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Suspects Taken to Court over Bombing Plot; Water Rises Along Missouri River; Death Toll Increases in Greensburg, Kansas; Would-Be Terrorists Arrested in New Jersey; Hospital Says Hysterectomy for Disabled Child Might be Illegal

Aired May 08, 2007 - 13:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CO-HOST: We have two developing stories this hour. First, a college student holed up near a California apartment complex after a deadly shooting is negotiating with police to turn himself in. We're following all of those details.
MELISSA LONG, CO-HOST: Plus, at this moment, six men are being arraigned in a New Jersey courtroom, accused of plotting an attack on American soldiers at Ft. Dix.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And hello, I'm Melissa Long, in today for Kyra Phillips.

HOLMES: And I'm T.J. Holmes sitting in for Don Lemon. We're going to hear from him shortly out of Greensburg, Kansas. More on those stories in just a moment.

But first, the Missouri River causing misery for thousands of people who live along its banks. The river is expected to crest at any minute, and CNN's Ed Lavandera is in St. Joseph, Missouri. Our meteorologist, Jacqui Jeras, tracking the high water levels from the CNN weather center. And our Don Lemon in Greensburg, Kansas, ravaged by a monster tornado from the same weather system causing that flooding.

But we're going to start with Ed Lavandera, who's in St. Joseph, Missouri, where a state of emergency is now in effect.

Hello to you, Ed.


Well, we have some good news to report here from the St. Joseph's area. We just got off the phone with emergency management officials. They tell us that the river here -- the Missouri River here has crested and it did not go as high as it was expected to go.

If you just look on this tree right behind me, those two little knobs that stick out about 2 1/2 feet above where the water is there. That's where the water was supposed to have reached. If it got that high, it would have caused some problems in many parts of this city.

But emergency management -- management officials saying that just a couple of hours ago -- a couple of hours ago they got the official word that the water has crested.

Of course, the concern and the anxiousness doesn't go away just here. All of this water has to move somewhere. And it's moving downstream at quite a clip. If you just look out there along the water -- some of the police officers here in the area were clocking what was -- were clocking the water moving at about 14 miles an hour.

So that is moving quite rapidly. We've seen all sorts of junk and debris making its way downstream. And this will continue to move down toward the Kansas City area. And it gets there, we're told that it starts mixing in with other rivers and tributaries and creeks along the way.

So the concern isn't quite over yet. Over the next couple of hours, this water will continue to move downstream. And they're really paying close attention to just exactly the water -- how the water levels will be affected as all of this stream water continues to move downstream.

And, in fact, one of the emergency management officials here in the state of Missouri tells us that they expect the effects of this high water rising to be felt here for the next six days. So they will be paying close attention -- close attention to it for several more days, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. So have to deal with it for a while. But some good news at least there. Ed, thank you so much. Ed Lavandera for us.

LONG: A couple of wicked days of weather. First the tornados over the weekend and now all the rain. When is it going to go away?

Jacqui Jeras is tracking it all in the CNN severe weather center.

Hi, Jacqui.


LONG: OK. Piques my interest. Thanks so much, Jacqui. Talk to you soon.

Now, Elwood, Kansas, is just across the river from St. Joseph. We will get an update from the mayor there. Join me next hour in the NEWSROOM.

Now we take you to Kansas where residents and rescue teams are picking through the rubble. Really uncertain what they're going to find, though. It has been four days since a monster tornado leveled the community of Greensburg. And there was more grief today as the death toll went up again.

CNN's Don Lemon is there.

Hey, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, hello to you. Yes, the death toll went up again. That's according to the Associated Press, one person died. And that was a police officer here.

According to that report by the Associated Press, that police officer had head injuries, and they had him on a breathing machine in the hospital. And they took him off that breathing machine and, sadly, he died.

But there was some happy news with his family in all of that. He -- his daughter got married at his bedside. And so he sort of gave her away. She stood there, according to the report, and they held his hand while she was getting married there.

So very sad news to report there.

But this is what we're finding, Melissa. As you've been mentioning, it's been four days but only -- this is the second day, really sort of the beginning of the second day that people are getting back into their homes and seeing what's going on.

This is a trailer -- look at this. This is part of the tresses from the building next door came right through. You can see Chase Harting (ph) here. His dad owns a construction company. He just opened this trailer no more than ten minutes ago. That tress sticking out of the side of there. Chas, can you believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just cannot believe. It's incredible.

LEMON: Yes. Incredible, and that's what everyone has been saying here. Chase, thank you so much. That's what everybody has been saying. This is all of the destruction. All over the entire place.

Like Chase and his family coming back to find this trailer and their business completely demolished, we spoke to someone coming back this morning to their doughnut shop to find out that it was completely gone. But guess what -- the thing they need the most, the money, right inside the cash register.


CONNIE DAWSON, DOUGHNUT SHOP OWNER: This is the rolling pin you use to make doughnuts with. You take this thing and it makes long John -- twist. This makes your raised doughnuts and your doughnut holes.


C. DAWSON: They used to cool. And they've been here -- you've been here how long? Eight?

LEE DAWSON, DOUGHNUT SHOP OWNER: Been here eight years.

C. DAWSON: Two or three before that? And I rolled six before that. These are probably 20 years old. LEMON: When you see all this stuff, I mean, it has so much meaning to you. What do you think?

C. DAWSON: I'm just excited to see it and amazed.


C. DAWSON: Amazed.

L. DAWSON: Glad she's retired.

C. DAWSON: I'm glad she's retired, too. And my daughter is real glad that it's gone and she'll never inherit it.

LEMON: But why are you amazed?

C. DAWSON: Just the storm. I'm truly amazed. I mean, it was an awesome storm. God's awesome. He does interesting things. It's just fun to see what's left behind.

L. DAWSON: I turned it over to channel two and said there was a mile-wide tornado headed for Greensburg. So I stayed in my sleeping clothes and went to the basement. That's the only reason I'm alive.

So you see why I'm so happy. I'm retired. That's the best part.

LEMON: Your store is flattened?

L. DAWSON: I know. I don't care. I'm alive, I tell you, and I'm retired. What can I say?


LEMON: She has owned that store for a couple of years, but it's been in her family -- you heard that equipment almost 20 years old.

As I look around here, you can see sort of behind me people going back into their homes and businesses here at the American Red Cross here. I see construction workers over here starting to do their thing. Some backhoes.

So people are trying as desperately as they can, Melissa, to get back to some degree of normalcy. But obviously, that's going to take a while.

FEMA and those guys had a press conference just a short while ago to say that they are making progress. They are making progress. But it really is going to take some time.

So we're going to continue to follow this. But the devastation, you can see, still here. But they're working to try to get back to normal.

LONG: And some tremendously upbeat ladies, considering everything they've been through over the last few days. Don Lemon, thanks so much, reporting from Greensburg, Kansas. We appreciate it. HOLMES: Real life violence over a video game in Fresno, California. Police say one person is dead, two others hurt after a shooting last night at an apartment complex. The suspect is said to be 19-year-old John Paul Brooks, a student at Fresno State. The victims are said to be acquaintances.

Brooks is on the loose, but also on the phone with police. They say he wants to turn himself in, but until he does, they're warning everybody to stay alert.


CHIEF JERRY DYER, FRESNO POLICE: The suspect in this case is still considered to be armed and dangerous. We have not located the firearm. And even if we had, this is an individual that has committed a murder and shot two other people. And we consider him to be -- to be very serious and very -- very threatened.


HOLMES: And again, there are reports out there that this whole thing started, and the shooting started after an argument over a video game. We will keep you posted on how things unfold in Fresno.

Also need to tell you about this, an alleged plot to massacre U.S. soldiers, not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, in New Jersey right here at one of the nation's premier military bases. This hour, six men due in federal court in New Jersey, accused of plotting to gun down as many soldiers at Ft. Dix as they could.

Here now, a live picture where we are expecting a news conference at some point. We will bring that to you live when we see it. CNN's Brianna Keilar, meanwhile, is following the investigation for us from Washington.

Hello, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, T.J. And we have some new information, documents that were filed in U.S. district court in Camden, New Jersey, show the government alleges a man named Dritan Duka conspired to kill members of the military.

Now four of his alleged conspirators are also identified as Eljvir Duka, Shain Duka, Mohammed Shnewer and Serdar Tatar. Now, the government also alleges that a sixth man, Agron Abdullahu, helped the Dukas, who were in the U.S. illegally, get weapons.

The U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey says the six men are Islamic radicals and that one of the suspects was born in Jordan and another in Turkey and that the rest are believed to be from the former Yugoslavia.

Court documents say the men conducted surveillance at Ft. Dix, a U.S. Army base, as well as Ft. Monmouth Army Base, Dover Air Force Base there in Delaware and the U.S. Coast Guard building in Philadelphia. The suspects allegedly had target practice in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania. That's there in the Pocono Mountains.

Now, the White House says there's no direct link between the men and an international terrorist organization but that their activity still did warrant a strong response from law enforcement -- T.J.

HOLMES: And Brianna, how many details do we have about just exactly how these suspects were caught by authorities?

KEILAR: Well, these suspects were caught overnight. We actually have some video coming from Buena Vista Township, New Jersey, where there was at least one raid, at least one suspect was netted.

The Associated Press is reporting that the men were actually arrested as they tried to buy automatic weapons in a sale that was set up by law enforcement officials.

But something interesting that we've learned from these court documents, that this whole investigation started more than a year ago, back in January of 2006.

This court documents says that an individual brought a video into a retail store, wanting to convert that video to a DVD. And the person who worked in the store was so alarmed by what was on it that the FBI was alerted. And when the FBI looked at this video, what they saw was ten young men who appeared to be in their early 20s shooting assault weapons, also yelling for -- calling for jihad and shouting in Arabic, "Allah Akbar," which means "God is great" -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Our Brianna Keilar with some scary details. We're going to hear a lot more about this. Thank you, Brianna.

But again, expecting a lot more after a joint news conference by the FBI and U.S. attorneys on this developing case, scheduled for 2:30 Eastern Time in Camden, New Jersey. And we will bring that to you live when it happens.

LONG: Still to come, racing the flames. Wild fires erupting all around the country. Residents get out. Firefighters go in. Are the rains right behind them? That's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: Also, profoundly and permanently disabled, but did a young girl's plight give her parents and doctors the right to stunt her growth on purpose? A medical dilemma, now a legal controversy. That is next here in the NEWSROOM.


HOLMES: It is 1:15 -- 1:16 exactly here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here are three of the stories we're working on.

Police in Fresno say it started with a fight over a video game. They're looking for a college student there in California who allegedly shot one person and killed that person, and wounded two others near Fresno State University. Police have talked to the suspect by cell phone. They say he plans to surrender after talking to a lawyer.

Also this hour, six men accused in a domestic terror plot are appearing in federal court in New Jersey. Described as Islamic radicals, they allegedly plotted to gun down U.S. soldiers at Ft. Dix.

And thousands of people in the Midwestern Plains are heading for higher ground. Drenching rains have caused the Missouri and other rivers to overflow, causing some of the worst flooding in years.

LONG: It was a controversial decision and a confounding and heartrending dilemma. You may remember the profoundly disabled Seattle girl whose parents authorized medical procedures to keep her tiny. Well, there are new developments today in the story.

CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with more on the story -- Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that story's touched so many people's hearts. The little girl, we only know her as Ashley. She's 9 years old. She lives in Washington state. She is severely disabled. She can't walk. She can't talk. She can't even sit up or flip over on her own. And she never will be able to do any of those things.

So the parents decided to keep her small with hormones. She'll never be more than about 75 pounds. Also to have surgery to make sure she'll never get breasts and also to give her a hysterectomy. And they convinced the Seattle Children's Hospital. They discussed it with the Seattle Children's Hospital. They agreed to do this.

Now, the hospital says that the hysterectomy part they shouldn't have done it, that it was actually against the law. Let's read what the hospital had to say. In a statement, the hospital said, "Our system broke down. The law is clear that a court order should have been obtained before proceeding with the hysterectomy."

Now it's very interesting. I covered this story back in January when it got so much attention. Seattle Children's Hospital was quite proud of their part in the Ashley treatment. They said they were really helping this little girl. Now it seems, at least to some extent, that's changed.

LONG: What about Ashley's mom and dad? I mean, do they now admit it may have been, in fact, illegal?

COHEN: No, they're defending, still, what they did. They came up with this plan. They presented it to the hospital. And on their web site today, they had a statement for the press. And this statement says, "Given Ashley's developmental state and prognosis, voluntary procreation is not meaningful or applicable to her case and will never be."

In other words what they're trying to say is that they feel that she should never be allowed to procreate anyhow, and that's why they -- one of the reasons why they went ahead with that hysterectomy. LONG: You can't imagine what kind of a challenge it is for parents to raise a child with disabilities like this. So why can't they simply ask for the hysterectomy for their child?

COHEN: Right. You might think a parent of a disabled child, why can't they do what they need to do for their child? They're the ones who know the child best.

Well, the law is quite clear that you can't do anything you want to your child, even to a disabled child. But there are certain rights that are protected.

And in this case, the laws have been -- the courts have been very clear that people have the right to procreate. And if you're going to take that right away, you should not do it lightly. You should do it by going to a judge and obtaining the court order. There's a long history of this. There's a long case law about this.

LONG: And I think there will be a long story to this, as well.


LONG: We'll be hearing much more about this. Thanks so much, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks.

HOLMES: A military base allegedly targeted for terror. An arraignment under way this hour. We're standing by also for a live news conference at 2:30. Also, our Deborah Feyerick in the courtroom for that arraignment. Expect to from her sometime soon, as well. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, we're also going to be taking a closer look at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and why terrorists might want to strike there.


LONG: Pictures right there from a community -- a campus community there in Fresno. That's the California State University at Fresno where there's an ongoing investigation late in the morning in Fresno after some violence on the campus, a shooting over, apparently, a gaming system, a gaming system that some students were using in an off-campus apartment.

Again, one person is dead. They're looking for the suspect today. The suspect apparently has been communicating with police by phone.

We're waiting to get the very latest from law enforcement officials out of Fresno and standing by for a live news conference, expected to start at any time. We'll bring it to you live here on CNN.

HOLMES: It seems like bad news for the nation's housing market just keeps on pouring in and Susan Lisovicz keeps on bringing it to us. She has a double dose of it, actually this time.

Not just a single dose, Susan. You've got a double dose for us. Please tell us.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've got a lot of good news that I've been bringing to you lately, as well. Hopefully, that will offset it just slightly, T.J.

Foreclosures are something we've been talking a lot about lately. And the latest figures show they're on the rise. Real estate web site Realty Track says there were more than 430,000 foreclosure filings in the first quarter of this year. That's a 35 percent rise from the same time a year ago.

If you're thinking that you're OK because you're making your mortgage payments and this won't affect you, you're wrong. Foreclosures affect entire neighborhoods. Vacancies cut the value of the homes around them. One expert says for every foreclosure within an eighth of a mile of a house, the other house values drop by 1 percent.

They also attract crime. People have been known to steal things like appliances, copper plumbing, and aluminum siding from abandoned properties. Plus, towns lose valuable tax dollars on foreclosures.

All around, not good, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. You're talking about losing value for this, losing value for that, but what's going on around you. So how bad could the damage be with these, if it affects home prices all around?

LISOVICZ: Well, pretty bad, T.J. Again, a leading industry group says we're going to see the first annual decline ever. The National Association of Realtors projecting a 1 percent decline in the price of an existing home this year. That would mark the first drop since the group began taking track of such things. And that was nearly 40 years ago.


LISOVICZ: Next hour on NEWSROOM, last week we told you about a potential media takeover involving some of the biggest names in the business. A couple of interesting twists to the story today, and it may involve criminal indictments.

T.J., back to you.

HOLMES: All right. And yes, you have given us plenty of good news lately. So, we -- we had to take the good with the bad. I know you're just keeping it real for us.

LISOVICZ: I'll try to keep the streak going for you, T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Susan. Thank you so much. We'll see you soon.

LONG: A military base allegedly targeted for terror. An arraignment is actually under way at this time. We've been told to wait for a live news conference, 2:30 Eastern Time. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, a closer look at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and why terrorists might want to strike there.


TJ HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: We are live at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Don Lemon, normally sitting here on assignment in Greensburg, Kansas. I'm TJ Holmes.

MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: And I'm Melissa Long in today for Kyra Phillips. Thousands of soldiers have trained there. Thousands call it home. Why was Ft. Dix the bull's eye in an alleged terror plot? We're following developments in New Jersey. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Was one of the nation's premier military bases a target? The Feds say it was. And the six men in these SUVs were doing the targeting. They're appearing in Federal court in New Jersey this hour, accused of plotting to gun down as many soldiers as they could at Ft. Dix. Here's what we know. The suspects are described as Islamic radicals, one from Jordan, another from Turkey, the rest apparently from the former Yugoslavia. The authorities cite a DVD that supposedly shows the suspects shooting guns and calling for jihad. They say one of the suspects had cased other sites, including Ft. Monmouth, also in New Jersey, Dover Air Force base in Delaware and the U.S. Coast Guard building in Philadelphia. This today from the White House. The men have no suspected links to any international terrorist groups.

HOLMES: Thousands of soldiers heading to war zones have trained at Ft. Dix and thousands of people fleeing war zones have found refuge there. Let's take a closer look now at this sprawling military base with senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre. Good afternoon, Jamie.

JAMIE McINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well good afternoon TJ. Ft. Dix is a sprawling military base in the middle of New Jersey, over 30,000 acres just off exit seven on the Jersey turnpike. As you said, it's mainly a training base these days. In fact, at the moment, they have set up a mock forward operating base that's much like what soldiers will see when they get to Iraq in order to make the training more realistic. Just recently, some 100 soldiers from Ft. Lee, Virginia, part of the 240th quarter master battalion were up in Ft. Dix training on how to deal with IED's and convoys.

And presumably, the reason that Ft. Dix would have been a target of these individuals is that they were sort of from that area. At least one of the documents provided in the -- by Federal prosecutors indicates that one of the suspects may have had a family that had a pizza parlor nearby and that he had, in fact, delivered pizza to this particular base. But as you noted earlier, they were several military installations that were scouted by this group, according to Federal prosecutors who say it -- last year they actually got a map of Ft. Dix which, again, indicated a part of the planning. They -- the Federal authorities had infiltrated this group and watching it for more than a year. But it's not really clear why they wanted to target Ft. Dix except that it's a big, sprawling base. TJ? HOLMES: And big sprawling base. I want to make sure I have that right -- it just happened to be close by? Is that right?

McINTYRE: It appears that these six individuals were operating in the general area of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Some of the other places they scouted included Dover Air Force base, a Coast Guard facility in Philadelphia as well. So they appear to be from that area. And as -- as you said, the White House indicated they don't believe they're part of a major terrorist organization with any terrorist links, so the motivation here is a little unclear.

HOLMES: All right, our Jamie McIntyre for us at the Pentagon. Jamie, thank you so much.

LONG: There's a tumultuous weather forecast for so much of the country. Flooding in the heartland, wild fires to the west and to the south. First to Florida, where more than 260 fires have burned more than 19,000 acres. Homes have been evacuated in three counties, two more are on alert today. In southern California, a brush fire forced campers out of a park in Orange County. Dry conditions mean more fires are in fact possible. Let's check in now with meteorologist Jacqui Jeras because we understand the hurricane season of course doesn't start until next month for one, but forecasters are ready, keeping their eye on a system, low pressure system off what, the southeast coastline?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. It's happened before. It's not that unusual. In fact I think April is the earliest we've ever had a named system. Now, at this point, you know, this isn't a sure thing. This is just going to become a subtropical storm. We think it will be more subtropical if anything else. It's kind of a combination between just a regular mid latitude low and a tropical- type characteristic storm. But if you take a look at it on the satellite picture, it kind of looks that way a little bit, doesn't it? Regardless of what we end up calling this thing, either way, it's going to have a decent impact here on this coast and particularly for mariners.

The winds are the biggest issue at this hour. And this is a great satellite image that we just got in from NOAA. It shows you -- look at all these red dots here. These are the fires that are burning in south Georgia and into northern Florida. All of this kind of haze that you see blowing out of it and also down here to the Gulf of Mexico. This is all smoke from those fires. So low pressure storm systems rotate counterclockwise, so the winds are coming in from the north-northeast and they're strong, up to 40 miles per hour, sustained winds at times right near the coast. So you get winds that strong and that is really going to be aggravating the fire situation. It's kind of a "Catch-22" because we don't want it to come in and bring those strong winds. But, the closer it gets, the more rain it's going to be bringing in. So that really could be some good news.

Here's what it looks like on the broad satellite picture. Everything else is looking pretty quiet here overall across much of the Atlantic and into the Caribbean. There you can see the forecast for tomorrow is bringing in a little closer toward the shoreline and then we'll kind of increase the chance of seeing some of these rain showers. The rain showers are still staying offshore at this time. We want to zoom in a little bit closer and show you some of those winds out of the northeast, 23 miles per hour right now in Charleston and then also down towards Savannah and Brunswick. This is where we expect the peak of the winds to be here for at least the next 24 hours or so. There you can see Savannah around 20 miles per hour. Back to you.

LONG: Truly is a "Catch-22" and if I remember correctly, Florida and Georgia have significant rain deficits right now.

JERAS: Some areas more than a foot. Definitely. Red flag warnings are up, posted across both states today, because the dry tinder conditions and those strong winds.

LONG: Jacqui, thank you, talk to you in a little bit.


HOLMES: She's already far from home and today Queen Elizabeth II set her sights even farther a field. The British monarch and her husband Prince Philip visited NASA's Goddard space flight center in Maryland. After phoning up the international space station for a bit of a chat, the queen commemorated her visit with a tree planting in the center's rocket garden. It's a dogwood, by the way, I know you wanted to know. Her majesty's still got a full agenda before she heads back to England late tonight. And the queen is hugely popular on this side of the pond. A new CNN Opinion Research Corporation polls shows 80 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the British monarch. That's up from 47 percent shortly after the death of Princess Diana. Only 12 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of the queen. Still, not everybody here totally sold on the whole idea of royalty. Forty one percent say Britain would be better off without a royal family at all. Forty five percent say it would be worse off.

LONG: A $2 hit can leave young users six feet under. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, a drug called cheese gains in deadly popularity.


HOLMES: Kids are big into cheese in Dallas County, Texas. I assure you, it is not what you're thinking. Not talking about dairy here; we're talking deadly. Nineteen teenagers have died after using this stuff. And the recipe is so simple, it's scary. You mix heroin with over-the-counter nighttime cold medicine and you got cheese. It's highly addictive, super cheap. Authorities know they have a problem and they formed a task force to handle it. Zachary Thompson is on that task force. He heads up the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services. Sir, thank you for being with us. My goodness, this is some scary stuff. What is it about it that is causing the deaths among these kids? How are they dying?

ZACHARY THOMPSON, DALLAS CO. HEALTH & HUMAN SERVS DEPT: TJ, one of the major issues that we're looking at is Dallas County Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield put together a task force based on the fact that we've had 19 young people to die from this particular drug. I think the misunderstanding about this is calling it cheese. This is pure heroin that our young people are mixing with Tylenol p.m. and coming out with a deadly drug that's killing young people in Dallas County and we feel like it's going to spread throughout the nation.

HOLMES: Do you know, again, how it's killing them, exactly what it's doing to their bodies to just - I guess shut them down and kill them like this?

THOMPSON: One of the things we look at is the physiology of addiction that these young people are snorting this particular substance. It's going into their neurotransmitters and causing instant death. We've seen cases where individuals have used for a period of time and they can only have one daily hit from this particular substance and it can kill them. Here's the bottom line -- we have to make sure that our parents throughout our community understood that this drug can be snorted through a basic pen or an individual will take a pen and snort it while they're in class or at home or they can use a basic straw. So what we're finding is that these individuals are -- are marketing -- we're finding the drug culture is marketing to the young people where they can get a $2 high up to a $10 high as it relates to purchasing this particular drug.

HOLMES: Why your community? You have any idea why it's become a problem there? And I guess we're going to see it crop up in other communities maybe around the country.

THOMPSON: I think one of the things that we're seeing -- whether we're talking about strawberry methamphetamine or we're talking about cheese heroin, we're seeing now that it's being marketed to younger people. We find that our young adults do not want to use needles or IV drug use. So drug dealers are now marketing the whole key aspect -- if you look at what happened with crack cocaine and how it was marketed to urban and rural areas, we're following the same trend as it relates to cheese heroin. Why it's hitting Dallas County, we flew under the radar for two years before we began to see a large number of deaths. It could be flying under the radar throughout our communities, throughout the nation and so it can be - it's very deadly.

HOLMES: And you mentioned this other stuff, strawberry quick. It's meth and pop rocks, for goodness sakes. But you mentioned the name, you said cheese, we shouldn't be calling it that. It's heroin. Strawberry quick. These names - it sounds like a marketing ploy. Is that a part of the problem too with these kids? They hear those names. They don't think it's as bad because they're not injecting a needle and they don't take this stuff seriously?

THOMPSON: Exactly. This is clearly methamphetamine. When you look at heroin which is a physically addictive right along with a psychological dependency and you look at methamphetamine which has a stimulant that can cause immediate addiction, we realize that there are two factors here. Young people are experimenting with drugs at a larger number here in 2007 and what we're finding is as they begin to experiment, it leads them straight to death. We're not talking about experimentation to addiction. We're talking about experimentation to death.

HOLMES: Whew, what -- what should parents be looking out for, like you said, it sometimes goes straight to death, but if kids are using this stuff, what can parents and peers, everybody be looking out for to know the possible signs that their kid's using this stuff?

THOMPSON: One of the task force objectives by Commissioner Mayfield is that we begin to do not education to not only parents but at schools. We see Dallas independent school district, Dallas police department are all taking a firsthand approach in terms of educating -- mood swings. We see individuals who are sleeping all the time. We're seeing individuals who have -- their eyes are glassy or red. So whenever you see any type of mood swings in your children or you see them sleeping a lot or you seeing the fact that they have difficulty in terms of understanding things, you really have to spend time with your young people, at dinnertime, at breakfast time. We really have to get to the point where we are very observant of our kids' actions, the friends they come in contact with. This is clearly being marketed to our young people. And it is killing our young people, not just in Dallas County, but we predict that it will spread across the United States.

HOLMES: Sir, something else you hit on -- just a scary thought that it goes from user to -- one-time user right to death sometimes. But this stuff -- this cheese, goes -- you can use it one time and instantly addictive? You don't have to be a long-term user to build up a dependency. You can be addicted to this after just using it literally once or twice?

THOMPSON: Again, it's heroin. Heroin is one of the most addictive substances known to man. If you recall back in the '70s and '80s, we had methadone treatment programs set up to deal with heroin addiction. So can you imagine what a 15-year-old, what it does to their body as it relates to heroin now entering their system? We're talking about, again, the most addictive substance known to man as it relates to heroin and the devastation it's done through our communities in the '70s and '80s and now it's being marketed to young people. That's a deadly combination.

HOLMES: My goodness. Zachary Thompson with the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services. Sir, you all got quite a task on your hands. This is some scary stuff to hear from you here. Best of luck to you, we love to have you back and keep on getting the word out there about this stuff and get the warning out. Thank you so much for spending some time with us.

THOMPSON: Thank you for having us.

LONG: Here's some of the other stories we're following for you on this Tuesday, a helicopter crashing in Nevada. Five sailors from Florida are dead. They were flying a combat search and rescue exercise out of a naval air station (INAUDIBLE) about 60 miles east of Reno. We're told their chopper clipped a power line about 90 miles east of the base. Investigators are still trying to recover their bodies. In Los Angeles, the highest-ranking officer at the scene of that May Day violence has been demoted. His second in command has been transferred. Police Chief William Brandon (ph) acted even while two or even more investigations to strong arm tactics against the unarmed demonstrators are still under way. The "LA Times" reports investigators have broken down the mayhem into three phases between 5:15 in the evening and 6:30. The "Times" says LAPD commanders made mistakes at every stage.

And a river of fire, a famous volcano putting on quite a show for you. We're going to watch it boil and bubble in the NEWSROOM.


LONG: It is May 8, eight months from the first round of the presidential caucuses and primaries. But it is always poll season. A new CNN Opinion Research poll shows Hillary Clinton leading the Democratic field with 41 percent, up from 36 percent last month. Fellow Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards held fairly steady. On the Republican side, the race has tightened slightly between the two frontrunners, Rudy Giuliani and Senator John McCain. Former Senator Fred Thompson who's not in the race, at least not yet, saw his support increase. So how many Republican presidential candidates would you think would be enough? So far, 10 have declared. Yes, 10 have declared, but many Republican voters would like to see an 11th. CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley takes a look.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten Republicans running for president seems like nine more than needed. So what's the deal with Fred Thompson? Why all this talk about one more?

REP. ZACK WAMP (R) TENNESSEE: Frankly, people are so hungry for this race that this feedback I'm getting, Candy, is when -- when can we go? When can we start?

CROWLEY: According to the non-campaign, the Thompson for president bandwagon includes a number of former Reagan-types who are putting together a meeting with Thompson to discuss issues. The non- candidate is already pulling ahead of actual candidate Mitt Romney. A small cadre of unofficial Thompson advisors reads that as dissatisfaction with current choices. Outside Thompsonville, they think it's more like high school dating -- you want the one you don't have.

VIN WEBER, MITT ROMNEY SUPPORTER: At this stage in the process, it's unlikely that a party, particularly a party that's struggling a little bit as the Republicans are right now, is they're going to look at any of their candidates and say, that's our savior. So the guy that's not in the race tends to look a little better.

CROWLEY: And Thompson has done little to dissuade his fan base. He's the '08 tease, on the blogs with his thoughts, on radio with his commentary, on TV with his day job. And in California's Orange County at the Lincoln Club, AKA, rich Republican territory, the folksy Thompson talked Republican stuff, small government, and muscular foreign policy.

FRED THOMPSON, ACTOR, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Even though we won't be going around in the woods trying to find any bears to kill, sometimes the bear visits you whether you're looking for him or not.

CROWLEY: It was his debut political speech, but Thompson got panned as uninspiring. The thing is, even with the bad performance, there's something about Fred.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WASHINGTON POST: Despite the fact that it was a kind of a rambling speech, despite the fact that it didn't maybe make the crowd stand up and applaud on their feet, he's got the voice. He's got the stature and the size and the presence.

CROWLEY: In short, he looks the part; he talks the part. Fred Thompson is often described as Reaganesque which is pretty much all you have to say to make Republicans swoon. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


LONG: Candy Crowley is part of the best political team on television. For the latest political news and notes, go online,

HOLMES: The remains of a king? Archeologists think they found the tomb of King Herod in Israel. Details ahead here in the NEWSROOM. But first as we go to break, let's take a look at the big board. The stock market down just a bit. But, still, way over that magical mystical majestical mark of 13,000. More NEWSROOM in a moment. You are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


HOLMES: Well, Mt. Etna -- at it again bathing the Italian mountainside in a river of molten lava. A giant gash opened up in the volcano's side. But so far, no homes are in direct danger. This is Etna's the third straight month of eruptions. Mt. Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe.

LONG: It is a question that's bothered archaeologists for years, centuries even, where is King Herod buried. Well, they might finally have their answer. A professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem says this is Herod's tomb but some skeptics, they want more proof. The site is just south of Jerusalem. King Herod ruled Judea from 37 to 4 BC. He was behind some one of the ancient world's great building projects including the wall surrounding ancient Jerusalem.

HOLMES: His friends now calling him spider boy.

LONG: That's not nice.

HOLMES: It's not nice, but oh so appropriate, Melissa. Nine- year-old Jesse Courtney of Albany, Oregon says he heard some popping sounds in his ear. Snap, crackle, pop, is how he described it. Mom took him to the doctor. This was not a normal ear ache. His doctor flushed the ear and two spiders came out, one alive and one dead. He says he's not sure how the spiders got in there.

LONG: When he was sleeping, likely. Gives you the heeby geebys (ph).

HOLMES: Your mom always said clean your ears. Apparently he missed that, a time or two of cleaning his ears.

LONG: They're all around the room, climbing around in the bed.

HOLMES: But he's all right, spider boy is good.

LONG: And spider boy kept the spiders, probably a good luck charm.

HOLMES: Get rid of the spiders, spider boy or you're going to keep the nickname for a while.

LONG: It's not a bad nickname considering (INAUDIBLE) spider man. The next hour of NEWSROOM starts right now.