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Two Officers Killed, Both Suspects in Custody; 50+ Tornadoes Rip Through Plains States; Pope Meets Raul Castro at the Vatican. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 10, 2015 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: The incident happened around 08:30 last night, in the city's downtown area.

We're also learning new details about the victims. The victims meaning the police officers out just doing their job. They have been identified at 34-year-old Benjamin Deen who was named the city's officer of the year in 2012 and 24-year-old Liquori Tate, a recent police academy graduate.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. It took just hours for police to arrest both suspects. This new photo shows one of them being taken into custody.

Ryan Moore with WDAM took that photo. He's with us on the phone right now from Hattiesburg.

Ryan, thank you for joining and tell us about that moment. What did you see and what did you hear?

RYAN MOORE, WDAM (via telephone): At that time, members of the Lamar County Sheriff's Department pulled into the lot that was the Mississippi Highway Patrol J. Office and they immediately pulled into the bay and exited with that suspect who was Curtis Banks, he was the final suspect to be apprehended. They actually got him at a local apartment complex in Hattiesburg called Plantation Place.

Whenever he was pulled out of the car, he was continuing to scream and I was actually able to get close enough to him to ask, "Did he do it?" And, in turn, he said, "No, sir, I did not." And then they continued to take him away inside for questioning at that time.

BLACKWELL: How about the other suspect, the mayor says is his brother Marvin Banks? Any interaction with him? Did you see him?

MOORE: I was able to see Marvin only through the glass at the MHP headquarters here. But I was not able to speak with him. I was not.

And then also, earlier, right after the incident, a female suspect was also taken into custody from the suspects' vehicle but we do not have a name on her as of now.

BLACKWELL: So, I wonder, Ryan, Hattiesburg, a small town. I've been there and covered a tornado, unfortunately, there, about a year and a half ago, and reporters and police get to know each other over a period of time. Did you know either of these officers?

MOORE: I actually did know Officer Deen very well.

BLACKWELL: Tell us about him.

MOORE: He was a great guy. He was never one for confrontation. He was very -- he was standoffish. He would never want to approach something and actually make a scene.

He was just an all-around nice guy that would do anything for you. And he had a K-9 dog named Tommy and it was an unbelievable bond they shared and just watching them work together especially over the years, it was just something that was very special.

BLACKWELL: One more question about these two men, Marvin and Curtis Banks. We learned they reportedly have a criminal record. Do we know any specifics there?

MOORE: Curtis Banks, I do know, has a previous conviction for drug charges. I did not know the specifics on Marvin on what his charges are.

BLACKWELL: OK. Ryan, thank you so much. Ryan Moore with WDAM out of Hattiesburg, Mississippi there -- thank you so much for speaking with us and we will continue to follow your reporting from the city. Thanks.

MOORE: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander is joining us now on the phone.

Cedric, good morning.

You know, we are talking about the two police officers killed just as they were doing their jobs, killed in Mississippi. We remember the police officer from New York who was just buried on Friday.

What goes through your mind with this string of cop shootings?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Well, first of all, my heart and prayers go out to the officers and their families and their police community, particularly on this Mother's Day. And the loss and the pain that community must be in. I just think it's very important to remember in this day and time that police is under a great deal of scrutiny, the importance of their jobs and what they put on the line for us every day.

Here, two young police officers age 34 and 24, lose their lives protecting the citizens in that community there in Hattiesburg. I'm sure it is painful for that community and what goes through all of our minds is the fact they came to work last night to serve that community and serve that community well. I'm quite sure like they have on many occasions before.

So, we are all saddened by this across the country. It reminds us of the importance of stopping and regardless of where we live, stopping and saying to police officers, "Thank you for the great job that you do for us every day," because they do a tremendous job and here again, my hearts and prayers go out to these officers.

[07:05:01] KOSIK: Cedric, you know, six police officers were killed in the line of duty this month alone. That's according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

How do police departments handle hearing about this? Are you getting any, you know, sentiment from police officers that they are afraid to go out there and do their jobs?

ALEXANDER: Well, there certainly is a painful loss for all of us. Any time a police officer loses his or her life in the line of duty, but the men and women are going to continue to serve their courageous and bold, they are trained, and they are there for a purpose and there to help people. Ninety-nine percent of the officers in this country are there to do a good job.

And yes, they think of injury and loss of life, but it doesn't keep them from going out there doing what they do every day. And they are going to continue to do their job in Hattiesburg and across this country as well too. We, at citizens, have to stop and thank them for the work that they do.

Six officers in such a short period of time, it is painful for all of us out there serving and protecting us all, Alison, and we must never forget that.

KOSIK: All right. CNN law enforcement analyst Cedric Alexander -- thanks for joining us.

And we will continue following this breaking news story and have more for you as it develops.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's turn now to the severe weather we are seeing across the country. Now, I know if you check your calendar it says may but look at this -- snow. Hey, it looks more like January! A springtime blizzard forced a Wyoming soccer team to cancel a game yesterday. Parts of the state received a foot of snow on Saturday and the snow continues to fall. You got that coming from the winter.

KOSIK: Oh, yes.

BLACKWELL: Then we have got this tropical storm making landfall weeks before the start of the tropical storm season.

Let's head South through the Plain States where tornadoes and severe thunderstorms put the area on edge. Some of the worst damage was in Texas and that is where we are going now to Alina Machado. She's live in Dallas this morning.

There is so much going on when we talk about weather. Which area was hardest hit?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Texas, Victor, the most severe weather happened in Eastland County, Texas. That's some two hours west of where we are here in Dallas. And, as you mentioned, it wasn't just here in Texas where we saw some violent storms yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, 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/Ft. 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 over 10 years now, and I haven't seen anything like this in a long time. All of this water, telephone poles, 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. IReporter Mike Windham shot this video out his back door on Friday. All that water and even more rain left neighborhoods in Oklahoma City flooded on Saturday and 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. 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/Ft. Worth area was largely spared in no most of the severe storms yesterday. But there's still a possibility we could see some severe thunderstorms roll through this area today -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Alina Machado in Dallas for us, thank you.

KOSIK: And meteorologist Ivan Cabrera is here with us now.

Is it true that 30 million people could be impacted by severe weather, whether it'd be tornado, hail, floods, I mean, together?

IVAN CABRERA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, once again today. And she mentioned as far as a severe weather threat, in a few minutes she's going to take cover there because we have some nasty thunderstorms rolling through the Dallas Metroplex. So, yes, they are not tornadic but nevertheless, it could cause damage here as they continue to move in.

Let's zoom in a little bit closer. You'd be able to see that we do have a severe thunderstorm warning under that watch as that line of storms begins to move in.

[07:10:02] Frequent lightning and some hail with this potentially, and straight line wind damage, that is going to be coming through Dallas. So, if you're not up yet, you're going to be up in a few minutes as these storms begin to roll through.

All of that will push toward the north and east. You see how the computer model forecast picks up nicely? We like to see that. That is good initialization which is what we call it. If it didn't have that, we won't believe the rest of it here.

But look at that -- that line continues to push up so by the time we get into the evening hours, all of that goes up toward St. Louis, but a trailing line of very nasty thunderstorms continues to redevelop. And so, that means that Texas is not done here. We have the storms this morning and then later this afternoon and evening, the potential for stronger thunderstorms -- the ones that could put down tornadoes again. I know, in Texas here. Dallas included here and then headed up towards Des Moines where upper level feature is spawning the severe weather the last several days and all of this continues pushing east. We're not done Monday, another stormy day across the United States.

I want to update on the situation with Ana here making landfall here. Just getting the word from National Weather Service, actually Hurricane Center last few minutes, technically now has made it landfall, Myrtle Beach, some gusty winds, 45-mile-an-hour winds and we are three weeks still before the start of the hurricane season and already we have ticked off the A in the list.

Bill will be next. Hopefully, bill will wait its turn into June and maybe even July. But there it is -- Ana, gusty winds. Stay away from the shore and the beaches with those rip currents today.

We will keep you posted on that as well -- guys.

KOSIK: Lots going on. Ivan Cabrera, thanks.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you, Ivan.

KOSIK: He is the man credited with bringing the United States and Cuba together and now, for the first time since that relationship thawed, Pope Francis sits down with Cuban President Raul Castro. Our senior Vatican analyst joins us next.

BLACKWELL: And as the city of Baltimore looks ahead to its big concert, help them heal, Prince looks to the memories of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray for inspiration in a new song.


BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this really important meeting in Rome now. Cuban leader Raul Castro met with the pope at the Vatican. They talked about several things, but, in part, this was to thank the Catholic Church for helping mend U.S./Cuban relations.

Now, later this year, Pope Francis will be traveling to Cuba. He follows Pope Benedict who travelled to Cuba, who followed Pope John Paul II.

Let's talk about this with CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen. He joins me now.

Considering that this is not the first visit, John, by a pope to Cuba and -- thank you for joining us this morning -- let's talk about the significance of this meeting and this visit, considering the pope's role in mending relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hey, Victor. Good to be with you. I mean, I think the first thing to note is that it's actually quite unusual for a pope to receive a head of state on a Sunday. It's sort of in the Vatican, it's considered inappropriate to be working on the Lord's Day. I think it's indicative of how much significance the Pope Francis attaches to this undertaking that he was able to set aside protocol like that.

I mean, you mentioned that this will not be the first papal visit to Cuba. John Paul first went in '96, Benedict XVI in 2012. But the difference, Victor, this is the first papal visit after the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. That, of course, happened last December. Both President Obama and President Raul Castro of Cuba have said it would not have happened without the pope's personal diplomatic involvement.

So, this is the kind of pivotal moment in which Cuba is attempting to sort of retake its place in the community of nations and mend fences, particularly with its most important relationship in the hemisphere. I think Francis, the history's first pope from Latin America, believes he has a pivotal role to play in that process. And so, you can bet he is taking this trip very seriously.

I think it's worth saying that stop in Cuba is going to come en route to France's first visit to the United States in late September when he will be in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. I think, symbolically, he wanted that stop in Cuba to be packaged with the stop in the United States. In essence he is making a statement that these two countries are fated to be in a relationship.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You know, John, the pope has been critical, over the years, of Cuba in several ways, actually publishing a book of homilies by Pope John Paul II, specifically citing that dialogue is necessary as one of the important elements of that publishing.

But, you know, I wonder what is the state of Catholicism in Cuba? Because we reported the first Catholic Church since the Cuban revolution is now being built in Cuba.

ALLEN: Well, I think, Victor, from the internal Catholic point of view, the importance of this trip -- I mean, forget the geopolitics of it. You know, the truth of it is the Catholic Church in Cuba is going through a rough patch. It has had a very checkered relationship with the state. It's been very difficult to get zoning permits to fix churches or to build new ones. It's been difficult to teach religion in the school.

And let's face it, you know, several decades of state-imposed atheism have taken their poll. I mean, the most recent poll in Cuba shows that at most, maybe one quarter of the Catholics in the country, go to mass on a regular basis. Almost 50 percent of the population says it has no religion at all.

So, this is a church that needs a shot in the arm and certainly of this hit by a wildly popular pope in history's first pope from South America, I think many Cuban Catholics believe could be the new leash on life they've been looking for.

BLACKWELL: How does this current pope match up with other recent popes as far as political activism?

ALLEN: Well, I think the substance of his positions are exactly the same as those of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI were very critical of the U.S.-led embargo on Cuba. They called for a restoration of diplomatic relations and they called for Cuba to take its place in the community of nations, and they also called on Cuba to do a better job of promoting human rights and religious freedoms. So, nothing has really changed there.

I think the difference is that Francis, at least on this issue, has simply been more effective at moving the ball. I mean, you look at his poll numbers around the world, they are the kind of approval ratings that politicians would crawl over hot coals to have.


[07:20:01] ALLEN: You know, he's been on every magazine in the world and so on. So, I think there is a perception that he is an effective diplomatic and political player in a qualitatively new way.

BLACKWELL: All right. Senior Vatican analyst John Allen -- good to talk with you about this. Thanks so much.

ALLEN: You bet, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Enjoy your Sunday.


KOSIK: Powerful winds, Victor, worries over flooding and landslides. A super typhoon is ripping across parts of Asia with winds stronger than a category 5 hurricane.


BLACKWELL: Coming close to the bottom of the hour now. Let's take a look at the top stories developing now.

Super typhoon Noul is roaring over the northeastern Philippines right now.

KOSIK: It's equivalent for a category 5 hurricane. Noul is expected to cause flooding and landslides. Right before it made landfall earlier this morning, Noul gusts -- get this -- topped 195 miles per hour.

Prince's much anticipated song dedicated to Baltimore is out, it's an upbeat song where he talks about referencing Freddie Gray who died in police custody last month. He also references Michael Brown. Listen to a part of it.


KOSIK: In another part of the song which is called "Baltimore." It says, "Let's take all of the guns away." Prince released it a day before performing in his Mother Day's concert in Baltimore happening tonight.

Thanks for starting your morning with us.

See you back here at 8:00. After a break, it's a CNN special, "Retired Your Way."