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Two Cops Killed In The Line Of Duty; Wyoming Slammed By Spring Blizzard; Castro Thanks Pope For Helping U.S.-Cuba Ties. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 10, 2015 - 06:00   ET



[06:00:03] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, two police officers gunned down during a traffic stop in Mississippi, a manhunt for the shooters, the suspects now in custody, that manhunt over.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Plus tornadoes, huge hail and violent wind gusts, 50 twisters reported causing damage in several states and even a death and injuries in Texas.

Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. We are starting with that breaking news out of Mississippi killed in the line of duty.

Authorities have arrested two suspects after they allegedly shot and killed two Hattiesburg police officers during a routine traffic stop, but we are learning now that, you know, there is nothing routine about anything done in this job.

This is according to CNN affiliate, WDAM. Here is what we know. The incident happened around 8:30 Saturday night and officials have identified the suspects as Marvin and Curtis Banks. The pair reportedly tried to make their get-away in a stolen officer's car.

Now this new photo shows one of the suspects being taken into custody. He was heard saying, quote, "I did not do it." We are learning new information about the officer 34-year-old Benjamin Deen, who was named the city's officer of the year in 2012.

And then 25-year-old Liquori Tate, a recent Police Academy graduate. The mayor of Hattiesburg says it's been 30 years since something like this happened in this city.

We have the mayor, Johnny Dupree, is on the phone with us now for more. So you heard the latest reporting there. Is there anything I missed? Anything you can tell us, Mr. Mayor?

MAYOR JOHNNY DUPREE, HATTIESBURG (via telephone): No. So we don't taint this investigation, we want the community to know they are safe. We do have the suspects in custody. I've been with the family all night and 30 minutes ago, we asked them not only in Mississippi and Hattiesburg, but across the nation, prayer for the family, and for the law enforcement community all around the nation.

The NBI is still investigating it. Interviews are ongoing. They are sending evidence to the crime lab. We are having both officers have an autopsy. This is a horrific time for people around the nation when you have police officers that are sworn to serve and protect and this ruthless kind of action happens to you.

BLACKWELL: Mayor Dupree, were these suspects well-known by police? Have they had several run-ins with the law?

DUPREE: Well, I don't know for a fact, but I believe one of them was a felon before.

BLACKWELL: Do we know if they were related?

DUPREE: My understanding is that the two individuals that we picked up, Curtis and Marvin, are brothers.

BLACKWELL: Brothers, OK. I noted that this is the first time a Hattiesburg police officer has been killed in the line of duty in 30 years. You got one rookie here who recently graduated from the police academy. You have a former officer of the year. What does this mean for your city?

DUPREE: Well, this doesn't happen in Hattiesburg. If you see how quickly the suspects were apprehended. That is a mantra for us in Hattiesburg if you commit a crime. We take care of you and want to make sure that the people in Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas, they are safe.

It didn't take us, but a few hours to locate them. We also going to take this incident -- we trained them to keep our other law enforcement officers safe.

BLACKWELL: All right, Mayor Johnny Dupree of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, thank you so much. We have that Facebook posting from Liquori Tate who, last June, posted this. He said, "I graduated the Police Academy today. I am now a police officer. I would like to thank God, the Police Academy, the police department, my family, friends, and loved ones." Having just graduated from the academy in June.

KOSIK: Let's go ahead and bring in Cedric Alexander joining us now on the phone. He is the chief of police for DeKalb County here in Georgia.

[06:05:03] Cedric, I want to get your reaction to this seemingly quick manhunt. Both suspects were arrested within hours.

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CHIEF OF POLICE, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA (via telephone): First of all, my heart and prayers goes out to the family of both officers involved in this tragic, tragic death this morning. And here it is Mother's Day and they won't have an opportunity to be with their family and loved ones.

This is just a constant reminder, Alison and Victor, of the dangers of police work in this country. Here, these two young officers, still both very young in their careers, out protecting that community, protecting us all, and even though across this country right now, police is being questioned about the way that they do their jobs.

But we can never, ever forget the dangers and what they put on the line for us every day. I think this is just a reminder, a constant reminder that we have been seeing too much too frequent too often of the work that they do and we really got to get out there and we have to support our police officers.

And I would pray, of course, with the community there in Hattiesburg and across the state of Mississippi and across this country that the loss of those two officers and that attack that they came up under is not acceptable whatsoever.

And I encourage Americans and in that community and across this country, you see a police officer out there, walk up to him or her and thank them for the great work that they do every day in spite of some of the negativity that we hear that's going on.

We cannot paint all our police officers with the same brush. They deserve our support. My heart and our prayers go out to Hattiesburg and the mayor and that entire community. Those are painful losses that they have surfed and we have all suffered across this great nation.

KOSIK: Chief Alexander, let me ask you this then. How concerned are you for your officers in Dekalb County as we see this seemingly backlash happen against police officers all across the country? How concerned are you for the safety of your officers?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think for all of us, we have to be concerned when we see and hear some of the backlash that is occurring. I am reminded that every citizen in this country don't feel that way. There is some that do.

However, what we have to remember is this. Is that I tell my officers and I say to the police officers across this country, stay vigilant, stay alert and do what you were trained to do, go back to your training.

Here, again, it is a dangerous, dangerous job and a highly unpredictable job and sometimes officers walk into situations that appear to be one thing and then a flash of a moment, it can turn into something else.

So I think it just becomes important for all of us, Alison, to remember that the work that they are doing out there every day, give them a pat on the back when you see them, keep them encouraged.

That means so much to the men and women that serve us across this country and our communities every day as police officers. KOSIK: Points that are good to remember. Cedric Alexander, thanks so much for joining us. We will continue to follow this breaking news story and have more news for you as it develops.

BLACKWELL: It seems like we are reporting these type shootings and the deaths every couple of days now.

KOSIK: That New York police officer was just buried on Friday. Tears in my eyes as I watched that funeral, you know, in New York and here we have two other police officers shot and killed.

BLACKWELL: Also the deputy killed in Idaho. We will get the latest on this story as it develops throughout the morning.

Other breaking news, though, this morning, those tornadoes ripped through the central plain states and tearing roofs off home and leaving destruction in several places. The threat is not over yet. There was the forecast that 17 million people on Saturday could face severe weather? Well, today that number is 32 million. We will have a live report next.

KOSIK: Happening right now, super typhoon makes landfall in the northeast Philippines. We are tracking it and the latest ahead.

BLACKWELL: Also an important meeting this morning, Cuban President Raul Castro visits Pope Francis. We'll go live to Rome.


BLACKWELL: Can you imagine? Look at this. Parts of the central plains, the cleaning up this morning after storms like this ripped through parts of Colorado and Texas. Those storms turned deadly. As many as 50 funnel clouds reportedly touched down yesterday.

KOSIK: The rural town of Cisco in Texas was hit especially hard. At least one home was left in ruins as the storm turned deadly. One person was killed and another is in critical condition.

Alina Machado is live for us in Dallas, Texas where the city is still under a severe thunderstorm watch. Alina, what are you seeing?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alison, well, we could see additional severe weather today. This is after a day of wild weather not just here in Texas, but in other parts of the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, a very pronounced funnel cloud and tornado in progress.

MACHADO (voice-over): More than 40 tornadoes in Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Flash flooding and hail in the same region, a blizzard in Wyoming and a tropical storm making landfall.

It's been a wild and deadly weather weekend across the U.S. This twister west of the Dallas/Fort Worth area killed at least one person and left another critically injured. Several buildings in Cisco, Texas, totaled.

The powerful tornado ripped off roofs, smashed brick walls and snapped trees in half.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've lived in Cisco for over ten years now, and I haven't seen anything like this in a long time. All of this water, telephone poles, and trees ripped out of the ground. It's definitely very powerful, very destructive.

MACHADO: Storms also dumped rain and fist-sized hail in parts of Oklahoma. I-Reporter Mike Windam shot this video out his back door on Friday. All that water and even more rain left neighborhoods and Oklahoma City flooded on Saturday and there is a slight risk of more severe weather in the area today.

Meanwhile, cold air behind the weakened weather system is producing snow. This is not what these high school soccer players bargained for in Wyoming.

[06:15:10] Their match had to be cancelled when a blizzard rolled through the city. And the first tropical storm of the year is coming ashore along the Carolina coast as Tropical Storm Ana makes landfall, there is a threat of coastal flooding and gusty winds and possibly an isolated tornado.

But to close this tale of bizarre weather, another strange sight, a funnel cloud and a rainbow. This video captured the unlikely alliance near Eaves, Colorado.


MACHADO: Now the Dallas/Fort Worth area was largely spared in yesterday's severe storms, but again, we could still see severe thunderstorms and other severe weather in this area. Right now in this area, we are under a couple of watches for severe thunderstorms and flash flooding -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right, Alina Machado, thanks.

You know, that picture of the rainbow and the funnel cloud, the awesome of Mother Nature, it's amazing.

BLACKWELL: Yes, all in one frame there. You can imagine the people are waking up this morning and it's a mess.


BLACKWELL: Looking at what they have to clean up.

Let's go to meteorologist, Ivan Cabrera, who is with us now. Yesterday, Ivan, we were looking at the potential 17 million people could face severe weather on Saturday. It's nearly doubled today.

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's going to hit more of the metro plexus here so we have to with watch that. The severe weather has not ended, continued through the overnight and it's happening right now.

The worst of the weather, of course, as far as tornado potential that will be this afternoon as we get maximum heating. You don't hear of tornadoes in the morning, right, there is a reason for that.

You have to get the atmosphere to get used up and that doesn't happen until late afternoon, late into the evening, but here it is, there is Dallas. If you're watching this from Dallas, there is a bow line about to move in and not tornadic.

But we could see some significant winds coming in and potential damage as well, as all of this continues to push to the east. My goodness, if you're looking to the western sky, a lot of lightning is coming in as well.

Later on this afternoon, we are going to set things up again. There is the one feature that moves in. On the backside here you see these individual cells begin to develop here. So we have two areas that we are going to watch.

I think eastern and northeastern Texas is still under the gun for the potential of tornadoes again later on this afternoon and into the evening and we focus on Western Iowa. You see the yellow. I think we have talking about the potential for straight line wind damage.

You don't care how it happens but the thing, of course, scares a lot of people are tornadoes and that area will be Eastern Texas again and heading into Iowa as we head through later this afternoon and into evening.

We are not done, day seven yesterday, day eight today, and tomorrow as this pushes to the east, Memphis, Louisville and heading up into Cleveland so we are not quite done with the severe weather as it moves to the east.

By the way, that system will actually pick up and merge with our Tropical Storm Ana, not the most formidable looking storm here, but certainly 45-mile-an-hour winds, a rainy mother's day across the Carolinas as the system makes itself on shore.

You can pick out the center of circulation along Myrtle Beach and the rain bands will continue to move in and when you talk about tropical storms, they are usually located on the bands and some of these bands could obtain some gusty winds so we will watch for that.

Is there enough going on across the United States? My goodness, yes, snow, heavy snow and tropical cyclone as well across the eastern seaboard here.

KOSIK: All right, Ivan Cabrera, thanks.

BLACKWELL: Now in a little bit, we are going to go back to Ivan with another breaking weather story that he is tracking. The super typhoon in the Philippines, it's massive and comparable to a Category 5 hurricane. We will talk about Noul in a bit. The pope met Raul Castro at the Vatican this morning. We will tell you about their conversations and why this is such an important meeting.

KOSIK: Plus, we are continuing to follow breaking news out of Mississippi. Two police officers shot and killed during a routine traffic stop. Coming up, we are going to be hearing from the town's mayor who vows the killers will face justice.


BLACKWELL: It's 22 minutes after the hour now. This morning, an important meeting in Rome, Cuban President Raul Castro met the pope at the Vatican to thank the Catholic Church for helping mend U.S./Cuban relations.

The Catholic Church has always maintained good relations with Havana at least in recent years. And later this year, Pope Francis will visit Cuba, becoming the third pope to do so.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is live from Rome. Ben, this was a private meeting, but what do we know about their conversations?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that it lasted for 55 minutes. It was in Spanish. It was just these two gentlemen in the room and according to a statement from the Vatican. They described it as a very cordial meeting.

The statement also said that Castro wanted to thank personally the Holy Father for his active role and improving the relationship between Cuba and the United States. They exchanged gifts as well and they also spoke about the upcoming visit by the pope to Cuba in September.

According to the statement from the Vatican -- rather Raul Castro said that he wanted to express his sentiments of the Cuban people in anticipation and in preparation for the pope's visit there later this year.

Obviously, this comes at a time of dramatically improving relations between the United States and Cuba and, of course, Pope Francis played a critical role in that.

He essentially initiated the process shortly after becoming the pope, which of course, resulted in the December 2014 announcement by President Barack Obama that there would be a thaw in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba after 50 years of no relations whatsoever -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, actually hosting those talks. No coincide, I would imagine, that this visit to Cuba in September is paired with a visit to the U.S.?

WEDEMAN: Yes. He is going to go to Cuba apparently for two days, we understand, before visiting the United States. [06:25:03] So this probably is going to culminate the process that was begun by Pope Francis and bridging the gap between the United States and Cuba so very much, so far, his greatest diplomatic achievement yet.

He is also working on other areas, but definitely he can point to this thaw in relations between Havana and Washington as his biggest diplomatic accomplishment.

BLACKWELL: Yes, much more than symbolism here, a change happening. Ben Wedeman in Rome for us, Ben, thank you so much -- Alison.

KOSIK: "I didn't do it," those were the words from Curtis Banks, one of two suspects taken into custody after the shooting deaths of two Mississippi police officers. This is breaking news that we are continuing to follow this morning. We are going to have more details coming up next.

Plus, thousands evacuating as a super typhoon makes landfall in the Philippines. If this was here in the U.S., it would be a Category 5 hurricane. We are going to have a live report coming up in just a moment.


KOSIK: Not much movement this week. Mortgage rates holding steady. Have a look.