COOPER: Martin Savidge, have a great night. Thanks so much.
Coming up, John Walsh on his return to CNN, TV here on CNN. What continues to drive him? We'll be right back.
COOPER: Tonight's "American Journey" began with the tragedy that can't be measured, the murder of a 6-year-old boy. His name is Adam Walsh and his death changed the way crimes against kids are investigated and punished. Adam's father is of course, John Walsh, the former longtime host of "America's Most Wanted." Thirty three years ago life as he knew it was shattered.
COOPER (voice-over): In 1981, John Walsh then 36 years old had a great life, successful hotel developer he lived in South Florida with his wife and a 6-year-old son named Adam, but that summer, tragedy changed his life forever. Reeve had taken Adam to the local shopping mall and left him alone to look at video games.
JOHN WALSH, CNN HOST, "THE HUNT": She said I'll go over two isles away and pay for the lamp. Stay here. She came back about 4 minutes later and he was gone.
COOPER: Adam's disappearance started a frantic search, but there was no sign of the missing boy.
WALSH: I'll never forget the first night we had searchers and I was so naive I thought back, this has to be parents that lost their child to a drunk driver or maybe a woman who had miscarriage, who would take a 6-year-old boy.
COOPER: Walsh went on a national media campaign begging the public for help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The contributions just for the reward fund are well over $120,000.
COOPER: Sixteen days after Adam went missing, Walsh was in New York for an appearance on "Good Morning America" when he heard the awful news, the severed head of a little boy was found in a Florida canal. It was Adam.
WALSH: I trashed that hotel room. I don't even remember it. I broke everything in the room, and the security came in, and calmed me down. They brought a doctor. I said I have to do the toughest thing I have ever had to do. I got to call my wife.
COOPER: Adam's body wasn't found, neither was his killer.
WALSH: Everything was falling apart, couldn't work, I've lost 20 pounds.
COOPER: Soon after Adam's funeral, Walsh went to speak with the medical examiner to make sure he didn't die in vain. Walsh said it was the best advice he ever got. Along with his wife, he started the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center that merged with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Then in 1988 he started his own television show, "America's Most Wanted." The show put the spotlight on fugitives on the run and enlisted the public's help in catching them.
After 23 years on the air, the show and Walsh contributed to the capture of more than 1,000 criminals, including the high profile capture of Elizabeth Smart's kidnappers. But throughout the years of helping solve other crimes, Walsh always kept the hope that his own son's killer would be found and brought to justice.
He always suspected serial killer, Otis Tool, was responsible for his son, Adam's death. Tool died in prison while serving a life sentence for other crimes, but it wasn't until 2008, nearly three decades after Adam was murdered, police finally named Tool as the likely killer.
WALSH: For 27 years we've been asking who could take a 6-year-old boy and murder him and decapitate him, who? We needed to know. We needed to know and today we know.
COOPER: Walsh and his wife had three more children after Adam and they've stayed together despite many hard years of emotional turmoil. Their work kept them strong in addition to his television shows, Walsh lobbied for victim's rights and tougher laws for sex offenders. It's a crusade for this grieving father that's lasted more than 30 years and continues to this day.
COOPER: He's a remarkable man. John is now part of the CNN family. "THE HUNT" with John Walsh premieres this Sunday at 9 p.m. I spoke to him earlier about what we can expect.
COOPER: I want to talk about your new program. What made you decide to get back into "THE HUNT?"
WALSH: You know, I had 25 great years on Fox and on "America's Most Wanted" and I think the public, the worldwide public allowed me to do some incredible things.
COOPER: The number of people you apprehended.
WALSH: Close to 1,300 in 45 countries, 17 off the FBI's ten most wanted list alone, multiple off the Marshalls 15 most wanted, I think close to 40 people and the biggest thing, the thing I'm most proud of is that we recovered 61 missing children alive, Elizabeth Smart being probably the most --
COOPER: She credits you with a lot.
WALSH: They said the guy they had mistakenly accused and died of a heart attack in jail was the final guy and we never stopped doing the story and her mom and dad never gave up looking for her. I had the great run, but "THE HUNT" is going to be beautifully shot, big emphasis on the victims. People will look at it and say this could happen to me.
COOPER: You really see the impact on the victims.
WALSH: The collateral damage. The first guy, Shane Miller, convicted felon, not supposed to own a gun, history of domestic abused, married a wonderful woman and had two little girls and decided she's had enough like so many. We're the domestic homicide capital of the world. He murders her and shoots in the face his 5-year-old and 8- year-old daughter.
You know how much I hate people that hurt children, OK? They start a manhunt. They go this guy is dangerous, police say he's our guy. Biggest manhunt in Northern California history. They find a bunker that he has 46 automatic weapons, serious assault rifles and 100,000 rounds of ammunition.
So now they say we not only got a child murderer, we got a murderer of his own wife and we have a nut case able to buy or acquire assault weapons and stash them for a run. So I looked at that case and went got to be the first case. Got to be the guy. The whole two towns are paralyzed with fear. Once you kill a child, you'll kill anybody.
COOPER: This is something which, you were still as passionate if not more so than ever.
WALSH: I spent that year off looking around, raising money for the National Center for Missing and Exploded Children, and I would look at my Facebook page and I would look at different things and people went like, you know the FBI and Marshalls want you to saddle back up. You caught more guys than any FBI agent in the history of the country.
Anderson, somebody knows where this guy is, that big hot spotlight on CNN and "THE HUNT" is going to be on him on Sunday night and I hope we catch him in 2 minutes.
COOPER: I'm glad you saddled back up, John, thanks so much.
WALSH: You're the guy that told me I should be on CNN, thank you.
COOPER: Again "THE HUNT WITH JOHN WALSH" premieres this Sunday on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Time now for "The Ridiculist." We're adding sneaky snakes. Slitting all up in your grill tonight. Let me take you to Alabama where a construction worker made a discovery in a bathroom. This creeps me out. When you talk about unwanted discoveries in bathrooms, something long and dark and in a toilet, there are no good options.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I looked in the bathroom and saw a snake in the commode. I thought it was a joke. I pulled the door up and said wow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You said it, pal, wow. What is a person to do, call the police, of course?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Said I don't think y'all know what you're getting into. I said I think we do. What do you have? I don't think you understand how big this is. OK, I have a picture of it. I said by all means, let us see. It was so much bigger in person, definitely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Sometimes just bigger in person. The snake is bigger in person than they look in a photograph or pet store. Anyway, that officer was actually the one who stepped up and removed the snake. Apparently, her male colleagues and the construction workers just looked on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She crazy. I said Lord have mercy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now -- I don't think she is crazy. I think the word is she's brave and that's something I can appreciate because I am nothing if not brave around snakes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just want to reach in, be careful.
COOPER: No, no, there is no way I'll reach into a bag of snakes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold your hand out, hold your hand out. Both hands.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Didn't you used to have a gardener snake?
COOPER: Yes, that was a long time ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a good spot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Maybe I'm scared of snakes. I'm working on it. I have a sponsor, someone helping me with my fear. It's a classic, but look, I'm just glad I wasn't the lady in Santa Fe driving around when her engine stopped working. There was a 7-foot python there and luckily there was a bystander around to help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate seeing a woman stuck on the side of the road looking right at me, flicked it's tongue and I kind of freaked out a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I assume he is talking about the snake. Like the other snake incident, a police officer also helped out in this situation. The bystander however is a little wary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hesitant to pop my own hood even though that sounds ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What can I say? Sometimes you got to pop your own hood.